Fallen By Kelly Collins

Fallen 

The wind has swept the leaves under the branches,
with tattered clothes tucked out of sight,
bare skeletons extend skywards,
held up on cruel display,
their emptiness now obvious
The school children shout in the distance
like they’ve noticed it too,
that the things which have fallen
will reincarnate by consuming their own carbon
The school children are now laughing
I wonder if they know
that the dead are never really dead,
that all those things which will fall
will be incorporated in the roots of a new thing
until all is pink and blooming

By Kelly Collins

Biography:

I am a young artist/writer. I struggle with bipolar disorder which is a great curse and occasionally a great gift. I work primarily with paintings and poetry and I live in Bend, Oregon.

monster movie night by callie hensler

monster movie night

you impress your friends
with your stillness
watching horror films.
you don’t tell them
about the monsters
you’ve seen.

the monsters that
came out from under the bed,
crawled under the covers.
there was no swell
of dissonance to warn you,
no time to brace yourself
or prepare for
how their fire hands
and scratching claws
left ghost shaped scars
that still haunt you.
you kept your eyes closed
for the worst parts,
let your bruised mouth
reshape itself:
from hurt to nothing.
your raw lips remember
trying to form words
before being smothered.
until your voice doesn’t
remember being used
for something other
than trying to scream.
that’s all you want:
to yell something primal
and guttural, let your
throat rip itself apart
until it resembles
the rest of your
crumbling, charred body.

your friends use their hands
to cover their eyes, pull
blankets over their heads
and ignore the suffering
flickering right in front of them.
you use your hands to cover
your ghost shaped scars,
don’t mention the script
you’re writing: a horror film
to make the monsters cower
until you’re the one doing the haunting.

by callie hensler

Biography:

Callie Hensler is a lover of words who is currently pursuing a masters degree in music therapy. She writes mostly to deal with her queer girl heart. Her writing is complied at loyaltea.tumblr.com and she can be contacted atcallie.hensler@gmail.com

Girlhood By Alexis Bates

Girlhood

Pretty doll with your hair
perfectly coiffed,
eyelashes
slowly batting
as I tilt you forward,
I want to drag you
through the mud
and brambles
so you look like me.

By Alexis Bates

Biography:

Alexis Bates, 18, is an upstart poet and writer living in Baltimore, MD. Her poems force us to reflect on how we relate to topics such as self-perception, broken hearts, and mental illness. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Doll Hospital, Transcending Shadows, 308 Words, and others.

THE FEMME AND ME By Hafsa Musa

THE FEMME AND ME

i love
grapefruit

the sorbet blush circling the soft down of their navel
those wide-eyed dimples
that soft, round scent

grapefruits look a lot like me
on the days i feel orange

i look down at the soft down
of my navel
and peel back my skin
to let the femme out

round and rosy
smooth to the touch
thick-skinned beauty with a corkscrew rind
and a sunset’s subtle shine.

the femme in me wears natural tones
they languish roundly, they are not afraid of their curves and lumps
they are squishy and tropical
wet, wild
wide-eyed and long-lashed
throwing her great hips out in greater circles.

on the days i feel orange
the femme in me lolls their head back
grips me with nails painted like nebulae
and kisses love songs into my open mouth.
the femme in me
knows a quiet hermitude
they are at peace in my skin
even in small misshapen pieces.

the femme and me
smoke hookah and masturbate
on beanbag chairs,
they hold my hand
as i come.

the femme and me
ripen with odd pacing
not bad, not wrong, just
odd.

they soothe my bad intentions
and trim my boughs;
they bloom and i carefully
lean down to take them
all in.

the femme hooks scaffolds to my limbs
tells me, “i’m going to make a home of you,”
and sets about picking out the fine china.
they break mother’s dishes and super glue
them back together in new and interesting
shapes:
this one a knife, that one a double-sided dildo,
this one a cornucopia to keep my heart in.
(the femme in me is soft without being gentle.)
(the femme in me is tough as nails.)

the femme in me sketches my organs
into blueprints, every point of their immaculate
nails a pencil’s simpering lip.
my body becomes a million things on paper:
a spindling forest, a viking’s ship, a tarot deck,
two wolves running, a well-made bed,
a reading nook.
each one she secrets away to its own room,
shut but not locked behind tapestry doors.

the femme in me makes their bed last
two doors down from mine
close enough for me to reach them,
far enough to give my flux its space.

the femme in me glows faintly at dusk
brown skinned and sprinkled with inklings,
mouth peeled and fragrant,
tongue gone blood orange with satisfaction.

the femme in me hums below my skin at all times
they play games on their phone and wait for me to
invite them out for dinner. i do not always call,
and i never call as often as i should,
but when i do
she comes to me softly,
round and warm,
her skin tasting strongly

of

grapefruit.

