Issue Two


Snails can self-fertilize. They can race

a five-block marathon and bake to death

before they reach the finish line. They can wade

in beer puddles, fuck in beer puddles, fuck

a variety of snails in dog piss or beer puddles,

and never leave the same square of concrete.

A pregnant snail does not know it is pregnant

with 80 potential offspring. It does not

attain heightened awareness when it has intercourse

and, at the same time, splatters beneath somebody’s

sneaker. It does not care about the race, because

it does not understand the concept of victory.

Hypothetically, any given snail in any given race

outside of any given 7-11 can become the most popular snail

in America tomorrow, with the right photographer

and lighting. Hypothetically, a group of snails might have

an orgy atop a stack of drug-laced one-hundred-dollar bills

by accident and, after, feel no worse or better.

Through no fault of their own, snails are erotic creatures.

A snail shell photoshopped beneath the Mono Lisa’s chin

is an object of taboo sexual humor. Snail shells and adhesive

can warp an art gallery into a low-brow joke. Most adult snails,

before they perish, will perform intercourse with themselves,

a partner, or both.       “Ah, snails,” I sigh, kicking the gravel

while my fist waves at the clouds. “I’m sick of ducking

in the shadow of my body’s history,” I admit

to the snail with Trailblazer painted across its spiral. 


They’re sorry

about my thirty-fourth

birthday, and how I’m 

a virgin still, and an alcoholic, but

three years of sobriety

strikes them as a significant

milestone. Because

sobriety and celibacy 

are easy like brooding

by train tracks is easy, I have

no insight to offer, so I

accept their presents, give

my gratitude, and slam

the fucking door. I

hate them and the way

they appraise me like a

forest after a fire—like I’ve

graduated from victim camp and

break my burdens into bread. “Don’t

take this personally,” I say

to God, sprawled, like

a starfish on my rug, “One day, I

will embrace my neighbors 

like the sum of their kittens

and casseroles. I will

welcome good intentions

like I welcome their Peace

Lilies & homemade

greeting cards.” When

I feel brave enough, I rejoice

in my foolishness, rejoice

my years void of great

revelations, which make it

harder to nap. Outside

my window, some asshole

with my name and number 

tortures his tired violin,

but because I refuse to pity

myself, his guilt remains

unassuaged. His tears

water my rosebush. Thank

the stars. Lucky me. 

About Tom Kelly
Tom Kelly is a '22 graduate from Florida State University's Creative Writing doctoral program. His fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in New South, Ninth Letter, Redivider, Moon City Review, and other journals.