The Chemistry of Mayson W. Burnham and His Surrounding Universe by Cavin Bryce

Mayson
Image in frame by Nikolaja Lutohina

 

 

Ninety-nine percent of Mayson W. Burnham is composed of these following elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Roughly zero point eighty five percent of the Mayson W. Burnham is composed of potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. As with all matter, an incredibly minute amount of  Mayson W. Burnham is composed of absolutely nothing- we’ll estimate here that 0.0001% of Mayson doesn’t even exist on an atomic level, that 0.0001% of him is utterly void of measurable building block materials.  Mayson W. Burnham is probably a physicist. Or a carpenter. Or a delivery man. Unless he is already dead, in which case he would simply be deceased.

Oxygen: a chemical element recognized simply as “O” on the periodic table of elements. It has an atomic mass of 15.999u. It is highly reactive element, part of the chalcogen group, and, following Helium and Hydrogen, is the third most abundant element in the known universe. As a gas, it is invisible. As a liquid, a light blue. Oxygen composes roughly sixty five percent of Mayson W. Burnham. It is used for cellular respiration- to oxidize his blood and keep his organic machinery pumping. If one were to dissect Mayson W. Burnham, on a microscopic level, they would find oxygen located in his proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and fats.

When Mayson W. Burnham steps outside he first encounters oxygen when he takes a breath of air, as it makes up twenty one percent of his atmosphere here on planet Earth. Plants of all types, when they aren’t being feasted upon by herbivores and omnivores alike, have it in their kind hearts to thrust oxygen into the surrounding atmosphere so that their very natural predators can continue to subsist, to consume. Inside of any house, you will find a residential heater that metabolizes oxygen so as to warm the tenants exposed toes. When  Mayson W. Burnham gets too old for his brittle little lungs to effectively recycle oxygen for life fuel he will adorn a plastic mask fitted to a green cylinder full of concentrated oxygen. Heaven forgive  Mayson W. Burnham if he ever strike a match in this condition for this same gas that supports life also propels great rockets into space– and it would do a fine job of blowing our character to bits.

In the Tupperware housing leftovers, embedded in our water supply, and floating passively, unnoticed and unacknowledged in our atmosphere, one can find the element that composes most of their body. That is surely no evolutionary coincidence.

Carbon: recognized as “C” on our periodic table, this element is the second most abundant in Mayson W. Burnham. It composes eighteen percent of his body and is, not surprisingly, the fourth most abundant element in the universe. When oxidized, that is to say stimulated by oxygen, carbon will produce carbon-dioxide. This gas is potentially fatal to organic life. It is at least objectively interesting that the two most prevalent elements within the body of  Mayson W. Burnham, when combined in unfortunate fashion, would yield him a certain death.

When Mayson W. Burnham was youthful he sketched flowers and vases full of fish using graphite, which exists when the atoms within carbon are jostled about in just the right manner. It is socially expected of  Mayson W. Burnham to one day buy a great rock of composed of carbon, which we humans have named a diamond, and that he should one day present this rock to a woman he is very romantically fond of so as to concrete their relationship and instigate the act of propagation, a fancy term coined to describe continuing his species by means of sexual reproduction.  Mayson W. Burnham remains impartial to this cultural phenomenon. It should also be noted that outside of this ritual diamonds exist as the hardest naturally occurring material. One could conclude that it is a squandered resource outside of our innate requirement of it to survive.

Hydrogen: is an element that is highly combustible and reactive, recognized on the periodic table as “H.” Hydrogen is labelled atomic number “1” and, in its monatomic form, is the single most abundant element in the known universe; making up ninety percent of every atom. It is invisible, odorless, and all encompassing.

When Mayson W. Burnham is slurp, slurp, slurping down a big glass of water he is consuming a substance of two thirds hydrogen atoms and one third oxygen. This substance will fuel his body. It will allow him to think and breathe, to, effectively, act as a functioning human being. When he is tearing into a ribeye or enjoying the passive notes of a coq au vin, though Mayson is far too simple to ever be exposed to such a luxury, he will break down the organic material in order to strip away the valuable resources within it. Of course this includes hydrogen, which will be transported to the mitochondria of his cells in order to create energy for cell function, thus higher function of the body. It will allow Mayson W. Burnham to recall, run, or ruminate.

