Corey Mesler ~ Three Poems

Praying to the Silent GodCOREY-MESLER

One does not use words.
One breathes.
In the center of breath
there is a light.
In the center of light
there is a heart.
Keep praying without
Answers are breath,
light, heart, as true as
vapor, as frangible as skin.


Weekend Alone

“Strange: inability to be alone, inability not to be alone.
One accepts both. Both profit.” ~Albert Camus

Left alone for the weekend
I do not have to answer to
anyone but my bowels
and my dog. I am forced to
find reserves for the
emptiness. I have reserves.
In the morning I am gray
as a babe carved in stone,
but at night, before I turn
out the light, I am alive like
any enlightened dying thing.

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Mark Young ~ Five Poems

A Line from Charles DarwinMark-Young

The symptoms of chickenpox
are descended from a long line
of priests, can lie dormant in the
sensory nervous system for years

simply by beating their tails from
side to side. By observing facts
through pre-sight neural tissue that
originally came from Africa, they

have reconciled with the heritage
of that fossil xylophone which gave
the family its name. Gene Kelly
plays the Larry Parks role superbly.

Fata Morgana

We’re sorry, but Cape
Tribulation’s weather
report is unavailable
right now. All of our
staff are out shoveling
snow in the federal
government’s under-
ground nuclear waste
repository in south-
eastern New Mexico.


F. Engels has been
studying bellydance
since 1997. At this time
he has on black form-
fitting ankle-length
leggings softened by
silkscreened images
of famous public
buildings, but access-
orized with fluoro
hydro-thermal vent
areas on the sides.


To finish the week-
end off, dinner with
some old friends &,
after, this amazing
gelato made from
an all natural
Russian karaoke
machine formerly
owned by the KGB
but now pensioned
off & living a quiet
life east of Omsk.

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Experimental Science Fiction

Place Theory by Tantra Bensko

tantra-benskoRemember when the death of award-winning journalist, Claire Daleen was in the news a couple years ago? She was found decapitated, with her ears cut off. And then – nothing. There was a case that just got started two years ago but was thrown out of court. There were lots of deaths at that time, but only a few rumors online about how they were all related to the court case. Then, the journalists who put those pieces up died too, and all references were scrubbed from the net.

I couldn’t let it go.

I had a suspicion.

You’ve gotten this in your email folder, probably spam, because it was sent out automatically to everyone. People need to know. You are being led to believe our Counter-Intelligence is innocent, but I tell you they are using vile methods of indoctrinating people beyond anything you can imagine. They’ve always told gullible people lies, knowing those victims would, with good intentions, disseminate the disinformation for them. The CIA owns the media under the Mockingbird Program. The news hoaxes stories all the time using green-screen methodology. Even voice-to-skull technology has been in use for nearly a century.

The facts speak for themselves. But the material I was able to obtain about the case was heavily marked with thick black marker. Some of it was possible to read through that, and other parts I reconstructed the best I could, using only common sense and imagination of a layperson. Perhaps too many parts have I left redacted. I know it can get frustrating to read them, but it would have been more annoying if I hadn’t filled in most redactions with my own words. I know my reconstruction doesn’t sound like the actual legal jargon but I’m not familiar with it, so just consider it as if you were reading a Alternate World in which lawyers spoke like you and I. Work with me on this. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Please don’t look too carefully into who I am. I don’t have close family or I wouldn’t have taken the chance of doing this, for fear of retribution. I gave my pets up for adoption so they’d be safe. But still….

I am not receiving any money for this reconstruction. I’m just passionate about truth. I don’t know anything about law, and I don’t want to bring suspicion on myself by looking things up.

I’m just displaying the folder for documents related to the case and laying them on the table for you. Read the recording of the presentation of the documents on their table. The first is Claire Daleen’s log she created for just this occasion. She was well respected as a journalist for her clear thinking. Eventually during the course of this log, you can tell she was indoctrinated by the Counter-Intelligence ploy in question. Think what you will. Just don’t let a lifetime of propaganda sway you to knee-jerk reactions against this truth.


Court recording of evidence presented in the Charles Dundsworth Case, as recorded by court secretary Becky Albernath:

Attorney James Ancel REDACTED to the document presented below, Exhibit A, transcription from the handwritten notebook of Claire Daleen, and filed with the notebook in one envelope. The notes were found in her pocket. The booklet has a hand-made cover with the words “READ ME, POLICE: Prepared for Court Evidence.”

March 30 1 P.M. I, CLAIRE DALEEN, am recording this to be read in court as official statement in the future, and recommend that an autopsy of my body be done, if I die with this thing undiagnosed, by an impartial doctor. Surely other people have plants growing from their ears as well. It can’t just be me. I don’t even know if they are plants, because they can’t be pulled out, or burned or snipped. My husband RICHARD PHILIP DALEEN, has tried, reluctantly, upon my request. The tendrils move and align with something, I assume the sun, perhaps influenced by ionics. In fact, they are moving right now.

