BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING By Aaron Graham

BASIC ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING

One week before deployment,
we staged his wedding
behind India company’s barracks.

In the smoke-pit, his seabag
is stacked with issued gear:
shit-paper, load bearing vests.

One week before deployment,
she carried a bouquet of sand
in a Coors Lite can down the aisle.

The wedding party was a fire-team;
with the best man in a wife beater,
his bride walked the beach in a Goodwill dress

One full week before deployment,
he had a thought: combat pay
with dependents is twice as much

In the smoke-pit, his seabag
is stacked with issued gear:
diesel drums, canteen cups, flack jackets.

The whole week before deployment,
Their couch quartered a shit-canned
best man a honeymoon went unused.

In the smoke-pit, a seabag stacked
with issued gear: Malaria pills
anthrax vaccine and typhus, face paint.

for deployment five-man flocks of shitbirds—
load stacked gear: trauma plates and three point
slings,
lazar sights, E-tools, parachutes and pistol-grips

For five years she sang:

maa                 nee                              rah

come                  to                          the house

my tamarisk drinks no water,
dust lies on door and bolt,
the garden like a lament the city lifts

its lord, in five years
on a front lawn,
an aborted mission
a triangle folded flag.

By Aaron Graham

Biography:

Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and no stoplights. He served as the assistant editor for the Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School (Hudson), and was recently the “Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar” for the 2016 Seaside Writer’s Conference. Aaron is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with The Marine Corps’ Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as an analyst and linguist.

His work has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Print Oriented Bastards, SAND, The Tishman Review, The East Bay Review, Zero-Dark-Thirty and f(r)iction, His poems have been Finalists in the Tishman Review’s 2015 Poetry Contest, Tethered by Letters’ 2016 Poetry Contest, Sequestrum’s New Writer Awards, and was a national finalist for The Luminaire Award. His chapbook “Skyping from a Combat Zone” was Shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s 2016 Sunken Garden Prize. His first full length collection, “Blood Stripes”, was a finalist for Tupelo’s 2015 Berkshire Poetry Prize, and his poem, “Olfaction”, won the Seven Hills Literary Journal’s Penumbra Poetry Prize. Aaron is currently finishing his PhD in Literature at Emory University.

Lunch Hour By John Stupp

Lunch Hour

Dock Ellis
threw a no-hitter on LSD
walked 8 struck out 6
the Pirates won 2-0
I saw it on the news
in the foundry cafeteria
later Dock said
halfway through the game
he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix
with Richard Nixon calling balls and strikes
this was 1970
I had a sandwich in front of me
and a busted lunch bag
I was wearing blue coveralls
there was a line of cars in the infield
their motors running
that’s what the noise in the plant made it seem like—
during the school year
I took LSD
and put my hand through a wall
trying to work a light switch
like Dock I didn’t say anything the cops could remember
but I’m keeping a low profile
if the foreman comes around it wasn’t me
pressing greasy fingerprints on the white bread
my mother bought

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

East & East By Majda Gama

East & East

From Wardour Street to down the King’s Road this city is a song
We walked where I knew no song but the hum of your presence
The cobbles of Whitechapel as haphazard as punched out teeth
The East End full of old murder and new anarchy
Brick Lane infused with the scent of the older world I leave you for
I did leave sandalwood on you my variation of the seal of Suleiman
Every hoopoe I saw in Arabia I sent as a messenger to you
As if feathers and precious oil could illuminate your dark places
And neon red hairs guide you through long nights of Dexy
I drink to your memory as if spirits could conjure that night back
The gold of West Country cider from bruised windfall apples
The urine colored swill of the punks who careen through Camden Town
Brighter to me now the fox kits gamboling on the graves of Highgate
I walk our path through London widdershins so that the past stays past
From the old shore of Southwark onto Waterloo Bridge in the new rain
Everyone bursts into song albeit at soft distances from one another

By Majda Gama

Biography:

Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.

The Floral Knife By Ali Guerra

The Floral Knife

It always starts out the same,
eyes meet from across the room, green and
curious. Green and mystical. Green and coy,
and ready to kill.

Beginnings are exciting,
he is teasing you in the kitchen now
because he likes you
but you heard he has a girlfriend.
He must not be into her.

You are sitting in the back of the restaurant,
all your tables have paid and left
he sits in front of you
whispers something, you laugh
you think that your heart will fall out of your chest,
you think you want to explore this.

Two weeks later,
he is waking up next to you on the couch,
says he will leave her for you.

You are captivated.
You are enamored.
You are spending all your time with him,
he is crazy about you.

You go out for drinks after work,
he says “Where were you?”

You think it is love when he is protective.
You think you’ve finally found someone that cares.
You think it is love when he is jealous.
You think it is love when he tries to change you,
make you better.

