The Game

"do you want someone to sigh

at the way the sun rays set your eyes aglow,

unabashed admiration?

is that even real? do you really know?”

but the stain between his front teeth,

permanent, like his naivety,

disturbed my thoughts like an interrupting child,

his one flaw visible, holding its own gravity.

lips pursed, his smoke inseminates the air

"you’ve a severe elegance to you" he said

mercurial smile hiding my haughty hurts

all as my fragile vanity bled

a lemony sky laps at my wounds.

it’s my turn, but we’d stopped keeping score.

always thought i wasn’t good enough,

but it was he who was the bore.

his platitudes  - mere cosmic ejaculate,

his ideals die in the face of practicality,

while i wear my jaded effects with pride,

i sustain some tentative ties with reality.

crossing his “faith” with my “strength”

with night swooping in, i laid down my word.

98 points but it held no weight,

a reminder of affections deferred.

bed creaking as his body collapses

for all the weight his indifference did spawn

esteem leaking as i make the finally tally,

"doesn’t matter", he said, but i had won.

—By Alaska Jones

The Ink That Never Dries

It would really do me good if I can keep myself from 

writing about you

—the sooner, the better.

Cause if I don’t stop, you’re going to find out 

that I—

will drop everything, 

and anything 

off my lap 

just to stand up and start running right next to you.

All the cells in my body are 

asking me to kick my stupid ball of doubt and slide down over this 

pile of messy despair—

to get to wherever you are.

Every thought that bubbles up from 

my rib cage 

bursts and lands on this perfectly white blank page

—rearranging itself and 

spelling out your [name].

You see, 

I don’t want you 

to know that this is my constant state. 

I’m afraid that every word I put in print, 

will somehow make you see me and stare my way. 

Then I would run out of 

things 

pretend 

do.

Because all I’m ever made of is meant to write about you. 

Even if I type the coldest letters,

—fuck this shit—

it wouldn’t matter. 

You are the weight that goes with this bold font. 

If you were italicized, would you lean onto me? 

You are the ink that never dries, underlining the meaning in my life. 

—By AJ Cadavedo 

In My Garden

In my garden I walked, the morning sun on my face and the flowers embracing me their perfume.

On a bush, I found a young flower blossoming, it’s beauty and fragrance gave me pause.

With scissors, I clipped its stem, and in water it was placed: to keep - always.

But not always will flowers keep- sitting in water. For cut stems will not drink forever.

A new cut must I make. So with scissors I clipped; and from my life she fell.

In fresh soil the flower will root, and its fragrance and beauty will blossom anew.

Then one day, its perfume will call to another – her petals she’ll reveal, and his face she’ll kiss.

And in the morning air, will I continue my walks.

In my garden, I will remember her

—By Fuiva

It’s Been Two Years

It has been almost two years

since I last gave a fuck about you.

And now,

hurtling home on wet gray roads,

with branches hanging low like sodden soldiers

and the smell of damp flesh all around,

I am reminded of your flavor:

all lemon, all bitterness,

vegetables rotting in an open grave,

the copper of a bit lip

and the diced skin around it,

dried meat and oil spills,

disease and Barbie heads,

clumpy mascara, leaf-litter and most of all,

Scorn.

It is lucky, then, that I have a window from which to spit out the taste of you.

— By Sarah Robertson

I Stopped

I stopped coming home after a January

night of wind, a dripping icicle, rigor mortis

in my jaw when you’d holed up in the other

room and whispered that you’d give up our

secret codes for  her dirty jokes, off-kilter

music, a kitschy mess of love. Sage and citrus

scents,  a flat belly, a room full of Parliament

smoke and Italian romance with a dash of

gypsy allure. I didn’t open the locked door

to get my things. Instead I left the key

under the May 12thnewspaper that told us

about the shelling of Syria and resilient

Egyptian revolutions. But I stole a napkin

and a strawberry pastry from the cupboard,

sat in the snow until my jeans clung to me

thinking: Did you know I loved perler beads

as a child and no one even had the time to

iron them? Did you know I hid under a tent

with a lava lamp and book, drew

patterns in the carpet. I saved worms

from the rain, dug them homes

in the mud, cried if they bled. Thinking: oh, 

but now, someone else is lying on your hip,

my once permanent spot, streaming all

over you, crying out for it. In truth I almost took the

stairs up again to say it all. But then I saw the shadow

of her naked body in the lit window and I just had

to go

—By Eshani Medha Agrawal

 

Marla Singer

I like to joke around

about this truth that I have found.

I will never die.

Trust me, I have tried,

TWICE but still death hides.

I will never die.

The first was with prescription pills

chased by Listerine and hopes to kill.

No, I did not die.

Then I tried with simple Tylenol,

I counted thirteen, unlucky number and all.

Again, I did not die.

Perhaps I should learn from this:

that I will never experience reaper’s kiss

that I will never die—-

or maybe I should step into traffic next time.

—By Jennifer Martinez

Inside Job

 it’s the right of the perpetrator

not victim

to claim rights

to be wrongly accused

when our women fear justice

not because justice is Just

but blinded

– Blindfolded

            deaf to seeing the truth

            bearing all

            but nothing at all

            intellectually siphoned

when our girls fear the night

            the proud tilt of the chin

            smooth evidence of being

            we have d e s t r o y e d ourselves

— By Ann-Marie Ramsaroop 

What’s Important In Love

Casey ate a tangerine and played the mandolin,

like a bard stopping en route

to romance us with a couplet or two.

