For Your Peace of Mind — Alyssa Jordan

bush
photo by: Hadley Jin

She likes to pull out her pubic hair one at a time. She waits until a forest of spindly black vines has grown between her thighs, eagerly anticipating how strong each strand will be, how thick the roots will have become.

Little slivers of pain accompany the loss of each hair. She studies the water-encapsulated tip, the fibrous black strand. She would like to uproot other things. If she could, she’d start with all the people who have caused her pain.

Mostly, she’d like to uproot the people she hears about on the news, the ones who are sometimes women but usually men.

She likes to imagine her hand gripping a pair of tweezers, snapping the pincers open and shut—like a hungry alligator—before fitting the silver tongs around each of their heads, pulling them out at the root.

Each time she tweezes her pubic hair, the pain gets a little sharper. Her smile grows a little wider.

How nice it is, she thinks, to clear the debris.


Processed with VSCO with g1 preset

Alyssa Jordan is a writer living in the United States. She pens literary horoscopes for F(r)iction Series. Her stories can be found or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, X–R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Reflex Fiction, and more. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her partner or watching too many movies. You can find her on Twitter @ajordan901and Instagram @ajordanwriter.

Election Day – Susan Zeni

DEB1
Photo: Pamela Calloway

First, election day, and then
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
but not being in bed
being in body kind;
being slow, being not hurried for pleasure
being not at all the fantasie in men’s eyes;
being two, but not us, we
being lips, being breasts,
being you, being me, the bed being round,
plunging line of winter being one,
careful we, cutting away what is death.

Not even necessary, love
but there is love
and earlier there was my sadness for summer again
and the black dog chewed a squirrel
winter people crawled into tin holes.

Election day, I choose you, choose me, choose you
and earlier, the old woman wheeled to the polling place by her son,
a great book in her lap
fat boy in a green jacket, sparrow on a black roof
orange room very dry
but not dry, very lonely
but not lonely
only the blue jay
only the blue jay pecking on the window
not flying but then flying
from the black roof
not hearing my own voice loving for a long time
and then not even necessary, love,
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
being in body kind
careful we
falling through the fruits of winter
cutting away what is death


F5C804D246DA434EBFEB4222260D96B5

Susan Zeni wants her poems to tell the stories of people living on the margins of society. She lived in Manhattan on Avenue A, in Chinatown and in Harlem for five years, Seattle for ten, and is now ensconced back in the Midwest after years of teaching community college.  Publications and honors include a Lucille Medwick Award for a poem with an humanitarian theme, “Black Angel,” published in the New York Quarterly, danced by the Erick Hawkins dance troupe, and read up on stage with Gwendolyn Brooks; a Seattle Weekly portrait of Ralph and Mary moved out of their Second Avenue Hotel digs by the Seattle Art Museum; and “The Street Walker’s Guide to Wealth,”recently published by the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Susan gets her kicks playing accordion, having been in a number of bands, including the Polkastra and the all grrrl klezmer band, the Tsatskelehs, as well as performing solo at local art openings, Quaker events, and farmers’ markets.

Body Sculpt: Suffer for Beauty – Addison Herron-Wheeler

DEB1
Photo: Viktor Talashuk

She went in wanting the standard procedure, about 50 percent less body fat, no more skin on the eyelids, just lashes fluttering from the skull, and a sculpting procedure to get rid of every wrinkle, dimple, cellulite ridge, and blemish.

The red on her cheeks was washed clean, the red spots on her breasts and thighs erased. Her hairlines was brought forward so her blond bangs dangled close to the long lashes.

She also opted for the stakes driven into her heels to improve her posture and keep her spine straight. The gossamer gown they had given her, which at first clung to her every crevice and curve like a hug, now hung loose over a stick-like frame. She thought she could feel her ribs growing.

Her blood was thinned, her saliva replaced with perfume. Her ears were made smaller; her nose was removed. They cut off the tips of her fingers to make them proportional to her feet.

When it was all done, she put on a black, velvet robe and looked in the mirror. “You have to suffer for beauty” she mouthed, her thin lips pursed, her skin glowing neon blue.

She felt her ribs heaving as though they wanted to escape her body. She smiled, batting her eyelids, feeling the velvet on her tight skin. “You have to suffer.”


80274606_10157658038907593_776344535939678208_o

Addison Herron-Wheeler is editor of OUT FRONT Magazine, web editor of New Noise Magazine, and an avid sci-fi and metal nerd. Her first collection of fiction, Respirator, will be out in 2020 on Spaceboy Books

Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy – Amanda E.K.

 

hello-i-m-nik-TuW3Ip1m2Oo-unsplash
Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞

 

Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy

5.18.17

Yes, Doctor, I will take a pregnancy test. I’ve been nauseous since last Thursday.

I’m in pain. I’m three days late.

5.24.17

Pelvic ultrasound to try and figure out this pain. Still haven’t heard back from the doctor.

5.30.17

I bought a stick on my way home from work. Called doctor again and they still won’t release my results. This all feels a bit dystopian and surreal.

A little too Twin Peaks: The Return.

