Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

Heroin Haibun

By Graham Irvin

An old friend of mine sold pills and snorted heroin and worked third shift at a warehouse in Salisbury. He was an okay guy. He was always around to party. And he was pretty good at skateboarding too. 

When we first met he’d just started dating this girl and was in love with her. When she was in the same room as him she sat in his lap. When she was gone he talked about her constantly. He wanted to do everything with her. He wanted to experience the outer limits of pleasure. He told me, “She put her pinky in my butt man. She was just down there playing around and it happened. And I liked it.” It surprised me. I’ll be honest. Everything else about him made me believe he wouldn’t want a pinky anywhere near his butt. He seemed like a guy who would hate the idea of a pinky in his butt. Plus he ended by saying, “I’m not gay or nothing though,” which made it all the more surprising that he told me at all. But I was happy. He was experiencing new things in life. Romantically. It seemed structurally important to him at the time. It helped him grow. 

His girlfriend cheated on him not long after that. Maybe with his roommate. I don’t remember. Once his roommate told me, before my friend found out his girl cheated on him, “Dude she was flirting with me hard when we were alone the other day. She was touching my chest and playing with my hair. It was wild.” That roommate lied a lot though. It’s hard to know what’s true. Part of me thinks the roommate just wanted people to think he could take my friend’s girl if he really tried. It was important people knew she chose the other guy only because he wasn’t interested. 

She did cheat on my friend though. I know for sure that happened because the next week he threw a big party and got super fucked up. He took his pills and snorted his heroin and took off his shift at the warehouse in Salisbury and funneled beer after beer after beer. 

That’s another thing that surprised me about my friend. He only drank beer with a beer funnel. He hated the taste of beer so bad he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Everything about a guy who sells pills and snorts heroin would make me believe he enjoyed the taste of beer. Or at least tolerated the taste of beer. I guess what I mean is he wasn’t picky about taking pills or snorting heroin so why would he need a special tool to make sure he didn’t throw up his beer? 

At the party after he got super fucked up he disappeared to his room and came back with a gun. A Glock 43 9mm. He started waving it around. Showing it to people. Putting it to his head. “Cheat on this,” he said a few times with the gun pointed at the door. As if she was on the way. He even called and put her on speakerphone. He pointed the gun at the phone. He told her to come over but someone yelled, “No.” 

Everyone had had enough. His roommate took the phone and ended the call. He took my friend aside and said, “She’s not worth it, dude. Don’t let her get to you like this. Just take the gun back to your room and go to sleep.” So my friend went back to his room and put the Glock 43 9mm under his pillow. And then he took another pill. Then he snorted some more heroin. And funneled a beer. The party continued. 

I couldn’t say where that guy is now. That wasn’t the last time I saw him. A few months later we did coke together and he kickflipped a 5 stair at the high school near his house. I still have the video on my phone. But it’s been at least 6 years since I’ve seen him. I always liked his roommate more. 

My friend with the Glock 43 9mm who sold pills and snorted heroin also had a twin brother. His brother always joked about being the more attractive twin, which pissed my friend off, but I couldn’t really tell the difference. That was probably the joke. The brother was somewhat better with women than my friend. He was a father and, though they’d divorced a year after getting married, the mother of his child was both attractive and interesting and faithful before their split. 

My friend’s brother didn’t sell pills or own a gun because, during the time I knew him, he was trying to be a good father. The mother of his kid had full custody because even though he didn’t sell pills or own a gun he did occasionally use heroin. And he shot up too. Which, though it might not seem like it, is a lot more serious in the heroin user community. Shooting heroin is serious shit. And the last time he shot up he passed out while in his car. Which rolled into another car. And the other car was a cop. My friend’s brother went to jail for a bit and decided he’d just snort heroin but in the eyes of the court that didn’t make him a better father. 

He was at the party too. The one his brother threw to get over his girlfriend. He drank some beers, normally, and took some pills and snorted some heroin but when the Glock 43 9mm came out he said something like, “hey man you know I’m on parole.” 

Last I heard his ex-wife was remarried and had another baby. His daughter would be about 10 and, whether he was still fighting for it, he did not have shared custody of her. 

