Georgia Dennison was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Montana. Her work has appeared in The Penn Review, CARVE Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, The Hunger, Borderlands Review, K’in Literary Journal and more. She is the recipient of the Greta Worlstad Poetry Award. She currently writes and lives by the sea in Portland, Maine.
Alexandru Paraschiv CC
about to be split, by the storm’s power, for two different routes
we are in a hire car driving between states of being. we call these cities, when we must, sprawling like maps
we’ve never crossed. next year, we’ll see photographs that spill over the edge and hold our
dreams tight, inadequate with words
the muteness of the road ahead is all we have
to navigate, the future
perceptive like a knife. but we are not told
if the knife is blunt or the knife’s actions or its state of arousal
option 1: there is an emptiness in speed
option 2: it’s this moment that lacks
between us the colour of memory - heavy, a bulb of guava rolling red
between fingers and tufted at the end,
the flesh is white and sweet,
bursts between teeth, unexpected by the hard exterior, but, later, good for jam
toward tomorrow’s dawn the only thing we’ll wear in bed will be the contrast of each other’s sweat-
impressions. I will know you cheat by the taste of spicy butter cookie in your mouth
this argument will last beyond the times of telling
harried, I’ll write into my notebook
discarded items from a fairy tale – a mop a crown a sword a glass case
a rolled up piece of paper a decipher a field of wildflowers balancing, then
tipped between the winds of the west, the winds of the east a market a beating heart
the price of perception
what am I to know of my neighbours’ galaxies? they are infinite and untold.
I am a branch in a tree, that’s shaking
Untitled [Lovers’ Contract]
it’s late, nearly too late / we sit in your jeep, imprinting / swap curse words as endearments / pumice
each other’s skin / feast with kiss-sharpened teeth / save the hurt for later, I / look for the open field,
you / drain the bottle empty / the sky lights furious and full / and if you want it, do I want it / when
our bodies speak love, it’s attack / without belay / necessity burns me / free-ly / splinters skin / and if I
like it, do you like it / time boltholes us between curfews / precious / like your drenched fingers
swallowed inside me, then prickling towards static air / can you lick it / believe in levered progress,
you / slam your foot three times before it bursts, I/ think blotched swarms of / weren’t we just those
people / loving: with the sureness of a punch drawing blood to the surface of the skin, alive.
the presence of absence
storms backlogged into belief, fragile rain falling,
then tasked with the impossible, harder and harder
and immeasurably harder, a nostalgia that does not cry,
but sings / like a gunshot, like a diss rap, humanity
enters nature with the need to catalogue every second /
humanity is me, these are the words on the page,
cards of scratching marks, layers, lines, oblongs,
like brocade, like perfume, like nougat, memory intense,
sex possibly, or possibly not, some things evade description /
like the tree that split in half on the morning of my father’s funeral
having stood unremarkable for forty years, or on the evening
of my mother’s birthday, my lost cousin was found,
body cherished but never the same being / all
these fragments of my family, not quite held together,
but heavy enough to fall under gravity nevertheless
SK Grout (she/they) grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand, has lived in Germany and now splits her time as best she can between London and Auckland. She is the author of the micro chapbook “to be female is to be interrogated” (2018, the poetry annals). She holds a post-graduate degree in creative writing from City, University of London and is a Feedback Editor for Tinderbox Poetry. Her work also appears in Cordite Poetry Review, trampset, Banshee Lit, Parentheses Journal, Barren Magazine and elsewhere. More information here: https://skgroutpoetry.wixsite.com/poetry
Alexandru Paraschiv CC
The Shell & The Wing
i wonder if the photograph floats
a temporary glitch in falling that turns the whole ass world
i ask a question and you lift the shell once more to my ear
you gentle the photograph with upward thumb
a kind of beautiful that lies on its side
till it remembers its own paper
and slips through the seam of the room
i ask you a question and the shell
stays in place as if having moved
the photograph of my lips and shoulders which i know you like do you like
me or the photograph it is fucked
you have told me where your thumb goes
it dances my part soft long against you frenzy’s compact pocket
space of my absence
i wonder what human water you’ve spent thrusting my face out of the way
i turn you on splitting the quiet air
exiting the world once you’re done
i ask you this question with particular care
the shell rotates i cough out a hollow hour of wonder
whether it moved in a pattern i can read
or your hand simply got tired
i never told you this: the first time
i shook your hand
i shook myself to splinters in the bed two hours later
tucking a wish into night’s pocket
like a penny for later
i ask you the question and you lift my chin to it
my ear cupped in animal sworl
it spirals cream ridges outward from your palm
i try to listen past the shell’s hoarded store of air
hear the blood moving through your fingers
my question is like a photograph of a bird trapped in a room
in a still its beauty is stuffed with purpose we impart
only to creatures we pretend more free than us
i can’t capture that flight is a race to outrun
my own skeleton splatter my panic in gusts against this human wall
every time i ask the well to love me back
this is not a way to treat an animal
i ask you the question each cold edge
of the shell scrapes “not my mouth” in microscopic script
cells my cheek will flake off later
confess: you are offering the shell as my new home
is this your way of trying to make me safe or make me smaller
i rehearse ungiven kisses against the inside of my teeth
fly into you like a closed window
i ask the plasma tech to forgive me for not being a bird.
