Melissa Crowe

2014, 2016, Poetry


That long, ugly winter over, I still can’t
put aside the death of the young giraffe
at Copenhagen, shot by keepers
while he lipped chunks of rye bread

in the zoo. And I’m sad because
you’re always lying—today you call to say
you’re mad with pain from kidney stones
the size of walnuts and since you can’t have

painkillers, you’ve asked the doctor again
for the methadone our father has begged
she not prescribe. I cry for the stones,
which don’t exist and which you say

may take months to pass and for your
mutilating need, which does and will never.
I can’t walk the prettiest road
in our neighborhood this spring—the one

with flowering trees that rain pink
blossoms that brown almost before
they hit the ground and fill the air
with a scent like dying jasmine

and star fruit—because a rabbit lies
melting into a tuft of grass in front
of one house unrented since March.
Did you know after they culled

that healthy calf, wrong
for the breeding scheme, they fed
his body to lions while a crowd watched
from behind a fence? I can’t look too long

at little boys at the grocery store, the park,
with freckled cheeks like yours and curly
hair so thick and cut so short it looks like fur.
Did you know the Danish word for poison

is gift? You tried heroine at fourteen.
What did you want? You nuzzled from some
sweet hand while another you couldn’t detect
reached around to seize your slender neck.


Brother, we heard your hunger cries; we rose
to bring your milk. Now you eat pills
and sleep with skinny women, blue ghosts

of other men’s names inked on their breastbones.
We kindled to sounds of your keening will.
Brother, we heard your hunger cries and rose.

Dad told us years ago the bird let loose
at the back of that deep V is feeble,
that he’ll wing toward a flock of ghosts

till sister, mother, father from him go
and, like breath, his own unsung will
evaporates. Brother, you cried. We rose,

and rise, at least as far as wishing goes
(although you strut and stagger, steal
and stick around). So like our own your ghosts,

your hollow honking song. We can’t let go.
Neither can we stay, hover still,
abide your hungry cries. And if we rose
to ours, what then of you, oh brother, ghost?


Melissa Crowe earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia. Her work has appeared in journals like Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Seneca Review, and her second chapbook, Girl, Giant, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She’s co-editor of Beloit Poetry Journal and lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, Mark, and their daughter, Annabelle.

Winter XIV

The Boiler - Winter 2014

Cover Art: Conversation by Rachel Mulder


K.T. Billey
Amy Carlberg
Lauren Camp
Justin Carter
Kallie Falandays
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Jane Huffman
Alex Lemon
Anna Meister
Matt W. Miller
Larry Narron
Greg Solano
July Westhale


Beth Bretl
Jon Chopan
Andrew Nicholls
Zach VandeZande


Lori White
Gina Williams


Apocryphal by Lisa Marie Basile reviewed by Janae Green
Mezzanines by Matthew Olzmann reviewed by Jeffrey W. Peterson




Rachel Mulder
is a draftswoman living in Portland, Oregon. She grew up in rural Wisconsin and received her BFA in Printmaking from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2007. Constantly yearning for the happy accident prevalent in traditional printmaking, Mulder uses a typewriter to create large-scale works on paper while she produces smaller works embodying similarly obsessive and formulaic methods of drawing.
Cover Art: “Conversations,”Rachel Mulder, 2014

Erica Parrott is a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and lives and works in Naples, Florida. Her work oscillates between cryptic and relatively universal, sincerely enthusiastic and darkly ironic.


Jane Huffman

2014, Poetry


Leave your soft metallic subordinance behind,
leave your cashmere leg wraps, your ponds
of copulating flutterfish, your unmowed lavender,

leave your thrown disemboweled, your plate of beak meat
and wishbone unsnapped, leave your funeral gardens
unwatered, your husband, nonstinging jelly, wonting.

Leave your damselfly boudoir of molten gold drapery
and dozzled pearls, leave your flask of malt vinegar,
leave your council to the dogs, your dogs to the strangers.

Leave your haliographer to his salt, your turkey feather
vireton to the soldiers, your red mun waxes to the girls,
your dinmont to the butcher, your emerald cross garnet

to be melted down for stock. Pack lightly this time.
Bring only your languages and one or two good coats.
Leave your sun wolves, your copper upspear headdress.

Forget the unripe lotus. Forget the bathhouse, its labbing,
baptizer of small orifice. Forget the aurelia, its waiting.
Wait no more. Leave at dawn. Leave the rest to me.


I can pose the mosaic layer’s clay,
finger his glass tessellates, his jewel dye,
ask: what shade of blue will God wear today?

