Photography, Running, and Writing – Artist, CARL SCHARWATH

Photography, Running and Writing with Carl Scharwath

Sick Lit Magazine: What inspires you as an artist?

Carl Scharwath: Other artists. I have a deep love of reading, the arts and discovering new authors and photographers. The biographies of artists are also inportant to learn as they have gone through many of the  same heartbreaks and still  overcame them.


SLM: Tell me a bit about your creative process.

CS: Since I am a dedicated, competitive runner, many of my story and poem ideas give birth on the run. Unfortunately those great sentences are forgotten by the time I arrive home, but the ideas are not. I also run with my cell phone and have captured photos on my run, either by stopping or returning latter. Ideas are all around us, we only have to be receptive.


SLM: What music are you currently listening to?

CS: I  will always love REM and thier innovation. From my teen years The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s solo albums still spark a memory from simple times in my life.


SLM: If you could categorize these pieces in a few words, what would they be?

CS: Surealistic, philosophical and thinking how they would look as an oil painting.

Angel of the Antiques

SLM: What are you working on right now?

CS: A new short story, my second chap book and a play. Working full time, having grand children and training as a runner does not leave much time but I try my best on early weekend mornings to dedicate time to my art.


SLM: Tell me something that not many people know about you.

CS: My daughter and I spend nine years training together and were awarded a 2nd degree Black Belt in Taekwondo


SLM: How would one of us, per se, purchase your work?

CS: I have never thought of the process to sell my work. My enjoyment comes from being published, the creative process and working with and meeting editors such as you.



Waiting for a dancewoman reflection


Carl Scharwath has appeared globally with 80+ magazines selecting his poetry, short stories, essays or art photography. He won the National Poetry Contest award for Writers One Flight Up. His first poetry book is ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press). Carl is a dedicated runner and 2nd degree black- belt.


Remembering Snake Skeletons and a Cherry Red Impala -Artist, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon

Remembering Snake Skeletons and a Cherry Red Impala

On the 21st September, a second solo exhibition by 24-year-old English-born American artist, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon, will open at the Whiteconcepts space in Berlin. Titled The Plague Year, it will expand his meticulous exploration of syncretic religious, mediaeval and ‘pop’ iconography, cartography and lexicology – this time, within an exotic, decaying dystopia detailed in more than 25 very finely detailed monochromatic works. 
Finn’s last exhibition at Whitespace, two years ago, was one of the most successful openings for a young artist in Berlin that year. Introduced by the controversial German artist, Jonathan Meese, the entire show sold out within 48 hours.

Born in Brighton, England, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon grew up among creative, nomadic types in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles before returning as a teenager to Sydney.

But as he recalls in the following brief memoir, it was his childhood memories of being often on the road with his eccentric parents in the American southwest that gave him a lot of the imagery that still populates his work.

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I spent my early childhood in the southwest of the United States. My mother was part-Cherokee, born and raised in Oklahoma, and my father was an Australian, but we lived for a long time in Los Angeles. We would often drive between the west coast and my mother’s family in Tulsa, but we’d take these circuitous routes on un-mapped back-roads, adding days and hundreds of miles to a journey that was already fifteen hundred miles long via the direct route on Interstate 40, through desert towns like Barstow and Winslow and Albuquerque.


I still remember the weird roadhouses we stopped at, filled with faux-Native American trinkets, and Mexican candied skulls, as well as petrified tree fragments, fossils and pebbles of polished turquoise. We’d end each day in some rickety, half-dead town in Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, staying in a cheap motel with a swimming pool and a noisy ice-machine. Sometimes, we’d be so close to the Mexican border that it made no difference which side of it you were on – it could just as well have been Mexico but with better air-conditioning – and at that time of the year, the whole place would be overtaken with unsettling (but to a young kid, exciting) syncretic symbols and rituals, part Catholic, part ancient Toltec, part Hopi or Navajo, with black-robed Madonnas, painted skulls and masks, crucifixes and snake skeletons. It was never scary and solemn, only celebratory, not just honouring the dead but inviting them to a party, to spend time among friends and family. The barbecue smoke always smelled of mesquite.


