Category Archives: Poetry

Addiction by James Roach


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


Addiction

When she asked me if I believe I have a problem with alcohol,
it felt different to answer “yes” out loud,
my voice echoing back at me,
rather than just checking a box on a form full of questions
I should have been asking myself all along.
Questions I deemed too difficult to answer.
Not like not knowing how to solve a math problem,
but more like knowing how to save yourself
but being afraid it’ll be too hard to show your work.
2 DUI’s in 4 years and more than that
if you count all the times I should have gotten caught.
The metal of the handcuffs was cold and heavy
and not at all like the cheap pairs we played with as kids.
They were simple to maneuver out of while laughing
at our cunning escape techniques,
not knowing then that being arrested isn’t so funny.
Jail has no clocks,
no windows,
and no comfort
but plenty of time to think and plead yourself
into promising you’ll do better.
I wrote myself a letter
in anxious and hungry handwriting,
using the bible as something hard
under my piece of paper and golf pencil.
I wanted to document my version of rock bottom.
By the time I read this into a microphone,
I will be 61 days sober which today equals 197 days
that I haven’t almost killed myself or anyone else.
But 197 days is still just a drop in the bucket for the 7 years I could have.
For the 7 years I drank myself into believing
it wasn’t a problem to survive that way.
For the behavior I wish I didn’t have to call my own
but that I hold in my hands,
with my name written all over it
in the handwriting of the relationships I’ve ruined.
For the behavior I had even without alcohol,
my magic trick being I can still ruin everything without drinking.
Switch my triggers from the grocery store beer aisle
to the sound of cartoon dollar signs
and left behind ATM receipts with high remaining balances.
Replace pints of beer with pints of debt and empty promises.
You can take away those new sheets I never needed for sleeping
and subtract those new clothes I never needed to wear.
Add in my rolodex of unpaid bills and broken record apologies
but definitely take note of my awesome t-shirt collection.
I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to the smell of new things
and the ability to drink to forget
that I never needed them in the first place.
My words have given bruises just as well as fists,
unintentionally carving my initials
into unwilling skin and bone
as if to say “I was here”
and “I caused more damage than this.”
While driving to the poetry slam in April,
I watched the sky break into blue over Tacoma.
The rain fell between sun rays and car crashes,
washing away the smell of burnt rubber
and increased insurance premiums.
I was listening to Explosions in the Sky
which is a band and not a metaphor for thunder.
It reminded me of the way lightning
can turn darkness into daytime in a split second.
It reminded me that when I drink,
I can turn light into darkness in the same split second,
that I am the opposite of lightning.
But if I try hard enough,
I can be electric again.



James Roach

James Roach has been writing for years but only in the past few has he realized he might be amazing with words. He’s originally from the midwest and has been living in the Pacific Northwest for 13 years. James is inspired by the weather, heartbreak, beauty, ugliness, and more than this text box can fit. : impatienthands.wordpress.com



La Vie by Johanna Ramm


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


La Vie

None of the figures are actually looking
towards me. I fold the hefty paper museum guide
between my fingers absentmindedly.
Except in the painting behind,
a small face sketched in charcoal
stares at me between the eyes
where Casagemas shot at Germaine.
I recount this later upon a couch
to a doctor who is worried by my worry
of being snubbed by a painting. She says
You have a fixation
on being understood more so
than many other people do.

I try to understand
what she means, how wanting
to fit in was unique to me,
how I became one of those people who wants
to fit in. I can see her words riding her breath
like a toy train in smooth circles across the room,
straight line pushing pushing across her chair
her bookshelf her plant her window to her couch
to me atop it, plastic wheels spinning lazily
on an invisible wooden track.
But alas, I do not think she sees it,
so I wave it away, the words and the breath
dissipate like plumes of cigarette smoke.
As it dissolves so do the thoughts from before
replaced by Germaine and a wonder
if she was just trying
to enjoy a coffee with friends.
If maybe a strand of his brain
flicked onto the table where her
hand had been before she ducked,
the muscle that wore her away from herself
the tissue that filled his thoughts with a her
that never was. I wonder if she ever
got the specks of blood off her dress.
If she ever wore it again.



