For Maren By Elijah Noble El

For Maren

I didn’t know you, Maren. I didn’t know your voice.
All I know is how your Facebook stopped.
All I know is how the sirens rang.
I walked past your mother the other day and I
wanted to say something, anything.
I said nothing and kept my head down, kept my lip from quivering
for a girl I wasn’t blessed to know.
No one seems to have the right words when tragedy looms,
when the air leaves the room for a final time.

I want to know if there are heroes anymore.
We call all the wrong places home because no where
keeps a heart beating, a loved one in the right arms.
If I was there could I have helped you?
Could I have stilled that blade?
If I was there that Friday morning, if I had saw the look in his eyes,
could I have stopped those hands?

I didn’t know you so I couldn’t come to the funeral.
I didn’t know you, but I did pray for you.
That was the first time I’d prayed in years.
I forgot what it was like to pray, to believe in something.
But I do believe in peace and I believe in returning.
I know what I can say to your mother now.
I can say, “You’ll see her again one day.”
I can say, “You’ll hear her voice again.”
I can say, “She loves you.”

I walked past your mother the other day and I
wanted to say something, anything.
I said nothing and kept my head down.
I couldn’t keep my lip from quivering this time.
I couldn’t stop the tears from coming.
She saw me leaning against that wall and came over to me.
She pulled me into a hug and did for me what everyone
needed to do for her. I was just grateful she didn’t think
it was odd crying for someone I never knew.
She held me close and told me what happened to her the other night.
In your room under the dimming light
she spread your prom dress across your bed and stared at it for hours.
She recalled how beautiful and blue it was,
how when she went to bed that night
she dreamt about the blue of the sea,

about how the tide always returns.
She told me she doesn’t remember what it’s like being sixteen.
She told me she couldn’t stop thinking about time,
about grandchildren.
Her eyes watered but she wore a smile.
She talked about the day you were born.
“What a day that was,” she laughed. “What a day that was.”
Her eyes watered and I wished something could grow from it,
like a flower that held your scent,
or something that could bring you back.
I didn’t know her well enough to wipe her tears,
but I did speak to her.
I did speak to her, Maren.
With what I could muster I smiled and said,
“You’ll see her again one day.”
I said, “You’ll hear her voice again.”
I said, “She loves you.”

“She loves you.”

By Elijah Noble El

Biography:

Elijah Noble El is the twenty-two year old author of The Age of Recovery (2015). His numerous honors include a nomination for Best Writing at the Top Indie Film Awards for the short film Dog-Faced Honey. His work has been featured in Literary Orphans, Words Dance Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Kerosene Magazine’s CONTRA, Illumination, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, L’Éphémère Review, Erstwhile Magazine, and elsewhere. El is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine founded by Meggie Royer dedicated to empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation.

Trap By Juliet Cook

Trap

Using my stomach to make a trap
for mouse mousse. Gagging out
another mouse. Another binge
and now there’s a mouse tail stuck inside
that doesn’t want to come out
no matter how far I stick my finger in.

“Stick it in further!” I scream
at myself in the mirror.
“Stick it in further! Stick it in further!
Go ahead you mouse motherfucker!
I’ll turn your tail into bloody entrails!”

I don’t care if some of the blood is my own.
I want to rip off all my hair and flush it down.
I want to get rid of these breasts.
Purge them out with scissors
and then cover up the holes.

“I’m too motherfucking fat!” I scream
at myself in the toilet bowl.
“I’m too thin! I’m too fat! I’m fucking ugly!”
I’m trapped in my own body, repeatedly
puking myself out.

I don’t want to be a body stared at
and held down and screamed at
and told what my body does or doesn’t deserve.
I promise I’m not a female body.
You can barely even see me.
I’m just a tiny blood red mouse
trapped inside rotten cake batter and hurling myself out.

By Juliet Cook

Biography:

Juliet Cook’s poetry has appeared in a small multitude of magazines, including Arsenic Lobster, DIAGRAM, Diode, FLAPPERHOUSE, Hermeneutic Chaos, Menacing Hedge and Reality Beach. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, recently including RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014), a collaboration with Robert Cole called MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), and a collaboration with j/j hastain called Dive Back Down (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). Cook’s first full-length individual poetry book, “Horrific Confection”, was published by BlazeVOX and her second full-length individual poetry book, ‘Malformed Confetti’ is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press. Her most recent full-length poetry book, ‘A Red Witch, Every Which Way’, is a collaboration with j/j hastain published by Hysterical Books in 2016. Find out more at http://www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

