Issue 2.30

The Big Bang Expands Through the National Anthem at the End of the Broadcast Day

When I start awake & take a head count,
I’m almost all here.

I pick melodies out of my teeth
like celery veins.

I keep fire watch
until after the anthem

plays, until I hear the signature
of the big bang

booming through the static.
No matter where I rise,

I’m at the center of the universe
watching it vanish.

Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book, and several chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Another Chicago MagazineAsymptoteDiagramHandsomeNinth LetterPEN Poetry Series, and many other places. Recent poems have appeared in ApartmentCrazyhorseSink Review, and Two Peach. He hosts the SPECTRA Reading Series in Rock Island, IL, where he lives.

The House on Cornelia Crescent

In the center of Cornelia crescent there is a dull, concrete house surrounded by dull, dying flowers and a paved yard to accentuate its overall dullness. In this house lives the blandest thirty-two-year-old man you will ever meet. He wears a gray hat to hide his balding head, he keeps his beard neatly trimmed, his fingernails politely groomed, and his hair orderly coiffed. He owns three gray jumpsuits for everyday wear, and a pair of colourless swim shorts for the hotter days. This man, with no name, no interests, no hobbies, and no desires, has no purpose whatsoever on this planet. The house in which he lives was left to him, some years ago, by a distant aunt who took a strange liking to him. She had kindly prepared everything to be exactly to his liking. Alongside the house, his inheritance included enough money (so that he would never have to work or contribute to society in any way) and a turquoise betta fish—the only object in his possession that could be described as vivacious.

Every so often, a young boy of fourteen sneaks into the man’s house through the side window holding a plastic bag containing water and a turquoise betta fish. The sly, young boy tiptoes through the dull kitchen and into the bland living room and replaces the old fish for the new one and then quietly exits through the front door, leaving it unlocked. The man never notices this discrepancy.

Then, the boy stops coming. One morning, the man finds the betta fish with its belly up. Confused and panicked he runs out onto the street in his loafers, screaming empty words into an emptier sky. Worried neighbours run towards the man as he falls to his knees, hand to heart. Sobbing into the pavement with the tuned out, overlapping voices of strangers surrounding him, the man whispers to the earth, “I didn’t realize there was an end.”

Senka Stankovic is a Serbian-Canadian writer and painter based in Ottawa, Ontario. Senka is the managing editor of flo. and she is completing a BFA in Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Breakfast Relics

Fear and boredom have dulled my hunger
or morphed it. Food is too malleable.
I hate the messy dissolve. I hover
over fountains and balance
damp coins on my bottom lip.
I swallow anything with hard edges.
On this holy keepsake diet
I swallow Sylvia Plath and muscle
relaxers, the glass ring I made from a sea
-warped bottle neck.
My stomach acid eats all three.
The ceiling goes gauzy blue.
This organ museum hardly keeps its specimens pristine
but they are mine to keep from you.

Melanie Greenberg is a writer from Seattle, Washington with BA in poetry and art history from Sarah Lawrence College. She was awarded the Rex Warner Literary Prize during her year abroad at the University of Oxford. Melanie’s work has appeared in the 2019 issue of Nixes Mate Review, the Dog Door Cultural, the Eunoia Review, the 2018 issue of The Sarah Lawrence Review, and others.