perpetuating itself of flashes of quicksilver of fish-knives. My parents.
When the sermon was streamed in the old South, it was creamy, a small amount amounting.
Whatever I thought of / against me, little queer hook, I was writing on my centurial skull.
Until something ovarian. A tucked testicle. I felt her tapping, almost at full plank: Petal.
Philip Matthews is the author of “Witch” (Alice James Books, 2020) and “Wig Heavier Than a Boot” (Kris Graves Projects, 2019), a collaboration with David Johnson. A poet from eastern North Carolina, he currently resides in Sauk County, Wisconsin where he is Director of Programs at Wormfarm Institute. Up to this point, his practice has anchored in site-specific meditation and performance: he is curious about what happens next. philipandpetal.com / @philipandpetal
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center has an exhibition Aug 14- Sept 23, 2020. The Space Between explores issues of queer identity, sexuality, and relationships through the works of three contemporary artists, including two photographers and a poet. In “Through the Lens of Desire,” Kris Sanford uses vintage photography from the 1920s – 1950s to explore an imagined queer history. “Wig Heavier Than a Boot,” is a collaboration of poetry and images that reveals Petal, a persona whom Philip Matthews manifests to write about and David Johnson photographs.
your breasts hang in a fog & you can no longer see the ceiling or clouds & can no longer
feel your ( ) you do not know where they are
his jeans ripped at the knee showed hair ( ) & dried scraps he says unreasons says hair says bodies says sweat says it won’t matter once it’s done
a pear split so that you could dig out the seed to see what you’ve always wanted to rid ( )
hexagon breath turning like a wheel up your throat clunky like ( it was man-made ) the air was yellow & glittering sharp a fast sun was it always so full-bodied
until then you had always loved yellow
it was like a side stitch after running too far it pierced that you looked to the stars & ran to find thread sew sew sew it tighter
your opening is gone it is red & songblue it wasn’t firework it wasn’t a redred balloon it was a dried puddle
set of drawers with kids’ clothing the shade of moths’ wings holes absorbing the mahogany grief this is the morning you decide your new outfit
it was late late light loose hair clinging to plastic rose petals quiet & dry
( ) you kept wanting to close the shades to stop the light to just know the lick of darkness to just be in it & not be talked at about pointed stars & wishes they made
if you are caught in quicksand you have to lay down flat spread your limbs hold your weight in your chest you must face palms up & open like the sky you watch who is blue & counting ( close) your eyes (think) of water (think) of the year the flood came & swept your home away
he said he found a ring it was diamonds cut from earth just like you how you were born he slipped it over your ankles, thighs, hips ( * ) & when he reached your stomach rock after rock fell out of you & became the ring became a gift of the earth’s ground
Violet Mitchell is a Denver-based writer and artist. She earned a B.A S. in cognitive literary studies and is completing an MFA degree in creative writing poetry, both from Regis University. Her work has been published in Heavy Feather Review, The Blue Route, Sixfold, Word for Word, ANGLES, Furrow Magazine, and several other journals. She received the Robert A. O’Sullivan, S.J. Memorial Award for Excellence in Writing in 2019.
Loneliness has transformed into electric-green cacti and short, spiny plants. Anxiety raises flowers that look vibrant and oily in the daylight. Restlessness enriches the earth, coloring flora with a spill of magenta, a blaze of orange.
In the end, fear evaporates entirely under the sun. It turns into the soil caked under her nails, the wet clumps that stick to her thighs and the back of her knees.
This garden takes terrible things and puts them to good use.
At least, that’s what she tells herself.
ii. When Jena is eight, her father picks her up from school and drives for two days straight.
He tells her it’s for the best.
Sometimes, he says, running is the only thing a person can do.
The farther they drive, the quieter she becomes. Tears dry to salt on her skin. Beneath their feet, the thunderous rhythm has become something dangerous.
In her mind, she disappears.
Jena feels safe amongst the shrubs. She can easily envision this sanctuary, and so she builds it. Trees and plants and birds sprout from the ground. They start as feathery buds with paper-thin roots. As their bodies take shape, her father’s voice thins into the breeze, his face hardens to bedrock.
Every time fear creeps in, her hands form fists. With the garden she can outrun it, outmatch it, and she barely has to wait before it subsides in the grass.
iii. Jena doesn’t know it yet, but theirs will be a life on the move.
It will start with a string of motels. Each one will be indistinguishable from the next, with their jelly-lit signs, the soap slivers that cut her skin. They will turn into a monochromatic blur of vending machines and scratchy sheets and stained walls.
Soon, she won’t be able to fall asleep without barks of laughter, or the drone of a generator. It will feel unnatural to sit outside the cramped design of a car. Most of her spare time will be spent in a garden that never changes.
Years will pass before she is home again, standing in a room that no longer feels like her own.
Alyssa Jordan is a writer living in the United States. She pens literary horoscopes for F(r)iction Series. Her stories can be found or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, X–R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Reflex Fiction, and more. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her partner or watching too many movies. You can find her on Twitter @ajordan901 and Instagram @ajordanwriter.
