bechdel test – kim vodicka

marilyn

B e c h d e l T e s t

Why does it matter who holds the mirror,
if what you see is truth?

What happens when you police your pants?

Like famous mass murderesses,
we’re intense pieces of ass,
in Sodomy and Gonorrhea.

We’ll be the sluts of your life,
if only you promise
to read our cunts for filth
and blow loads in our dishonor.

Raise your hand if you secretly admire us,
if your giver-upper is a keeper.

If you believe in nothing
and see everything.

If you’re prepared
to sop up the fuss
with that hole in your belly.

Your famous blue jacket doesn’t bother with promises,
doesn’t touch us at all,
doesn’t touch us all night,
doesn’t even condescend to give us its handkerchief
when we cry.

Why don’t you ever tell us you love us
when we cry?

Why, when we could cry
for the entire world,
do we cry
for you?

At the moment of twinkling.

Wistful thinking.

When us bitches cry for the world,
we cry
for you.

And your small mind.

We bet your mother
didn’t even have an orgasm
when you were conceived.

But we bet she cried.

It’s so easy to be a groupie in this town,
so hard to be a wife.

That’s why you’ll never see our meat dancing.

Only the zombies receive it.

You may bring a goddess to her knees.

If you’re prepared
to be bitch-slapped
by her vestigial wings.

We’re not dancing.

We’re just rubbing out the kinks.

Don’t bother us.

The surest way to the rib of our hearts
is by not bothering us.

Would it be possible for someone who ate hearts,
like Jeffrey Dahmer,
to practice the art of radical self-love?

We bet he kissed his mother with that mouth.

The surest way to the rib of our hearts
is by eating our hearts
and then kissing us.

We were seeing it through our eyes,
and we were seeing it through our eyes,
but all that matters are The One’s eyes.

Because The One creates Kodak moments.

Because rarely do us bitches make his story.

It’s so hard to be easy in this town,
even harder to be a wife,
even if you don’t want to be.
.

We’ve been tired queens.

We’ve been desperate groupies.

But if we don’t live,
you pay nothing.

And we want you to pay.

From the Chateau Marmont to the Romantic Inn,
we have tried,
in our way,
to be fabulous.

We have tried,
in our way,
to transcend.

Every load blown in our dishonor
is revelation.

But one way or another,
the ground will force us to relate to it.

We tried to prove
we weren’t intimidated
by Charlie Manson,
but then he bit us,
and we became him.

Time to step back into our queen shoes,
until we allow the next The One
to knock them up again.

Until we allow each other
to peasant each other’s eyes out
over The One,
yet again.

This man is your man.

This man is my man.

This man was made for you.

But, like, mostly just me.


IMG_2437 2

Kim Vodicka is the spokesbitch of a degeneration and heart-reactionary at the rearguard of the rose arts. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections— Aesthesia Balderdash (Trembling Pillow Press, 2012), Psychic Privates (White Stag Publishing, 2018), and The Elvis Machine (CLASH Books, 2020). She is also the creator of a poetic comic book series, a chapbook of sound poems on vinyl, and an illustrated book of poetry. Her poems, art, and essays have been featured in Tenderloin, Spork, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Makeout Creek, Luna Luna Magazine, Paper Darts, Best American Experimental Writing, Nasty! and many others. For the past decade, she has toured the country performing spoken word with musical accompaniment in bookstores, dive bars, art galleries, cafes, diners, festivals, pinup clubs, vintage clothing shops, rooftops, backyards, and places of worship. Originally from south Louisiana, she currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her beloved cat, Lula. Cruise her at kimvodicka.com.

appendix – pablo damián

AdrianHMolina-150x150

Appendix

We forgot to turn off the gas in the kitchen again,

and I’m not sure if what I saw was a ghost

or a spiritual residue of our old cleaning lady.

Back then, my days were like stretch marks on the skin of time,

I spent most afternoons thinking about a litany

for dust and glass and light,

or about how water is the opposite of blackmail

but ultimately failing at a single original thought.

From behind the drapes, the hollow voice spoke up:

“All microwaves have some kind of terrible hex on them”

I just nodded.

It’s uncourteous to speak with your mouth full.

