Cancer Math by Ally Malinenko

I’d avoided the website for close to a year
instead keeping my eyes open
my gaze on the future
whatever that will be
so that I could start to think of myself
like everyone else
not like a girl with a time bomb
strapped to her chest

But it’s nearly June
so it’s MRI time
and the last two years
come back at me
memories whip-lashing

so here I am again
late at night
filling out the online form on Cancer Math dot com
listing my age
tumor size
lymph node involvement
including if the node involvement was
ipsilateral, supraclavical
metastasis, micrometastasis
IHC or H/E staining negative
ER Status
PR Status
HER2 Status
Histological Type
and hitting update graph
agreeing to the disclaimer that this is for research purposes only
and that Cancer Math dot com cannot guarantee survival outcomes
and that treatment options should be discussed with my oncologist
and then
switching the chart from a line graph to the pictogram
that shows green smiley faces for the percentage of people
still alive in 15 years
and red frowning faces for the ones that have died
running a finger over the screen
as if they were real people that I could touch
and celebrate with
or touch and mourn
trying not to think about which face is supposed to be mine.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How to Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the YA novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books). Forthcoming from Low Ghost Books is a poetry collection entitled Better Luck Next Year. She’s at @allymalinenko mostly talking about David Bowie, Doctor Who and stupid cancer.

Lemon Days by Korliss Sewer

He looked as though he was dead.  He had fallen asleep with his mouth agape in a closed up car.  Resembled a dog locked in a broiling van in the summertime.  He puffed overheated, stagnant air like a cigar.  I should have knocked on his window to find if he needed assistance; summon help (if needed) for this dying man.  Instead, I got my nails painted a yummy copper to match the pennies on his eyelids.  As my nails dried, I watched from the salon window for movement.

“I wonder if he’s dead?”  I pondered whether exercise or beer will win my heart for the evening.  The smell of the chemicals in the salon made my nose twitch.  The Vietnamese nail technician scrubbed my ugly feet; massaged them as if I were Cleopatra.  Made me feel important for my 15-minute sit in the vibrating chair.  They spoke amongst themselves in Vietnamese, then made a quick transition to English for an occasional comment to me. 

Two young women pass where he sat lifeless.  Into the tanning salon they head, arm in arm, laughing loudly at a private joke.  The smell of his corpse rises into the heating summer sky.

Korliss Sewer
Korliss Sewer is from Tacoma, Washington, USA. She is a poet who enjoys observing the quirkier things which arise from the mundane. Common people and situations pique her curiosity to know more of what lies beneath the ordinary. It is a peculiar view by any stretch of the imagination.

Earth, Wind, Fire by Stefanie Bennett

… Do not touch me
Unless the knife
Is deep:
I cannot risk
Mere surface.

Never face me unless
Prepared to take
My place
And continue

Though all roads be
No more than
The heart’s
Domain –

I’ll see you there.

Stephanie Bennett
Stefanie Bennett has published several books of poetry, a novel & a libretto… tutored at The Institute of Modern Languages & worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Irish/Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia. Her latest poetry title with Walleah Press is “The Vanishing”.

Let Us Rupture The Silence by Sunil Sharma

The lingering shadows/ long silences
Blank spaces in urban relationships
Can deaden within.

The frost-bitten fields
A cruel white reminder
Of the love’s labour lost
Lying waste:
The hard work of the past few months
Of the earth-artists, creating a
Green masterpiece out
Of an unyielding land and a changing climate extreme.

Let us resolve then—
To rupture hovering silences
That separate folks like an ocean.

Let us cut the Arctic with a verbal knife and allow some motion in arid region!

Let us resume talking
Conversations revive
Dry landscapes inside
Each robotic body controlled
By a mad post-modern machinery
Nudging us towards excessive eating
And destroying the beautiful earth for
Unbridled greed, a planet
Once home to a Shakespeare and/or J. Alfred Prufrock
Searching for meaning on muttering streets and saw-dust-covered places
While a cat purred in a lonely spot somewhere in the England of the 1920s.

