With a beer in one tentacle and a book in another, Paper Darts is taking back the lit scene, one lame pen and quill metaphor at a time.

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Nine Ways in which Pac-Man Speaks to the Human Condition

Katie Willingham


Pac-Man eats or is eaten.

The Space-Time Continuum:
Pac-Man is in constantmotion through space and you through

time. He moves, but remains
essentially Pac-Man as you
remain (essentially) you.

Also related to motion, Pac-Man only
exists in certain dimensions, directions
that are predetermined; the choices
are limited.

Pac-Man acquires "points" which unlock "levels." (Replace
"points" with "money" and "levels" with "assets;" or, perhaps
more universally, try "stressors"/
"stresses," try "experiences"/"perspectives." )

An analogy:
Pac-Man fills his mouth with pellets: you fill
your house with wine, your head with songs.

Like you, Pac-Man has the potential for
Perfect Play, but that potential is infinitesimally small. It's
a haunting more than a goal—a hiss in his ears, a
budding Middlemist camellia.

Pac-Man is not an end but a
means to an end.

Pac-Man's Legacy: Pac-Man is
the first game to demonstrate "the potential
for character in video games" and isn't
this world indeed a test of character, an endless
wandering in a multi-layered labyrinth?

Pac-Man struggles with ghosts and
sometimes loses.


Katie Willingham is in pursuit of an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ilk; Revolver; A Clean, Well-Lighted Place; and Whiskey Island. She has a twin; he is not a poet.

Illustration by Alex Fukui.


My bed is a mattress on a floor and this place has cockroaches

Kaitlyn Tiffany


My bed is a mattress on a floor and this place has cockroaches

I am worried about the slickness on the sides of the shower
I think it is mold or fungus and I think that spores of one or the other
are growing in my lungs.
It certainly feels like it is happening,
and all of the smartest people say
that we are supposed to trust our bodies. 

I am worried, again, that I have a Vitamin C deficiency
I buy oranges at the 7-Eleven often enough that the cashier recognizes me and
says nothing, but nods.
We have a pact, maybe. 

I also buy cigarettes often enough that he no longer asks for ID.

On second thought, that could explain the feeling in my lungs.

I didn't used to inhale, you see.

Every night I sit on the fire escape
the only part of this place that smells clean
and I eat my orange
and I smoke my cigarette
and they both go down the same— 

sweet, and scalding, and secret.
And the only traces they leave are on the tips of my fingers,
covering up the places of me that have grazed you
time and time
and never again.

Kaitlyn Tiffany is a serial intern and editor in chief of Kitsch magazine. She puts spaces around her em dashes because of The Cornell Daily Sun.

Illustration by Emma Trithart 


"Playboy Buddy Rose Knows How Much He Weighs" by W. Todd Kaneko

Flower For Adrian Adonis

 Before he was adorable, Adrian Adonis
was rough. He rode his motorcycle
across the country, wrestled
every man in New York, Hollywood,
Texas—breaking every man he fought
with a knee drop. He wrapped thick arms
around a man's neck, squeezed
until the announcers exclaimed
Goodnight, Irene! as bodies crumpled
to the canvas. My father rode
a motorcycle back in the seventies,
an old Indian my mother took
when she left us. Sometimes a boy
is smart to keep silent about things
he finds—secret photos of my mother
astride that bike, her lips peeled
back in a lovely snarl at the Golden
Gate Bridge, in Times Square,
at the Grand Canyon. My father, alone
in his underpants after a double shift
at the plane yards, those photos
gripped in one hand, his forehead in
the other. When he became adorable,
Adrian Adonis was a buffoon,
a man smeared in perfume and eye
shadow prancing through flower shops,
sashaying with a bouquet of posies.
That tough guy who rode his motorcycle
from fight to fight, who fought for the World
Championship, fought for the fun
of beating a man—Good night, Irene!
All that's left are flowers now.



That Night the Fabulous Moolah Finally Lost Her Championship

The stars were out that night
Moolah wrestled the cowgirl—
that's why we came here

to New York in 1984, where alligators crawl
the sewers, where the rat kings skirmish
in alleys. Sometimes, a man can't see the sky
so he invents something to look at.

Moolah the Slave Girl clad in leather
pleats and leopard's claws in 1953.
The Fabulous Moolah now, her pockets full
of dollar bills, flowers perfumed for love
or murder. Moolah—ladies wrestling
champion for twenty-eight years before

this night. We came to see the stars
form new constellations, that neon pop
singer squeaking ringside for Moolah's rival—
the cowgirl blows kisses to MTV,
she-bops under the lights. Her lips glisten

as she slaps on a chinlock, a knee lodged
in the old woman's spine. We remember
what those legends still say—Moolah
was an old beast with a crocodile
cunning, the slipperiness of weasels.

