The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Poetry by Jeremy Spears

Revising the Day

Vicky revisits her fondest day
in the center of repose,
the afternoon she wanders through
her luscious and her best.
A lover in flannel trousers
sinks teeth into a peach, reciting
lines of a coward but a courageous
man himself. Lapping foam
dissolves sand beneath her feet
and the girl they shepherd between them
no longer embodies her disgrace
or their defeat.

Continue reading

“Preparing the Nursery,” by Joe Oswald


My wife had selected Winnie the Pooh as our baby’s theme. “Classic, not Disney,” she’d often repeat to family and friends as they called to congratulate us and ask for suggestion on gifts or clothing.

Being new to all of this, I soon found out that matching and coordinating was a common expectation when it came to such things as babies and preparing a nursery. Together we had carefully selected everything from blankets, comforter and floor rug, to the Classic Pooh table lamp that would sit on the dresser.

So, at first I was a little worried about the dresser. According to the instructions I had everything I needed for assembly – Phillips screw driver, small adjustable wrench and hammer to tap the tiny black nails to the back of the unit to prevent it, as the instructions explained, from collapsing when finished.  But, until I sliced open the box and let the pieces slide out precisely stacked as they had been when they left the shop floor half a world away, I did not know that the sand color of its smooth veneer finish was in fact an exact match to the sand colored trail of the wall boarder, on which a series of Pooh-Bears continuously roamed, night into day and day into night, honey pot in hand, appropriately accompanied by bees encircling the nursery at a height level with the top walnut railing of the crib. Continue reading

Poetry by Bruce McRae

Nothing Happened


Quite suddenly, nothing happened.

With all the force in the world, nothing happened.

Assured the condition was only temporary,

we were told to return to our houses,

to leave the lights off and get into our beds.

To tremble at powers far beyond our comprehension.

Continue reading

Fantasy Fandoms Unite at Bookcon


Left to right Garth Nix, Kendare Blake, Renée Ahdieh

This past weekend during New York Comic Con, Bookcon was busy taking over Hudson Mercantile with various panels and signings. At the Fantasy Fandoms Unite panel, Garth Nix (Abhorsen Trilogy), Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns), and Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn), sat down to answer fan questions.

Weirdest google searches: Blake admitted she had searched some pretty strange things for her writing, often related to murder, like “how long would it take a body to decompose under so-and-so? What would happen to your body if so-and-so?”

Nix said that his searches often had to do with history or answering strange questions that pop up. “I’ll be writing something and suddenly think, ‘What do they call the turret of a castle?’ And that’ll often lead to ‘why do they call it that?’ Then three hours later I’m on the same word.” He added, “I’m always curious about things. I’m always curious to know everything, really. You never know when you might want to use it in your books.”

Why write YA: Renée Ahdieh shared that “books are where I started to learn English…books were my savior…it’s where I started to understand friendship in the US.” Ahdieh also name-dropped the character Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s books, citing her as an inspiration for loving and wanting to write books with a Strong Female Character.

Nix added that the YA (young adult) label isn’t necessarily something he thinks about when writing. “Labels (like YA) aren’t a definition of what they (books) are. They are a selling tool to make it easier for publishers and book sellers,” said Nix. While a book may be appropriate for one age group that doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyed by any others. Of course, the problem, Nix pointed out, is that some people may not pick up a book with a certain label, whether that label is YA, fantasy, historical fiction etc.

Strong Female Character: The authors also discussed the problems with the somewhat overused term “strong female characters.” Kendare Blake said that her problem is that “strong” is usually used in relation to male characters, and how they are strong. So when a female character is called strong it usually means she is strong– like a man. Blake said she struggles with the term because she wants to show every facet of a female character which doesn’t necessarily mean any classic or male definition of strength. “We are all smart we are all stupid we are all weak we are all strong. Because we’re humans,” Blake said.

Nix agreed, pointing out people always ask him how to write female characters. “No one asks how do I write monsters and demons and other creatures.” Maybe people are bit too hung up on how women can be the center of a story, too fixated on what a strange choice they are to write.

Favorite superpowers: Just to end on a proper note for NYCC, the authors told us what superpowers they would want to help them in their daily lives, in case you were wondering (which you obviously were).

Nix went classic stating he wanted the power of flight. Ahdieh went right to mind control- Useful? yes. Creepy? also yes. Revealing herself as the most pragmatic of the bunch Blake pointed out that with mind control, Ahdieh could just make Nix fly her everywhere in addition to getting someone to hand over their private plane. As for herself, Blake wants to be able to transform objects.

“I wanna be able to turn a bird into a cup. Sometimes you need a bird sometimes you need a cup,” said Blake.

