Benjamin Brindise

11/14/18

silence falls
hides huge 'impact

discovered:
'My husband chopped off my hands'

kills baby:
Boy, 16, convicted

conspired to deceive
A guide to where we are

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Just Buffalo teaching artist Benjamin Brindise is the author of the chapbook ROTTEN KID (Ghost City Press, 2017), the full length collection of poetry Those Who Favor Fire, Those Who Pray to Fire with Justin Karcher (EMP Books, 2018), and the short fiction micro chap The Procession (Ghost City Press, 2018). He has represented Buffalo, NY in the National Poetry Slam in 2015, 2016, and 2018, helping Buffalo to place as high as 9th in the country. His poetry and fiction has been published widely online and in print including Maudlin HouseTrailer Park Quarterly, and Peach Mag.

Morgan Leathem Weiss

Headless History

Beneath skies veiled with the smoke of
ten thousand forests,
dappled with holes from chemical plants
and emblazoned with furtive glances,
 
history’s statues – vile, crude, or true
cast long shadows into cesspits.
 
Their heads topple over
during a selenite eclipse
that foretells, the astrologers say,
of a psychic break.
 
As the world turns dark,
pitch as Jurassic tar,
more heads fall,
limbs dismembered,
 
monuments to a past
better forgotten collapse. 
 
They do not crumble
as stone does amidst elements.
Instead they thud – within
earshot of a chiming clock
 
Father Time

 
they are put to rest with
a lullaby-cum-dirge
that simmers to the tune of residue.


Morgan Leathem Weiss was an archaeologist in their (recent) past life. Now, they are a writer and folklorist living between Oaxaca, Mexico and the Midwest. Their poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Clockwise CatJadaliyya,and Folklore Thursday. When they are not interviewing archaeologists or obsessing over monumental heritage, Morgan enjoys making comics and listening to podcasts.

Nick Soluri

Evening

With band-aids torn off in disgust
I flung myself into bed and slept
            for a million years,
with a false sense of bliss.
I pulled and picked at cuticles,
made deep cuts that swelled,
            my fingers ice cold red
from all the biting.
When I shoved my hands into
the pockets of my jacket,
            lint glued itself to
my open wounds.
They became dark blue,
strands of fibers stuck
            up like weeds in a field,
and I picked those too.
In bed I saw stars on my
ceiling from past lovers
            glowing white
and I stared at them until morning.
An ice bath for my hands
in the sink, they went numb
            so I couldn’t pick
anymore, but not for lack of trying.


Nick Soluri is an undergraduate at Union College in New York. His poetry has appeared in OcculumBoston AccentAnti-Heroin Chic MagazineThe Slag ReviewThe Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, and others. He lives in North Carolina.

Shannon Frost Greenstein

An Open Letter to Stephen King after Reading the Dark Tower Series Turned Me on to Heroin

To start, let me commend you, Mr. King, for penning the best opening sentence that exists in the whole of the literary canon:

“The Man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

Like, wow.  Holy shit. Fuck me.  That is a HELL of a way to start an epic, and given that you were only nineteen years old when you started the Dark Tower series, that is a MAJOR accomplishment.

So, please don’t think I’m not a fan.  I AM a fan, and a manic one at that, because I’ve read everything you’ve written.  I’ve read everything you’ve written, I’ve read everything written about you, and I know that you went on a cocaine binge and wrote The Tommyknockers in 72 hours, so I really think we’d be friends in another life were we to come in contact.

I’m a fan, but I also have a bit of a complaint. And I’m really bad at conflict, Mr. King, so please forgive me if I handle this badly.  But I read the Dark Tower, and it turned me on to heroin, and I’m just not quite sure how to process that connection.

Now, hold on a minute!  I’m not passing blame!  If anything, this is a COMPLIMENT. Your writing…your words, the beauty of vocabulary twisted and braided like sinuous threads into a story that moves mountains…had the power to find me at two in the morning in the open-air drug market of Wilmington, searching for heroin and lamenting my life choices, all because I read the Dark Tower and it turned me on to hard drugs. Congratulations, Mr. King! 

