"The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos" by Reyes Ramirez

Tell us about "The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos."

"The Gospel of Carlos Cienfuegos" is a religious text written in Spanish by Carlos Cienfuegos and translated into (mostly) English by his son, Tomas Cienfuegos de la Paz. Director Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that he felt it is unfair that ancient literature was the only art form allowed to be religious and therefore, believed on a deeper level than other art forms; every film he makes, then, is an attempt at creating a religious experience for contemporary audiences, new canons to be accepted as a valid foundation for the human condition. This piece is in that spirit with alcohol being an access to the divine/profane; in addition, inheritance as an act of translation and whether or not you leave certain passages behind or accept them. 

What informs your decision to write a piece as poetry versus prose?

My decision to write a piece as poetry versus prose versus essay versus screenplay versus comic book versus lyrics versus religious texts varies as much as choosing red wine versus beer versus gin versus tequila shots, or kissing someone on their cheek versus their lips versus their shoulder. Just whatever feels right at the time.

How do you interpret the concept of identity?

Every work of art is a work of identity because it is created by a human being that has to live by a simple rule: wherever you go, there you are. I navigate identity as the son of immigrants living in a country that routinely discards the narratives of its wanderers: youth, homeless, criminals, veterans, etc. What, then, is home? Familiar? Love? Safety? Who deserves which and who does not? Do I? Why?

Talk about your work as an educator.

As an educator, I try to be the kind that teaches: history class is an illusion, anger is a gift, and that art can save us all. You can see the results here.

Posted on December 5, 2016 .

"Night, Translated" by Jonathan Louis Duckworth


He walks out into the gloom. Feels the Florida night,
like a blanket taken from a tumble dryer, hot but still
damp around the edges. Lets it fall over him. It’s
useless to ask the crickets and tree frogs to quiet
down. He’ll still never hear the coming-down of the
starlight as long as he breathes and his cells divide. He
stands beneath an oak where a cat ate a mockingbird
from heartflesh to talon, leaving only feathers as
motile memorial, a pattern of glyphs to be written and
rewritten by the wind. He turns up stones and logs
and finds more cultures embedded in the humus than
in entire human cities. Further below, he discovers
insects toiling, carving their histories into the soil
while people sleep. After the sun rises and the other
humans wake, they’ll spin for him fables about how
the world found its way home.

Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University and a reader for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Thrice Fiction, Cha, Superstition Review, and elsewhere

Posted on July 28, 2016 .

"The Garden Bed" by Sidney Louise Brown

On Sunday afternoons my grandmother worked the soil
along the park fence and from her bucket
she added bits of ash, peat, and lime.
She ridged her rows with bonemeal
chalking in bits of manure.
It was here she cultivated sloping beds of flowers.

My grandfather told her not to talk to them.
Not to drink their martinis.
They must be Sunday lovers from another town
not to be trusted because of their separate sedans, 
Her tilted hat,
And the way he stretched out on that scotch plaid blanket.

But she was with them.
It was her sweet briar drawing them
and her balsam buds scenting their secret.
In the spring their air was sticky with hyacinth
and spiced with rhododendron and lilac.

Every Sunday, every season, my grandmother reached in and squeezed
the thick black earth grown from the clay she was given.
And she would sip her martini, 
setting it down on her garden box
as she seeded promises of violet and vanilla. 

Sidney Louise Brown is a retired English teacher and former adjunct professor living in Alexandria, Virginia. A Northern Virginia Writing Project Consultant, after attending the Sewanee Writers Conference, she gathered regional poets and writers to create similar workshops for teachers who write. She has also led meditation walks and retreats throughout the greater D.C. area, published educational articles, and presented her work at educational conferences.

Posted on July 28, 2016 .

"American Night, American Morning" by Ariel Francisco

Fuck a dollar and a dream.

        —Biggie Smalls


When I can’t sleep I go

up to the rooftop

of my apartment building


and watch the man who sleeps

on the bus stop bench

across the street, brown by birth


or sun.  I want to ask him 

How do you do it?

From here I can see a lottery


jackpot billboard off the highway

mid-update, so that it currently reads



I was born in the city

that never sleeps so perhaps

insomnia is my birthright.


Even in Miami, the New York 

air must have stuck to the inside 

of my lungs like cigarette tar,


directing my luck towards

noise and lights. Sometimes 

it’s the cops who always


pull people over in front

of my apartment at every hour

with their howling sirens,


sometimes it’s the jet planes

across the street, rattling 

my windows with takeoff,


their over-caffeinated pilots

dreaming of sleep too.

Sometimes it’s the stack


of mail on my nightstand

from the doctor’s office,

credit card companies, Sallie 


Mae, the IRS, all unopened,

collecting dust instead

of collecting from me.  


The things that weigh me down

must have pressed me into sleep

right on the rooftop because I wake


to sparrows hopping about

my head, the highway singing

its blues of passing traffic.


The sun hangs in the sky

out of reach, revealing

the unfamiliar faces


at the bus stop, how much

the lottery is now, how late

I am for work.

Ariel Francisco is a Dominican-Guatemalan-American poet born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in Florida. He is currently completing his MFA at Florida International University where he is also the assistant editor of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. His poems have appeared in The Boiler Journal, Portland Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Washington Square, and elsewhere.

Posted on May 22, 2016 .

