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 Poetry 

Ode to Flesh

 

I have found that the skin I am unfolding myself into is allowing for unforeseen dance moves. 

A lively tango

I had yet experienced the footwork for. 

 

And God, when I tell you 

every inch,

centimeter, 

and yard

of the excitement I am experiencing

grows, 

melts, 

and dispenses as

evidence onto my rouging cheeks

and in my womanhood.

 

Phrases of obscenity find its route of escape through my clenching teeth,

biting into shoulder blades for balance.

The slip of my tongue is the very notion of blissful unruliness

deepening within me.

 

Veins stretch,

expand, 

and

collapse

into every formable crevice 

 

the ocean waves are crashing, 

I am right alongside them.

 

New fleshly discovery,

excavation of humility 

 

I will admit I identify with shapeshifters

the way I’ve found my limbs curling up against and into intangible reality.

 

To please is to be alongside guided divinity.

 

Collecting milestones of tenderized feelings.

 

Crash.

Burn.

Release.

-Jordan Conine

Learnt Trait

 

I have been conditioned through pain and thorough disappointment.
And,
It is by no means seamless, but I don’t believe I am allowed
To give up.
And,
I think I was born to be vulnerable.
Or,
an example of what can be
If you decide to love.
And,
No matter how much I scrunch my face,
kick my heels into the soil,
and cry out in agony to have permission to hold the traits of being
distrusting,
numb,
And
calloused,
I find myself wholly sharing my heart with the woman picking out softened pears.
And I hope for my newest learnt trait to walk the lines of peacefulness.
Stretching thin for a break.
I don’t mind aging— I smile back when I see the noble trenches on the woman's face deepen at me while shopping.
I gleam for white haired beauties who don’t give a shit to dye it anymore.
I absolutely thrive over every growing nuanced conversation

that used to pick at my brain with death's looming scythe.

And,
I see my shoulders freckling up with time as it goes on with the sun as somewhat of a melanomic trophy.
And I prayed for you to get better, that will be your learnt trait.

-Jordan Conine

My Little Love

 

The brief moments of peace as I wake is the dove from above.

The sweet mourning dove blesses my ears with echoes of an owl.

The crisp fall air wisps through my window, I am elated.

Yet none of my stresses have faded,

I wish I was little again.

 

Before the world turned cold, I was warm. 

I bask in an innocent gaze now,

all alone in a dorm made just for me. 

Shouldn’t that pave my way?

No.

I still mold myself like clay each day,

I wish I was little again. 

 

When the sun sets and the day is done, 

I miss being excited to grow up.

Where people were good to one another, 

trust was given with ease.

Where my heart wasn’t breaking to please,

I wish I was little again.

 

The world so gentle then, hidden.

Not yet seen.

A world in which I wish I could return to.

The darkness did not exist,

fear only lived within my bedroom walls at night.

Sadness still had to be understood at a certain height,

I wish I was little again. 

 

Tears were meant for injuries, 

not heartaches.

Laughs were meant for joy, 

not nerves.

Love was meant for meaning,

not aesthetic.

I’m sorry to sound pessimistic, 

but all I wish I was,

was little again. 

-Tiarah Swann

 

Human Experience

 

A barrel. 

Your contents seep through and through, and they splash onto the floor and stain my shoes. An Unmoving object, 

You cannot apologize for something you did not mean to do. 

I cannot blame you for something you did not mean to do. 

A thing of some human’s creation 

I cannot blame the man who made you, 

How fair would that be? To him, 

To me. 

When you are not being used to age liquid deemed powerful enough

To kill a man

And inhibit his mind

And body

You are doing nothing. 

Sitting. Seething. 

Seeping. 

You are full of ale, and when you are not then 

Full of ale shall you become. 

You were made for this 

And maybe it has been brewing too long. 

Is it ready yet? 

You crack at the seams, and you do not mean to split and spill onto me and Onto the floor and when he comes, 

The man that created you. 

But you do it anyway 

And you cannot apologize for what you did not mean to do. 

It's fine. 

You are replaced soon enough, 

You will be forced to hold the weight of your contents no longer.

-Fox Micah

Desolate

 

I guess that it is

Much better to feel nothing

Than to burn in anger.

 

But still melt away,

From all the guilt and the grief.

Sting in your chest.

 

That’s until I snap.

Burning so bright, I burn out.

Venomous fire.

 

I know it’s better,

To die this way, fade in gray.

Disappear fully.

 

Finally fade away.

Fall asleep in forever.

Feel nothing again.

 

Raindrop hits my eye,

And only then I realize,

That I am crying.

-Jay Williams

Luciferin


Millions of twinkles.
Shining through the night.
Stars fell through the sky.


Blinking on and off.
Bioluminescent bugs.
Lightning in the night.


They all seem to dance,
A choreographed rhythm.
Mesmerizing moves.


It was such magic.
A wonderful sight that I
Was quite blessed to see.


The stars have come back.
I feel as if I’m walking
Upside down through time.


I, walking through space;
And there above me was
Twinkle lighting bugs.

-Jay Williams

222 

I woke up 

With needles in my bed,

And a numbness 

In my head. 

I could not feel 

My face, 

And I knew something

Was out of place. 

I stared at the ceiling

As I lay there, 

I felt the familiar feeling

Of despair.

-Jay Williams 

Interlude

I watch from the corner,
The devil’s hand on my shoulder,
And I think to myself,
That it’s gotten colder.

-Jay Williams

The Sound of Tragedy

We never forgot the day they fell.

Standing on the lukewarm concrete, necks bent upward.

We all had important things to do.

Among the rubble,

Nothing of the sort was significant.

 

There were words on paper

But none in our minds.

No selection of sounds and syllables

Could possibly express how we felt.

