Susan F. Glassmeyer
Amy Lee Heinlen
ART;; Sonja Johanson
Aubrie Cox Warner
Jeannine Hall Gailey
MY QUEER SHOULDER
You wanna talk dichotomies? My blood-marked
work shirt. Expensive rings. Someone decides
to trade poems for machines,
demands we cut
the platinum tubes into hand-mangling little circles
that, once smoothed, will glorify
the unscathed fingers of the rich. This stark
division’s loyalties blur into hours
of imagined obligation. Delusion’s scarred
into our psyches, stalks liberation
with absurd, grating joints. The factory
guys work and get drunk, work
and get drunk—how else to bear the years
of dazing labor, closing in
like an unremarkable grave? Doctor,
the needle please. Just jab my socket, bone,
vagus nerve; I’ll cringe and thank you
for this slow-hearted excuse, this release
from money’s deafening, sick
metallic screech. Inject
my stupid skeleton, send me steroidal into the snow.
Naked and wobbling,
against the graceless,
wispy hairs on my chest.
A ring of residue
across the tub.
hot water. hands
around my neck,
eyes shut, barely
feet against the drain.
I wished the tub was
filed with blood.
Couldn't see the showerhead shining
or the seashells by sink.
Susan F. Glassmeyer
I give up my first name, which means lily,
a woman falsely accused of adultery.
I give up my middle boy-girl name,
which means my father wanted a son.
I give up my confirmation name, true image,
since my truth can be your lie.
I give up my first husband’s surname.
Having died, he no longer needs it either.
I give up taking my second husband’s surname
so I may travel alone in the world.
I give up my maiden name. It belongs
to my father anyway.
I give up my mother’s maiden name.
It belongs to my grandfather anyway.
I claim my trail of descended eggs
having died without ever being named.
BOMBAY, UNCUT - II
This city I am step-mothered by is not an intimation for confidentiality.
Leaks out of every lie like coarse rice from a gunny bag nibbled by hungry rats.
When I am midair, every descent maps to a noctilucent, naked motherboard: reams and reams of tenebrous circuitry -- unkempt, bewildering, garish boheme.
Tarred up veins, gasoline & rubble; asphalt jungles silken in persistent black flora.
Engine oil slicking desi liquor bottles. Tamarind-brown pelt, matted fur, squirrelesque gumption.
Her brown is not roadkill. Her brown is heady meat, vulgar curiosity inching a finger up its own thigh, a malt-rich peg : whiskey wetting the weapon of a teenaged throat.
Beauty like music is somewhere between rigorous orchestration and casually fucking it up for yourself.
She gives me chronic headlessness, viral proximities; a brain gutted by clockwork migraine.
I watch the glowworms crash into streetlamps in a studied chain-reaction of kamikaze zen. She is the sum of shanty sex between depression & darkness. Wakes up mid-afternoon in July rains and thunders every cloud - a billow of damp plastic bags ballooning above the altar of the Arabian sea in a tourney of [redacted] gods.
The gunpowder they scrub onto the yellowing teeth of corn.
Ditches molassed to a sulfuric hush.
Shirtless boys reincarnated from dog star. Boys of sallow light, kitestrings aching inside their spines, a single muddy football, shinbones colliding against each other like badly played pawns.
Girls of red-bodied gossamer leafing the malabar swallowtails. Girls of pirate-eyed bellybuttons. Peckish heat. Long limbs of cinnabar coasts. Skin mirroring a recession of sands.
All you see from a distance are mouths –
(Mouths filled with the blood / bright shiver of my heart / like a forest fire dying / in the rearview mirror)
Every loss murmuring the same name with its clean & endless sharpness.
The sea spitting back the difference between failure and loss.
Amy Lee Heinlen
This series of erasures use the Anne Rice novel Taltos as their source text. I elected to perform these erasures using plant materials as a way of celebrating and mourning our current ecological state; the breakneck speed of climate change and globalization is easily observed by those working in horticulture and conservation. In selecting materials for these erasures, I looked for plants that were accessible in the landscape during the month of October, and sought diversity of form, texture, colour, and botanical structures.
Nothing will be yours as completely
As your grief;
Hold it close.
Aubrie Cox Warner
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY
bones in my feet / crackle across the floor / drank until my throat is sore / this is
the nonlinear narrative / of the poem / I don't have / inside me / the days have
been / a lead X-ray apron / an invisible medieval surgeon drilling / my skull /
trying to let the bad out / an embalmer pulling my brains / though my nose / stay
in bed / so I don't have to live
Jeannine Hall Gailey
SELF-PORTRAIT AS RADIOACTIVE GIRL
I’ve been eating poisoned apples
unknowingly my whole life.
In my portrait, my hair glows green
along with my skin-tight catsuit,
a mask over eyes that may or may not
emit an otherworldly blue glow.
In my bones, organs, skin, I’ve been storing
all of America’s dark secrets
from exposure – Cesium 137, Iodine 131.
Man-made isotopes, created for one purpose – death.
My medical history is pure science fiction,
nuclear accidents and robot parts.
Nuclear energy is clean and safe, the men in dark suits
will tell you, the same men who tapped our phones
and lurked in corners around Oak Ridge, always alert
for spies. They know exactly what happens
to the children of these workers, eating the produce
and milk grown from earth sown with nuclear waste,
contaminated groundwater, radioactive dust.
