"beyond wins and losses the copper boxer..." michael o'brien

beyond wins and losses the copper boxer

hexagonal horizon
the laburnum in bloom

spooked by a slamming door
the sparrow smashes
into a window

time to be understood as or through metaphor

the bird
its second leg

in this short night a lilac

Michael O’Brien lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He is the author of As Adam (UP Literature), Big Nothing (Bones), and The Anabasis of Man (Yavanika Press). You can follow him on twitter @michaelobrien22

Hiatus Over, We're Back

Muskeg is back from hiatus with a fresh new haircut and ready to read your work. Please see the INFO page above for full submission guidelines. We're also back on Twitter. You can find us there @MuskegMagazine. We're excited to see what you've been up to.

On Hiatus

Muskeg is taking a breather. We are not currently accepting submissions or reading our email. We may open again in the future. If and when we do, we will announce it in this space and spread the word. Thanks. In the meantime, please visit our archive and read some of the work we were proud to publish.

REKT rebecca gransden

Tracers from the traffic lights spread down vacated night streets, the outskirt city blocks swamped in perpetual blue light. The lights don’t change now, not since they started to glow like compressed ice, the soft beams crawling along the asphalt, stalking up to shadows requesting caresses.

The headspace moseys through the streets, along empty roads where cracks in the pavement blink and eyelashes whisper and retract. The stars are blu-ray junkies, the standby screen negotiating pinholes. Bars serve up blob glasses filled with water, fizzing white effervescent tablets. In a world that deified gut rot and rushed to a token remedy.

A boy stammers while using hammers,

On his first erection.

A seizure parade marches in silence, ticker tape plasters soaking up the shower of spit. Every one of them is covered in a bruise over the entirety of the body, and naked since to dress amplifies their pain. The ones who clench out a piece of tongue feel a relief sanctioned by a bandit nanny from long ago, who stroked hair and sang lullabies about dead horses.

The headspace tracks the byways and receives. Since the dissolution of the last kleptocracy a simple lawlessness has crept the land, the few bodies left after the show too saturated with content to function, tranquillised with themselves, as individuals. They sit indoors, staring at the windows, lit up with the blue light from the street, timeless and after dark.

The ghost disputes of violent domestics emanate from inside brick homes, but the rooms are empty upon entry, suburban mausoleums, all shady. The headspace wanders upstairs where the blue light falls along landings, and the door to the main bedroom opens into a nebula of countless whirling stars that are a memory to be kept forever.

Out through the window now and floating above the paths, gingerly recounting days spent with unsecured wrist bindings, daubed with cover girl warpaint. Past a glowing cigarette end, disembodied, the exhaled smoke of an invisible figure forming a churning ball which pursues until a foreign street.

The buildings are taller and darker, and the doorways breathe. A woman, glowing from inside and from every nude part, walks her freakish beauty along the centre line of the road, against the black. She’s drawing herself away. Snails, feigning hibernation, stick to her. She sways carefully, to leave them undisturbed, attached.

Headspace meets the beautiful woman and passes on by—over sleeping policemen where the surface is black speaker, playing tinny breakbeats. Infrasound beckons, and a line of faded child stars emerges from the noise, their sallow complexions a receptacle for the inverse snobbery of underclass young adults who only exist in megabytes.

A foghorn of such spectral joy as to devastate the tired soul trumpets majestically from some unreachable distance, filled with magic and sober melancholy. The city in unending darkness stops to wither in response.

Rebecca Gransden lives on an island and writes sometimes. She can be found on Twitter @rlgransden and online occasionally at rebeccagransden.wordpress.com.

3 POEMS meeah williams

Better Than Me 

Everything is better than me.

Every thing.

A fingernail is better than me.
A cat sleeping on a rug.
A crumb from a crumb cake.

A bloody nose with no tissues at hand is better than me.

Every single letter in the alphabet.
A cancelled stamp.
A mispronounced word.
Better than me.

A booger—yes a booger—is better than me.

Some guy in a wife-beater t-shirt beating his wife in the kitchen downstairs is 
better than me.

