I realize the tides in my brain are shifting once I’m singing along to my phone and running the sponge in sudsy circles inside and around the lip of the next to the last dirty bowl that rests atop the kitchen counter
I recognize a calm heart and peaceful breaths and wonder if my mania is muted less severe than the patients seeking care at the place I am employed
For when I find myself cleaning the kitchen washing the messes righting the wrongs wringing the sadness
for a moment I find myself happy
Lindsey is a writer born and raised in Upstate South Carolina. She has words in Emerge Literary Journal, X-R-A-Y, Emrys Journal, Red Fez, Schuylkill Valley Journal and more. She spends her time at home raising a strong, confident daughter. Find her on her website at https://r3dwillow.wixsite.com/rydanmardsey or on Twitter: @rydanmardsey.
[TRIGGER WARNING, SEXUAL ASSAULT]
i don't mean to disturb you,
the thunder in my head rattles every night,
your eyes, a somber shade of lapis,
whimper, isn't my love enough?
and it is, it is, it's always enough--
i just forget that when a hand
lands firmly on my shoulder,
it's your pink, plump, sugared lips
awaiting our wake-up kiss,
not the thin grin of a breathing gargoyle,
the one that clawed my breasts,
tore my labia til they bled.
being still helps me get through the hours,
you say, they all say:
smile, baby, smile, smilebabysmile, ssss mmmm iiii llll eeee
but smiling is what got me
hurt in the first place.
Shelby Bevins-Sullivan is an attorney. She has published work in And So Yeah Magazine, The Harpoon Review, The Blue Hour, and other places. Her poems are largely confessional, focusing on sexual trauma, the denial of justice, religious hypocrisy, and their interconnectedness.
A string Between three falling Anchors Is the day unmedicated.
Hours tick deeper Ticking into night’s submergence of stars Becoming a plastic bag Around my child head An utter terror of Tomorrow’s triggered Sky fall: cement The busy blood The clock of walking people Walking too fast.
I flip the light switch Eleven times before bed Every night or else.
Coleman Bomar is a writer who currently resides in Middle Tennessee. His works have been featured by and/or are forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Plum Tree Tavern, Prometheus Dreaming, SOFTBLOW, Eunoia Review, Beyond Words, Bewildering Stories, Isacoustic, Moonpark Review, Maudlin House, Star 82 Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest, Nine Muses Poetry and more.
that opens me from the top by the language’s body, where
the blood eclipse we don’t talk about is calendar-event beautiful (woman hood or hooded woman),
preceding the labor of being read as bodily and I am everyone’s garden,
using the heart reaction for a petrifying romance between feet and ground and hum.
love me because you don’t have to and extract the patterns, I’ll make
capsules to ingest twice weekly. take my crescent cycles to the supermarket with the coupons.
discount my flying spells or wait until I’ve boiled and cooled
and crafted the earth to stretch for us and us-plus and really just me being able to breathe.
you can love me, you don’t have to, you can close me from the end.
Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has recently appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Kissing Dynamite, Meridian, and The Pinch. She is an Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and lives in Houston.
Boredom is standing in a line outside of an event hall. You and your sibling have planned this outing weeks in advance. The actual event itself will be memorable, even though you know every sound after it will feel like pins and needles on your brain, even though when you exit the building, the sun will be too bright for your sensitive eyes, and even though you’ll need to construct a blanket cocoon and nestle yourself into the heart of its warmth, you know it will have been worth it. “No one’s getting in here.” You will mutter happily to yourself, reciting a cartoon as well-worn and loved as the blankets that surround you.
All of those events are tasks set before your future self. Right now, you are bored. And when you are bored, you cluck. You cluck once, low and soft, testing the mood of the crowd around you. No complaints. You cluck again, louder and with more confidence. As you cluck, your brain sets off joyous sparks of light and color, pushing back the boredom and allowing you to focus better on your surroundings. Your sibling looks at you and you smile encouragingly at them. They’re not as much of a fan of making chicken noises as you are, but when you start to clap they join in, keeping you on time to the music you’ve constructed in your mind. Your sibling shimmies as you jerk your limbs into odd contortions, your soul glowing orange as you clap and cluck.
Others in line stare at your strange behavior, but your focus is captured by the notes whirling within your mind, crafting your bird call piece by piece. Life is simply too short to concern yourself with whether or not being a dancing chicken is appropriate behavior while standing in line.
Farther ahead, a woman turns around to see what the noise is about and your eyes meet. You mimic your sibling’s shimmy and continue clapping. You can see the bright glow fill her eyes as she begins clapping as well, bopping her head along to the beat.
