NEVERS – angelo colavita

nevers

never as cold as alone
never as grievance as cowering
never as erstwhile as while away
never as milk as apology
never as pointed as silent
never as sentient as salient
never as cause as roundabout
never as hiccup as dying
never as frogs-hop as toad-croak
never as ordinary as chemical burn
never as prescribed as diaries
never as ocean as beginning
never as lost as ocean
never as poem as breathing
never as cost as cat’s pajamas
never as love as never
never as sometimes
never as nevermind
never as fact as daydream
never as bird as poem
never as whole as posturing
never as skinny minnie as loosie-goosie
never as punk as monks and monkeys
never as goth as a grandmother
never as metal as hedge nettle
never as entropy as dystrophy
never as end as cluster
never stars

cropped-dead-bird-clip-art.jpg

Angelo Colavita is a nihilist and experimental poet living in Philadelphia, where he serves as Founding Editor of Empty Set Press and Associate Editor at Occulum Journal. He is the author of two chapbooks, Flowersonnets (2018) and Heroines (2017), with work forthcoming or appearing in Pigeon Anthology 2, Dream Pop Journal, Prolit Magazine, Breadcrumbs, Luna Luna Magazine, Yes Poetry, Be About It Zine, and elsewhere online and in print. Follow him on Twitter @angeloremipsum and on Instagram @angelocolavita   

Photo: Samuel Zeller

two poems – victoria moore

candy

I HAVE A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD

purgatory has a purple accent wall
where outdated times
chime me too
in grim agreement with
messages preaching
planning as solemn power
smear piss and pricks
of blood
the pretended portents of modernity
we come to calm infernos
hearts in hand
ripped bloody out of wounded chests
since a slaughter succeeds the fairy tale
starry eyed notions of invincibility
stricken before the scales

 

 

SWEETTART

I like waiting rooms with complimentary candy
get us to forget the float
how we drift
buoys untethered through a living supposedly
linear
hum a schoolyard taunt
first comes sex
next comes death
finally you get your white picket fence
hold in breath bated by the immemorial
war drum of suburban America
if you’re lucky the upgrades an Audi a3
and he’ll smile over more than a drink
we hear the chant in our socially collected cerebellum
that this progression is not up for debate
at this month’s city council meeting step
back from the podium shrills the superintendent
and fall
back to involuntary lines
we were born in rank
in the back
of a Walmart wound up
by blinking exit alley signs
point us deep through mirrored mazes
my neuron tangle goes
national
grid
electric
cus waxed paper is decked out with
juicy, shiny, bright, hot
watermelon
dum dums I always liked
consumption in a way
suggestive
of sex with childlike affinity

cropped-dead-bird-clip-art.jpg

Victoria Moore is a poet, student of history, and museum professional. She is currently finishing her MA in History and Museum Studies at Tufts University and hails from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. You’ll most likely find her nestled in library alcoves reading up on medieval popular religion, wandering through New England forests, or grabbing Dunkin Donuts like a true Yankee. 

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

new balloon – ghost #13

0000000 balloon

this is a death.

this the sound of a Boeing 747 knocking on your frontal cortex.

this is a purging of two-thousand and eighteen years of stop, of start over, let go, go home, be kind, deliver us from evil, love thy neighbor, tip your waiter, right side of the road, left side strong side.

this is a painter taking white #FFFFFF over everything except of course for

you.

 

this is my open palm telling you it’s okay.

 

you are okay.

 

you made a mess of yourself.

dirty laundry hanging from the dull blades of your ceiling fan.

dust lining the windows of your room.

 

start over.

 

press gently in reverse into the footprints you’ve left in the snow.

 

start over.

 

don’t give up.

 

give in.

 

suck in the sun, the sky, the dilapidated cars chugging down nowhere road so quick

and blow it out into a new balloon.

 

slipknot the string around your open facing wrist

and push off of the ground

into the sky which no one has actually been able yet

to measure.

 

cropped-ghost-january.jpg

Photo: Laurn Carrasco Morón

three poems – sam albala

girl and plane

half awake dreams

sam poem.jpg

dairy does that

I keep eating ice cream thinking it might save me.

                                                        from what?

who knows.

                                         the end of the world maybe.

fear of the end of the world.

                                                        dairy does that.

especially when you’re lactose intolerant.

 

 

middle finger to the patriarchy 

everyone loves a woman in distress.

                                 well tell everyone to fuck off.

