Portraiture Analysis with Anaphora By Bessie Huang

Portraiture Analysis with Anaphora

for Madame Cézanne

Here, she is ageless
and unfeminine, her corset

dripping into her lap. The skinless
man has eyes the color of blood-

shot and hers are patiently
blank. She sits like a spine

made of steel. He cannot be touched
but wants to touch her. Here, he

is unforgiving, scattering
the color and scorching her

mouth with ash. I snap
a picture. Here. I do not know

whether to focus
on oblong or ochre or the room

leaning away. Here—she is
looking at her hands

but there is nothing

between them. So I listen:
here: silent passion, the two,

head to hollow
head, his hands grasping her

cheeks and hers grasping hortensias.
Every time he looks

at her, she is remade. Here
her hair is down and she does not look

like herself. Suddenly he is painting
with a weapon. Her face becomes

his. She is exactly
what he wants.

By Bessie Huang

Biography:

Bessie Huang is seventeen years old, hails from Maryland, sits exclusively in lotus pose, and prefers to go by Ivy, at least for now.

Pill Poppers of Late Capitalism By Prem Sylvester

Pill Poppers of Late Capitalism

Pink tab on my tongue
splits in half, my daily bread;
double-helix cotton candy twisted
through my blood income

Orange pill, sponge cake fantasy,
edible pheromone highs tripping
over each other to shine brightest
in veins where love is made to order.

White and yellow pills packed
in ancap land, labour paid in emotion
immaterial in your prescription;
you label my nightmares utopia.

Downing soma cocktails to drown
in psychosomatic complacency,
attuned to this tuneless march
that rings noiseless souldeathknells

By Prem Sylvester

Biography:

Prem Sylvester is an Indian writer who turns into words the ideas he catches a whiff of from time to time. Sometimes people read these words. His work has appeared in Memoir Mixtapes and Rigorous, and in national media platforms like The Hindu and Buzzfeed India.

In Sickness By Rachel Tanner

In Sickness

My body consists mostly of forgetting.
There are days I wake up
and my organs can’t remember
their most basic purposes.
There are days my mind can’t find words that fit
so my mouth refers to cereal as
morning dry soup.

Every surgery leaves a mark and those marks are
the first things I notice when I look in a mirror.
Are the things on my naked body
that I recognize least.

I undress in the dark now, even when I’m alone.

Who is going to love these scars?
(And why?)
Who is going to share me
with the things lurking and laughing in my body?

I am trying not to forget the world
as easily as it has forgotten me.

By Rachel Tanner

Biography:

Rachel Tanner’s work has appeared in various places including Bad Pony, Longleaf Review, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. She tweets @rickit

Waitress By Joan McNerney

Waitress

Sally thought everything was
up to luck and she had zero.
Her chances got swept
away with yesterday’s trash.

Every day working in this
dumpy dinner slinging hash.

There were the regulars
who knew her name and
left good tips. They had
no place else to go.

Her feet swelled up at
the end of lunch rush.

Sally wiped tables filling
ketchup bottles, salt shakers,
sugar jars while staring out the
window at pulsing rain.

Waiting a half hour for the bus,
winds tangling her hair.

She stopped at the market to
bring a few groceries home.
Struggling now to open her door,
only cold rooms would greet her.

By Joan McNerney

Biography:

Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky and she has four Best of the Net nominations.

Wedding Ring in Broken Bones By Julia Zhou

Wedding Ring in Broken Bones

In these last years, I pluck myself
together as each          ruffled feather

tethered to bone.         I grow unripe,
slot myself plum sour between plastic.

In these last years,       I say
pretend. That lilacs     are blooming

under the stairs, the marble slate
smoothed        glossed over the lip

crystal shine & dazzling. How many
times have I heard this story before?

Scratched        into flesh         with broken
bones. My skin            your skin         tattered

white elephant skin     yielding softness
under wide      open                eyes

we live on blindly       bodies pressed
against the wind          chill     of marble splits

our bloodstreams   into a new gash    of hoping.
Time in & time out.    Hemorrhage rust.

Our mouths     around             tuneless pulsations,
around white               napkin rinds. & I say pretend

we can filter out          this static. & I say pretend
we are doused in white           soothing tongues in

a sprig of mint.            & I say end it here.

You may kiss the bride,
but you may not hold her.

By Julia Zhou

Biography:

Julia Zhou is a high school senior from Herndon, Virginia. Her writing has been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK and the National YoungArts Foundation; they can be found in Antithesis Journal, Blue Marble Review, and Typishly, among others. Find her napping with a Campbell’s textbook cradled in arm, playing quizbowl, or staring at the moon.

pretty boy, baby girl By Jack Verhagen

pretty boy, baby girl

pretty boy, licks his lips and
lets his eyes undress baby girl
says “i’ll love you forever”
says “you’ll never be able to get rid of me”
says “i could just eat you right up”
baby girl, hears the warnings,
ignores them, falls in love with
pretty boy, lets
his pretty words fill her ears, looks at
pretty boy through rosy glasses,
misses all
the red flags
pretty boy, lures baby girl to love him,
whispers sweet things to her, leads her
to believe that nobody but him
will ever love her the same way, promises
anything she could ever want, even
the stars themselves
baby girl, gets trapped in a web
of lies spun by pretty boy, finds
herself in too deep, can’t
even see the sky anymore
pretty boy, traps baby girl, doesn’t
let her go, keeps
drawing her towards him, finally
shows his true colors in the bruises
blooming on baby girl’s skin
baby girl, tries to leave pretty boy, gets
caught trying to find help, gets
a reminder that she
can never leave
pretty boy, drunk on power, now
more wolf than human, hungry for
the blood of
little red riding hood and all
the girls who came before and
after her
baby girl, runs through the woods, but
these aren’t woods, this
is the city, and there isn’t just
one wolf, there are more than
she ever dreamed there could be
pretty boy, catches baby girl, and right

before he swallows her whole
says “i told you you’ll never be able to leave me”
grins with
a mouth of teeth
too sharp to be human.

