Categories
Poetry

Mouth Poem

by Kira Mesch| Poetry | Summer 2021

TERROR by Katie Frevert

CW: Gore

I. 

A woman is good for her mouth. Inject the lips, plump the pockmarks, fill the sunkenness. Harden the softness then soften the plastic, arch the eyebrows, pluck the hairs. Smooth the skin. A woman is good for her hunger. 

II. 

Something’s growing inside me and she’s a demon, she’s the devil. She’s so starving she’d eat roadkill raw. She says to me: Eat the man, eat the man. Make him dead, crisp his skin. His red meat, the digits, his cold raw fingers. I dip him in jam and I eat the man. I suck his marrow for the vitamins. I get full of bread and bone fragments. I want and I eat and the devil’s still hungry. I ask the men, Don’t you like me, think I’m pretty? My body all lecherous and whorelike? The sweetness of my spit? The darkness of my mouth? Wouldn’t you like to live here? 

III. 

Open the gullet, pollute the throat, bleed the stomach, pick the scabs. Burn the liver, blacken the tongue, bolt the ovaries. A woman should be greedy and selfish. A woman should pick her bugbites till they bleed. In a bug bite, the body forms a red hard armor over the hole left by a hungry thing’s sharp mouth. I pick at one and squeeze the poison to the top. Look there: orange liquid seeps out. It’s thick like oil. Now there’s two holes in the same place: the one the insect left and the one I made myself.

Categories
Fiction

Notes on Body

by Kira Mesch| Fiction | Summer 2021

Corner of the Pantheon by Christine Dugas

CW: Gore and death

Here is what I have to offer: round face, sunburnt neck, scar on my right knee, bruise on my left thigh. Cracked toenails, one tattooed hip, oven burns on my forearms accumulated over years. My face gets red like my mother’s does. I cry when I am angry. 

My brother and I were born in December. My mother, not wanting to push us out of her, planned a C-section months in advance. The way she tells it, it snowed the day the doctors sliced us into the world. The snow piles sat wet and gentle on the ground while they sewed her body back up. 

As a kid I was cruel and spiteful and barely a girl. I wished I was some kind of animal so I grew my nails long like claws. When my brother and I fought, I tried to break the skin. When we were eight, he challenged me to a race at a rest stop. Halfway through, I pushed him hard so I’d win, and he fell. He bled like nothing I’d ever seen before. The wound healed to be a raised scar, an unfading island on a sea of tan skin. In high school, a decade later, I would sometimes look at 

his knee to check if it was still there. 

My brother was seven when he got his appendix removed. When he got to go back to school after, the hospital printed color images of the object onto glossy photo paper so he could show his class. I saw the photos the day he came back. They nauseated me. What happened, I assume, is that the doctors stuck a camera inside the slit they’d cut in him. The object was yellow and distended inside his open stomach, covered with veins and blood. 

Of course, I will die when I get old. Until then, I will watch women on the internet fill their bodies with collagen. In an Instagram video, I see a hypodermic needle filled with clear liquid injecting a woman’s lips. The needle enters the skin, the latex-gloved thumb pushes down the stopper, the lips plump, the thumb releases, and the hand drags the needle out from the body, leaving only a small, bloody hole. 

The dentist didn’t knock me out for my wisdom tooth removal. There was only one for them to pull, which was digging through my upper-left gum. After the dentist numbed me, I felt the bluntness of a metal bar lodge itself into my tooth, felt a crunch as the bar settled itself, felt a pull, felt something smooth and round fall onto my tongue. “That’s it,” the dentist’s assistant said. 

In a perfect world, I sit and rot. I let my body grow curdled and evil. I bet I’d taste foul to kiss. My mouth is wet and dark and red. Blood is wet and dark and red. I bite cherries and let the juice seep from their skin. I let my breath go sour from the sweetness. 

