two poems – grace mitchell

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views from the passenger seat

I have never felt more safe
than the time you drove me home,
and then you drove me home,
and then you drove me home—
always you are driving me home
in an infinite loop
(in one version we stop to investigate
the metal chest left on the side of the highway,
but a new version of the story begins before
we get to see what’s inside—
In another version you pull over
and leave me there on the side of the highway—
another version of you picks me up;
all is forgiven, and this is how the story restarts;
another version of you becomes the ghost
you have sometimes made yourself to be)
as I frantically rewrite our shared history,
as I grab your cigarettes from the glove box,
and try to ignore the gun.
In every version of this story
I am trying to ignore the gun,

which is to say You are tracing the outline of a State we both lived in on my heart, which is to say I am drunk enough to ask you to hold me and I mean really hold me please none of that “Christian side hug” bullshit, which is to say I am drunk enough that you are driving me home.

There is still not a version of this story
in which I don’t want you
driving me home.

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WWJDD

I know you are not one for Jesus
so I pose the question instead:
what would John Darnielle do
if he knew you were a rapist?
If you shook hands with your hero
said, “I love the Mountain Goats,
and also I keep going when women
tell me no,”
said, “I love your work,
especially the way associating with it
makes women think I am safe.”
How the hell do you separate the work
from the behavior of fans?
And how the hell do I keep listening
to the Mountain Goats
when you’re the one who got me into them?


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Grace Mitchell is a poet residing in Denver, CO, although she has called many places home. She has edited for both Negative Capability Press and the Oracle Fine Arts Review. When not writing, she can be found riding her bike, working the clerk desk at the local library, and hanging out with nuns.

Top Photo: Etienne Pauthenet

for jay who didn’t get cable television until he was thirteen and also thinks i’m petty – jane-rebecca cannarella

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For Jay who didn’t get cable television until he was thirteen and also thinks I’m petty: And how I made fun of how he first experienced the joy that comes with cable like placing snow melt between tart teeth and getting the phantom taste of salt from the sky–or from some truck, more likely–but it’s cool because it’s good anyway. It’s the propulsion of quickly falling ice crystals and thunder from the sky that now lives inside him.

Anyone can be part of the earth’s outer atmosphere, and this is the closest to becoming a cosmic being that Jay’s ever been. And he and I are acting like those two stars in our galaxy who have begun behaving strangely: a cool giant and a relatively hot white dwarf—a stellar corpse. Outbursts of energy like when he couldn’t stay seated and was asked to sit in the corner during middle school because he was being disruptive. Now we’re both warm movement and icy at the same time and are filled with the need to rattle the desktop as the universe cycles through us. And with images being spoon-fed through eyeballs for so many years, it’s like he’s growing and cooling at the same time. Maybe I am, too.

There is the terror of so many choices, like the fear of being in the middle of the crosswalk when an ambulance is coming, silenced and stricken, and how do you run to safety when your feet are stuck to the black top? With every fuzzy sound augmented and amplified, as animated figures grow and lean—continually expanding, cable television is communicating with the divided sky and directly into every and any TV watcher, but him especially.

Jay could and can sit and watch the bleary movements and he knew, and knows, that the universe keeps growing; and when he was just thirteen he had eaten Christmas-in-July-snowflakes: the light changing across wavelengths, both astronaut and astronomer and he got cable and because of that parts of him lives in solar systems light-years away waiting to fall back to earth.


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Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She edits HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit. Most recently she is the author of the flash fiction collection Better Bones and the poetry chapbook Marrow, through Thirty West Publishing, 2019. She is haunted by ghosts, all of which she believes are barnacled ships. 

Top Photo: Sven Scheuermeier

art – john van houten

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John Van Houten is originally from Grand Rapids, MI, but currently resides in Buffalo, NY. He achieved his MFA in Studio Art at SUNY Buffalo and his BFA in Illustration at Kendall College of Art & Design. His illustration inspired paintings have been exhibited across Western New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and across the Midwestern United States. In addition to his practice in fine art, Van Houten has worked on freelance illustration for Th3rd Coast Media Solutions, No Threshold Records, and Blunderwoman Productions. In his spare time, Van Houten likes dog petting, prog rock concerts, and drum solos.

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an intruder in your house (hollywood) – david welper

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Filling the glass with milk or
homes with Hollywood furniture.

