the pain issue

Cris Harris
Eileen Murphy
Kat Seidemann
Amy Bassin & Mark Blickley
Angela Dawn
Dylan Krieger
Meg Cowen
Toti O'Brien
Karen George
Sonya Huber
Matt Logan & Emily Linstrom
Jessie Janeshek
LIv Mammone


Cris Harris



Eileen Murphy



They chopped the bone that caused my blood to clot
then laid me prone:  I listen through the sheet
to violin-like notes, a muffled shot, 
sore silences, the doctors’ silver feet.
My nurse has left, she says she’ll seek out meds,
but minutes drag before she deigns to check.
Pain's ninja scurries rat-like to my bed;
My turn, he says and bites me in the neck.
Come back, sweet prune, and shoot him with your gun,
the temporary cure that pacifies,
the calming cat whose purring mutes and numbs,
so pain can take his well-earned break outside.
Pain and peace are see-sawed. Fast and tight,
their sniper battles wax and wane all night.

Kat Seidemann



liver keeps my secret
liver bears scars
of my poor choices
liver once considered
liver relented when i changed
     my ways


liver complains
about my drinking
under her
      whiskey breath
liver knows i don’t do well
     with ultimatums
liver has a jaundiced eye
     on the medicine
    liver remembers


i am aware liver is doing all liver can
    to maintain
our version of homeostasis
liver works harder
       to withstand
our relationship than i
liver would like some

liver sees doctors
        seeking counsel
for our troubles
i always forgive liver
     for spewing bile
it would take me years
     to find another liver
i would not immediately reject

Amy Bassin & Mark Blickley



Artist statement:

The Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley text based art collaboration, Dream Streams, began this past year after they read Man Ray’s memoir, Self-Portrait, and were enthralled by the Dadaist experiments that combined fine art photography with poetic texts.  Their    Dream Streams series utilizes imaginative language wedded to provocative photographs that expose suppressed and subliminal chimeras and fantasies while wrestling with visible and invisible layers of chaos and isolation.

Angela Dawn

(Guided meditation to heal childhood trauma)


The man on the recording
tells me I am not my wound
& I cannot fix myself. Somehow,
he says,
I must exist in a place
between the wound & the healer.

In situ
like a finger
poised to examine
or condemn.

I’m somewhat impressed
with this novel take
on healing trauma.
Neither blame nor absolution, no need
to Universe my way out of grief. 

I am cerulean, copper
On limestone I tell
the story of
the physical body
& all the ways there are
to be sliced.

A somatic tourist; I disassociate from the map
showing only the violent terrain
of my skin & travel terra incognita, the space

A thoracic surgeon in Maspeth
explores my neck with a hollow needle.
He roots out hot cells
& places them under glass.
A yellow pinprick is the only proof I have. 

Until years later I’m
covered in sweat & blankets in West Harlem.
A shaman blows tobacco smoke on my neck.
You store all your sorrow here. 
Send yourself some love.
He says that everyday
I should place my hands on my throat & pray.

Wound Man was drawn to invite pain.
War medicine. Educational pathology
& everything else
is here to make a sale.
Cannot diagnose or give medical advice.
Consult a doctor before you are pierced again.
I do not know why I was drawn.
The ghost of my flesh just wants to know

Is orphan a place
on my body & if so
how will I know where.

The wound, wherever it lives
does not care
for the body or the myth.
The healer is also ambivalent.

Dylan Krieger



down to the lobster bother trapped inside your pelvis

selfish maybe to sneak a boil, to spoil your virgin shell

w/ seaweed smeared in the sewer drain's prosthetic rainfall

go call on your bevy of seven crows in Rome, phone a friend 

w/ prophetic benefits—whatever they tell you will be just another 

alphabetic cellulose gone septic, just another muttered ‘scalpel’

you can never stop by saying ‘uncle,’ under the ozone layer of 

accepted loss, nothing indigenous isn’t brimming w/ your froth

Meg Cowen


From then on we begin each session
with two fingers
a squeeze
one hand with stronger grip
One sticks

a glass over my eye then
draws a porch
with an awning but I

tell him it looks
like a wet spine to me

One wrist has a ghost

One wrist has a resident
refusing to make eye contact

                                    Historically this is where I fold in half
                                    and claw the radiator while
                                    the boydoctor says mom will be
                                    more comfortable
                                    waiting outside

                                    with my clothes
                                    and would she like a magazine
                                    I’ve no bra yet

so it’s easy for him
to listen
for a telltale sign

for a feathery lung
about to get unbarbed and
when that happens
forget it
no more flying
we understand
this is a teaching hospital

where the mandoctor is picking
through my hair
for signs
of fish scale
I’ve scratched my scalp raw
and I am dumb enough

to lie about it to someone taller than me
who says now walk for me
does it hurt when I
hit your knee
with this stone?
On a scale of one
to ten
he is

the hollows in my
ball and sockets dating
the history of my sick
within a century
The sample taken
says I am more
like men than one
could ever want
The sample says
I am on my own.

