Categories
Poetry Self-Harm

The Blade by Jerica Taylor

I carry a sword inside me, head to hips.

Some evenings, I want to dance until it clangs against my ribs loud enough to be heard.

Outside in the sun in the lingering chill of February, light glints off my chest, blinding. Steel shines just under the skin of my sternum. Is the blade finally going to rend me in half? Or is my body exorcising it like a splinter?

I press my hand to this new breastplate. I do not want to die in the daylight, but I fear turning inward to discover I have been hollowed, and am still walking.

In an unseen future, something could grow in that cleaned-out space; a pruned-back bush dormant for a season, a year, a decade. Any blossom would be an epiphany.

A stem in my hand.

Jerica Taylor is a neurodivergent queer cook, birder, and chicken herder. She has an MFA from Emerson College, and her work has appeared in Impossible Archetype, FERAL, perhappened, and The Fabulist. She lives with her wife and young daughter in the woods of Western Massachusetts.

Categories
Anxiety Poetry

GERD by Grace Alioke

morning crow escorts the
furnace feasting in your chest with

the rhythm of your heartbeat. what do
you do to the heart losing its crown to the wind?
you crawled as a wounded

snail to the doctor and the banshee scream
that pumped from your mouth

plastered on her table at her report:
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
you’re chewing hope as the wheel leads

you to the theatre, and the crumps
grow wings:

I…will… live
I…will… live
I… will…live

Grace Alioke is a Nigerian writer and poet, decorator and a student of University of Benin. She writes only when her pen draws her. Her works have been published in Praxis magazine, Analogies & Allegories, Havilah Woman, and forthcoming in others. 

Categories
Poetry Trauma

Electroconvulsive Therapy Made Me Forget Many Things But Not Grief by Ashley Sapp

It’s quiet when you forget. At first.
They warn you that the stimulation will result
in memory loss, but they don’t tell you that
what you’ll be left with is grief.
You will trade your recollection for your mind.
You will face a gaping hole where experience used to be.
There is sadness in forgetting, but you’ll regain yourself, too.
Pain fades and scars emerge.
It is slow but not gentle — unfortunately.
There is a price for everything. This, too.
That is why there is grief – you are better
and yet you cannot remember how or why.
It is quiet when you forget because
the silence is what remains. After.
The silence is a sorrow sonnet, reminding you not of what was lost
but instead of the fact that you lost it.
Say hello, though, now.
Introductions are my new saviors,
tiny initiations of person, place, and thing. Petrified and preserving,
I am returning. It is not so quiet.

Ashley Sapp resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and furbabies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 2010 and has written for various publications. Her work has previously appeared in Indie Chick, The Daily Drunk Mag, All Female Menu, and the Common Ground Review. She is a bibliophile who enjoys traveling, tattoos, and photography. Ashley has written two poetry collections: Wild Becomes You and Silence Is A Ballad. Twitter: @ashthesapp

Categories
Anxiety Poetry

Fire by Jonathan Todd

When you get home I’ll be sober

on my 5th cup of coffee

out of a hot shower

thinking about the dried out corn stalks

I passed on my way back from the store.

Bought a pack of smokes & chocolate,

chanted worries,

wrote piano music.

Thought and thought,

ceaseless minor notes,

olive oil and kitchen lights,

a single rose as the cooler air slips on.

I decide against lighting the table on fire

slip out for a smoke

still hot from the shower

cells open

a branch wrapped around itself.

Go back and forth

til I remember the last hit of oak

and stare at the cut on my finger

near my wedding ring.

Today I told my therapist I

don’t believe in anything.

Not sure what I was trying to get across then.

Still not sure now.

Jonathon Todd is a poet and musician, living in South Philadelphia. His work deals with observations mainly written between breaks, trying to find humanity outside of and within labor. His work has been featured in Philadelphia Stories, Prolit mag, and Protean mag among others. His chapbook Over/time was recently released  from Moonstone Press (2019).

Categories
Depression Poetry

DEPRESSION by Janet McCann

I think of my parents living through it,

spaghetti with home-grown tomatoes for dinner,

an egg for breakfast. Downturn, slump.

I feel it in my stomach, hollow, hole,

concavity, dent, lack of roundness,

off-kilter sphere. There are pills for it

of course, they smooth out the sharp shards

at the bottom of the dent, but the declivity

is still there. “Hard times,” my grandfather

said. They lived mostly on the kitchen

garden. Preserves. I saw the jewels of their jars

shining on basement shelves. Slowdown. Standstill.

I have the megrims. There is a crater

in the macrocosm, nothing

is filling it up.

Janet McCann is a Texas crone poet who is retired from Texas A&M University.

Categories
Poetry Serotonin Trauma

8:05 am by C. Cimmone

I chewed up two of your Norco for breakfast

9:16 am The dirt daubers were busy twitching their abdomens in the garden, hauling away tiny bits of mud I’ll never do anything with, so I smoked the rest of your weed you had in a socket.

