Epitaph By Amy Lauren Jones

Epitaph

for the lesbians whose fathers
dare not speak their names,
for butches buried
and raptured,
whose watering
eyes stare at crucifixes
on the front doors
from New Orleans to Yazoo,
for the daughters
of Good Ole Boys
scratched out of photo albums
and Christmas,
for femme eyes, queer eyes,
for what remains
when women love women,
dyke eyes
lingering on guns
in their father’s holsters,
she who sees
the worst of God-
fearing men.

By Amy Lauren Jones

Biography:

Amy Lauren Jones is a graduate organ major at Mississippi College, where she received her B.M. with a minor in English in 2015. Among other publications, her poetry appears in Wherewithal, Vagabond City, and GERM Magazine.”

I might have a drinking problem when it comes to death. By Julia Gaskill

I might have a drinking problem when it comes to death.

When I say I do not like funerals,
it is not to say others find them quaint, just

that I see the gathering dwindle of a family
I no longer know, count the number of faces

given over to the ghosts. I wonder who will be
next, which one of us will exit stage right. The

Italian blood in me shrinks with each new casket,
and family funerals are now an excuse to gaze

bleary eyed at photo albums while chugging wine
in bathrooms, like it’s my last day, like this is it,

like this is the thing I fear so much and
maybe, in this moment, it cannot touch me.

I’ve been imagining a grave for myself longer
than I can comfort a response. I do not

like funerals for all of the reasons you’d
expect, but the main one still stings,

relentlessly suffocates. There is a memory
stuck in the back of my throat of a thirteen

year old girl, all pigtails and overalls, who sat
front stage center for a funeral she never

could have fathomed. My father tells me I am
not social enough at funerals, but he doesn’t

know of the wine sloshing in my gut or all the
photo albums I’ve consumed, scouring pages

for every picture I could find of her. I imagine
a world where her blood never betrayed her

and I do not hate funerals. A world where
saying goodbye does not require three cups

of wine or the quiet or poetry. A world where
the word “mom” is not a sucker punch;

where my family is not a collection of ghosts
I can no longer speak to, except for when

they visit in the night, whispering how there
is an empty grave – waiting.

By Julia Gaskill

Biography:

Julia Gaskill is a professional daydreamer from Portland, Oregon. She was both a staff writer and producer for the Pencil Ink Production’s web series “The Misselthwaite Archives,” and she will be reprising both roles on the studio’s new web series “The Cloisterham Case Files.” Most recently, Julia competed in the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured on FreezeRay Poetry, Thirteen Myna Birds, Front Row Central, and Voicemail Poems, and she was nominated for Best of The Net 2015 for one of her pieces. It goes without saying that she loves Muppets more than you. Find her poetry and information about available chapbooks at http://geekgirlgrownup.tumblr.com

i don’t know what to do with happiness By Haley Clapp

i don’t know what to do with happiness

i don’t know what to do with happiness.
when the blue bird replaces the anchor
on my shoulder i am suspicious of
lightness. my grey mouse-heart flutters,
my pepper eyes dart. i scurry the split
second between reeling forward or
back.

i schedule sadness in days    weeks     months
make a timetable & a ledger & a checklist &
when happiness finds me i throw up my
limbs in surrender to the authority
i face wide-eyed happiness
is a firing squad.

happiness explodes in me and blacks out
my eyes, obliterates me like the clean
wrath of God and before i think i’m
sputtering apologies confessing all
my glass-shatter sins to prevent the holy
light from fleeing cruel as lightening
striking bark/marking scars/
God i’m so afraid of white-hot light
you send that smites the anchor from
my back God i don’t know what it means
to stand up straight God i don’t know
what to do with happiness—

By Haley Clapp

Biography:

Haley Clapp is a recent Indiana University Bloomington graduate and fledgling queer poet who will be attending King’s College London in the fall for her MA in Critical Methodologies. She has served on the Editorial Board of various IU publications, including LABYRINTH and The Undergraduate Scholar. She loves sad songs and horror movies and hopes to end up somewhere in the world between literature/art and academia.

WHEN G KISSES YOU By Karese Burrows

WHEN G KISSES YOU

I hope she tastes
the way I used to
bite your mouth.

Hope she knows
how much you loved
it, how it rattled your
jaw like a marching
band cymbal.

I have been everywhere
inside those lips. Left
my mark like a dog on
a fire hydrant.

If I were you, I’d never
tell her where that trap
of yours has been.

If I were you, I’d name
that trap after me.

By Karese Burrows

Biography:

Karese Burrows is a 22 year old graphic artist and poet from The Bahamas. She has been published more than once by Words Dance Publishing and has works in the first issue of Penstrike Journal. You can read more of her words and the words she loves from her tumblr fluerishing.tumblr.com.

