Lesbianflix By Lydia Havens

Lesbianflix

If being a lesbian were anything like Netflix movies
portrayed it to be, My fingers would look like canned prunes
all day, everyday, because of all of the baths I’d take
with my super hot girlfriend while we talked about
the meaning of life. I would drink so much coffee
at different cafes with this super hot girlfriend,
I’d be going to the bathroom doing you-know-what
at least 10 times a day. I’d also never sleep.
I’d also know the meaning of life.

If being a lesbian were anything like Netflix movies
portrayed it to be, sweet-as-toothaches
music would always play in the background:
a folk song about getting wasted
while I drink pink wine with  my super hot girlfriend.
A folk song about being in love, love, love
while I walk in the pouring rain with my super hot
girlfriend. A Smiths song while I slow dance in my
goddamn living room with my super hot girlfriend.
There would be a song for every small task,
as long as there was another girl in the picture.

Because if being a lesbian
were anything like Netflix movies portrayed it to be,
the audience would not blink or shudder when
my super hot girlfriend turns out to be the manipulative
lady-killer type, just like all the other super hot girlfriends on the screen.
They wouldn’t call her that to her face—and they’d
tell me she’s just “protective” and “too head over heels
in love with me”. My traumatic childhood, which
I have been trying to keep between us throughout
the entire film, would be treated like another
laughable trope. Everyone would act like my time
in the LGBTQIA community is nothing more
than a phase. Nothing more than something
for straight men to rub their hands all over.

Near the end of the film, when I admit on camera
that I have depression, it will not be a surprise.
After all, aren’t all of these lesbians supposed to
be sad? All of our stories look the same in Hollywood’s
near-sighted eyes. We are all the same mouth,
begging as though we have not been fed
properly. We are begging for acceptance,
begging for a good, healthy love story,
because sometimes, these films are
just too realistic.

When one out of three lesbian or gay
relationships is abusive in some way,
you begin to believe it will happen
to you. When you read about another
murder or suicide within your community,
you will begin to believe it will happen
to you. When your sexuality is seen as
“sexy” and not “human”, you begin
to believe you are a walking sin. When
every movie tries to teach you that
when you find the so-called perfect girl,
you will end up another dead lesbian,
you begin to believe all of them.

By Lydia Havens

Biography:

Lydia Havens writes and lives in Tucson, Arizona. A part of the literary non-profit Spoken Futures, her work has previously been published in Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Words Dance, and Textploit, among other places. In March 2015, she was named the Women of the World Poetry Slam Youth Champion. You can find more of her work on Tumblr, southwestwitch.tumblr.com, or on her website, lydiahavens.weebly.com.

The Preacher’s Daughter Who Fell In Love With A Girl By Shelby Asquith

The Preacher’s Daughter Who Fell In Love With A Girl

She was raised
to keep her eyes up.

Her father told her
to keep her knees straight
and her sexuality straighter.

But who was he
to tell her what was holy?
What was sacred?

She could see it everywhere.
In the flickering
streetlights,

in the crowds,
all the faces with
their own amens–
their own psalms.

She could hear it
just by listening
to the lonesome dog
bark at the darkened
nothing of night.

But most of all
she could see it in
a girl with an
achingly tender face
and small hands.

The soft laugh of God
lived in her mouth,
in her bones.

She could see it
there, just outside
of her vision.

Not up. But here.
In front of her.

By Shelby Asquith

on being a queer girl in a desi family By M.J. Pearl

on being a queer girl in a desi family

I line up my cousins, one by one
and knock them down, one by one:
Married. Married with a baby. Engaged.
Married with a baby on the way.
Married. Married. Going to be married.

Between them, they have four daughters
and I want to be there to show them how
to paint the colors of the sky instead of
their broken hearts; I wish that I could
teach them that it’s okay to be fire
instead of smoke; it’s okay to be a girl
it’s okay to be a girl and you are beautiful
and you don’t need to be a boy to matter.

One of my cousins broke her engagement,
said she wanted to study more, learn more,
be better, and I wanted to laugh. I wish I could
be that brave. Look my parents in the eye, say:
I don’t want a boy you have chosen for me.
I don’t want a life you have chosen for me.

I want so much: to feel air in my lungs instead
of fog; to smile at a girl and know I have her heart;
to raise a daughter who will understand that
no matter how the world tries to break her
she is worth it and she is worth everything.

Halfway across the world, my cousins
are three and four and five years old
and growing up and growing girls
and I wish they knew me. I wish they
really knew me. I wish I could tell them
that they live in a new age, that I live
in a world where I can marry anyone
I want in fifty states but I can’t tell
anyone in my family that I love girls.

There are poems you write and then
there are poems that write you.
I wish I was stronger. I wish I was
brave. I wish I knew how to love
girls and be loved at the same time.

