Matthew Brouwer… Introduction to Life


Introduction to Life

The first thing to know is that life is suffering
The second thing to know is that whoever wrote this
was a depressive pessimist
The third thing to know is that we don’t actually know
who wrote this
If you ever take a historical scriptures class you’ll learn that a name
like Buddha, or Krishna, or Jesus is the equivalent of saying,

“Our Founding Fathers”

The fourth thing to know is that “Our Founding Fathers”
were probably all men
The fifth thing to know is that it takes a father
and a mother to make a baby

The sixth thing to know is that a baby is life

The seventh thing to know is that babies are the cutest
while they’re crying or laughing
or doing anything else that babies do
The eighth thing to know is that if you ever make a baby
you will find yourself simultaneously drenched in agony and joy
The ninth thing to know is that this will continue long after your baby

has become a woman or a man

The tenth thing to know is that if the Buddha ever had a baby
He probably would have actually said,
“Life is suffering
and joy”


Matthew Lane Brouwer has performed his poetry throughout the west, leads writing workshops for teens and adults, and coordinates the Whatcom Juvenile Justice Creative Writing Project for youth in juvenile detention. He has a smattering of publications in online and print journals and a bundle of self–published chapbooks beneath his bed.

Matthew is also a Rapoetics Issue 6: Ghost House contributor

Copyright © 2015 by Matthew Brouwer







Graham Isaac… Hat Trick


Hat Trick

Curtains and tights.
Doves and canes.
Caps, cufflinks, gloves,
We were that joke about
the truck, who turned into
a cornfield.

Hey ravens! Hey crows! these stalks aren’t for ignoring.

Pendants and saws.
Repurposed coffins.
Lights so bright or
none at all.

(crystal, but with a joke about balls. A twitch and a wink)

Capes, capes, capes.
This knife can cut through an
ordinary leather sofa in
ten minutes. Think what
the whole set could do. $19.99.
These shoes were the finest
taps in all the land, we
can be your cobbler.
Keep in mind, we used to
be people who used to be
a truck.

Rally, motorcycles! Rally, flamethrowers! Rally, chrome-winged-donkeys.

it is so unfair that these
things repeat themselves.
Nonetheless, we were velvet curtains,
waxed goatee, blazer. Twirling
a rabbit on our finger, blowing
a kiss in sparkling blue pastel,
what they wanted to see,
harsh realities not withstanding.
(this knife cuts through cob. Wheel, wheel, wheel!)


Graham Isaac is a writer living and working in Seattle, Washington. He holds an MA in Creative and Media Writing from the University of Wales, Swansea, where he co-founded The Crunch, South Wales’ largest regularly running poetry and spoken word open mic. He hosted the monthly Works in Progress night at Richard Hugo House and co-curated Claustrophobia, an underground poetry and performance series around Seattle. He was also co-curator of Five Alarms: The Greenwood Lit Crawl. He has a book of poetry out in the world called Filth Jerry’s Guide to Parking Lots.

Copyright © 2015 by Graham Isaac







Rachel Rosenberg….Fantasy Girl


Fantasy Girl

I have arrived.
I am what I have always wanted to be;
the fantasy girl of a man

with a cult of personality.

So while everyone gathers around him without even realizing they are doing it,
turning to him like iron shavings to a magnet,
I can sit smug.
I can lounge on the other side of the room,
secure in the knowledge that while every one of those people think they have a special bond with him,

I actually do.

But it is to both of our advantages to appear single,
playing on the hopes of those who think our sexy is something they could get
so they will give and give
for the privilege of pretending,
for the privilege of not knowing they are pretending,
because we are pretending.
I am the one he winks at from across the room.
I am the thought he touches himself to
when he is finally, blessedly alone.
Notice, he hugs me just a little bit longer than you.
Notice, he’ll make sure I acknowledge him before I leave.
He won’t do that

for you.

But now that I have arrived,
I start to wonder;
when fantasy becomes flesh,
does it make me any less
of a strong, independent woman
to want this?
Shouldn’t I want my own following?
Shouldn’t I have the self-respect

to wanna be equal?

I don’t want to be equal;
I want to be better.
I want him to visit me,
to come to me begging
to show someone the real him and he wants that,
he wants someone to force the truth out of him,

someone to whom he can show


Truth is, sometimes he amazes me…and I want that.
I want a man I find impressive,
because then it’s respect when he calls me impressive,
not the slavish devotion I have come to despise from weaker specimens,
those boys I end up chewing up and spitting out
because even when we both know I’m wrong,

they will not stand up to me.

