EVERYTHING IS GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME by Rhea DeRose-Weiss

The internet keeps lying to me—about the weather, among other things. The week after you broke up with me your Facebook posts were appallingly cheerful. It’s true, I don’t flinch at the first drops of rain, but you should see me in a downpour: I run for shelter just like the next fool without an umbrella.

Two years ago all I wanted was to live alone and now I live alone and I wonder, how did I get to be so alone? Making coffee for one and letting the dishes pile up if I feel like it, letting the books pile up, letting the cat hair gather in the corners like some clichéd symbol of a barren landscape.

The night of our first date there was a thunderstorm. By 9:00 it was over but a giant puddle enveloped the entranceway of the café. We watched people take running leaps to get in the door, with varying degrees of success. You told me your mom is a cop who writes poetry and lives in the Midwest. You rarely speak to her but sometimes you exchange letters. We communicate better that way, you said. I told you that the author of Peter Pan literally never grew up: childhood trauma stunted his physical growth. At the time this just seemed like a clever bit of NPR trivia. At the time all I could think was: This person will draw me a tattoo, it will be a wedding present. You were so tall, and you had that smile. You talked with such frankness about past humiliations.

I’m rarely capable of negative capability. I’m becoming more and more certain you weren’t the one. The rainy season should be over by now but still there’s a 30% chance of thunderstorms in the daily forecast. I remember my umbrella about 45% of the time. My remarks on Facebook are intermittent and carefully crafted to reveal less than 10% of my emotional status.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Rhea DeRose-Weiss currently lives, teaches, and writes in Durham, North Carolina. Her fiction and essays have been published in Carve, Fourteen Hills, Whore! and xoJane. Find her online at rheaderoseweiss.com and rheawdw.tumblr.com.

TIMELINE OF AN ABSTRACTION by Dominic Gualco

I have soft
bright stars on my face

& have rarely walked
outside at night

because I am afraid
the light from my cheeks

will wake the neighbors
I still remember

that june as children
when we cut fabric

from the sky at night
& lit the black shapes

with the fire we’d started
using gasoline

now I only see you
on family cruises

to antarctica
when I nail my heart

to the cabin wall
& look myself in the mirror

repeating, “why did you do that?”
my nose just began bleeding

& I thought
about how my nose

seems to bleed
with concerning frequency

_______________________________________________

Dominic Gualco is from Sacramento, California. His writing has appeared previously at Hobart. More at: http://dominicgualco.tumblr.com

“Post-Minimalist Sonata in D – No Actually – Mazurka in F# (with a Rhythm Egg)” by Peter Friedman

Congratulations, we’d like to formally accept this sentence
into its place. More simple affirmations, please: Like liking
one plain smiley on Facebook. Yum.
Like if I do it right, make a good sound, k thx.

Dearrrrrrr God,

give me ALL the gold stars.

-yr little constricted pupil

One wisp of the apocalypse at a time. The way wind
makes you want to stay in its hair.
The way wind doesn’t have hair but it could
cause it’s a toss-up. Eh, I’ll find my way, I say like
a lost cause. Statistically-speaking, humans are the fucking worst
at letting the world just massage them.
I is disembodied/hybrid. So we beat the dead horse, copycat,
so we beat the dead horse. Oops I lied. Maybe: Oil me
up before ow fades. Give me back the switch of me that lights
the whole night on fire. Slick trick. My fugitive touch. All over everything.
One big fingerprint. Go turn on the black light and realize there’s come
everywhere, nothing changes. But nothing does.
Chill, I got it covered. I wrote my best poems while I was sleeping
with you, distant prophecy. I get so close, closer,
but it’s mere preview. The vista is bored
of itself, babysitting beauty. Heart throb-
in-a-can, Keanu Reeves ca. whenever ago. Preserving
everything at all costs: priceless.
Add it to the kimchi. Smile with me for the camera
enough times so that we can stop-motion
our feelings into this bad method actor of the real.
Keanu heard the word actor and wants to make a comeback.
You game, extended metaphor? It’ll be summer soon,
don’t you know, and we’ll want to take off
what suits us and let our bodies swim
and do living unthinkable things with the germy water.
Anything but drink it.
You’re so pretty doing nothing I just want to cry
a secluded beach. I’d write about it, but then I’d have to kill you.
No cause- the language is fucked. No cause- the language is trying
to cuddle randomness into agoraphobia, into never leaving.
I can’t stop looking at all the polka-dotted fish, cute gift bags –
how they’re useless and that kinda sorta means
the world to me.