When my girlfriend was fourteen, the seventeen-year cicadas emerged from the ground in her hometown. She told me it was like hell on earth, how they’d scream with anguish and shed their former bodies onto the ground. She stepped out of her house onto their crackling former skin and crunched the shells onto the ground wherever she went. The sky blacked itself out with their bodies: their orange eyes, their papery wings, their howling laments.

The inside of my cheek is red. If I bit it, it would bleed. At the dentist, the hygienist will dig into my cavities with a metal bar and move it around to see how deep the hole is. The dentist tells me candy will rot my teeth. Cough syrup and lollipops are red. 

I was eighteen when my dad and I found the photos of my brother’s appendix in a shoebox, about a week after he died. I could barely look at the photos, the organ suspended in the wet darkness of his torso. I bet he was so small. I can’t imagine having ever been that young.

Categories
Poetry

Quarantine, Day ?, 2020

by Chloe Casdagli| Poetry | Summer 2021

Untitled I by Aislinn Cannistraro

A cracked white wall catches shafts of blurry sunlight, shadows dark as prison bars. A window smudged with fingerprints ripples with rain and streetlights, twisted gnarly trees.

Cars drum by full of chanting laughter and quiet hallucinations. The fire sunset grips you in its thawing yellow claws, pulling you from your world of bleach and aching dust.

A ceiling peppered with stick-on plastic stars, crude and manufactured compared to the real ones, arrange themselves into made-up constellations and pull your marionette-like strings until you’re nailed to your shallow bed. With thoughts alone, they draw truths on your skin, too terrible to say out loud. Remember when that car was your car, those laughs more than a pocket watch of time? When shadows weren’t prison bars and windows needn’t stay shut?

When you held the trees, rain, and burning day in your palm, too close to really touch? It wasn’t a dream, no, but reality is thinner than paper.
Soon, you’ll be left with nothing but the plastic stars, a shallow bed, and a cracked wall teasing you with sunlight.

Categories
Poetry

Herbert

by Ariana Hughes | Poetry | Summer 2021

Summer Courtyard I by Becky Trigo

On the hottest summer days, I like to be up early,
Racing the advancing blaze. I tiptoe to the balcony
Accompanied by a gleaming bowl of oranges,
And absorb the shy warmth, the distant groans of construction.
Before long I am lost in a memory—
If I squint towards the sun I see him smiling dreamily, Herbert.

The father of my mother’s mother, Herbert
A man who never needed an alarm to rise early,
His inner clock beat steadily, unlike his memory
Which chased itself in circles, looping around his balcony
Traveling faster, as he would turn to stare at the distant construction. The tiny people hurrying to catch their mornings, as he peeled his first orange

With the sweet slice of orange
Herbert
Would find his voice, and tell me “I like to watch the construction–
They start early,
Like me, so I cheer them on from my balcony.”
It awakened a memory

A memory
Of the view from a naval ship–and the juice from his orange
Sprayed like the sea off the side of his balcony.
And then I could almost see him, Herbert,
Amidst the chaos of time—and the war that stole his brother too early.
I believed that he could see all that amidst the construction.

He leaned back towards me, “I like to watch the construction–”
The freshness of the memory
Faded like the wispy clouds, “They start early-”
His half-empty bowl of oranges,
Hinted at the passage of time, but Herbert
Continued, “Like me, so I cheer them on from my balcony.”

A distant drill pauses, pulling me back to my own balcony
Facing oak trees and closed windows, only the sounds of unseen construction
Permeate the air, and I yearn for Baltimore, and the distantly moving crane, and Herbert.
I cannot quite grasp a hold of him, or time, or his whirling memories,
But my bowl is full of peels and my fingers are sticky with the juice of oranges.
So I turn my face to the sun and soak as the wind tickles my skin, pleased to be up early

Categories
Fiction

I Knew I Was Falling

by Emily Alfano | Fiction | Summer 2021

Other Half by Chloe Casdagli

I think I fell in love with you when you wiped the dirty grin off my face after tripping up the flight of stairs leading to your apartment. 

