Sex at the Airport – Paula Bonnell

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This is an act
in which the other is absent
They may or may not
be physically present
but always abstracted
David Leavitt leaves
the house next door
Arriving passengers
complain to you
of the static – your sex
jammed their headsets
and shocked their children
They would have you believe
what you did was not private
But did anything happen?
you ask yourself hopelessly
It was carnivorous
they accuse
and yet
naming your feelings
seems almost an insult
to the other
when what is wanted
are acts of love
serum-filled
specific as dreams


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Paula Bonnell’s poems have appeared in such periodicals as APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle, and Spillway, and in four collections, including Airs & Voices, chosen by Mark Jarman for a Ciardi Prize; Message, a hardcover debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, a story in free verse of a child’s kindergarten year, and tales retold, as well as winning awards from the New England Poetry Club, the City of Boston, and Negative Capability, among others.  www.paulabonnell.net

Art by Bill Wolak

 

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Bill Wolak has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared as cover art for such magazines as Phoebe, Harbinger Asylum, Baldhip Magazine, Barfly Poetry Magazine, Ragazine, Cardinal Sins, Pithead Chapel, The Wire’s Dream, Thirteen Ways Magazine, Phantom Kangaroo, Rathalla Review, Free Lit Magazine, Typehouse Magazine, and Flare Magazine.

Temple of Christ – Amanda E.K.

 

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Photo by Bianca Berg

 

 

Temple of Christ

In the dressing room, pre-photoshoot, the others start to strip down and change into their costumes. I stand frozen, clothes in my arms that I planned to change into in the bathroom, but now that everyone’s changing out in the open I feel prudish for seeking privacy.

 

I’m taken back to middle school, high school locker rooms—to changing rooms at the pool, and to sleepovers where I was the only one who seemed to be anxious about showing my body. The only one who seemed to think that bodies weren’t for flaunting, or even for being comfortable letting other people see. 

 

I hear that old voice tell me: “This isn’t allowed for you, even if it’s allowed for others.” It’s the voice that tells me to lessen myself, to withdraw, to separate. (Be in the world, not of it.) It’s a childlike feeling, like when adults tell you to plug your ears and close your eyes because you’re not old enough to know what they know.

 

I was told my body was a temple of Christ, and though I’m no longer a Christian I’m alarmed to realize I still believe this. Not that my body belongs to Jesus like a temporary gift to take care of—but that it’s something to earn. I still believe the sight of my naked body must be earned. That I shouldn’t reveal it to just anyone, and that the people who do see me and touch me should feel privileged to do so.

 

Where is the line between vanity and self-respect?

 

The Church made me believe my body is nothing but sexual.

 

Standing in the corner of the room, awkward and quiet, I’m surprised and frustrated to realize I still have these inclinations toward body-shyness (especially since I spend most of my time at home in the nude). 

 

It feels wrong to see the other women’s naked breasts, their butts. I try not to look, but can’t avoid it. But for them it seems like nothing, completely natural. 

 

I think: Should I be just as comfortable? Is that really okay?

 

So I take off my shirt (facing the wall). I feel silly for my discomfort. (It’s no big deal, after all.) Maybe I’m worried I’ll be aroused, and that arousal is inappropriate. But it’s not that. It’s hard to reframe messages instilled when you are young. But now that I’m aware I can start.


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Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer

Art by Ann Marie Sekeres

 

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A long time ago, Ann Marie Sekeres went to art school and learned to paint.  She showed a bit around New York in the 90s, but didn’t get where she wanted to be, but did become a very happy museum and nonprofit publicity director and started a family.  She found out about the procreate drawing app from an illustrator she hired, stole her kid’s iPad and has been drawing every day since.  Follow her work at @annmarieprojects on Instagram. 

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.

Two Poems — Martina Reisz Newberry

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Into the Skid

for Alexis Rhone Fancher

The year I lost my virginity,
Marilyn Monroe took her own life.

She’d had it.
She didn’t want it anymore.

