Brooke Tapia

The Daughterless Collapse

In this way, a woman is an echo
Reverberating softly through an empty house
The almost-silence, palpable
A begging to be forgiven
Or forgotten

So as not to be ravaged
By the same hands that tear into
Overripe fruit,
Animalistic in their desperation
Unkempt fingernails in orange rinds
& the sour scent on your hands for days
So you feel untouchable
Knowing you’ve devastated something soft

Scene change, and it’s clinical
White walls and sterility
The womb of your unhinged anger
Still bursting with bleach

We are the products of untimely births
You may call us daughters
See: drought
Suffocating heat from the inside out
Because women don’t know how to half-love somebody
Haven’t given ourselves permission to unbury our fists
From the mouth of the river we call our father
Or gut the fish of our mother’s heart

The undoing starts with the underbelly
A slickness, a violence,
A festering wound of mistrust

Call it the daughterless collapse
The way your jaw aches, humanly
Body sallow and sunken in all the soft places

When’s the last time a father let anything be soft?

Or forgiving, like time
Softhearted in its transience
How it gives and gives
And never hurts

The liminality of daughterhood
Echoes through eighteen years
An unraveling hunger
The heredity of pain

How it hurts and hurts
And never gives

Brooke Tapia is a lesbian poet from Soldotna, Alaska. She is a first year, first-generation college student (entirely fueled by rage and caffeine) pursuing a Bachelor’s in English. If you’re reading this, this is her first publication.

ren hlao

sumac

has short sex+++on your gnarled ankles wets
them++licks them++++++there are less
bees this year++++++++++sumac lays purple blisters stays++++deep into the spring
this year steeps a young vein that stretches like territories
stretches up your fluorescent++thighs hairthin long or short cancer filament
to your ass for summer this year i live

in the purple wastingcabinet next door the light++++++bulb in the kitchen
is a conquered globe of slept-on amber in the shape of a body+++++++that swings
like a scythe weep+++in the cabinet
black pepper acridretch+++++cloves of garlic yellow
onion yellowed coffee filters++++++i cook dinner coarse+++purple potatoes bulbous
ritual sacrament you have sumac again it loves+++at you
again in the dark+++++the wilting cradles you until it hangs you purple

where your father finds you melting purple this year++++++your mother
balls up on the front lawn like litter++sumac dots
the property++swells— is bloated like an altar+++++++breathes black bubbles
swallows probably

nettles
++for riri

++++++the kitchen table on the fourth floor of the copycat
++++++building in baltimore has a tablecloth of cigarette ashes. it’s early morning and ++++++you’re swallowing merlot from a brownstained mason jar and michael

++++++++++++is telling us how it feels
++++++++++++better being fucked
++++++++++++by two men rather than one, how

++++++++++++++++++in orgasm, the vein creases
++++++++++++++++++(that wicked little gardenhose);
++++++++++++++++++we sit wet and splintered.

++++++last night, eroding in acid,
++++++we drank graham’s sour
++++++homebrew, spilt it howling

++++++++++++++++++onto everything. the police
++++++++++++++++++swam up out front
++++++++++++++++++and we threw our bottles down

++++++++++++onto their windshields, fed
++++++++++++our exarcheia. downstairs lipswet
++++++++++++into the street we dragged

++++++++++++++++++knotted treelimbs, pallets, mephitic dumpsters.
++++++++++++++++++blinking bluelit crane cameras
++++++++++++++++++craned their rusted ropenecks,

++++++watched the tiny shivering
++++++cars limp backwards up guilford:
++++++pockmarked, bathed in ache. early today

++++++++++++they came, bang-banged++++the doors
++++++++++++and we howled our ribs into knots,
++++++++++++the sun was a rusted coin.

++++++but heroin is mute and we’re all
++++++coughing porch moths frantic in fragments of light. but you,
++++++bloodsunk in the palm, wound up

++++++++++++++++++by all your wounds, dried
++++++++++++++++++in the thicket;
++++++++++++++++++your stem spat

+++++++++++++++++++++++++bright liquid. but you,
+++++++++++++++++++++++++sunk into the palm, and
+++++++++++++++++++++++++we howled.

ren hlao grew up outside of baltimore, maryland. their work has appeared in online and print publications including Homestead Review, White Stag Publishing, and Dangerous Constellations Journal. they are a queer, Chichimeca artist. they live in san diego, california with their partner and four dogs.