They possibly move toward certain ideas. When I’ve learned certain new facts, they’ve seemed to grow, though that is hard to tell for sure, small as they are, and nearly invisible. They are tropic towards people speaking on certain topics, even on the news. They are sensitive to forces of indoctrination and any awakenings to the evil of those forces.

I’m careful to hide this notebook at all times from Richard, so he won’t worry. He is gone often traveling Internationally with a job so secret he can’t tell me who he works for, leaving me alone with this monstrosity. He loves me as much as ever, if not more so. I can tell because he is giving me diamond ear-rings lately, huge ones that he wants me to wear all the time to prove to the world that he loves me in spite of the articles I wrote about social engineering by the CIA, using the Mockingbird Project reporters and newscaster, to convince people they should hate the countries our government decides need to be our new enemies.

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Literary Fiction

A beginner’s guide to book burning by Alexandra McCallum


You don’t know why you built a fire. It wasn’t cold. And the strip of grass between the wooden house and the wooden fence was so narrow that you’re surprised you didn’t set something alight. You were talking. About movies probably. And the computer games you hadn’t played for years. And the disgusting instant tea from the vending machines at uni. And aliens. It was about that time you’d used a screeching, moaning internet connection to download SETI at home. Somehow it was going to use your tiny hard-drive to scan packets of data and look for messages from aliens. You didn’t believe in them.

‘Hey,’ he said.


‘Do you think we should burn something?’ You feel his fingertips on your cheek.

‘Like what?’

‘A book maybe.’

A rock is sticking into your ribs. You roll over.

‘We could burn my undergraduate studies book. It’s so useless.”

You want to say ‘It’s so fucking useless.’ But you’re weird. And you haven’t learnt to swear yet. Light is leaking out of the house. Bright steady light from the big bulb on the ceiling and the flash-flash of colour from the crime show on TV. It reminds you that your parents exist.

The ink smells fresh and addictive. You flick the pages – all the way from accounting to zoology. Truth is you’d be happy to read a book on any of these things. Well – maybe not accounting. But this isn’t a book. It’s a database from the pre-internet age. The name of the subject, a sentence and a half to get you interested vital statistics like subject codes, number of credit points and semester intakes. By the time you close the screen door and head back onto the grass you’re almost spitting.

‘Forty five dollars I paid. Because they said it was compulsory. And I’ve opened it once. Just long enough to see that those little two dollar handbooks can do a better job.’

‘It makes a nice noise.’ He says – flicking forward to journalism.

‘So does this.’ You grab the book, take a random number of pages and rip.


You look up. It doesn’t rip neatly. Rs and Ms and Js are ripped in half and for a second you think you see them shuffling towards the edge of the page and leaping off to reattach themselves in midair. And then you stop. Because his eyes trace a curve in the air. And you know he’s not thinking about his girlfriend.

‘You still haven’t….’. He pauses for a syllable or two and you throw the pages into the fire. ‘have you?’

‘No.’ you look at the grass, at the strange ugly sexy curve of his toes.

‘Do you want to?’


‘No … but…’And now he is thinking about her. The girl who’s name you only remember when he mentions it. ‘But if by your birthday you haven’t…’

You rip and rip and rip and throw pages into the fire. “OK – yes.”

And we lie down again. The fire dies a little and you can see the curled, charcoal strips of pages and parts of words that didn’t make the jump in time.

You didn’t think once about how burning books. Any book. Was a tradition of dictators the world over. You remember being surprised at the force of your own emotion. You hadn’t known you hated anything. And now that you did you sure what it was you hated.

‘Which book would you burn?’ you said.

‘Mark the Martian. My mum got it for me as a kid.’

‘So that’s where it started? All this searching for extraterrestrials?’

‘No. Not at all. I mean SETI is real. Could be real anyway. But this is just the worst.’

“Come on, you read fantasy all the time. I bet you loved it when you were three.”

‘No. Never. It was just so. Eeeeeeeej.’

You realise Dad is walking towards you. Dad doesn’t give lectures. Not really. But then you’ve never burnt a book before. You sit up. That’s when the first strange thing happened. Because Dad holds out his hand and says,

“I thought you might want something else.”

