Category Archives: Libra

Jasmine Oil by Roya Backlund


Homesickness 2 by Jenny Brown | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Jasmine Oil

Whenever my mother and I walked together
along jasmine covered pathways,
she would suck the air in and tell me
“This reminds me of Iran,”

a place she has not returned to since she left it
at the age of sixteen.

If her hair is as long as it is now, I thought,
how must it have blown in the wind then?
If she is as gorgeous as she is now,
what must she have looked like

as a child, wandering through ancient streets, breathing in
the constant flow of aromas
that have kept the cities so ageless?

When she moves, it is all “woman”
that spills from her. She doesn’t understand how much I envy her,
and won’t believe how full she is

because as I was becoming one too, she felt her fullness emptied
as cancer clawed the hair away from her head
and put her to sleep so it could slither away
with her breasts,

leaving her with nothing but a pile of memories. A shell
she needed to re-learn how to love.

Her hair did not grow back the same.
This new mane belonged to a different person,
a woman she did not recognize,
and her soul shook inside this stranger’s body.

I am now forbidden from cutting my own.
My hair needs to grow longer until it becomes
endless. My mother taught me to rub jasmine oil
into the tips of it

and to let it down like Rapunzel so that she can climb
back into a city that she knows
and breathe in what has kept this woman
so ageless.



Roya Backlund

Roya Backlund is a recent graduate of University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in English literature as well as a Los Angeles-based film actress. She will be publishing her first collection of poetry this summer. More of her writing can be found at bellydancingsmoke.tumblr.com.




Ode to Chameleon Queens of Hollywood Sadcore by Eden Arielle Gordon


Glitter by Sammy Slabbinck
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Ode to Chameleon Queens of Hollywood Sadcore

I’m in a gas station with Lana Del Rey
we’ve been driving for ten hours
and we’ve drank enough coffee to fill ten of us.
“I love gas stations,” she says, kicking at the dirt on the floor
picking up a pack of beef jerky and shoving a strip
between her honey-plumped lips.
She slides a piece of cinnamon gum between her teeth
and looks at me as the shadows change her eyes
from smokestack grey to cinnamon florets.
“Here, we’re the most glamorous things in the whole store.
And here, the store is the whole world.”

She wipes a line of soda bubbles on her blue jeans.
They trail over her legs like ants. I want to tell her
she could be the most glamorous thing anywhere,
but she changes before my eyes and now I only see
a thirty-year-old woman with cheeks round as peaches
and a pepsi between hands that have been everywhere
from the balls of an eighty-year-old man with blood made
purely of heroin to microphones balancing on the
stage of the Hollywood Bowl, equal amounts of heroin
pulsing through the bloodstreams of the camera lenses.

We head over to the coffee stand and fill large cups
with thick brown coconut coffee and splenda and skim.
She spreads a mess of chocolate, cigarettes and peach lip gloss
on the counter, peels apart singles sticky with mint gum
and I wonder if we’ll make it to LA by morning.
She chain-smokes like she wants to overdose on nicotine
huge throaty gulps and lips all motion
eyes full of synthetic gas station light.
“I wish I was dead,” she says as we walk back to the car.
And I think she sings the song of herself
just the way Whitman intended
a thousand forms of her spinning in and around
the walls of the Pontiac.

Hers is a soul so scattered
it could never be anything but what it was born to be.
She is a woman and she is a fantasy
depending on what your world looks like at the time
gas station or beach house full of guns. And right now the highway
stretches out before us like the devil’s tongue
or God’s backbone – it’s so dark that now I can’t tell –
we’re both gods, we’re both angels, we’re both demons
either way we fly. I light her cigarette
and we talk until we run out of coffee and
pull into the next throbbing little artery
in the web of highways that knit the body
of heaven.




Eden Arielle Gordon

Eden Arielle Gordon lives in New York City and attends Barnard College of Columbia University. She has been published in the Claremont Review, Canvas Magazine, Parallel Ink, and Navigating the Maze, among others. She is also a singer-songwriter, and is perpetually unsure whether she is dreaming or awake. You can check out my tumblr here: luminescent-ly.tumblr.com



Fifteen by Ariella Carmell


I came so far for beauty by Sammy Slabbinck
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Fifteen

In those days, we liked to call ourselves ‘feeble.’ Only then
could someone muster up the energy
to love us. Maria smoked a lot of menthols
then, suckling the filter like a teat. We flung
our panties like slingshots & felt our skin
bristle into each other.
Together we were a brood of litter, gasping
& whimpering & panting. Dependence was sexy.
We were sexy. We liked to practice
losing our virginities on each other. Put your hand
here, your lips there, yeah, I like that…

I like to think I can’t believe the things we did,
that I’ve grown past them. If anything,
I’ve grown on top of them. Mounds of decomposing
soil. My Maria now sleeps
with Pall Malls between her teeth
& all of Prague in her cunt. Her letters
smell like arousal even when she reminds me:
What we choose to remember approaches us
like a grope of the breast from
an unwanted boy.




Ariella Carmell

Ariella Carmell is a student at the University of Chicago whose writings can be found in Spry, The Adroit Journal, Literary Orphans, Cadaverine, Cleaver Magazine, and other publications. She is a winner of three National Scholastic Gold and Silver Medals, a 2014 Foyle Commended Poet of the Year, and a 2015 winner of the Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival. Catch her Carrie Bradshaw-wannabe column at neutronsprotons.com.



