The Red Ladybug by Paul Rousseau

She sees a ladybug
crawling across her
bedroom windowsill.
An urge to crush it comes over her.
To make a mini mortar and pestle matter
of red and yellow guts.
The exact moment she decides to spare the insect,
she realizes it is already dead—
and only reanimated by the periodic gusts
of her oscillating fan.

 

Paul Rousseau is a disabled writer from Minnesota. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, Catapult,  Roxane Gay’s The Audacity, X-R-A-Y, and JMWW.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday and this morning… by Atma Frans

when you stepped out of the bath, the mirror laughed
at the wrinkles cartwheeling down your belly
and the slack-jawed skin just hanging around.
Your once round-shouldered breasts flapped about
not quite sure what was still expected of them.
You surveyed the age spots, scars and crooked bits—marks
of the times you trolleyed your body through life like a cocky suitcase.
And then you towelled it, this loyal, beautiful friend.

 

Stories and poems by Atma Frans have been published in The New Quarterly and Arc Poetry Magazine, as well as long-listed for The ELQ/Exile’s Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Competition and the Writers Union’s Short Prose Competition. In her writing, Atma searches for the voice beneath her personas: woman, immigrant, mother, Sikh, trauma survivor, expressive arts therapist, queer, and poet. She lives in Gibsons, B.C.

Family Monsters by Donald Illich

As Mothra, I spin around
the family room, seeking
anywhere but flames.

Mom is Rodan, screeching
at anything that makes her
angry. My father, though,

crashes through the scene
as Godzilla, the big destroyer
who burns all resistance,

leaving smoke in his wake.
He occupies the living room,
while we cry in the kitchen,

I daub Rodan’s tears with wings,
while she massages my back
with her beak. If only we could find

a way to live in peace together.
But it’s too late for that.
We’ve been exposed to radiation

our whole lives, the toxic waste
of guilt and recriminations.
We might dwell under the same sky,

soldiers might try to fire on us all,
but we must depart to separate lairs,
pledging one day to return.

In the future we will not be creatures.
We’ll turn back into human beings,
wearing a suit, a dress, a concert t-shirt,

whatever forms the fates allow,
to once again go outside in the light,
breathing nothing but clean air.

Donald Illich has published poetry in journals such as The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, Map Literary, Passages North, and Cold Mountain Review. He won Honorable Mention in the Washington Prize book contest. He recently published a book, Chance Bodies (The Word Works, 2018).

Lilith with Snake, with Body by Kathryne David Gargano

lilith with snake
 
Link to text readable PDF here: poetry lilith with snake gargano

 

Kathryne David Gargano (she/her) hails from the Pacific Northwest, but isn’t very good at climbing trees. She is a queer poet and fiction writer currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Her work has been published in Pithead Chapel, Salt Hill, Phoebe, minnesota review, Tahoma Review, and others. She can be found on Twitter @doubtfulljoy.

 

Anarchic Sight Theory by Luke Burton

Each Sunday I play pool with eyeballs for billiard balls
at the Other Place & envision what it might be like to be touched
by felt & fluorescence in alternation. The light of passing cars
filters occasionally through our pitchers of PBR. I know no metaphor
for sight, yet the beams protrude, pint shaped,
from the sockets of anonymous angels. Lines sharp as axe blades
gently part the trees, then brush away before the fall.
You ask where the terror is located—
Is it in the horse yet to be broken or the broken horse?

I’m embarrassed by my telos,
a stance of cue balls awaiting sticks. The future
perfect will be an ongoing breeze. I have no theory
for dream without waking. Falling from the lake onto the shore,
I wanted to know how you felt about the hurricane
hoarding air above the Atlantic, the one that shares a name
with your lover. Instead, I zipped my coat against the wind —
whose breath? A thin horse swept up from the South
and kicked my eyeballs back into their dark pockets.

Luke Burton is a poet and artist writing from Burlington, Vermont. His work has appeared in Crossroads Magazine, The Redlands Review, Pomeroy Poets Anthology, Bard Papers, and more. He is a senior Editor at GENERAL SUBJECT and NO SUBJECT Press.

Cruelties by Richelle Sushil

A newspaper page. Mothwing thin. Translucent, in your grandfather’s shaking hands. The way the streetlight watches him through the window, never saying a thing.

The first tooth you ever lost. Swallowed.

Photographs laminated in yellowed scotchtape. The way the little cobweb faces smile from yesterday, ignoring you completely.

The lines under your mother’s eyes. How you drew them the same way you drew on the wallpaper at five years old, while she slept.

The first boy you ever loved – how he ran his hands over you like he was at the supermarket, trying to work out The Good Fruit.