_________________________________________________________________________

Peter Cole Friedman is currently pursuing an MFA through the University of New Orleans. Recent work has appeared in The Red Ceilings, The Recluse, and decomP. He co-edits glitterMOB and lives in New York City.

I WALKED TO THE LIBRARY by Conor Messinger

i walked to the library
the other day &
did not think of you
or rather of how
no one would go near
that grass at the
middle of Bryant park
all the little sparrows
clutching their penises
around the park
holding them close
to the edge
but not depositing them
on the lawn
next to the
little jugglers
& diet cokes
i could not tell you
if this were a country
i don’t believe it
there were no outward
or inward thoughts
they came from no
where
maybe from the lawn
covered in old
dew
and old families,
old feet out to lunch
dead sandwiches.

they came from my iphone
which i paid for in cash
& the worker at at&t
said she’d never heard
of such a thing
i attributed it to
the NSA or to my little copy
of Don Quixote whose
text is far too little
to discern,
Sancho Panza sitting at a party
far away
i thought about going to
work tomorrow & all that
i thought this poem would be
finished,
like how i think that
a day will be finished
before it finishes.

I thought about what
happens when the ego
dissolves &
i thought
about going over
Terence McKenna videos
on YouTube
but forgot or found
something else
like how before punk
there was nothing
but there was always
nothing.

_______________________________________

Conor Messinger is a poet and translator living in Brooklyn. He runs the Hero Systems reading series at Molasses Books. A collection of his work, The Land Was V There is forthcoming from 89+. He tweets at @spirallabyrinth.

THREE POEMS by Erin Stoodley

She

 

Of the midnight my grandfather thumbed

blue into her back, she rolled his gin down the sink.

My mother left stale heat, hewed the walls her father built.

Come Sunday she rises from her splintered pew, closes

the liquor store counter. My father lies

in catacomb roots. Cotton binds to my mother’s own.

She kneels beneath the white of elysian lines.

Through the rusted boughs, her town sings.

 

 

 

Evensong

 

Dusk settles on shoulders,

crests of a walked-thin sea.

 

Mothers herd their daughters

to the coquina shell stand

 

when their fingers are grain,

and the merchants’ are slipstream.

 

Each lined palm is an urn,

pressed empty from fulfillment.

 

 

 

Song in My Cry

 

I was first born, slicked red and adrift.

My mother closed her eyes,

a nurse stole me to wash.

 

My sister came to refuse my mother’s breast.

Clamp pressed into his palm, my father cut

her cord in a strait of white light.

 

Two years, and she didn’t speak or know

my mother’s voice, swelled into a plainchant

without boats to carry.

 

When my sister wet the skin, drank

my fill, she was forgiven as the night

blued, sung dry.

 

_________________________________________________________

 

Erin Stoodley is a sophomore at an independent studies high school in Southern California. She was awarded a scholarship to the California State Summer School for the Arts’ writing program and second place in Hollins University’s 2013 Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest. Erin received first place in Ventura County’s Art Tales Contest for short fiction, and was named a finalist in VCWC’s 2014 Joyce La Mers Poetry Contest and 2013 annual short story contest. Her poetry is published in Cargoes. 

 

THREE POEMS by Jonathan Wallin

ridiculous flying machines

 

You’ve wandered away, pissed off again

as we tour the history museum. Separate exhibits

 

are the strongholds that save us from having it out

like normal opposites. The window displays are not for outdoor

 

viewing but lenses looking in. Oh wow, there’s something

on a wall that only slightly interests me. I treat the dinosaurs and the dead

 

languages disgracefully, only taking notes to seem the occupant

of my own mind, not fiddling with the locks on yours.

