Avery M. Guess
Tara Isabel Zambrano
Avery M. Guess
THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE
Easiest to think of it in terms
of science—of teeth and bone,
blood and tissue, muscle and fat.
Those trace elements.
Easier to not think of it at all—
to float above the plucked
cello string of my body.
Pretend I can fly off any time.
Harder to see the truth of it—
tea-kettle whistle nerves,
repeated thoughts in common time,
as practiced as scales or arpeggios.
Hardest to see the truth—
this body as more than just broken.
Its composition made intricate
and exquisite by experience.
I saw a small dead bird on its back
head and feet straight up, held
by pearl sewing needles
same shade as the eye sockets
empty and stuffed. American Robin
you said, answering your own question.
What kind of bird am I, pinned
by such beautiful sharpness? Immobile
under clean glass. You want me to lock arms
as we walk. Our elbows bend
like the legs of this hollowed out bird.
You don’t care who I used to be
but it’s important to identify:
rusty red, solitary, vulnerable.
I want to understand you, tell you
that in sleep you turn over onto me
and I have nowhere to go. I spin in place
on the edge of the bed, remember
lying on my back in the grass
watching a Great Blue Heron slide
across the sky like an arrow. You never knew
the cooing of the doves, the falcon
on the fence line, the small brown birds
on her window sill tapping the glass
in wild fits. You don’t want to know, you said
because you want to keep loving me.
Following the sound of the songbird in the bush
will flush it out, make it real.
You don’t ask questions
you prefer stillness. Bloodless
cotton pushed into my mouth
like an empty field.
—first published in Grist (Floating Bridge Press)
A LOVE LETTER TO MY SON.
THE GRASS MIGHT BE GREENER BUT THE WATER AIN'T
I once was told to get on the good side of things I had to cross a bridge
had to be on land but not this land, had to make myself comfortable
on the stability of it as if it was a choice.
I learned more about the different ways to call myself a faggot
in high school than anything else, except building bridges.
Learned more about building bridges than I did about what to do
when you get to the other side and there is nothing left
but dying and once, in high school, a boy threatened to bludgeon
my face into itself, make a black hole suspend in my mouth,
and instead taught me how to tie a noose in the theatre
and I remembered that more than the lines I was given.
There is a bridge somewhere that is left unfinished,
it hangs over the point where the first boy I was honest
about loving told me I was not enough of anything to hold onto,
how weightless my body was, how empty a heart I carried,
how rude of me to ask him to make it full again or, for the first time.
I think I tried jumping then. Tried swimming and diving, looked for something
to hold this body regardless of the weight of it, strung a black hole in my mouth
only to take in all of this world with me.
I think I grew teeth, suspended across two masses of land.
I think I swam into my own mouth and found peace or,
just the murmur of bodies walking along the ocean floor.
FROM OUTPATIENT SUITE: III. MANNERS
How rude of me not to ask. How is the family?
I love your tie, by the way: the syringes,
the stethoscopes. Very smart.
BLACK ROSE QUEEN
NIGHT DOLL IN PEACH
BLUE ROSE QUEEN
My mother painted beautiful pictures before I was born. Her ink and watercolor paintings of Victorian houses were clean, mathematically precise and measured, her color schemes soft and haunting. Perhaps this is one reason I paint pictures heavy of ink, heavy of texture, tangled and messy. I am, proprioceptively, a rebel branch off my mother. From this vantage, I love to imagine the decay of youth. Ruin. Blemish, error, imperfection. I try, best I can, to capture this in portraiture, designating significance to the parts of us which we think are erroneous or prohibited of beauty or, in some cases, the parts of us which have turned, perhaps rotted some. And I am most interested in the parts of us that distort and bloom, choreographed by our impulsive nature. The deliberateness of change, this constant change in me, is a process rich in emotional thrill though inches shy of satisfaction.
FRANCESCA'S TOUR OF THE FEMALE INFERNO
It is so easy to forget
I look nothing like my mother –
How many worlds are stuffed
into my mouth this morning & with what
did you engorge me? A bed full
of something sweetened with familiarity,
probably. Dirt levitates within me
like sleeping girls. My consistency is that
of courtesan bedroom canopies & cabbage
roses dolloping walls at grand hotels.
I am smoke staring earnestly at fog
in disbelief that we’ve been separated
all our lives and are just now meeting
at summer camp – each of us deciduous
as celluloid turning through
hot pupils of wind.
Tara Isabel Zambrano
EACH HOUR A SONG
The way you release secrets into me,
we are perceived as lovers,
your words, sound of arguing winds,
my body gone marble, weighted to your bed.
Together, we drink the same days,
each hour a song, whipped like cream.
Our arms, twisted vines tattooed
with names of who've abandoned us.
All night we grow like twins in a womb
surrender our untrustworthy thighs,
fight over laws that differentiate
love from love stories.
IT DOESN'T MATTER
My long letters ruin friendships.
It doesn't matter whether they're overly positive
or overly negative or a juxtaposition of both.