My pain is invalidated by the people who can help me.

I’ve been nauseous and I’m never nauseous and my boobs hurt as though gripped in a vice.

Oh kill this thing inside me if it does indeed exist! 

Drinking wine and eating Twinkies that I bought along with the store brand stick. 

My husband is out of the country. I’m scared and alone.

5.31.17 

6:30 am: 

The test is positive

11:59 pm:

I wonder if it would be a boy or a girl. I stretch my face in the mirror, imagining the combination of our features. Not that I want it. It’s only thought-play.

I don’t go to bed. I go for a walk after dark, to Observatory Park, walking in shadows, spinning on playground spinners, stumbling up a tree, swinging as high as I can go for as long as Radiohead’s “Ful Stop” plays on headphones.

I need to be higher, or lower, and since I don’t have any digging tools, up I go.

Sometimes the traffic outside my window sounds like music.

I scheduled an abortion outside an elementary school.

6.1.17

Started miscarrying during my preschool students’ graduation.

Started crying in front of the families, saying how much their children have meant to me. Several moms teared up and gave me hugs. 

My student Mariah asked me: Ms. Amanda, why are you crying? Me: I have a tummy ache. 

Crying after coming back from the bathroom, finding blood, not knowing what was happening to my body, my co-teacher asking if I’m okay and I shake my head, dissolve into tears.

I translated a message into Arabic for Elyas’s mom about how he’s been one of my favorite students and I’ll miss him. She teared up and hugged me and I felt such love for her. Translated a message into Spanish for Ricardo’s mom. I will miss the daily diversity of being a classroom teacher.

I will miss my beautiful little family.


headshot

Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer

Sex at the Airport – Paula Bonnell

DEB1

This is an act
in which the other is absent
They may or may not
be physically present
but always abstracted
David Leavitt leaves
the house next door
Arriving passengers
complain to you
of the static – your sex
jammed their headsets
and shocked their children
They would have you believe
what you did was not private
But did anything happen?
you ask yourself hopelessly
It was carnivorous
they accuse
and yet
naming your feelings
seems almost an insult
to the other
when what is wanted
are acts of love
serum-filled
specific as dreams


BtA_Author_JPEG_571kb_marmar

Paula Bonnell’s poems have appeared in such periodicals as APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle, and Spillway, and in four collections, including Airs & Voices, chosen by Mark Jarman for a Ciardi Prize; Message, a hardcover debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, a story in free verse of a child’s kindergarten year, and tales retold, as well as winning awards from the New England Poetry Club, the City of Boston, and Negative Capability, among others.  www.paulabonnell.net

Growl – Eden Axx

maria-teneva-3K7jJn3QAa0-unsplash

You call me beautiful, cruel, tired, washed in red light, starved.
I am all of it, an aching stomach feeding off of its own lining.
My insides break down a little more with every step I take,
Towards you or away,
The loss of myself has nothing to do with you,
Despite your self-inflated groanings,
Protests of your worth to me.
I am waiting only for your inevitable decay,
All rot and words I never asked for out of a mouth I would eat clean off of your skull if given half the chance.
I am full of empty space you were never able to fill up,
But there is nothing I would not try to ease my insides growling
My stomach is a shattered gap
A thin mucous lining is the only distance protecting you from my acid
My thin body-shaped lining is the only distance protecting me from your criticism
I speak your skeleton thin language,
Or so you think, when you feed me bones,
Starved carcass of an animal you say you once loved.
I scoop handfuls of dirt down my throat,
Buried alive inside out
My gravestone teeth gnashing famished
I have never been full
Hungry stomach rumble is the drumline of my life, if it were beautiful. If it were a song.
I was never taught to be tame,
Leather wrapped ravenous
Rattle-boned desperation
My ribcage is made of zipties straining to break,
Every labored breath and ground clawed step is a victory
You see me, peckish hollow bone bird in a gilded cage by your desk,
But I am fever dream lullaby, snake in your garden while your eyes are closed, listening to the music
It’s a wish you’ve made to stars that burned out long before your birth
That you could be enough.
But you return to my room and find pinched thin  skinny.
You watch as I open my mouth and blood pours out, papercuts deep in my throat, shredded remains of all your love letters caught between my sharp stained teeth.
I know you see my open grave future in my sunken cheeks and light-lost eyes.
You kiss me, cracked lip craving in a room where the walls know only howling
There’s half a chance, here.
A lion doesn’t wait for prey when it emaciates
They aren’t deliberately cruel, lions.
But you called me beautiful,
And I waited for you.
I don’t know how to breathe when I eat.
I leave gasping.
I leave bloody, and still growling.
We both knew you could never sate me.


90577076_2568614280046529_1958159913339322368_n
Hey, I’m Eden. I like lizards and poetry and eating the flesh of politicians. Follow me on Instagram @edenaxx for completely unrelated content, by which I mean only selfies.

Bodies in a Recession — Matthew DeMarco

andrew-karn--yZjegM0sUw-unsplash
photo by: Andrew Karn

Rain and night, Minneapolis,
us, and four suitcases.
Greyhound and a city bus.
Clipped roll in the night. A fade.

