LESLIE D. SOULE is a fantasy/sci-fiction author from Sacramento, CA. She has an M.A. in English and is currently working on the final book of her fantasy series, The Fallenwood Chronicles.
Met An Angel Once
NAT GIRSBERGER is a Swiss visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She collaborates with her unconscious to explore deep layers of being through collage. Girsberger adventures into the infinity of her psyche, breaking the structures that externally limit her inner vastness, creating new worlds that suit it. Her most recent exhibits include her solo show at Ivy Brown Gallery in Chelsea called ‘Transient Terrain,’ and shows at The Living Gallery Outpost, Carrie Able Gallery, 301 Studio.
Not What I Expected, Collage on Paper, 2017, 8×11
Drop Down, Collage on Paper, 2017, 8×6
Tune In, Collage on Paper, 2018, 6×9
Road Trip, Collage on Paper, 2017, 7×12
Realm of Nightmares, Digital Collage, 2018
Cosmic Drifters, Collage on Paper, 2017, 8×6
David-Matthew Barnes is the award-winning author of several novels and collections of stage plays, monologues, scenes, and poetry. His screenplays and teleplays have been official selections in the Hollywood Screenplay Contest, the Inspired Minds Short Film and Screenplay Competition, the Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition in London, and the Film Makers TV Writing Competition in Los Angeles. He has been an arts educator for more than a decade. For more information, please visit http://www.davidmatthewbarnes.com.
A screenplay for a short film
Adapted from the one-act play
EXT. AN ABANDONED TRAIN YARD; A SMALL AMERICAN TOWN – NIGHT
The night is providing a false sense of calm.
The hour is late.
Beyond a quiet, remote gas station is a cemetery for trains.
Stillness blankets the train yard. Empty, rusted rail cars litter the space, discarded and long forgotten.
Beyond the perimeter of a broken chain linked fence, the landscape is sparse and the horizon is endless. In the distance, a faint glow and flicker of lights indicates civilization exists in the form of a small town.
From opposite ends of the yard, two young men approach.
AUSTIN, 17, approaches from the left. He’s not as tough as he looks.
HARLEY, also 17, approaches from the right. Despite what he’s been through, he still has hope.
They meet in front of a rail car.
It’s clear they do not need words to speak.
Austin climbs up to the rail car. He reaches down and offers a hand to Harley.
INT. ABANDONED BOXCAR TRAIN – CONTINUED
The interior of the boxcar is dimly lit. Spill from the nearby neon gas station sign mixed with moonlight seeps in through cracks, creating an ethereal glow.
The boys find a place to sit.
I think you had the right idea comin’
When the whiskey kicks in, maybe it
won’t be so scary.
What are you scared of?
Nothing. (Beat.) Coyotes.
They won’t mess with you unless you
mess with them.
Tell that to my cousin Francine.
What happened to her?
She got attacked by a pack of ‘em.
They almost ripped her face off.
(trying to convince them both)
I don’t think there’s coyotes in the
If you say so.
You don’t believe me?
I think they’re everywhere.
I wish some of ‘em would make their way
over to the dance. Devour those fuckers.
I wonder why they call it Homecoming.
It has to do with football.
Spirit week. You ever seen such a bunch
We grew up with them. We’ve known they
were dumb since childhood.
You know…you could’ve gone if you
wanted to…to the dance, I mean.
Why would I?
Everybody else is.
I’d rather be here with you.
You feelin’ the same?
I think I’m feelin’ the whiskey now.
It’s the cheap stuff. It’ll hit ya hard.
Lately it seems everything does.
You gotta toughen up.
Yeah. Otherwise, those coyotes…
they’ll tear your heart out.
What would’ve happened?
What do you mean?
If we would’ve gone to the dance tonight.
Both of us.
I don’t wanna think about that.
You’d think we’d be dead my morning?
No. (Beat.) By midnight.
I should’ve drank more whiskey.
I wish we had a radio.
What for? Neither one of us can sing.
Naw. But we can dance.
You’re outta your mind.
I am. (Beat.) That’s why you like me.
Among other reasons.
Name ‘em. The reasons.
You want the entire list?
You’ll have to settle for three.
Fine. I’ll take what I can get.