A mother nests in a tree of needles. Keep skin smooth and report every bruise.
A hatchling opens to blind command. The needle slips right in.
I donate plasma which makes my friends healthy, my friends who depend on
plasma donations, except I don’t do it to make them healthy, I do it for the money.
I’m glad they are okay. My plasma gestures in the direction of their dispersed
need. There is no real chance that mine is the body keeping theirs alive. I wish I
could do this in their living rooms.
Bird wings are hollow. Otherwise no flight. Like being made of sharps.
My veins and I are thin and I’ve been bruised enough that the techs know to pass
me along to whomever has the best hands that shift. I apologize for the faulty
equipment I offer them. I bleed fast and well, at least, but it’s not like that’s a
thing I can try to do.
My donation is calculated by weight. Each visit I cradle footfalls on the scale and
Gravity declares what I will give up. Gravity sets his briefcase down and gives the
command. I lie in the donor bed. The tech punches buttons on the machine next to
me. A digital display 825mL appears.
The large bird is a tongue of metal. She struggles to pierce my blood line. If I
knew the muscle to tense, I would unlatch my vein’s jaw so it could eat the
needle. Hungry gulps of puncture. I want to open like a beak for her. I want to get
this over. The line goes clear to red. I flow beautifully, the plasma tech says. The
machine chews my blood and gives it back to me. A mother must process worms
along the way.
My down shakes as the needle shoves cold dollars in my body. I bleed fast and
well because of course I do.
The muscle in my chest knocks its walls. When my car engine knocks, I know it
needs more oil. I wait to buy 5W-20 until a warning light comes on. My veins
flash at me. I check the manual. There is a leak somewhere, too costly to repair.
My donation is calculated by weight, but it is not graduated. Up to a certain
weight the donation is 690mL of plasma, then 825mL for the next 30lbs of body
weight, then more after that. The tech punches buttons and 825mL appears. I
surprise her, giving this much. I am within a pound or two of the lower donation.
My body is as small as it can be and still be asked to offer this much.
For three days after donations my palpitations spike. My heart knocks off-time
like a persistent solicitor. I can’t think straight against its tempo.
In the video “Eugene Ranks Every Astrological Sign from Best to Worst,” my ear
catches on the notion that mutable fire, the Sagittarius elemental state, might be
like plasma. That’s what Eugene says, though he doesn’t mean the plasma I sell
twice a week. I am a Sagittarius and, as such, am much too much, a horse that
leaves a stream of shit in her glorious path. My children don’t think that’s funny
but I do. They ask to see the video where Eugene ranks fruit. It reminds them of
fruit existing. I turn the cans in the cupboard so we can read them as they
disappear. We open the pears tonight and imagine together that Eugene is our
friend. These are guilty pleasures.
In the plasma tube, little bubbles dance a minute before being dragged into
resolution by the machine’s suction. It is a deep, used yellow. It looks like
champagne. Some untapped luxury in me that I don’t know till I’ve sold it.
In a needle tree my bones vomit their matter.
Little empty cylinders of femur and humerus.
The last human straw.
This month the pricing changed. The needle pumps $30 into my body. The bills
rustle in my interior wind.
I can’t attempt flight. My bones are still too much. I pour motor oil through them.
My heart eases for three more days.
I make a deal with Gravity to ask even less of him. My footstep gentles the scale.
Air swims the minor margin of my body in retreat. I am lighter now, by a pound
or so. Gravity nods at the skipped meal. I make do with less of me so I won’t be
asked to give as much. The tech punches buttons and 690mL appears.
The needle touches my side and I race forward, dripping bloodwater in my horse
path. It’s in the nature of my sign.
At home each night I lay the pepper and the garlic side by side.
