Sonnet

What’s ordinary now? Bees? No, they’re going. Licking

Pictures of pretty boys’ faces you found online but printed

Out for company? No, why would you need to print them.

And who has a printer with that much color ink? Plus,

They wouldn’t be just pretty, either—some’d be menacing

And some’d be women because multitudes can’t contain

Themselves until they’re tied down, lovingly but firmly,

The leather around their throats putting a little hitch

In every fifth breath. Imagine singing to them like this—

Even blindfolded they’d know if you used a recording—

Their only clue of where you might touch them next being

Wherever it sounds like you are. And as you watch them

Strain to listen, as the harness tightens around their chest,

You’ll feel the thrill of unanswered need, and time flowering to extend it——

 

~~~

 

By Nathanielle Dawn

Lazarus, after Doubt Comes In & LIBIDO in a time of vacancy

Lazarus, after Doubt Comes In

All the snakelike things writhing in my gut,
the way plaid calls itself houndstooth, these
patterns showing themselves
in composite. Tell me the crosseyed
were damned and I’d believe
you. I could never trust
the mercy of dilation. Too careless a trust,
to snake blood from your gut
up to your optic nerves. In belief,
the crosseyed are born unblind. These
yearners born broken, born crosseyed.
The serpents ever-yielding to themselves
a burden: to call themselves
serpents. This kind of self-definition a trust
beyond trust. Call the crosseyed crosseyed
and they’ll snap into focus. Tell the gut
to bleed and it will. These
kinds of injury a blessing, to believe
your body a body. The belief
your limbs will slough themselves
is not unfounded– all of these
miracles temporary, after all. Trust
in recovery and you’ll be gutted
time and time again. The crosseyed
a kind of reborn. The crosseyed,
if they are to be believed,
happily interstitial. My gut
an ulcer unto itself. Certainties themselves
rotting into nothing. The final trust
of death, too, gone. All of these
maladies without end. These
limbs only scar tissue. Me, crosseyed,
even with repentance. With trust,
I could know pain had an end. Believe
in anyone and they’ll tell themselves

you’re saved. Even after your gut’s
gone bloody. If only the blurred
would unblur again. Until then
I’ll rot further and further. Death
a mercy beyond mercy. Everything only beyond itself.

 

LIBIDO in a time of vacancy

And after all this, I curl up
in a chlorine shawl. My shoulders
draped in swimming pool. My

nose dripping with isopropyl. Everything
like this, disinfected. Undangerous. I am
the wolf-faced lamb. The battery torn
loose from the coupe. If only
you’d teach me how to love. The wolf
without technique. Without experience.
There is no practice
for sex. For love, yes, but for
Love, no. Let me shapeshift
and I’ll do as your body wants. Teach
me how to turn feral and we'll eat
out every night this week. Decadent with
forbidden fruit. Learned only in
breaststroke and making out. Eyes rubbed
raw from swimming laps. The YMCA a
cathedral of chlorine. Moonlight crashing through glass,
refracting through water and
declaring me guilty. The lamb without an
excuse. The water, without knowing, asleep
in my lungs. Teach me how to fuck
and I’ll learn how to breathe.

 

~~~

 

Alrisha Shea is a 17 year old student going into Bioinformatics in undergrad. They can be observed in their natural habitat @alrisha_s on Twitter. Their work is published or forthcoming in Outlook Springs, Crab Fat Magazine, Dirty Paws Poetry, and others. Their chapbook, Cicada Girl / Locust Boy is forthcoming from corrupt press.

brandywine river

baptize me in the brandywine with a bottle

of hard cider in my hand / stick to me like

wet clothes / tuck yourself inside me

like a message in a bottle

 

the water licked my body like / envelope

glue, sealed me up / and the moon didn’t

bother trying / to cover her black eye /

purple cotton candy bruise

 

baptize me in the brandywine with the

tiny river clams / with the coors light cans /

the rush hour traffic, that’s not our world /

our world is honeysuckle wind and the

anxiety of trying to describe it /

 

reach for me, I’m slippery as silt covered rock /

bury yourself like riverbed trash / catch your

eyes flash / like dark side of spanish moon /

 

