We were always gender-fucked Wannabe Lover Bunnies Pink in Gay Bar lighting Drunk on Drinks more expensive than our worth and worthless in our day glow night crawl awe-ness We own nothing But the love we exchange in Instagram photos and photosynthesis which is the product of high heels on wood floors This place once a post office now a dance club now a church I can’t pray anymore though I get tired and horny Like winter-born babies and serotonin thirsty high school drop-outs We are in love with each other. We the chosen family that resembles some cult-like Ghost Club We haunt each other’s hearts Never letting too much in Never letting our feet touch the floor-were always dancing Even in our dreams SZA beats bounce off living room walls But it sounds like church bells Tolling
Jasmine N. Maldonado Dillavou is an okie-Boricua poet and artist based out of Colorado Springs. Her work explores the intricate private-sphere of Latinidad and femininity through large scale installations and written word. She is most passionate about telling stories in vulnerable ways in hopes that it may open the door for others to do so as well.
A City StoryOnce upon a time, our town owned a story — William Stafford
This town once told a story.
It was all about our goodness,
our presbyterian Jesus, embodiment
of meek and mild,
knew just when
to shut his mouth.
We might’ve owned the world,
but we knew we owned this city—
it looked like us, grey-faced, combed-over,
they could have stood up empty,
could have stood up on their own,
so upright were we, so stiff,
so erect with straightness—
the bleach of it burning
our eyes, our throats,
our thoughts—our thoughts
were all about this city,
what it needed,
what we’d give it,
whether it needed it or not:
white-gloved crossing guards
blonde, baton’d majorettes,
a thousand brushcut lunchpails,
a parade of white bread wonder
fed into the factory daily—
while we kept
the wheels turning,
kept the peace
at the business end of the nightstick,
kept the hysterical sedated
with TV and Black Velvet
and small pills
for big-mouthed women—
this town once had a story,
a secret underneath its skirt—
the pressure point of the club handshake,
the sweet grease for the palm-reader—
We believed it, believed in it, believed we’d
what we wanted,
the trophies we paid for,
the money, the manna, the mammon—
we’d get everything
It’s not the dogs,
not the fire hoses
that ended this tale.
It’s the photographs the press took,
how it looked
on the news. Operations interrupted
for awhile as we smiled,
shook our heads, said
what a shame,
we must do better…
and we got better.
At the story.
At the inside jokes. Got degrees
in Women’s Studies, hid
in Diversity Departments.
Learned to murder Black kids,
but phrase it right on resumés,
and get a job as the director
of the Police Accountability Board.
This story keeps on rolling.
This story is a running joke.
This town elects its drug dealers,
pays its whores with plummy titles,
keeps its finger on the pulse,
says we have no DNR,
so the ventilator breathes for us,
the psyche meds think
and dream for us,
the generic Viagra fucks for us,
the Trazodone tucks us in.
In fiction, there are endings,
there is meaning, sometimes lessons,
but this story,
like this city,
has a life of its own.
And who am I to judge it?
To defend it? To defund it?
Who am I to count its blessings?
Or to number all its bones?
This city is American.
This city could be anywhere.
This city never pays for guardrails
if it can vote for guns
This city is my hometown.
This city isn’t getting better.
This city has no place for me.
It’s my hometown,
but it’s not
Jennifer Maloney writes poetry, fiction and plays from her home in Rochester, NY. Find her work in Litro Magazine, Panoply Zine, Ghost City Press, and many other literary magazines and journals. Jennifer is the co-editor of Moving Images: Poetry Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publishing, 2021) and the author of Don’t Let God Know You are Singing, Poems and Stories, forthcoming in winter, 2023, from the same fine press. Jennifer is also a parent, a partner, and a very lucky friend, and she is grateful. For all of it. Every day.
I read these poems and they are about
things; this is exhausting for me. Finally:
I find a man willing to shine a blinding
light into each one of my eyes for hours on end—
all day—and into the night, if I give him an advance.