Greed they say. The piggy bank
run amuck, the loud chair laced
for director.

Humility locates its contour map
of frilly things. This, the next big thing
in show business
because walls become predictable and
daydreams frame digression
with a flexibility of their own.

A briefcase breaks at the corner,
a ballerina’s pillow spreads out
in motion pictures.

Celebrity has a collapsing act.
What she does is her business.


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David Welper is a Pushcart nominated poet, has been a featured reader across the US, has been published in a number of zines and has been active in literary communities.  He is the founder of Buddy Lit Zine.  He is a Psychiatric Nurse in Denver.

Top Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik

in the key of lazarus – paulie lipman

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Hearts fly over my head
Hearts flying over my head
This will be what replaces brain cells
These will supplant canonized rebels

Thumbs in my eyes
Thumbs thrust into my eyes
This will be what replaces good tidings
These will be what replaces the tithing

God is gone
and so the tabernacle
Upended altars
False idols
Pictographical angels

Love is Like is Repetition
Love is like, is like Love is gone
Like gone repeated, Love dragging on
Then gone, like Love is attrition

Gone is God
and us all their children
We all our own altars
Our skin carved and clawed
We are our own sin


FB_IMG_1571175922874paulie lipman is a jewish queer poet, performer, and novelist out of Denver, CO by way of too many damn places. a two time national poetry slam finalist, their work has appeared in The Emerson Review, voicemail poems, ellipsis, Prisma: Zeitblatt Fur Text & Sprache (Germany), and Protimluv (Czech Republic). they are the author of two poetry collections “from below/denied the light” and the upcoming “sad bastard soundtrack: songs of faith and distortion” (Swimming With Elephants Publications).

Church Photo: Harry Miller

bechdel test – kim vodicka

marilyn

B e c h d e l T e s t

Why does it matter who holds the mirror,
if what you see is truth?

What happens when you police your pants?

Like famous mass murderesses,
we’re intense pieces of ass,
in Sodomy and Gonorrhea.

We’ll be the sluts of your life,
if only you promise
to read our cunts for filth
and blow loads in our dishonor.

Raise your hand if you secretly admire us,
if your giver-upper is a keeper.

If you believe in nothing
and see everything.

If you’re prepared
to sop up the fuss
with that hole in your belly.

Your famous blue jacket doesn’t bother with promises,
doesn’t touch us at all,
doesn’t touch us all night,
doesn’t even condescend to give us its handkerchief
when we cry.

Why don’t you ever tell us you love us
when we cry?

Why, when we could cry
for the entire world,
do we cry
for you?

At the moment of twinkling.

Wistful thinking.

When us bitches cry for the world,
we cry
for you.

And your small mind.

We bet your mother
didn’t even have an orgasm
when you were conceived.

But we bet she cried.

It’s so easy to be a groupie in this town,
so hard to be a wife.

That’s why you’ll never see our meat dancing.

Only the zombies receive it.

You may bring a goddess to her knees.

If you’re prepared
to be bitch-slapped
by her vestigial wings.

We’re not dancing.

We’re just rubbing out the kinks.

Don’t bother us.

The surest way to the rib of our hearts
is by not bothering us.

Would it be possible for someone who ate hearts,
like Jeffrey Dahmer,
to practice the art of radical self-love?

We bet he kissed his mother with that mouth.

The surest way to the rib of our hearts
is by eating our hearts
and then kissing us.

We were seeing it through our eyes,
and we were seeing it through our eyes,
but all that matters are The One’s eyes.

Because The One creates Kodak moments.

Because rarely do us bitches make his story.

It’s so hard to be easy in this town,
even harder to be a wife,
even if you don’t want to be.
.

We’ve been tired queens.

We’ve been desperate groupies.

But if we don’t live,
you pay nothing.

And we want you to pay.

From the Chateau Marmont to the Romantic Inn,
we have tried,
in our way,
to be fabulous.

We have tried,
in our way,
to transcend.

Every load blown in our dishonor
is revelation.

But one way or another,
the ground will force us to relate to it.

We tried to prove
we weren’t intimidated
by Charlie Manson,
but then he bit us,
and we became him.

Time to step back into our queen shoes,
until we allow the next The One
to knock them up again.

Until we allow each other
to peasant each other’s eyes out
over The One,
yet again.

This man is your man.

This man is my man.