The stove takes a loan from the lighter. I knob the flame to middle high.
I think about the power of prayer and bite the flesh pit of my elbow.
I work fast in facefuls of freshly ungated blood.
Bruise a quiet new moon.
Collection calls for a siphoning.
I pull the water from my veins.
I pour it in the soup broth.
It lasts another day.
Jessica Lawson (she/her/hers) is Denver-based writer, teacher, and activist. Her debut book of poetry, Gash Atlas (forthcoming 2021), was selected by judge Erica Hunt for the Kore Press Institute Poetry Prize, and her chapbook Rot Contracts appeared summer 2020 (Trouble Department). A Pushcart-nominated poet, her creative writing has appeared in The Rumpus; Entropy; Dreginald; Yes, Poetry; The Wanderer; Cosmonauts Avenue; and elsewhere. She is currently at work on her second book project, a portrait of bodily vulnerability at the intersection of poverty, sex, and trauma.
Alexandru Paraschiv CC
I Want A Gimlet
on you tonight
your body’s labyrinth
my sour sloe
you between them
look to the window
blue on a blue
the bitter plum
of your bed
bodies are stars
I drink so much
cold gin mixed
I throb on you
storm your body
like a meteorite
we make love
in the room
and takes it
Do You Watch Bridal Reality TV Shows Because You Want to Kill Yourself?
Or Do You Want to Kill Yourself Because You Watch Bridal Reality TV Shows?
She is pearl vapor
infects the chapel
her destiny awaits
daddy redux in tux
cold egg banker
fog sob soldier
her sex anchor
down the aisle
cinched for him
covered for them
each nipple sheathed
bloom cream ice candy
this cost us love
this cost us thousands
a bride is given up
before she is taken
Suzanne Richardson earned her M.F.A. in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the University of New Mexico. She currently lives in Utica, New York where she's an Assistant Professor of English at Utica College. More about Suzanne and her writing can be found here: http://www-suzannerichardsonwrites.tumblr.com/
Matt Callow CC
what’s the word for a body
from my father’s dresser
i devour all the coins
will bleed through this body
only for nickel
down my leg
poison permeates my pores
and my body lets me down
like it always does
when i demand
what’s the word
for a body that is both
alter and arsenic?
you cannot have
a healthy relationship
with a thing that is
the badge, the battle, and the bulls-eye
i’ve been trying to shapeshift
my way to safety
ever since i learned
men feel as though their eyes
deserve more freedom
than my body
but this body
is a sick fucking joke
i was never in on
old white men cackle
from their graves
as i choke
on their air
is nothing but a chattel
Apology comes from the Greek roots of apo- (“away from, off”) and logia (“speech”).
Which is to say, your frugal mouth spent its last dollar on worthless words.
Which is to say, “sorry” never meant anything.
Which is to say, we only ever really apologize with our bodies.
Which is to say, bring your body here.
Which is to say, stand close enough that I could light you aflame.
Which is to say, stay. As an apology.
Surrender. As an apology.
Hang your self-defense on my bloodied fingers.
Self-sacrifice your sins away.
Lay your body beside mine on this bed of coals.
I’ll forgive you when our ashes dance together in the wind.
He will feel like everything you’ve ever lost
He will feel like everything you’ve ever lost, bound up in 5 feet and 11 inches. You will mourn his absence like a curse you cannot break free from. You will not call him. Out of stubbornness or blinding fear of relived rejection. This is your greatest act of self-love. Instead it will replay – all of it – inside your head until you can’t discern the cruelty from compassion. You will grow gaunt from eating thin memories. This is not self-love. You will not ask the questions wrapped around your tongue that refuse to be swallowed nor expelled. You will bite your tongue into tatters. It will take years to braid back. The fraying will feel like a slipping, but it is your shedding. You will no longer search his silence; you will see the selfishness in the stoicism. You will stop licking your wounds. You will scream out all your silence. Screaming out is self-love. Eventually, you won’t resent the cliché of falling leaves. You will grow, despite your best efforts. The days will not be marked by his absence, but something else. Snail mail. Spilt coffee. Sun dogs shining so bright they seep into your skin. Laughter – great guffaws – will not be followed by a pang in your chest. You will breathe again. You will finally lose what you’ve lost.
* “what’s the word for a body” borrows a line from Billy Ray Belcourt’s NDN coping mechanisms: notes from the field (2019).
* “Apology,” refers to self-defense in relation to Plato’s Apology of Socrates, which is an account of the self-defense presented at Socrates’ trial, not an admission of his transgressions. The poem borrows and alters a line from Jenny Xie’s Eye Level (2018).
