by Trenton Pollard

Spring Snow

Just when you think it’s over,
winter returns for a day
and maybe another,
hunks of fluff on blossom,
and you receive a message
from a former lover, “it’s over”
between him and his husband,
third divorce this year close
to you and you have had
them both, been had
before and a couple
of times during, together
and separate. This is how
we love now, in turns.
All of us it seems,
are too much for one person,
too brittle by all that has happened,
and hasn’t that we wanted to–
too much for one person
to hold without breaking, you,
and the too-many yellow tulip bulbs
bobbing along the sidewalk enwrapping
a home they never wanted.
Your friend was not “The One”
but that is how you
named them, The One you met first,
and The Other, a former fuckboi
named Brad. The One who was and wasn’t
writing an unfinished novel
about the fall of the moon and The Other,
who said, years ago now, over branzino,
absurd, the moon is spared by having nothing
that can be mined or burned for fuel.
It shimmers in its uselessness.
The One said, yes, but what if it didn’t shimmer
and the coastal cities drowned,
if in the world of the story it’s dust is fuel,
like the memory of a last kiss,
and so is brought back
to the one it splintered from, in pieces?

The morning after his call
you listen to The One work out
the mechanics of lunar destruction
walking through the park.
Yesterday’s snow holds on
in shadow under evergreen bushes.
Trees alive with song,
it sounds like all of the birds
were born this morning, you say.
No mention of the break up
It was both of theirs fault it seems
Or no one’s and The One knows
if he doesn’t say more
you will want to ask
and that is what is comfortable,
between you, the wanting and not saying,
and you don’t want the walk
or morning to end,
as if it were a Sunday,
but the path ends at the lake.
You look for words in ripples
on the edge where wet bank turns sky.
There are none. Evil to imagine
the moon no longer the moon,
the novel shouldn’t be written
so is left unfinished.

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Originally from Michigan, Trenton Pollard is a queer writer in New York City where he lives by the East River. His poems and essays can be found in Lambda Literary, The North American Review, The Critical Flame, Passages North, Permafrost, The Bennington Review, and Plenitude, among other publications. A selection of his poems was set to music by composer Elizabeth Kelly and performed at the University of Nottingham as part of Memorious magazine’s art song contest. He holds degrees from Bennington College, North Carolina State University, and Columbia University School of the Arts, and will always be grateful for the generosity of his teachers.

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by Madisen Gummer

Latent Prints

I don’t know how people live
without me. No, really. Everyday
I live with myself.
I’ve never not.

In the living room I cut
Aliya’s hair, and when she stood
a dark crescent moon
outlined where she sat.

Everything leaves something
behind, I’m told. Rope fibers,
gunshot residue, boot prints in mud
and muddy boot prints. If I were to step

outside my body and walk away,
I could see what shape
my absence takes.
Surely, it has a shape.

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Madisen Gummer is a poet from Texas currently living in Brooklyn, New York. She recently received her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming from, Santa Clara Review, Variant Literature, Space City Underground, and elsewhere.

