Blue dress & boots By M. Wright

Blue dress & boots

I remember my heart beating
as dead leaves breezed
up my preadolescent-but-hairy legs
and crescendoed at my genitals.
The lace of my borrowed sister’s frock

so gentle I had not known such tenderness
for my body before. It was hallow October
and I sat in the back of an aggressive yellow bus
to school dressed as my literary hero Pippi Longstocking.

I sashayed and
I was beautiful and
everyone asked who,
not why. The day went on
like that

fleshy pink and so much childhood. We practiced
our cursive letters and I traced her name through
the straight lined highway. Longstocking. My fingers soft,
I accentuated the curves of the L,
Longstocking.

We went for recess and I swung my feet under the swing set,
my dress tucked into my crotch. I kicked out my legs
to go higher and my sock frills waved at the other kids
and they waved back. Everyone but Thomas.
He was a strong boy and he brought me behind the

playground fence and smacked me in the eye. I didn’t
hear a word he said, I just let rage fill me up on behalf
of the woman I was pretending to be. I kicked him with my
hairy shin and pinned him down with the weight
of all my undiscovered passion.

Passion
that I would someday refuse to pin down into myself
like a strong man does.

By M. Wright

M. Wright is a writer and full-time graduate student. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and is the winner of Weisman Art Museum’s Poetry ArtWords 2015 contest. His poems have recently been published in Ivory Tower, Pilcrow & Dagger, and the Saint Paul Almanac. In 2017 he will be one of the 24 featured poets in the Saint Paul Almanac’s “Impressions Project” series.

GIRL IN THE RED HOODIE By Yena Sharma Purmasir

GIRL IN THE RED HOODIE

Not the woods, but the sidewalk. A house under construction,
a man who always said good morning. This was in the fall
and I gripped the straps of my backpack, ducked my head,
smiled as soon as I was out of sight.

Soon it was winter and by then, the broken home was engulfed
by white, white snow. Yes, the pavement was still uneven,
still cracked, but I walked like i was walking in a dream.

He wasn’t by the window he wasn’t by the window
I walked passed there every goddamn day and I never saw him
by the window.

In the spring, all the old animals came back, took claim of the city.
Squirrels and rats, beady eyes, bushy tails, coming right up
to my little girl feet.

In the spring, the men came out and stood at the corner,
watching me walk, sticking their heads out of cars. Sometimes
they said things and other times, they just stared, hungry,
ready.

In the spring, that house came alive again: pick-up trucks and
a whirring battery. That one lone construction worker, waiting outside
the gate. Hello, he said. Smile, he said. Where are you going, he said.

To work, I said. Away, I said. Goodbye, I said.

My boss old enough to be my grandmother.
Her kind face and wrinkled smile.
Honey, she said. Be careful, she said.

In this version, my grandmother lives. In this version, the wolf doesn’t eat.
In this version, he licks at his lips and sharpens his teeth.
Nothing happens in this version. When I tell you this version,
I say over and over again that at least nothing happened.

But he came out of his house. But he waited for me in the evenings.
But he found a glass door and pressed it up against my face.
But he laughed until I laughed. But he touched me without touching me.
But I couldn’t walk passed that house for weeks

had to take other paths and dodge leers from strange monsters.

At least my wolf was just a wolf. At least I knew the story of
how he died.

This is what I told my boss-grandmother, who worries even still,
says she can’t imagine how I stroll passed that place that is not even a home.
Can’t I wait for the woodcutter? He should be here by now and once he is,
this stone belly will be sliced.

Oh no, no no no. Not in this version, not this time. I walk
where I want to walk, even if something might happen to me.
Something has already happened to me.
I told her, I told her, something has happened to me.

What a big mouth I have, what a sweet voice I have.

By Yena Sharma Purmasir

Biography:

Yena Sharma Purmasir is a poet author from New York City. She was the Queens Teen Poet Laureate for the 2010-2011 academic year. Her first book of poetry, Until I Learned What It Meant, was published by Where Are You Press in 2013. When I’m Not There, her second book of poetry, was published in 2016. Purmasir graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014 with a major in Psychology and minors in English Literature and Religion Studies. She was awarded the Chuck James Literary Prize from Swarthmore College’s Black Cultural Center. She believes in the power of hard work, second chances, and, above all, love. https://fly-underground.tumblr.com

Ana By Caitlyn Siehl

Ana

Dreamed her legs melted together
Candle waxed shut
A nightmarish mermaid

Dreamed the gynecologist called her back
to ask
Who did this to you?

Can’t say it was him when
it was them

When the whole world
carried her into that ocean
and held her there with its claws

When she went back and tried
to do it herself

ANA

Dreamed her whole body washed up
on shore and stayed there, broken like
every gutted thing that didn’t deserve to be

By Caitlyn Siehl

Biography:

Caitlyn Siehl is a poet from New Jersey. She is currently in the final semester of her two year graduate program, and is expected to graduate with her Masters in May, 2017. She has published two books of poetry, entitled “What We Buried” and “Crybaby,” and has co-edited two poetry collections entitled Literary Sexts Volume 1 and Literary Sexts Volume II, all through Words Dance Publishing. She enjoys spicy Jalapeno chips and being surrounded by dogs at all times.

TO FEED A NAGASAKI STARLING By Antony Owen

TO FEED A NAGASAKI STARLING

Don’t go to the shadows without water she said
I have tried to erase him for sixty-four years and my wrists are tired
I have scrubbed the shadow of my son so he could be buried at last in darkness.

Don’t go to my son without removing your shoes
I have tried to bathe him with prayers and carbolic but he only gets blacker
I have lived for ninety-nine years and starlings are beginning to land by my feet.