Ok.  I see I’m offending here.  Let me break it down. 

It was the second book, it was The Drawing of the Three, that did it, that turned me on to heroin.  And you know why?  You know why, Mr. King?  It was because you’re SO DAMN GOOD at setting a mood and establishing the tone that it was enough to transport me to another self, another me on another level of the tower, one universe in an infinite array of quantum universes, a universe where I was decidedly NOT a straight-A student who swore on the grave of Nancy Reagan to “Just Say No”, a universe where drugs were exotic and venerated and took away the pain of abuse and mental illness that hung around my neck like a yoke.

It was the second book in the series, it was The Drawing of the Three, and it doesn’t take a detective to figure out why the Dark Tower turned me on to heroin, because, Mr. King, you describe, in great detail, a character smuggling heroin into New York while simultaneously abusing it himself.  GREAT. DETAIL.  

Mr. King, you do a wonderful job here.  You really convey the struggle he faces, the yearning for absolution, the intricacies of addiction.  You get into some pretty minute details, and they not only enhance the environment you’ve painstakingly built, they also helped a young girl discovering intravenous drugs for the first time learn about the vein in the groin where you can inject drugs and no one will find the needle mark. Thanks, Mr. King!

Mr. King, the Dark Tower changed me.  It’s one of those epics wherein you are not the same person you were before; it changed my chemicals and my paradigm and my ability to reason, think, love, consider, and loathe.  It inspired me, and, though not in a good way, opened my eyes to aspects of existence I had never before considered.  I mean, hey…I got a gun pulled on me behind a fence in Delaware, pressing against my ribs through my sweatshirt, the hand holding it steady and intimidating, waiting for the money its owner demanded as I rushed to comply while wondering vaguely how life had gotten me to this point.  You know what, Mr. King?  It was you!  It was you, the author of the Dark Tower, the writer who wrote about heroin so well that I was compelled to join in on the fun.

Even now, pushing forty, far removed from quantum state wherein I clutched the plunger of a needle and blood coursed and euphoria blossomed and I felt, finally, for once, at peace, I am impressed by what you’ve accomplished, Mr. King.  I’m still a Dark Tower fan.  I still read through your epic compulsively, even The Drawing of the Three, because you can’t forget who you are. And I remember well, as much as I’d like to pretend I don’t, because you also can’t run from what you’ve done.

So, in conclusion, Mr. King, I’mma make this a compliment sandwich.  YOU know…something good, followed by something that needs work, followed by something good.  And we’re already most of the way there.   

Compliment:  Opening sentence awesome.

Needs work:  Please don’t make people want to do drugs.

And, Finally, a Compliment:  Congratulations on your years of sobriety.  It may not feel like it, but they make you a better writer.  And I’ll be lucky to follow that path.

Sincerely,

Shannon Frost Greenstein, Burgeoning Writer, Dark Tower Fanatic, and 15 Years Removed from Hard Drugs


Shannon Frost Greenstein resides in Philadelphia with her family and spoiled cats. She is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy, meaning she is no fun at parties and has a lot of debt. Shannon harbors an unhealthy interest in Hamilton, Nietzsche, Game of Thrones, and Mount Everest. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee with work that has appeared in McSweeney'sInternet TendencyScary Mommy, WHYY...actually, you know what, just Google her.

James Croal Jackson

Beach

same as spit  
on a band room floor 
poolside  
 
without knowing   we are all
skeletons  
holding information too 
 
great to actually understand    
trombone blaring   
mouths into the sea   
 
flute-marching    
to conformity’s beat    
suntan lotion and absurdism    
 
smother meaningless philosophies all 
over your skin  and block out the rest


James Croal Jackson swore he’d never work in film again after leaving L.A. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and has poems in Columbia Journal, Rattle, and Hobart. He edits The Mantle. Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. jimjakk.com

Silvia La Rote

Out of the City

The blinding sun-cloud of Philly
is a psychedelic shrub, in its own 
religious right.  As if I’ve given up
and traded my burning flag.
   
