“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.

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“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.

“Cornsequence” by Kristin Garth

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{Editor’s note: we encourage you to listen to the audio file of Garth reading “Cornsequence” here.}

 

The spirit took your eyes away. They did
not blink once yesterday. Contemplation
a mirror lake, self reflection, morbid
mistake. Blind maternal insurrection.

A husk, your body, in cornfields, was grown
for children — brittle mommy/yellow corpse.
Cornsilk brunette, for meadow smiles alone,
the spirit takes your lips. It leaves remorse.

You did not know you were a sacrifice —
harvested hollow to play nice. Cracked skin
still scented of the wild — aroma vice.
The spirit takes the nose, last scents of sin.

A crafted warning is a cornhusk doll.
To love a child requires no face at all.

 

 

 

 

 

Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola, a knee sock enthusiast and a sonnet stalker.  In addition to TERSE. Journal, her sonnets have stalked the pages of Rag Queen Periodical, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys, Ghost City Review, Luna Luna, Anti-Heroin Chic, Faded Out, Mookychick and many other publications.  Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available through maverickduckpress.com

“Verum, n.” by Erin Emily Ann Vance

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Image by Lina Kusaite

 

Verum, n.

This rough star crackling in the
broken pot, slipping the acrid red fumes,

into my eyes
jags in the flow of hot
syrup, like the long nails of a delicate
and unwashed child
trailing her fingers across the glass
of a cool lake
covered in moss,

moss-covered.

The hard bark spiny and
alert, the banks like wounds,
along the mud-red shores,
my nose burns with the acidic
blood lake, the slow spin of the
star singing
‘Oh sink, sink,

sink.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. She was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction.

Find her at www.erinvance.ca and @erinemilyann on Instagram and Twitter.

“I SLICED INTO MY NAIL BED WITH A RAZOR BLADE BY ACCIDENT WHILE LISTENING TO RANCID AND WASHING OUT YELLOW HAIR DYE, AND DESPITE THIS BEING POSSIBLY THE MOST PUNK ROCK THING ABOUT ME, I STILL SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS, ‘OH FUCK'” by Kate Wilson

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Image: “Oak Creek Canyon” by Kim Knoll

of course this is all to say I collected the droplets of blood in a little glass vial with a cork lid and added plant growth hormones to stop it from

growing stagnant

it smelled horrible like all those times my dad made me go on long, awkward walks with him after it rained and the earth was wet and full of life and I tried to stop smelling it but it became

ritual to open the jar

again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until the cork

broke off

and I had to do something with it to keep myself from throwing it against a wall or drinking it so I considered

burying it

But didn’t like the ramifications of littering my own blood-jar and burying things makes me very, very sad because I am terrible at letting things go so instead I dumped the blood in the river and I know that makes me a

                        Really Bad Person

Because now of course I cannot stop thinking about where the stream runs to and the final resting place of that water and how maybe I just

poisoned the entire world

With my own blood but I guess it will be filtered out if our tap water comes from that particular steam and my mom used to tell me about how when her dad died they spread the ashes in the ocean so I guess the fish drink enough death anyway but then humans eat the fish so I guess we also

consume our own rot

And I can’t help but imagine all the PETA pamphlets I’ve been handed after punk shows and then subsequently thrown them away and how terrible of a person I am for still eating

other being’s flesh

But when I tried to become a vegetarian it became so hard for me considering I can only afford to eat at my school’s one cafeteria which just reinforces that I am a

Really Bad Person

And also a quitter but my mom also always told me overcommitting oneself is dangerous and also that overthinking things isn’t going to solve anything and I think maybe she was right since my aunt always called me a worry wart which of course is to say a

Very Anxious Person

But it can be very rewarding to worry for example I always finish my homework on time and I usually try really hard but sometimes I think it would all be easier if I just didn’t try at all because then I probably would not be so concerned about where the fuck

my blood ends up

When I dump it into the river just to get rid of it so I can stop thinking so damn much about how fragile we are and how much we all bleed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate is from Mammoth Lakes, California, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah where they are working towards a BA in English and an MA in teaching at Westminster College. Kate is a Virgo and lesbian who loves swing sets, their dog, and their girlfriend. Their work has previously been published or is forthcoming by Pressure Gauge Press, Write About Now, Rising Phoenix Press, and Rag Queen Periodical, among others. They are currently a poetry editor for ellipsis… Literature and Art. You can send Kate photos of the ocean on Twitter at @pasta_slut.

“The Void Blues” by Harley Claes

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Image by: Ulrich Moskop

My body was seated in my soul under blacklight- bound to analysis though I could bare no judgement as I sit and spin for aural opium.

I had pictured a panorama of my trauma as an infernal, despicable whole.

I made myself sick to purge my past as illness. To forget my incapabilities, I was lenient on rediscovery. But I could not forget the urgency of my depressive, sadist-sucking nature, I was raised a defensive.

Having fallen for an acid casualty- I was mindsick & hallucination dependant, picturing all our visions as prophetic. Realizing as a patient, I was only wracked with delusion.