I think I fell after you watched Moonstruck with me and we talked about it for hours on end. 

I think I fell when you saw me cry for the first time and wiped the tears off my cheek with your calloused thumb. I was so embarrassed, and you held me and told me everything was going to be okay. 

I think I fell in love with you even when I hated you. I hated your crooked nose and bushy eyebrows and your sandpaper hands that pressed too hard against my cheek. But your nose had been beaten and bruised so that it looked like a mountain ridge from top to bottom. And your eyebrows frame your golden, almond shaped eyes which trapped my soul in them. 

I knew I was falling when your mother held me in her arms and I saw your smile that showed all of your teeth shining back at me. Her arms an echo of yours. 

You used to know me and my smiles and my big, ugly, cackling laugh. You said how you wished you could meet my mother, and I told you how much she would have loved you. You knew me inside and out. 

I used to know me. Inside and out. 

And I used to know you with your impulsive adventures and scarred hand holding mine in a secluded wood without fear or uncertainty. 

You, with a devilish grin that could laugh out loud with a hand around my neck. Did you ever fall in love with me? 

Did you sign your name with love on my back, my thighs, my cheek? 

I wish I could remember a time when I couldn’t go a second without touching you. Now, all I feel are your hot hand prints and they are suffocating me. 

I don’t think I know you anymore. I haven’t for a while. Your eyes are transparent, your tongue too solid against mine. You’ve stopped wiping the tears from my cheeks. I stare at my body that is not my body anymore and I swear there are marks I do not remember putting there. 

Your mother’s hug is so alien from yours now. Who could come from such loving arms and hurt someone so badly? 

No matter how hard I try, I will never get enough distance from you. You’ll never blur out of existence like I want and I will be left with your shadow lurking behind every attempt of mine to move on. 

But I will move on. And eventually I won’t feel your hands on my neck, my back, my thighs. And my tears won’t sting my cheeks in your name. The woods will welcome me back and I’ll stop thinking anyone with a scar on their hand is you. And I’ll know that my mother would have warned me about you, just like yours should have.

Categories
Fiction

Horsefly

by Ariana Hughes | Fiction | Summer 2021

Self Portrait by Chloe Casdagli

Just as I was finishing up my philosophy reading, and literally on Kant’s last few sentences, I became aware of a large horsefly
that had somehow flown into Lulu’s room. I always wondered how
these miscellaneous bugs crept their way in, and why they chose to stay. Was the space really so welcoming? The boisterous air conditioning unit fizzing, the ceiling fan hissing as it sliced through the air, our feet tapping with jerky energy as we threw ourselves into our numerous readings and assignments. Perhaps it was the leftover nibbles from a day-old scone that sat in the corner, a mellow iced tea that had become diluted and drab since the loss of its ice cubes. Was it really so amusing? Better than the vast openness of outside? This particular horsefly was wandering around in a vaguely threatening sort of way and then suddenly, distressingly, throwing itself into the air, zig-zagging awkwardly, clearly confused by the constraints of the space. It gradually zoomed closer, and I tensed up. It zagged towards me and then zigged back and then zagged closer still. Finally, I had enough.