I can hold the florist’s blade to his bouquet,
keep the beekeeper’s wasp from his sandfly.
I can pose the mosaic layer’s clay.

Women like me never learn how to pray.
Rather, like simple machines, we pry:
ask: what shade of blue will God wear today?

And if I found a child in the hay,
I would lie.
I can pose the mosaic layer’s clay.

My own child, born in the chance of May,
she too my own doing, looks to the sky,
asks: what shade of blue will God wear today?

Mother, I know exactly what you’d say,
that mothers must mother things that must die.
I can pose the mosaic layer’s clay,
ask: what shade of blue will God wear today?


Jane Huffman is a Michigan-based poet and playwright with recent work featured or forthcoming in Arroyo Review, Moon City Review, Cold Mountain Review, Word Riot, RHINO Poetry and other journals. She is currently studying poetry and theatre arts at Kalamazoo College.

Kallie Falandays

2014, Poetry

Come closer, come wider, come open my windows.

Come closer, come wider, come open my windows.
I came into your room and I unlocked your cage.
I tried to feed you winged things:

one angel story about trying to fly but forgetting how to open;
one ghost story, the one in which I remembered you writhing;
one tiny wing clipped from the underside of a fairy-thing;
one looming fan,
one wailing hand.
I tried to remind you from where you came.
Tell me the opposite of ceiling light.
The opposite of tapestry.
The opposite of opera.
I tried to give you memory holds:
Broken night, dirt, a finger’s whisper.

I tried to remind you of the before-morning-time:
the opposite of infinity, the opposite of no, the opposite of no,
the backwards hand-pull of moonlight. I tried
to pull you out of your blankets:
Your face was dripping in my head all morning.

She thinks of places to hide.

She thinks of places to hide. Rips up the carpet and slits herself inside. The ground pulses under her back. She moves quietly around the kitchen thinking of watching someone watch her. Goes to sleep in the dark, wishing for it like a blanket. Pretends she didn’t think of him. She wants to go back. To go back back. She unscrews all of the cabinets and hides the bolts in her bedroom. Paints every mirror black and more than that, all the windows. Tries to hide everything inside of itself, so it won’t see her leaving.


Kallie Falandays has poems in PANK, Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill, december, and elsewhere. She runs Tell Tell Editing and is the managing editor of Kenning journal.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

2014, Poetry


You were waving when I looked back.
When I scraped winter from my flesh
& mimicked the silence of geese,
bruised arrows skimming grief.

Somewhere I moved beneath trees.
I’d love to name their limbs for you
but can’t you see past all that? Anatomy
says we’re all the same.
Symmetry, flawed by soul, errata,
elegy & so forth.

I was crawling across lawns,
feral & flattened
into lies & scored lines,
dive bars & overtures.
In the dark I swung my legs
across the wooden prows
of men & women lost at sea,

the misery
of a jukebox, paid & repetitive.
Appreciated for nostalgia
alone. Closer now is the absence
of snow. Because it is summer
& the heat unfastens like a black dress
around my legs. My dark cries
claw the dance floor.

Give me a call,
let me know how you’re doing,
I write to my friends
from the hospital
in a common gown of birds.

Somewhere resembles you
but it is not a location. There is no point
where the map picks up
the sum of oceans. The grid’s ablutions
raised over blue madness,

the symmetry of absence
in a mirror with no one


after Ai

We rolled in flashes of God, fighting
pleasure as it tore
our shadows across smoke.

When we burned of life nothing was better
than our purgatory of embers.

I wanted a matchbox. A grandmother clock. I wanted the dark
house shingled in blue & bruised

wildfire. Touch me or, err.

How could I ever forget the shame on my floor,
a birthmark of you. I covered every mirror. I grieved
the squalls of our silhouettes, rising & dying. Once slave,
I pulled my passage over the earthly gush of swells.

Revision that I was. Passing through the aviary of dead poets,
their naked bird ribs glittering with time. The universe
pressed like a coin upon their opened eyes.

Saltwater poured over joyless shoulders
as I was carried out of my life. Through blood

I sang & erased my name
until I could only name your arrows.

I’ve got the scars to prove it.

The nights were static & strained. I left the radio low
& returned to its amnesia each morning. America,
shining like a gun. I practiced. The barrel of my voice

aimed at thunderheads & headless saints. The volume of my life
so uneasy beneath evenings of starlight & dread.

Loneliness dragged me by my hair through back rooms
where emptied velvet chairs watched me struggle
with this blow of light.

You were happy, weren’t you?

I tried to grasp the fingers slipping through
(the smear of)
my dreams. My footing struck clouds. I swear

I meant no harm.

But you were happy, weren’t you?

