Unwelcome Home – Sarah Jane Justice

city
photo by Joe Ciciarelli

 

Unwelcome Home

 

there is no safety in having left

you are dragged back by a cold graze

memory cuts your clean slate skin

scratching it until it splits

 

cracks cross lines on paper maps

you are here

you are spread

you are lost in naked familiarity

 

your history is held captive

locked in city street corners

you bite their hard candy surface

you recoil from their snake bite sour

this place was rinsed but never washed

 

the past is a lingering taste

tainting the space between memories

smoke-signals extend their reach

waving across a landscape of half-lived years

this city is not yours

but you are held within it

its scraped-out shell will find you

it will paint you

it will never let you forget

you can never again be new


 

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Sarah Jane Justice is a fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken-word artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry and prose published in Australia and internationally. Find her at: on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Fate – Epiphany Ferrell

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Photo: Johannes Plenio

Fate arrives in her mailbox. And with its arrival, a decision. Fate is a red matte lipstick, a special order that arrived for Nicole Masterton, the person who lived in 12A before Allie. Allie has lived in 12A for five months, and she still receives Nicole Masterton’s mail. Sometimes Allie takes the mail to the post office and leaves it. Sometimes she throws it away. The magazines and catalogs she keeps. She guesses Nicole must be a fashionable young woman with a formidable shoe collection.

She doesn’t generally open Nicole’s mail, except for she did open the heavy envelope, embossed, that turned out to be a wedding invitation. Allie doesn’t get invited to many weddings. The fancy envelope has been sitting on her end table for three weeks, the gilded RSVP card askew as if the person who opened the invitation to the nuptials of Sarah Jane Laux and Jeffrey George Bolingbroke couldn’t be bothered to hurry an answer.

Allie imagines Nicole waiting for a wedding invitation, wondering if she had been forgotten, if she should call and inquire, if she should just show up as if the invitation had arrived as expected. Or if she should be hurt, or angry. Allie has considered bundling it all back into the torn envelope – why hadn’t she used a letter opener? surely such an envelope warranted a letter opener? – and taking it to the post office with a murmured apology. Instead, the envelope sits there, silver-foiled and pretty.

And now Fate has arrived. Allie doesn’t think of herself as a red lipstick type of girl. But when Fate is delivered to your door, oughtn’t you to accept it? The lipstick is a good match for Allie. It complements her complexion. She wonders what Nicole looks like, if Fate looks as good on her.

Allie wears Fate on her lips and goes to Nordstrom’s. She walks through the women’s section, aimlessly trailing her fingers over the sale racks and she sees it, a dress red as Fate. A dress in her size, on sale so ridiculously low she’d be a fool not to buy it.

For two days the dress lays over the back of a chair, waiting, like the wedding invitation. But Allie has known since she held Fate in her hand that she was going to the wedding. She wants to see it, to see this wedding announced with such an elaborate invitation, sent to a woman with a chilly name like Nicole Masterton who buys a lipstick called Fate.

Inside the church it’s all flowers and tulle and crystal and candles. Extravagent. Allie doesn’t sit all the way in the back as she’d planned. Women with Fate on their smiles don’t sit all the way in the back. She sits on the groom’s side, looking on the bride’s side for someone who might be Nicole Masterton who surely came, who isn’t at home sad and angry, whose friends told Sarah Jane Laux about the lost invitation and she surely was sent another.

The ceremony is beautiful, of course. The bride could grace the pages of Vogue and maybe she does. Allie dabs her eyes, caught up in the couple’s first married kiss. She finds herself in the receiving line, and she hugs the bride, who glows with happiness, and she hugs the groom who says, “It’s so good to see you again, it’s been so long.” It has, she agrees, but he doesn’t really know her. She leaves a touch of Fate on his cheek. It’s ok, she brought Fate with her in the tiny purse she dug out of her closet from prom years ago (from prom! seriously!) and she’ll keep Fate with her all night.