This man was made for you.

But, like, mostly just me.


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Kim Vodicka is the spokesbitch of a degeneration and heart-reactionary at the rearguard of the rose arts. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections— Aesthesia Balderdash (Trembling Pillow Press, 2012), Psychic Privates (White Stag Publishing, 2018), and The Elvis Machine (CLASH Books, 2020). She is also the creator of a poetic comic book series, a chapbook of sound poems on vinyl, and an illustrated book of poetry. Her poems, art, and essays have been featured in Tenderloin, Spork, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Makeout Creek, Luna Luna Magazine, Paper Darts, Best American Experimental Writing, Nasty! and many others. For the past decade, she has toured the country performing spoken word with musical accompaniment in bookstores, dive bars, art galleries, cafes, diners, festivals, pinup clubs, vintage clothing shops, rooftops, backyards, and places of worship. Originally from south Louisiana, she currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her beloved cat, Lula. Cruise her at kimvodicka.com.

appendix – pablo damián

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Appendix

We forgot to turn off the gas in the kitchen again,

and I’m not sure if what I saw was a ghost

or a spiritual residue of our old cleaning lady.

Back then, my days were like stretch marks on the skin of time,

I spent most afternoons thinking about a litany

for dust and glass and light,

or about how water is the opposite of blackmail

but ultimately failing at a single original thought.

From behind the drapes, the hollow voice spoke up:

“All microwaves have some kind of terrible hex on them”

I just nodded.

It’s uncourteous to speak with your mouth full.

SBGS December


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Pablo Damián is a poet and translator currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Art: Brendon Thompson

you wish to speak – megan heise

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you wish to speak.

once
during
yr reading
in Arizona
u said u hadn’t ever met
another asexual person and shay said their
partner was ace and asked u to
sign yr chap w a
kiss write i’m
here i’m
queer

M didn’t speak for 4 months all the words tumbled out stone.

You dont speak now. You write to your spirits. Say hi wanna join me at work then forget. In Dani’s class you drew the bridge to nowhere. Said to the class I’m moving back home. He met you at the underpass many weeks later. Continues to meet you there. Connecting spirits to one another. Her name appearing in a computer glitch. His blood staining the highway. You dream of avoiding her and all your unresolved guilt. Codependents think they are responsible for other ppl’s emotions she tells you. You are codependent you say. Except you know you really are responsible for other ppl’s emotions. You made your mother’s depression worse. And now you are twisting the knife into grief wounds. Reaching out again after so many years to say sorry. After not even sending in your rsvp for their wedding. He says no hard feelings but she disagrees.

2 out of 6 shelves are clean which is to say you have cleaned off 2 out of the 6 shelves you are endeavoring to clean off which is to say you are attempting to acknowledge your agency which is to say you want to SPEAK in the ACTive voice which is to say you wish to say that which you’ve been trying to say which is to say you will say that which you’ve been trying to say which is to say you are.

the fears are twofold one is that yes he really was a dick and to like him is to be a dick yourself and that so many pretentious dicks like him so does that make you a dick too and the other is the fear of running out that you’ll want more but there will be no more left to consume to receive

he was one of your ghosts too you realize, writing him letters and never asking for a response, never conceiving of the possibility of there being a response. it’s good we never met in life, you used to say. what if i disappointed him. if he disappointed me.

it is hard to set boundaries. with the living. with your living. friends. your spirits. are so much easier. to talk to.

names come to you before you know what they mean you set out to write about queerness and write about ghosts instead you mistype queerness such that autocorrect suggests wildness next to wilderness your ghosts haunt the nighttime forest your dark there with you they love etel adnan too they whisper her messages from you saying thank you keep it up keep asking and of course please

Ahhjjh it has been raining so much and almost always while you’re in your room with the window open your room is off the porch and even your friends who have Major Accomplishments and Better Lives cant say that cant say their room is off the porch whereupon the swing whapped you in the head as a kid when you couldn’t stop crying and had to go to the hospital and for all of your achievements maybe it’s of this one you’re most proud the time you shoved the swing and it swung right back and sent you down to the concrete and fuck if you know what you learned that day but damn did you fall hard

