Chris Records

Self-Portrait with Gold and Shadows

It is mine, but it does not act like it. It never ceases to shock and disappoint. It moves in ways I don’t intend. It expresses things I wish it would keep hidden. It is not right. It is not as it should be. It has never been obedient, never watched the calendar, never made an effort to improve itself. It ruined my teenage years. It has caused me more anxiety than anything, anyone else. It is still my chief preoccupation. It is my chief failing. Its greatest betrayal is yet to come.

I am here, again, to scrutinize it, in a room built for scrutinizing, for breaking down the self. It is a woman’s room. An old woman’s room. The room is laid out around a vanity. It is full of chintz and gold leaf. In the dim light, the one lamp turned down to half-strength, I scan the room. The vanity is gold. The vanity mirror is gold. The hair brush is gold. The powder boxes are gold. The couch is gold. The Madonna in the corner is gold. Three hand mirrors are in the drawer of the vanity; two of them are gold. There is a gold Capodimonte vase on the vanity. It shows a perfect, pink-cheeked woman dressed in gold, sitting in front of a gold mirror. The vase once held fake flowers; the flowers were gold.

The gold room is the room of a woman brought up in the 50s, a time when women were raised to scrutinize and scour themselves like dinner plates. The woman is dead. She has been dead for 15 years. I am in her room in my memory. It is a room that doesn’t exist anymore. It is a room in a house that was sold six months after she died and two months before we invaded Iraq. I always remember that time in this way, bookended by those two disasters.

The owner of the room was a woman brought up to believe that looks were earned. She was a woman brought up to believe that looks were a punishment. She was a woman who spent much of her life-annihilating herself in mirrors. She was a woman who weighed eighty pounds when she died, who left us with such sayings as “A minute on your lips, a lifetime on your hips.” She is the woman who raised me. She raised me like she was raised. I am gay. I took to the habit of self-scrutiny much better than other boys might.

I sit at the vanity next to the gold vase, and catalog, list, mark the defects. The wide, dark, almond-shaped eyes, heavy-lidded, underlined with sleepless blue. OK. Thin lips, unremarkable, austere. Not bad. Dark brown hair coiled in curls, a splash of remnant blondness, hidden gray. Fine. Prominent brow and cheekbones. Not the best. Prominent veins, prominent moles. Not ideal. Uneven beard, patchy around the chin. Skin that turns sallow in winter, brown in the sun, but always unreliable, always prone to eruptions, to redness, unevenness. Ugh. Crooked, broken nose, ruin of pictures, disrupter of symmetry. The worst. Small bones, coffered eyes, high forehead. Wrong.

It is a severe sort of face. It is a face in the back of a church, in the background of an El Greco painting. It is not made for light. Light ruins it. Light is its enemy. It is too long, too thin, too sharp for light. It is not pleasant to look at when illuminated. It is not the kind of thing you should analyze too closely. It is meant for shadow.

I turn off the light and leave it there in the shadows, in the gold room that doesn’t exist, in the custody of the woman who is dead. I will not carry it out with me. I will do my best to forget it is mine.

Chris Records is a nonprofit consultant and writer from Los Angeles, California. His short story collection “Care: Stories” is forthcoming from Inlandia Press. He is also the author of three unpublished novels. Literary agents and others can contact him via Twitter @clorecords001. 

Andrea Salvador

Shopping List for Hard Times

There was some shopping to do, Eve convinced herself, before you burst.

How else would you entertain yourself afterward? When the tears dried, when your chest stopped hitching, and you realized that someone was dying thousands of miles away? You couldn’t just sit there. Eve shuddered at the idea — no. You had to busy yourself and make the breakdown your stage.

Eve selected the cleanest shopping cart and pushed it through the first lane. Keeping in mind her budget, she selected an assortment of snacks: a carton of low-fat milk, a tiny box of cereal, and a box of oatmeal cookies. Eve threw in a bag of chips to complement the sweetness.

In the next lanes, she found a pack of lavender-scented tissue paper, a bar of papaya soap, and a back issue of some gossip magazine.

As she reached the counter, which was humming from the usual cohort of middle-aged women or rushing schoolmates, Eve took a bottle of blue and gold glitter, along with a tube of eyelash glue, for good measure.

The woman in front of her took a decade to spill everything from her cart. Eve even watched her scramble and run back to the meat station after realizing she’d chosen the wrong cut of chicken.

