SCAFFOLD By Cindy Song

SCAFFOLD

Everything grows into something it is not when the
shadows lick up the dirt from the bottom of my shoes

and the streetlights grow cold and still. A man pulled
on my arm today as I walked home from school, called

me a whore and said I was asking for it because young
girls like you should keep their pretty little faces hidden.

The veil feels like a suffocating jasmine night except
there aren’t any stars, and I liken it to drowning. Drown

under the blood flowing through stained streets and my
veins—the blood of martyrs, of patriots, of my uncle.

But even the veil cannot mask the death outside bam bam
whoosh and you think God when will they ever stop but

then you remember there is no God. You remember this
when your father was shot dead in the middle of the

street, fingers wrapped around his camera like smoke
figures searching for something concrete, something like

hope. You remember this when the girls don’t play with
the boys anymore, when the city no longer breathes silver

under the Western sun, when your mother cried in the
basement, when your uncle prayed for justice until his

last breath. There is no key to heaven, only the key to
rebirth. So the bombs keep coming and your only wish

is for them to turn into white doves and fly away,
bodies trembling like a ghost town we used to call home.

By Cindy Song

Biography:

Cindy Song is a high school junior in Rockville, Maryland. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Hollins University, and National Poetry Quarterly. When she’s not writing, Cindy is can be found learning the guitar or watching her favorite TV shows.

A trip home By Katy McAllister

A trip home

The train tunnels through the snowstorm. My child,
you sit on the cracked plastic seat, kicking your heels and picking
with little fingers at a rip in your jeans. How old you are
I don’t remember. Nearly four, or maybe five.

I have not been to this village since I carried you
curled between my hips, not yet known
to the outside world. It was summer then
and your father met us at the station. Now
we ride the last train to pass through these mountains
until spring thaws them. Lights of the depot stutter
over your face as we come to a stop and you
press your face and palms
against the dark glass to see outside.

It’s night, the snow a blue sheet
on the ground, half burying houses. You leap
into the bank and snow comes nearly to your shoulders.
If I could join you and lie, half buried, frozen
forever I would. Instead I grasp your mittened hands
and pull you back onto the platform. You don’t cry,
as though the cold has frozen your breath inside your chest.
I want to tell you that is what it means to grow
older, words crystallizing in the back
of your throat, a slow collection of unspoken thoughts
like frost along the inside
of your mouth.

Christmas lights glitter in living room windows as we
trudge up the street, holding hands.
I try not to think of his family, waiting for us to arrive.
I have not seen them since his death, just before
your birth. You are too young to miss him,
to know of the accident that shattered his ribcage,
pushed broken bone into
his lungs. You are still learning
how to breathe.

By Katy McAllister

Biography:

Katy is a garden enthusiast from Michigan. She loves the chaos of working a restaurant and spends her free time drinking tea and growing cacti.

Black Mirror By Adam J Gellings

Black Mirror

after Manuel Álvarez Bravo 

Mirador

To look¬–
look through the black light
of a single lens
in full view of midday
until the moment of exposure
captures you
tilting slightly towards a corner of the sky

Where sunlight fills your body
& a blank wall
meets smooth tile–
where warm legs & knees are drawn together
to conceal most of your left breast
& the small piece of fabric
you rest on

Shadows cast themselves like small negatives
stretching across your right arm
your left arm curves upward
to support your reflection your gaze
your shining lips that seem to keep in
so many good words

that will never get used.

By Adam J Gellings

Biography:

Adam J Gellings is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Ashland University & currently lives in New York. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Post Road, Quarter After Eight & Salamander.

The Oldest Boy By Natalie Crick

The Oldest Boy

Part of me died here
So another could go on.
I want to know what it is
I have left,

Like draining blood from a limb.
I hate
Rainy days with their dark smell,
The black mountains falling away.

Winter bullies me.
My lips are a feast of blue.
I lock the door to keep it out,
Every curtain drawn.

His hands are small as coins.
My gaze lingered a little too long
On the oldest boy.
His body became a knot in my throat.

He smiled at me.
I know,
I know I’m not supposed to smile back.
My teeth sat in my mouth like gold.

All that had been severed shone.
I watch from the lane
The one lit room
Slowly going dark.

