by Juliet Cook & j/j hastain
Splayed Garden Tools
There's nothing peachy about this pepper pit.
More than half the time, I'm not even sweet.
I'm the farmer between planes
chewing it and spitting it out.
The sound I make
somewhere in the range
of mooing and meowing
while mowing the lawn.
I imagine the cattle attacking
the bakery across the street.
"Let's talk about inventory!",
the owner screams
while holding up
a cattle prod.
Not for violent purposes, mind you.
Most of us don't do things because of violent hearts
but to get our teeth on the prize: cream filling
with moon craters for eyes.
to carnage for frosting.
Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.
j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j, simply, hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.
by topaz winters
That was the year I became fascinated
with the movement of things. Spring equinox, earth’s
infinite rotations, breathless like a first date—
I fell in love with a girl who lived halfway across the world
& it was the fullest brightest thing I ever did.
The way light slowed when it passed through her fingers
like it yearned to stay just a moment longer.
Everything quieted for those fingers. Everything drowned
for the promise of waking inside her arms.
I wanted to plant a garden with her
but her winter was my spring & none of the days
moved slowly enough to catch.
It was enough & it wasn’t enough.
That’s the truest way I can describe it. Sometimes
two girls love enough to move continents, but
sometimes the girls are only human, & Skype will have to do
That was the year I became fascinated
with the movement of things. That was the year
I learned to love the things that stay.
Her mouth was spring. When she laughed
I could almost forgive the world for spinning.
Topaz Winters writes & loves & heals. She tweets @topazwinters & resides at topazwinters.com.
by Kenneth Pobo
I keep my head
just above the water,
a floating beach ball.
My astronomer friend Lek
says Mars’ north polar
ice cap has water--that would
be rough swimming.
Wait long enough
and blue becomes red, truth
wags a new tail. I picture me
a sky with two moons,
like I’m seeing double
through fogged goggles. Phobos
And Deimos, lifeguards,
handsome ones at that.
Earth has one moon,
a charmer. We fall
in love and create lasting
divorces under its shine.
Venus craves a moon,
even a fluky one like Nix
or Pallene, waits for a night
when a moon would be
the one consolation,
never judging her for being gassy
and melting any garden
before a seed can sprout.
IN MY DAY
Aunt Catherine often said
“In my day,” wore dresses
my grandmother handed down,
rarely shopped for her own,
wanted to die until death
gave a tap
to her heart. She sounded
like a woman who after
a hard afternoon
sat down to watch
her favorite show, heard plaster
fall from her kitchen ceiling,
the phone ringing and ringing.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. This is an ekphrastic collection. Forthcoming from Grey Borders Press in September is Dust And Chrysanthemums, a chapbook. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania. He gardens and loves sixties pop music.
by Ruth Crossman
Sofa, baby I didn't mean to treat you that way
you were so sexy when I first saw you
all that velvet
some shade of blue they stopped making years ago
looking so slinky when I put you in the living room
Sofa, try and see it from my point of view:
they weren't nice people
they made me keep my bike in the bedroom
they wouldn't let me hang that Klimt painting up
just cause it had a nipple-one fucking nipple
Sofa, the only thing they liked about me was you
and it wasn't right
sitting on you like that, day after day
drinking their wine and watching Sex and the City
pairing you off with Loveseat, that heartless bitch
you deserved better than that
you were an antique, probably
look I know what you're about to say
you deserve better than curbside on trash day too
at this point you're probably all waterlogged
full of bedbugs, or losing half your stuffing
Sofa, listen, here's the thing though:
when I left
you came with me
Ruth Crossman is a Bay Area native who teaches ESL by day and writes by night. Her work has appeared in Dryland, Full of Crow, and Poets Reading the News.
by Richard O'Brien
I climbed to the top of the world
And shouted out to the sleeping horizon:
"Ho, Rosy-Fingered Dawn, Ahoy!
Come close and warm your frozen children!"
