Taking Comfort

My little brother has rolled himself into a ball in the back of Grandpa’s pickup while mom—Grandpa is a mean bastard she says—is hollering at him to hurry the hell up before little Sammy dies. We—my sisters and I, and my brother who is bleeding all over the place—are being thrown about in the back of the pickup as Grandpa races towards the far horizon. We are forty miles from the nearest town with a hospital. And mom can’t stop yelling, pointing, and she can’t stop giving little Sammy that worried look. We should all be afraid, but we’re not. Nothing bad has happened to us since Dad died three and half years ago.

Upfront, mom rummages through her bulging black purse, removes a cigarette and lights it. She holds the lit cigarette up for Grandpa to take. He puffs and exhales until it’s only ash—never once taking it from his mouth. After he’s finished, he raises his giant hand and adjusts the rearview mirror. So that I can see him every-so-often glaring back at us, glaring back at little Sammy. He’s old and wrinkled, his face droops heavy with skin the color of tree bark. His eyes, when they look at little Sammy, are as dark as clay. I try remembering when Dad was still alive, and what it was like when we didn’t have to live with Grandpa, but I can’t, so I close my eyes tight as I can and pray that Sammy will be okay. In the rambling wind, we all gather around him, huddling each other for comfort. And, quietly, I pray for the rest of us, even Grandpa.


by Bill Cook

Bill Cook, a Southern California native, has plied a variety of trades, including cabinet maker, carpenter, general contractor, home designer and builder, and currently is employed as a certified building inspector. He has been published in Juked, elimae, Tin Postcard Review, Right Hand Pointing, The Summerset Review, SmokeLong Quarterly and in Dzanc’s anthology Best of the Web 2009. He currently resides in a small community situated within the Sierra Pelona Mountain range.

Towards the Chennai Train by Taxi

and the streets are running out

with people and rickshaws, motorbikes (there,

four adults on a single cycle), water buffalo

stomping through traffic,


tilting their chins in response

to horns begging them to move.

The traffic slips ahead,

crawling over itself like snakes in a pit,


falters, stops to ruminate, begins again.


And a child knocks

on the window, shines her red teeth,

seeks money to buy water,


or for the man who owns her.

He’s out there, somewhere. Everything kicks

again, we move through the storm of dust.


A man leaps into a moving bus,

his plastic sandal falls

and tumbles to die upon the street. The bus keeps on,

traffic stops.


another shoe flies


from the bus door, expelled as from a kick,

either angry, resigned, or neither.


by Kevin Eldridge

Kevin recently graduated with an MFA from Indiana University and works as an English and SAT tutor.

Joe Quinn

miss xanax

(originally published in The Battered Suitcase Nov. ’08)


She says
“you don’t have to watch”
As she gets things ready

Cellophane wrapper from a cigarette pack
A lighter
A cut straw
The pills

She says
“you don’t have to watch
But I need to do this”

Takes the pills
Places them on the glass top table
Places the cellophane wrapper over them
Slides the lighter in slight crunches
The pale pink pills turn to dust

She says
“you’re not going to cry are you?”

She takes an ID in which she’s smiling
Says she’s an organ donor
But she won’t give me her heart

The card cuts lines
Leaves trails of thin dust behind
Dirty honey hair hangs down to the glass
the straw jerks moving slow then fast

She says
“you’re not going to cry are you?”
I lie to her for the first time


that legendary divorce

(originally published in E2K July 2004)


summer in america
the land of milk and
honey not tonight
I have a headache
and I hate you
and I can’t put it into words
but one small push
like kids on a swing
thinking that they can touch the sky and I
might kill you
for making me forget
what love is
or is supposed to be
or that I even want it


anne frank, homecoming queen

(originally published in Skyline Magazine Winter 06/07)


now that we’re here
in the place we fear the most
lacking the voice
to ever call this home

we’re whispers in the mouth of the door
we hide inside the walls
they’re coming in…
I’ll hold your hand

and the world
the world is a photograph
and the world
the world is under glass

and she knows where nothing is
the broken geometry of her star
and we know where nothing is
it rips the hearts from greeting cards
(we’ll use the words they waste
as long as we have them)

and the world
the world is a photograph
and the world
the world is under glass

we hide inside the walls
they’re coming in…
I’ll hold your hand
we’re butterflies and the door is ajar




(originally published in The Storyteller Oct/Nov/Dec 2005)


I bet you’re beautiful
before the mirror wakes up
before the sun fills its silver cup

what do you have up your sleeve
besides a bruise?
where would you be if you could choose?

and the hands move
to apply make-up and remove sleep

and eyeshadow implies
some light from inside
and something in it’s way

(the days start like cars
in this parking lot life
we cough and crawl off
towards some distant light
and the cold smoke just hangs in the air
daring anyone half awake to attempt to care)

what do you have up your sleeve
but a bruise
baby where would you be if you could choose?