Don’t wind the paralysed clock it is rebuilding the world with scorched hands
I have tried to turn back time but God will not allow it in Nagasaki
I had tried to make another child but gave birth to black water.

Don’t tell them my name and look me in the face when you see him
I have tried to understand why ink is only spilled by vaporised kin
I have tried to write a haiku for the willow which strokes my son.

Don’t disturb my son when the raven plays in the shape of his shadow
I have tried to shoo it away and it quarrels with my broomstick,
I have tried to tell my son that he was ten yards from living.

I have tried to feed a Nagasaki starling when it drank the black rain,
I have tried to get it to sing so the shadows could be comforted,
Don’t disturb my grave and desecrate me in shadows.

By Antony Owen

Biography:

Antony Owen was born in Coventry, England to working class parents who worked at the famous Jaguar car factory. He is the author of four poetry collections with further work also translated in Dutch and Japanese anthologies by Poetry International (Europe) and Coal Sack Press (Japan). His work generally explores identity and consequences of domestic and international conflicts. Following a trip to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors, Owen was one of a handful of people appointed as a CND (UK) Peace Education Patron. In 2017 Coal Sack Press (Japan) will be publishing and translating his fifth collection of poems titled We Are Made From Beautiful Atoms. Owen advocates the overlooked and forgotten people through his work.

The next financial crash By Victoria Briggs

The next financial crash

‘The stresses of recession and unemployment triggered by the global financial crash of 2008 led to a spike in suicides among men in Europe and North America.’ (CNN Money)

When the next crash comes, remind yourself
that balconies aren’t platforms
for the wingless flight of desperate men.

That window ledges are not diving boards;
the roof is not a launch pad.

Know that just because your stock plunges
you don’t have to do the same.

And when shares sink in a sea of red
it’s not a cue to take a leap
and colour-match the pavement.

The ground is not a trampoline;
it isn’t an escape hatch.

It’s not a bolt-hole offering refuge
from the scourges of a bear’s bad run.

When the next crash comes, understand
the trading floor is not some shrine
where offerings can slake thirsty gods.

By Victoria Briggs

Biography:

Victoria Briggs is a writer with recent work published in Litro, Structo, The Honest Ulsterman, The Offing, Short Fiction, Prole and Unthology. She once won the Asham Award for women writers and has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in London and tweets @vicbriggs.

24 Love Letters By Courtney LeBlanc

24 Love Letters

after Jeanann Verlee

Dear Chris,
Summer camp, fires
and holding hands
in the smoke.

Dear Chad,
I can’t remember
the song that played
when we first kissed.

Dear Nathan,
Twenty-one years later
your smile still cracks
my heart.

Dear Ross,
You were rebellion
and my first blow job.
Sorry I didn’t know how to finish.

Dear C,
I gave it up to you.
I should have waited.

Dear Mike,
I thought you were joking.

Dear Dave,
You were an abusive asshole.

Dear Uriel,
I still google you.

Dear David,
We were young, it was fun,
why does your wife hate me?

Dear Brit,
I learned pleasure
from you. Thank you.

Dear Paul,
My brain still buzzes
when I think of your fist punching
the wall beside my head.

Dear Jason,
You are a liar,
you barely even liked me.

Dear Rich,
We should have lasted longer
than we did. I regret
that.

Dear Mario,
I picked the wrong one.
I should have chosen you.

Dear Brian,
I wasted seven years
on your jealousy.

Dear MM,
You were too married.

Dear Andrew,
I should have known
when your dog bit mine
that you would bite me too.

Dear Luke,
With your All-American
good looks we looked good
together but little else worked.

Dear K,
You were a rebound,
I’m sorry you thought it was more.

Dear Nate,
The dark alley and rooftop
fucks – it was fun.

Dear Nick,
You were a Republican.
It would have never worked.

Dear A,
When we danced the world fell
away. When we stopped dancing
our bodies couldn’t find the rhythm.

Dear Drew,
Suck a dick.

Dear Jay,
Thank you for teaching me
what real love looked like.

By Courtney LeBlanc

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of chapbooks Siamese Sisters and All in the Family (published by Bottlecap Press). Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Connections, Welter, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, District Lines, Slab, Wicked Banshee, The Door is a Jar, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.

RENOVAMEN By zuyi zhao

RENOVAMEN

I am drenched in a far-fetched dreary,
of eleven thousand forget-me-nots:
the blue, the upturned bodies,
the ash of shadow to be thumbed away
by the hands of calcified children,
who have slept for so long. . .

& long ago, when they dreamt
of mothers’ dried dates,
mama / magma Medusa poured milk
for their morning mouths,
poured milk / poured unguent,
thickly. . .

She, waking Vesuvius, told him
to find the freedom she was giving;
she turned him from the silvers of children’s teeth
and to the sky— his hands to unpress a pressed fire,
to abyss the unabyssable—
& Medusa, tonguing snakes & tasting for love,
guided his fingers to loosen like a prayer book
for Neptune. . .

& the lover, the lava let out her red viscera
to devour unto the blue, to earth
unto the sea—
& the children slept soundly, their blankets cold
calcium, & awaited their two-thousand year rebirths—
now i observe them in wombs-phenomena,
not mothers’ nor ashes’ but museum glasses’,
where they are arguably
lithopedionic.

By zuyi zhao

Biography:

zuyi zhao is a 17 year old who lives in south florida, where she occasionally complains about the humidity. she has a tendency to wax poetic and often looks to mythology for inspiration. when she isn’t writing poetry, she can be found doing calculus problems. her work has been recognized by the scholastic art and writing awards, and appears in firefly.