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.

 

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

appendix – pablo damián

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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

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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


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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

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.


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

chinatown syndrome – kevin ridgeway

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I got so drunk
I thought the
the manager
of the Chinese
takeout was
my psychiatrist
and I told him my
recent symptoms
and he increased
the dosage of my
fortune cookies,
but I was not
compliant and
barely even gave
General Tsao
a chance to kick
in and my bags
of unused ancient
medicine left an
oil stain on that
that nicotine yellow
hotel carpet with
my other unopened
prescriptions for
sushi and many
other potions from
far reaches of the
world colliding
several stories
beneath us on
the metropolitan
island streets
that breathe dirty
steam we are too
weak to breathe
in as we overdose
on over the counter
bullet proof glass
medicine with very
unpredictable side
effects that make
us hide here in
search of the
healing energy of
an uncharted sky.


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Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly, Gasconade Review, The American Journal of Poetry and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.  A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

Top Photo: Khachik Simonian

SBGS December

ode to gold – jesse lee pacheco

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The moments I feel most lonely
are when I remember
I am not a coffee can full of gasoline

I am not a race car
in a black and white photograph
seemingly ripping a ditch into the universe
with a number etched into the side of my soul

I am not a prospector
chewing canary bones and digging for danger,
nor am I a coal miner
painting my skin daily
with the dankest of doom

I am not a boxer,
I am a punching bag
hanging in a sweat lodge
nailed to the blocks
forever waiting for the blank bullet
of a starter pistol

I have given into comforts
I have lost the panic of motivation
the friction of chattering teeth
no longer keeps me warm
my heart is glued back together

But where does that leave me?
This is not my first grave
This is not the first time I’m lamenting
a status that I never really had

I’m spinning off in every wrong direction
keeping my eyes peeled for the next
road of gold
The next masterpiece to dream
and steal
and squander

Until then, here I am
with another man’s lapels
in my clenched fists
in the middle of some house party
embarrassing myself to death


SBGS December

Jesse Lee Pacheco is a performance artist from Denver, CO. He’s a founding member of the Atlantic City arts collective, a group dedicated to exploring new artistic spaces and forms. Although he considers himself a multidisciplinary artist, poetry has a special place in his heart. He uses poetry to turn himself inside out, bringing his deepest parts to the surface. He would like to dedicate this piece to his brother Noah, for always believing in him.

Photo: Daniel van den Berg

but what about the novel? – ellen huang

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The scene is in middle school, in two separate lines to electric chairs.
They won’t use the electricity. All we do is sit, they inject, and it’s done.
Then we get up and hop on over to the happy place–
a colorful room fluffed with pillows and stuffed
animals, the comfiest pile, the biggest slumber
party. Relax until sleep kicks in.
Before I know it, I’m next in line.
We’ve been chatting for a while, me and a tall, brown girl
who’s called up before me. Cheerily, she says she’ll see me soon. She means heaven.
Oh yeah, I say, casually. Casualties in the comfy room
didn’t occur to me. I’m called up next, and I’m at ease.
As I stroll to my death, a little thought asks,
But what about the novel? I realize I’m not ready to die.
I have a novel to write. The nurses, once so nice,
reveal themselves to be witches, escaped sirens from my story.
Lightning spews from their fingers when I run.


Ellen Huang is a cape-wearing mortal living her best life, with a BA in Writing & Theatre minor from Point Loma Nazarene University. She’s been known to possess vast knowledge of myths and fairy tales, as well as practically live in a prop closet full of exotic decorations. She has pieces published in Sirens Call, Wax Poetry and Art Magazine, HerStry, Diverging Magazine, Awkward Mermaid, Enchanted Conversation, Writers Ink, Between the Lines, Quail Bell Magazine, Ink & Nebula, Rigorous Magazine, Whispers, The Folks, Hummingbird Magazine, The Driftwood, The Gallery, and Perfume River Poetry Review. She enjoys reenacting movie scenes, burning things, and swimming in the sea. Follow if you wanna: worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com 

Art: Steve Johnson

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