I bet you’re beautiful
before the mirror wakes up


by Joe Quinn


Joe Quinn is a 34 year old American Poet. He has been published 60+ times in over 30 publications around the world.  His poetry collections are available to purchase for $10 at lulu.com/spotlight/welcomehomeironlung and he can be followed at @joequinnpoetry on twitter or at facebook.com/joequinnpoetry


When I turn my body inside-out I do it the same way you would a piece of clothing: by pulling the top through the bottom. In other words, I pull my head through my anus. Basically, I reach up with my arm through my anus and grab the top of the inside of my skull and pull everything down back through my anus. I do this in front of the body-length mirror I own so I can see what I look like inside-out, and what I discover after I’ve done all this—turned my body inside-out and all—is a man, another man, who looks nothing like me. The man—the man inside of me—is hypertrophiedly muscular and has a bald crown with two earmuffs of brown hair bookending his face. I am not muscular nor do I have a bald crown or two earmuffs of brown hair. Actually, what I suppose would be more accurate is the outside of me is not muscular nor has a bald crown or two earmuffs of brown hair, because, clearly, some part of me is muscular and does have a bald crown and two earmuffs of brown hair.

Every now and then I go further and turn the man inside of me’s body inside-out, and what I discover on the other side of him is a woman, a small Taiwanese woman. Neither I nor the man inside of me are Taiwanese. We are both white. Then I continue, turning the small Taiwanese woman inside-out, then the person inside of her, then the person inside the person inside of her, and so on, in search of the person I think I am, who must surely be inside of me somewhere, though, admittedly, I’ve yet to find him. Or her, for that matter.

by Trevor Fuller

Trevor Fuller is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at Wichita State University and a reader for the literary journal mojo.

Joshua Paul Bocher

The Midnight of His Mind


As he speaks to me

Of his troubles,


Someone I know

Stands in a doorway


That connects two

Rooms: the past


And the future.

The past is painful


To look at,

And the future


Seems so

Far away,


But both

Are steeped in


Shadows where

A few lights


Softly flicker

And die away.



Ni Zan’s Remote Streams and Cold Pines


Wandering far
From the city, I


Followed her,



By her hips’




Until she ran


Too far ahead

Of me, for me


To find her





Instead, I come
To find autumn

Sparse leaves,

Gently flowing
Streams, the broad

Expanse of the sky
Without clutter,

Calming. I point
To the mountain

In the distance.
I look away

For a moment,
And it’s gone.



The Dead Sparrow Patterns


Down the stairs. Out the door.

Dead sparrow. Time for work.


Back from work. Dead sparrow.

Up the stairs. The day is done.

The blue light of the morning.

On the sidewalk. Dead sparrow.


The red glow of the evening.

Home is near. Dead sparrow.


For days. Still dead. Still there.

The sparrow lies coldly on his side.


I suspect the weather confused him.

Sun one day. Snow the next.


I pity his poor decisions,

So like a person’s.


It makes me think. Of mistakes,

Of patterns of mistakes. In theory,


If one understands the patterns,

One will be able to perceive


The right time: to escape

The patterns. Of mistakes.


by Joshua Paul Bocher


Joshua Paul Bocher’s poetry has appeared in such journals as Illuminations, The Germ, and The East Coast Literary Review. He has degrees in writing and literature from Brown and Harvard. Previously, he lived abroad in Taiwan for two and a half years. Currently, he lives with his wife in Somerville, MA and works for non-profits in the Boston area.

Desirée Jung: Featured Author

Invisible Creatures

Orange laranjas, seis reais. The afternoon in Copacabana has sunscreen bottles and pharmacies. Near a tree, passengers wait at the bus stop. Secretly, I am naked in Portuguese. After a day at the beach, I drink coffee, and eat cheese buns. There is violence in Brazil, yes, but there is also so much more. Where I live, the snow falls occasionally, and the rain freezes my fingers. In spite of the dead trees, I desire the arrival of the summer, while I have fantasies of walking barefoot on soft sand, intimate with the invisible creatures of the heat. In that same life, I watch soap operas online and miss my family, when shopping in the organic supermarket. The privilege is to wish for tropical fruits while they still last. Hold onto the flavor as though they were pearls, unique and precious.



The sun explodes in the canvas
of an unfinished painting,
a muscular entropy of the heart.

The brush is left alone in the dark,
as she lies naked in bed, empty
of imagination.

The latitude of an image
circumscribes the roughness of being.


Hunger for Tropical Things

She wakes up, acorda, with an intense necessity to devour tropical things. “In winter, the search for the sun is insana,” he says, finding it important to explain everything with statistics. “It is the foreigner’s syndrome,” he concludes, the paper in his hands. I don’t understand what you are saying. “If someone likes fruits, it is normal to miss pineapples,” she replies, “simple like that.” I feel much closer to myself when I have this conviction.

by Desirée Jung

Desirée Jung is a Canadian-Brazilian writer. Her work aims to stress the boundaries within languages. Desirée has published translations, fiction and poetry in Exile, The Dirty Goat, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Antagonish Review, The Haro, The Literary Yard, Black Bottom Review, Gravel Magazine, Tree House, Bricolage, Hamilton Stone Review, Ijagun Poetry Journal, Scapegoat Review, Storyacious, Perceptions, Loading Zone, and others. Desirée has participated in several artist residencies, including the Banff Centre, in Canada, and Valparaiso, in Spain. She worked with Canadian poet George McWhirter in her M.F.A in creative writing at the University of British Columbia. Moreover, her research and Ph.D. thesis in Comparative Literature was based in the works of Canadian poet P. K. Page. More information can be found on her website, desireejung.com


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