I like you because you do my World
History homework for me.
That’s because it takes you too long. I
finish it so we can spend more time
I like you because I’m the only person
who’s ever seen you cry.
Now, don’t go tellin’ people about that.
I’ll deny it. You hear me?
I like you because you’re good to me,
Austin. You take care of me.
Always have. Always will.
I like you…because you’re still here.
You’re still alive.
You didn’t die on me.
That’s four things. You said I was only
I’ll tell you the rest later.
There’s no rush. We got all night.
And then what?
The sun comes up.
And it’s just another day.
Hey, at least we got each other.
If anybody ever found out…
Did you hear that?
No. What was it?
I think it was a coyote. Outside.
In the train yard? I thought you said…
Maybe it’s hungry. I bet he’s looking
You want me to hold you?
Because you looked scared.
Not as scared as you do.
I’m actually hungry.
Yeah, I forgot to eat dinner, too.
In the morning, let’s go to Marie’s.
We can get glazed donuts and chocolate
Okay. They open at five a.m.
Even on a Saturday?
Oh, shit. Maybe they open later on the
weekends. I don’t know.
We’ll go by there when the sun comes up.
Are we spending the night here?
You don’t wanna be with me?
Of course I do. It’s just…we’ve never…
I think I’m ready now.
I think I am, too.
You should’ve brought a radio.
Or a gun.
Why would you say that?
Not for me. To protect us. From the
Who’s going to protect you?
I don’t have anyone else.
Exactly. So, don’t go doing any more
crazy shit like last weekend.
I’m okay now.
No, you’re not.
It’s only because I wanted to take you
to the dance. It’s not fair.
We don’t make the rules. We gotta go
some place where love is legal.
When do we get to have a say in somethin’?
Once we get the hell outta here.
(after a moment)
I know you did.
But you left something behind.
We made a promise. Doesn’t that mean
anything to you?
It kept me alive.
I didn’t see it coming, Austin. I knew
you were sad and fucked up over the shit
you had going on at home. But I didn’t
know how bad it was for you. Cecilia
said something was wrong with you. I
told her, “Yeah, but that’s why I like
him so much.” She told me to keep an eye
on you, to look out for you. She didn’t
realize you were doing that for me. That
I couldn’t even take care of myself, let
INTERCUT – MONTAGE
As Harley speaks, we see the following sequence of events unfold:
-VERONICA, also 17, rushes into and through Harley’s ramshackle house, searching for him. She is frantic when she finds him in his bedroom. Immediately, Harley knows something is wrong.
-Austin is working in a retirement home, serving food to the residents. It’s clear he likes his job. It’s clear they like him.
-Austin is leaving a military recruiter’s office, defeated.
-Veronica is driving Harley to the hospital. The mood is tense. Veronica chain smokes, while Harley fears the worst.
-Harley and Veronica arrive at the hospital. Eventually, they take an elevator to the seventh floor. There, Harley approaches a locked metal door. Austin’s sad eyes appear in a narrow, small window in the door, pleading for love. They two boys speak with their eyes.
So, when Veronica showed up at my
house that morning, I had a feeling.
I knew she’d been crying and we both
know she never cries. I thought maybe
something had happened to her aunt or
maybe Rico and Candi had broken up
again. I never imagined it was you.
She said afterschool on Wednesday you
went to the recruiters downtown because
you were planning to join the Army. I
called her a liar because you promised
me you’d never leave me behind in this
place. I told her you loved working in
the cafeteria at the old folks home
because you know they need you there.
You know how to make tapioca just the
way they like it. She said the Army
rejected you. They turned you down. They
didn’t want you. Is that why you did it?
Or was it because people are figuring it
out? They know what’s going on between
Do we even have a word for this, for
what me and you are to each other? What
do you call us, Austin? In your head, I
mean. In your dreams. The wild ones. I
went with Veronica to the hospital
because I didn’t believe her. I had to
see you with my own eyes. We drove their
in her uncle’s big ass car. She chain
smoked and we listened to the radio. I
don’t remember what song was playing
because all I could think about was you.
Finally, Veronica said, “Talk, Harley.
