You have taken a blade to your skin so many times you do not know the number, just that it will be ten years in August on an uncertain date since the first occasion, and is, as you sit, six months since the last.
(It might be less.)
Maybe you should have started counting back at the start, but it is too late now. Too late, except to know that of all the times and there may be 100 with nicks and scratches over those ten years, of them all only one scarred.
6 January 2016, you think. Razor-blade, driven into your left arm in a fit of rage.
The blood made your hands tremble.
(Maybe that was the rage, too.)
A small ridge of scar tissue, invisible to all except you who knows it is there, where to look.
The mark of what you were, once, and may be again.
(You are too old to think it will never happen again.)
SM Colgan (she/her) is a bi writer living somewhere in Ireland. Her work focuses on emotion, history, sexuality, and relationships, romantic and otherwise. She writes to understand people who are and have been, and to ease the yearning in her heart. Her first prose pieces are forthcoming from Emerge Literary Journal and Stone of Madness Press. Twitter: @burnpyregorse.
I throw away a mouldy bottle
in a kitchen, filled with crap
piled high with guilt and clutter
bean tins and baby hats.
I walk through my house, in tiny steps
over, and through, debris.
I kick aside a washing pile
that blows through the house like leaves.
From upstairs, I hear crying
and my numbed heart does not tug.
But dread echoes round my aching chest
sucked raw, and dripping blood.
A little face looks up at me,
a new one every time.
Bald and spotted and screaming
and I’m not sure that she’s mine.
Ellen Uttley is a working class writer and mother-of-two, from a mining town in northern England. She enjoys working across a number of different genres and themes, with poetry and prose covering everything from mental health and motherhood to the myths of Ancient Greece. Her prose has appeared in the Hive anthology Surfing the Twilight and her poetry is due to feature in this Augusts issue of Streetcake magazine.
(I never want anyone to know how sick I am but maybe I do without having to tell you in words)
I walk into the metro to a torrential noise storm pounding my headphones — could be drums or could be death
Glory to God, I think,
This beastly hurricane has finally come to claim me.
I look forward to the kisses I will get if I avoid being institutionalized, but
Is this train even moving? What’s the word for color blindness except it’s whether or not your body is in motion
I enclose a prayer to my godless self that I don’t get sent away tonight or the next— I think of my grandmother in a box and feel the color leave my cheeks but everyone always says if you don’t look at the body you live to regret it
And I’m scrunching up my face because maybe it will feel like an invitation.
L Scully (they/them) is a queer writer and double Capricorn currently based in Madrid. They are the co-founder and prose editor at Stone of Madness Press. Find them in the ether @LRScully.
Five is doom three a cure-all
Binging to obesity Charmed
Hate-watching Party of Five
And loving The Wire’s S1E5
Where in the dealers’ pager code
Five equaled zero and zero five
Coalesced into endless protecting
By numbers my 3 beloved nieces
As in always taking three pills
Of overdosage OCD medication
Omer Wissman, 36, multidisciplinary artist. Currently living on social security due to schizotypal disorder, drug resistant depression, and severe OCD.
Since yester twilight
Along the borderline of tonight
With fits of thirst & hunger
Among storms of pain
Between interludes of frenzies or insomnia
Near despair & desperation
Amidst the nightmare
At the depth of darkness
Through one tiny antlike moment
To the first ray of dawn
Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Pushcart nominations, Jodi Stutz Award in Poetry (2020) & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), & BestPoemsOnline, among 1,709 others worldwide.
See: not okay.
Sarah Frazin is a queer writer and graphic designer located in Southern California. A lover of video games and writing alike, she often spends her time obsessing over fictional characters. She can be found lurking on Twitter under the handle @femmeNPC.
you know that feeling when you’ve been awake for too long (maybe two days, maybe two hours, maybe you can’t remember) and your limbs are so heavy and the world is pink-tinged at the edges and spinning so fast that the noise in your head recedes for a few seconds/minutes/months (the clock on the wall isn’t working anymore, forgive me) but you still can’t sleep? sure. i think that’s the worst cliche i’ve ever heard–shouldn’t i be able to do this without falling apart? what’s “this?” sleep. eat. concentrate. what you’re feeling is reasonable. it’s hard for everyone. okay. makes sense. i’m young. you are. but say i can’t start this story the rising star and come back a full-grown sun, what do i do with that? that’s what therapy is for. (and drugs.) that too. is the hand tremor normal, then? i think so. side effects can be awful sometimes. yeah. yeah. and if the grades slip? that’s fine. you sure? i couldn’t finish the essay test on time the other day. my mind wouldn’t sit still long enough to read the questions. you really want another diagnosis? yes. no. maybe. what’s that even supposed to mean? medicine won’t solve everything, you know. you should try transcendental meditation. i don’t know what that is. look it up when you get home, okay? no, that’s not what i’m saying. i mean, i don’t know what this is. who i am, if i exist in the first place. you know who you are. not without all this, i don’t. technically i’m ten pounds lighter, did you know that? mom says the meds make me put on weight. don’t worry about it. we’ll switch them. didn’t you just say that wouldn’t solve anything? no. still. you’re shaking. yeah. change the subject, then. how was your day? good, actually. huh. afraid it wouldn’t last, but okay. proof you can function without painkillers. who said anything about painkillers? [a beat.] i don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. neither do i. you’re alright, then? is that a real question? not really. but i want you to love this, someday. this being life? this being me? they’re the same thing. does it matter? it should. do me a favor, would you? go home. get some sleep. is that even possible? sure it is. plant a garden. stop playing dead. i don’t know if i can. maybe you can’t. maybe it wouldn’t make a difference. that doesn’t make sense. that’s the beauty of the thing. it’s ridiculous. absolutely. and if all the noise in my head won’t go away? you don’t need to fight it. (fighting’s all i know how to do.)
you don’t know this.
you don’t know any of this, but i dreamt of you last night, on the bridge. (you kept me from jumping.) but that wasn’t the moral of the story, i think. then what was it?
i don’t want a deathbed scene, not anymore.
Leela Raj-Sankar is a teenage poet from Phoenix, AZ. In addition to writing, she loves iced coffee, painting, and singing, in no particular order. You can find more of her on her blog at https://wildflower-of-the-sea.tumblr.com/
The bashful day won’t dawn. It shirks and skirts
along fleshy walls – you thought all cages must
be metal? that dragons all breathe fire? – tickling
drowned blue orbs. I am inmate and guard, gaoler
and gaoled; sanity means order, direction, structure,
putting every detail in its place like how they sort
elements into that big table then use quadrilateral
voids to paper over the cracks, those pesky vacuums
of knowledge that sink a pursuit nobler than xenon,
argon or krypton… if they can use zips to attach pieces
of cloth, why must I hold myself together?
Daniel Clark is a working-class writer from the UK. His words have appeared in Blue Marble Review, Dreams Walking, Fifty-Word Stories and Cuento Mag.
I inhale bleach,
scrub the bathroom floor
–3am and breathless–
until each risen stain
into eager lungs.
I hate cleaning,
hate the stench
the sweetened veil
of lemon-scented poison.
I hate the memories carried,
memories of hospitals,
of sanitized spaces,
of swollen eyes.
I let the dog out–
one of us should smell grass,
taste dew-covered leaves,
before the mania passes
or consumes the house
in a cloud of Clorox
and antiseptic wipes
and 2-ply towels
(if any are left behind).
Emily Uduwana is a poet and short fiction author based in Southern California, with recent publications in Miracle Monocle, Eclectica Magazine, and Rubbertop Review. She can be found on Twitter @em_udu.