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.
by Biscuits Calhoun
It was the night I made out with Becky
Who would later become my cousin
That I saw my uncle's asshole
A picture of it and no scenery
Tacked to the end of a slideshow
Their first trip together a Caribbean cruise
Becky and her mom and her sister with my uncle
The sister now run off with a boy named Clyde.
All we know is he is twenty-seven years old.
My parents and my uncle and Becky’s mom off to find her
Supposedly holed up in a trailer a few miles around the bend.
The deputy sheriff said it was green.
The little old lady at the gas station said it was brown.
Both sources compared the color to bodily waste.
They left us two fourteen-year-olds
Alone in the woods in a house built on the side of a mountain.
We had already spent a half hour channel surfing
And two minutes trading terrible massages
That gave way to another half hour of channel surfing
Until finally we were buoyant on my uncle's bed
The only bed big enough for two bodies in the house
Hovering on the surface until we melted
Like letting our limbs loose and ceasing our floating
Joining the fish in the bowl of the lake.
He had built the house for himself and his ex-wife
The one with the scratchy voice because her previous husband shot her
In the neck as he left her for himself to be alone in the woods.
We were in my uncle’s bed dry humping
And Becky slid her hand down my young ass and into my young ass
Her finger like a steak knife through butter
I came in my boxer shorts immediately.
That was the year I switched from those white ones
The ones perverts wear is what my friend Dan said
To boxers like my friend Dan wore.
He was on the wrestling team.
I threw those soggy underwear off the porch.
From that angle they seemed to roll hem over hem on the air
Until they snagged on a pine branch and waved back
The way my wife would wave goodbye many years later
Saying she was staying with Amber for a few days
But she never did come back.
Becky came back. Becky joined me on the porch
Drinking margarita mix out of a coffee mug
One emblazoned with my rawboned body in my stupid football uniform.
My mom sent it to my uncle after his divorce
After his ex-wife took every coffee cup they ever accumulated.
Becky yawned and bored.
I wore no underwear and felt self-conscious.
But she could not tell or knew not to show it.
She said, You wanna see a picture of your uncle's asshole?
What I should have said was no.
But what I said was yeah
Hoping she was mistaken and it was the tip of a hot dog
A chain email gag never sent
Or hoping she was being sly to get me once again in a room
With no view of the television or my underwear mid-air.
But she was not kidding. Becky was bored
And to pass the next six seconds she pointed at the screen.
And sure enough it was an asshole.
And sure enough I looked. I, too, was bored
And like people do when bored I did something
Did anything, did whatever was in front of me
Like stare at the asshole of my uncle
Though I never did verify that it belonged to my uncle.
It could have been anyone’s uncle’s asshole.
This casualness worked for my uncle.
He never had a plan nor a notion of consequence
He did not even imagine a computer could display such a moment.
He built a windmill on the property first without a building permit.
On The Other Side Of The Creek
My friend Jay married a woman named Kay.
I never met Kay, so I didn't know what Kay looked like.
The tint of her teeth, or how she carried her shoulders in the rain.
The height her family had come together to give her.
But I know she spent a cold winter in northern Indiana in a trailer with Jay.
(Come to think of it I never met Jay.)
No beds, just two musty couches they found there
Kissing end-to-end, right-angled, a triangle of furniture absent of its third side.
I know she loved to sing Bon Jovi
To the birds, but she would immediately shut her mouth
Like a large-mouth on a warm hook
When someone, usually Jay, joined her in the snow.
And when the freeze thawed I know Kay
Enrolled in a book club at the small town library where she and two
Much older women read cookbooks and talked
About them as if they were novels.
Then Kay smelled of onions, though she had spent the afternoon chopping beets.
Then Kay woke up with Junebugs in her hair.
Then Kay rescued a stray pig, and she named it Tyler.
Then Kay asked Jay to quit emailing me.
His last one included a picture of Kay
He had taken on a crappy flip phone.
Her head was turned
Left ear facing the camera, but I knew her
Hair was much browner than I imagined.
Her forehead sunk like the ditch out front Jay often described.
