Category Archives: Leo

Myrtle Beach, Spring 2011 by Jay Douglas


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Myrtle Beach, Spring 2011

Sometimes I go back
to the sea
and imagine you there
with me instead of her

stern, solemn frown watching me
watch the dragons
chase each other from cloudy sky
to rolling surf

the vast expanse of black
blending the horizon with the blank of space
cold sand hard against our toes
footprints licked clean by the rising tide
Suppose we are all infinite

Suppose in this imagined memory the wind blew
fishtailing your red-brown hair
around your face and whipping it
into your eyes

Suppose we found a peace and understanding
Suppose the sand castles built themselves
half kicked-over, walls caved-in

Suppose there were falling stars
pretty as a postcard
instead of homeless, barefoot beggars
and it all came easily
effortlessly

these are the sorts of wishes I make
on birthday candles
things like: to know the name of the Sea

and by that I don’t mean the word “Sea”
or the names the ancients gave
to various expanses of water
but the name the Sea calls itself
when it lays down to sleep
We all have secret names

When our layers of identity are stripped away
the names are what we have left
Suppose you knew mine
and I yours
The names no tongue can form to speak
that the Sea whispers
to the Wind
and the Wind to the clouds
so that they might divine our fortunes
for those who know how to read them
as the dragons race on
under a bright spring moon
sprinting from shore to sky to shore
again
cresting foam on the horizon




Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a recent graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Jay has a dual degree in Religious Studies and English, an affinity for odd music and found sounds, and an intimidating yo-yo collection. Jay’s work has previously been published in Words Dance, Rising Phoenix Review, and Red Flag Poetry.



The Poetry Brothel by Jessica Mehta


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The Poetry Brothel

Last night I was a whore
at the seedy poetry brothel
where men and women bought
my time with poker chips. In return,
I took their arms or hands, led them
to back rooms and read them my words—
split open my insides stuffed with you—
over candles that smelled
of strange flowers. My waist-
length hair kept tucked under the black
bob wig, my toes gone numb in too-
expensive shoes, and you
watched from the bar. I was never good

at flirting with women. Not much
better with men. But I think
it would have been easier
(I would have been easier)
to let them needle and nose
between my legs
rather than give up the words
I birthed for you, flying loose
between my teeth. It was an affair
of the dirtiest kind, the first
cheat where the guilt stuck hard.




Jessica Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of six collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery , the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at jessicamehta.com.



LAZARUS WAS A HOUSE ON FIRE (WOMAN) by Audrey Dimola


“Break On Through” by Glenn W. Cooper | Pinterest | Facebook | Blind Dog Press


LAZARUS WAS A HOUSE ON FIRE (WOMAN)

i.

‘well aren’t you a fascinating creature,’ 

he mouths through mists of drink and i don’t think 

he recognizes the perceptivity of that word choice

and no, i don’t mean fascinating- i mean 

the other word, the one reserved 

for the feathered and furred and 

women like me whose bones

sing songs like fires

in the landscape



in my belly there is a house in

flames and i lit it 

those rarities of space in which

we can stand inside our nakedness

human incantation of the wild

woman, incarnation of the

burning

she was the one who

taught him

he never saw 

the body as an altar

how to nourish a universe

with your own blood, selfless-

WOMAN-

you need no scripture

to remind you 

what is inherently 

yours.


this is dancing in the

temple with feathered

wings

this is the vibration

you came from

grounded



this is the deer you

locked eyes with

in the mists

before sunrise

this is the presence

you came from

persist


this is the ocean

you crashed through

on new year’s day

this is the

shock in the

aliveness

laughing


these are your

mother’s hands your

grandmother’s throat

arms that scale the

walls and legs that

make roads


whether blamed or

exonerated, whose

hand lit the match?

i tell them

i did, I DID IT 

to remind myself

how to be brave enough

to re-birth

how to be whole enough

to remain free


when asked-

what would you save from

a house on fire?

i say-

a torch,

the fire.

me.


ii.

if i took my clothes off

in front of you

would you press your palms

against the windows

in my flesh

try to suffuse the light

always stretching outwardly

try to bind the slivers that

split between your fingers

the smoke that pours from

my bones, each

expression

inside the gesture, 

he said 

is what’s precious

so what lives inside

this moment?- this breath

this hand over hand

earth under fingernails,

climbing, this-

holy stillness 

in the middle

of the night

your 

skin i lull to

comfort, my blood

transfigured as

eternal mother, these

eyes filled with

emotion that never quite

spills, just-

wells, just- stays-

when i met myself in

the bent mirror at

the cloud gate

for the first time!