Because of course she attends the reception. The tables are set with name holders. There are two tables for those who have not RSVP’d. Allie wonders if she’ll be seated near Nicole Masterton. She doesn’t catch all the names as introductions are made, but Nicole is not one of them. She gives her own name as Tiffany Smith and hopes she remembers it later, if necessary. When she’s asked how she knows the bride, she says she knows the groom, but it’s been a very long time, not since they were quite young and the blush that warms her cheeks at the lie makes her wonder if people will assume they were lovers. She imagines what it would be like to have been his first love. Someone clinks a glass and the happy couple kiss. Allie smiles with her Fate lips. The table she is at is far from the wedding table, this table reserved for those without reservations.

Allie leaves a mark of Fate on the cloth napkin, reapplies in the Ladies where every moment she expects to run into Nicole Masterton, whose invitation she usurped. Allie smiles at the mirror. Fate looks good on her. So does the dress of the same hue, the only one like it she owns.

She watches the couple’s first dance. She leaves traces of Fate on more than one champagne glass. It’s past 11 when she decides to leave. The reception shows no sign of slowing down, and Allie wonders if it will end at midnight or continue until the sun rises.

Allie walks past the cloak room, past the bathrooms on her way out the door. The groom emerges from the men’s room. “Wait,” he says to her. “Don’t leave yet. I’ve wanted to talk to you all night.”

Allie turns, smiling with Fate on her lips.


Epiphany_ Ferrell

Epiphany Ferrell lives and writes on the edge of the Shawnee Forest in Southern Illinois. Her stories appear in New Flash Fiction Review, Third Point Press, Newfound and other places. She recently received a Pushcart nomination, and has a story forthcoming in Best Microfiction 2020. She blogs intermittently for Ghost Parachute and is a fiction reader for Mojave River Review. 

art – shannon elizabeth gardner

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ShannonElizabethGardner

Shannon Elizabeth Gardner is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a Bachelors in Studio Art and a Minor in Art History. Her interest in horror and the macabre came about while exploring nature and the paranormal. The work explores the natural and organic process of death, evoking empathy for decay. She believes life is beautiful when left to fate, leaving art to chance assists the viewer to witness beauty hidden within imperfections. Her process appreciates nature’s process and discovers the earth’s imperfect beauty. The ethereal mood of her work reaches the extreme and address the taboo.

break your head open and leave it shattered on the flood – ghost #2011

Warrior

you gonna hafta drown
build that house high
build that house high on the mountain
build that house on stilts high on the mountain
raise it up far as you can architect
reach for the stars and praise hallelujah
fill that house with helium
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you still gonna shit your soul
down that porcelain bowl
down that bowl into the septic tank
into the septic tank with the crack in it
the crack that drains all your refuse
all your void
all you excrement
into your very own back yard
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you gonna hafta shit yourself
break your head eat your shit for brains
clog the anatomy of a toilet
break your head open on the toilet
flushflushflushflush you are flush
with overflow, the john is flooding
break your head open and leave it
shattered on the flood
keep it up keep it up keep it up

build your house so high no one can see
havarti on wonder bread and falling out teeth
caviar on saltines served with instant coffee
glugglugglug your vodkaprayerwinespritzer
glug the exhaust pipe of your 6 ton 6 door V-10 F150
you’re good to go, John Wayne, breathe deep, General Lee
drive that truck to the roof of your house
and sit so high, sit so high God sits next to you
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you gonna hafta drown
because a flood is coming
you told me all about it in your little black book
cumslut dumbfuck shit your brains into your hands
you’re leaking deep into the mountain and it’s crack
crack cracking underneath you, your stilts will fall
your truck runs empty after you ate all the oil
that mountain gonna fall
that mountain gonna shake
you gonna fall
the flood will rise to meet you
you can’t hide
it’s prophesized
I learned that from you
keep it up keep it up keep it up

Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth
and mountain man

that’s the opposite of you
keep it up

SBGS December


art: “warrior” by shannon elizabeth

plasticine – susan lively

marek-okon-1140444-unsplash

     Ethos shuffled into the food lounge groggily, barely daring to glance at the stony faces of mother and father. He began to eat his kalaj, a type of super rice; aware he was already late for school. He peered nervously towards his dad, but could see nothing of his expression for he was buried nose deep in the electronic paper. His eyes moved restlessly to his mother; but as they did, she turned away, rushing her plate over to the sink. Then she grabbed her purse and handheld robotic assistant (HRA) from the counter and hurried out the back door, murmuring absentmindedly about errands.