No matter how I look at it, I'm overly over
the top, convoluted, contradictory, another
repetitive force field. Another sign that it's very hard
to handle this conflagration.
I guess I could snap my own neck
into another bail of flaming hay seed
and see where that leads.
I sucked ice;
when the spinal stabbed
my holy Latin
sacrum, a bone-tip
A Mylar stork bobbed
my little window;
A blue sheet
covered the verbs
between my legs
as I held mass
My body broke
that what arrives,
The penalty, an odd hollow
that quivers each time I smile.
As if happiness splashes
at the edge of a rip
ON STAYING AWHILE
Here on earth,
we are slamming
into sidewalks, knees bloodied
and palms bent over backwards.
We do not mention this violence again.
We are left to sing.
Hollow bones quaver and whistle--
marimba spines played
to that Barroso tune--
so that we can only turn in place
like a carnival.
We are slicing the aloe plant down
to its spikey heart to ease
house fire burns
burns from the sunshine and the ashes.
We hold our lungs underwater
until our breaths purple and ache.
We ask if our lips are turning blue.
We offer the goldfinch safflower seed
and every good thing
if we are willing and able,
even a little heat wave
from our own radiators
that chug and clank over whorls
on dead tree floors--
our loose doors
flood steam into January's wide,
See the bird there on the highest branch,
washing itself in sunlight.
Issue 22 Contributors
Juliet Cook's poetry has appeared in a small multitude of magazines, including Arsenic Lobster, DIAGRAM, Diode, FLAPPERHOUSE, Menacing Hedge and Reality Beach. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, recently including RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014), a collaboration with Robert Cole called MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), and a collaboration with j/j hastain called Dive Back Down (Dancing Girl Press, 2015), with two more forthcoming. Cook's first full-length individual poetry book, Horrific Confection, was published by BlazeVOX and her second full-length individual poetry book, Malformed Confetti, is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press. Her most recent full-length poetry book, A Red Witch, Every Which Way, is a collaboration with j/j hastain published by Hysterical Books in August 2016. Find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.
Nina Corwin is the author of two books of poetry, The Uncertainty of Maps and Conversations With Friendly Demons and Tainted Saints. Her poetry has appeared in From the Fishouse, Drunken Boat, Harvard Review, Hotel Amerika, New Ohio Review/nor and Verse. Corwin, a Pushcart nominee, also curates the literary series at Chicago’s Woman Made Gallery. In daytime hours, she is a psychotherapist known for her work on behalf of victims of violence.
Alain Ginsberg is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City, MD whose work focuses on narratives of gender identity, sexuality, and mental healthy and the ways in which trauma informs, skews, and builds onto those stories. They are a 2016 Texas Grand Slam semi-finalist, 2016 Write Bloody finalist, and 2015 and 2016 Capturing Fire finalist. Alain's work has been featured or is forthcoming from Dead King Magazine, Public Pool, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. Outside of writing they are found selling spirits and potions behind the bar of your favorite (or least favorite) cavern.
Avery M. Guess is a recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry. She’s a PhD student at University of South Dakota and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Recent poems appear in Mid-American Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Thrush Poetry Journal.
Alyssa Jewell studies poetry at Western Michigan University where she served as assistant editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and is currently poetry editor for Third Coast. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2016, The Columbia Review, Cumberland River Review, Dunes Review, Fifth Wednesday, Grist, Meridian, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and QuarterlyWest, among other publications. She lives and teaches in Grand Rapids.
Kate Peterson is the author of Grist, the winner of the Floating Bridge Chapbook Prize in 2016. She earned an MFA from Eastern Washington University in Spokane, where she works as director of Get Lit! Programs. Her work has been published in Rattle, Glassworks, Sugar House Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, Packingtown Review, among others. More at katelaurenpeterson.tumblr.com.
Sarah Shields is a mother, artist, and writer living in Southern California. Her artwork has been published in Lockjaw, Boston Accent Lit, The Tishman Review, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Connotation Press, and Gigantic Sequins. More of her art and writing may be found through her website: saraheshields.com.
Molli Spalter is a PhD candidate in Literature and Cultural Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. Molli studies and writes on motherhood, sexuality, religion, and google searches on various types of contraception. Molli is a mother, wanderer, and vegetarian.
Kailey Tedesco's first chapbook, These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2017. She received her MFA from Arcadia University, and she is the editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical. She also moonlights as Hortensia Celeste in the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos, Prick of the Spindle, Bellevue Literary Review, and more. She believes poetry is the closest thing we have to magic.
Quinn White is the author of My Moustache (Dancing Girl Press, 2013) and Orienteering (Origami Poems Project, 2013). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Sixth Finch, Amethyst Arsenic, Word Riot, and Bayou Magazine. Quinn earned her MFA in creative writing at Virginia Tech. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Alabama with her husband and their cats.
Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas and is an Electrical Engineer by profession. She moved from India to the United States two decades ago. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden's Ferry Review, Moon City Review, Bop Dead City, The Healing Muse and others.