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Jody Chan

the podcast defines nostalgia
+++++++++++— for Amil

as a defense mechanism, an escape
from present dissatisfactions to the past.
you explain this to me over herbal tea

& chickpea stir-fry in your kitchen, the roof
strung with saggy balloons from an ex-roommate’s
birthday party — nostalgia’s utility & how birds

would foliage the air with their good-morning
songs as your grandfather walked you & your brother
to school, back home in Guyana. I mean home

like a metaphor, I mean maybe this overdressed kitchen
on Cecil, where we amble through nature documentaries
& Hong Kong classics, a film club of two. missing

the point, I tell you I want memories for my future
nostalgia to latch onto. I have a habit of falling asleep
on your couch while you toss exclamation marks

into the air over tree frogs & cinematography.
forgive me. time with you tends towards ellipsis,

the exact right amount of distance between words.
I haven’t been sleeping well, lately. lately my brain

is a toddler throwing tomato sauce tantrums
into every stillness, except here in your kitchen, your
presence quieting the racket, painting the walls clean.

sometimes, restless, we trudge the hill to Casa Loma.
with Spadina splayed beneath us like a star-hemmed
scarf, the night elongates into a single runny sentence.

every morning, you say, you wake up missing everyone.
missing the point, I muse that memories are just films
told from a first-person point of view. Amil, in this

movie, you are the breath before the soundtrack’s
final chorus, when the melody grazes a higher octave.
or, you are the whisper of the drummer’s feet, tapping

on the floor to keep the beat. this is to say, I think
the song would fall apart without you. Amil, don’t miss

me. this night will end. tomorrow’s night will end.
but you, more than anyone, are fluent in the silent
spaces between one world & the next.

supporting evidence, seventeenth floor

the bedspring whispers, four creaky jambs; a haunted
house after the actors have left.

my palms pray into the pillow, wrists bent double.

the slats, long cracked, cave to our weight.

past the window’s shatterproof glass, a city’s anonymous dark; penetrated
by light, proof that life goes on for other people.

an empty socket sparks. dreams
split; ghostless, until morning.

Jody Chan is a writer and organizer based in Toronto. They are the poetry editor for Hematopoeisis and the author of haunt (Damaged Goods Press, 2018) and sick, winner of the 2018 St. Lawrence Book Award. Their work has been published in Third Coast, BOAAT, Yes Poetry, Nat. Brut, The Shade Journal, and elsewhere. They have received fellowships from VONA and Tin House. They can be found online at https://www.jodychan.com/ and offline in bookstores or dog parks.

Timothy Rico-Storey

Thoughts While Taking a Piss in the Men’s Room at the Atlantic House in Provincetown, MA

The first thing: Tennessee Williams walks naked
On a P-town beach downstairs in an oversized
Photo on the wall. Tastefully concealing his
Member by a crossed leg, the playwright strides
Under the sun. Upstairs in the Macho Bar’s
Dimly lit toilet, walls papered
In yellowed, faded images precisely cut
From the pages of Honcho and Inches and Drummer,
The next thing: these men and barely
Men, display cocks and asses,
Proud but in shadow, on the walls
Of the head where just a tiny
Ray of sunlight might make its way
Through a high, narrow window.

True, we queers come out more regularly in places
Like P-town, tourists among tourists,
Emboldened away from where there’s
No place like. Example: the two lanky
Cowboy-hat-and-boot-wearing men,
Who were walking down the street
Just this afternoon, arm in arm,
In nothing else but Ginch Gonch briefs
And sunglasses. Emboldened because,
Yes, no one cares because, yes, the tourism board Encourages the display for the breeders who,
Yes, now bring their pre-teen children to
Gawk. So the queers come out as we are
Always coming out. Like the cock
Of the walk, proud, decadent,
Snickering at the gawking,
Flesh and sinew on
Capital display,
Queer meat brings
Cash.

So I wonder, really, is this the P-town
That Williams and his ilk would have
Known? Walking naked on the beach—
Was this not the more greatly subversive
Act—photographed and displayed
For generations with no cover
Fee?

Still, in some regard, this upstairs getaway,
With its red lights and black walls
And nonstop hardcore mansex projected
On the screen opposite the bar,
This sanctum superiorem
Where fagboys and butchdaddies
And leathermen congregate around
Overpriced beer and strong cocktails
Sharing cock tales and over in the
Unlit alcove caressing cocks and tails,
This murky radar blip stands
Like an inverted lighthouse,
A pinpointed darkness that says:

+++++We are here, US of A, and
+++++You will forever wonder at
+++++The mechanics, ignoring
+++++The grammar of bodies
+++++That lust in a different
+++++Syncopation that you dare
+++++Not beat out.