 

Like dust you find a television screen. Its moving your face,

snapshots in a photo-booth. That famous film reel–flying machines

 

falling apart before they leave the ground, stacks of wings folding

in on themselves, nose dives digging up dirt, the one that bounces,

 

its top spinning round–drowning itself with air.

I always wanted to build a ridiculous flying machine,

 

you say without sighing. I’m thinking you can’t pedal like mad

over a cliff and expect to move up in the world.

 

 

 

measuring up

 

We haven’t spoken in days

& I won’t take anything

you give. One night you

awaken to find I’m lying

beside you. I’m stiff

as a crutch. You tell me

you once knew a girl

who owned a snake

that wouldn’t eat.

Can you imagine,

she asked a vet, a snake

in a glass case full of mice?

Maybe it’s depressed, the girl

thought, so she let it out.

For weeks the snake roamed

the apartment, but still refused

to eat. One night the girl

awoke to find the snake

beside her, straight along

the length of her body.

Get out of the house,

the vet told her, it’s measuring you up

to see if you’ll fit inside!

Lying beside you, listening,

stiff and long as grief,

I watch you curl yourself

into a ball. A gobstopper

of the human variety.

 

 

 

seeing our disappointment

 

Seeing our disappointment rehearsed

and played out in a film,

 

I ate myself whole. Such entropy

moves me when I recognize it.

 

On the screen the meal was over

and she was about to leave but his close-up,

 

a hammer on anvil crescendo in the soundtrack,

made her stop and we watched the silent argument.

 

Who moves in these rooms but our intentions?

We send them in unannounced, no coffee prepared,

 

two beggars in love with the other one’s space.

He speaks at last hard-nosed and robotic.

 

Life is lending itself to scenes. Timing, timing,

timing is free if we can pick it up,

 

She’s got it. She hears the cue line, waits a beat,

tells him in so many lame words their energy

 

is better off dusted than wasted, a circle

of clean that’s revealed when adjusted.

 

Backdrops and props change, dazzle us

like fenced cows. He is walking in the rain.

 

We see him at just the right angle to notice

he’s thinking too much, thinking a failure

 

is just the beginning of more disappointment.

He’s too much the brute since god’s death,

 

turning for comfort to women–a woman.

Now he’s all slushy, all ice but no flavor.

 

The story gets boring, more music and a view.

We head for the exit. The people are only the aggregate

 

of numbers crammed in the openings. Outside

the weather is the music of the merry-go-round,

 

 

recycled or looped right before the ending;

an empty sleeve pinned to the shoulder that won’t let us leave.

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

Jonathan Wallin is an MFA candidate at the University of NC at Wilmington. Originally from Asheville, NC, he currently resides in Wilmington with his wife and two cats. These poems are from his thesis manuscript entitled “Ridiculous Flying Machines.”

THIS IS WHY by Paige Elizabeth

 

Amongst the flashing lights and two-steppers in a Santa Monica karaoke bar, I am crying. The half-shaved head of the DJ bobs to the music, with a reduced swing of lank hair, and I bury my head in the chest of my classmate.

Moments earlier, we had been talking about the difficulties of our lives; he, a medical emergency in his early adulthood, and me, a de-personhood caused by a myriad of situations.

“I’m pretty sure everyone hates me,” I said, for the thousandth time.

“No. No one hates you. Everyone loves you,” he replied, holding my shoulders in his hands.

I gave him my side-eye. Eyebrows were raised.

“I am not someone to bullshit. I don’t make things up,” he continued, shouting into my ear as another drunk Angelenos attempted a Bon Jovi song. “Everyone loves you, but we all wonder- why is she so hard on herself? I mean, why are you so hard on yourself?”

And the tears started flowing.

 

****

 

I get anxious, I get antsy.

 

I go outside and smoke a cigarette. I pace across the cold concrete of my front porch. I know what I’m going to do.

 

I twitter stalk him out of anxiety. It’s a habit I can’t break, no matter how many people have told me to stop.

 

I compulsively check: is he anywhere near me?

Is he writing death threats about me again?

Has he split up with his incredibly young and vulnerable girlfriend?

