“Befrust” by Gabrielle Lawrence

Visitants
tom hill

Image by Tom Hill

befrust

 

 

 

 

Gabrielle Lawrence is a writer and editor. Her writing can be found in The Squawk Back, Rising Phoenix Review, Gravel Magazine, A Gathering Together Journal, Sundog Lit, and others. Even when she isn’t doing the most, she is still in the spirit of much. Follow her on Twitter @gabrielle__l or visit gabrielle-lawrence.com for more info.

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“Damocles” by Jennifer Wholey

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A haibun

 

Brush firmly tangled into a deep nest of my hair, I learned about the sword of Damocles from my father one perfect Hawaiian evening. The sun was a picturesque blur of color bleeding on the horizon; I knew the brush must stay in my hair until it set, or I would surely die. I feared the knives asleep in the kitchen island, the balcony of the bedroom loft, my mother’s too-reassuring smile. I needn’t be afraid, my father said, of a sword hanging over my head by a horse’s hair, lest I waste away wondering when it might drop.

 

Sea swallows sunlight:

treading water endlessly,

fear digs in its heels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Wholey is a poet, journalist and editor. She is an AWP Writer to Writer Mentee, and a reader for Palette Poetry. Her work has recently been published in Panoply, and Sheila-Na-Gig’s ‘Under 30’ collection. She earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in communication (and medieval studies) from Cornell University. Jennifer lives in upstate New York with her husband and two dogs.

“Dead Trees” by Chloe Smith

Visitants
susan eder

Image by Susan Eder

You laugh, loud and clear,

At my look of pure horror

When you tell me what paper is.

Careful, you’ll stick like that, love –

You said, as I blink at the thin page,

As barely there as my pale skin.

Not at all rough, like its body outside,

That glimmers with bright baubles,

Even when it’s not nearly Christmas.

There is no shine here, no warmth,

Like the pies, golden, and sweet –

Or presents, and smiles. Just nothing.

The lack of, the after,

Empty plates and frowns –

It reminds me of the stones,

Dry, blank, and rough, just standing there

In the long, loud grass. Like dead trees –

Only at least they have names,

Scratched into them, like promises, reminders,

So they aren’t just stuck, bare, in the cruel wind.

I asked you for a pen. You didn’t ask why –

But your face scrunched up when I wrote my name

Then flattened again, like a page, bent over, turning…

You understood where I was going, I think,

So you whipped it out of my hand, quick –

Told me I was too young for that kind of thing. The after.

But trees get cut down all the time –

I just didn’t want this one to die

With empty branches.

Reaching out, waving, just for someone

To sit, just for a second. Join them

Before they go, and get split, alone and scared, into paper,

Like this one, a single page, shaking in my still hand,

It’s not fair –

The least I can do is be there, Mum,

Give them something, a sign, a covering, comfort –

Even if only in spirit. In shining wet ink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe Smith is a disabled and autistic writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in the Honest Ulsterman, TERSE. Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Cauldron Anthology and more. Her flash fiction has been published in Ellipsis Zine, TRAIN, Three Drops From a Cauldron and The Ginger Collect. For more about her writing, please visit her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. You can also find her on Twitter: @ch1oewrites.

“Bloodbath” by Aremu Adams Adebisi

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eve atkins

Image by Eve Atkins

 

 

A meal is bought with blood,

and then, chaos of hard clay.

You linger in nudity, the night

 

is serrated in embarrassment;

rusty mist, absence of flowers,

a floodtide of dust & shadows.

 

Your eyes fall into the crevice

of sound & quietude, an escape

for boys who pray themselves

 

into guns of empty cartridges.

I write with your life & my own

when all is made equal & each

 

follows the pattern to emptiness.

When smells are the carnage

of our skins that we bear in vows

 

to the renewal of paradise.

The wind flits me in its infinite palm

to the other side of the ritual

 

where I soak myself in water,

my past cleansed to the urgency

of a foreign god. Where we find

 

a religion in your burden that lays

before us, & musing on parchments,

we pray upon your corpse

while you are alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aremu Adams Adebisi lives close to the riverine and loves to eat shrimps and crayfish. A boy among five older girls, explores the themes of equality, liberation, womanism, boyhood and existentialism. He has works published in Mistymountain Review, Kalahari Review, Africanwriters, and elsewhere. He likes to call himself the Jos-plateau Indigobird which is endemic to Nigeria and one of a kind.