Later, when I became an artist working on large, intricate drawings in ink on paper, the impressions of those road trips insinuated themselves into what I drew: skulls on snake bodies, ’60s neon signs, tattooed women and grinning death-heads, the Robert Williams-influenced cars (my parents drove a cherry-red Chevy Impala SuperSport). Even the modern military references were derived from fleeting glimpses of fighters and tanks arrayed on open tracts of desert, at Nellis or Luke air force bases, or Camp Navajo. They seemed as commonplace as the motels, drive-in diners and cheesy girlie bars that littered our route.

Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon-

For further information, to receive a selection of high res images, or to arrange an interview, please contact Finn by email: . His work can also be viewed in low res’ at

Below: Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon, photographed in Kreuzberg by Lotti Leona, 2015
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What Makes an Editor, Well, an Editor?

August brings more than just scorching temperatures that belong in one of the 9 circles of hell: it also brings SLM! And, with that comes CONTEST WINNERS, a NEW PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEE, and….(wait for it)…Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions Theme! 

The other day, Melissa sent me a quote about writers that said something along the lines of: “Writers who write for an audience aren’t writers. It’s the ones who do it, who write with no audience in mind, who are true writers.”

If we were all singers, let’s say, we’d be upset at a lot of the overnight successes who use auto-tune, making tons of money, while the rest of us “singers” who possess an otherworldly talent and beautiful voices sit in a line, jump through hoops and remain unheard.

We’re all here to be a part of such a huge movement within literature, something bigger than any of us alone–where Melissa and I actually e-mail you back real words that we’ve typed. And then we go on to tell you what might make your work even better.

We’re real. We’re here. And we aren’t going anywhere. 

Get inspired today–know and understand that the more you write, the better it gets.

I want to propose to you an activity, an experiment: Write a ten-page story. 

The next morning, read it again from beginning to end, fixing things where you see the need for improvement. Continue this every day for an entire week. 

At the end of the week, I want you to compare your first copy to your final copy. Tell me how the activity went and share your work with me.  

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Aren’t people sick of reading about real housewives? A book that she didn’t even write? A real book sticks with you–it becomes your own personal mental movie that you can’t stand turning off. You can’t wait to get back to it.

That’s what we need more of in contemporary literature–danger, sexuality, thrills, humanity, struggles–laughs and cries. After my best friend of 13 years (Marisela Mitchley, who co-edited my book, Unhinged, with me) finished my book, she told me that it stuck with her for days. It made her cry, it made her laugh–and she didn’t see the plot twists coming. At all.

When she said that to me, so casually and off the cuff, I cried I was so happy.

There are charlatans in this business–but we’re coming to speak all of our truths and to take our business back. It’s going to be one hell of an August (and not just because it feels like hell outside)!

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Stand down, reality stars of America–(psst–your incessant backstabbing and screaming is actually depressing us.) I don’t want to read your book written by a ghostwriter. I want to read a real book.

ONTO OUR WINNING THEMES! (I have not contacted the winners beforehand, so check this out!!)

  1. Jeffrey H Toney, PhD’s EPIPHANY (October)

2. Paul Beckman’s, it began in an elevator… (October)

3. Carrie Redway’s Drought (November)

4. Carrie Redway’s Ancestral Gems (November)

5. Ani Keaten’s Photograph (December)

6. Penny Barratt’s AMBIGUITY (December)


Please congratulate our contest winners and begin submitting to these themes as soon as you have the inspiration to do so. All of our web site “Submissions” guidelines will be updated after this letter to reflect the new themes and recognize our winners.

One more exciting winner! And our new Pushcart Prize nominee is….drum-roll please…JEFFREY H TONEY, Phd! He won our newly empty slot for his breathtaking, mold-shattering 100-word story collection, which I will be publishing alongside this letter. Please congratulate him and take some time out of your day to read and let yourself become engulfed in the stories.

It’s what writing is all about. It’s about loving what you do and taking the time to love what others do; not tearing each other down. It’s about lifting each other up.

“A boss who leads without a loyal following isn’t leading–they’re just taking a walk.” 

I read this earlier and mulled it over a few thousand times in my head. When Melissa officially came on board in June, I made sure she knew that she was a partner, collaborator and a strength; she was welcomed with open arms.

No matter how bad I’ve been feeling, how down I can get, it never hurts to get a friendly tap on the shoulder to remind me why I’m doing this. And to remember that “success isn’t a place.” 

What we all bring to the table is bravery. The courage to write our own stories, our own truths, and attach our names to them and share them with the world.

If that’s not mold-shattering, then I don’t know what is.