Aloe: Affliction. Grief. Bitterness.
I get a sunburn at your funeral.
My mother slathers me with cheap
aloe, sticky and dyed green.
I bought an aloe plant cause I liked the way
it felt when I pressed leaves
and you told me aloe is for grief.
I look it up after in the book you left behind
soothing burnt, aching shoulders
with vermouth from the family fridge.
Page 30: bitterness and grief in floral language
Break off a piece and squeeze until it bursts
It tastes like shower cleaner and acid reflux
the sound of my own voice in a snowstorm
a shot of rubbing alcohol
a still green banana
that time you ate brie and yelled at me when you felt sick—
----------How could you let me
----- do this to myself?
Vanessa R. Bradley (she/her) loves fantasy novels and writes a lot of poetry about dirt, divorce, and discovering queerness. She lives in Epekwitk (PEI) with her wife, where she is working on a collection of poetry about the meaning of flowers. You can find her on Instagram @v.r.bradley and on Twitter @vanessarbradley.
If We Are All Just God in DragAfter Baba Ram Dass
Then I will paint my lips with your poetry,
batting eyes at the singularity of a millenia–
This shade always looks so good on you.
Pluck stars from the sky and sew into the fabric
of a time when I last felt this beautiful.
You know, it’s breathtaking.
I can hum a tune that will set even the
most doubtful tongue aflame.
Sit trembling in this blessed creation.
I, who speaks truth into life,
who molds the earth within my hands.
No golden idol can outshine this glory.
Our becoming is the most tender act,
watch curve and angle bless the ground you walk.
Remember when everything was beautiful?
Carson Elliot (they/them) is a nonbinary poet and educator living in Nashville, TN after spending many years in the quiet corners of Northeast Ohio. Their work focuses on the intersections of transness, spirituality, the natural world, and questions of becoming. Their work can be found in publications such as Samfiftyfour, Pile Press, Third Iris, Fifth Wheel Press, and New Note Poetry. Carson lives with their cat, Toast. Instagram: @heyitscarsonk
—This time,—————————– as a lullaby.— I do not dare open my eyes— as I kiss———————————- you though who am I——– if I take not this opportunity —————- to see– when there are only ——— so many moments left to look? Four months ago ————— on the air mattress —– wedged with my back—————————— to your sister— Whom I love——————— so well ———- I still fear the power of will —————– who could understand the power of will ————————- we grow ——- in distance as you grow taller?———————– I want you to get —— everything you want—————————— to know what would have happened if I had never met you———————————————– would I still be a metaphor———————- of space? Had I been a girl for nothing but delusions that can allude —————————– to me you do not cry but say – “the way you portray the human ——————- body is beautiful” no, I am no longer artwork only——– a self-portrait.– ————————————- I am the ghost——————– to whom you gave a body of mist I paint a picture of mythic mornings ——————— when water smokes with fog———— I could melt into ———————————– gentle as my eyes ————— are tired when———– you grow taller will you still be able to ———— hear me when I weep?– I do not know—————————– if I want you to I do ————- not know how to ask you —————— to listen——– To the day that is new —————— with future———————- days are new and mornings———— are warmer when I find myself waking with you safe —————————— inside my stomach.–
Basil Crane (They/He) is a trans, Jewish poet born in Los Angeles and raised not far outside Philadelphia in a house in the woods. They are currently focusing on surviving their last years of high school and hope to study writing in higher education. This is their first publication.
— When I was little my Da was still in the Navy. I would often miss him and sit on my mum’s lap and cry, “When is he coming home?” She would tell me gently, trying to ease my heart, “soon”. I would always ask how long “soon” was, but was always told: “It is soon”. —-In my mind the word “soon” sounded like the sun as it was setting, orange and yellow mixing in the sky and extinguished on the horizon. It seemed like “soon” would only be a day.As I grew older I realized “soon” was much longer. I learned that “soon” is what adults say when they do not have an answer. I began to believe that “soon” did not exist. Now that I am older I realize “soon” is so much longer. “Soon” can be months. It can be years, but it never feels “soon”.”Soon” is always an uncertainty, never a promise. —-“Soon” can be a lifetime.