The studio was dead silent.

 

All of it was completely irrelevant.

No lyrics about girls and drugs

Could possibly resonate with an audience.

Not in a time like this.

What could we do?

 

Our voices felt weak. 

Impossible to even make a sound, 

But the instruments we play

Could say millions of words

Only using A B C D E F G.

 

Seven letters is all it takes

To capture the pain in our hearts. 

To describe the pain we felt.

To project our feelings.

Turning emotion into sound.

-Brandon Lemery

Peace

 

Seven years buried in this prison crypt

I forgot how it felt to be free

Never thought I’d ever take this trip

In my mind I sail the seven seas

 

I forgot how it felt to be free

Like a ghost my memory fades

In my mind I sail the seven seas

Try to hope and change my ways

 

Like a ghost my memory fades

Walking through the maze of mine

Try to hope and change my ways

Castaway I lost my sense of time

 

Walking through this maze of mine

At times I even dare to dream

Castaway I lost my sense of time

Life is never what it seems

 

At times I even dare to dream

Soaring through the skies at night

Life is never what it seems

Through the darkness shines the light

 

Soaring through the skies at night

Lonely soul stuck in my woes

Through the darkness shines the light

All my friends have turned to foes

 

Lonely soul stuck in my woes

Wonder if I’ll make it home

All my friends have turned to foes

On this path I walk alone


 

Wonder if I’ll make it home

Oh how great that day would be

On this path I walk alone

On that day I’ll find some peace

-Elijah Sprott

Monster Down Under

 

There is a Monster that dares shriek your name, 

down corridors and unmarked rooms.

How It hoped for your arrival. 

Oh, how It was eager. 

 

The Monster—it knows what you’ve done. 

It knows where your mistakes lie 

awake festering

in piss soaked sheets and swarming, fly-ridden trash fields. 

 

It is without sin. 

 

Don’t leave a trace of doubt. 

Do not imply you’re unknowing to rules. 

Piles of construct; you are considered doomed. 

 

Oh, look how it wails of its own flamboyant nature.

Oh, look what a fine example it makes of itself.

But, for you? 

Well.. I fear you reek of self doubt.

 

It traces you down and pins you up against a wall with words

and like a grasping, greedy child

I am spoon-fed 

descriptors in bitter detail of my own downfall.

-Jordan Conine

Things That Break

I hate it when things break.

There's too many things in this world that break

I wish everything was indestructible all the time.

Life would be so much easier.

 

I hate when glass breaks.

It gets everywhere, and it's dangerous,

So you have to clean it quickly,

Or someone could seriously hurt themselves.

I hate when glass breaks.

 

I hate when the sink breaks.

It leaks everywhere, and it makes a mess.

If someone steps in it in sock feet, it is such an inconvenience.

Someone could slip on it, and they could hurt themselves.

I hate when the sink breaks.

 

I hate when a bone breaks.

The bone sticks out in a way that’s unnatural,

And the sharp pain singes the entire limb.

Such a shame for someone to hurt themselves so badly.

I hate when a bone breaks.

 

I hate the way my heart breaks

When you add the word "break" to your vocabulary.

My heart races and my stomach churns.

My blood boils with anxiety and fear,

My whole body becomes overwhelmed

My eyes start watering as my body forces them to cry.

It’s the only way my body reacts.

It’s uncontrollable. It’s a reflex.

I hate the way my heart breaks

When you add the word “break” to your vocabulary.

-Isabel Willis

Death: A Sonnet

 

I hate death for all that he took away.

The goodbyes that I never got to say.

Bullets where I’m from always go astray.

Too many early graves, black clouds, bad days.

 

I despise the reaper for hurting me,

he took away some of my friends and family.

Scythe so sharp yet no one can ever see,

drowning in anger and insanity.

 

Death is simply just a new beginning,

I wonder what is on the other side.

Look at the pictures and you can see me grinning,

crying, reminiscing on another time–

 

I pray one day I see them all again.

Until then, I’ll be thinking of my friends.

-Elijah Sprott

Back to the Water 

 

No stone slab over a vessel,

six feet beneath the Earth.

No plot of land with ashes spread.

No home to return to;

Perhaps I’ve really lost you.

 

And with that despondent rumination,

I make my way back to the water.

 

Each current purls

over pebbles on the shoreline.

An audible trickle

as it sprightly retreats,

nearly in unison

with the tears

freely flowing down my face.

Yearning

for your presence

with such ferocity,

as if I’m bludgeoned

and can’t catch my breath.

 

Cold, damp sand,

sticking to my feet

keeps me grounded,

bringing me back

to humid days of summer,

spent with this water

we came to know.

A breeze rolls in,

carrying the scent of a mountain lake.

She whispers,

“I’m here.

-Sandra Ferguson

Words

 

What are they really?

Letters that make sounds.

Consonants, metaphors, and vowels,

Adjectives, verbs, and nouns.

 

WORDS

Beauty, lust, love

Dreams, kisses, hugs

WORDS

 

Can words explain feelings?

How do you describe butterflies in your stomach?

Love can’t be limited within the framework of words.

Love is an act; love is a verb.

 

WORDS

So many of them to choose

None mean as much as saying “I love you.”

-Jariz Paige

Sundown

 

Orange and pinks take flight as it’s time for night.

Such a beautiful sky, I hope I can get by. 

They hold so much hate.

Oh, I better not be late. 

“Don’t be here after sundown, boy!”

They spoke with conviction

while I choked with their superstition. 

 

Faster, step by step.

Deeper, breath by breath. 

Each step I feel closer to death. 

Eyes follow me, treating me like a tease. 

Quarters fly from windows, hitting me with ease. 

Why can’t they maintain order? 

