Monday, April 30, 2012

When Darkness From The Ashes Rose

The early morning sun hugged me in its warm embrace,
almost too sensual
but an indifferent breeze lightened the caress.
A fluttering snatched my attention.
A compact, black form
swooped on the air currents into my view
auguring a vision in a smoldering pile of entrails.
It twirled, fluttered high above my head,
skimmed sideways,
then swooped down like a paper-plane fighter jet
freed of its destructive urges.
Its feathery lightness entangled me in its presence
so I watched and waited and willed it closer.
A dew-sparkled bit of soil was its landing pad.
Presumption of its possession coerced it into flight.
It did cartwheels,
barrel rolls,
high jumps,

And then it dared to swoop in tantalizingly closer
to me, this arrogant, mesmerized human,
it mocked me.
It fluttered its wigs in tight arcs, dancing a tranquil minuet
only Lilliputian steps away,
touchable, yet unapproachable.
The wings dotted by yellow splotches along its edges
twitched expectantly as if waiting for a net.
A blue amorphous diamond rose from that field of daffodils.
           Sparkling like a miniscule lake
           The sun now encircling it in its arms.
But I could not move, cemented to my patch of earth.

And it warily watched me
while I hungered for it--
We, two earthly-bound creatures enraptured by this moment.

Gray feathers lazily, not feet away,
shifted with the northerly wind
waving fondly at it.
A feral cat had done its work
and abandoned the carcass to the insects,
and the lawn mower that would later mulch it.

The diaphanous wings once again took flight
beckoned by the waving feathers
and the soft wind that greeted it with a light buss on its cheek.

Mouth agape on the verge of crying out,
it chose that resting place
despite my silent entreaty.

And I
turning away toward the light, left it hurriedly
refusing to look back
until it became a speck of ebon black
communing with the darkness.

--Sy Roth

Mall Rat

Ugh. The mall. Even thinking the word gives me a bad taste in my mouth.

I used to be na├»ve to the true reality of this place. I used to think it would be a great place to take your kids on a Saturday when it’s too cold to play outside. Maybe buy them one of those huge lollipops that look like optical illusions. Walk around, look at stuff, buy them presents, laugh. I see lots of young moms doing that with their kids these days. There are at least three happy families in my peripheral vision right now. Are they happy, though? If every person has a dark side, every family must have a dark room to fill all their secrets with, bouncing around in pitch black, creating head-on collisions, spawning new lies to cover up old ones. An endless cycle.

What’s that perky new mom hiding?

Every smile has a fracture.

The shrill presence of a group of preteens snaps me back to the moment. Ugh. Teenagers. The problem with kids is that they grow up. Nobody stays four forever. Well, nobody should, anyway. I don’t know what’s worse—preteens or teenagers. They’re all insufferable. They all think they know everything, they all think they run the world. A bunch of thirteen-year-olds running around with top-of-the-line everything, thinking they’re top dogs even though their parents, the ultimate ATM, drop them off and pick them up in their identical minivans.

I turn the corner to step outside for a smoke. I fucking hate this place. Maybe I’ll take a leak on the side of the building just to say fuck you.

I misstep and snag my foot on the door, a quick reminder of the bracelet locked and loaded on my ankle. Maybe not. One step in the wrong direction and they’re coming to get me and take me back to the big house. What do I care anyway? Every house is a big house. I haven’t had a home in years. I dig in my pockets for the crushed pack at the bottom. I finger through without looking, preferring to use my eyes on the redhead sitting on a bench nearby.

I dig out a cigarette that’s a little beat up, but definitely smokeable. Just how I like my women. I crack a smile at my joke, surprising myself. I didn’t know my mouth still did that.

I light up and look around. Tons of people milling around, laughing, happy. Hundreds of fucking teenagers, playing with concepts of sex they don’t even understand.

I check back on the bench. The redhead is texting. Of course she is. Nobody is ever present in their own lives, huh?

I take a drag and close my eyes. Sweet nicotine, the only friend I have left. Friends. What’s the point? Every relationship has an expiration date, so why buy into something you know is gonna spoil before you’re done with it?

The best part about my life is that I know who I am. I know where I stand with myself, and with other people. That’s the thing. You gotta be self-aware. I’m standing here, surrounded by hundreds of people, all interacting with each other, but not with me.

You don’t need superpowers to be invisible. You just have to be like me. Gruff, hard, scraggly. Nobody will look twice. Shit, they won’t even look once. What’s with people and their refusal to make eye contact with people they consider below them?

Are they scared of me? Do they think I’m gonna ask them for money?

Fuck them. Fuck their money.