 

cropped-ghost-january.jpg

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

Photo: Danny Trujillo

two poems – ingrid calderon

annie spratt

lick

sweet lanterns, tender—pendulous ryles,
it lies, teeth clenched, between the gaps
youth lives somewhere, but not, if all—defiled
a vain tongue speaks, of past and present traps

a full beak drivels and remembers
what being thirsty brought
a sliver of the page in embers
old love seems to enjoy the knot

pitch and strike to sever hope
we sit upright on hardened wood
a foul beyond a wall, a slope—
he shows me teeth, undressed manhood/

age shows in corners/on mouths that curve
a habit earned and eaten/well deserved

richter

we see it, after an earthquake
the fragility—
in hot weather, we see it
we pulse with the sun and curse our impermanence
those quakes, and that sun, dance with our fate—
they twitch for our sanity—
they are contractions in our veins—yes—
these quakes—this heat—
they yearn to adapt to our digest—
and beg us to smash our bones delicately against another—and remain

SBGS December

Poet, amateur photographer, ex-Mormon & Civil-War refugee from a country you probably know nothing about (El Salvador), Ingrid Calderon made Los Angeles her home, and clawed her way through the English language. Most of her writing focuses on interweaving these subjects whenever possible. She has been published in OCCULUM, Electric Cereal, Dryland, Seafom Mag, Anti-Heroin Chic, Bad Pony Mag, L’Éphémère Review etc… After writing three chapbooks, Things Outside, Wayward, and Zenith, she continues to scribble nonsense into verse.  She hopes it resonates. Find her rants at notesofadirtyyoungwoman.com & on Twitter @BrujaLamatepec

Photo: Annie Spratt

three poems – ahja fox

matchstick

babe on a mission

I swallow matchsticks to prevent dumpster fires,
but they just keep on sparking
into next year.
Ma says the moon hides its face.
Men hide their skeletons.
How was I to know a strawman had a viper tongue?
I threw a glass jar full of pennies at his ex, told her
count your blessings ‘cause I’m too pretty to break your bitchface.
I keep my nails done. Glitter on my lashes.
I might rattle a few prison chains.
So what? I’m carving my name
into a New York, New York park bench.
Those jesus girls keep saying Christ loves us all,
and he does. That’s why I bring packs
of cigarettes to spiritual battles.
I know what they really want. Me on a shelf.
That can be arranged.
I have a poetry book coming out next Tuesday.

marginalia

XXX

canine teeth uprooted and worn on a choker

mom wonders why you can’t wear glitter like
the other girls

murk

Little girl promises to never speak
mommy’s name, cough up

crest colored plastic, yank
the heart out with it onto asphalt

to thaw and slip
around legs of next little girl

whose mommy bow tie
knots her hair on dinner plates

after 5 o’ clock. Sharp is the pencil
mommy puts in her hair

when she wants to see light
tease her black panties, limbs drawn

by hysterical laughter. She turns
her skin in red tipped hands, strums

her ribs Orphic Hymns, pinching
sheets of flesh around fingernails.

She has it bad, this condition:
her head drops to her feet,

her feet snap at the ankles, run
under little girl’s bed,

into little girl’s closet,
wherever little girl can wedge

talks with God
between floorboards.

SBGS December

Ahja Fox is a poet obsessed with bodies/ body parts (specifically the throat). She can be found around Denver reading at various events and open mics or co-hosting at Art of Storytelling. She publishes in online and print journals likeFive:2:One, Driftwood Press, Rhythm & Bones Press, Rigorous, Moonchild Magazine, Anti-Heroine Chic, SWWIM , and more. She has also recently been included in the 2018 Punch Drunk Anthology and YANYR Anthology. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, follow her on Instagram or Twitter at aefoxx.

Photo: Yaoqi LAI

healing projected – ghost #11

mirror 11

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

As cliche as it sounds,

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

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

we’ve been dancing in the streets begging for more

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

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

to replay the ending,

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

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

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

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

Lead me to where this tornado begins to heal me…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and start asking harder questions

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

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

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

I lose my balance every other step now

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

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

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

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

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

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

SBGS December

photo: Noah Buscher

in that pit – megan heise

pic 5e - Edited

on grief. you. can’t look. at his. face. in pictures. avert. your.
eyes. quick. you wait. to teeter. over the. edge. into. oblivion.
obsession. remember. he said. it’s okay. he said. to be evil.

 

 

 

mirror. your old face. no. you don’t. see. his. face. except in.
dreams. blame it all. you think. on the caffeine. sconced.
lights. flicker. he tells you. no. soft. message. soft. received.

 

 

 

more. uh. lord. than pot. more. uh. night. than day. you
wonder. googling. medical. or medicinal. must. get. search
terms. right. gut genug. he says. good. enough. but. you
swear. you. are right. like. before. like. intrinsent. wasn’t real.

 

 

 

well. because. she’s not. the one. who’s dead. you say. maybe
if. you say. you read yours first. stack. on windowsill. mushu.
speaks. no. that. was someone. else. computers. you ask. try.
to remember. there must. you think. have been. computers.