 

I’m almost there, such a burden to bear. 

Such a beautiful sky, I’m barely getting by. 

Praying to be home before sundown, 

so Mama doesn’t have to be alone. 

Their ignorance holds my life hostage,

causing internal carnage. 

 

I’m finally home,

tell Mama it’s safe and she doesn’t have to be alone. 

“Don’t be here after sundown, boy!”

They spoke with hate, but they didn't hold my fate. 

-Tiarah Swann

He (as You Would Refer to God)

 

There is a dog in my bed. Its mouth waters

even though I have fed it.

it wants to chew me through and through

And spit me out as nothing I was before.

I quench its thirst only for an hour at a time

So that it does not chew through the mattress.

A rabid thing, it will never hurt me.

Even as all teeth,

All bone,

All bite,

I am not its desire.

I pat down its fur when it scares in its sleep

It is safe with me.

I nurture it, though it bites.

Not me

Never me.

-Fox Micah

The Catalyst

Hands gripped firmly,

a cool touch of dry skin and

the rounded shape of fingernails.

Jaw clenched,

a forced sound,

but words unable to form.

Dilated pupils surrounded by perfect hazel irises.

A single breath shallow and slow,

exhaled

and never filled again.

 

Words that fall between sobs,

“I’m not ready yet.”

 

Oh, but my darling you are.

A swift shove

in forward motion.

Girl,

you don’t know it yet,

but this is your season.

 

An intimate encounter with death

to lead you to

the most beautiful souls

with which you were meant to connect.

Those who will share their innate light,

to shine along the path

you will now navigate,

and hold your hand

as you reach into the depths of yourself

to see the beauty of your own gifts.

 

Confusion, tears, and visceral heartache,

but you will learn, grow, 

and radiantly bloom.

 

It’s woefully wrong to perceive this

as an inhibition

when in the grand scheme,

this

was the catalyst.

-Sandra Ferguson

Unity

Peace

Something we don’t quite understand

Promised fruits of the land

Yet somehow unachievable

Or maybe just unbelievable

Earth is our home

We may be silent, but we are not alone

Peace

Not unattainable

Not a fable

It is real

And something we can feel

But we can’t remain silent

We cannot be violent

We have our voices

And a power to make choices

Nature is watching

The clock isn’t stopping

It’s time to make a stand

And take back our lands

Earth is a united place

So we have to be the best in our race

We are humankind

Not some silent minds

We have power

And it’s our hour

Our birthright

To fight for what we believe is right

It’s time to rise and take a stand

And reunite this broken land

But change doesn’t happen on its own

We have to make the leap

We cannot fear of being beat

Peace

For what we finally deserve

Join the fight and serve

Not with our fists

With our words

It’s time to make a change

No more being on the stands

It’s time to take back our promised lands

Peace is our friend

And it will be ours

In the end

-Onyx Bussing

Mementos

 

It's weird. I sit and I watch as the yellows of the sun turn

Into something that makes me want to throw up.

The dark is putrid and it's molding.

It says things to me that I don't let myself hear.

I forget that it was ever bright outside, and I wish that it would

Allow me to lighten my burdens; open the corridor a little more

So I don't feel the need to learn how to breathe again.

Maybe the morning will be better.

 

But the morning is never better. It is never more refreshing

Than the last of the black fading from the sky.

The morning is hopeful

And all hope dies when it is eaten.

I must have eaten it

To fill my stomach.

-Fox Micah

...

silence

voices echoing

your eyes looking into mine

 

waiting… patiently

 

“say something”

organizing…

thinking…

what to say, how to say it.

start with

“i’m sorry”

 

“what for?” i never know

 

it starts slowly

one

word

at a time

 

then

 

it spews out like a faucet, one that's been

clogged for years that finally gets fixed and just

drains until there’s nothing left to spew out but

broken sobs and an ocean of tears

 

but that’s when you look at me and say

“let it out… get it all out”

 

your soft hands caress me

my own find their way into your golden strands

 

and i am reminded that i have you.

 

and it's all gonna be okay ♡

-Isabel Willis

Saving a Friend

 

I want to save you, and what for?

You sit there content with certain demise.

I cannot do this anymore.

 

A feeling so awful, I’ve never felt it before,

occurring when I gaze upon your bloodshot eyes.

I want to save you, and what for? 

 

I want to get through, but you’ve shut the door,

creating wounds that grow larger in size.

I cannot do this anymore.

 

Your actions harm you to the very core,

and every day, a small part of you dies.

I want to save you, and what for? 

 

A change must come; to you I implore,

though your words are filled with wretched lies.

I cannot do this anymore.

 

You’ve been a good friend, one I could adore,

but this is a most unpleasant surprise.

We want to save you, and what for?

We cannot do this anymore. 

-Brandon Lemery

Easy 

She touches me with her cold feet 

On my lanky legs 

Seeking out my warmth 

I grab her foot trying to warm them

With my hands 

 

At that moment simultaneously 

She warms my heart 

And she doesn’t even know it 

 

Her inner child comes out 

It’s so nice to see her 

All I do is look at her with adoration 

I have never met

That beautiful little girl before 

It’s an honor to meet her now 

 

She lets me read her pages 

That no one has ever seen before 

They have tethered over time 

But I give them a little TLC

And they brighten the room 

As new words appear 

 

She asks who loves the sun?  