SBGS December


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Pablo Damián is a poet and translator currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Art: Brendon Thompson

you wish to speak – megan heise

AdrianHMolina-150x150

you wish to speak.

once
during
yr reading
in Arizona
u said u hadn’t ever met
another asexual person and shay said their
partner was ace and asked u to
sign yr chap w a
kiss write i’m
here i’m
queer

M didn’t speak for 4 months all the words tumbled out stone.

You dont speak now. You write to your spirits. Say hi wanna join me at work then forget. In Dani’s class you drew the bridge to nowhere. Said to the class I’m moving back home. He met you at the underpass many weeks later. Continues to meet you there. Connecting spirits to one another. Her name appearing in a computer glitch. His blood staining the highway. You dream of avoiding her and all your unresolved guilt. Codependents think they are responsible for other ppl’s emotions she tells you. You are codependent you say. Except you know you really are responsible for other ppl’s emotions. You made your mother’s depression worse. And now you are twisting the knife into grief wounds. Reaching out again after so many years to say sorry. After not even sending in your rsvp for their wedding. He says no hard feelings but she disagrees.

2 out of 6 shelves are clean which is to say you have cleaned off 2 out of the 6 shelves you are endeavoring to clean off which is to say you are attempting to acknowledge your agency which is to say you want to SPEAK in the ACTive voice which is to say you wish to say that which you’ve been trying to say which is to say you will say that which you’ve been trying to say which is to say you are.

the fears are twofold one is that yes he really was a dick and to like him is to be a dick yourself and that so many pretentious dicks like him so does that make you a dick too and the other is the fear of running out that you’ll want more but there will be no more left to consume to receive

he was one of your ghosts too you realize, writing him letters and never asking for a response, never conceiving of the possibility of there being a response. it’s good we never met in life, you used to say. what if i disappointed him. if he disappointed me.

it is hard to set boundaries. with the living. with your living. friends. your spirits. are so much easier. to talk to.

names come to you before you know what they mean you set out to write about queerness and write about ghosts instead you mistype queerness such that autocorrect suggests wildness next to wilderness your ghosts haunt the nighttime forest your dark there with you they love etel adnan too they whisper her messages from you saying thank you keep it up keep asking and of course please

Ahhjjh it has been raining so much and almost always while you’re in your room with the window open your room is off the porch and even your friends who have Major Accomplishments and Better Lives cant say that cant say their room is off the porch whereupon the swing whapped you in the head as a kid when you couldn’t stop crying and had to go to the hospital and for all of your achievements maybe it’s of this one you’re most proud the time you shoved the swing and it swung right back and sent you down to the concrete and fuck if you know what you learned that day but damn did you fall hard

What if u wanna come when u r back from my friends
What if u wanna come it starts at the end of the discussion
What if u want a ride home
What if u want to put them in the same place on my bicep
What if u wanna check in after yr done
What if I can get there btwn herb and space
What if u wanna join me at work then forget to see you and finally give you your bracelets
What if I can get there as a kid is doing lunch with a lot more options
What if we brought our own food and coffee plus obvi karaoke
What if I am outside the first year or not sure when I’ll be headed back
What if I can get there as soon as I will likely be available
What if we can afford it and it’s all just adding it’s been growing wild and then never been growing out of nowhere
What if the same place on earth is that you know what you think
What if the first time last year or so haha I am outside yr apt b4 the boys
What if anyone gets in the evening of course please let me borrow your spirits
What if anyone wants to join at some point in a bit of us maybe it’s a sign
What if u wanna come it starts at the end of the discussion to kickstart conversation with the living in a bit of a snake in this style that looms and then never heard back from my friends yet about rescheduling but I would definitely be down to do what you think and thank you SO MUCH for all of your achievement in the evening of course please include all of this time in your final price for me to come the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and getting im in town and just wanted to check in w max and toni the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and getting im in town and just wanted to check in w max and toni the first time in almost all of the big screen and just left it there to do its work and i are super tight now and laura is a lutherie of the hand tattoo and
What if we could be able to swoop the same way
What if anyone who can’t come home would be able to
What if u have my own experience
What if I can get there first

SBGS December


20181022_164729 (1) - Edited

Megan Heise is a writer and teacher based in Western Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University and is currently working towards her PhD in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her creative work has appeared in a number of online and print journals, and she is the author of the chapbook Quasar #6 (Eggtooth Editions). Her website is www.meganheise.com.