It is unfortunate, when observed through the scope of modern history, that humans- with their great big brains- have been able to utilize the destructive and volatile properties of hydrogen. The most evident example of this occurred in 1945, thirty one years before the birth of  Mayson W. Burnham, when the United States of America dropped two metal balls onto the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stage of World War II. Inside these metal balls were radioactive elements, such as uranium and plutonium, that facilitated nuclear fission by slamming hydrogen atoms with particles called neutrons. Plutonium is an element that was invented by humans for the sake of explosions. Uranium was invented by the universe but it only explodes when the humans tell it to. These metal balls were weapons known as nuclear bombs. In Hiroshima, twenty thousand soldiers, and between seventy and one-hundred-sixty thousand civilians were obliterated. Nagasaki totaled between forty and eighty thousand deaths. Most were instantaneous but others were more prolonged, a result of exposure to the lingering nuclear radiation.

In 1937, some odd years before the birth of  Mayson W. Burnham, hydrogen was used in an attempt to revolutionize air travel. The LZ 129 Hindenburg was forced to use the highly combustible gas due to helium being a scarce, expensive, commodity at the time. At 7:25 (local time) the Hindenburg was sighted to have caught fire. It was immediately engulfed in flames and crashed. Thirty six people burned to death or were killed upon impact.

Nitrogen: is an element recognized by the symbol “N” and carries the title of atomic number seven. Nitrogens electron configuration looks like this– [He] 2s2 2p2 — and  Mayson W. Burnham might argue that it is neither aesthetically pleasing nor entirely disagreeable if he ever cared to think about it. It is a diatomic nonmetal named after the Greek word “πνίγειν” which means, literally, “to choke.” It should be noted that along with every other element at our disposal we human beings have harnessed nitrogen for the use of killing. This act is referred to as inert gas asphyxiation, which is a very politically correct term meaning murdered by gas.

Despite its innate ability to kill, nitrogen is also a very important part of human reproduction, and the reproduction of any creature that converses with its future generations through the language DNA. Mayson W. Burnham shares, or shared, between 99.0% and 99.9% of the same DNA as every other human on the planet. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Deoxyribonucleic acid is the main constituent of chromosomes. Chromosomes carry our genetic information, they tell us who we are, and who we are not. Without nitrogenous bases, DNA would fail to hold shape and the conversation between parents and unborn descendants might look like this:

Parent: you will look like this!

Descendant: Like what?

Parent: and behave this way!

Descendant: like how?

Parent: and you will live!

Descendant: but I won’t!

This element, component, constituent- what have you- is the seventh most abundant in our very own Milky Way system. It is also incredibly abundant in our atmosphere where it is actively unified into N2; a unit composed of, as you might have guessed, two nitrogen atoms. N2 makes up seventy eight percent of the gaseous mixture surrounding our civilizations, which is pretty ironic considering its asphyxiating nature.

There is a complex order through which nitrogen is recycled and used here on our little planet. I will condense this process for you now, in the form of a darling little tale:

A rabbit nibbles on a piece of grass, as they will often do, and actively digests the organic material. In this circumstance our bunny here is considered a consumer. When the rabbit defecates, as they will often do, small traces of nitrogen will enter the soil through decomposition; which we will soon examine more thoroughly. After eating up grass for several years and making adorable rabbit babies, as they will often do, our fluffy buddy will, unfortunately, snuff it. As soon as those adorable eyes sparkle no longer, and the pinkest of pink noses ceases to twitch, microorganisms will begin feasting on its corpse. Horrific image, noted, but entirely natural and vital to our ecosystem. Those microorganisms, along with maggots and larvae, will munch on the fur and flesh of our dear friend, inevitably producing ammonia. The ammonia will then undergo nitrification in the soil and be absorbed into surrounding plant matter to be consumed by the young of our late bunny– who was arguably taken too soon, as most adorable creatures are.

Needless to say, Mayson W. Burnham will also undergo decomposition, and certainly may have already. He will eventually, if he has not already, bite the big one. He will then be digested by microscopic monsters and maggots alike. Just the same as our rabbit acquaintance. And so will your dearest friends, and your parents. And so will the mail folk and doctors and brothers and wives of the world. Every person. Every animal. This is our fate as organic beings apart of a natural system.