By Natalie Crick

Biography:

Natalie Crick, from the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, The Chiron Review, Rust and Moth, Ink in Thirds and The Penwood Review. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem, ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

New treatise on objectification By Jo-Ella Sarich

New treatise on objectification

The adolescent girl “becomes an object and she sees herself as an object; she discovers this new aspect of her being with surprise: it seems to her that she has been doubled; instead of coinciding exactly with herself, she now begins to exist outside” (Beauvoir 1961, 316)

I.

Midnight grill, a truck
caked with its own sweat, like
rain drubbing against polystyrene

cartons. It took a herd of flightless
birds to break the slightest
whisper. Like she was seen but

unannounced. He liked
to use rain instead of cameras. She
used to think rain was just

a kinder mother, one who would
smile at her stories and carry her
gently in her mouth. Even hyenas carry

their young, and how do they laugh?
He was the mud.
She was the eel mired in

its proselytising. She was the
thousands of unborn seahorses
with the weight of paternal guilt. A candle

like a reflection like simulacrum
in the bumpers of cars,
blotted out with wax paper

and the slim possibility
of existing in non-existence.

II.

This is
your moment. There is
a light on overhead
that could be a ragdoll. You learned
to recognise light. You were only
nine and you were already flashing
a mouth full of acid-washed pearls
that were actually unearthed pillowslips. You were
nothing like the hangover that comes
with sleep for a while. Or uninvited
ships. And it was quite a thing to find
your harbours were on the inside, all
stretched tight like cat-gut strings
or slim herringbones or quite a
brittle faith. Lights capturing the moment where
water shatters like stars about
the bird’s neck stretched in flight.

III.

And lastly,

Narcissus was a stranger to me.

And I always thought I was
unsullied by his hand, until

I remembered that once I had
stood on that log

anchored in the crotch of an oak tree
and the biggest playfort

you have ever seen. The bridge across
the calm void of sentience, where

one standing and dodging balls like
orbiting planets was much like another. It was

not until city high school that I learned
to rinse my hair with ammonia to make them all

salmon-coloured. Like someone handed me
a mirror with my mother’s name on it and her

mother’s mother’s and yes I am

perfectly unviolated. Perfect like shiftless
crystal and the Madonna’s face but my body is

like a cat nursing a hyena, like
a bear wearing a dress or like

a guilt sun over a chasmless void.

By Jo-Ella Sarich

Biography:

Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of online and in-print publications, including The New Verse News, Cleaver Magazine, Blackmail Press, Barzakh Magazine, Poets Reading the News, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

(Silent) Screams of the City By Lucy Porter

10660017

i took this series a year or so ago when i got really into the documentation of everyday life, i started to notice the silent revolt in the subjects i photographed; an unsettled stillness in them. I’m increasingly aware of a changing energy around me and am interested in trying to document it. my photographs don’t have titles, i was thinking just to number them, there is something subtle and mutable about them and i feel like a title will inflict upon that.

By Lucy Porter

Biography:

Lucy Porter is a travelling Artist, Photographer and Poet from London. Her work revolves around the themes of dreams, duality and the every changing nature of internal states. She is currently based in Montreal. Facebook: The Birth Of Curly Trope 
Instagram: @luluwetfoot

 

On bodies Combusting By Alex Clendenning Jiménez

On bodies Combusting

If Prometheus molded all humans
out of clay, with their perfect bodies
shaped to fit the perfect world
they had yet to destroy, then my body
would be made of dirt, better fit for
the underworld filled of silver keys
and golden rings.

One: At eleven, I didn’t know
what puberty was, didn’t understand
why the other girls would begin to cover
their chests whenever others walked into
the changing room, I mean, we were all
girls, right? What’s so wrong with that?

Two: At twelve, I bled through my pants
in Science class, leaving a faded brown
stain on the chair, I was sitting in the second
row of the classroom, the seat farthest from
the door. I was lucky class still hadn’t started
and ran to the bathroom.

Three: At fifteen, I binded in public, with my
black t-shirt and cargo pants that were my
younger brother’s. I snapped at my mother,
“You can’t even notice my breasts anyways,
so why can’t I do this?” She snapped back,
“Of course you can tell.”