I say almost everyone 

I am Icarus with my waxen wings 

But as I get closer to her, the sun 

As the wax drips and melts 

All I can say is

Almost everyone 

-Hope Gooden 

Youth 

 

I indulge in my vices 

During these melancholy winter nights 

The false warmth that a Henny gives me 

Against the packing chilly snow 

 

The venom is my weakness 

Not my strength  

Addiction is my conviction 

 

I want to live life as a stoic 

Surviving off of simple necessities 

But I cannot help but accept an offer 

I cannot refuse 

 

Given to me by a hand 

Who offers anything to a bitch 

A female dog who chokes on food 

Salivating over simple pleasures

 

Licking my chops in anticipation 

Of the next savory meal 

And the next one 

And the next one  

-Hope Gooden 

Ouroborus 

Pay attention to the big details 

Stop looking for the simple little things 

That the big man can’t comprehend 

 

An ouroboros knot protruding from my stomach 

Or the haggard breathing and tight joints 

That I’m so used to 

These are the things that are supposed to 

Put you at ease 

 

But you can’t really look at me 

3D vision, speed of light precision 

And you still somehow look 

Right through my animalistic being 

 

Exhaustion sweeps across my blood cells 

They’re trying to reproduce 

Even if I keep killing them 

Over and over again 

 

My atoms want me alive 

My intentions want me dead

-Hope Gooden  

Black Is Beautiful

 

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

Roses are red, violets are blue, nothing more beautiful than you

Whether you black as night or bronze as copper

Racism, Discrimination, Segregation: We helped build this nation

 

From the scars on our backs to the blisters on our fingers

From them ships, those shackles and chains around our ankles and hands

To becoming doctors, lawyers, senators, governors, and President of this nation all the same

Love the skin you’re in, no one can take it from you

 

From the crown of your head to the soles of your feet

Embrace your culture, we’ve come a long way

We are descendants of Kings and Queens of a beautiful nation

Your Black is Beautiful; today is our day

-Isaiah Nicholson

Sleep Apnea

 

The room is coated in darkness

 

like walls of  smoke; it’s alluringly

intoxicating. Enjoy the moment, enjoy

your sleepiness and

breathe in. 

   Your body is enveloped in the arms of the man 

      pressed against you. Take in the scent of patchouli 

         incense and dedicate your senses to the body warming 

            your back; yet, it’s too warm. Your sensitive skin burns 

               in the heat that creeps 

up your spine and settles in the crook

of your neck, thick warmth reaching 

every part of the man except for his

               calloused fingertips. Rough

            unkempt nails scrape away the rolled on oil perfume

         that you dabbed thoughtfully over blue and purple 

      veins, ever so careful in being desired the way 

   you desire vanilla cream and frosted amber and

breathe out. 

Focus on the deep grays of the night

and hope the sun will rise pink and yellow,

your favorite colors. You will get to see it. 

 

You won’t suffocate.

-Willow Greene

Mulholland Drive 

 

You were the blue, cube-shaped box.

I was the golden heart chained necklace

That was supposed to be the key.

 

I have a street named after me,

And you were my favorite flowers 

Growing in the valley

Next to the cemetery 

Where my family is buried.

 

You were as soothing as jazz,

But you never liked that analogy.

I got it all wrong,

You were Daphne,

And I the unmasked ghoul 

Whose percussion was too loud.

 

Oh, I hate to say it.

You were written by a man 

Who tells the same stories 

Over, over, and over again.

There is no difference or solution,

The climax nonexistent,

And the credits roll.

-Hope Gooden

I Used to Write Poems About You

And the day you entered my life. 

And the permanent grin on your face. 

And the short life you lived. 

 

I used to write poems about you.

 

And how your fur followed me when you did not. 

And how you changed me. 

And how you are my forever best friend. 

 

Cliche. 

I know. 

 

I used to write poems about you,

and I will never stop. 

 

I will not forget you.

My forever muse. 

-Laci Howe

My Band Aid

 

A heart:

Shattered

Slaughtered 

Squished in 

the hand of a lover.

 

Blood pours-

through the hand-

once held in mine. 

 

Thumb that graced my knuckle, 

puncturing what once was his. 

 

Thrown upon the floor. 

 

Left to wilt away.  

 

Piece together what remains. 

Crimson leaks through the cracks. 

Pooling on the floor. 

a pile of murdered desire


 

Swept off the tile

into my chest. 

 

Boom.

Boom. 

Boom. 

 

Back to life. 

 

Forest filled eyes

cry for my pain

 

Put together what’s broken. 

And make it his. 

My heart is yours. 

-Laci Howe

Processing Remedies 


 

My heart is a loading circle

unlike squares it just keeps

buffering with unfair 

butterflies 

endless amounts of loops

and hopes I would one day

come back to you




 

too many tabs in the back

of my mind

they are slowing down

the motherboard 


 

Wiki, how do I stop looking at 

their instagram?

Hey Siri, where do I go from here?

Perhaps WebMD is right. 

This isn’t no ordinary heartbreak.



 

maybe, just maybe, it’s

a heart attack too


 

so instead of

                                                    coming back in the end

 

one day

 

I  can figure out

        how to get over you

-Kayla Mattison

Calculus

 

i want you

but

i can't have you.

 

it’s like a math equation 

          complicated, with an obvious

solution. 

 

use common denominators they say,

cancel out the toxicity, negativity,

                                              the bullshit.

 

yet still i am dividing my attention

every.         which.           way.

 

                   what is that saying 

                                              called again?

 

oh yeah, PEMDAS… 

 

persistent. evil. menacing. demanding. arrogant. sociopath.

 

no wonder i failed at love,

because i failed at math too.

-Kayla Mattison

Loot Fairy



 

it pitters and patters

              blood droplets scatter the air

the laced wings ripped and scared 

 

satchel on its side

    crunches and rubs like sandpaper,

                             inside.. decayed, rotten

                                              t e e t h.

 

heinous laugh

               devilish crimes,

you must lock your doors with fright.

 

                                                                           using a venomous noose

                                                                    of floss to retrieve 

                                                                                               it...

       at     

                    all 

                                  costs. 

-Kayla Mattison

Mooing at Ducks
 

Your mouth races to keep up with your
sonic booming emotions
and your faster-than-light thoughts

along a brain of melted and fused wires
from all those
curses, prayers,
wishes, dreams,

interjections,
and, epiphanies traveling 186,000 plus miles
per second.

You shine hotter than the sun
and your mind expands beyond
flash point,
breaking

this universe's barriers,
pounding down dogma
and smashing all the metaphors to bits.

I'm lucky enough to have been
there for your beginnings;
that small compactly contained
moment of anticipation into life.
 

The suddenness of a big,
bigger and biggest bang,

A let-there-be-light moment.
 

Damn the singularity.

To hell with the seven deadly sins

laws of thermodynamics
and the Prime Directive.

 

 

We share constellations from
dust and despair
along different planes of existence
and different dimensions;

Burning notes and dark matters rests,
the quantum foam time signatures
and sacred mean

clefs

composes our music
structured from balls in hoops,
tools on pores, pain and petulance,

Netflix and comics,
“Cumbies” and Speedy,
cinema and mayhem,
special sandwiches,

and spiteful salads...
...the fragments and pieces of you…of me,

our personalities that make us…

…moo at ducks.

 Love ya, Boo.

-Lee Gooden

Unalike

 

Winter stars fall earthward,

floating flakes hint  

disguised identities,

covert paratroopers,

infiltrating an icy night.

 

Behind fast food brothels

and enemy dumpsters,

they’re armed with shovels,

brooms, carrots

magic hats and faith.

 

They target and gain

tropical ground,

wary of enemy boot-treads,

tank tracks and angels

in the snow.

-Lee Gooden

Tammy

You are so strong, so powerful,
laughter aflame in the face of your
pain and the pain in your
face,
cocooned perverse humor
bombarded by the diversity
of your internal maelstroms.

Assuaging rains
feed
your appetites
and slake your
thirsts,
making your curiosity
smile.

 

Such sensations that were
all once upon
a time
and now all at
once,
magnify
your body
and mind's
sheen,
a radiance brighter
than suns,
dilute dark
matter shadows
across vast
universes
that are no one
and nothing
and everything,
a holy
and sacred you.

-Lee Gooden

 

Bowie’s Knife

 

I am in the shower with Bowie’s knife.

The cut-up droplet lyrics

and water music takes me

to where I am still a zygote.

I am also two, ten, eleven, thirteen, sixteen,

twenty, forty and fifty-three.

 

I am having my first kiss

and watching the moon landing.

I am intoxicated and hungover.

Kerouac sings to me and terrifies me.

 

I wash with Bowie’s knife,

drying my hair and shivering,

freeing gray from blonde leaves,

ecstatic with just holding hands,

just loving my wife, 

and all the women that

dared to love me.

Long term and one-nighters,

I am there,

still bleeding from the tonsils

and chewing ice.

 

Bowie’s knife cleanses me.

Dissected muses ride me.

I submit to their blocks and wires.

I give into guns and rose coma dreams.

 

Bowie’s knife is sharp,

a pithy witness to pity.

Bowie’s knife carves the soap.

I slice through suds and asides.

I am watching Captain Kangaroo

and Persona.

I am crying at a cuckoos’ nest,

killing mockingbirds

and laughing at pythons.

I am three, forty-four, seventeen and fifty-three.

 

I hide under dining room tables,

crayoning my way forward and back.

I am afloat and sinking.

I am praying and denying.

I never took the silver.

I’m stealing matchboxes and hot wheels. 

 

Lost to time,

it all comes around,

I shake the see-and-say

until the cows say quack

and the ducks say moo.

I know you know me,

playing my first chord,

rabbit wearing my sneakers,

Elvising a sneered lip,

still looking for Lucy’s 

diamonds.

 

I am high.

I am horny.

I am not awake,

dipping PB and J,

reading Superman

and thinking about R. Crumb.

 

I am writing my first poem,

play and story,

falling off the swings

and still having my first orgasm.

 

I pry my life with Bowie’s knife.

I am unstuck.

I stab my-selves with Bowie’s knife.

I, me, mine,

all my selves by myself.

 

I am still being felt-up, blown and beaten.

Windows opened.

Defroster on.

I am almost rolling my car,

dropping a transmission to the canal.

I am a corpse.

I am an infant.

I am a toddler,

a teenage Generation-Xer,

on a Baby Boomer bicuspid.

I am middle-aged.

I am born.

 

Time is a souped up and tricked out ride. 

Bowie’s knife, a key to all the engines.

I am bought and conned, 

minding multi-level businesses.

Someone thinks about me while masturbating.

I try to kiss the bride, 

and the ring bearer topples from heat stroke.

 

I am twelve years old,  

inclined on a milking parlor barn roof, 

reading everything, books shoved

in my pants, shirt tail covering

the bulge.

I sneak away after the beatings

and touches, climbing my 

branches to hide.

 

Love still hurts

with Bowie’s knife.

-Lee Gooden 

Haunting Words

The words, they just come to me

Don't ask me to explain it

I cant even try

I don't know how it happens

Sometimes the words just flow

Sometimes I'm just struck with an idea

A metaphor appears in a fleeting moment

Yes, some don't sound right

But some do

Yes, most are too personal to share

But some aren't

And like all good poets

They come from strong emotion

Whether its anger from the state of the world or joy from a new discovery

I won't know

Until the moment hits me

I have to grab it or I lose it

It’s gone forever

Words will never be thought that way again

What do these words make me feel?