“morning reflections” by G F Harper

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morning reflections

say it with me
in cadence:

what place
is this
called
the land
of the free
what place
is this

pulled from as you would
from the depths
of your lungs to spew
trumpet sketches
to find support in song
in resolute inflection

say it with me
in cadence:

what place
is this
called
the land
of the free
what place
is this

 

to be a brown man
a black woman, unequal
not entirely a servant
but never the same
protecting what little is
mine, in this ever present
modernity

say it with me
in cadence:

what place
is this
called
the land
of the free
what place
is this

I have nothing to give you
my loves, my dears
while you are planning adventures
and campaigns, and victories
our Don Quixote
our abandon America
don’t forget about us
your befuddled laborers
your faithful squires
we who bear the brunt
of your behavior

say it with me
in cadence:

what place
is this
called
the land
of the free
what place
is this

maybe we should ride the horse for a while
maybe our mothers should draw the way
maybe I know how the way homeward
townships await our return from La Mancha
tall glass of water triumph
earth delight
heavy-illume footsteps
out of this desert

say it with me
in cadence:

what place
is this
called
the land
of the free
what place
is this

 

 

 

 

 

G F Harper is the author of Savage Yard: Revised Edition, with individual pieces in La Bloga: On-line Floricanto (2016), Raw Paw: Alien (2015), Dark Lady Poetry (2012), Refined Savage Poetry Review, (2008), and Farmhouse Magazine (2009). Harper attended Saint Edward’s University for a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a specialization in Creative Writing, minor in Psychology.

 

“What It Means” and “Nocturnalist” by Betsy Housten

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Still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

 

WHAT IT MEANS

It means I walk the world in a shape I’ve only known
since age twenty-four. Or, by a different calculation, since
age eight, kneeling in my parents’ closet, of all places,
hunting for Christmas presents, struck by sudden terror –
what if I was gay. It means my relief was short-lived.
That I didn’t realize just how bad my heart could crack
with such heavy water until the first girl took it in her hands
and broke it. It means I feel a compulsive need to say
things like I used to love men or I’m no gold star, as if everyone
I meet is entitled to a play-by-play of my evolving life.
It means after five years single I sometimes wonder
if I still count. That’s how deep it runs – the way the thing
about me I hold closest can feel like an unending quest
for legitimacy, even in a mind that calms itself with
reason, a body that’s never understood anything more.

 

 

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Still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

 

NOCTURNALIST

 

 

 

 

 

Betsy Housten is a Pushcart-nominated queer writer and massage therapist. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Cold Creek Review, Vagabond City, Bone & Ink Press, Burning House Press, Longleaf Review, Glassworks Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in New Orleans, where she is pursuing her MFA in poetry.

 

 

“End of the World Memory” by Jen Rouse

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We sit at coffee discussing
what it means to meet
at abject vulnerability. Everything
catches in my throat, like hearts.

I avoid your hands. The link
that binds my conscious mind
to the mind I might meet
on the other side of the table.

If I have brought you through
from another life, I want
to know why. I don’t believe
in cosmic jokes. But I

believe I know you. And if
I brought you here from stars
or seas, I will not leave you.

If the end of the world
plays out in the background,
I will still choose to see only
you, across from me,

our hands tearing into
chests, ripping out those wondrous
hearts, and trading—
to remember when we

can’t remember the last
time we met or if I kissed you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen Rouse directs the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College.  Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Wicked Alice, Southern Florida Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press.

“The Invert,” “Flawed Song,” and “Scrapbook” by Lydia Friedman

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Image by Yikartu Bumba Turlapunja

 

The Invert

Again she’s on the prowl.
See the whisper of a whisker
above her lip, the monocle’s claw
tigering her eye, the silk silence
waistcoating her hips – each button a fang
on which a lover may catch.

Which lipsticked voice will catch
mid-croon as she prowls
in tonight? Which saxophonic fang
will she blunt with a whisker
of smoke into silence?
Which brick wall will shy from her claw,

her moonbeam-sharpened claw?
And from what sorry bedbug did she catch
this Charleston influenza? Even in silence
her black brogued foot will tap and prowl
the dancefloor, whiskering
out some newfangled

rhythm as makeshift as her paycheck. Fanged
with a crisp deck, her lobster-claw
Queen of Hearts plays coquette with a whiskered
Joker. But watch her catch
a flapper by the waist and prowl
a gloved hand through that bobbed blond hair in silence:

how much such silence
speaks! Love with its million fangs
shadows her into each speakeasy. Wherever she prowls,
her swaggering mug bears Cupid’s claw
marks – it’s not just lust that catches
this poor cat by the whiskers.