All these assholes our earth is infested with. All these sons-of-bitches that think money runs everything. I’m no idealist, and yeah, a little cash would be nice, but where did this infectious thought that money is God come from?

Then they call me sick. They lock me up. Why? Because I see through the bullshit of the world? Because I take stands for things that matter? Because that redhead with her little button nose buried in her phone would never look at me and I don’t give a fuck? Who needs her, with her creamy thighs, soft flesh revealed under her loose dress, small little body I would love to experience from the outside in. I clench my fist, imagining tufts of her deep red hair sprouting from between my fingers like springtime shoots of grass begging to be ripped out of the soil.

The pads of my thumb and forefinger find each other and I rub them together contemplatively, feeling the scar tissue build friction. I’m not the type of loony who burnt his fingertips off to escape the government. They’re old injuries—a curious experiment when I was one of the insufferable teens I hate so much. The smell of burning flesh has a bad rep. It’s not so bad, and there’s worse smells out there. Candy-sweet perfume coming off a child is sickening. Why taint their innocence? They’ll have plenty of time to dress like whores when they’re old enough to act like them.

My Newport is running low. I dig deep for another one, and glance at my watch. Time. Even I can’t escape that. Nobody can. I pull out a broken cig. It’ll do. I light up and find my eyes coming back to Red on the bench. I wonder how hot the inside of her mouth is. I guess it depends how hot the rest of her is. As the sweet cancer builds in my blood, putting me at ease, I try to imagine a world in which I could take her home with her consent.

My fingers twitch. I imagine the perfect opening line. Those fucks in the movies. When does it actually happen that a guy tells a girl, “you wanna get outta here?” and it works? Fucking never.

I exhale the precious smoke and take a step closer. Nobody sees me, so what does it matter? Nobody sees me but everybody knows I’m here. Invisible, but present. This must be what the elephant in the room feels like. I take another step, my blood rushing to my ankle bracelet, telling me I shouldn’t do it. Fuck you, blood. I take another step, I’m only three away from trying that line out for myself.

“Hey! Lloyd! Get back in here, your break is up!” I turn around, trying to contain my cool, but my blood is on fire, ripping through my body like acid. My fucking bastard manager. Twenty-three and thinks he owns me. He would be begging for mercy if we were living in a different world. In the big house. The big home. The place where I fit in most, I guess. Funny.

I flick my butt at Red. It lands close enough for her to jump. She looks up at me, and we lock eyes. My mouth melts into a lascivious grin, out of my control. Tricked ya, bitch. Made ya look. Here’s my chance.

“I’ll see you around, sweetheart.”

I walk back towards the mall. The gateway to hell. I turn around for one last look and see Red climbing into the back of her mother’s minivan.

--Gabrielle Belavsky


The evening was so cute when the clouds came out wrinkled against the pink.

            Silence was the channel.

      Pink is the color of my brain imagining how bad things are.

Hidden in you like a pearl (some thing)—there is blood in my heart
and the blood is wet—your kisses taste gamey like old food in
the oiled sea of your mouth, its calm cave—here’s the
kneecap of the world: quick, take this baseball
bat and go for it, fuck it up bad—a year and a
half ago I wanted to beat the shit out of a stranger
so much for some reason, just a guy on the street,
a cholo giving me the stinkeye, a drunk’s
dumb bravado, destroy the windshield of
a car honking at me as I crossed an
intersection—heaven’s curd—how few thoughts does it take
to stop someone from existing?—I'm waiting for
the volcano's flood to rewind itself, to undo
what it did—feeling the base of your
bare ribs trying to sense their vasculature—I don’t want the
product of your body but I do—a bullion cube salting
your insides—sometimes I hate myself so much
my hatred is too big for just me so I have to hate
everyone else too—it’s easy to dream of killing
myself late at night when other dreams won’t come
but I’m not going to do it I don’t think because of
abstractions like heaven and hell and love and meaning,

I’m gonna continue loving because the electricity’s still working.
I’m gonna continue loving because the lights are still on
and the Pentagon still has five sides and Al Qaeda has left the
bridge I cross to get to work intact.
I’m gonna continue loving because my allergy medication is working.

        Mom asked me to imagine that after getting up in the morning
        I would die exactly 23 hours later
        right down to minute
        so when I woke up the next day alive
                    I could thank the gods for their blessing.

--Luke Weldon

Monday, April 23, 2012

What If I Can't Wiggle Out Of It

With all my tad pole mite
I wish I could reverse insemination.

I have been pregnant more than not.

My nipples like glass in your mouth
My insides hungry gravel.
Hard sharp stones
no love, only desire
I just ate but I want more.

I stripped in a dark damp motel
with beach sand feet
was torn apart
by mouths
and I will do it again.