A broken roof shingle lying in the street.
A flat tire.
A sore toe.
A bounced check.
All of them, every single one of them:
Better than me.

Something a truck driver digs out of his ear and sniffs while waiting for a light 
to change. 
A crushed can.
A stitch in your side.

Whatever’s reflected in any mirror.
Moths in the flour.
Stick a hose in it.
Let the air out.
You guessed it.

Rubber puddle.

Better than me.

Accepting Myself As I’m Not

Thinking you're too old
for this shit & what you mean
is waking up in the morning
& greeting the golden opportunity
of a new day.

Vowing never to speak again
then not five minutes later
hearing yourself blathering on
like some tool at the U.N.
lying in 11 languages at once.

Fearing that one day
you'll look in the mirror
& see a pile of gray laundry
that someone left behind
at the laundromat.

Fearing that day has already arrived.

Forgiving your cat in advance
for eating off half your face
before your corpse is finally discovered
when the neighbors complain of the stench.

Step 10

Thinking that if people
only got to know you better
they'd like you
but if they really knew you
they'd hate you all over again.

And if they knew you
as well as you know yourself
they'd drive you out of town
at the end of pointed sticks
for the sick monster
you really are.

Apologizing when people
step on your toes.

Apologizing when the plumber
can't fix your pipes.

Apologizing to your executioner.

The intense shame you feel
at the fantasies that trigger
your orgasm
& thinking how you can never
tell anyone for fear
of the implications
they might draw
which are totally unfounded
but how can you ever convince them
of that when it shocks & sickens
& scares even you a little?

Apologizing for the heat death of the sun.
Apologizing for cancer.
Apologizing for the extinction
of the stegosaurus.

Apologizing to Jesus
for everything
on behalf of all of us.

Making a list of everyone
you'd like to apologize to
& realizing you've already apologized
to all of them
& they still haven't forgiven you.

Meeah Williams
is a writer & graphic artist whose work has appeared widely in print and online, most recently in Otoliths, Uut, Burning House, Rhythm and Bones, Unbroken Journal, Ex/Pat, Philosophical Idiot, Hypoactive House, Soft Cartel and X-R-A-Y Lit. She lives in Seattle.

OBLIGATIONS cavin gonzalez

If there’s anything worth being grateful for it’s the wrinkles of a person you’re not obligated to love. 

I would like to set up shop in your wrinkles. A burger shop, to be exact. This may irritate your pores but I think that’s only fair enough because your pores will irritate me even though I love you. 

Nobody will come for a burger because my burgers will taste like shit. But the beer will be good, I’ll dose it with your sweat. All of my customers will grow to love you too and we’ll have Karaoke Fridays. The waiters won’t make much but they’ll be happy.

I won’t be able to pay the loan back that I took out to open the burger spot in your wrinkles. I’ll get lots of mail about it. Red letters. They’ll take my shop from me. They’ll take you from me too. It will be worth it, though, and I will be grateful for the time spent.

Cavin Gonzalez is a twenty-two year old graduate from the University of Central Florida. He is the prose editor for SOFT CARTEL, book reviewer for Pidgeon Holes, and was selected for inclusion in "The Best Micro Fiction of 2018" anthology.

3 QUASI-POEMS stefano calligaro











Stefano Calligaro is an artist, quasi-poet, racing driver, and coffee lover based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and CALLIfornia. http://neutralspaces.co/stefanocalligaro/   https://stefano-calligaro.tumblr.com/


