The Reason I Don’t Date White Men By Zaynab Quadri

The Reason I Don’t Date White Men

my eyes are “chocolate brown”
and my skin is all
smooth creamy “mocha”
and my freckles are like
caramel candies,
little gifts tucked into the hollows of my bones
little gifts for you to find, and taste, and suck.
and oh, you do.
you suck me—
you speak of me—
like i am something to eat.

but when you’re done with the feasting,
when we’re sitting up and clothed,
when we are arguing about money
or the remote i don’t want to fetch–
when we get into an argument tonight about
trump supporters and the fate of the republic—
when you want me to back down
and i don’t, i don’t, i won’t—
then suddenly the warmth evaporates right out of you.

suddenly
i have fingernail marks,
angry and red,
digging into my skin,
and you almost shimmer,
your knuckles even whiter
with the force you deploy to hold me.
you are the image of angels
in old european artwork–
blonde and blue and sweet lamb white,
and i am the image of inferiority
shrinking underneath that gaze of yours.
i am as dark as the shit you think i am.
you spit me out—
you dismiss me—
like i am something to excrete.

your mouth moves in the shape of
“patriotism” and
“have some fucking respect” and
“america the beautiful”—
america,
red as your republican membership,
blue as your blazing eyes,
white as your palms around my wrists—
and all i can think about
is how i’ve lived my whole life
next to people who look like you,
but i come from and look like
the “savages” you aren’t defending.

you were supposed to be forever.
this place was supposed to be home.

but i pack my things while you hover around me screaming
about how “politics is no reason to end a relationship!”
and i wonder, how do i even begin to explain
to your complacent whiteness
how it’s never just abstract “politics,”
that your principles should never be
more important than my personhood,
that if i ever again spread my chocolatemochacreampie legs for you,
it would be an act of violence against myself.

i don’t look like you.
i look like them.

i pick them.
i pick myself.

to keep living in this country,
where brown still means consumption
and appropriation and excretion,
where a storebought tan is pretty
and real melanin is reason to get away with murder—
to stubbornly insist that brown is just brown,
brown is even beautiful
on its own terms
without the rhetorical assistance of foodstuffs—
to live here, and breathe,

and write these words,
and love myself,
and imagine that one day these things will change
and the war will end—

i am the real patriot.
red, like the blood in my veins,
blue, like the tears i wipe away,
white, like the power structure i seek to dismantle—
and brown like the ancestors who built the dream.
the ones who rebel, raise hell.
strong, and stubborn,
and undigestible.

By Zaynab Quadri

Biography:

Zaynab Quadri is a first-year PhD student in American Studies who dabbles in poetry and fiction whenever she’s not wrestling with research papers. She thanks you for your time.

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico By Talia Flores

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico

They sit in concrete nests,
hands open in prayer or pleading.

They look for the dolares in pockets and wallets
and at the ends of outstretched arms,

but they do not steal. They earn each scrap and coin
like they’ve earned scars.

Skin like plátanos peels,
wrinkled. Heavy with tears of their people.

Eyes granite gray,
sun hot like death or passion.

Eyes galaxies of their own-
what cuentas they could tell.

Their tongues stick to the roofs
of their mouths like sunrises

sweat warm color.
Perspiration and perseverance-

one day they’ll roar with the pigeon wings-
but for now they are stone lions

waiting

By Talia Flores

Biography:

Talia Flores is the recipient of the 2015 Texas Book Festival Fiction Prize and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her work appears or is forthcoming in National Poetry Quarterly, Words Dance, Souvenir Lit Journal, Gigantic Sequins, and more. She was a mentee in The Adroit Journal’s Mentorship Program, and she works as a reader for Polyphony H.S. and as an editorial intern for The Blueshift Journal. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall.

Lunch Hour By John Stupp

Lunch Hour

Dock Ellis
threw a no-hitter on LSD
walked 8 struck out 6
the Pirates won 2-0
I saw it on the news
in the foundry cafeteria
later Dock said
halfway through the game
he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix
with Richard Nixon calling balls and strikes
this was 1970
I had a sandwich in front of me
and a busted lunch bag
I was wearing blue coveralls
there was a line of cars in the infield
their motors running
that’s what the noise in the plant made it seem like—
during the school year
I took LSD
and put my hand through a wall
trying to work a light switch
like Dock I didn’t say anything the cops could remember
but I’m keeping a low profile
if the foreman comes around it wasn’t me
pressing greasy fingerprints on the white bread
my mother bought

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Kingdom: 1980’s By Majda Gama

Kingdom: 1980’s

My country was young, so was I.
Oil gushed out & diplomats rushed in,
mirrored skyscrapers filled the horizon—
one mirage replaced by another.
We recited quran, sang nasheed al-watan
every morning in the also-young decade—
The 1980’s sprung neon along the Red Sea.

