elsewhere / 15

red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

what happened is best explained through colour. not the almost-clear black & white of stars seen from the city. rather the stabbing pain of long deep red curtains & behind them there is a scream you can almost hear & behind them is everything & there is the sound of something coming closer. no, not that, something in between, to explain how the moonlight turned over & grew cold & there was nothing but grey grey only grey, the early morning dawnlight in an empty apartment. it has hollow bones yet it still it is heavy, so hollow the flowers don’t know where to look & still the moon is the only light & you can romanticise it & you can see beauty in it but the wildlife can’t survive. that is the cold truth. it turns your fingers black & it burns behind your eyes. you fight. you resist. you become the deepest dwelling bacteria, hiding inside a rock made of dirty dishes, mould, grey mould growing here & here & there. until at last you can’t bear it anymore. it is all too much. it is all too much to bear. you can’t cope & the colours now are returning home from a trip abroad, they are brighter & harsher and it hurts to look, it hurts to imagine, the red is everywhere & the grey is now steel blue, a coping mechanism, & there are some weeds growing flowers but they aren’t any one colour, they are fluctuating, they are part of a dichotomy, a sine curve you’ll come to hate because the stars have colour if you look long enough & it is beautiful & it is horrible & it is it is it is & what are you meant to do with all these shades now, you can’t hide them they plaster your face. the sky is sky blue again, what it means is anyone’s guess. a colour chart could help but it’s always twisting, contorting, a sunset cityscape beautiful one moment & the splitting image of dread the next. trying to understand yourself by talking it out & testing, shading in the circles around your eyes. you can use the word saffron or crimson or velvet or scarlet, but you are talking about bleeding, bleeding dry, dried up. it’s impossible to get a straight answer from yourself. the screaming is always there just sometimes it takes on a different form, sometimes it wants to dance & sometimes it wants to creep slightly closer to the edge & sometimes, sometimes, you’ll want to do something, you’ll want to do something very bad indeed & you’ll think about it always & one day & one day

Rhys Feeney lives in Aotearoa, where he sells tea for a living. He studied English Literature and Film at Victoria University of Wellington. Some of his work can be found in Alluvia, blackmail press, Murmur House, -Ology Journal, and other places.

In Dreams of Old Girlfriends

Always some snag, serve detention or recite the periodic tables under polar ice, or maybe Vesuvius erupts at DQ and I have to save my girlfriend’s poodle, will I melt in lava or only get scorched, perfume everywhere if you count chlorine on swimsuits, and I do, or cordite romancing sagebrush, that lovely girl-smell of tennis sweat, I breathe it in, here’s the good news, now I can fly, here’s the bad, she left her wings under the south bleachers, always awful timing with old girlfriends, her dream horses pawing my pasture, yahoo, but I have algebra, or my happiness balloons riding shotgun in her Gremlin but she has to babysit, just once I wish her red ants would picnic with my black ants and mean it, which is to say, they love me, these old girlfriends, but from a distance, my fears and favorite words tumbling out at once, have you found the augury in my chimera, could you spangle my spectral topaz, that’s right, I’m pledging allegiance but always to a jasmine blouse or sour apple gum, never directly to pouty lips, and there’s great kissing potential in the air only she’s a pelican and I’m a crayfish, I’ll do anything for her, for them, cheat on the ACT, wear a tuba instead of a tuxedo, should I put girlfriend in all caps or only quotes, finally we step from the hot springs, time to change from freezing suits back to sweats, my car two miles away, is this really a first date, wind chill, hypothermia, so we stand back-to-back to doff and don, her staring at foothills, ready to bombinate the north star, and me all kowtow serene, doing anchorite hops among dying aspens, when she spoils it by saying can I trust you not to look, and I spoil it by saying I’m sorry my hotfooted cumulus I hate myself but yes you can.

Q & A: Decoy Boyfriend

Q: And this girl Marissa, just who was she afraid of?

A: Anyone who liked her, more specifically George Fix, a defensive end who could bench press a VW bug, which is what Marissa drove. His mother was Greek, his dad was a roto-rooter man. Think of George as a bird of prey snatching an innocent pigeon from the air.

Q: This was back in high school?

A: That’s right. I was poised to mow lawns all summer, and Marissa was poised to save drowning kids when she climbed her lifeguard tower, and the sun was poised to forever purge paleness from the vocabulary of her skin, and her body was poised to cause car crashes if you stared too long when she walked home.

Q: And you were a lot smarter than George?

A: If by smarter you mean not making moves on Marissa, then yes. That’s why she liked me. When I came up with DB, short for decoy boyfriend, she howled with laughter—my pet name the rest of the summer.

Q: What exactly made her tick?

A: Hard to say. She wanted to be Amazon bronze, but didn’t throw herself at guys. She was a cheerleader but had a head for math. Religious but a Sabbath breaker, anorexic but not about food. Always fighting to control something: who had the best tan, who could avoid the most dates. And she loved horses, I mean from faraway, watching them run.