Book Review: Hipster! by Greg Farrell

Hipster-Cover-Just-Front2In this book, Greg Farrell brings the minutiae of millennial life to the page. Farrell is quick to poke humor at his privileged upbringing and many neuroses. In the first story, he notes that he moved to Brooklyn to escape the endless car/job cycle of his hometown in Long Island (you need a car to get to the job, you need a job to afford the car). Farrell writes that he “saw New York City as a refuge from those things,” but was “oblivious to the trials that would await me there.” Indeed, his comfortable suburban upbringing leaves him unprepared to handle even the most basic challenges of city life, such as living with pests, shady landlords, and unreliable roommates.


A series of unconnected vignettes about Farrell’s life over the decades, both in and out of Brooklyn, the collection is scattered at times. Some vignettes stand out, such as a sweet Christmas when the family bands together to buy Farrell’s younger brother a Wii before supplies run out, and a charming look at the history of the Jewish deli B&H. Farrell, an admittedly anxious person, makes for an unreliable narrator at times, as in a story about his electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome, a form of hypochondria, which he seems aggrieved that the rest of the world doesn’t take “seriously.” He has a distinct point of view and clear voice, and his stories definitely read as honest. When he shares his thoughts about girls or roommates it seems like a true depiction of his inner dialogue, which, though de rigueur in diary comics, sometimes feels like oversharing to this reader. For example, when Farrell talks about a female roommate he had an argument with, he notes that he had “two wet dreams wherein I ate her pussy.” Farrell’s viewpoint can be myopic at times, rarely venturing beyond his internal monologue. The collection is at its best when he focuses his lens outside of himself on his family and the outside world.
The book itself is a beautifully-printed edition with clear, easy to read text and a simple, eye-catching cover. Overall, Hipster is an interesting read (despite having little to do with hipsters, or Brooklyn).

Character-based stories reign in TBS’s new show, People of Earth

People of Earth may be TBS’s strangest, if not funniest, new show. Reporter Ozzie Graham, played by Wyatt Cenac, interviews a support group for alien abductees (they prefer the term “experiencers”) in Beacon, NY, a hotbed of alien activity. Though a skeptic, within the first episode he comes to learn and even believe that he may be one of them. Wildly absurd humor and an all-star cast will surely delight audiences.

Creator David Jenkins joined the cast yesterday, October 7, at New York Comic Con, to discuss the stories and inspiration behind People of Earth.

“[The show] really doesn’t have a format, so every episode that we wrote it felt like we were trying to reinvent the show or at least find it in a new way,” Jenkins said.

Though the show is a sci-fi comedy, Jenkins said that he was most interested in exploring the characters that populate his zany universe. “The episodes that I like the best tend to focus on a personal life, then what’s happening in the group, then there’s a sci-fi story that seems to be happening around it but it’s not the focus on the actual episode. You’re still in that world. It’s a comedy that has really interesting sci-fi things around it.”

People of Earth will premiere October 31 on TBS.

“Near the End,” a memoir by Janet Buck

Near the End

Janet Buck

Your skull is packed with razor thoughts, as Father is dying a horrible death, his camel chin, so tired of rising to meet your buzzard eyes. And yes, you have the power to take a papercut, turn it to rivers of blood. There’s a catheter bag taped to the hair on his leg. You know, when pouches of urine pull on the tube, it hurts much more. “I’ll empty it” is all I say. You’re busy with some young woman, bleached-fried hair, doing your nails—donning a silk-slick negligée–clearly the skin of a Python with those aging spots. Next she’ll dye your old coiffure, see if she can change the world. Yours, not his. I hate that fact.

You treat his dying as if it’s yours. He doesn’t deserve that Hell-made pickle of your tongue. None of us deserve your tongue. But go ahead, do what you do: tear down shrines, release the memories of lives that matter, toss them with that snotty tissue in the trash. When he’s gone, it’s free-fire zone. I have a mouth; I’ll use it then. Because of you, every step I make to hold the conch shell of my father’s hand is a field of mines. I’m the one who scratches the genie’s itching head, rubs his shoulders with all the power in my wrists and fingers, in my arms, as he quietly reads the news. Do you know your sour words are bile and hairballs in his throat? I make him crêpes for breakfast when you refuse to switch on morning coffee pots, but manage to open a gallon of scotch, telling someone watching you drink from a bed stand cup: Oh, it’s only apple juice, you say. And we pretend that we believe to save him from the whipping post.

I hate the thought of my father making love to a woman built of shale and splintered wood. That heavy clay horse in the pompous living room you never use but had to have—like six mink coats—will do just fine. I could come up from behind, knock at the door of a head filled up with pharmacies you never needed from the start. And you. You over there—the one with eyes glazed over same as donut holes, the one who will not hold me when he’s gone—I’ll bet you’re stealing his morphine pills.


It’s over now. I stand beside him, stumbling over syllables. “A Love Poem to My Father” is the piece I wrote. My wrist too weak to hold the frame, a hospice nurse helps me out, reaching underneath to steady the paper pinned by glass, now hit by cold November winds. She knows these cracking cricket sounds will live forever in my voice. You are screaming, Get that body off my bed! I wish it were some bullshit job of paraphrase. Where’s that horse? A thick, black zippered body bag is on a stretcher telling me there’s no tomorrow.


Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee & the author of four full-length collections of poetry. Buck’s most recent work is featured in The Birmingham Arts Journal, Antiphon, Offcourse, PoetryBay, Poetrysuperhighway, Abramelin, The Writing Disorder, Misfit Magazine, Lavender Wolves, River Babble, The Danforth Review & other journals worldwide. Her latest print collection of verse, Dirty Laundry, is currently available at all fine bookstores. Buck’s debut novel, Samantha Stone: A Novel of Mystery, Memoir & Romance, was released courtesy of Vine Leaves Press in September, 2016. Janet lives & writes in Southern Oregon—just hours away from Crater Lake, one of the seven wonders of the world. For links, announcements, and interviews with Janet, visit her new website:

A Touch-and-Feel Guide to the British Museum

A Touch-and-Feel Guide to the British Museum

by Tess Tabak

At the British Museum in London, many of the world’s greatest treasures are on display. As I studied the Rosetta Stone, one of our modern-day wonders, there was only one thing on my mind: What does that feel like?


Fortunately, the British Museum anticipated that desire. They recently started hosting Objects Handling Sessions, where visitors can touch historic artefacts daily under supervision of a trained volunteer. They’ve also added an interactive Touching Tour, which allows blind visitors to handle plaster replicas of some of the artwork, to better visualize it. These features can help bring history to life in your fingertips.


However, I noticed no one seemed shy about touching the real deal. “Please STOP TOUCHING the art & artifacts!” reads one 5-star review from an unamused guest.


Indeed, the guards seemed blind to it. Pictured below, a woman rests on an ancient statue marked PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH.


Encouraged, I partook myself. Here is a guide to my favorite sites at the British Museum by taste and texture.

1) The Sphinx

The Sphinx tasted enigmatic. Truly, there is nothing in the world like the feel of a genuine Egyptian sphinx beneath your tongue. Each lick imbued me with years of wisdom.

On the downside, I probably have a curse now.


2) The coin room


The coin room in the British Museum has a handful of coins out at all times to be handled. Naturally I popped a few in my pocket when no one was looking.

I felt supremely powerful holding the coins of generations past. However, I discovered that the thousand-year-old drachmas, though purportedly valuable, could not buy me a snack from the museum’s cafeteria. Whoops. Now I know what people in Greece feel like.


3) Napoleon’s bed


Comfy, but short.


4) The Mummy

“I know what you did to the Sphinx,” a voice whispered in my ear as I stroked the Mummy’s hand. Whoa. I’ve really got to get out of here.

“Heaven Rises and Earth Falls,” a poem by Patrick Canino

Heaven rises and earth falls

The heart beats its own accord

And the stream ripples with life.

Rock and water are inseparable

Flowing round each other.

If the center holds all things are strong.

Beyond that lies the soul.

Thought spirals a habit,

A dragon whipping its tail

Long enough to touch

the heavens

Here we are. Here we remain.

Man the creature of the middle,

The center that holds its own.

Poetry by Anna Shapiro




The night I opened my veins

the doctor who stitched me up

asked me if I did it for attention

-Andrea Gibson


I will grow old growing mad in the moonlight.

I will wipe the charcoal from the skies in the early morning

having sat out on the back patio smoking cigarettes all night and drinking

three bottles of wine after everyone went home to their warm beds.

I will smear the slate clean and rub oil pastels with my bare palms

into the empty morning air leaving my hands a runny shade of pink and orange.


I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret.

Like the three bottles of wine I promised you I wouldnt drink because

the internet called me a heavy drinker and told me that I was

at risk of developing something worse and bigger.

Those are my little secrets.

I swallowed them along with the wine and an ambien that never kicked in

and some klonopin to take the edge off.

I buried them in the backyard next to my brothers dead hedgehog.

I set them aflame with my gas station lighter.

I ripped them into small pieces and scattered them where no one can see them


Two bottles down and the moon bathes me in the very memories Im trying to forget.

