The Sadness By Caitlyn Siehl

The Sadness

My sadness is biblical,
cataclysmic, apocalyptic.
Bigger than you’ve
ever seen.
My sadness is voracious,
loquacious, tenacious.
Front page headline.
The plague of the northeast.
I bring the locusts with me when
I give into it. My entire bedroom
looks like the quiet after the feast.
My cicada sadness. My underground
sadness. Sleeping carcass hanging
on your windowsill sadness.
My hollowed tree sadness. My
favorite brick tied to my favorite
ankle sadness.
Bottom of the river sadness.
Once a year hunger sadness.

I pick a day and I eat the wood
from the walls. I wear my curtains
as a veil and marry my empty bed.
My abandoned building sadness.
Dirty sheets sadness. Teeth at
the throat sadness.
I pick a day and I swallow every
stone that’s ever been thrown.
I pick a day and I gnaw at the
floorboards.

Sadness so big it could carry me.
Sadness so big it’s everywhere.
Sadness so big it’s like a God that loves me more than anyone else.

By Caitlyn Siehl

Biography:

Caitlyn Siehl is a poet from New Jersey. Currently finishing her senior year of college, she is going on to receive her Master’s degree in Communication at Rutgers University. She has published one book of poetry entitled What We Buried and has co-edited two poetry collections entitled Literary Sexts Volume 1 and Literary Sexts Volume II, all through Words Dance Publishing. She enjoys spicy Jalapeno chips and being surrounded by dogs at all times.

A Dull Knife By Marie Anzelone

A Dull Knife

I am profoundly sad today.

   Shadows grew longer, overnight

and the odor of autumn

  can be discerned in the final

glowing embers of summer’s inferno.

  The house, it seems

already smells of winter-

   stale rooms and stagnant air

heavy with pernicious glances

   as we stalk each other like cats

through spaces inhabited

       by dreams of commonality,

now worn common by familiarity.

And I cry, seemingly, for all things today.

   The grief of unwed turtles

preparing for hibernation, I own.

   Plus the tears of plovers

 adding salt to the ocean, as the birds

   set their gaze on eroding shorelines

south.

Chief Joseph said, “My heart is sick and sad”

   and I know what he meant.

Each measured breath only reminds me

       I am closer to my last.

  I ponder old people lost in their minds

         and children with no futures;

and I think my nation has decided, we no longer

  will stand to be counted.

 I think…

     …maybe it is more than one summer

that is dying.

I have been told,

    some tears are prayers.

But I no longer feel the presence

of anything but my own thoughts

    in mine.

How does one return to the sacred?

I long to split this skin open

      with my own hand,

to escape its smothering confines

    to become larger than my limitation

more than my Self

      Live three times at once,

blaze my comet across this world’s sky.

    I would catalog dreams in ounces

if I thought the process had merit;

 but this knife appears too dull for cutting-

       my words are too short

to reach an audience,

       and they die lonely deaths each day;

like this summer coming to close.

I can see this desire’s demise

    in each crumbling road repaired

a little less each year,

    and in every wise elderly matron

      left by neighbors

to wither away in the loneliness

   of the obsolete,

  her pleas for a single listener

patted away by gentle but firm hands

   “there there- just drink your tea,

           we’ll come back tomorrow.”

And when I am honest

   while counting heartbeats,

in the still terror of the night

     the decayed sickly sweet

      smell of uselessness

is the scent on the winter breeze,

            and it scares me

     into sadness.

By Marie Anzelone

Biography:

Marie Anzalone currently splits her time between residences in New England and upstate NY in the United States and Guatemala in Central America. Originally from Appalachian Pennsylvania, she spent her early years studying ecology and nature first-hand in the woods around her home. She is an artist, scientist, writer, economics master’s degree candidate, avid outdoorswoman and start-up director of an international development non-profit organization. She has been published in human rights journals, scientific journals, and poetry anthologies. She writes fiction and non-fiction in both English and Spanish. She attempts in her writing to bridge the gap between real world influence and the individual’s inner journey to find spirit and meaning. Anzalone released two collections of poetry in 2014. Her debut collection is called A Pilgrimage in Epistles:: Poems as Letters and Observations. Her sophomore offering is titled Peregrinating North-South Compass Points: Poems in English and Spanish.

Rosewood By Avery Myers

Rosewood

I work nights now, but sometimes I can still feel 6am beneath your roof –
eggs. tea. spilled coffee. ripped jeans and scattered freckles.
It’s still cold out, but the fingers of morning run over your windows, tumbling through shadows; eerie-eyed sidewalks outside.