Lung and liver and brain bloom with lesions,
mysterious in origin, and doctors have told me
I am like the X-Men, a mutant of incredible origin
with no statistics to match my patterns.
At the end, I explode a pure blue flame,
my radioactive atoms returning to the earth and sky.
On the day that I killed myself
I went to sleep and woke up
the following morning.
I drove here, where
we haunt the hallway,
walking back and forth,
ghosts that have lost
their way. In death
I found therapy, found sleep,
found medication which
helped me. I saw a bird
at my window and thought
of you, thought of my cat,
the memories we shared.
There is no pain in death,
but there is pain in knowing
you hurt your loved ones. I’ve said
my sorrys so much they’ve become
clichés, water thrown about
and having no impact. I fucked up,
told lies and ended up in this
purgatory in the process. Even still,
despite all I’ve done, you still visited
me in this afterlife where I became
a shell of what I once was. All the bills,
all the money, doesn’t matter here
in the psych ward. What matters
is what you can do for the people
who matter when you become a shadow
of what you once were. There’s this saying,
if you hold a bird too tight it will struggle
and then die, but if you let it free it might
come back to you, it might not,
but you can enjoy hearing it sing.
I was so scared of losing the ones
I love that I silenced their songs. Now,
I let them go, and it hurts but I need to
for my own resurrection. I need to so
I can come back to life, stop being
the undead zombie I was when I tried
to do everything to please everybody
but myself. I’m ready to go into the light
and enjoy millions of tomorrows, thousands
of times I will smile and hundreds of times
I will laugh. I’m ready to go now, to live
my life to the fullest
I split the people of this world into red
and blue, and admired the blue ones for the oceans
in their mouths, not red like me, but blue enough
to slow the time between their fingertips in a gentle press.
Red, though. Red—the blood in a snake’s heart, red—
copper between my tongue and teeth, red—a shiver,
and while blue may be the taste of turpentine, red is
the current under skin ready to be flayed,
to spill out into every private moment, the opening
of seven pill bottles, my mouth rended, red,
around all seven layers of what could be, blue,
if only I could slow down long enough to pinch the minute
between thumb and forefinger, if only I could lick
the salt from the eyes of one more blue, I could learn—
there is nothing like the slow compression of a moment
between two bodies, or more bodies, just as there is nothing
to the burning up of two bodies, or more bodies.
Where blue turns to sand my bones become ash, and where
blue would rise from water in a shell, there would be no more
of me to trace the ridges and the edges with my palms.
Issue 34 Contributors
Ankita Anand's writing has travelled through India, Pakistan, Singapore, Ireland, the US and the UK. She also facilitates writing workshops. An archive of her publications can be found here: anandankita.blogspot.in
Jen Coleman has been a finalist for The Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships and the Zone 3 Press First Book Award, and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, New Welsh Review, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from Hollins University. She teaches undergraduate English in Virginia, where she lives with her wife and cats.
Aubrie Cox Warner went to university to write a novel and came out writing haiku. She is the co-founder and executive producer of the literary podcast Citizen Lit and a MFA student at Temple University. She is the author of two chapbooks, tea’s aftertaste (Bronze Man Books) and Out of Translation (Kattywompus Press), and her work has appeared in publications such as Whiskeypaper, District Lit, and NANO Fiction. She tweets @mfawchronicill.
Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World,Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter and Field Guide to the End of the World,winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the Elgin Award. Her web site iswww.webbish6.com and you can follow her on Twitter @webbish6.
Susan F. Glassmeyer is a writer and somatic therapist with expertise in The Feldenkrais Method. Her publications include two chapbooks: Body Matters (Pudding House Press, 2010) and Cook’s Luck (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her first full-length poetry collection will be published by Dos Madres Press in the spring. Susan serves as co-director of the Holistic Health Center of Cincinnati where she helps people restore the poetry of presence and movement in their lives and bodies.
Amy Lee Heinlen holds an MFA in Creative Writing program from Chatham University where her manuscript received the Best Thesis in Poetry award. Her poem, “Light, Blue,” was awarded the 2016 Laurie Mansell Reich Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper, Pretty Owl Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Olentangy Review, Mom Egg Review, Coal Hill Review, and elsewhere. An academic librarian, she lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.
Sonja Johanson has recent work appearing in BOAAT, Ninth Letter, and Poet Lore. She is a contributing editor at the Eastern Iowa Review, and the author Trees in Our Dooryards (Redbird Chapbooks). You can follow her work at www.sonjajohanson.net .
Nicole Oquendo is a poet, essayist, professor, and translator. She serves as an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications and Flaming Giblet Press, and is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Manticore: Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities. She is the author of the chapbooks some prophets, self is wolf, wringing gendered we, and Space Baby, the hybrid memoir Telomeres, and the forthcoming visual poetry collection we, animals.
Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, Mi. His nonfiction and poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, and the Pushcart Prize. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions. He's currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College. His books include Class (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017) and the forthcoming Circus (Brick Mantle Books, 2018).
Scherezade Siobhan s a Chicago-based poet whose work centers on the experience of mental disability. His work has appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper.
Tyler Vile is a writer, performer, and activist from Baltimore, MD whose novel-in-verse, Never Coming Home, is available on Topside Press. She is the vocalist in a punk band called Anti-Androgen and is working on at least one collection of short fiction. Her interactive poetry zine, Hassidic Witch Murderer is available on her website, tylervile.wordpress.com. She aspires to one day become the world's greatest transsexual yenta.