Stargazing By Carol Brown

Stargazing

I.
stretched out under the stars
the night after our high school graduation
he paints a portrait of the man
he would be

he would be two iron chains
and a padlock
on the gate out back

he would be an army of buckets
to catch the rain
a new roof before next summer

he would be unbent binding
a blank page
a chalkboard scrubbed clean

an open road stretched out
a horizon, always ahead

two good legs
a pair of walking shoes

under the stars
he would be ten men
a solar system
and no apologies

II.
years later
when he is only a shadow behind a star to me
i read the headlines
“Jurors Order 40-Year Term in Fist Fight Stabbing Case”
“Teen Guilty of Murder in 2012 Stabbing Death”
and Dan drops the word ‘psycho’
onto the table between us
like a casualty of war

that night
i watch stars explode over Boston
attempt name them
one by one
but am overwhelmed
by their numbers
and spend the whole night
crying instead

imagine
so many
we don’t know
have already gone
supernova

III.
imagine
i would name him psycho
i would faceless-brown-boy him
fear to speak his name in silence
name no stars for his son

IV.
imagine
i would cry in that court room
scream at the reporters
with their buzzing microphones
swarming black flies arriving
before his body has even cooled
chattering
frenzied
as it twitches
in the last throws of death

imagine
i would cry over his body

V.
the girl,
the one he wrote all the poems about
is 5 months pregnant

in all the trial footage,
she’s sobbing into his sister’s shoulder

i never met his sister,
never really knew he had one

i find out later
the bump in her belly is a little boy

they name him Charlie

VI.
Charlie has a hyphenated last name
footie pajamas
and a tiny crucifix
all to himself

imagine him, 18
with his father’s gangly limbs
too big jaw
scraggly goatee
and soft brown eyes

imagine him writing poems
about a girl
and having no father except the one in jail

imagine him stretched out
counting stars
that have already gone
supernova

By Carol Brown

Biography:

Born and raised in central New Jersey, Carol Brown is a performance poet, student and general bookworm based in Brooklyn. She is currently studying poetry and psychology at Eugene Lang College. Carol has been featured at the 2014 and 2015 New York City Poetry Festivals, the LaMama Experimental Theater, the 2014 TedYouth Conference, the Jersey City Slam and on Indiefeed. Her work can be found in Germ Magazine, 11 and 1/2, 12th Street and a great weather for MEDIA.

 

the extimacy of grief By Karuna Chandrashekar

the extimacy of grief

upon leaving

the dying body

will borrow
its expressions from trees

those memories are old

older than breeze
older than the sea
older than the first breath

loss is larval like that

a delicate half-thing

a wrist bone
an eyelash
fire mumbling through leaves

its shadow, a mute speak
of a forgotten flash

now, the light in those eyes
wink
as if birds were
crossing their evening sun

all that will be left
will be earth

in the prism of twilight
i sift time
with the palm of my hand

let me be the pasture
let me be the animal bone
let me be the atom slipping from dead to new born

By Karuna Chandrashekar

Biography:

Karuna Chandrashekar is a psychotherapist practising in New Delhi India. Her work has been featured in A Blackbird Sings, The Sunflower Collective and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Anomaly Lit.

 

having erotophobia in a sex driven culture By sarah kate osborn

having erotophobia in a sex driven culture

is like being a cockroach in a sea of spotlights, chasing you back
into the corner you just crawled out from.
here is another elephant we don’t talk about,
some nameless guest sharing our china that no one thinks to mention.
how can you live a quiet life when you are terrified of how you got here and
all the things they expect you to do before you leave?

my body is a continent i am still learning my way around and i am terrified
of what men will do to all my naked
when it cannot fight back: here, take what you want of me and don’t give anything back.

maybe i am afraid of men, or maybe
of all this skin, or maybe
of having nowhere to hide, nothing to shield myself with.
maybe i am just afraid of passing on these knotted up nucleotides, of giving life to someone else
who doesn’t want it.

i know how much my mother wants grandchildren but
i don’t know if i want children,
i don’t know if i want to get married,
i don’t know if i even like men, i’m sorry.

i don’t think i will ever fall in love,
which is to say, I don’t think i’ll ever find a boy
who will love me even if my body is never ready for him,
even if i never want to make a family out of us.

i am not waiting on the right boy, i don’t want to have my mind changed,
i am not going to grow out of this so stop asking.
i was told that my libido should be at its peak, that i’ll never be crazier than this,
but i don’t have fantasies of sex, only intrusive thoughts that i still haven’t learned to shake.

the kids from my middle school health class giggle as we talk about the kind of things they’ve played around with,
the kind of things i still can’t speak of without bile as quotation marks.
is there a special hell for those who die as virgins? do we burn naked at the pyre?

i wish my body really belonged to me.
i wish i wasn’t so afraid of something that was made to be beautiful.
i wish this poem made it hurt any less.

