it’s not enough until it hurts – sarah d.g. larue

water

independent
codependent
spoiled privilege
down the drain with
chronic pain
typical jewish
virgo sun
control freak critic freak
freak freak
sag rising, flaky bitch
cancer moon, emo baby
for some tangy
twist of balance

hippie helper healer heart
princessy anxious
horizontal workaholic
crass asshole mind
bend-over-backwards stubborn
overlover and undersharer
with a body that just
won’t quit quitting
addicted to pain
killing with kindness
to everyone not-me

rage fills my mouth like blood
spills over without good reason
other than overlong suppression
an invisible inevitable dam burst

when can i soften
soften (and forgive)
soften (and forgive)

when can i feel
other than this pain

SBGS December

Sarah grew up singing, dancing, and making stories. After a few lifetimes of creative suppression, her inner child is back with a weird little vengeance. Poetry is where Sarah’s need to make things pretty tries to dance with her need to tell ugly truths. She believes in the healing power of friendship and the memo app on her phone. Facebook. Instagram.

Photo: Ameen Hussain Fahmy

illjusthideposterlargeSarah will be having a release party this Thursday December 13th at Syntax Physic Opera at 7pm for her new chapbook, “i’ll just hide until it’s perfect.”

in that pit – megan heise

pic 5e - Edited

on grief. you. can’t look. at his. face. in pictures. avert. your.
eyes. quick. you wait. to teeter. over the. edge. into. oblivion.
obsession. remember. he said. it’s okay. he said. to be evil.

 

 

 

mirror. your old face. no. you don’t. see. his. face. except in.
dreams. blame it all. you think. on the caffeine. sconced.
lights. flicker. he tells you. no. soft. message. soft. received.

 

 

 

more. uh. lord. than pot. more. uh. night. than day. you
wonder. googling. medical. or medicinal. must. get. search
terms. right. gut genug. he says. good. enough. but. you
swear. you. are right. like. before. like. intrinsent. wasn’t real.

 

 

 

well. because. she’s not. the one. who’s dead. you say. maybe
if. you say. you read yours first. stack. on windowsill. mushu.
speaks. no. that. was someone. else. computers. you ask. try.
to remember. there must. you think. have been. computers.

 

 

 

latin. german. english. french. when you. came back. from
europe. you had. you say. a new. rule. you say. tens. on jacks.
a slap. ping. them. atic. sch. eme. sch. ism. sch. ool. sch. ade.

 

 

 

oh. no. that’s not. where it. ends. farm. cat. burn pile. field.
her. them. sand. sting. sex. on the beach. ice. in our teeth.

 

 

 

grasp. suck. pull. stuffed. scarecrows. suicide missions.
suicidal. king. charlemagne. trick. or treat. house. calls. car.
wrecks. ayn. fucking. rand. ponderous. tomes. wait. not that.

 

 

 

that letter. breasts. brushing. the food. collegiate. attire.
where. did you go. you don’t. re. ah. yes. head. member.
pounds. all that. yes. blood. her house. right. was haunted.

 

 

 

names. diaries. pink. brown. blue. but. you lost. you lament.
the old notebook. with. all the. poems. you say. about you.

 

 

 

snape. not like. you. gave. a shit. scale of. viggo. to alan.
grease. honor. lightning. you. must. have. been. in. that. pit.

 

pic 1h.jpg

SBGS December

Megan Heise is a writer, artist, and teacher, who lives in and is from the American rust belt. She has three plants: Lenny, a bunny ears cactus who lives in Greece; Louie, a bamboo shoot who loves to travel; and Wally, an aloe plant who is having a hard time adjusting to life “back home” after many adventures elsewhere. She curates the education and advocacy blog, Solidarity with Refugees.

Photography provided by Megan Heise as well.

 

three poems – sam pink

3

MY CARTOON

Turning a crank

on the side of my head

& shooting diamonds

out of my eyes

into your face

where they explode

with little dinging sounds.

You’re in my cartoon now

honey.

 

 

JUST NO

Sometimes

when I try to understand

where someone is coming from

it feels like

doing a math problem

& coming up with an answer

that’s just

the word ‘no.’

 

 

TOO BEAUTIFUL

I wonder

how soon

is too soon

to go downstairs

& ask my neighbor

to take down her windchimes

because the songs they make

are just

too beautiful

 

SBGS December

Sam Pink is the author of books. He’s a painter too. Twitter @sampinkisalive.  Instagram @sam_pink_art

Photography: @florviadana

 

a wink may be the same as a nod to a blind man, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to lend you his credit cards to get a bunch of new spongebob squarepants tattoos unless you’ve got some pretty serious collateral – david s atkinson

raw pixel

“The world ended today,” Carl told me as he sat down to watch TV.

