Kai (xe/they) is a non-binary/queer poet, researcher, and aspiring anthropologist living in the DC Metro area. Xe loves spending time with their partner, reading, flowers, all things sci-fi and fantasy, playing piano, cooking, and doing advocacy work. They have work published and forthcoming in The Inflectionist Review, Nashville Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Voicemail Poems, among others. Say hello to xem on Instagram: @kairiverblevins.
next time, someone kind
i peel my fingers to count skin cells
cut my hair with a bone saw
as curls static to curtain
i make my bed
pick mites up off the floor
to remove his skin from mine
i take a scalpel to my cervix
uncarve his name from my fingernails
rusted doorhinges i cover in white paint
& the clocks
i unzip the mattress to retrieve
sometimes i want to fix myself
sometimes i use green bedsheets
I can’t sleep without watching someone
I hate to look in mirrors in the dark. I used to think
of men so highly. I miss my periphery—these days
I can only unravel chairs from carpet fibres.
Snakes hide in my carpet because I asked them
to choke me. I am becoming a witch. I held another
woman & she wept & she told me what he did to her.
I am another woman & I weep for myself. I pour
my tears down the legs of her bedframe: my eyes
belong to her. I glimpse a mirror & he is there
& he is not there, & I wear a boa constrictor
around my shoulders.
+++++++++++++++++++I will kill him yet.
Leslie Joy Ahenda is a Canadian poet. She has work published in Poetry is Dead, Honey & Lime Lit, and NoD Magazine. She was the Director of Marketing for Issue 17 of This Side of West, and she is an editorial intern on the Malahat Review poetry board. You can find her on Twitter at @leslieahenda.
the doctrine of non-binaryism
James Collier is a writer from Edmonton currently studying film and creative writing at the University of Alberta. Their work has previously appeared in Glass Buffalo Magazine and the Hart House Review. One of the few things they love more than writing a poem is reading it out loud.
Sally Geiger is an emerging queer writer and alumni of Knox College with a BA in Creative Writing. Their work has been published in TAB and Loreli Beijing, and their poem ‘Moon Poem’ was the third-place winner of the 2017 Davenport Poetry Prize. Sally lives in Taipei, Taiwan, where they teach English.
Quintin Collins is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA program graduate. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Lily Poetry Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, poems2go, Transition magazine, and elsewhere. He also received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2019. Quintin likes to post poems and writing memes on his Twitter (@qcollinswriter). He thinks the memes are funny sometimes, but that’s debatable.
Lyd Havens is a nationally touring poet and performer currently living in Boise, Idaho. The winner of the 2018 Ellipsis Poetry Prize, their work has previously been published in Winter Tangerine, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. They are the author of the chapbook I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018), and are currently working towards a BFA in Creative Writing and History at Boise State University. Lyd was born on their due date, and has been intensely punctual to everything since.
When you are thirteen,
sleepaway camp will bring you boobs,
And freckles on your back that begin to molt,
And a bathing suit that wears itself thin,
And an extra pack of gum,
And a girl who causes the man-made lake to quiver.
You’ll cut your hair short so you can dive off the dock, Pull her skin tight as you spread wax on a trembling thigh, Learn to hold your breath underwater,
Pierce her ears so you’ll feel her breath on your neck.
But mud always swarms the moat that leads to water.
Chewing gum grows stale.
There is only so much that a girl like you can give.
Her palm will weep as you carve your phone number alongside the other girls.
On the day that she sings the campfire blue,
You will scoop the minnows
From the water and let them flounder in her hands, Saying here, this is for you.
carving the staircase
once / i slept on hardwood floor and faced the woman in the fireplace / i let her talk to me in my sleep / i wrote a poem about dismembering the furnace / feigned horror in the basement with my cousin / once / i caught a shadow in the hall / tucked it in the corner of my eye / heard the scratch of a cat / i gave a doll a new name / suffered fingers tugging my lips wider / swatted away moths that cloaked the ceiling / once / i sang into the brick / swam into the crawlspace / and sank / took a ring that wasn’t mine / felt the bell toll and grasped onto its cry / stretched my skin lily-white / once / i haunted the house myself
Hannah Waldman is 18 years old, and currently studying at Temple University pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. She is bisexual and uses many of her experiences within her identity as fuel for her poetry. You can find Hannah on twitter: @waiksinbeauty
Dagmawe Berhanu is an Ethiopian-American poet from Columbus, Ohio who has been living in Philadelphia since 2011. He was a member of Temple University’s Babel Poetry Collective, a student-run organization that aims to support and facilitate the progression of writing and performance art, hosting monthly writer and music workshops, as well as showcases several times year. In August 2018, he was a member of Philadelphia’s team at the National Poetry Slam. Some of his works can be found on YouTube via Slamfind, as well as on Wus Good and Voicemail Poems.
I Bury Her Alive
I like dolls that don purple-pool-dipped lips,
Dark berry black skin, grape jelly; juicy
Juice shoes. I choose Pretty Princess, snatch and
Plait her dark blonde-brown hair. I have Yasmin
In tube-tops, saffron and salmon, saddling
Up a mismatch Barbie horse, hushed, hunched for
A fake picture. She sunbathes in salfate
Furs because she can. She holds rose petal
Purses, short-shorts, tells men no, gets away
With it. She can’t taste bit-tongue blood, feel pain,
Hear anything. She puts on Ken’s clothes and
Kills it, each night. I bury her alive
Alongside my secret thoughts, of I think
There are women—I would love—to turn into.
When my Medicine Goes Up by Twenty
I don’t want Harriet on the dollar
bills she should as she does conduct the heat—
electricity sounds of surplus loose
humans stealing the state from the statesmen—
crowing coups’ claim for how keep her black as
the intersection the plantation black
as drugged juniors seventy slaves the maimed
brains from the Fugitive Slave Act the aimed whips
on behalf of Benjamin George Joseph—
Paul and James town Virginia what will quell
the conquest of discharge will free the slaves
from battling being eaten these inmates
will only have Harriet to blame when
they are released with her as all they own—
at their beck and call while private prison
possessors slaving away picking plants
here and there for people to work for free
will hold boast trade with other white palms psalms
again absent freedom again absent—
with Harriet and the struggle for life
will be assigned to Harriet and the
instants of strife will be Harriet and
the drugged juniors will be Harriet and
she will become shape exchange change chase—
again absent freedom again absent
Prince A. Bush is a bookish, black, non-binary (feminine-of-center—they/them/he/him), leftist, feminist, and gay poet. He attends Fisk University in Nashville, TN, as a graduating senior (!!!!!).