Calcium: an alkaline earth metal labelled “Ca” on our periodic table and referred to as atomic number twenty. It is a pale yellow metal until it is oxidized, in which it takes on a dull silver appearance. It is the fifth most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust and it’s atomic weight looks like this: 40.08 g.mol -1

If you are anything like Mayson W. Burnham then you probably think of milk when you hear the word “calcium”. And it is true that humans, the honest mammalians that we are, produce milk with calcium within it. The post prominent form of calcium is found embedded in limestone and in the fossilized remains of ancient sea creatures.

Outside of the consumption of dairy products, Mayson W. Burnham makes use of calcium when he starts his car, for its 0.1% calcium–lead alloys in the battery allows for decreased water loss. He has also made use of it in the form of Drain-O, which is often used to disintegrate the piling up of hair and skin particles left in his sink. Even though he cannot produce calcium,  Mayson W. Burnham has a great mass of it stored in his skeleton. He has absorbed it through years of ingesting precious animal products.

Finally, what is left of Mayson W. Burnham is composed mostly of trace elements. This includes the aforementioned potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. This also includes iron, iodine, fluoride, copper, zinc,chromium, selenium, manganese and molybdenum. Without these wonderfully minute specks within him, Mayson W. Burnham would cease to function.

Of course there is an unregistered, unaccounted for, volume of space that resides between all material constructs. I hypothesize that it is this lingering lack of mass, the 0.0001% of empty space, that accounts for Mayson W. Burnham’s drive to pursue new experiences. It is an unconscious drive to fill the unfillable void. When he is stuffing his eyes and gullet up with organic and intangible stimuli, it is likely an attempt to satisfy that empty microcosm. And, unfortunately, it is this same lack of initial ingredients in that microscopic space between his flesh that probably instigates the bitter feeling of being incomplete. It is as though his mind is able to recognize that between the cells churning away, between neurons and electrons, bosons and quarks–existing beside the teeniest, tiniest, of particles–there is a definite space that yields nothing, yes, absolutely, positively, nothing. . . and that infuriates him.

So,  Mayson W. Burnham will go on being a perfectly capable animal if he still lives. He will consume calcium and breathe oxygen. He will eat and read and paint and participate in sexual encounters despite his unwillingness to procreate. He will wonder if these things have yet to fill that lingering, empty microcosm. And they won’t, because they can’t, because chemistry is more complicated than smiles and movies and grilled meat and colors.

 

mayson2
Image in frame by Rick White

 

Cavin Bryce is a twenty-one year old student of English attending the University of Central Florida. He spends his time off sitting on the back porch, sipping sweet tea and watching his hound dog dig holes across a dilapidated yard. His work has been recently published in Hobart, CHEAP POP, OCCULUM, and elsewhere. He tweets at @cavinbryce.

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Poetry Demon by Kristin Garth

Listen in on a reading by poet Kristin Garth by visiting the video above. 

 

Poetry Demon

A poetry demon won’t clean a house.
It burrows in clutter, writing it out.
Language is legion. Words only espoused.
Diabolism requires fingers devout.

A poetry demon does not have friends.
It listens to troubles, locating a pen.
Seeks clarification. Won’t condescend.
Emotions, details its ghoulish godsend.

A poetry demon might get you read.
Knows how to write its way into a head.
It charts your cerebrum once it embeds.
Conquers mass consciousness without bloodshed.

When life’s chaos, but words are refined,
a poetry demon’s devoured your mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked the pages of Occulum, Luna Luna, Moonchild Magazine, Mookychick, Anti-Heroin Chic, Drunk Monkeys and many other publications. Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available through maverickduckpress.com. Follow her sonnets and socks on Twitter: @lolaandjolie.

 

 

“if there were water” and “Frameshift Mutations” by Shastra Deo

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Image: Sleep Sparrow “Bloom”

if there were water

in lieu of hyacinth garden my
kingdom is a heaven of spilled lilies
-of-the-valley, dead lands empty
is the sea : silent but for breath of

my beloved(forbidden
sight and sun
break)hoards prophecy

of the world and its remaking : years

he has since grown
deciduous—sloughs lashes like fall
teeth, whites
of his eyes sap-speckled with singe : my

shadow no shelter though his
roots still clutch my stone-dry
tongue: in the rivermouth

where they left the king(my

father)the
fish shiver apart, jaws stretched
out of being : omen and
ossuary : all

through the reeds things
no longer
living sink to earth-rot

and wait for spring

 