But, like I said before, nothing bad happened with the gun. I’m sure if I saw him again, if he remembered me, if he’s even still alive, we could recall happily that night. The night the gun came out. Because hey, at least no one got shot. That’s got to be worth something. 


try this next time

you’re at a bar

tell a joke

to the person 

closest to you 

and if they don’t laugh 

tell them 

“I have a gun”

if the person 

at the bar 

still doesn’t laugh

tell them 

“I’m on heroin” 

if the person 

at the bar 

still isn’t laughing 

lean real close 

and say 

“my gf put her pinky

“in my butt” 


Graham Irvin lives in Philadelphia. Some of his writing has been in Joyland, The Nervous Breakdown, and Misery Tourism. His book Liver Mush was published by Back Patio Press. 

Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry


By Grace Jordan

Whatever this place is that I return to sometimes


The flat cracked clay bed baking in the sun place 

Whatever this place is that I wake in on unexpected mornings 

The walled in, lean to forced hole walking in circles place 

Whatever this place is that grips me with its gnarled joints and rotting tongue

The hold my breath under dirt in my nails, scratched in my skin place

Whatever this place is screen on screens in bugs, ants crawling in cracks 

The baseball field, library, snack stand, dance class, place

Whatever this place is happened in the car, on the bed and down the drain

The mall parking lot, June street, 2nd floor brownstone, Extended stay, barricades, place

Whatever this place is, I’d like to invite you in. 


Grace Jordan is an essayist, and playwright who lives in Hell’s Kitchen. Grace’s play Moses was a two-time semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.

@gracejordyjordy on TikTok. @gracewritesdrama on Instagram, @gcwritesdrama on Twitter,

Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

The October House

By Sophia Popovska

In the evening you pick up your prayer from the bedside.

“Are you still here?” It stops at the ceiling.

Too far away.

The house you built makes a dull sound, barely audible.

The house you built makes an autumn sound.

The sky closes slowly, and so the trees stop reaching for it.

The sky holds back a mountain breath.

Winter comes, soft and waiting.

You pick up your dreams from the pillow. The same dreams.

In your dream, when you turn around, she is still behind you.

But always blurrier.

In your room is the body of the days. It is a sick room.

It is the sick eye of the house.

Your house makes a sound of hurting.

The neighbors hear it and look up at the window where it is wounded.


Sophia Popovska is a North Macedonian poet/translator based in Germany. Her other work can be found in the blog section of Asymptote Journal, Circumference Magazine, Expat Press, and Misery Tourism.

Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry


By Alan Ten-Hoeve

He leaned over the rickety card table.

Rolled a Ball jar up the flattened tube of Crest.

Trying to extract anything that he might have missed the night before.

He’d bought the toothpaste four months earlier.

The day he moved into the monthly room after being kicked out of his house.

Exiled from the only life he’d known the last 18 years.

It’s temporary, he told himself.

A trial separation.

They would still see each other.

Date nights, she called it.

Things would work out.

They had to.


As time dragged he watched the tube of toothpaste get thinner.

But he knew it would be silly to buy another.

He didn’t want to have to pack more than he had to when she asked him to move back home.

Date nights turned out to be mostly lunches.

He’d bring sandwiches to the house.

Sometimes they’d eat hurriedly and watch tv.

Sometimes they’d argue between bites, then wrap the half eaten food in wax paper. 

For later.

She was always distant.



And physically.

Even on good days.

One afternoon she was flipping channels and he pat the space on the couch beside him.

The universal gesture to move closer.

She turned her head.

Fixed him with icy blue eyes that were once warm.

Said, I’m fine where I am.

Not long after she said it just wasn’t going to work.

He asked for more time.

She ignored his texts.

He wrote sweet letters.


Complimented her beauty.

Her clothes.

Her fragrance.

Her everything.

If she only knew how much he cared.

Eventually he couldn’t squeeze anything out of the tube of toothpaste.

Not by rolling it up.

Not by squeezing with his fingers.

Or his palms.

Or his fists.

But he knew there was more.

There had to be.

The jar helped.

And he managed to stretch the tube out.

A few days turned into a week

Two weeks.

He was amazed with his ingenuity.

People all around the world were tossing out a fortune in toothpaste everyday.

For a while it seemed like this could go on indefinitely.