Ha, that one's simple

Anger

Anger that I don't understand it

Anger that I cant repeat it

Anger that the words never flow at a convenient time

Anger that I can't explain it

Anger that I can't make it happen

It's never perfect the second time

It's barely perfect the first time

Is this how it happens to all poets?

How do they do it?

A jumbled mess of scribbles on a sliver of tree

It turns out it can be so beautiful

But only when the universe allows it

There are beautiful words you will never hear

There are simply too many

I suppose it makes sense that the universe puts a limit

They allow only those that seize the moment to become poets

Whether or not they capture their moment is simply up to luck

-Sydney Foster

This Flame

This is it.

This is the spark I've been waiting for.

I may be an ember in a sea of flames,

And I may turn to ash sooner than the rest

But nothing shall put out the fire in my soul.

The fire that's been building for years

The fire that was put there with hope it'd be put out before the one who put it there does

The fire that was sparked by violence of a similar kind

The fire that knows peace is never going to work

The fire that will not go out

Because in this world, there will always be fire

The world will always be ablaze

Whether it is this fire or the next one

Not every fire can be put out the same way

We can no longer simply smother the flames

We must address the situation

We must work together

Every ember must work together

This is a call to action

This is the spark you've been waiting for

This is the time

Now you must

-Sydney Foster

A Black Woman

Every curve & every bend; a marvel. 

Every scar & every blemish; a beautiful tapestry 

Every detail a testament to the lives of old 

The beauty marks, the hairs & arcs above or below 

Are the things that give me that feminine glow 

My body is curvy, my hips are wide & I come equipped with my own perfect backside 

My back is strong, for many have stepped upon it or ridden its arc to reach the top 

And I do it all with no recognition 

The perfect example of a black woman 

-Kamani DeAngelo

Still Here*

 

Beware the wildfire that is belief  

It moves unprovoked 

Devouring homes as if they were nothing more than small snacks 

Imagine such a thing 

Your feelings, Your life, and Your home; an insignificance, nothing more than a checkpoint on

the map of destruction. 

And for what?

To trap me here?

In this burning pit of dejection 

There never was an escape; I see that now.

Escape was a pipe dream; a diamond of hope; something I created because I had thought I could fight it off, I had thought that I could rise from the grave that was defeat.

But you knew; didn’t you? 

You had every idea what you were doing to that bright eyed girl there once was

How could you not know? You left me there.

To fend for myself 

In the pit of festering shit 

Cause that’s what I am 

Isn’t it? 

That’s what i’ve always been 

To everyone 

I thought you were different 

Designed to love me. 

Who did I inherit it from, I wonder?

The touch of misery 

Like a plague I spread it

But not maliciously

Oh no 

This all started as a cry for help

And it remains like a candle through the brisk night 

Still burning 

Waiting for the suffering to end. 

-Kamani DeAngelo

Surreality of Existence

 

More than everything,

But less than nothing.

 

No there or was, nor is and here.

No things to have nothing of.

No hands to spin, no sand to fall.

Less than no,

 

Not negative.

Nothing.

 

Yet all.

All places, all times, all states and possibilities.

Everything to have.

And every time to be.

 

More than everything.

Beyond positive.

 

All.

 

This is a backwards game.

The clothes fit you, you do not fit the clothes.

 

Our reality lies to us, whispers small truths.

For everything to be, there must have once been nothing to have. 

And yet, here we are.

 

The possible is bred by the impossible.

It's a simple equation, one of mathematics gone to all, never to be, nor was ever.

 

This is the surreality of existence.

                                     - CJ VanGuilder

Son of Stars, Child of Night


 

"Go to sleep," they often say.

As if it were a place, I could stay.

If only things were that easy for me.

An insomniac's life is the one I see.


 

In bed I lay awake at night.

My ceiling illuminated by crescent light.

Our sister satellite's silver glow,

Comforts me when I'm alone.


 

A wink of sleep is all I ask.

Staring up at the stars grazing past.

I beg and plead to the burning orbs.

"Please," I say. "Please, keep me awake no more."


 

And for a moment, the world stands still.

No birds, no wind, no chilling thrills.

No laughter, no sand, no leafy trees.

No grass, no flowers, no buzzing bees.


 

The world is dark, and obscured from my sight.

For reasons unknown, it matters not tonight.

I roll out of bed to dance around.

My mind gone mad from the lack of sound.

But the world stays the same, as it always seemed to do.


 

But the stars, oh the stars.


 

They danced too.

                               - CJ VanGuilder

Youthful Curiosity


 

The seven-year-old mind cannot fathom the breadth of our universe.

And yet that is exactly what was attempted,

Staring up at the glorious dome above.

The stars and planets cast along its surface.

 

I stared for a long while.

 

I understand now why the adults bicker and fight.

Why the world is so bleak outside.

Why when it rains, it pours.

I feel alone.

 

Why is it so cold all of a sudden?

                               - CJ VanGuilder

HEAT


 

HEAT


 

Imagine everyone you've ever met in one room.

Stuffed like a turkey dinner, or college students at a dorm party.

There's no free space, nowhere to move, packed like sardines.


 

H E A T


 

The mind goes fuzzy in a crowd like that.

So immense in volume, yet so small in size.

The constant movement makes you want to jump and shout, fight and spasm.

You feel explosive.


 

H E A T


 

But you want to get out. You want to escape.

You despise the mass, you fight against it, pushing and shoving, smacking and driving elbows into unsuspecting party-goers.

The energy is too much, nothing can stand still, no one can make a decision.

Everything's on a razor's edge, ready to blow, perhaps already in the process.


 

H E A T


 

But that doesn't matter, forget about everyone else. 

You want to get out, fighting desperately against the energy, but you cannot stand your ground.

You're forced to move, forced to change form and shape, to contort against your will.