Art: Nhia Moua

generational curse – miss jody

Hiding The Ghost Of My Favorite Lover From The Others

I am a fourth generation Piscean, on my mother’s side. My grandmother’s eldest and youngest of four were both Pisces, and my mother’s eldest and youngest of four were both Pisces. My Grandma Buffalo, my Granny, and my Mom: all storytellers. And so it was passed down to me, the awkward sort of storytelling that has so much truth to it that it must be fiction.

Most of the stories I heard as a child came orally, but some were only told in dainty, precise cursive on yellowed pages because they were too dreadful to be told out loud. One such came from my great grandmother, known to me as Vida, who married a John E Byrd and after him a John E Buffalo. She had a type. It was she that wrote down the story of her sister’s death.

They were six and four, and it was tasked to her to keep watch over the young girl. It was the winter of 1907 or 1908, in a rural town in southwest Missouri, and the pond was almost as frozen as the ground. Almost. They travelled out onto the pond, Vida coaxing her small sister farther and farther out. By the time she was able to get back up to the house and drag her parents to the pond her sister had already begun to freeze under the shattered ice.

With the ground being too far gone to allow for a proper burial, they had placed her into a coffin made of stone and situated it into a corner of the north barn. Alone. There it sat until the warmth of spring began to melt away the protective layer over the hill Vida’s mother wanted her daughter to sleep. They had briefly opened the coffin to place into it items that the girl had loved, and that’s when they learned the truth. Vida’s sister had only been in a coma. When she awoke to find herself trapped in stone she had done everything in her power to claw her way out. Only it hadn’t worked, and she perished seemingly a second time, worse for wear.

A great horror settled over me the first time reading these words. Granny could not confirm that Vida had a sister by that name, the old family Bible did not appear to list the child’s name in the genealogy of the family during that time. Was it simply a story she had written, though a great deal different than the poems about her children and grandchildren and her hymns to the Lord?

I try not to think about it, afraid that I too will write stories wishing my sister dead.


itsmeWhen you feel homesick for the colors you don’t have words for, that you saw once in a dream, that’s miss jody. She has two cats in her home, named Alfredrick “Alfie” Boris Karloff the Sea Captain, and another named Nereus “Nereus” The First Mate. Her favorite goddess is Freya, and her favorite place to live is in her home in Centennial, CO. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Art: Hiding The Ghost of My Favorite Lover From The Others by Miss Jody

old soul’s motel – claire heywood

SBGS December


955C840F-303D-420C-9F5E-DEDDC79DBC5D (1)Claire Heywood is a longtime creative writer and short-time songwriter who got her start playing sets to small listening audiences in Denver’s literary/arts community. After her debut release “The Wind, It Howls” garnered attention from local critics this March, Claire stepped more fully into the Denver music scene with a set at Underground Music Showcase 303 Magazine called “one of the best of the weekend.”
To learn more and listen, visit www.claireheywood.com.

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

con job – marcelo duran

image 2

A Young Man was walking down 17th street towards Union Station. His eyes fixed on a sign, “railroad ticket office” about a block away.

He was unbothered by the chaotic chorus of horse-drawn carriages and trolleys pulling businessmen in dapper suits and dirt-caked workers alike up and down the streets of downtown Denver.

As he got closer he saw another sign to the right of the door with an enticing advertisement, “ticket to Chicago $5,” which seemed too good to be true since it was $50 for a trip to the Windy City.

This would be good to bring up, he thought as he made his way closer to his destination and meeting with Soapy Smith.

He stepped through the plain pine door and asked for Mr. Smith. An affable gentleman with a feathery smile glanced over at the young stranger and asked, “Which Mr. Smith do you wish to see? It so happens that we have two or three Mr. Smiths in here.”

The affable gentleman behind the bar was one of Soapy’s lieutenants and tasked to size up those who came in about the tickets.

“I’m here to see whichever Mr. Smith can get me the best ticket price to Chicago,” the Young Man said. “I saw the sign out front and it piqued my interest.”

After a few minutes, the affable gentleman learned that the Young Man was looking for a ticket home to Chicago to give his father a report on mining prospects.

“Let me go get the Mr. Smith you’re looking for, but first do you want to take a chance at big money? You look like a lucky man…”

“No thank you, but maybe later after I square away a ticket for home,” the Young Man replied.

