by Noah Dversdall

Diagram of a Sunken Ship

The museum opened its doors

to torrents of water. Staff

can't make it to the doors. Staff

can't shut and haven't been

able to shut in three days. More

than two dozen taxidermy birds

have fled to higher floors. They

didn't care their wings were plastic.

They cared that wings became the air

for three days, before they reached

the top floor. A caveman watches.

A caveman hopes his swimming lessons

from third grade will be of any help. He's

heard rumors that the water reached floor

ten. He's heard rumors of mammoths

sleeping in the belly of a sunken ship.

They've found their bubble of plastic

wings. They've learned to count each

panel of wood at night. Hope they never

find one missing. Mammoths take berry seeds,

chew them like tobacco. Took up smoking

until they ran out of paper for rolls. Mammoths

started peeling splinters from the ship

and pulping them into cigarette rolls.

The mammoths ran out of air before

wood, before water could kill them.

Noah Dversdall is a high school senior from Dayton, Ohio. He has been honored by the Poetry Society and the National YoungArts Foundation. He has attended workshops through the University of Iowa and the Kenyon Review.

by Danny Ross

I See You, Rattlesnake

Often, the branch simply breaks.

Every shadow puppet your hands form is a new symbol of enduring we are tempted to respect.

You can get some life out of a dead battery if you sit patient and cross-legged.

On all fronts, you accepted the haircut.

Every question I ask is a stone I cast in a pool that will not ripple.

Every pool I cast stones into accumulates with stones.

Belief packs up and goes home for the day.

I have gotten away with art and I’m back for your bouillabaisse.

You have never visited me in my dreams and I am offended.

Danny Ross is a recent graduate of Macalester College where he formerly edited the literary magazine Chanter. He works in the field of education and occasionally with technology. He lives in St. Paul, MN where he is searching for a musical instrument that best expresses his personality, which lies somewhere between trumpet and ukulele.

by Danny Ross


Only baffled harbor greets the ships of pilgrims

this hungry gazeless night, the night where no one

comforts in its wide wings beating. Tell me,

where have the gods all gone to hide,

smiling on some, changing others to horses?

Really, pin the moon. It doesn’t feel a thing.

Let the dim drain away.

The scrim comes later, and everything after begins

to tilt, so know my breath isn’t a rhythm, but mostly

a waiting room; all that rots must pass it by, all that captures

atoms of loneliness from the Petrof’s lowest white keys,

full of mindless static buzz as this child is full

of tragedies that taste of blood and unruly beginnings.

This aria is ending. The patron saint of leaving

hid in the almond grove,

made ugly music with the husks,

drank nickel water,

used what was left for tooth soup,

dies offstage.

Danny Ross is a recent graduate of Macalester College where he formerly edited the literary magazine Chanter. He works in the field of education and occasionally with technology. He lives in St. Paul, MN where he is searching for a musical instrument that best expresses his personality, which lies somewhere between trumpet and ukulele.

by Holly Amos

Luminescence in Contrast

This snow, its sovereignty

& migration—

I would braid it into my hair.

One new spine to tuck

under my pillow. How a prayer goes there.

Shift of light: make me whole again; brimmed over

with dark.

I don’t believe we can’t see

in the pitch. When I close

my eyes it’s the red stream: guidelight.


The spruce died with its radiance

intact, needles reflecting for days after.

The man who cut it down to protest an industry

never became a landscape bleeding light

and I put the book down

without either of my arms breaking.

Holly Amos is the author of the chapbook This is a Flood (H_NGM_N BKS, 2012). She co-curates The Dollhouse Reading Series, is the editorial assistant for Poetry magazine, and is an assistant editor at the online journal Pinwheel. Her poems have appeared in Ampersand Review; The Bakery; Forklift, Ohio; ILK; LEVELER; Matter; and elsewhere.

by Holly Amos

Specific Motion

Shirt wadded & tossed,

my throat implodes. Stars.

These shoes are easy now;

what comes later: midday

& muscles burned.

The present is so hard

to lock into. The mind

doesn’t live there.

Speed comes from palms

collecting palms. From legs

that went all summer

along the lake when my eyes

were thick with color,

the day in my head.

Someone was looking for keys

but we hadn’t seen any. Water

released the shore, rock

& sand; our arms cast

as antelope & apostrophe.

What owns the body;

what owns the movement

that body makes. Sometimes

it’s the head: projection

of the sky & a person

in it making words

into things: these feet

without pain.

Holly Amos is the author of the chapbook This is a Flood (H_NGM_N BKS, 2012). She co-curates The Dollhouse Reading Series, is the editorial assistant for Poetry magazine, and is an assistant editor at the online journal Pinwheel. Her poems have appeared in Ampersand Review; The Bakery; Forklift, Ohio; ILK; LEVELER; Matter; and elsewhere.

by E.D. Watson

Mardi Gras

Chuck sits motionlessly at the back of a crowded French Quarter bar, near the bathrooms. It’s ten p.m.; two hours remain in which to let the good times roll. But Chuck hasn’t been able to catch a break or a stranger’s eye or a fistful of beads thrown from the floats. He plucked the strands around his neck from the gutter. He looks at his hands miserably and thinks about his son, back in the hotel room. Women would talk to them if Ross were here, being all cute and teenager-y and corruptible. I came here to do something, Chuck thinks. But his only achievements are eating and drinking to excess. Like a parade, the good times have rolled right past him.