 

Delany Lemke

small town ses-teen-a

The bored nights take us teens out to Lost Deer Lane

where the ticks will not twist off our hot blood
once they get a hold. We drink polluted river water
and cheap vodka mixed in old bottles from the floor of the car,
sneak past the house on the corner by turning off the headlights
and snake down the dirt road where street lamps don’t shine.

Sometimes, we drive out there because someone took a shine
to us, wanted to lock lips in the backseat on Lost Deer Lane
a dead end road where we know there won’t be any headlights
and when we lean in, gorge on the feel of skin, all the blood
rushes to the cheeks, our bodies revving and rolling like cars.
Other nights a handful of us cram in to smoke out of a water

bottle and a pen. Usually we park and then ask what are
we doing here? It’s been a long year, little sunshine
and we keep ending up bored at midnight and in cars
driving back roads and winding our way to Lost Deer Lane
like it called us, like the gravel worked its way into our blood.
The town’s already infecting our dizzy heads. Light

conversation makes our heads ache like headlights
in the eyes. So we pull at our vodka and river water
for something to do. There’s something metal like blood
in the drink, probably from the factories that shine
all night on the river. Two of our classmates were lain
to rest this year; someone always drowns or crashes a car.

Funny, how we cope by climbing right back  into our cars
with a bit of liquor, near blind without our headlights
when we sneak ourselves down the dirt on Lost Deer Lane,
a bunch of reckless kids lost in the backwater
midwest, where there’s not much to outshine
but the moon and the river tastes like blood.

We can ignore that, there’s always blood.
Our uncles bring home deer on top of their cars
and we’re used to gutting, the slick shine
of insides. Deer that get caught in headlights,
smash windshields, then wait on the asphalt under rainwater
until the highway technician hauls them out of the lane.

We can only imagine a shine that’s not blood
out on Lost Deer Lane, drinking together in our cars,
or we end up imagining what our headlights look like underwater.

A poem in which I try to talk about being queer in the rural midwest and I just end up talking about deer again

You don’t know how to feel about us
trotting around your mown lawn
ravaging sweet wet apples off your tree.
We lock antlers, raise a clatter in the wood,
agitate your family dog to fits of barking,
gnaw on your juniper bushes, garden violets.
We see your chicken wire fences, your garden
coated in hot sauce and sick fermented yolks.
We’re the kind of beautiful that gets shot down.
You forgot that we have been here
since the eocene. Clothing you, feeding you.
We’re in your myths, shadows in the trees,
and after this long dead winter, our hunger
will not be kept hidden in birch and pine.

Delany Lemke is a queer poet in her first year of her MFA at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is originally from Marysville, Michigan, and received her undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University. Her poetry has been featured in Juxtaprose, Temenos, and 30 N. You can find updates on her life and poetry, her thoughts and pictures of her cat at @delovelylany on Twitter.

Sarah A. O’Brien

Sometime Before Seattle

To be honest
(I’m feeling extravagant),
I don’t recall pouring water
on your head last July,
but damn. Wish I remembered.

Bartender has a voice like sex.
I’m going to hit on her.
You’d tease me about this.
I need to hear your voice again,
please?

Sarah A. O’Brien is a bisexual poet and painter from Woburn, MA. She is the founder and EIC of Boston Accent Lit. Sarah earned her MFA in Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Find more of her work at http://www.sarahobrien.org.

sally burnette

why american policy is leaving millions hungry (Washington Post)

why american policy is leaving millions hungry
why american policy     leaving millions hungry
why america   policy     leaving millions hungry
why america                   leaving millions hungry
why america                                 millions hungry
why america                                                 hungry
why america
why

christian extremists ’let their baby starve to death’ (The Week)

christian extremists ‘let their baby starve to death’
christian extremists let their baby starve to death
christian extremists let their baby             to death
christian extremists       their baby             to death
christian extremists                 baby             to death
christian                                      baby             to death
christian                                                             to death
christian                                                                  death
death
eat

sally burnette is the author of laughing plastic (Broken Sleep Books) and Special Ultimate: Baby’s Story: a Documentary (Ghost City Press). They read flash fiction for Split Lip Magazine. Their work has been published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Indianapolis Review, pidgeonholes, and elsewhere. They’re from North Carolina but currently live in Boston.