     Ethos pushed away from the table roughly; young face wrinkled in disdain, making him appear older than he was. He shuffled into the bathroom, then returned to grab his backpack from where he’d tossed it on the couch Friday. His homework had lain there untouched the entire weekend. He rushed out the back door much as his mom had, neither he nor his father bothering to say a word. Their relationship was less than stellar. Ethos looked around; trying to get his mind off his parents, but what he saw only made him angrier. He hated Mars, hated every inch of it. Ever since they’d moved here when he was ten he had despised this stupid place.

     They called it the “red planet” but it was actually more of a reddish-orange hue. He thought of the many varied surfaces of this planet, marred often by huge pock marks and rust colored volcanoes. Fights and civil riots had erupted over water shortages, and strange diseases had begun to run rampant, thanks to the new earth arrivals. The place was a cursed desert, a wasteland. They had been promised an oasis from wars that had scarred and nearly destroyed their home planet, but all Mars had given them was a whole new set of problems. Here everything was fake, even the looks of contentment on people’s faces; and that’s what bothered Ethos most of all. All the “blue collar workers” were robotic, every last one. All the materials used in every building and piece of furniture were new synthetics; known to cause cancer in the very old and young. These plastics were in everything, even shampoos, facial cleansers, and medicines; worming their way insidiously into every pore of their existence, every fiber of every being.

     When Ethos closed his eyes in bed at night he could almost swear that he was tasting the plastic, way in the back of his mouth, under his tongue. It was a chemical flavor, the bitter tang of emptiness and disappointment. He could feel the synthetic material worming its way from organ to organ. One day it would reach his core and consume him whole. It was an unwelcome reminder of just where he found himself. But there was virtually no viable plant life here they could use for medicine, building, or anything else. Importing such materials was far too expensive and time consuming. They were trapped out here, destined to rot away on this scorched rock with what little resources they had left. Trapped with their disappointment, frustration, and anger.

     Every day they were closer to death and eternal boredom, Ethos thought. He barely managed to stifle a yawn as he rolled blue-gray eyes and continued towards the high school. The only thing he ever looked forward to was band practice, which was after school in the music room. Music was his saving grace, and he had been in love with it since he first heard his father’s old recordings from their home planet. Earth was a warm and distant memory that now seemed far out of reach, but he still felt a deep connection to it; a longing for better, simpler times.

     So when 3:00 pm rolled around he rushed out of his Advanced Calculus class and went to the music room. He was five minutes early, and his heart was pounding in the closest thing to excitement he’d felt in a long while. Blood rushed through his veins like wildfire and a light appeared from deep within his eyes. He removed his horn lovingly from its case as if it were a fragile living thing. He turned the instrument over in his hands, noticing how rusted it was becoming.

     He played a few notes, and they came out slowly, reluctantly; a forlorn echo of their former beauty. Gently he coaxed a somewhat eerie tune from the belly of the sleeping beast. The depth and longing of the haunted melody filled the room and bounced back at him as if they were in an echo chamber, filling his ears with song. He relaxed and let the music take over his whole being, and he began to feel content for the first time in a long while.

     The cerulean-white rust was soft like velvet in his mouth and almost powdery to the touch. This “Blue Rust”, as it had come to be known, was caused by harsh elements of Mars’ unique atmosphere that had a corrosive effect on all metal objects. The corrosion affected cars, musical instruments, and a host of other objects once deemed vital to human life. Ethos had watched with dismay as the caustic atmosphere of this most hated place slowly ate away at his deepest dreams, causing them to disappear right before his eyes.