Quinn Ponds‘ education and career are in psychology, but she has always held a passion for writing short stories and poetry. There is certainly something to be noted about using psychology in writing fiction! One of her humorous poems about tacos has been published in The PHiX- Phoenix Magazine, and a short fiction piece titled “The Humid Hours” can be found in The Dark Sire Literary Journal. Her cat-themed flash fiction “Baby’s Breath” is in Literally Stories, July 27th, 2022 and her latest published story, “Gather the Darkness” can be enjoyed at Everyday Fiction, December 21st, 2022.
Your hand is detached from your body and yet you are already holding it upside down there are dancers in the courtyard who are dancing now to the sound of an accordion there is also a singer who sings to the sound of a barrel organ a song that speaks of a river that once flowed to the north of the country silence yet is biting me like the head of a dog that would be biting a single leg there you have no more feet and to the sound of the barrel organ the singer has kept his voice floating in the air has kept his voice trailing in the air and yet he has no more voice and yet you have no more voice neither there are the dancers they’re dancing in the courtyard and the dancers turn and their feet raise the dust veracity can never be put off as they say in a Russian song that you’ve been trying to sing now and then so now you’ve been carrying at arm’s length what’s left of you it means nothing words make no sense at all anymore to you a madman has just eaten a dog and the dog has also eaten the madman so there is no one left around there’s a gentleman who’s been licking the arm of a lady very conscientiously and the lady is so happy that she pisses on herself out of sheer joy there is a madman who’s been keeping his mouth always open for a while and his head always open too so we can see his brain but it is not you neither who’s been dancing in the courtyard to the sound of the accordion it is not a madman who’s been dancing neither there is no more barrel organ there are only madmen who now sing and dance in the empty and barbaric courtyard of my insomnia I’ve raised my head and I’ve seen my father hung on a tree on the back of a scribbled drawing and it’s not you who’s been dancing and it’s not you who’s been singing too and the sound of the barrel organ is not the one we’ve been thinking about at all though oh I love you you my beautiful barbarian singer sing us a song about the war a song about death now a thousand years old and I am only seventeen years old myself and seventeen is a beautiful day to die and I am fifty four years old myself and fifty four is a beautiful day to die too there is a thread that connects these seventeen and fifty four years together this thread is so tenuous and so invisible and so strong that it weaves within space two distinct realities that would never run into each others otherwise but I am fifty four years old but I am seventeen years old there are so many dead people breathing among the rising dust of their moving feet and dancing to the sound of the barrel organ a crow has come to eat my corn so I leave some to it every day on my window sill and also gray mice have invaded my place and want to eat nothing else but peanuts and I watch the mice eat their peanuts and I love the mice and I love the crow and I love the skeletons and I love the barrel organ in fact the only thing I don’t love, is myself.
On all fours
You walk on your hands like a madman like a child or like a headless animal which is the same thing you lick a small green insect crushed on the ground on your way to feed yourself a bit you stop for a moment and scratch your ear with your hind paw you are a little lost this morning because you have nowhere else to go and the sky has become covered with small holes through which the rain passes to fall and the rain is all red like blood and it’s your own blood that covers your face and you lick your blood to wipe your eyes then again you walk on the hands like a child like a madman or like a headless animal which is the same thing you cry sometimes you laugh sometimes too your face covered with blood is still very very red because the rain is really pouring down your face is almost made of rain now you take a short break for a brief instant and you jerk off a little to relax from all your emotions you thus ejaculate out of yourself your sick thoughts then once again here you are walking on your hands you are walking on dead people like a child like a madman or like a headless animal which is the same thing you arrive in a cemetery it’s overflowing with corpses putrefied people who sometimes talk with each other but without using intelligible words you sit in a corner with your back pressed against the tumbstone and you always keep repeating the same things only for you to hear as if to reassure yourself sometimes also with that obsession for staying clean that characterizes you you conscientiously remove your the hair of your ass using only your teeth in front of the mirror of your madness you think of your parents lost a long time ago just before dawn you have painted a picture on a piece of wood and on this same painting you painted a child walking on all fours a child or a madman or a headless animal which is the same thing the animal or the madman has started to devour the child it has been carrying on its back but no no it is not you it can not be you, that he’s devouring like this with full teeth.