But now he couldn’t even produce enough to scrape out of the nozzle.

He put more weight on the jar.

Grunted with the effort.

Sweat broke out on his face.


Then an idea struck him like a bolt of lightning.

He felt so stupid.

Why hadn’t he thought of this before?

He would send her flowers.


Alan ten-Hoeve wrote Notes from a Wood-Paneled Basement (Gob Pile Press)  and Burn (KLR10 Malarkey Books). Tweets @alantenhoeve

Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

Landscape Poems

By Lauren Napier

Reading Maps

There are things about my fingers that i used to know better

Because they touched maps more often 

i used to know what an inch was

Based on the length of my own thumb:

Tip of my thumb to the joint

He used to know the map as well as the palm of his hand

The distance between joint and nail tip 

that marked 500 miles in his rearview 

500 miles closer to the ever-moving destination

tonight : there 

tomorrow : there

And Here never being a sure point 

ever-treading beneath his tires 

He used to know the map as well as the palm of his hand 

before he stopped looking at his fingers 

and seeking the horizon of the what’s next


Lady Justice

In this town, Justice does not wear a blindfold

Untethered by a cloth of mere thread

She can see the pleas of both meek and bold 

So Her gaze, rightly so, inspires great dread 

The limbs of folly and the whims of humans 

Subliminal threads of greed and Gold 

not much avoids her earthly sermons

Her judgements they are bought and sold 

Here she stands of stone in the desert wind 

Lording over a dusty dry land 

Not much remains in the soil of her kin 

But civil war costumes at her left hand 

A land forgotten and asking just to blossom

Within Justice‘s parched and marble pale bosom. 



Nine goldfinches flitted about the feeder
Their song interlacing with the waves in the bay
Salt on the porch furniture slats
Salt along a cheekbone
As I went to make soup
The rim of the colander was exactly the width of a chickpea
Making a wooden spoon an impossible instrument for transferring garbanzos
from stove to pot
And the holes of the strainer were too big to hold the alphabet
T’s and i’s falling uncrossed and undotted toward the drain
As a gasp of loss is too big to be held by a body’s frame
Letters and oxygen both struggle to stay inside

Today I learned that there are no kites sold on the islands of Hawaii
Volcanic winds indifferent to their course and flight
I thought about how colorful carry-ons from the mainland could inspire jealousy in children’s eyes
And tears fell from mine as
the goldfinch greedily squawked at the crow with a beak filled with shrimp tails:
The neighborhood trash
“If you pulled it out, you can toss it back in.”
The sea is a cyclical thing

A gasp without exhalation is taken
silenced by a grey-skied exhale
A stifled oroboros
Heavy with a rift in her heart
A pebbly beach
free of sea detritus
and a volcanic shoreline
full of colors in flight
Would be a welcomed exchange
To see you again in tomorrow’s night.


An elegy for renamed lands

I long to know the sound of cracked mud spoken in the land’s native tongue 

speckled pink with turquoise for eyes 

blue stone birthed when water mingled with earthly tears 

ever-changing mirroring the hues of the earth a reflection of the changing temperament of humans 

laden with the excessive saliva produced every time the land has been renamed

these bastardizations are mispronounced 

Tread upon 

the saliva that shifts from the inside of one cheek to another 

Veiny flash glistening with a gasp

cocked head

as the tire bumps the thud ignored wholly 

30 miles later 

3 1/2 hours passed


it’s 2:02 there’s a pheasant on the side of the road

Route 2 

Has two white lines proving a protective boundary 

cast by the county planner 

salted in winter reinforcing the lines 

wings outstretched catching the last of the days light 

the last of the preserved feathers 

the fingertips of the

Of the sun’s rays almost as thin as the narrow primary 

dying dry dead 

once the lands shone proud under their rightful names 

Glottal stops empowered in buttes 

canyons and chasms 

and then the snow started to fall 


Erasing nature’s spoiled Canvas 

feather pressed between the pages of the atlas spit upon thumb and forefinger 

moistly turning the pages

Tires moving forward 

Memory and feather preserved


whatever is in a name?