Emergency room lights bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of winter.

Bright like the skin on my stomach in the middle of summer because it never sees the sun.

Coarse bed sheets soaked in blood and the scent of burning flesh when they cauterized the artery.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.


In the early morning before my alarm I smoke a cigarette then another

than a whole pack trying to forget and trying to ride away the craving for another drink.

The smoke surrounds me like early morning fog clouding my vision.

Whoever said you cant drink wine before 7 am is my mortal nemesis.

Whoever thinks that I do it all for attention

the cigarettes and the wine and the bright red lines

is a fucking idiot.

They clearly dont know what it means to be alive.

They dont know the remedies to getting by.

They dont know the blinding shine of the moonlight.


Im more alive in this moonlight than you will ever be. Dont you see my glistening?

Dont you see my scars gleam? Dont you hear my heart ,so small, so weak, beat?

When the sun comes I will wipe the slate clean.

Ill wash the dry blood from my hands and throw away my jeans soaked through with red.

In the light of the sun ill begin to forget.

The moonlight is maddening. Bring sunlight, bring clarity.

I never did it for attention.

I do everything for attention but not that.

That is my little secret




When I was a little girl my teacher taught me that 2+2= 4

and that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels (and sometimes y)

and my mom taught me a firm handshake (you dont want to shake like an American)

and my dad taught me diagnostic criteria in the DSM

and my sisters taught me the top pop hits of 2003.

And my teacher taught me cursive handwriting

and my mom taught me to say please and thank you

and my dad taught me about the stars

and my sisters taught me that youre not really a grown up

just because you turned 21.


Some things I learned, I cannot trace the origin of.

Who taught me to feel ashamed when I left my barbies naked and headless

opting instead to climb trees and wind through creeks in the mud?

Who taught me to feel bad when

I played dirty on the soccer field,

when I discovered the slide tackle at eight years old?

Who taught me that all that life means is to be pretty? More than being smart or funny or nice or kind or caring?

Who taught me that as a woman, I had to be, not only pretty, but nice and kind and caring?

Why didnt anyone give a fuck about a girls big ideas and creativity?

Why was it always keep your mouth shut and your legs shut even tighter?

Why, as I got older, did seventeen magazine preach never to wear all black,

to always spruce your outfit up with a red shoe, a pop of color?


Who the fuck taught me, taught all of us, that we are not okay to love?

Whose insidious voice got inside our ears and whispered, you are unloveable,

untouchable, unworthy?

Who the fuck taught us that the proper way to hate yourself is through your body?

Get a bad grade on a test? Blame youre thick legs.

Say something mean? Blame your arms fat like tree limbs.

Get into a fight with your best friend? That wouldnt have happened had your stomach been flatter.

Your boyfriend broke up with you? It was your ass, I tell you, your fat fucking, cellulite ridden

ass was the problem.


Who taught us to skip meals to make ourselves lovely?

Why does every girl I know have a story about an eating disorder that she may

or may not have had growing up?

And now that we are all grown up, why cant we eat without apologizing?

Why cant we go a day with weighing ourselves and wondering?

Why does that voice in our heads never let up?

You fat piece of shit you are nothing.


So heres to the all the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are nothing but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who still feel fat all the time even though they are anything but skin and bones.

And heres to the girls who drink every night to quiet the voice inside.

And heres to the girls who slice their skin just trying to get by.

And heres to the girls on juice fasts, and low carb diets, and diet pills.

And heres to the girls who are tired of the world weighing down on them.


Let me be the voice inside your head.

I dont care if you are beautiful or smart or kind or nice or caring or thin or fat or mean or bossy.

I dont care if you like to pay dirty and I dont care whether you keep your legs closed tight.

You are everything ive ever wanted to be, just the way you are.


I wish I could take my own advice but the least I can do is impart it to you.

Fuck that voice in your head.

Fuck it hard like that guy that you met at a party and fucked on ecstasy then never called

back the next morning.

Fuck it and dont ever call it back.