baptize me in the brandywine beneath the

valentine red and white crucifix / hammered

to the riverside tree / some drowning victim

memorial / a prayer begs to be slurred

 

~~~

Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She is a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English with a concentration in Writing. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in over two dozen literary journals. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website.

 

Lingering Fawn

I lay naked in a ditch, waiting to meet you.
I put myself there, fell in and decided this is where I’ll stay.
The ground is cold but I can feel the earth’s core,
burning me like a hot steam.
If I close my eyes I can feel your arms around me.

I wait for you to drive by and mistake me for a dead fawn.
Take interest in my remains.
Pick me up, bring me home and bathe my body as I lay limp.
Wrap me in white linens.
And breathe life,
Into me,
Thru my cunt.

the sun is out, but i am not

for every girl

 

and the ghost of you is stifling. it is pure

and it is honest, so how on earth could it be

wrong? the year is now. sounds from

Coppélia spread itself on the walls like

ivy, my body sheathed in bees, i reach

for the lily caught in my throat and beg

the disabling hunger, growling in the pit

of my paunch, to end. my detail is left

untouched, and so, i am dying. this is

the kind of darkness that makes existence

questionable. how could i go dead in an

instant and rise reluctantly with the

sun? at  times i am too much

effort than you’ll ever be willing to

give. and further times i trust that you

will take your time with me. until then,

my sex, an unmarked holy grail, lies

dormant somewhere between

‘i love you’ and ‘no.’ this day’s air

sits plump in my nostrils.

sweating. the smell of an

omelette, overcooked,

ejaculation from four

hours ago collected neatly

in my fingernails,

insomnia lulling, i am in a moon bassinet.

how long must I cradle this lie?

the sun creeps in, painting the floors a

glaring shade of ‘new life’ and stops

just short of me in my dazed and copper

nakedness. i know i must go, but it is

impossible to leave this room. and, to

forget you; my body, hacked and charred,

eternally trapped inside of your rose

colored sun. i am the wetness of an

oyster, alive and lapping, longing, for

what feels like the end of an era—

outfitted in my usual uniform: a lack of

emotional seasons. there are so many, and

yet, not a soul is enough. i want to

pierce myself through your black hole and

find peace on the other side. girls tell me

that happiness is a costume only

a few of us wear well. i love

you because you are a child of war born

from disproportionate lovers, and, you

also care. one day, i will taste the

juice of a divine summer in your healthy

peach. and cry when i come. i will wake up

some mornings next to you with a mouth

full of ‘sorry.’ i extend my

sincerest apologies for all the mindless

things i know i will do.

 

~~~

Afieya Kipp (she/her) is a queer poet and editor born in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the forthcoming titles, Investments in Weak Vessels (Whiskey Tit Books) and Hopefully You Find Something Meaningful In This (Vessel Press), as well as (black)Moans(wane)s (Vessel Press), which is available via Payhip and Amazon, and “conversations in the ego graveyard,” also on Amazon. Currently, she’s the founder and EIC of Vessel Press, and lives in northern New Jersey where she carries poems in her wallet. Follow her on Twitter: @AfieyaK and @vessel_press.

I am Francesca; He can be Paolo

As he leaves the bedroom, he tells me to get undressed and lie on my stomach.
I take off my leggings and my socks, then my knickers and my jumper.
I sit on the bed, looking at my vast pale flesh.
The toilet flushes, and I hear a thwump as his belt hits the bathmat.  I know that when he comes into the bedroom, he will be naked and I will look at the tiger which sits above his nipple, and the paragraph of text from Brothers Karamazov, sliding over his bicep.
I am fleshy and white.  My areolas are a light shade of rose, but otherwise, I am colourless.
He comes into the bedroom and he is naked.
He says, ‘Come on.  We’ll do it like this, if you want.’
He rubs my back with sandalwood oil.  His fingertips create waves in the fat, like little tsunamis.
Francesca watches us.  Paolo’s Francesca, I mean.  She hangs in a frame above the bed, red-headed and voluptuous.
Francesca reminds me that I look like her, and that if she is good enough for a son of a lord, I am good enough for this man from Wyoming.
Francesca shows me her body:
I worship the deep dimples in her knees
the soft roundness of her stomach
her white, ice skin.
~~~
Francesca King has been engaged for years in writing prose which considers ‘lost’, ‘strange’, or ‘abandoned’ spaces.  Her last novel, ‘The Cello Hospital’, (shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2017) is set in the dark underbelly of Paris, and is concerned with spaces such as the catacombs and Le Petite Ceinture – the abandoned railway which loops around Paris like a ‘little belt’.  She is currently writing a novella which considers Iceland’s ‘hidden people’ and the mythical spaces they inhabit.  When not writing, she likes to spend time with her two cats.

postural pastoral

this pressure feels purplish

and all i did was stand

from sitting after sleeping

like a bag of sand

on your nubby couch. i spy

swimmers from your bay

window. across busy

lanes of traffic i make

eye contact with life-

guards as you breathe

into my body, save

me from behind. we could

take this outside and i’d grab

handfuls of leaves and needles

from those thick, private

bushes. only rabbits

and squirrels hear us

in effortless euphoria: the hum

and hump fast or soft

as cottontail. even the neighbors

in swimsuit, trunk, and towel

are unaware of our sounds

as automobiles pant so fast

with quickening pulse

down your frantic road.