     Just then Mr. Hendrix, came in. He was a tall, quiet and very serious instructor; known to be a stickler for rules. He nodded and smiled at different students as they began to filter slowly into the room. Then he went to a large cabinet in the far corner. Frowning silently, he opened the doors with a special touch sensor and began to pull brown velvet bags from the cabinet. He came over to the nearby wall and began to remove pastel colored objects from the bags, placing them on a row of shelves neatly.

     Several students came forward to see what was going on and some gasped audibly. Ethos jumped up and went over to the shelving system. The items appeared to be some sort of strange musical instruments. They almost looked like flutes or recorders, but the end of each instrument curled upward in a vine or flower like shape. They came in an assortment of hideously pale colors, from green to blue to yellow and pink. Ethos frowned deeply; big, stormy eyes peppering the teacher with unasked questions. The teacher returned his frown and his stare.

     “Please turn in your instruments. They have been commissioned for research by the Technology Institute of Earth Majora. Please pile them in the corner near the cabinet. Thank you,” Mr. Hendrix mumbled, looking rather disgruntled.

     “These are our new instruments. All made of plasticine, as you can tell. This is the newest version of the plastic hybrid, rumored to be stronger than steel,” the teacher added; but his tone was bored, expression unconvinced. He sighed and turned away, scurrying over to his desk like an unhappy rat; shoulders slumped in defeat.

                                                                             cropped-eye-of-providence

     That night Ethos tossed and turned. Sleep was an elusive thing he simply could not catch. He thought with disgust of the new plastic instruments, and his hands itched to hold his old metal horn and hear its forbidden magic one last time. Just then he thought he heard a creaking sound. He ran a hand through silvery hair with a sigh and got up. He opened his bedroom door, but heard nothing. He looked around the room, noting how chaotic it looked, right down to the cracks in the wall and smelly piles of rumpled clothes. He heard the sound again, only louder this time. His eyes widened slightly in surprise. The small crack in the wall over his bathroom door looked different, somehow larger. He strained to see into the crack, but all his eyes found were impenetrable darkness.

     Then he heard the creaking sound again, three times in rapid succession. The tiny parallel crack in the wall appeared to be widening right before his eyes! He cautiously approached the closed bathroom door, opening it and peering inside, but seeing nothing. He went in and turned the light on. There was another crack in the bathroom wall above the corner of the door frame. This line ran nearly horizontal and then angled upwards. Ethos was shocked to see it too had grown slightly.

     Then he heard a terrific groaning, as if the earth were contorting in tremendous pain. Suddenly the walls began to shake violently, sending everything on the counter and shelves onto the ground. Ethos tried to dart out of the way of falling objects but had no time to respond, grimacing as a can of shaving cream slammed into his shin. His eyes widened with horror as he watched the crack in the wall transform into a huge rift. Then the groaning noise grew, followed by a deafeningly loud tearing sound, as if the fabric of time and space were being ripped apart.

     Suddenly the floor shifted beneath him and disappeared, leaving him falling through empty air, black as night. He closed his eyes in fright and tried to scream; but was so stunned nothing escaped but a child’s whimper. The sensation of falling was horrifying, as if he were trapped on an out of control roller coaster. His stomach dropped and then rose again; he felt cold air rushing past him as his descent continued. Never seeming to reach the bottom, his fear rose exponentially.

     When Ethos opened his eyes he was stationary. He blinked in shocked when he recognized his surroundings. He was in his house, in the food lounge. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. He shook his head in a daze, running his fingers around his hairline and temple, checking for blood or bumps. But there was nothing; only a slight stain of sweat on his upper lip and the thundering of his racing heart in his ears.