Dont ever invite it back in.




you told me that you liked my poetry so

I got drunk and wrote a thousand poems about

the faces you make when youre trying to make a point

and the sound of the train rolling by at night

and I wrote a devotional ode to cheese fries

and a villanelle about the sunrise

and I wrote about last night at the bar

and the night before

and watching movies in my parents basement

and living alone in my old apartment

and I wrote a sonnet about the time that her and I

hooked up in the back seat of my car

and how I realized girl on girl was better than I had ever expected

and I wrote about the trees and the mountains

even though there are no mountains

and I wrote about the sea and the shore but not the beach

because I hate the beach

and I wrote a pantoum just for you

about how much I hate the feeling of dry sand

and the sound of chalkboards

and I wrote about the other things that make my skin crawl

and I wrote an epic poem about our love which isnt love at all

and I wrote about dead bodies floating in the river

and snow accumulating on my dashboard

and dead leaves crunching under my feet in the winter

and I read you a few of my poems about

spring making its way and

the rain on my fingertips on a warm day and

the ways I want you to hold me

and you told me that you didnt like my poetry so

I got drunk and deleted them all

all ten thousand of them

one by one




every poem i read seems to have a line about


but i cannot picture them in my head because

i dont know much about flowers and

i wouldnt know a chrysanthemum if it

bought me a drink and sang me love poetry

in german cant you hear it sing


I know only dandelions

der Löwenzahn

sie blühen draußen

in the back yard

little yellow heads that pop up


when the spring comes

and fade to soft greys

i make a wish and blow them away

but my wishes never come true

and i know roses

die Rose

blooming on my arm in shades of

red and black and grey

Man muss Tattoos nicht gießen

they thrive on the water in my body

the body is made up of so much water

we are like sacks of seas

das Meer fließt

and i know hibiscus

der Eibisch

floating in wine that my sister let me sip

when i was sixteen and we were

close like we were before

before everything changed

when were were like real Schwestern

es schmeckt suß wie Schokolade

and i know that lavender

der Lavendel

is calming so they put it in soaps and teas

and in the south of france my mom bought

so much lavender soap to take home

and scrub our hands clean with

and theres still some in the powder room

which is just a fancy Badezimmer

that only the guests get to pee in

and i know tulips

die Tulpe

my moms favorite flower

wir pflanzen sie im Frühlig

in the front yard

i saw them everywhere in amsterdam

at the flower market

did you know that the netherlands

suffered something akin to the great depression

hundreds of years ago

when the price of a tulip bulb kept rising

until someone realized they were just flowers

and ive seen a sunflower

die Sonnenblume

towering over me in a garden as i

walked the streets of my moms home town

back in germany

so gross

so schôn

it struck awe in me like a chrysanthemum never could

and i couldnt help but wonder to myself

who no one writes poems about

the price of a tulip bulb or

lavender soaps from the south of France or

hibiscus wine secrets shared between sisters or

tattoos of garden variety roses or

making a wish on a dandelion

I couldnt help but wonder to myself

why no one writes poems about sunflowers

standing tall in the garden and striking awe in all of us




I tied a kite string around the sun to try and capture its wave lengths.

I didnt crave the heat so much as I wanted to catch a tan.

My skin is paler than the moonlight by the middle of winter.

I can trace every vein from wrist to finger.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.


When I get my blood drawn at the doctors office

I lay out my arm and place my finger on the spot

This is the vein you want.

This is the vein that is full of life and bounty.

They always cringe at me as if I know too much.


And I do know too much.

When I meet someone new in a sleeveless top all I can see

is their pretty veins.

The blue green angels singing, begging me to puncture.

You have beautiful veins and lovely bones,

I told my friend that as I ran my fingertips up and down and his arm and

traced his collar bone.

Thats the creepiest thing youve ever said.


I used to thread my veins together with medical needles.

Id knit them into long scarves and try a different spot every time to

prevent the formation of track marks.

They littered my friendsskin like cigarette butts on the ground at the park.

I kept them away but my inner arms would be bruised for days from

poking around.


And I once got an abscess the size of a golf ball from dirty needles or sharing needles.

Or maybe from sharing dirty needles.

In the emergency room they refused to drain it

my little ball of puss and blood.

They gave me an antibiotic and no other instructions other than to


Stop living your dirty lifestyle, much worse things will happen,

you rotten junkie, you.


I still have a scar from when they finally did drain it.

Its the only scar I dont plan to cover up with tattoos.

Because I need to remember, when my veins look so enticing,

when your veins look so enticing,

that it wasnt all good.

I need something to remind me when

the blue green angels are singing, begging me to puncture.


Because the body has memories.

And the body cant remember pain the way it remembers the good.

I need the sun to bronze me and cover every last inch of the blue green

so that I can stop staring and wishing and remembering.

So that I can stop tracing the lines and remembering the good times.

Instead I want to trace the line of the little scar on my arm

and remember when it hurt.

Because if you forget the pain

history is sure to repeat itself.

Anna Shapiro is an English major at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating, she hopes to get her MFA in creative writing. Anna lives at home with her family, frog-in-a-jar, and plastic cat skeleton. When not writing poetry, she can be found implementing her feminist agenda and drinking craft beer on draft.

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