I want to learn to be a hurricane,
be a flood, be a thunderstorm.
I want to teach my little cousins
that I’m okay, that I will be okay,
and that they will be okay, too.
That it’s okay to love girls and
it’s okay to want more and it’s okay
it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

(But to teach something,
you first have to learn it.)

There’s a country on the other side
of the world and it’s beating in my heart
and I wish – I wish – I wish it loved me
as much as I want to be loved.

By M.J. Pearl

Biography:

M.J. Pearl is an aspiring writer, currently in her third year of college in California. She’s been writing poetry for three years and short stories for even longer.

Girls Don’t Owe You Shit, Dude: a polite reply to a post which inadvertently blames girls for distrusting the affections of a guy friend By Raquel Isabelle de Alderete

Girls Don’t Owe You Shit, Dude: a polite reply to a post which inadvertently blames girls for distrusting the affections of a guy friend

when i was five, and romance didn’t exist for boys, it did exist for me. “she’s going to break hearts one day,” people said, speaking about me over my head. i smiled, because that is something little girls are supposed to be pleased to hear.

when i was six i was supposed to kiss my best friend because he was a boy, and when i wouldn’t, he pushed me down hard enough that my palms bled. he said if i told a teacher, he’d tell everyone i kissed him and i was bad at it. i washed off in the school’s bathroom sink and cried about it all through recess.

at eight, i stopped wearing dresses because i couldn’t turn cartwheels in them. “a tomboy,” somebody said about me, over my head, as if i couldn’t hear them. i said, “i don’t want to be a boy,” and they laughed. “we know, sweetness.” i said, “i’m not sweet, i’m serious,” and they laughed again. “you’re cute,” they said. i smiled at that, because that’s something little girls are supposed to be pleased to hear.

at nine, i had too many friends that were boys. “i don’t like it,” my father said, standing in the kitchen. i didn’t understand it. “your body is going to start changing soon, and i don’t want those boys looking at you. i don’t like it,” he’d repeat. we moved away that summer. i lost everybody.

when i was eleven, my teacher took me out of the classroom and asked me to put on another layer because even though it was hot in there, all of the boys were staring at the little forming bumps on my chest. i remember embarrassment spiking down my spine like lightning. i begged my mother to take me bra shopping. it was terrible there, in those bright stores with bright lights and beautiful women with tight thighs. it was terrible and embarrassing to touch or look at or even think about these things.

at thirteen, my best guy friend wrestled me to the ground and covered me in kisses no matter how much i asked him to stop it. “it’s supposed to be like this,” he kept repeating, “just stop struggling.” he told me i was pretty and lovely and that boys and girls can’t be friends. he told me to stop being so mad at him, that little girls are supposed to be pleased about these things.

the same winter, i was catcalled for the first time in my whole life. i jumped when the car pulled up by my side. they said “baby” over my head as if i wasn’t who they were discussing. i didn’t smile about it. i had to sit down to stop myself from vomiting.

when i was fifteen, half of my friends were boys. my best friend was in love with me. he told me i was breaking his heart. he said that if i didn’t love him back, he’d have nothing to live for anymore. the story with the rest of them is all the same. either they left me or they thought they fell in love with the idea of somebody i wasn’t.

that summer when i was sad – and i was sad categorically, always – i tried reaching out. when i turned to the boys, all i heard was, “don’t cut, you’re beautiful,” “don’t kill yourself, you’re so pretty,” “think of the scars, sweetie,” “when you cut yourself, i’m the one who starts bleeding.” i didn’t smile, although i think girls are supposed to be pleased to hear these things. i didn’t know how to say: i don’t feel beautiful, and even if i did, what i’m doing to myself has nothing to do with you, or what i look like, or how fuckable i am to you. instead i told them i was fine, and fixed, and nothing bad was happening.

when he broke my heart, it was because i told him no. when he left, i cried because it hurt to watch my best friend go. when he left, he said that he’d never liked me for my soul: only for my curves, the only real way to measure worth in a girl.

at sixteen, i had only girl friends. they were gentle, and different, and walked me through things. they held my hand when classes got too loud for me, and it meant friendship. they kissed me on the cheeks when i was crying, and it meant friendship. they slept next to me and it was friendship in the way i wasn’t used to. i was used to “stop being a tease,” to “why are you doing this to me.” it was just friendship, and it was excellent.

i was called a dyke, a lesbian, a man-hater. i thought of the men who had hurt me, who had spoken over my head, who had given me their full opinion even though i never asked for it. i was hated by basically everyone. i was sad and lonely so often that i often thought i’d never feel happy again.

at nineteen, in college, i had friends who were boys again, because college boys are supposed to be old enough to see you as a person. they all called me Steve, short for Steven. at first i thought it was some kind of inside joke, that it was cute, that it meant they loved me the way i loved them all. one day while we were both drunk, i asked one of them why they wouldn’t just say my name. he laughed. he said, “god, you’re going to hate me when i explain.” he said that they’d all formed an agreement behind my back that none of them would fuck me, that if i was going to be one of the bros, i couldn’t be a girl to them. i could only be seen as a boy if i wanted to be their friend. he said this all while staring at a point over my head, and tried to kiss me at the end. when i pushed him away, he said, “sorry, steve,” took a breath, “but if i start seeing you as a girl, i’m gonna try to kiss you again.”