So forgive me if this seems impersonal
But you have so many names now
A list of names a mile long
A hundred miles long
Spelled out in savage calligraphy
All the rage and flavor of youth
Young still with young scars
The heat of the sun will cook us clean
And we'll still be warm as we slip
Into that quiet, alien night
Our digits frigid like
little winter kisses
Pinpoints on skin
Richard O'Brien ("Ro") is a graduate of Loyola University with a bachelor's in English. They have previously been published by Soul Stoned and are currently working on their second graphic novel. They enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal movies, Wolverine comics, and misquoting famous philosophers.
by Camille Castro
infatuation is an alchemist
frothed in store-bought cologne;
it wades in
it strives to have
a daughter’s sweetness,
vowels slurred from ditzy mouths
it replaces the ‘p’ in spoon
with an f
(you could say it out loud, if you want)
it is in demand of
in the lures of generic medication
but it’s all could-haves, really
Camille Castro, 18, is an incoming sophomore at the University of Guam. Her work has recently appeared on Sprout Magazine.
by Ingrid Calderon
-avoid the mirror
dangerous young animal
you're a vintage porn collage...
of the dead,
is that of the return to the cosmos-
we were never our parents children,
we were born in capsules,
a coffin that if you're lucky,
you die daily in-
Ingrid is an ex-Mormon Salvadoran refugee residing in Los Angeles, CA. You can stalk her at @BrujaLamatepec
by James Ardis
him and his kid brother probably have a mother too I mean I would assume they do
James Ardis wrote the chapbook Your Arkansas: A Strategy Guide (Gauss PDF, 2016). His creative writing and criticism have appeared recently in The Collagist, Small Portions, The Rumpus, and FreezeRay.
by Matthew DeMarco
And What Good Is It That I Crouch?
I have taken the wired circuity of my brain
and wound it into a spool of copper thread
that would span the width
of an entire prefab neighborhood
in the California desert. I
have likewise rerouted
the electric circuitry of my heart
with the likes of multiple catheters: one
was inserted through a vein in my neck;
was pushed upward through a vein
in my groin.
The neck catheter blazed
onto an errant wire in my heart
to stop it from misbehaving.
How much data do I have left this month?
The apps are a heat on my thigh
as I sit.
One app tells me
that they wake up
when they’re not supposed to!
Can’t I bury the image
of my own face
somewhere in the current
of a quick-moving stream?
Can’t I wait in the wild waters of shallow
until the melting ice caps raise the tide
above the peak of the Sears Tower?
Can’t I stitch my thumb to the river
and bring it with me
every time I stick my sloppy
into my own bright hair?
Matthew DeMarco is a writer, editor, and educator living in Chicago. He is a recipient of the Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, for which his work has appeared on Poets.org. His poems can also be found in Opossum and Columbia Poetry Review. With Faizan Syed, his poems will appear in They Said (Black Lawrence Press), an anthology of collaborative writing. Drop him a line at email@example.com.
by Danie Ibay
i think of summer and i think of you
i look at you like
i look at the sky, believing in
a certain light, a thousand
times over –
there is something to be said
for forgetting, or keeping things
where you find them
or following wildflower
trails to places where
yesterday ebbs and flows,
tastes of relief and
tides us over.
i think of summer and i think of you,
in bright and soft vignettes
oceans trembling in our chests
carried across state lines/
wind whistling past
bicycles, day to day lapses of
a certain sun rising
on the horizon.
Danie Ibay is a sixteen year old writer from Quezon City, Philippines. She is a Sagittarius. (twitter: @yellowmp4)
by Emma Rebholz
all day I practiced saying thank you for coming on such short notice to the single lightbulb in the refrigerator. on and off. thank you, thank you. object permanence is my favorite magic trick. blink and you’ll miss me. or not. maybe if you were a rabbit I could’ve pulled you out of the drawer of oranges. I actually tried an incantation but it came out more like please please please please and salt spilling on the kitchen table. from above, I’m a felt silhouette in a shoebox diorama. you’re a trick of the light. there are a lot of ways to leave someone but none quite as exciting as sawing them in half. after all, you can only ever hope for a spectacle, a separation without a wound. hocus pocus. abracadabra. amen.
there are no such things as signs, you say. meanwhile, the bible
that appeared on our front porch, which belongs to none of us,
has found its way into our front hall. I’m reading up. not on the bible,
but on The Great Molasses Flood because that just sounds like the way I’d go.
better yet, I’d like to come back to this earth as a molasses flood, to river past
the apartment while you’re playing piano. I want to swallow our Subaru
in one bite of my gelatinous all-mouth body. I want our street to smell like pancakes
for years and I want it to be difficult to explain to new neighbors. my partner,
you can tell them. it’s what they always wished for. I guess you’ll be the one
to write about it. put ads out in the paper. spread pictures of my face around
the block like I was just lost, and not reborn as a small ironic disaster. I guess
you’ll spend your whole life wincing at maple syrup bottles in the grocery store,
which you’ll have to walk to. you won’t think anything of the cats that hang around
the porch. pay no attention to crop circles or local legends. you won’t even remember
the bible. I guess sometimes people are just people. wired differently. or maybe you’re
just too much of a pisces. still, it’s only my first run through on this planet, so I wrap
my arms around your neck, lean my head against your shoulder. of course, I fit perfectly.
