THEMED PHOTO FEATURE:
I FEEL EMPOWERED WHEN I WEAR:
Maggie Blake Bailey
M. Brett Gaffney
No you don’t live here anymore. This house
is a ship that has parted. When you wake up
from a thousand year slumber, the world will be
a less content version of its current self. Or raining fire,
the mystic says. There will be men dressed in blisters hobbling
through the streets like smashed marionettes. Such fury
fuels the house adrift, the house cobwebbed but wanting
of visitors. Though the panels are flailed by leaky
acid and you are sitting there while the burns kiss you
through flesh. Though unnamed creatures with sprawling legs
wrap themselves around each window. Wild
are the spinning hands of a fevered clock
rippling through shingles. Every rumble should
suggest feel. Sometimes a hunger moves through
your belly but nothing tears. Evacuate the bones and let
the skin hang dry. A pale flag upon a once body. Uninhabited.
What stillness will love you now: nobody, no one, nothing.
HOW I LEFT YOU
stripped of meanings.
Stuffing a plastic duffle
with anonymous clothes.
Donning a tired gown
trailing useless ties.
Watching the needle strike a vein,
strangers bending to adjust
the oxygen mask to autopilot.
Blinking past recovery,
supine infant in its isolette.
Tell me why I should come back.
RANSOM NOTE TO YOU
Their relationship consisted/in discussing if it existed.
This is a gunshot into the eye
of a tornado, during the drunk
of high noon. This is you
telling me no, the muted
milk-tit moon climbing to meet
the sky’s mouth. This is me
selling you the dumb self-
centered sun screaming
its bald head off, forehead smashed
against the ceiling of forever
and nowhere. This is me tugging at
me, desperate with They are both.
We have another drink under,
remember, an already-drunk-
by-now moon. Because you are
comfortable despite the uncomfortable
way we must sit straight in these
chairs. Only little bits of this
will hurt. These letters are laced
with big plans. But can you
believe I could not find one Y
in a great big magazine of big
cut out ideas?
FERTILITY RITUAL AT THE 29TH PARALLEL
or renacimiento (rebirth)
Mexico’s latitude cracked
into an omelet.
Fourteen hours of daylight
means nothing dies
Damp bodies beckon
like moss crying out for dark.
I was in a back room.
Ultraviolet light judged my mistakes—
Oil sealed my third eye
Hands, feet, bound in wet towels
left for later.
The casket waited nearby
Shoulder blades twitched for
lack of wings.
I needed hypnosis like a shovel.
Dig your way out. Dig for a dark, sickening melted
Lavender and sage burned.
I was reborn but subordinated
into slices of cake:
Gasping crème de la neck
lady finger feet.
The crone’s hands
caressed my abdomen.
sensing too little activity?
I knew she was a solid gold
spirit hunter, a convicted hag chaser
I was a giant piece of hippie candy.
Your lips will taste like hibiscus berry,
And chocolate will leak out of your pussy.
She knew all things.
My sex was to hear,
not listen to who comes.
The doctor swaths her wand with cool blue gel
and says, “An ultrasound makes three dimensions
into two.” I lie in stirrups and a paper gown.
You stand behind me in your blue work suit
and we all look into the monitor to see
the strange topography, white strands forming
and reforming as the doctor moves her wand.
I’m reminded of a college lecturer who said
that objects from the fourth or fifth dimension
passing through our world would look
to us to be shape-shifters. Inside the doctor’s office
weeks before we choose our donor, we both peer
into the monitor and see a weather map
of interlocking curves – a space for something born
of paperwork and dreams, a conversation on a porch,
my body, your last name. Here, now, before it’s possible,
we half expect to see a child, a grey scale image
flecked like static on an old TV, the picture beamed
from far away, miraculously coming into focus.
Visit our themed photo gallery: I Feel Empowered When I Wear....here.
Maggie Blake Bailey
In January, a fever has two hands
to grip and wring you clean.
That sweat you wake up in,
wet and sticking under your breasts,
at the nape of your neck,
makes you remember the way
your mother once braided your hair,
a pigtail down each shoulder,
so you could sleep through an illness
with no tangles from your thrashing.
That sweat is for your own good,
you will be cleaner for it,
clearer, too, but you can’t cheat
the process. This will take days,
this will take hours without seams.
When you wake you will be scoured
like a pan with steel wool, you will be
the right kind of mother. Before you
step into the hot clarity of your better
self, run your tongue down the salt lick
of that hallucination wrecked sleep,
taste your fear that you don’t want her,
that she will cry and you will walk
out of the room, out of the house, leave
your small daughter pulsing in the dark.
Taste your desire not to hold her
but write her instead, choose words
acidic and clean, like rosewater, a stiff
broom kept outdoors, like the frozen
ocean you saw in your sleep last night.
In January, a fever has two hands
to grip and wring you clean. Let it.
EVERY HOLE IS BROKEN
You inserted small
bugs into my body
like it was just another
until you lost
and I lost.
You just moved on
to the next slot
and didn't seem to care
that my slot had
Screaming on the other side
of a fallen down mirror.
Imprisoned inside my own
twisted cells. Gagging out
bloody coins until drained.
