Decency By Jalen A. Blithe

Decency

You’ve got too much on your mind tonight,
With no job, and no call-backs and no money
And one big heaping rent check to deliver by next weekend,
But that’s not what you’re thinking about. No.
You’re here thinking about how the boy looked all folding and fluid,
How his hair was slicked back, his eyes a deep resplendent red,
His tongue smelling like cornbread and apple brandy,
His teeth blades of ivory on your throat.

That was a while back, and the years have piled up like a matryoshka doll,
You’ve grown into your body, at first clumsily;
It didn’t know what needed to go where,
So you had hair on your stomach like a boy,
Like maybe you were a monster, Mr. Hyde in school uniform,
And then, all of a sudden, you were tall,
And everything fit into place, so tall that your skin couldn’t keep up
So where there was hair, there’s now long brown stretchmarks
The shape of Arctic crags, lumpy and thick and beautiful like a goddess.

You’re thinking about the music playing over your eyes,
Heavy bass and a wet voice box singing love songs in Patois,
How it pulsates somewhere deep in your ear,
Beyond the lobe, in a crevasse you couldn’t get to if you tried,
And you do try, twisting your finger like maybe you might dig out a space
Between the grass and the root, find a little jukebox and pull it from your existence,
And all the while your teeth rattle like porcelain bells,
Your chest drums to the rhythm of the dance hall,
Your twists get all monotonous like the beat.

By Jalen A. Blithe

Biography:

I am a Bronx-native of Jamaican and Puerto Rican heritage who recently graduated with a bachelors in history and creative writing at Purchase college.

Martha 3 By Ligia Berg

martha-3
I worked with Martha Saffo for several years. She is a Crossdresser. These images are a little part of a work that i was doing about her history, her thoughts, and her imaginary aesthetic. Being a Crossdresser is sometimes being that you really are but for ‘ours’ and ‘sometimes’ because the ‘regular people’ and society don’t admit this expression. I want to say to Martha that everything is ok, that she is a wonderful person and she have to be that she wants.

By Ligia Berg

Biography

Ligia Berg was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1987. She loves visual arts and music, and does both of them. She is fan of mysterious images and the baroque composition and we can find that in her work. Her work was showcased in see me, xataka, inrocuptibles, so bad so good and other local publications. She loves the cinema aesthetic, creating characters and telling stories in images. She is really interested in gender issues and that crosses almost all her work.

Questions I Ask Over Religious Facebook Groups By Lina Abdul-Samad

Questions I Ask Over Religious Facebook Groups

and how many more men will throw rocks at your window,
with dry, panting tongues and open hands

All we ask for is
a glance
a smile
an arch

We are reaching for God, they say.
We want to be loved, they say.

You are the answer to this loneliness and my hungry, he says.
tongue curves into a question mark
Tell me about your religion, about that scarf on your head.

Man, beast
Man, loaded
Man, hungry
Man, alone

devil and desire

Woman, prey
Woman, vessel
Woman, full
Woman, home

and how many more men more men will turn you into the answer?
how many men will come with prayers moist on their lips,
hoping you will heal them,
confusing you for God.

By Lina Abdul-Samad

Biography:

Lina Abdul-Samad is a Palestinian American currently based in the occupied land. She has been published in This Week in Palestine and MuslimGirl. When she is not daydreaming, Lina is writing poems, essays, and short stories on her blog:
https://linasthoughtsandwords.wordpress.com/

Cagelife By Nandita Naik

Cagelife

The first time a mouse enters a cage,
it is pink and shriveled, eyes shut against
the world.

It learns to speak the language of captivity:
miniature prayers, switchblades,
the evaporation of nameless skeletons.

From ink comes stardust and
the knowledge of birds
spiraling through the ozone layer,
wingspan intersected by ivory branches.

Cagelife is this:
reduced, distilled, everything spilled
bone-white and left wanting.
Cagelife kneels before
the dead and begs forgiveness.

Run, little mouse,
until water sweetens your lips
and the streets aren’t gold anymore.

See how the night
blue-rinses your cage,
wringing out the golden bars until they lie dripping at your feet.
Weep for the old mouse as it is peeled off the floor,
hiding its whiskers from the light.
It is here
because it has never stopped running.