* “He will feel like everything you’ve ever lost” borrows and alters a line from Jenny Xie’s Eye Level (2018).
Paula Ethans is a writer, poet, organizer, and human rights lawyer from Canada. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal, Ethel Zine, The Quarantine Review, WordsFest Zine, nymphs publications, Bareknuckle Poet, and more. She is also an accomplished spoken word artist, most recently winning the 2019 Trans Europe Expression Slam finals in Manchester, UK. You can follow her on Twitter @PaulaEthans.
Alexandru Paraschiv CC
we open on an attack─
you’ve startled a choleric cur
the fluids swell, and then spill
you feel the point of impact
distinctly, for only a moment,
and tucked behind your lungs
an awful welt forms
slimy and leaking rosy
the cruor sizzles,
settling into place
your lungs ache
the scab is now the shade of
dry skin begging to be grated
a puce husk of blood and skin
to the calluses on your heels
shrieking with glee
plasma has re-claimed your
curling around your organs
molten and greedy─
your body succumbs
you are immobilized
i wept last night.
you climbed on top of me
best weighted blanket in the world
and resigned all of your body weight to me until
i couldn’t help but start giggling
you told me that my pillows are too fluffy
as you always do
i kissed your cheek
told you that i had some cardboard that you could use, instead
you called me an ass & kissed the bridge of my nose
we dozed off with our limbs intertwined
this morning, i crawled out of our warm bed to make you coffee
my bedroom door groaned
i glanced at you to make sure you hadn’t awoken
but you were already holding your arms out
languidly beckoning, eyes heavy-lidded
lips slipping into a contented smile
i found myself under the covers again
i am venus
ashen belly rolls adored
thirty bucks a peek
i used up all my vinegar
scrubbing my surfaces
there has never been so much sun!
i am the best at everything
i do, so
maybe i’ll bake bread
and let it rise on the windowsill
maybe i’ll bake bread,
before things start to grow too big
and my bedroom squirms around me,
the weeds from the curb sneaking in my window,
my ripe hoodie fusing to my skin
my hangnails will metastasize to my forearms
as massive ghost-clouds taunt
Veronica Bennett was born and raised in Houston, where she lives with her cat, Handlebar. She is completing her B.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. This is Veronica's first time being published. When she isn't writing about her feelings, you can find Veronica making people lattes and shouting into the void on Twitter (@vabnt).
Ryan Adams says to be young (is to be sad),
but I think being young
is a codependence of
anger, thirst, horniness, and headaches.
An alarm blows
in my ear,
my dog licks my cheek, and
I stay sunken
in bed, stapled
to my sheets. I forgot to take
my contacts out last night,
and so, the tears that drip
on my pillow are tinted
by blood, mascara, and that blue eyeliner
I thought would make my eyes pop.
To be young
may be a state
of sleep deprivation, or
sleeping for sixteen hours
I forgot to feed my dog last night.
Who said I was responsible
enough to take care of two
My friends are my babies. I hide
them in my purse
next to a bottle of Tylenol.
I only take them out
in dive-bar bathrooms, where
they hold back my hair
as I vomit,
and scratch my back underneath my shirt.
is chasing, but never grasping,
perfection, ideals, good books,
and better head.
Being young is sitting
on a toilet,
and knowing one day you may
miss this filthy chaos.
A Reduction Plan Is Not Recovery
My father’s a starman
and my mom’s a saint;
too bad their tot blossomed
into a punk stealing
klonopin and throwing
up Fireball on their
back porch. Forgiveness
doesn’t alleviate shame.
Neither does weed or sex.
I’m not an alcoholic.
Why is perfect an
adjective used every day
if that ideal can never be
attained? Probably a man’s
suggestion. My mom
wishes I would get baptized,
or take a bath with Epsom salts
and lavender essential oil,
but no amount of water
could save me. I need that
hard stuff. I lay, face up,
on the bathroom floor. I let
my hair fall in the tub and
Jessica pours vodka over
the top of my head, protecting
my eyes with her hand.
Afterwards, we clean the
drain and find mass amounts
of hair, Humbert’s fingers and
toes, dried vomit, black nail polish,
dog food, and a gallon of
bloody tears. The drain pulsates
with the sound of a voice,
Leave it all behind child.
You’re mine now. I turn around,
abandon my apartment, and walk into the sunset.
The Ideal Whatever
“A woman who can keep a man’s love, and love him in return, has done all the world wants of women, or should want of them.”
Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband
“I spend my money getting drunk and high …wouldn’t I make the ideal husband?”
Father John Misty, “Ideal Husband”
Fuck your ideology.
This is not a confessionary.
I regret nothing.
Men always tell me
I am not enough.
Or maybe I
label onto my-
self. Maybe I’m not.
The first girl I kissed
spent the rest of the
party with her boyfriend.
I’m a woman and
This explains why I’m
trying to lose thirty
pounds, why my vagina
is always in
and why the sheets near
the end of my bed
are covered in blood
and tears of self-loathing.
Don’t lick that! I yell
at the dog. I have
cried over a B+.
I have scars up my
arm. I weigh myself every
morning. I walk through
campus high and
talking to myself.
I was born the day
Jeff Buckley’s body
was found. I listen
to Lua on my
at 4 am with
a wine cooler in
my hand. My ex hit
my dog and I let
him. My ex called me
a cunt and I let
him. My ex fucked his
co-worker and I
let him. I used to
drink until I threw
up. Now I word vomit
to avoid the taste of
bile. I don’t call my
brother enough. I
should quit drinking. I
am no ideal anything,
but neither is
Rachel Goodman is from Nashville, TN. She is currently a senior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing and Psychology.
Kev Wheeler CC
NASA CONFIRMS EVIDENCE OF HIDDEN WATER ON SUNLIT SURFACE OF THE
MOON, POET MAKES IT ABOUT SEX
October 26, 2020
i’ve been making poems in the shape of your open mouth in the dark swallowing whispered
breaths promises round and moaning/ promise not to laugh at me when i confess
i want your wet in my mouth i’m not sorry for dressing up
as your entire universe last night. not sorry for being a good fuck or being happy. i think of
your hands sun warm hovering melting me small pools of want through my
fingers a rocky surface. the shape of joy joy unsettling when everything is
like this joy discovered when everything is like this it’s unsettling to offer this water
to astronauts without asking permission to drink my sky unless you deserve it.
all dyked up with nowhere to go
cut my hair & put on my best buttons. three dollars for black coffee on ice. eight dollars to get
there. the train isn’t coming. today. the train isn’t coming. the water here has veins. the coffee
shop smells like eggs on bagels & i’m all dyked up with nowhere to go. but here. the water here
has veins. each photo of snow looks the same but each moment. each moment a stab wound
on the rocks each moment, split open, and draining. this month is spilling confession spewing
contemplation. am i a girl or just something like it. will they let me through the door with my
head shaved. can i anarchize myself. finally. can i leave my blood on the steps of some elite
institution. this month is fracturing all my best excuses. atrophied. every bus i miss every hard-
earned dollar. atrophied. this month, this impending december, menacing. can i ever erase. my
face is a holy one. my face is pure i’ve been practicing. can I give it up. yet. can i. this time. leave
the brink. get all dyked up. and leave.
Emily Norton is a 22-year-old poet and editor residing in Toronto. Her work centres themes of reclamation and honesty within lesbian identity and whaver hopeless romanticism comes up. She currently works as a freelance writer and editor. When she's not writing, she's probably watching Bob's Burgers or playing with her cat. You can read more of her work at patreon.com/emnortonwrites.
Alexandru Paraschiv CC
Somehow you spin a thread of hope, pale gold,
out of your history, your sad blood, summoning light,
send up a flare of laughter beneath a hard load:
so many chores, grumbling descendants. . . You drudge in light
and cup that flame even as your mood spins down
to black. Depression stalks in its studded collar. Light
a cigarette, call a friend, take your Paxil—hold on
in this season of cold mud until you sit in light
April air and smell green in the world. Brush
your long blond hair; its flood of yellow light,
its beauty, has been with you all your life,
consolation prize for the lack of light
and hope in too many days. Cherish your light.
Dreaming of Sue
Through night tunnels, you sneak up on me now,
high-laughing, fierce woman--your scarlet smile,
your spit in the face of arthritis.
Sometimes you’re in that shawl I knitted, lifting
your Christmas bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream,
sometimes leaning against Grandpa in your kelly green suit.
Happiness—I will take it, your eyes seems to say.
I’m getting old myself now. Many nights,
feeling sheer aches, I mold your heating pad
around my limbs as if wrapping your sharp warmth
around a swelling sadness. I hear your laugh,
peppery, catching, a little cruel,
as I roll into another day.