Emma William-Margaret Rebholz is an undergraduate Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College. Their poetry has been recently published by or is forthcoming from Blueshift Journal, Vagabond City, and Bad Pony. They probably want to be your friend.
by Zach Blackwood
you knew how to treat me
like an envelope:
how to fill me up,
and seal me up,
and send me away.
when you call me again
i want to ride escalators into
the skin of your arms
i want to chew you up
like jelly sandals.
i wanna let you waterboard
me with vintage seltzer.
i want to grip the handrail
til the joints in my knuckles
pop and spray confetti.
just keep track of me, ok?
if you have any questions about “recovered produce”, i’m yr girl
i hear the train coming and it is definitely mine
and everyone else runs past me
i keep walking. even slow down.
especially slow down so
people trace around me like i am a stone
and it feels nice to be felt if not seen
it feels nice to saunter down to the empty platform
and rub rose oil balm on my whole legs
and make my tattoos shine.
to pull a cluster of grapes from a tote bag and eat them and be late to work
i feel svelte.
i feel great.
press me flat and hold me between two of your fingers like a cigarette
this is one of those Victorian calling cards,
but instead of my name: it says “I want
to HAVE anal sex WITH you, but
you want to DO anal sex TO me.”
Zach Blackwood is a black, queer poet and performance curator living in Philadelphia. He has work published or forthcoming in -scapes, Peach Mag, and Metatron. He tweets @blackwhom.
by Mia Valenz
The Phenomenon of Emotional Sleep Paralysis
I always go to bed asking myself if I’ll feel the same in the morning
or even by the middle of the night.
I wonder if somewhere in between my phases of sleep
a subconscious intruder will crawl around my head
like a colony of foreign infectious worms.
It could rearrange every dendrite of my introspective process,
block every receptor in my neurotransmission system
and obstruct all the emotion available in my amygdala.
Then I’d wake up whenever
to an entire rewiring of my instincts.
People will tell me, “You’ve changed” and I’ll say “Have I? I hadn’t noticed”
Because how could I have realized? And what was there for me to do? I was asleep.
Maybe this misfortune of changing our minds in the dark
is why we lie restless with our eyes shut,
protectively reviewing the thoughts we hold dearest to us.
In the face of this, there’s a bravery in curling to the left or right,
with lamps turned off, eyelids and curtains drawn to a close.
Because even when I sit up in moonless black,
sweating beneath blankets, I might be rewarded with relief.
It’s not until dawn calls Cut!
that the actor working my night-shift subconscious
realizes there’s a reality beyond this fragmented, tragic scene
of going blind, deaf,
to all interpersonal stimuli.
But my eyes adjust to the lack of lights, and the rate of my heart slows.
I thank god that it’s still beating
Mia Valenz is “the embodiment of Disney Princesses Ariel and Belle, a baby goat, & a bowl of buttered radiatore noodles." She is a resident of Santa Ana, southern California. She’s currently a student at Orange County School of the Arts in the Creative Writing conservatory, class of 2019. Her poetry has been published to Inkblot literary magazine. You can get in touch with her and learn more on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr @miagvalenz.
We took down the work on this page when we were notified that the author was an abuser. More information on that situation can be found here: http://quaintmagazine.com/i-should-not-have-had-to-write-this/
Our main priority is respecting the wishes of the survivor and the needs of the community at this time. Thanks to those who reached out to us, bringing our attention to this.
by C Phillips
why have i kept this memory in my pocket for so long
went to hollywood video after it had rained and the sun was just bursting between the clouds as it set and the tires ran slick through the streets we walked out holding hands the thin blue light in the sky dimmed you rented the expendables
c phillips is a nb poet and zinester from raleigh, nc. they have published much of their own work, and have one licensed cartoon character tattooed on their body. you can follow them on twitter at @angelbyshaggy :)
by Alex Wennerberg
i do the eye thing
"why are are are
quiet and soft you
scratch your nose i
do mine way more violent
am i out of bread?