It was the year the farmers were to plant soybeans
But instead they planted eyeballs.
Biscuits Calhoun was once someone else and often, still is. He is the drummer for Shitty Band and manages Mussel. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and their puppy dog.
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.
by Alain Ginsberg
My Rapist Speaks In Two Parts
this, this is a safe space
we are all queer here.
you can sleep on my couch
this is a safe space
we are all polyamourous queers here.
we have the same pronouns
we are safe together
Welcome back, are you drunk
I’m a little tipsy
I’m a little horny too.
So, are we all in
your partner said you were okay
with being hung,
Welcome to my room
it is in the basement. There is one exit.
Landlord calls the wooden stairs a fire
My bed is big enough for a cage match.
Welcome. Are you drunk?
I like how rough you think you can be
how rough you think you can be/
think you can be rough with me.
welcome. well. well.
this is a safe space.
this is a queer space.
you can sleep on my couch. we share the same
I split open the wound of my lips.
I mean to say mouth and hear months,
it has almost been four years and in this way I know death,
by which I mean to say know debt.
Know more people who have listened
to my assault-story, the one where I don’t get a name
or voice or sound or how my breath reeked of kerosene,
this voice, a gas lit oven, yes yes yes yes yes
we do so speak pilot without knowing how to drive away.
I see my rapist, a headline saying a number and a tally and
know if not by the bullet we will die by the identity.
I bookmark a mug that says “kill your local rapist”
and know I don’t want to see another trans death
and what else do I have but blood on my skin.
In the story a trans person teaches me how to accept myself
while coercing me into their sheets, there are stains in rooms my name
has made. The trans person brings me too the queer fourth of july
and I learn to unhinge my jaw and is this not sin, a mouth
so open it speaks what you ask of it?
The solace is that a holiday about colonizing
is a reminder for my renamed body
and how I do so miss being useful.
I am raped by the mirror of myself,
I’m am folded into the dry sheets,
there are hands that look like mine that
have taken another road from here, one
that perpetuates the violence against each other.
A hawk will not eat the body of another hawk
but the hummingbird tastes just as sweet.
I tell a friend my rapists name and a hawk
will not eat the body of another hawk,
we are willing to abuse our own
but unwilling to consume them.
Alain Ginsberg (they/them) is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City, MD whose work focuses on narratives of gender identity, sexuality, and mental health and they ways in which trauma informs and skews those narratives. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming from The Account, Metatron, Queen Mob's Tea House (Queen of Pentacles), and elsewhere. Outside of writing Alain has been described as a mixologist on yelp, and is always surprised by their thigh muscles. They are a Taurus.
by Sarah Dauer
you can personify me as any fruit you’d like
dripping, quenching grapefruit
you are the second coming
always the first cumming
carve you out a good one
sugar, sugar all over you
hold your hand when it gets
scary out there, call your mother
when you have an allergic reaction
to peanuts, lipsync to barf day
by diet cig just the two of us
in the communal bathroom, on the
front porch, in a dream i had
in which i was writing the great
american novel and you were
curing ultcerative colitis
because this is why i kiss you,
this is why i shove my tongue down
your throat like, can you feel it yet?
don’t you wanna google
mouth herpes on a thursday in
a chilis? like, i wanna love you
like the very first time i saw
your collection of seashells and you
saw me smile with cinnamon gum
lumped in my lower lip because
my face just does this
stupid lookin thing
when i see you –
i just can’t help it
Sarah Dauer is a 19-year-old queer Jewish poet from New Jersey going to school in Western Mass. She is still figuring it all out, and is thankful for everyone’s patience. Her poetry has been previously published in Vagabond City and Yellow Chair Review. She is currently trying to write a play about the moon and a collection of short poetry about loving someone with ALS. For bagel related content follow her on twitter @lameearthpers0n
by Audrey Conklin
Red Light Green Light
On days when she
felt full of spite,
she’d press her thumb
to a crosswalk light
to stop fast traffic
at her command.