I have found honest hours 
and long moments of friendship 
but every minute passing 
is a minute lost. An instant 
to be scorned. 
 
How could I ever 
ever be happy, accepting
of history.  But here, 
 
I can celebrate 
even the short black days 
when the simple act of shaving 
my thighs leads to nothing more 
than thoughts of shaving my thighs.


Silvia La Rote is a poet and mixed media artist in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has appeared in The Feminist WireLa Galeria,Moonchild MagazineNYMBMClash MediaFive2One Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine among others. Her first book of poetry was published by ANC press. You can find her second book of poetry on her website laroteart.wordpress.com and her art postings on instagram.com/slaroteart.

Michael Buckius

True Apartment Living

Why are we all standing around a cake like this?
I know there is true apartment living
waiting for us somewhere
 
There is a dog in the courtyard, shitting
Its owner stares off into the distance
ignoring the pet he curated for his mantle
He collects his tears in an old Gatorade bottle
He yearns for true apartment living
 
It's all chocolate as far as I can tell
If we can't celebrate true apartment living
then what can we celebrate?
Let's get together around this cake
but let's position our bodies differently this time
and let's invite that guy over
we'll figure this out together


Michael Buckius is a poet and a filmmaker who is from Lancaster, PA but currently lives Flagstaff, AZ. He earned his undergraduate degree in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and is currently an MFA Creative Writing candidate at Northern Arizona University. He has been featured in the literary zine Shrew and has recently completed self-publishing his second chapbook, Poetry Landfill Vol. 2.

Colby McAdams

860-917-0669

What’s a text back in a tsunami?
(The plane is full of gold bars and it is too heavy with all its worth so it is GOING DOWN in a shallow reef, leaving behind much treasure for future generations.)
Let me put it this way, there wasn’t a plane. There was only a car. 
 
The family car is flooding and someone remembers a video on how to punch out the window
The first step to escaping a flooding car is to stay as calm as possible. The second step is to get out in the first 30 to 120 seconds. These are the only steps. 
Someone tries to punch out a window, and it works like in a movie, and they will die a hero as the submerged car is sinking the submerged car that took them to once important now arbitrary places 

Does it ring six or seven times before going to voicemail?

This family they don’t know, none of them, how to swim so they drown anyways. That’s what that phone call felt like.

I waved a white flag but there was so much blood it just looked red. You waved back across the battlefield. It’s stupid that waving can mean hello or goodbye and I am too stupid to know the difference. It’s stupid that the battlefield was the Atlantic Ocean. That’s what the day after that phone call felt like.

The ocean is just a tsunami and you’re a coward for refusing to accept that

If you were stranded on a deserted island you would ask for a machete because love is impractical and I have my career here. Sacrifices scare you so I offer to go to the island. 

From the top of the mountain I light a fire. 
I hold my hands over my head. 
I wave at a plane in the distance. 
It crashes into the ocean. This is what the rest of my life feels like, I think.


Colby McAdams is a writer from Connecticut with a bachelor's in English from UConn and is in the process of earning her Master's in Professional Writing from NYU. Her poetry has been featured in Potluck Mag, SeaFoam Mag, and Long River Review. Colby's hobbies include dominating the aux cord at parties and inviting her demons to dinner with a bottle of wine. You can find her on Twitter @Coco_erin.

Ingrid Cui

& what shall we do today?

lumber on TV, blaring
criticisms as curling iron
slips and singes scalp
 
cools me down after
the third cup of coffee 
comes and goes,
 
slightly acidic, but surely meant well.
take my hand, and
we’ll go to wonderland
 
where long nights are not
for tomorrow’s wine, nor
meant for yesterday’s homework 
 
but something better than that;
I will make you reenact 
your mother’s plight
 
ophelia’s entrance
and her prompt departure;
duncan, who never knew
 
what hit him one night,
who dies infinite scenes
to die better the next.
 
sweetness of candy,
trudge through slush
you newly fallen snow
 
fuck me in 10throbarts
where the sins of our ancestors
dance to words;
 
the bed I wake up in
that is warmest when nobody
gets under the covers,
 
touches me, or
smears her red lipstick on
my plush paper napkins –
fold them my dear,
for exquisite crease
does flatter my palate
 
as walks at midnight in
the city deserted that I wish 
you would tell me not to do
 
do; like the sour hot plate
I felt in my stomach
when he lip synced the songs
 
to my stuttering flesh, still
not yet finished
digesting that next time.
 