Alex Wennerberg is a writer working in tech in Chicago, IL. His collection of poems, Harm (2016), is available through Bottlecap Press. He is active on twitter @alexwennerberg.
by Colleen Dulle
psalm 30 verse five
"weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.”
behind-eyebrow burn i
should drink more water
blinkblink open grey-blue cloudsun blear windowfog
cheekflame held by freckles?
hobble-knee’d fall against
metal crashbar door
“joy cometh” a.m.
oldfolks. grandchildren sundaygiggle
full-skirt dropped-r southerntalk choir-tune “if
you are lost mis-placed un-wanted in-mourning here
is your place.”
openblink cloudsun blearlight
i know face(blink), you
temple-place of misplaced
grey light cloudsun blear
bloodflesh throb upgive sighsmile
mourning, morning sunbeat
voice-memory song knownness
is the day
Colleen Dulle is a reporter who sometimes writes poems. She tweets at @ColleenDulle.
by K Holtz
i’m that little boy in the outfield
picking daisies and daydreaming of a
body without breasts.
when i hit the ball it cracks and whirs away
like a shooting star, its glittering
fractal dust showering us like snow.
i’m that little boy in the outfield
my body a distant memory
behind the chain link fence
kat holtz is a queer writer living in orlando and is planning an escape route to a colder place. they go by jay, sometimes kat, mostly jay. names are weird.
by Erin Marie Hall
I did not flinch when cicadas took the town
came over the hills like four thousand horsemen
in the cemetery I watched them devourdevour
what was already devoured by ivy and smoke
you were there too but you were a cicada and I
didn’t recognize you in your crappy little shell
in the multiverse I am you are am/are not
holding hands hiding hands eating hands
together like that llama in a hat who is
real somewhere out there in the multiverse a
penny is as heavy as a ship and just as
wicked as the witch under your/my/someone’s
house the sky is made of matzo and the sea is
full of nothing and you believe me when I say
we’ll get out of this alive
Erin Marie Hall is a poet and visual artist from South Bend, IN. Her work, which explores the body, poetics, mental illness, and the apocalyptic, has appeared or is forthcoming in Unlost Journal, After the Pause, Rust + Moth, and your nightmares.
by Emily Wood
i saw lena dunham wearing
cowboy boots and now i want
some too even though
i’m not supposed to want
if you say “i am i am i am”
three times in the mirror
you will look like an
idiot who says stuff
to her own reflection
in her parents’ bathroom
try to not look at the palm
trees on vacation and
think to youself this
reminds me of LA.
you’re in mexico
and you’re kind of
being a dick about it
because there’s culture
here too, read a brochure
the hollywood sign
is just a tattoo the city
got at 17 and now kind
of regrets, but it’s
become part of their
identity, so, like
might as well see it
or photograph it, I guess,
Emily Wood is currently based in London, Ontario, but spends most of her time on the internet anyway. You can find her tweeting at @emilyinternets.
by Julia Travers
I’ve been dancing.
I’ve had several dresses
and flowers on my arm,
I used to keep the flowers
in a tray in my old room at my mom’s house.
I thought, one day when I’m older,
I might parade them around
(dust corsages on loose wrists,
silk bodices unzipped)
or lean over a precipice, high up, a bridge railing,
a boulder, and thrown them out once and for all,
thinking of my first dance partner,
cocking my head
to slow them as they drift down.
Julia Travers is a writer and journalist in Virginia. Her work appears with OnBeing, Whurk Magazine and other publications. You can visit her at jtravers.journoportfolio.com and on Twitter at @traversjul.
by Harper Newland
hello my name is escaping me
do you think that could be permanent
i am dry teeth burning yellow telling bad company goodbye good
i am know it all key clamor chosen home
hello my one big move is leave taking
do you think a bruise will form here
i am chewing salty this moment of yes
i am sticky icky touching love below the belt fast faster
hello my reaction is radical
do you think i am joking daddy
i am night prayer thick in the dark wondering
i am hand twisting turning on lights looking straight to the bulb
on a train leaving treasure valley
tiptoe to the cargo boxcar
there is a barrel unsealed
inside a colony of black-bodied passengers
submerged in thick honey
ants there lured scent
talk dying already dead
looking suspended in amber
they (like all the dead,
you know) make their way
unknowingly to an unknown land
Harper Newland is a queer social services worker in Denver. They are the 2016 recipient of the Robert A. O'Sullivan, S.J. Memorial Award for Excellence in Writing. They tweet @harpernewland.