 

 

 

latin. german. english. french. when you. came back. from
europe. you had. you say. a new. rule. you say. tens. on jacks.
a slap. ping. them. atic. sch. eme. sch. ism. sch. ool. sch. ade.

 

 

 

oh. no. that’s not. where it. ends. farm. cat. burn pile. field.
her. them. sand. sting. sex. on the beach. ice. in our teeth.

 

 

 

grasp. suck. pull. stuffed. scarecrows. suicide missions.
suicidal. king. charlemagne. trick. or treat. house. calls. car.
wrecks. ayn. fucking. rand. ponderous. tomes. wait. not that.

 

 

 

that letter. breasts. brushing. the food. collegiate. attire.
where. did you go. you don’t. re. ah. yes. head. member.
pounds. all that. yes. blood. her house. right. was haunted.

 

 

 

names. diaries. pink. brown. blue. but. you lost. you lament.
the old notebook. with. all the. poems. you say. about you.

 

 

 

snape. not like. you. gave. a shit. scale of. viggo. to alan.
grease. honor. lightning. you. must. have. been. in. that. pit.

 

pic 1h.jpg

SBGS December

Megan Heise is a writer, artist, and teacher, who lives in and is from the American rust belt. She has three plants: Lenny, a bunny ears cactus who lives in Greece; Louie, a bamboo shoot who loves to travel; and Wally, an aloe plant who is having a hard time adjusting to life “back home” after many adventures elsewhere. She curates the education and advocacy blog, Solidarity with Refugees.

Photography provided by Megan Heise as well.

 

the pilgrimage – bare ly

pilgrimage - bare ly

for three days
I walked to the town where
the monks translated winter
for seven years,
their work crumbled like bricks
even in obscurity –
truths fall
(plucked from the eyes
of our lords)

sbgs cowskull

Bare Ly is the tender gender-fuck your parents never warned you about. They make sad music (Double A Dollar) and host an experimental podcast series called A Soft Mess

Photo: Also by Bare Ly, @dear_bare

han’s solo – mark blickley and keith goldstein

Keith Goldstein - Acadia NP.jpg

sbgs cowskull
Editor’s note: the following piece is an ekphrasis, a rhetorical exercise where usually an artist bases a piece of writing off of an image. In this case, Mark Blickley based the following story off of Keith Goldstein’s image above, a picture of his son at Acadia National Park.

sbgs cowskull

I’ve had this recurring Bridge Dream for nearly fifteen years. It first appeared one night after being exhausted by cram studying for my Bar Mitzvah. In this initial fantasy I was a swaddled infant left on the very beginning of a long and twisting walkway through a vibrant yet desolate forest. I was crying and there was blood from my bris seeping through the fabric covering my groin. We don’t need to dig Freud up from his grave to figure out I was about to undergo a ritual of manhood, so I must’ve been thinking about the genital mutilation that first signaled my acceptance into the tribe. What’s quite disturbing about this recurring dream as it appears today is that after fourteen years of experiencing it, I’ve only move forward incrementally from the bloody infant that was first placed on this forest path, into a six year old boy that balks at moving forward. In the real world I’m about to turned twenty-eight.

My name’s Han because my parents are both Star Wars freaks and the worship of this film series is the only real religion practiced in my household. They obviously were not the only disciples. When I was in Pre-K, there was another boy named Han as well as a girl named Leia.

What’s strange about my abandoned boy at the bridge recurring dream is that it’s always just a prologue to whatever else I’ll be dreaming that night. This winding walkway always introduces whatever anxious or peaceful visions my brain has decided to focus on that night—nightmare, erotic ecstasy, exciting adventures, idyllic beauty.

These days in my dream I am a first-grader who is really hesitant about moving forward, but I also see it as my feet turning into the classic ballet 4th position. My mother taught ballet for years so perhaps my foot position on the bridge is a nod to her. Once again I don’t need to disinter Freud to figure out this bridge snakes into a representation of my life’s journey. By the way, did you know that babies double their birth size by age five months? Yet in my recurring dream I remained a crying, bleeding infant for years —no physical growth, no emotional growth.

I’m a bit confused about relationships with women. My testosterone tells me to be more aggressive and not to feel so shy and unworthy. I’m always terrified of saying the wrong thing. In High School I didn’t really have a girlfriend because I always hung out within this circle of friends that were both males and females. Most activities were communal, not individual dates. Recently I joined a dating app called Bumble. On Bumble only women can initiate first contact which I like because it reduces the stress of rejection, yet I’ve been registered on this app for five months and have yet to receive a single hit.

I’m presently undergoing E.M.D.R. (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, which also includes hand tapping and listening to ambient sounds, like ocean waves, via headphones that seesaw these sounds from ear to ear to promote a kind of aural hypnosis. One of the side effects of this treatment is that it can cause vivid, realistic dreams, but my recurring dream happened years before I entered therapy. My therapist insists I keep a journal between sessions in order to maintain the session’s progress she insists is occurring.

