Juvenile Benedictions by Christine Brandel


Art by Holger Barghorn | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook

Juvenile Benedictions

I.
I am four years old. My parents have yet to divorce.
I am holding a box with a necklace inside. It is a gift
from Spain. I am confused and then sad. I do not know
where Spain is. I do not know what Spain is. Children
should not be given gifts they cannot understand, I think.
In the backseat on the drive home, I will it to tell me
where it comes from. I want to know where it’s been.
I want to know, even as I’m being carried into the house.

II.
Squirrels run through the attic above my head.
I am in my bed, working hard to convince myself
they are angels. A transistor radio plays: a doctor,
I assume, is solving callers’ problems. I need him
to solve mine. I want him to say something only
I will understand so I can turn on my side,
rest my prayered hands on my pillow and sleep.
I pour water in my ear, hoping that will drown
out everything I do not need to hear. A doll
sits across the room, watching, saying nothing.

III.
The nurse doesn’t say anything to me anymore.
She is either tired of my face or sees my arrival
as a reminder that she has three more hours of work.
I lie on the cot and stare up at the ceiling, counting
the dots as if I expect the number of them to change.
At no point do I get up and go through the filing cabinets,
mess about with the medical supplies or throw up.
I slip my hand under my shirt and lightly move
my fingertips over my stomach. I want the nurse
to come in and catch me and offer to touch me like that.
When chills run up my arms, I stop. Sometimes I fall
to sleep. Then I stand, tuck in my shirt, and go back to class.

IV.
There is absolutely no benefit to knowing how to spell
words that no one will ever say, that I will never say.
I know that, but still I slip a dictionary under my pillow
so the words will slide between feathers, through my ears,
into my brain. I will learn to spell every word in that book.
I will know them all, know the meanings, know everything.




Christine Brandel

Christine Brandel is a writer and photographer. Her book, A Wife is a Hope Chest, will appear in 2017 as the first full-length collection in the Mineral Point Poery Series from Brain Mill Press. She also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rights the world’s wrongs via her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at clbwrites.com.



Things That Break In Chinese Restaurants by Demi Richardson


Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram

Things That Break In Chinese Restaurants

The fortune read,
Your problem just got bigger.
Think, what have you done.

And you laughed a distracted
laugh,
something that floated away from us
while other couples
in other restaurants
held hands,

but you are not like you used to be –
there is no gentle in the way
you slide your hand into mine,
bring my hips back to you,
and

some nights you look at me
like you dug my heart
out of my chest with your bare hands

and some nights you
push your hands through your hair
shake your head at me and
leave quietly

later, we get drunk off moonshine
and apologies come from your lips like
a flood of bad omens

I ask if you need space
and the way you say “no”
makes my bones splinter,
makes me think –
what have we done?

here in this room, where
we scrape our knees and
bruise each other
on love and half-truths –
what have we done?



Demi Richardson

Demi Richardson splits her heart between California and Pennsylvania. Her work has previously appeared in the New Growth Arts Review, “draft” lit mag, and The Rising Phoenix Review.



Follow the Tracks #58 : Weekly Song Picks




On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
God Be You” – Nostalghia



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Vaporous” – Elsiane



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Old Devils” – William Elliott Whitmore



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
The Remedy” – Puscifer



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Incurably Innocent” – At The Drive In



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Wildfire” – Seafret


Follow this playlist on:

   or   


Founding Editor


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing, an independent press + biweekly online poetry journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in THRUSH Poetry Journal, decomP, & Stirring. She is the author of four poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014) & her series of free music-inspired eChapbooks which can be found here: amandaoaks.com. Her forthcoming chapbook, The River is Everywhere, will be published by Red Flag Poetry in summer 2017.


Daughter of Atlas by Ameena Chaudhry


Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram

Daughter of Atlas

Did God join you on the roof with his head bent?
He says the word shame but as soon
as his lips meet on the ‘m’
you forgive him.

As soon as he pulls a crushed daisy
from his back pocket
you forgive him.

Your ankles shake in a small house
with a small mother and
a father making love to a wine glass.

On the roof you ask
a nervous god for evidence
and he plays you
a recording of your little sister’s laugh

and you forgive him.



Ameena Chaudhry

Ameena Chaudhry is a 21-year-old Pakistani-American writer studying English, Gender/Women’s/Sexuality Studies, and Anthropology at the University of Iowa. She is the adoptive mother of her roommate’s two cats. Ameena enjoys breakfast foods, tattoos (sorry Mom), and any TV show that involves Lauren Graham. Her work has been featured in Ink Lit Magazine and the Oakland Arts Review. She is currently working on her first novel.



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.



Follow the Tracks #57 : Weekly Song Picks




On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Steady” – The Staves



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Peaches” – In The Valley Below



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Love Drought” – Beyoncé



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Running Through The Garden” – Fleetwood Mac



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Rockets” – LION BABE ft. Moe Moks



On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Small Doses” – Bebe Rexha


Follow this playlist on:

   or   


Founding Editor


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing, an independent press + biweekly online poetry journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in THRUSH Poetry Journal, decomP, & Stirring. She is the author of four poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014) & her series of free music-inspired eChapbooks which can be found here: amandaoaks.com. Her forthcoming chapbook, The River is Everywhere, will be published by Red Flag Poetry in summer 2017.