By Jack Verhagen

Biography:

Jack Verhagen is a 17-year-old poet from the sunny state of California. She enjoys writing and skateboarding, as well as frequenting any coffee shop that can be found in the area. She hopes to be able to compile a chapbook of her poetry in the near future, and looks forward to her future growth as a writer.

Sans Frontières By TAK Erzinger

Sans Frontières

Little birds of prey
flee the nest too early.

Confused, their flight is crooked
like the cage they just escaped from.

The moon, helpless, hides behind
a veil of sky, where stars stare in disbelief,

waiting for good-byes that are never spoken
for fear of the awakening sun.

Their flight forms a mosaic pattern of
mismatched colours, bleeding together

like gouache that is over saturated by water.
Their image threatened to be washed away.

Little tired wings, flutter, torn and bent drift
over unsteady waves that hunger for their souls.

Neptune hears their cry and scolds the gluttonous sea.
He wants to save them and he offers them atonement.

He strips them of their tired feathers
replacing them with fins calling to those children,

“Now you are able to swim.” Their empty shells
left a drift, like snake skins on the sand

and off they dive mermaids, unbridled by any land.

By TAK Erzinger

Biography:

TAK Erzinger is an American Swiss poet. She is also an English teacher. Her poetry is greatly influenced by all that has surrounded her past to present. At the end of 2016 she had a nervous break-down and was diagnosed with a burn-out due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Nature, writing and art have accompanied her through the recovery process. It is the imagery of nature and the mundane activities of everyday life that feature prominently in her poems. The themes in her poetry touch upon varying degrees of loss, forgiveness and healing, as well as some social commentary of the 21st century.

Cambio By SK Grout 

Cambio

I read this diurnal opening line: the last
thing we need is another lovesong.

the old argument rises again.
a promise made on smoked glass.

my arms twist and my legs bend,
and I nearly amputate my homeland

standing in the too bright light of a midnight
McDonalds. I know I should not be here.

it is likely that I am drunk on something, but
fossil words stand fast against antiseptics and oil.

I think all at once: we must search for hope
but there is so much despair.

I still cannot figure out why
human life has lost its currency,

if crowds ever read signs,
do tyrants always win.

you go north, dappled and splintered,
your shadow thickens behind you

By SK Grout 

Biography:

SK Grout grew up in New Zealand, has lived in Germany and now splits her time as best she can between London and Auckland. She is the author of the micro chapbook “to be female is to be interrogated” (2018, the poetry annals). Her work also appears in Crannóg, Landfall, The Interpreter’s House, Banshee Lit, Parentheses Journal and elsewhere. Wanderlust, eco-living, social justice, queer love stories and writing remain priorities of her life. These topics fill most of her twittering at @indeskidge.

Zookeeper By Jill Mceldowney

Zookeeper

I am going to drive myself insane to see if it can be done

to see if it’s true
to see if I’m still pretty when I’m dead.

Today, you and I take the train to the Zoo in Lincoln Park.
My jittery, haunted insomnia is back
worse than ever.

I mean I’m depressed
again or something though I don’t look it—
no one would believe me if I told them.
You tell me:

“Every morning when they feed the leopards,
the zookeepers spike their water with antidepressants—“

Two inches of glass between me and the leopards—
I would take their bite down hard, their bury,
their dead staring West at the stars if it meant changing,
if it meant sleeping in the frost, letting my teeth go.

—see how they pace like they are right now?
Anxiety is anxiety’s side effect.”

I need to know what that feels like
again to descend—it calls and even if
the drugs were working—

in thirty days, when they release the leopards back
into the jungle, they won’t sleep for weeks.
Their bodies will tick for Prozac
and there is no Prozac

in the wild it’s survive or don’t.

Some trail camera will catch them on the green fog
of night vision—muzzles slick with oil, blood.
They’ve been eating at something or they’ve hurt themselves.

I need to know how that would look on me—

was asked again if I am really sick and I do not know
how to answer that.

By Jill Mceldowney

Biography:

Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbook Airs Above Ground (Finishing Line Press) as well as Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press). She is an editor and cofounder of Madhouse Press. She is also a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work can be found in journals such as Muzzle, Fugue, Vinyl, the Sonora Review, Prairie Schooner, and other notable publications.

 

Tapping Myself in March By Elisabeth Horan

Tapping Myself in March

Ahhh it’s gluttony again
This ache, this belly stab
God, such iron thorns –

Get into my wrists, worse
This new scrape of shit
I can’t get all the filth off
With only my fingernails

Must cut cut cut; (I like
The way that rolls out) –
Cut me, cut me, go ahead –
Open it up

Infinite ways to release
Blood: a bud of innocent rose;
One droplet, simple trickle;
Nature’s pink, morning dew

My arm awakens
My brain checks out,
The relief is worth
The vermillion color,

Forest capillaries to tap
Maple sugar’s platelet run
Sweet to lick, better boiled down
In the bucket, the bath, use the cloth –

I keep it in the special spot.
I’ll never run out of this…
Crucial escape
Well, if I’m smart – I hide
Inside: antagonistic tenn cape.

Don’t ask don’t tell.
I swear, I wear, these
Sleeves for armors sake –
The same way I don
The crimson silk

To soothe the illness
Of my sunken brain.
To turn it off.
To feel something again –

By Elisabeth Horan