elsewhere / 11


On the first day, I took down the curtains. I took the frame off of my stand-alone mirror and broke the windows with it. The light came in through the window-frames.

On the second day, I regretted the first.

On the third day, I toppled the potted plants and spread the soil across the floor with a comb. I planted the cacti in the sunny spot by the desk and moistened the soil by the door for the ferns.

On the fourth day, I invited silence in. It shifted its weight on the couch. The air conditioner, the cars on the street, the neighbors up and down their stairs, and the breeze through the window- frames ceased to sound. The ferns waved and my left breast shook with my pulse and I did not hear.

On the fifth day, I sat with photographs of my parents and took complaints, which spawned, mosquito-like. They curled for sleep beneath my fingernails and on the pillows of my upper arms. They crawled to my ears and demanded to be fed.

On the sixth day, I gave birth to twins. I gave one to my mother. My father fixed the windows and stayed for lunch, but said he’d prefer the plants.

On the seventh day I got dressed and went to work.

Jessica Hudgins lives in Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing and co-organizes Hey You, Come Back: A Reading Series. Her poetry appears in The Journal, Portland Review, Glassworks and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins.


When her water balloon the size of a baby develops a leak, my daughter wraps it in a towel and lugs it inside, demanding tape. Then she sets up a hospital under the patio umbrella. Bandaids over the criss-cross X don’t stop the slow ooze, so she brushes on watercolors to strengthen its latex skin. She writes get-well notes from the patient’s family and class, and twists a yellow pipe cleaner into a heart. A blue and orange butterfly lands and uncoils its tongue. My daughter refolds the stained towel in the water balloon’s shoebox bed. The patient jiggles and lolls. After it collapses in a rush, she fills another with the hose, then carefully pierces its black neck.

Kathleen McGookey’s most recent book is Stay (Press 53). Her book Heart in a Jar is forthcoming from White Pine Press in Spring 2017. Her work has appeared in journals including Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Quarterly West. She has received grants from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

Raising the Titanic

Whatever, let's just wait for the court date. A tennis ball sized sun will bounce above the horizon and land in our backyard. 15 - Love. Little children next door begin singing the song of the apocalypse which is G Em C D. If only we could get our favorite band to play while you say how I murdered the smallest, rare piece of you. Strange you're sitting next to me on the couch with a wine glass in your hand. I'm thinking of you. The problem is I'm always thinking of you, even when you're still here. If you blink, I will love you too much. When the ship splits in the icy water and trickles down into something important 200 years from now. There's a long list of shows on in the TV set in my brain. Some of them are sea adventures, some are legal dramas. Some of them are starring you and me. A dark beauty from a 70s sitcom stands hips cocked in an open door, her motorcycle jacket slung over one shoulder. You won't believe what happened to me today, she says. There were lifeboats, but nowhere near enough.

I Think That Guy Came With a Violin On His Back and Wants To Play a Song

Stepping face-first through last night's spider web and not caring. I could live in that moment. When light in this world falls, it lands on anything. It's hard not to be a haiku on a steak sandwich while trying to lose weight. Placing glass birds on every shelf is your freedom. It's also mine. That strain in my eyes you've noticed is me trying not to give in. I want to give in just to say I did. It's noiseless and when the spider trickles in the hallways of my brain—I mean, when I fell in love for the first time I thought I might die. I see a horse in the street and I want to start shouting. Candy in the street! The grease left on your plate. The flirtatious texts. Trying to remember the scent of the soap she used. If I could smell that again I might die all over again but who knows what the universe will do next. I'm scared. All these possibilities ricocheting from me at speed—they look so beautiful ringing away, lighting the darkness with streaks.

Christopher Citro is the author of The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy (Steel Toe Books, 2015), and his poems appear or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Best New Poets, Sixth Finch, and Prairie Schooner.

Dustin Nightingale lives in West Hartford, Connecticut. His poetry has been or will be published in journals such as new ohio review, The American Journal of Poetry, Cimarron Review, Portland Review, and decomP.


I would not tell you of my solitude. I would tell you tiny birds of fire perch in the summer trees and gladden me. That toward evening, one alit upon the prophet's arm and cried out the world's song. The slim blade of the moon sliced into blue nothingness. An orchestra of darkness commenced. He caught flame and burned there inside it like a soul.

I would tell you the river carried its blackness as far as it could. Sunlight crested the smoking trees, revealing a butte of ash where our prophet had gleamed.

I am waiting to see what devotion has to do with a rush of wind. I'm waiting to believe everything's ephemeral.

Andrew Michael Roberts is the author of the poetry collections good beast from Burnside Review Books and something has to happen next from University of Iowa Press, a couple chapbooks, and some collections of erasures. He lives with his wife Sarah in Portland, Oregon, where he works as a cardiac nurse.