Then she’d stand
still in her place
and, looking over
each stagnant lane,
a long-lost power
that had all along
been inside her hands.
Audrey Conklin is a college student in Boston, MA. She is currently studying to get her BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and working on a collection of poetry that focuses on youth, passing time, and the intimacy of special places.
by Jacob Zlomke
Deceased Man Leaves Behind 1000s of Pages of Really Awful Poetry
When the wind blows do you ever hope it crashes through your windows
and carries off your house too and especially your office, though
it’s a squat red brick thing – it’s not going anywhere.
I’m thinking about me on a boat and you’re on it too.
Quite a lot of people are on it actually, so when it sinks and I’m treading water
I can’t find you.
I view airports through a paranormal sense of inaccessibility
Like I wasn’t meant to leave, like they are designed so I, specifically, won’t leave.
But maybe I’ll feel brave on a 12-hour layover in Beijing.
True, though, that I’ve wanted to be a tree.
Be a really, really tall, cool tree and have roots that are deep.
But not in that order, I guess.
Jacob Zlomke is a Nebraskan, writer, and wannabe award winning journalist. He loves the Great Plains unconditionally.
by Riley Doherty
the sun bruises the sky as it sets
i love you i love you i love you
riley doherty would like you to think of her as a sentient bouquet of flowers. She lives in athens, ohio where she hosts the weekly poetry night at donkey coffee. You can find her on twitter or insta at @riridoh or if you're interested in longform ramblings tinyletter.com/misrememberings
by Graham Irvin
Different kinds of animals
cooking steak badly, too
rare, taking photos
to share online, eating it too
rare feeling like a werewolf
whatever the red stuff inside
the meat is, it’s running
down my chin
violence isn’t the answer but I want it
sometimes and here
it is staring me in the face
a grizzly bear eats xanax
so she won’t attack her
co-workers in an Old Navy commercial
her mother is a human
and they are both confused
when the police arrest the grizzly bear,
after what she’s done, they cook a pan of blood
until it turns brown and feed it
to her during the investigation
and she confesses quietly and eventually
her mother sees it was something to be proud of
violence is a change
in tone, a rotting tooth
in a mouth reading
about a rotting tooth, four days
in a hospital bed with the same pain
as your mother, a word or any
word or text
messages at 3am or unanswered
Craigslist casual encounters
and it is all happening
like breath in the lungs of a sky-
I am the neck and process
of all the leaves falling into the dinosaur
stomach like a golden gate suicide
finishing as much as I can
of the steak, storing it
in a sandwich bag with a monster
face on the front, hiding
the violent animal of myself
I held a knotted white sock attached
to the jaw of my first dog whose face
betrayed excitement and frustration for not
having full control, for having to fight
my smallness. My feet disappeared
into couch cushions, cold crumbs
against my sole, wood covered
loosely by thin spider web fabric.
When the dog dropped the toy, steadied
his breathing, laid into sleep
on the coarse floor the white sock was red
from his play. There was a fireplace made of brick
that meant dungeons to my child brain.
There were sharp and dangerous points
along everything that told me how I could hurt.
Poltergeist played on the deep back TV.
I didn’t watch. I knelt and held his thick skull
covered in wrinkles, my thumbs circled
the membrane of dog ear, tried to haunt
the thought into whatever he understood
me to be. I told him he would die
beneath the back porch of a different house
grey and blind, his bones full of cancer,
and would not have enough teeth to bleed
into anything, but his patch of earth
would be cool and he would make our father cry.
Monitoring an Active Volcano
I was nowhere near born for Kilauea
Not even a floating single cell for st. helen.
Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it
And when Harry Glicken died in Japan, cremated by the Roman fart of a mountain, my skull was soft in my mother’s hands. I cooed like some kind of idiot
Tell the lava I stopped smoking for good
The earth is belching fumes and ash, mad too, not polite enough to apologize, and this isn’t political. The rocks are stressed, the trees are drowning in fire
They wore asbestos gloves, gas masks, tin foil hats, and still 30,000 scientists were lost:
Rock, ate rocks
Dennis Efird, stuttering fool
Kay Efird, loved cheerwine
Charlie, when she was born the others had the nerve to call her name weird
Donald Efird, good hair, half a thumb, played guitar by ear but only covers
Annie, low to the ground and sad
Brent Efird, loved NFL Blitz, Grand Theft Auto, biggest penis of all the cousins
Tammy Efird, all her dogs too, the dead ones the frail ones, the ones hit by school buses, photo albums all over Facebook
Clayton Efird, cried picking his nose while listening to Queen
His father, no record of his name
Chris Keever, Shelley’s kid, who fought in Desert Storm, mostly behind a computer screen. There was a photo of him in an M1 tank on Shelley’s apartment wall. Saw it every Christmas eve breakfast
Paul Keever, fought in the war too but didn’t talk about it. There was one photo of him smoking, holding an M16
His girl Callie. She had three daughters then lymphoma. Her skin looked bad but she never lost her hair. Used to live with her grandmother in the double wide when her mama was in prison and her daddy didn’t want her. We played truth or dare sometimes, she was my first real kiss
Genevieve Keever, who became Genevieve Courtney and spent all her time in Charlotte. She always told her son she loved him, it was the first his wife had ever heard the word. Drove Callie to chemo and watched those kids whenever she needed rest. Watched me too, took me to Ryan’s buffet and never once complained when I only ate 3 tacos, green jello, and a chocolate vanilla swirl
Dean Keever. He was bald but made it work, got fired from the power plant for being high on the job, house always smelled like piss. Had a stroke once but it didn’t slow him down. Told me “That’s a real shame” when I didn’t know much about cars and I guess I had to agree
Melissa Keever, always short. House made of creaks and moans.
Sarah Keever. She was trying for kids not long ago. Used to take growth hormones because she was so little. I kissed her too but it didn’t mean as much.
Charlie Brown Irvin Marty
Sherry Keever Irvin Sydney
Graham Justin Irvin
Graham Irvin is a writer from North Carolina whose work has appeared in New Bile, The Tusk, Main Street Rag, and others. He is an MFA candidate and scans paper in an office to feed himself.
by Margaret O'Connell
All Of My Daydreams Have The Same Lighting And If Heaven Exists, I Hope It's That Color
I would like everyone at this party to stop trying to get laid for a moment
and to appreciate the smell of home-cooked rice
that’s coming out of the yellow window across the street
I love people who have the decadence to cook for themselves at midnight
and by that I mean I love people who aren’t as depressed as I am
I eat like seven granola bars a day
I think they’re not as good for me as I pretend they are
much like Subway or Starbucks or the Internet
I would like so much right now to be a face in that yellow window
maybe someone else would be with me
but probably not
because unlike everyone else at this party
I’m not trying to get laid tonight
partially because I’m on my period
but mostly because I’m afraid of intimacy
telling someone you love them when you’re drunk at a party is a lot like taking condoms from the bowl at the free clinic:
a cheap, safe, preventative measure
so I think I’ll tell the next person I see at this party that I love them
but that I don’t want to get laid tonight
and would they like to go stand in a yellow window with me?
Margaret O’Connell is a Midwestern water sprite who somehow managed to find her way down the Mississippi to New Orleans. She studies writing and philosophy and can be found climbing trees, hyperbolizing, and being the first person to dance at the party. Her best friend’s ex once told her that personality-wise she’s “like a seven,” which she thinks is a pretty solid rating.
