You take a memory and a healthy dollop of salted butter take a swig of cheap flat beer and plop a slab of date expired ham or chicken like your great grandmother did after showing you the pin cushion and how to darn a sock or make a doily soft light through porthole windows on either side of the unused fireplace jars of preserves in the mud room a little sunshine on an unpainted porch and you let it fry until corners start to curl like her wispy gray hair not yet bloodied by the car accident that took her keys away and bruised her forehead then brown one side of two slices of doughy white bread in grease until steam rises and wheat browns the smell of meat and sugar falling across her wool carpets darkened chairs and ottomans her touch through food of the Great Depression all dumplings and noodles her oak knot knuckles covered by silk skin laying out thin-sliced American cheese across side-browned meat with layers of family stories and cinnamon crackers dipped in whole milk a cheese sandwich on the pine wood counter crisp on the outside and tender inside like the grateful hands that formed food and child before scooping up the bubbling leavings in the pan to mix into a gravy that was poured over a small boy’s life.
by Brad G. Garber
Brad has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, DASH, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Ginosko Journal, Junto Magazine, Vine Leaves Press, Split Rock Review, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, Aji Magazine and other quality publications. 2013 & 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.
i am drowning under a raft of history.
i have nothing but
tanager trills in the dark,
a handful of wildflowers,
an ineffective rage.
i’m tired of growing vegetables
that die every year and must be
endlessly restarted by hand —
i want a yard burgeoning with blossoms,
overgrown, tangled, useless and thriving
by itself. i want
love like a field of wildflowers,
love like a mountainside spring,
cascading untamed, fragrant. i want
to grow a world where food
doesn’t have to be political, love
doesn’t have to be political,
the fucking wildflowers
can just grow where they grow without
being required to mean anything.
i cannot save this world.
instead i am growing vegetables,
tired annuals, non-natives, needy
and exhausting as colonialism,
to survive the world as it is
and try to help build a raft
that could hold us up
instead of holding us under
while the world around us
by Kat Heatherington
Kat Heatherington is a queer ecofeminist poet, sometime artist, pagan, and organic gardener. She lives south of Albuquerque, NM in Sunflower River intentional community, sunflowerriver.org. Kat’s work primarily addresses the interstices of human relationships and the natural world. She has one book, The Bones of This Land, printed by Swimming with Elephants Publications in fall 2017, available on amazon.com and through SwEP, as well as several self-published chapbooks, available from the author at yarrow [at] sunflowerriver [dot] org. Her work can be read at sometimesaparticle.org.
The sound is faint, like the low grumble of an old man in his sleep, constant and all- pervasive—a unitary oscillating auditory net that suppresses spontaneous impulses and curbs undesirable actions. Holographic images in staggering colors pulse through the atmosphere, supporting auditory control, thus promoting emotional stability and forestalling anti-social impulses. All UniCitizens, like the dwellings they inhabit, the vehicles in which they are transported and the devices with which they communicate, are extensions of a unifying principle, components of the universal network that maintains a functioning society.
Life in the early 21st Century was messy and unpredictable. Terrorism, criminality and personal dysfunction prevailed. A multiplicity of information sources conflicted with one another, contributing to widespread confusion and disturbing behavioral patterns. Fear prevailed in a society riddled with contradictions. That is, until social scientists and engineers developed a panacea for chaos. Intensive Auditory Therapy has provided a comprehensive method to homogenize and control conduct, radically reducing the potential for anarchic and anti-social expression. It has transformed the troubled rumble of pre-UniLife into a unified buzzing hum, like bees at a distance, both a warning and assurance.
Despite Social Credit Scores that now weed out undesirable impulses, the quest for perfect social harmony is still occasionally subverted by expressions of errant desire that even the most precise algorithms often fail to take into account. Controlling human desire is a fragile and febrile thing, subject to resistance by the ambiguous and unruly qualities of the latent human spirit, impulsive emotions that even if rigorously suppressed will occasionally find expression in the side streets and back alleys of the maverick mind and delinquent heart.
Case# 45-41561X: Two middle-aged men, each assigned to a member of the opposite sex for life, are granted a UniWork break at a virtual eco resort in the Outer Hebrides, otherwise known as “islands of the strangers.” They grow inordinately close to one another and conjoin in sexual union for which they do not have official clearance. Each party desires to continue with this unsanctioned social breach, straying from their UniRole assignments and thus disturbing calibrated societal balance. The transgressors are prescribed multiple treatments of Intensive Sound Aversion Therapy and successfully returned to normative relational function. Case closed.
The social order, codified under the universal doctrine of ‘Each An Assigned Place’ is restored, forestalling any reversion to pre-Uni conditions when individual choice and irrational urges subverted cultural cohesion and threatened human survival.
by William Torphy
William Torphy’s poetry, critical reviews and articles have appeared in numerous magazines. Ithuriel’s Spear in San Francisco has published three books. Short stories have appeared in The Fictional Café, ImageOutWrite Volume 5, Main Street Rag, Miracle Monocle, Sun Star Review and Chelsea Station, the story for which was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. He works as an art curator in the San Francisco area.