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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a vertigo – leah white

siyan ren

a.

the world is much more wonderful when you think that it is
the world is much more wonderful you can think that
think the world is wonderful and it is much more wonderful
you think the world is wonderful but it is much more wonderful
than you think the world is more wonderful if you think it is
the whirl is munch munch, one of the four with your shrink wrap it is
various things create a vertigo.…………..yes it is

 

b.

Cherie is blurry weary
worry is sorry
starry theory
merely heavy

I flounder
fluid flowing flute flipping
flicks leap end flap
flinch flake

varied things create a vertigo
you think the world is
wonderful but it is
vertical…………..then vitriol…………..then vigil

 

c.

a vertigo as in heightened contrast
as in soft soft soft…………hard
as a confuse……..new view that feels

everything written on water
a room of water
I flounder…………for the words

try to flinch in water
try to have a scare try to have a
have is
in water


Leah White is an MFA candidate at University of Colorado Boulder. Originally from Tempe, Arizona, she currently teaches creative writing, works on Timber Journal, and runs a reading series in Boulder.

Photo: Siyan Ren

protest poem in three parts – c.j. strauss

protest poem

I.
Dedicated to Burroughs and Kerouac the Beats and their Fathers all them lads who sang
………….America awake, kampf’d das gut Kampf way back when,
all the way back, them hard times, them good times,
………….back before PornHub, back before dope on demand, back when any old bum
could summon up a death sentence in five months or fewer
courtesy some odd San Francisco shitter…
……………Them real good times.
I’m just kidding. Fuck those filthy bastards. Fuck those porcine perverts. Go fuck yourself with your Man/Boy Love. This is a form of warning.
…………………..Kids, gets your Wikis. Get your Multi-pedias, your Googlies and your Who-Hows. Kids, watch out for the Ginsbergs and the Kammerers, those fowl manbeasts, those irredeemable, insensitive, hard-boiled…

The tranny doth protest too much.

……………I go to a very expensive university. They built the atom bomb here, U know.
My professor who is old and white and wears Doc Martens says that all is fair in love and satire.
…………..So I can talk like this. I can make like the Beats and sound off. But I ain’t ‘gon say the N-word. Hell no.

…………….The greatest minds of our generation…
Down the hall Fatima phones her mother back home:
…………..Hey mom—today I cured cancer, ended world hunger,
…………..and discovered an unlimited source of renewable energy.
I masturbate on stolen Wi-Fi. Kill cops with my brain.

Hoover was a Columbia man. Or maybe that was Eisenhower? What difference does it make…
…………He said something about a cock in every mouth, a Jeep Wrangler in every garage, and free pot for everyone. God fucking bless this America. God fucking bless us all to death.

II.

Interlude.

A brief lesson from the White and Blue, now Robin Hooded down to you. Free, unless you’d like to make a donation. In which case, I take Venmo, PayPal, cash, and wire transfer. Slide into my DMs.

…………..If one wishes to improve their writing, and this fact is incontrovertible, …………..one should always, invariably, and unequivocally avoid verbosity (that is, …………..floridity, or the excessive use of language) in their prose.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled-desperate-wailing-into-the-great-unknown.

III.

I’m not—
sorry.
I’m an “academic.”
I don’t purport to be
the Michael Jordan of being trans.
I don’t purport to be anything. Ich, ich, ICK!
Oh Daddy, give it to me just like that. I love it when you traumatize me.
I’m an academic. A hooker with an internet connection. And that’s showbiz, baby.
…………[Moloch]
Oh Sylvia, Oh Sylvia. You do not do, you do not do.
Gone too soon. Loved by too few. Just like a Jew.
…………[Moloch]
I too, may be a bit of a Jew. And what else?
A pastiche of Boylans and Bonos (not the soda, not the singer…)
But my fingers are god’s gift to womankind, my tongue a unique endowment. I could make Mother Mary quiver. This flesh flays finery, and I implore you to find out for yourself.
………….I’m the greatest thing since gluten-free bread. I’m the greatest thing since modern measles. Wicked smart, too. Like Einstein, smart. And humble.

………….My therapist says I’m not a narcissist, by the way.

Allen Ginsberg, I’m still mad at, about, and around you. What the fuck, man? Like, thanks for the inspiration,
I guess. This is some form of protest. Where does this queer shoulder go? Lord knows I don’t have a driver’s license.
Moloch. Moloch. Moloch. First chance I get I’m having a hysterectomy. Moloch.
And if I’m lucky, Moloch, Oxford will pay for the whole procedure. Bet you didn’t see this one coming, Moloch.
Wouldn’t you like it if I hitched a ride to Newark and shitted a swastika onto your grave? Just kidding. That would be disgusting. Sorry, have I offended? It’s 2pm, Friday the fifth, haven’t had, Moloch, breakfast yet. Moloch. Is it hot in here? O my enemy. Do I terrify?