He’d wanted to wake up in the morning not just hung-over, but carnally ashamed. Like a wink or a secret handshake, he’d hoped to share that manful, dirty pride with his son. He’d considered getting them some hookers, or going to a live sex show. Chuck would’ve spared no expense. Instead, he’s paying for on-demand video games at the hotel room his son won’t leave. And though many women have joined Chuck in his barroom banquette, they were only waiting for the bathroom. The last girl couldn’t wait and did a line of coke off the table like he wasn’t there.

Another girl sits down beside Chuck and he figures she too is waiting for the bathroom. She’s drunken, doe-eyed, wearing a blue wig that matches her brightly patterned shirt.

“Like my shirt?” she screams. “It’s airbrushed!” And then he sees that she’s not wearing a shirt after all. Some of the paint has come off her nipples and Chuck can see tender ridges of pink beneath blue and flaking green. To his surprise, she lifts his hand and places within it the small, warm fact of her breast. Oh please God, Chuck thinks.

“Your face!” She laughs. Chuck removes his hand. She’s wearing a tiny pair of actual shorts, painted like the rest of her in swirls of blue and green.“Why aren’t you having a good time? It’s motherfucking Mardi Gras!” She stands and shakes her boobs against his cheeks; a joke, presumably. He’s probably not supposed to get a hard-on.

But this is the only opening he’s had all day, and he must pounce. “How much money would I have to give you for you to leave with me right now?” he shouts.

She stops shaking her boobs. He watches her step back and take in his side-part, his gentle belly fold, his pleated chinos. He knows what he looks like, but cash is cash.

She screams, “Are you out of your fucking mind? What do you think I am?”

“Beautiful,” Chuck screams back.

They leave through the fire exit and nobody stops them.

On the sidewalk, Chuck seizes her elbow but the girl slips from his grasp and says, “Hold up, I didn’t say I’d go someplace with you. I just came out so we could talk.”

“I’ll give you a thousand dollars.”

“To fuck you?” Her mouth is a shocking pink hole in her blue-and-green face.

“If—if you want to,” he stammers, unsure what he actually has in mind.

“Why would I want to?” Her arms are crossed over her painted breasts.

Chuck backtracks. “It’s really for my—”

“Look,” she says, cutting him off. “I got bills. You a serial killer?”

“No. Are you underage?” he asks, proud for remembering.

She shakes her head. “So, here are the rules. We can make out, and you can come if you want to but I’m not going to touch your dick.”

They shake hands, but in the back of Chuck’s mind he’s thinking about Ross, how to tell her. It’s too late though; she says she knows a back way to his hotel and then she’s pulling him by the hand through the pulsing mob in the streets. Together they scurry through the French Quarter alleys like lovers or rats.

Suddenly, Chuck is sick. He is not a runner, and the cure for too many drinks is not an oyster po’ boy. He tries to hold it in but vomit splatters the bricks between his loafers. He relinquishes the girl’s hand, certain she’ll disappear back into the herd of revelers, but miraculously, she waits. Though she is clearly disgusted. Thank God, he thinks, for girls with cash flow problems.

In the lobby of the hotel he figures he’d better tell her about Ross. “Listen,” he says. “My teenage son is in the room.” The girl looks at him like she knew it, she knew there was a catch.

“You creep,” she says. “Bet you don’t have no thousand dollars, neither.” She turns to go; the concierge people are staring but it’s nothing they haven’t seen before.

“I do!” he says. “I’ll go up and get it. Then we can have a drink at the bar and you can decide. Either way, you can keep the money.” He feels better after puking, clearer and more surefooted. He won’t let her get away.

“You’d pay me a thousand dollars just to have a drink with you? You must be desperate,” she says.

“Don’t leave,” he says, seating her at the bar. “I’ll be back in five.”

He watches from inside the glass elevator as it ascends and she doesn’t leave. It is eleven-thirty, the eleventh hour. Soon, the good times will be officially shut down for the season, but for Chuck and/or Ross, they’ll just be starting. Chuck hasn’t solved the problem of how they’ll share her, or if they will. He’s a hunter who has procured enough for one, and a father must feed his son. Chuck resolves to be satisfied with gristle and bones. But maybe the girl will dance for them. A thousand dollars is a lot of money.

Of course she might take the money and leave. Or Ross might refuse, and call his old man a perv.