She likes to pull out her pubic hair one at a time. She waits until a forest of spindly black vines has grown between her thighs, eagerly anticipating how strong each strand will be, how thick the roots will have become.
Little slivers of pain accompany the loss of each hair. She studies the water-encapsulated tip, the fibrous black strand. She would like to uproot other things. If she could, she’d start with all the people who have caused her pain.
Mostly, she’d like to uproot the people she hears about on the news, the ones who are sometimes women but usually men.
She likes to imagine her hand gripping a pair of tweezers, snapping the pincers open and shut—like a hungry alligator—before fitting the silver tongs around each of their heads, pulling them out at the root.
Each time she tweezes her pubic hair, the pain gets a little sharper. Her smile grows a little wider.
How nice it is, she thinks, to clear the debris.
Alyssa Jordan is a writer living in the United States. She pens literary horoscopes for F(r)iction Series. Her stories can be found or are forthcoming in The Sunlight Press, X–R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Reflex Fiction, and more. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with her partner or watching too many movies. You can find her on Twitter @ajordan901and Instagram @ajordanwriter.
Rain and night, Minneapolis,
us, and four suitcases.
Greyhound and a city bus.
Clipped roll in the night. A fade.
Looking west from a pink bedroom
full of linens for a guest,
my eyelids sagging, colored
red from liquor and cinnamon sticks.
If it was noble
to correct the market
the unemployed would be given medals,
and we’d wear them.
Thrum of an airplane overhead.
Recall its low-flying drone again,
and my fingers guide the wind around her flame.
We are lonely in this manmade valley.
Teens clang and hang like bats
from the half-dome batting cage behind our backs.
The water table underneath permeates
the sheds that shake beside the lakes.
This common source of poisoning
affects all things that drink from me.
Here’s a tip for the welfare line:
a note on letterhead from the mayor.
*pieces of this poem were originally published as “Track 16: Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.” in Opossum
Matthew DeMarco lives in Chicago. His work has appeared on Poets.org and in Ghost City Review, Landfill, Sporklet, Glass, and elsewhere. Poems that he wrote with Faizan Syed have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Dogbird, and They Said, an anthology of collaborative writing from Black Lawrence Press. He tweets sporadically from @M_DeMarco_Words.
I got sick at Sunday School today—threw
up outside our portable building when
we got to that part in the Good Book where
Jesus raised up Lazarus from the dead.
I don’t want to die at all but when I
do I want to stay dead or I’ll scare Hell
out of everyone when I get up
on my feet again and all covered with dirt
and maybe blood and guts, depending how
I kick. And for breakfast all I had
was Tang and cornflakes and they came up all
over the spring-green grass where the spigot
leaks by the front porch, that’s as far as I
got before I vomited. If my dog
had been there he would’ve lapped it up but
I would’ve stopped him though still he’d try. I
asked Miss Hooker after class—she let me
sit on the porch while class was going on
without me sitting in our half-circle
(she’s my teacher and a lot to look at,
red hair and green eyes and freckles) if I
would go to Hell for getting sick in class
and she said, No, no, that I had gotten the demons out, meaning Tang and cornflakes
I guess, and I forgot the milk, maybe
it had soured, it came up, too. My stomach
was naked—empty I mean, naked is
a sin, I think, especially at church,
they don’t even bury dead folks that way.
I usually walk home but this time
Miss Hooker drove me after Sunday School,
it’s not far, a little less than a mile.
When we stopped in the driveway I got sick
all over again, but it was just love
that made me start to dry-heave and all that
came forth was air. Still, I got out of there
fast and barely said goodbye but I’ll get
my place in Heaven, Miss Hooker felt it
too, even if she’s 25 to my
10, and now I’m afraid to go back next
Sunday with her in my soul instead of
God but I think that’s how babies get made
and without them we wouldn’t have people
and no one else would ever rise again,
in Heaven at least, and live like angels
forever and never get hungry and
never hurl. And all because God hates us.
In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said that if
we have an enemy we should love him.
Or her. And if he wants to take our cloak,
to let him. Whatever a cloak is. Or
her. And to give him our coat, also. Or
her again. She says that Jesus said so
and He’s the Son of God. That’s good enough
for me, I guess. No wonder they killed Him.
They didn’t get away with it because
He rose from the dead. It took three days. Me,
if I had to rise from the dead, without
any help from God, I mean, I’d still be
trying to rise at the end of the world.
I’m small for my age. 10. Miss Hooker says
—and she’s our teacher and she ought to know
—that when I die my soul goes to Heaven
to be judged. She says that in our church that we
don’t think the soul just hangs around until
Judgement Day but that it goes lickety
-split to Heaven. I guess it hardly has
the time to know that it’s not still inside
a body. It shows up at God’s throne and
He asks an angel to pass Him the Book
of Life and the angel obeys, that means
he does what he’s told, or she, and God looks
through the Book and hunts up the name and if
He finds it you get to stay in Heaven
but if He don’t—doesn’t—you go to Hell.