by Lily Joseph Rich
last night i peed in the merrimack river as a way to get back at manchester
it wasn't very poetic or rebellious at all
i wasn't trying to make some big point
pull reason out of nothing like red bird from ashes
i go to see the merrimack because i understand it
even at 5 am it makes sense to me
all i've wanted to do since i arrived here is flow right back out
but i'm stuck
and you're stuck
also to me and i am stuck to the brick sidewalk where i cried
the edge of the merrimack is a good place to go when you want to kill yourself but know you will give up
and go home
the edge of the merrimack is a good place to cry because if your tears land in the water then at least
some part of you will leave this city
the edge of the merrimack is a good place to scream expletives as loud as you can at the night
because neither the river or the night can say anything back
repeating what you say in a funny voice won’t do shit
after all, you said it first
not to mention you need the night and the river just as much as they don't need you
and i need a lot of people just as much as they don't need me or maybe won't need me until i am gone
if i go i wonder if i will stay gone
i mean, the sun always comes back up
the clouds always rain back down
the birds always return to your backyard in the spring
and everything is new again
the birds always return and everything is new
lily joseph rich is a non-binary trans woman from massachusetts. she flips burgers for a living and somehow doesn't hate it. in her spare time she works with fabrics, markers, words, and a guitar.
by Jakob Maier
Passing as the clouds
labor over & empty
themselves of themselves,
until no clouds are left.
Like love with its lightning
& us counting seconds
to know how far away it is,
& in which direction
it is moving. Toward or away.
The things we love consume us
the same way the cactus you keep
on your windowsill eats the soil.
It is all taking—the yellow light
it steals, the water it pulls inside
itself, the interstices in dirt where
roots push through to devour. You
in my dream last night simply lying
next to me, talking in your sleep
about the meteor shower. How
the rocks and the atmosphere hold
each other for a brief second,
then burn. The cactus growing
its flower for a year & a half
before closing it for the night.
It’s like a dog running
with a stick twice its size.
It’s like tearing up
all the shoots from the plum tree.
It’s like taking paintings
back into the attic.
It’s like forgetting the wine
half-drunk & open too long.
It’s like crossing over a river
on the salmon’s spawning bodies.
It’s like Nina Simone singing
so soon & so embarrassingly soft.
It’s like every single poem
that ends with a sunset.
It’s like the sunset ending
& us letting it happen.
Jakob Maier is a poet and musician from Portland, OR. He is an MFA candidate at Syracuse University, where he serves as poetry editor for Salt Hill Journal. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Fields, Shabby Doll House, Gesture, Spy Kids Review, and more. He's alive at @iammaier.
by Lake W
Ramon sings a song I don’t know
and it sounds a lot like screeching
and the woman beside him behind
the counter doesn’t know the song
or if my soda is a Sprite or not
so she asks me to dip my head
and fit my lips around the straw
I think Ramon and I are making
eyes at each other because boys
don’t smile at me at least
and Ramon asks if I’m taking her
out or she’s taking me and I say
we’re just friends we are
but her popcorn flits from her
pinched fingertips and folds
its blown coat around its kernel
before it collapses on tile as she
laughs out the girl’s name one
who drinks green tea that I want
to taste on her teeth one with
wrists gilded golden bracelets
I want to fit my own hands in
Lake W. is a teenager living in the United States. Her work has previously appeared in Before I Leave Zine and Vagabond City Literary Journal. She tweets @lakewrites and her Tumblr is @stonemattress.
untitled 012217 (RIP boncourse)
I’m high as shit yo but I was talking to myself on the D train platform & casually threw out the word promulgate, explaining to myself that I was naturally on a downswing & I ain’t need shit like drinking to promulgate that. But anyways I look up promulgate via dictionary.com & find out I used it correctly. I’m that nigg. I finish my bagel over a cylindrical MTA trashcan so I can throw out the bag & the foil & the parchment & napkins at the same damn time. Shouting about arrows on the 59th platform but I’m on the train. Love gettin new crushes. Love the affection coming up off Shy’s face from our freckle area. It’s like weird that we have the same body & I legit feel closer to them because of it. Same clay looking ass. A text: omg i was thinking last night bout how i have giant crushes on all my friends and I'm at least a smidge sexually attracted to them minimum haha. A reply: all my non-friends are boring. You couldn’t afford to pay me to stop gushin. Are niggas really tryna sell body wash on the 6 or is this a joke I’m eavesdropping on? Always windy af on the Concourse. The street signs squeak from steel on steel grinding.