Like the backhand of a palm flying
to my face.

The desire in the flying,
the wing, blurred.

(click to read)


Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. Her fourth collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow, will be published by Four Way Books in 2015. Currently, Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn.

Best of the Net nominations for 2014

2014, Blog

We’re pleased to announce our editor’s picks for Best of the Net nominations!
If you’re not already familiar with Best of the Net, you can read last year’s here


Jan Bottiglieri  – Whatever You Call it Will Be Its Name

Michelle Y. Burke  – Driving Alone

Adam Day – Frank’s All Right

Jake Levine – Kim Jong Il Looks at Things

Rachel Marie Patterson – The Mirror

Caylin Capra-Thomas – Interior Landscape


Darlene P. CamposSigning Off

George Ovitt – Dancing Lessons


Kristen Keckler – Here We Are

Ellen Wendt – Sugar Baby

Special Announcement

2014, Blog

Dear Reader:

Since our inception, we’ve been  proud of the success the online medium has allowed us. However, we feel it’s important to continue to celebrate the print medium and our two years of production online.

To celebrate our two years, we’d like to produce a limited print run of 500 copies celebrating our past two years and to distribute them to you, dear reader, and our past contributors. We believe our authors are awesome and we’d like to share that with you on the page!

Our writers have published widely and been featured in Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, and won various awards. The Boiler is an advocate of the writers we publish because we believe in their work. We nominate our writers for Pushcart, Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and other major anthologies. 

The Boiler is currently funded by its staff and generous contributions from its readers and authors.  These cover the cost of maintaining our website and our Submittable account.

To support our goal, we kindly ask you to visit our KickStarter page and donate. Any amount helps and we only have humble offerings and thanks to offer you in return. 

Please donate by following this link.

Thank you.


The Editors

Fall Issue XIII

Fall2014, The Boiler

Cover Art: The Legs Would Be the New Transporters,” Kari Garon, 2013


Megan Collins
Vanessa Jimenez Gabb
Laura Anne Heller
Amorak Huey
Kathleen Jones
M.P. Jones IV
Les Kay
Ariana Nadia Nash

F. Daniel Rzicznek
sam sax
Brittney Scott
Jeff Whitney


Kirsten Aguilar
Petrina Crockford
Brian Porter


Heidi Czerwiec
Donald J Mitchell
Linsey Scriven




Kari Garon is a multidisciplinary artist from Milwaukee, WI. Primarily recognized for her prints and collages of figurative forms, she communicates through intimate illustrative drawings and object making. Garon’s work often focuses on addressing the contemporary political and sociological issues of identity, multiculturalism, and the American ideal. More specifically, the continual fluctuation between real and imaginary personas creates a cast of characters in an attempt to cope with a multiplicity of intersecting identities; each seeking to understand historical and contemporary issues of power and agency. Her artwork has been seen in solo shows through out the state of Wisconsin and group exhibitions internationally.
Cover Art:  The Legs Would Be the New Transporters,” Kari Garon, 2013

Pete Madzelan resides in New Mexico with his wife and cat, Manny. He has had fiction and poetry published in literary journals, including Poydras Review, Cigale Literary, Bellowing Ark, Wind, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Scapegoat Review. Photography in New Mexico Magazine,, Bellingham Review, Apeiron Review, San Pedro River Review, Switchback, Off the Coast, Foliate Oak, convergence: journal of poetry and art, and others.

Amorak Huey

2014, Poetry


The variations of any story, the sum of our choices.
Which is to suggest infinite possibility,

but electricity does seek certain trees.
Convenient to say you were evicted from the garden,

that given your pick between righteousness
& the world you could not resist taste of iron on tongue,

heat of forge on flesh: to feel something,
that’s all you asked, & to be looked at without pity,

to be touched the way hammer touches.
This is flame, & you are first to see it

& after that it does not matter what you do.
Sometimes you rise from water,

or you battle cruel sea,
or you have two faces, but the truth

exists only in reflection of lightning in river:
two shimmering bodies moving askew,

sudden, temporary, fractured
there’s particular unkindness in such jagged light.

When she leaves, you put the cities ablaze.
Still, she does not return.

Desire creates, devours:
to burn is to love. You cannot be blamed

for what rises unbidden from fire.


A man is never as young as his older brother thinks.

The rules of the genre demand a lesson learned,
a compromise reached, realizations all around

but a man knows his motorcycle is exactly as safe as he wants it to be

and the promise that each of us contains
the best and worst of the other

is not exactly a lie – more like a whisper
in someone else’s voice, a neat way
of wrapping up an implausible third act

when you’ve backed your story into yet another abandoned factory
             and your nemesis has the drop on you

the path out is laid with oil slicks, ridiculously vicious machinery,
             a lifetime of lost keys,
             hand-me-down shoes,
             unasked-for advice.