The cashier scanned Eve’s things with an apologetic look on her face.

“There,” Eve desperately wanted to say. “I’m going to a sleepover. I have friends and they love me. They love me for who I am, and that’s why I’m going to sleep over in their house tonight.” But her mother told her to not speak if all that came out were lies. Her father told her to go right ahead, but she didn’t believe anything he said, not anymore.

“Thanks,” Eve said instead, taking her change from the cashier and sliding the plastic bag’s handles over her wrist.

At home, Eve settled herself on her bathroom floor. She almost smiled at how picturesque it must have looked but the harsh pang in her chest stopped her.

Instead, she stuffed her trash bag with the receipt and plastic packaging of the items she’d just bought. She spread them around her, scrutinizing each item as the well inside her grew deeper. The colors all meant to evoke a sense of calm — Eve had studied that in her marketing class — but her mind was just spinning.

Like a top that had been let go too soon. The fast rise and the even faster fall.

It was not feeling dizzy. This was why she no longer went to the school clinic, with the nurse trying to suppress a sigh every time Eve explained so. This was why she didn’t lie down and close her eyes — she needed to keep moving. Moving meant trying to regain balance, no matter how long it took.

It would come any second now: the rush, the river, the rage.

Eve pasted glitter on her eye bags. She watched them sparkle for a brief second, under the harsh white light, before they slid and rolled down her cheeks. The tears came and didn’t stop. But they looked beautiful, and that made Eve feel better.

Just a bit.

Andrea Salvador lives somewhere in Asia, specifically a country with thousands of islands and constantly humid weather. She is a self-proclaimed writer with a liking towards creating lists, watching sci-fi movies, and rearranging her bookshelf. You can check out her portfolio here.

Alex Vigue

GERD

I pick my nose until it bleeds
control. Anvil body reeks of singed skin
and vomit. Caffeine, you have to drink to
keep up, to survive, hammer.
Retail, you have to pay your dues,
hammer. I scratch at the scalp moon
dust until it bleeds

panic. Footprints sear undisturbed in lunar
crust, craters bounce around in circles, ring
around ashes on the windowsill, ashes
on the pillow, teak blood on the new

sheets. I floss my teeth until they bleed—
only takes one pass. Nail polish bleeds
onto cuticles, an untrained hand, barely
passable, needs shower steam erosion.
No sport saved my wretched thoughts.
No alter other than fire shaped me,

a crucible is too many things. Hot
blade, hot blonde both singe soft
short lasting pliability. Stoking charred
leaves, nerves. Damned bellows gasping
GERD phlegm and bile. I burn myself
on my own handles. A sacrifice to
remain malleable.

Alex Vigue is a non-binary writer from a small town in Washington State. He has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Western Washington University and has been published in Vinyl, Occulum, and Lockjaw Magazine. His debut chapbook “The Myth of Man” was a finalist for the Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition. He volunteers his time trying to impress the importance of poetry to people of all ages.

Nina Fosati

Honestly, It Put Me Right Off My Luncheon

+++++ In 1979, I was a back-to-the-land Whole-Earth-Catalog-reading hippie whose first job out of college was working for a community theater. A small German woman, a housekeeper in the season’s second play, invited me to join the American Business Women’s Association. When I lightheartedly demurred, she objected. My position as costume designer was a public one, and she wanted me to be her guest at the next luncheon. I suspected a conservative professional crowd wouldn’t appreciate my point of view. However, she insisted, so I agreed.

+++++ Usually, I knocked about in wooden-soled clogs and painter pants, but I’d dressed up for this occasion. I arrived at the designated hotel wearing a knit skirt and jacket set I’d foraged from the theater’s costume collection. A sea of women wearing business suits with matching shoes and bags gathered outside the ballroom. I said a little prayer of thanks when I discovered my rummaged outfit blended in perfectly. The next task would be more difficult for me–connecting with the practical mid-western businesswomen making polite inquiries about my work. The joy of theatrical design and historical clothing captivated me. The intricacies of running a company, not so much. When asked what I did, I should have said, “I make costumes for plays.” That was tangible. Instead, I spoke of illusive concepts like “working with the director and actors to help support the character’s journey.” It’s no wonder conversations would fire up then fade into awkward silence.