She didn’t care about John Glenn
orbiting the earth. She’d orbited

the earth lots of times
with champagne and Nembutal

waltzing elegantly in her magical body.
I cared about orbiting the earth

and figured losing my virginity
would be about the same thing.

We’d been to see “West Side Story”
and our shared grief at Tony’s demise

and Maria’s devastation took us
to the Los Cochinos Motel
(Hourly, Daily, Monthly Rates–Free T.V!).

There, in the aluminum light
of Gunsmoke’s dusty tribulations,

I unbuttoned my blouse,
he unbuttoned his jeans,

I unzipped my skirt,
he took off his socks,
I dug in my purse for a mint,
he dug in his pocket for a condom.

Stripping, I thought,
surely doesn’t take long.

The Beatles were on the radio,
sang “Love Me Do,” and that’s

what I was thinking as he tried
to figure out where to touch me

to unleash my passion. My passion
seemed to want to stay leashed.

The progression from there
is everyone’s story:

the French Kiss,
the hard, close embrace,
the tweaking and the tracing–

that unskilled first dance
that everyone knows.

It took 12 minutes; I counted them,
peering somewhat unsteadily

at my Timex watch–a graduation gift
from my parents. It kept good time.

I must confess, I was unimpressed.
He said, You’ll get to like it the more we do it.

When I told my roommate about it,
she said the whole sex thing was an

orchestrated hoax, laid on women
to keep them encumbered and enslaved.

She said that, during our lifetimes,
there might be a few encounters that would

produce momentary ecstasy, but, to stay sane,
I shouldn’t depend on that

The night we went to see “Dr. No,”
he started to drive in to Los Cochinos again.

I protested. I said, not this time. He said,
The more we do it, the better you’ll like it.

“We?” I thought, “Meaning you and me?
“We?” I thought, and dropped him like a hot rock.

 

White Italian*

When I nudged my IV Pole down the hallway,
I thought of myself as a snail.

The floors–slick and clean–warned me to venture
slowly and leave no trail–I was, after all,

so much lighter than usual and was somewzat
addicted to proving myself.

So, I walked, slowly, looking down at my feet,
wondering how a hospital stay

could take away my warm, soft, sexy feet
and leave these icy, wrinkled, bluelined feet
in their stead.

Then there was the dead end of the hallway,
right smack in front of me
a plane of choices:

go to the right, no go left, no, best to turn around
and go back to my room;

best to let the IV Pole know rest, let a warmed
blanket hide and hug my self.

Really quite ill says the doctor. Really ill for now,
but we’ll get you better.

The snail in me uncurls, straightens out on the bed.
The snail believes in getting better.

* Theba pisana, commonly named the White Garden Snail, is an edible species of medium-sized, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Helicidae, the typical snails. (Source: Wikipedia)


martina

Martina Reisz Newberry is the author of 6 books of poetry. Her  most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE ( from Deerbrook Editions), and TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (Unsolicited Press).  She is also the author of WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). She has been included in “The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018” (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff). Newberry has been included in As It Ought to Be, Big Windows, Courtship of Winds, The Cenacle, Cog, Futures Trading, and many other literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is included in the anthologies Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Moontide Press Horror Anthology,  A Decade of Sundays: L.A.’s Second Sunday Poetry Series-The First Ten Years, In The Company Of Women, Blessed Are These Hands and Veils, and Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. Passionate in her love for Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.

Preheat – Shoshana Lovett-Graff

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Photo: Isaac Quesada

When I was five years old, I said to my mother, I want to be a frittata when I grow up.

No. she said. No, no baby. You can’t be a frittata. Why not? I asked. I love frittatas. I love cracking eggs, I love shredded cheese, and I love the little green bits that you mix into the bowl. Why can’t I be a frittata? Because you’re a Jew, baby. Jews can’t go in the oven, not ever again. Not a toaster oven? No. Not an easy bake oven? No. You can never think about being a frittata, nor write about being a frittata. If you dream about being a frittata, you must wake up and make yourself have new dreams. As Jews, we don’t use the oven. We don’t think about the oven. We can’t look at the oven. The oven is locked in a box, buried underground, and guarded by a man who swallowed the keys nearly a century ago. Those keys are never coming out. My mother put her arm around me and said, Just remember baby. The oven is buried so deep, no one can touch it again. You’ll never become a frittata.

