by Claire Sosienski Smith
a bad lover pretends things have always been this bad & things will always be
this bad so you’d better get used to it but the revolt has already begun
it’s a shame it requires so many boring tasks
phone calls & late nights
I’ve always hated anyone telling me what to do
these days I blame it on my Capricorn moon
I tolerate this witchy shit out of nostalgia
for the first time Justice became a card I could hold
it was barefoot Jesus himself who said do not touch me
there’s beauty in requiring impossibility to exist
meanwhile I’ve been learning
how to see in the dark
so when they force us into the grave
we claw ourselves back out
Claire Sosienski Smith (she & they) is based in London and thinks a lot about poetry and prison abolition.
by Jazz De Nero
is the one where the girl has to come out
twice to her family. Once for being queer
and the other for being a mycologist.
There are little ways to tell
small things that give me away
a bitter taste, a terrestrial smell,
My Venus in scorpio
A damp canopy only good for growing ramps
I’ve become a magician who only fools myself.
In the story where the loch is dragged, I am both:
The lake under investigation for drowning
and the soft boiled child at the bottom.
Yes, I’ve poisoned myself.
Yes, I’ve sickened the ones I love
Yes, I’ve shaken my partner
awake in the middle of the night,
“Wake up…don’t be mad, but…”
Symptoms include feeling a sense of doom
At least getting sick off me is cathartic.
Oh, lonely picnic and the stink of milk caps
How I’d like to think of myself as Lactarius
Deliciosus, (Alas, lactarius deterrimus to most)
What’s my label, besides mycorrhizal, one of the poorest
esculents. What’s my netflix genre: false morel,
something palatable, choice edible, or poisonous
to the unseasoned stomach.
To fill the body with toxins so that no one
wants to eat it, spoon-feed it unboiled milkweed
pods to build a tolerance, thicken the skin,
turn it bitter and resistant.
My intention: an olive spore print. My middle
an unripe persimmon. I remember trying to rub
away the astringent that swells the tongue
to a pucker, worried it would spread
to the soft horn of my throat.
Oh, delicate resilience, I, too, bruise blue,
Used to subscribe to the mythology that nettles
are found near their cure, used to brandish myself
with the stalks to prepare myself for battle.
The crescent blade of my knife disappears into my hand
and again I am the woman who threw her ring in the garden,
only to find, in autumn, it had grown around one of the carrots.
Not a secret left or a partial veil, no cobweb-like
protective covering, but a little red headed bolete
A funeral bell strung round sweetbread
A bitter poison pie covered in a bloom.
Jazz De Nero is a poet and artist living in Buffalo, NY. Her work can be found in Cosmonauts Avenue, perhappened mag, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Ghost City Review, and Peach Mag.
by Alanna Duffield
I imagine you still drive down the same roads now and again?
The ones with all those blind corners that made me
sit with my spine pressed to the seat.
There’s never anything to see in the mirrors but you look anyway.
Which one of us are you looking for?
There’s no one reflected in the backseat anymore,
no soft laughter or fingers scratching your neck through the headrest.
We all could have died.
When I haunt your car now, where am I?
I think maybe the passenger seat,
leaning forward to change the music—just a shape in the dark
illuminated periodically by the lights.
Remember I made you pull over and buy me cherries once,
and I ate them on the way home
spitting all the fleshy stones into my hand?
A spectre still lives there now, in that same seat.
While your eyes are on the road you don’t notice
that she’s planted every cherry pip in your body,
and before you can stop it, you can’t see for leaves.
Like driving on the wrong side of the road
and finding that the gear stick is suddenly on the opposite side,
sometimes you reach for a thigh that isn’t there anymore.
Alanna Duffield is a London-based creative writer and professional copywriter with a MA and BA Hons in English and American literature. Inspired by the Sussex countryside where she grew up, Alanna’s writing frequently explores themes of nature, womanhood, grief and sex. Her writing has been published in Dear Damsels, Candiid Magazine and House of Revolution.
by Mónica García
I haven’t spoken this to my brother.