Joanna C. Valente

Elvis Impersonator

When Elvis-Not-Elvis orders a drink, he always orders a gin & tonic, unless it’s wine; in that case, it’s always a dry red wine. When Baby Girl and Elvis-Not-Elvis went into a restaurant around the corner from his job, he ordered a drink as soon as the waiter gave them menus. Baby Girl wasn’t sure what to think, although she felt like she should think it was weird. But she didn’t—or didn’t want to.

“So, you do actually believe in the abyss?” Elvis-Not-Elvis asked abruptly.

“Yes, I do. Aren’t we in it now?” Baby Girl smiled.

“Maybe. Yes. No. I don’t think so. I think life is generally super awesome, honestly. Although I do think about killing myself every day,” he said, then added, “But you know what I mean. You feel it, I’m sure.”

“I do. I know.”

“So, what’s your deal? What do you do? Where are you from? I bet you’ve listened to The Cure since you were like 12 or something, right?” Elvis-Not-Elvis asked, sipping on his gin & tonic without raising the glass to his face, instead lowering his head to the straw.

“Um, yeah, you totally have me pegged. I wish I could say I was joking. I’m from Brooklyn, grew up in Bay Ridge. I’m a gallery assistant, my boss is OK, mostly chill, though drinks a little too much, honestly. That’s kind of it. I feel like a cliché.”

“So, do you make your own art? Or are you just busy selling other people’s?” His question caught her off-guard—she could feel her face burn, a sun melted into her skin—and she had to blink back tears, pretending to look out to the street, as if she was actually watching cars and people pass by. As if she could just pass by him and his remark.

He sipped his drink and fingered the straw, furrowing his brows as if he realized he made a mistake. He looked up at her and saw her eyes dart away, saw her become small in her seat.

“I do. I guess you could say I’m a photographer and painter. I mean, I went to school for it,” Baby Girl said breathlessly, “I’ve had my work shown in some small gallery shows. Not for a while though.” She looked down as she said this, not meeting his eyes, which she had noticed were neither brown nor green, but more like a golden green — the kind of green like a rusted statue.

“That counts. You don’t need validation to be an artist. It doesn’t matter. It just matters what you do… You know I wasn’t being critical, I was just asking. I’d be curious to see your stuff.”

“No, it’s fine. More people should be as blunt, honestly. It wakes you up. At least, it did me. What do you do, besides work at a restaurant?” Baby Girl asked, feeling less like she was giving a presentation in front of her high school English class. He suddenly seemed boyish, unsure of himself—he brushed his hair back, the curls still bouncing back, covering his eyes.

“I’m in a band, you know, like everyone else.”

“Oh, what kind of band? What do you play?”

“I’m playing a show on Friday. Come to it and found out for yourself,” he said, coyly, indifferently taking out a pack of American Spirits. Their food appeared quickly out of nowhere, as if their waiter was a ghost—and Baby Girl didn’t remember ordering anything, only studying Elvis-Not-Elvis’ deep lines in his forehead, the tattoos that made up a sleeve on his left arm, the purple paisley shirt with his sleeves rolled up, his slightly-too-worn Doc Martens.

They ate in silence for a few minutes. Baby Girl would occasionally look up to see him busily dip his fries into the ketchup-mustard mixture he created, and she would take tiny bites of her mac and cheese, not sure she was even hungry, already planning to take most of it home later to eat ravenously on her bed alone.

Her phone vibrated—BJ texting her asking her where she was, if she was still coming, if she wanted to get a drink after. She didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t say anything at all.

“I feel bad, my friend whose art show I’m skipping just texted me,” Baby Girl said, surprised she was admitting to being a flake.

“So, fuck ‘em. How many of their shows have you been to?” Elvis-Not-Elvis asked, looking straight into her eyes, as if he knew she never flaked, as if he knew she needed to be more selfish sometimes. As if he knew.

“Too many, I guess,” she laughed, “but I still feel kind of bad. I hate being that friend.”