By Nandita Naik

Biography:

Nandita Naik is a junior at Proof School in San Francisco. She enjoys writing, programming, and musicals. Her poems have been published or forthcoming in Canvas Lit Journal and Polyphony HS.

Family Tree in Autumn By Rhys Feeney

Family Tree in Autumn

They say people in my family carry crazy
like they carry fresh vegetables
or the laundry
or kids on their shoulders.

They carry the seeds for a garden
in shades of blue and grey
monochromatic flowers
that resist the hues of the setting sun.

My aunt is getting divorced
and that’s a good thing
(for her husband)
no more crazy bitch.

But I know how nice
the kitchen tiles feel at night.

She never seemed that bad.
She was just going through
something
something far worse than
losing a pound note.
She runs now
don’t they know why.

I wonder how they talk about me
and my thing
my time away
my little pills
they would say it’s ok
because I did well at school
and I have a partner.
I’m not like the rest of them
they would say
but
they would think
kids these days
they aren’t used to
walking miles in the snow

don’t they know I would
do that every single day
if it meant not hurting them?

By Rhys Feeney

Biography:

Rhys Feeney is a British-born poet living in Wellington, New Zealand, where he’s a recent graduate of English Literature and Film Studies from Victoria University. His work has previously appeared in blackmail press, The Rising Phoenix Review, Silver Birch Press, Murmur House and Ology Journal. He’s a cat person.

Frighten By Amy Lauren

Frighten

he says such love is not natural
for a woman. look more closely,
at the scars from when I bought

those lies, with my own blood.
now my hands drip with honey
which he calls poison.

but the hypocrite also hopes
to hold women; just doesn’t want
them to hold me. look closer,

at the kingdoms my woman built
for us from jagged Yazoo clay. love
sings with us, but will not hesitate

to raise its voice when he unsheathes
his Bible to dagger us. this revolution
woven in our hearts howled when

we could see but a sliver of the moon
and the light it heralded. the sky spills
with starlings that whistle whether

or not my lover is a man or a woman.
this is what I tell him, and he admits
his surprise that we not only live but fill

our mouths the same holy bread, harvest
the stars with our families, blood lit with
the refining kind of wildfire.

By Amy Lauren

Biography:

Amy Lauren is a graduate music student at Mississippi College. Among other publications, her writing appears in Sinister Wisdom, Wherewithal, and Lavender Review. Her debut chapbook, Prodigal, received publication through Bottlecap Press in 2017.

blasphemies at the 5th street station By s. osborn

blasphemies at the 5th street station

there is only me and you and the thing
that is trying to swallow us.

in every version of the story there is a fire:
here, burning clothes in the backyard.
here, throwing matches at the home i
don’t live in anymore. again and the
highway between our bodies, gone.

on the train, a man tells you he is an
angel and jumps off the platform.
over the screaming, you tell me you’re
starting to think there really is a god, like
capital g God. like something that isn’t
here to hurt us, just to watch us hurt.

honey, you just want something to blame
besides yourself. i get it, i’m tired too
but is there any room for safety
between the disaster of our bodies?
if there is a light then i am going to
swallow it. if there is a god then
i’m going to make him cry.

By s. osborn

Biography:

s. osborn is sixteen and trying to use words to fill some kind of bottomless void. she loves cats and other people’s poetry and she probably wants to be your friend. previous publications include the rising phoenix review, words dance magazine, and persephone’s daughters. she can be found at www.allthesinkingships.tumblr.com

For Girls Learning Not To Fear The Dark By Carly Racklin

For Girls Learning Not To Fear The Dark

The city glows with a thousand yellow eyes,
ravening, and no one ever sleeps.
Feasts are had in the backseats of taxis
and fluorescent aisles of dog treats.
The lights are bright enough to blind
but never enough to hide
how each face in the sea of coats on concrete
wants something different from you.
They all want something.

The pack comes out of alleys, after
the sway of skirts and drumbeat heels
a siren’s song, their breath in the air.
They’ve got your name on their tongues now
a cherry lollipop dangling, a promise.
You slip through sliding doors,
past partitions of newsprint faces
of the lost never to be found.