Keep on keeping on, guys. Because Melissa and I will. Even as we balance teaching (Melissa) and graduate school (me). We can do this. And if you have doubts, just remember that even Van Gogh half-assed a few things. For starters, he only cut off one of his ears. (This is a joke.) So when you feel down, at your lowest, or misunderstood, think of Van Gogh. And think of how much you’ve accomplished. (And you did it all without cutting off an ear. Or two.)


Peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody



We aren’t a cookie cutter publication.

We will never be.

And, why?

Life isn’t like that and neither are human beings.

The fact that I don’t put each author, publication or artist in a box has limited SLM’s visibility on certain lists / forums; it’s limited our ability to be seen.

Their denial of our artistry gets me defensive and has me asking myself the question: “What makes a real literary magazine?”

So…what, exactly, is it, that makes us not real—according to their standards?

Instead of being a cookie cutter, a stencil, an outdated textbook or a detailed instruction manual, we chose to be the Rubik’s Cube.


Not being strictly managed, formatted and dated to death, we, instead, chose to be the puzzle. We don’t abide by any type of owner’s manual for a specific reason: Life does not come with an instruction manual. Life is, instead, a puzzle that we work to solve each day.

We strongly, passionately believe that instead of being taught what to think, we should be teaching each other how to think, and also be taught how to think. Only then will we discover the capabilities of our own individual cognitive abilities. Only then will we be enabled to find answers to the larger questions that seem to evade us.

We test the waters in a different way and push societal norms—we expand our minds.

Let’s re-learn together. Let’s re-learn how to think. It’s another step toward shattering the mold. Another step toward “unplugging ourselves from the Matrix.”

I don’t believe that Catch-22 was written with a target audience in mind or with a projected number of sales. Joseph Heller probably didn’t write using a strict outline, either; I’m only guessing at these things, guys. But I want us to start over. Wipe the slate clean and let the words flow from our fingertips.

Just for kicks, I’ll list below why won’t list us:

  1. We feature writing from the editors occasionally (What the hell?)
  2. Every piece of writing and art isn’t properly dated or formatted (Because art doesn’t have a proper format!)
  3. We don’t have a regular or stated publication cycle (UGH)
  4. Apparently there’s not a clear editorial process for submissions? (There is…)
  5. Apparently we haven’t archived our previous issues? (We have…)
  6. We don’t have a masthead? Or transparency of editors and our contact info? (I’m sorry, but what the hell? I’m as transparent as you can get!)
  7. Editors’ work can’t be frequently included (Again, unfair)



I believe I just *might* be the most transparent person within a five-mile radius.

I am an open book; I’m here for you whenever. I’m here for you even if you just want to send me an email to check in and say hi or ask me a question or need advice. I keep in touch with our writers and I love that. It’s what makes this such a fun and unique place to be. If we had an office, it would be full of coffee, books and hammocks, beach chairs and open windows. There would be an endless supply of notebooks and pens that write well. I picture a large industrial loft-type space with an open layout, where we have pillows on the floor and a record player. [Damn—now I really want an office.]

I can’t be the change that I wish to see on the literary landscape by “going with the flow” or by “following all the rules” superimposed on us by other publications who take it upon themselves to deem who is worthy of being listed and who’s unworthy of being listed.

The older I get, the more I begin to truly understand and appreciate the world around me; and see what’s right with it but also what’s wrong with it. As humans, we aren’t built for spending 12-hour days in a cube in front of a computer.

I recently read an article that explained the epidemic of depression, self-destructive behaviors and substance abuse so perfectly and succinctly that I had the first AHA! Moment I’d had in a long, long time. It chalked it up to three things being unavailable to us who live in the U.S.: Kindness, freedom and rest.

I’ll just let you marinate in that information for a bit.

And, by the way, happy Friday, guys. All of you do such amazing work and we appreciate each and every one of you and your submissions.

Just as a reminder: our new e-mail address for submissions is:

I won’t slap your knuckles with a ruler if you send something to the old one 😉 , but please try and get used to sending to the new one.

Peace and Love,



Kelly Fitzharris Coody


*Featured image courtesy of Toby Penney*





Teresa Law – Art, Life and Artlife.


Sick Lit Magazine: What inspires your work?

