Dear Cutting By Odelia Fried

Dear Cutting

In my dreams, you’re bright balloons. No, you’re a ring of thorns,
Forming a halo–no, choking me. Choking me.
I dream you release the tightness in my chest–
No, no, you’re the tightness in my chest, the boa constrictor
Winding around my ribs, in my dreams you are nothing
But skinned knees, bruised knuckles, but I know,
I know you are worse, you are red-pink-white scars
Littering my thighs, arms now. I dream you are toxins
Dripping out of my arms in comically red droplets, perfect
Little droplets framing bluish veins and goosebumps.
Unzipping my veins, letting the seams unfurl into redness,
Deep, rich reds unfolding so messily onto my arms,
Spilling, so lovely, onto my stitched-up arms, I love you, I love you,
You’re beautiful—no, no no no no no no no no no no no
You’re ugly. You’re ugly and scarring and sad and pathetic
And I hate you. I hate you so much it blurs the line with love.
In my dreams, I love you. When I wake up, I want to love you.
I want to love you so much I almost do.
Love doesn’t conquer everything, but it
Lets me conquer you.

By Odelia Fried

Biography:

Odelia Fried is a student, poet, and actor based in NYC. Her work can be found in The Fem, Cleaver Magazine, Melancholy Hyperbole as well as other literary magazines. Her passions include gender identity, Judaism, adolescence, and the intersections of the three.

OUT OF WATER By Jasmine Cui

OUT OF WATER

A man is not a fish, but we fled
in a boat better suited for fishing.

Its hull reeked of salt
rot and desperation. There,

I learned to mistake nausea
for excitement. My mother is not

a fish, but the immigration officer
looks at her as if she were a trout—

weak and oafish. His lips are a study
in slow motion, words crawling

forth like an infant. He is trying
to speak fish. My father is not a fish,

but his father was a carpenter. I watch
him slit soapstone and the skin on his neck

as he learns to breathe foreign
air through the gaps in his throat.

I am not a fish, but on land I forget
how to breathe when I see police officers.

They wear rain slickers during the wet season
and look like fishermen. A man is not a fish,

but the harbor is our mecca
where fishmongers sell skate and salmon

for pennies and white men expose
their greedy bellies asking for more.

By Jasmine Cui

Previously published by The Shallow Ends

Biography:

Jasmine Cui is 17 and is majoring in Political Sciences, Economics and Violin Performance at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first generation Americans and fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country.

Bloody (Isaiah 4:4) By Amy Lauren

Bloody (Isaiah 4:4)

The Good Book says you hate mockers
and speak for those
without a voice.
In that case, I expect a lot from Heaven.
Not to set it up as perfect, or anything,
but you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Breathe your hot judgment
on the neck of America.
Scrub the sheets of
all white pride
all slurs hurled at children
every word of mockery.

Did you ever ask yourself if you could do it?
Come down here at all, I mean,
cast off the robe of clouds
and rush out of a bleeding woman
into this world and the stench
of its mangers.

But then, they bloodied you.
And I guess that’s what
this whole thing is about.
If God could abide this earth,
bruised and bent,
so can I.

By Amy Lauren

Biography:

Amy Lauren is a graduate student in Mississippi. Among other publications, her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Wherewithal Lit, Lavender Review, and Sinister Wisdom.

This is what the sun sounds like By Kaylee Jeong

This is what the sun sounds like

when it believes it will never die. How we think

the moon will never fall back around. How we ease
time between us like a glove off Orion’s hand. Look–

even a black hole seems two stars they can’t match to a god.
The first time I heard a quasar was to hear the clock counting heartbeats

and then why did you count them on your skin?
Two girls trying to know each other by the joining of their hands sounds

like something they will never know through telescopes;
there is so much hollow in the way our fingers touch. And here,

the streak across the stars that we thought had all the answers. We asked it
to be our miracle, heard it breathing. I didn’t know

that was the wish you never got. And there,
we found it: the place where they theorized the universe was lonely

because it was your voice that wandered off the walls. That is what
they call comet. The way the horizon whispers

when we have half-closed ourselves to sleep. The way I went
to my knees two days later when I heard the world fall,

two light years past this place I am hearing it unfold by your fingers.
I swear somewhere these voices know you by name. I swear

I hear you searching. I swear I hear your heart in radio waves.

By Kaylee Jeong

Biography:

Kaylee Jeong is a high school student from Oregon who’s still trying to know her way with words.

Going Home Again By David Palmer

Going Home Again

In my memory, everything is wild.
Even our trailer, single wide, nestled in the trees and
palmettos, was difficult to see from the dirt road.

I remember running full tilt, bounding from
fallen trees to rotted fence to the only rock
in the back yard, all granite, all forest, all wild.
I once almost fell into Snake River.

It’s all gone, all gone.

The fence is new, red posts strung with
electric wire, to keep the expensive horses from
running wild.

The trees have fallen, logs have eroded,
none could hold my bulk. Snake River shrank,
Snake Ditch sounds so much less.
In my memory, everything is wild,

but

It’s all gone, all gone.

By David Palmer

Biography:

David Ryan Palmer is a thirty-three-year-old undergrad at McNeese State University. He is surrounded by wonderful writers and is lucky enough to be engaged to one. He hopes to continue into MFA-land and teaching one day.