I forgot about wanting to become a frittata. I thought about lots of things I could become instead. I was afraid of the oven, and I did not go near one for many years.

One day, I sat in my office and read that a man in a uniform rammed his truck into a protester’s leg and broke it. Before I could read it again, it was gone, his internal bleeding replaced with clickbait articles, the ambulance ride overridden by ten facts about a topic I could not remember. Four other protestors hit by the truck. An ad for a jacket to cover myself. Pepper spray to their eyes. An op-ed with comments that burned. The man’s uniform said: I-C-E. The protestor’s sign said: Never Again Para Nadie.

I opened my mouth, perched on the ledge of something I wanted to say. Before I could speak, eggs began pouring out. The yolk, wet and warm, dribbled down my lips. I collected them in my lap, and sat, waiting. I wanted an opening to grow in my computer screen, a hot gap I could crawl into. It just had to be large enough that someone else could climb into my body, sit swaying in my office chair, and I could become a frittata.

With each egg from my lips, I thought about a book I saw at my boyfriend’s house called Eggs and Cheese. It showed all the ways you could make eggs and cheese. An omelette, a souffle, a quiche, or a frittata.

My boyfriend did not have a book called Protesters and Cars, which showed all the ways protesters and cars could interact. A protester could ride in a car to a protest, or convince a car to honk in support. You could also hit a protester with a car, stop, then pump the gas pedal and drive through a line of protesters sitting cross-legged on the ground. These are all recipes in a book that has not yet been written.

There is no recipe for a protest. Just like my grandmother said, It’s all guesswork to decide which spices get simmered into the dish midway through. I have never read instructions about who gets to lock eyes with a Rhode Island license plate drawing close and fast.

My computer screen finally cracked open, and I found my grandmother sitting there like a settled stack of dishes. She said, Look up, there you are. She said,

If you want to use the oven then by the grace of God, use it. She said,

Before the existence of ovens, someone baked on hot stones outside and before there were hot stones, there was the sun on your back. She said,

When I bake, I don’t think about Jews and eggs and whether you’re allowed to crack open the ground and dig up boxes with keys in men’s stomachs. She said,

It runs down the back of your neck and trickles down your spine into new generations, then it spreads and sprouts on untouched ground. She said,

Your grandfather only eats cold cereal with milk because he is afraid of the oven. She said,

Breakfast is just news left unopened. She said, If you crawl in here with me you will find out that hiding from the oven is the same as hiding in the oven. The oven is made to be used.

I sat spitting eggs for three more hours, then I turned off my computer and made myself a frittata in my kitchen. I waited for my mother to get home.


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Shoshana Lovett-Graff (she/her) is a white, Jewish queer writer originally from New Haven, Connecticut. Her work has been published in Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, The Flexible Persona (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Atlas + Alice, Poetica, Blink-Ink, and more.

Cutting Bones – Morgan Ventura

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They cut bones
while their lover saws coconuts.

Lining them up against the brick wall,
there is nothing for the sun to bleach.

Tinny, tenacious shrieks
pierce the air and emit an aria.

Metallic, it leaves a poor taste on the tongue,
the kind of putrid fur no scraper can peel.

The sound of bones primordial
against a backdrop of bold, fuzzy shells

hangs over human heads,
calculating, ruminating, no other than a bored specter.

One person struggles to find meaning,
but is left with the other cradling the saw.

Trapped within the jungle’s fury,
even the bones are not themselves.


Morgan Ventura is a writer and folklorist from the Midwest. Her poetry has appeared in The Raven’s Perch, Really Serious Literature, Ghost City Review and is forthcoming in Clockwise Cat, while her essays have been featured in Jadaliyya and Folklore Thursday. When she is not interviewing archaeologists, she enjoys podcasts, experimental film, and exploring ruins. She splits her time between Oaxaca, Chicago, and the forests of Connecticut.