Teresa Law: Women, primarily. I am a feminist and that influences me a lot, along with bright colours and sarcasm. Three things that I love! I’ve always drawn cartoonish pictures, and I think that’s continued many years later. I find that a backstory or argument or some social situation quite often sparks off an idea for a drawing or painting!


SLM: So is there any digital artwork in your future? Any tattooing?

TL: Maybe digital. I like the effects and I really admire graphic design but I do really prefer “real life” drawing – mainly because I suck with a tablet or in photoshop!

SLM: Any exciting projects in the works right now?

TL: I’m planning on a series of drawings based on Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘Neverwhere’, which I’m excited to start. It’s one of my favourite stories by one of my favourite authors based on my favourite city.


SLM: What music are you listening to right now?

TL: Based on my favourite playlist on Spotify, I have been listening to LION BABE, Halsey, Dizzee Rascal, Shamir, Phil Oakley, OMD, Kanye, Chairlift and Elle King. Bit of a mixture!


SLM: Tell us something not many people know about you.

TL: I have such verbal diarrhoea and no boundaries so most people know most stuff about me – I genuinely cannot think of anything! Maybe that’s something in itself!


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Teresa likes her art with a bit of feminism, sarcasm, and lots of bright colours. She currently juggles motherhood, project management, office politics and a fledgling artist dream. 

IG/Twitter: @msteresalaw


Submissions: FAQs, Deadlines and What’s Really Up

‘Tis a new year. ‘Tis the time to revamp and re-explain the submissions process. I understand it can be a bit confusing when I have monthly themes going on for most of 2016. I’m not trying to make it difficult; readers and writers alike tend to get excited when there are themes happening, so I wanted to try this as an experiment.



  1. I don’t understand how to write to a theme. How do I do that? It makes me feel so intimidated. 


Well, then, get the theme’s idea out of your head. Wipe that slate clean and write what YOU write and write it well. Send it in (in a word doc PLEASE ::SMILEY FACE::) to me directly at

2. I want to submit to a theme, but what are they? When are they? Can I submit to a later one now? What the hell? 

All valid questions, all valid concerns. Here is the theme schedule:

February: INVISIBILITY (chosen by contributor Kate Jones)

March: WOMEN’S WRITING MONTH (chosen by…me?)

April: LETTING GO (chosen by contributor Hillary Umland)

May: NOSTALGIA (chosen by contributor Gene Farmer)

June: FIRST LOVE (chosen by contributor Christopher Iacono)

July: THE JOURNEY (chosen by contributor Rob True)

August: PERCEPTIONS (chosen by Tino Prinzi)

September: WHAT IF? (chosen by @voimaoy)

You may submit to any of these themes starting January 31st until February 28th. I like to take things one month at a time. SO, I will implore you to submit for WOMEN’S WRITING MONTH and INVISIBILITY MONTH starting NOW. All I need you to do is write the theme you are contributing to in the headline.

March 15th we will re-open for submissions and stay open for an amount of time that is for now TBD, during which time you may also submit to all remaining themes.

3. Do you have a word-count limit? What about margins, etc? 

Dear Lord. We don’t have any of that shit. I refuse to stifle my artists’ creativity by setting stupid margin specifications. Ridiculous. And as for word count, it depends on the piece of work, honestly, man. Flash fiction is really popular with our writers and readers, but then again, so is regular fiction. So, write what YOU write. Attachments are fine. I don’t mind PDFs, but be prepared to send me a word doc of the same thing if we are going to publish you.

4. So, what kind of work do you publish? 

Fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, abstract poetry, art. Here at Sick Lit Magazine, we make it our mission for the sky to be our limit. We can do anything when we break down these walls that have been superimposed upon us our entire lives. Fuck formatting. Fuck margins. Throw it out the window and write what other people won’t. Write things that scare you and excite you.

5. Why submit to you? 

Why not? We get international traffic and have an amazing network of supportive writers and artists; and I stand behind all of my writers’ work. It may be diverse as hell, but it should be that way. I am a liberal feminist to the core.

Listen, if you’re a writer, you have a burning talent inside you that needs to get out. Put a pen to paper or put your hands on a keyboard and just go–and don’t censor yourself–not even for a second. The minute you do, you won’t do justice to your characters or your story.

Any suit-wearing moron can string words together in an e-mail and make it sound cheery and half-way motivational. But how many people can convey emotions in a way that make your cheeks flush?

