2 Poems | khaliah d. pitts

worn

you look like a well worn road
like many men have travelled
on the highway of your shoulders
and children have picked flowered weeds from the berm
in your palms
you look like time has blown
the rogue from your cheeks
and the luster from your hair
like rain has smeared the kohl around your eyes
and the after-sun cracked
your lavish lips
you look like a well worn road
carrier for parables and fables and psalms
folklore and fairytales
wars and weddings
deaths and demonstrations
you look worn, child
and well
you should
i never gave a daughter a burden she could not carry
and you
will carry us all. Continue reading “2 Poems | khaliah d. pitts”

Holy Like That | Barbara Harroun

Joanne takes one look at me and saunters to the juice fridge. She hands me a cold V-8. She doesn’t say anything, just gives me her look; part-disappointed, part-pissed, part-what-are-you-doing-with-your life.

“What?” I mumble. It’s a hospital kitchen, so it smells like bacon, sausage, oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, fried hash browns, corn-fritters and bleach water. Normally comforting and known smells, homey even, but sweet Jesus, not today. I drink the V-8 in one violent toss, and struggle to keep it down.

“Come on,” Joanne says, “I’ve got Tylenol. Try not to breathe on the customers. You smell like vodka walking.” Continue reading “Holy Like That | Barbara Harroun”

2 Poems | Hilary Varner

On Writing Vows

I would never tell you why I collect
on slow treks to your usual stashes
under the bed behind the hanging quilt,
beside your desk’s grease stains,
and in the form of carefully balanced piles atop the curio

the dishes that you leave, nor would I
sum up for any invited, seated crowd,
why my fingers, filigreed,
swirl water over the blue plates you like
for their unusual flatness, and I Continue reading “2 Poems | Hilary Varner”

2 Essays | Emily Van Duyne

This Is How You Lose Him

You walk your kid to the beach, alone, although it’s Sunday, and for the last six weeks or so, Sundays have kinda been your thing—the four of you—your son, three and a half, plopped all gangly-legged, blue eyes glowing in the summer sunlight like freaky marble orbs, into the jogging stroller with its tray sticky from last week’s ice cream, despite the hose-down you gave it; his daughter in tow, five and a half, in her pink, heart-shaped sunglasses, her hipster bikini printed with wall-eyed kittens, her face wearing its perpetually curious expression, brows sloping down in their pitch-perfect imitation of her fathers’: she counts the white stripes of the crosswalk as we trudge along in the heat;

but that was last week, or the week before, or any other sunny Sunday when the two of you were off, together. This week, storm clouds gather on the horizon all morning, so all morning, you fart around—walk on the boardwalk with your perpetually-in-motion mother, who seems, these days, to want to spend her time proving at least one law of physics is #thetroof: she cannot sit still, and even in her lack of sitting still, questions whether she should be moving somewhere else, or moving more, the two of you plop your kid back into the aforementioned jogging stroller, head for the boardwalk to exercise, and you’re not two blocks out, barely over the rickety drawbridge that separates your part of the island—a little funky, a little low-rent—from The Island: St. Leonard’s Tract, Atlantic Avenue, Margate with its clusters of high end boutiques; you live in, have always lived in, “The Heights,” an ironically titled place, since it’s the lowest stretch of local land, and was more or less taken out by Hurricane Sandy—so you trudge over the drawbridge, and silently note the flood tide in the bay, how good it would feel to dive beneath the water and swim for a long, slow length of indeterminate time; writing this, now, you stare at the swiftly running clock, recall you have no long, slow lengths of indeterminate time, recall how only those fantasies feel stretched out and slow, indeterminate: you sink beneath the heat of the day, the salt water is cool and coarse, and the light buoys you up to the top where you begin to swim in long, sleek strokes to no place in particular, delightfully alone—but the reality is your mother, talking over the public bus that roars past you on the drawbridge, so heavy it practically bounces the linked wood planks you’re pushing your son over, and your mother is complaining that you need to pick it up, then cautioning you about the storm clouds, how we’re about to get wallopped, maybe we should turn back–  Continue reading “2 Essays | Emily Van Duyne”

The Bed Empty; the Floor Waxed with Moonlight | Ariana D. Den Bleyker

He leans into the girl on the right, smile tucked in
between the words of his angled jaw & I imagine
writing his introduction, his lips moving, me mis-
speaking his name. That I could lay my arms down
beneath him praying not to be christened & he’d
never speak of this. I cannot see anymore.
That I’m the things he’s forgotten, the disbelief
in God, in scars. That our mouths are filled
with permanence, heavy with moisture, weighted
down, wet & wayward. How quickly love ripens
then grieves. I want to be the space between
sunset & sunrise, a place where sleep wraps
itself around curves of bone & sinew, the sharp
of it handing my heart to me, reddened with teeth-
marks, drained, willing to make whole the desperate
parts. That I’ll keep what’s decent, won’t dance,
sing with the crowd, feel the music open my ears.
Continue reading “The Bed Empty; the Floor Waxed with Moonlight | Ariana D. Den Bleyker”

First Reaction | Kou Sugita

-after 3/11 and my mother’s painting

I can’t stand it,” my mother says in
Japanese. Her computer screen is a sea
monster stirring a whirlpool, swallowing
her focus whole.

She’s learning about dispossession, about
what happens to an empire, a battle castle
laying flat on a dragons back, that still
manages to catch flame underneath
oceans deep; you know when the life in
our brittle bone like bricks begin to
crumble Continue reading “First Reaction | Kou Sugita”