Four: At fifteen, I realized my body was not fit
for me, soft curves are not meant
to be accentuated if you don’t have the
height to match it, a small chest only
fits if you’re comfortable enough
in this skin-stained, ink-stained,
holding-tight-enough-to-suffocate body.

Five: At seventeen, I realized my body would drip
golden ichor from the three-year-old self-inflicted
scars on my forearm, it would consider
how to love itself while simultaneously tearing
open all of the wounds I had decided were
too big for Pandora’s box.

Six: At seventeen, I realized my body was not
a temple, it was not to be worshipped
through fresh spring water or crushed flower petals,
my body would not be worshipped by followers
that claimed my blood would give them immortality.

Instead, my body is one that threatens
to scrape the skies, my fingernails claw
at every star, consider each constellation’s weight
in silver, trades old ones for galaxies
to see what else I can hold.

My body considers the possibility
of breaking chains, tying itself up
in ribbons of yellow and purple
and black, expressing my lack of gender

Through muted pastel sweaters dug
from the Free Box, one teacher commenting
how they, not she, are a pleasure in class,
long, flowery skirts, and young boys’ dress shirts.

My body is one one that will drape
itself in Saturn’s golden rings and
Pluto’s iciest nights, comb holy water
into my hair and douse my skin in vanilla perfume.

If Prometheus molded all humans
out of clay, with their perfect bodies
shaped to fit the perfect world they
have yet to destroy, my body would
sink into cracks of the underworld,
swallow pomegranate seeds with
no regret, and consider living for once.

By Alex Clendenning Jiménez

Biography:

Alex Clendenning Jiménez was born in New Orleans and raised in New York, Brazil, and Spain. They completed Emerson College’s pre-college Creative Writers Workshop in the summer of 2016. They are a junior at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California, studying creative writing and are currently a member of the editorial staff of Parallax Literary Magazine. Alex’s writing and poetry has appeared in Idyllwild Arts Academy’s newsletter The Yeti, and has received an honorable mention in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Jackrabbit By Sean Glatch

Jackrabbit

I, too, have been the defective heart. Pulmonary arrhythmia,
another pulse off the beat;
I, too, have been the jackrabbit lying dead in the street,
turned grey fur to tire tracks, turned antlers to broken sticks,

I, too, swerve around roadkill. It’s just,
what’s the use of being dead if nobody recognizes you,
what’s the use of sitting there,
arms tucked beneath you, face stilled in silent reverie,
what is there left to do

When the headlights aren’t God but
another accident? I know these things. I know
that a dead body is still a body even if its bones are missing,
its name erased, I know

What it means to be roadkill when you were so close to the other side. Blindsided, thought
you were almost real again, thought accidents heal and
maybe the loss is temporary, thought
broken arms and band aids don’t fix bullet wounds but they might, thought
there’s a spark of light in everything thought cardiac arrest
and there’s a gateway to heaven in the car that ran over you, its siren was proclaiming,
you just missed it. So,

You remember that hearts beat like ba-dum,
the car runs over you like ba-dum and you’re left with
the smell of smoke and car exhaust ba-dum and
the sound of Exit 49B ba-dum and a fighting chance ba-dum ba-dum and

I, too, have been the lone wolf, all whimper, no beat. You see,
I’m so afraid of killing something that’s already dead because
I know what it’s like to feel things again,
to start hobbling without a pulse. I know

What it’s like to call your death an offering because
you don’t know how else to justify the pain.
So, jackrabbit lies down in the street, thinks about jumping over
the curb with all those headlights on the highway,
driving to the city.

In the distance, you remember sirens.
In the distance, you smell smoke.

By Sean Glatch

Biography:

Sean Glatch is a high school senior living in the monotony of the Milwaukee suburbs. He is the author of his self-published poetry book 4:41 and is editor for the online publication Tongue Tied Mag. When he’s not drinking coffee, he’s usually worrying about the future and decaying with indecision. He’s got your back.

telephone call By Troy Kody Cunio

telephone call

an old friend called me
wanting to get married
so the Air Force would
let him move somewhere
he doesn’t hate.

I said yes.
he was joking.
I wasn’t.

he said we might have
to adopt, to make it look
real.

I said ok.
he was joking.
I wasn’t.

he said, how funny would
that be, the two of us
married with a kid, even
though we’re straight.

I said
ha.