They start
throwing diagnoses:    you are like vulture bone you are ochered in layers on braids you are
                                       inedible pinking fern you are halogen light upward-faced and ruining
                                       the sky for your poor tired mother ruining the sky for the rest of us.

They start
writing scripts:            never on an empty stomach stop taking if you swell form a thick
                                      paste and apply you may gain ten pounds it may take two weeks let us
                                      know if you experience any headaches then please if you feel it’s
                                      getting worse just tell us it’s getting better bend your elbow into a
                                      wing tuck your head under. Repeat.

Toti O'Brien








Artist statement:

My “Bloodline” series is puzzling me still: such a great excuse for adding some more. I know it speaks of human connections – vertical (parents, children, ancestors) - horizontal (siblings, lovers, reflections, alter egos). Blood runs through the pieces and it gives them color. As an assemblage artist I first disassemble: I ask myself what blood is made of. What do we give when we give life? What do we receive when we are loved? I’m not sure. Those pieces play with the questions: they spread them on the wall, ask the viewer, invite other questions. They are meant to circulate - fluid, alive, open, wounded.

Karen George



           A slanting coast

      blue door way       

                  above the moving mouth
drips of hair      (black birds)      clip air
        smudge guttering light—
                     fractions of pain         glittering

You bend a willow tree around me—
             a green nest

I steep in your voice
                     filling my name
      with yellow

Sonya Huber



Pain wants you to put in earplugs because sounds are grating.

Pain has something urgent to tell you but forgets over and over again what it was.

Pain tells you to put your laptop in the refrigerator.

Pain runs into walls at 45-degree angles and ricochets back into the center of the room.

Pain resents being personified or anthropomorphized.

Pain is a four-dimensional person with fractal intelligence.

Pain want to be taken to an arts and crafts store.

Pain likes to start big projects and not finish them.

Pain wants to clean one countertop.

Pain asks you to break itself up into neat square segments like a chocolate bar.

Pain makes a hissing popping hum like high tension powerlines.

Pain has ambition but is utterly unfocused.

Pain will get its revenge if you ignore it but sometimes forgets what it was angry about.

Pain wants to watch a different channel than you do on t.v.

Pain looks at you with the inscrutable eyes and thin beak of an egret.

Pain stubs out the cigarette of your to-do list.

Pain will first try to do some things on that list but will end up with socks on its antlers.

Pain demands that you make eye contact with it and then sit utterly still.

Pain folds the minutes into fascinating origami constructions with its long fingers.

Pain leaves the meter running.

Pain asks you to think about the breath flowing in and out of your lungs. 

Pain will ask you to do this three hundred and seven times today.

Pain does not mean any harm to you.

Pain is frustrated that it is trapped in a body that is ill-fitting for its unfolded shape.

Pain has been born in the wrong universe.

Pain is wild with grief at the discomfort it causes.

Pain wants to collect bottle caps to show you the serrated edges, which mean something it cannot explain.

Pain keeps pointing to serrated edges and scalloped patterns but cannot explain how these will unlock it.

Pain emphasizes that it is not a god, but then makes the symbol for “neighbor” over and over, and you do not understand what it means.

Pain puts its beaked head in its long-fingered wing hands in frustration and loneliness.

Pain winks at you with its dot-black eyes and tries to make the sign for “I love you."

Pain folds up its wings and legs and spindles quietly and blinks up at you when you say, “I know."

Pain understands that you cannot say “I love you” back but that there is something bigger behind “I love you” that you do not have the words for.

Pain also understands that the background to “I love you” is something like a highway.

Pain licks at its hot spots like an anxious dog.

Pain, when held in place, spirals down into drill bits, so it has to keep moving to prevent these punctures.

Pain asks you to breathe deeply so it can zing about and not get caught on the edges and corners of calendars, books, and electronic rectangles.

Pain’s favorite music is the steel drum, and its favorite flavor is fig.

Pain prefers any texture in which tiny seeds are embedded.

Pain shakes its head—no, it says, that is you that likes that texture—and will have nothing to do with spheres.

Pain wants only for you to see where it starts and you stop, but you are a transparent bubble.

Pain and its kind have waited patiently for humans to evolve into the fourth dimension but they are worried the project is failing.

Pain feels as though Earth’s gravity is as strong as Jupiter.

