Fiction
Incendiary
Grimley Bogue
Butter Pat Babies
Steve Rasnic Tem
Preamble
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Stockholm Syndrome
Lucy Mihajlich
Painting
Sayuri Yamada
Konfessin Mouser K.
AE Reiff

Excerpts
Hellbender
Jason Jack Miller
The Blood Poetry
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez
My Hands Were Clean
Tom Bradley
The Tumors
Matthew Revert

The Blood Poetry
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez


Listen.

I traipse no I run no I sprint—a fat, impotent ghoul sprung straight from the cellar of my childhood home—past the pregnant girl with five skeletal children and the nun and the synagogue with its windows stoned through and I’m headed directly for my daughter, Sylvia, at her school where she’s stationed with classmates of wannabe punks and black boys with their heads shaved and every one of them, apes, gushing out their hormones as I sprint to the edge of the Earth where Sylvia studies the canon of our national literature that I’m desperately trying to forget. My mind circles around the memory of my wife, Abby, and I must tell Sylvia everything, everything, because our brief lives depend on it. My heart races, so I halt and I bend over and gasp, spilling the life-force straight from my gut as I straighten up and focus on Sylvia in the baseball field posed before the sun as if I were destined to paint her into eternity but, my dear Satan, I will never be an artist. Our Earth has come to this. I must confess everything. Our clan’s terrible history pierces my forehead from the inside-out, but my idiot right hand, on its own, betrays me and covers the spiritual hole in my head. It’s hot and I’m drenched with sweat and quickly, dumb fuck, quickly, decide whether or not to tell Sylvia about all the debauchery of our clan and she’s right over there ahead of me as if, even, I would dare to touch her. My tongue is a slug desperate to peek out, so speak loudly of the femurs in our dark present, of Abby, my missing wife, of what happened and may never be resolved, never, and then Sylvia—my beautiful, young offspring—sees me and grimaces as if she’s embarrassed of her fat, impotent father, but I’m here, Sylvia, right here but she has no idea what’s coming for her.

“Why are you fucking here?” Sylvia prods me with her curmudgeon stare and scans the baseball field for all the boys streaming their sex straight into her as she turns this way and that way, trying to hide from the air and all the boys and the janitors, too. “Shouldn’t you be teaching or something? I thought you had a job.” She cradles her teenage, wondrous and big head on her shoulder with that black hair cascading down, down, as she tries hard and fast to block the shock and the shame of her father. (Think here: fat motherfucking father.)

“I called in sick, Sylvia. I have to tell you something.” I have it all on the tip of my tongue and, but I shift my heft, perspire, try to stop my body from aging. I’m balding and overweight and out of breath, and under my tongue are scandals that even I won’t admit to myself. Just then, a bruisy-looking dude with dyed hair laughs and laughs and stares at Sylvia’s butt as if he’s a pilgrim straight out of hell. I glare deeply through him because, not so far away from my conscious mind, I’m a killer fashioned from blistering and religiously sharpened titanium.

“Talk to me in front of my friends? Really, Papa?”

“No, not in front of your friends. Come, daughter, let’s walk.”

“Couldn’t it wait till I got home?”

I open my mouth to let it all out and implicate me and her undead grandmother right then and there. I say absolutely nothing once again, god bleeding fuck, even though I know I must. The sun’s plasma pummels us and tries to force me to secrete the muck of my ancestral history that hovers like some nuclear fallout over us. I had vowed to protect Sylvia from all of this since the day she was born; to shield her from her grandmother, the bitch progenitor; to shield her, period, so I could give Sylvia the gift of a simple, tranquil life. But Abby, Sylvia’s poor mother whom I tried to save, vanished last night and I know about the whole thing—or maybe I don’t know or I never wanted to—so I stand beside Sylvia, the simpleton that I am, as her ape classmates giggle under their breaths.

We walk and the sun blasts us until we’re speechless, so we traverse the strange and unnamable spaces between here and there. Around us are all the damned items that ever existed—newspapers and trinkets and shoes, etc., and skittering rats and water bottles and old women underwear and two gallons of white paint, etc., and birth certificates and sloughed-off fingerprints and fungal toenails, etc., and that damned, blasphemous heaven.

“So what is it, Papa, tell me, will you?” She looks directly into me as if she knows it’s the end of it all, but I deflect her with my thoughts, not wanting to and—

“Maybe we should get inside first—somewhere to protect us from the ultraviolet rays and are you hungry are you famished?”

“I guess. I could go for something.” She tilts her head down. Her super-straight black hair manes over her shoulders like liquid and she wears expressions well; her forehead defined and wrought and a few blemishes on her innocent, thirteen-year-old face. I look at her from my periphery and I know she’s tall for her age; looks more like her mother, thank god, and her gait is free like her thoughts are free and the breeze messes with us, reminding us that we’ll never be alone. The roads are devoid of any cars for some reason, but a fire truck does whiz by us straight for the fire in my brain. You’re a wonderful daughter, Sylvia! I want to bellow until my lungs collapse.

“Let’s go to Malfeasance and Human Hair, then,” she says with a stammer. “They do have great burgers.” We stop and examine each other on this desolate sidewalk for a brief moment—much, much too brief—because, even though there’s a father-daughter kinship between us, nothing will ever be the same.

“Yeah,” I mutter, “let’s go.”


Leland Pitts-Gonzalez studied Creative Writing and Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University where he discovered the enormous possibilities of poetry, experimentation, and critical theory. He eventually earned an MFA in Writing from Columbia University on a merit fellowship. He has published fiction in Open City, Fence, Dark Sky Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Monkey Bicycle, among other literary journals. He is also the project director for an literary event series, Phantasmagoria: Language and Technology of Suffering, for which he received fiscal sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.