I do not know
what to say to the porter
at 3 in the morning
 
but since he is kind
I only wave quietly 
as we pass through the lobby,
 
two comrades in winter 
with holes in our boots
marching onto russia.
 
quiet elevator ride and 
click of closing door
and for some reason I feel like crying


Ingrid Cui is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. 

Stuart Rawlinson

Enter: Honeybunny

Like a latte but with ‘Ode On A Grecian Urn’ 
written in the foam on top. That moment
the strange, pale man laughs down the phone
in Lost Highway. As far as I can remember
I didn’t knock the wall or stumble, 
the Bosch fell from its framed place
onto my foot without any prompt: each little piece 
coming apart until it was a puzzle again. It’s a Velasquez 
reflection. Or how in this light you can see the pixels 
that make up my poor-quality Blake poster. Babe, I love you
but you have to stop taking notes 
in the middle of the night, 
or at least stop switching on the lamp.


Stuart Rawlinson is a writer currently living in Glasgow, Scotland. Previous work of his can be found in SPAM, and more is forthcoming with Moonchild Magazine.

Chad W. Lutz

You’re Not Here

No children.
But we’ve got legacy, right?
 
Are we really the
Promised visage
Of our bloodlines?
 
We drank beers
& got drunk
Fucked in someone
Else’s bed
 
The Santa Cruz mountains
Right outside the window
 
There was dread
In our vibrations
An unspoken fear
 
Too little said about our future
Too little action by me
To start a family
To make a good thing sure
 
Now we have 
To do things the hard way
Texting when we should be kissing
Skyping just to share a moment
 
The easy way
Would have interfered
With our lives
 
Now, I’m on the road
running from 
an ancient battle 
called my parents

The miles on foot
The sun at dawn
The body exhausted
 
To the body I return
But I still think about
Our night in Detroit
And how the ducks
Never stopped quacking.

They devoured 
that gingerbread house
and we both said, “Wow,”
 
You’re not here, 
And that’s a good thing,
Right?
 
We both got what we want?
We both have careers?


Chad W. Lutz was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1986 and raised in the neighboring suburb of Stow. Alumna of Kent State University's English program, Chad earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Mills College and currently serves as an associate editor for Pretty Owl Poetry. Their writing has been featured in KYSO Flash,Foliate Oak Literary MagazineGold Man ReviewHaunted Waters Press, was awarded the 2017 prize in literary fiction by Bacopa Review, and was a 2016 nominee for a Pushcart in poetry. Chad took second overall at the 2016 Two Cities Marathon in Fresno, CA, and has competed in five Boston Marathons.

Felix Lecocq

EVERYTHING IS BUZZING BUT NOT NECESSARILY IN A BAD WAY!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests,
I am honoured  nay   Delighted
                 to announce that I am
                                                               Back On My Bullshit
                                                                                     (by which i mean my antidepressants)
by which I mean
I left my mental illness in the discount halloween candy aisle of a CVS like a bad father
and I Feel Great
                         i feel great
                                               i feel gggrrrreAT
I am the only person under thirty with my phone off silent
                                                                 I am delighted
                                                                     to announce my decision
                         to keep being
                         keep breathing
                         keep the feeling
                          BY WHICH I MEAN
 
Happiness was born under a heat lamp at the 47th street red line station
Lake Shore Drive cracked me open like a walnut 
I never knew what my insides felt like before
BY WHICH I MEAN
 