+++++ We listened to the speaker and poked at our chicken salad, served on a decorative bed of iceberg lettuce. When finished, she visited each table, exchanged smiling introductions, and received compliments on her presentation. The wait staff efficiently exchanged the lunch plates for coffee and cake.

+++++ I turned to the woman on my left. She was quiet and sweet, one of those tiny people who everyone calls dear, as in “I saw dear Audrey at Harold’s today.” She and a friend had softly commented to each other throughout the presentation. I wondered if my boisterous voice might have frightened her. Like the bunnies I saw nibbling on clover in my yard, she kept a cautious eye on my every move.

+++++ As I launched into some inconsequential topic, her face warped. A shiver flowed over it, distorting her features as it passed. Then the back of her glasses fogged. At first, I thought it was steam, but that made little sense. Water squirted over the glass, the jets clearing the fog in little streams, which washed down and dripped onto her cheek. I observed these changes in startled fascination, not knowing whether to comment or look away. Then to my astonishment, her eyeball burst out of her socket. The blue iris surrounded by white pressed against the back of her eyeglasses, bulging and judging me in my horrified surprise.

+++++ The diminutive woman quickly covered her face with her napkin and turned to the comfort of her friend who whisked her away, presumably to some tastefully decorated ladies’ room, where she could compose herself, then slip away, neat, tidy, and re-assembled.

+++++ After this happened, the other women seated at our table discretely turned away per the rules of decorum and polite society, pretending it had never happened. Obviously, we were embarrassed. Both for ourselves, witnessing such a disconcerting breach of the body proper and in empathy for the lady having to endure such an unfortunate ordeal. The party broke up quickly. We excused ourselves, and then skedaddled as fast as possible, myself included.

+++++ These days, when I remember the woman with the glass eye, melancholy overtakes me. It bothers me there was no response that felt right. Perhaps the crowd was correct. Perhaps politely pretending to have elective amnesia was the most considerate impulse. Some will argue the lady didn’t require my sympathy. She and her friend found a safe place to retire, performed the needed repairs and composed themselves. They had no need of my concern or me.

+++++ It’s certainly possible that that was the case. However, I do wish I hadn’t sat there shocked and immobile. You see, I know something about being on the receiving end of silence that reverberates as loud as laughter.

+++++ For much of my life, I have experienced what are quaintly referred to as fainting spells. It’s a Victorian term that conjures images of an overwrought woman lifting a wan hand to her forehead and falling daintily upon a conveniently placed chaise lounge. My reality is more violent and unrestrained. It’s an internal fight with my body, a call to flee, to escape. It’s a paralyzing fear. Often I end up unconscious, falling forward with no cushion between the floor and me. I black out then wake, bloody and bruised, to wonder what I’ve damaged this time.

+++++ The possibility of such an event happening to me at a future luncheon was real. I envisioned my lingering disorientation in the aftermath, the tidying up, the brave face, the internalization of my polite shunning.

+++++ It haunts me that when the dear lady returned to the banquet room, she would have found the table cleared. I imagine her staring for a few agonizing seconds at our empty chairs. Perhaps her mouth closed into a line. Perhaps she raised her head, placed her hand on her friend’s arm, and silently walked out of the building. Perhaps, like me, she resolved she would never return.

Nina Fosati is an artist by inclination and a writer by misfortune. Beguiled by historic clothing and portraiture, she impulsively holds forth on her favorites @NinaFosati. Nina is also the SOS editor for the r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal. Dappled Things, Fictive Dream, and West Texas Literary Review have most recently published her stories.

Wanda Deglane

These Hips, This Hunger

what is a skipped meal           or two
+++++++++++++when my skirt falls several inches
++++++from my hips? what is a couple pounds
or 15                when he cups
my waist                     like a birdcage
and holds my jaw in his hands, saying,
+++++++++++++I love what little
++++++is left of you.
what is a face  drained of color,          the lacunas
++++++left behind by my cheeks
melting away,              when my mother finally
+++++++++++++kisses              my knife-arms,
my ghost-eyes, an echo of
the body                      she always wanted?
my shoulder blades     are bat wings
my blood is skinny blue                                 yet
+++++++I’ve never been so in love
with such sickness.
tonight I lie, back flat to the soil,        and trace
++++++the summits of the mountains
+++++++++++++++++++my hips have become.
I ignore the starving screams   from
the valley below.

Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018) and Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019). Follow her on Twitter at @wandalizabeth

 

Kyle Marbut

Late Night

Sleeping in a moonbeam, I dreamed
you were on fire, and I loved you
anyway. Pyre of loose clothes
and crackling skin, blackening
pine cones, red tongue in a grove
of cedar trees. You promised
to keep me warm all night.
I am doing my best
to be right here, to have faith
in the words I know.
I want to believe in something
other than weight and closed
books, the ghost in the blue dress
at our window who looks
like every woman my father ever wanted
me to love, who watches me fall
asleep in your arms, her palms
pressed against the glass. I want to know
you meant it when you called my name.

Setting for a Fairytale

My hair has grown so long
I can hide behind it.
I leave the window
open so the men
at the crosswalk might hear
me singing nonsense in the
shower.
+++++++I used to speak
Latin—I used to know
spells for love, but now
I can only cough up
the names of flowers
I’ve swallowed when
you’re not around—petals
spilling from my mouth,
whispering Larkspur   Daisy
+++++++Amaryllis        Gladiolus
++++Laceleaf
++++++++++Iris
+++++++++Rose   Rose
++++++++++++Violet
+++++++++++Rose
++++Lupine     Lily    Daisy
+++Poppy   +++Poppy
++++++++Clover
+++++++Bleeding Heart
Dandelion        Dandelion        Dandelion
till my breath runs out, asking
et tu? et tu? to un-spell
the slammed door, to contain
everything laid
bare—the black candles
gone out, except the tall one
with the crooked neck licking
my lace curtains, wall
of fire, new doorway
to the world you left
me for.

KyleMarbut lives in Ohio where they write, lie on couches, and long for spring. Their poetry has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry and Up the Staircase Quarterly, and they can be found on Twitter @KyleMarbut.

Riley Leight

summer body
After Kimberly Alidio’s “Lungless and the Petiole at the Barton Springs run-off”

six days and dogs find carcass
glass jar open / teeth, inviting
beehive white noise like flies
on deer rot / those dogs find flesh
they weren’t looking for / say flesh / and mean
nothing left / mean body must
be noise now / too late to be
listening / too late for retribution
dogs find manzanita tripwires
in the canyon / snakehole tongues
by the creekbed / acid washing
his denim on stone / washing, mean
hiding the scent / hiding the body
mean silence / from the feeding
mean too late to say most dead things
go unburied / go bone claw aiming
toward vultures, always / to his
listening mouth / open glass brim, inviting
that life to be swallowed / life,
meaning flesh now / becomes silent

i don’t blink
After Minnie Bruce Pratt

before i come out, i dream too often that i am+++++a body in the black lake
on my back watching the sky++++++++++++++++as if my chest is a pupil
dilating; the dream itself++++++++++++a kind of looking / as if the body were an eye
surrounded by+++++++++++++++no light. this is my garden;
a place beyond the self+++++++++++beyond the bright heat of day
and the way it seeks to swallow+++++my skin in sight.

Riley R. Leight is a writer, editor, and artist whose work centers on identity, religion, and LGBT history. They are the recipient of an Abraham L. Polonsky award for fiction and a Maurya Simon scholarship for poetry. Their writing has appeared in Occulum, Mosaic, and COAL Magazine. Now a founding co-editor of Name and None, a journal for trans/nonbinary creators, they were formerly the Editor-in-Chief of the multidisciplinary journal Audeamus. You can find them @rileyrleight on Twitter or rileyleight.com.  

 

ReVerse Butcher

An Heirloom Child

ReVerseButcher_AnHeirloomChild_CollageArt.jpg

ReVerse Butcher is a multi-disciplinary artist with focuses in making unique artist’s books, collages, visual art, writing & performance. She will use any medium necessary to engage and subvert reality until it is less dull and oppressive. When she grows up she wants to be a well-read recluse. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Tai Farnsworth

We Are Us and Then There Are Other People

+++I met her online, at a bar, at a café. She worked at a co-op, was a screenwriter, a singer. We talked, had drinks, read and ate breakfast. I met them at a dog groomer’s, at the grocery store, on a hike. They worked as an animal trainer, as a protein drink promoter, on a reality TV show. We shared pictures of our pets, ate vegan pizza, toured Hollywood. I met him in Chicago, at a sushi restaurant, in a museum. He worked as an actor, as a life coach, for a landscape company. We went bowling, walked around the park, considered tattoos.