There are lips and arms I crave
but they don’t sleep beside me.
His forlorn biceps
wait for me.
I roll over
give him my back,
check my phone.
Wish he’d snore so I could masturbate.
My hormones are raging cannibals.
I wish my backyard could prove so fertile.

I need a new season
the Christmas tree
lays dead on the sidewalk
I’m tired of cold feet
holding my heat in
so he’ll understand I’m leaving.

The garbage men drop trash everywhere,
and the street sweeper skirts around it.
This is a statement on class
how they feel about us
in our buckets and scrapers
spidery beats over speed bumps.
smog hugs these flat lands
follows a procession of funerals.
And he swears we can bloom here

This morning I took the pads from my purse
put them back under the sink.
Periods come when you're unprepared
I’m wearing white panties.
Later I’ll feel a slight cramp
hurry to check the tissue
for that slight pink

--Cassandra Dallett

Sunday, April 22, 2012


her mouth was enigmatic
and unmoving
her lips would part only to take in air
or to clench her pencil between her teeth

pale skin, sandra
low torso, sandra
black shoulder-length hair, sandra

we were aware of each other

she believed the female body
was much like the ocean
with curious things in curious places
secrets under the sand or in the kelp or in the tide pools
waiting to be uncovered

low torso, sandra

we began writing each other
after school let out for the summer
sending letters through the post
she even sent a picture
a black & white photo
a close up
her head adjusted slightly to the right
gazing at something outside of her 6X4 world

black shoulder-length hair, sandra

she would write about
how she wanted to study celtic mythology
on some study abroad program
how her room was always a mess

i remember how she lost interest in me
repeating past conversations
responding out of courtesy
the letters stopped shortly after

pale skin, sandra

i remember mailing her a cryptogram i had made
with my feelings for her encrypted within

it felt so wrong

black & white photograph, sandra
pushes the hair past her ear, sandra
shoe box full of daydreams, sandra

the thereafter realized lesbian,


--Bryan Gray

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three by Jane Flett

Before First Coffee

Before first coffee,
and she's nattering.

Tussle-haired and chock full of places
we'll go, in the afternoon, but

I missed the dreamless slumber
of Odysseus in the cave, I tossed.

I was bitten by the alarm
you set to snooze, princess,

and there's no sullen drape to pull
between our tangled corpses.

I'll tape a grapefruit to hold your
loose lips prone. Bind your morning

wrists with Fruit Loops so you're wide-eyed
and waiting once my coffee has brewed, for

this universe is 90% dark matter and
I am not always sunshine
at the crack of the dawn.

The Smell of Chlorine on Her Skin

I wait in the gallery,
watch her stroke undulate
like a caterpillar’s

arching back, like a
greyhound pelting
for the lure of the hare.

Fold my hands in my coat,
blink at the gnash of chemical teeth
in the air indoors.

Here, the echo of a scream
is a metal pea whistle
sharpened to a spike

but under the water it
is blue, blue as an
air-strike summer sky,

and quiet. Even after her shower
I can smell it. A red plastic
box smell. Bleached.

Small, pedicured,
Japanese toes; a tidy
drawer of laminate envelopes.

Things unlicked and scrubbed
and new and tiled
and plastic—

I wait in the gallery
while she swims. I wait
while the children shriek. 


You are on me and we are atop the mountain, hitchhiking to
another summit, wet eyes to the monsoon.

We holler at fate to strike us lickety-flick,
make the camera flash explode, we holler

and we’ve been up here five nights this week,
feet bare, shirts wet,
coathangers pointing up.

We are waiting for the bang, we are still
scurrying, we are termites
hurtling through the ocean
in the wood of the hull.

Your palm smashes the emergency glass
and my ears swallow the alarm,
red imprint glowing on my cheek.

We quiver while the storm clouds gather, and
I open my mouth to scream.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You Had to Have Seen This Coming

thin cuts
of spring in
my fingertips
spring as my oldest
and longest lover
spring at my door
spring yellowing
the air with pollen
spring, i owe you
an apology for weeping
in the black ice
nights of december for
dancing bare breast
on tables with older
men hooting and steaming below
all in the rising heats of
summer i am sorry for fall
and its militia of crisp
leaves creeping up on me
like a final goodbye
pushing me down flat
on my stomach their jabberwocky
eyes thick with amusement
and hunger folding
thick like an
afghan in their
mouths but spring, my
baby boy you'll come
quick to put me on
your saddle and we'll ride
off, fading from existence, blurring
at the edges.

--Tuesday Something

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Dreams Are Plotting Against Me

I sink into the bed, lying straight on my back, my arms resting on
each side of my body. It feels like I'm being submerged into deep
ocean water-- but it's just me losing trace of my own thoughts. It
feels like drowning.