Say something. Anything.” So, I did. I
told her I realized there was no way in
hell you’d ask me to go to Homecoming with
you. I was better kept as a secret, tight
and hard, close to your chest. I told her, “Austin said I was the best kisser. He
wants to spend forever in each other’s
arms and blah, blah, blah.” She wasn’t
listening to me. She was thinking about
her brother who blew his head off
last Christmas Eve. She told me once
she found him underneath the tree.
I felt empty when we got there. We got
lost in the hospital looking for you.
Then, some nurse told us you were in
the psych ward on suicide watch on the
seventh floor. As we rode the elevator
up, I remembered it was spirit week at
school. Nobody cared about nothing except
that stupid football game and the dance
that’s happening right now. I had more
important things on my mind, like why was
I watching my friends get pregnant, flunk
out, overdose, be banished away to
boarding schools by step-mothers whose
smeared lipstick says it all.
END OF FLASHBACK/MONTAGE
We are back in the boxcar.
They wouldn’t let me in to see you. But
you were there on the other side of that
metal door. All I could see were your
eyes through that small window. Just a
little rectangle of glass. But that was
all I needed. To see your beautiful eyes.
And then I knew. The sadness inside of
you was too much for you to bear.
It still is.
That’s why I’m here.
I can’t make sense of it sometime. Of
what I feel for you.
Then I guess it’s a good thing we got
I would’ve asked you…if we were at
Homecoming…I would’ve asked you dance.
What would’ve you said?
I probably would’ve said you’re a crazy
son of a bitch.
We already know that.
You know I can’t say no to you.
Austin stands. He extends a hand down to Harley. It’s an invitation.
Harley accepts the unspoken invitation by placing his hand in Austin’s. He stands.
Slowly, the two men begin to sway together, as if they were dancing to a love song only heard by them.
In the distance, the haunting cry of a wild coyote is heard.
They ignore the warning.
Steve Werkmeister is an English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. He was born and raised in Nebraska and now resides in Olathe, Kansas, with his family. His first poetry collection, The Unauthorized Autobiography: Composed of Fragments, Distortions, Mythologies & Lies (PunksWritePoems Press), was published in fall 2016. He has a literature-focused blog at https://stevesofgrass.wordpress.com/, and you can find him on Twitter @SteveWerkmyster.
When I was a kid,
every old Mexican I knew
claimed their family was
really from Spain,
had secret Jewish blood,
or was part Gypsy,
the obvious aboriginal roots.
It puzzled me, literally.
I understand why no one
wants to say my family
was shit on by the Aztecs,
& then the Spanish,
& then the French,
& then Americans.
No one wants to say
my family got so used to it,
we crossed the border
to get shit on here.
Everyone wants to be
the child Arthur pulling
sword from stone,
the baby in the manger,
the prince, not the pauper.
But I didn’t fit that, either,
being half & half, marginal
even among the marginals.
So here I am, just what
you see: a not-quite Mexican
writing, a not-quite German
writing, a not-quite American
writing, content to handle my
words like berries, to
tend most tenderly
my lines like rows, to spend
millennia crafting poems
just like the land that wrought me.
Benjamin Schmitt is the Best Book Award and Pushcart nominated author of two books, Dinner Table Refuge (PunksWritePoemsPress, 2015) and The global conspiracy to get you in bed (Kelsay Books, 2013). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sakura Review, Hobart, Grist, The Columbia Review, Two Thirds North, and elsewhere. You can read his scary stories for kids in the Amazon Rapids app. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle where he also reviews books, curates a reading series, and teaches workshops to people of all ages.