+++++++ She said – +++ I like your style.

+++++++++++++++++++ I’m thinking about kissing you.

+++++++++++++++++++ I’m going to write so many songs about us.

+++++++ They said – ++ Let’s make love on a star.

+++++++++++++++++++ Your mouth and the way you look at me are distracting.

+++++++++++++++++++ My mind has been captured by you.

+++++++ He said – ++++ You are so powerful and beautiful and sexy.

+++++++++++++++++++ You make me ridiculously hard all the time.

+++++++++++++++++++ I feel strong and alive in your arms.

+++ It was a Saturday. She took me back to her house for a party and I didn’t leave till Sunday evening. Her roommates were drunk when we arrived – they draped their arms around me, welcomed me, made me feel like I belonged. Where did you meet her? they asked. Online, at a bar, at a café, I said. One of her exes introduced herself to me over the bean dip. Instead of listening to her, I drowned out her words with the crunching of chips in my head. Later I went to the bathroom and my date followed me upstairs. Why  do you have another date here? I asked. She’s not a date. You’re my date, she said. When I kicked my shoes off at the foot of the bed, she tucked them away, perfectly straight, in the closet. When she kissed me, it was hard. When she slipped her fingers in me, the sweet warmth between my legs could have drowned us.

+++ It was a Friday. They invited me over to play games and I didn’t leave till Saturday morning. Their roommates, swimming in the pool or lounging on the couch, nodded their ‘hello.’ Where did you meet them? they asked. At a dog groomer’s, at the grocery store, on a hike, I said. During the card game, their cheeks pinked with frustration, disappointment at losing so soundly. Later, once they’d beat me at two rounds of HORSE, they accidentally hit me in the face with the basketball. I was going to win that round, you didn’t have to cheat, I said. It was an accident. But you weren’t going to win, they said. When we took a bath that night, they made galaxies in the golden bubbles, told stories of tiny worlds we ruled over. When they kissed me, it was on every inch of my face. When they fucked me, it was with the bed pulled away from the wall.

+++ It was a Tuesday. He invited me over to run lines and I stayed with him every night that week. His roommates told me about their upcoming projects, played me some music, gossiped about their love lives. Where did you meet him? they asked. In Chicago, at a sushi restaurant, at a museum, I said. Before he showed me the script, we went to Target, kissed over distressed sweaters, tried on mauve dresses and Sublime shirts. Later, we played darts at an Irish pub by his house and snuck out to the back patio to smoke stolen cigarettes. Be careful how sweet you are to me, I’ve fallen in love for much less, I said. Could you stop yourself if you wanted to? he asked. When we walked, we kissed at every stoplight. When we finally made it to the car he climbed a tree, swung like Tarzan. When he held me close he whispered about water and stars, the potential to wrap ourselves in each other, the desire for feelings with weight.

+++++++ She said – +++ You feel nice.

+++++++++++++++++++ We are writing our own fairy tale.

+++++++++++++++++++ I love how our bodies and minds and hearts mesh.

+++++++  They said – + You excite me so much.

+++++++++++++++++++ I long for your touch, your voice, the feeling you give my

+++++++++++++++++++++ entire body.

+++++++++++++++++++ I love the way you suck and stroke me.

+++++++  He said – +++ You smell and feel like heaven.

+++++++++++++++++++You know my body and my cock better than

+++++++++++++++++++++literally anyone.

+++++++++++++++++++I love you.

+++ That night her friend was having a show at a library-themed bar downtown. All the drinks were named after famous authors. With each sip of Hemingway, each mouthful of Walker, each smooth taste of Hurston, we sat a little closer, laughed a little louder, kissed a little deeper. Once we were properly drunk, we walked down the street to a burrito shack. While standing in line, she texted me I’m high on you. She texted me You have my heart. She texted me You’re a queen. That night we lay in bed and told each other secrets. Lifting the veil between ourselves, we gave each other permission to have hurts and fears. Then we kissed all the fractures of our hearts, used our lips as sutures, and breathed promises into our skin.

+++ The next morning they came with me to my parents’ house. All afternoon we lounged by the pool. With each splash, each glance, each passing cool breeze, we kissed a little deeper, felt a little warmer, loved a little harder. Once we were properly burnt, we walked the dogs to the park. While hiding in the slide, they texted me You’re a queen. They texted me I love filling you with my come. They texted me My mouth loves you and your mouth. That night we took mushrooms and watched the night sky change colors above us. Lifting our arms to the stars, we opened ourselves to the depth of the universe. Then we kissed all the goosebumps on our skin, used our hands as parentheses, and climaxed in purples and greens.

