Growl – Eden Axx

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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.


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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

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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 


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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

 

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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 – Ian Williams

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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.


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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.

 

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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.


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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

Art by Ann Marie Sekeres

 

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A long time ago, Ann Marie Sekeres went to art school and learned to paint.  She showed a bit around New York in the 90s, but didn’t get where she wanted to be, but did become a very happy museum and nonprofit publicity director and started a family.  She found out about the procreate drawing app from an illustrator she hired, stole her kid’s iPad and has been drawing every day since.  Follow her work at @annmarieprojects on Instagram. 

Frida Kahlo’s The Wounded Deer, 1946 — Karen George

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Photo by: Felix Hansen

I.

Deer body smoothly fused into Frida’s neck and head, antlers a tiara, a crown of thorns. One earring hangs like a tear from her furred ear. Caught mid-leap, trying to escape pain. Pierced by nine arrows, blood flows, the worst wound her heart.

Enveloped by bare trees, brittle skeletons with gashes of their own, blighted or struck by lightning, cores hollow.

Frida turns her face to us—defiant death mask. Tail tucked, all four feet off ground. The balmy blue of water and sky, no help. Bent legs so thin, soft underbelly pale. Beneath her, a torn branch, alive for only seconds longer.

II.

In Catholic grade school, I was given a holy card of the martyr St. Sebastian, tied to a tree. Neck, ribs, waist, groin, legs punctured with arrows, face contorted. I crushed it into a fist, flushed it down the toilet.


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Karen George is author of five chapbooks, and two collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014) and A Map and One Year (2018). She has appeared in South Dakota Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Louisville Review, and Naugatuck River Review. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters and is co-founder and fiction editor of the online journal, Waypoints. Visit her website or on Twitter: @karenlgeo. 

popping knuckles doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you – Zach Marcum

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Photo: Louis Hansel

have been stealing roommate’s Babybel mini cheese-wheels one by one over the past few weeks.

saw person swooshing metal detector back and forth in the park.

he must’ve thought, “ooh, nice day. I should swoosh my metal detector back and forth in the park.”

felt clear, uninhibited sun on my face for first time in months

thought of texting “I love you” to everyone in my phone.

last week fell in desperate love with girl on Instagram

dmed her “I’m in love w/ you,” around 1:46am.

the bag of Babybel mini cheese-wheels is getting concernedly low.

have been trying to take 3 slow breaths in my car before and after driving.

learned that caterpillar dematerializes in its cocoon, unmakes itself into cells.

squeezed an avocado that made my knuckle pop.

thought of the sometimes troubling intimate relationship I’m in as a non-failure.

popping knuckles is really just nitrogen releasing and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

non-failure because it exists at all.

yesterday saw a car turn onto a one way street in the wrong direction, then quickly reverse back to the junction.

walked home from the park imagining I drove in the near lane when the car turned the wrong way and we hit head on, smashing my teeth into my throat.

closed my eyes and shook my head softly.

tried to explain to two 21 year olds the feeling of your late 20s. the sensation of slipping.

stumbled on the words, self corrected, didn’t say much of anything.

girl on Instagram has not responded to my message.

a person sits behind me in class and watches episodes of hell’s kitchen on his phone with the volume off.


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Zach Marcum is the 2000 dunk contest but in human form.

AFTERMATH + AFTERMATH – Grace Gardiner

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Photo: Satoshi Urakawa

AFTERMATH

like wind         pain takes

……………shape               against body

 

cuts its             portrait

…………..out of in          with flesh

 

the frame         left

…………..when               adrenaline

 

lets                   the outside

………..remind             the skin

 

where              you end

………….there                you begin

 

AFTERMATH

when the woman corrects

……….her should to could

 

…………………….as in you ­______

……………………………..have died

 

……………………you think the swath

…………from c to s-h the payment

 

you might use to rewind

…………your plural wounds

 

……………………the car & you both

……………………………….just two bodies

 

…………………….untethered subsumed

………….by you only

 

to playact the rift

………..one form seeks from another


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Grace Gardiner is a British-American non-binary poet and burgeoning intermedia installation artist. They are currently pursuing their PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri, Columbia, where they live with their partner and one too many brown recluses. Find them online at pearlsthatwere.tumblr.com.

The Hands That Caught Me – Sarah Lilius

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Photo: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

The hands that caught me as I entered
the world were the same hands that examined
me at sixteen, back flattened against a white sheet.

There was no discussion of sexual activity,
birth control, or even menstruation.
This man revered by my mother,

told me I could lose weight, told me
to diet, that in his country
people are hungry.

My own hands clutched the fabric,
tried to not cry the instant
tears that would come hot in the car.

My place in the world
welled inside me like the ghost
of a boulder, great and silent.


Sarah Lilius

Sarah Lilius is the author of four chapbooks, including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017), and Thirsty Bones (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Entropy, and Fourteen Hills. She lives in Virginia with her husband and sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.