By Hafsa Musa

BABY, BABY By Schuyler Peck

BABY, BABY

She is cotton-candy Chapstick on an overcast day;
sweeter than red strawberries in white sugar.
Pink wine. Cherry vine.
Baby, baby, looks so fine.

We roll in the green grass in the rain,
wring out our soaking clothes on the porch rail
and watch sad movies in our bright blue undies.

We, the hot messes, more emphasis on mess.
We, holding hands and getting high to whatever’s on the radio.
We, red-eyed and weepy in the morning,
not strong enough to brave past the blankets.

Wrap us in your wanting.
Wrap us in your drunk wishes,
your middle-school kisses;
your slashed tires and broken lighters.

Touch us; fingers soft,
gentle hearts, shoulders shivering.

She is something so beautiful my tongue
has never learned to say.

By Schuyler Peck

Biography:

After the better days of tie-dye and moon shoes, Schuyler Peck came into writing; scribbling crooked words on crooked paper. While an ashamed native of the New Jersey coast, Schuyler now studies English in Idaho, hoping her publishing pipe-dream is enough to cover the cab fare. Her work has been featured in JuxtaProse Magazine, Literary Sexts Vol 2, Words Dance Magazine, and Persephone’s Daughters Magazine. She loves you. daisylongmile.com /SchuylerPeck.tumblr.com

To the boys who call themselves Pinocchio By Noah Mendez

To the boys who call themselves Pinocchio

Your bodies feel wooden on the best of days, I know
Hollow and empty like your organs were plucked out
To make way for the strings in some stranger’s hands.

You ask your father if you are real and he responds
People like you the way you are
You never do get an answer and you realize
Even liberals are scared of change if you
Bring it close enough to them.

Eyes carved out, creaky jointed boys I see you.
I am you. Your hands pulling out your skin,
Your eyes looking at the beards of men and
Caressing your own jawline, your feet standing
In front of two bathrooms fearing both of them,
All of these are part of me too.

I promise you that blue fairy doesn’t care about
What’s in your pants, just about what’s in your heart
Don’t let them tell what you can’t be because
It’s what you already are.

To the boys who call themselves Pinocchio
You can be your salvation
You are the very same heaven you are wishing upon.

To the boys who call themselves Pinocchio
You are real to me.

By Noah Mendez

My name is Noah Mendez, I am 17 years old, FTM transgender, and bisexual. I bring flowers to their knees in the best sort of way and I am trying to find a standing in the writing community. I run a personal writing blog called noahbreakshisheartopen.tumblr.com and I’m hoping to gain traction with my writing brigade for the darker side of everything called subwaytunnelingbrigade.tumblr.com

Birdsong By Meg Boyles

Birdsong

Tonight the birds are sick of being birds.

After centuries of pushing their young out of nests, flying
south to elude the mechanical clockwork of winter,
their feathers have begun molting
to reveal human skin.

They’re growing to unheard-of sizes, their claws retracting
into fingers, their bodies moving into homes
in the suburbs. I feel pity for their forgotten feathers
and the future they have chosen:

All of the bad first kisses, the wretched trips to buy sympathy cards,
insufficient season finales, resilient crabgrass, the burden of mortgages,
ill-timed Women’s Junior League meetings, in-laws at the
neighborhood barbecue, even though they didn’t RSVP.

Will there be good times? Love is good, I suppose.
There will be mornings they’ll wake beside someone and be comforted.
There will be mulberry wine and plenty of bluegrass,
coffee with the newspaper, fresh linens, long July days.

But is it better? This dearness of being human sings
with possibilities, like the blow of a train whistle in their ears.
They will hear the sound and think, It’s like an old birdsong
I once knew, and they will grieve for their sky-days,

For a baby’s first flight, a stable nest fashioned with the neighbor boy’s
bicycle streamers, wind beneath wings, the stomach-rush of looking down
while flying, of towns turned small. They will grieve until a voice calls out from
a room close by, warm and love-filled, and the only thing worth doing is to follow it.