Conversations: cyber, mobile, e-mails, visuals
Neutralize the slow poison of atrophy, passivity, stupor
By opening channels of communication, essential for
A lonely age and are meant for recovery of our original poetic selves.

Sunil Sharma
Mumbai-based, Sunil Sharma is a writer with published three collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction, one novel and co-edited five books co-edited. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award—2012. Recently his poems were published in the UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree-2015.

Stoned Immaculate by John Grochalski

here comes
the king of amsterdam
stumbling out of rookies coffee shop
buzzed on his first marijuana high in years

here comes his head changed majesty
who sucked up more than half the joint on his own
because moderation is for peasants

wrecked ruler
of korte leidsedwarsstraat

glassy eyed and stoned immaculate
taking pictures for posterity

and here come the chest pains
two blocks later outside the sticky aroma of the pancake center

the thumping of the royal heart
the pulse of the stately ear drum

and that old paranoia that you weave so well

the king of amsterdam
suddenly fred sandford holding his chest
refusing to cross weteringschans
because the bikes and the cars
are coming too fast for him to process

this the big one! this is the big one lamont!
staggering dying for sure

while toked up french girls laugh and point his way
as this wasted monarch come junk man has his wife
guide him across the street like a child

whining and crying and asking the world
how he could do this to himself at forty one

down in amsterdam down in amsterdam
all he wanted was to get a little high

this baked ruler
who should just stick with the booze
pressed against a corner of an elevator that won’t move
because he forgot to press a floor

refusing to come out when it reaches their destination

afraid of stairs
afraid of his reflection in the mirror

a cooked tsar laying on the bed of his room
dragged in like a corpse

heart still thumping
pains up and down his arm

everything numb
waiting on the big one

it’s the big one lamont!

telling his dear wife
how he plans to jump out the window
three stories down into concrete bliss

and only fifteen minutes have passed in this contact high

stand back, as our fried liege
kills his wife’s buzz with his moaning and suicidal threats

threats to sue the hotel for that window
threats to sue the coffee shop for spiked weed
threats to sue the french girls for laughing
threats and threats and threats immaculate

witness the noble panic attack in full bloom

the flapping jowls, the sucks on waters
the foaming of the mouth

the big one i tell you!

though no heart attack has come.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and the forthcoming novel, The Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

A New Knowledge of Reality by Scott Silsbe

Just off work, 5:30 on a Friday, driving up Penn Avenue
to meet up with some friends for a few happy hour beers
at a Primanti Brothers that once was an old Picway Shoes.

I’m at the point where Penn becomes Ardmore Boulevard
and splits off, sending you downhill towards the parkway
and driving up Ardmore towards me comes this stunning,
great white whale of a classic car. And even though I’ve
never been a car nut, this one gets me—it’s breath-taking.

And I want to be able to say with authority, “Wow, look
at the ’54 Chevy Corvette!” or, “Ah, a Bentley Mark VI!”
but the truth is, not knowing my cars, I don’t know what
it is that’s coming towards me, that’s impressing me so.

And I like to think maybe this one moment will change
the way I go about things and will make me care about
makes and models of automobiles from their inception,
though it’s more likely I’ll just carry on the way I have
been carrying on, using cars when they are necessary,
not going to classic car shows, not collecting replicas
of ones I wish I could own. I like that there are these
moments though, when one object or one comment
can open up a new world of possibility, a new realm
of knowledge of what’s real or important in the world.
That I have the option to pursue it if I am so inclined.
And that even if I don’t, perhaps my reality is altered.

Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit and now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have recently appeared in numerous periodicals including Nerve Cowboy, Chiron Review, and The Chariton Review. He is the author of two collections of poems: Unattended Fire and The River Underneath the City.

Deaf Echo by Mark Antony Rossi

Is lost
In a shuffle
Of the cards
So I chase the moon
A sea of shards

Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages,  Enclave, Expound, GloMag, Gravel, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial ,Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.