A Suite of Love Poems by Words Dance’s 2016 Authors


Mixed Media Art by Kristin Reagan

HYMN FOR AN OPEN MOUTH

Ask me about the summer
I fell in love with someone
more blackberry bramble than girl.
Aching to be touched
but never talking about the thorns.
And me, all heavy handed
and too proud to acknowledge
the things I’d cut myself on.
I dreamt about juice
running down my chin
for months.

Trista Mateer, author of Before the First Kiss



From Henry Miller to Anais Nin

There is no patience in this body.
There is only enormous wanting.
No one speaks of the stunning weight of it—
how desire pulls us through the world
as though our limbs are attached
to the strings of a clumsy marionette.
I am dizzy with this great burden.
How does one live without love?
At the end of each day, you are there
and this simple act saves me.
I walk through a market to pick peaches
and blush at the thought of your mouth.
All lovers tuck small secrets behind their tongues
and go on clicking through the world
as if they don’t know where the light comes from,
as if they didn’t create it themselves out of thin air.
I leave the market and walk quickly through the streets.
I open our front door and drop the peaches to the floor.
A week from now, we’ll find one rotting under the couch
but for now, there is only enormous wanting.
There is no patience in these bodies.

Fortesa Latifi, author of No Matter the Time



LOVE POEM

We are sitting with our backs pressed against the radiator.
You taste like toothpaste and one too many shots of cranberry

juice. I let you lick the confectioner’s sugar off my doughnut, watch
your tongue as it strips and teases. I applaud. Leave a week’s worth

of tips, etch my calling card into the hollow of your throat
with my collection of baby teeth. Isn’t that what adoration is?

Love to the point of consumption: galactic, entropic, except
you’re the existentialist and I’m the one who waters the plants.

Whatever. I love you louder than creation. Point is, I think of you
in the carpool lane, in the middle of the checkout line with a grapefruit

in one hand and your prescription pills in the other. I want to run a red
light. I think we’re too subjective. The clock strikes March. My feet


are in your lap. You scrape the honey off my teeth with that pole-
dancing tongue of yours. You will never have to go to the dentist again,

you say. I try to tell you I’m swapping spit with the hygienist, except that’s
a lie, and I’ve sworn off lying. You asked me to write you a love poem,

but this is all you’re going to get. I’m trying to be honest, you see.

Brianna Albers, author of Why I’m Not Where You Are



Somewhere in Genesis

             fake this for me

will you pour yourself over me for forty days and forty nights

             will you cover everything that I know

make me gather what animals you will
             but in pairs
so you and I aren’t lonely
             and so they aren’t either

will you destroy everything that hurts
             anyone who mocks us

will you silence those who tell us this story belongs to someone else
             somewhere in Genesis
             or in ancient Sumer
             or in the Epic of Gilgamesh

as far as I know this is our story

this moment couldn’t belong to anyone except you and me

             will you pour yourself over me for forty days and forty nights
and then leave me on top of a mountain

where people will always look
             but in vain

because this moment doesn’t belong to them
this moment couldn’t belong to anyone except you and me

Wesley Scott McMasters, author of Trying to Be a Person



On Our Last Orbit

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we

will grow gray by each other’s sides;

how the winter will be hard on our old bones,

and our sight will blur a bit more

whenever I try to read my latest poem to you.

It doesn’t make me sad anymore:

to imagine us at the end of our road,

our younger years so far

from where we stand now.

I don’t fear losing each other,

at least, not as much as I used to.

You are, and always have been,

such a strong pull of gravity in my life.

Even before we met, every day

I’d watch my body tug closer to you;

the ends of my shirt lifting at the seams

as if some whisper of a ghost was saying,

“Just a little further today.”

So why, at the end of it all,

would the magic end there?

I don’t believe life built the final boundary

to face on our own, when not even the stars know

what it’s like

to have an entire sky

alone.

Schuyler Peck, author of A Field of Blooming Bruises




THAT KIND OF GOOD

Some people have a softness
that draws water from the earth

Call it dream. Call it flight.
The opening & closing of

your eyelids, like sparrow wings
beckoning the trees.

The music of your bones,
startling spring from the earth,

the dazzle of your smile
drawing honey from the bees.

You are kinder than the cruelest thing
that’s ever been done to you.

You are softer than the tender meat
you were bruised into becoming.

You are so good, bad people would
break every hard word over their knees

to keep you from falling on yours.

You are so good, lazy people would
line up to be the coffee-mug at your mouth

if it meant another hour of ease.

The religious talk about the second coming
& you talk your shadow into starlight.

If you asked the clouds for shade
the sky would split itself like apple.

If you asked me to cut out my heart
I would do it with my own knife.