Now we base the next measly muse

Off of what is stirring within us

An emotional riot

That is streaking across the streets

Begging to be believed

But inside me

Is only a void the size of a fist

 

 

 

 

 

Harley Claes is an experimental poet and novelist from Detroit, Michigan. Her first poetry anthology is titled Pity the Poetics.

“Out-of-Body” by Wanda Deglane

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Out of Body

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanda Deglane is a psychology/family & human development student at Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming on Dodging the Rain, Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, and elsewhere. She writes to survive. Wanda is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants, and lives with her giant family and beloved dog, Princess Leia, in Glendale, Arizona.

 

 

“liminal edgings” by Savannah Slone

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Image by: Susie Kim

liminal edgings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savannah Slone is a queer writer who earned her B.A. in English: Professional and Creative Writing from Central Washington University and is completing her M.F.A. in Writing at Lindenwood University. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in or will soon appear in Manastash Literary Arts Magazine, Creative Colloquy, Heavy Feather Review, Boston Accent Lit, PaperFox Lit Mag, The Stray Branch, The Airgonaut, Ghost City Press, Sinister Wisdom, decomP magazinE, Maudlin House, FIVE:2:ONE, Foliate Oak, Pidgeonholes, and Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut chapbook, Hearing the Underwater, is forthcoming publication at Finishing Line Press. Savannah lives in Skykomish, WA, where she works a handful of part-time jobs and cares for her toddler with autism. She enjoys reading, writing, knitting, hiking, and talking all things intersectional feminism.

A Conversation Between Three Entities: The Face, The Witness & The Viewer

Playground Rules & Physics

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The Witness: Why do you cry?

The Face: Because, I see.

The Witness: What do you see?

 

::  The Face stares back for a time where The Witness thought to itself ‘until Kingdom-Come, when will it speak?” The Face’s eyes weld up with the deepest sorrow yet the greatest joy with a mouth closed and an unbreakable silence. Then, The Face let out a heavy sigh. ::

 

The Face: I am a Seer

My eyes pour

So, my third eye may shine

It is the diamond of my mind

It cries…

Dripping down from the center-to-the-center

Into a dewy pastel place of pale blues, greens, teals and pinks

Entering into the richest purples

I am not alone…because, You, The Viewer sees

You too are The Seer with eyes that pours like a prismatic liquid rain

The Viewer: I couldn’t make out what you were trying to say, at first. When you were staring back at me as I defined all of your edges and making you more prominent in form. So you would eventually speak to me. And yes, I said “Eventually”— At least, it would and will happen than never.

The Face: I just wanted to protect you.

The Viewer: From whom?

The Face: You, my dear.

The Viewer: Why didn’t you just come talk to me. Now you seem to have a posed caring condescension in your tone.

The Witness: I am ready to listen to you, now.

The Face: At Last…

You have placed me upon your shelf as I collected dust and you even meshed me up with some prized junk

Just. like. a. leftover…

It is okay that you don’t always know what I am trying to say straight away

Such like Lovers need space in between their intimacy.

The Viewer: I want to know, I want to be aware.

The Witness: But, ‘Mono no aware.’

The Face: You also need to be in a space that is ready to receive me

I will indeed communicate my meaning and you may or may not be in a place to listen

You may pretend like you did not know

You’ve been ignoring me the second you were done with me

Look where my external body rests now

The Witness: How? I work with you almost every day, face to face, hand to hand and I get nothing. Just talk to me. What do I need to know? It’s so cruel. You make me work without acknowledgement to my heart…What about my mind or body?

The Viewer: Too many rules…

The Face: You are only ruled if you are blind

Begin to…

Taste with your ears

See with your tongue

Feel with your nose

Listen with your eyes

Breathe with your heart

The Witness: You’re saddened?

The Viewer: Why so…?

The Face: Perhaps it is tragic when

You have forgotten about you and me

Us.

We are one in the same, we are one

In your forgetfulness, you have forgotten how much I deeply-deeply-deeply love you

I handpicked everything about you

I knew just who you were, who you are and who you have yet to become

Your beauty surpasses all physicality

Your truth goes beyond into other beyonds

You are Love

Your purpose is to love

Your greatest obstacle is to Love yourself as if You were Me and I am You.

 

The Face“The Face” by MMM
 8″ x 10″ Acrylic Paint on Canvas, circa 2018

“Not on my lips anymore” by Elisabeth Horan

Arsenic Hour
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Image by Nydia Lilian

Your sexual preference is the strand
of spider web across my eyes
this morning,

Annoyed, I swipe
it away; it is perfect and persistent;
it laughs at my effort, yet
doesn’t let go.

My wanting you is for what –
I don’t know – as if new clothes
would make me

Somehow happier – more complete –
as if a male outfit
could dress me less like a pauper,

More like the butch empress who shuns the
requisite lesbian clothes

Our time was not for naught but smacks
of chocolate mints after dinner,
you want one so badly
especially after ordering only a salad –

In the parking lot
a well meaning couple,
(whichever one you choose)
says,

There’s a little something on
your face,

And I know it so well, brown and green –
the warmth of it: smears just like our body parts.

I still pray for us, reunited, but your taste is
not on my lips,
not on my lips,
not on my lips –
anymore.

 

 

 

Follow Elisabeth Horan on Twitter @ehoranpoet