made of honor – december lace

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Putting together parched yellow streamers
on a souring, rain-swollen wall has left me desolate
this Sunday, love. The wedding bell decorations sprouting
up under volcanic eyes while manicured talons toast
my efforts make the small hairs on my neck rise
and my shelled ankles are about to take flight into
the drizzling afternoon. The bride-to-be, displeased
with the weather stomps on the conversation and
swallows wrapping paper and compliments with a
spoiled mouth and a flaming jaw. Woe, to our severed
friendship. Woe, to my barbed wire stomach, my
strangled lungs, my battered heart, my kidnapped spleen.
She has won my anxiety and conquered my loyalty,
draining my good intentions like a one-sided blood
transfusion. I am still hooked up to the pumps and leaking
essence into the floor while champagne dribbles at her lip.


December 45

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

 

endling – n.v. lott

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To have a body means you have raised a body. Maybe it was your own that was raised for the last time, here, in one of many places emotion had you. This is how we often receive our own vessels. If you haven’t, you’ve probably done one of many things: wished to and touched it for yourself, held the great flanks of skin like a precious enemy;  some animals talk to the moon until they get what they question. Years ago, walking with my mother on a night of a full one, she asked me what I knew about werewolves and I cursed out loud for the first time, right in front of her. I knew much about change, hardly about monsters. They were kept at bay by her own strong hands. She asked me about what kind of man-wolf I would want to become, and I said damn or shit or hellfire until my tongue greeted her with endling, also terminarch. I wanted to be the last one, no more bad than the moons that plagued us. I would only want to be a whisper to the wind instead of great big bad hands, and when the day came that I fit into my father’s old shoes, she took my small body in her wide palms and rocked me with cautious prayer.


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N.V. Lott is a poet from the South. He writes about how much he hates summers there. 

Top Photo: Nathan Dumlao

two poems – grace mitchell

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views from the passenger seat

I have never felt more safe
than the time you drove me home,
and then you drove me home,
and then you drove me home—
always you are driving me home
in an infinite loop
(in one version we stop to investigate
the metal chest left on the side of the highway,
but a new version of the story begins before
we get to see what’s inside—
In another version you pull over
and leave me there on the side of the highway—
another version of you picks me up;
all is forgiven, and this is how the story restarts;
another version of you becomes the ghost
you have sometimes made yourself to be)
as I frantically rewrite our shared history,
as I grab your cigarettes from the glove box,
and try to ignore the gun.
In every version of this story
I am trying to ignore the gun,

which is to say You are tracing the outline of a State we both lived in on my heart, which is to say I am drunk enough to ask you to hold me and I mean really hold me please none of that “Christian side hug” bullshit, which is to say I am drunk enough that you are driving me home.

There is still not a version of this story
in which I don’t want you
driving me home.

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WWJDD

I know you are not one for Jesus
so I pose the question instead:
what would John Darnielle do
if he knew you were a rapist?
If you shook hands with your hero
said, “I love the Mountain Goats,
and also I keep going when women
tell me no,”
said, “I love your work,
especially the way associating with it
makes women think I am safe.”
How the hell do you separate the work
from the behavior of fans?
And how the hell do I keep listening
to the Mountain Goats
when you’re the one who got me into them?


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Grace Mitchell is a poet residing in Denver, CO, although she has called many places home. She has edited for both Negative Capability Press and the Oracle Fine Arts Review. When not writing, she can be found riding her bike, working the clerk desk at the local library, and hanging out with nuns.

Top Photo: Etienne Pauthenet

for jay who didn’t get cable television until he was thirteen and also thinks i’m petty – jane-rebecca cannarella

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For Jay who didn’t get cable television until he was thirteen and also thinks I’m petty: And how I made fun of how he first experienced the joy that comes with cable like placing snow melt between tart teeth and getting the phantom taste of salt from the sky–or from some truck, more likely–but it’s cool because it’s good anyway. It’s the propulsion of quickly falling ice crystals and thunder from the sky that now lives inside him.

Anyone can be part of the earth’s outer atmosphere, and this is the closest to becoming a cosmic being that Jay’s ever been. And he and I are acting like those two stars in our galaxy who have begun behaving strangely: a cool giant and a relatively hot white dwarf—a stellar corpse. Outbursts of energy like when he couldn’t stay seated and was asked to sit in the corner during middle school because he was being disruptive. Now we’re both warm movement and icy at the same time and are filled with the need to rattle the desktop as the universe cycles through us. And with images being spoon-fed through eyeballs for so many years, it’s like he’s growing and cooling at the same time. Maybe I am, too.

There is the terror of so many choices, like the fear of being in the middle of the crosswalk when an ambulance is coming, silenced and stricken, and how do you run to safety when your feet are stuck to the black top? With every fuzzy sound augmented and amplified, as animated figures grow and lean—continually expanding, cable television is communicating with the divided sky and directly into every and any TV watcher, but him especially.

Jay could and can sit and watch the bleary movements and he knew, and knows, that the universe keeps growing; and when he was just thirteen he had eaten Christmas-in-July-snowflakes: the light changing across wavelengths, both astronaut and astronomer and he got cable and because of that parts of him lives in solar systems light-years away waiting to fall back to earth.