The icy waters of the North, they are deceivingly blue but once you're
under, there's only pitch-black. In a dream you don't feel your lungs
filling up with water, you don't feel your breath being snatched away
and you certainly don't feel the cold. You just sink into this
bottomless hole. I had my arms wrapped around my sister, her heart was
pounding, sending sonar signals across the underwater bank. No one
came for us.

I had seaweed tangled around my intestines and worms crawling out my
eye sockets, but I was still holding your hand. You were perfectly
preserved at first glance, but that's why we were blessed with skin.
It's just a defense mechanism-- underneath you were rotting.
Everything that made us human had turned liquid in the ocean and
leaked out our mouths and ears. The rest was eaten by creatures of the
sky when we washed ashore. They cried when they scoped up our remains
in plastic bags, said 'God help us, they never stood a chance.'

--Alexandra Vadarlis

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two by Shane Allison


Your lips are gum drops in my mouth.
You don't know I'm watching you.
Seek your face through visions of a poet's eyeglasses,
Legs collapse into train tracks
Pieces of you sketched
on wide-ruled lines of notebook paper.

Reach past a glass of watered down strawberry cola,
Past a plate of chicken bones,

to the telephone dialing your number.                                     
"Is Doug there?" "This is Doug."

I stop sweating and no longer wish you were not home.


is that you in gelatin-silver print,
sitting on a hardwood bench?

You know if you sit on hard surfaces
long enough, your dick will fall asleep,

but if you get up and walk it off a little,
the feeling comes back like an ex-boyfriend

who didn't know what he had until
it packed its shit leaving nothing

but dirty dishes and a drawer full of condoms,
extra sensitive for his pleasure.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


i have dreams of killers who slice people with ease, as if they were
meat. as if their eyes were your eyes but the shape of something
sharp. i wake up. i sleep. it continues. this is the movie with
multiple endings but they all contain me standing on a empty highway
near a desert with my insides in my hands.

i will not overthink this. you are autumn when the leaves begin to
crunch. you are the smell of burnt damp air. i am not the pieces of
furniture in your house. i am not the emoticon at the end of the
message. i am the ring left on the table that you can't get rid of. i
am the error response. the leaves crunch, my palms under your feet.

the medicine is in short supply. so are poems. so are coherent
thoughts. inhale inhale. swoosh. sound effects sountracking downhill
motions. the human sled.

this is an attack. i meant to trip. i meant to tell you that i love
this i promise. i meant to be this way i promise. scraping up the
pieces, like i am roadkill for breakfast. breathe. this is the chase
where no one gets caught.

pretend to listen. i cannot get to you i cannot reach i cannot pull. i
can not fucking get you. i am talking to everyone. i am talking to
everyone. the end credits roll and everyone saw it coming. how could i
not be prepared. the closing song plays. listen with your lids sealed,
with your smile stretching like the cut in my throat. the drug is the
chase. it's the knot in the rope.

--Karissa Satchwell

Friday, April 6, 2012


I'm soaked in whiskey
desperate for nothing.
I wiggle my tongue
and dirty fingers
at the void
so cheap in its
grim reaper costume.
I do not trust that robe.
Here I am exposed
so sweet
in my compliance
a kind of pastry
all sugary ooze.
It's the gobble
I want to feel
the empty
I welcome
the marrow deep silence
unbroken by stars.
I'm another woman
flushed rosy
with this sacrifice.
I'm soaked in whiskey
desperate for nothing.
You can keep
those flowers.

--Misti Rainwater-Lites

Photos by Cristi Cain


I can't masturbate with my downstairs neighbors fighting
and it's all I want to do
once you've got your mind set on it, ya know...
but "Get the fuck out of my house" isn't much of a
serenade to the senses

it's got one dog barking
& the other one shaking
doors slamming
curses crossing
is this what love leads to?

I wait for it to get quiet
for long enough at a time
are they done yet?
can I just open up a little by myself?
just be half naked home alone...

and I hear now another "Fuck you!"
and I know
this must be why
I choose just to
fuck myself

--Tommy Anthony

Thursday, April 5, 2012


the karma wolf is at my door, waiting to sterilize me. fix me, rip out my female bits, teach my insides a lesson. there will be no legacy for me, it all dies now on the feral fangs of lustful fate. eviscerated, a science project. my anatomy leaking onto cold tile, i hold the severed space between my legs and cling to identity while he howls only a few steps behind, the messenger of my actions, exercising the punishment of self. mother, it says from bloody pile of spilled ova, mother i am born to show you how to die.

--Emily Smith-Miller