On one side of the dusty, square room, one of the games made up of a box with large envelopes, each containing varying amounts of bills where you can bet a modest amount to win big. But most of the time the suckers would be lucky to walk away with half of what they bet.

On the other side of the office was another dapper businessman. Before him on the dark wood desk sat a large ore sample from a claim up in Leadville. That was what the Young Man was really looking for. He had been warned about the gambling games in the ticket office and how they were prominently placed to more easily part a hapless man from his money.

Just like clockwork, Soapy appeared from a back room across the way.

“Young Man,” he drawled, in a voice as smooth as an oiled thunderbolt. How may I help you this fine morning?” He came from Georgia, but his voice was more than just Southern: it was the voice of a man confident in his place in the world, and intent on building it up.

For the top con man in Denver, this unassuming man’s look was more unkempt than one would expect.

He wore a homespun vest, free of any ornament, a dark, heavy cotton shirt with a cravat under the collar, and plain brown pants. His neatly-trimmed beard finished the look, which was unremarkable, unmemorable, and notably humdrum.

He looked more like one of his victims than he did the man running the biggest con in town. But maybe this was his aim. In looking like a man leading a humble life, and not the rich con artist he was, people would be quick to think, “How can anyone dressed like that pull one over on me?” And then, before you could say, Jack Robinson, this nondescript, smooth-talking fellow is taking the hard-earned gold dust you laid down moments before.

“I am inquiring about a ticket to Chicago and your sign caught my eye.”

“Oh yeah are you one of these kids that came out to Denver and heading back home because you’re flat broke” Soapy inquired.

“Not at all, I’m in a good spot and can buy a first-class ticket home, but my dad told me never spend a dollar where 50 cents would do just as well so I figured a $ticket will get me home as well as a $50 ticket.”

After a few more minutes of jostling between the two, talk about the $5 ticket faded away and replaced by talk about the piece of ore on the counter the Young Man saw earlier.

The two men wandered over to the counter with the ore with flecks of quartz, sandstone and broad gold streaks running along the sample.

The Young Man let on how he admired the sample, but Soapy refused to sell any of the stock of that mine unless the prospective buyer took home literature about the mine and promised to share it with his father.

“This will be the first thing I’ll talk about with my father when I get home,” the Young Man replied.

Soapy got up and walked to the bookshelf to pick up a few copies of the prospectus.

“What I’m about to give you is very valuable,” Soapy said as he shuffled the pieces of paper before putting them back on the shelf, “Perhaps too valuable to leave my office.”

“Maybe it would be more appropriate for your father to come out to Denver to see the mine’s value himself instead of leaving it to chance that others might learn of it first and buy up the shares.”

This awakened the Young Man’s suspicion. He stood up and walked over to Soapy near the bookshelf to make another plea for the pamphlet one more time.

“I can assure you that nothing will happen to the literature you give me, but my father will be interested with or without it.”

“It would be best if your father came out on such a big decision, but he shouldn’t take his time,” Soapy said. “Excuse me for a moment; one of my men is motioning me about something urgent.”

As Soapy stepped away, the Young Man saw that nobody was paying attention to him. Seeing his chance, he feigned a sneeze and copped a copy of the valuable prospectus.

“I apologize for leaving you in the lurch, but an important matter has come up that requires my attention,” Soap said in a hurried manner. “I’ll leave whatever matters you have to my able barkeep and I hope to see you and your father in my office soon.”

In addition, just like that, Soapy vanished as quickly as he appeared. And so did the bartender. The men left so quickly after realizing the Young Man was not going to be the catch of the day.

The only person left in the drafty room was an old man sweeping out dirt and debris onto the sidewalk. The Young Man felt so much like dirt and debris as he stepped outside with nothing.

The sun overhead was dipping into twilight possibly reflecting the down mood of the Young Man. However, little did anyone know, other than a few well-dressed gentlemen men in town, the Young Man walked away with the final piece of a puzzle to bring down one of the most powerful men in Denver.

The man that Soapy and his gang thought of as a lout and a waste of time was a new cub reporter for The Denver Times. Mere minutes after the uneventful meeting with Soapy he was at his desk on 15th and Lawrence scribbling down his encounter for the exposé.

The Young Man moved to Denver after receiving word that his old friend was the Managing Editor of the newspaper. This gave the Young Man a shot at writing for a daily and his arrival gave the managing editor a chance to bring to light the seamy underbelly of Denver.