Arriving in New Orleans, Ross had eyed the festivities from their balcony, pronounced Mardi Gras “an overgrown pep rally” and turned on the T.V.Ross might then tell his mother, Chuck’s ex-wife, whose permission for this trip was granted reluctantly with the caveat that Chuck take Ross to church for Ash Wednesday.All Chuck wanted was to whisk Ross away for a few days of mind-erasing fun. “There was an incident at school,” Caroline had explained. “In the locker room.” Someone had seen and reported it. When Chuck pressed for details she stuttered and said their son had been “violated.” He knew there was another word she couldn’t make herself say. Ross called it a lie and wouldn’t press charges. He said those football guys are always making things up, trying to say people are gay. Caroline had then found what she called a “hate manifesto” in the pocket of his jeans. “He’s going to become one of those shooter kids,” she’d said.

Caroline would use a paid, painted, topless girl against him for eternity. There would be no more chances for good times with Ross. If they don’t have some red-blooded, manly fun together now, they might never; they might forget how.

The hotel room is rank and goaty with the smell of boy. Ross is asleep, his face concealed behind a hank of hay-colored hair. There’s porn on TV; mini bar bottles and candy wrappers litter the rug. Chuck, overcome with tenderness and relief, thinks Bless you; you’re normal. He kisses his son’s forehead and Ross doesn’t move. Within Chuck rises a savage, giddy greed: the girl is his now, his alone. He takes his wallet from the safe and goes back downstairs.

She’s still waiting, stabbing her ice with a straw. No one else is in the bar except the bartender, who’s at the other end, messing with his phone. Chuck sits down beside her. “Our coast is clear,” he says. There’s a narrow band of unpainted pink flesh on her hip where her shorts have ridden down, promising a sweet swath of more beneath them. If only. He licks his lips and tastes his son’s sweat on them. He signals the bartender for a drink.

“Where’s my money?” the girl asks. Chuck hands it to her and she counts it, ten one hundred dollar bills.

Chuck sips his drink. “My kid,” he says, struck by sudden insight, “has no instinct for self-preservation. His mother fills his head with Jesus stuff, turn the other cheek, all that. What he needs is jiu-jitsu. I betyou know some jiu-jitsu.” Chuck pokes her in the thigh. The girl looks at him wearily. Her blue-and-green makeup is cracked. In the bad light she looks monstrous, ancient. Her eyes look a thousand years old.

The bartender says, “It’s midnight, assholes. Adios.”

The girl says, “I need to lie down.”

He tries to kiss her in the elevator, but her response is halfhearted. He thinks he’ll turn the porn channel back on once they’re in the room, to inspire her. But when they get there, she says she’s tired and stretches out beside his sleeping son.

“How about over here?” Chuck says, patting his own bed. The girl feigns deep sleep; Chuck knows she’s pretending, but what can he do? He said he’d pay her for nothing and now nothing is what he’s got. He considers going over and putting his hands on her breasts again. She’d given him permission to come if he wanted to, and he wants to. But with Ross right there and her faking sleep, it’s too weird, too depressing. He rolls over. Outside, the police are marching through the street on horseback, sending everybody home. It’s Ash Wednesday. In seven hours he and Ross will go to church seeking absolution they haven’t earned, and fly home.

Later—he can’t tell how much later—he wakes up and hears Ross being sick in the bathroom. Chuck turns on the lamp and the girl is not on the bed.That figures, he thinks. The little crook. She’s left a blue-green smear on the sheets. Chuck gets up to check on Ross but stops when he hears her voice in the bathroom. Peeking through the door, Chuck sees her holding Ross’s hair as he pukes, cooing nonsense. Telling Ross it’s alright, calling him “honey.” The knobs of Ross’s spine gleam in the fluorescent light like pearls on a string. Unbidden, an image flares in Chuck’s mind: Ross, in the locker room. His back curved, displaying the pearls of his spine before some—some swine. Chuck’s stifled cry nearly chokes him.

He tiptoes back to bed and turns out the lamp as the toilet flushes. The sink runs, then the shower. Later he hears Ross and the girl whispering in the darkness but can’t understand what they’re saying. He thinks, Ross probably knows her name and he wishes he’d remembered to ask. At one point it sounds like the girl is singing. Please God, Chuck thinks. He’s emptied his savings for this trip; let it be worth it. But he’s already had several miracles tonight. How many does a person get?

When he wakes again, nacreous light is seeping around the edges of the heavy curtains, and the girl is really gone this time. Chuck’s beads sway from the doorknob, and something’s written on the mirror. There’s a breakfast tray he doesn’t remember and the room smells like syrup. In his sleeping son’s profile, Chuck sees Ross as a baby; he also sees himself as a young man. But mostly he sees someone else, a stranger. Ross opens his eyes when the church bells start to ring. Father and son lie without speaking, adjusting to the light and looking at one another across the space between their beds. Caroline had made Chuck swear they’d go to church, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. They can go eat beignets instead.

E.D. Watson’s work has appeared in Narrative and [PANK], among other publications. She fancies pigeons and is a night clerk at a public library.