Johanna Ramm

Johanna Ramm is an aspiring poet majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. While she loves all types of art, what words can do is one of her favorite things of all. : johannaramm.myportfolio.com



Giants Like Us by Dakota D. Dusi


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


Giants Like Us

these steps were cut
centuries ago

made for tea leaves
and giants like us.

the clouds we can
almost touch, but

it’s the rainy season.
it keeps us just

out of reach, and
i can feel her

feet impress the
earth like

all of those years
before when

she would wake
up first and

tiptoe out of that
old brick

apartment.



Dakota D. Dusi

Dakota D. Dusi is a Midwest native and current expat based in İstanbul. He holds a BSE in English Education and has had creative writing published both in print and around the Web. When not working he can be found traveling throughout Europe and Asia, or sitting in his living room. : @mondegreenshoes



Leftovers by Soo Young Yun


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


Leftovers

Loss hates leftovers. It always orders too much, and ends up stuffing half of its meals in the fridge, where they lay forgotten and grow moldy in ways they shouldn’t. The scent is strong in the first few months, hitting Loss in the face each time it opens the fridge door. Its cabinet overflows with inked napkins and ketchup packets from dozens of restaurants. And they just sit there, until finally Loss is in a good enough mood to shovel them out and wipe the cupboard with white vinegar. When the fridge and cupboard are finally rid of leftovers and napkins and ketchup packets, the whole house takes a breath, fresh and free.

Soon Loss is at a restaurant again, drifting through the menu, drooling over laminated pictures of photoshopped pastries. It eyes an oversized, dazzling tiramisu sprinkled with pistachio and freshly plucked strawberries. The cake will become another relic in the fridge for the next half a dozen months, but Loss doesn’t care, at least not at the moment. The first bite, when the chocolate dissolves and evanesces into the mouth, makes it all worth it.




Soo Young Yun

Soo Young Yun is a writer from Seoul, South Korea. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Aerie International Journal, Writing for Peace Organization, Skipping Stones Youth Honor Awards, among others. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal, DUENDE, Emerald Coast Review, Hawai’i Review, Red Weather, Vignette Review, Watershed Review, among other journals and anthologies. : sooyoungyun.com



The Green Carpet by James H Duncan


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


The Green Carpet

It was in a waiting room of chipped plastic tables full of
wrinkled copies of Highlights magazine and cardboard
flip-books about bears flying in hot air balloons, the
scent of alcohol and Lysol. These children here are bald
or soon will be and I run my hand through my own hair,
find bloody fingertips, red robins in flight through my
very flesh, flying away and away and away. Opening my
eyes and counting my inhale/exhale, I see that the carpet
here is lime green, shag, just like the green carpet where
the small children of Green Meadow Elementary sat in
the library, 1985, ‘86, ‘87…we read books about
dinosaurs and planets and gigantic men who chopped
trees in days gone by alongside blue oxen. There were
books of women who flew planes and disappeared, and
of ghosts who haunted castles, books of egghead
professors with childish brain games, and books of
children who had troubles just like the troubles we had
at home or in our classrooms, on the bus, with bullies,
siblings, nightmares, parents who disappeared, feelings of
isolation, feelings. None of them had the troubles we had
when we grew up though, or the troubles the bald
children here have discovered. Publishers and sales reps
probably don’t like tallying such figures. Back then,
Letter People lined the walls and a TV with Ramona
played on rainy days. There were book club sales, book
reports, and wooden chairs lined up along the wall,
straight and small. All of us sitting on the green carpet. I
believe the rain still falls on the windows there, while
kids here grow old, fall down, their eyes drifting against
the wash of a television glow in hospital rooms and daybeds,
their blood and marrow melting, betraying,
hounding them, the pages of their stories thinning out
and fading blank. And then someone calls my name so I
rise and walk across that green carpet to see how many
pages my own story has left.




