a vertigo – leah white

siyan ren

a.

the world is much more wonderful when you think that it is
the world is much more wonderful you can think that
think the world is wonderful and it is much more wonderful
you think the world is wonderful but it is much more wonderful
than you think the world is more wonderful if you think it is
the whirl is munch munch, one of the four with your shrink wrap it is
various things create a vertigo.…………..yes it is

 

b.

Cherie is blurry weary
worry is sorry
starry theory
merely heavy

I flounder
fluid flowing flute flipping
flicks leap end flap
flinch flake

varied things create a vertigo
you think the world is
wonderful but it is
vertical…………..then vitriol…………..then vigil

 

c.

a vertigo as in heightened contrast
as in soft soft soft…………hard
as a confuse……..new view that feels

everything written on water
a room of water
I flounder…………for the words

try to flinch in water
try to have a scare try to have a
have is
in water


Leah White is an MFA candidate at University of Colorado Boulder. Originally from Tempe, Arizona, she currently teaches creative writing, works on Timber Journal, and runs a reading series in Boulder.

Photo: Siyan Ren

protest poem in three parts – c.j. strauss

protest poem

I.
Dedicated to Burroughs and Kerouac the Beats and their Fathers all them lads who sang
………….America awake, kampf’d das gut Kampf way back when,
all the way back, them hard times, them good times,
………….back before PornHub, back before dope on demand, back when any old bum
could summon up a death sentence in five months or fewer
courtesy some odd San Francisco shitter…
……………Them real good times.
I’m just kidding. Fuck those filthy bastards. Fuck those porcine perverts. Go fuck yourself with your Man/Boy Love. This is a form of warning.
…………………..Kids, gets your Wikis. Get your Multi-pedias, your Googlies and your Who-Hows. Kids, watch out for the Ginsbergs and the Kammerers, those fowl manbeasts, those irredeemable, insensitive, hard-boiled…

The tranny doth protest too much.

……………I go to a very expensive university. They built the atom bomb here, U know.
My professor who is old and white and wears Doc Martens says that all is fair in love and satire.
…………..So I can talk like this. I can make like the Beats and sound off. But I ain’t ‘gon say the N-word. Hell no.

…………….The greatest minds of our generation…
Down the hall Fatima phones her mother back home:
…………..Hey mom—today I cured cancer, ended world hunger,
…………..and discovered an unlimited source of renewable energy.
I masturbate on stolen Wi-Fi. Kill cops with my brain.

Hoover was a Columbia man. Or maybe that was Eisenhower? What difference does it make…
…………He said something about a cock in every mouth, a Jeep Wrangler in every garage, and free pot for everyone. God fucking bless this America. God fucking bless us all to death.

II.

Interlude.

A brief lesson from the White and Blue, now Robin Hooded down to you. Free, unless you’d like to make a donation. In which case, I take Venmo, PayPal, cash, and wire transfer. Slide into my DMs.

…………..If one wishes to improve their writing, and this fact is incontrovertible, …………..one should always, invariably, and unequivocally avoid verbosity (that is, …………..floridity, or the excessive use of language) in their prose.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled-desperate-wailing-into-the-great-unknown.

III.

I’m not—
sorry.
I’m an “academic.”
I don’t purport to be
the Michael Jordan of being trans.
I don’t purport to be anything. Ich, ich, ICK!
Oh Daddy, give it to me just like that. I love it when you traumatize me.
I’m an academic. A hooker with an internet connection. And that’s showbiz, baby.
…………[Moloch]
Oh Sylvia, Oh Sylvia. You do not do, you do not do.
Gone too soon. Loved by too few. Just like a Jew.
…………[Moloch]
I too, may be a bit of a Jew. And what else?
A pastiche of Boylans and Bonos (not the soda, not the singer…)
But my fingers are god’s gift to womankind, my tongue a unique endowment. I could make Mother Mary quiver. This flesh flays finery, and I implore you to find out for yourself.
………….I’m the greatest thing since gluten-free bread. I’m the greatest thing since modern measles. Wicked smart, too. Like Einstein, smart. And humble.