Just as I was finishing up my philosophy reading, and literally on Kant’s last few sentences, I became aware of a large horsefly that had somehow flown into Lulu’s room. I always wondered how these miscellaneous bugs crept their way in, and why they chose to stay. Was the space really so welcoming? The boisterous air conditioning unit fizzing, the ceiling fan hissing as it sliced through the air, our feet tapping with jerky energy as we threw ourselves into our numerous readings and assignments. Perhaps it was the leftover nibbles from a day-old scone that sat in the corner, a mellow iced tea that had become diluted and drab since the loss of its ice cubes. Was it really so amusing? Better than the vast openness of outside? This particular horsefly was wandering around in a vaguely threatening sort of way and then suddenly, distressingly, throwing itself into the air, zig-zagging awkwardly, clearly confused by the constraints of the space. It gradually zoomed closer, and I tensed up. It zagged towards me and then zigged back and then zagged closer still. Finally, I had enough. Grabbing the laborious Kant I gave it a good thwack. The horsefly vanished from the air, lost for a delightful moment. Not dead or seemingly anywhere, lost in the void—and then it reappeared on the floor. Crawling, thankfully, toward Lulu. At this point the energy of the horsefly had seeped into us both, no problem or assignment could be handled until this criminal of distraction could be apprehended. Lulu commented on the somewhat bent wing it was now dragging oddly and I realized I must be responsible for this critter. At this stage, I understood that action had to be taken. The horsefly had to be put out of the misery that was this room and the thwack I had inflicted upon it. I had put it in misery, it had put me in misery. Now the misery needed to end. I held all the power. Kant was not powerful enough to take out this suffering brute, my laptop much too personal, too clean. I turned to my water bottle, it would have to suffice. And so I tracked it across the room, as it hobbled, perhaps suspecting its moments were numbered. I hesitated, and then brought the bottom of my metal water bottle straight down with an awful bang. Leaving it there for a moment, sucking in air rapidly, feeling a rush of shame. Postponing my view of whatever horror lay underneath. I raised the water bottle to find the fly dying, twitching its broken legs and wings. I brought the bottle down hard again, still moving, again, and again, harder and faster, not stopping to look at the horsefly. I was a mindless pulsing Cuisinart. When I finally stopped, it was nothing but a mush of legs and wings and horrible bug insides. Thankfully Lulu had a tissue at the ready. For a moment I felt the texture of its dead mush under the thin surface of the tissue. And then it was in the trash can, gone… problem solved… I retreated back to Kant. No more horsefly. An empty room. Lulu and I shared a nervous glance as we turned back to whatever it was that we had been doing before. The silent tension of the awful murder that had just been committed felt louder than the buzzing of the bug. Lulu tried playing music but kept skipping the songs… how could we relax and read and listen to music about love and heartbreak when we had so willingly taken a life? Not we, I. I had sacrificed another, an innocent! No, not totally innocent—a life for the benefit of my own. And all I could do was sit and avoid Kant, revolving in my guilt and the absurd amount of power I had been given. The bug was not coming back so I needed to accept its fate and move forward with my life and feel fortunate that I would never be squashed into a carpeted floor by a metal water bottle. But a rush of emotions took over, I could have trapped it with a cup, the tissue I had used for its dead carcass could have been a landing pad for a flight out of the window, I could have allowed it to continue zooming around the room—maybe it liked the small space, the nervous energy, the old scone and tea. Maybe it liked us. I couldn’t face Kant. I couldn’t face Lulu. So I took a moment for the horsefly, closed my eyes, sent out my best wishes, a silent apology, an admission of guilt, a promise to be better… 

Categories
Poetry

bariatric daydream

by Cora Lopez| Poetry | Summer 2021

Drawing I by Maya Das O’Toole

i am thinking about what it would be
if my fat melted like polar ice caps.
as grubby money men (in their prime!)
bungle the jungles to build new gyms,
i’d melt
away
away
away
to grease some archetypal, cosmic pan
with all of my arm fat, be folded into cookie dough
as profiteers and warmongers fiddle idly with fountain pens, ink gushing
the surging, the skin stippled and sore
i am becoming a drain
in the name of the father, the son, and the holy Adam Smith (praise be unto him!)
no more dues or processed foods—
no more flab or love handles to grab—
a slurry of squelches sound;
as the dieticians dance in this liposuction deluge
for the day has come for my BMI to see green, green, green!
I wake with surgery scars from an invisible hand
and sigh contentedly, emaciated at last!

