by Cleo Nuckels

I am the new $1.29 Nacho Fries. I am the commercial about them on ABC. I am eating them in my car in the Kroger parking lot.

I am Kroger-brand cat litter that only costs a few bucks because it comes in a bag, but it spills all over the floor because my cat scratches through the bag, and he pisses on it because he doesn’t know any better. He pees all over and on my clothes, so I’m sorry, but I’ll smell like piss until I buy some more laundry detergent. …

Cleo Nuckels

Marty is lonely, he’s broke, he’s ugly, he’s mean. He’s the type of guy that you hope you never become. He’s lost in the midwest in an endless purgatory of bland offices, convenience stores and messy basements.

You can either be disgusted or intrigued when he pours Cool Ranch Doritos on a Tostino’s pizza, then drowns the whole plate in ranch. He eats like an American.

Marty’s life is in a constant state of ruin where rock bottom has no meaning. You can hit rock bottom over and over again and still survive, no matter how hard your…

It was Saturday morning, which meant Felix and I woke up groggy at 9 a.m.

His phone alarm was never enough to wake him up. So, I rolled over in bed and started shaking him real hard. He groaned. I pinched his nose. He sputtered. I slapped him and said, “Wake up, fucker! It’s time for AMFM.”

Felix took his phone off my nightstand and checked the time.

“It’s so early,” he said. He was always such a little shit in the morning.

“You’re the one who set the alarm. I’m just holding you to your promises.”

We both put…

Joey and Doug. Those were the two guys that shoveled the mud. They did other things sometimes, but today, they were shoveling mud.

It was a simple task, assigned by the boss as he sat at that white round plastic table surrounded by folding chairs, glaring at the cigarettes dangling from working mouths around him because he quit after he settled down with a wife. It all comes down, in the end, to whether or not you can settle. He didn’t know his own luck.

Everyone else was arduously tearing the roof off that day, dropping loads of shingles to…

“Dude, there’s this huge sword stuck in a rock behind the Seven Eleven,” said Marlon, always a little too loud.

Arthur inserted a bony finger in each ear. Everything about him was bony. His kneecaps poked through his legs, poorly designed levers that carried his torso around like mechanized bendy straws stuck into a block of cheese. Wearing a garishly colored flannel shirt and ill-fitting pants, Arthur should have fit right in amongst his recently graduated, malaise-filled peers.

However, adulthood suited him particularly poorly, awkwardly. He was a little boy clomping around in his father’s dress shoes.

He always had…

I knew three police officers by name. Arvin, Dave, and Mark. All of them were shaped the same, legs stuffed into their slacks like sausages, always making sure their steps covered more ground than the average citizen, faces misshapen from years of yelling and frowning, arms beefed up but sagging like a balloon that’s lost a little bit of air.

Sure, I was scared of them. I had reasons to be. They knew where I lived. They knew my family. And worst of all, they knew my name, first, middle, and last. …

black shoes,

under canopy of four

glowing bare feet:

i’m sorry if i offended you.

my black shoes

left alone,

my safety,

my home!

when will i take

your comfort


my black shoes

still in her bedroom.

i bet you

felt history beneath you.

Other Boys’ Shoes

in your spot,

their ghosts in your bed,

scratching my back.

we forgot

all about you, my shoes,

you pair of scorned sweethearts,

and swayed to ten hours

of Soviet music-


in 4/4-

alongside an oscillating fan

that got bored of us

and turned away.

you sat there unworn, tapped


The heart of everything

Practiced its averted glances

For my pleasure. I see how

They stare.

These white blood cells attack me:

The Disease That Won’t Stop Smiling.

I weave in and out of drug deals,

The thread tying their whole empire together.

The winners, the ones who look

Ashamed, who turn down their eyes,

Who have nothing but vitamins

In their Coursing-River Urine.

When I enter the bathroom,

Trumpets flourishing,

The mice all make way for Queen Rat, and I

Lift up my skirt to piss all over their

Shiny White Urinal.

The tax collector arrived, a stormy look on his face. He came too close to me.

“How many tickets did you sell?” Brett asked. I may as well have been sitting in a dank fluorescent room with folding chairs and a two-way mirror. Tickets sold: one.

“What the Hell, man? We were each supposed to sell ten. That’s what we promised,” he started to get angry. ***** looked at me, embarrassed because I was too uncharismatic to sell a ticket to anyone but them. Brett had spent all of his ticket money, leaving us broke. We owed the Pike Room…

The slap of concrete, a heel turn.

Ours is a mean garbage scream,

An attack sent inward,

A mess to be cleaned up later,

Left on our dashboards.

An ancestral moan,

Ragged breath and moan again.

We are a footstep,

The slap of concrete,

A heel turn.

We are dead

On apathetic arrival,

Until we live

In those nice apartments

Until we live,

Declared sick

Until we live.

We are living

On each other’s couches

We don’t get off the couch

Until the mailman shakes his head.

Baby, we’re a trash pile

Burning like lungs

& the hallucinations,

Burning until

We remember that it’s

Too hard to live for free

& we aren’t hard.

Baby, we are melting.

We are nothing.

We are garbage.

Why I Cried

didn’t your mama ever teach you how to cry, boy?

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