 

Images by: Ines Longevial

Frameshift Mutations

she did not ask you for jaw and lip
you foe yet kin for era
but you awe the men who ate her
raw roe gut doe eye wet
god his maw and pax was bad for her
nix the rib but you are not her ilk

she can not ask him for jaw and lip
her foe yet kin for era
but hea wes the men who ate her
raw rob gut elk eye dry
god His paw was pox was bad for her
saw the leg but hei sno the ril k

hec ann ota skh imf orj awa ndl ip
zhe rfo eye tki nfo rer a
uth eaw est hem enw hoa teh er
xra wro bgu tel key edr y
god _is was pox was for her
awt hel egb uth eis not her ilk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shastra Deo was born in Fiji, raised in Melbourne, and lives in Brisbane, Australia. Her first book, The Agonist, won the 2016 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was published by University of Queensland Press in 2017. Shastra’s work deals with the intersection of trauma, memory, and self-hood, with a particular focus on corporeality and embodiment. She likes brook trout, Final Fantasy XV, and tea. Learn more at  www.shastradeo.com and on Twitter @shastradeo.

For Someone Who Doesn’t Have to Believe in Monsters by Chloe N. Clark

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I play my cards so close to my chest
they might as well be tattoos
when people ask me for my past
I tell them the things that chase away
the truth, the secret to not lying
is to never get close to needing to
I say I’m scared of horses
and silverfish and leopard seals
I distract with the things they’ll find
funny or if they ask what I want to do
with my life and I change the subject
say some random fact from history:
that Edgar Allan Poe may have died
from rabies, that there were ships
in WWI called “razzle dazzles,” that onions
make you cry because sulfenic
acids are unstable and can rearrange into
gases, that each of a person’s eyes has a blindspot
that is never noticed because the eyes work together
to correct the gap
but here’s the thing, if you were the one who asked me
for some truth
I’d tell you my life, unravel it between us
so that you could see it from above, every
secret I’d give you, until you held them all
in your hands
I think you might tell me
where the gaps are

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe N. Clark‘s poems and fiction appear in Booth, Glass, Hobart, Little Fiction, Uncanny, and more. She is co-EIC of Cotton Xenomorph, writes for Nerds of a Feather, and teaches at Iowa State University. Her debut chapbook, The Science of Unvanishing Objects, is out from Finishing Line Press and she can be found on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes

 

 

 

Meaning-making in Literature and Life: an Introduction to Existentialism by Elizabeth Ruth Deyro

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Image by Ashley Goldberg

In literature, it is the reader who gives meaning to a text.

The process of creating this meaning is in the dialogue between the reader and the text itself. Giving it meaning is their way of understanding it. We should recognize that the text, once birthed, becomes a separate entity apart from its writer, much like a newborn from their mother. The writer’s significance should remain unquestioned, as it is they who has created the text, but they do not hold the power to set a standard meaning for their work. The text speaks for itself; it is no longer the writer’s words, but rather of its own. Should the writer attempt to put meaning on the text, they become a reader. We can assume that the text would encounter several readers, and consequently, have dialogues with several minds; therefore, a plurality of meanings would be created. Some of these meanings may be deemed as the common interpretation of the text, but none could claim to be the right meaning. In fact, there is no right meaning, as it would always be a variation of interpretations created by different people with different experiences.

What we can say, however, is that, without these interpretations and the readers that created them, the text is meaningless. It is but a compilation of words that follow the basic rules of grammar, but it has no essence. Nevertheless, a reader can give meaning to a text without fully acknowledging that the text is meaningless without them.

This is almost similar to finding the meaning of life in spite of its apparent meaninglessness.

The famous poet Francois Rabelais mentioned, in his last words, a “great perhaps” he shall go seek. In my opinion, most of us, if not all, go to seek a great perhaps, for our own set of reasons. This is why we find or create our own meanings of life. Humans seek for meaning because we want so badly to make sense of all things around us.

This desire to understand even encompasses things that are beyond our intellectual capacities. We obsess over reason, which result to numerous theories that remain hypothetical because, in actuality, there are things that we cannot provide definite answers to. Immanuel Kant’s concept of mind-independent external world, which he defines to comprise things that we cannot know, must be deemed relevant. Kant claimed that humans “cannot make a cognition of things in themselves, but only as they appear to us.” Rene Descartes agreed by saying that “the mind-independent external world is mediated only through the ideas of it” and thus, we can only ever know it indirectly. John Locke further suggested that human beings only understand things as how we perceive them to be, and never as they are. Therefore, we can only hypothesize about things that fall under the mind-independent external world, but we can never be able to pin an exact definition to such. An example of which is the origin of everything. How the world came to be has been a lingering question in the fields of science, philosophy, and religion. We understand that, no matter how many theories we propose, we can never truly verify whether or not it is right, and yet, the curiosity among us remains, though we are aware that knowing more about it would not be beneficial in our personal lives. This obsession with finding explanation is less of an effect of innate curiosity than a product of fear to fully embrace the reality that everything is in fact meaningless. This fear may be something we experience either consciously or unconsciously. We fill the void of meaninglessness by interpreting life as such in relation to our existence.

Using the lens of existentialism, we can view life as having no inherent meaning, just as human beings have no inherent purpose. It is us that give life essence; further, it is us that set our purpose as beings. How we create this meaning depends on the dialogue between us and life itself, in the form of our experiences. Jean-Paul Sartre abridged this thought when he coined the statement “existence precedes essence”, the central idea of existentialism. The statement suggests that the mere existence of an individual is more fundamental than his essence, and that his essence is dependent on his existence. Man is not born with a purpose nor value; it is something he creates for himself, whether or not he is aware of the process.

Richard Taylor’s interpretation of Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus gave two ways in approaching the problem of discontent in life: The first one is finding meaning “from the outside,” or in the significance of the product of what one is doing with his life. The second, and the more favored, is finding meaning “from within oneself,” or simply conditioning oneself to enjoy whatever he currently has in life. By giving meaning in life as such in relation to one’s existence, we subscribe to Taylor’s latter suggestion. Taylor even wrote: “The meaning of life is from within us, it is not bestowed from without, and it far exceeds in its beauty and permanence any heaven of which men have ever dreamed or yearned for.”

In essence, to give life definition is not solely to absolve one’s self of its meaninglessness, but rather, also a way of making life matter, which R.M. Hare defined as a word that “isn’t intended to describe something that things do, but to express our concern about what they do.” It is a way to show that life as such is our concern.

However, coming to grips with life’s meaninglessness is not a requisite for an individual in order for him to give meaning to his life. The fear that drives us to find reason can either be a conscious thought or something wired within our unconscious. In most cases, the latter is the more realistic scenario. Furthermore, very few would even entertain the thought of life’s meaninglessness; it is not an idea suited for everyone. Just as a reader does not have to acknowledge the fact that a text’s meaning is entirely up to him and, without his interpretation, the book is meaningless, people can give meaning to their lives even without recognizing life’s apparent meaninglessness.

 

*Previously published in The Cerurove, October 2017 under the title: “On finding what never was”

Elizabeth Ruth Deyro is the founding editor-in-chief and creative director of The Brown Orient; prose editor at |tap|, Rag Queen Periodical, and The Ceruroveand tweets at @notjanedeyro.

“Pest Control” and “Dissociative Amnesia” by Kristin Ryan

Kristin Ryan Poems

Pest Control

I.
There are always roaches
in the corners of my mind.
I’m in the kitchen washing cups
at the sink and time skips.
Skips as in: I’m six and splinters
are in my back. Skips again:
roaches crawl over me. Skips again:
the sink is overflowing and
soap suds run down my arm.

This happens more and more.
When I walk down the hallway
to the bedroom, in the shower,
the nights where I’m brave enough
to be touched. My husband’s hands
are always gentle, they always will be.
I know this like I know windows can
be opened and closed. It’s my fault.
I’m the one that triggered you.
I feel like a predator. How do
I tell him hearing this hurts
more than what I remember?

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

II.
It’s during a therapy session
I learn kids mistake hands
for roaches and other bugs
when recalling memories.
The realization stings.
My trembling rattles
her office windows.
My sobs startle both of us:
“I wanted to be wrong.
I wanted to be wrong.”

When I come home,
my husband is packing up
the kitchen for our move.
How was therapy?
I shake my head and cry as
he wraps his arms around me.
“I didn’t want to be right.”

 

 

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image: Ashley Goldberg

 

 

Dissociative Amnesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristin Ryan is a poet working towards healing, and full sleeves of tattoos. She is a recipient of the Nancy D Hargrove Editor’s Prize in Poetry, and was a Write Bloody Finalist. Her poems have been featured in Glass, Jabberwock Review, and Spider Mirror, with work forthcoming in Five:2:One, among others. She holds an MFA from Ashland University and works in the mental health field. She tweets @kristinwrites

“Burn” and “Salt Water Haibun” by Courtney LeBlanc

Poetry Courtney LeBlanc

BURN

I sit in front of the fire, the wood so dry
it pops, embers rain out, a small burn
marks the rug, evidence
of the offense.

When I met him the spark glowed hot.
How quickly I reacted, knowing to let it smolder
could mean a home in flames. I don’t
always do this, extinguish the fires that burn
low, snuff out the desires before they can rage,
burning everything to the ground.

By the end of winter the rug is filled with tiny
black holes, embers leaving their mark,
a reverse constellation. By the end of winter
I have let desire burn hot enough to melt
all reason.

 

 

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SALT WATER HAIBUN

On my last day there he calls, tells me we’re going on an adventure. I throw my clothes into my suitcase and head his way.

The sun is blinding,
blue skies stretch infinitely,
trees verdant and bright.

He gets in, towel in hand, directs me into traffic. He doesn’t say where we’re going and I don’t ask. Twenty minutes later we arrive. We’re going into the Mermaid Caves, he says.

Water pummeled rock,
the sea surging, careful –
one must check the tides.

He lowers himself into the water, through the hole in the ground. I can see the waves crashing, the glittering sun through the water. I follow and we wade further into this strange watery world. Eventually he boosts me out of the hole, follows behind me. I kiss his salty lips.

Relentless waves roll,
the ocean never stopping,
no mermaids appear.

 

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Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix ReviewThe Legendary, Germ MagazineQuail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill PressHaunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog, follow her on twitter, or find her on facebook.

“The Devil of the Thorns” and “1981” by Lorhenz Lacsa

Lorhenz Lacsa Poems

The Devil of the Thorns

 

I am the Devil of the Thorns–

with my eyesockets filled with only

the darkness of the evilest typhoon

 

And pores of a juniper fern.

So bear with me as we entice the kings

of the world to think and turn

 

Against each other.

I already perfected my facial bones

because they will slap back harder

 

Than the truth that’s been waiting

to be unveiled; a sweet drug

covered in a crimson linen.

 

Running, always running, they are now

far from the paradise I once fought for.

The valleys were always on fire, I know,

 

But theirs is also chilling cold.

Are they living in a frozen hell?

How will I know,

 

I am just the Devil of the Thorns

and of the forest of merlot trees.

The twisted minds, they worship me.

 

But what is the state of thinking

to what you believe in?

It’s better to have a mind unwired

 

Than a heart that’s not pure

but pebbled grey, filled with the smoke

of the bonfire they used

 

To burn the witches they accused.

They are raging with hatred! Drenched

in blood! Their hands are colored ruby!

 

I felt the inferno in my skin too;

it scathed my skin and it curled as it was peeling.

Yet our dignity scorned is more harrowing.

 

They were taught by the gods they never knew.

So I creeped from the crack

of a parched, frosty detritus

 

And hissed and fought back.

To avenge against the kings of the world

and their gods who sent the fire

 

To my father and mother,

to my brothers and sisters,

to my myself and my lover.

 

I will continue to crawl

in the boundaries of your good and their wrong

of their odes and your songs.

 

Look at my horns and relive

the violence of the saints and the priests

then ask yourself who again

 

Strived for the angels’ freedom in heaven.

I, the Devil of the Thorns,

have my roses blooming too.

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1981

It is because of his eyes
that I fell into this roily trap
and hated and scorned,
spray painted red and groped.
It is his eyes and the roses
reflecting to them
that yet brings me hope.

It is because of his hair–
the silky curls with an attitude
that I am tied in a choking rope.
Chained, even so, to their rules
and conception. I fight to breathe
amidst the heavy blush smoke
to freely touch his hair with an attitude.

It is because of the way he talks
that I’m being stabbed by their eyes–
the same eyes of their god–
and whipped by their whispering tongues.
The communion table is where
they sacrifice our body parts
like crushed apples.

