Self-Inflicted by SM Colgan

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.)

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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.

Post Natal by Ellen Uttley

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.

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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.

Bodies without phalanges by Ejiro Elizabeth Edward

I should stop praying to my dead self, find a way to come back into inhabiting my skin, own my soul like I didn’t in the first act of living. Imagine me floating from the river, from the sky, into my hair, then my face, then my skin & imagine mother wearing bright clothes like all expectant mothers do.

                                     In death,

there is no such thing as resting forever,

In living

                                   we drink to the memories of lost one’s resting forever.

I ache to curve my mother’s face into my palms, tell her I am here but ghosts are what they are,

        bodies without phalanges,

so instead I choose the body of a small child, mother, I am no longer gunning for my own extinction.

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Ejiro Elizabeth Edward is a female writer from Nigeria. A passionate lover of the arts, she has been published on  Inverse journal, stone of madness, Fortunate traveler and has been shortlisted for the dark juices anthology. She loves to travel and read when she’s not been frustrated by the schools system.
Twitter: Ejiroedward552
Instagram: Bookmistress.

Before Poem: Excerpt by L Scully

(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.

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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.

O see the O Seeds Thee by Omer Wissman

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

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Omer Wissman, 36, multidisciplinary artist. Currently living on social security due to schizotypal disorder, drug resistant depression, and severe OCD.

All the Way Towards Another Tomorrow by Yuan Changming

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
After                 another…
Until                 awakening
To                     the first ray of dawn

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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.

The Definition of Okay by Sarah Frazin

Okay.

See: not okay.

Not okay.

See: stressed.

Stressed.

See: depressed.

Depressed.

See: unstable.

Unstable.

See: disaster.

Disaster.

See: doomed.

Doomed.

See: broken.

Broken.

See: lost.

Lost.

See: okay.

Sarah Frazin

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.

insomniac paints a self-portrait in the dark by Leela Raj-Sankar

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. 

not anymore.

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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/

 

In (Your Own Head Nobody Is Your) Mate by Daniel Clark

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?

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Daniel Clark is a working-class writer from the UK. His words have appeared in Blue Marble ReviewDreams WalkingFifty-Word Stories and Cuento Mag.

Lemon Clorox by Emily Uduwana

I inhale bleach,

scrub the bathroom floor

–3am and breathless–

 

until each risen stain

presses air

into eager lungs.

 

I hate cleaning,

hate the stench 

of chemicals,

 

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).

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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.