Upon Turning Twenty-Five

By Nick Falkowski

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On the eve, age comes crashing
like a furious wave against
the shoreline of my thoughts –
the receding hairline of indolence,
the growing gut of greed, half-spent,
half-endured, as catcalls rise
from the gallery, and I am speared
upon a crescendo of longing.

We bid welcome to this new generation of thought.
The unborn children are squealing at the font
of our loins, that fear infects
like a cancer, noting
the ages I’ve reached
and bodies I’ve spurned
without ever creating something greater
than myself.

Wisdom refuses to descend; the old
goat beard growing, but shaking no pearls
from its wiry form. The curved blacks
of my inheritance not permitting
rescue or relief from the
misanthropic tendencies
that echo still like rung bells from my core.

Nick Falkowski 

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Starting Again

By Pigpen Madigan

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The world is around again,
knocking on the door.
I pull on the chain and
open in it.
I am trying.
She is beautiful and
I let her in.
She says that starting
again is hard.
I agree over wine.
I don’t drink wine,
I am trying.
I work my way out of
the cocoon. She says
that it would be a good
rule not to talk about
our exes. I tell her that
it sounds good to me.
We kiss, letting the movie
play in the background.
I move forward, and
she pulls back.
She says that starting
over is hard.
Through the wine I agree. 

Pigpen Madigan

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Teen Spirit

By Tabatha Jenkins

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I watched as my friend, now former, pulled the tobacco out of a half-smoked cigarette before stuffing the hollowed out filter with a bit of marijuana. We had found a secret stash and decided that since we were home alone, we ought to try it out. Really, I was the one trying it for the first time. Being only fifteen, I hadn’t fully dived into drugs yet. She was four years older and, therefore, was quite experienced.

She proudly held up the finished splif (which is the technical term for a pot-stuffed cigarette) and ignited the lighter that she grabbed off the table.

“You ready?” she asked with wide eyes.

I quietly nodded, still crippled with nervousness and paranoia. We were at my house doing this, so if anyone was going to get into major trouble if we were caught it would be me.

I watched her take a big drag; the butt of the cigarette glowed red and I could immediately smell burning grass – pun intended.

Her eyes squinted and her chin seemed to curl towards her chest as she passed the splif to me, “Take a hit”.

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Either/Or

By Kelly Ann Jacobson

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Two years ago, Em killed her boyfriend. She doesn’t think that this defines her, merely that it defines her for everyone else. The murder has, of course, had certain effects on her: she won’t watch horror movies or tolerate people who yell.  She won’t eat spaghetti with red sauce. She won’t let her new husband wear green, even on their honeymoon when he insists that the t-shirt is the only clean one he has, and really, it’s more of a turquoise.

Still, Em is about as adjusted as a murderer can get, which she reminds herself as she and Marco sit in their hotel bed listening to the argument escalating in the room next to them. Em can’t make out all of the words, but she hears a combination of English and Spanish, hears bitch and idiot and cunt, hears the monotone of a man who has put his train on full speed and removed the brake pedal.

A man like that has to crash into something to stop.

“Should we…?” Marco whispers. His eyes are wide and red from a second day of drinking by the pool.

“Should we what?”

“You know. Do something?”

“Do something like what?”

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Your Greatest Trick

By Kris Tammer

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And then there’s that thing you do where
you swing by a rope from a tree
and magically disappear
without announcing if you will reappear
or not, and everyone left standing
asks, “Where’s Ben?”, some claiming
there’s nobody by that name in our databases,
then suddenly you’re on display in a box
in a strange room filled with solemn organs
and everyone is bringing you flowers.

So we’re left wandering around from place
to place thinking if a glass is raised that somehow
you’ll rise up through the floor or start
laughing at us from behind a curtain.
Of course, this never happens but we find ourselves
on tenterhooks, thinking we’ve caught a glimpse
of you..  lucidly there.. hazily not here.

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