 

I hope not,

I hope not,

I hope so; a triptych of identical prayers to some unknown goddess in witness protection.

 

I feel fear flame up hot in the deepest pit of my stomach. He was in Iceland a week before I was there. He was in a part of London I had been in days previous. A specter is haunting not Europe, but me.

 

I get anxious, I get angry.

 

“I bet you’re kicking yourself,” the court appointed lawyer told me in her £1000 suit. “You should have just not responded to him.”

 

My hands shake in class as I watch, or try to watch, two people in a domestic scene. My throat closes up during the Wolf of Wall Street. My heart beats faster writing these words.

 

And I ask myself for what seems like the thousandth time, why am I writing them?

 

I get angry, I get scared.

 

****

 

In a bar in a town at the edge of the world, he took a sip of an alcopop.

“I had a date.”

“Oh?”

“With a girl. She looks like Rihanna.”

“Good for you.”

“Jealous?”

“No. Not really. Someone asked me out too.”

He turned to me.

“I don’t believe it. Show me.”

 

In a bar in a town at the edge of the world, I showed him my cellphone.

“See?”

He cocked one eyebrow, and those sickeningly blue eyes swiveled in their sockets in my general direction.

“So… he asked you out?”

“Yes.”

“Where did you meet this guy?”

I met the guy at a friend’s birthday party at a club in Carnaby Street in one of the several stretches of time I managed to break up with him. The guy was nice, and polite, and was dressed expertly, and was studying music. All good things to a recently single girl. He had asked me where I had bought my clothes, and complimented me on my ability to pull off a quiff hairstyle.

“Around.”

“And so, what? He wants you to come with him to find a denim jacket?”

“Yes.”

He took a large gulp. He gnashed his teeth, his most characteristic pre-antagonistic move, and laughed.

“You’re a whore.”

“How am I a whore?” I started to bellow, before he widened his eyes and gnashed his teeth; to mean, shut up. “You had a date with a girl who apparently looks like Rihanna, so…”

“I made that up.”

“What?”

“I made that up. I knew you’d be a whore.”

 

In a twist of conversation I cannot remember, he somehow persuaded me to drink three or four shots as penance for my sins as he berated me, from head to toe, from strength to weakness. At a certain point, he stopped making me drink and I just drank to escape the neverending torrent of words.

 

I remember a woman on the street. A flash of someone asking me if I was alright. Him dragging me, or pulling me, back to his house. I remember screaming something, I remember being upset about something.

 

In a hospital in a town at the edge of the world, I woke up in a bed with no shoes. I was in a gown covered with vomit. I righted myself; the vomit was mine, I concluded. There were no nurses or doctors on the ward. I just left.

 

I didn’t break up with him for another six months. I didn’t go out on the date with the guy who wanted me to help him buy a denim jacket, either.

 

****

We sat at the edge of the sea by the castle and talked about Julian Schnabel. Guillermo del Torro. Alfonso Cuaron. Ozu. I mentioned Godard and Truffaut; he mentioned Akira and Ghost in the Shell. He was into Miyazaki. I cajoled him into reading Faulkner. He made fun of me for liking Pete Doherty. It was 2008, it was okay then to like Pete Doherty. Sort of.

 

We went to a cinema in London co-founded by David Lynch.

“I can’t believe you haven’t been here,” he laughed. “And you call yourself a Londoner…”

We saw Amy Winehouse in a bar in Camden. It was 2008, it was okay then to be in Camden. Sort of.

In Marylebone station he grabbed my hand and chased after Jason Segel. Jason Segel escaped into the back of a cab.

“Did you see? Did you see?!” he exclaimed, panting, flushed to his Anglo-Saxon bones with anticipation. I hadn’t really seen, but I pretended I did.

 

He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. An ice blue not completely unlike the alcopop WK-D. They were wide and transfixing. I sat in a McDonalds with a group of his friends and noticed I was the only person without blue eyes at the table. I commented on this; the boys shrugged in their rain-soaked football gear. “‘S Northern Europe,” someone replied. “Vikings and shit.”

“Not like my beautiful American girl,” he whispered in my ear with a smile.