 

H E A T


 

The room is getting bigger.

You claw your way past the ravees, lights flashing and fog assailing your nostrils. 

Your enemies are lessening in numbers, packed less tightly now.

You pop out like a spore, finally free from the maelstrom mass.

Standing still, a shaky breath.


 

coalesce.

                                   - CJ VanGuilder

Coalesce


 

The human experience, an electrochemical illusion of existence.

Aggregations of the deceased form the autonomous machinations of the universal desire to be.

The accomplishments of the man whom walks the moon, are infinitesimally irrelevant to the observer in the stars.

The mind fractures across space as the spirit stretches through time, the fourth dimension piercing the body like a spear.

Our souls splatter across the cosmos, blood drips down the shaft as our eyes view our futures and pasts.

Concepts shatter across the manifold, infinite fractals of idea and thought spread amongst the shards of our fragile reality.

Find the deeper meaning, discover the why.

When when becomes where, and where becomes when,

you become nothing.

Give in, fall, 

be absorbed into the vast everything.

You, the singularity.

 

You, the observer.

 

Coalesce.

                                    - CJ VanGuilder

Box


 

If everything I ever was,

Was placed inside of a box.

I'd like to think I'd be full

Of some pretty cool stuff.

 

But then, what really is a box?

What really is inside?

If something is inside the box,

Does that mean everything else is outside?

 

Is a box just infinity minus one?

Is the closest we can get to understanding the unlimited,

The best our feeble minds can muster,

Just an empty box?

 

I used to be inside a box.

 

Now I'm part of the everything.

                                     - CJ VanGuilder

Atlas: Heart

The stars, our compass.

 

By your side I am myself.

 

This map we follow.

-CJ Van Guilder

E-R-G-O [Sphere]


 

Dance!

 

Scarlet weavers stream through the streets, parading in their colorful facial obscurations.

Forced along by the whims of the societal machine.

Crunching our bones to dust if we fight back.

 

We prance like deer in headlights, woven by string and festooned along the railings like madmen on display.

Everyone is crazy.

Maybe I'm mad, maybe I'm crazy


 

The voices won't stop.

I just want silence.

 

The man in the hat rests in my rocking chair, he screams.

The man with no face straddles my waist.

 

The air is leaving my lungs.

My throat burns.


 

Please, 

 

Please, 


 

Please make it stop.

                                     - CJ VanGuilder

Neutron Passerby


 

Two star-crossed seekers.

Flown away on black velvet wings and tangled up in spider webs.

Never a moment's rest, never any peace.

Pushed to edge over and over, on the precipice of success and the repetition of our guardian failures.


 

House of the metaphysical sort,

Always some other place to be.

Your eyes saw the same, the crashing waves, the gusting wind.

The only constants were the hopes we forged and the swords that rang 

I never gave up, I wouldn't, I couldn't.


 

Shooting pulsar, blazing past.

I'm destined as a Neutron Passerby.

Never cared much for the cards, the crystal ball, or the lotion.

We are who we are, and who we're meant to be.

 

The Fermi Paradox rings true, "if you're out there, why can't I find you?"

 

Dust settled at the end of my torture.

The tooth lay on the ground.

In the pouring rain a buzz,

My life, my reason, my will of being.

 

All the chains I've been shackled by, the ball attached to my leg.

It wasn't a solar flare jettisoned into space.

I've been a collapsing core, a stellar oddity.

 

Strange Matter.

 

Fermionic Fallacy.

 

True Love.

 

All of it for you.

                                     - CJ VanGuilder

Climb that staircase

Next step

Close, Near, Next

 

Climb that staircase!

 

On the precipice

Looking to the valley

Snow Capped peaks

We gaze from afar

 

Climb that staircase!

 

Don’t fall down!

 

No more doors

No more windows

Take in the view

Before it’s gone

 

No more doors

No more walls

Nothing to protect us

Nothing to keep us confined

 

Climb that staircase!

 

A shooting star

A falling star

A dead star

A new star

 

Nebula,

Nebulae,

Nursery,

Swaddled Star

 

Next step

Close, Near, Next

 

Step after?

Far, Unknown, Amazing

 

Step beyond?


 

Climb the staircase,

Any speed is fine

But never for any reason

Take a step from behind

-CJ VanGuilder

Spew

 

“I will not stand to be disrespected” spews from your vocal cords.

As you stand to disrespect me.

 

I sit here.

Absorbing.

Reflecting.

 

Millions of them

STAND to disrespect

Millions of us. 

 

“Prove to me you are worthy”

Seated behind his desk with his

false opportunities.

 

I’m stunned.

Wondering.

 

When will enough, 

finally, 

be enough?

 

Society promises freedom,

equality.

 

We suffer from our lack of a certain projected appendage.

 

We are pushed down.

 

Dampened, dulled.

Hushed, gaslit.

 

Within their equality, 

we are expected to fold. 

 

But their equality

Was not made for us.

Can not possibly contain us.

 

We stand up, 

when we reach our limit.


 

And when we go home, 

we are still trapped.

 

Trapped within their society.

 

We go home, 

we worry.

 

We worry that somehow, 

it must have been us.

 

It couldn’t have been them.

-Tiffany Gates

Liminal

 

Am I invisible?

A voiceless being,

Crying from unseen places.

Is this how the in-between feels?

 

I feel numb.

Yet somehow,

I feel anger and pain

Festering within me.

 

Not dead or alive,

Or at least I want to believe.

But it feels wrong,

What happened to me?

 

I used to smile

And laugh.

But now,

It’s just tears.

And silence.

 

It’s just a phase,

You will be fine.

I think they’re all wrong.

Is this what being in-between is?

 

Just flesh and bone,

But invisible?