Pain has something metallic in its bones and is captured by the magnetic core of our hot planet.

Pain envies flesh and its soft strength and ease of movement.

Pain inhabits curved soft bodies in hopes of fluid movement and then cries when it breaks them.

Pain would like french fries and Netflix. 

Matt Logan & Emily Linstrom



Artist statement from Emily Linstrom:

 Amor fati is a Latin phrase that loosely translates as "love of one's fate." It was not always so. There was a time when fate was a daemon riding my back, or else an explosion of prosperity I waited for, watched out for. It was a threat, it was a promise, it was a line carved into my palm. One day I took hold of it with both hands and wrung its pretty neck: I seized and shaped it, gave it Da Vinci wings, and said "Look here, little darlin. We're in this together, until we are not. Here is what I want you to do." I cranked it up and let it fly. I will it to stay aloft. 

Jessie Janeshek



You want me, climb into me naked
            like vampires burrow in sand
don’t forget country sliver

thick legs and knocking the ice loose
            my Venus flytrap beside the witch window
my thigh break             your broom.

             My indoor health’s       just like Queen Elizabeth’s.
I shatter my teeth                                on your blunt river rock

            plan for fear and raw meat                  adorning your sanity
since I think out of body                     might help my poetry.

We keep to this course                                    keep the pigs out
            think I might freeze         or you might cool off.

All we need is red mood                      your truth and my staff.
All we don’t need                                is your pep and steam.

             It’s a small solar system.
            Just scream deep revision

more pills delivered
            big moon and how you hate everything.
            Just tape the drain

            over my mouth
and shove the plug in.

Liv Mammone

after Shira Erlichman


Black, broken matches. Cold,
sweat-slick hands. Clawed

foot. Clawfoot tub.
Spasm. Botox. Baby girl.

Jewelry clasp. Payless Shoes.
Lavender oil. Fury. Daughter.

Cripple. Cripple. The first time
my name was Cripple.

Granddaughter. 5 times
drowned. Algebra. Virgin.

Sleep. Untouched. Unjump.
Hero. Overcome. “Special.”

Teachers' aides.“Takeyourtime.”
Tailbone. Subway doors.

Help. Help me. Ugly. Clean.
Cobblestone. Monmatre.

Music box ballerina.
Escalator. Hudson River.  Canceled plans.

Blood on tile. Prom. Can't help
Mom.“Posture!” Shoelace. Spiral

stair. Shoulders hit
the rosebush.

“Why'd you fall?”
Premie. Hold in.  Homeless man

gives my dollar back.
Dysplasia. Shut clit. Ambien

dream. Can't shit.  The Louvre.
Little boy points, asks, “were you shot?”

Social (in)security. Leave before the bell.
Third rail. “Push hard.”

Secretless. Hummingbird. Headcrack.
Backward. Clock-

work doll. Dropped change.  
Revolving doors.  Find A Cure. Saltwater.

Recess. Remedial. Honor Roll.
Alto. Placebo. Neverrun Nontouch.

Heating blanket. Pen on bedsheets.
Chair dead in snow. Stay

here. Cab fare. Story. Strapless.
Kitchen knife on first date.

Therapist's thumbprints.
January. Godless. Puke in class.

Can't even cut (it) yourself.
Confessional. Dirt eyes. American horror.

Spaghetti. Sweatpants. Bedpan. Tea burn. Dead tree. IV.
Callus. Drool. Post-op. “Relax your—!”

Human. Cute. Flightless.
Sick. Gifted. Inspiration. Fish

eyes litter the Lower East Sidewalk. Walk.
Neverrun. Stillness. Spill. Different. Too much truth.

Issue Eleven Contributors


 Amy Bassin is a fine arts photographer and video artist.  Her 2015-16 publishing credits include F-Stop Photography MagazineColumbia Journal of Literature and ArtMudfish and Three Rooms Press’ Dada anthology, Maintenance.  Her text-based art collaboration, Dream Streams, was featured as an art installation at the 5th Annual NYC Poetry Festival.  Photographs from her series, “Selfie Fictions” were exhibited last month at BronxArt Space.  She is co-founder of the international artist collective, Urban Dialogues

Mark Blickley is a widely published and produced author. His most recent book is Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press) and his most recent play, Beauty Knows No Pain, premiered November at NYC’s 13th Street Repertory Company.  Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted has been published this year in Great Britain and the U.S. and is currently being translated into Dutch. Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center.  

Meg Cowen's first poetry collection, Elastic Shriek Machine, is forthcoming in 2016 from Knut House Press. Some of her recent work has appeared (or will soon appear) in DIAGRAMMISTRESSVECTOR PressWhiskey Island and PANK. She is the founding editor of Pith.