………….My therapist says I’m not a narcissist, by the way.

Allen Ginsberg, I’m still mad at, about, and around you. What the fuck, man? Like, thanks for the inspiration,
I guess. This is some form of protest. Where does this queer shoulder go? Lord knows I don’t have a driver’s license.
Moloch. Moloch. Moloch. First chance I get I’m having a hysterectomy. Moloch.
And if I’m lucky, Moloch, Oxford will pay for the whole procedure. Bet you didn’t see this one coming, Moloch.
Wouldn’t you like it if I hitched a ride to Newark and shitted a swastika onto your grave? Just kidding. That would be disgusting. Sorry, have I offended? It’s 2pm, Friday the fifth, haven’t had, Moloch, breakfast yet. Moloch. Is it hot in here? O my enemy. Do I terrify?

I got a pair of Doc Martens. Birkenstocks, too. Thinking about getting some Timbs when I have the money. I should treat myself, right? I keep my shoes in a walk-in closet. Woe is the ever-wanting lesbian. Woe is the hole the holy alone.


C.J. Strauss is a transgender writer and artist currently pursuing their B.A. in English at Barnard College. Their art and writing has been published both internationally and domestically by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Claremont Review, Vade Mecum Magazine, GREYstone Youth Litmag, Echoes Literary Magazine, RATROCK Magazine, and the Barnard Bulletin. C.J. presently interns at the Poetry Society of New York and the Visible Poetry Project where their responsibilities include social media management and community engagement.

Photo: Jon Tyson

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self-portrait as bird flying into window -wanda deglane

dead bird

and when you pull over, you’re still screaming,
hands held shaking in front of you like the skin

of them must not be real. my body hurled into
your windshield like mid-autumn hailstorm. my body

leaves streaks of blood and feathers and blindsided
desecration. my body the railroad tracks and

the trainwreck. the punching bag and the percussion
instrument. the pigeon queen, at once both sickness

and softness. you’re stumbling out of your vehicle,
sobs chiming from your throat. you see from

far away a mash of gray and white and red and bone.
tell yourself you can look at me up close. the carnage,

and the tenderness vomited from its mouth. there is
a strange grief inside you and you don’t know how

to free it from your ribs. there was a grief inside me,
and it spills an ocean on this asphalt.


Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).

Photo: Chris Slupski

sad stories of the death of kings – howie good

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I ask a friend if she can remember the last time that the stars and moon hatched from a golden egg. She doesn’t answer straightaway, just tucks a stray comma of hair back behind her ear. Because it’s one in the morning, the darkness outside is more like a solid than a liquid or a gas. I’m suddenly really tired of struggling to stay awake. The answer comes later, when I read in the paper that they sliced open a dead whale that had washed ashore and found in its belly plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and two flip-flops.


Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn (Alien Buddha Press, 2019)

Photo: Edu Lauton

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self-portrait as ghost with dementia – nathan elias

elias ghost

elias


Nathan Elias is the author of the chapbooks A Myriad of Roads That Lead to Here: A Novelette and Glass City Blues: Poems. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Antioch University Los Angeles, and he has served as editor on the literary journal Lunch Ticket. His work has appeared in Entropy, PANK, Hobart, Barnstorm, and elsewhere. His films and screenplays have been official selections or finalists in festivals such as Cannes Court Métrage, Glass City Film Festival, Canadian Film Centre, Texas Independent Film Festival, and both Hollywood and New York Screenplay Contests. He has taught a variety of creative writing classes, including fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. | www.Nathan-Elias.com | @_NathanElias

Photo: Meriç Tuna

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1632 (the witch) – december lace

tuna

After Claire C. Holland’s “Thomasin”

Dead roots from an infertile farmland
wither all around her

She is the only sprouting thing for miles
in this muted abandoned wood

Her ripening lips wish for stained glass,
butter, and a pretty dress

She left her heart in an established
country across the sea, unwilling

pilgrim bound by a parent’s faith
She shivers as an outcast, unsnared traps

leave her stomach broken, the whisper of
the dark side growing louder. Kill the roots,

they say. Kill the roots.