Looking west from a pink bedroom
full of linens for a guest,
my eyelids sagging, colored
red from liquor and cinnamon sticks.

If it was noble
to correct the market
the unemployed would be given medals,
and we’d wear them.

Thrum of an airplane overhead.
Recall its low-flying drone again,
and my fingers guide the wind around her flame.

We are lonely in this manmade valley.
Teens clang and hang like bats
from the half-dome batting cage behind our backs.

The water table underneath permeates
the sheds that shake beside the lakes.
This common source of poisoning
affects all things that drink from me.

Here’s a tip for the welfare line:
a note on letterhead from the mayor.

*pieces of this poem were originally published as “Track 16: Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.” in Opossum 


matt

Matthew DeMarco lives in Chicago. His work has appeared on Poets.org and in Ghost City Review, Landfill, Sporklet, Glass, and elsewhere. Poems that he wrote with Faizan Syed have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Dogbird, and They Said, an anthology of collaborative writing from Black Lawrence Press. He tweets sporadically from @M_DeMarco_Words.

Art by Bill Wolak

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Bill Wolak has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared as cover art for such magazines as Phoebe, Harbinger Asylum, Baldhip Magazine, Barfly Poetry Magazine, Ragazine, Cardinal Sins, Pithead Chapel, The Wire’s Dream, Thirteen Ways Magazine, Phantom Kangaroo, Rathalla Review, Free Lit Magazine, Typehouse Magazine, and Flare Magazine.

Sexualitatis

joshua-sortino-LqKhnDzSF-8-unsplash
Photo by Joshua Sortino

Stultitia In Sexualitatis

 

 

Her mind only as deep as her pocket of flesh,

His heart only beats to his cock’s throb,

A woman, a man, a union tainted with schisms.

 

Her life only as whole as her breasts in her bra,

He’s only as secure as his tiny-cocked insecurities,

Two people, and there’s no individual between them.

 

Her mouth, her voice open merely as her legs are to whomever,

His thoughts, emotions hidden away in his pants,

Public miseducation, sexual oppression, violent obsessions.

 

Her place in the world limited to be the size of her ass,

His place condensed to be the size of his balls,

Social roles, miscommunication replicating genitalia.

 

Herself not seen through beauty’s blinding light of her face,

Himself not there, a cro-magnon autonomy.

Venus and Mars fall from the Heavens by earthly malice.


IMG_2645
Ian Williams is a poet, musician, singer-songwriter, and sideshow performer from Denver, Colorado. Ian performs in local groups such as Caltrops, the sideshow-swing band Open Casket Revival and performs solo acts under the moniker Tantrik Nihilist. Primarily he is known as a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and songwriter. Having had scarce appearances in smaller publications years ago he is less known for what he feels are his finest works. This writer is looking forward to establishing themselves not only as the poet they’ve been for the last fifteen years, but for the poet they’ll be in future years and the poet he’ll be until his death.

Temple of Christ – Amanda E.K.

 

bianca-berg-xNdldoBUECo-unsplash
Photo by Bianca Berg

 

 

Temple of Christ

In the dressing room, pre-photoshoot, the others start to strip down and change into their costumes. I stand frozen, clothes in my arms that I planned to change into in the bathroom, but now that everyone’s changing out in the open I feel prudish for seeking privacy.

 

I’m taken back to middle school, high school locker rooms—to changing rooms at the pool, and to sleepovers where I was the only one who seemed to be anxious about showing my body. The only one who seemed to think that bodies weren’t for flaunting, or even for being comfortable letting other people see. 

 

I hear that old voice tell me: “This isn’t allowed for you, even if it’s allowed for others.” It’s the voice that tells me to lessen myself, to withdraw, to separate. (Be in the world, not of it.) It’s a childlike feeling, like when adults tell you to plug your ears and close your eyes because you’re not old enough to know what they know.

 

I was told my body was a temple of Christ, and though I’m no longer a Christian I’m alarmed to realize I still believe this. Not that my body belongs to Jesus like a temporary gift to take care of—but that it’s something to earn. I still believe the sight of my naked body must be earned. That I shouldn’t reveal it to just anyone, and that the people who do see me and touch me should feel privileged to do so.

 

Where is the line between vanity and self-respect?

 

The Church made me believe my body is nothing but sexual.

 

Standing in the corner of the room, awkward and quiet, I’m surprised and frustrated to realize I still have these inclinations toward body-shyness (especially since I spend most of my time at home in the nude). 

 

It feels wrong to see the other women’s naked breasts, their butts. I try not to look, but can’t avoid it. But for them it seems like nothing, completely natural. 

 

I think: Should I be just as comfortable? Is that really okay?

 

So I take off my shirt (facing the wall). I feel silly for my discomfort. (It’s no big deal, after all.) Maybe I’m worried I’ll be aroused, and that arousal is inappropriate. But it’s not that. It’s hard to reframe messages instilled when you are young. But now that I’m aware I can start.


headshot

Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer