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

Moonstruck By H.G. Cajandig

Moonstruck

My favorite type of wind loves to pass

between chimes.         She is obsessed with away-ness

& sees stars on the window panes at dawn,

when my (search) history is coming back

with no results & nothing whole        pours out of me.

She has taken to writing about the haunted

woman who was tricked by a ghost

into swallowing glass,            her inside being broken

by pieces of broken, and the moon cracks

a grin   nobody pays attention to. She is

crumbling in the dusk & again           I have forgotten

the magic word           for an insincere smile,

or what to call a linchpin        slipping

from its crater. We chant at the sky

& our bare skin chases

every jade of aurora                beating against the wind.

By H.G. Cajandig

Biography:

H.G. Cajandig is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, where she reads poetry for Passages North. Her work has appeared in The Ore Ink Review, and is forthcoming at Snapdragon. She is also currently working on a chapbook. Before attending graduate school, she interned for The Missouri Review and Persea Books.

Dec(ember) By Bessie Huang

Dec(ember)

I.

Don’t cough when the minnows
are scraping through
your lungs.

By now you should know that
the only way to gain
control is by losing
it. Let their gills tickle
your insides. Let them breathe
for you. You hunched over

for so long you don’t remember
how it feels
to not feel alive.

II.

What if the world were on
your shoulders

at your fingertips

and all you want
to do is whisper
out a fire.

III.

The fingers dangling at your neck, ready
to turn blade.

The bones thin underwater. No premeditation:
mildew bathtub and milk, your skin in rinds
on the floor, your hands raw
as a throat—

Now press
them to your face like they are firecrackers
and let them blow hollow
into your cheeks.

IV.

You shouldn’t believe the weather
forecast, but here it is
April and still snowing. Just know:
the butterflies outside
are beginning to rot and
what happens when you press
a technicolor popsicle
to your forehead

V.

You shouldn’t believe
everything you feel.

All you have left
are citrus leaves
and this glutinous heart.

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.