Seeing, with a capital S,

stretched

like all the light from

windows

like all the restless

fingers like

i know my womanhood

is wilderness and i will

go to the grave defending

that

because i’ve been inside

the ground

i’ve dug that pit i’ve

laid with the mud

uninhabited, i 

know what it feels like

to

surrender your eyes

and your heart and

your throat not to

god but to

nothing.

but i am self-willed.

the word wild is a contraction of

the word willed

and this is self-willed land

this is

bones cleaving so

shoulders can crack and

wings can breathe,

fanned full against the space-

inward, seeking wonder!

i said i saw myself

in the ground

he said, in the gesture is

the treasure, what

do i want my fellow

souls to remember?

see me as the movement

of standing up out of

your own grave

icarus returned as

the messenger

they plucked my

heart from 

inside the ribs

of lazarus

i said

my

womanhood is

wilderness

and i will never

apologize

for that.




Audrey Dimola

Celebrated for her dynamic presence on stage and on the page, Queens, NYC native Audrey Dimola is a poet, performer, curator, connector, and lifelong artist. She is the author of two poetry & prose collections, “Decisions We Make While We Dream” (2012) and “TRAVERSALS” (2014), and curator of a unique circuit of events and creative opportunities marked by a wondrous spirit of empowerment and exploration. She can usually be found: writing on everything, riding her bike, climbing trees, pushing the edges of reality… And of course, stoking the flames. audreydimola.com



A Baptism For Hannah by Jay Douglas


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A Baptism For Hannah

Have I ever told you how many hours I spent confessing my sins
before I could feel my love’s hands wash over my skin guilt-free? Listen,
kid, I have learned this: we are not pestilence,
we are not cities
burned to the ground by holy decree
or piles of salt where mothers used to stand

looking back
I wonder if my mother’s wine-stained pages were an heirloom
meant to guide me toward or away
from those hard, wooden pews and my Grandfather’s
hard, calloused hands

and callous words
will never be enough to take me
from this new language I’ve learned to speak
that descended – I swear to Christ – in tongues of fire
tongues of freedom, tongues of men and of angels,
scales falling from my eyes, hear me
kid, we don’t need

their grape juice masquerading as bloody redemption
or the zombie-flesh of their bread
I have been reborn, myself, in myself, I am not
            who I was yesterday
            who I will be tomorrow
I am Adam rising from dust every morning, I am Eve
taking that first bite every night
I am Jesus
both ascending from the tomb and dying on the cross every time
they mingle slurs with sacrosanct love
and try to name it as righteous

hear me prophecy
with the wisdom of Solomon
because the Song was never just an allegory
and sex is not a synonym for hellfire
we were not born to die alone
and you are not Judas – you are beloved as John
you are more precious than perfume
doused hair rubbed
onto holy feet

more precious than Naomi to Ruth
than Jonathan to David
don’t let anyone tell you otherwise
don’t let anyone chain you down
and if they ever try
you bring that roof down
right on their Philistine heads

I baptize you now in a new kind of water, a new kind of spirit
so here, take some redemption
on your own terms
you don’t owe anyone an apology
you don’t owe them a damn thing
kid, you are the Garden of Eden
hiding in human skin, but I’m telling you now:
you don’t have to hide anymore




Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a senior undergraduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying English and World Religions. When not writing, Jay can usually be found honing Jay’s mad yo-yo skills or immersed in a book on queer theory. : instagram.com/monstrous.invert



Mid-November 2016 by Gregory Luce


Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram


Mid-November 2016

Heavy heart, blustery
day: Idiot wind blowing
down the avenues.

Cold wind hisses, blood-
tide flows out from the center.
Do I need a gun?

Blood runs hot and cold
as clouds drift over the sun.
Make something happen.



Gregory Luce

Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He recently retired from National Geographic and lives in Arlington, VA.



North by Ashley Loper


Photography by Maria Kazvan | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Flickr

North

He tells me he wants to see Alaska.

Later, when his body is ravaged by mosquitos 

I make salves of beeswax and spruce pitch,



later still, when snow carries the weight of its own being

I explain that in this country

warmth is a luxury. It has to be earned.

He does not want this Alaska
but this is the only Alaska I know.

The ice on the river is the thickest it’s been in years.
Meanwhile, his blue hands, my red thighs.

This heart ringed by frostbite.