‘See you when I get back. I might die in an airplane before then. I’m taking hella planes.’ You’re prolly not the only one who thinks that’s funny. Misty Ass Manhattan. Thick fog, lil face ass. I rubberneck on two policeman treating two white guys tryna fight v v respectfully. I’m wild paranoid rn because I’m high but like I know that’s just my body warning me that there’s possible danger afoot—uncomfortable but necessary. Everybody crossing the street or reaching into front seats is a potential threat when shit’s all cloaked up. I make it to 125th w one min before my 30-day metrocard expires—& a 6min 4 train. A old man, maad dark, approaches me & asks for a quarter & I’m automatically shaking my head & shit. ‘Next time?’ ‘Sorry man naw.’ ‘Don't you ever say sorry!’ I'm tryna listen to my body’s alert system. ‘As a muslim, my daddy told me—he died in 2000, uh 2—he told me, “Never say sorry. You only sorry for yourself!” So I tell I tell the next person, don’t say sorry, tell em, I don’t got it right now, but next time. & it don’t gotta be me, could be the next person!’ You right. Next time I got you. I’m only thinking negatively. I fw rap & shoegaze in the same way cuz they got the same beats & both quintessentially 90’s. Always wanna listen to Nas after Slowdive.
msw writes philosophical nonfiction lolll & his first book 'Sparse Black Whimsy: A Memoir' is dropping via 2fast2house on 4/20. His Instagram & Twitter are both gold. marcusscottwilliams & mswthug, respectively. He loves you.
by Rebecca Upton
therapists have never told me
anything about myself
that i didn’t already know.
i’m painfully aware of
all of my flaws.
i just need someone to tell me
what i should do about them.
told me i needed to exercise more.
i said that would never happen.
he gave me rorschach tests.
i saw the results
but they left me with no clarity.
he made sailboat metaphors a lot.
how are sailboats supposed to make me better
my hands have forgotten
the script they were supposed to follow,
how to pick up my phone and call my mother.
but my lungs remember how to smoke a cigarette
and my fingers remember
how to tap the like button
on instagram, facebook, twitter, tumblr posts.
i will always excel in
sometimes it’s hard
just to be a person.
i often ignore facebook event invitations.
why should i go out
when i could just watch Netflix
i’m sorry but unfortunately
the syllables spoken in our last conversation
seem to have escaped
i hope someday
you’ll be impressed
by my ability to thrive
under the harshest living conditions.
The Granite State
i don’t drink enough water.
i don’t look away from my phone
i wish i lived in a town
i could romanticize.
there is nothing romantic
about a town where most places
close at 5pm and every person
seems to know everyone else.
i want to fall in love with a city
miles away from where i was born
but i am stuck here
because i can’t afford
out of state tuition.
i had a dream
that i made my
college debt disappear
just by snapping
now i snap my fingers
and nothing happens.
nothing happens anywhere.
wherever i go i won’t
stop checking my phone.
i walk these streets reluctantly
and sigh dramatically
every time i encounter a stop sign.
Rebecca Upton is a college student from New Hampshire. She is the author of two chapbooks, looking for ltr with goth and To My Disorder, which can be found along with her other writing pieces at crackedmoth.tumblr.com. She tweets as vaporwavemoth. She likes Elliott Smith, 90's emo music, and cheap wine.
by Kyle Flak
in a minute
i've gotta get ready
to go to work
my whole job in life should be to kiss you over and over again in the moonlight
while all the creepy mannequins downtown look on
from their shop windows
Kyle Flak is the author of I AM SORRY FOR EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE UNIVERSE (Gold Wake Press, 2017),WHAT HANK SAID ON THE BUS (Publishing Genius, 2013) (Winner of the Chris Toll Prize), THE SECRET ADMIRER (Adastra Press, 2010), and HARMONICA DAYS (New Sins Press, 2009). In 2013, he was a finalist for a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. In 2015, he was chosen as a "Poet to Notice" by Grandma Moses Press. His writing has recently appeared in Frogpond, Hart House Review, Makeout Creek, Mudfish, Poetry East, Spinning Jenny, Whiskey Island, and various other magazine / anthology type of things. He went to school at Northern Michigan University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.