Martin Appleby

Respair

I had to go to my ex’s
to pick up some post
and turned up with
a raging hangover
and a busted and bloody
mouth from God only
knows what happened
the night before.
She told me that I need
to look after myself
and I told her it was fine
because I was going
to quit the booze when
I turned thirty* and
as she wiped away the
dried and crusty blood
from my mouth, she told
me that quitting the booze
at thirty was a good idea, but
it didn’t mean that I had to
destroy myself in the meantime.

*I didn’t

India LaPlace

First Date

He has a way with words
And I have no sense of delayed gratification,
Which means that for the last half of our time at the bar,
I fantasized to the sound of his voice
And forgot that I had decided not to sleep with him
on the first date.

And I remember nothing
But the way he looks when he smiles
And the thought of cumming to that laugh.

Anyway, I went home with him.

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Under Take Her

He painted my cheeks with rouge,
dabbed a nude shade of pink on my lips
I didn’t like the way I looked,
so fake, doll-like, a mere reflection of my former self
but he took me to his room
sat me in his reading chair, propped up,
my glasses on, my hair freshly curled,
formaldehyde running through my veins
I don’t remember how I got here,
I just remember rain and sleet and the hum of my car
but now he’s underneath me, inside me, next to me
a taking of body, of flesh
my voice silenced, my fists unclenched,
there’s no fighting back once you’re dead.

Marc Carver

Flip It Baby

I have to feel sorry for you
if you really think you have free will.
All these people that come randomly into your life
you think you choose them.
You think you pick when you are happy
and when you are sad.
You think you can walk down the street and avoid
that person you don’t want to see.
You know they are out there waiting for you.
Even if you stay indoors for a week
they are still out there waiting for you.
So why not accept it
your choices are not yours to make.
So pick up that coin
and flip it.

 

Holly Day

Where I Shop for Fish

Street merchants with carts packed with ice and fish
shout commandments at each other over the bustle of the crowd
channel God in the most scandalous of ways. Via conversation, they strip away
each other’s damaged pasts—secret love affairs, attempted suicides—
until no one in the marketplace is truly naked.

I pull my sleeves down to cover the tiny “x”s
meant to stop my breath, too long ago to count
past the happy-faces made with rusted cigarette lighter tops
past the circle of blue dots made with safety pins and India ink
in an attempt to hide my own past from the fishmonger priests.

The newspapers the fish come wrapped in
prophesy either war or salvation, feast or obliteration
depending on which vender you buy the fish from
depending of what type of fish you buy. The small, flat sunfish I pick out
are handed to me, collectively wrapped, in pages from the Book of John
a picture of a small, pale boy with bat ears and vampire fangs on top.

India LaPlace

They’ll Say it Was Postpartum Depression

She isn’t 2 yet.
She’s in her stroller
And we are on the sidewalk
In the humid air
In a country where I am all alone,
Except for her.

Her fat little fingers are in my hair
And it’s only because she’s a baby,
But I am so good at pretending
And so I imagine she’s feeling my pain,
My turmoil,
My heartache.

I am so fucking selfish
That I project my adult conflict
On my child.
But I’ve never felt so weak
And I need someone to comfort me,
And for someone to understand
So, so desperately.

I’m not 20 yet.
I’m kneeling in front of her stroller
On the sidewalk
In the humid air
Of a country I shouldn’t have followed him to.
My head is in her lap
And it’s all I can do not to sob
While I choke out the same words to her
Again and again and again,
Busy city sounds in the background.

“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Mendes Biondo

Cheers

you wanted to be me
so you drunk
because you said
that’s what you think
I do to feel better

so you pulled down your white,
soft throat
hard sips of rum
down like punches
down like razor blades
down while you were alone
seated at a sad cafe
with people passing near to you

I get drunk to meet gods
I do it when I see your perfect body
swinging on me
I drink rum when I need
to toast to victory
or to a friend
and your successes

so you drunk to be like me
but that sips where hard to swallow
and you cried them all out
as a poisonous rain

Stephanie M. Wytovich

Of My Wounds, There Are Many

Snapshot to blood and bone,
there’s a knife in my head,
but my migraine was two years in the making,
stitched to the side of my skull
like the arrow tip lodged behind my eye,
buried in my brain like the bruises
of last night’s thunder storm,
my teeth ripped from my mouth,
shoved down my throat
like how the sky pushes out rain.

Of my wounds, there are many:
see the delicate stigmata cut into my hands and feet,
the gashes dug into my thighs, the tally-mark slashes on my wrists;
I am the punctured female, the pincushion of hysteria,
a traumatized sack of feminine injury,
the flesh of my flesh, the scar of my scar,
I’m a collection of lesions and lacerations,
a patchwork of black and blue contusions
worn out from where you scrubbed me raw,
beat me till I seeped red like rare, woman steak.

Look to me on this table as I bleed and break,
a toy of operation, a surgical muse to the amputation
of bodily consciousness: hear me when I say I feel nothing,
that with each incision and penetration, I am dead,
gone from this world of torment and torture,
a disappearance, an acceptance to oblivion,
to the land where I can forget the flower,
the blossom of what I saw lies underneath.

Yes, use my soon-to-be-corpse as a nametag,
as a placard to the other girls who are destined to bleed;
I am closing my eyes to your knives now,
deafening myself to the fractures you inflict;
I will cease to be your canvas of mutilation,
Only a head, a torso, a heart,
best to photograph me while in transition;
it’s the last chance you’ll have
to locate my soul.

Mark J. Mitchell

Aces & Eights

For Neil

I learned a lesson
from Wild Bill:

Never tolerate a door
to your rear.

Distrust all windows.
If there are mirrors

use them as extra eyes.
I practice these things.

I worry that my desk
exposes my back

to the Kennedy Towers.
I know my death

will not be that
personal,

but when the flash
burns me

I hope I’ll be holding
Bill’s last hand.

Dave Newman

Bukowski University For Sissies

All these small press poets complaining
that Bukowski doesn’t get taught

at the universities—are they serious?
I’ve never attended a school

where Bukowski wasn’t taught
and all my professors liked him

and when I teach him now
one of my colleagues will say

“Hey, you’re teaching Bukowski,”
then congratulate me on my excellent taste

but my students, especially the guys,
complain that Bukowski is boring and tame

then they go back to writing their own stories
where someone always gets shot in the head,

usually on the first page.