209 lede

The Many-Eyed Giant by Jennie B. Ziegler

On the first day I sit in an emptied seat. In the corners. On the couch, wishing it were plastic-lined. I am not welcome here, but they did not see me slip in the doorway, through the window, across a threshold they thought protected, they thought friendly and full. I nudge room for myself. They are strained at the sight of me. I was not invited in.
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No. 209 20230318

Sea Song. | Downtown. by Angela Sun (she, her)

for aunty who lives on the floor above

weren't you there the night they struck you down  or some place yellowed with oil  waiting for the last call  touch and go on the other side of the phone  his window swallowing cop lights like liquor  into a pitch black gut you pour out of every morning  this growing bellied nausea  you keep steady as plates  steadier than his hand on the baby kick  on the crushed mattress clogged with cannabis  a living room pasture  before this country smoked you out  like a culling  with the sticklebacks caught up this time  and you watching his clinched wings buoyed above their sirens  and didn't he kiss you once and call you that  as if your tongue wasn't punctured into foreignhood  as if this would survive the storm  and as if dream could be  for you  more than a verb

Self-Obsessed. | Saturdays are Days for the Heart. | Naked Brunch. by Leah Keane (she, her)

l am the sick dog panting in the shelter.
I am the hand reaching out to feed.
I throw the stick and I chase after it.
I place it back at my own feet.

I have been kicked.
I have lain across the floor
and punched myself square in the face.
I have gotten up to snort my own bloody nose.

In the mirror I have awarded the colour red to me.

The Death of Magic. | I-84, Biggs. by Sandra Hosking

There are no more magicians
Only narcissists and statisticians
The probability of love is nil
The possibility of hate is sure

The cabinet gathers cobwebs
The rabbit goes unfed
And the lady is unsawed
If calculations are correct
All mysteries are solved

Photo. by Wyatt Mischler

She’s fifty. It’s Christmas.
And the family—
Her husband, her two children, a dog, all recently
The subjects of an irrefutably logical argument—
Have been handled. The camera’s out.
Everyone’s been perfect.
She grabs them, and, just before the flash,
Stretches her lips as wide as they can bear.
Then relaxes. There. Done.

Love in Green. by Kim Malinowski

After Katherine A. Glover "Green Salad" (USA)

They say “word salad” when mouth puckers
syllables wrong, words garble, “word” could mean
decimal, “salad” could be love,
my mouth puckers to say “I love you”
but doesn’t. Somewhere,
deep in sour belly I was taught
vermillion not crimson love

Renny Gong's the morning you washed ashore,

Inner ear bleeding
I was getting you flowers
And then there you were
Huge and naked, too dry and too hot

Trying hard to remain calm but it’s
hard not to think about how
Your body is not made for air
Too much time out the water
And you crush under your own weight

A Blue Ambivalence. by Gabriella Garofalo [II] (she, her, hers)

To M. W.

Forget it, c’mon, she isn’t looking
For baptisms, dreams, only the sound of grass,
While teens are flying on bikes, skates,
And her soul is daunting the fire,
That white space great for the ranting of silence–
So, spin it nice, and keep them sweet,
That awful lot, clouds stalking her soul,
Then ask for light, the best artisan to get the job done,
And fix a shattered soul–
‘Cause neither trees nor men she owns,
Only blue, deserted words, a desert waiting

Loser. | April. by Amy Moretsele

ash spills into the velum again
of this aging sentience, possibility always returning to an end
days flit by among the susurrus
of calendared pages
and the evergreen’s leaves are
falling, feeding, flourishing

Diana at the Man's Funeral by Isabelle B.L

Diana walked down the aisle. Long chestnut curls curtained a crimson criss-cross back. He hated red tones. Frenzied fingers fingered rosary beads. The veils lifted revealing alabaster faces.

Diana reached the corpse. "You can't hurt anyone else.” Specks of saliva shot from her red lips and landed on her husband’s powdered face.

Hot Dog Fingers by Eli S. Evans

Upon splitting from her husband and subsequently expanding her dating pool to include both men and women, a theretofore slender woman decided that her greatest desire in life was to slap people and for it feel to them like getting hit in the face with a package of hot dogs. However, since even relatively small hot dogs were much larger than her fingers at the time this decision was taken, the woman knew she would have to gain a great deal of weight in order to reach her goal – so much that some of it would have nowhere else to go but to her furthest extremities.

Weirdo Row by Sadriguez

Johane Vanderschlonge stood on the steps in the well down to the Times Square train station speaking tenderly to a fifteen year-old girl with blonde-yellow eyebrows, as she was on the verge of crying. “It's all for you,” he said. And Jimmy heard: “You think I give a rat’s cock about any of this shit?” A nondescript commuter ascending the stairs eyed cautiously the unusual scene, thinking to step around Vanderschlonge and his girl. All of this in Jimmy Strumthrumpastiddidos's view. Vanderschlonge gestured towards the commuter: “What? Him? You think I give a dog’s ass about him or any of these fucking people?” He slapped the commuter to its knees, did this amid hiccuped grunting of reassuring words at the girl. Jimmy accelerated his pace, moving in on the scene. “It's for you baby!” Johane said tenderly to the girl, nearly on the verge of crying himself, moving her finally to tears as he spat grandly on this collapsed commuter who had now regained wits and was lying stone still, hyperventilating to summon words, reasoning, in its own defense. Vanderschlonge began now to scream passionate things at the girl as he spat again and again upon this commuter, rifling in his jacket pocket for his butterfly knife, meaning to open up the struggling commuter, when Jimmy closed in, placing a gentle hand under the panting and hiccuping Vanderschlonge's elbow.