Mark Anthony Cayanan
ART: Mary Guterson
It happens when my coworker tells me,
after we had some blow and some Hennessey,
we go back to their place and
they just started having sex next to me and I
And I can feel his eyes after the drought
of the work day become a reservoir,
he can’t see
that my mind
becomes a blazing car in the middle of the Mojave
you can’t tell where it is coming from
only that it is burning and
I am not here anymore.
Where am I going? What is happening?
It happens when Tommy talks about his weekend,
God, you know that guy
I forget his name, something like Matt
he kept snorting lines and next thing
you know he was on the ground
and next thing I know
is I’m on the ground
onto the claws
of dead leaves
and I hear a ringing
and the lake next to us seems not next to us
and now I am being carried
to the back of a car where
the heat and black leather cling
to the back of my thighs.
My eyes are still open.
Just sit up why can’t I sit up?
It happens when Lana Del Rey activates my car ride imagination
A baby when I hold you
Like a drug
Like I told you
Marc puts his nose to the table in Taipei and his brown eyes widen
Yayo, yes you
And we get to my house
and my head goes between
my knees. White dead saliva crusts around
my outer lips
and stomach acid crawls onto my tongue,
I swallow it down
What’s wrong? Are you okay?
And my friends keep talking
And I can’t talk.
It’s all just ringing.
When it’s ringing how do I answer? Who is calling me?
It happens in my book
when cocaine coats her mouth
and she can only sit down on the shag
carpet stairs. I put the book down
and the train
seems faster and
my legs start to drip sweat and
I am rising
beyond motion sickness
beyond my loves coos and cold sweat
hails from my forehead.
My face turns from morning sun into a February sky.
My body is the wind howling outside of the cable car
and no one can stop looking at me and I
can’t stop looking at
myself from above the metal ceiling.
Where am I?
This trauma has arms and a body
and calls me like a fever dream
But what is it
and how does it know my name when we have never met?
It begins with an itch,
a mystery inside
the skin that begs
One by one, I pluck
out my defenses,
feather to fallen.
Now without armor,
I shift myself
for a long
to the king
in my waiting.
They stand alone,
unable to feed,
suits to preen
and keep them
the waves. I bide
my time until
the lab reports
Maybe if I squint hard enough,
the black streets will light up in greens
and reds like it’s just rained, and the world
will look just a bit more new, more breathtaking.
I find my way to a coffee shop, half an hour away
from its closing, I stumble into the bathroom
to assess the damage, and it’s just as I thought.
My eye makeup is splattered like paint thrown
haphazardly against the raw, pale canvas that is my face,
my clothes are skewed, my hair tangled like nests.
Looking back at me is a girl I thought I left behind,
wild-eyed, scared, pathetic almost. The kind of spooked,
sad creature you’d find wandered onto your porch
by chance, the kind you’d leave out a dish
of food and water for, out of pity. Where did you come from?
I ask her. And how do I make you go away? Maybe if I
knew how to smile, if I didn’t splutter and panic
around well-meaning strangers, or shake uncontrollably
at the sight of too-loud, rowdy boys. Maybe if I loosened up,
if I swallowed the wild, all-consuming pain in between
swigs of vodka and let all the boys fuck me raw, maybe the girl
in the mirror would be beautiful, dangerous, utterly free.
Or maybe I’m just not squinting hard enough.
Mark Anthony Cayanan
He above all keeps his love as close to pleasure as
an empty corridor is throughout Summers | we’ve become fast
friends, my envy & I: I make his hurts as new | as a teenager’s I throw
away his freedom when he to | me turns & his face owns the color | of
evening before it makes itself itself When it’s there | the wind is an
error & on the bramble of plywood & tin | hangs suspicion It hangs
ancient, it’s new, it winks like a bullet, it’s not mine
as you know, its voice is my mother’s, it’s not | but | I’ve dropped my
ears, one per palm They’re yours, as is My self | is a eulogy of wishing
you would listen For your absent | words I scalpel open my secrets
I’ve cut through arteries but plates on the sink tell me you’re
uninvolved What’s involved in this flesh is: when I let your light |
my inner thighs, within me
gallop the long-gone years as if they hadn’t yet died
Once was I a boy & any day I’d kill to play him again
This poem previously appeared in Sentence (Youth & Beauty Brigade, 2017), a chapbook printed in the Philippines.