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by Hannah Joyce


I don’t have an identity, only / a vast fatigue—
—Wayne Koestenbaum

i walk around in this hott bod sucking
the teeth out of my gums       in this hott bod not
yet toothless in this milky eve light where
a clean gum-pink light suddenly suffuses
the air       suddenly & only for a moment in a way
one could say reminds one of youth or beauty or even
love but instead       one is trying to take a picture because
one wants to feel not quite so alone under this wide purple
CGI-esque sunset       capture a scrap of something like
sunset that u can rise up into       to share w/—
i don’t send it—instead sort the self into piles
there is much i want to keep but
a nagging pile of shit i want to throw out but don’t
know if it’s recyclable or maybe like batteries
u need to be careful throwing out a part of the self that is
toxic       i worry about making sense but i know
the plot is the most boring part of any novel & still
i keep imitating the self       show up
at the gallery expecting a show but it’s like
some networking event?       & i need to strain
to hear the music over the clattering of canapés & small talk—
at least i’m dressed up nice       something strange & beautiful
so my aliveness is undeniable (i think)       orange eyes
fur collar       black dress like an ominous cloud &
running sneakers       —idk if this counts as “squeezing
cadence out of thrall”—       but i get the number of some guy
new in town       someone else to get bored of
& how long ago would i have given up on myself
if i wasn’t stuck with me? i envy the flat simplicity of the Other
want to be synonymous with my Personal Brand
i want to be efficient, not someone
who naps for too long and wakes up groggy,
who procrastinates about getting the oil changed,
who spends an hour scrolling—       let me be
the scroll—       smooth and inexhaustible—
but the self is that which cannot reach conclusion
no matter how many labels we put on or selfies we
take       i resent & love equally this hott bod mercilessly
changing       staggering toward some semblance
of unity       impending/actual loss of
youth-as-beauty causing thoughts of hmm how much is
botox?       & also of course “what
am i doing here”       the future so swollen
with possibility       i want to find the one glowing
future with the most texture       but
when u start pawing sorting sifting thru that
glistening embryonic soup u find nothing
graspable—       all too slick sticky ephemeral—       shifting
shape as soon as u think you’ve latched onto something—

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Hannah Joyce is a poet and software developer who makes her home in Tucson, Arizona. She is the founder of Pansy Press (@pansy_press), a small independent chapbook press.

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by Elliott Thornton

A Plan to Get My Life Together

The day the ooze appeared was the day I had planned to get my life together. The night before, I had watched a video about feng shui and decided that tomorrow would be the day. I was going to put electrolyte powder in my water. I was going to move my tall lamp from one side of the sofa to the other, away from the window, where the light was redundant. I was going to apply to fulfilling jobs and buy a white noise machine to improve my sleep. But as I drank my electrolyte water and envisioned how moving the lamp might have a significant effect on the room’s ambiance, I noticed the ooze.

At that point, it resembled a tar puddle, a foot's-length across and covering only a small spot of the vinyl flooring in the corner. Improving the feng shui of my inhabited space was the second step in my plan to get my life together, after putting electrolytes in my water, but the ooze changed everything. My plans would have to wait for another day.

I had been living at the Lofts at Olive for three months at that point. The Lofts at Olive referred to an old apartment building, on Olive Street, that had been purchased, repainted, and had granite countertops installed. I tried to remember if the old apartment building had a name, other than apartment building. The Lofts at Olive retained several of the old building’s qualities, like not having lofts and having a spider problem.

The building was managed by a couple, Scott and Kristen, from Arizona. I generally avoided Scott. I got the sense he disliked me since I lived in one of the rent-controlled apartments that the city had mandated in exchange for the development’s tax rebates. I got along with Kristen. We usually spoke about how it was snowing, how she wasn’t used to the snow since she was from Arizona, and how I was used to the snow since I was from the northeast. 

I thought about telling Kristen about the ooze, but that was out of the realm of what our conversations were supposed to be about—snow and being used or not used to it—and anyway, when I had told her about the spiders, she seemed to take it as a sort of personal accusation. Buildings like the Lofts at Olive were the sorts of places that housed creative types and had coffee shops on the ground floor. They did not have spider problems, and they definitely did not have ooze. 

I drank my coffee on the sofa, examining the ooze, and when I was finished, I placed the coffee mug on the surface to see what would happen. At first, nothing. But after a few minutes, the sounds of cracking, and the mug began to buckle inwards, as if pulled downward by a string attached to the center of its flat bottom. Within another several minutes, the ooze was swallowing the last few red ceramic shards, and bubbles popped on the surface as if to signify that the process was complete, and the ooze was satisfied.


Over the next few months, I developed a sort of scientific fascination with the ooze. 