The way anything, at any time, could so easily tear a seam in the night.

How all of life is punctuated by the pairing and unpairing of socks.

The worry that some of them are bound to get sucked up into the machinery of the washing machine.

The thought that you might be the washing machine.

 

Richelle Sushil is an Indian-Indonesian poet and literature student from Jakarta currently pursuing her MA at UCL. Her poetry has recently won the Cosmo Davenport-Hines Prize 2020, and is featured or forthcoming in Hobart, Wild Court, and Honey Literary, amongst other publications. She tweets @RichelleSushil.

Remedy by Emily Pérez

Yesterday I mixed the past and egg whites
in the kitchen. Yesterday the Kitchen Aid
aided all my measures, churning. Yesterday I split
the crew and forced them to assimilate in bowls.
I sugared rims. I salted wounds. Yesterday I made enough
to batter over all protests. I lorded over cupcake cups.
I force fed yellow mix to polka dotted folds:
those upsidedowny skirts. I shoved it in the oven,
prayed. My efforts puffed, then puffed again,
resulting in collapse. My molten offering. Yesterday
I made the same mistake as days before but faster,
yesterday I read how long you beat the batter:
beat until it’s quick. Beat until it’s just mixed.
Beat until your arm is stiff and you forget.
Beat until it beats you back, bubbled up, refusing
proper form. Today the dog licks shrapnel from the floor.

Emily Pérez is the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone, and the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood. A CantoMundo fellow and Ledbury Emerging Critic, her work has appeared in RHINOPoetry, Prairie SchoonerCopper Nickel, and Fairy Tale Review. She is a high school teacher in Denver where she lives with her family.

Cavity by Hanna Lauerman

One thing I miss is
losing teeth. It tasted good
somehow. Did you like to yank
it out as soon as it wiggled?
I always waited until it hung
by a thread, so a nudge
of my tongue set it clacking
against its neighbors
in my mouth. Dangling
enough I could twist it
to feel the warm throb
of dying nerve.

After, there was the
tender spit-flooded gap,
impossible to keep my tongue
off, somehow tasting
so much more raw and alive
than the rest of my own mouth.

Now that I’m older, it isn’t so easy
to grow a pearl alongside my body
and then rip it away,

to bury it under a pillow or in a
velvet pouch in the lowest
layer of the jewelry box,

to let something stronger
grow in its place.

 

Hanna Lauerman writes both poetry and fiction and has been published in Longleaf Review, Folklore, and Grlsquash. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Best American Short Stories anthology. She lives in Boston with her supportive girlfriend and unsupportive cat.

The Goblin King’s Love Language by Rita Feinstein

is gift-giving, and I don’t have room for all this crap.
Psilocybic peaches rotting in the crisper,
crystal balls sticky with grime.

The black snake shriveled to onionskin,
the wedding dress sulking unworn
at the very back of the walk-in closet.

Goodwill stops taking my donations.
My free boxes overflow onto the sidewalk.
There’s a landfill named after me,

a whole shuttle full of glitter-drenched
padded jackets and danger-red lipsticks
to be incinerated in the vacuum of space.

But I accept the love he gives, and I build
more shelving units for it, just as he accepts
my affection has no physical dimensions.

My love language is language itself.
I incant his name into my vanity mirror,
lie that he has no power over me,

then watching him jigsaw the stars
into brand new horoscopes
just to prove me wrong.

 

Rita Feinstein is the author of Life on Dodge (Brain Mill Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in Sugar HouseGrist, and Willow Springs, among other publications, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. She is a graduate of Oregon State University’s MFA program.

The Milliner by Shannon Austin

A teleporter walks into a bar & walks into a bar & walks into a bar &
stop me if you haven’t heard this one.

A teleporter walks into a bar & a brothel & a beach &
never enters the same place twice.

Tides reflect more than the moon’s arousal:
place & name, their cartography. A needle starts its life

as a sword yet still knows its way to blood. Place & name:
two different landmarks. Where you are & what you could be.

I know her arms from a photograph that tells me
they existed. What she made in felt & flesh, lace &

latitudes. The planes of a face, hers and hers and mine.
Teleportation requires the traveler destroy herself

to be built in a new location. A needle also knows
its way to mercy. Its potential for pain.

A teleporter walks into a name that is and isn’t hers.
The potential to be a holy war or a small victory.

A teleporter walks into in two. A door named
for its intentions. If you’ve been waiting

for the hatmaker: she’s been standing in this
doorway, replacing screws with stitches.

 

Shannon Austin is a writer from Baltimore, MD, with an MFA in poetry from UNLV. Her work has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, After the PauseAmerican Chordata, and elsewhere.