The Bowhunter By Elijah Noble El

The Bowhunter

It takes her to the river,
the deer off in the woods.
Always so gentle, always so
full of bright. Feet crunch
in the leaves, she follows it down.
She sees herself in its eyes.
There’s fading in those eyes.
A wound somewhere, and she knows
she cannot save it. She knows
she cannot ease the way.

Hands spread too much too far.
Favorite girl, favorite beer.
Father’s drunk.
He calls his little girl over.
Always so timid, always so
full of fear, she sees the bottle.
She sees herself in the reflection.
There’s a wounded deer in that reflection.
A wound made from something
untouched, so much undenied.

Girl reads in the space
between night and morning,
of Artemis and mythology and warrior and blood.
She closes her eyes and hounds run the field.
Closes her eyes where things protect her.
She runs to the field, lays in the cool grass.
Looking up, always looking up,
she sees the comets and the wishing stars.
Reaching out, she sees herself in the universe.
There’s strength somewhere in that universe.

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.

High Water Mark By Aaron Leininger

High Water Mark

there being no physical means
of escape or surrender

and I—the fool of my own principles

it finally came down to this:
write—or fucking die

but commentary is not enough—
so where is the life worth living?

I demand angels

in a cultivated land—
where nothing—holy or wild—
has ever taken root

how will I manage
the marriage of love and anger?

or recover

the means to touch and to affect
creation
at its most crucial center—

its sexual core

(the heart anticipates its destiny)

to return and to remain—teetering
on the perilous crest

of the present

poised upon that precipitous instant—and

pinned to that intensity

like a star
burning through bluest daylight—

in spite of the world’s stupidity

what savage grace will allow this?

(the heart anticipates its catastrophic rise)
a wild and captured animal is
battering at my rib-cage—

the skewed axis
of this spinning critical disaster

it says, resist and rebel

it says, fuck you and I will

I am the ragged flag of no-surrender
ripped to shit by ignoble winds

pissed and proud and still resisting

By Aaron Leininger

Biography:

Aaron Leininger is a poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gravel, Buck Off Magazine, the Oakland Arts Review, and the Adirondack Review. He lives in Redding, California.

On The Eighth Day By Gracie Fuhrman

On The Eighth Day

Open the book and let
it speak those
half-truths-

this city,
a river ebbing
into pools
of blue.

Light those Marlboro’s; just
know you won’t
afford them in the morning-

this city,
a pause.

A light that fades,
like a Winehouse lyric-

we join the club but ain’t famous
enough to get in.

this city,
a break in words,

an
unstitched
wound-

this city,
a pulse.

This asphalt sighs
itself back
into my mouth-

makes room for the influx
of
sewer water-

this city,

all those catacombs, (where else can we bury
those empty shells?)
We exhume those
bodies
but that blood
don’t wash
out.

We don’t put rat traps
in the subway
no more.

We let them live among us.

Buildings baptized in
rainwater, in
backslide torrents of snow.

this city,

black with the smoke

of the living.

By Gracie Fuhrman

Biography:

Gracie Fuhrman is a high school student from Arkansas. She is a co-founder of Arkansas Youth Mag and strives to find her place among the literary world while helping other aspiring poets do the same.

An Ode to Port-a-Potties By E.J. Schoenborn

An Ode to Port-a-Potties

Oh, mobile shit box,
I walked five miles looking for an all-gender restroom
before I laid my eyes upon your beautiful frame.
All my friends complain about you,
but I know your true purpose,
scattered across campgrounds and sidewalks
like dandelion heads on the breeze.
You, underappreciated plastic pew,
offer sanctuary to those
who need it most.

When I am inside of you, low-tier Tardis,
I feel giddy and dizzy and out of this world,
and I don’t know if it’s love
or maybe some combination of ammonia, feces, and blue
finally affecting me for being in here this long.
Oh, bluest blue,
that’s the only way I can describe you,
the flavor and smell of always blue,
you, an endless well of protection.

Oh, infinite hole,
I know you too well,
the way you take and take and take all the world’s shit,
let it fester inside of you without breathing a word,
the way you try to tell people no,
this body was not meant for YOU to have sex in,
the way they ignore you, cum inside anyways, and leave you.
Once your purpose is used up,
don’t they always talk shit about you afterwards?
Say, “I would never go in there,”
before they want to enter you again.

Once, a man put a cigarette out against your skin,
a gaggle of children repeatedly kicked and beat you just for existing,
strangers tell each other not to be with you, they can do so much better.
Why should they demean themselves and use a body as disgusting as this?

My tiny chapel, my trans body molded into soft blue altar,
everyone thinks so little of you, forgets to pray to you,
spits on you when no one’s around.

Oh, queerest body,
how many boys did we let inside us before we broke open?
How many times have we prayed to Gods for protection
and received more shit instead?
And maybe, it was just the one boy,
maybe it was only ever just one boy.
But wasn’t that enough to crack open our stomachs
and let out the water?

Oh, empty watering hole,
isn’t this the price we pay for not choosing a gender?
The 24/7-opening, the frailness of a plastic lock,
the way people abuse us for existing.

