The gospel of Eden By Eliel Vera

The gospel of Eden

this is my birth & my death,
my genesis & revelations.

the whole tragedy played out from
prologue to exode. / chorus singing

yes, i’m killing myself /
but i’m coming back alive

i’m standing at the gates of eden
& singing for salvation. i touched

the blade of a sword on fire and
was unmade / boy—undone.

and you’re still scraping at the doors of
eden, trying to get in / you’ve never seen
perfection you couldn’t swallow whole.

your eyes and your stomach are the same
size. flames were made to devour / and you

have fire in your blood. you forge weapons
and you’d burn down a house. you’re

the sword the angel holds in his
hands / when you touch me i can’t tell

if i’m bleeding
or burning alive

By Eliel Vera

Biography:

Eliel “Eli” Vera is a writer/poet/hopeful historian who has contributed to several collaborative works and has been formally recognised for creative and critical analyses of art. Originally from coastal Nigeria, but currently living in coastal England, he has an obsession with cookie dough ice cream and travelling the world. He, and his other works, can be found at foucaullt.tumblr.com.

The Stench of Rotten Mangoes By Chelsea Houston

The Stench of Rotten Mangoes

Let’s talk about what happened while you were watching Syria turn to dust.
The mango tree in the yard burst into life.
Our front lawn was a splash of yellow for weeks.
Local children bit into the flesh, juice spilling down their chins and staining their tunics.
The sun set over the dirty rooftops that night, and the next.
You stopped sleeping.
In the next room you draw maps instead, study the political borders.
You’re trying to find a place where cities don’t disappear.
The morning after the bombs finally hit Aleppo, after the shrapnel pierced through the night,
you woke at dawn and watered the mango tree.
When the children came running, they found the gate locked.
The stench of rotting mangoes filled the house for weeks.

There are countries in this world that I can’t look at straight on.
There are too many faces, too many hands that look like my own.
You are not afraid to stare into the face of oppression.
To be the revolution.
You give yourself as sacrifice;
the nest of charcoal hair resting above your eyes,
calloused brown hands from years of hard labour.
The softness of your skin when you finally collapse into our bed,
after fighting for so long.
Gunfire crackled through the humid air as our legs tangle.

The trauma of your mother and sisters sits inside of you.
The memory of your brothers, playing at the outskirts of the city.
The soles of their small feet stained black from the dirt.
Their silhouettes, bent in prayer.  Childhood laughter silenced.
You give the grief a face.  Let the name roll over your tongue.

Our home no longer a home.
The sun-bleached walls and rosewater baths gone.
Candles kept the rooms warm during the power cuts.
The sound of gunfire over the hills greeting us in the mornings.
Still, we rose and spoke with God.
Asking for just one more day.
That the taste of mango will once more grace our mouths.

Let’s talk about what happens now, while the ashes of our country still smoke on the horizon.
Now, there is a face, a pair of hands just like ours growing inside of me.
My mother brings us food and fresh flowers, tells me that it is the size of a mango.
At night, you leave your maps and lay beside me.
Each breath you take carries the weight of a country.
The revolution inside of you has quieted.
No more gunfire, just a steel resolve.
In the mornings, you water the mango tree, watch the tanks in the distance.
We eat dates with our fingers,
spitting the pits on the ground while we
talk about the dust surrounding us.

By Chelsea Houston

Biograpgy:

Chelsea Houston is an eighteen year old writer, poetess, and soon to be college student. She is a feminist, tree hugger, and people lover. Her main goal in writing is to spread light and warmth. Her work has previously been published in The Fem Literary Magazine and Fifteen13 Press. You can find more of her work athttp://hellopoetry.com/chelsea-jean/.

Unnaturally Blue By Elizabeth Gibson

Unnaturally Blue

Blue never did seem natural, to me.
The way Axelle Red danced against
a wall of blueness in Sensualité – it
seemed gloriously artificial. When
I picked a blue crayon it seemed the
odd one in those standard sets with

red, green and yellow. That trio are
of the earth and harvest, autumn and
spring, fruit, sand, soil, volcanic rock,
ferns and bark, fur and feathers, flesh.