Ring of Animal Control

The bee tattoo under your left ear was so outsiders would know. You, the apiarist. A pact was made. Rows and columns of them in the tall grass behind the house. You’d let the baby balls of lightning crawl on your body, and only then you felt whole. There was never fear. Your entire bust covered by the multiplication of those frenetic legs. In a book you read that the left side was the devil’s side, and also that bees could commune with the dead. With that ear you listened for malevolence, spirits in unrest. No one spoke. For weeks the bees would come back, smacking down some Crayola goo on their combs. Primaries almost off a pre-school mural: globs of something unhoney. Mickey’s red shorts. Donald’s hat. A sickly yellow. You had heard rumors of bees being attracted to factories: palettes of numeric dyes that the bees eyed instead of pollen. And they brought it back. Not wax, but abomination. Inedible. Where amber should shine through the membranes, there was only alarm. Stomachs sloshed with Robitussin. The colored abdomens of bees as if the only survival was jewelbelly. You couldn’t turn away, let your thoughts go. You wandered the fields looking for a building that felt wrong. There were no buildings. The earth was achingly flat. Climbing a water tower: there was nothing that was not sky. Months later, you read in the paper that a maraschino factory burned down. Cherries made in every color of crayon, the news said. It made sense, this mystery locale where bees ate stain. When the bees started producing honey again, they started disappearing. The radio talked of “colony collapse.” You thought it cell phone towers, microscopic mites, pathogens, Xanax in the drinking water, immunodeficiencies, loss of spiritual habitat. No more thread to speak to the dead. A combination of factors. The science part of your brain loved the long words. Magick, too. Spiders, though. It was spiders behind the vanishment. Something about the unusual rain season led them to set up shop in the shadow of the stands. Like the opposite of living in a skyscraper—forty floors above a deli. You go down to eat; the spiders crawl up. This is when you became angrier. You’d trap the killers in jars, drop charred pieces of paper in. Smoke them to death. Suffocate. Drops of bleach, titrated, one by one. Elsewise, drowned by cola. Sometimes you’d twin them, spider coupled with spider, ready to fight to the death. You’d bury the jars farther out in the yard. Grids of anthropods in glass tombs. You were digging when you found the ring. Ouroboros in design: the snake devouring itself forever. Fangs against tail over knuckle. When you slipped it on, it was like you always knew. Or like an old friend embracing you when you swore you were cursed under a bad star. That safety of familiar touch. Some time after the spiders were gone, the bees thrived. Drones made honey that was honey. You thought of aptitude, revenge. Dreams of recruiting a tiny army to do your bidding kept you up at night. Then, nightmares. Abattoirs in motion. Some ruination guided by wings. It wasn’t long before you stopped resisting. You’d start with them, move to other beasts depending on the odds. Air, then earth, perhaps, after, unfathomable waters. It all felt in your favor. Ziz, Behemoth, Leviathan. The wheel of fortune spun towards you with a merciless accuracy. You approached the rows and rows of hives, ready to bend them to your hellish will. When you were certain they were listening you whispered the names of your enemies. Cantrip: last name, first name, a list of mal incanted in alpha. You made sure not to stutter, or lisp. It was as if each syllable was a pink knife dividing your tongue into serpent.

JD Scott is the author of two chapbooks: Night Errands (YellowJacket Press, 2012) and FUNERALS & THRONES (Birds of Lace Press, 2013). Recent and forthcoming publications include Best American Experimental Writing, Salt Hill, The Pinch, The Atlas Review, Apogee, and Tammy.

About Flies

They tied the man to a pole in the middle of the square, smeared his body with honey, and left him to die. Soon, clouds of flies were feasting on him, sipping honey and blood through their long straws. A young woman took pity on the prisoner and started to fan away the flies. The man opened his eyes: “Stop! Leave the flies alone. They are full and happy. If you shoo them away, other flies will take their place, hungry and thirsty, and they will kill me. So stop. You’re not helping.” Instead of hearts, the kids on my street had jars full of flies in their chests. They were holding contests: whose heart had more black flies trapped inside? My parents didn’t want me to play with those kids, and all I wanted to do was run away from home and play with them. Show them my glass heart full of beautiful blue and green flies, glimmering like buzzing gems. But they weren’t flies. They were angels flying about, everywhere, clouds of angels getting into our mouths. Only we didn’t know. We thought they were flies and caught them with sticky yellow tape.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, among others. Serea is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervena Barva Press, 2015), and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). She co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, NJ, and is a founding editor of National Translation Month. More at cserea.tumblr.com.