"Figure Study 1 : Don’t Stop the Music" by Niki Herd

she turned around. from left to right. interlocked her fingers.
the interior of the vehicle. in an attempt to establish. on the legs & feet.
against the passenger door. to free herself. events that occurred.
between his bicep & forearm. out of the window. in addition. 
serial number. two inches in diameter. as if nothing had happened.
placed her feet against. elbows & face. she began to lose. the use of force.
wait & see. her left arm. behind her head. currently assigned.
pull the vehicle over. she was wearing a seat belt. opened the car door.
investigating & assisting. to fill with blood. in the left eye.
attempted to force. at the waist. a previous sexual relationship.
working these assignments. on an unknown street. he took his right hand.
the subsurface tissue is injured. drove away in the vehicle. on the evening
of. against the passenger window. responsible for investigating.
her elbows forward. left arm & hand. onto an unknown street.
on the left ear. worked various assignments. the front of her throat.
unable to breathe. sitting in his lap. left ring & middle fingers.
knees to her chest. walked away. going to get help. pretended to talk.
to further implicate. for one & a half years. she was wearing a seatbelt.
a dating relationship. with his right hand. to splatter all over.
levied upon her. close to him. in the face & arms. applying pressure.
interlocked her fingers & then released her. the stupidest thing ever.



      ‖ A collage of phrases found in the February 2009 police report from the
       altercation between Christopher Maurice Brown and Robyn Rihanna Fenty. ‖

Niki Herd grew up in Cleveland and earned degrees in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and Antioch University. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been supported by the Astraea Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Feminist Formations, North American Review, and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky. Her debut collection of poems, The Language of Shedding Skin, was published as part of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Series. She currently lives in Washington, DC.

Posted on May 10, 2016 .

"Juchereau Oxosse SaintDenis / Maria Oxum Sánchez" by Phil SaintDenisSanchez

for my ancestors and orixás


because you came to me while i was standing on a hill overlooking the favela
Cidade Nova
           new city in the capital of the world: Salvador, Bahia (forte Brasil)
                      and made time reveal itself as the greatest joke of all
                                        i laughed at myself for pretending to be in it
because you came to me as a snake and filled my veins with love and then
 dropped sweet
             water through the IV while i waited for the winner of the race between the helicopter and the speed boat
            you initiated me in the ICU of Bangkok Hospital-Koh Samui branch in the midst of paralysis Maria pumped my heart, while Juchereau pumped my liver
                                                     for your beauty, i was breathed
i was breathed because you came to me in the Panamanian jungle
 rusted barbwire in my foot
           we watched drunken group bullfighting in the waiting room
                       debating the worst of
                       the sins: the sport or the nurse’s choice of tv programming
                                    some people claim to have had imaginary friends
                                              i have no idea what that would be like
because poems defeat time, but it’s already dead
 because you must be beautiful while you hunt otherwise why would you bother
because you told the pai-de-santo i was a worthy initiate and showed him
             my ancestors practicing as he does
because we always come together
 despite my fear
my lifelong fear that only became clear upon seeing the request in your faces
                                             i let you in my body
                                             i let you in    

Phil SaintDenisSanchez is originally from New Orleans and much of his ancestry is Louisiana Creole. His work has appeared in Voicemail Poems, Alien Mouth Journal, and Sonic Boom Journal. It is forthcoming in Reality Beach and on Shabda Press. He studied music theory and composition at The City College of New York. In addition to writing poetry, he practices Muay Thai and produces and composes music that blends electronic forms, soul, turn-of-the-century classical, the samba rhythms he studied in Bahia, and the brass and marching band traditions of his hometown. He records under the name SaintDenisSanchez and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on May 9, 2016 .

"She Dreams in Triad" by Natalie Young


In the night, kiss the dark-haired man,

the stranger,

skin touched with sun, scent of green bottles

and soap.

Here in moon-grazed dream 

he is an old friend,

long attraction, 

a kiss cut short by guilt,

a pressing commitment.



Make him rehearse.

Nothing too dry or engulfing,

the finishing seal on ceremony.

A triple touch of lips,

each word a slow motion

runaway train

to share

to remain—

a vow

until dust kisses dust.    



Wait in the courtyard at dusk.

Run a finger along the full lips.

Chiseled eyes droop tired, hard lines

shaped from rock,

coarse hair tucked in a twirl

beneath rusted orange.

Hold her carved mouth

to mouth—black and perfect

smooth, fashioned stone.

Natalie Young is a founding editor for the poetry magazine Sugar House Review. By day, she works as an art director for an ad agency based out of Salt Lake City. Recent publications include Green Mountains Review, Tampa Review, Rattle, South Dakota Review, Los Angeles Times, Tar River Poetry, and others. Natalie is left-handed, half Puerto Rican, and a fan of Tom Selleck and Swiss cheese.

Posted on March 24, 2016 .

"Sonographer" by Christina Lloyd

Waves travel deep into my body

and you record organ echoes.

You ask about my origins, tell me

about yours, how Ottomans and

Soviets trampled your Armenia.


We speak of invasion, occupation

as the probe skims my skin.

The afternoon's acoustics are perfect:

my densities pulse into grayscale

Seurats you study, absorbed.


I hold my breath, imagining shapes

your homeland has taken. 

Shadowed by the speed of sound, 

all boundaries displaced, I let you 

wade in sheltered waters.

Christina Lloyd holds a master's degree in creative writing from Lancaster University (U.K.) and a master’s degree in Hispanic languages and literatures from U.C. Berkeley. In addition to a couple of chapbooks, her work appears in various publications, most recently in WomenArts Quarterly Journal and The A3 Review. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing through Lancaster University.

Posted on March 24, 2016 .