Natalie Wee, author of Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines



As the Sun Bid Its Cordial Goodbyes

You as the sun, you as hot-hearted hinge for far too many boxes & not enough doors, not enough ceaseless opening, you as harness, as endless channel of life, as listen— if I could finally step out from behind all these clouds of metaphor I might ask if I could have the key to your unlocking. I might ask if I could see you tomorrow in all your brand-newness, in all your rising to the center of my sky to woo the weeds that keep us grateful for what is. Here’s the dirty truth though, poet can hide on cloud nine because she likes the air there just as much as she likes to lie low bathing in a tub of her own secrets, she likes to smokescreen, to domino, to dig up what flasks in the dark & pass it around the table like a plea or a prayer or a farewell wish, what she really wants to say is this— come bottle up with me, come garden out the gloom so we can hold it up high & laugh about how fuckin’ wretched is it to just be some days, come dusk with me, come night & dream & love & bliss, come Hollywood ending with me, come credits with too many true loves to name, look— I know you’ll always be danger, I know you’ll always be this unreachable star bound by the blue of midnight & daylight & the luster of all those other stars but you, you as constant, you as fail-safe & feverish & true, you are the warmest part of my day, even still.

Amanda Oaks, author of When Minerva’s Knees Hit the Ground



Follow the Tracks #56 : #Resist Playlist


On your mobile device? Click below to open the YouTube app:
Digging For Windows” – Zack de la Rocha



We made a collaborative playlist, which you can find on both Spotify & YouTube or listen above!

We started it off with a mixed bag of 100 songs but would love to have your help, both playlists are open to the Words Dance community to add to, so please feel free to do so!






Thanksgiving Exeunt by Rodney Wilder


Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram


Thanksgiving Exeunt

Is this the year it finally tired
of the fictions seasoned over its gristle?
Because turkey and aroma have never been
such unveiled sacraments, mouths
straining to carve grenade…teargas
where wishes would shawl with poultry.


There never has been room for indigenous skin
between tablescapes,
but Standing Rock is coughing something
acrid and black across these platters,
and where’s the throat glutted enough to not
notice this shameful resemblance? Revisionism

                                b  u  r  n  s
beneath the firebrand-coils
glowing molten to show the pyres lying no
outgrown cinder in the reciped script of tradition;
they are here, today. Their smoke,
a stolen mist sicced on nations once again
told their place and gifted with wounds to prove it.
Disneyfied renditions of theft and beheading wax
translucent today, as this country
once more assumes ownership of soil that, if
it could be bought, already has been by
the ancestral bodies returned to its inertia.

But the water-cannons come,
an inhumanity true to the day’s predecessors in
the morbid fork it foists on those only offered water
as weapon or as petroleum backwash. Neither
option spoken without a throat of funibrial wood

insinuated behind it.

And we are seeing now that glint of westward teeth
our need for clean hands would deem
a younger country’s problem.
What necessity, this sickly river,
the stink of these white-diverted waters.
What justice, these hypothermic proponents of
not swallowing what Bismarck knew a poison
and was weighed American-enough to be listened to.
We are seeing the colonial dream’s misbegotten admen
twist their tongues toward treatied waters, laws
tossed overhead like overgnawn tibiae while

the White House chooses its side. A pardon
wings our country’s preference across the lawn,
as the fable’s cornucopia-knolled legacy
             s      t      r      a      i      n      s
to stave off the wake
of this squandered mercy,
the allegiance of its brawn.

May our entrees continue to sour.
May our traditions bitter, our dishes
burn and burn further until this chosen sleep
doles no more the kind of comfort that thumbs
for a bloodline to snuff,
that ladles coincidence over the history retching our
bloodiest tendrils back atop a tablescape
tidied of their upheaval.
When a people
as intimate with this land as to
know its sustenance something holy,
when they can call a water source sacred and not
get proselytized by the pepper-spray response
of a more suicidal theology,
when survival stops being read like a temper tantrum,
when we can prioritize compassion over profits,
then
we will have a day that deserves the joy we’ve twined
to our complicit celebrations.


Then, this sleep might actually be the peace
pretended by these blood-drunk solemnities.



Rodney Wilder

Rodney Wilder is a biracial nerd who bellows death-metal verse in Throne of Awful Splendor and writes poetry, with previous work appearing in FreezeRay, Tales of the Talisman, and his first collection of poetry, 2012’s Ars Golgothica. Currently writing his fandom-fueled followup, he likes nachos and analogizing things to Pokémon. https://www.facebook.com/rwilderjr



​Democracy to Come, or The Politics of Optimism by Alex Lenkei


Paintings by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram

​Democracy to Come, or The Politics of Optimism

erasure poem from the transcript of Donald Trump’s November 8th victory speech






Alex Lenkei

Alex Lenkei is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature. His work has been published in Vagabond City Lit, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Sun & Sandstone, Words Dance Magazine, and Rising Phoenix Review, among others. His writing explores themes of language, silence, solitude, and the human condition. He writes at typewriterdaily.tumblr.com.