“What?! How?”

“Dunno.” He cracked a beer. “Everybody was talking about it after the staff meeting, but I didn’t listen too close. Didn’t seem important.”

I sat up on the couch. “How could it not be important? It’s the end of the world!”

“Well,” he said, considering, “it doesn’t seem to change anything, does it? We’re still here. Plenty of stuff happens that doesn’t affect my life. Why would I care more about this than any of that?”

“I understand,” I replied, “but particularly in view of that, how are we still here? We couldn’t be if the world ended, right? Maybe it didn’t.”

“Nah, it did. Everyone was pretty sure.” He took a drink. “I’m betting they’d know. They aren’t the sort to get that kind of thing wrong.”

“Hmm.”

So that was that, the world was gone. There was nothing else for it but to watch Will & Grace.

SBGS December

David S. Atkinson is the author of books such as “Roses are Red, Violets are Stealing Loose Change from my Pockets While I Sleep,” “Apocalypse All the Time,” and the Nebraska book award winning “Not Quite so Stories.” He is a Staff Reader for “Digging Through The Fat” and his writing appears in “Spelk,” “Jellyfish Review,” “Thrice Fiction,” “Literary Orphans,” and more. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/.

submit to sout

silence – annette freeman

silence

I was criticised by any number of people for what I did to the old piano. When my sculpture was exhibited at the gallery — all dismantled frames and twisted strings and bereft keys — I was criticised. Oh, yes. People at the Opening drew in shocked breaths and waggled their champagne glasses. The word desecration was used; also destructive and obscene. Obscene? I’ll tell you what’s obscene — having to put up with someone who is supposed to have moved on. My sculpture was large and it used most of the innards of the piano in a constructivist-style thing intended to reference a mound or hill. Like a burial mound. I even included an ironic plastic rose on the top, a dirty pink thing, to reference a wreath, but I don’t think the art lovers at the opening got that. They certainly mourned the piano, though.

“What did you have against that poor piano?” a tipsy art-type in an old-fashioned bow-tie asked me. He’d gone for whisky.

“How long have you got?” I replied, and sipped my champagne, leaving lipstick on the glass, blood red, which is ironic also, since the death of the piano was under discussion. In all truth, it wasn’t the piano itself that had earned my ire, but its former owner. I’ll tell you what happened and you can judge for yourself if I was justified in dismantling the thing.

When I moved in with Simon I kept my studio in the inner city. His place wasn’t far away but it was an upscale building, one of those new apartment blocks. They had CCTV cameras everywhere: didn’t want any undesirables, deplorables, muddying the terrazzo floors or shooting up in the shrubbery. You wouldn’t have thought that such a new build, where a year or so earlier there had been only a depthless mud-hole gouged into the land, could harbour any wraiths from the past. But my theory is — and I have reason to know — that the wraiths preserve their longevity by attaching their icy tendrils to objects, and objects can be moved around, as was this blighted piano. Simon told me that it had been a family piano for decades. In fact, it was an old wooden-framed thing, out of date and untuneable. Were you imagining an elegant baby grand with a rosewood cabinet? No, this was an old upright, scratched from many moves, barely playable. It had candle sconces screwed to its front. Candles! How long ago did people play the piano by candlelight? The dark ages?

I shouldn’t make flippant remarks about the dark. That piano and I were to share some sombre times. Simon and I had been together for about a year when I moved in with him. I was sure he was my soul-mate. I still am, and if he ever forgives me — or, as I prefer to think of it, understands me — I think we could be happy. If you notice an edge to my voice while I’m telling what happened, it’s because of Simon. When he found the piano gone, and I told him what I’d done with it, he went into a funk. He refused to come to the Opening at the gallery and so he hasn’t seen what a far, far better thing it has become. Those critics who could stomach the dismemberment have been raving about it. My agent is fielding offers. I have hopes that it’ll go to Abu Dhabi.

Simon goes away on business trips often, mostly to the US, for a week or two at a time. He packs a couple of his sharp suits into a folding suit bag and jets off to do whatever international-finance-types do. As for me, I’m a night owl and often come home late from my studio to the empty terrazzo-floored lobby of the apartment block. I rarely run across anyone from the other apartments. It’s an echoey lobby; there’s not much in it except a couple of Eames-replica chairs that I’ve never seen anyone sit on. There are security cameras with red cyclonic eyes staring down from the corners of the ceiling.

The old piano was an incongruous piece of furniture in Simon’s place, interior-decoration-wise, so naturally I asked him about it.

“It was Eliza’s,” he said, as if admitting something he’d rather I didn’t know.