Zipping up, I do not know
If protocol here demands
That the pisser be flushed
Or if the leathermen relish
The acrid build up of a night’s
Shared urine. I choose to
Flush and rejoin my husband
And a stranger
In the alcove in the dark
Above Williams above
His sun.

Timothy Rico-Storey is a part-time lecturer of freshman composition at the University of Louisville, in addition to being a writer and introverted menace. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his husband. You can find him on Twitter at @anilomit

Rebeca Flores

“No dreaming here please”

No dreaming here please.jpg

Krystal Cantú

Krytal Cantú

Rebeca Abidail Flores is a child of Central American and Mexican immigrants. She is an artist in San Francisco, California and has served as an artist in the Laureate Lab: Visual Words Studio under Juan Felipe Herrera. You can see some of her work in CWAA Literary Journal, Flies Cockroaches and Poets and San Joaquin Review.

Jennifer Greenberg

A Passive Aggressive Filibuster for Adulting

I could try those caffeine gums
that give you a buzz. I could make
a corporate decision. Glue antlers
on my head, to make a statement.
This isn’t a hipster confessional.
This is a wolf cry to a blank moon.
I might sprout whiskers from my face
at sundown, dream about war
in ancient times, when you had to be
strong to survive. I could
get a membership to the night life.
Paint my roses red in the dark. I could
get all the fixings for revenge,
ask my auntie for the recipe. I know
the only way to make it is to fake it, so
I keep my hands extended always.
You never know when
you’ll need to clean a spill.
Writing this in lipstick on my wall
will make it real. I know the placement
of mother-in-law tongues in the yard
to ward off an evil I’ve never met,
and I can make a man come
back without knowing what for.


Our House

In the new house we eat off a dead woman’s
china. The eggshell porcelain
makes our hands quiver;
we fear the fragile weight of bad luck.
In the sheetless bed we share a mug of water.
The backside of knees make a hollow
for other knees. We watch silent movies
in the dark, mimic the black-and-white faces
and flake insect wings off the light fixtures.

They say two births happen when a soul is born:
One of a child and one of a mother.
She asks why we come here.
The new house is  chalky and beaten
with hale. Its roof breathes out a sigh
every morning / sucks it back in at night.
We kill time gluing baseboards together,
run the garden hose all Summer.

I take time to take her in: savor the
cream-sweet scent of new skin, keep it
in my throat like the bee makes honey;
feel the collagen cheeks and celluloid
fluff of what will become a bicep, a heavy thigh;
her smile of deciduous teeth; the Roman lips someone will someday put their mouth to, the way I once told her father we are important to each other.

She asks why the moon
takes her mother to the porch each night, to
pray into a candle, breathe smoke like a
dragon.
In the bathroom I jump at my own
reflection; peel back paint bubbling
on the western wall.
Journals of algae bloom in the rafters.

God knows we mean well.

For a Child Leaving

She leaves behind her breakfast.
I pick off the ants sniffing around,
pressing them down with the pads
of my fingers. Indigenous people
would thank the animal when they kill it.
Such good manners.
The child left without an apology.
I waited in the kitchen, listening to nothing,
hoping to be interrupted.
We whisked egg whites into their yellow
embryos and fried them over red onions the
child staring, perplexed, my eyes
watering over the skillet. I kissed her
goodbye like making a lipstick stain
on an envelope, reminding her to call
once in a while. So much goes to waste
without gratitude. But the child
takes only what she needs, leaves
the rest for the world. Leaves me
grasping for some kind of affirmation,
a mother learning how to love
like a child: without permission.

Jennifer Greenberg is a Florida native working on her BA at the University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in Sonder Midwest and Chomp.

Akif Kichloo

My Father Says Poetry Will Not Pay My Bills, Clinical Practice Will

On the inside of my ribs, dreams flower into guilt,
turn into a familiar heaviness there is no getting used to.
My chest is nothing but fire, a dry-wood house that will burn
until all my desires are repressed. In my window,
the moon glitters, as if trembling with truth. Tonight,
to keep from dying, I bury myself in a poem.
The moon shirks in shame. Hides behind my father’s
mountain of a shadow. During the day, the sun lights my sky.
My sweat lubricates pistons of some hereditary engine inside my limbs. I run
from room to room. Patient to Patient. With my father egging me on, I cure
every illness my god has conjured. See, in my profession I correct
my god’s wrongs. In my passion I wrong my father’s right.
I don’t know how this art came to me. I don’t know when I became
everything I was never to be. But these words creep up on me, you know.
Jump out of dark allies and rob me of all comforts of the world.
I never see approval in my father’s aging face. And I write a poem.
I never spot peace in my mother’s beautiful eyes. And I write a poem.
My brother keeps forgetting my name. And. I write a poem.

homology-lit-.jpg

Akif Kichloo is a poet of Indian origin currently alternating residence between Saginaw, Michigan (USA) and Kashmir, J & K (India). With a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, he has been eating shoelaces for the past year because he gave up everything to write poetry.

