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

Friday, April 7; 12:11 AM By Lydia Havens

Friday, April 7; 12:11 AM

The author listens to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” nearly one year after writing a poem about the original Nine Inch Nails version as a means to talk about being sexually abused // The author doesn’t feel anything but she can picture things // like the blur of a city she does not know after 2AM // or her fingers covered in smeared  chalky eyeliner and all the worst grime still under her nails // The author still prefers the original version of this song // despite not being able to listen to it anymore // without becoming that ring of fire Johnny was always talking about // The author does not wear a crown of shit // or thorns // The author’s just trying to make wearing her head feel ok for once // The author was diagnosed with PTSD right after writing that poem // and ever since her name has been a song she doesn’t feel comfortable knowing the words to // The author’s flashbacks are mostly just about skin that was not hers // and chairs clattering against linoleum floors // The author hears a man make a joke about the pizza parlor in DC being the headquarters of an international political child pornography ring // while in front of a pizza parlor in downtown Boise // “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails is blasting through the open door and across the patio // and she wonders if this is what God cutting you down is supposed to feel like

This poem is related to “Backstage at the Dance Show”, which was published in Survive Like the Water

By Lydia Havens

Biography:

Lydia Havens is a poet and editor currently living in Boise, Idaho. Her work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Black Napkin Press, among others. Videos of her spoken word performances have been published on YouTube channels such as Button Poetry and Write About Now. Her first full-length collection, Survive Like the Water, was published in early 2017 by Rising Phoenix Press. Lydia currently works for Big Tree Arts Inc., and is a member of Boise’s 2017 National Poetry Slam team. She really likes exclamation points and lizards.

pharm life By Isabelle Jia

pharm life

girl you need to / want yourself
cover-up / in the night
a sweater / they say
something red / or / why don’t you just
like a match to skin please / light me up?

barnyard smoke / burnt scions
wraps me up like wires / behind yellow houses
‘round pointe shoes / dance with
grace / & / mama
i’m sorry i’m not / her

stay / sweet
pure / girl
for / your
your / youth
innocence / is / vibrant

By Isabelle Jia

Biography:

Isabelle Jia is a seventeen-year-old poet whose work has appeared, or is forthcoming in the Blueshift Journal, Polyphony HS, Track Four, and many more. Jia has attended the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio and the California State Summer School of Arts. She has also been recognized as a California Arts Scholar, by the Walt Whitman Poetry Foundation, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is an editorial intern and social media editor for Tinderbox Poetry as well as a poetry reader for Glass Kite. Jia currently resides in San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

Funeral By David M. Taylor

Funeral

I attended my grandfather’s funeral
in a half-forgotten Baptist church
housed between exposed buildings
where segregation lingered like addiction.

My colleagues gave me a card and condolences,
but I only knew him from childhood
and that he was a black man who served in the Navy,
stationed in the South Pacific during WW II.

He also had a dead daughter I never met
that we weren’t allowed to talk about.

She was mentioned briefly at the service
as my family compared resumes
passing them off as his legacy.

But they didn’t say that she felt too much
humanity to remain sane
or that chaos consumed her body
long before the drugs.

This type of honesty doesn’t read well
in a family picture where everyone smiles.

I heard she once held the strength of the universe
but fell into her mind a year after I was born,
that her thoughts crippled her body
and held on like gravity.

We buried my grandfather that day,
next to his wife and daughter,
where the weeds had overgrown
their broken tombstones.