Ashley Loper

A fan of dark fruits, dark chocolate, and dark, rainy days, Ashley Loper started birthing poetry like gentle rabbits out of her body at a young age. Her poems draw inspiration from the natural world, the human condition, and all the equal measures of brutality and softness that exist in between. What she lacks in logic, she often makes up for in parable. You can find her literary best friends at goodreads.com/feralocity.



The Forest Has No Gender by Jay Douglas


Photography by Maria Kazvan | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Flickr

The Forest Has No Gender

it is divine
which is to say it contains divinity
but also as in a rich pastry, a chocolate éclair,
or an expensive red wine – the kind you sip slowly
divine
every piece

of clothing I own feels like drag
as in crossdressing
slipping into and out of pronouns smooth
as snakeskin
as in something chained
to the back of a rusted red pickup
being scraped along a dusty country road
maybe a body – dead – or it will be by the end
of the drive
or the long breath in
through a filtered cigarette
every inhale
a relief, a risk

after the old woman with no eyebrows asks
if I’m in the wrong bathroom
I start carrying a knife in my left pants-pocket
only pissing in places where the shift
manager knows my name

but the forest is devoid of straight
lines – twisting trees echoing my spine,
curving streams like hands
tracing my body in the half-dark of not-quite-dawn
– it doesn’t have to pretend
that it’s not an ecosystem



Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a senior undergraduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying English and World Religions. When not writing, Jay can usually be found honing Jay’s mad yo-yo skills or immersed in a book on queer theory.



I Never Owned a Tamagotchi by Peter Faziani


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I Never Owned a Tamagotchi

In my childhood there was never a moment
I questioned my belief Santa Claus instead
I simply believed he didn’t stop on my roof.
I wondered whether he couldn’t find the stainless stove chimney pipe
slightly bent from age
or whether the moss that hid the peeling shingles
were just a risk he couldn’t take.

I never lay restless in bed
staring up at the ceiling
fighting sleep by justifying my wakefulness
as praying for those expensive gifts
any child of the 90s wanted
pogs
a Creepy Crawlers oven
a Game Boy Color.

Instead I was praying to hear sleigh bells
a reindeer cough
his sniffle
that guttural laugh as he landed 
on the neighbors rooftop
confirming that I’d simply done something wrong.

I’d spend each Christmas Eve secretly praying
that this is the year he’d come to my house.

I guess I always knew I was not on his naughty list
because I never had coal under the tree.

I just felt forgotten.



Peter Faziani

Peter Faziani is the general editor of Red Flag Poetry. His work has been published in The Collagist, Sandy River Review, Silver Birch Press, The Tau among others. He is a Michigander at heart living in Western Pennsylvania with his family and Corgis.



On Growing Up Queer in Northern Appalachia by Jay Douglas


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On Growing Up Queer in Northern Appalachia

We are the mountains. We are Mother Nature’s tits: asymmetrical, oblong, pendulous. Bulbous and beautiful with highways for cleavage. We are the coal mines: the secret shafts into the under-earth where gas leaks and canaries die. We are the railroad tracks where our parents flattened pennies: forgotten, abandoned, overgrown, echoing the rumble of the past. With veins like streams winding through the underbrush past the crumbling foundations our ancestors left us, we dig up the remnants of the farmhouse of forgotten dead stone-by-stone, moss under our broken fingernails. We are the crab grass underfoot. We are potholed, gravel driveways and fish that swim upstream, scales flashing like glass, slipping through our mothers’ desperate, clawing hands. We are catching snapping turtles in our fishing lines and scraped knees on the asphalt with gravel ground in. We’re the tear in old jeans, the leak in worn boots. We are bumblebees and garden spiders. We hold the dew in our fingers. We carry the sun.



Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a senior undergraduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying English and World Religions. When not writing, Jay can usually be found honing Jay’s mad yo-yo skills or immersed in a book on queer theory.



I’ve Got this Friend #12 by Peter Faziani


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I’VE GOT THIS FRIEND #12
         (When Day Drinking isn’t Enough)

Drunk early         Brown glass night light bottle         Tip throat down throw done shattered
Shard friends shared fist fight     Fiend food find burger fries     Five     Girl pretty blonde brown
red maybe     Dark     Number six digits palm green       Smudged temporary tattoo      Drink up
free hands passing over          Dance gyrate shake          Wake up to blue and hair alone




Peter Faziani

Peter Faziani is the general editor of Red Flag Poetry. His work has been published in The Collagist, Sandy River Review, Silver Birch Press, The Tau among others. He is a Michigander at heart living in Western Pennsylvania with his family and Corgis.