Blue is of the unobtainable: sea and
sky. It is evidence of what we cannot
ever harness. The sea in a jar is not
blue. It is only blue as it sprawls still
and flat, reflecting the sky. There is
no blue plant or animal, just the odd

head of a flower or front on a bird,
small, fragile things, like sapphires,
a reminder of fleetingness, scarcity,
glorious wildness and bigness and
foreverness and loss. Paint us blue:
we may not last, but we will dance
like Axelle Red and reflect the sky.

By Elizabeth Gibson

Biography:

Elizabeth Gibson is a Masters student at the University of Manchester, UK, and a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival. Her work has appeared in The Cadaverine, London Journal of Fiction, Octavius, Severine and Ink, Sweat and Tears in the UK and Sea Foam, Effervescent, Gone Lawn, Firefly and Siblíní in the US. Her work often incorporates LGBT themes. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.

PROCESSIONAL OF SLEEP AIDS AND STEP WORK By Kat Myers

PROCESSIONAL OF SLEEP AIDS AND STEP WORK

there is this piece of me missing midnight

a piece that doesn’t fit quite right, tilted
too far,
jagged,
bleach-burned the color of my skin but
the neon is starting to seep through

there is a piece of me i have sewn shut
thirty times over still whispering
friday night

sometimes i sleepwalk to my mother’s
empty liquor cabinet
sometimes i put on lipstick
sometimes i ache for black-lit masses, all
of our sins shining for each other, all of us kissing anyways

this piece of me dances slow-hipped
and slick
swallows the bassline, pushes it
through until
she is VIBRATION AND VIVANCE

this piece of me, she takes

always pressing my tongue against teeth, always begging another taste of
something i buried in the backyard
something still not stilled

this piece of me, she won’t go until i do

and when we do, it will be her hands around the bottle
and when we do, she will laugh

all
the
way
down

By Kat Myers

Biography:

Kat Myers is an emerging poet who used to sing but lost her voice at the bottom of a bottle. She is learning to speak again. She lives in North Carolina with her dog, Briseis, and can be found at pernoxs.tumblr.com.

captive hummingbird By Pratyusha Prakash

captive hummingbird

the soft syllables of the word
zakhmi dissolve in my throat.
love unstrings me, pulls my harp-music
towards itself. I await the wounds
of separation, I have prepared myself
by reading Ghalib and Faiz–

so many winters seem to
pass in an ice-coated spring. I
watch you from the corner of
my eye, carved to the door,
your arm moving like a
riverboat upstream.

how you move, my love.
it leaves me tender like
a green shoot, feathered breath
caught in its roots. your movements
are like an étude, a silken dance
on the shallow waves.

how graceful, the slow whirr of
your eyelashes this winter morning.
a captive hummingbird’s
wings in flight. I think of
mornings in your country,
cut mangoes on a large steel plate.

and I listen to you and memorize
the riverboat upstream for in truth
I know we cannot stay together much longer,
leaf and sap — the world assigns
stamps and papers to our roots and colours
your hummingbird skin
flashing gold in the drunken sunlight.

we count our winters in trepidation,
dreading the spring. when the rain falls again
I insist, qatra-qatra milti hai
qatra qatra jeene do.
I only receive these small moments
like raindrops; let me live
in them, the rain breathing awake on my skin–

I want to stay
green and tender. I watch your hummingbird
eyelashes flickering to me,
then to your passport.

By Pratyusha Prakash

Note: ‘zakhmi’ is Urdu for ‘wounded

Biography:

Pratyusha Prakash is a student at the University of Edinburgh and Poetry Editor at The Missing Slate. Her work has appeared in numerous websites and magazines, in the forms of poetry, literary translations, and travel articles.

to commemorate my displacement By Zoha B. Khan

to commemorate my displacement

All I have ever read about
is finding home, coming home, being home.
Everyone is trying
to keep their heads above the current, holding on until
it sweeps them away to somewhere they’ll want to settle,
sinking to the bottom, human sediment
on seabed-home, weighed down by belonging.