Normally, at my job at the library, I would spend the day playing spades on my phone, or reading old detective novels and thinking about reading more challenging books, but now I spent the day thinking about different objects I could feed to the ooze. I fed it a book of local fauna and flora I had bought aspirationally. I fed it the film camera I had stopped using. I forgot about my plan to get my life together. 

Over this period of experimentation, I was able to discern that the ooze had subtle, but specific tastes. It preferred crunchy, hard-shelled objects to soft: hardcovers over paperbacks, carrots over peas, electronics over fabrics. I was enthralled. I had never thought of myself as someone to whom exciting things happen. And yet. 

It wasn’t until I had fed the ooze a not insubstantial portion of my belongings that I realized it was growing. It now occupied about a quarter of the floor space in my living room and had begun working on the sofa, which now sat lopsided. 

I went to my job at the library. I collected things on my walk home to feed the ooze. I went to bed thinking about what I would feed it the next day. I went on a date with a girl named Tessa. She worked at a restaurant whose name was written in a font that meant the city was up-and-coming. Before the date, I reminded myself to behave like a passionate person and not to talk about the ooze, as people found it off-putting. I loosely draped a bedsheet across the ooze in case we ended up back at my apartment.

Tessa shrieked upon seeing the ooze. It had made quick work of the bedsheet, I realized, and was now fully visible. 

What is that thing, she asked.

I did my best to explain it, but that just seemed to make her more upset. Have you told anyone about it? 

A few people, I said, but no one knows what it is.

Haven’t you told your landlord? 

I hadn’t. I explained that whenever I told Kristen about problems in the apartment, she seemed to take them as personal accusations—such as when I told her about the spider problem—and I was, as a rule, conflict averse. 

Tessa said that she didn’t know if she could date someone who had a thing like that in his apartment. She thought it was indicative of a neglectful approach to life. 

We could just hook up, I offered. 

She shook her head. I’m upset by what you’ve shown me, she said. Tell your landlord, she added, you’ve gotta get that thing taken care of.

I bumped into Kristen in the building’s entryway. She was telling one of my neighbors how her husband had just put snow tires on his truck, which was good because of all the snow. 

Excuse me, I said, I have a question about something in my apartment.

She cut me off about halfway through my telling her about the ooze and its various properties which I had been able to discern. I’m not assertive enough in conversation, I thought to myself, as she asked whether I had told any of the other building occupants about the ooze. 

Just a few, I said, but they didn’t seem interested. 

Good, she said, it sounds like you should get in touch with someone at the university. This is probably too complicated for Kent. 

Kent was the building’s repairman. He had once visited my apartment to repair a problem with the ceiling fan, but the visit had ended up with him telling me about his pitbull, who had died, and then crying.


The graduate student who came to study the ooze was named Patrice. He was around my age and thin, with wispy hair that made me think of baby chickens. Finally, I had someone who shared my interest in the ooze. This is exactly the sort of research, he said, that could land me a teaching position.

Patrice increased the scope of my experiments on the ooze. He suggested feeding it only small things—marbles, thumbtacks, Altoids—to see if that did anything. Next, he suggested flat things—coasters, poker chips, cotton rounds. He also proposed that we rename it. 

The bog, he said, would be a more fitting name. Ooze is a verb. Did you mean to name it the sludge?

Bog made me think of Ireland and cavemen that drowned and then, millions of years later, became peat. Or however that worked. Sludge is fine, I conceded.

Patrice developed a theory that the sludge was not, in fact, growing outwardly, but was instead pulling the world around it inwards, having some sort of gravitational pull. Like a black hole? I asked. 

Sort of, he said, but obviously that’s not what this is. 

Obviously, I responded, not sure why it was obvious.

Eventually, Patrice brought his professor and a crowd of other graduate students from the university to demonstrate his theory. When Patrice finished speaking, the professor —looking altogether nonplussed—pointed out that if Patrice’s theory were true, if the sludge had a gravitational pull, then there should be cracks in the plaster on the walls from the increased strain.