11:25 am I got carried away thinking about what to do with all of your t-shirts until I smelled the skillet burning bacon grease.

3:45 pm I used all of my Xanax up; I dug around in the medicine cabinet and gobbled up your leftovers, too. 

10:57 pm I forgot to lock the front door, so I laid there on your side of the bed, hoping an armed stranger would burst in and save me from thinking anymore about you being gone.

C. Cimmone is an author, editor and comic from Texas. She is alive and well on Twitter @diefunnier

Categories
Depression Poetry

While I’m Battling Depression, I Read of a Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy by Timi Sanni

I do not sleep tonight, my eyes choose the certainty of light / stare up at the ceiling and write poems in the air as the night brews and boils outside, then again as the night calms in the anticipation of dawn. The world stops revolving & I’m stuck in this cocoon, so I constrict my lungs with the need to breathe / again / to rejuvenate the wilting flowers in the heart of my being. The internet carries my mind into the horror of a man who now wears a necklace of thorns. I do not want to imagine these thorns as skeletal hands squeezing the breath out of a man, bathing him in his life blood, because can one know what it means to die / to be dead & still look it in the face, unflinching? I know so much about sins because their claws have made a map of scars around my head, but death is an alien bringing extraterrestrial fears into this alliance of bodies. My depression is a mirror & blasphemy is a mountain. But repentance is thunder breaking rocks into powder. I imagine myself in the body of the judge / in the mind of the convicted / in the breath of a bystander and find peace in the remembrance of God and the hereafter’s promise of justice because life is built along the road of death / & death is a crossroad to glory or another death.

Timi Sanni is a Nigerian writer and literary enthusiast studying Biochemistry at Lagos State University, Nigeria. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Radical Art Review, Writers Space Africa, Ethel Zine, Cypress: A Literary Journal, Rather Quiet and elsewhere. He recently won the SprinNG Poetry Contest 2020 and is the recipient of the Fitrah Review Prize for Fiction 2020. When not writing or studying, he is either painting or exploring new places. He is an editor for Kalopsia lit. Find him on twitter: @timisanni

Categories
Poetry Trauma

Two Poems by Isabel Wallace

“there was tickweed where I fell”

five exits down, on the shoulder of the highway
golden yellow scratches against epicardium
and loss finally rings bright against loss,
bladelike, (thin as coreopsis, her favorite flower,)
sharp as the intent that smithed it with bleeding hands.
and there’s a vow in the sound it makes:
it says, “I’ve been here before and will come again;”
it says, “I’ll climb;”
it says, “these roads I line came after me;
I was the first guide;”
it says, “I am a life held between trembling fingertips,
and a weapon both;”
it says, “in either shape, I am a stage of grief.’
knees buckle in roadside soil, the door alarm clicks and
it says to me, “you ran very far, but I grow
everywhere you can go.”

“you shaped me for sacrifice”

I exist in three places. In the first, I’m nine and digging a little grave for the first rattlesnake I killed. I bury it in two parts: body and shovel-separated head. I hate myself, but the dog doesn’t die. In the second, I’m four and being dragged past the rabbit hutch. There’s one less. I can’t count them but I know, I know, I know that there will be rabbit blood on blue sheets. In the third, I’m twenty-four, sitting on a park bench, and thinking about being nine and being four. I’m thinking about how I was taught to buy protection with pieces of me. If I lied about the abuse, he wouldn’t kill a rabbit. If I swallowed any feeling for the rattlesnake, I could protect the dog. They said the rattlesnake cost less, but it wasn’t the rattlesnake’s fault (wasn’t mine—). Saving the rabbits cost all of me, but I never shook the conditioning (“you’re saving them, a little hero”). I was a price. I was a price and I paid my price. I paid it without understanding the worth, the lie.

Grass and gravel crunch beneath my shoes. I’m twenty-four and saying, “No surprise I’m fucking broke.”

Isabel J Wallace is a queer writer and registered nurse working in North Florida. The swamp has left her predisposed towards ghost stories and the certainty that something is always lurking just out of sight. She’s been published in Malaise: a Horror Anthology, as well as in Smitten: this is what love looks like. Wallace has upcoming publications with Stone of Madness Press and Passengers Journal.

Categories
Mania Poetry

When I Wash the Dishes by Lindsey Heatherly

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.

Categories
Poetry Trauma

smile baby, smile by Shelby Bevins-Sullivan

[TRIGGER WARNING, SEXUAL ASSAULT]

forgive me--
     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 MagazineThe Harpoon ReviewThe Blue Hour, and other places. Her poems are largely confessional, focusing on sexual trauma, the denial of justice, religious hypocrisy, and their interconnectedness.