They’ve got their claws out now
sharp silver edges sliding out of jacket pockets
into thirsty hands stained neon.
Those not part of the pack pretend
not to hear their laughter, the grumbling stomachs,
pretend not to see the blood in their eyes.

You’ve only ever known how to clutch your keys
like the fangs you’ve prayed for,
but they watch under dim buzzing streetlights,
tracing their jagged little moons
the same way your father
once caressed his guns.
And they see you, as he did:
a pretty deer to fell.

They’re on every corner now,
a network of sugar-slick smiles
holding cheap smoke.
The bars are closed now,
your fingers turn cold, and falter.

Asphalt swallows skin,
footsteps quicken, fumble, scrape,
weave through tight backstreets like veins.
What they’ve come for, what they crave,
you don’t have. The candy-center
is a sour pit, a stone.

They’ve never met a wolf like you,
who hides her teeth like aces and kings
behind a cupid’s bow.
A hundred glowing moons splinter,
wild and loose like telephone wires—
freeze. Chewed sticks fall from mouths.

You walk home alone
lipstick smudged, static skin.
The lights shadow those steps, waiting for dawn,
to hear the bark of laughter in the lanes.
The scavengers follow at your heels, begging
for your scraps, watching for the smile
you never give to those who ask for it.
And you grin, you do,
with your keys singing anthems
to the hunger in your chest.

Don’t they know by now? Don’t they know
that this city only howls at the door
of the one in sheep’s clothing,
and her stomach is never full.

By Carly Racklin

Biography:

Carly Racklin loves storytelling in all its forms, but is especially passionate about the fantastical and the visceral. When not writing, she can be found drawing, playing video games, or plucking at her guitars. Her poetry has appeared in Words Dance and Bird’s Thumb. She is usually thinking about birds.

COOL GIRL By Chestina Craig

COOL GIRL

after Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

Boy’s want a Cool
Girl they can clean their teeth with
fresh pick that tired smile
ask you to not have all that water
tell a joke that makes you suck
the surge inside your mesoderm
web net all the rushing sounds of the bile
that sewages a hole in your bedsheets
Cool Girl swallows
every word that doesn’t taste like sugar
what is a Cool Girl if she does not go down
smoothly. Does not glint
marble any other style
but softly
like she’s got an oiled jaw
that presses into bear trap smiles
during poker games where boy’s
boyish-friends make laughter about her body
lifeless at the bottom of the backyard cliff
& the boy smiles & the Cool Girl stares ahead & bites
her blood

By Chestina Craig

Biography:

Chestina Craig lives in Long Beach, CA with her cat. Her work has been published in Black Napkin Press, The Rising Phoenix Review, Incandescent Mind, KINGS ZINE, L’EPHEMERE Review, Femme Fotale (photography), and others. She has presented her work at The Presidents Commission on The Status of Women, The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference presented by Congressman Allen Lowenthal, The Orange

Hibernation By Nandita Naik

Hibernation

In sleep we are blameless,
dreams stained with blackberries
and the migrations of salmon.

Fox dens are a study in patience,
trussed in leaves and snapped twigs.

There are no words for the teeth
of steel, which leap from the dark
of the bushes to press plum-colored
thoughts into our legs.

No words for when the stars unravel and we’re left
with nothing but our own torn bodies,
ripening in the sweet cold rain.

One-two: don’t trust history
or your story, or mine.

Streams slice into our pale ankles.
Moths strain the forest boundaries,
swarming towards the blackened skies.

By this I mean they mistake us for something we are not.

Steel works its way into our bones,
a trick of the light, shaping, hardening.

We take to the marrow-fields with hungry eyes
and bullets named for songs.

One-two: The hunt is wilder now,
and Artemis is on our side.

Fox dens are sniffed out,
quicksilver salmons plunge into our mouths,

until we look in the streams
and something godless stares back.

In sleep we make no noise,
just confessions.

By Nandita Naik

Biography:

Nandita Naik is a junior at Proof School in San Francisco. She enjoys writing, programming, and musicals. Her poems have been published or forthcoming in Canvas Lit Journal and Polyphony HS.