What if u wanna come when u r back from my friends
What if u wanna come it starts at the end of the discussion
What if u want a ride home
What if u want to put them in the same place on my bicep
What if u wanna check in after yr done
What if I can get there btwn herb and space
What if u wanna join me at work then forget to see you and finally give you your bracelets
What if I can get there as a kid is doing lunch with a lot more options
What if we brought our own food and coffee plus obvi karaoke
What if I am outside the first year or not sure when I’ll be headed back
What if I can get there as soon as I will likely be available
What if we can afford it and it’s all just adding it’s been growing wild and then never been growing out of nowhere
What if the same place on earth is that you know what you think
What if the first time last year or so haha I am outside yr apt b4 the boys
What if anyone gets in the evening of course please let me borrow your spirits
What if anyone wants to join at some point in a bit of us maybe it’s a sign
What if u wanna come it starts at the end of the discussion to kickstart conversation with the living in a bit of a snake in this style that looms and then never heard back from my friends yet about rescheduling but I would definitely be down to do what you think and thank you SO MUCH for all of your achievement in the evening of course please include all of this time in your final price for me to come the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and getting im in town and just wanted to check in w max and toni the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and getting im in town and just wanted to check in w max and toni the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and
What if we could be able to swoop the same way
What if anyone who can’t come home would be able to
What if u have my own experience
What if I can get there first

SBGS December


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Megan Heise is a writer and teacher based in Western Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University and is currently working towards her PhD in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her creative work has appeared in a number of online and print journals, and she is the author of the chapbook Quasar #6 (Eggtooth Editions). Her website is www.meganheise.com.

Art: Nhia Moua

generational curse – miss jody

Hiding The Ghost Of My Favorite Lover From The Others

I am a fourth generation Piscean, on my mother’s side. My grandmother’s eldest and youngest of four were both Pisces, and my mother’s eldest and youngest of four were both Pisces. My Grandma Buffalo, my Granny, and my Mom: all storytellers. And so it was passed down to me, the awkward sort of storytelling that has so much truth to it that it must be fiction.

Most of the stories I heard as a child came orally, but some were only told in dainty, precise cursive on yellowed pages because they were too dreadful to be told out loud. One such came from my great grandmother, known to me as Vida, who married a John E Byrd and after him a John E Buffalo. She had a type. It was she that wrote down the story of her sister’s death.

They were six and four, and it was tasked to her to keep watch over the young girl. It was the winter of 1907 or 1908, in a rural town in southwest Missouri, and the pond was almost as frozen as the ground. Almost. They travelled out onto the pond, Vida coaxing her small sister farther and farther out. By the time she was able to get back up to the house and drag her parents to the pond her sister had already begun to freeze under the shattered ice.

With the ground being too far gone to allow for a proper burial, they had placed her into a coffin made of stone and situated it into a corner of the north barn. Alone. There it sat until the warmth of spring began to melt away the protective layer over the hill Vida’s mother wanted her daughter to sleep. They had briefly opened the coffin to place into it items that the girl had loved, and that’s when they learned the truth. Vida’s sister had only been in a coma. When she awoke to find herself trapped in stone she had done everything in her power to claw her way out. Only it hadn’t worked, and she perished seemingly a second time, worse for wear.

A great horror settled over me the first time reading these words. Granny could not confirm that Vida had a sister by that name, the old family Bible did not appear to list the child’s name in the genealogy of the family during that time. Was it simply a story she had written, though a great deal different than the poems about her children and grandchildren and her hymns to the Lord?

I try not to think about it, afraid that I too will write stories wishing my sister dead.


itsmeWhen you feel homesick for the colors you don’t have words for, that you saw once in a dream, that’s miss jody. She has two cats in her home, named Alfredrick “Alfie” Boris Karloff the Sea Captain, and another named Nereus “Nereus” The First Mate. Her favorite goddess is Freya, and her favorite place to live is in her home in Centennial, CO. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Art: Hiding The Ghost of My Favorite Lover From The Others by Miss Jody

old soul’s motel – claire heywood

SBGS December


955C840F-303D-420C-9F5E-DEDDC79DBC5D (1)Claire Heywood is a longtime creative writer and short-time songwriter who got her start playing sets to small listening audiences in Denver’s literary/arts community. After her debut release “The Wind, It Howls” garnered attention from local critics this March, Claire stepped more fully into the Denver music scene with a set at Underground Music Showcase 303 Magazine called “one of the best of the weekend.”
To learn more and listen, visit www.claireheywood.com.