“I want you to seek out the vilest men in town, get to know them, earn their trust or invisibility from their scheming eyes,” the editor told his friend. “Be watchful for their contacts in the police and city government, find out their names so we can crack the depravity of this town like a peanut.”

Therefore, he went about his work on the streets, with the look of a rube making his way through town. The reason why the Young Man had a chance at this is the story is his anonymity. There was an understood edict among the con artists not to steal from residents of the town. Denver was small enough that it was easy for them to discern a local citizen from a hayseed fresh off the train.

It really is amazing what a few ounces of whiskey will buy you from the local drunk holding down the bar at the Tivoli Tavern on 17th and Larimer. That is how he learned about the “gold mine” scheme and then planned his ploy to get his hands on a pamphlet.

The trip to the ticket office was the last piece to puzzle and a few hours later the reporter, with the pencil in hand, completed his story and turned it in.

With victory at hand, the Young Man sauntered down Larimer Street wherein front of the arcade, another man motioned to him in salutation.

It was Bat Masterson, formerly the famous marshal of Dodge City, an acquaintance of the reporter. They were talking with one another near the curb when the Young Man looked behind his back and saw, standing in the doorway with a look on his face as if he had seen a ghost, the affable man whom he had met at the ticket office earlier that day.

The Young Man immediately crossed the street, but he knew that his identity discovered. The affable man vanished. He was probably running directly to his boss to tell Soapy what he had seen.

By the time, the reporter got back to the Times office, Soapy and his entire gang were in the managing editor’s office. Soapy was reading the front page story for tomorrow’s edition, composed of the article contained their methods, their haunts, their names and even information about the heavily-guarded prospectus of the rich gold mine.

Nothing was left out; the police and government were implicated in the story. The article spelling their doom was mere hours away from being etched to ink and paper. There’s was no way the gang could stay in Denver if the jig is up. But Soapy had one more card to play before he would abdicate his throne.

“Mr. Manager,” he began in a strong, earnest tone and manner “we are all here, for I could not believe what I was told; now I have read it and I know.”

“When you publish that, these men you see,” indicating his followers sitting about “and I will not be here:”

Leaning impressively towards the editor, in a low intense voice, he offered his terms of capitulation:

“If you want anybody beat up, we’ll do it; if you want any papers destroyed or stolen, we’ll do it; do you want a force in politics, we have it. If you want a ballot-box destroyed, we’ll destroy it pronto. If you wish to dispose of anybody permanently, we shall make his disappearance absolutely final. If there is anything want to be done, we’ll do it. But not publish that story.”

The exposé about Soapy and his gang was omitted from next day’s edition of The Times. The cub reporter received it back.

We’ll never know the real reason behind the Managing Editor’s decision to suppress the story. Maybe the real con was for the Managing Editor to have the upper hand on Soapy and the covenant of a favor tucked in his pocket, and the promise of being able to cash in that valuable chip at any time.


Marcelo Duran is a former journalist, born and raised in Denver who grew up on the North Side of town before it was cool. He spends his free time scrolling through microfilm at the library researching local Denver history. His stories and knowledge about Denver history has been featured on several podcasts in and around Denver.

clutching our wrists – jacob butlett

image 4

We have at least one, a procession
of balloons, whose bony strings
clutch our wrists like lost children.
They appear, those balloons, whenever

we remember them, their eager pull
to a time when everything seemed fine:
when sunny water shimmered
even on cloudy afternoons,

when moonlit clouds opened
our bedroom windows to let the breeze
breathe in beside us as we slept.
They’re with us on our saddest nights:

their strings squeeze our wrists like
tiny tourniquets, our blood seeming
to drain out of us like cool pools of sweat.
Sometimes when we look at the rubbery

heads of the balloons, we see instead
their detached heads, our loved ones’ heads,
their eyes focused on the tears rolling
down our cheeks like stones.

They say nothing, the dead.
They let us sob, they let us laugh.
They must float for our sakes,
to make us feel that we’re not alone,

to lift us up like gales so that we may
dare to live while we’re still alive.
Some of us can cut their strings
with the dull scissors of time. Regardless,

our loved ones appear whenever
we remember them, their strings swinging
up from our stiff wrists like the stems
of roses that cling with love and rot.