To your delight, a few others join you in your clucking: a cacophonous choir of chickens, cheeping and chirping to the same shared song. You take turns clucking back and forth with the man ahead of you, before he succumbs to a fit of giggles. “This is so weird.” He admits, but continues with his bird song.
When at last the doors to the event hall open, an employee pokes their head out to look at the crowd. “Was it just me, or did I hear a bunch of clapping…and clucking?”
Your sibling looks at you with a good-natured smile and gives one last shimmy.
You throw back your head and belt forth a rooster’s cry of affirmation.
Basil Wright is a Black and Indigenous autistic queer writer that lives in Florida with their sibling. Their work has appeared in Perhappened Mag, The Daily Drunk Mag, and Disability Madison’s Black and Disabled Virtual Showcase.
The amount of money saved. Scrawling everywhere. Green red, red green. A loose evening, becomes looser, restlessly restless. In the dream, you’re running. No, in the dream, you’re sitting. The river on your lap. A tortoise is hunted by a rabbit. How many ways can you look without looking? How often can you count, then backwards? Hypochondriac or cursed curious? You’ve sewn a moon into a blanket. It’s never finished. You give it cheeks, a clown nose. You, class clown, sit in the principal’s office. He tells you to stop touching his paper clips, the leather chair. You ask Do you need your bicycle tuned up? Principal slams his desk, stands to look out his window. In the sky, a cloud shaped like a rabbit drops to the ground. The principal asks When you grow up, what do you want to be? Outside, the cloud’s breath steams the window. Put down my stapler, my rubber bands. Are they yours to touch? Can’t you just sit there? Can you do that, huh? Sit there and just listen?
Gianni Gaudino teaches 8th grade English and Language Arts in the School District of Philadelphia. When he was 6, Gianni was diagnosed with ADHD and a minor form of Tourette’s Syndrome. He has poems in ProLit Magazine, Yes, Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, and a few others. He lives in Philadelphia.
Leaving the apartment is both a recipe and a spell. Ingredients in a certain order set in threes to unlock the doors that lead to the front stoop. Three cats to find. Three items I need before I go. Three doors to lock and unlock and re-lock in threes to guarantee the cooking incantation of leaving’s labor holds. Half-finished spells are spoiled milk and the number of rideshares that have come and gone while I re-work in threes maps the city in miles lost. Inside. Outside. Inside. A magic wand finger swipe to re-order Uber. Re-find the three cats. Hold my face to their faces and tell them I love them three times. My hand on the doorknobs advancing one twist after the other to complete the cooking spell of loss that comes with leaving. At each door, I say the final words to complete the magic meal of going into the world. It’s okay.It’s okay. It’s okay.
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, as well as the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House, and The Guessing Game published by BA Press. She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it; she believes that the poodle is the reincarnated spirit of the television show Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
Riding the margin the guardrail sings its sad, sad song. The windshield will not punch back, hair stuck to the wheel while the blood swells in your wrist. Bald stare in the closing heat, the blue unmerciful around lines of glass that shatter spectacularly, but stay intact. Another odd fate, tracing the cut glass that cannot cut you, nothing can keep the beauty from finding your fist— but what light spills from such things? There is nothing now save the sweat in your throat; you blink your eyes, the hazard lights, your heart.
Adam Grabowski holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the recipient of a 2020 Parent-Writer Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. His poems have been featured or are forthcoming in such journals as Hobart,jubilat, and Sixth Finch, as well as the anthologies What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Rage in the Age of Trump and Alongside We Travel: Contemporary Poets on Autism. Adam currently lives a life of stern comfort, alongside his wife and two daughters, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
A lack of love perverts things, shrivels all that was moist, cakey innocence into a corpse. Into worst. A ghost. A laugh turns into a weapon at what hour of the night? The toothy smile that doubles
as a bear trap. My father doesn’t exist. The kindness wrapped in male that smells like surrender. Corner mother values life more than love now. Barks like a cop because that gets results. Yields silence and is the best way to stay invisible, alive. Lock yo doors. Hide yo kids, hide yo husbands. Cover legs and heads and mirrors because The Demon stares back every time I forget who’s looking.
The Demon (III)
Hey. Just let me curse a little. Just let me laugh at the thought of a thought. My shame is obese today. I just don’t want to talk. It looks like hell outside. My face looked like hell this morning. I can’t tell the difference between a scar, a scab, a patch of psoriasis, and a prison tattoo. The cave of my bedsheets. What can I say?
A push is a jump is a release. What is outside of sleeping but waiting to sleep?
Warren Longmire is a writer, a software engineer, and an educator from the bad part of North Philadelphia. He is the co-founder of the Excelano Project Spoken Word Collective and the current Program Director of the Nick Virgilio Writers House. You can find his writing in journals including Toho, American Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly and The New Purlieu Review and on his instagram @alongmirewriter.