Ivan de Monbrison is a schizoid writer from France born in 1969 and affected by various types of mental disorders, he has published some poems in the past, he’s mostly an autodidact.
Juanito screamed in the rain and drank from the sky trying to figure where he went wrong and lost his way. He met a beautiful maiden, they ate rabbit and quail, soon she led him up a steep trail.
Billy The Kid
We could see the white butts of antelope across from the Kid’s grave, we’d turn south to the Pecos River to fish, swim, and party
I almost died twice there, once by drowning, I dove in and hit a boulder under the surface, my dad rescued my knocked-out carcass before the river swallowed me whole; years later in
The back of a pickup partying, parked in yucca, mesquite, and creosote bush chaparral, a rhumba of tangled rattlesnakes attacked from the brush
People leaped out and ran like jackrabbits with coyotes in hot pursuit, now days after so much graffiti and desecration to Billy the Kid’s tomb- stone, authorities have put a cage around it
Folks say Billy was so dangerous, even his ghost might escape, the red caliche dirt roads have hills of petrified wood, crumbling adobe churches with faded white crosses and plastic flowers in the church yard, tumbleweeds blown against graves.
Catfish McDaris has been in many magazines, books, and broadsides. He’s a 30-year small press and 3-year Army artillery veteran, from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. Currently Cat’s selling wigs in a dangerous neighborhood in Milwaukee.
I have been enamored lately by the concept of messy, bloody, cathartic, altering the fundamentals of our societal responses to the constant bile-rising of glamorization and the need to perform sexuality, nonchalance, purity, a gold standard picture of a horrid, mangled creature draped in her own characters, choking on forced importance. She screams as everyone captures her slow death on video. Her sisters look on with pity and smugness and a bit of simmering jealousy, as though this will save them from a similar fate; if they escape visibly unscathed they still have not won. These women have become masters of compartmentalisation, as all women must be, slipping into routine numbness to block out the binging and purging on every false escape that appears in sterile media giving us new idols. She is broken down and sobbing hysterically on the floor. It is the greatest performance of her life because she only gets to have one before she is shoved behind biting remarks, cursing that her emotions seem to envelop her rather than cursing that she must carry these burdens at all. She is scratching and clawing at her skin as if to dredge herself out of the euphoric manipulation that is false womanhood. Her sisters are mourning the loss. She dies, finally, not with a guttural scream, but with a deep breath and quiet resignation. Her sisters exchange calm looks before descending upon her corpse with vulturous frenzy, dressing themselves in her memory to be her activist and champion, while she has already been sold and forgotten to make way for the next performance, to be a sacrifice satisfying the screeching ache of defeat we’ve felt since we were girls. Her red lipstick is smeared but in the way that makes her look thoroughly kissed, not the way that lipstick actually smudges, and her mascara is running down her face in her tears like she put them there to drop on cue. She screams and cries and her sisters applaud, her sisters are paralyzed as they fantasize about being in her position. Her perfect curls are held in her hands as she rips them out of her head. We continue to cheer and she lets her lungs fill with her own spit as her moaning is swallowed by the awe of her beauty as she falls apart. We clap and laugh and make knowing eyes at each other. We are so proud of being able to stay afloat. This, unfortunately, does not save us from the same fate. We sit, and feel, until we too are screaming.
Haven Nasif (she/her) is a queer poet native to Boulder, Colorado, currently living in Eugene and studying both English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Oregon. She has had work published in Portland’s Spit Poet Zine and often shares her writing through her Instagram, haven.nasif.