Oh, my genderless body,
learning to love you also means
learning to love myself,
to find all the beauty
in a body full of shit.

By E.J. Schoenborn

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.

Sarin Nightmare By Noriko Nakada

Sarin Nightmare

I fall asleep
with the image

of my two-year-old
bolting into the alley

just as a truck
speeds through.

I cannot bring myself
to imagine

what comes next
because

a boy in shorts
facedown on a beach

on a Greek shore or
a diapered child

dusty and unmoving
on a powdery city street

are enough.
So I promise

to be more careful
to tell my partner

to stay vigilant
and we should

buy a water filter
and gas masks

and start growing our own food
and make a plan

for survival
because on days like this

that’s where
my mind goes.

By Noriko Nakada

Biography:

Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, Meridian, Compose, Thread, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.

IN WHICH I AM MOUNT VESUVIUS By Dorothy McGinnis

IN WHICH I AM MOUNT VESUVIUS

When Mount Vesuvius covered Pompeii,
it was the right time to use all of
those big question words we learned:
How?
When, if not always?
Why?
Where would you keep
the corpses if not under
a thick blanket of apology from
the mountain they loved
like a husband?

I’m jealous of the citizens
of Pompeii, that the end of their
lives was so easy, natural, quick.
One minute you’re spinning a spoon in a bowl of soup,
the next you are knee deep in lava,
screaming goodbye across a kitchen table.

How do you recognize yourself Vesuvius in a
therapist’s office? When depression is so
molten how do I know what of me is sickness
and what is lava?
Which domesticity is best: the laundry room or the
kitchen for confessing that your core is all tomorrow
you pray will not come?
How do you write a suicide note when your
hands are magma?
I’m living on fault lines,
nothing if not the
catastrophic parts of me.
When not a fault line, I am the cliff and these
hikers keep slipping, screaming, they all
sound like the happy girl I used to be. Self-harm is just
compensating for the bodies.
When not a cliff, I am the fissure,
everyone I love will
be knee-deep in my sulfur.
But I am always volcano,
I ooze obituary. I love people like ash,
wrap myself around them, pretend
they won’t be coughing up grief
for years.

But, that’s the thing about volcanos.
The people living in their shadows will say they are mountains,
love their jagged edge on creamy blue skies,
live lazy days in the scoop of the bowl valley.
They don’t call it “inevitable” they call it “unconditional love”

I love like
obsidian: this was the sweetest coping.

As an eruption, I don’t call this “unconditional”
I call it “Just shake off the charcoal and go on with your life.”
I call it “You’re better off with these craters, I promise.”
I call it “I’m so sorry.”

Did you know,
eruptions change the gravitational force
of their surroundings.
You’ll find how soon everything returns to normal.
Just this moment of cinder and ashfall and forgetting.
Then someone’s baby I never met will cry in the back row of my funeral.
You’ll sob, thinking about
the volcano girl you loved.
What a mountain she could’ve been.

By Dorothy McGinnis

Biography:

Dorothy is a performer, a poet, and also very possibly 22 very little baby ducks disguised as a human. No one is certain. Dottie knew her path was clear when a substitute teacher in her 9th grade theatre class said one of her performances was so convincing he almost thought she was his ex wife. Dorothy has been published on Voicemail Poetry and Rejected Poetry Journal. Dorothy was a member of the 2016 Salt City Unified Team and the 2017 YouSpeak team. Her poem “English Classes”, about how Zelda Fitzgerald deserved SO MUCH BETTER can be seen on Write About Now’s youtube channel.

Nowhere, Santa Clara By Yves Olade

Nowhere, Santa Clara

I crawled out through the hotel window,
and lay slaughtered on the roof, thinking:

Nothing is beautiful here: even the thousand
suns struggle to provoke a light of healing
rather than scorching. I felt the gold cut
through me and cauterise the wound. half-
finished and aching, I was a dangerous thing
—an injured animal still hunting. Birds
flinched from my hands and flowers
withered into kindling. My own blood
refused to run through my fingers. I was
incessant, perpetual—running barefoot
through the woods towards the creaking
heart of my body. Only rain came out to
greet me as it struck the undergrowth
with an open palm. I ran like a bush fire
was chasing. Salt settled into the ground
behind me, and the pulse of the earth
stuttered and was slowing.

By Yves Olade

Biography:

Yves Olade studies history and classics in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. He’s not at all biased. Currently 19, he likes autumn and writing poetry on his boyfriend’s floor.

Fishbowl Medicine By Kate Foley

Fishbowl Medicine

How a hospital gown becomes
a funeral dress, how a plastic ID
bracelet becomes a handcuff,
how the outside becomes a fantasy.

Hush the crazy. I am remembering
I am. I am so not okay with I-am-ness.
Existence seems meaningless.
Strength into burden.

Call this an episode, I call this losing.

How the hallways become caskets, how
visiting hours become the tease,
how discharge papers become
the only sigh of relief.

How the doctor’s advice becomes
a death date, how getting better
becomes giving up, how this
fishbowl life becomes
a form of medicine.

Five days spent inside and it feels as if
I am only meant to be an aquarium.

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.