Issue 3.5

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humanity

Never go swimming in murky water.
Do not taunt the monster with fire.

Keep secret your moments of weakness.
Of doubt. Of prejudice. Everyone wants

to be the top-hat, but lurking, always
lurking is the shoe. We are all tumbling

through space. Riding outwards on the ripples
of a single stone that was tossed. If a stranger

knocks on your door trying to sell you the year
1971, refuse. If my mother calls and wants

to talk about the weather, hang up. It’s a trick.
She has been dead for years.

Patrick Meeds lives in Syracuse, NY and studies writing at the Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writer’s Center. He has been previously published in Stone Canoe literary journal, the New Ohio Review, Tupelo Quarterly, the Atticus Review, Whiskey Island, Guernica, The Main Street Rag, and Nine Mile Review among others.


A massive blackout
Stormed inside summer’s night
You touched a button
On the wall crept full of liquid
A massive blackout in the city
A massive blackout in my body

Ellen Tan is a poet and university lecturer who was born in Chongqing, China. She earned MA in Literary and Comparative Studies from Hong Kong Baptist University. Composing poems and plays in Chinese and English, she is now teaching literature-related courses in Guangzhou. A street dancer and life observer. You can find her on Instagram@ellen_tanchang. 

Dear Dead Garden

I am
in love

the center

of touch.

in my palm,

it’s an ocean.


are we


Dear Dead Garden

To be born is a sort of dance one does on the graves
of the world where the music is smoke and the fire is
no fire at all but a moon pulling the great blue eyes
of the sea wide open.

William Erickson is a poet and memoirist from Vancouver, Washington. His work appears or is forthcoming in West Branch, Sixth Finch, Heavy Feather, Bear Review, and elsewhere. William is the author of a chapbook, Monotonies of the Wildlife (FLP).

This Summer

my uncle

This is the second time
he died.
The first time

he woke up

in a body bag
in the back of an ambulance.
The medics saw the corpse
sit up.

Except he wasn’t a corpse.

He told me that story
one Christmas,
saying that
they don’t put zippers

on the inside.

Behind him,
the lights on the tree
blinked like
a police squad car.

The House on Elm Street

It’s where I grew up. I saw
the K-Mart recently, eight miles

away. It was a vacation
to go there. Now, boarded up,
my sister saying, The building
looks like it has cancer.

Two shopping carts,
like teeth,


in front of its nailed doors.
Our old house, in comparison,
was beautiful,
except we didn’t live there
anymore, just some old couple
who let vines take over everything.

Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press). Right now, Riekki’s listening to Emiliana Torrini’s “Today Has Been OK.”

What It Was Like

A scuba diver with foggy goggles, a malfunctioning dive belt, ears filled with seawater. My body is floating, falling, uncontrollable. An unfamiliar and unsettling world. Sunlight reflecting off the ocean, too bright yet blurry, blinding me, everything indistinct in its glare. Sounds are both blaring and muffled, overlapping each other and blending together, indiscernible. Nothing is as it was.

A fall down a flight of stairs. A brain injury.

A life abruptly contracted to a bed. A once welcoming embrace at the end of the day. Now my hours there are spent in a delirious sort of sleep. I tumble over and over, never landing, searching for why. I startle awake with panicked breath to assess whether I’m alive, and find my sheets encasing me like mummy bandages.

A fatigue, unlike any I have encountered before, is a cement block grinding me into my bed, merging us into one being. Time passes without delineation except for the shadow play of night to day across my bedroom ceiling. Days upon days are lost.

A pain that stabs, throbs, echoes through my brain. Never-ending. My existence becomes pain. I fear that pain will erase me. I fear that although I survived, the I that made me didn’t.

A child’s sweet whisper in my ear rouses me. With my eyes still closed, I lean into the cool touch of a child’s hand on my face. The bed dips beside me as a little body presses close. My fear leaks out in a sigh, and I drift back to sleep.

Mary LaLonde writes memoir and flash nonfiction. She was a child and adolescent psychiatrist in her former life before a traumatic brain injury changed everything. She lives in Westchester, New York with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. You can find her on Instagram: @margie.lalonde.


Ever wondered how deep it goes? The soul
in the body? I am afraid of searching for it,
red meat unspooled like ribbon below the chest—
I wouldn’t know what to do if I actually found one.
How could I hold myself? How could I clean it up?

Vodka Caramel

It was nice to disappear, and nice
to stay gone. I hungered for the dead

skin under my feet, the little sounds
I left behind. Stillness staggered

in my stomach and I was the only answer.
My feet in my mouth was the only answer,

turned heel on my tongue. I didn’t want to move
anymore in that world. I wanted to move

from the absence within myself
to somewhere else. My heart full

of my legs, I formed a circle.
I formed a portal. I swallowed the end

of the portal I shut tight. There on one side
beat the silent night. On the other, my spot

I went to vanish, where nobody could follow.
I went there to be full and it was nice.

Oscar Enriquez received his MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he lives in Houston, TX.

Trying to Move On

Only because of small towns did people seek out cities
and wilderness. If not for injections, there would be no
tattoos. Except for the closeness of siblings,
no soldiers would have been shot dead on the field of battle.
The wheel would have gone nowhere but for the pebbles
loosened by earthquakes, wind blowing acorns, raindrops
running. If not for her tomb, we could pretend to leave
the home problems behind. But for owls waiting in the pines,
the airplanes, instead of being tangled in contrails
of musket smoke, could fly into their own dark future.

Lisa Roney is the former editor-in-chief of The Florida Review and associate professor of English at the University of Central Florida. She is the author of Sweet Invisible Body: Reflections on a Life with Diabetes, Serious Daring, and the poetry chapbook The Best Possible Bad Luck. Short work has appeared in such publications as Panhandler, The Lark, Kudzu House Quarterly, storySouth, Ruminate, Sycamore Review, and Harper’s. Though she hails from Tennessee, she now lives in Florida with her husband, cats, and extreme weather.

Myakka River, Florida

Morning dew, fine strands of
crystal, shiny chandeliers,
for black widow’s webs.

Half-tail lizard squats,
panting, ruby throat disc in,
out, attracting life.

Fire ant mound stares up
from a dank forest floor with
a threatening eye.

Menace is the ess
of an alligator’s back
sweeping the river.

Spanish moss clings, sticks
like spiderwebs when you
rest under live oaks.

Is that wind shooshing
or the gliding approach of
an anaconda?


I once hit a deer with my Toyota
on a winding suburban road.
I rounded a ridge bend just
as she leapt down. Her tawny
body, somehow light, then heavy,
pounded off the driver’s door,
propelled forward into the
brush. The white fur of her
tail flashed, a dust mote,
out of my periphery.

Stunned, I drove ten miles to home,
crawled over the passenger seat
to safety. The next day
a suit-and-tie adjuster
told me she probably didn’t live,
said deer run themselves out, then die.

I’ve come to admire that doe,
weighty enough to break
a car, airy enough to flit away, running
to the dappled edge of an oak grove,
sinking into liminal silk,

Randi Lynn Sanders is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. Randi lives on the Gulf coast of Florida, where she maintains her own financial advisory practice while honing her craft in her spare time, usually before or after market close. Randi’s poems can be found in Saw PalmThe Metaworker Literary MagazineYour Daily Poem, and Muddy River Poetry Review among other places.