i said, “i don’t want to be a boy, though,” and he laughed again.

he said, “i know, sweetie.”

at twenty-two, i am sick of boys who are “nice,” who are “not like other boys,” who are offended when i don’t immediately trust their intentions. i have been hurt over and over and over again. i only talk to about three of my boy friends and the rest i lost because i dared not to fuck them.

at the same time, i kept most of my girl friends. i have had crushes on most of them. it never impacted our relationships. even girls who are gay like i am know that being friends doesn’t mean i owe them. they hold my eyes when i talk to them.

i’m sorry, i’m sorry, i’m sorry. i love so many people, and many boys are wonderful and charming and excellent. i’m sorry i flinch away from a friendship. i’m sorry i will be cold and unaffectionate and scared of getting too close

it’s just that, since i was five, i was told i break hearts

By Raquel Isabelle de Alderete

Coral Sands, Myrtle Beach By Lindsay Maruska

Coral Sands, Myrtle Beach

hotel rooms swallow up your secrets,
spit them out to bones cleaned, raw
content with no age restrictions- if
you can fake it, you can stay-

something about the salt has faded
years of paint from broken walls,
made tired faces out of waitresses,
bartenders speak with no words
at all, just a twisted pull that could be
a smile; you breathe in at night and it’s
just the sea filling heavy your briny
lungs with all the places
you’ll never
be-

don’t heed to the hurricane warnings;
we’re better off getting ripped away from
the luster stolen through the sunlight;
this is an ugly place by day and you
might paint paradise, like Dante whisper
to your long-lost love but first you’re
on your tour of hell and it’s a far
hard climb to up above all paved with
plastic chipped-paint palm trees, neon
spun in lurid frames, pastel hotels
with rusted railing-

where no one has to know your
name where no one has to know
you came.

By Lindsay Maruska

Biography:

Lindsay Maruska is a thirty-year-old forever student who is pursuing a second MA degree while raising one child and five dogs. She is interested in modern mythology and the intersection of regional gothic and social commentary on industrial ruin.

Symphony By Zoe Blue

Symphony

christmas fills
the memory black holes
with dusty red ribbon, with pictures
of a different childhood,
with shortbread cookie
tins full of peppermint bark

like the kind my father ripped
from my mouth at age seven
swearing that it had been poisoned
that the ones we loved wanted us dead

while in the kitchen
my mother stood alone
oven-burns searing, a
colorless flash seeping
from the wound
of another holiday, one way
before i was born

she tells me that i screamed
the first time i heard
the nutcracker–
a child’s intuition
soon after choked
then soothed

By Zoe Blue 

Biography:

Zoe Blue writes about hope and the many colors childhood takes on in memory. Her work has been published in Little River and Electric Cereal. In June she put her first e-book, Redemption Center, out into the world. More of her work is forthcoming on her portfolio blog, byzoeblue.tumblr.com.

Ruido By Maria Ng

Ruido

Esperanza’s pelo buena es
no más. (No more good hair.)
She gets it chopped off at Mira’s.

It is sewed and donated,
to elsewhere, for Nina,
for the less fortunate?

For Zhang Wei to sell at the
shāng diàn. Hanging on hooks,
emulating the deer heads on mounts.

He fondles it in a corner, the strong
black straightness between his finger
webs, a stirring inside him. It’s familiar.

He recalls the brush
strokes of Pete Teo,
of wifely beauty.

Father told her “Yo no hablo
Español no more.” So therefore she
doesn’t and it is now Inglés.

Mao destroyed the four olds
so Zhang Wei is no más. (He
doesn’t remember anything.)

Destroy the olds to bring
in the new. And paint
a smiley face on Pu Yi.

Devouring the past,
swishing it around
and then spitting out

certain small portions
to rearrange into a
desirable formation.

Dying over and over
in last words that are
never heard.

By Maria Ng

Biography:

Maria Ng is a New Yorker living in New Jersey. She spends her days writing, blogging about books and zines, and going to college. She often writes about mixed identity (Afro-Latina and Chinese), memories of family, living in New York, fearing of what’s going to happen in the future, relearning and forgetting languages, and lonely fictional people that are merely reflections of herself. She has an existential crisis every few months or so and is still unsure of what to do now.

She considers writing a form of healing, protest, and sometimes a violence towards your own self. She writes poetry but wishes to be a novelist. She doesn’t like to remember high school, especially the horrendous fiction and poetry she wrote for her creative writing class.

She has previously been published in Rasasvada, Paper Crown Magazine and some other zines.