I got a pair of Doc Martens. Birkenstocks, too. Thinking about getting some Timbs when I have the money. I should treat myself, right? I keep my shoes in a walk-in closet. Woe is the ever-wanting lesbian. Woe is the hole the holy alone.


C.J. Strauss is a transgender writer and artist currently pursuing their B.A. in English at Barnard College. Their art and writing has been published both internationally and domestically by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Claremont Review, Vade Mecum Magazine, GREYstone Youth Litmag, Echoes Literary Magazine, RATROCK Magazine, and the Barnard Bulletin. C.J. presently interns at the Poetry Society of New York and the Visible Poetry Project where their responsibilities include social media management and community engagement.

Photo: Jon Tyson

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self-portrait as bird flying into window -wanda deglane

dead bird

and when you pull over, you’re still screaming,
hands held shaking in front of you like the skin

of them must not be real. my body hurled into
your windshield like mid-autumn hailstorm. my body

leaves streaks of blood and feathers and blindsided
desecration. my body the railroad tracks and

the trainwreck. the punching bag and the percussion
instrument. the pigeon queen, at once both sickness

and softness. you’re stumbling out of your vehicle,
sobs chiming from your throat. you see from

far away a mash of gray and white and red and bone.
tell yourself you can look at me up close. the carnage,

and the tenderness vomited from its mouth. there is
a strange grief inside you and you don’t know how

to free it from your ribs. there was a grief inside me,
and it spills an ocean on this asphalt.


Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).

Photo: Chris Slupski

i run into wolves running – ghost #13

ruslan

i run into wolves running
into me into mirrors into
switchbacks into endless
forests along endless rivers

i run into wolves running
into walls into hiding into
rebirth into fires in rooms
that they may not ever find

i run into wolves running
into death into memory
into the precision of a
scalpel into the western west

and therein i die and i die
and i run and i die and i
see it there on the shelves
the dust attracted to the

light like moths attracted
to fire like wolves attracted
to movement to packs to
new mentality until they too

die. and i too die. and if
not now then when and
if not now then when?
then when?

 we are ghosts. then when?


ghost #13 is something something something. they are from somewhere, sometime. this one is dedicated to someone someone, another ghost, i’m sure.

Photo: Ruslan Bardash

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unfolding – mela blust

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daughter is the sun
the religion i once shunned
i place my hand on my belly
where life once bloomed
mother womb’s fertile whisper
the musings of god
as the waning rays of child-light fade
i can no longer hold her in the gentle
butterfly net
her wings
budding now through cerise skin –
how love can be
a guide into the ether
how i cannot let it be a trap

 

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Mela Blust is a moonchild, and has always had an affinity for the darkness. Her work has appeared in Isacoustic, Rust+Moth, Anti Heroin Chic, Califragile, and more. 

Photo: Suzanne D. Williams 

i am from a lie – nicki quinn

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I am from a lie
From a sad truth that turned into a lie
I am from a place of sadness and depression
I am from a rose that cuts and tears your flesh
I am from a tree of death and darkness
From hell itself
I am from the sex gone wrong
From a waste of time and slavery
I’m from a trench that was dug for me
I’m from Hawaii. A beautiful place
From Hawaii, and a state of regret
From a mother that was a teen
I’m from a sex addict
From a woman wanting to be an owner

 

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Bio: Nicki Quinn is an idea. The main thing to know is that she seems to be one thing but sometimes is another. It all depends on the day, mood, and time.

Photo: Buzz Andersen

four poems – amee nassrene broumand

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Pacific Northwest Gothic

Wires coil within the muddy deep.

Apples thump
upon the ground. Midday dark
becomes bloody murk at dusk,
the hush of streets swallowed whole.

In the kitchen with the red drapes,
she binges cake in the dark.
Mother howls upstairs, upset
by the low & bellow
of the train.

Beaks flicker in the rail yards,
soon to roost by the cold slaps
of the Columbia.

 

Fallout

A rose torn from the ground
rushes downstream in the dark—
from my window I hear
roaring.

Night erupts into feasts & fireflies
& convivial ankles. Electric wheels burst
behind the waterfall—

the year crests down,
a fierce swan about to strike.