By David M. Taylor

Biography:

I teach at a community college is St. Louis, MO. My work has appeared in various magazines including Trailer Park Quarterly, The Harrow, and Anthology, as well as upcoming in Misfit Magazine. I also have three poetry chapbooks—M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.

abridged transcripts of all the voicemails i never left my ex-best friend By Lydia Havens

abridged transcripts of all the voicemails i never left my ex-best friend

1. so there was this one time where we were on a porch
and it was 9:45 PM and the sun still hadn’t set
and you were wearing my lipstick and i thought i was
in love with you and the next day i went back
to my hometown and i said to a friend i wish i could just
call him but have it go straight to voicemail and so
they offered to let me call them and they wouldn’t pick up
and i do not remember what i said but i was
in my bathtub and it was empty and somehow
it felt like i was lying inside someone else’s body

2. you are growing your hair out again. my mom says
i have probably lost about 15 pounds since september.
i’m thinking about buying a pocket knife off the internet.
you started a band and you never button your shirt.
i stopped going to bed at 10:30. are you sleeping again?
did you ever sleep? do your hands still snarl when you
play guitar? or meet teenage girls at house shows?

3. i don’t know how to say thank you without saying fuck you.

4. did i ever tell you that you were my emergency contact?
the therapist said, who’s someone that knows your situation
well enough to help you in a crisis? i told her you knew
all about what happened to me when i was 13. i told her
about all the times you knew exactly what to say—
how to get me to take a walk, talk about something else,
breathe and nothing else. she called it a no-brainer.

this is not a crisis. i am teaching myself how to breathe.

5. there is another boy now and i don’t want to say
i am in love with him. in some of my dreams his face
turns into yours and then i stop having a body again.
in others i am drowning at every house show, wondering
how i got here. that was never me. you didn’t hurt me
like that. but you could have. that’s what everyone
keeps telling me. how lucky i am that i only saw
your hands snarl when they were trying to create
something beautiful and relatable.

By Lydia Havens

Biography:

Lydia Havens is a poet and editor currently living in Boise, Idaho. Her work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Black Napkin Press, among others. Videos of her spoken word performances have been published on YouTube channels such as Button Poetry and Write About Now. Her first full-length collection, Survive Like the Water, was published in early 2017 by Rising Phoenix Press. Lydia currently works for Big Tree Arts Inc., and is a member of Boise’s 2017 National Poetry Slam team. She really likes exclamation points and lizards

A Kind of Ritual By Jasmine Cui

A Kind of Ritual

After Albert Abonado

I know the language of my mother’s grief:
unfurled sheets, a door swinging wide,

onions left bleeding in the sink.
Each, a kind of signal fire

swollen sick with emotion.
Each, a sorrow she reduces

to gesture. Has no words for,
shrinks small as if to say

this tongue is not mine
Immigration taught her this:

your identity is a second skin —
it is usually convenient

to kill yourself. Shedding,
is as easy as speaking English.

Nightly, the pillows grow heavy with ghosts.
So many selves have yielded here

wrung thin like tripwires.
The body count rising as she struggles

with pronunciation —
cannot bear this language

that sounds like thrashing, that rinses her gums
into clean indents, into the imperfect tense —

which is to say that this has happened
before and this will happen again.

By Jasmine Cui

Biography:

Jasmine Cui is 18 years old and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Chemistry at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first-generation Americans that fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country. She is the founder and co-Editor in Chief of The Ellis Review.

4th Of July / Also Known As Independence Day By Dorothy McGinnis

4th Of July / Also Known As Independence Day

my friend tells me she’s hosting // her fourth of july party at His house // and i say // “of course i will be there” // and i ask how much liquor there will be // and she laughs // and i promise her i will find god in one of those bottles // and i will forgive god // for making me a martyr /// on independence day // i stand on the patio of // my rapist’s former house and i do not apologize to His friends // for calling a dead man my rapist // and i do not apologize to His memory for calling Him what He is // and i do not apologize // i call it independence day because the calendar // is telling me it is time to grow past This // and the calendar is telling me to look harder for god // he has something to tell me // and in the bathroom of my dead rapists house // god stops by in the mirror // to tell me i’ve earned the word “survivor” // and he’s so sorry // he’s so sorry

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.

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 Williams

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 Williams 

Biography:

Zara Williams 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.