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Matt Hetherington ~ Five Poems


It, Again

like a child, naturally
you want to make it new

to make it
powerful or pretty

and be done with it
before it’s ready to be free

so you keep it inside
and lord it over it

like you’re the god
that you don’t believe in

Temporary Like America

it doesn’t rhyme with miracle
or austria or shit or luck or failure
it’s as lonesome as a guitar with only one string

oh my lil ol bittersweet juice-sucker
through the racket of your brave sad gladness
hear me typing to ya

and i have to tell you that you did wrong
and cos you haven’t learnt to dig yuhself
you’re as likely to say sorry as a baby, baby

you can deny it later
and pay for it in neverland
when you’re as empty inside as a dead cop’s wallet

everybody knows america is everywhere
but not everyone knows this is nowhere
and you’re like totally like not

not hot not cool not here not there
a simpering goddess sipping gossip
but just before you die

you will suddenly be very young

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Rufo Quintavalle ~ Three Poems

A week, a year, whateverrufoQ


So many

out from silence		   
but I will start
something else


maybe the sprawl
of this afternoon.


After all
	     it really
has everything 
		in it:

a tree, some noise
of cars
and not
	so long ago


For the longest time

I worried
would come
	         up over

the wall
get me
	but I don’t

worry about that


even as I speak

a column of silica
is blowing over
	and all that
seems to matter
the cancelled flights

I’m not even sure 
this goal
the point
	    of view

which would be
	our own

	    but still
from time
	    to time

I wish we’d try

always to deny

the angelic
our nature
to be
         the only role

someone decided
to leave the poets

	whoever they
	I never met
         and their dicta

carry small weight
with me

no, I think
	     the wall
will hold
	    just fine
and if
	it doesn’t

let them


In the street
	        it is

time for
	  the children

to be picked up
from school
will all go
or more

(it is sunny

like it hasn’t
in weeks)

	    to a park

but one of the
is crying.


This funny thing

I went 
the roof
	  and a
strong wind 
picked up
	    just as

the restaurant

switched off
extractor fan

so one sound
the other

and the wind

carried off
the cooking smells


       tossed them
        the cumulus.


So you see, there really is everything.

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Dangerous Writing Literary Fiction Memoir

Dollarbirds by Melissa Ashley


24 March

Early Wednesday morning my sister drives me to the private hospital. My name’s called in the waiting room and I’m led through double doors, shown into a small office. A nurse dressed in green questions me about fasting, allergies, former operations. I’m weighed, ‘so they give you the right amount of anaesthetic,’ and handed blue-green scrubs for my hair and feet. I remove all clothing except my underpants and am tied into a gown. The nurse clips a nametag around my wrist, joking about not getting me muddled up with somebody else.

‘It happens, you know.’

I nod, recalling a news item about a hand transplant in which the patient’s left hand was joined onto his right arm and vice versa.

She leans forward, intimate. ‘I worked in Saudi Arabia. The female patients can’t be seen by the male surgeons. They wait on the stretchers like dead bodies, completely covered. Once, we performed neurosurgery on a cardiac patient.’

‘How terrible,’ I offer. How feeble I sound.

She squeezes my hand. ‘You’ve made the right choice with Dr Knight. He’s very good. The best. Like an artist.’

I’m moved to a curtained room with Ronnie to wait. Dr Knight breezes in. That’s his air. I’m told to take off my gown (my sister steps outside) to pose for several ‘before’ photographs, shot with a digital camera, which I’m shown immediately on the LCD. With a felt pen, Dr Knight draws crude lines, circles, and dots on my breasts and nipples. Nervous, I’m prone to gush nonsensically, but I recognise this part of the procedure as crucial. I keep still and steady my breathing. Picture what my artist-surgeon sees. Make myself stop.

I’m helped to ease the gown back on. The rest of the team arrives; pressure stockings are rolled onto my feet and legs, my bag put in a locker, my sister sent home with a kiss. The anaesthetist introduces himself and asks about allergies and surgical history. He’s tricked me, painlessly sliding a cannula into the back of my hand and organising the tubing, lining up a syringe.

I wake up near the nurses’ station. They’re talking loudly and taking food from the fridge, spooning coffee. There’s a commercial radio station on—the offending machine sits above the microwave—playing easy tunes interspersed with talkback. Shush, I want to say. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep? A hair-netted nurse checks how I’m doing. I tell her there’s a magazine in my bag, would she mind getting it out for me to read? I’m terribly bored. ‘You have to rest,’ she says. I’ve no idea of the time. After an age she returns, says my sister’s on her way. I’m supported to hobble into another recovery area, TV blaring, and supplied with a plastic triangle of ham sandwiches, asked how I like my tea.