Naomi Thiers grew up in California and Pittsburgh, but her chosen home is Washington, DC area. In 1992, her first book of poetry Only The Raw Hands Are Heaven won the Washington Writers Publishing House competition. Her other books are In Yolo County and She Was a Cathedral (Finishing Line Press) and Made of Air (Kelsay). Her poetry, fiction, book reviews, and interviews have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review , Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Pacific Review, Potomac Review, Grist, Sojourners, and many other magazines. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured in anthologies, and she is a former editor of Phoebe magazine. She works as an editor with Educational Leadership.
Eugene Zagidullin CC
Summer - ie. the time capsule
It was the summer of spray tan / burials / the summer we decided not to bare the toxic / relationship to ourselves anymore / apathy shaken free / as swimsuits off our sweating skin / diving into wild waters / like learning other bodies / could deliver us our own / to feel the squeeze of freezing water / forcing out our last breath / mocking our unfamiliar mortality / to feel our feet / against the slip of stones / the sand / we wiggle off our toes / before flip flops wield us off again / on new ways / to find ourselves / long before I’d struggle for sixteen years to sleep / we’d stay up all night / our wildness exposed / in cahoots with the moon / a stolen piece of the heavens //
It was the summer we palmed our packs of du Maurier and Export A / an addendum to our sadness / or adultness / no one knew for sure / what we were waiting for / we moved frantically / in jeans biting at our waists / a frenzy of hips / sucking our teeth like girls on a diet / like the urgency to shrink beyond ourselves / was our only momentum / the summer C95 / stopped being the cool radio station / and on Saturdays we’d get a dime bag from the local guy / stretching the night out long like taffy / ignoring the open mouths of garage doors / calling us by name / choosing to leave / our starched streets / in old cars with open windows / in search / of a sky we could sleep under //
Sometimes I catch the scent of those summers / washed over in a whiff of open windows and salty bodies / preserved in resin-coated images / I keep them awake with me / charting out a map of moments like stars / burning out too fast / a whole sky bursting / into empty night / sometimes I remember it was that way / for us too / someone always dies / someone always gets married too soon / someone skips the stone / and forgets the count / doesn’t matter / it was always sinking anyway / we were always asking for directions / moving in circles / a dance we could trust / like falling / like the sound of metal twisting / the crash / someone always drives drunk / the shrapnel we collected in the ditches / cupping our hands / and blowing for warmth / like we could revive this / the wreckage / we gathered / our version of cosmic treasure / long buried in the yard / who lives there now / has certainly dug us up like last summer’s tulip bulbs / swept away in the leaves //
Playing catch on the sidelines of my brother’s ball game - ie. paper airplanes
You blacked my eye
though it was only an accident a slip
of the ball or maybe my mind caught
by a nearby tree branch and thrown back short
before I know it, I’m on the ground with the wind
knocked outta me and uncracked
sunflower seed still in the side of my cheek
the runner crossing third never slows
I hear the cheers erupt like the coughing dust of red shale
when he slides long into home
I made up this memory I have
of you as a boy, caught in a tree
wide as auntie’s hips
in the heat of 200 years
before being locked in the car
before her hands went cold
before the spirits
filled her head, every corner
cabinet & glass after glass
I imagine you a boy outside
the bar, day growing hotter as you waited
you let dusty tornados distract you
following a paper airplane of leaves
straying too far
and it cost you
the end of a belt buckle
the flashing red mark
of her practiced regrets
the trembling hands and need
to steady herself at the elbow
the impulse to watch the leaves
falling from the branches
long before you learned to keep your eye on the ball
You brought ice to the bruise
appeals and sacrifices
a frozen steak for the shiner
and still it spread
in peeling purples hugging my face
tucked into bed
a kiss planted
just kitty corner to this pain
On the edge of town, where we grew up
In the moments when I try not to clear my throat
the rabbit’s scream cuts louder
than the gun’s bellow
I long for the ache of empty replies
but trampling through constellations I forget
my dad’s dinged up tin can of rusted nails
I forget to build a fort of all the fallen trees
I dream thickets into years
I dream choking into ghosts
I dream your short arms aiming
at the moon
I dream gun into lover
riding my legs
I dream your shrill laughter staining my boots
Waking moonless, I go on screaming
Jaime Speed lives, works, and plays in Saskatchewan, Canada. A fan of reading, gardening, throwing weights, and dancing badly, she has recently been published in The Rat’s Ass Review, Dear Loneliness Project, and Hobo Camp Review, with work forthcoming in Psaltery & Lyre and OyeDrum Magazine.
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