Nobody talks about the rootless people.

We are
the unmarked, halves and quarters pieced together in the no-man’s land
of displacement, immigrant generation twice the misfits our parents are,
sedentary nomads, wanderers.
We are swamped by heritage, by legacy, and set adrift.
Atlas bows to us because we carry five skies and
a galaxy or two, all the hopes of our families, both here and
there, the place they tell us to go back to.
We ride the tide, hoping to be thrown up
on stranger shores; they ask us when we’ll throw down the anchor and we mumble a
response, happiest let loose.

They tell us we should want to stay.

They think we search for anchors, to cure our individual curses of
winged feet, flipper feet, hooved feet,
pegasi and mermaids and children of Hermes, only needing reins to realize
the error of our ways,
but we’re just here to have a look.
To witness and leave.
Every day is homecoming; every new heart and every new home
is as beloved of us as the previous and the next.
We diverge from you in the need to keep, to have, to possess.
If you love us, cut us loose.

By Zoha B. Khan

Biography:

Zoha is busy being all the things Pakistan reckons are impossible or illegal to be. She has a blog (www.spitgreenfire.wordpress.com), updated in between challenging societal norms and causing scandal wherever she goes. Poetry, jewelry, ice cream and lists help keep her anxiety under control and make her happy.

NEW CORINTHIANS (for Conrad) By Cate LeBrun

NEW CORINTHIANS (for Conrad)

I start and don’t stop. I am

the niece of an alcoholic. I am the niece of
alcoholics. there are miles between us and
the road but I am the car going nowhere, testing
breaks while the engine steams. there I am, holding
hands with ghosts. the opposite nature of things:
the death growing from the palms that popped pills

that held mine. the left not knowing what the right
was doing. isn’t that biblical? our souls heavy and
light. our lies real. I move in both worlds. I drink
holy and vice from the same cup, love like it’s both.
I cling to obsession the way praying hands fold
though I’m trying to be new. I am alight

with the grace of souls bent by barbed wire-
love is strong enough to cut muscle. love
is patient but time twists, making creases
in hands around handles of 80 proof. I try
to be selfless, and kind. it is hard to be tender
with memories. it is tough to be gentle with the
photographs of faces that haunt. I am jealous
of futures that do not exist

yet hope and light do. I believe in resurrection
but this does not erase a body count. I still see
the smiles of heartbeats long gone in others. in
my cousin. in the mirror

wrinkles like ripples in a pond, a smile breaking
the surface. skipping rocks across the
top. there is truth somewhere among
the depth of it all, and rejoicing
just below it.

By Cate LeBrun

Biography:

Cate LeBrun is a writer and special education teacher from Pasco, Washington. She enjoys the hell out of dad jokes, kindness, and the view of Mt. Rainier on a sunny day. Her work has been published in Words Dance Magazine, Gonzaga University’s Reflection, and on her mom’s refrigerator. You can find her at caterosewrites.tumblr.com, along with poetry and prose surrounding the issues of addiction, recovery, and the beauty in this gorgeous, broken world.

Five Drinks Later By Schuyler Peck

Five Drinks Later

A six-pack of raspberry hard lemonade
sits on the kitchen counter
because neither one of us
wants you to throw up your first time.
We don’t care what this looks like,
the truth of the matter is, it’s fucking delicious
and we open the curtains to watch the snow glow
under the starlight.
This is joy, slurring its words
and looking at its lover
as if for the first time,
swept off our feet.
Happy, making drunk love in the dark
and falling asleep before eleven.
You sighed the second
your body touched the bed;
smiling harder than any class picture
I’d ever seen.
And it was there
I felt my best,
watching you grin to the ceiling,
swinging your hands side to side,
and saying my name
like it was a song.
In the morning you mutter,
I love you, I love you,
sweet girl of mine,
let’s do it all over again.