by Rachel Tanner
Read This Between Work Shifts
You breathe in the words I throw at you yet somehow exhale flowers, somehow breathe out beauty my eyes are too weak to see on their own. The blood in you is different than the blood in me, more pure and inviting, less caustic, less poisonous. I, an aquarium drinking narcissist borne of inescapable dread and tragedy. You, a tree sprouted among broken cobblestone walkways, borne of light and an annoying amount of grace. I don’t understand how you listen to my long-winded bullshit, my harangues typed half-consciously at two in the morning when I can’t sleep because I have to get the words out, have to find comfort.
You are my comfort.
I’ve always been happy when good things happen to you but only in that sad way I imagine parents feel when their kid decides he’d rather spend time with his friends than with them. That’s not to say I’m your superior; rather, you’re higher on a ladder than me but continually shouting down to make sure I’m following, make sure I’m able to keep climbing.
Love isn’t the right word. There are no right words, but gods know I’ll keep trying, keep attempting to catch your butterfly breaths in a jar to save to help me sleep after you leave. Firefly eyes with colors no one can contain, why the hell did I bring you into my world just to let you go? The least regrettable thing in my life was grabbing your hand and asking you to help me up, asking you to let me borrow your strength for a week or a year or however long it took me to leave the grave I’d been digging for myself. To stop digging and realize piling more dirt on top of myself wasn’t the only option. You waited next to me, arms outstretched and pointing forward, until the other options revealed themselves to me.
That isn’t something someone ever forgets.
You aren’t an option that someone ever forgets.
I know it’s not perfect because the darkness doesn’t leave people like us unscathed, no matter how crimson their glasses look from the outside. Just remember on those days that I’m not unique and in any direction you look, you’ll find people whose hollowed-out trunks you’ve climbed inside and made homes from, who keep jars of your stillness next to their beds to help them sleep. Remember that your heavy is as important as your bright, your leviathan as meaningful as your whisper. Don’t forget to weave the gold into your own clothes first.
Rachel Tanner is a writer from Alabama who thinks she's funny on Twitter (@rickit). Her work can be found in various places like Apocrypha and Abstractions, Transition, Cheap Pop, The Atticus Review, Pentimento, Empty Sink Publishing, etc. She's not afraid to cuddle all your pets and "like" all your profile pictures.
by Kiley Wolf
A comprehensive list of sexual awakenings
1. The summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, orchestra camp. We play the second movement of beethoven 7 in a frigid cinderblock room. I am fourth horn. I fill my rests with vivid thoughts of fucking you, as you count rests on the other side of the brass section and maybe do the same. After rehearsal, you sit with your arm around me as we call our respective partners back home. At night, we mutter unspeakables through the phone, and the two floors in the dorm physically separating us become too much space.
2. Sophomore year of college. We just watched pan's labyrinth. It is the last time I'll watch a movie with you without falling asleep. I sit on your lap in those shitty dorm chairs. As the credits roll, you grab my hand to lead me into your bedroom and give me a look that will forever be in my memory. We make the space between us disappear and I've never felt so goddamn connected to another person. I realize that your eyes are the color of my favorite iced coffee. In six months I'll write a poem about how stupid the coffee analogy is, and subsequently develop a caffeine addiction.
3. Two days ago. The last time we fucked. You come to my house at 2 am on a Tuesday. No words are exchanged. We both know that this is the last time we will ever touch each other again. No one has ever held me so tight. When it's over, you ask if I want to watch rick and morty and pretend like nothing is wrong. We do, until the screen goes black and the room goes black and our lives go black because we're forced to confront the lingering fact that 48 hours ago, we broke up. You kiss me and call me baby. For the first time in a long time, I don't cry when you leave.
Kiley Wolf was born in Chicago but has spent the past three years being raised by New Orleans. She is a Scorpio who has cried in every single bathroom at Loyola University New Orleans, her main goal in life is to never own a television, and she is so unbelievably in love with you. You can read her subtweets @kiley__wolf.