I am here at Sick Lit Magazine to bring REAL writing and REAL literature back into the hands of the public; not mass-marketed, watered-down bullshit that they pedal from “Writer’s Digest.” A recent piece of advice from them to get published was: “No longer is it acceptable for a book to ‘get good’ ten pages in.” Following this advice, we wouldn’t have any of our classics that we know and love today. Following this advice, Catch-22 is out. And how many would-be classics are being passed over because of this line of thinking?

Write with passion, write what you’ve always wanted to, write with soul and stand behind your work.

If I am not a big fan of what you’ve sent me (I’m a real person, I e-mail back, I promise), I’ll tell you edits I’d propose and ask you what else you’ve got. I’m not other literary journals.


If you have any other questions, feel free to send them to my e-mail, which again is


Peace and Love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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Laugh/Inhaling Suburbia/Raucous II – by Z.M. WISE


Laugh. Laugh. Snicker.
Got humor?
Have jokes will travel.


Humor: my greatest ally.
I make love to you every day,
burying my voice in your
euphoric environment.


Echoing in barbaric ‘ha-ha’ tones,
a lullaby of chuckles,
sent to my loved one.


She deserves this after
a life time of killing tears,
lusting after anger suppression,
staring at the cobblestone floor.


In this one humane body,
a laugh attack is necessary.


Bittersweet and demented,
a quip that is corny.
Who cares about the rule of thumb,
the total number of guffaws?


Losing it alongside you!
It feels like I have
ingested a carton full of
uppers with kicks of caffeine.


We are two hyenas without
obligatory cares in this world,
two saplings who evolve
into a serene, elated green.


Until death’s alarm clock rang,
we collected certain seconds.
When her celebratory funeral
occurred on a blackened evening,
we laughed.



Inhaling Suburbia

Overjoyed white sweatshirt
grins quite widely on unnecessary Christmas cards.
And their middle-class picket fence
property is Suburbia’s epicenter.


Spoiled dairy product man adds
one more indictment to his mortal list.
And his provincial death is a
byproduct of Suburbia’s upbringing.


Rays tan her to a crisp,
this tuned-out sunbathing beach woman.
And her solar-powered life is
indifferent to Suburbia.


Auto-functional people have
footprints in synchronization.
Climate changing, heartbeat quickening
in the eye of Suburbia.


Raucous II


Dishes thrown at traumatized lady.
Under unvarying pressure,
obsessive possessive behavior becomes him.


Invisible leash, complete with choke collar,
‘round her cornered neck.
hindered by his empty words and
concrete fists.


For ages, she has ‘wanted to leave,’
but weekly death threats have altered her psyche.


This is not jealousy.
This is a raucous ruckus inside her mind,
driving her to saddened madness.
Scars have said otherwise.
Cuts and bruises persuade her further.


She will not only escape,
but stand on those two feet of independency.
She needs no man to hold her down.
She needs no man to hold her back.


She has aspirations of her own,
aspirations that will align these two worlds.
Martians and Venusians become one.
Taste the sweetness of diversity easing its way into unity.


Stand for the uncalled for thunderbolts.
Bolt out his limbo door and
roar with thunder from within.


You are woman!
You are person!


Nothing on this goddamn planet could be further from the truth.
Your ever-loving power is our generator, our life force on tap.


Step forth,
for it is your time.
No more dead end tears.
Teach them how to conquer the fool who calls himself Fear.



Z.M. Wise is a proud Chicago native, poet, co-editor and poetry activist, writing since his first steps as a child. He has been a written-word poet for almost two decades and a spoken-word poet for four years. He was selected to be a performer in the Word Around Town Tour in 2013, a Houston citywide tour. He is co-owner and co-editor of Transcendent Zero Press, an independent publishing house for poetry that produces an international quarterly journal known as Harbinger Asylum, with his dear friend and founder Dustin Pickering. The journal was nominated Best Poetry Journal in 2013 at the National Poetry Awards. He is also an Assistant Editor at Weasel Press with another dear friend, Weasel. He has published four full length books of poetry, including: ‘Take Me Back, Kingswood Clock!’ (MavLit Press), ‘The Wandering Poet’ (Transcendent Zero Press), ‘Wolf: An Epic & Other Poems’ (Weasel Press), and ‘Cuentos de Amor’ (Red Ferret Press. Other than these four books, his poems have been published in various journals, magazines, and anthologies. The motto that keeps him going: POETRY LIVES! Mr. Wise will make sure to spread that message and the love of poetry, making sure it remains vibrant for the rest of his days and beyond.