SBGS December


jacobbutlett

Jacob Butlett is an award-winning gay author with an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Rat’s Ass Review, COUNTERCLOCK, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Rabid Oak, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china. He was selected as a finalist in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards residency competition. Learn more about Jacob at https://jacobbutlettacademicreflection.weebly.com/.

featured image: Liana Mikah

and you would call me bluebeard – a. martine

image 4

You would be wrong
Thinking I have fled you
Thinking you have fled me
It is the unpressed nucleus
The unuttered understanding
The auguries that spell perditions
And deliverances.
You would be wrong
When my present is multitudes
Knotting with your pasts

You would be wrong
And that is not all.
I’ve lived in small spaces all my life
Lifetimes and avenues
Walked with you
My existence splintered where it meets yours
We have lived the grandest of lives
Been people, and then been others
Had others
We have gone and come again
Existences poked and prodded through the Needles
Of time
Dying when the other pulls through
Living together, sometimes apart
Sometimes never meeting.
Nine lives to match the cats
We always wished we could be.
In one lifetime,
My heart is sixteen years old
And yours is ancient, callous, cold
I give you everything
And you don’t trust me
This is the story of how I write books to make you forgive
And you, you look for lines so you can read between them.
There is another one, where I am graceless
But you are unconcerned about it
We bond over music and green tea
And exchange fervent recommendations
That border on the aggressive
So that it makes me smile
That passion of yours suffusing every title
And the rich tartness in the tea
And you cannot wait, and I can’t contain it
And sometimes, I even think I may
I may
I might
Love you.
That is not all, that is not it.
In another, I break your heart so many times you
Come to expect it, like the end of a calamitous song
We see each other this way and that

Cocking our expectations
Slanting our heads
Angling our gazes
Clinging onto the airless center like it’s a ball of light
Which we will never figure out
And it is probably for the best.
Here I peer another tangent
Ever so slight, ever so parallel
But it makes all the difference
Because where you once loved me
Now it is the other way around
And I am unmoved by it.
I feel old.
That is not all, that is not all.
I spy another
But this one is dim, dull, bleak
We are grieving for bygones, lovers lost
Superimposing their souls onto each other
Disappointed when the likeness does not assuage
The shattered heart
And what could have been never is
Which does not matter because I am but a drop of ink in your water
And you are a thumb of graphite, streaked on the side of my page
I do not, cannot care
And it soothes me when you likewise don’t.
This one should have been left alone.
Here a version, where
Nothing is funny, and everything’s a joke
My sense of humor sours and you take to appraising
and assassinating
My character with hilarious, devastating takedowns
I will drive off with the last word,
Dashing away at your fragile ego
With a witty, well placed observation on your tragic upbringing
And it will make you smile even as you excoriate
My name.
And that is not all, not all.
Life number sixteen:
You leave me
But I keep your books

And every now and then
I smell them to remind me of
You.
When you ask for them, the lie skates smoothly down my tongue
I tell you I’ve already given them
Away, sold them
Palming coins to illustrate my point.
My favorite cycle is also my worst
Kindling my masochism because it’s the only thing I cherish more than you
In it, you struggle with some secret pain
But you leave me out of it
And so I begin to do the same.
But years later you will say that I was the one, pushed you out
The way I pushed out snow, caked up on the sills of our apartment window.
There will be another time,
When Chance, munificent Chance will
Chance a glance on us again.
Your mother will try to hate me, but I am a paragon
Your careless father will pretend he doesn’t care, but I am Beguilement Itself
Your brother will wish that I had chosen him instead.
I end up bowed over you
And we make deathbed promises
Sated with the fruits of our rapture.
But that is not it.
It’s not yet the one I think of
Not the one I’ll think of years later
When I cross paths with you, a stranger one summer morning
Caught between two errands
You will stun me
Then and there
And I will not know your name
But I will never forget you
Forget the children I imagine for me and you
Forget the tangles we could make together
Forget the potential that fades as soon as you exit my periphery
Taking the clarity with me
You will break my heart, you whose name I will never learn (though I will certainly speculate)
But you will also save my life
Because I will look to the future as the softest place to fall
As long as it holds the promise that another summer morning may come
Where you and I will meet again.