      He felt frantic and disoriented. He went through the whole house looking for his parents and younger sibling, but they were nowhere to be found. He returned to his bedroom, and the crack in the wall was gone, as if it had never existed! He raced outside, and as he did he was startled but how unnaturally bright it was for late afternoon. His limbs moved reluctantly, woodenly. He felt strange all over, heavy and light at the same time. Ethos looked down and was startled to see his legs pumping as he ran down the middle of the road; in the middle of their small neighborhood, where all houses looked the same. He began calling out his family members names, but there was no response.

     The place had turned into a ghost town. There was not a soul to be seen, Ethos noticed with dawning trepidation. Then he realized that not only were there no people, there were no rusted, broken down cars, motorcycles, bikes, or trams. He came across a gold jetpack that was still running, lying on its side in the middle of the deserted road with a huge chip in it. He hesitated for a moment as he considered picking up the pack, but then decided not to. It was as if all the people and their vehicles had simply vanished. A strange, heavy silence filled the chilled air; blanketing and smothering the town like smog, muting its quaint, tired charm.

     Ethos felt alarmed, yet somehow disconnected from everything. His lower limbs seemed impossibly far away; they looked smaller than before, and oddly shiny. They did not want to respond to his commands, nearly tripping him in their cumbersome flight. Something was very wrong. Ethos was overwhelmed by the urge to see himself reflected in a mirror. He had to know if this was real, or if there was something wrong with him. He struggled with a series of thoughts, each outcome more horrible than the next. By the time he burst into the nearest grocery store, he was wondering if he might be dead or unconscious.

     The store was all lit up and eerily quiet. There was no one in sight, not a single worker or customer. Ethos froze, feeling queasy, heart beating in triple time now. Then he slowly made his way across the store to the public restroom; footfalls echoing noisily through quiet gloom of fluorescent lights and one day sales promotions.  Ethos opened the door cautiously, eyes wide with fear. As he entered the restroom the smell of stale flesh, blood, and urine assaulted him.

     Ethos frowned, face darkening perceptibly. He hated public restrooms. Hated weirdoes staring at him when he was trying to take a leak; and he hated cell phones being used in the restroom. But most of all he hated the smell. He reached up to pinch his nose shut with his right hand and was immediately puzzled. It seemed to take an hour for his hand to reach his face, as if he were in a dream. He watched the appendage approaching slowly like a landing plane, the shadow of his palm and fingers splashing across his face, obscuring vision.

     He pinched the tip of his nose to block the scent, or at least he thought he had. His face felt numb. He could barely feel the cool pressure of his fingertips as they blocked off his nasal passages. He removed his hand, watching it slowly descend through the air in a blurry haze. He saw sinks all lined up neatly in a row; shapes distorted as if reflected in a funhouse mirror. Their dirt and grime was formidable; and the tall, oval mirrors were saturated with fingerprints and soap scum. They were so dirty it was as if a fog consumed them, giving them a grayish cast.

     Ethos shuffled towards the first mirror and sink. The mirror began to contort itself to better capture and reflect his form. He felt cold, almost like a zombie. He snorted in derision at the thought, but no sound came out. Again he frowned, throat tightening until he could barely swallow. He came within full sight of the mirror just as it finished its shaping process, and instantly froze in shock.

     He looked like himself and yet somehow different, far different. He reached out to touch the mirror. He tried to gasp but it was as if his face no longer worked. His hand touched the image in the mirror and began to rub at the reflection frantically, as if trying to erase it. He felt cold all over, colder than he had ever felt before. He felt seamless, shiny and new; yet empty and meaningless at the same time.

     He reached up to touch his handsome young face and at last a sound emerged, a gasp that sounded garbled and distant. Slowly, with disbelief, the hard caress of his fingers found the cool rise of his cheek and traced its plastic curves slowly, lovingly. His hand froze in mid-stroke as his besieged mind struggled with disbelief. Finally Ethos opened his mouth wide to scream and the blue-black wail of a silver trumpet slowly emerged; echoing mournfully.