Besides poetry and other forms of writing, his other passions/interests include professional voice acting, singing/lyricism/songwriting, playing a few instruments, fitness, and reading.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

10.0 – by Molly Mary O’Brien



She lives on the moon, teaching gymnastics. She’s way too old to compete now, ancient at 28. She can no longer do a double layout punch front, which is where you flip forward in the air twice with your whole body extended and rigid, then bounce against the floor hard and immediately flip once the other way, like a domino that changed its mind. She tried it alone in the gym a few nights ago and understood one handspring in that she didn’t have it. All of her bones were saying no to her at once.


But she won the gold all-around medal back in Tokyo, partially on the strength of that tumbling trick, and the kids are learning it fast. Her medal is back home in Houston along with all the stuff that she wasn’t allowed to take with her, and really it’s probably stolen, or liquified, and generally just not anyone’s top priority at this point down there. There’s an indoor gym with Earth gravity and an outdoor gym with moon gravity. She gets them acquainted with all the tricks in the Earth gravity gym, where the landings insult their ankles and the falls flatten their lungs, until their wrists are made of steel and their calf muscles look to her like little critters trapped under skin—muscle ferrets. Only when they’ve truly mastered gravity does she let them outside and do handsprings uninterrupted for minutes in a row, add a casual handful of twists to their layouts and barely feel the impact. When it had looked like time was pretty much up on Earth, they had a list of everyone who could do things well, and they picked one of each person, and she was the person they picked who was the best at what she did, the best and the youngest. She said yes immediately. What did she have back home? Her mother, who had tried to steal her endorsement money from Wheaties and Fitbit. Her coach, who weighed her every day. She had no friends, no boyfriend. Her life was the gym, she flipped in her dreams. Other moon colonists struggled with the move, but a regimented life of sacrifice and discomfort had not been an adjustment for her.


Sometimes she’s in the outdoor gym, easing kids over the vault to get them acquainted with upsidedownness, guiding their bodies. She’s facilitating the tumbles of moon-born babies who have never seen New York or rivers or cable news or ferrets. And she thinks of what would happen if she turned them a little too hard, and they flipped out of her hands and away from the station and continuously into the atmosphere, holding perfect form the whole time, perpetual motion machines in full-body leotards and helmets. She wants to inflict total freedom upon them. She wants to see weightlessness embraced fully. The return to the surface, the end of the trick, the deference to limits: what a disappointment to her.


But she doesn’t let them go — she can’t. She has them finish practice, hands out dehydrated granola bars, sends them to the locker room. There’s an exhibition meet next month with China’s station and rumor has it their gymnasts are in excellent form.


What a disappointment it has always been, to land.


molly o'brien

***Molly Mary O’Brien is a writer from Vermont, living in Brooklyn / on the internet. She’s had work published in PANK, Paper Darts and more, and writes customized stories for people at Dedication Magazine (
Find her on Twitter at @missmollymary ***

The Other Woman – by DEE LEAN

The other woman.

I sat across from her looking her in the eyes and holding her gaze. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

I’m not what she expected; I’m not the monster she awaited.

Words fell out of her mouth trying to tell me things that I knew weren’t true. Excuses and reasons on why she tore my life apart.

I stopped her somewhere between the justification and the accusations. I told her she was welcome to him. He held nothing in my heart or my head. A coward from start to end and a problem I was happy to give.

She explained to me that they were in love and love conquers all. My lips curved up in a slight smile.

I tell her, “I’m happy that you’re in love and I owe you many thanks; if it wasn’t for your immoral and dirty behavior I’d still be stuck in a place of routine and unhappiness.”

She opens her mouth to argue but I place a hand up to indicate I have not finished.
“Have you ever been so in love, you would watch the world burn all around you to be with that one person who stops your heart? Have you ever been so in love that you would burn the world down, just to have his touch?”

She looks confused.

“I have and it’s all thanks to you.”

A look of annoyance flashes across her face. She knows she will never have what I have. She thought when she stole what was mine that she had it all. She knows she was wrong.

I think of the man that tore me apart and, for the first time, feel relief. Then I think of the man that put me back together and I feel as close to Nirvana as I’m ever likely to be.

I stand up and beam at her.