Cole Street Salvage By Alex Moyenne

Cole Street Salvage

Of yesterday evening,
bathing my boy but thinking of our Brett
drowning that afternoon.
Don’t ask me what I’m thinking
when I’m quiet like this.
When you’re self-employed
you don’t really have a job to lose,
you just watch the work dry up
and play chicken with the bills
until the hope has dried up too.
But it’s not so bad here at the scrap yard
smashing up dead cars like they’re toys.
My mate Lee hooked me up with the job.
Yesterday Lee told me I get the next
phone or watch or whatever they find
in one of the cars that wind up here.
I know it’s his turn really,
that he’s just trying to help me out.
It’s not just cars here either,
last week Spencer went home
with a £1500 SMEG fridge freezer
with hardly a mark on it.
And just this morning I had a big
old rusty anchor on the magnet.
I set it aside gently like a wounded bird.
When Gary asked why, I said I dunno,
I know it’s just junk like everything else.
I guess the lads I used to work with
knew me well enough not to ask,
that or they just didn’t give a shit.
Of Brett down there rusting,
wondering if they took him to be the
anchor that holds the seas to the earth.
Don’t ask me what I’m thinking
when I’m quiet like this.

By Alex Moyenne

Biography:

I’m a British poet and window fitter from Liverpool, now living and working in London. I’ve recently taken to signing the bottom right-hand corner of every window I fit, so now I can claim the entire world as my work.

An Ode to the Bloody Panties, an Ode to the Bravery By Elijah Noble El

An Ode to the Bloody Panties, an Ode to the Bravery

I’d like to make a toast.
This is for all the times you’ve ever felt worthless,
for all the times you’ve felt like a disappointment. This is
for all the times you’ve shed tears, thinking
you’d never make your father proud, feeling like
he hates you because you’re a girl,
too loud, too alive.
This is for being ten and coming to your father in tears
and bloody panties, asking if he hates you even more now.
This is for you overcoming all of that.

Sitting in the bathtub, a razor limp in her hand,
a push too deep, a mistake, and the blood drains down her thigh.
She can hear him in the other room,
telling the woman he’s hated for twenty something years
how much he hates his daughter even more, how
her clothes are too tight,
how she’s thinking for herself a lot lately and he doesn’t like that.

The boys of the house are fucking strangers and drinking tonight, somewhere,
somewhere. The girls are in a dark room because the lights are
always too bright. The room is silent because the laughter makes
him uncomfortable. There’s light in this darkness. When the man’s man
sleeps, when he sleeps, mother escapes into her daughters’ room.
The music is quiet but it’s enough. They giggle and dance,
smiling, holding hands, the only dancing in darkness I’ve ever known
to lead to light. When mother goes back to bed, the littlest one
locks the door behind her.

This is for loving a boy. This is for keeping secrets.
Her hand always shakes when it holds his, but he understands,
and she laughs when he tells her that he’s scared for her, that
he’s more afraid than she is. She caresses his face. Then a kiss.
All a kiss.
He talks endlessly about running away.
He talks about a better future. But he knows.
He knows she’s never been one to run from anything, and she reminds
him of this again. Hands tighten. Kisses deepen. She tells him
that all he can do is stay close to her, stay by her side
through all of this, and he promises he will.

Dinner, and her father drives home the same threat again,
if he finds out she or any of the girls are having sex, he’ll kill them,
he’ll ship them off. That night,
on the phone, the boy she loves,
the boy who loves her back can tell something’s wrong.

It’s buried in all the silence. It’s the dimming of the lights.
He tells her to stay strong. He does all he can to be another light.
That night, when the creature sleeps, when he sleeps, the mother
escapes into her daughters’ room. She tells her daughter that the
creature’s afraid of her having too much love, too much heart.
She takes a tube of lipstick and drags it across her finger like a knife,
marking it across her daughter’s cheeks, red, blood, war paint.

She lies with her boyfriend under the stars, hands intertwined,
fears intertwined, hope intertwined. He holds her close. He cries.
They look up at the moon. He talks about running there.
He asks if it’s possible. She says she doesn’t know. She says running
away won’t help her. This war will follow her wherever she goes.
She says she has to stay. She has to continue and continue to overcome.
Hands, tears. They look up at the moon.

This is for you. This is a toast to all the blood and all the noise.
Let us raise our glasses. Let us drink. Let us look up at the moon,
but let us stay. Let us do all we can. Let the war paint seep into the skin.
This is for having a voice when the world calls for silence.
This is for overcoming all of that. This is for having too much heart.

By Elijah Noble El

Biography:

Elijah Noble El is a 21 year old actor and writer from Livonia, Michigan. The author of The Age of Recovery (2015), a debut full length poetry book. He is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine aimed at empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation. In 2013 his short story, “Oblivion,” received the Award of Excellence in Literature from the Michigan PTSA Reflections. He co-wrote the play Off with Her Head (2013) which won the 2014 Lansing State Journal Thespie Awards “Special Award.” He also wrote the short film, Dog-Faced Honey (2016), which was nominated for Best Writing from the Top Indie Film Awards. His work has been featured in Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, Eastern Michigan University’s Inkstains Anthology, and in Stevenson Spectrum.