The way my father, under sweltering
moonlight in June held
trembling breath on a string.
I hear his confession
before the cicadas do.
Precursor to their syncopated crying,
he is missing a sister he lost
in a car crash. Her funeral lasting
the vacation time his job allowed. I haven’t told
my brother how he pressed chapped
palms to his eyes, pushed tears
into tautness, denied abjection
to me, his oldest child. His voice echoes
in the living room:
No hay nada más que hacer.
I begin to tell him he is allowed
softness but instead,
he moves like he’s counting his steps,
three, four, five, seven, nine,
into the kitchen, and reaches
for the tequila nestled
between hot sauce and a jar of salt.
I have never seen him cry before.
He does not want me to see.
He, the provider, the father of five
and granite, incomparable,
is not a man of litanies.
The men in my family
swallow barbed wire
and pretend they are stars.
Their daughters try to hold
their sadness for them,
ache splitting between their fingers
like dust. I know these men,
my father, his wedding band,
his glass, rhythmic heartbeat
tapping, tapping, tapping,
with a grief
he refuses to name.
Mónica García is a poet from Kankakee, IL. They hold a degree in Creative Writing from Northwestern University and is currently pursuing their MFA at Arizona State University. Their work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Helicon Literary & Arts Magazine, Polemix Magazine, and elsewhere. In their free time, they draw comic-poems and give their plants good morning kisses.
by Kelly Jones
that breaks into a humid grey afternoon and the herbs
perched on the back stoop in colorful pots
drown in pools of water that I pour out
onto the rosemary bush in hopes of saving them
and my fingers carry that sharp Mediterranean scent into evening
as I smoke a cigarette and wonder where the hours went
and if I should mix up a drink now or later
or not at all since lately
the distance between me and others
seems wider than usual because
it is, and right now I’d love to feel
a stranger’s arm brush mine on a crowded street
or some sand under my feet and a sunburn
to soothe with aloe and later peel away to reveal
fresh new skin, and last night I dreamed I didn’t have a face,
just more flesh where my eyes, nose, and mouth should be
but I still had all my senses and smelled a storm
in my sleep and when I woke
it was difficult to open my eyes so I laid in bed,
listening to the storm, thinking about how yesterday
my phone autocorrected all is vanity to
all is vanishing,
which is such a beautifully phrased undoing
that I envy AI’s way with words.
Kelly Jones is currently an out of work librarian, educator, writer, and editor who lives in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Some of their poems have recently appeared in *Dead Mule School, Bone Parade,** Epigraph Magazine, *and* Ghost City Review*. These past few months they’ve been spending their time caring for an old dog, attempting to keep lots of houseplants alive, befriending the feral cats that roam their neighborhood, trying to not distress their spouse by rearranging everything all the time, volunteering as a member of the Operations Team with *Telephone *(an international arts experiment), and suppressing the urge to yell ‘*masks, masks, omg where is your mask?*’ whenever they’ve had to venture out into the world.
by Loisa Fenichell
In a gas station, geography of the southwest is like an infant’s
birthday party, easy to get lost in its muck. Vital element
of the landscape is that my torso is always nailed to the wind.
I walk past the dollar store, empty, & marvel at its committee:
flamingo hats; glasses for late nights only; t-shirts with pictures
of New York-style bagels. I want a collection. I collect for nobody.
My bedroom requires a knock on the door.
In a diner, the mountains steeple outside the glass window. Saguaros
flinch across my tongue. I step into my car, where Elizabeth Cotten
sings through the stereo. When I close my eyes, she is sitting just next
to me. I have dreams in which the boy I will love also cried the day
Pete Seeger died & then forget that Seeger is no longer here to see
global fright as it exists today. When stepping into a park, I see a man
holding a banjo. I laugh, ecstatic, & am the only one to do so.