That’s all he’s doing though.

Two months go by and you haven’t seen your friends
in weeks.
They understand, you’re in love.
They understand,
he’s possessive.

He tells you that your nail-biting disgusts him.
You have the hands of a child, you know.
You should start paying rent if you’re
going to be here so much.
You never do anything nice for him.
You never do anything right.
Your friends aren’t good friends.
Don’t see them.

He tells you he likes your kindness,
tells you it’s your best trait.
Why are you letting him treat you so badly?
You’re too nice.
You need to stand up for yourself.
You need some backbone.
He just doesn’t want to see you get hurt,
he is sorry he hurt you.

Wake him up with a blowjob,
be a fucking woman.
She did things
you won’t do.

You wonder why you are crying so much.
Your friends must be the problem,
not him. It must just be your job.
It must just be your parents.
It must just be you.

He says he will change,
you believe him. He says
let’s pretend the last six months didn’t happen.

He turns his hands into razor blades
when he holds you at night
pretending he could save you
by cutting you open.

By Ali Guerra

Biography:

Ali Guerra is a poet and writer currently living in Florida but hopefully making her way to the west coast soon. Her work has been featured in Thought Catalog and she is now working on her first collection of poetry which will consist of both old and new work. You can find her in cafes people-watching or drinking wine in her bedroom.

To Be A Woman By Georgie Funnell

To Be A Woman

To be a woman is to be a key,
a pin, an axe. It is to learn how
to open doors that have always
been closed to you. It is to learn that
most of them will always stay that way,
no matter how you forget the shape of your body.

To be a woman is to be the shore,
a tree, the sky. It is to notice that
nothing will ever stay. It is to notice that
your hands will always be reaching towards
things that do not let you grow, even when
you still do not feel like enough of someone.

To be a woman is to be a cloud,
a petal, flesh. It is to have a softness in your
soul that makes the gods unafraid. It is to have
a softness that does not make you a threat to
those with thicker skin, to those who want to
make an impression on you.

To be a woman is to be a vacancy sign,
an object, a word. It is to welcome the darkness
without questioning why you should make a home
for it. It is to welcome anything that is
expected of you,  so they cannot name
your body a disappointment.

To be a woman is to be a gun,
a shield, a banner. It is to fight wars that
you will never win, just in case the tides may
turn. It is to fight yourself in battles across your body
and still not know which side you want to win,
your beauty or your mind.

To be a woman is to be a survivor,
a carer, a lover. It is to become a universe
enveloped in the clothing of skin. It is to become
proud of  having the kind of strength that
does not let you give up, even when they tell you
that is all you are good for.

By Georgie Funnell

Biography:

Georgie is a 21 year old woman, who believes in the power of poetry to heal. There are many issues that she is passionate about changing, especially the stigma surrounding mental health and the inequality between genders. Currently she lives in London having just finished a chemistry degree, although one day she dreams of moving to Paris.

HOW TO WALK LIKE A WOMAN IN THE CITY By Chestina Craig

HOW TO WALK LIKE A WOMAN IN THE CITY

let your face say how 
you carried a pocket knife as a girl / slipped and cut your leg
you do not flinch
walk too fast to be appetizing 
make your lover run after you 
he is a man after all 
& these are the things you are trying to avoid
one or ten matches slipped into 
the side of your red socks 
enough friction in your smile
to burn his trespass
not a body 
just a snarling mouth 
with things no one 
wants to know about you

By Chestina Craig

Biography:

Chestina Craig, an intersectional feminist, poet, and scientist in training, lives in Long Beach, CA with her cat. Currently a student at CSULB studying Marine Biology, she spends her free time in the ocean, taking photos, and petting sharks. Her other talents include eating whole pizzas and falling in love with 7pm tangerine sunlight. She hopes to one day only be required to wear gauzy long dresses and dance in the sea.

 

body ritual By Caseyrenée Lopez

body ritual

i cook my bones in a
stock pot, my blood,
boiling, in a sauce pot.

i tear myself apart,
separate the skin
from bone, or more
specifically, separate

my skin from muscle,
tendons, veins, ligaments.
i place my organs in jars,
hoping the past

will mummify my
shriveled body, it aches
to be wrapped inside
the security of tightly

bound linen, hung out
to dry like witchy herbs.
bundled smudge filled
with lavender, rosemary,
powdered teeth & honey.

By Caseyrenée Lopez

Caseyrenée Lopez is a non-binary queerfemme atheist. They edit Crab Fat Magazine, TQ Review & Damaged Goods Press in an effort to platform marginalized writers/artists, particularly queer and trans folks. Their debut full-length collection, i was born dead, is forthcoming from ELJ publications in 2018. Follow them on Twitter @caseyreneelopez.