Category Archives: Poetry

“A Threefold Invocation” – Prose Poetry by dave ring

Spell Words – Nicholas Roerich, 1922

“A Threefold Invocation” is a powerfully magical prose poem cast by dave ring in our Summer 2018 issue.

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FIRST, YOU MUST OPEN THE DEEPEST PART OF YOURSELF.  Lay a promise there.  You will find it again.  Cast your memories of it into the pool like a stone.  Wait for them to touch the bottom.  Know that the weeds and silt will soften their landing.  Send the most secret part of yourself to the wood, the heart of it.  Lay on the earth.  Close your eyes, and wait.  Eventually you will forget from which way you came.

The ritual is born of sex and blood.  You must fuck the darkest part of yourself, you must own it.  That is the person that you can claim when this is all over.  The self that understands what it truly wants, not merely the clear shallows of your easier yearnings.  Your blood should pound in your ears until the drumming is both a command and a question.  When you are ready, when it tells you to, answer it.

The words should burn your tongue like whiskey, like shame, like difficult truth.  You’ll feel something stir, in the oldest part of yourself.  Don’t be afraid.  This is the beast you can come home to.  This is the future you can claim without recrimination.  This is the joy you’ve always wanted, but didn’t yet deserve.

Take it.

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dave ring is the community chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival in Washington, DC.  He was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2018 Futurescapes resident. More info at www.dave-ring.com.  Follow him on Twitter at @slickhop.

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“Fetish / Recluse” – Poetry by Rita Mookerjee

The Day After – Edvard Munch, 1895

“Fetish / Recluse” is one of two magically sensual & intoxicating poems by Rita Mookerjee in our Summer 2018 issue.

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I TOOK NIGHTTIME TO HIDE IN MY HAIR AND
considered how I confused lust with
a periscope. How intimacy was a seeing eye,
people’s faces in orgasm.

Through muscle memory, I learned to grab a bottle
from thin air. Since it only takes 21 days to make a habit
I hammered this magic in like ideology,
fists unsure what to make of sleep.

I dreamt of whiskey bottles with false bottoms
filled with index cards listing coping mechanisms
that I could call my own so I could stop
living as a caricature of myself.

Then sleeping alone started to feel like a victory
because I could pass out with wine in my mouth
a lump of gleaming brie on my nightstand
and for all my social inclinations, my time

in bed alone increased. I read the news and
considered myself lucky. I tucked corks into
jars around the house: awards for effective self-
medication. Smug quotidian trophies.

{ X }

RITA MOOKERJEE‘s poetry is featured or forthcoming in Hollow, Lavender Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Spider Mirror Journal, and others. Her critical work has been featured in the Routledge Companion of Literature and Food, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory, and The Bloomsbury Handbook of Twenty-First Century Feminist Theory. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University specializing in contemporary Caribbean literature.

“Madcap / Cabin Fever” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

Mari Lwyd by Rhŷn Williams (Hogyncymru) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
“Madcap / Cabin Fever” is one of four sharply sensuous & sleekly surreal poems by the spectacular Jessie Janeshek in our Summer 2018 issue.

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MY HABITS ARE BAD                        I don’t know what’s at the wheel
                 sleeping long days              dreaming dead deer
                                      or deer horns or nothing.
Alive alive-o                                            forms a good number
                 crumbling old letters        feast or fiesta
but this blue candle         does not smell like fall
                                      and I can’t tell if the groan
                                  is my home or an animal
or why I am walking this ice storm alone
                 devil gloves and pink puffballs
                                                                    the starlet zone code
                 in a world without love when this could be Hollywood.

                 The fine-fingered winged girls
black lips/silent o’s
                 but I don’t have enough time between assaults
to let my hair grow back natural
                 so I find icy playboys
the ways their lips tingle with scotch
                 give the white high heels another shot
                                  vow I’ll be productive
drink less or more             little sips     vow I’d be better
                                      off in lands of moors
                 since I can’t stand your voices.

                 Introductions are worthless
you know my winged liner
                 another faux fur  and this is the dusk
through which I tote a glass lantern
                 through money and glitter
and Mari Lywd gloaming
                 and there’s not enough coffee
to mix with the liquor        before we jump in the roadster
                 or the river.

In the film I’m the dead aunt
                 and the contemporary ghost of myself
too afraid to move and I’m afraid I’ll lose
                                      men, cigarettes or electricity
                                                                    my cologne smells like moss
                                      and I’ll find places to hang
                 my photos of Jean Harlow’s graves
                                      and we’ll meet in the bathroom
                                      and fuck in our bathrobes
                 as the topcoat smooths everything.

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JESSIE  JANESHEK‘s second full-length book of poems is The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press). Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia(dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), and Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. You can read more of her poetry at jessiejaneshek.net.