Oh America, you’ve singed many a whisker.
Sauntering home in streetlamped silence
she whistles an old-country catch,
its Yiddish rhymes ribboned to bits by memory’s fang
like those Sapphic fragments half scratched out by history’s claw.
In the sky, dawn’s on the prowl.

Worldwide she prowls, immigrant whisker by vaudeville claw,
steeled with silent-film fangs. This butch sure is a catch.

 

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Flawed Song

 

1.

Consumption’s kiss was impossibly tender.

Like an anglerfish you pulled me under.

 

I have not wit enough to woo.

 

Bewitch me speechless, oh wizard of want.

Call the police on this heart of flint.

 

These youthful terrors are not very pure or true.

 

On Good Friday I gave my last promise away.

With my last match I burnt down Troy.

 

I’m perfectly, bloodily daggered in two.

 

The tarantella ruined my best boots.

An epidemic of silence conquers the streets.

 

2.

Pity poor me, a mute and forgetful Jew.

 

Like all small tragedies, I drag on and on.

No love can unbutton this soft jail of skin I’m in.

 

Desire deludes worse than the flu.

 

Of all sordid creation you’re the utmost harlot.

Look at this laughingstock, this love like a silver bullet.

 

The baker’s daughter sleeps in a coffin of yew.

 

Solstice vampires into eclipse.

Into sweet dreams I relapse.

 

Neglected, my heart beats askew.

 

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Scrapbook

 

 

Lydia Friedman once went on a blind date with a marble statue in Vienna. She lives in New England and can be reached by howling into the void, or at www.crookedbutinteresting.wordpress.com.

“Programme Terminated” by Gervanna Stephens

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Image by Anna Price Petyarre

 

 

And when / the sun sinks / into the ocean at nights / turning it splendid / blue / and purple / and orange / and rainbow / and gay / does it wake / the Merfolk? is Ra’s definition / of a second job or volunteer work or magic / do the tides / splash faster / their slippery sandy shoes / kiss both shore and midnight / and when the sun / drowns / in Poseidon’s bathwater / still warm / home / to portals / and life / and endless moisture / does it lure / the siren / or is it / the call/ which sets the sun?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gervanna Stephens is a girl from the Caribbean with congenital amputation. She is a poet, educator, and a proud Slytherin. Gervanna has had poems published in several print and online magazines, including WusGood.blackWhirlwind Magazine, 12 Point Collective, Spillwords and Anti-Heroin Chic. She hates public speaking, has two sisters who are way better writers than her, and thinks unicorns laugh at us when we say they aren’t real.

“Use” by Chad Musick

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I already know the use of the user,
of mealy-mouthed blandishments, of white lies
spoken by nimble tongues that reek of bleach.

In the nighttime hovels, the net cafes
with webcams duck taped to goose-necked lamps
in private booths, we gather, users and used.

The luckiest don’t sell their hope.
They pay their rents, instead,
by selling the past at pawn shops, the future
at payday lenders’ usurious rates.

Hope is a hungry child with a full set of teeth.

I already know the use of the user,
and he of me, and she of me. Of us.
And if — just if, I swear — sometimes I snort
or smoke or shoot, just a bit. Well. It’s not
the worst thing done to a body today.

The ladies of the day —
who hold their scalpel-shaped noses,
sneer, adjust their sunglasses to give
cutting glances, hide hangovers and fond bruises —
tsk tsk to their older men, who grasp them
with calloused knuckles, shuffle them away
from shame on the sidewalk. They’re mistaken.

Shame is luxury, is pissing through silk panties.
It isn’t when you sell them online after.

I already know the use of the user.
It stalks me in my dreams, threatens exposure —
to cold, want, unrefundable deposits
on wide rooms I would never occupy.

Work hard enough, the Titans bellow down each morning,
even you could reach Othrys’ peak, look down
and see the masses squirm beneath your heels.
Teach them all the use of the user.

But I know: they already know the uses.
Atlas’ shrug would not topple the planet.
It has always been us who bear the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chad Musick is an epileptic, autistic editor with a PhD in mathematics and several published poems. He lives in Japan with his family and is working on his third novel, though none are (yet) published.