PTSD By Jordan Hamilton

PTSD

For Keith and Ben

It’s a scene
People in my line of work
Are all too familiar with
Two in the morning
Cigarette in hand
Blood
On his knuckles
He’s been swinging at shadows again
Whiskey on his breath
I am talking him down again
I’m trying to remind him
That Afghanistan is just an outline on a map now
That he is in Southern California
And no longer in the desert that killed half of his adopted brothers
I try to swallow my guilt
Even though I have heard all of the stories
And he and I have the exact same basic training
I have no idea what he’s been through
I try to keep it humorous
I remind him that
Yes
California has a gang problem
But the bloods and the crips are not known for making homemade explosives
Not known
For treating children like street corners
And rigging them with IEDs
That’s probably not funny to any of you
But that’s okay
Because
Even though he laughs
We both know
It’s empty
Gallows humor
Because there’s nothing funny about a grown man
Scared to death of the monsters under his bed
He takes a drag from his cigarette
Takes a pull from his bottle
Normally I would stop him
But I can tell that tonight
It might be the only thing holding him together
He says
Do you remember the things they taught us
Like how Opha Mae Johnson
Was the first female to join the Marine Corps in 1912
Or how In 1918 we gave birth to the concept of Marine Corps aviation
The proper way to place a tourniquet is as far from the heart
And as close to the missing limb
As possible
If one of your brothers
Takes a round to the chest
The proper way to treat it
Is to take a layer of gauze
Large enough to cover the wound
Tape down three sides and monitor your patient for shock and tension pneumothorax
If they present
With tension pneumothorax
You take the end of a hypodermic needle
Puncture between the second and third rib
Allowing air to escape from the pleural cavity
And your casualties lungs to expand
When one of your brothers
Is thinking about killing himself
He will act irrationally
He will make jokes about his own demise
His performance at work will be affected
And with shaking hands
He will begin to give away
Things that you once thought meant something to him
What they never taught us
Were the things that mattered
They never taught us
How to apply a tourniquet
To the bleeding stump of your own sanity
Or what do
When
No matter how many sharp objects I have punctured my chest with
My lungs
Just don’t seem capable of expanding anymore
Or what to do
When the shaking hands
Are now my own
The only thing
That puts me to bed anymore is a bottle of whiskey and a fist fight
And that’s because
The last time I slept soundly
It was in a hole I dug with my bare hands
7000 miles from home
The last time
My bed felt comfortable
It was in the middle of a war zone
He takes a drag from his now spent cigarette
Takes a pull from his empty bottle of whiskey
He reaches for his wallet
Shows me a picture of his pregnant wife
He says
Do you know why I’m glad I’m having a baby
I feel like If I can bring a child
Into this world
Then maybe
I can give back a little bit of the innocence that was stolen from me
I was 19 and naive
When they handed me a rifle
And sent me off to war
And I don’t think I’m ever going to get that back
You see
Before I left I knew
No matter what they held I could always outrun my fears
No matter what my night mares contained
I would always wake up
But somewhere
Between the first time
My truck hit an IED
And the night
We had to send Kyle home in a body bag
Because someone fell asleep on post
My nightmares
They grew legs
And started chasing after me
And now
My lungs
Are on the verge of collapse
From running dead sprint
Through a marathon race
I just don’t seem capable of finding the finish line to
I don’t know If I’m ever gonna wake up
And the irony of that
Is I haven’t slept in three days
The images
Just keep playing themselves across my vision
As if the back of my skull
Were a movie projector
I can smell
The blood
And I can taste the death
I keep hearing the sound a throat makes
When all of it’s vocal cords have been cut
I keep seeing the way Jonesy’s face looked
Moments before a bullet
Removed the top half of his skull
And drained
Every dream
He’d ever had
Out onto the dirt street of some shit hole city we couldn’t even tell you the name of
We couldn’t even tell you why we were there
And I know
The burden of doing exactly as we are told
Is one
Us warriors
Are taught to carry at a young age
But my shoulders
Are tired
I keep trying to remind myself that I am a warrior
That I am trained to kill
And willing to die for the things that I believe in
And If I just keep doing exactly as I have been taught
Then
Maybe
Someday
This will all go away
But
The problem is
That in between my nightmares
My favorites dreams
Are the ones where my friends
Are still alive

By Jordan Hamilton

Jordan Hamilton is a 23 year old poet from Aransas Pass, Texas. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2014, where he learned to stare open eyed into clouds of CS gas while reciting Buddy Wakefield’s “Human the Death Dance.” He thinks punk rock can save the world and find his dreams in the stories of strangers. He wants you to know that your survival is the highest form of courage. His work can be found at workingonhumble.com or in audio format at jordanhamilton.bandcamp.com

Slow Violence By G.H. Monroe

Slow Violence

The media loves violence.
As one editor once said of headlines,
“if it bleeds, it leads.”