By sarah kate osborn

Biography:

sarah kate osborn is a fifteen year old poet from north carolina who hates describing herself and rebels against capital letters. she is trying to toss her voice into a world already filled with noise and may have nothing meaningful to say. she has been published in the rising phoenix review, words dance magazine, and persephone’s daughters. she can be found at www.allthesinkingships.tumblr.com

a 20% chance of rain By Allya Yourish

a 20% chance of rain

I am a virgin without much explaining
to do, I
let a boy touch me and he touched me more than I wanted,
I let a boy touch
me and he told me what he was going to do to my skin, how I was going
to open my legs for him. How I was going

to like it.
And an act of protest, I put distance
between us, I filed all the official paperwork,
not to get him in trouble, only to get it on the record

if only I would stop talking about it, I would be a good victim,
the kind you tell other girls to be
when their trauma is knocking on the door.
For the record, I am not a good victim

I can’t stop talking about it and I
didn’t let anyone else touch me for a long time
My trauma is so well combined with my sexuality
that I can’t tell the two apart if I
hold them up to the light.

My trauma permeates everything.

It is a rain storm and I am wearing a wool sweater,
I can peel the fabric off of my body but there
will still be a seeping cold wetness
over my skin, my bra
he takes off without asking me. The next boy to touch the clasp is treated to a flinch
I don’t mean to respond this way, this is

just the only way I know how. My mouth has no practice with ‘yes’s. I say no now because
I never was allowed to before.

I keep the glory of my body to myself when I know
I’d rather share it because I’m too frightened of losing the ability
to give it away on my own terms.
I do not want to be touched,

and when I do, I have to remind myself
what I am asking for

which is too complicated to be
desirable, I am aware
that I am too complicated to be desirable.
Nobody wants to be with a stoplight that could better
pass as a disco-ball, every shade of flickering
and never the idea of settling. I cannot
settle, I need to say ‘no’ and have it

respected, I want to say ‘no’ and see if it’ll
be respected.
asking for this feels like asking for too much,
when I remember how to ask at all,
I forget how to move my mouth when there
are hands

on my skin.
This is not passion, this is
stuttering fear. The unarticulated ‘no’
is too soft to hear and too
sharp to ignore, and
My trauma is a rain storm and I am wearing a wool sweater, my trauma is an
ocean and I am papercutted and stinging. My trauma is
heavier on my chest than a metaphor.
I get it confused with drowning. My trauma feels
like drowning, it is a rainstorm and I am
suffocating in a wool sweater, I am coughing up water
I cannot hold it up to the light for examination, my
arms are occupied pretending to keep me
afloat.

Given how little I’ve been touched,
mostly I want
to have never been touched at all.

By Allya Yourish

Allya Yourish has lived in two bookstores in her life and would like to live in at least a dozen more. She is a thesis student at New College of Florida, where she studies Art History and Literature. Her work has appeared in PoetryLife’s College Division anthology, the Rising Phoenix Review, and Poetica Magazine. She lives in Paris, where she spends as much time as possible eating anything floral flavored.

A Chorus of Three By Kari Astillero

A Chorus of Three

Morning sizzles. The windows
look like spring, we remember spring.
Curtains flap with the aroma
of jasmine left to calm the night.
In this layer a woman makes bread,
cracks egg after egg on the pan
to feed people- or herself.
For her, for her and her
whose name and face I wear—

and we sing…

Unearthed hymns,
sprouts of dirtied light;
at age six her bones tremble in fear.
The center is a room like
hospital hallways, walls like
broken plates swimming in colors,
a mosaicked face
of Mother rusted in blood & blue.
She remembers and forgets;
tucked in her bed & pillows
letting her dream & melt the clock,
wake up when the rain stops, we say.

and we sing…

On the surface is history
with skin like crumpled paper.
All night & day on the front porch
rocking her chair; waiting,
humming mossed rocks & tender,
some ancestral tune filmed in her eyes.
Lungs breathe dry coughs soon,
her flesh & bones will
turn into a desert but the soul,
the soul will live—

and we sing…
Amen.
So be it.

By Kari Astillero

Biography:

I am Kari Astillero, a Filipina residing in a city of busy people somewhere in Philippines and a Journalism major. Mesmerized with the universe and a star-stuff who is in love with poetry & nature, I wish to have my own published book of poetry someday.  A non-conformist and mostly alone drinking coffee while reading, writing or thinking (sometimes daydreaming).

 

It’s a Party By Matthew Kosinski

It’s a Party

You don’t have to believe
me when I say two fingers
makes a whole person. I had
wanted for nothing and I found it
wanting.

Come over. It’s a party.
Smoke all of this juice with me.
A priest was solving crimes in the Midwest.
This was in 2015, which is gone
now. An autopsy would be a waste

of taxpayer money. It’s a party.
I have read the literature. Look up
contrails. Grow concerned.
My coat buttons bang against the roof
of the dollhouse.

When a priest is solving crimes
in the Midwest that means
it’s a party. At an undisclosed location
the investigation proceeds
by a more angular logic. As in guitars.

Tell the horsemen to unfuck themselves.
Tell the bones to call a different shape to mind.
Pentagram okay. The ashmaker’s sigil better.
The god burner’s sigil best. Message from Hell’s electorate:
In the future every walnut will candy itself.

Primary season, 2016

By Matthew Kosinski

Biography:

My name’s Matthew Kosinski. I’m a socialist and poet from New Jersey and an MFA candidate at The New School.