Strange barren terrain 

Absent of a flag 

Shall not remain unnamed for long

For land cannot be mapped until it is claimed 

Is not found until it is seen by human eyes 

Topographical existence upon flimsy paper legitimizing the physical 

Paper made from the trees that sit upon the land in question

The land questioned

The question of how can anyone own the land 

Is there a contract written in cloud wisps

Bequeathing grains of sand and blades of grass

To the careless undersigned

Who has become the witless undertaker 

For the undertaking 

Man wields his pen at 

Mother Earth

A convoluted inversion of Oedipus’ plight 

The lain and the slain at his feet 

Metal ballpoint tip – cold and sterile against the living paper

Ink scratching the texture

Skyscrapers pierce the sky 

Fingernails scrape skin

The paper dissolves in a summer rain storm 

Crumbled in the branches’ fingers

And offered to the omniscient sky

Fates sealed

Time elapsed 

Earth warming with a slowly boiling shame 

Of being convinced

Someone else could be her steward

Glaciers melting in her angry gaze

She longingly whispers to those who used to tread here

Those who honored the space surrounding 

Instead of trampling 

Who moved as a part of the seasons and wind 

Rather than rooting moving feet and setting themselves apart 

Layering cement over the soil

But a whisper is hard to hear over the landscape‘s swan song 

That plays in harmony with mankind‘s reveille


Lauren Napier is a multi-disciplined artist from Washington State. You can find her on tour or on twitter @punkrockdoll

Issue 0 Issue 0 Poetry

Majestic in its Natural Habitat

By Alan Ten-Hoeve

I nosed the school bus around Bantam Lake.

Let my mind disengage and wander.

It’d been a stressful few months.

Life was unraveling.

And trying to hold on only gave me rope burns.

But it was a beautiful morning.

The sun had just crested the dark hills.

Dense morning mist hovered over the water.

About a half mile away a dark shape drifted toward shore.

Through the mist it kinda looked like that famous picture of the Loch Ness Monster.

When I came around the bend I was able to make out what it was.

A giant unicorn floaty had come unmoored and was drifting freely around the lake.

The kind that could hold a lot of drunk knuckleheads.

One rainbow wing had lost air and dragged in the water.

As I got closer I noticed the peaceful look on the unicorn’s face.

Eyes closed, snout down, giving it the appearance of a sanguine smile.

Like it knew things I never would.

A goddamn air-filled plastic Buddha.

Calmly coursing across an inland sea to bring enlightenment.

Majestic in its natural habitat.

With the dark hills and mist I thought it would make a great picture for Instagram.

Too bad I’d passed it.

Maybe I’ll see it like that again someday.

And have time to stop.


Someday never comes.


I couldn’t stop thinking about that unicorn.

A mile later I said fuck it.

Down shifted and whipped my yellow whale around the triangle on 109, back toward the lake.

Tires squealed on the pavement.

Car horns sliced the air.

“Yo, bus driver, what’re’ya doin’? School’s that way.”

“Snap! He kidnappin’ us yo!”

I’d forgotten about the kids in back.

“This’ll just take a minute,” I said.

When I got to the unicorn I put my hazards on and pulled the bus over.

Retrieved my phone from the glovebox.

Opened the camera.

“He gonna drive us inna lake! Du’s like, I’ma sicka’deez kids, I’ma drown‘eez muhfuckaz.”

Cars stopped in front and behind the bus, drivers craned their necks, unsure what to do.

Wondering if they should pass.

“Yo, that du crazy,” a kid said.


I didn’t care.

Once I got the picture, a strange calm washed over me.

A sensation I hadn’t felt in a long time.

“Yo. bus driver.”

The kids were all huddled at the windows looking down at me.

Some looked worried.

Some looked amused.

Some looked worried and amused.

“You aight?”

I looked at the picture I’d just taken.

It was good.

Would probably get a lot of likes.

“Yeah. I think I am.”

I got back behind the wheel.

The kids slowly lost interest in me again.

Went back to their phones.

The rest of my morning route went by in a warm fuzzy daze that engulfed me like a blanket.

I was the fucking unicorn.

I smiled.

Who’s crazy now?


Alan ten-Hoeve wrote Notes from a Wood-Paneled Basement (Gob Pile Press)  and Burn (KLR10 Malarkey Books). Tweets @alantenhoeve