It is because of his wits and mysteries
that I was played like a rodent
inside a laboratory.
With all their techniques and radioactivity–
and lots of blood– that we don’t understand
as laymen
loving another laymen.

It is because of his kisses
that I always miss the turkeys and sweets
by staying behind the cracks and the walls–
“Hide me, hide us. Is it alright to hide? Should we show up now?”–
hiding and searching
from them and for myself
and his cherry kisses.

It is because of his passion
that I wet my pillows every night.
Sweaty and drunk, we dream of a day
when our children
will enjoy a drink in the bar
without the poison of fear
in their red wine glasses.

It is because of his love
that I fell into this trap
that I adore– I won’t even try to get up.
For if there is something that will bend,
it is not us,
but their mahogany walls and their church bells.
We will not end.

It is because of him–
my scarlet mage, my psychedelic lover–
that I grew a little further
and I will not try to let go
even if the whole world hates
every bit of us.
We will not end.

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“Pine” and “Tuileries” by Kristin Garth

Poetry by Kristin Garth

 

Tuileries

 

Twilight, Tuileries, trembles, tulips, then

tomfoolery. Cafe au lait, collar new

beneath her trenchcoat, navy blue. Her yin,

the silver links his yang, the gold. She flew

to him nineteen years old. His growl

“good evening,” telephone — a voice

with fangs, a face unknown. She’s hotel howls

with bit, licked lips, stilettos, nude — his choice;

she’s wrapped in whips. She’s strung and strummed, starlet

du jour. In bows and stings, this lust matures.

First love a chain that buckles, chokes. Ardent

affirmations rosé, azure procure.

No ring such decadent desire denotes —

their bond, Louis Vuitton, around her throat.

 

Lotus by Stephanie Ledoux
image: Stephanie Ledoux “Lotus”

 

Pine

 

Incarcerated in her head, black oak

staircase, wrought iron bed. She’s put away

each night to pine, your babydoll, her broke

down mind. Secret the staircase, sky slate gray,

descent to darkness, as you say. Projects

a prison with restraints, padlocks — a toy

returning to its opened box. Perfect

she ponders, mental cage; supine, such poise,

that’s part refined/teenage. A needy girl

you teach to wait. Daybreak delights she dreams,

anticipates. Her arms entwined above

her head, pulled taut ribcage, ropeless regime;

bedspread sunbeams your coniferous grove.

Seedling selected for her fertile mind.

Inside, each morning, your exquisite pine.

 

Ronell Ferreira Pink Protea
Image: Ronell Ferreira “Pink Protea”

‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’: A Short Interview With Editor Isabelle Kenyon

Please Hear what I'm not Saying

terse editor: In the introduction to Please Hear What I’m Not Saying you mention how limited mental health services are in terms of funding and support. When did it first occur to you that you’d make the focus of your collection mental health in order to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity? Can you tell me what drew you to their organization specifically?
Isabelle Kenyon: The focus of mental health came about both from my observations of the poetry being shared across social media platforms, the themes of mental health emerging from those, and my desire to create a theme which was both broad, inclusive and would ignite a passion in writers to submit to the project. It had to be something people would feel passionate about – and so simply on principle of supporting Mind, people submitted their work. Mind, to me, has the largest profile of mental health charities in the UK and their money and the work they do reaches the largest audience. However, I am looking into also donating part of the profits of the book to other UK charities, perhaps smaller organisations who the proceeds from the book could really help.
terse editor: While sifting through the poems for the collection, as the editor, what were you noticing in terms of connections between writers? Mental health is their common theme, but any images, feelings, experiences bonding these writers together in solidarity through their craft?
Isabelle Kenyon: There were definitely themes emerging – in terms of style, distancing of mental health conditions through different tenses and in some cases personification of conditions such as depression. In terms of topic, themes of motherhood, Alzheimer’s, family, sarcasm, and self-reflection emerged. I have tried to group each section together in way which complements the work of each writer in the collection.
terse editor: Has compiling this collection opened your eyes or changed your approach to mental health discussions?
Isabelle Kenyon: I think the overall impression it’s had on me is: mental health is no small feat – conversation needs to become commonplace. This book has proved to me how wide spread and urgent it is for support to be in place for those who struggle with their mental health.
Please Hear What I’m Not Saying is now available in paperback and ebook format.