We all come from a somewhere in the middle of a nowhere
                                                                                                     and
We all sit at a window and wait for rain sometimes like it’s a taxicab that will take us 
                                                                     somewhere else and
It’s okay!
to plagiarise a seven page paper as long as you send a thank you note
                                                                                                     and
honestly? the best meal you can cook for yourself is 
white wine poured into half a hollowed out cantaloupe
                                                                                                     and
I should really have my own show on the Food Network by now
                                                                                                                             BY WHICH I MEAN
Do you ever FEEL
like you are an investigative reporter of Good Things?  
Assigned 
    to find every Moment   Comma   Good 
and file it away with all the other 
                                      Moments  Comma   Miscellaneous
in a manila envelope 
for a Cosmic Career Bureaucrat 
in her Galactic Glittering Pantsuit
to read at her desk  and annotate   and maybe smile
                                                                                               BY WHICH I MEAN

The universe wakes me up because it needs ME to be listening
                                                                                                                (at five o’clock in the morning)
I am the Watchdog For The World
                                                and I am DELIGHTED
                                                to announce that it’s doing great.


Felix Lecocq is an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, studying English Language/Literature and Creative Writing. His poems have been published by 3Elements Reviewyell/shout/scream, and the Young Chicago Authors' Queeriosity Zine, and his journalism has been published by Teen Vogue and Londnr Magazine.

Aidan Aragon

Homecoming

i. 

In this current state     
one of emotional undress        /           physical masking        
I am afraid
of being pulled over, more so than usual
 
glitter and glamour
a shield of mists leaving me,
strong to the self and weak to the world,
 
on the edge of anxiety
edge of the blade         slicing
                                                down the highway
black truck  /  black eyeliner              cut across the land
 
a metaphor
for my childhood
(I still have so much growing up to do)
 
dripping in blood
red eviscerated femminity, stuffed in my maw,
hanging from my lips;
 
it’s last Tuesday’s lunch         /
the perpetual lump in my throat
Adam’s apple bobbing            choking           suffocating      drowning
 
look at the road
I still have so much growing up to do,
 
I tell myself, blood smear
burgundy rust across my lips — red face / red anger / red shame /
blush blood  love hate
 
I have so much growing up to do,
My body a constant tear and tear and tear and

the best way to describe it is 
implosion

 

ii. 

My body is not mine:
(Mother owns this body as she owns
                                    anything under herroof
                                    she made me
                                    this body belongs to her, the body of
                                    her son.)
 
This body belongs to the world who commands it
the world who warps is
the world where, I’m pretty sure, all of us have starred in that mirror
and hated, to some degree, what starred back
 
I’m pretty sure we (I) peeled back the layers
squished          smushed          scratched         screamed
dreaming of something not there
dreaming of something to be adored
                                                                        adorned 
                                                                        my face
                                                                        just for the night
                                                                        and regret my happiness, 
until it all melts away
until someone else makes it o.k.

 

iii.

Tell me to be a man
like all of those words are a poison
spit them out, spit them on me
 
then when you say that’s for girls      /           thats girly
it’s like a punch to the gut
and I don’t know where I am
 
tell me to pick a side
and all I see are pieces of me
shards 
shattered slivers of
everything I am           /           everything you want me to be
 
swept up, the dust is indiscernible
from its parts and
 
I have spent years picking them apart.

 

iv.

Face down
eyes down
lips down
sunglasses up, blinders
 
up with the downtrodden facade
making my face,
 
shiny and glittering
the girls are taking their picture and 
I am hiding from the boys
 
and there’s no reason to hide
I tell myself
you’re safe
I tell myself
I can be 
(I am) 
beautiful...
 
I need to hear it

 

v.

Walk into
the red
 
glow over my body
cherry syrupy 
blood
in and over my skin
 
the beats, the beats, the beats,
add some bass
add some treble
add some throwback jams
 
relax into the nostalgia and your
body moves like water flowing
 
down my back
light in my face
music under my skin
 
everything is serene
everything is me in the underlit
life
 
loving not feeling my body
loving not feeling

 

vi.

Shields down
clothes off
face, sweat smeared over skin
 
there is nothing as beautiful as this,
 
we are all beautiful;
merry melting into the night.