T. Guzman

Gummy Bears—Things Necessary and Unnecessary

+++++Separation is necessary.
+++++But not really necessary.
+++++In that way that some things are.
+++++You must get out of bed. Remember to wash your hair. Brush your teeth, one minute top, one minute bottom. Look into the fridge and check the expiration dates of eggs and milk. Make a list. Apples and oranges and bananas. Let people know where you’ll be so they don’t think you’re dead. Text every once in a while. Maybe.
+++++This isn’t that sort of thing.
+++++It’s forks and knives and spoons. A thing of ease. Dedicated compartments shaped in outline of their intended recipient. The world will not end if you don’t. Nothing hinges on your peculiarities. You don’t have that kind of hubris.
+++++In the first apartment you ever lived in, you never bought one of those compartments.
+++++Kept every utensil in a Ziploc baggie.
+++++Intermingled.
+++++Contained so that when you opened the drawer it wouldn’t make that scraping noise that gave you headaches. You were happy in that apartment. Even when you weren’t. The planes that flew over every thirty minutes became a thing you missed. The way all conversations stopped organically at their approach, starting back up again after they passed with hardly a nod or look of recognition. Annoyance passed into the unnoticed.
+++++Green, Yellow, Orange.
+++++In that order.
+++++Red or White last. Under most situations, the difference is negligible. A matter of mood. Time of day. White in the sunlight, Red in the wind. The shift in the pressure of your joints as the clouds come.
+++++Waiting.
+++++For the apartment to flood. For the rain and muck and slip to back up the old ceramic pipes, breeched by tree roots planted too close or maybe not too close long ago when they were planted, but too close now. The gray. The indecisiveness in the air—humidity and sirens. Put all your things on top of other things you don’t mind getting wet. Light a candle for each room. Then assuming White is grape flavored, and Red is Cherry or Strawberry, White first then Red. But in the case that White is Pineapple, Red being in this case Raspberry, one of each is preferable, though this will deplete the supply faster and may not last the night. An alternating order is also acceptable.
+++++It’s not really all that important.
+++++Whims and fancy.

+++++Green must be eaten first.
+++++First because Green is objectively garbage, tasting nothing like lime which is itself an undesirable flavor, but at least recognizable—sweet and dull with an aftertaste of uninspired that only ever reaches heights of unpleasant when eaten in succession. Like dark matter, Green is only definable by what it is not—its effects on the bodies that surround it. It must be endured. Days without potable water. Trees on power lines, on houses and cars. The busses never come no matter how long you wait. You’ve given up on the metro and walk. Miles across food deserts expanded by downed grid and cash only and who carries cash among these unpaved sidewalks littered with old McDonald’s cups and redlining. The chill never leaves you, bathing in the cold for weeks. Your core temperature is permanently lowered because everything is transitory, and overtime, if you find that Green, in an act that feels alchemic in nature, becomes something you enjoy eventually equal to that of Red or White, your bewilderment is justified. Repetition and enjoyability are counter intuitive.
+++++It’s okay to be disturbed by this.
+++++It’s, in fact, disturbing.
+++++Time plays a factor.
+++++Continue the order Green, Yellow, Orange.
+++++The guilt of enjoying Green will fade.
+++++Yellow and Orange, no matter how much you consume, will always be mediocre.
+++++The world makes very little sense.

+++++The ratios may be off.
+++++It is a flaw that happens.
+++++Most of the time worrying about this is unnecessary. Quality control is, for the most part, consistent. Yes, there will be occasions when there are too many Yellows. Oranges for days. Reds few. Whites nonexistent. Greens, Greens, Greens, everywhere so that you’re certain mistakes were made. Unlike clothing, the inspector is never listed. It is not something you can track. There is no way of knowing. Perhaps, it’s a matter of sleep. Maybe, they lie awake on the futon in the living room for hours and hours waiting. Perhaps, once they’ve finally drifted off, the apartment shudders. The pots and pans and glasses and bowls clink. Rattle. Their roommate emerges from their room. You are awake again. You can’t explain the unexplainable. Earthquake. Planes flying too low and off course. How are you to know? Translucent packaging is to be sought after, but the unexpected cannot be prepared for. If you must move from color to color eating till the ratio is satisfactory, knowing that you will leave at least one color with an extra or two—asymmetry being desirable in certain circumstances—do not be alarmed.
+++++Do what must be done.
+++++Small acts of control are not something to be concerned about.
+++++When you were younger, you read about walking meditation from a book you purchased from Disney World. Read on the returning flight. The woman next to you desiring your window seat, craning her neck forward and over many times to see the expanse of clouds and blue. The gridded landscape. Plots of rectangles. Trapezoid. The odd triangle, obtuse.
+++++To go through like a thread in a loom.
+++++Taking full breaths before each step. Walking in circles, in long lines, back and forth. There are twenty-four steps from the sink to your room that you never go into. Eleven to the futon. Five from the front door. You read the greatest of monks, spending their entire life in the practice, were able to adapt this so that life was spent in near perpetual nonthinking, awareness entirely in the present action. Their hands are wet as they wash the rice. The grains minuscule, individual. The sun is warm in the garden. Scent of earth and moisture. The ground is firm underfoot.
+++++Everything around them passes without judgment, affect.
+++++Do they ever have to put things on top of other things?
+++++When the room shudders, are they concerned?
+++++Their robes heavy.
+++++Bodies reduced of all that is superfluous.
+++++You will consider this as you eat each one.
Green, Yellow, Orange, in that order.