 

We woke up early in his bed with the sun shining from his second-floor windows. I rolled over and looked into his eyes.

“Good morning.”

He stared ahead, not responding.

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you think it would be nice to die together?”

I sat up. I looked at him.

“What are you talking about?”

“Sometimes I just wish we could die together. That I could kill you, and then kill myself.”

I decided to make him a cup of tea.

 

We walked up the hill to the 90s party hosted by his friends in the art school. I was dressed as Courtney Love; he, a member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, either Michelangelo or Donatello.

A crowd of drunk accents crashed upon me. I was the American entertainment for the evening. He slipped off upstairs with some friend of his from first year dorms. I paddled in the shallow conversational pool for about an hour before it all got stale.

“Where the fuck is he?” I asked his roommate, dressed like Penfold from Danger Mouse. Penfold from Danger Mouse went and retrieved him, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

His eyes were wild and searching; pupils dilated and mouth gurning. He seemed fucked.

“I’m going home.”

“Suit yourself.”

“Why are you being such an asshole?”

“If you want to be a bitch and go home, then fine.”

“I don’t want to walk home alone!”

Someone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer walked me home. She texted him: I think you should come home to your girlfriend. He didn’t reply.

I fell asleep in his bed.

 

At 4am, Penfold from Danger Mouse woke me up. His little rat face was inches from mine.

“Paige… Paige… wake up.”

I squeezed my eyes together and turned on the light. My Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was not in the bed with me.

“I have some bad news.”

I sat up.

“He… he’s in the police station for the night.”

“What?”

“I thought it would be best for him. He tried to kill himself. Well, he did kill himself. He took a bunch of drugs. He collapsed on the side of the road and his heart stopped. A doctor just happened to be in front of the house where he collapsed and revived him. I… I took him to the hospital but they couldn’t keep him against his will.”

I blinked.

“He kept running into traffic after he got out, screaming that he was going to kill himself… stupid arsehole didn’t realize I could easily out run him… the hospital wouldn’t take him again. So, I took him to the police. At least there– he’s… he’s safe.”

I sobbed the hardest I had ever sobbed in my entire life.

 

Back in London, a few days later I got a text from him.

I’m sorry. But if you hadn’t have left the party, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

 

I met his mother for a lunch shortly thereafter. I stared at her chubby face for an hour.

“Stop fiddling with your fringe,” she instructed. I stopped. “I think part of the reason he did it was because of your relationship. Don’t you think?”

 

****

November 4

 

We are no longer together.

 

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

I hate myself. I’m so depressed. Something needs to be done. Something needs to change.

 

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

I need to leave this city. I have to get away for a while and I’m not going back to [his hometown]. I could do a Stephen Fry and just disappear abroad for a while

 

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

Don’t worry about college- you’ll throw yourself a curveball. P.S. He isn’t the one.#tweetyour16yearoldself *

 

*NOTE- this email references a tweet I made, days before, completely unrelated to the situation and actually referencing someone else

 

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

p.s. he isn’t the one

 

Have you actually seriously written that about me? Do you want me to kill myself? That is so heartless. Time to do something really drastic then.

 

P.S. I still feel like you were the one. Bye.

 

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

Some really interesting videos of you have just emerged on the internet. I wonder who would enjoy a link? [The university you are attending]? [Your employer]? Any prospective film schools you might want to apply to? Family? Friends?

 

Perhaps you need to tweet your 16 year old self a warning about filming yourself fucking and then cheating on, breaking the heart and ruining the life of the guy who owns those videos.

November 4

From: [him]@gmail.com

or maybe you just need to apologise and persuade me to change my mind.

the clock is ticking.

 

November 5

 

He knocks on my window at 3am. He sends the text

either you let me in or i’m throwing a brick through it. the window, that is.

 

He stands crying in the rain as I phone my mother. “He’s outside,” I keep saying. “He won’t leave. Oh fucking god, he is following me through the window wherever I go in the house.”

 

I call the police. They arrive.

 

“I’m just so in love with her.”

“You have a funny way of showing it,” they reply.

 

They told him to not speak to me ever again, and issued a warning. They told me to call them if he tried to speak to me again.