Moths thump upon a shuttered pane.
Blood ebbs.
Gulls & sandpipers mourn upon the harbor.
The skies morph into bleared chalkboards—
bang the erasers together & watch the dust rise,
snow bubbling in November’s tumult.

Douglas firs sprawl in the ochre light & howl.

Livid thunderheads—
the city flutters off the earth,
a gleaming kite into the void.
Noise bites my spine, taking hold.

I pause—

the radiant umbrella
sweeps overhead & closes. My skin

falls away, clumps of wet sand. I erode
running through the noise—

everything’s violet.

 

Opal’s Chatterbox

the decaying storefront evokes the suburbs I recall the pangs of spring magnolia trees still erupt in fleshy blooms purple wounds among long & spiky bones the greening of the year passes into the clouds skeletons rumble in a drawer with feathers & a honeycomb ghost until I throw it all away dust of marrow & pine sap eggshells years unspool widening the gap between us bicycle tracks snake through cement like casts of fossilized vertebrae gathering raindrops into mirrors for drowning swallows bound gagging they fade too the drums & the cages there was once a field on the way home where a barn rotted & rotted until the spine gave way & the roof fell—no I don’t have a photograph

Hydrothermal Vent

City street. The ocean bubbles through
a fissure in the tar. No one notices.

A woman leaps from a taxi—
a scribbled sheet, crumpled, falls from her lap
to the olive sea,
unfolding. On the corner

a hypnotic anesthetist grins over fistfuls of balloons.

Nine minutes later a paper child
climbs from the sea, up
through the road
& catches a trouser leg
to the taxi.

 

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Amee Nassrene Broumand is an Iranian-American poet from the Pacific Northwest. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in FIVE: 2:ONE, Sundog Lit, A-Minor Magazine, Empty Mirror, Menacing Hedge, Barren Magazine, Word Riot, & elsewhere. She served as the March 2018 Guest Editor for Burning House Press. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand.

 

Photo: José Martín Ramírez C

death valley – paul ilechko

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Clubfoot bravado
in seventies cheesecloth

he curses as the freighter
pulls away         his heavy

stare reflects a hatred
for all things golden

he lives for concrete
he lives for the hot

black ribbon beneath
a desert sun       a locked-in

world of tinted windshields
and leather plumage

rejoicing in the dialogue
between metal and stone

a voice that oscillates
across the valley

till twilight falls
and the new-found stars

weep again for the madness
of his remembering.

 

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Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, formercactus, Sheila-Na-Gig, Marsh Hawk Review and Rockvale Review. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

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Photo by David Everett Strickler

paper towel roll – jacob butlett

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“Gay males are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.” – National Eating Disorders Association

 

While the moon yawns outside the bedroom window,
I think of him as a white paper towel roll at a party:
In the beginning, a baby in the plastic-tight embrace

of his mother. Smooth, sensitive, plump,
he eyed others crowding around him, squeezing him,
soiling him with dirty hands of disappointment,

he believed. Holding me in the bed we used to own,
he once told me he hated himself for being himself,
for being the vanity’s prank upon the planet.

Since childhood, he’s thrown sheets of himself, papery
shreds of flesh, into the trashcan of life. Nothing remains
except a cold gauze of skin over his bones, the exposed

cardboard roll of his spine, which now I caress as he
falls asleep dreaming of what? Dreaming of food he’ll
never eat? Acceptance he’ll never accept?

I don’t want to compare him to a paper towel roll—
to any other object, for that matter—but as long as he retreats
into himself, refusing my help, how can I not see his body broken?

His spine’s a cracked telescope, fractured kaleidoscope,
revealing little in its lens, in its limited lightshow:
a glimpse of the brilliant borealis of his upbringing,

a glimpse of his future—colored slides in the light?
I imagine pressing an ear against his sunken chest,
a smashed treasure chest harboring, I hope, an ocean’s lullaby,

an ocean’s laughter. But now I hear him—
snores hoarse, whimpers raspy—begging to be more,
to be firm as muscles, firm as fat filling dead space.

Tomorrow we’ll talk. He and I will talk about this tomorrow,
before he fades forever like a breeze in the trees outside.
Until then, I close the curtains, tucking the moon into bed,

snuggle down under the covers, dark as an ossuary,
and dream of him—his smile wide as the crescent moon,
his once bulky body now protected in the warm plastic of my arms.

 

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Former poetry editor and longtime gay author Jacob Butlett (he/him) holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2012 he earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for his fiction, 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, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.  

Photo: kaluci