I deconstruct a black nova
creeping back like Tolstoy’s white bear;
confused dreams rise
like a prayer to some satellite
and then back down to my ear—
colors the brilliance of a high fever,
logic like Dalí clocks gone soft as throw-rugs.
A turn of the index finger away
from disconnection, a shroud of words.
I might break like glass
if I don’t stop. Rehab my heart.
I don’t call for help.
A remixed poem composed from select lines and phrases from chapters 1, 2, 3, & 5 of Bag of Bones by Stephen King.
NUDE WITH STRING
I am in love with the body in all of its forms and am touched by the way we are all bound by our skin in particular ways. This painting is both open and closed, hidden and exposed, bound and free. It is these oppositions that make us human.
THE LAWYER CALLS ME
to talk about my ex-boyfriend
and the situation that occurred
the situation is called the situation
because even to powerful women
there are limits
on my body
there are limits
not today Ms.
not the situation
In fact say that:
felony domestic battery felony domestic battery felony domestic battery with attempted murder
the branches creak and crack a neck
I was born half buried under a tree
go out and play but don’t go near your mother
go out and play but don't
I let it begin
The answer is always the same
I let it begin
The limits of my body
saturated in guilt
Ms. lawyer woman says he wants to get his law license
and they are thinking about it
so please tell her about the situation
His money expunged the record
Goddamn there is no record
of my life
It’s hard to tell you
money makes me invisible,
a tied dog howling.
I lost count
of myself. Luckily there is this
(I have lost count of myself)
Keep track of my situation.
It is Thanksgiving.
My tiny children run around
my drunk body lying face first
on the basement floor.
It is Thanksgiving.
One week before I enter outpatient
treatment (not law school)
for the second time
after the situation.
Ms. I am going
to be in high mountains
soon. By Christ
go ahead and tell me
about when they sold my life.
How did they bargain
WE'LL PROBABLY DO SOME TESTING
but first tell me
did you want to lose weight? asks the rheumatologist.
did you want to lose weight? asks the gastroenterologist.
did you want to lose weight? asks the primary care physician.
yes! of course i wanted to lose weight! of course
i wanted to peel off skin and clutch red chunked epidermis
like christmas cards wear hypodermis, faux coat chew
fascia press corpuscle in place tree branch vein protruding pelvis
proud and vacant my spring break bod
“whatever you’ve got
give me some!” say women i love and have never known
to have problems eating but hunger for displacement the less
space i take up the better since adolescence i’ve known
the number of calories in a slice of bread a plate
of food it used to be too much but now never
enough i don’t have the language to talk
about ribs about the feeling of fading
about liking it about hating
the smalling the begging the
look at the colors of my
hands look at the lab
test the abnormality
if you can help me
can you help me
grasp for food scrap, quantitative proof
RASH DIAGNOSIS AND DIOGENES' LAMP
It spread, the red on my flesh,
like a very pale blush, starts on my
cheeks, at first, I look rosy-faced, out
of breath, but exhilarated becomes puffy-faced.
My shoulders then, had I used the wrong soap
at the hotel? Hotel! Was it bedbugs?
The rash spreads in my mind,
prickles start on my back. No good mirror.
Would someone look? Would someone put
lotion on? Or would no one want to touch?
Am I spreading it when I shower? Would hot
water be bad, ice water be nice? The new laundry soap
said antiallergenic but is it new enough?
My breasts now, my stomach. Is it the polyester sheets?
The air handler, the bonfire next door?
In my dreams, I go to a new job and I’m late
the first day, unprepared to teach and nude,
wearing only rash. In the next dream,
it’s the new lover. Is it just winter, the dry air,
the winter wool clothes, the long underwear,
the polyester in the couch, the fiberglass in the filter?