I want a man with his own life,
not one who’ll make me his
because love is the icing on the cake
so don’t make me your insipid cake.
I will blow off the boy that does that like a candle;
he is the birthday.
The man will sneak into my room to share the tub of icing bare-handed,

making me giggle when he tells me about the party games.

I like being the lighter behind the flame,
not the fuel, but the spark.
I like having all the power
over all the power,
having him look at me
the way they all look at him.
I am the top of the food chain.
I am what I have always wanted to be;
the fantasy girl
who lives up to the fantasy
of the man
with the cult
of personality.


Rachel Rosenberg is a 25-year-old lawyer/recent graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School and an alumnus of Kenyon College. She has been writing poetry for 17 years and performing it for the last two. Her poems have been published in a number of online and print journals.

Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Rosenberg







Kurt (Johansson) Swalander… Back Home & Tea


Back Home & Tea

Another night at home, bright, passionate, lunar light spraying at the world beyond 144th St. screaming,                         “GO! GO! GO!”

I think that was God sending angelic encouragement and I, I reject like the fool, but instead sit at home, closing the gates of opportunity,

Watching the lights fade until all was abysmal as I took the last toke of Elitch,

and I don’t leave home, but wither like paper,

heart murmur,
                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!

Buzzes reverberate my anxious body.


Eyes beaming:
                  Left is: closet, suitcase, and rucksack packed and ready to bug-out,
                  to the right: window, darkness, the wind whirling,
                  rain falling, airplanes flying overhead,
Sea-          Tac! Pike! America!

And I’m going crazy sitting here watching my hair fall out,
“GO! GO! GO!”
And my heart is pounding,
                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!

Ears still receiving painful, circulating, buzz, making me          maddened like Manson.


Until I turn off the buzz, finally at peace.

Flavor is flavor again, coffee still bites,

and my eyes are tame,
and I don’t hear the voice,
                         “GO! GO! GO!”
and it makes me feel weak, or unfaithful, or disdainful, or none, or maybe all three.

But still,

                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!
                                   that pound,
                                   that sound,
                                   that rhythm,

Where am I today? Nearly two years alone, back at home,”Go home! Go moan!” three empty bank accounts, bills to pay, unpublished and just a grain of sand to the world.

                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!

Omer is in North Carolina so high he sees the Wright Brothers.


seeing the same bullshit on the news as I did every time I watch the news.
                         “Nukes in Iran.
                         Drugs causing animalistic behavior.
                         Unemployment numbers falling.
                         No new jobs found.”

A world losing care, isolated in billion worlds.

I turn the lights,
                         strip clothes,
                         and lye naked,
                         warm and locked,
                         in cotton bed sheets.

                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!

hours in the darkness,

                         Ka Cha! Ka Cha! Ka Cha Cha!

* * *

I wake to the voice,

                         “GO! GO! GO!”


Kurt Swalander is a product of his travels. With the intent of absorbing every sensory experience, he hopes to create a new form of the literary vision. He has completed his first chapbook and hopes to publish by January 2014.

Copyright © 2014 by Kurt (Johansson) Swalander



Brandon Pitts… Magdalene (for Rebbeca Brooksher)



              for Rebecca Brooksher


in a stone garden I have sat


I had visions of you as a child
              a dark madonna, sans the suckling babe


you would answer the calls of the priests each Wednesday
              in the evening . . . their time


then I travelled
              from the high country to the sea


to teach them religion
              and you no longer had to suffer their ways


now . . . your body will feel the touch
              of one who is rightly guided


and you will know that love comes
              from some other place


for deep down inside
              when that daemon of self destruction


lies dormant and asleep
              you will hear whisper of your worth


then I will call you Magdalene
              and together . . . we will be


Prolific novelist, poet, lyricist, and playwright,Brandon Pitts is the author of the poetry collection, Pressure to Sing (IOWI), the play, Killcreek (IOWI – 2013 Toronto Fringe), and the novel, Puzzle of Murders (Bookland Press). In 2011, he was selected for inclusion in the prestigious Diaspora Dialogues as an Emerging Voice and has been widely anthologized.

Copyright © 2014 by Brandon Pitts