We, the lemmings, are outraged
on cue, unified on cue. Lights,
camera, action. Our blood sells.
It sells iPhones, music, insurance
Our blood brings frenzies of
twenty four hour, on site coverage.

But it must be the right sort of violence.
It must come in a sudden splash.
It must come in a vivid shade of crimson.

There is no money in slow violence,
the slow violence of indifference,

A child torn to physical shreds is news.
But not a child torn to pieces spiritually
by the slow, gray violence of poverty,
or torn to intellectual shreds by the
slow violence of substandard schools.

Thousands homeless and hungry?
Humans too poor for medical care?
Reel in the news trucks, go back to
your regularly scheduled lives.
There’s nothing more to see here.

By G.H. Monroe

Biography:

Born on the eve of Christmas, 1960, I spent the larger part of my adult life working in the information technology field but never strayed far from my true passion, which is writing. My debut book, “That’s My Story!” (Amazon) materialized not from a quest to write a book, but from a love for writing short stories. After years of writing short stories simply for the love of writing, I ended up with a collection of short stories that some said were suitable for compilation, and so that is what I did. I live in Western New York near the Pennsylvania border where I am working on my first full-length novel. Though I have always written poetry, I am only now beginning to investigate submitting some of my poems for publishing consideration.

American Nightmare By Pj Carmichael

American Nightmare

Wasting money by passing time.

Seconds to minutes,
cents to dollars,
billions through the years.

(I work to live,
but I do not live to work.)

One morning I awoke from a
22 year slumber, only to find
that the bills weren’t paid,
and the debt collectors are
always armed
to to the teeth.

Phone calls: fiscal stressors,
reminders of debt, indication
of past transactions
long forgotten.

(They always want more.)

I wake to an 8-hour-day
that roughly translates
to food, shelter, boredom,
and alienation.

“Growing up” is a financial statement.

By Pj Carmichael

Biography:

PJ Carmichael is a writer, artist, visionary, and adolescent from Wakefield, Massachusetts. His work focuses on the synthesis of sociology, psychology, philosophy, and empiricism. Through his work, he aims to bridge the gap between the concrete and the abstract. He enjoys hiking, biking, exploring, taking photographs, and exploring the metaphysical.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? By Irene Vazquez

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

The fifth time you feel like an imposter
in your own skin
you are 15
almond-eyed boy asking if you speak Spanish
trying to coax your two right feet into dancing

Bailemos.”

When was the last time someone loved you,
you, your bottomless soul
you, your Southern roots
you, your Mexican blood?

“You’ve been hiding your Latin heritage.”

You go home
resuming your favorite habit
angering your mother
falling in love with white boys who don’t love you
everyone’s still surprised you speak Spanish

“Can I touch your hair? We don’t have anything like that here.”

Think of your Abuelita
skin dripping off her hands
soft, comfortable
think of shared afternoons, sipping coffee
the way she held you so that you finally knew who you were
or maybe you didn’t
but your label didn’t matter

“Hijita de mi vida, te quiero tanto.”

You remember that the last time you held her was at her funeral
hands
soft, comfortable
it’s been almost a year
your peach pit heart forgets how to feel

Qué lejos estoy del suelo donde he nacido.”

You falter
apologize
your mother doesn’t speak your mother tongue
makes it so hard to sing

“Our American accents are good enough to fool them, no?”

By Irene Vazquez

Biography:

Irene Vazquez is a mixed-race poet (African-American and Mexican) currently residing in Houston, Texas. She attends St. John’s School where she writes and edits for her school newspaper, The Review, which received a Gold Crown rating from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

The summer of 2014, Irene spent three weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts studying creative writing. There, she worked under poets like Travis Wade and Francine J. Harris.

Irene received a regional Silver Key for her poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and she received an honorable mention in the 2014 Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, sponsored by Hollins University.

Her work has previously appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.