+++ The next afternoon he took me to the ocean. All the beach bunnies were trapped in their offices. With each passing hour, each eager touch, each fiery lungful of weed, we loved a little harder, smiled a little faster, died a little slower. Once we were properly high, we walked along the shore to the crab shack. While waiting for our order, he texted me My mouth loves you and your mouth. He texted me They’re playing our song. He texted me I want to spank you and tease you. That night we drove up the coast and watched the sun share the heavens with the moon. Lifting our shirts above our heads, we trusted each other with our bodies in every way. Then we kissed all of our scars, used our words as blankets, and dissolved into the world around us.

+++++++ She said – +++ I want to repeat last night a thousand times.

+++++++++++++++++++ You’re a dream.

+++++++++++++++++++ I will hold you down and make you take my cock from

+++++++++++++++++++++behind.

+++++++ They said – ++ I love the way you love me.

+++++++++++++++++++ I long to be back in your arms.

+++++++++++++++++++ I want to massage you, kiss you, fill you.

+++++++ He said – +++ You make me feel so good.

+++++++++++++++++++You deserve to be cherished.

+++++++++++++++++++I’m so grateful for our passion and joyful love.

+++ She asked me if I remembered the day we met. On the hike, I said. And then we went bowling and had drinks, they said. I thought we toured Hollywood and considered tattoos, I said. We did. We did it all, he said. Can you just love me forever? I asked. He pulled me close to him, crushed his mouth to mine. They raked their nails down my back, held my sides. She licked her palm, ran it over the head of her cock. With my legs wrapped around their back, I closed my eyes and let myself sink into him, gave myself permission to be weak with them, told myself it was okay if I loved her more than he would ever love me.

+++++++ She said – +++ Thank you for seeing all of me and not looking away.

+++++++ They said – ++ Thank you for seeing all of me and not looking away.

+++++++ He said – ++++ Thank you for seeing all of me and not looking away.

+++++++ I said – +++++ Thank you for seeing all of me and not looking away.

Tai Farnsworth is a mixed-race, queer writer based in Los Angeles and uses she/her pronouns. In 2015, she earned her MFA in writing from Antioch University LA. Tai’s work can be found in The Quotable, CutBank Literary, Lunch Ticket, The Evansville Review, and forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom. She’s presently shopping around her young adult book about a girl discovering her bisexuality in the wake of her boyfriend’s death. She was also a 2018 mentee through We Need Diverse Books. Both Tai’s Twitter and Instagram handles are @taionthefly.

Brian Sonia-Wallace

bareback poetry for a prep age

Grab that chest fur.
Sit on that high school senior
who can prove he’s 18
when his mom’s not home,
comfort the attorney who can’t help himself,
the marine’s spit
still drying when his girl gets back –

It’s only 11am.

I zip my fly to play poet at a burlesque brunch.
Write erotica, they yammer,
as if that’s one thing.
But when I write sweat and saliva,
biceps and brutality, I can never be certain
if this a space is for nudity
or only nakedness.

As soon as the audience is drunk enough,
they leave.

Burlesque brunch is for married men and single women’s birthdays,
mirage of perky breasts and firm buttocks
for those who can look, but can’t touch,
and the drag queen folded in my brain says,
+++++++Sure, I’ll perform for you, but just
+++++++to remind you
+++++++that I, too, have power.

But even in this assertion of might,
there’s a core that remembers,
this world is not for us.
So the only way to be is to fight.

But – I’ve made a calling of chameleon, diplomat,
the dog rolling over to show his belly.

You don’t want the dog to have an erection,
do you?

Brian Sonia-Wallace, sometime poet, Writer in Residence for Mall of America, Amtrak Trains, the National Parks, and Dollar Shave Club. Seen skulking in the pages of The New York Times (“what secrets does he know that other writers do not?”) and The Guardian, infecting the Mississippi Review, HowlRound, LACMA Unframed, and LA County Arts Commission with his words. Search him out behind a typewriter at Google parties or Emmy screenings, making that cheddar, or teaching at UCLA (guest lecturer), 24th Street Theatre, or Get Lit.