Hardwood By Katie Pukash

Hardwood

I sweep the floor twice a day.
Hardwood is funny like that,
always knowing which soles to bear
and which to borrow.

I am going to be sorry for this-
for the dirt I have created.
So much sweeping.

Everything in our apartment is unused.
I wish I could say the same about myself.
Pristine- Acetone- Spotless-
My palms have aged,
more olive orchard than apple tree.

I found out today that I am a Pisces Moon.
I do not know what this means,
but I read articles supposedly about myself
and wonder if the bathtub is done filling.

There is a gap in between the floorboards
and our bedroom door.
They will never meet faces,
brush elbows.
Unless I release the hinges,
snap the screws,
say goodbye to the stain,
nourish all the wood back to its birthplace.

Trees never die of old age.
My living room floors died
of a broken heart.
I think.
I guess that is what happened.

My broom broke yesterday.
There is so much dirt now,
collecting, gathering, keeping.
I am not going to be sorry for this.
I am not going to be sorry for this.

By Katie Pukash

Biography:

Katie Pukash is a writer and poet based in Boise, Idaho. Her work has appeared in Ink&Nebula, Breadcrumbs Mag, Yay! LA, among others. She was a member on the 2013, 2014, and 2018 Boise Poetry Slam Team and competed at the National level representing Idaho. She currently has two self published chapbooks.

Never Knew He Wanted Tianna G. Hansen

Never Knew He Wanted

he picked up another bottle
only the first of the weekend which
I knew would be drained by the end
of the day, ready for another, ready to
inhale and consume the way
he took apart my heart and ate it whole
drank it in bits, in rough sips the way
he downed the alcohol
never even noticed how
my heart cried every time I saw
his eyes grow bloodshot and his mouth
hang slack; how I yearned for nothing more
than to have his love and hear him say
he loved me
I stayed because I knew he did
in his own way – he told me he
couldn’t stand to be abandoned
after his dad abandoned him that day
he told me over and over, after
the alcohol had gone to his head
sometimes he was angry and others
he was sad, the way he always got before
reliving that day when he lost it all
I allowed him to destroy me too
thinking I deserved it, promising I would
never abandon him, but in the end I did,
in the end it was self-preservation
after becoming a lemon in his cocktail
something for him to suck on then toss aside
nothing more than small satisfaction
when he wanted it, never in gentleness
always rough, how he took me
and I will never forget the night, it was
the new year, that was when it sealed
inside me –drunk before midnight struck
he didn’t even recognize me
when I moved to dance beside him…
when we finally made it home
I was so angry, I wanted him to see
instead of looking at me so blankly,
blank stare took me by the throat
in one thick hand, choked the air right
from my windpipe and I thought
this is it, this may be how I die
tossed me to the ground like a rag doll
and that’s all I ever was in his hands –
pliable. Rags. Nothing.
I used to think I was special –
how stupidly ignorant of me
nobody could be special unless
they gave him what he sought
filled a hole that was unable
to be filled and promised him
a forever he never knew
he wanted.

By Tianna G. Hansen

Biography:

Tianna G. Hansen has spent her whole life writing and intends to continue this with her recent husband by her side and her wonderful cat Stella. She started her own indie lit mag in June, Rhythm & Bones, and has continued expanding with the most recent project an anthology for survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and share their stories. Follow her work at CreativeTianna.com or check out her mag at RhythmNBone.com. She’s also on Twitter @Tiannag92.

Small Town Pantoum By Tyler Gadaire

Small Town Pantoum

Long winter nights, negative-fifteen wind chills
and snow drifts threading themselves over hills
and through single-lane streets in attempt to sew
this town shut in an endless sheet of white.

Snow drifts thread themselves under Amish wagons
and decade-old Ford trucks, tire studs stripped bare.
This town is stuck in an endless white: Out of work,
Out of hope. The potato harvest provides less and less

each year and farmers, in their rusted-out trucks and bald tires,
grow weary when fixing their tractor heads and bale lifts,
out of hope that the next season might give a little more.
Kids like Chris or Jim come out of high school and don’t

hesitate to leave, unwilling to help their folks fix what’s broken.
People like Chris don’t want to get stuck here another year,
kids in high school like Jim’s brother want more than empty
barns and abandoned mills. They don’t want to just get drunk

on moonshine every night at one a.m., getting stuck in small
ditches by the elementary school after hours of doing donuts.
They want to forget about McCain’s and Allen’s Coffee Brandy,
They don’t want to think about coming home, because home

is just a sinking town that falls deeper into the long winter
nights and negative-fifteen-degree wind chills. They just want
to drive away, avoid the horseshit and potholes on Center Street
and race down the single-lane roads like it was their first time.

