Election Day – Susan Zeni

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Photo: Pamela Calloway

First, election day, and then
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
but not being in bed
being in body kind;
being slow, being not hurried for pleasure
being not at all the fantasie in men’s eyes;
being two, but not us, we
being lips, being breasts,
being you, being me, the bed being round,
plunging line of winter being one,
careful we, cutting away what is death.

Not even necessary, love
but there is love
and earlier there was my sadness for summer again
and the black dog chewed a squirrel
winter people crawled into tin holes.

Election day, I choose you, choose me, choose you
and earlier, the old woman wheeled to the polling place by her son,
a great book in her lap
fat boy in a green jacket, sparrow on a black roof
orange room very dry
but not dry, very lonely
but not lonely
only the blue jay
only the blue jay pecking on the window
not flying but then flying
from the black roof
not hearing my own voice loving for a long time
and then not even necessary, love,
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
being in body kind
careful we
falling through the fruits of winter
cutting away what is death


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Susan Zeni wants her poems to tell the stories of people living on the margins of society. She lived in Manhattan on Avenue A, in Chinatown and in Harlem for five years, Seattle for ten, and is now ensconced back in the Midwest after years of teaching community college.  Publications and honors include a Lucille Medwick Award for a poem with an humanitarian theme, “Black Angel,” published in the New York Quarterly, danced by the Erick Hawkins dance troupe, and read up on stage with Gwendolyn Brooks; a Seattle Weekly portrait of Ralph and Mary moved out of their Second Avenue Hotel digs by the Seattle Art Museum; and “The Street Walker’s Guide to Wealth,”recently published by the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Susan gets her kicks playing accordion, having been in a number of bands, including the Polkastra and the all grrrl klezmer band, the Tsatskelehs, as well as performing solo at local art openings, Quaker events, and farmers’ markets.

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

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Photo: Louis Hansel

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

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

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

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

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

last week fell in desperate love with girl on Instagram

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

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

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

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

squeezed an avocado that made my knuckle pop.

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

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

non-failure because it exists at all.

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

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

closed my eyes and shook my head softly.

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

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

girl on Instagram has not responded to my message.

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


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

AFTERMATH + AFTERMATH – Grace Gardiner

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Photo: Satoshi Urakawa

AFTERMATH

like wind         pain takes

……………shape               against body

 

cuts its             portrait

…………..out of in          with flesh

 

the frame         left

…………..when               adrenaline

 

lets                   the outside

………..remind             the skin

 

where              you end

………….there                you begin

 

AFTERMATH

when the woman corrects

……….her should to could

 

…………………….as in you ­______

……………………………..have died

 

……………………you think the swath

…………from c to s-h the payment

 

you might use to rewind

…………your plural wounds

 

……………………the car & you both

……………………………….just two bodies

 

…………………….untethered subsumed

………….by you only

 

to playact the rift

………..one form seeks from another


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

The Hands That Caught Me – Sarah Lilius

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Photo: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

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

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

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

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

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


Sarah Lilius

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

Three Poems – Dani Ferrara

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Photo: Blake Weyland

Music

was it worth it?

shaving your shoulders

the hard echo

 

in the last sip

re-focusing on money

your dress

the absent cigarette

 

skeltering in a narrow hallway

laughter that never happened

maroon carpet with years of saliva

others now ghosts of themselves

 

if you imagined the way it could be

you’d run too far

your stomach would hurt

 

we were friends

i saw you

gliding

while walking by

 

this, a single day.

this, my life.

 

she wants to say more

she wants to re-format

she wants to engulf

she wants to replay

 

the flowers flowing

down your dress

 

Memory

i feel i am old

because i watch myself

as though from the future

i want to give it time

but the worms are back

i am soil made of nothing

i am a fucked ant

i am intolerable to god

 

Swerve

they brushed their teeth

it was alright

we could talk about anything here

 

the books scattered, obviously

or the video games

 

life fades into love

i’ll see you again


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Dani Ferrara is a poet, writing teacher, and self-proclaimed ‘pataphysician. She proudly graduated with an MFA from the School of Disembodied Poetics alongside some of the most incredible writers she’s ever met. Her work has been featured in Dream Pop Press and Black Sun Lit. She is in three garage bands: Warm Dad, Bad Bath, and The Spellmans. She is also part of the extended Black Market Translation Orchestra. Dani lives in Denver. [Daniferrarapoet.com]

 

naked body – veronica love

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

It sounded like she said,
“Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed.”
And in this light, the lines on her face show the naked worry in her head
As I wonder if the body is awake or sleeping,
there is naked fear inside my chest
And the smell of the other’s cologne in the room is a validation of my dread.
We were always meant to be temporary,
But now I feel as though I am being bled
By a stranger,
One that I thought was a ghost.
A name no longer to be said,
A memory of what once was,
Between the one I love,
And the naked body in her bed.