Eliza was his ex. They hadn’t been married, exactly, unless you count that hybrid Buddhist-Hindu-hippy ceremony they went through in Kathmandu. Then Eliza was lost on the trail while they were hiking to Tengboche. Lost, as in never found. Almost certainly she went over the edge of a ravine into the Dudh Kosi and her body swept away downstream, though it was never recovered. Simon spent a long time hoping. That whole incident was years ago. He’d had two or three girlfriends between Eliza and me. But still he’d dragged the piano on at least two moves that I knew of. It sat against the wall of the living room, looking across at the Léger print on the opposite wall. It seemed to me to be constantly watching us as we lounged in front of the TV, or drank cocktails on the balcony, or slow-danced on the rug, listening to jazz. It appeared to me to disapprove of jazz.

Simon told me, when I pressed him, that the piano had first belonged to Eliza’s great-aunt, a spinster who’d lived in Melbourne and had gone to India as a missionary. Apparently she was revered in Eliza’s family. That was in the days when proselytizing was applauded. The great-aunt was musical. She played not only the piano but also the violin. That was all that Simon knew about this ephemeral person from the past, the musical missionary, Eliza’s relative. The piano was then bequeathed though Eliza’s relations — aunt, cousin, father — until, as each of them died, it eventually settled on her. She played, quite well. I’ve heard her. She favours eerie things, like Messiaen — at least that’s what I thought it was when I heard her. Yes, I’ve heard that piano play on many nights when I was alone in the apartment. Did I mention that we were on the thirty-fifth floor? An aerie. It was as if angels were malevolently plucking harp strings where they had no right.

All of this sounds fanciful, I know, and to start with I thought so too. The first time I heard the playing it was about 2 AM. I got up and marched out of the bedroom switching on all the lights. But the notes merely faded at my approach and so I assumed that I was imagining the whole thing. But the playing in the wee hours went on, only when Simon wasn’t there, of course. Obviously it was meant for me alone. I was targeted. I took to leaving all the lamps on in the living room but it made no difference. The music still woke me — and the lamps went out.

Naturally I told Simon what was going on. I tried to convince him to get rid of the piano, maybe pass it on to another of Eliza’s relatives. He actually said that he wanted to keep it in case Eliza came back! She has come back, I said grimly. Then he went all solicitous on me. He said I was just having some residual delusions. I wasn’t long out of rehab. When I met Simon I was doing far too much junk for my own good, and it was he, bless him, who’d got me into a program. Now I was clean, off the stuff, and my work was blossoming. I owe Simon so much. He’s the love of my life.

The night-time playing continued sporadically, always when I was alone in the apartment.

“Get rid of it, please!” I was begging him now.

“Sweetheart, it’s in your head. I can’t let it go. It’s my only reminder of Eliza.”

“Can’t you just keep her photo or something?” He laughed.

“Sure, but what if she comes back and I don’t have her piano? It was her most precious possession.”

That was the second time he’d said that about her coming back. If she came back, where would that leave me? This point didn’t seem to concern him as he stared across the room at the piano, and I saw in his gaze some past in which I had no part. My first impulse was to remind him that Eliza was pretty certainly dead, and so not coming back for her piano, but I stopped. Of course she was back, as I’d told him the first time we had this conversation. I couldn’t get through to him.

The playing went on. It was creeping me out. One night I changed tactics and tried spying unseen on the piano. I put my eye up to the gap in the bedroom door, which I’d left ajar. But when I looked the playing stopped abruptly. I thought I saw something slip out the front door. I definitely heard a click as the door closed. This wraith came in the front door? It didn’t happen like that in stories.

After the next night of ghostly playing, I went down to the security booth in the basement carpark. I knew the guys there; I often spoke to them when I parked my VW Beetle — they liked my car. I asked if we could take a look at the CCTV footage of the lobby from the night before. I told them I thought I’d heard noises around 2 AM, which was true. We had to go backwards and forwards a bit, but we found it. It was eerie to watch: a long stretch of silent emptiness, the cameras watching creepily, pointed at the lobby doors, the lift, the fire stairs. Twice, figures of other residents crossed the floor, silent footsteps, silent arrival of the lift, silent opening and closing of the lift doors. Then, finally, a figure emerged just as silently from the fire stairs door. The guys were amazed — “that thing’s alarmed,” they said. But no alarm sounded, there was just the CCTV silent soundtrack. The figure was frustratingly indistinct. I was sure it was female, but the security boys argued about that for a while.

“It’s wearing a cap.”

“That’s a skirt, for sure.”

“Or trousers — can’t tell. It’s not clear enough.”

The footage had been clear enough earlier to recognise the legitimate residents. We stopped and started it but we couldn’t get a better picture. The figure disappeared as silently as it had come. We didn’t see the lift arrive, but we could see the illuminated floor numbers marking its ascent from the lobby, then stopping at Level 35.