“Luxury Lucent” – Poetry by Steven Ray Smith

Dream of Luxury – Dorothea Tanning, 1944

The grand finale of our Spring 2018 issue is Steven Ray Smith‘s brilliant poem “Luxury Lucent.”

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And then one day,
the marble fortress with armored
windows at the corner of profusion
boulevard and especial
avenue sold a moment of lucent insight instead
of diamonds.

For an extraordinary occasion surpassing even
the summoning to fertility of the wedding,
the chronicling of survival in the birthday,
gratitude for fertility of the anniversary, and
the annulling of failures of the funeral,

they opened the hefty and segregating doors
and emptied onto the display case their lifetime savings
of begrudging tolerances, spurious excuses,
and self-serving deceptions in return
for a tiny box tied in ribbons
the jeweler slid across the glass.
They will never afford such luxury again.
But if they grasp how this can be —
an empty box, nothingness wrapped in preciousness —
they won’t look to.

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STEVEN RAY SMITH‘s poetry has appeared in SliceThe Yale Review, Southwest Review, The Kenyon Review, New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, Puerto del Sol, THINK and others. New work is forthcoming in Barrow Street and Clarion Magazine. His web site is at www.StevenRaySmith.org.

“Pink Lemonade” – Poetry by Gabriela Garcia

Trilogy of the Desert: Mirage – Salvador Dali, 1946

“Pink Lemonade” is one of four menacing yet vulnerable poems by Gabriela Garcia in our Spring 2018 issue.

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YOU WAKE IN THE DARK
& are not suicidal
so much as flirting
with the look of it
the way you consider
pie under glass at
a diner, polished
& dark red beneath
a cross-hatched top.
Who really sits down
at the diner & orders
just a slice of pie.
It would probably
taste like all those
things you could
never eat as a child,
like chugging pink
lemonade at the barbecue
because it was never
allowed in the house
unless there was company
over. It would taste
like the first time
someone sucked your
tits & didn’t call.
Our bodies have all been
through the desert.
We’ve all had a mirage
of water on the blank
ceiling & wondered
what it might be like
to take a sip.

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GABRIELA GARCIA is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in North American ReviewWord Riot, No Dear and elsewhere. She is a James Hearst Poetry Prize finalist, the founder of the podcast On Poetryand an MFA candidate at Columbia University, where she serves as Poetry Editor for Columbia Journal.

“Self-Portrait as Pokémon #568 or Trubbish” – Poetry by Brandon Melendez

“Self-Portrait as Pokémon #568 or Trubbish” is Brandon Melendez‘s forlorn yet infectiously optimistic poem from our Spring 2018 issue.

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       BECAUSE WHO DOESN’T FEEL LIKE TRASH, sometimes? A bag of meat

bursting at the seams with old boots decomposed cat   expired trojans    & a potato.

At least I am full       with something. At least every Tuesday     someone will hold me  
      
all the way to the curb & I won’t be alone. All of us unwanted  anathema polyethylene

skin   we will gather            to empty ourselves           of what rots inside us. So grateful

to break open           in a way that does not bleed. Praise the fungi      & rotting bread.

The toothbrush undressed of its bristles.  Praise the mystery juice              how it leaks  
           
                        & curdles

                                                                & grows a new body.

Praise these bodies                                                           & the flies that deem us a home 

                                                                                  good enough

                        to raise a family in.

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BRANDON MELENDEZ is a Mexican-American poet from California. He is the author of home/land (Write Bloody 2019). He is a National Poetry Slam finalist and two-time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion. He was awarded Best Poem and Funniest Poem at collegiate national poetry competitions (CUPSI). His poems are in or forthcoming in Adroit Journal, Muzzle Magazine, the minnesota review, Ninth LetterSixth Finch, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Boston and is an MFA candidate at Emerson College.

“Menace” – poetry by stephanie roberts

Carnival Clowns – Willem Cornelisz Duyster, 1620

“Menace” is one of three fiercely evocative poems by stephanie roberts in our Spring 2018 issue.

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THERE IS A WORD FOR EVERYTHING
a flock of seagulls
a menace of clowns
the ova of fish
(known informally as delicious)
the offspring of mr. lion and mrs. tiger
another name for the reverse
the moniker for squirrel tits
the inner sex organs of women
and the outer petals
(often referred to erroneously as vagina)
i call you beloved
(you dismiss this,
insisting on freudian terms
cathectic,
hysterical, i hope
you mean funny)
we’re never talking about the same thing
open your thesaurus
pass your each, every, per
pass your one plus one
pass your zeta
what describes your broken dream
of forever?
i say won you say second
i say me jane you
true husband
then it is sunrise
the earth lights agreement
let’s right the dictionary
for our common prayers.

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stephanie roberts has work featured in numerous periodicals, in North America and Europe, including ArcturusThe Stockholm Review of LiteratureOcculum and Atlanta Review. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, she was born in Central America and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Twitter shenanigans @ringtales.