December Lace is a former professional wrestler and pinup model from Chicago. She has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, The Cabinet of Heed, Awkward Mermaid, Vamp Cat, and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology, among others. She loves Batman, burlesque, cats, and horror movies.

Photo: Meriç Tuna

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i run into wolves running – ghost #13

ruslan

i run into wolves running
into me into mirrors into
switchbacks into endless
forests along endless rivers

i run into wolves running
into walls into hiding into
rebirth into fires in rooms
that they may not ever find

i run into wolves running
into death into memory
into the precision of a
scalpel into the western west

and therein i die and i die
and i run and i die and i
see it there on the shelves
the dust attracted to the

light like moths attracted
to fire like wolves attracted
to movement to packs to
new mentality until they too

die. and i too die. and if
not now then when and
if not now then when?
then when?

 we are ghosts. then when?


ghost #13 is something something something. they are from somewhere, sometime. this one is dedicated to someone someone, another ghost, i’m sure.

Photo: Ruslan Bardash

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miracle: an excerpt from the diary of lea knight -attica adams

Miracle (2)

1. Beginnings
Menace is in the air. Tragedies are in the making. Fear passes from each to each. It has always been this way.

2. Parents
Mine were violent and all-powerful. They even knew this about each other. Father sarcastically called her “The Queen” because she was cruel and self-absorbed. Mother called him “The Minotaur,” after the creature of incalculable fury.
Jack’s were a little different. His mother was violent, but his father was not. His mother beat him. His father was rarely around. Jack’s father called Jack’s mother “The Witch” because of her sharp tongue. His mother called his father “The Goat Man” for his lasciviousness, for he liked the ladies.

3. Dog Stories
I never had a dog when I was little, but Jack did, a little Boston Terrier named Pepper. And Pepper was everything to Jack, his baby to take care of, his friend to keep him company. A creature pure in its love.
A teenaged boy told me once that his dog was run over by a car. The dog was alive but suffering. He knew he would have to shoot it to put it out of its misery. As the dog lay beside the road, the boy reached his hand out. The dog licked his hand. “The Goddamn thing licked my hand,” the boy said. He was crying when he told me this.
Two weeks ago, in this town, someone tied a stray dog to a pole. The person poured accelerant on the dog and set it on fire. The dog lived for a few days, during which time many people rallied to save it, and when it died many were left feeling empty, with nothing to do and no one to blame.
Last summer, at a festival, I saw a black dog. Its owners stopped to let a child see it. The child was a very young, a boy, not yet able to talk. It was a remarkable dog. I know this because I saw it through the child’s eyes. Its owners went around with it on the end of a string! It had two shiny marbles for eyes! Its hair was short and velvety like the inside of a jewelry box! Nearby, people sold confections and balloons, so there was a flurry of buying. Most people headed toward the river where canons were being fired and men wore uniforms from long-ago wars. Silently, the boy sent his finger forth and touched the dog’s little black anus. The mother was calm. She looked at her child with sadness, as though she had seen something far ahead or had just awakened from a dream about death.
There is a place some humans believe in called “the Rainbow Bridge,” a realm where pets go after death and are restored to full health and happiness. It seems to me a place like the Big Rock Candy Mountain that hobos sing of, a land of lemonade springs and a lake of stew, a land where jails are made of tin and you can walk right out again. In these places, there are no sad consequences to anything pleasurable in life. At the Rainbow Bridge, there’s unending sunshine, room to play, and fresh water and food all the time. It’s a place of reunion, where humans someday rejoin their pets. I’ve heard people say something like, “My Buddy passed over the Rainbow Bridge today.” They say through their tears that now their pet is running free.
We walked to school every morning and Pepper followed us. He knew what classroom we were in and jumped until he could see us through the window. It made everybody laugh, even the teacher. When he was satisfied, he would lie by the door, waiting for us. He would wait all day. As Soren Kierkegaard wrote in his diary, “The yardstick for a human being is: how long and to what degree he can bear to be alone, devoid of understanding with others.” Pepper understood us. This was his proper function, and when were together, we were happy.