Tonight you asked me
how a kid could just go bad
I told you about standing
at the magazine rack when I was twelve
pretending to read Auto Trader
while stuffing Playboys and cigarette cartons
down my pants to sell at a discount
in the halls of my Christian school
The soil can accept
the roots of a tree or the roots
can accept new soil
it doesn’t matter so much as the growth
roots and soil are familiar
and grow like the poem
spreading branches through the margins
of notebooks into computer hard drives
and then maybe even into the lap
of someone I will only curtly brush with words
But you kept on asking me
why only some grow
and others do not
and what they will
eventually grow into
Let’s hope our daughter never takes
thirty pills of Dramamine at once
going five miles an hour on the interstate
as a dog criticizes her driving
from the passenger seat
Sometimes the flashlights of adulthood
shine in childhood windows
police plant drugs on orphans
and take them away again
teenage Abrahams hold
stillborn Isaacs in courtrooms
handcuffs bark on the wrists of star athletes
young prostitutes commit suicide
in plaster casts of Taylor Swift songs
In darker years I learned
how to make a burrito in a towel
with Fritos and ramen noodles
while crackheads joked about raping me
somehow I loved you then
and felt you in the linoleum
ten years before we met
maybe the crimes hollowed me out
to hold the rainbow bones of your laughter
I guess what I’m trying to say is that
maybe bad kids grow beautiful loss
Erin Slaughter is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of two poetry chapbooks: GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018) and Elegy for the Body(Slash Pine Press, 2017). You can find her writing in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, F(r)iction, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019.
Self-Portrait as Chicken Dinner
She is a flocked hen going further
west. Like a rucksack slung
over the shoulder in an old
movie, what she contains is less
important than the visual.
When did she become afraid
of her own foolish cluck and scrape
away from the claw-footed earth?
For home is not a blank thing
that wanders. For shelter
is a wooden stake
through the heart.
And always that dead
ghost glazes her skin, thin
film ruddying feathers.
She names it love and gives up
on soap or articulating hurt.
Catalog her contents, blueprint for slicing
open: the cute, crumpled gizzard.
The menagerie of howls caged up
in her heart. When she is hollowed
like the animal ribs of a hundred
it’s the handles that pierce
corn from either side to keep it
in place. All we cannot bear
to notice as the cob collapses
shucks and lifts its yellow,
brittle prayer to a hall of teething
mirrors. To a hallway of mirroring teeth.
Fierce Sonia’s work, Suga, has been selected as our Editor’s Pick by New Plains Review’s Visual Art Editor, Stella Kim. We found the piece to be beautiful, strong, and one of our favorites from this round of submissions.
Fierce Sonia is a mixed media artist. She builds a substrate with acrylic paint and collage. A narrative is constructed by the tension between the lush layers moving to dreamy feminine mindscapes with a brighter palette. If you listen closely her work has a soundtrack, a rhythm, a pulse that will give you a magic carpet ride to a fairytale that restates your own heartbeat. She has a public studio at Torpedo Factory: 105 North Union Street, studio 5 Alexandria, VA 22303 Follow on Facebook
Or @fiercesonia on instagram
Suga, mixed media acrylic piece, 18″ x 24″, 2018.
John Chavers enjoys working as a writer, artist, and photographer. His work has been accepted for publication at The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library – So It Goes Annual Literary Journal, Cream City Review, Whitefish Review, 3Elements Review, JuxtaProse, Camas Magazine, Stonecoast Review, Permafrost Magazine, and The William and Mary Review, among others. This April he will be a guest artist with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SiM) at Korpúlfsstaðir in Reykjavík.
Flourishes in Partial Shade, Digital, 11 x 14 inches, 2017
Fresh Purple Flesh, Digital, 11 x 14 inches, 2016
Ian Hanesworth is a visual artist living and working in Minneapolis, MN. Their artistic practice investigates the systems of reciprocity and the malleability of queer identity through material explorations in textiles, printmaking and painting. Ian is a current senior studying fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
Medicinal herb study, Woodcut print on cotton fabric naturally dyed with elderberries, 9″ x 13″, 2017
Apt 304, Oil paint on wood panel, 48″ x 44″, 2016
Matteo Bona was born on January 1st, 1997, in Asti (Piedmont, Italy). He studied at the Public Scientific High School Francesco Vercelli. Now he study Foreign Languages and Modern Literatures at the Università del Piemonte Orientale. He published his first poem’s collection “Beyond the Poetry” during 2015 and “Nothingness Sense” during 2017. He received the Roma 3 Academic Prize “Apollo Dionisiaco” for the Unpublished Poem and the “Cesare Beccaria” Prize for the Figurative Art, both during 2016. He’ll publish the “Cesare Beccaria” prizewinner artwork into the Garfield Lake Review (Spring Issue), paper journal of the Olivet College (Michigan State, USA), on behalf of the editorial board.
Verlangen, Digital, 21.87×31.08 cm, 2016.