~~~

K Weber lives and writes in Ohio. Her 4 online books of poetry are in e-book and audiobook formats on her website along with her writing credits.

The Words & Love Languages

The Words

The words roll their eyes

and tell me,

get over here.

 

The words pin me to a wall

by my small wrists.

 

The words hold me

for a time, saying nothing.

 

The words are caught up

and won’t visit till later.

 

The words call. They don’t text.

The words unwrap

hot pink desires.

 

You’re probably wondering

what the words are doing.

 

They topple beside me,

tipsily.

 

The words bring my hands to

waiting lips.

 

They erase space

between us,

bit by bit.

 

Love Languages

Eat me out in an abandoned store

at the mall, with its changing room

eerily lit and the bathroom still

stocked with toilet paper.

 

Choke me against a concrete wall

and hope no one checks footage.

In this horror movie, we both die;

we have la petite mort.

 

I want to lick your long neck

in front of everyone at this party

and then whisper, “vamonos.

You grip my wrists: “vamanos.”

 

Pink tulips demand to be photographed.

Call it vanity, but my breasts should be

featured in your lens il più delle volte.

(I’m another millennial poet with great tits.)

 

I’m vengeful and désolé.

I’m horny and lo siento.

I’m making a lot of mistakes.

Mi dispiace.

 

I use too many letters of the alphabet,

writing with my right hand, in black ink,

on a card found in a laundromat,

via US Postal and one forever stamp.

 

I am sorry.

~~~

Sarah A. O’Brien is a writer, artist, and teacher living outside of Boston, MA. She will graduate with an MFA in Poetry from University of Nebraska-Omaha in December 2018. Sarah is working on a book of poems, probably called Chameleon. She is the Founder and EIC of Boston Accent Lit. Follow her at @saraheditsbooks and @fluent_Saracasm.

******* & crush

*******

i lay my heart in the barbecue pit

so u can eat it on a stick
or if u like it raw bby,
know that it’s just meat.
have it.

 

crush

i lost my ability to sing and there discovered vulnerability
coasting at 4am: u conducted, on me, a test of satiability
it didnt take long before u could strongly attest to my muteness
and so detesting it, therein u found ur weakness

for girls with lungs of canary, goldfinch, and nightingale
singing hail mary hymns, born of wedding veils –
these are god’s creatures, handmade, then kissed –
me, i am a lecher, hell-stoked, then dismissed

i was so stupid – i should have known
u placed choir girls on a throne, now i trace our old haunts alone:
our swings at night, newfound in the half-light,
on ascending, the wind-chimes, our secret sad sign

but this silence, this fault line – yes, it’s all mine.

~~~

Erika Loh was born in Singapore in 1999. She is an undergraduate at Yale-NUS College and spends her time visiting art shows and skipping classes. Thanks to the Internet you can read her diary here.

We trade weather reports like love

letters – you send a picture of the aquamarine

sky behind the verdant mountains that rise

up from the ocean, your smile in the middle

of the frame. I can almost smell the salt

water breeze as it tangles your hair. I respond

with a photo, my smile as bright as my umbrella

against the concrete sky.

It’s been raining for ten days – I crave sunshine

and your hands. You send a photo of a rainbow.

I recognize the street you live on, remember

each time I parked, walked into your house,

crawled into your bed.

There’s a thunderstorm tonight, loud

and bright. I sleep with the blinds open, watch

the lightning flash through the window. I tell

you I’m naked in bed, the room illuminated

with each crack. I can’t photograph the flash,

the lightning moving too quick to capture.

I send you a photo of my body instead, my skin

pale against the dark sheets. I wish

you were here, I say, knowing we’d fuck

hard and fast, the percussion of the storm

our soundtrack.

The next morning dawns clear and bright,

the storm pulling the clouds with it as it moves

up the coast, the azure sky a welcome

sight. The emerald grass sodden, the seeds

of desire pushing through the earth

of my heart, growing wild.

~~~

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, Haunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: @wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.