4. Punishments
I slept in a room at the end of a long dark hallway on the second-story of our house.
Once I let a rope down for Jack to climb on. The idea was to let him and Pepper live secretly in my room. It made sense at the time.
But Mother heard us and nailed the window shut. And that was the end of that, except for the punishments.
Mother punished me by making me sit under the big tree in our front yard. I sat there for many hours. While there, I developed a relationship with an owl that lived in the tree. The owl became my confessor, listening to all my problems, considering all my questions.
I asked it, “Do you believe in God?” I said, “I have read The Golden Book About God, but there is no picture of God in the book, only pictures of birds, insects, cherries, and stars.”
In my childish way, I wondered whether these things might be God or at least manifestations of Him. I still wonder.
Jack’s punishment began with his mother yelling at the top of her lungs and his father’s grand escape. The Goat Man fled the house, yelling that his witchy wife was nothing but trouble. “If I wanted to take my troubles with me,” he said, “I wouldn’t bother leaving.”
The next day I saw the marks on Jack’s face and arms, the places where she had hit him, making blood rise angrily under his skin.

5. Home
One day I felt good, so I broke into song at the kitchen table. This was rude, Mother said, so she made me sit under the tree again. I sat there for many hours.
It became a regular thing.
The punishment was so frequent that I began to study the situation, and I saw she didn’t care if I stayed under the tree or not. She only wanted me out of her sight. Then I was free to join Jack and Pepper in their explorations.
Jack and I found an old cabin in the forest, and we decorated it with objects we found at the dump. It was homey. We had chairs, a table, a painting of an angel protecting children while they crossed a bridge, and a vase for flowers. We had a whole set of World Book Encyclopedias. We had a circular rug made of old, braided rags sewn together. We gave the rug to Pepper, who slept on it in a sliver of light that came through the cabin window. And while Pepper slept, I read encyclopedias to Jack and quizzed him about the summaries they held.
When we were in the cabin, we never pictured ourselves changed by grief, growing up, or growing old. Like children in a fairy tale, we would be children forever and eventually all would be well.

6. A Cat
I was the one who discovered it. It was a kitten, so tiny it was sleeping in one of father’s shoes. Mother wanted Father to carry it off, but he wouldn’t. She wanted him to kill it but he said no. He didn’t want the cat. He just didn’t want to bow to her commands. He was the Minotaur, the crazy bull at the heart of the labyrinth of life.
I fed the cat and it learned to trust me.
Mother said it would all come to no good.
One day I saw the cat’s belly was large. Mother saw it too and said the cat would have kittens. She blamed Father. What were they going to do now with a bunch of cats? This would upset our stability. Our lives would now be so much worse. An argument ensued. Insults were traded. To end the fight, Father threw a mug of beer at her head. She ducked, so it didn’t hit her. It exploded against the wall.
It was quiet then, enough to hear the mice scurrying behind walls.
Time went on.
It was in the fall when the air was bitter with the smell of burning leaves. That’s when I found the cat dead under a bush.
As Kierkegaard wrote in his diary, “Great is my grief, limitless. Since my earliest childhood, a barb of sorrow has lodged in my heart. As long as it stays I am ironic—if it is pulled out I shall die.”
Mother saw the dead cat too and was filled with a magnificent rage. She would give me a lesson, she said.
She had already told me long ago how babies were made, how they were born. Her descriptions of cutting, blood, and pain had left me scarred and afraid.
And now she said she would show me something. She went into the house and got a knife. She wanted to expose the kittens, to show me how they would be hairless and blind, like little rats, she said, like filthy little rats. She sliced the cat open but there were no babies, only a big tumor.
No kittens. This enraged her even more. She threw the cat and the tumor onto our pile of burning leaves. The flames curled everything up, turning it black before reducing it to almost nothing.
After this, I dreamed that the cat had only looked dead. Really, she was alive, except I was the only one who knew it. The dream gave me a private thrill.