She says it’s that simple. I wonder if
God wears glasses. He’s older than Father and
Grandfather and all the folks who’ve ever
lived and ever will. That’s powerfully
old. Miss Hooker says that we need to pray
everyday to be forgiven for our many sins. I don’t think I have many
but I’ve been wrong before, about plenty
of things. Like the one about the screen door
on that submarine to keep out the fish.
That made sense to me. It keeps out the bugs
at our house. But a screen door in a sub,
that’s short for submarine, would let the sea
Then the sailors would drown. They’re sailors
even though they’re underwater. Well, not
underwater all the time. But on land
are they still sailors? I rest my case. When
Sunday School’s almost over Miss Hooker
tells one of us to say the Lord’s Prayer
and we all say it along with him. Or
her. This morning was my turn. I stumbled
because I was thinking about the screen
door on that submarine. It might work out
when the sub isn’t underwater but
floating on the top. It would keep out birds.
Then there may be a fish who likes to leap
out of the water and back in again.
In that case he’d bounce right off it. Or she.
So I guess that I’m not entirely wrong, entirely means completely. Only sin
is entirely wrong, and I never pray
to be forgiven for being stupid.
If I die in being-stupid I won’t
go to Hell. If I die in sin, I will.
Someone might say that sinning is stupid
but they’re just mincing hares. Hares is rabbits.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals, and has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.
I am starting a gofundme to raise money for the first ever print journal to be distributed by the literary and arts collective I run, South Broadway Ghost Society, and I am asking your help by pledging anything you can to help, big or small.
In the last four months since inception, South Broadway Ghost Society has grown immensely. We’ve already featured hundreds of writers, poets, artists and photographers, many of which right of of Denver, on our online journal, our curated Instagram and on social media at large. We’ve hosted four very eclectic events thus far: a reading at Mutiny Information Cafe, an open mic for letters at the Corner Beet, an intimate poetry/music mashup at Green Lady Gardens and most recently, an art gallery/live music/poetry event out of Thought/Forms Gallery near the Arts District on Santa Fe.
Ghost Society has 100% of my heart in it. I’ve made a commitment to myself to dedicate at least ten years to this project, wherein I intend to continue hosting events and I am very excited to announce, start an annual print journal which I aim to have distributed as largely as possible. Outside of obvious avenues of distribution like local and chain bookstores, I also want to get the journal into metaphysical stores and would love to have tables at events such as the Denver Zine Fest, DiNK and the Curiosities & Oddities Expo. The magazine will be fully illustrated with art and photography featured against works of writing from every genre; poetry, non-fiction, essays, fiction, recipes, spells, whatever finds its way to us.
I am asking for your help to make that happen. Our goal of $999 would make it possible to have the foundation to build up from there, to pay artists who are accepted into the print journal and get going on distribution this October. Thank you for considering investing in this project which means the world to me.
Even if you can’t donate, you can help a lot just by sharing the gofundme page. You can find that page HERE.
Founder/Editor-In-Chief, South Broadway Ghost Society
*Anyone who contributes $50 or more will receive a numbered first printing copy of the journal when it is available in October of 2019 mailed to you, or available for pickup at any of our events. Please include your address in the comments or email your physical address with the subject “Print Journal 50” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
did you turn off every light in every single room of your
house? did you dust the spaces between the spaces where
the diseases tend to creep in, the same way as the anxiety.
did the anxiety leave you lonely? feeling pushed back into
the walls you tried to escape? do the walls feel like they are
listening or are the walls too dense to feel? did you think to
water the dying plants? does the refrigerator hum sound
like a purring motor or a sonic death? do you ever use your
record player or does it just spin and spin and spin while
you lie on the floor like the floorboards? are you just like
the floorboards? how heavy do the dead lightbulbs swing?
how much of a house have you become because i miss the
way you’d walk around on those legs like sweet victory. i
miss the way you breathed deep with my ear to your chest
as i played amateur doctor. on the floor beside your bed
as i leaned in to you, cherishing the sound of something
other than everything because i get so sick of everything.
so omnipresent and in need of so much attention. and it
is just so invested in its own well being that it sometimes
forgets to breathe but you breathe and i breathe or we
did but now you’re a house. you are such a house and i
am just the short storm that blew at your shingles and
they didn’t move. they didn’t move. submit to soboghoso.
i want to eat every petal of every flower in every field
and fall asleep at night with a garden in the dust of the gut of me
churning into the soil of my stomach like some strange motor oil
and waking me in the dark soul of the night with new fucking flowers
new burning new beauty flowers organic and undaunted and honest
as night birds climb in mass on the top of the roof of this opera
and congregate to listen to the sound of me being born way too late
and way too late is never way too late when you’re born an opera
when you born of dead things as unusually and impeccably alive
a parade traveling through a graveyard at dusk inside of me
and never a question of what could have been because it all has been
because it all has been and i am awake and hungry and searching for petals
and searching for petals to ingest every segment of humanity over and again