This sludge, the professor declared, is just a thing that eats other things. His students applauded. Patrice hung his head.

With his theory disproven, Patrice began to lose interest in the sludge. He brought geiger counters and oscilloscopes, but eventually determined that it had no special properties whatsoever, apart from growing and consuming whatever it was fed. He stopped coming altogether. 

That’s fine, I thought, though I missed the feeling of someone taking interest in my life. I returned to calling it the ooze as a form of retaliation. Patrice, I decided, only cared about the ooze for the opportunity of career advancement.


Returning from the library, one day, I realized that the ooze now took up nearly the entirety of my living room and had begun spreading into the bedroom. I had to leap across it to avoid contact. 

I thought back to the day the ooze had first appeared. The tall lamp I wanted to move to the other side of the sofa, and indeed the sofa itself, had long since vanished. I thought about all the objects it had consumed—spatulas, framed posters, even an old motorcycle that I had taken apart and fed it, piece by piece. I wondered where they had all gone. I had long ago confirmed that they didn’t just tumble out of the ceiling in the apartment below mine. I realized, then, what I had overlooked. I called Patrice.

We’ve never fed it something living, I said. 

I’m coming over, he responded.

As we watched it collapse the tupperware container of Patrice’s lunch, he said, you’re exactly right. All we know, really, is what it does to objects.

He proposed a lab rat. That’s barbaric, I said. No, it has to be a person.

You’re right, he said. It has to be.

You could do it, I said. Since you’re the researcher, you’ll be able to record all the relevant data and figures of its scientific properties from within. 

That’s true, he said, I could do it. On the other hand, you have a much more personal connection with the sludge. 

Ooze, I corrected him. We’re back to calling it ooze.

You have a much more personal connection with the ooze, he clarified. It chose you, your apartment. In fact almost everything we’ve fed it has been your belongings. And anyway, he added, I think it’s important that I observe this first expedition from outside, so that I can record all the relevant data from this side of the ooze. 

That’s a good point, I conceded. I didn’t really think it was, but I have a hard time disagreeing with people. 

Patrice left to fetch his equipment, and I passed the time feeding it the rest of the food in my refrigerator. 

Whenever you’re ready, he said, when he returned. I felt nervous. What if I get dehydrated, I asked. 

Good thought, said Patrice. You should drink something.

I made us each a glass of electrolyte water and, as we drank, I thought back to that first day, back to the plan I had made to get my life together. It seemed silly, now, to think that small changes like improved hydration or more REM sleep would be the ones that altered my life’s course, when something of cosmic significance, as Patrice said, was forming in my apartment at that same moment. That reassured me, to think about my place in all this. Of all the apartments in the Lofts at Olive, the ooze had chosen mine and mine alone. It hadn’t chosen the man across the hall, with the red Labrador he told everyone was from one of only three such breeders in the world, and it hadn’t chosen Scott, with his wrap-around sunglasses and oak trunk neck. It amused me to think about how Scott would have reacted had the ooze appeared in his apartment. He probably would have tried to get rid of it. No, we were in this together, me and the ooze, the ooze and me.

I studied the slick, obsidian surface. I wondered if and how I would be transformed. Perhaps I would emerge as someone who exuded charisma, or with all my limbs elongated, or simply a more vigorous demeanor. If I were more articulate, I thought, or better at speaking off the cuff, this would be the moment to say something profound about my journey.

I’m gonna do it now, I said. 

I stood at the ooze’s shimmering edge. I dipped my toe. 

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Elliott Thornton is a writer based in Los Angeles.

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by Jared Hanson

My Life on the Streets

At the end of the summer of 1995, I had finished all my credits for high school and my father handed me twenty dollars. That’s the last you’re getting from me, he said. Either I had to enroll in the community college or start paying him rent. No, he said, let me rephrase that: you’re going to pay me rent and I’ll pay your tuition at the community college. There was an opening at the insurance company where he worked: all the paper files would be scanned onto microfiche and someone needed to pull out the staples. It’s at least three months of work, he promised. I laughed at the creases in his khaki pants and began the part of my life you could call my life on the streets. 