I Want to Speak to a Manager By E.J. Schoenborn

I Want to Speak to a Manager

So Sharon walks into my cafe
with her “I want to speak to a manager” haircut
and wearing “My kid is on the honor roll” jeans.
She comes up to the counter and orders
twenty-four raspberry muffins
for Jimmy’s soccer team because it’s her turn
to bring a snack item bullshit.
To give you an idea of how much that costs,
my family could buy a month’s supply of PB & J,
Kraft singles, and Wonderbread with her muffin money.
She asks why it’s taking so long?
Why aren’t I trying harder to help her?
I say, I’ll be right with you
my anxiety attack is almost done.
And surprise, surprise,
she wants to speak to my manager.

I just want to speak to a therapist,
which I still can’t afford.

And, see, I do get it… kind of.
I understand why Susan,
the data entry specialist at a health insurance company,
doesn’t feel fulfilled.
She thought her photography career
was going to take off after high school, and it didn’t.
But yelling at me because our salt shaker is empty
isn’t going to make that photo of another fucking sunset any better.

Jim asks if the gluten-free bread is gluten-free
Betty asks if the peanut butter bars have nuts in them.
Rory asks for a twelve ounce almond milk triple shot decaf dry cappuccino with sugar-free vanilla syrup TO GO.
And everyone asks me why I’m always shaking.
“I’m sorry, we’re all out of emotional labor today. Please come back tomorrow.”

Once, my sister and I went rollerblading.
She tripped going downhill and cracked her skull on the pavement.
My sister flew to a hospital in an emergency helicopter
and I got a ride to work the next week.
She almost died.
Later, I drop a stack of dirty plates because a customer bumped into me.
I look down and start apologizing to every bone-like shard.

This morning, my mom texted me
that my dog died, his mouth foaming
as he lay on the ground by the front door.
Bill is standing at the counter
waiting for his coffee cup to just appear,
and I’m waiting for my dog Beans
to walk through the door
and lie down at my feet.
But we don’t all get what we want, Bill,
except you get to cut ahead of everyone in line
and get two free refills
and talk shit about the women workers
because you are an old, cis het, white man
with more money than any of us will ever see.
And I take four shots of espresso
just so I can burn the shadow of a smile
on my face.
My mother tells me my dog’s body is already gone,
along with any shits I still gave about Betty’s order.

None of them know
my hands have burned themselves into calluses,
I work in food service for the free meals,
my family is dying or near dying all the time.
all over my body
and I couldn’t stop smiling.

By E.J. Schoenborn

Biography:

E.J. Schoenborn (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary and queer performance poet from St. Paul, MN. A recent graduate from Macalester College, E.J. hopes to become a children’s librarian later in their life. When not writing poetry, they are searching the Internet for perfect pictures of possums, otters, and red pandas to share with their friends.

Blunt knife By Ricardo Gonsalves

Blunt knife

sitting in shallow quicksand
mulling over painful stains i say yes
to tankards of dusty nothings
@ 106 El Paso degrees lost
in a rent-per-hour limbo
watching indifferent milagros
stand guard against the inevitable
shit storm and clouds of prying eyes
fumbling papers everywhere yet
not a drop of ink
only non-liquid tears of
a past-due event
something of forgettable proportions
leaves me breathing as if here
but not really there
feeling the all oh-so-sharp
betrayal yet acutely bland as if
a still deeper black
could hide the stiches
if maybe-kinda-as-though
the pain of being discarded
like crumpled pink-slips
tucked inside of eviction notices
could fade to fuzzy
and not hurt like a blunt knife
cutting with careless regret
and lack of purpose

By Ricardo Gonsalves

Biography:

Ricardo has been “writing” in forms as concrete poetry, experimental text and at times using barbed wire to contain written verse. The content of much of his work reflects a push-pull hybridity between the influence of Chicano Art, class struggle and the challenge of experimental expression. Nearly all his work is political and reflects the sharp edges of working class existence. He was Portuguese, born in New Bedford, Mass. in a hardcore working class community. Ricardo was also deeply involved in the Chicano Movement. Arrested for writing an article, with graphics, about how to make Molotov Cocktails. Arrested for rioting during the Chicano Moratorium. Arrested for sales and possession when he got out of the Marine Corp. Currently, he is an official something-or-Other at the Magoski Arts Colony in Fullerton, California.