Susan “Spit-Fire” Lively is a poet, spoken word artist, producer, model, photographer, educator, and activist from Belleville, IL. Co-organizer of “100,000 Poets & Musicians for Change – St. Louis” (since its inception in 2011); Susan also produces the series’ “Women For Peace” (promoting gender violence awareness) and co-produces the “Dia de los Muertos Fiesta” (proceeds go to St. Louis Homeless Winter Outreach). In 2016 she became an Officer of Urb Arts’ Executive Board. In January of 2017 Susan produced the St. Louis leg of the international event “Poets & Musicians Against Trump”. In 2018 she returned to the modeling world and began painting again.
Lively’s been featured on “Literature For The Halibut”, “The Arts with Nancy Kranzberg” and PBS’ “Living St. Louis”. She has taught spoken word and creative writing at Confluence Academy, Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, and for the Nine Network and St. Louis Fringe. Susan’s visual art has been displayed at Urb Arts, Thomas Dunn Learning Center, Yeyo Arts, Mokabe’s and Seven. Her literary work has been published in “Static Movement”, “Postcard Shorts”, “Head To Hand”, “The East St. Louis Monitor”, “The PEN”, “Chance Operations”, the “She Chronicles”, “Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary Edition”, “SIUE News”, “Arts Today”, “Big Bridge”, “Bad Jacket”, No Vacancy,” and “Crossing the Divide”. Her poetry also appears in the new critically acclaimed environmental and social justice anthology “Extreme” (Vagabond Books). For booking information, contact Susan at lostnation2009@gmail.com. To purchase her paintings and photography in a variety of formats, please visit: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/
Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

three poems – sam albala

girl and plane

half awake dreams

sam poem.jpg

dairy does that

I keep eating ice cream thinking it might save me.

                                                        from what?

who knows.

                                         the end of the world maybe.

fear of the end of the world.

                                                        dairy does that.

especially when you’re lactose intolerant.

 

 

middle finger to the patriarchy 

everyone loves a woman in distress.

                                 well tell everyone to fuck off.

 

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Sam Albala is a poet nestled in the mountains of Colorado. She has a horizon habit and can often be found gobbling up the sky line while babbling about road trips, tea, and anatomical hearts, all with her mouth full of light. To see not-real-life horizons find @keepmindscreative on Instagram. To read more composed words, visit samanthaalbala.contently.com

Photo: Danny Trujillo

healing projected – ghost #11

mirror 11

Famous romance novelist Nicholas Sparks once wrote,
“The emotion that can break your heart
is sometimes the very one that heals it…”

As cliche as it sounds,

I no longer believe that falling in love is going to save us,
not from ourselves and not from the inevitable storm ahead.
The clouds have been gathering over head for months now,
I chose to act like the sun was always coming back out,

The very idea that the love we share is both destroying me
and keeping me alive is hedonistic at best.
I’m no weather man but it seems to be raining red flags now,

we’ve been dancing in the streets begging for more

I gain unconscious pleasure from the pain of losing you
over and over again to the flood,
being wounded has it’s perks, after all,
I looked much the same when you found me right?

We’re just a shitty love story turned scratched vinyl record,
we can’t stop pulling the plastic back beneath our fingers

to replay the ending,

supposedly well written fantasy either
ends in happily ever after or tragedy,
and this looks more like self fulfilling prophecy.

They never mentioned fairy tales going awry at the
drop of a dime and the distressed left in the dark forest
waiting for the half slain monster,
I…I mean the prince…to swallow her whole.

I’m not convinced this model of love is worth the river running
out from under my bedroom door, worth continuing to write about,
not convinced that there will ever be an emotional payout for chasing someone who makes their living on running away.

The emotion that was made to break my heart is
the inner conflict of selfish and selfless spinning
a whirlpool depression in my chest because no one
will never be able to love you well enough to
save you from your homegrown impending doom complex.

