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.