Second Hand Smoke by Carl “Papa” Palmer

retorted with husky voice
through puffed streams
of freshly used fumes

“just a rumor” rasping
an aroma of burnt tar

“not proven” as she
pops a breath mint
ahems her phlegm

flips the spent butt after
one last lung filled drag

refreshes her perfume
and reenters the bar
after enjoying a quick
breath of clean fresh air

Carl Papa Palmer
Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway VA now lives in University Place WA. He has a 2015 Seattle Metro contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Emerald City. Carl, president of The Tacoma Writers Club is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever



Australian Postage Stamp, 1972 Overland Telegraph Line (Painted By John Copeland) by John Doyle

The night is never black,
leave that honour for
some tin-shack morse-coded outpost,
rattling behind the moon,

Copeland’s symmetry
suggests growth,
imagine teachers telling fifth-formers
that before an exam, scalpels

for frogs, mathematics for the eye.
But that’s not my style
not his either, my eyes
closed on his bloodshot sky,

on lines from Darwin to Perth
Newcastle to Geelong,
Corroborees telegraphed in dream-time,
the gangling alpha-male dances with

moonshine Morse-code,
body in
gold, black, red,
viscerous talk on glimmering wires

John Doyle
John Doyle Bio: The only good bio is a bio strung-up outside some gold-prospector’s wooden shack with his dog Jake sniffing at its last remaining remnants of sanguine flesh; So I will keep it simple, I’m from County Kildare, Ireland, and I love nothing more than stumbling across 3rd Division football games in Slovenia or Belgium on a Sunday morning as a welcome interlude while trying outsmart fellow bio hunters.


Bush Era Tattoos by Steven Storrie

I got these tattoos when
George W. Bush was President
When there was a war on something called
The Patriot Act, WMD’s and Guantanamo
And nobody knew what the fuck was going on

The leader of the free world
Didn’t care about black people
A singer said
And was secretly glad to see them getting washed away
His brother liked to hang with a guy named Chad
In Florida or something
And together they pulled off the greatest robbery
The country had ever seen

Hadn’t he been an alcoholic in his youth?
A waste of skin and space?
Someone best thrown onto a Nascar track
At the Indy 500
And left to fend for himself?
A man who, when faced with the prospect of war
In some place they called ‘Nam
had ran to his over indulgent Daddy
Who told him with experienced conviction
Don’t worry, son
Money will get you out of this.

I my mind I see him in a classroom
Reading to kids all seated beneath him
Kids who probably read at a higher level
Than he did
All wondering who the fuck this old guy was
Who couldn’t get his mouth around
6th grade words.
Who held the book like it was a foreign object
And kept stammering like he was caught in a lie
I see the aide lean in and tell him the news
The news that changed everything
Changed the world
the news coming out of New York City
something about two planes and the World Trade Centre
he sits
and he sits
and he sits
a glazed look on his face
wondering if Spot the dog
is ever gonna catch that ball
before someone in the Secret Service
says to him in a whisper
Mr President
Don’t you think we’d better go?

I can still see him standing at Ground Zero
Stood atop the rubble
Of concrete and steel
Revelling in feeling like
One of the boys]
One of the regular joe’s
Who’d buy him a beer
If he ever wandered into their bar
On the corner of some cold street
In the middle of downtown Pittsburgh
He’s crowing into a megaphone
Arm draped around someone
Hired from the lines
Of a Bruce Springsteen song
In order to denote authenticity
And how he’s one of us
His bemused look has faded
Now he’s enjoying himself
He thinks it’s a deleted scene
From a new Bruce Willis movie
As his head cranks up
He’s playing to the crowd
He hears us, he says
The rest of the world
Can hear us too
And the people who knocked these buildings down
Will hear all of us soon.

Somewhere in a room that wreaks of leather furniture
And the vilest abuses of power
Dick Cheney is laughing his ass off
Slugging 100 year old whiskey
And abusing the Thai houseboy

I got these tattoos
When George W. Bush was President.

Steven Storrie
Steven Storrie has worked as a cable T.V repair man, dishwasher, choreographer, ice cream vendor and junk yard attendant. Tired of this shit he is currently locked in his basement working on his first collection of poetry, bickering with his neighbours over nothing and storing the baseballs he keeps when they are hit into his yard. You can find him at @renegadepriest1