The amber intersect of Brazilian walnut

lamps and Coors Light,

I was drunk but remember

the curl of longing in your baritone, the spill of sweat on your beige shirt, the one time I drank where your lip had just been, the smell of a party on your skin, the button that wouldn’t stay buttoned, the blue vein in your arm.

Casey broke a string on the mandolin.

At home the girls asked if you

stroked my breast or

felt out my waist

I said no,

and, embarrassed

went and touched myself

to make up for it. 

—By Eshani Medha

Attempted Suicide

He asked once, how could she be so selfish?

He asked once, how could she not think of her children?

He asked once, how could she not be aware of the pain she is inflicting?

He asked, how could she do this to me?

I said, that’s not how it is.

I said, there is no selfish, there are no others; no children… no you. There is only darkness.

I said, only darkness and pain.

I said, ask her. And she says:

I walk on the edge of an abyss.

But I am ignorant of it.

I am a fool who feels safe. A fool, unaware.

I walk for a while, and everything is okay.

There’s a path I follow, it leads straight, it seems wide.

The abyss always looms and I have to notice it.

It’s always waiting now. Always in the corner of my mind.

I trick myself sometimes into thinking it’s not there.

I distract myself along the path.

But one little stumble, the smallest of stones, and I am falling into it.

To start with I can catch myself, and drag myself back up.

Always I fall a little further.

Until one day I fall in completely.

I hit the depths and my body shatters.

The pain renders me incapable.

The darkness and fog cloud all vision and dream.

And I run, on and on and on.

I seek desperate escape; clawing, crying, dying, but never ending.

The darkness only envelops me further, cradling me in it’s shackles.

Then it dawns, the slightest ray of chilling hope, for there is only one escape that I can see.

And escape I must.

—By Che Crawford

A Haiku For Every Chocolate I Love

Merci, rectangle                                                         

looks good on you. So do my                                        

whispers of regret.                                                           

—-

Kinder Surprise, I                                                         

never knew that I would wed

your white origin.

—- 

Kinder Schoko-Bons,                                                   

you escaped my tummy cause                                      

of my wedding night.                                                        

—- 

Read more

Thaw

I grow inwards,

I will not thaw,

I implode not explode,

I’m poisoned without my lip touching poison.

You feel like you don’t age

every time spring comes around,

just get renewed, refreshed,

go back in time for a chance

spent precisely the same way.

The blended scents

that you can only part distinguish,

now cornering one and chasing it only so far,

play around your pain receptors

like curious birds

that occasionally seem to fit.

Hilarious, the two people that attracted

are two completely different

who may choose to adapt to each other

for no particular reason

besides initial remote association.

Our ugly’s not as pretty as our fun,

our pretty not as fun as our ugly,

our pain hardly as often as our forgetting,

forgetting necessary and hideous,

our speed longer and stronger than our slow,

so.

—By Setareh Ebrahimi 

Questions & Rhythms

here I am

freshly fucked and bushy tailed

tracing the backbone of this wet

painted city with the soles of

shoes I only unearth for you, tiptoeing

lest we burst as confetti-filled balloons and

dissolve into

the what-ifs and sighs of

lines painted outside of. I do not have

an earnest beauty that begs for artists’ bemusement

or inspires crazed mental-lovemaking upon sight -

mine knows what it craves if not the words

to wrap around the plane

we will someday join together in.

my curiosity in you is purely

reckless, for I ponder how each wrinkle

became and why

so, and how your hair once fell across your brow, and if

your fingers miss that self-confident touch of youthful

cockiness separating flesh from soft brown, and

what words your mind outlines on my

sun-licked skin when you see me

naked and willing.

will you tell me these things and

promise never to ask

that question I fear most from your belabored mouth,

of the months that came before

the thing? let your lips rest from

smiling into my memory and place them

here. you, my morning gasp, that sigh,

that stretch of kitten’s belly warmed

by excursions beyond the

shadows.

—By Laura Covarrubias

The Hunt at Exxon in Odessa, Texas

Noon on a Thursday, $3 gas and gritty pick-up

trucks galore, idling with packs of hungry men—blood-oil stains

on their jeans, dirt from the sweet kill of work in their scruff,

the stink of loneliness in the sweat pits of their t-shirts—

each and every one of them calling to me, growling

nice tits and eat my cock, please, mami and beautiful, beautiful

fuck, reciting the virtues of their swelling sex, their alpha-might,

while I fill my tank, fixating on digital pennies mounting up

and up and pretending to be the dead fly on the window pane,

a handy evasion technique, trembling with the put-on dignity

of being belittled again, a cat cornered in a gutter, my flesh

a tooth-picked sample, something I’m used to but shouldn’t be,

and I’m resting my palm over my daughter, for now plump

and whole inside me, due out in a month, and then how soon

until she will be doomed, subjugated to this? Thirteen years?

Seven? Five? How soon until they pummel her, twist her wrists

behind her, push her hips against a grimy sink, and pull her ponytail

tight while taking turns licking her cranberry throat so she sees

in her reflection all she is and could ever be

in this world: a flank of rotting meat?

—By Nancy Lili Gonzalez