“It’s OK to be that friend sometimes, you know. Especially when you get dinner with strangers.” He was smiling. She knew he was right. She didn’t even need to say anything after that. For a while they sat in silence, until Elvis-Not-Elvis went over to the digital jukebox and put on The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and they listened to the song together, occasionally smiling and nodding their head, until it stopped and he leaned off and asked if she wanted to go.

And so they did. They left together as if they had known each other all their lives, as if they had all of their lives left.

Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, No(body) (forthcoming, Madhouse Press, 2019), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault. They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes Poetry and the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Them, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente / FB: joannacvalente

Alex Clark

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Alex Clark is a trans-masculine essayist, poet, and artist from Marquette Michigan. He is an assistant editor at Passages North. His hybrid essay, “A Fractured Atlas”, was selected as runner-up in Booth’s 2018 non-fiction contest, received an honorable mention in Storm Cellar’s 2017 Flash Majeure Contest, and was chosen for Crab Fat Magazine’s Best of Year Four Anthology. His work also appears in Booth Online, Storm Cellar, Crab Fat Magazine, Foliate Oak, and Barking Sycamores.

Lea Anderson

the carousel

it is peak summer
and I am eating
600 calories
per day

melting
in a sun-soaked
rose-tinted
spun-sugar
euphoria

feeling like a god
high on my body
eating itself

i think when you burn
you burn ecstatically

there in a room full of unblinking people
flames cartwheeled from my mouth
cackled like laughter

what do you think happens
to a body that bends
its own truth backwards?

reeling in the negative space
death seemed beautiful
in the way absence
seems beautiful

so quiet
and sterile
and clean

monologue of a jezebel (in five parts)

i.

white boy is unaccustomed
to staring or else
gets off on it

ii.

on the phone at 3am
when the air is heaviest
white boy says he’d make me
his girlfriend says

but
he’s uncertain
if he could ever
bring me home says

his father would approve
as his father approves
of all his sexcapades

but Spring Hill
is a small town
rural     you know

iii.

white boy loves my body
hates that he loves my body
and I understand
because I hate my body too

have resigned myself
to my rotting alter

its disproportion
the width of my thighs
spilling across a seat

i need white boy to tell me
i’m pretty to tell me i’m beautiful
words white boys only use
for white girls

iv.

white boy tongues
the deepest parts of me
gnaws through my legs
thick and unladylike
picks tiny black hairs
from between his teeth
he runs his hands
down the length of me
smooth as a palm run
through sand – deliberate
as an angel appearing

v.

white boy is problematic
to say the least
but when he kneels
to fuck me I am certain
he is seeing god

Lea Anderson holds an MFA in poetry from The New School. Her poems and other writing have appeared or are forthcoming in SWWIM, Jai-Alai Magazine, and Luna Luna. Follow her on Twitter @leaeanderson

Danez Smith

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Danez Smith is the author of “Don’t Call Us Dead” winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a finalist for the National Book Award. They are the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, will be published by Graywolf in January 2020.  

Terrence Abrahams

On the first day of spring

we went down to the field and we fucked. It was that simple. There was the scent of grass and also maybe the clouds, which I ruefully imagined smelled not of new rain but something older, tinged with copper, the lingering aftertaste of river water that’s okay but not great to drink, which we of course had drunk despite the warnings. When you swallowed, I looked away. I remained thirsty, hating the body I wore for sweating, loving the clothes I wore for loosening, and wishing we had been anywhere but there. What is it about open spaces that outs me? I can’t place it. I know I am bipedal and taller than most grasses. I am not afraid of the void of a hawk above. I am consenting to the simplicity of fucking in a field. Our bodies made new shapes out of the grass, flattening it, the insects tangled within it introduced to new concepts like weight and shade and salt. Concepts I, too, was estranged from until you. But they are here to help ground me. Now here’s a fact, not a concept: a field can be cut in half with a river. A mountain, too, can be worn down by the water. What these geographies do to change their appearance is accept the slow work of everything on the outside. A mountain has a centre. A river has an origin. I wanted to be as fluid and whole as both.

 

Terrence Abrahams lives and writes quietly in Toronto. His work has appeared in the Puritan, Peach Mag, Hobart Pulp, Cartridge Lit, and many gendered mothers, among others. He has a MA degree and two poetry chapbooks forthcoming in 2019.