UNTITLED by Esther Liv


Blue Mermaid by Bella Harris
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UNTITLED

  1. i take showers
  2. the water pressure so high it drowns out my music
  3. the water so hot it burns my skin
  4. my uncle asks me why i turn up the heat so much and how i can stand it
  5. i say: it’s in preparation for hell and how i’m going to burn there for an eternity and laugh i say: it reminds me of home (hell) and laugh i mean: i like the way it hurts
  6. i mean: it makes me feel alive
  7. i mean: it reminds me i exist
  8. i use a strawberry body scrub, splatter it over my skin, and think about how i will always be rotten but maybe the pink scent of berries will cover it up
  9. i can apply a ton of makeup to hide my real self but my real self will never disappear
  10. i haven’t shaved for months and i’m not planning to
  11. i haven’t thrown out my razors because i like to look at them and sometimes i trigger myself that way but that’s okay
  12. i take showers
  13. i sit on the floor with a towel around my body and another around my hair and think about death and what it means
  14. to be alive
  15. and why i am alive and what i’m supposed to do now since i am
  16. i have scars on my body and i don’t remember how i got half of them
  17. i remember the other half and none of the stories are pretty
  18. people say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but it’s not a strong you can brag about or talk about at parties
  19. nobody wants to hear about how my thigh reads worthless and how the round scar on my fist is from a scissor and how i cut it in front of a boy while he confessed his crush to me
  20. he asked if i wanted to go to the cinema and in response i grabbed a green scissor and marked my own body
  21. it is never going away
  22. i don’t feel much stronger now because i still spend a lot of time wanting to mark up more parts
  23. my scars are pretty and worthy of kisses when i’m a manic pixie dream girl in a young adult novel but they’re not so pretty in real life
  24. and especially not for me
  25. i am not allowed to think they are not that bad, perhaps
  26. i was born to be an item of adoration but no matter how much makeup i put on i will always be the same ugly self
  27. i will always be rotten
  28. i will always smell of decay no matter how hot the water is
  29. no matter how many showers i take




Esther Liv


esther liv is a 19 year old queer kid from denmark desperately in love with the moon. she’s sometimes a girl, but always down to get ice cream and watch slam poetry. she writes to feel alive. : estherliv.tumblr.com




Americana Exotica by Irene Vazquez


Painting by Seon-Jeong Kim



Americana Exotica

Age 5: kindergarten journal
countless mornings trying to blend brown and yellow
orange and white
attempts to find my skin color.
When you blend a rainbow, you get brown.
The result: my self portrait was not of myself.

My eyes are not coffee, not chocolate,
but river delta mud
obscuring riots in my mind,
the constant warring of color, sound, pounding bass line.

You’d think that years of evolution would have conspired to stop making eyes that leak fear.
I wonder if my eyes aren’t a mirror but a magnifying glass.

I, an undefinable creature,
forget who I am.
A specimen under a microscope, wastes away in the harsh light.
It dies in the end​—
the bug on the glass in the light with no name.

On becoming a poet, I thought about my choices:
Was twilight my favorite time of day because we were both in between?
Was special just another way of saying that no one understood?

I’ll always be in the next state of comprehension,
never fully holding acceptance in my hands.
Always out of reach,
always…



Irene Vazquez

Irene Vazquez is a mixed-race poet (African-American and Mexican) currently residing in Houston, Texas. She attends St. John’s School where she writes and edits for her school newspaper, The Review, which received a Gold Crown rating from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The summer of 2014, Irene spent three weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts studying creative writing. There, she worked under poets like Travis Wade and Francine J. Harris. Irene received a regional Silver Key for her poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and she received an honorable mention in the 2014 Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, sponsored by Hollins University. Her work has previously been featured on Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. She often writes about the intersection of her identities in modern America and what it means to have her childhood dreams of a “post-racial America” shattered.




Lady Liberty by Pauline Lacanilao

Pink Paradise by Norahz Art
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Lady Liberty

I’d like to lift her skirt
just a bit at first

and on the half-globe
of her ankle map the oceans

she’s never seen, mark
with a dab of coconut oil

the island where I was born
where I sit now pressing

my tongue against her
name against my

teeth, dizzied
by the circularity of

what is sewn and
separated at the seam

of touch, the border I cross
to stroke her

flame then snuff it out
replacing the Union’s

old monument with
a new union,

one that ravages
her neck and jaw

with sloppy kisses, gropes
the huddled masses

beneath her minted folds,
dances a finger up

the chlorine green of her
knees, the faded dollar

of her thighs, and collects
the gown recklessly

around her waist
and from her iron

girdle reads the names of
those she didn’t mean

to send away.
 


Pauline Lacanilao

Pauline Lacanilao is a Filipina writer and development worker living in Manila, Philippines. Her work has been published in Kritika Kultura Literary Journal, Journal of English and Comparative Literature, Women’s Voices For Change, and Eastlit. She works for an organization that provides food, shelter, and education to abandoned children from indigent communities. | paulinelacanilao.com



Jessamine by John Swain

Fade Out by Joel Robison
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Jessamine

Bay and forest night,
head back as your mouth moves down
like the sky in decline,
we tremble.
Luminescence in the waves,
our clothes perfumed with wood smoke
from the fire I built
with red cedar.
Red wine now,
too much for words to argue
with our fear.
An owl in the trees
at the line of the beach,
man and wife
pretend a ring
for one night.
The jessamine blooms in a queen’s circle,
your fragrance
raises the moon
when I cannot dream
of return to the stone.
 


John Swain

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his first collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.