Q: Did you ever get to hold her hand?

A: On lucky days when Georgie Porgie was on the prowl. She’d give me instructions, like we were in an acting class. “Pretend I just told you something romantic.” “Hold hands till the corner, then he can’t see us anymore.” Or maybe she’d snuggle into me and say, “Put your arm around me, like we’re going to make out, he’s watching from his Jeep.”

Q: And you went along?

A: Had to. I wanted to spend time with her, and that’s what decoy boyfriends do. It was a lot like voodoo, only I was pushing pins into myself.

Q: And you didn’t mind?

A: Of course I minded but covered it up. I’d share my Carla woes and Zooey woes and Penelope Elizabeth Baxter woes, and ask for advice. All three girls were placebos. Once when George drove by on Marissa’s birthday, she said to me, “Touch my face.” So I did, my finger grazing her ear oh so lightly, like I wasn’t on fire, along her jaw, like it wasn’t a secret map, then under her chin, like electric tides weren’t lapping her lip. Then she laughed and said, “Okay, we’re safe now.” Only I never was.

Q: Were you afraid of him?

A: Intimidated—that’s what I’d call it. He couldn’t do anything too drastic because that would make Marissa hate him. Still, he had his ways. At a party, he “accidentally” bumped me down the stairs and into a couch, and a couple times he ran me off the sidewalk with his Jeep, only veering away at the last minute. He even egged my house, yolks dripping down our picture window like yellow blood. He left a note: “Better leve her a lone.”

Q: Did you drive Marissa places?

A: A few times, but I had to borrow my Mom’s station wagon to do it. We went on milkshake runs, and once caught a movie. Mostly I’d walk her home after work, or we’d jog at the outdoor track late at night. I remember the sprinklers, ka-chaw, ka-chaw, the big industrial ones, the way they notched forward, spraying fifty feet, cool water in pursuit, ka-chaw, then ti-ti-ti-ti, flipping back to start again. We dodged them like felons, but secretly I wanted to get hit.

Q: Did your stint as DB involve any public kissing?

A: Oodles of kissing—in my mind at least. Hello kisses, goodbye kisses, on-her- doorstep kisses, in the station wagon, underwater, drawn-out Top Gun kisses on a certain path redolent with wild roses where you couldn’t tell the difference between moonlight and the Holy Ghost and the sky making an envelope around us and the crickets sawing our bodies in two.

Q: Did she ever thank you?

A: If “You saved me again” counts, then yes. Over and over. Always followed by “I owe you big time.” And once she gave me a plate of half-eaten brownies from a summer cheerleader camp. And she peeled my back.

Q: She what?

A: Over the Fourth I got this monster sunburn waterskiing. A week or so later, after the blisters, I started peeling like a mummy. When she saw me, she led me into her backyard. She had me take off my shirt and laid me out on her pink beach towel that smelled like coconuts and bananas and baby oil. Smelled like her in other words. My whole back was snake skin. I came apart in these long strips like when you put glue on your hand in first grade and let it dry. Snake babies, that’s what she called those papery shreds, and collected them in a little nest.

Q: Did she talk when she did it?

A: At first she did, a regular emergency room doc stitching up a patient, then just her hands moving across my back, like she was a blind woman reading a contoured map. Then she said, Just a sec, and ran inside, returning with a fresh-cut piece of aloe vera, which she held like a pencil. I mean who has aloe vera? I winced at the first touch. Next she made loops with that icy wand. I asked what she was writing. Wouldn’t you like to know, she said. My back felt gooey and cold but somehow clean.

Q: Did you ever tell her about your secret crush?

A: Not then and not now. I mean I was lying on her towel, and it was pink, and I was a secret message written in lemon juice. I tried putting on my shirt but she said wait till you dry. She took the snake babies between her hands, rubbed them into flecks, and blew. They lifted like dandelion seeds. I was waiting to dry, waiting for her to tell me when. My back was all signature, my back was about to disappear.

Lance Larsen, former poet laureate of Utah, has published five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018). He has received a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize and an NEA fellowship. He raises hostas, bikes, and dabbles in aphorisms: “When climbing a new mountain, wear old shoes.”


Bob drove off the pier in his finned Studebaker with flash and flair carried over from his bomber days. Some say a life of single malt and big losses at the track had worn him down, others that he'd simply had enough. Nearing the end of his preparations, he was leaning on the horn as though it were a siren clearing the squadron briefing room prior to a mission. He arrived as director and doomed star, an arm out the window in salute, defiance or surrender. He mounted the gutter and crossed the boards, splintering the fence then going out and down, a diminishing gleam under the skin of the tide.

Anthony Lawrence’s most recent book is 101 Poems (Pitt street Poetry, 2018). His poems have been published in Poetry, Green Mountains Review, River City, The Rialto and many journals in Australia. He teaches Creative Writing at Griffith University, Queensland, and lives in Moreton Bay. A book of prose poems, The Side the Weather Does Not Love is forthcoming in 2019.