A man feels helpless when he can't help
but root for the wrong woman. Jumping
headscissors, a flying mare, those bodies
dissolving into tricks of light, the Milky Way
vanishing when the night blooms
dark with loss. That's why we came

here—because Cleopatra still rules Egypt
from the sky, Medusa those undercrofts of bone.
Moolah grabs them by the hair, bashes
their heads together to remind us
who the men really come to see.



Playboy Buddy Rose Knows How Much He Weighs 

I do not weigh 271 pounds. I weigh a slim, trim 217.
          — Playboy Buddy Rose, Professional Wrestler

 No one wants to be a bad guy, but to me
Buddy Rose will always be exactly 217 pounds.
My father said I was too short to grow
into a professional wrestler. Every weekend,
the Playboy postured in my father's living room,
half-cocked in glitz and bleach damaged hair.
Not my father's house, but on the West Coast
where men wore tights, grappled for honor
and the love of a good knuckle sandwich.
Before I threw my first punch, before
I understood it's not easy being the bad guy,

my father tried telling me wrestling was fake—
a pageantry of blood and teeth for old men
and wide-eyed children. He told me to study
if I wanted to be a doctor, but Buddy Rose
was a Las Vegas hog flaunting his sallow
physique, jiggling all over in a full-nelson
before tumbling out of the ring headfirst.

Back then, I just wanted to see the Playboy
get his heavy ass kicked. I wanted my father
to show me how a good man makes a fist
out of soft fingers. I wanted to know
what Buddy Rose probably knew back then
as he stomped back to his dressing room—
there is no such thing as a good guy,
only men who look good.



W. Todd Kaneko has recent work in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, NANO Fiction, the Collagist, and elsewhere. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches at Grand Valley State University. He is the author of The Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor 2014) Visit him at www.toddkaneko.com.


Illustration by Alex Fukui.

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"The robots we could become" by Steve Castro

If my eyes were made out of light bulbs,
my electricity bill would be pretty high,
unless of course, all utilities were included
on my rent lease contract. My eyes would
also never turn red; they would just pop
and would have to be replaced whenever
the world would go dark. All of my
vending machine plastic sunglasses
would melt, and if I became a boxer,
my nickname would be either
"fragile" or "mister glass." I would
shatter all of the world records
for most eyeballs replaced in one lifetime.
I would watch Edward Scissorhands
and both envy his eyes and cry for his hands.
When I would cry, my tears would evaporate
before my very eyes, but I would learn to be
grateful because I would have been spared
fire for a tongue.   



Steve Castro was born in Costa Rica.  He lives in Washington, D.C.  Feel free to visit his website: thepoetryengineer.com.

Illustration by Leigh Luna.

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"Peter Holds His Made Shadow" by Emma Sovich

Peter's hands left shadows on the wall that,

even left behind, chattered and bit each other and bloomed. Peter left behind everything. When he left his shadow he left it.

            A boy can't make his name shadowless. He took to darkness, to brush against so many shadows he didn't miss his own.

            He set about making another. He'd never made a thing in life.

            His shadow had been warm, so he started with a blanket. This he cut to a cat shape, for his shadow had been clever and aloof and somewhat vain. He couldn't convince the cat to follow him so he unraveled it and kept the weft. This he rolled into a ball and pocketed until he could learn better to make.


Peter halved the weft 

            in folds and halved it again for keeps. He collected the greenest leaves and folded them into the weft. He folded and pulled and leaved and folded and pulled until the would-be shadow lengthened. He held it up to himself. It came to his shoulder. Its toes brushed his. Peter pressed it to himself. It felt wrong. He held it to the light and it gleamed with leaves. Too living.


Peter holds his made shadow

            in his hands against the wall, smooths it, watches it ravel as clouds mottle the light. If there are or aren't buildings there are clouds and/or sun. Peter of the cityscape. Peter crower, louder than the pigeons, louder than the wind embellishing the windows. Peter plummets down faces and his shadow slips behind, toe to toe and pealing.


Emma Sovich studies Book Arts and Creative Writing at the University of Alabama. Find her work in or soon in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fairy Tale Review, and Handsome, among others. She blogs at graveyardhouse.com.

Illustration by Seth Young.