By Troy Kody Cunio

Biography:

Troy Kody Cunio lives in Orlando sometimes. His work has appeared in various online lit mags of varying repute, including Voicemail Poems, Beech Street Review, NYSAI, The Literary Bohemian, and Revista Literaria Centroamericana. He has performed his poetry at slams, open mics, dance parties, punk shows, art museums, and messy breakups all over the country. He is the uneditor of Rejected Poetry Journal, which you should submit to if you want.

41 Fireflies By Marie Anzalone

41 Fireflies

Mozart wrote Symphony #41-
his longest- just before
his death. To include a sarabande,
I am told, a Central American
dance of which Cervantes said,
“Hell was its birthplace
and breeding place.”

41. A number. I am 41.
It has been 25 years since
my first rape. Still, I am one
of the lucky ones. Unlike them,
I was, and am, still someone.
More than just a number.

Don’t call them angels, or dolls.
Angels don’t know despair,
dolls do not scream with the pain
of flesh melting off muscle and
bone. Do not rob them
the dignity of the terror
of those final moments nobody
with a soul wants to dwell upon.

Nor is it the will of any god
I will answer to. WE are
the eyes and heart and hands
of God for those whose lives
have not been awarded
Guardian angels. We, not God,
are the givers-
Of Life, Justice. Dignity.

Perfect souls
in imperfect states and conditions,
like us. But that inferno
started years and years ago,
long before any match was lit;
That moment someone decided
to permit control of human beings
behind locked doors and silence,
because it is easier
than dealing with their entirety.
Out of sight, out of mind.

When only half of your being
is sanctioned, how could one
ever expect to be whole? The
price you apparently pay
for defending yourself,
if you were born voiceless-
is to be burned alive.

I bet we can easily find:
41 reasons the sarabande was banned,
for celebrating too freely
that untamable side of woman
And 41 excuses that justify
its subjugation.
41 ways to forget the dead.
41 times you could have done,
something.

41 examples of the heroes
whose stories never make it
Into newspapers,
41 things we thought
were more important than justice
for the forgotten
until that dark night it took a fire
to make us remember.

If I had a jar and a meadow
tonight-
I would gently capture
41 fireflies, hold them
reverently like a lantern,
read this poem by their
ephemeral collective glow. And
release them, one fragile,
transcendent, ascending
brave point of wavering light,
at a time. A prayer
and human face, a name,
human soul
for each one. Not just
a number.

“I release you,” I would say.
I would rewrite those hours,
turn you not into 41 dolls
but into those fireflies;
painlessly, small enough
to pass through a crack in the wall
large enough to ferry the soul
out of Hell.

If you are a woman,
41 times each week you face
a piece of your dreams,
security, self-esteem being burned
to ash. We are so accustomed
we have trained ourselves
to notice only after
they are dead.

author’s note:

This piece was inspired by a horrific fire near our capital city (Guatemala City) that left 41 girls dead. It has galvanized a nation- even one as used to human tragedy as ours was left stunned as details came out and the horror intensified each passing day that we learned more, and the death toll kept (and keeps on) rising. Sometimes the only form left for expression is poetry. The death toll on the day of writing, March 17, 2017, was 41. It may still go higher.

By Marie Anzalone

Biography:

Marie Anzalone is a development worker researching climate change effects in the rural Guatemalan highlands, where she lives with an active volcano in her backyard and a passionate love for all things arts and sciences. She crunches precipitation data and interviews poor farm wives on her good days and humbles herself the rest of the time presenting poetry in Spanish in front of a tough crowd who are quick to remind her of every gender and verb tense error she has ever made. She has been writing poetry for more than 15 years, and would like to offer a few pieces for consideration in your esteemed publication. She is offering the following 5 poems: “41 Fireflies,” “That Morning in August,” “Daily Consumption,” “Maternal Line,” and “The Freedom of a Rainy Day.”

Her creative writing and essays and short stories have been published in the Namaste Human Rights Journal of the University of Connecticut (2010), and several times in The Larcenist, Rising Phoenix Press, and Versewrights. She has published three stand-alone books of poetry, which may be found under her author profile on Goodreads and on Amazon, and has had works included in several creative writing anthologies. The five pieces she is offering have not been previously published through any print format other than her personal blog on Writers Café.