Field Report 3

Not every bee loves a colony. The boldest builds a solitary nest, petals of clover papered over to house a single egg where, Yeats writes, “wings have memory of wings.”

Where larkspur has memory of larkspur, I fold a piece of paper into eight triangles, each concealing a separate future. Pick a color, then a number. Blue, then two. You have a secret admirer. Today you’ll find what you thought was lost.

My fingers work the four pockets of paper. Someone you know will make a discovery. Your sister wants to be an astronaut. What will turn into a bee sleeps in a nest no bigger than a thimble.

We leave room for redundancy, for enormous error. The night goes unwatched. I’m putting the cart before the horsefly, hitching my wagon to every star.

Jennifer Moore was born and raised in Seattle. She is the author of The Veronica Maneuver (University of Akron, 2015), and her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Best New Poets, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. An associate professor of creative writing at Ohio Northern University, she lives in Bowling Green, Ohio.


I was fourteen.

My father photographed me so I always saw myself as beautiful. He photographed my brothers but they were shadows—out of focus slurs compared to the stark sharpness of my own face. You could balance it on a razor’s edge, my face. In adolescence, the razor’s edge was my serrated teeth surrounded by a smattering of freckles, my brothers’ silhouettes in the background as I winced in new braces.

I was fourteen.

I always saw myself as beautiful. There are so many photographs. My brothers at their edges, always darker, always peering as if leering at the photographer. Their sharpness outwits my own face. I couldn’t balance their edginess with my own. In adolescence, the razor sat precariously like a set of teeth having lost its childish, serrated edges. My brother’s freckles mirrored my own as I winced a smile through new braces.

I was fourteen.

Too many photographs sat inside a too damp box. My brothers, in their own damp boxes, peered only through the dirt, as if their deaths were caused by the photographer. Their loss of sharpness is reflected in my own face. I blunted their edges, which did not make me sharp, a razor. In adolescence, I took to the razor’s edge like a lover, grinding down my teeth’s childish, serrated edges. The cuts the braces made were the freckles I never had.

Lucianna Chixaro Ramos is a Brazilian-American poet who works as a copywriter by day. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief of Obra/Artifact, the Journal of the MFA of the Americas during her time as an MFA student at Stetson. Her work can be found in the journals New South, Otoliths, The Collapsar, and Anastamos.

A Continuous Rehearsal

This life appearing as a continuous rehearsal I can neither modify nor end. The stars are not looking back at us - not the way we understand "looking" - but it can be helpful sometimes to think of it that way. At midnight in November one visits the pigs a last time, their breath rising in the moonlight, dense and white like pools of semen. Pilate was a menace long before Jesus showed up, bound and determined to enact his public swan dive into history. What is prayer, what is love, what is forgiveness and who decides - these were never irrelevant questions - and their answers still matter - even if we are no longer a willing or ideal respondent. I wake and stagger down the hallway at 2 a.m., surprised to find myself on the verge of understanding nothing yet again. What is gallows but another word for stage? We aren't brave because we feed the poor, and we aren't right because we've decided the pigs will die, but the pigs are dying because we are still confused about the precise nature of hunger. I can't get away from Jerusalem, nor the death penalty, nor this studied reliance on women who calmly wash and wrap the dead. Morning arrives like pipe smoke, the invisible hand curling into a fist. It does come to this, doesn't it? At the last minute we refuse to swallow and so begin again: first we study emptiness, then we plant a garden, then we look for bodies looking for other bodies.

The Feeling of Being Lost

Some drives go okay, some don't. This one didn't. Got all the way into Halifax, Vermont before seeing it and had to do a three-point turn right there at the border. The rivers are moving fast, it's spring, the pine trees on the snowy banks dip low-hanging branches in the currents. The orchards are clearing deadfall, pushing it into huge piles for burning, the horses are unhappy in their muddy turnouts, the emu farm on Route 112 is closed. Two days of rain, some of it hard, then a little sun. The man who can't drink coffee anymore doesn't, but misses it, and so the drive is tinged with an unscratchable itch. Who said you can't get there from here? Giant chunks of schist jut from the soil, the pastures are mostly hills save close to the many rivers where they flatten out like little prairies, and everywhere you look a different horizon stares right back at you. Is the mirror asking for trouble or are we finding ourselves as we really truly are after all? Someone made a movie once, it didn't look like this, but the feeling of being lost was the same. After a while you find the missed turn and take it, end up scratching a dog's head in the driveway and then standing in some stranger's kitchen talking about how your father hit you, and sometimes it was okay, and sometimes it wasn't, and then what? Then it's time to go. Now it's time to go.

Sean Reagan writes and teaches on a small farm in western Massachusetts. His poems, fiction and other writing have appeared in numerous publications, including Rattle, Yankee Magazine, Chiron Review and Modern Haiku. He’s online at seanreagan.com.