“Thank you for all that you’ve done and I’m sorry for your troubles.”

I leave her in utter confusion and I leave a new woman.

I walk out into a whole new world with nothing but peace in my heart.



***Dee Lean believes that a writer that doesn’t write is like a soul without a mate; aimlessly wondering without a purpose. Born in Belfast, Ireland, Lean currently lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a single mother to two gorgeous kids that get her up and inspire her to see and seek the good in all. When people ask her what she does, she simply says, “I write.” Lean is now a regular contributor at Sick Lit Magazine. She tweets at: ***

*Featured image courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

Happy Fucking New Year. (Just Kidding. I love you guys.)


I’m sure a lot of you make resolutions; I don’t. I do the opposite since I’m perpetually in a state of self-loathing and self-criticism that seems to run on a loop. So I want to mess up and not hate myself for it.

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

I’m never too proud to admit that I battle my own demons every day. I don’t always win–and that’s okay.

I’m just sick of the masses demanding eternal optimism and unwavering positivism–e.g., if I post on, say, Facebook, that I’m having a shitty day, I’ll immediately get three to four comments from people saying how negative I always seem to be. And then said people will make their own posts about how they “CAN’T STAND” seeing negative posts ALL OVER Facebook.

Guess who else can’t stand negativity?


I’m human. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m human.

And, by the way, who gives a shit about my Facebook status?! This is what defines us and our background noise now?

Tsk, tsk, tsk. 

I will apologize for my sparse presence during the holidays–the internet eluded me during our five-day Carnival Cruise to Cozumel (despite the fact that I paid $70) and I now have what’s termed “land-sickness.” The worst things to do when one has land sickness is to sit still, read, write, etc.


While my husband was relentlessly searching the cruise ship for me as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, to no avail, and ended up counting down the evening alone and rang in 2016 watching everyone around him hug and kiss, I was in the ladies’ room throwing my guts up before falling asleep on the toilet seat. I made my way back to our room by 1:30 A.M., covered in my own vomit.

I’m not telling you this to be funny.


I’m sad because I realized that I’m still just a dumb kid myself while out on this cruise. I’m sad because I’ve realized how truly different I am than the people and loved ones who surround me.

They like to go, go, go while I like to sit, sit, sit.

I tire easily.

I never used to be like this. I never used to be any of these things. But shit happens and wounds run deep. A doctor gives you the GARDASIL vaccine and it ruins your brain forever in conjunction with a job that leaves you with PTSD. Then you find yourself pregnant with a girl, getting married, moving and changing jobs and buying a house. All at 23 years old. You thwart panic attacks 24 hours a day. You worry about the baby that barely moves inside your stomach.


“You have so much to be happy about,” everyone tells you. You know this. How could they think that you don’t know this? But you can’t help the turmoil that is swirling inside your brain.

Sure, I can tell you all about the dolphin encounter I had with my children. I can tell you about the laughs and the fun times; but the “aha moment” that kept rearing its ugly head was one that screamed that deep down, I am sad. I am hopelessly, inconsolably, bottomless pit-like sad.  And drinking myself into oblivion until I blacked out on a public toilet was no way to deal with it.

I’m the kind of person who will raise hell when I see a problem—I will fight for you to no end. Meaning when I see you self-destructing, I will speak up and speak up and speak up until something happens.

But it doesn’t mean that I’m not fighting back tears. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt when I see you hurting. It doesn’t mean that I’m positioning myself as somehow “better” than you or acting pious.

But the point is this: someone who has faced complete sadness and hopelessness cannot stand to see other people in this same state, because they know how awful it is. I am that person.


Soon I’ll be announcing our “winning themes” for the coming months for submissions when they reopen on January 31st.

I promise I’ll get to it.

It’s just that we got off the boat Saturday morning and I’m still walking sideways and about to barf any moment, my insides swaying like mad.

I will give you one hint: we are having another Women’s Writing Week, which has been decided by me. I truly hope to see more women submitting their writing; and without the self-deprecating e-mails to go with it. I mean, if you must, then you must. I’d rather see some men send me some self-deprecating e-mails. Then we’d be even.

Then I will pick six themes that have been either DMed or Tweeted or e-mailed to me and announce them in a couple of weeks. Or maybe this week. I have to give you guys time to prepare your work, too.

Peace and love,


Kelly Coody/ SLM

(send all submissions starting January 31st to