Categories
Poetry Uncategorized

A Summer Night

by Chloe Casdagli | Poetry | Summer 2021

Untitled by Teagan Hughes

Slow sinking of a lava-orange sun,
as moonbeams rise; the laughing day is done. The
blazing smell of smoke as embers gleam a dancing
prayer, dying quicker than it seems.
Stars streak across the sky in shades of white,
casting bats in a shining silver light.
The air turns cold in gusts of rolling storm.
But summer raindrops patter soft and warm.
The crackle of the logs and fading flames
roast marshmallows as people play their games.
With words and stories they wish for finite glee,
ignoring quiet thunder warning them to flee.
They drink and sing as embers turn to ashes. With
time, will they remember only flashes?

Categories
Poetry

call transcript to my friend on saturday morning 

by Kira Mesch| Poetry | Summer 2021

Missus by Anna Harberger

CW: Alcohol use

the speaker of my poem told me to tell you she’s actually really fucking sorry that she left you alone at that party last night but her boyfriend was just really drunk and she was actually just getting him home and she’s sorry she didn’t text you and she was going to tell you earlier but 

she lost all her contacts she’s been totally off the grid i think she put her new number on her instagram or something so if you could text the speaker of my poem’s new number with your info she’d totally appreciate it and also if her boyfriend said anything mean to you he didn’t mean it he’s actually super nice if you talk to him 

no but it was actually crazy i’m not making it up last night there was a second party after the speaker of my poem took her boyfriend home and we really missed you the speaker of my poem totally would have invited you but it’s the whole phone thing she actually needs you to text her first but anyways the speaker of my poem got into a fight and she broke somebody’s nose but it was actually so funny because the girl totally deserved it the speaker of my poem pulled her hair so hard it came out into a clump in her hand and she punched the girl’s nose there was so much blood it was like a murder show it was crazy no like it was actually crazy 

the speaker of my poem stole a purse last night the speaker of my poem vomited into a thorn bush last night i held the speaker of my poem’s hair last night while her blood-stained hands were gripping her knees the throw up had chunks of pepperoni in it it smelled like melon vodka the speaker of my poem put on such a fucking spectacle it was pathetic to watch don’t tell her i told you that but yeah no we should do lunch sometime you should definitely text her

Categories
Poetry

Orchid Story

by Ally Chase | Poetry | Spring 2021

Image by Katie Frevert

My grandmother told me a story  
about an orchid in her garden.  
She said the orchid is white,  
she said she does not water it. 
She does not move it into the sun, or away from the sun,
never from beneath the sprawling clarity of the kitchen window.
I said I don’t understand, she said she only touches the orchid
to finger the weight of its soft, dense petals. 

Everywhere she turns now, after fifteen years 
in the lush green of her home, there is an orchid.
Some hang suspended from the gnarled branches in her yard.
Some have put down roots in the dark Florida earth, and she
tends to these in a wide brimmed hat,  
bending gently to the soil beneath a solitary palm. 

These are the orchids which have allowed for her devotion,
yet she chose to tell me about the only one  
that receives nothing. I try to make sense:  
there are the orchids she must touch to keep alive,
and there is the one that refuses her hands.  
Together these hands are all my grandmother has to offer,
but somehow it is nothing for her to fold them together,
to accept the presence of wonder with ease.  

She expects the orchid to bloom because by growing,
it has created her faith. How can faith  
keep her hands from wringing over what she cannot give
this anomaly of nature? Instead she trusts that her eyes
see what she knows. She looks at this orchid—a glance
and then a glance away. She witnesses a miracle. 

But a sense of peace, like the white flower, feels so precarious.
Still the story doesn’t make sense, 
and I haven’t seen an orchid since my last visit. 
Now I can only watch through the phone as the miracle replaces
the central act of her hand. There in the window
is the orchid’s final reflection, and there is my grandmother,
ending a life she thought went on without her,  
just by sitting down to rest.