I wish I can tell you that things work out,
even if they’re chiseled and broken,
but I say “can I come back in two days?”,
in the ringing silence of every single sunrise we watched from dusty, foggy rooftops.

The neighborhood buzzes – the town is like wildfire, creaking like our bicycle spokes and the dock a mile behind the ice cream shop. You sigh, out of breath, and I grin.

Now there’s pollen on the shingles of your roof, and your guitar is so far out of tune, but those are the least of our problems. March’s soft winds feel like a sadness in your town, rosy in the humid afternoon.

By Avery Myers

Biography:

Born and raised in a perpetual Indian summer, Avery Myers is a writer and restless traveler who works and plays on the East Coast of the USA. She is the executive editor of -Ology Journal, a safe harbor, independent zine for emerging and unpublished creative people. Avery is a featured traveler on Passion Passport, and her writing has been published by several websites, journals, and university zines.

The Mystery of Faith and Cold Fronts By W.K Kortas

The Mystery of Faith and Cold Fronts

It had missed them, of course;
He’d watched the radar on the laptop
The economics guru from the Ag Extension
Claimed was indispensable to the modern farmer
(After all, the specialist said, farmers were accountants and entrepreneurs,
Not to mention environmentalists and global marketers;
Looking over his brown, burnt lawn and the dusty path to his silos,
He’d grunted Mebbe I need to be a medicine man or magician.)
Oh, there had been some rain, here and there;
Milt Stone’s place over by East Groveland had seen a three-minute shower,
And a cousin who lived out toward Watkins Glen
Said the vineyards on Seneca Lake enjoyed a nice little soak,
But neither his place nor anyone else ten miles in any direction saw so much as a drop,
As had been the case for several weeks, despite any number of late afternoons
When great portentous banks of clouds,
Looking for all the world like so many black-robed judges,
Inscrutably ancient and hunched over, piled up on the horizon,
Dry lightning dotting and dashing in some obscure and enigmatic cipher,
And one sleepless evening he’d been watching the TV news out of Buffalo
When the anchor asked, professionally breezy and unconcerned,
So, Ted, is this the night we’ll have some actual rain in the forecast?
But the weatherman’s face was all grimness
(He’d been brought up on a farm out towards Castile,
And knew full well how folks’ guts were all twisted up
By the struggle between hopefulness and frustration)
And he simply shrugged and spread his arms wide, palms up,
Like some disappointed Magi who had no gift to offer.

He had, as he did every Sunday, stopped to pass some time with neighbors
After services at the Presbyterian Church in Avon
(The current occupant of the pulpit a thin, pinch-faced young man
Whose reedy voice contained an edgy, wheedling tone
Which gave the impression that he was not wholly convinced of God’s grace.)
They discussed important matters: who’d gotten how many notices from the bank,
How things compared to the great dry of sixty-four,
When they’d lost the corn and soybeans all together,
And how a good half-dozen farmers, convinced they’d been forsaken,
Had shot themselves in their haylofts or corn cribs,
And everyone agreed that the weather would break soon,
Though whether that was because they’d earned it or simple mathematical probability
Was a matter of considerable debate.

By W.K Kortas

Biograophy:

W.k. kortas is an itinerant civil servant living in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains.  He lives and works by the axiom “Mediocre means better than some.”

Be a Woman By Lydia Wang

Be a Woman

We are still unlearning what our mothers taught us:
to be a girl is to be something soft, something without teeth.
We grow into our mouths later, but we never learn how to use them.

“This is what it means to become a woman,” our mothers tell us,
voices dripping with syrup because they understand.
(I was a woman the first time a male teacher made a joke about my body.)
(I was a woman the first time a stranger on the Internet said he wanted to fuck me.)
(I was a woman the first time a boy touched me when I wanted him to touch me.)
(I was a woman the first time a boy touched me when I did not want him to touch me.)

Men become men when they are right and smart
but we are something different;
women become women when we have been experienced by men.
There is the talk about pouring our own drinks at parties and there
is the talk about walking home alone at night and there is
the talk about how to reject a man, how to let him down easy.
We are always on the defensive. We are always please, sorry,
thank you, but no thank you, always swallowing teeth
because we bite our tongues with too much vigor.

“This is what it means to become a woman,” I will someday tell my daughters
as they forgive themselves for their soft parts and their edges,
forgive themselves for the bleeding and the hatred
and not knowing what to say when he leers at you from a car window
and not knowing what to do when he touches your thigh.
If I have daughters someday, they will be fire.
They will be brave. They will unlearn what the world has taught them,
to always cross their legs and always sit up straight,
twist their Chapstick lips into smiles even when it hurts.
They will unlearn that they are small casualties.
They will unlearn how to swallow.

By Lydia Wang

Biography:

Lydia Wang is a writer, feminist, and caffeine enthusiast. Originally from Boston, she now lives in New York, where she studies creative writing and topics in social and cultural analysis at NYU. In her free time, she likes to spend too much money at the bookstore, rant about feminism, and fall in love with strangers on public transportation. Visit her online at poemsbylydia.tumblr.com.

Closets pretending to be for coats By Marie Anzelone

Closets pretending to be for coats

I. the 16 year-old

She has learned how to locate her cervix, while lying naked

in water as hot as she can bear, door firmly locked on a night

when her mother is not home; she has cut her hands unbending

heavy wire, making it as straight as possible, and someone told

her hot water will make you feel it less; she has read of

perforation and thus carefully determined the placement of her

uterus, how far it extends, she is not exactly sure how the wire

is supposed to work, so she moves as deliberately as she can,

systematically, reasoning that if she hits every surface, it will do the

job. She feels her way, blindly, threading untwisted wire through

the tiny opening she holds in place with fingers that have never

explored this deeply before. There is some sort of discharge

the third time, third day… she is hopeful; but neither blood nor

release comes; only increasing nausea and moodiness

and we are told, she says later, that the enthralling tale of what men

talk about endlessly in bars, is far more important than the

stories of women and girls lying in the world’s beds and bathtubs

trying to undo damage, mistakes, regrets, shame, terror… all of which

she still rolls between thumb and forefinger, even today, as a woman

of some accomplishment she cannot meet eyes during interview, feeling

such the fraud, stained, she has worked half a lifetime trying to make it

right with God

 

and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, but is confused- how

can this decision ever let her sanctify life?  She would erase it all like

she erases unwieldy shadows on her sketches, but where does one begin

holding the pencil? He only outweighed her by 120 pounds; she should

have known better than to accept dinner, she had a boyfriend (the one

who handed her wire from the closet, when she confided, saying,

“It’s your problem, deal with it, slut) what was she thinking? Could she

walk backwards, unstep from that trip, suggest something else to do?

In pride she buries these things, 12 feet under; she is stripped of thought,

of “no,” of even the true pleasure of “yes,” each passing year marks another

foot closer to unearthing, but in panic she has learned to use raw ammonia

as backup contraceptive, because what she saw in those bright lights at

a women’s center will never erase the stains, and what kind of patient

will ever want a shameful hussy as their doctor anyway? She has heard

that extreme pH will prevent future walks down hallways dark enough

to be endlessly lost in. This wardrobe does not lead to Narnia, three days

later she too rises from the dead, steps forward, pretending nothing

ever happened, but the smell of ammonia will always make her urethra

burn with sympathy.

II.  The 22 year-old

She is working sub-minimum wage to save money for her last semester

when she realizes she is starting a trimester, with the dawning horror

that her man will never have less than 3 more on the side, and wants her

to unburden herself of useless aspirations; and she feels motherhood now

coiling itself like Eliot’s fog as strangling cords around her throat, she

wakes and feels bruises; there is no money saved for doctors, she has to

save for relief, and go to another state; this one has started mandatory

wait periods designed to shame poor women; she is tiny and hurting, and

she goes to the only place she can afford, and when she is dilated without

anesthesia her body descends into shock, and is told by the male doctor,

“at least you are not carrying anymore,” and she learns that she is allergic

to doxycycline when she vomits all over the car on the ride home, and he

makes her clean the car as punishment. And she works the next day,

collapsing from blood loss, but hey, never let them see you sweat, or cry

or scream… and when she breaks her heart against a tree, breaking an

already broken wooden crate into the splinters her more than broken soul

knows- she is seen, brought in for questioning, real police interrogation.

Instability, madness. Female weakness is the determination. Keep her

under watch, but probably not a real threat.

she shakes and is released, blacklisted for work; she goes into hiding for

2 years because living on streets and in the grace of friends’ charity is

far better than abasement. and she says, later, there is more than one

form of slavery in this world, and she works harder than any two men

in her circle to work her way back up from bedrock; she runs and runs

without ever knowing exactly how far, how fast, how long, how high,

will ever be good enough. It is years before she fills closets with clothes

that show women’s legs and curves, before she lets someone caress her

spirit; she is terrified of ever caring; she makes a promise to the world

to care for all lost things and lost ones, as compensation for her unspoken

debts to life. And she walks unfettered of this particular slavery, to pick

up another form.

III. The 35 year-old

She is emotionally and wearily ambivalent; scared of her partner in ways

she cannot quite identify, holding medical results in her hands, serious

conditions, requiring x-rays and intense treatment; she is told, you cannot

get the treatment here, your insurance will not cover, and by the way if

you do not get treatment, you will lose your place in the program… and we

will not do treatment if you are pregnant. She is completely dependent, she

has nowhere to turn; she is unsure how she feels anyway when her lover

already has more than he can care for; she walks fences in her dreams, where

she holds children she has not necessarily given birth to; she feels lumps on

her cervix and knows what that probably means too and there is no money

for doctors; she knows she will choose one future or another with her decision

and she walks past the assholes praying at her with head held high, and

there is regret, but it is the lesser of regrets. She comes home in a blizzard

and crawls through 3 feet of snow and spends days alone at home, relieved

and unsure if she wants or will ever get another chance; her body is telling her

just how much is wrong: lungs, heart, mind, womb, breast…

and she would say, there are some roads a woman will walk forever, and

that is ok, too, because there are some destinations we will always need

to be free to choose, and she knows she will feel torn every single time

a friend proudly poses with a newborn on Facebook, just as she will always

cringe inside every time someone else gets married after she and her man

inevitably split ways, having realized completely incompatible life visions

that probably started in the womb if one looks honestly.

 

and she thinks, how is it that birth control that worked for 7 years, failed

now, at the only moment I could not have endured it? And she knows how

to touch inside to check on things, and she knows her female body and its

G, U, and A spots; she wishes to find a lover who will learn them too AND

learn to care for her heart in the process; she knows how to thread a

catheter through her cervix too to try to do things by herself, because she

shares something in common with girls who learn vague lessons of coat

hangers at 16, something about the shame of registries and judgment and

the dignity of privacy, and she knows that one day she will have more to

give a child, whether or not she gives birth; and she also knows that at 3 am

that day will feel like an eternity away in her waiting, and she would say,

we have come so far, but some closets will never in our lifetime be safe

for coming out of, which is a damned shame because closets really should

be for collecting and hanging clothes that make you feel proud to be a woman…

and coat hangers should only ever be seen as tools to hang things other than

your own soul.

By Marie Anzelone

Biography:

Marie Anzalone currently splits her time between residences in New England and upstate NY in the United States and Guatemala in Central America. Originally from Appalachian Pennsylvania, she spent her early years studying ecology and nature first-hand in the woods around her home. She is an artist, scientist, writer, economics master’s degree candidate, avid outdoorswoman and start-up director of an international development non-profit organization. She has been published in human rights journals, scientific journals, and poetry anthologies. She writes fiction and non-fiction in both English and Spanish. She attempts in her writing to bridge the gap between real world influence and the individual’s inner journey to find spirit and meaning. Anzalone released two collections of poetry in 2014. Her debut collection is called A Pilgrimage in Epistles:: Poems as Letters and Observations. Her sophomore offering is titled Peregrinating North-South Compass Points: Poems in English and Spanish.

“Why Are You Always Writing About Boys?” By Lydia Wang

“Why Are You Always Writing About Boys?”

They ask why you are always writing about the men
and you tell them that you aren’t. You are writing
about the lessons, the bruises, the rubbing alcohol, the hurt.
About what people take, what people leave behind,
the photographs. The flowers. You are writing about a blue dress
that cost too much money and now shirks in your closet.
You are writing about the words, the lies, the promises,
the threats, the threatening, the choking. How your ribcage cracked
when the first boy who loved you said you weighed too much.
You are writing about the dreams, the nightmares. About loving
like gravel. About shaving your legs and dressing your lips
because you want to be noticed. You are writing about the fear.
You are writing about the color of blood, his blood, your blood.
You are writing about the kisses that were too metallic.
The kisses that left your mouth feeling empty. The liquor,
how it persuaded you to leave your hands in someone else’s home.
You are writing about how sticky your shirt felt against your chest
as he pulled it off and the sand, you are writing about the sand,
how you could taste it on his arms. You are writing about the apologies.
About giving your phone number to strangers just for the thrill
of a message from an unknown number. You are writing about
reconstructing your broken bones. You are writing about
licking salt. Crying Corona tears. Learning that
you are an easy thing to touch
and a hard thing to love.

They ask why I am always writing about the men
and I tell them that I’m not. I am writing
about the burning, how I screamed.
How I loved.
How I loved.
How I loved.
How I walked away from the battleground.
How I survived.

By Lydia Wang

Biography:

Lydia Wang is a writer, feminist, and caffeine enthusiast. Originally from Boston, she now lives in New York, where she studies creative writing and topics in social and cultural analysis at NYU. In her free time, she likes to spend too much money at the bookstore, rant about feminism, and fall in love with strangers on public transportation. Visit her online at poemsbylydia.tumblr.com.