By Meg Boyles

Biography:

Meg Boyles was raised in Ridgeland, Mississippi and is a junior at Hendrix College, studying creative writing and literature. Her poems can most recently be found in The Aonian.

On the Road to Perdition (And You Won’t See Him) By Vijaya Sundaram

On the Road to Perdition (And You Won’t See Him)

He stands at the corner
And they drive right on,
Or stop, pull up windows,
Lock their doors, cautious
You see, because … well …
Because …they’re … cautious,
And it’s good sense, right?

Not knowing what
Lurks in the empty space
Before them, in the
Shape of one they don’t see,
Because they are blind,
All blind, driving into the
Blinding dark of denial,
They drive, tanks full,
Mouths full, chewing on talk.

And the man they cannot see
Stands, reflected in the sky
Which approaches them,
So fast, so close — who brought down
That blue emptiness before them?
Or is it a cloud?  Yes, a reflected cloud.
See?  There’s no one there!

Staring straight ahead,
Eyes fixed on empty air,
Perhaps viewing empty dreams,
Speaking into cell phones
Texting their loved ones,
Sipping designer lattes,
They drive on, these rich ones
Empty-eyed, empty-souled
Empty-hearted, full-bellied.

Unaware, uninvolved,
They drive, while he blends
Right into the blue sky,
Into stiff brown trees.
Trees, aging ballerinas,
With arthritic hands,
freezing cold, stand cold, cruel,
And he blends, a broken man.
Like a thin growth of forest
He stands, eyes wide.
And he blends.
And they drive.

The scudding clouds,
The bitter steel and concrete
Of a bridge to unease, these
Smile for him, as he stands,
Unsmiling and alone in islands
Of light, and circles of sun.
And the sign he holds says:
Could you spare some change?
Homeless veteran,  need food.

What he does not say:
Can you see me?
Can you hear me?
I am homeless. I am lost.

I am homeless. Tossed upon
This life, did not ask to arrive. 
Yet, here I stand, stranded.
Will you give a moment
Of your time?  A hug, perhaps,
Better still, a dime?
At least a smile, for I am here.
Can you see me, car-people?
Can you hear me?

What he doesn’t say
You will never know.
For you cannot see
You cannot hear
You cannot be
Where he is, or who he is.
For you have blended
Into that darkening sea
Of unpersonhood,
And you have dissolved,
All humanity gone, lost
In dull resentment, lost
in indifference to yourself

He stands, silhouetted
Just for a moment.
While your car becomes sky
Then, shoulders slouched,
He walks on, his sign
The mark of his own
Personal Calvary
(And you won’t see him).

By Vijaya Sundaram

Biography:

A native of India, Vijaya Sundaram has lived in the Boston, Massachusetts, area for the past 25 years. She is a singer-song-writer, guitarist, poet and writer who spent seventeen years as an 8th Grade English teacher at a local public school.  Only recently feeling the urge to publish, she’s been sending out her work to various literary magazines. Vijaya has been published in literary magazines Calliope and The Phoenix Rising Review. You can read more of Vijaya’s work on her blog, StrangeLander2015.

They Call Them Candidates By Vince O’Connor

They Call Them Candidates

but what I see are
sycophantic
generators of rage
a bilge of bile
pressing into our skin
creating stains
on the voting-booth curtains

and what I hear are
promises promoting
the triumph of a
murderous will
jacket-booted strides
on the throats
of our freedoms

and what I know is
there is no
Hippocratic oath for power
we are not real people
like corporations
and the pressure of dissolving faith
is crushing us all

By Vince O’Connor

Biography:

Vince O’Connor has been a published writer since fourth grade, when his poem about protozoa was first published. Over the years he has published poetry in various print and online publications, has a play, “Nearly Departed,” published by Players Press, and written articles for magazines . He can be found at http://vinceoconnor.com/

First Snow By William Heath

First Snow

first snow…
the exquisite silence
of unspoken words

year’s end –
snow trying to fill
the open woods

snow disappearing
into an open stream
…how quickly we pass

By William Heath

Biography:

I am a semi-retired teacher at a small private school in New Hampshire, and the director of a tutoring organization. To me, there is nothing better than having an opportunity to work with students in creative writing. It’s rare that haiku and haibun are not a key component in my classes. They like it and so do I.

I live in central New Hampshire (“by the big lake” as locals say) with my wife Jacqueline, dogs Cosmo and Jake, and a cat with no name.