By Schuyler Peck

Biography:

Born of college-ruled notebooks and the smell of lemon grass, Schuyler Peck was raised in New Jersey, but she’ll never tell you that. Instead, she’ll tell you there are pieces of her everywhere; planted in trees and shipped off to the moon. Her poetry, however, can be found in her book, A Field of Blooming Bruises, Words Dance Publications, Literary Sexts V. 2, Rising Phoenix Press, JuxtaProse Magazine, and schuylerpeck.tumblr.com. She loves you.

Just Us Girls By Audrey T. Carroll

Just Us Girls

a daydream

we were others
& it’s not hard to imagine
us as the they
our lifestyle to be featured
with matching sweater sets
on the cover of
alternative weekly
displayed
with the same label
they’d give to some punk
type of scene with neon
hair, black clothes ripped,
silver studs piercing
& fuck off tattoos

we were others
playing house, attempting
to break into that age-old
suburban dream
rugrats to complain
about, taco Tuesdays,
everyday bickering pre-sex
or pre-falling asleep
on the couch not actually
watching a movie—a dream
not meant for us

but still we try:
bulldog adoption,
cooking Spanish rice & singing Janis,
debating lightsaber colors

playing house
the best way
we know how

By Audrey T. Carroll

Biography:

Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native whose obsessions include kittens, coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Rooster Teeth community. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, The Fem, Feminine Inquiry, the A3 Review, and others. Her poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is available from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter.

The Hardest Things By Ry Irene

The Hardest Things

One of the hardest things I have ever tried to do was
Describe what a pillow felt like while I was dissociating
I wrapped my arms around the cushion
Forgot soft
Got lost in the existential of the word “soft”

Forgetting is self-defense
My brain sees this hurt
As an attack from within
A small army waging war on my nerve endings
And shuts down everything except basic functions

I can’t remember my drive to work
What I had for lunch
That I’m a trauma survivor
How I lost my best friend
I can’t remember how it feels to

Feel

On these days
I am an anthropomorphic blob of goo
Hurtling through space
And time
And a Dali painting

Not real

Was I assaulted?
Did I know my best friend?
Did I have the childhood I remember?
Concrete becomes abstract
I can’t tell direction
Or time
Or fiction

I can’t remember the last time I washed my hair, so I live in hats
I think I ate today, I think that’s what that dish on the floor, next to my bed is from
I only remember the last time I cleaned my kitchen because it was the last time I had sex
Which the calendar says was four months ago

In these moments, I only know tactile
If I can’t see it, touch it, smell or taste it
I don’t know it’s real

I’m falling for someone 2,100 miles away

If I can’t hear them breathing
Can’t taste the difference between their skin at midnight and three in the afternoon
Can’t smell them on my clothes
How do I know they’re real?

How do I know I am real if I can’t see my hand in theirs?
Can’t feel my body in their arms?
It’s hard to believe that someone has feelings for me

That’s why I cling to every message
I can feel my phone vibrate
Hear the chime
See their face on the screen
When the phone stops ringing
Because it always stops ringing
I can’t stop telling myself it will stop ringing

I will start to believe this is another game my brain is playing

Because that’s easier than believing any of this was real at all

By Ry Irene

Biography:

Ry Irene is a queer non-binary slam poet that calls Utah home, seven states later. Ze was a member of the 2015 Salt City Slam Team as well as a member of the 2014 and 2015 Westminster College Union Poetry Slam teams. Ry has also competed in Individual World Poetry Slam 2014 and Women of the World Poetry Slam 2016 as a storm poet. Ze has self-published a chapbook entitled “Keep My Out of Your Art, I’ll Keep You Out of Mine”. Ry is a Scorpio, enjoys long walks on the beach, bubble baths, and dismantling the patriarchy and gender norms.