213 lede

Trompe L'oeil. | Annual Update. & | Hypothetical. by Aaliyah Anderson (she/her)

Step outside to sneeze into
            cloth, return with red
pores. I don’t want to try a
meatball rolled from an extinct
animal. I tell
            myself I rarely
snack, but my forearms swell, and I’ve
            been leaving
                        pieces of myself
                        everywhere I go—
            my feet were nothing but frayed
and ready for Appalachian runoff.
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Olga, Omar & Inge by Jordan Gisselbrecht

You’ve been playing this video game for most your life and started up again a few days ago. You play the game in bed continuously, unable to do anything else, not yet understanding why, the air in your bedroom thickening with the smell of your groin and your unwashed hair because you won’t get up to open a window. That would interrupt your play. Even exigencies like going to the bathroom are put off until the last possible moment, and airing out your room further would invite distraction, dissipate the atmosphere of serious inquiry that you’ve carefully built up over these past few days before you’ve even managed to put your question into words. There is no life outside of contemplating this game. You are standing at the door to the temple.

Auto-anthology. by Sara Beth Brooks (she/they)

My first language is forgetting. To spite me, you rattle
like loose change in the corners of my mind. So I grow

you into a tree that I cannot erase. It doesn't work,
and now I've forgotten your smile. Then I forgot

that I forgot and forgot again that I am a child,
and also never too young to be an adult.

Self-Portrait at 33. by Matthew DeMarco (he/they)

          — after David Berman

The title could work if taken as homage
or even as a forgivable, petty theft perpetrated
against the legacy of a poet who was at least
more worldly in his allusive, self-directed generosity,

and I’m hoping whoever reads or hears this
will tolerate it as a pretext for wandering into my own biome
on an afternoon when our backyard tree’s gold leaves

At the end of trusting. | Your house, without you in it. | A snapshot, 1983. | Bobbi Brown/Bobby Baker: A Sestina. | Corrosive Substance. by Katie Beswick

At the end of trusting.
Tony Soprano dreams his dreams of betrayal,
which look like gutted fish, confessing;
They move their mouths, lips fat with improbable despair.
Iced eyes brimming with frigid truths too terrible for consciousness.
Treachery’s pungent brine, frozen stiff under static gills, unchanging —

How do you fathom it?

American Sweetgum by Lindsey Goodrow

I listened to 105,595 minutes of music last year, according to Spotify Wrapped. That’s 1,759 hours, or a whopping 73 consecutive days, filled with sound. I was amused and almost proud to find myself in the top 1% of music-obsessed listeners worldwide.

But with the constant cacophony of noise filling my every waking moment, sound drowns out everything else around me, leaving me drained, panicked, and frightfully confused.

Partial Illumination and an Update on the Demographic by Oz Hardwick

A Zippo flicks in a lonely room,
each spark illuminating a different detail.
Sheets rumpled back on themselves.
An unread book. A scattering of bright pins.
A teacup stained into a limnological chart
of the Styx. The flame doesn’t catch but
each snatched glimpse is a Kim’s game
of consequences, a flash of a collage
collapsing into chaos.

Waywyrd Hearts by Abigail Denton (she/any)

I will sit here, not squirm, while you taste of my body. The knife releases something in me, I think. My existence is driven down to a point of pain and your moans around my flesh. Tomorrow, I will be bandaged, and you will be married. But tonight, I can be yours for the last time, and I can open myself up to you in a way that they never would. When you consume me, I am cursing you to always remember.

I will not wish you well when you will not come back to me. When your stained lips come back up to mine, can you taste over the iron of my blood, the pearl I placed beneath my tongue? Will you notice if I slip it past your lips? Will they be wearing pearls tomorrow when the two of you walk down to the river to exchange your quiet vows? Do they know who made that river gleam for you, who made its banks burst when you first touched me there?

Subway Pilgrims. | In the Middle of the Middle. (2 Poems) by Sam Hendrian

Subway Pilgrims.
A congregation of ex-congregants
Crowd the subway corners
With a stray “Our Father” still on their lips
While the tunnel light inches closer.

Everybody wants a seat on the train,
Everybody wants to feel like they’re going somewhere,
But most people end up standing on the train
And only arrive at a portion of somewhere.

Ellis Bell by Emma Wells

Pseudonyms offer a liberty of sorts – an inked nib stands readily poised to sign my manuscript: arduous yet fully loved is the toil of pages and fractious ink spill. My tattooed hands bear the mark of literary industry: bleeding folds of unspoken words.

I pause – deliberate – second-guess myself whilst inky royal-blue globules drip onto crisp pages, hovering below my eye-line. A smudgy meeting, betwixt two integral components, is forged.

Charlotte, she signs so assuredly, swiftly, without conscious thought or self-correction. Robotic. Painstakingly verbose, of the verbal variety, not merely the soft, scratchy noise that emits from my quill: no voice given to its holder at all. As I like it. As I choose.

I cannot be exposed as Charlotte.

Unreal Estate. by Allan Lake

A couple I do not know –
thought I knew – bought
a titanic penthouse via
an iceberg of debt.
Took a notion and a deep
ocean is now taking them