James H Duncan

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, a writer-at-large for The Blue Mountain Review, and the co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series. His work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Up The Staircase Quarterly, American Artist, Pulp Modern, Poetry Salzburg Review, Drunk Monkeys, Five:2:One, and other publications. His latest book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine (in which the poem “The Green Carpet” appears) is now available from Unknown Press, and you can find it on Amazon and at www.jameshduncan.com.



Carry On, Carrion by Kelly Jones


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook



Carry On, Carrion

I had my hands on him last night in a dream I forgot
upon waking. Some days are easy

but when they’re not I feel like drowning.
The clock has stopped in my mind


we are still wild manes and taut muscle,
entwined. What is the use of being

all racked up over a hunk of meat?
When I drive highways I count

the corpses of animals. The stains they leave behind
on the asphalt are sometimes lovely and it helps me forget

the dead friends and lovers I’ve left behind.
It’s not the animal’s fault when they collide with cars

but we curse them and cry
not for the mess made

but for the cost to clean it up.
It is the same when a drunk doesn’t wake,

when a vein breaks, when a bullet

blows a hole through brains.

I can still hear the sickening thump and tumble.
It has been years since I hit something on the road


and witnessed a thing left unbreathing
and unrecognizable after impact.

It has been years since I held someone’s stiffening
hand in mine. Cold and dry, like this fall day.




Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a librarian in training that currently calls Greensboro, NC their home. Kelly earned their MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. Three of their favorite things are manatees, glitter, and Wild Turkey. In their spare time, Kelly tries to keep houseplants alive, runs The Gambler Mag, and attempts to come to terms with the concept of infinity.



Haunting by Razili Roy


Variation of Awakening by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


Haunting

You saw me inhale snow for the first time and
I breathed it all in until my lungs were glaciers.

You kissed me once – only once.

The ice caps are on the verge of turning into oceans and
I can already feel my mountain heart and tornado stomach
drowning.

He had his lips pressed against mine as
he looked for all the crevices in my skin.
I was trying my best to memorise his hands and all
they had learned from her, when he pulled away.

His eyes looked like they had just realized
they were in love with nightmares.

I tried to find his mouth again but
he did not know the way anymore.

“You kiss me like you are looking for someone else.”

I held onto my breath for an entire infinity as
I realised I was in love with nightmares and I was
dying.

There comes a time when you realize
missing is not the same as wanting.

It is like putting your money into a coffer
whose key you threw one sunny afternoon.

All those faces end up becoming your face
and your face is in all of those faces.
All those faces I have kissed end up
looking like the only face I want to kiss.

I think I would burn the postcard you send
but have an urn for the ashes all the same.




Razili Roy

Razili Roy is a college going student who has a penchant for multiple cups of tea and equally abundant hours of sleep. A failed art curator, among other things, she writes during odd hours of either (or both) the waking and sleeping day. The rest of the hours are spent mincing words and petting strays. You can take a look at her Instagram account (@raziliroy) if you wish to see more of her work.



I Think the Answer to the Question may be Zero by Kelly Jones


photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter



I Think the Answer to the Question may be Zero

The gun in Travis’s hand pushed
against Matt’s face and wants him gone,

so go Matt does, faster than New Year’s
booze and resolutions. In the bathroom

a counter groaned with the weight of bodies
thrust together. This is not romantic,

whispered one reflection to the other.
Curled in the crook of Adam’s arm

after one too many keg stands, he told me “I love you,”
I smiled and said “I don’t want to be alone.”

Dead-drunk in the backseat, Matt shot up
and sang boys, boys, all types of boys, then crumpled

back to sleep. Justin let me in whenever I showed up

drunk at 3 a.m. We’d crawl into bed, sprawl out,

each with a foot rooted to the floor to stop the spins.
The picnic table didn’t mean to break the bottle of Jäger,

but Adam and his brother set it on fire anyways

and the cops came to Long Street, but arrested no one.