My shrink Martha works for the V.A. but please don’t think I’m some sort of Veteran war hero suffering from PTSD. I never even enlisted in the War Against Christmas, yet I’ve never known a world without suicide bombings, school shootings and acts of terrorism that take place in my backyard, not in some distant land. Martha is also an ordained Lutheran pastor but she never mentions God in any of our sessions.

I tell Martha I’m so sick of reading/hearing reasons why Millennials can’t grow up. My shrink calls it a “First World” problem not unique to young men my age. I am depressed and anxious all the time but don’t know why. I am always smiling and laughing at jokes I don’t think are funny so people won’t discover how unhappy I am. I feel like I’m faking everything. Being an adult to me means not doing things you enjoy doing, yet that’s nuts because my parents still act like kids at Star Wars Conventions.

Why am I so miserable? I had everything I was supposed to need while growing up— emotional and financial security, a good education and now I have a more than decent paying job. I do feel guilty that they are so many less fortunate than me and know it is unmanly to be so constantly sad. Every day there’s somebody crying out what privileged assholes we Millennials are, so I always feel pressured to pretend I’m happy.

My shrink says I should spend less time always surrounding myself with people and more time being alone, even if it means being bored at first. But I can’t relax by myself. I tried all different kinds of things, but I can’t slow down my goddamn anxious thoughts. I’ve tried drugs, porn, video games and even different kinds of meditation—Zen Meditation with mindfulness on breathing and intentionally focusing on the moment. Then I did Metta meditation to focus on a loving kindness towards myself as well as empathy for other people. In my final workshop I studied Sufi mediation to try to achieve mystical union with a Supreme Being.

In every class and workshop I’ve taken, I seem to be the only one who can’t obtain this metaphysical knowledge and peace. I would often comfort myself in class by thinking my fellow students are just bullshitting their enlightenment to try to make me feel like shit—but thoughts like that defeat the entire purpose of meditation, which is to get to know myself and pull away from the outside world to focus on my inner world, instead of blaming everyone else for my failure. Do you understand how fucked up a person I am? Hell, I even get sad deleting old tweets because it feels like I’m flushing away a big part of who I was and who I am.

Last month Martha suggested I try using a weighted blanket that applies deep pressure touch. She says it simulates the feeling of being comforted, like a swaddled baby, and is supposed to help my insomnia and anxiety. So instead of fighting my anxieties like a real man, I retreat into acting like a fucking baby again, all tucked inside my crib beneath a blanket with 30 pounds of pellets sewn into it. So far it hasn’t worked.

When I ask Martha how she arrives at the concept of what exactly my emotional age is, she turns the question back on me and asks what do I believe is my emotional age? I tell her I don’t know anything except first my dick is snipped at birth and then as I advance in life I have my balls constantly broken by social proclamations that I MUST BE SUCCESSFUL!

I worry I’ll never live up to my own expectations. I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be, but I’m coming to the realization that I’m not as smart, talented or special as I thought I was and that fuels an obsession with having to succeed. My friends and I seem to be growing up poorer than our parents. My Mom and Dad can afford to go to Star Wars conventions all over the world but my important travel plans are still handcuffed by student loans.

I get incredibly stressed over not being able to find a WiFi spot, forgetting passwords to online accounts, the buffering sign when I’m streaming online—it’s like taunting me that my life is going in circles, like the areola of a maternal tit. I stress when unable to find my T.V. remote just as my favorite Netflix show is starting.

Why am I unable to advance past the age of six in my recurring dream? Is it because I’m a victim of helicopter parenting? During my childhood my Mom and Dad hovered over every experience and problem I had growing up. Cell phones are the longest umbilical cords in the world. I was taught to be afraid of strangers, playing sports, sexual contact. Is that why they claim we Millennials act more like children than adults?

This outburst of self-pity is very tiring, so I’m going to disappear under my state of the art weighted blanket and hope tonight is the night it crushes my recurring dream of being a child stranded on a spooky bridge inside a dying, primeval forest. And if my heavy blankie is unable to extinguish the dream, perhaps when I wake up I will have at least gained a year of emotional age so I will be a seven year old boy on that walkway, just three quarters away from achieving my true age of twenty-eight.

sbgs cowskull

Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center as well as the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship Award for Drama. He is the author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books) and the forthcoming text based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbirds Publishing). His video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the 2018 International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain. He is a 2018 Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nevertheless We Persisted. 

Keith Goldstein is a freelance photographer and photo editor in New York City.  Keith began exhibiting his photography since the1980’s. His work has appeared in many publications including  ABC News Australia, Now Public, Flak Magazine, JPEG Magazine, Time. His work is included various private collections and in the Erie Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the S.K. Neuman Culture Center, Brno, Czechoslovakia. Website