by Marco Yan


Say      loneliness takes interest in what the sleepless do 

the body rolls on a mattress      rises      buoyed in the room
the way a bell’s tongue hovers      barely hitting the mouth 

intermittent silence      the man presses his ear to the wall 

outside      a couple quarrels      their car stranded
by the trash-banked curb      the engine refusing to start

Marco Yan is a Hong Kong-born poet who received his MFA degrees from New York University and the University of Hong Kong. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Pinch, The Adroit Journal, The Louisville Review and more. You can read more about him at

by Justin Davis

Funeral Chicken

My Grandma's house is bulging with the deaths
of old birds—funerals the past few days, 
she calls to Uncle Julius. Proof is in
the programs: half faces among her mail
that poke out, are composed of grey-white hair
and wrinkles birthed in Mississippi’s Jim Crow womb.
Whenever ninety year olds turn to dust,
their children fly two hours, underwhelmed;
the congregation dines and sings, exudes
whole hymnbooks. Afterwards, the house will fill
with styrofoam reminders: the boxes
of meatballs and spaghetti, yellow cake,
and ziploc bags containing wings like bricks,
thick slabs of breading. And they only come                            
with death—in cracking grease, the deacons mourn,
but me, too.
                    I can taste my grandma's folk,
vaguely familiar. I acknowledge them.
I come to church on breaks and let them rise
out from their pews, stroking my hair.
Just weeks ago, a woman hugged me, asked
my height; I didn't know her sun had set
until I saw her picture over lunch.
Her memory's buried under heating bills.
She leaves her sons; I leave bare bones behind.

Justin Davis earned his BA in Literature & Creative Writing from Rhodes College, where he received the Anne Howard Bailey Prize in Poetry. His poems can be found in Squawk Back and The Southwestern Review at Rhodes. He currently works as a community organizer in Memphis, Tennessee.

by Justin Davis


I am constantly dreaming about setting things on fire:
my desk, white woman novels for kindling, my brother's
blue bedroom wall covered in Avengers stickers. Like liquor,
the tiny hands of toy soldiers pour into my mouth
and I wake up reaching for my tongue. But I digress:
I'm always digressing from something, but I never know
what I'm digressing about. I'm always saying   the word
honory instead of ornery. I google things like cottonmouth,
or towns named bath, or how do i ease this burning in my
bones. Malaise flits in my brain like a gray moth. I don't
Uber anywhere. If I worked for Oxford, the word of the year
every year would be rambunction. Would be bring-the-muthafuckin’-
ruckus. At my house, business only ends at the 11th hour.

Justin Davis earned his BA in Literature & Creative Writing from Rhodes College, where he received the Anne Howard Bailey Prize in Poetry. His poems can be found in Squawk Back and The Southwestern Review at Rhodes. He currently works as a community organizer in Memphis, Tennessee.

by Nick Mangigian

The Shower

In the shower I
close my eyes as
you scrub my face
and open them when
it’s my turn to scrub
yours. The orange face
wash is a product I never
knew existed. It smells fresh,
un-chemical, and feels so mild
it makes me laugh,
which makes you laugh too,
which makes us both smile.
I am astounded at the
quality of your toilette
and that you’ve brought
me into it.  

It makes everything
that has happened since
not matter, not even
a little.

Nick Mangigian works at a neighborhood butcher shop in St. Paul, Minnesota. He studied creative writing at the University of Wyoming. This is his first published poem.

by Jean-Luc Bouchard


I walked all day through the city, and by the time the sun set I had no idea where I was, let alone where I was meant to be. Earlier, illuminated by the spring sky, passersby on the sidewalk turned and called my name—which sounded especially vulgar, like a slur in a foreign language—but I didn’t recognize a single one of them. I only recognize coworkers now. And I couldn’t care less. 

I’m ungrateful, because this is the moment I’ve waited for my entire life, when I can finally say I’ve gone crazy and let the words spin heads. Crazy people don’t have to pay taxes, and if they do they fudge the arithmetic something fierce. They don't watch what they say or what they wear or eat. And best of all, they don’t work boring, gray jobs, or answer to anyone outside of their own person. But even though I’m crazy, I seem to do more work now than ever before. 

The embarrassing fact I can no longer ignore is that I can’t quite seem to break the chains of sane responsibility. Instead, everything’s harder, but I still do all of it. And if it isn't harder, it’s definitely fuzzier, like arranging a jigsaw puzzle through a smoked glass window. It’s been months now since my realization, the elated embrace of dysfunction, and the joy of that day has all but worn away. That morning, I leapt from my box spring and did a jumping jack that shook the coins on my nightstand. In a rush of euphoria, I took a downtown bus and several trains all the way back to my childhood home. The door was unlocked and the kitchen sink was piled high with dishes, each one sparkling with globs of congealed chicken fat. I heard shuffling in the living room and marched across the house, my jaw and chest raised high. Passing through a beam of sunlit dust, I walked right up to my mother and told her the whole dirty truth.