T.Guzman writes, and does things in general. MFA student at Northern Michigan University. Hopes to one day be a robot. Splits time between the UP and Southern California. Tweets @t_guzman

Aria Pahari

Reflexive

read the instruction manual,
wrap the wound again, dig.
as the pile of soil starts to rise,
take more breaks. hydrate. walk
away from the tunnel if needed.

your mother needs you. she raises
a lantern. light thrown on the wall
spells through the dirt: asexuality
is not a disease.

follow the sheen. look down.
coats of cling film cover you.
peel back the layers to blend

with shades bestowed upon
your mother: your bearer,

a spring from beneath the earth.

Torch Light

glows on faces I could have known. Rings of shadow darken the crevice between shirt collar and skin. Captured mid-chant, the mouths of the white men open to black. Their torches move through my memory en masse. I stare back, razed. I was raised in Virginia. We remembered a classmate’s birthday every year of elementary school because he shared the date with Thomas Jefferson: founder of our state university, of America. Jefferson modeled the library after the Pantheon. The Rotunda’s circular chambers were to be the university’s academic heart. Its dome looms behind handheld flames, unmistakable.

Aria Pahari resides in Virginia and has a BA in English from Mount Holyoke College, where she was the recipient of the Millicent Allen Lyric Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Kajal Magazine and The Asexual Journal.

Bat St. Chip

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sleeping gal
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Bat St. Chip is a multidisciplinary visual artist and musician. They graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting from Pratt Institute. Bat’s work depicts otherworldly beings or persons in the midst of the strange. The creatures appear in expressionist paintings, animated gifs, and energetic ink drawings. Now residing in the Pacific Northwest, Bat is the front-person and founder of the doo-slop, garage punk band, GRIN HOUND. GRIN HOUND recently released the EP “KNOCK MA” and is ever engaged in bridging the gap between the world of cartoons and Rock’n’Roll.

Khalisa Rae Thompson

Reclaiming Our Phenomenal Bones

We left them on the back stoop,
abandoned our phenomenal like baby on step
for anyone to pick up and call their own.
I think we tucked it under our tongues
let it dissolve and melt away.
The taste of it still lingers.
I think we spread our phenomenal across beds,

in the backs of cars where we opened it for anyone who said
the magic word.
Think we smeared it on counters and couches,
made it a jam or marmalade to lick-
a temporary satisfaction.

Woman, you have been everlasting & phenomenal
since the beginning of time,
since the Nile and cradle of civilization
and Lucy.

Your phenomenal bones were found as proof that we were once here
And breathing.
And everything.

You have bought nations to their knees,
stretched arms and bosom wide to nurture thousands,
opened mouth and made even the most powerful cower.

The click of our heels have been the syncopated tone
for soldiers that follow our every stride.
We have always been a phenomenal destination-
brown stone thighs, a hand-crafted cathedral of a waist,
sweltering temple lips,
a museum of a mind,
we will find our phenomenal
when we stop looking
and just be.

Khalisa Rae is a queer black activist, that speaks and writes with fierce rebellion. She published her first book Real Girls Have Real Problems, in 2012.  Her recent work has been seen in numerous journals including, Requiem Magazine, Dirty Chai, and Tishman Review, the Obsidian, Anchor Magazine, New Shoots Anthology, Red Door, Red Press – Anatomy of Silence Anthology, among others. She is a finalist in the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and a winner of the Fem Lit Magazine Contest, and the Voicemail Poetry Contest. She is a former staff-editor of the QU Lit Mag, and currently serves as Co-editor and Co-Director of Athenian Press- literary safe space collective and indie press for women/femme/gnc/trans folks. Her full-length poetry collection is forthcoming.