Lead me to where this tornado begins to heal me…

It is difficult to wield my impatience silently,
analyzing the way my body detoxes you out of me
pores and ducts compiling the poisons you left
for examination,
minerals inside to extract so that
I may not forget

mental stamina halted by the crucial processing
healing is cyclical and having anxiety can alter
it’s trajectory a little but this self served circle will be completed

disguising survival as self love for the sake of saving face
while i take a second tour of the stages of grief in no
particular order, reliving my traumas like movie trailers
saved them for a dreary day such as this,

seek therapy as if I still believe someone out there has
the answers, get wasted once in a while and remember
why hopelessness is dangerous,

Can only see it when I’m bruised and
buried under it.

I find myself inspired by my loneliness,
supported only by my poetry,

ugly crying when I wake up in the same bad dream
can’t let the paranoias get the best of me, I am
letting go of what used to be
in one massive energetic release,

my aching body hoarding feelings
because that is how it is used to gaining control,

not this time, I am obsessing over my delusions
trying desperately to make them real, not this time

Naivety can in fact be cured but
using another human to witness your own healing
is a manipulation with no antidote hiding inside,
the results come out incoherent anyway

You have been alive 99 days longer than I have
With that extra time I expect you to be 99 days wiser
than I am, expect you to value your time a little more

But we all work at our own pace
and I’ve seen you pace a lot of circles into the floor
there are probably more in your future

I hope they look so much like break dancing
you throw windmills to settle the score with yourself
hope you find your answers in the flow

and start asking harder questions

The things you love the most in
the world can still be hard work,
in fact maybe they should be

Someday we will both get better at
paving our own way so that the labor
feels more like playing with your best friend

Until then we keep pulling each other’s hair out
strand by strand and catching fingers in every slammed door
this love is not the safety net that we planned for

I lose my balance every other step now

We have been crawling in and out of each other for
250 days without truly ceasing, what a polluted
cesspool of love we created to keep feeding each other our lies.

Are you still hungry? I could have just one more bite.
Spoon feed me all the reasons the wounds are still open.
Give it to me straight, what is the diagnosis?

Will the PTSD control the remainder of me
that you have not claimed as marionette parts?

We have not been on the same page since you
started skipping ahead to see whats next,
and ripping out chapters at random.

What would a romance novelist do to
heal them self from the inevitable?

Are we really just waiting around
for the dawn of the next cycle,
the point where the familiar emotion
fills us up with enough smoke and
to send out another beacon of hope?

SBGS December

photo: Noah Buscher

nightmares – ghost of esperanza

ghost yard

I have these recurring dreams of protecting myself

In one, I was hitch-hiking.
I had a purse full of knives in case of danger
I still remember glancing inside my purse trying to determine
Which one would make me the safest?
Which one could I grab the quickest?

I once heard a story of woman hitchhiking
She got picked up by a truck driver who put his hand on her knee
He tried to grab her by the neck and push her face into his crotch
She stabbed him in the leg
and threw the truck into Park
and hopped the fuck out

In my dream, I didn’t need the knives for protection
In my dream, I took the truck

I had a dream
That my brother’s friend took me in when I needed a roof
I told him that I would not hug him
I told him that I would pay him because I didn’t trust a handout
He eyed me like cake
he waited until I was asleep to touch me
He said he only wanted to tickle me
In my dream, I said I didn’t want to be touched or tickled.
In my dream, I put pepper spray can to his face
and said he didn’t get to touch
He said I was cute when I was angry
In my dream, I peppered sprayed the fuck out of his eyes

I had a boyfriend who once gave me a knife to protect myself
He said he never wanted a bad thing to ever happen to me again
He yelled at me the day I forgot to carry it in my bra
He yelled at me that same day for trying to say “no” to him
He was proud when I remembered the knife
He was surprised when I held up the knife to protect myself after he broke down the door
He was stronger when he wrestled the knife out of my hand
and showed me in the mirror how you hold a knife
to someone’s throat
MY THROAT
my blood on the floor
He instructed me to clean myself up

I broke a mirror and fled
that wasn’t a dream
it was a living nightmare

I have this dream that I don’t carry all this anxiety
That I don’t have to think of the best ways to protect myself
That I can walk around
and not be so goddamn scared

sbgs cowskull

submit to south broadway ghost society.