A man has no choice but to accelerate. Forward
             into the roar.


Amorak Huey, a longtime newspaper editor and reporter, now teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His collection Ha Ha Ha Thump will be published by Sundress Publications in 2015, and his chapbook The Insomniac Circus is forthcoming in 2014 from Hyacinth Girl Press. Poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2012, The Cincinnati Review, The Collagist, Menacing Hedge, Poet Lore, Rattle, and many other print and online journals. Follow him on Twitter: @amorak.

Petrina Crockford

2014, Fiction


The doctor pulled the baby from the woman while she lay on the sweat-soaked hospital bed, the sweat coming from her back, her arms, her legs, because beneath that bright hospital light and with the windows shut and the curtains pulled and the strain of pushing life from the gut, all she could do was grit her teeth against the pain, and with her feet in the air—her soles held by two nurses in blue—she could only grit her teeth and sweat, in silence, the sweat sticking her dark hair to her face, her hair as dark as her eyes as dark as the moments when the contractions roll over her like heat sickness, blacking her vision and settling over her like curtains settling over the hospital windows with a view of the desert, endless brown and white and gray-blue, shadeless as the lamp in the motel room she calls home, home with a hot plate and a small refrigerator and a pink coverlet with cigarette stains that don’t belong to her, like the handprint on the wall above the bed, and she put her hand on this handprint and wondered who it belonged to, who had put it there and why, whether on purpose or by accident did this person leave evidence of themselves and where, if anywhere, were they now, she thought, as she stood up and dressed for work, stretching her uniform over her stomach—and she feels it is a he; and she knows already what she will name it—the stomach she’s careful not to bump into the edges of the counters she cleans, wiping them with bleach that strips her hands so raw she must wear Band-aids like rings, pulling at them while she rides the bus home at night, while a certain redness spreads across the sky and she thinks, in those moments, It will not last forever; she thinks, It will be better, because one cannot live forever, eating out of dented cans from the grocery store, but when she thinks of the future she thinks of the past, so different from the view out her motel window: a parking lot, but beyond it neat houses rise to the horizon, and it is towards this horizon that she walks one night, in the early evening, among these houses and the recycling bins that the people in the houses have set out for morning, and as she’s walking she hears water—not lapping, but splashing—and she walks towards the sound until, through the slats of a fence, she sees a pool, the water a kind of blue she has never seen before, blue reflecting the smooth white bottom of the pool, and there are children laughing and playing in the pool, and that night she waited behind a tree until the children had gone into the house, and when she was sure all the lights were off, she reached over the fence and unlocked the gate and then she took off her clothes and crept into the water, careful not to let it ripple too much, and she swam on the surface and dove deep to the bottom, kicked her feet beneath her—this might have been a river—before she emerged to slip past the gate and walk back home and sit on her bed in the room with the shadeless lamp, with the bulb burning bright, to wait for this moment, now, in this hospital room with the white walls and the white lights, the nurses in blue and the doctor hunched between her legs, coming up every now and then to tell her to push, to push from somewhere deep, some reservoir of strength within, though of course he doesn’t say this, but she thinks of the pool and the blue water, and the smooth-faced nurse wipes her face with a towel and says, no te preocupes, a strange kindness she will remember forever, while the doctor pulls the baby out and up and, look, it emerges screaming like a wounded animal, blood-red and purple, and she is frightened to see it looking that way because she will protect it from everything—she is frightened at her own pain, too—because she is afraid she has failed to protect it already, and the doctor pulls the baby out of her so she can swaddle it, finally, in her arms and call it what she will name it, and teach it what she will teach it—the truth, whatever truth is—and she will love it, and the doctor asks her: What will you call it, and she says, victoriously, “Victor,” and the doctor, not understanding her, leaves her in that room, beneath those lights, to pour himself a coffee at the nurse’s station, something he does even though he knows the coffee is bitter and lukewarm, and he says hello to the nurses and he writes a note on someone’s chart, and when it’s time for him to fill out the birth certificate he forgets, briefly, what the woman said, he forgets until, yes, he remembers, and so he writes, in pen, on the birth certificate: “Bitor.”


Petrina Crockford graduated from Yale University with a BA in English Literature and received her MFA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. Her fiction has appeared in Meridian, the Feminist Wire, and r.k.v.r.y, and she has written nonfiction for the Paris Review and Words Without Borders. She’s been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Literature Prize. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA.