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An olive, perhaps, stuffed with something bitter.
A mortgage statement wrapped around an artichoke.
It must be something mature; no teenaged hot hot hot sauce.
No boasts or man-child char-broiled contest; no, something
your grandmother would consume.
But she has her secret scotch against the cold, and ate
many grim and tasteless things to stretch the stew
to the end of the month. Do not discount her.
You will be tempted to mix cigars and cloves and motor oil
To roll them in your taxes and the discarded page of colonoscopy instructions
But remember you will have to eat the final product, that the spell will only work
If you don't choke.
Coffee seemed perfect at first but now you have doubts
It's so easy to buy it in marshmallow form, or as a popsicle, or in a juice box
It won't start a pickup truck any more, you're pretty sure, if it ever did.

I will tell you a secret.
Once you've dressed in nylons and a tie, cast the square, and swallowed the item you chose
To mark the start of adulthood, or the end of childhood
You're not sure which, the paperwork never reached you
Once you've drunk it down, or eaten it entire:
There is no sign.
Did you succeed, or fail, or some wretched middle thing?
Are you accruing now valorous deeds, fathomless debt, or unwanted magazine subscriptions?
In this uncertainty you now dwell.
Welcome. We're here too.



Brooke Abbey is a disabled, transmasculine, queer single parent, putting him at the cutting edge of dad joke technology. He is a pharmacist specializing in compounding and immunization, and is grateful that mad science and stabbing people is a viable career path. He has a Pegasus Award-winning album of filk songs played on the banjo, and if that doesn't terrify you, you can investigate at: https://brookeabbey.com/album/steel-cage-match
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17 Jun 2024

To fly is to deny death / as the body’s natural state
scrawled in the ashes of who I might have been
Ellie Mathieu can tell when the Big Easy arrives by the smell of its engine.
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Issue 15 Apr 2024
By: Ana Hurtado
Art by: delila
Issue 8 Apr 2024
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