She often writes about the intersection of her identities in modern America and what it means to have her childhood dreams of a “post-racial America” shattered.

 

Equality is a right, not a rarity By Kimberly Siehl

Equality is a right, not a rarity

To the boy who said I should be more ladylike:
I will not cross my legs or twirl my hair
around my finger because it makes
me whole.
I will not bat my eyelashes at you
when you hold the door open for me
and I will not bat my eyelashes at you
when you don’t.
I will not wait for your text messages every night
as if I need your written validation
for my existence.
I will not sit back and laugh at jokes that I
don’t find funny because I can make a room
roar with laughter in seconds flat.

To the boy who said I’m “smart for a girl”:
I will not stop reading book after book
until I’m sure my knowledge can wipe you
off your feet.
I will not feel guilty when I correct your grammar
or point out when you have misspoken.
I will not bow down to you because your father
is a successful businessman and I will not
let you leave until you hear about my mother
who is a profound bio-chemist.
I will not stop using words that confuse you
and I will not stop discussing politics or
the woes of capitalism because my female opinions
make you ‘uncomfortable’.

To the boy who said he hated my body:
I will not spend extra hours at the gym
to keep you from seeing my thighs jiggle
and I will not eat food fit for birds
to ensure you can fit your hand between my thighs.
I will not stop wearing that skin tight dress that
makes my ass look out of this world and I
certainly will not break your gaze when
you evaluate my worth.
I will not stop applying winged eyeliner or bright
red lipstick because I’m not here to look
like your man-made masterpiece.
I will not be a product of your temptation.

To the boy who sees me as an equal:
I will not praise you as if you are a rare species
nor will I boast that you are one of a kind.
I will not drunkenly utter that “I’ve finally got one!”
to my girlfriends over wine
because a boy with a level head shouldn’t be
impossible to find.
I will not pin you up next to my trophies
or diplomas as if you are some sort of accomplishment.
I will not degrade you to what we have been degraded
to all along.

I will defend the girls who are told they are not ladylike
I will protect the girls who are told they are too smart
I will support the girls who are told they should fix their bodies
I will fight for the girls who you tell are not good enough
and I will praise the girls who simply do not care.

Equality is a right, not a rarity.

By Kimberly Siehl

Biography:

My name is Kimberly Siehl and I’m a 20 year old student at The College of New Jersey studying clinical psychology and spanish. I love writing, singing, dogs, and good food.

How To Tell a Rape Joke By Lindsey Hobart

How To Tell a Rape Joke

First:
Be the girl walking down the street
in the middle of the night,
eyes fixed ahead of her,
car keys between white
knuckles, pepper spray
in the other, because no,
not all men, but enough
that you walk a little faster,
stand a little taller, measure
the distance between you
and the man walking on the
sidewalk across from you
because you know how the joke goes:
a girl walks into a bar alone.
That was her first mistake.

Second:
Be the girl that rehearses the word “no”
in the mirror every morning she wakes up,
because after seventeen years
it still feels weird on her tongue,
because the last time she said it,
it came out as a whisper that
she did not recognize.
Because you know how the saying goes:
if a girl says no six times
and nobody is around to hear it,
will any sound come from her throat
the tenth time she pleads?

Third:
Learn to yell fire instead of rape
because burning buildings
are more important than
bodies turned to caution tape,
because men learn the word no
shortly after birth but when
your voice is shaking
the lines become blurred,
because
here is the punchline:
1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime
and my body was turned into a statistic overnight,
and you’re telling me I don’t need women’s rights
and they say I will always be in the same room as a survivor
even when I’m in that room alone.

By Lindsey Hobart

Biography:

Lindsey Hobart is a seventeen year-old poet from a New York town that’s as quiet as her voice. Her work has been featured in Canvas Lit and she is a winning Slam Poet.

Eurydice By Emily Palermo

Eurydice

Tragic
they call me.
Lost, forgotten.
My snakebite heart
growing colder
by the second.
My gooseflesh skin
greying ugly in the dark.
So it goes. No matter.

What awaited me
in the land of the living?
His hand creeping starved
between my thighs?
The sweet stench of rot
choking itself in my hair?

Let me be honest here,
whisper my story in your ear.
Let me tell you
how I was silent as he turned,
how I never reached for him
as Death’s cold fingers
curled around my waist,
how I wanted him
to look back,
how I craved it
with all of my unbeating heart.

Let me tell you how I chose hell.

By Emily Palermo

Biography:

Emily Palermo is a nineteen-year old aspiring writer from Louisiana, where she is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature. Her greatest influences include Richard Siken and Margaret Atwood. In her free time, she likes to frequent coffee shops and bookstores, talk about her dog, and wax poetic about Vincent van Gogh. More of her work can be found at http://starredsoul.tumblr.com/

The Nature of Living By Madeleine Christie

The Nature of Living

The nature of living after the flood is
one of decay. The walls shuddering / the
damp creeping in / a cough settling deep
in your lungs. So much for purification.
So much for absolution. Everything is
born-again & already rotting.

The nature of living after the fire is
eyes red & burning. No voices / no
words / no speaking. Our throats too
heavy with the weight of the smoke
we swallowed to survive

The nature of living after the end is
an endless wandering / a body searching /
a body turning wasteland. The lines that
shouldn’t be crossed have been carelessly
abandoned / pale scars across the earth /
& no one watches where they step anymore.

Madeleine Christie

Biography:

Madeleine Christie goes by Maddie except when writing poetry. An 18-year-old currently living in New Zealand & studying classics and linguistics, she has a love for language & a desire to see the world. She buys far too many poetry books for someone on a student budget & is fascinated by mythos, the cosmos & the nature of humanity. More of her work can be found at vespairs.tumblr.com

Punk Rock As A Religious Institution By Jordan Hamilton

Punk Rock As A Religious Institution

My first punk show was the real Fourth Great Awakening
It was Southern Baptists
singing to snakes
speaking in tongues
preaching about Hellfire and Brimstone
My first punk show was like shaking hands with Jesus
Not the healing the sick
feeding the hungry with
fishes and loaves Jesus
No
This Jesus
started cleansing the temple
wearing a faded leather jacket
A Stick To Your Guns t-shirt
and ripped jeans
kicking over market stalls and money changer’s tables
swinging a nail bat
exhorting,”Be gone from my Father’s house. Begone you thieves.
Get the fuck out or, I swear to me, I will crack skulls.”
My first punk show taught me how to pray
taught me that prayers sound a lot like 300 hundred voices all singing the same song
300 different ways
Taught me that prayers
are better offered with your body
are better offered in the mosh pit
I have never been comfortable
praying on my knees
Punk rock’s commandments are simple
The venue is an altar
a sacred place
Leave your hate and insecurities in the car
It’s gonna be packed
If you want breathing room
You’d better be willing to fight for it
No one is going to give you anything you haven’t earned
When someone is willing to stand in front of you
and give everything they have
You better be willing
to give nothing less in return
Punk rock has no gender
no race
no religion
this is humanity
as a brotherhood
So when someone falls
you always pick them back up
My first punk show was a shitty dive bar with a bad PA
My God
It was glorious

By Jordan Hamilton

Biography:

Jordan Hamilton is a 23 year old poet from Aransas Pass, Texas. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2014, where he learned to stare open eyed into clouds of CS gas while reciting Buddy Wakefield’s “Human the Death Dance.” He thinks punk rock can save the world and find his dreams in the stories of strangers. He wants you to know that your survival is the highest form of courage. His work can be found at workingonhumble.com or in audio format at jordanhamilton.bandcamp.com

Astronomic Feelings By Valentina Thompson

Astronomic Feelings

This blue speckled home, this
eggshell globe beneath my feet will
rotate 1,040 miles in the next

59 minutes and all I could tell
you that’s moved me would be her
smile.  All I could tell you about
change would be atmospheric

pressure in this ribcage when that
girl walks in a room, I forget
how to speak even though my mouth

has built a bed for her name,
shelter, a roof over
even the thought of her.

But this paper mache planet, this
soaked soil of our roots will complete
a full turn on its axis in 23.93 hours,

and we could compare it to the
background stars, see when it measures
up at the precise alignment and call it
the same, but it is not the same,

it is another rotation in its history
it is not the same because we are always
changing, people are always leaving
and attraction is the marrow of gravity

and the only thing I know about
love is that everything always moves
towards coalescence or collapse.

By Valentina Thompson

Biography:

Valentina is a 20-year-old queer writer out of Long Beach, CA with a habit of writing to people who don’t love her back and always smiling at strangers. She is currently majoring in English, Creative Writing with a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, and if lost, can often be found in any small coffee shop on a rainy day. http://theseoverusedwords.tumblr.com/