In some separate continuance, your insecurities bend with my callowness
You, a seasoned cynic
I: have never been kissed
This is what you know: that I would endure it all for anyone
This is what I don’t: that your kindness, dangled under your contempt, will break me.
(And I don’t think some of you boys understand
The power that you have
How you can undo a girl with a barbed wire of a word
Dragged gently across her heart
It is casual
And all the more punishing for it
Casual and clever
In a clueless, guileless way
A guileless sort of way
— but I was saying. That is not yet the point.)
In the semantics of our lives, one sliver of me
Will meet your wholeness
And you will try to complement me
And I go mad thinking you will save me
When I should know better by now
Being a liver of life
And an inveterate reader of ghastly fairy tales
Whose morbid true versions
Hold nothing to their shiny counterparts
A lie
I’m eager to believe in, because
You do.
Here, a pitiful glimpse
You are the white noise I let whisper in the background
The simmering television screen I leave on for comfort
The tuneless music I dial up for company
The brouhaha that steels my loneliness
And why do I keep thinking we’re Saturday?
And why am I watching this again?
There, a sweeter one
Take a breath, I’ll take one too
I’ll make you like bowling again, might even tolerate mini golf
Peel off those tepid, tarnished memories you have of pointless sports

And we’ll sate ourselves on promises
We don’t dare yet speak aloud
For fear of what, of what.
And that is not all, not yet.
This one stream runs completely separate
And ever more troubling for it
We end up together
Accidentally
Sit on bar tables in crowded restaurants
Footnotes in each other’s lives
Scattered for the sake of others
If we both looked up, we could read eternity in each other
But you don’t like eye contact, and besides
I only wear shades.
Another one finds me the victim
Of your rancor, long fingers reaching from past experiences
Caressing warnings for you, that
Only you can sense.
They echo: she is dangerous
And you will treat me as such
Realizations, barred and nettled
Tightrope dancing
Over imagined foreboding.
In one story, you get comfortable too quickly
You call me “baby”, which chafes, but also somehow doesn’t
You speak low over the music, so that I have to get closer to hear you
And it works.
You would be wrong
Thinking I have fled you as you are
When we are fleeing everything we could be
And that is not all:
Like clockwork, our treads hammering the face
Our needles chase after one another
Chiming about regrets, about lifetimes and avenues
Of treachery and reverence
I dance away your mangled heart with glee
Because I can
And you will hate me (there are too many versions where you hate me)
Even as you double back
Six times you will lose, in order:

Your essence
Your poise
Your hopefulness
Your idealism
Your will, that vital urgency to live
Your — I might stop there.
And you will call me Bluebeard
A thief and murderer after your own lapidated heart
And of all there is, that might be all.


Pic

A. Martine is a trilingual writer, musician and artist who goes where the waves take her. She might have been a kraken in a past life. She’s an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press and a Managing Editor of The Nasiona. In addition to her own website, some of her fiction, nonfiction and poetry can be found or is forthcoming in: Berfrois, The Rumpus, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Metaphorosis, Medium, RIC Journal, Lamplight, the Score! anthology, TERSE. Journal, Gone Lawn, Truancy Mag, Confessionalist Zine, Ghost City Review. Follow her @Maelllstrom/www.maelllstrom.com. 

SBGS December

three poems – brian matta

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Trash Bags
Piled on the curb
bloated with
semi used
tennis shoes,
unwashed socks,
And flannel shirts
with buttons missing.
Slouched against the sky
in the afternoon heat.
Becoming a new world sun dial
tolling to the neighbors
a new marking of time-
John is dead

SBGS December

Nostalgia
I wish I could bring you back to life
just to watch you kill yourself again
instead of being around
your loitering ghost
as stacks of unworn clothes
and bric-a-brac for me to trip over
because if you were alive
we’d just practice twisting the knife
in each others back and not pick up
the phone when it rang
like normal families
but we can’t
so there’s no point reminiscing
I guess I’ll start cleaning up
your mess
as you just lay around

SBGS December

Impotent
My brother kill himself today
blew his head off
well not off but close
and when I found him
his body reminded me
of a vase I tipped and let
shatter to the ground
and no matter how much
I screamed he just looked
at me with that same vacant stare
I buried my brother today
and the fresh mound of dirt
reminded me of a beach on Cape Cod
me and my brother building a sand
castle and our father told us
we had built it to close to the shore
we knew he was right
but fuck him

SBGS December


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Brian Matta writes poetry and plays. He is published in Newtown Literary Review, No, Dear Magazine, and Brine Literary.