My eyes are open.

But my voice is gone.

 

I’m just watching

Like a sidelined player

In a losing game.

My game clock running low,

Seconds remaining and I’m down.

 

Am I alive or dead? 

Guess I’ll never know.

But at the end of the day,

I will always feel stuck between.

Forever torn,

Between two places,

At the same time.

 

I am liminal

But I want you to see me.

Hear me pounding

On the only door left.

 

This is my last push,

Notice me.

I am slowly falling,

Through these cracks 

Of all my burdens.

 

I am drowning.

But not in water.

In weight,

Of doubts,

And insecurities.

 

The pane of glass,

Separating us.

My voice drowned out,

By the crowd on your side.

 

I tried.

But I will forever be,

Stuck between,

Earth and the Void,

There you’ll find me.

-Onyx Bussing

Learning to Warm Cold Hands

 

At times I wish that

it could be this way forever.

No longer familiar with the

warmth of your hands,

the drought of your insatiable

appetite,

the lack of my feeling and the

overwhelmingness of yours,

I reach out when I feel it is safe

enough to do so

and I allow myself this.

If it is not this,

your warmth against my cold,

the skin of my hands that have

changed so much, wringing

acceptance and trembling with

the guilt of my nature

against yours, that have become

so distant facing ones not unlike

mine

it is nothing.

 

I count your smiles with the fingers

of one hand.

When I reach five I don’t offer

the first word anymore

When I reach seven with the second

the first begins to shake

like the ground that we walk on,

because you are so big and I am so small.

 

If I bite my tongue

you will not yell

and send weeks of my careful

diligence crumbling like this

body that you inhabit—the only one

that you are allotted

and it is running away from you.

Like I’ve been, and everybody else

who hears the beginning of the avalanche.

If I bite my tongue

and so my tongue is raw

and I freeze from the ice beneath my feet.

 

I don’t tell you I love you

it leaves room for debate

and debate with you leaves room

for it to become worse.

I don’t tell you my guilt

of not celebrating your birthday

or not apologizing for it

or for hating you.

or loving you.

I find that a fatal flaw in me

is you

and what of you I own.

-Fox Micah

Hauntological

 

Sometimes nostalgia sinks its teeth into me

Even now.

I have not lived that way for a long time,

In that house

Or with those trees out back.

I am no longer haunted by the dreams of

Women with white dresses

And slack jaws

And the yellowing of the paint surrounding them.

And yet

I find myself plagued by what has replaced them.

When I sleep here

I can hear the sounds there.

Women chattering and

The sound of the train rattling outside on its tracks.

The chair rocking

And a fist hitting the drywall downstairs.

I dream,

Not of the women

And not of the stains on the carpet

But of myself

And the way that my own presence

Has haunted me for a lifetime.

-Fox Micah

Silly Lake Thoughts

 

Do you ever feel totally alone, 

             even when you’re surrounded by others?

              Like you’re spinning around on this big, green rock that’s covered with humans

 

And you’re all alone?

             …yea, me neither.

 

Do you ever feel like something, other?

             Like, something other than a human?

                        Like, some sort of hybrid creature or something?

                                      Like… you don’t truly belong with the other humans?

 

             Lol. Yea. Definitely not.

Like maybe that’s why everything is so hard for you?

             Haha, yea. No, totally. 

             I’ve never even thought of that.

-Tiffany Gates

Hook

 

I  wanna make it work.

A pit of distress in my belly,

Fills with overwhelming emptiness.

 

Back

and

forth.

Distress    

and

Emptiness.

 

I wanna make it good if it kills me.

 

A song repeats within my thoughts.

It’s so loud.

I wonder if others can hear it.

 

You have to be hurt to ever feel good.

Words can be empty.

Feel empty, too.

I wanna make it work.

Am I just a word?

Maybe only a letter.

I wanna make it good ’til tomorrow.

Hope penetrates the pit.

Consumes my body.

My belly.

My mind.

You have to be hurt to ever feel good.

-Tiffany Gates

Roll of the Dice

 

Clickity clack clack

             dice were once so simple

 

              a simple d6 in a gamble

                                         with dots instead of numbers

all you had to do was roll 3

times to get the highest score

                                                          but in the eyes of someone like me,

                      i now roll for investigation- how aware am i of my surroundings?

is there anyone following us?

                                                                             nat 20                    not a soul

i sneak by the guards with not a soul catching me…

              that’s how it goes in my head.

                                        in reality i rolled with disadvantage, rolling a 17 and a 2.

i trip and fall.

                   dice used to be so simple.

but now

d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, d4, d2

                             one roll of any of these, and your fate is decided

your turn, roll for initiative.

-Isabel Willis

Melted

 

drip

              drop

                            drip

Oh to be a simple water drop

dripping from the shingles from the roof.

                 Why, just a couple hours ago

                            I was a snowflake falling fast out of the sky.

The air was frigid and gray,

I could barely see my friends around me

or the ground that was quickly approaching.

                                My vision cleared when headlights pulled

               into the driveway as I landed on top of the roof.

I watched as the family quickly shuffled into the house,

their faces buried into the holes of their sweaters.

                               I was cold too, I wanted to go into the house.

            But I can’t, for I am just a simple snowflake that

has fallen from the sky.

 

The sun is starting to come out as it sets.

I still sit on the roof as the family sits inside

                 cozy, warm, safe.

                                 A girl puts away laundry and

                                              rests on her bed as she stares out the window.

I’m starting to sweat. She sees me,

and I see her as I start rolling down

               the incline of the roof.

                         I tumble, and watch as the sun

                                      glows a bright orange from behind

                                      the gray clouds.

                 I smile at the girl and think.

At least I got to see the sun

-Isabel Willis

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