 

November 6

From: [him]@gmail.com

you left me no choice

 

November 6

From: [him]@gmail.com

Paige I know you really hate me, but if you have absolutely anything left in you at all I need you to come over to my house tonight. I have something very serious to tell you and things are really not good for me right now. I’m a very very sick person. I know I haven’t gone about anything the right way here, but please come over. I really need you to be here. My Mother is also with me at the moment but she will leave later. I can’t stop crying as I type this. I have to go away tomorrow and I currently cannot leave the house. I just want to see you before I go and tell you everything that’s been going on. The truth. If you can please find it in your heart to do this for me then I promise I will never bother you again. Please if you do choose to come I also need to to bring something with you, I gave it to you a while back and I hope you still have it. I’m sorry for everything. Please don’t contact the police again.

 

November 6

From: [him]@gmail.com

also i no longer have a mobile phone so you can’t call

 

November 6

From: [him]@gmail.com

Please try to remember that life is cruel but you are wonderful. People will always try to hurt you and do mean things but you are one of the most special things to be put on this earth. You are a fantastic gift to anyone who is fortunate enough to meet you. I wish we could have spent an entire lifetime together. I messed up and I will never forgive myself but I will always love you. x

 

November 6

From: [him]@gmail.com

I promise you that when you wake up in the morning you will be happy.

 

November 7

From: [him]@gmail.com

Please know that I love you so much. If there is anything I should or could be doing to win you back that I’m not please let me know. I will not phone or text you (i actually can’t i don’t have a phone). I can’t stop thinking about you and all the bad things I’ve done. I love you immensely and I want to win you back. I promise that if you gave me one more chance I would never mess up again. I realise how much I’ve done to hurt you and how much i’ve done wrong. Seeing the expression on your face through the window the other night has completely broken me. I’m suffering so much and I’m sure you are too. I love you incredibly and although this hurts I never want to lose this feeling of love. If you feel that these emails are intrusive or harassment in any way then let me know and I will do everything I can to resist the urge to contact you again.

 

November 7

From: [him]@gmail.com

I’m in an absolute mess. My hands are shaking so much and I can’t control them. There is this uncontrollable churning in my stomach that makes me feel constantly nauseous. I believe that if we could only have one conversation then I could show you how much I want and need you. We will never have problems again, I want to be the perfect boyfriend and the perfect guy. I have to deliver a script by 9am tomorrow but I can’t think and I can’t cope. I love you so much, please reply something back. Please this is intolerable.

 

November 7

From: [him]@gmail.com

This is crazy. We are meant to be together I know it. We didn’t see each other for 4 months and we still love each other so much. I know things haven’t worked out in the past and I know you have given me more chances than I have deserved, but this type of love is not going to go away. I need to see you.

 

November 7

From: [him]@gmail.com

I’m seriously troubled and depressed. I know any sort of contact from you would lift me straight out. I’m so completely in love with you.

 

November 9

From: [him]@gmail.com

those videos are cracking up some serious hits!

 

***

 

At night, only when I’m alone, my ritual before bed is to first cover the mirror. Then, to put a towel or a pair of pajama bottoms between the doorframe and the floor. Just in case.

 

I shut the curtains. I leave at least one small light on, sometimes two. It’s never dark, at least.

 

I tell people it’s because I’m scared of ghosts. That the medication I take to help my anxiety and mood makes shapes shift, and blur. Which is true, both are true, but the other day I realized the real reason.

 

Whenever I’m scared in bed, I can’t look towards the window.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Paige Elizabeth is a 24 year-old writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, and she’s an MFA directing student at UCLA. She’s been published in Thought Catalog, Everyday Genius, Have U Seen My Whale, and Sadcore Dadwave featured on the Guardian and on Dennis Cooper’s blog.

