Dom Fonce is an undergrad' English major at Youngstown State University. His work has appeared in Ohio's Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, 3Elements Literary Review, The Tishman Review, West Texas Literary Review, Obra/Artifact, The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Volney Road Review.

The Elephant Man joins Tinder

Dom Fonce


The Elephant Man quickly learns that Tinder was never made for finding love, but for skin-deep

connections and outer shells more well-endowed than what God passed his way. The learning

curve of chase bares down and deplumes his nerves—he thinks of, in the event a date were to

pinpoint him, what he might do with his hands—or where his eyes best be kept: his father,

praying to produce a strong-backed charm of a boy, never taught him such things. His mother,

much too nice of a woman, could never be his mental model for the middling Tinder girl. And

we must admit it, being guilty of swiping left at his outcries for love. Or, swinging right to

sporadically message him every three-to-five hours for a total of three-to-five days, eventually

unmatching him. We’ve all been there. So, what is to be done with him? He, pariah, sent

underwater, overwhelmed by throngs of nothing—nowhere else has he been so alone

and the world so hushed. And his guests, those millions of shadowed men and women

foundering adrift in despondence, in a state no application can save: phobic of future and those

who may save it.

The Elephant Man's face is turned into a Halloween mask, and I buy one

Dom Fonce


off the Big Lots rack: plasticine clay, liquid latex, thickening gunk, paint that won’t smudge

away—that new mug smell. It suits me as I look at myself in the mirror. I rub the faux-boils, the

drooping eye, try to talk a groan, become the freak show. And soon I feel a tug on my own

cheeks through the continuum—fingers ridged and leathered running down every line of my

face, tracing my nose, the centimetered difference between my eyes, the width of my mouth—a

man in another dimension fitting me, modeling me, digging into my flesh like putty. Here, I learn

what the corn kernel feels in the kettle—esophageal blasting heat waves crawl a reddening

shriek, a pre-popped pod ready to burst, a mutating cell, an image being manipulated

in time. I succumb to the touch, a fair trade, thinking this must’ve been what Leila felt when

she and Joseph momentarily locked hands: Merrick hoping their connecting skin would conjoin

two worlds, and Ms. Maturin faking to the universe that her love was bountiful enough for such a

forbidding veil, just wanting to peek at mutilated wonder, to peer through the eyes of Hell alive.


Falling asleep awake

Dom Fonce


can never be like daydreaming. There, where space allows our futures

to appear upon a platter, where the mind is less caged and freer to hop the field. No,

falling asleep awake is for the ghosts—the specters of certainty and perhaps, the

transitional mess between life and death. In half lucidity, my father stands behind

me holding onto my shoulder, where you would be if you weren’t in front of me now,

and where red smells like birds chirping right outside my thunder-clomping window.

Can you hear me? Do you understand that falling asleep awake is for the children

when their parents have dozed off, thinking they’ve died? Like rugose limb rigor

mortis, that entrapment of eyes within sockets, and brain stationed straight facing sinful

film? No, it’s not daydreaming. There’s much too much wander in that fantasy. Here is

where I shake your hand and don’t, but feel it and see it drop beneath me like liquid.