 

vii.

A break in the night
reflection of
glass overflowing and
 
amber glow, golden air
flush in fluorescence, no one looks good
in this light
 
flip of the switch
flip of the face
flip of my stomach
 
churning away 
I feel everything coming up
the lump tries to hold it back, but
 
I burst;
 
my body water logged,
damaged,
flash flooding or hurricane or monsoon
 
the night raining down 
on me
or in me?
or from me?
everything a blur of
 
clouded eyes watching the faces float together.
After, my skin blooms and my face becomes a puddle
After, our bodies shiver and we go —
wholly limp  wholly lost  wholly drained —
on our own.

 

viii.

Clutching the wheel                Clutching my ribs                   Clutching my pearls
I can barely see the road
and I think the deer know
I think everything knows;
knowing, like this, is a kind of breaking
 
I wipe glitter on the wheel
I see it in my peripherals and
the irony of such a bright thing
in such a dark moment,
it makes me want to crash further      harder              so I hit home faster. 
Cut across the land, a jagged stripe
falling into my seat, falling into the tears and tears of my body.


Aidan Aragon is a poet from Northeastern Wisconsin. They can often be found chasing down their cats, listening to Mitski, or hopelessly trying to catch up on their growing, “Need to read,” book list. Their work can be found at/forthcoming from Cosmonauts Avenue and The Cerurove. You can find them on Twitter or Instagram @aidanaragon.

Bee Walsh

The Garlic Roaster’s Wife

It’s easy enough to lure myself
out of my house 
if I tell myself 
that I may run into
you. 

When in reality,
it’s only ever your ghost
who greets me
when I walk in
a door. 

I am a wool and leather woman
with bulbs of garlic
in her pockets,
warding off the men
whose mouths
make me nervous.

Have you ever imagined
someone else’s
distorted face 
when you see the 
back of a head
so familiar 
that you shiver,

a fear of a shadow
shorter that my own stance
I don’t dare 
get too close. 
Because I can smell the wood
burnt by saw blades
every time I see 
a pair of Levi 501s. 

In my back pocket
is the number of a woman
who swears
she can rid me
of my demons,
Hair like my mothers, 
I believe her when she tells me
I haven’t yet
learned my lesson.

How many more solitary seances
can I have
wrapped up in my bedcovers? 

Later, I pull the stems
off of white mushrooms
filling bowls of garden scraps.
Your dead grandmother’s handwriting,
your dead grandmother’s hands, 
guiding me 
to my white casserole dish, 
holding me back 
when I imagine
Sylvia Plath’s children
asleep in their beds
while she leaned
into the fire. 

How many dead poets
can I pray to
on the nights I fear
my own life? 

Too afraid to walk 
past the mirrors, 
I build a cathedral 
with walls so like
my own rib cage
that I want to 
place my heart
on the altar. 

Take the knife
to the muscle, 
sliced thin strips
laid carefully 
in cast iron, 
butter,
sage, 
squash.

And again, 
I am making a meal
of myself 
to feed anyone
who looks hungry.


Bee Walsh is a 30 year-old poet born and raised in New York City. Her book Manning Up is coming out 10/1/2019 on West44 Books. It's about something she knows a lot about, eat disorders, and something she knows nothing about, football. She is also the Poetry Editor for UK-based Synaesthesia Magazine and a Freelance Editor for-hire. Her work has appeared in Wyvern LitVelvet TailVagabond LitRiggwelter, and The Vagina Zine. She is currently living in Buffalo, NY where she is a Teaching Artist at the Just Buffalo Writing Center as well as poetry advocate all over the city

Brittany Lisa Carey

Suicide

The day I kill myself

Will be sunny.

It will have rained the night before

The windows glazed softly

The sun will kiss me in polka dots

through the pane.

One of the first things people tell you

When you say you want to kill yourself

Is that you need to remember how loved you are.

There’s such a thing as being too loved

There’s such a thing as being love’s captive

Forced to love someone because you don’t remember 

How not to love them anymore.