 

 

TWO POEMS by Jenna Jarvis

 

“the velveteen rabbit”

 

your hands especially your left

cast a highly detailed shadow rabbit

haunches and everything on the walls

of an irrelevant bedroom

 

detailed as the word peloponnesian

 

let me sleep forever alcibiathantos

wake only when i’ve come to terms

with stroking your nape pretending

to be left-handed too self-made

 

burn away my hair i’ll run

my own hands compulsively across

my own scalp till i learn better

than imagining myself your garden

 

bunny someday

 

 

 

“they”

 

a skull is a singular they:

a plurality of bones

that fuse into being, dys-

 

tinct in afterbirth. skulls rattle

us when visible, re-

mind us of death in miniature.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Jenna Jarvis is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in English literature at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her poetry has been published by The Steel ChiselPHIL, and S/tick, among others. She won the John Newlove Poetry Award for 2012 and released a chapbook, titled The Tiger with the Crooked Mouth, with Bywords in October 2013. You can read some of her writing and contrarian thoughts on the publishing racket at http://anti-malahat.tumblr.com.

 

TWO POEMS by Clara Lipfert

 

ROYCE EGBERT KIRK HUGHIE NEWT DILLIE ODILE INES EDNA MYRTLE you & me

 

you eat the man who is muttering to him

-self & vomit him into your partridge’s lap

because your only marketable skill is

getting men to buy you dollar pizza.

in my semi-autobiographical

novel i am, like, going to the bathroom.

INES pays too much rent. HUGHIE, too little.

“i’m going to sleep with your wife,” says ODILE.

boys with good faces, girls with bad ones.

i look pretty today i don’t look pretty

today: suck it bitch. as ROYCE tries to swallow

the sweat of a thousand summers’ cellophane,

DILLIE toasts a slice of bread haphazardly.

KIRK is only trying to save you the

inconvenience of having such a mess of

rot, of stink, of canker in your bed

& the choices you’ve made lately make you sick.

INES wants to think about rotten eggs.

EDNA eats an avocado for lunch, while

NEWT & KIRK feast on the cow that is not theirs.

contraception is crappy & heroic.

in my semi-autobiographical

novel i am walking down the avenue

& holding the hand of a beautiful girl.

she is far more beautiful than MYRTLE

could ever hope to be. you know outer space

cares about you, so why belabor the point?

ROYCE & NEWT stab their mother but not before

drinking seven mcflurries on the corner.

meanwhile, EGBERT slurps his blue or red slurpie.

KIRK is five minutes early to work & he

hates himself. no pets no bikes no smoking.

HUGIE is going to throw a big gulp of

diet coke at your head because you are rich.

DILLIE is a person who things happen to

& to be honest she could go either way.

in my semi-autobiographical

novel i am in line at the post office.

“will you teach me how to watch television?”

inquires INES and you have this reply:

“i think you’re on your own for that one, my friend.”

EDNA has not finished her avocado.

NEWT drinks a negroni with ROYCE’s grandmother

& they vomit into their plates of pasta.

how to pay rent, food, gas, electric, t.v.

what if you invoked the muse & the muse said

“shut the fuck up, i’m tired of poets.”

in my semi-autobiographical

novel, contraception is only crappy.

don’t worry, ODILE has not yet seduced your wife.

you, on the other hand, have. on the other hand,

your pal ROYCE is still sucking on saran wrap

& DILLIE’s toast has burned. unplug the toaster.

in my semi-autobiographical

novel i drink a glass of wine & when i

get on the train i am too open & my

eyes open too easily & my legs spread too

easily. my eyes enter other people’s eyes

too easily & everyone enters me too

easily. salope, your partridge is furious at you.

there’s no one you could fall in love with here, so

what’s the point? i regret to inform you that

KIRK still smells bad. you are walking on eggshells.

MYRTLE is still ugly. INES still pays too

much rent. ROYCE’s grandmother is hungover.

you, friend, are young & do not get hangovers.

grandparents can live in a lot of different

places, but most of them live on long island.

you look cute with diet coke dripping down

your chin. ODILE, INES, & MYRTLE agree.

together five boys, five girls, you & me.

so, did ROYCE & NEWT’s mother deserve to die?

sorry officer, i won’t do it again.

“this isn’t how things were supposed to be,” says

EDNA, pursing her red lips seductively,

“because we only want words that draw forth tears.”

some grandparents can live without a toaster.

