Sin-Eater by Louise Robertson

Sin-Eater by Louise Robertson
Pudding Magazine #56

I ate his sins. At death, my grandfather was
laid out--eyes and mouth
glued shut and face smooth
without the smiles.

It used to be a sin-eater
came and ate
food set out and pocketed a penny
and took the sins of the deceased
and was hailed
with curses and out the door he went.

At my grandfather's funeral,
I stood before them and reflected
upon the man who--surgeon--
was his girlfriends' abortionist, who--brother
--hid the mafia's counterfeit money and guns,
used an axe to break into his departing

Outside of Effingham by Scott Boyd

Outside of Effingham by Scott Boyd
Pudding Magazine #56

I am West on 70 when I see it,
A mound of roses twitching
In the shadow
Of a giant cross.

Stark fire towers keep their watch
Perched atop bone dry hills.
They spot thistles ablaze
In drought-stricken soy fields,
Sparing homes that aren’t worth
The blocks they rest on.

After Honey Creek dried up
A new harvest was wrought,
This one a factory to build
Fences where hay bales once held sway.

The fear of a fire that never came
Pressed hands to machine levers
And palms ceased their prayers to brooding clouds

What’s So Funny? by Mark Sebastian Jordan

What’s So Funny? by Mark Sebastian Jordan
Pudding Magazine #56

I sat down once in a cheap dive bar
across a wobbly, beat up table from Death.
He showed me three card tricks
and told a dirty joke about
how he uses his scythe
to pick up movie stars.
It wasn’t all that funny,
but I laughed at Death.

I sat down once in a pew
in a plastic and vinyl Baptist church
and heard a heaven-humping, Bible-thumping
preacher mispronounce my grandma’s name
over her dead body, before leaving her behind
in the dust-to-dust as he rode his brimstone rant
to beatific release.

Googling the Word Madness by James Babbs

Googling the Word Madness by James Babbs
Pudding Magazine #56

right away
I realize my mistake
four songs listed for
the British pop/ska band
including their big ‘80s hit
Our House
then a combat game
based on some cartoon series
I’ve never heard of before
by somebody named Krinkels
I should’ve used insanity
or mental illness
but those terms
don’t sound poetic enough to me
I expected to find
images of this room
high-definition videos of myself
walking around the house
sitting at the computer
watching myself
sitting at the computer

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The Schuylkill Valley Journal publishes poetry, short stories and critical essays. Both the SVJ and SVJ LIT come out twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.
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