It was a good second date, sharing dumplings
in his office behind the circulation desk,
exploring his latitude of self-deprecation and my
longitude of faux machismo like cartographers
bisecting the awkward wilderness of dating after 8 years
of unfulfilled wanderlust. I couldn’t account for the tears,
except for that he had closed
the door and a part of me tensed, ready
to have to decide again that sometimes it’s easier
just to let them chart my topography, plant a flag,
seed a river than it is to erect
a fence on land they consider theirs, watch them
laugh and tear it down.
it is a ball of snakes wet spring mud down inside
beneath the sternum burrowed in the belly dark fetal anomaly
a lightning rod inserted within hollow vertebrae
holds each bone separated cartilage suspends as bridges
replaces the spinal cord superchargedshot signals flare outward
each limb becomes incendiary soldier marionette, muted
frenetic dancer pirouette, a pinwheel a stringless mandolin
M. Brett Gaffney
Every October, Waverly Hills Sanatorium hosts a haunted house
to raise funds for building maintenance.
Spray-painted monsters, messages scrawled on walls
—warning signs glow in the dark.
Groups of them come in, all giggles and flashlights, their whimpers
echo down the hallways where women in nurses’ gowns wait,
splattered in blood, high heels sharp and hungry.
Rumors of crazy patients, still ripe with electroshock,
suicidal nurses at the end of a rope, on the ledge of a windowsill.
Stories wrought with panic and dirty fingernails
and screams like the raw song of a sling-blade
somehow create a cast of ghouls all their own—
tales more powerful than the rust caking the morgue’s cabinet drawers,
the ones that screech when opened like they do now,
opened and slammed shut for a good scare.
And that’s what you’ve come for, isn’t it?
To know what it feels like when blood rushes round your body
in a way that reminds you there’s more beneath your sweat-soaked skin.
To try and touch that ghost of you, the one that hides in your footsteps,
your outstretched hands when they fumble forward, blind.
We’re waiting for you there, but you can’t see us,
our masks made of shadow and wind, your breath fogging the cold air.
You don’t see us because we wear a whole different costume,
because we don’t intend to be seen tonight.
You have more fleshy fears to worry about and you paid money for them, too.
So forget our histories and we’ll ignore your screams.
Now is the time to be afraid in safety.
Now is the time to be ghosts.
Issue Two Contributors
Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia, Tar River, Slipstream, and elsewhere. Her review of Jane Hirshfield’s Come, Thief is available now in Flycatcher, and she has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She is currently engaged in a five-summer M.F.A. program at Sewanee, the University of the South, and during the year she teaches in Atlanta, Georgia. More information can be found at www.maggieblakebailey.com.
Juliet Cook’s poetry has appeared in a small multitude of literary publications, including Diode, ILK, and Menacing Hedge. She is the author of more than thirteen poetry chapbooks, most recently including POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL LOLLIPOP (Grey Book Press, 2013), RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014) and a collaborative chapbook with Robert Cole, MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015). Cook's first full-length poetry book, Horrific Confection, was published by BlazeVOX. Find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com
Krista Cox can be found in South Bend, Indiana, where she lives with two precious patience-testers (children) and works with three of them (lawyers). Her poetry has recently appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Words Dance, and scissors & spackle, among other places in print and online. Her OKCupid profile is a work of creative literary genius.
Angele Ellis is author of Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), whose poems earned her an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors' Choice Chapbook). Her poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in over forty journals and eight anthologies. She lives in the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
M. Brett Gaffney, born in Houston, Texas, holds an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is an associate editor of Gingerbread House literary magazine. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Stone Highway Review, Slipstream, Wind, Penduline, Cactus Heart, Exit 7, REAL, Still: the Journal, Licking River Review, Permafrost, and Zone 3.
Muriel Leung ’s poetry can be found or is forthcoming in inter|rupture, NOO Journal, Jellyfish Magazine, Coconut, Ghost Proposal,TENDERLOIN, Nepantla, Bone Bouquet, and others. She was a finalist for Kelsey Street Press’ FIRSTS! Contest. She is a recipient of a Kundiman fellowship and contributes to The Blood-Jet Writing Hour podcast. Currently, she is a MFA candidate in poetry at Louisiana State University where she also serves as the Assistant Editor of New Delta Review..
Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU but currently lives in the DC area with her family. She is the author of three chapbooks: Every Her Dies (ELJ Publications), Clotheshorse (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Backyard Poems (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2015). Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at Toad Suck Review, The Poetry Storehouse, Pretty Owl Poetry, Yes, Poetry, Gargoyle Magazine, Jet Fuel Review, Glittermob, LunaLuna and Hobart. For more, visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/.
Emily Moore teaches high school English in Manhattan. Recent poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Measure, and The James Franco Review. This summer, she will be teaching teachers of creative writing as part of the Kenyon Review Summer Writing Workshop for Teachers and through Poets' House in New York City.
Jen Stein is a writer, advocate, mother, and finder of lost things. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia where she works in family homeless services. Her work has recently appeared in Luna Luna Magazine, Nonbinary Review, and Stirring., and is featured in a micro-collection in Wood Becomes Bone. Upcoming work will be featured in Menacing Hedge, Cider Press Review, and the Northern Virginia Review.
Sommer Sterud''s heart has been described as an “untrained dog on a leash…it walks her,” and apparently, it walks her poems, which are heavy with the complexities of human relationships. With an MFA from the Ohio State University, she teaches writing at Capital University. Her poems have appeared in Hotel Amerika, H_NGM_N, Harpur Palate, and other print and online publications. Sommer does stand-up comedy in Columbus, Ohio, where she lives with her cat Betty White.