There’s no chaser for failure

I keep vomiting it into my lap

And then I am standing in my driveway

Melting into someone who doesn’t belong to me

Because I am lonely.  

Even with more hearts than I can carry

I feel nothing

So, I use my hands as doors

To explore the tombs in my wrists
But I don’t stomach the thought of suicide well these days.

The bullets taste like avocados

Avocados taste like lead

And I wonder if I am misfiring

Or predicting the future.


Brittany Lisa Carey is a Buffalo born and raised poet and fiction writer. She spends her free time bonding with her cats, taking pictures and going on adventures.

Lily Trotta

pillow talk

in the morning you told me a story 
about having sex with a girl named sara
you finished, rolled off, and told her
you know my mom’s name is sara, too
 
i’d like to be one of those people 
whose behavior you can dismiss with a shrug 
like that’s just lily being lily 
(the scamp)
 
it’s amazing what those folks can pull off
jokes become bits become a personality 
and suddenly it’s 
classic lily
what can ya do
 
do you remember the dude who choked me?
the spitter
i think of him through his hand 
planted on my neck 
thumb in the front to stop my breathing
fingers coiled around the back to hold me down
 
i rearranged my bedroom furniture after that
the wiry hairs curling from his underarms
the lots of freckles
i’d been burning sandalwood that night
in the corner where my bed is now
but damn it if he wasn’t nice 
at the bar
 
he’d held my hand in both of his own 
paid for all my drinks 
only nice things to say about my taste in music
(and yes, thank you, it is very good!)
 
it’s funny to think the etymology of a catcall is 
it used to be a heckle for bad theater. 
more recently, a line cook at my job 
started meowing whenever 
i bring dirty plates back to the kitchen.
 
my manager says the higher-ups are translating 
the employee conduct guide into spanish 
though, and you’re welcome
as i suppose he had been meowing
in spanish
 
well 
in the last three years
eight male coworkers have tried to kiss me 
 
english:
i know this is totally inappropriate
is my favorite intro yet
do you want me to be more of a dick to you?
is my favorite reaction to being turned down
 
and apparently i do 
because i’m not even mad yet
 
not about the other morning 
when you woke me up to fuck and said
i’m guessing we did that last night too
as you foraged for a paper towel
i shrugged yes and checked my phone
what can ya do
classic lily 
 
and see, my thing is that 
i’m chill
my thing is that i do my own heavy lifting and i’m not 
squeamish about blood and i curse and drink 
and i take it from you and i am at a loss 
 
for how exactly to identify a kindness 
in any given tongue 
from men who have seen me beside piles 
of clothes and my old water glasses 
and my dried-up houseplants, the kind of men 
my cat would recognize 
you know 
 
other than
that feels amazing


Lily Trotta is a queer poet living in Queens, NY. She is the author of damn good (Ghost City Press, 2018). Her writing has been featured online or in print by Peach MagVagabond CityBad Nudes, and more. She was the Curate Journal Featured Poet for July 2018. @lilytrotta

Kiley Lee

Burning Front Porch Appalachia

I saw a lightning bug flicker in a spider’s web
Twice it blinked, and twice again
The crickets kept selling their singing
They didn’t see
but I did

Cooling units beeped and hummed
Still you kept calling
Your blink shining brightly, then lulling
And even though I knew you were dying
I backed away slowly
Your light blinking “help me”

I had no power to rescue or help you
Do you even deserve dying?
Did you choose to land in that web?
Are you weak-minded?
Or were you caught in the wrong place
at a bad time?
And if I can’t free you, what then?


And while I was mulling, not thinking
You didn’t blink twice, or blink twice again
No glow to expect, or better yet, hope for
I can barely see you anymore


Kiley Lee first encountered poetry while wading through her mother's library as a child. This experience began in her a life-long love of language that has pushed her to quietly hone her craft. She recently relocated back to Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Her cat approves this poem. You can read more from Kiley on Instagram, @kileylee.writing, or in the December issue of Anti-Heroin Chic. Follow her on Twitter: @KBogart10. 