20191206_175719_Film7Veronica Love is a writer of fiction, poetry and editorials. Her work has appeared in several literary journals including Page and Spine and Flash Fiction Addiction. She spends her free times traveling to places rich with culture, reading, writing and laughing. She is always on the lookout for a new and strange adventure and loves dancing in the rain.

Cover Photo: Jp Valery

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two prose poems – howie good

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

Bad Dream Coma

Your teeth are falling out. You’ve lost your car. A flood is bearing down on you. You’re being chased through dimly lit streets, and though you repeatedly look back, you can’t even see who is chasing you. You’re trying to scream for help. You’re out of breath. What is inside you is going to come out: your dog’s dead body on a blanket on the floor. Your walls and curtains are covered in chemical formulas. You have no idea at all what you’re supposed to say next. You raise your hand for paper and are given a slice of bread.

Song for Ancient Children

I wake up from an afternoon nap on the couch to the thunderclaps of the younger generation chanting, “Fuck the clown! Where’s my clock?” The place is very much alive. It’s like an archipelago whose volcanic islands rise and fall with the waves. I try to believe we’ll be OK, that no one gets forgotten simply for having scant hair or wearing mom jeans, but I can’t. We see buildings toppling backwards into fire, broken leg bones refusing to heal, shadows crawling out of the ground. Our memories whisper and pulsate. There aren’t even parking spaces big enough for them.


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Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Cover Art: Hans Eiskonen

 

 

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two poems – lauren napier

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

A Definition of the End

When the devil drives
The heart takes a backseat
Down a path tread by broken stares
false hopes
empty deeds

Blades of grass damp and clinging to the ground below
Damp with tears meant to quench the gasps of burning bridges
And clammy hands no longer afraid
But awaiting
To grasp the end
A definitional moment
An end to the anger
Of the peripheral glare of the reaper’s shadow
A tongue finally forbidden to slander

When the devil drives
The heart must relinquish the keys in the ignition
For
Needs must

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Who I Found Virginia City, Nevada

What are you thinking about when your fingers twitch in sleep?
Thoughts that are voiced with that one whiskey over the tipping point
The phone was dialed
And answered in a ghost town graveyard
Desert wind and your voice
A yearning heart’s medicine

The coyote greeted me at the gate
The scent of sage in flared nostrils
An urge to follow him over the hills and into the brush
Dissolving into his dusty camouflage
Until a
Murmur through the phone line
Asks “where will we find our peace?”

Wherever are you whenever your bones are in the bed next to mine?
I find myself lost between the whispers and the dreams
Down paths that do not disappear within the day
And those that I will follow into the night

When did these footsteps appear just beyond the fence?
When my gaze was distracted by the moon rising above the cliff
I heard a deep and and heavy sigh
And decided whenever
Wherever
And there
I would follow the moonlight wisdom in the shadow’s hair


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lauren.napier finds solace in melody and the written word. She has penned a children’s book, All My Animals, stories for NPR Berlin, amongst other texts and songs. lauren is often traveling with her feline, notebooks, and acoustic guitar, exploring her surroundings and sharing stories. WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER 
Cover Art: Davide Ragusa
Author Photo: Barbara Rodriguez

night drives – taylor jones

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All of us jammed
into the back seat
perhaps
accidentally
I end up next to you.
The force of the curves
presses me against you
and I feel your warmth
through your coat.
My stomach aches, cramping
as my body
sheds blood tears
aching for you.
And as the city blurs by
indifferently
I watch
your lips
not move.


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Taylor Jones is a conservation biologist by training, and spends her days either trying to save the world or escape it via writing and reading. She is an aficionado of the weirdest things in nature, and hopes to one day meet an alien. She lives in Denver, Colorado, in a house full of plants. Instagram: @tjonespainting

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.


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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.