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
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
By Chestina Craig
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.