25 March


For Ronnie’s house-warming present, I had a print of First Fleet lieutenant George Raper’s ‘Dollarbird’ watercolour professionally framed. I bought it at the National Library of Australia’s gift shop, while in Canberra to attend a symposium about Angela Carter and fairy tales. She’s hung it above the light switch in the guest bedroom, on the piece of wall jutting from the built-in wardrobe. I’m surprised. I really thought she liked it. She certainly behaved as if she did when she unwrapped the paper. She’s my sister; I know her expressions. Maybe she re-evaluated her enthusiasm when she got it home and found it didn’t quite match her city apartment’s wheat and linen colour scheme. The turquoise of the bird’s breast feathers and the indigo of its wing tips, I’d thought the perfect accent, given her rhapsodies on interior design’s reclamation of teal. Maybe the orange–red beak put her off. I’m confused. Aren’t birds all the rage in Better Homes and Gardens, Old World watercolours with that stiff, flat quality? Is the frame too ostentatious? Whatever it is, I’ve got something wrong. In my drugged-out state, disappointment transforms into rejection: I’ve failed her.

I stand at the half-length mirror in the bathroom. I’m general-anaesthetic yellow, like they’ve overloaded my liver. Powered me down and booted me back up. So sedated that if I sign something legal in the next twenty-four hours, I can’t be bound to it. I undo my pyjama shirt and unclip the hook and eye fastenings on the surgical bra. It slips off. Underneath, I’m wound with a thick bandage, over the top of gauze and surgical strips. I’m definitely smaller. The Elastoplast bandage is like the ruched bodice of a sundress, a signature item of femininity I’ve never been able to pull off. Strapless, I square my shoulders. I can’t quite express how minus two kilograms of breast matter feels—the tissue is mostly fat and glands and has always just been there, dragging at me, a saddle of flesh. I put the bra and my top back on, wincing at the tenderness in my lower right breast. I check the time in the kitchen but it’s another hour until I can take more pain killers.

I walk dazedly to the guest room and climb in bed. I rest and sleep propped on a pile of body contour cushions. On the bedside table are fibre supplements, zinc for the scarring, anica drops—I’m fiercely against homeopathy but bought it on the plastic surgeon’s advice—Di-Gesic, Diazepam, Panadeine, cold Lady Gray tea, tissues, Anna Karenina, Vanity Fair.

Raper’s dollarbird perches on a stub of branch that’s been stuck into a round of bare grass. The bird’s orange-red beak is parted, its short, thick neck inclined towards a large mosquito, which it’s about to pluck from the air, a style of representation common to the era. Apart from the open mouth, there’s little movement in the body, most likely painted from a corpse or skin. The library dates composition at 1788, but with a tentative, bracketed question mark. I forgive the image its flatness. These are early days in the field of ornithology, before Audubon’s wild arrangements of stuffed birds made to strike life-like poses using wire, branches, fruits and moss. Before British taxidermist John Gould, who classified camphor-preserved hummingbirds for twenty years prior to crossing the Atlantic to observe a living one. Not that you could tell from the lithographs he produced. The eyes of Raper’s dollarbird are large, almost black, with a gold-brown ring. The feathers under its neck are royal blue, as are its wings, except for the splash of white in the centre, from where it derives its name; apparently the spot’s the same size as an American silver dollar. The bird’s body is turquoise, in shades that encompass the stone’s pale milky teal as well as the Aztec blue more commonly associated with the colour. Here Raper’s brushstrokes are made with a single bristle. It reminds me of a schoolchild’s felt-tip colouring, where, instead of rubbing the pen backwards and forwards, the child creates a series of closely crabbed lines. The flat, stout tail is lifelike, but the orange claws and feet are too small for a creature that only expends itself at roost or on the wing.

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Todd Swift ~ Five Poems


It was never quite the kiss or weather.
We fell down after reading together
Simply since love is a matter of fact
At Easter; it often follows the act

Of indiscipline, the shifting feathers
That transform a swan; bars of leather
Were not our scene, but we attacked
Ideas of unison with underage tact.

We ached to wake up as F. Kafka;
Cherry-balmed lips the morning after.
It was sub-zero that April in Montreal;
The metro was blue; the turnstile

Saw us part, Walkman’s synchronised
To Orbison’s dream tears in our eyes.

Half A Cup Is Better Than One

The sun of course and being guided by Amazon
Into Tweens in Music, not Books. Flannery
O’Connor wrote to Alfred about unbelief.
I aim for chastity, spill my seed at HDLove.
How was it once we met and courted
Before the zip of the instant cock
Arriving in the palm like Christ?
I ride to my end on an ass
And wave at each frond
Fondly, like a friend
To man and beast.
Go slow, go on.
Lift me, Lord.
I pray up.
I am in
The way
Of need.
Bring a chalice
To my sensuous
Lips. Bill me monthly
For my insatiable greed.
The flies raft on my semen
Like a damned umbrella drink
Was in the making. I swizzle in
So many ways, my soul is slickness
Itself. I have arm-wrestled unarmed
Men and downed scorpions in one, like
Bond when he was at his very lowest ebb.
Satan gave me the part of my life in his web.
I play myself but this time famous on NYC smack

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