“I’ve gone crazy,” I said, “and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

She predictably blamed my weight, blamed my job, blamed my landlord. She said I was working too much and not trying hard enough. I folded my arms and held my ground.

“It’s no use,” I said. “I’m a madman.” 

She sighed and picked up the comics page of the newspaper lingering over the image of a fat orange cat working a TV remote. I stood still a moment, and then asked if I could use the bathroom before starting the trip home.

At work that Monday, I felt my performance suffer and it made me giggle with hope. But when I passed by the pantry and saw the coffeemaker empty, I instinctively brewed a fresh pot, and it won me the praise of my superiors. Their palms thumped against my back and soured my mood. I longed to be fired, so I decided to sabotage the many projects I’d been given. For the first time in years, I walked to work with a smile on my face. I spent hours licking my fingers and flipping the covers of manila folders, playing with the numbers I found inside. But by the end of the month, all my efforts had fostered success for the company on unprecedented levels, and I was promoted. I was given a new title, a new office, eighty more cents an hour, and a tenfold increase in responsibility. I shook my boss’ hand limply in protest. 

The next day, I made the mistake of blinking and a month passed. My new desk filled up with binder clips I never used and crumbs from the egg sandwiches I ate each morning. My boss stopped by and suggested I buy some new clothes to match my new position, so I sold the furniture and books from my apartment for five good suits. I didn’t have the money for new ties, however, and swapped my suits out each day while the same tie stayed hanging around my neck, the knot never loosening.

The starched cuffs of my new shirts made my wrists sweat, but I noticed more and more people smiling at me, even when I forgot to check my email for days at a time. Soon after I started to wear them, a colleague I’d never liked stopped by to shoot the breeze. He told me about his latest job title, which sounded made-up, or, at the very least, suitable only for a company fifty years into the future. I started to mumble something about being busy, but he cut me off to offer congratulations on my success, and on my stiff new shirt cuffs, which had apparently become the talk of the water cooler. He pulled a 2.5” x 3.5” family photo out of his wallet and showed me his beautiful wife, and his beautiful mother-in-law, and told me about the time his beautiful mother-in-law’s doctor had mistaken her for a woman twenty years younger. He stopped talking and stared at me until I laughed. But it came out sounding too much like a sigh, and my colleague, sensing my misery with a smile, asked me what was wrong. 

I told him that I was disturbed, that I had gone completely mad, that there was something deeply wrong with me, that a darkness had inflated itself inside my chest and now tried to consume me. He said I should take a multivitamin and pick up racquetball. He was always trying to get more men from the office to play racquetball with him. I shook my head and stuck a finger in his chest, hungry to be heard. I said that he was a great big bunny rabbit with a beefsteak tomato for a nose and candy corn for teeth. He laughed and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll get the figures in by tomorrow at the latest.” He didn’t close my door on the way out and I had to get up and do it myself. 

That night, I took a cab home for the first time ever. We hit every green light, never slowing down for an instant. I’d never moved so swiftly through the city, and the pace with which neighborhoods fell away from view forced my fingernails into the seat cushion. I asked how it was that the roads were so clear, and the cab driver tapped a dry knuckle against the dashboard clock in reply. It was so late that it was almost early. I had never stayed so long at work before, and no one had even been there to notice. I felt impossibly tired, unsure I’d be able to climb the stairs to my apartment, but I knew that, on the weekend, I’d find the strength to once again walk across this city, trace the same lazy route I’d been following for months, walk for two days and then put on a suit coat and go back to work on Monday. I’d be crazier than ever on Monday, but no one would notice that, either, and if no one noticed then what was the point? 

And now? Now, I’m out of the cab, I’ve been asleep and awake a half-dozen times, the weekend is almost over, and I’ve finished my walk. My feet hurt but I’ve no furniture left to sit upon, and I dread tomorrow with something akin to heartburn. My coworkers will see my suit and tie and think me sane, and I know as well as I know anything that this tie is glued to my chest, practically sewn into my skin. I know it so well that I’ve never once tried to pull it off.

Jean-Luc Bouchard is a writer living in New York City whose work has appeared in PANK, Epiphany, apt, NANO Fiction, One Throne, Umbrella Factory, and other journals and anthologies. He is also a contributor to The Onion. He is the winner of Epiphany Magazine’s 2016 “Writers Under 30” contest, and was selected for Honorable Mention by the Speculative Literature Foundation for their 2016 Working Class Writers Grant. His work can be found at, and he can be followed on Twitter @jlucbouchard.