After that I dismantled the piano. I took out its guts and moved strings, hammers, felts surreptitiously to my car bit by bit. I prised off all its keys with pliers and took them away, keeping the lid on my work so Simon wouldn’t notice what was going on. It took a while, I can tell you. Of course the playing had to stop then. I thought about leaving the empty thing there, just a carcass with its ridiculous candle sconces. But two things changed my mind. The first was the imperative of the work — as I brought these infused and laden objects together in my studio I saw that they needed more bulk, the bulk of the piano cabinet, the wood, the structure. And more detail: the pedal, the hinges, and those sconces. The second thing that prompted me to completely dismantle the piano was the final occurrence of that eerie Messiaen, playing in the silence of 2 AM, despite the keys and strings being entwined in my studio two suburbs away.

At the Opening, an art agent came over and asked me about the piece. He was wearing a dishdasha and a keffiyeh. I smiled winningly.

“What is the piece entitled?” he asked.

“I call it ’Silence.’

“And what is that strange smell it emits?”

SBGS December

Annette Freeman is a writer living in Sydney, Australia. She was born and raised in Tasmania, which she suspects is reflected in her writing in ways too mysterious to analyse. She has a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Sydney, the support of a terrific writing group, and boundless respect for a fine sentence.

chance the goldfish – alessandra ragusin

chance the goldfish

Alessandra is a queer feminist writer and philosopher. She enjoys the finer things in life: chowder, dogs, hooded sweatshirts, wandering on foot for hours on end, and talking in accents. She has a BA from MSU Denver in Creative Writing and Philosophy, has been published in the Metrosphere Arts and Literary Journal, and has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast. Find more of her work at www.greenworldwriting.com

Photo: Zhengtao Tang

crew to sleep – ghost #4

snow cabin

Memories act as detritus, lettertorn ice
avalanched into my cabin: I stare at the ceiling
for hours, paralyzed by my sleep meds,
by fear, or by the memory of a memory.
Atop the submarine I am rooftop dazzled
by a piercing white sun. I wince at a beauty
that can kill me. We are not seeking a white whale.
We are not seeking anything. We go out to sea,
& we sleep. I have an application around here
somewhere. It reads, Fill in the blank: I function
as a _______. You get the job if you leave it blank.

 

SBGS December

photo: Thomas Henke

overflown – bethany moore

caito foster

Sweet rage of thunder calms
the crashing of my youth, I
struck and glass shattered
as if I’d tripped and turned all over myself
on purpose, or as if punished.

Sour grief, I light a flame
and bury a girl, no, burn.

A banging, my beat on my drum, releases
the stagnation that holds thick in the air, when
rain will not break, when
thoughts run too dry.

Pity, pity me, when a heart breaks,
when my jaw aches or my
frail emotions were more
than my half-empty glass could take.

There’s rebirth in
a candle flame and a
balefire, and in
a scream.

sbgs cowskull

Bethany Moore is a poet, practicing witch, and cannabis activist, and enjoys the study of healing, alchemy, and ritual work. She is also a singer and lyricist, and produced an album in 2013 called Witchrock by producer Burntsystems.

In the early 2000s, she participated in spoken-word poetry circles in Washington, D.C., and currently manages multimedia and communications projects at the National Cannabis Industry Association, including hosting a weekly podcast on CannabisRadio.com.

She self-published her two debut books of poems within weeks of each other in September and October of 2016. Her most recent book, published October 2017, is a short-story, dark fairytale about a Witch and her quest for love titled “A Witch’s Tale: the taming of a daemon.” Her 2018 poetry collection is forthcoming as the title “Crying Spells: rituals of bone, blood, and sorrow.”

Photo: @caitofosterphoto

submit to south broadway ghost society.

the last time i was awake at this hour – D.o.t.B.

window

The last time I was awake at this hour
You were in my bed
These sheets still smell like you
We both know why I haven’t washed them.

There’s a ghost in my car with his hand on my thigh
Looking away from the road into his eyes
He’s gone before I can kiss him
There is no ritual to rid me of this.

One horrible comfort in all of this mess
Is that there is a spectre on your skin too
They have my hands on your back
My mouth to whisper sweetness in your neck
And eyes that haunt you like mine do.

sbgs cowskull

D.o.t.B. is a Godde that currently lives in the body of K.V. Dionne. Boulder artist, poet, and photographer, they are one of the founders behind Writer’s Block and are current editor in chief of Writer’s Block zines. You can read some of their work in Spit Poet and can look forward to a collaborative poetry book coming out soon. They have many Hawk friends and Crow songs to share! Instagram: @o.macbeth