To Oates By Zara Munro

To Oates

—may be some time. may be some time in
getting help / moving on / moving forward,
whatever that entails. may be some time
in coming back to this, this hand that feeds.

i’ve been searching for
consistency. something
in this relentless back & forth
that’ll make it all worth it. i

tell my friend i have this thing seeding on my
tongue, only i don’t know how to feed it
& don’t know if i should / if i can. they
say not to feed dangerous things:

they always come back.

(this heart, beast dripping
hunger from a gaping wound
in the hind leg.)

i tell my friend i’m moving furniture about
about in a dark room, which is to say: i’m
grieving without knowing what for, or
knowing / but not wanting to admit.

there’s so much to grieve
over. for instance, my ribs,
waiting to lie down in the
grass. waiting to become.

playground for beetles. feast for crows.
i call this: inevitability. and this, me, here?
a delay / an act of preservation. but, here,
let go of my hand. whatever happens,

happens, and i want to
leave before i forget /
discard the memory of
how to. i may be some

time, but i so want to leave, have to leave.
i’m just going / going out / outside—

By Zara Munro

Biography:

Zara Munro is an artist and a storyteller, currently studying English literature and history of art at the University of Edinburgh. She is Director of Social Media at Monstering, a magazine for disabled women and nonbinary people, and at Half Mystic, a literary journal about music. She was a recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Young Writers Award – a national award for young people aged 13-17 – in 2013 at the age of 15. Her poetry has been published in the Young Writers Award 2013 e-book. Her more recent work has been featured on Monstering’s blog, and in The Dinner Table Review.

Oil Spill By Kevin Risner

Oil Spill

By the time I finish
another hourglass will shatter
fine grains of golden sand
across the tar-stained shoreline

The soil swallows whole
herons about to fly off
birds with wings frozen
sculptures masked by shadow
murky substance dripping like blood
hot coffee grounds swirling into spirally shapes

Diseased and distorted
like some reductive image of mud
all these beaches fill
with lifeless molasses-coated
immovable things

What was it
that truly lurked in the deep
blackened frothiness
wrapping tentacles around our faces
sucking away the memories
the history of manmade disasters

Maybe the same image
I see in my coffee cup
curlicue scribblings by
some watercolor artist
but poisonous

A calm and pleasant sunburnt tide
reds and yellows
mixing as makeup powder
glowing and decadent but deceptive
swirling with an unknown life-force
always moving
changing
morphing
blemishing my line of sight

Pipes burst from the pressure
flames engulf all objects around them
the surface of the gulf’s sheen lit
but not visible

And we are left to scoop away
to find the surviving elements
of carved imperfections
and spoiled dreams.

By Kevin Risner

Biography:

Kevin Risner is a product of Ohio and has lived there for most of his life except for brief periods of time in England and Turkey. At the present, he resides in the Cleveland area where he is ESL Coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His poetry can be found in Red Paint Hill, Red Flag Poetry, Silver Birch Press, the murmur house, and elsewhere.

DROPPING LIKE FLIES By Kate Foley

DROPPING LIKE FLIES

The day after you overdosed,
I strolled into a convenience store
to buy a pack and an energy drink
because those are my drugs now
and the bodega owner flashes his collection
of elephant pipes and one hitters
and he doesn’t know that, for us,
it was never just one hit.
He doesn’t know that by selling
empty glassine bags, he’s giving the dealers
your death certificate. The day before,
I got the bad news twenty blocks
from your body, at the museum – where things go
to live forever. I knew you wouldn’t live
for quite that long but it felt like all we had.
Invincibility as hope, self-destruction as a weapon.
And I only compare you to an insect
because I wish you could have felt
that mosquito bite too.
I swear it is better than leaving.
But I was at the museum, where the bodyguards
kept checking purses and the café barista
kept making espressos and the curator
kept bending over paintings and the students
kept laughing and I kept breathing
and the streets kept being cleaned.
I always thought addiction was the closest
you could get to death without dying
which is why we both liked it so much.
But now your mom is picking out a coffin
and your dad is trying to find a suit
even though you only wore studded denim vests
and no tuxedo could camouflage
your face tattoos. I am learning
the hooked become the hanged
and on nights like this, I want to go back.
I play the tape. I know the drill.
My veins snapped, my shoulders hunched,
my life in a casket. So, no, I’m not going back.

By Kate Foley

Biography:

Kate Foley is a poet based in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her work has been featured in Voicemail Poems, The Legendary, Words Dance, and more. The Bird Hours, her debut collection, was published by Where Are You Press in May 2017. She is passionate about dogs, helping others, and healing.