Angela Dawn's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Least Bittern BooksTHRUSH Poetry JournalRed Paint Hill, and The Fem. Originally from Richmond, VA, Angela currently writes, knits, and volunteers near her home in the South Bronx, where she lives with her partner and two cats. You will also find her tending to chickens at the cooperative chicken coop near her home and dancing in clubs without bottle service in Manhattan. Read more at

Karen George, author of Into the Heartland (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Inner Passage (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Swim Your WayBack (Dos Madres Press, 2014), The Seed of Me (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and forthcoming The Fire Circle (Blue Lyra Press, 2016), has work published in Naugatuck River ReviewAdirondack ReviewLouisville ReviewMemoir, and Still. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters, and is fiction editor of the journal Waypoints. Visit her website at

Cris Harris teaches writing and experiential education at an independent school outside of Cleveland, OH. His essays have recently appeared in The Flexible Persona and Alice Blue Review, and his poetry has appeared in Skylark Review and New South. His chapbookSuperposition was a finalist for the 2015 Epiphany chapbook contest. 

Sonya Huber is the author of two books of creative nonfiction, Opa Nobody (2008) and Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir (2010), and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers (2011). Her work has appeared in The New York TimesCreative NonfictionBrevityFourth Genre, and other journals. She teaches at Fairfield University and directs Fairfield’s Low-Residency MFA Program.

Jessie Janeshek's full-length book of poems is Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). Her chapbook Rah-Rah Nostalgia is forthcoming from dancing girl press. An Assistant Professor of English and the Director of Writing at Bethany College, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers (KWG Press, 2008). You can read more of her poetry at

Dylan Krieger is a river nymph of a thousand nightmares in south Louisiana. She lives in a little cottage with a catfish and her demons and sunlights as a trade mag editor. Her first book,Giving Godhead, won LSU’s Robert Penn Warren Award in 2015. Poems from its pages have appeared or are forthcoming in So and SoDeluge,JukedArt Nouveau, TENDE RLOINSmoking Glue Gun, and Small Po[r]tions. Find her at

Emily Linstrom is a NYC-based artist. Her writing and photography have been featured by/in Three Rooms PressRose Red ReviewProject NakedEunoia ReviewAmerican SlanderNailed MagazineThe Literary BohemianMisfit Magazine and Yes, Poetry, as October's featured poet.  She is currently first prize winner of Pulp Literature Press's 2015 The Raven short story contest. A burlesque & sideshow veteran, she has eaten fire and walked on glass for the likes of Cirque du Soleil, The Slipper Room, Brooklyn Circus Co., New York Fashion Week, The Bowery Poetry Club, and various short film installations and music videos. Find Emily on the web at

Matthew Logan is a cellist, photographer, composer, writer, and producer of rock/baroque hybrids.  Living and working in NYC, his latest projects include a song cycle for cello quartet, explorations in vintage film photography, and a series of short stories entitled Children of the Massacre. He performs regularly as a soloist, and as cellist in Colorform.  His photography has been presented at exhibitions and online. Visit Matthew on the web at

Liv Mammone is an editor and poet from Long Island, New York; where she lives with her parents, brother, family of feral cats, and geriatric dachshund. Her poetry has appeared in Wordgathering, Wicked Banshee, The Medical Journal of Australia, and QDA: a Queer, Disabled Anthology. As part of Union Square Slam, she is the third visibly disabled poet ever to place as a finalist for a national slam.

A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy lives on semi-rural property that must be mowed quite often, located 30 miles from Tampa, surrounded by thewild animals of Central Florida, most of them mosquitoes. She received her masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature at Polk State College and has published poetry in Right Hand PointingStraight Forward ScreamOnlineanthology (forthcoming), Helen: A Literary Journal (forthcoming), The Thought Erotic, and a number of other journals.

Toti O'Brien’s mixed media work has been exhibited in group and solo shows—in the US and Europe—since 1994. She has illustrated two children's books and two memoirs. She has contributed illustrations to Colorado BoulevardLike a GirlSix Little ThingsHystrio, and Speechless, among other journals. Visit Toti on the web at

Katherine [Kat] Seidemann is a Seattle poet, mixed-genre writer, and visual artist with an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington Bothell. Kat’s interests include confounding genres, the page-as-art, transmedia narratives,  and explorations of identity and/or memory through creative documentation. Her visual work has been shown at Shift Gallery and included in the 2015 Art of the City Street Fest. Winner of the Marcia Barton Award for Poetry in 2008, Kat’s work has since been published in the Licton SpringsReviewClamorKeep Poetry Alive International, and in collaboration with other projects.