& my thoughts revolved with smuggled
new wave cassettes, my driver believed
the tape deck malfunctioned when
The Human League sang Love Action.
The banishment of Madonna incited a run
on hair dye: Like a Virgin was haram
so I listened: weren’t we also shiny & new?

Overnight, new roads led out of Jeddah—
asphalt untied the desert with long fingers.
I was never born to drive it so I dreamed
from the backseat that the new airport
& compounds would bring the world to me.
Weren’t we fresh, weren’t we ripe?
We were richer, more fruitful than the top note
Wafting off a flask of Drakkar Noir.

By Majda Gama

Biography:

Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.

 

The Vacant Lot By Mark Morgan Jr.

The Vacant Lot

close to home
and ringed by pale crack
ed pavement
is
covered
in
trash.
Mangy brown rats gnaw
on the bodies of their
young,
sharpen their teeth
on a scorched antique chair,

and scurry through refuse—
arcades of
rusted      car          parts
and flat                  tires.

Dingy white birds
build nests
of yellow smeared newspapers
in the                           safety
of            ancient
elm tree
branches,

then
fly
down
to feast
on moldy hot dogs
and pizza
soaked in stagnant puddles.
The birds fly back screeching,
scattering
white
droppings
on the untamed grass that smothers bleached asphalt teeth—

But you know,
there’s something about
the sun-kissed
sparkle
of,
broke
n                 liquor
bot
tles           and           make
shift crack pipes
that makes me want
to sway
with the zealous
undulations
of windswept
overgrowth.

By Mark Morgan Jr.

Biography:

Mark Morgan Jr. writes poetry for An Autumn Road, his poetry blog located at http://anautumnroad.tumblr.com. One of his previous works, “Moving Man”, was featured in the May 2015 issue of The Rising Phoenix Review. A native of Detroit, he is currently living in Saint Clair Shores and celebrating his bachelor’s degree in secondary education.

IN WHICH By Rachana Hegde

IN WHICH

In which I am standing in front of the window
and you’re rubbing warmth back into
my hands; somewhere in my room there’s
a list of all the people I wanted to hurt but
it’s easier to catch raindrops in my mouth
and I know I’m getting off topic here but it’s
so difficult to focus & I think I’m a little lost;
In which I’m waiting for a girl with
acne scarred skin and weary eyes like maybe
forgetting is the same as forgiving –
like maybe this time I’ll be enough,
so she’ll be enough ; In which I
cried, a photo of your face cupped
between her hands like ellipses;
In which I asked why you’re at the airport,
sipping tea at an empty table, while I search a
crowded terminal. In which I go home alone
because you never showed up (we think you were
in that plane that was lost overseas).
In which I reacquaint myself with loneliness,
glass half full of memories, (I’d like to forget…
please).

By Rachana Hegde

Biography:

Rachana Hegde is a sixteen year old part-time poet from India who collects words & other oddities. You can usually find her reading on her kindle or daydreaming about characters from abandoned writing projects. Her poetry has been published by or is forthcoming in: Germ Magazine, Textploit, The Fem and Vagabond City. Read more of her work at www.ink-smudgedfingers.tumblr.com.

Broca’s area (a case study) By Heleen De Boever

Broca’s area (a case study)

We are in the hospital, and

i.
the diagonal cut of moonlight highlights the clinical context
of our everyday catastrophe. chrome and rounded corners, a fence,
an extra blanket. the aesthetics of safety smell like rubber.

ii.
i listen to the gasps, the gurgles, the tongue swallowing itself
in an attempt to be loved. my boyfriend once dreamt up a serenade.
now everything he says is a column of sound, ruptured at the edges.

iii.
“a tragedy,” the doctor explains, and “cerebral damage.” clean-cut
words to be tucked away in a file. “oops” is another word i like.
this is what i imagine the vein must have said when it slipped open.

iv.
my boyfriend is learning how to use his hands now his speech
sounds like strangling. we play a game of reversed roles: his gaze
one of complete comprehension, mine wild and wicked, asking why.

v.
look, this happens. you know. you sign risk clauses. but it feels
unfair to say ‘surgeons are only human’ when they are capable
of reducing someone to much less than that.

By Heleen De Boever

Biography:

Heleen De Boever is the co-founder of werkloos mag. With an MSc in Theatre & Performance Studies, her creative and academic work infuse each other as themes of physicality, corporeal identity and sensory confusion continue to inspire her writing. She hopes to grow, always, upwards.