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Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She edits HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit. Most recently she is the author of the flash fiction collection Better Bones and the poetry chapbook Marrow, through Thirty West Publishing, 2019. She is haunted by ghosts, all of which she believes are barnacled ships. 

Top Photo: Sven Scheuermeier

an intruder in your house (hollywood) – david welper

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Filling the glass with milk or
homes with Hollywood furniture.

Greed they say. The piggy bank
run amuck, the loud chair laced
for director.

Humility locates its contour map
of frilly things. This, the next big thing
in show business
because walls become predictable and
daydreams frame digression
with a flexibility of their own.

A briefcase breaks at the corner,
a ballerina’s pillow spreads out
in motion pictures.

Celebrity has a collapsing act.
What she does is her business.


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David Welper is a Pushcart nominated poet, has been a featured reader across the US, has been published in a number of zines and has been active in literary communities.  He is the founder of Buddy Lit Zine.  He is a Psychiatric Nurse in Denver.

Top Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik

in the key of lazarus – paulie lipman

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Hearts fly over my head
Hearts flying over my head
This will be what replaces brain cells
These will supplant canonized rebels

Thumbs in my eyes
Thumbs thrust into my eyes
This will be what replaces good tidings
These will be what replaces the tithing

God is gone
and so the tabernacle
Upended altars
False idols
Pictographical angels

Love is Like is Repetition
Love is like, is like Love is gone
Like gone repeated, Love dragging on
Then gone, like Love is attrition

Gone is God
and us all their children
We all our own altars
Our skin carved and clawed
We are our own sin


FB_IMG_1571175922874paulie lipman is a jewish queer poet, performer, and novelist out of Denver, CO by way of too many damn places. a two time national poetry slam finalist, their work has appeared in The Emerson Review, voicemail poems, ellipsis, Prisma: Zeitblatt Fur Text & Sprache (Germany), and Protimluv (Czech Republic). they are the author of two poetry collections “from below/denied the light” and the upcoming “sad bastard soundtrack: songs of faith and distortion” (Swimming With Elephants Publications).

Church Photo: Harry Miller

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.


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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.

three poems – jessica rigney

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All These Open Fields

He sits legs under

a curl of the known

up against

the unknown.

She is wandering

away again

as she speaks

as she finds

the strand

which allows itself

to tangle between

his toes. And he is

bouncing his foot

to her story because

he imagines her

in the story

as she tells it

tries to come

to terms. What

terms he does not

know. And she can tell

it makes him

uncomfortable—

all these open fields

where she is running

but still. She flexes

her wings as though

they had been folded

too long in the cold.

But now that the heat

is upon them both his leg

moves rapidly and her

shoulder blades hold

the beat and she is still

speaking and he refuses

to speak. And the unknown

sits up between them and

relaxes itself as a lazy cat

would across a table

in the heat of the sun

middle of winter when

there is no chance

of kicking him off

simply to set down

a fresh cup of coffee

put your feet up and

enjoy a goddamn

cigarette.

SBGS December

Fall Through

If you were to let your eyes fall

upon black panes of a night window—

to stay—resting there where air swells

soundless. You would be lost.

.

And so she turns from the window

makes her face open to me now—

Says—I no longer hope for this ache

to end.

I turned my body to him

without expectation. Spoke as though

I’d come from the woods—

A single afternoon.

Long between the banks of a river

whose name I’ve never known.

He rose to greet me without rush—no never

a rush in the world for his breath at my neck.

Solid hands each side of my face. She says.

She tells me about the day she lay her body

across his lap and let herself be held close.

Close-pulled-in by a mouth by arms a body

to bring her into herself.

She looks up to my eyes resting openly

upon her mouth mouthing the words—

I have no idea how to have mercy for my own life.

.

How the fathomless black

remains flat against the glass

is of no consequence

save for our wonder of it.

I gave myself—inexplicably to him.

That winter and all those to follow never mind the risk.

Though I would not set fire to the home I’d built

no matter the torments. Would you? She asks.

Her sweetly softened eyes widen as the deer’s.

Head lifted ears cocked in observance.

A gentle shift of hooves in the undergrowth.

The decades have made her careful—

clever—so very beautiful.

If you were handed your life

loosed of its bridle suddenly

and without remorse?

.

How long before you could.

Name it.

SBGS December

Green Leaves Dropped

Out the window from a small
Room where we are all breathing

Willows sway but do not want
More than a willingness to sway.

In the space of a gathered wish we are
All wishing not to suffer. Yet if we knew

What it would mean to move through
We would. We would ask for a firefly’s

Last light. We would ask the growing world
To make its chance for meaning. We would ask

For agony. We would ask for endurance.
You walk the street of your childhood

And say the trees have not greened
As they should. And those that did dropped

Their leaves ‘neath an early frost and did not
Have a chance. And is this what we have now

To look forward to? Is this what is meant
You ask, by changing weather?

There is a world we do not know yet.
There is a world without and we have not

Yet known it. There is a world with everything
And that too we have not known.


Rigney_Jessica Author Pic
Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. She is twice a a quarter-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2016 & 18.) Find her letterpress broadsides at Wolverine Farm Publishing. Consume more of her work at Salomé and Cider Press Review. She is poetjess on Instagram.

clutching our wrists – jacob butlett

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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

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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.


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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