Three blocks from my father’s house was a strip mall, and in the strip mall was a coffee shop where I waited in line to ask for an application. The banana bread in the case looked good and the girl in front of me looked dirty and I saw her slip a thick slice of banana bread into her dirty bag. How much was a juice, she asked the guy at the counter. It was $1.25. She handed him a one and said whoops I don’t have change. She took the one back and gave him a five. He gave her three bucks and started fingering the coin drawer when she said oh here’s a quarter and asked for the five back, handing him a single. Can I get a straw she said, holding a dollar in her hand and putting her hand in the tip jar. Over there, he said pointing to a little table by the wall as she took her hand out of the tip jar holding a few more dollars.

Can I help you, he asked me. But I was already following her out. 

On the street, we split the banana bread and stopped at a payphone. Who did I want to call? She produced a gadget from her bag that beeped into the receiver. The call went through to my father without any coins. Fuck you, dad, I said. She showed me her squat in West Philly. A band played and six kids were throwing themselves into each other in front of the band. Her housemate showed me how they siphoned off electricity and shared a salad of iceberg lettuce fresh from his dumpster dive; he made a dressing by mixing packets of ketchup and mustard. I remember when I was seventeen and living on the streets, he told me, that was the best time of my life. 

The band left at three in the morning. You can’t just stay here, she said, you’d have to contribute. Like rent, I asked. Uh huh, she said. I walked towards Center City in the dark. Someone asked me for a dollar. I only had the twenty. He had new shoes and I said, sorry dude. I ought to punch you in the mouth, he said. You can’t lie down on the benches at Rittenhouse, so I tried to sleep sitting up. In the morning I was hungry. I was starting to feel like twenty dollars was not much money. 

I went into a coffee shop by the park. How much is a juice, I asked. One dollar. I only have a twenty, I said. He gave me nineteen back. Oh, I told him, I do have a single. I held it out to him and asked for the twenty back. But I just gave that to you, he said, that’s your change. Right, I said. I don’t really want the juice, I told him, let’s start over give me back the twenty. He snatched the nineteen dollars back and slid the juice toward me. Keep it, he said, and get the fuck out of here. So then I was out a twenty.

I drank the juice and walked back to the squat in West Philly. No one answered, so I walked down to Zipperhead on South Street. There were gutter punks on the sidewalk. They said what’s up and asked me for a dollar. I walked through Society Hill to Old City, up to Chinatown and then back up to the squat. No one answered. On 40th Street, I sat down and watched the college kids. If they looked at me, I asked them for a dollar. Nobody gave me anything. It got dark again. The shops and restaurants and then the bars closed. A college kid walked past me. I asked him for a dollar. I ought to punch you in the mouth, I said. He stopped and said, Really? 

I ran to 38th Street. It was hot. I took off my t-shirt. I walked to Logan Square and dipped my ankles into the fountain. You can’t lie down on the benches at Logan Square either, so I tried to sleep on the grass. It got too crowded there. On 15th Street, I saw a guy getting into his car. He looked like a doctor. I put my index finger out, covered it with my t-shirt and pointed at him. 

Give me your money, I said. 

He looked at me: What? No. 

I’ll shoot you, I said. 

I’ve at least got to see the gun, he said, show me the gun. 

I’m not joking, I said. Give me your wallet. 

I can’t help you, he told me and punched me in the nose.

At 6:15 in the morning, I caught the R3 from Suburban Station. The conductor didn’t check tickets until we had almost reached Lansdowne. From the Lansdowne station, I called my father collect. It was the last time, for a long time, that I heard my father’s voice.

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Jared Hanson received his MFA from Columbia University and lives in New York City. His fiction has been published in the Gettysburg Review, New Ohio Review, Pembroke Magazine, the Baltimore Review, and Faultline.

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