This is the way to step inside. The house he lived in with four roommates, ensconced in various room in the old rambling Victorian loomed atop the hill, set slightly above the mid-century modern next door already in decline below. Frank looked out the window of his bedroom, staring at the swimming pool at the neighbors’ house below. The pool was covered with a dark blue tarp, decorated with the season’s leaves.
It was doubtful this would be used again; the neighbors aged rapidly. The husband, a retired professor, recently had a stroke. The night the ambulance was called its orange lights filled his room when it arrived to take the professor to the city hospital.
He read the details in the university newspaper the following Monday.
Ever since, he never saw either out on the patio. They shuttered within their modern, with its sharp angles and rectangle windows, the old tiki torches unlit. No university cocktail parties or family get-togethers. Just silent, reaching a crescendo of quiet except for the stirring of autumn leaves falling on the swimming pool tarp.
His roommates began referring to the neighbors’ home as the Night House. Frank first heard the phrase three months ago, and he nodded, finding it poetic. Wanted to write about it, thinking of how to frame the mystery of a couple now seemingly trapped inside.
As he stood at the window, learning his hands against the glass frame, Frank felt an empathic sympathy for the couple living below. The only visitors were a day nurse who arrived shortly after dawn, leaving at sundown and a weekly delivery from the supermarket. He knew this because he happened to watch enough to assume the rhythm, and Frank paid attention to detail. It was his way—Frank did not like surprises, taking comfort in assumed generalities.
Life was at a young age for him, and he lived it by the slow movement of the clock. He was decades away from his neighbors, where time moves fast now, reaching to the point where they cannot hold back those hands of time, and now, sadly, they cannot hold back the movement of the hands, ticking until they stop in sudden silence.
Running, running goes the clock. When it stops, what then?

Frank woke up to the sound of a party outside. He went to the window, and was shocked to see the tiki torches lit, and the pool, with the tarp off, the water shimmering in the lights.
He had to check it out. He wandered through the hall, down the stairs and walked the short distance to the curve that angled down to the house below.
At the entrance stood a tall man in a dark green suit, holding a tumbler glass, smoking a cigarette, talking with a man wearing a goatee and horned rim glasses. They looked hip, but out of time.
He tried to listen to the conversation. They were discussing French colonial issues, something that Frank knew nothing about, regarding a place called Brazzaville.
They ignored him as Frank passed by and stepped to the double front door.
The doors opened to a long gallery with windows lit by the torches in each window, lending an eerie dancing light that shifted unnaturally with the movement of the flames.
In the center stood the old professor and his wife. They were younger; the man was no older than his thirties, wearing a charcoal suit. His wife was resplendent in a silver lame, scoop neck dress. She smiled gracefully, nodding as she fingered a silver brooch before sliding her hand to the sides.
“Why don’t you join us?” he said. “We know you’ve been dying to visit.”
“I’m not too sure,” Frank replied.
“Ah yes, the Night House. We understand,” the professor said.
He pointed to the ceiling. “We can hear your talking from above.”
“Sorry for the trouble, sir.”
“No trouble at all,” he said. “Your words remind us of life. Life is after all is for the living. A conversation, an exchange of ideas from the banal to the vital; it’s a stream that reminds us all of our human existence.”
“You’re at the university. I’m guessing Philosophy,” he said.
“I was. Changed to undecided for this year. I have until the end of the semester to decide, though.”
“Try literature. I can tell you are a budding writer.”
“How so?”
“You chose to come here.”
Frank began to back away towards the door.
The professor’s wife noticed, nodding. “We understand, but we are glad you stopped by to visit.”
His last words to Frank were when he gestured to his wife, and said, “Lonely, alone I go. Divine, to the divinity. You should look that poet up: an English decadent by the name of Lionel Johnson, and a sadly neglected soul. Maybe you can help keep his name alive by reading him. I tried. Failed.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Do take care, and thank you, again,” said the wife.

When he awoke, Frank went to the window. He saw the conclusion to the story of the Night House.
As he watched the black station wagon from the county coroner’s office take away two bodies, Frank understood that when the flow of time begins to hasten, he better have lived a good life, with some small degree of fulfillment.
Months later, Frank attended the estate sale. He came away with several of Dr. Hathaway’s suits, and some of his books, including the Poetical Works of Lionel Johnson.
Before he left, he saw the brooch at the auction table. He touched it. The stone was emerald, and felt warm.

Mike Lee is an editor, photographer, and reporter for a trade union newspaper in New York City. His fiction is published in Ghost Parachute, Reservoir, The Alexandria Quarterly and others. Website: www.mleephotoart.com. He also blogs for the photography website Focus on the Story.