By Tyler Gadaire

Biography:

A native of Aroostook County in Maine, Tyler Gadaire is a 23-year-old graduate of the Univ. of Maine Farmington’s Creative Writing and English program. Tyler’s poetry has been published in Z-Publishing’s Emerging Writer Series, Asterism and Eunoia Review. Tyler is currently working on a draft of his first poetry chapbook.

Modesty for the Living By Katie Pukash

Modesty for the Living

I cover my skin most days.
Modesty suits my trauma
like the neighborhood watch
or
that year that nothing bad happened.

My hair is the loudest part about me.
Purple.
Keeper of all that is behind a locked door.
I attempt to be a locked door.
Until I realize that being human means
Open Season.

It means that these clothes don’t do shit
to protect me because
we can’t install deadbolts into our chests.
We can’t be invincible in the ways we want to.

I wish nothing could render me raw-
but even my turtle neck has a lose thread.
I bet if you pull on it my entire sweater will come apart.
String by string.
Until all I have left is
a pile of polyester in my hands
ready to become my father.

By Katie Pukash

Biography:

Katie Pukash is a writer and poet based in Boise, Idaho. Her work has appeared in Ink&Nebula, Breadcrumbs Mag, Yay! LA, among others. She was a member on the 2013, 2014, and 2018 Boise Poetry Slam Team and competed at the National level representing Idaho. She currently has two self published chapbooks.

MEMORY, 1998 By Kaitlyn Wang

MEMORY, 1998

Bloated with voices,
the restaurant falls silent
when the door opens to admit
a mother, father, daughter.

An unfamiliar yellow.

Children—
ashamed to gawk
but still wanting to look—
cover their eyes with their fingers

and peer through the gaps.
As they walk across the room,
The Yellow feels them staring.
But decades later, the family recounts

the scene, laughing. They don’t mind
how human the children were. They insist
on a story about them & them. Us & us.
Listen: this story is & always will be

& I refuse to turn this in-
to an us versus them, an U.S. versus them,
because we exist: proudly—
undoubtedly, undeniably, unquestionably.

We’re American as mooncakes
& tangyuan & shriveled tongues
& mama’s lonely calligraphy brushes.
We’re American as the poems carved

on Angel Island walls. We wear our hyphens,
polished, gleaming. The only model we’ll be
is model of in your face we’re here we are
& we’re here to stay so we’ll all roll out

our welcome mats & invite us to stay
for dessert. Let us fill this house
with stories. Let us find what it is
that makes a country ours.

Let us find ourselves.

By Kaitlyn Wang

Biography:

Kaitlyn Wang is a high school senior from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a poetry reader for Polyphony H.S. and a poetry editor of Soundings, her school’s art and literary magazine. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she is a California Arts Scholar.

 

WE NEVER WANTED TO BE FORTUNE COOKIE CHILDREN By Kaitlyn Wang

WE NEVER WANTED TO BE FORTUNE COOKIE CHILDREN

Yet there we huddled: curled inside our shells,
our futures already written and pressed

against our bodies. The ink
wet and viscous. The letters

hollow, ringing. Your lucky numbers are…
But listen now: to the crackle of plastic, to the snap

of a splitting sky
spilling light into the corners

of our home. Hurry—
there you go. Keep clinging.

Your toes swing beneath you
as you watch shingles, walls, a chimney

tumble below. Your fortune flutters,
sprawls unconscious across sidewalk.

You don’t let go to save it—
you let go because we must

fall

and hit the ground limping
before we pave a real road.

By Kaitlyn Wang

Biography:

Kaitlyn Wang is a high school senior from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a poetry reader for Polyphony H.S. and a poetry editor of Soundings, her school’s art and literary magazine. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she is a California Arts Scholar.

 

Marathon By Athena Dixon

Marathon

I am tired of being a poet
of witness, a collector of memories

soured and repeating. A collector
of tomes, bodies, and time.

Of postcard lynchings, toppled statues.
I am tired of the news.

But tiredness is not an option,
is not a role allowed in these here

times. Tired is nothing more than pause
between recharge, before forward

movement begins again. Tired is a satchel
on the backs of protest, able to be placed

to the wayside and emptied. It is a callous
and a fire and hand out and up

and across. It miles to go with a sun
burning on the horizon, nuclear

and frightening. It is weariness settling
into the crevices, flowering

out from the metallic noses of bullets,
exploding and riveting us to yet another

martyr. Tired is a huddle of whispers
on either side of the fence, a bang

of starting before the running
begins.

By Athena Dixon

Biography:

Athena’s work has appeared in various publications both online and in print. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (2016, 2017), a Best of the Net nominee (2017), a Callaloo fellow (Oxford 2017), and a V.O.N.A. fellow (2018). Athena is a member of the Moving Forewards Memoir Writers Collective. Additionally, she has presented at AWP (Boston 2013) and HippoCamp (2016, 2017, 2018).

She is the author of No God In This Room, a poetry chapbook , published by Argus House Press. Her work also appears in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books).

She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.