HUGHIE is not a boy with a good face &

now it’s EGBERT who’s walking on eggshells.

there’s no one you could fall in love with here &

the choices you’ve made lately could make you vomit.

 

 

 

I am NOT white from this pomegranate when I ask why she sent these martyrs & this shit

 

I am too pure to chew gum, or now I am, or should be, anyway. I am a fly lying down in its own feces. I can compare myself to other insects too, if you want. Once, you tried to explain to me how insects rule the world, but I lost interest and didn’t understand the details, anyway. All I know is that someday I’m going to rule the world, just like a fly rolling around in its own feces, or Simone Weil and her fatalistic empathy. Teach me how to eat, how to not be afraid of sullying this purity. “Unsex me here,” said Simone, and she did so.

 

“The opposite of white isn’t black,” you said to me once, holding my head in your hands, “it’s red.” I get a hard-on just thinking about it. That was the night you’d beckoned me with, “come over here, bring your drink if you’re afraid.” I’m easier than Persephone; you knew I wouldn’t refuse. I’ve already been condemned to the underworld, anyway and I know I’m someone’s dreamgirl, but why not yours?

 

I am too pure to brush my teeth, or maybe I just want the smell of my morning coffee to cling to me all day, because who knows what saints think about when they masturbate? Once I fucked this girl and, well, I probably can’t tell you anymore. Once I fucked this girl and I came on her face, a sticky, white, chrysalis. Once I fucked this girl and, well, that’s the end of that story.

 

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Clara Lipfert is the author of the chapbook I’ll Be Your Sometimes Girl, as well as one half of the performance and poetics project HAG, which curates salons, hosts dinner parties, and publishes zines. You can find more of her work at hagcollective.tumblr.com.

TWO POEMS by Guy Melvin

 

Listen to Yourself Crying in Autotune

 

When

That last thing felt is forgotten

Because staying embarrassed feels unnatural

Large lapses in memory blamed on necessity return unreal

 

Outside of everything else that’s cared for

There’s them

Cold, maybe waiting to get in, but ultimately indifferent

Aware that they’re fine – as is

When they’d heard (all heard) they were “fine as hell”

 

When

Busses look desperate

Walking feels affected

Serial killers yawning in courts’ to be expected

Nod along (in theoretical all black)

Like a well dressed easily depressed kid

 

Then

“My sons, my sons” you call out for those “sons”

Listen to yourself crying in Autotune

While you watch the balloon you lost twenty years ago in that parking lot

Float by – unaware of you too

It is overwhelmingly clear how much of the child remains in this room, and the next

So encourage a pigeon to shit on the head. It’s not good luck, to think so would be

dumb and that’s obviously not the case with my boo.

 

But

Who cares?

You slept alone

While they got crook necks

From stares

At a blood moon

 

Listen to yourself crying in autotune

Listen to yourself you emotional robot

Let your shoulders weaken, drop your head,

Watch your feet as you shrug

 

 

 

As long as you acknowledge what’s wrong with pleasure

 

They’ll be fine with it

That is

As long as you acknowledge what’s wrong with pleasure

 

Share memories

But

Keep most of them to yourself

 

You’ll reshape the past while ignoring their future

So what

 

Learning to spell your name

Staring without knowledge of visibility/consequences

The loss of a balloon/expectations to the blue

 

Enjoying the heat of teacher’s breath

The awareness of committing a happy crime

The awareness of committing a happy crime

A handjob from Robin

The awareness of committing an even happier crime

Ecstatic

You’re now the happiest child there was

Bored though….

 

And without hesitation

And without fanfare

You lay down across the bed of tracks you stared at every day

And without thought you look in towards the moments that didn’t matter

Because you ultimately don’t like matter

You probably hate it

So what

Remember what your name is – they obviously can’t

If you’re a star and made of them – well fuck em’ too

Stars can’t eat **Quote** “pussy” **Unquote** like you.

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

In 1999 Guy Melvin received an excellence in computers certificate at summer camp; this was to be his peak. He sometimes writes for an alt-weekly in Philadelphia. His best friend is his laptop.  Follow him on twitter @GuyMelvinGuy