Lyd Havens

Monostiches on Still Being Alive

Somewhere, there’s a choir singing for the first time. 

My best friend K always says it is helpful to keep going. 

I am speaking in both present and future tense all the time now.

Labor Day weekend: I was an adult jumping off the dock. 

I put cinnamon on my cereal every morning. 

I bruised my arm moving into my new apartment a few weeks ago.

The anniversary of my uncle’s suicide is September 12th. 

I think I’m getting used to hearing my name in other people’s mouths. 

Sometimes, it seems like the goosebumps are infinite. 

I thought about dying my hair teal last week. 

A few nights ago, my mother thanked me for asking her to get sober.

The sleeves of my favorite sweater are starting to fray. 

Green food coloring has been under my nails since Thursday. 

Yes, I’m still fascinated by bodies of water. 

These days, I’m trying to replace most of my apologies with gratitude.

The anniversary of my quitting self-harming is September 13th.

I left the bathroom door open, sang every word at the top of my lungs. 

Today I learned that my face is shaped like a heart.

If I ever have children, I’ll probably name them after my friends. 

The skin between my knuckles is softer than anything else.


Lyd Havens is a nationally touring poet and performer currently living in Boise, Idaho. Their work has previously been published in Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. They are the author of the chapbook I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018), and are currently working towards a BFA in Creative Writing at Boise State University. They were born on their due date, and have been intensely punctual to everything since.

Jake Bailey

Red Rock, Inpatient

I’m invisible behind an ancient
copy of The Innocents Abroad, always
traveling while they paint rocks, stick
googly eyes on cratered surface, looks
like the signification of birdshit, finches
squirting Elmer’s on barren space—
I’d give anything for a soundless morning
or a gathering of my dearest friends,
Glenfiddich, Macallan, Highland Park, a trinity
of divinity swallowing me whole.  

I didn’t ask for this, got
the order wrong, should be
buttered toast, got
a prophet shackled to the radiator,
got it wrong, got it wrong,
got it down, don’t ask if you
don’t want to know, they know
more than they let on, black-tar
bellies slinking over chilled linoleum,
Ding an sich’s a magic trick
casting bears outside the window, I
should say something, anything,
anything is better than night.
 
Cotton cape flutters like bottomless
infinities, lobster faces leer
from across the room, static Stoics
serenade me like a crooning drunkard,
pours like whiskey in an unwashed
glass, God’ll be here Tuesday,
call him Dr. Elohim, ask
for prayer ex nihilo, Logos
is a copyrighted logo sewn into
the hem of the gallows, can’t
hang around here, can’t
even shave my halo.
 
Look, their mumbling mouths
make rope ladders to transcend
closing walls, closing halls,
closing doors denying exodus,
cross the sea, cross the T’s,
after all, I signed myself in,
couldn’t quiet the manic machine.
 
Blues aren’t working anymore, mix
me something stronger, hasn’t rained
like this in years, built an ark
to stock with my stash of ziprasidone,
can’t have enough, can’t have enough,
can’t have nice things in here, here,
have one or two, it’ll lace your
shoes with blacksnakes tying knots
I can’t climb, they’ll strap 
me in again, too many messiahs
under the same hat, Galilee’s
been doused in gasoline, I’ve got
a match, got a match,
plug me in and gather around,
flip the switch, look, I am
found, found, f---- 


Jake Bailey is a schizotypal confessionalist in Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program. He has forthcoming work in The Laurel Review and has been published in The Esthetic Apostle and Prairie Light Review. He is also an associate editor for Lunch Ticketand lives in Chicago with his girlfriend and three dogs.

Rubino del Sur

Belief

The future so many hours hence
each city illumines stone,
the loam led looks, wind tethered sail
bones underarm.
 
You know these questions
back the reaching field
to breathing in or out
dry grass, ground.
 
You must be mortal my heifer
to hide in kilns you know.
Sleep prevented no mind,
Get out of Gilead.


Dr. Ruben del Sur is a professor of dentistry. His friends call him Rubicon.