Was it Borax in the kitchen, some wire burning,
should I apply aloe or take herbs or is the laptop
sending vapors? Did I wash the apples and lettuce
enough, did I touch the Christmas tree, did I touch
a public toilet, a doorknob, should I stay home
or stay out of my home? Should I use exfoliant or
loofa or avoid them? Squirrels in the walls, squirrely
ideations. Clarity arrives at knife point.
The beginning of decline, the last days arriving.
Does she know she’s being looked at? St. Teresa
of Avila, light-pierced, in the Cornaro Chapel in Rome,
lips fish-parted, marble-wet. Stucco rays of gold. Bernini’s blank
angel beams down at the flailing saint, one hand lifting
a cold robe, the other holding the divine arrow
of pain. Cameras flash and the saint is lit.
Teresa sought illumination—
penetration. Abdomen soldered, wrought
Have I sought illumination?
Was I enlightened at any moment I was pierced?
I open my right hand, blank-palmed.
My small flesh, unrepentant, nails bitten. I am
the camera. I am the light. The fingers, arrows, transfiguring hurt.
Issue 40 Contributors
Kinsey Cantrell received her BA/MA in Poetry from Miami University of Ohio. Her work has appeared in Datableed, New Delta Review, and Rabbit Catastrophe Review.
Mark Anthony Cayanan teaches at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. He obtained his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Adelaide in Australia. He is the author of Narcissus (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2011) and Except you enthrall me (U of the Philippines P, 2013). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in, among others, Transnational Literature, Lana Turner, and High Chair.
Born in Chicago, but continually sliding South, Kathleen “Corky” Culver is a poet, activist, videographer and historian who earned her doctorate in English from the University of Florida. Her films documenting lesbian history in the Southeast are archived with the Lesbian Home Move Project, and she has written on lesbian activism for Sinister Wisdom. Her first poetry publication was in the iconic children’s magazine The Weekly Reader, and her full-length poetry collection, The Natural Law of Water, was published in 2007. A regular performer at the annual Womonwrites conference, Culver lives and writes in North Central Florida.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, The Wire’s Dream Magazine, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places.
Mary Guterson is a writer, painter, and textile artist. She divides her time between Los Angeles and Alexandria, Virginia.
Judy Kaber has lived in Maine since 1971. She writes regularly and has published in a number of journals, including Off the Coast, The Comstock Review, and Spillway. Her poem, “Those days they kept the broken children,” won second place in the 2016 Muriel Craft Bailey Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. She is particularly interested in the sound and taste of language and the power that it has to move people.
Annmarie O'Connell is a lifelong resident of the south side of Chicago. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sixth Finch, Juked, Room Magazine, Verse Daily, Slipstream, SOFTBLOW, Vinyl Poetry, Curbside Splendor, Escape Into Life, 2River View and many other wonderful journals. Her first full-length collection of poems, titled Your Immaculate Heart, was released with Trio House Press in 2016. Her third chapbook was just released with Yellow Flag Press. She can also be found here: annmarieoconnell.com
Kara Phillips is an emerging poet from the DC area. She graduated form the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2018. When not writing poetry, Kara enjoys hiking, singing, and cooking. If she were a piece of nature, aside from being human, she would be a creek with mossy rocks.
Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet with work appearing or forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, THRUSH Poetry Journal, The LiteraryReview, Ghost Proposal, and Nightjar Review. A chapbook, Bright Along the Body, is available from dancing girl press. She is currently working on a full-length collection. Find out more at ashleyroachfreiman.com.
Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer and visual artist from Bangalore, India. She loves experimenting with Japanese short-forms and remixed/cut-up poetry alike. A Best of the Net nominee, her poems have most recently appeared in Right Hand Pointing, Otoliths, Failed Haiku, Drunk Monkeys, Untouched Journal, and so on. Shloka is the founding editor of the literary & arts journal Sonic Boom, as well as its affiliated press, Yavanika. She tweets @shloks89.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recently The Girl (Porkbelly Press).