7. Irony
One day Jack’s mother chased him around the yard hitting him with a broom handle. She had done this before with other objects, like belts, wire hangers, or shoes. This time, Pepper was barking in outrage.
Have you ever seen an animal killed before your eyes? To see it pink-tongued and bright-eyed, then still. At first you think it will get up and strut like before. You think it just has to. Then you notice it looks so much smaller. You want to ask it, “Where did you suddenly go?”
That afternoon when we returned from school, a dirty shovel was resting next to the house. And that was the end of that.
Some believe in heaven. Some believe in the Rainbow Bridge. Others say the earth is our mother, and she loves us. What the truth is, I can’t say. Though I’ve seen once-buried things and they didn’t look like they were loved by the earth.
After all that happened, I would dream I gave birth to some sad thing, a cancer, a rat, a dog with a broken face, a human fetus distorted beyond repair.
Then, years later when I did have children, they were born beautiful but dead. This is Kierkegaard’s irony.

8. Endings
I knew a woman who had to put her ailing dog to sleep and could not forgive herself.
She showed me a photograph and said to me, “This is my baby.”
There are people who can’t abide a person referring to a dog as their baby. They think it’s silly, or weak, or that the comparison isn’t apt. But I abide.
The creature sighs just as a baby does. It draws close for comfort and drools on your shirt. It yelps in its sleep and we imagine it has nightmares, so we hasten to relieve its trouble. A dog is a placeholder for a thing that’s missing or, in many cases, it’s the thing itself.
“My baby was my everything,” the woman said, “I miss him so much. I miss his mouth, his velvet chest, the way he walks, the way he snuggles, I miss it all.”
The way he walks, she said, the way he snuggles, as if the dog was alive in her mind.
Then she remembered her dog was dead. She said, not to me but to God, “Bring my baby back. His ears and feet. Bring him back, his soft skin, his loving grin; I’m sorry. I did this to him. Why? My baby.”
She was crossing “The Bridge of Sighs.”
In his diary Kierkegaard mentioned “The Bridge of Sighs,” which is the enclosed bridge in Venice which passes over the Rio di Palazzo and which condemned men crossed on their way to their lead dungeons. He said this bridge is the path we all must take on our way to eternity.
Last night I dreamed about the cat again. I was looking out through my childhood eyes, but also the eyes I have now. I was looking at Mother illuminated by fire as she stood against a black and starless sky. She was about to throw the cat onto the burning leaves.
“No,” I shouted, “she’s still alive!” In response, she threw the cat’s body onto the fire. It was as though I had made it happen. After a sharp instant of grief, a sense almost of being sliced in two, I saw the cat leap from the flames and disappear into the night.
I could only stand perplexed.
What had I witnessed, a miracle or all hope leaving?
Even now I have no clue why the universe exists as it is.

 

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Theresa Williams (Attica Adams) has twice received the Individual Excellence Grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, and The Sun. Her Sun stories can be read here: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/contributors/theresa-williams . Her novel, The Secret of Hurricanes was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize. She is currently working on a graphic novel, The Diary of Lea Knight. 

Art: Attica Adams (Theresa Williams)

 

she was summer – dani duval

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She was summer,
covered in pinks & oranges,
& at sunrise she gave me a ring.
She took me north, & summer turned
into fall. She had mentioned her love
for sleep, so I told her she could stay
with me, but she grew thorns of yellows
& wrapped me in chains,
just in time for winter. The snow cleared up
the fog as I fought for spring,
though I soon found she didn’t want
the key. Sometimes I still wonder
if she is still in the snow, but I know
she had a key of her own.

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Bio: Dani is a freshman in high school from Parker, Colorado. This is her first published poem.

Photo: Robert Gramner

unfolding – mela blust

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daughter is the sun
the religion i once shunned
i place my hand on my belly
where life once bloomed
mother womb’s fertile whisper
the musings of god
as the waning rays of child-light fade
i can no longer hold her in the gentle
butterfly net
her wings
budding now through cerise skin –
how love can be
a guide into the ether
how i cannot let it be a trap

 

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Mela Blust is a moonchild, and has always had an affinity for the darkness. Her work has appeared in Isacoustic, Rust+Moth, Anti Heroin Chic, Califragile, and more. 

Photo: Suzanne D. Williams