Loisa Fenichell holds a BA from SUNY Purchase College, where she studied Creative Writing and Literature. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in various publications, such as Winter Tangerine Review, Porridge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, and Sundog Lit. Her debut collection, ‘all these urban fields,’ was published by nothing to say press July of 2019. She is an MFA candidate at Saint Mary’s College of California.
by Sadiyah Bashir
I don’t know how to call a night, a night.
How to see a match and not erupt.
I want a softer mother.
I have to admit sometimes the fruit doesn’t fall… it is pushed.
My mama don’t like the poems where I mention her like this,
And will probably ask,
“Where is your father?”
And I’ll reply,
Just like his coming home every night of my life,
He will have to walk miles before he makes it to this poem.
Sadiyah Bashir is a freelance writer and poet. Her poetry has been
showcased on various media such as: Al-Jazeera, Apple, and UNICEF. Her
first self-published book entitled “Seven” explores trauma and triumph
through the lens of Black Muslim womanhood.
by Gary Gamza
I’m a peach spilling juice on all the wrong clothes. Every last pit smells of me. Potential a musk I can’t stomach. Even I tire of my words. Is it more tragic if I author my own disaster? Or less? And if I should plagarize? My mother’s been calling from different phones again, but at least she’s in touch, says she’s been getting good dick. Good for her. My last taste of dick was at the graveyard. Her flavor was thick. Simon’s said it liked me best as Schrodinger’s Pussy, under covers, my mouth my whole. My last girl only knocked at my door with her head. Anon wanted me to keep my door unlocked, my hole open, my head bedded, but I was scared of what I could not see coming. I’m full of compunction. Wholly contrite. I’m all out of touch. I’m split. I want you, I want you, I want you. I need you now as I’ve never needed you before. Am I coming on too strong? How much weaker need I be? It’s 8am, I must be puking now. I purge my guts on waking, read fortunes in bile, say it’s a good day. These actions speak for my selves. I’m always serving you empty promise on this silver tongue. As though I were rare. Is this thing still on? I don’t know who can hear me, but everyone’s watching. I warned you, I’m expanding (read: white girl still talking about manifesting destiny in 2020 like her desire isn’t a death sentence). Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Gary Gamza is still living.
stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples:
for I am sick of love.
—Song of Solomon, 2:5 KJV
perhaps scatter the scarred breadcrumbs far and few
between and the trail will seem shorter every day
is a desert waylaid in the back of my throat
prickly-pear me into sustenance this body is betrayal
look at these protesting joints my one weeping eye these
allergies swelling my voice shut
I think often about taking a long trek
on short notice maybe I wouldn’t like the
sand much but I’d find it easier to be, there
unhampered the moon unhinged the coyotes all
those wayward symbols of death buzzards not
so easy made corporeal gifts given short shrift
when we get everything we want which is now
the first thing embroiled in happenstance and
the brilliance of firelight stoking menace
find me a perfect stone upon which to rest my head
no other crutch smooth just as wisdom is a wine
milky battered and perhaps sheltering a serpent
we come here to bleach our bones in unerring light
such that everything crumbles returned to me
various heaving heavinesses spilt salt across a dark stain spreads
under the single-minded glaring eye of horus
I don’t dare bring my feeble doubts no longer
the pacing only the being
still a feat
Marylyn Tan is a queer, female, Chinese Singaporean, linguistics graduate,
poet, and artist, who has been performing and disappointing since 2014.
Her first volume of poetry, GAZE BACK (Singapore Literature Prize 2020,
Lambda loser), is the lesbo Singaporean trans-genre witch grimoire you
never knew you needed. Her work trades in the conventionally vulgar,
radically pleasurable, and unsanctioned, striving to emancipate the
marginalised and restore the alienated, endangered body. She is the founder
of multidisciplinary arts collective DIS/CONTENT (hellodiscontent.carrd.co).