Travis was evicted but came back for furniture that wasn’t his.
I sat on the couch, 
the morning after a party gone wrong

and Justin wore 
a light blue button down shirt,
messy with blood, as we chain-smoked into morning.

Matt leaned into me once and asked his beer
how many ways are there to forget a person?




Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a librarian in training that currently calls Greensboro, NC their home. Kelly earned their MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. Three of their favorite things are manatees, glitter, and Wild Turkey. In their spare time, Kelly tries to keep houseplants alive, runs The Gambler Mag, and attempts to come to terms with the concept of infinity.



Gravedigger by Katrina Gray


photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Gravedigger

I buried your jaw in my backyard.
People think the trees are talking.
When they ask, I say nothing,
or, Just the wind.
I do not flinch or laugh nervously,
though nothing grows here,
and the neighborhood kids
think I’m a witch.
I’ve heard their stories:
under the full moon with a mason jar,
my hands turning soft the soil
like spades.
They’re not far off.
The moon was full
– yes –
and I used my hands,
but I carried your jaw in the hammock
of my nightgown;
tenderly;
like a lover who still loved your memory
because that is what I was –
what I will always be.
The children are too young to know
what it’s like to want to forgive,
but to not be able to.
The girls come back though,
one by one, when they’re older;
peering over my fence, holding this
or that; tenderly;
and suddenly they’re no longer afraid of me.
I am the one who shows them how to bury their dead.



Katrina Gray

Katrina Gray is a twenty-eight year-old Canadian who is fulfilling the prophecy, as foretold by her sixth grade teacher, to write. She’s never one to back down from a feminist argument, or a long binge of TV. She suffers from existential angst, always losing her pen lids, and thinking of the perfect line just before she falls asleep. She has been published once before on Words Dance, and twice on Persephone’s Daughters. To find more writing and bemusement, you can follow her at: www.persephonesgirlhood.tumblr.com



A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up by Cadence Pentheny


photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up

This is the dream where I always leave before you let go and the lake that holds no swords or magic kingdoms keeps us diving simply to test the true capacity of our hollowness. On the bad mornings, fragments of bone left behind from the amputation of my wings come loose from their holds and stab me between the shoulder blades. My bird mouth is never not hungry; it never learned how to feed itself. I woke up haunting for a song, a kiss, but our mouths are tombs and whoever gets too close will choke on the dirt.

This is the time when you left thumb prints on my wrist bones, skin flint eyelids set ablaze driftwood washed to shore. Little sisters took me swing dancing with tongue studs clicking on teeth, rode the subway and left glitter in the door jambs. “I’ll take you home”, he said, but they laughed at me for tying virgin tongue-knots in cherry stems while the heat turned our lungs into drums, leather stretched tight. These walls remain jam-packed with my own heat, like the monsters in children’s books who taught us that to be loved was to be swallowed whole. I’ve spent eleven years practicing the art of the Irish goodbye. Sometimes the grocery list becomes a poem and flowers grow from the dirt under my fingernails, moss under my tongue, lichen on the roof of my mouth.

This is the place where hip flexors caught in hands, caught in the tangle of sheets at the edge of the bed. In the tangle of the mind she warmed madness like a feast and begged me to eat of it, a mother to my starving hands, the one who taught the Right to say ‘please’ with its sharp claws and the Left to say ‘sorry’ with thumbs calloused ‘round the shape of her teeth. The illness of lycanthropy – once a month, fur mixes with blood. I’m bigger than my bones but they keep telling me that I still have to learn how to call them home.



Cadence Pentheny

Cadence Pentheny is 21 years old and a NH native, where they grew up homeschooled and surrounded by dogs, books, and art projects. In 2016 they graduated from a small college in PA with degrees in sociology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. They have returned home and are about to start their second year with a national service organization in which young people get the privilege of working with students in under-resourced public schools. You can witness some of their shenanigans on their Instagram @bird_mouthed.