Bereavement

Snag yourself on a crucifix & hide
your naked body behind stained glass
(only crooked bodies pray with clasped hands),
swallow lacewings & let them get stuck
behind your teeth, let them sit in your mouth,
feel them with your tongue & breathe ’em in, angel eyes.
Throw stones down velvet aisles,
walk it with a stomach full of sidewalk & draw near –
keep on asking for 8 minutes &
why don’t we wrap ourselves in steel?
you’re too big for slip dresses & Greek tragedies:
brilliant. Don’t choke on pine trees, push ’em
with your teeth & stick their needles in your gaps &
floss twice – daily. Use your throat as an oil
funnel & burn with it. Grief sounds so much like oh god
when you close your eyes & wet your lips.

Jaclyn Grimm lives in Orlando, FL. Her prose and poetry have appeared in The Adroit Journal, Cheap Pop, decomP magazinE, and Teen Vogue. She currently works as a prose reader for The Adroit Journal.

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Remembering the Doorbell

I remember ringing the doorbell and asking
if Evan or Perry could come out and play.
I remember my mother asking me who
was at the door and warning me to stay quiet
as she lied about me not being home.
My ability to avoid homework depended upon
a whim, a conversation at work, whether my mom
had deadlines. She took those tiring afternoons
and made box wine sing and took her anger out on
the vacuum. I felt bad walking on the carpet lines,
so I was quiet in my room when the doorbell rang.

Matthew David Manning is an English instructor at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in the Intensive English Program. Matthew holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and PSU. His poetry has appeared in various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review.

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Folding

When your mother lived with us,
I decided I’d had enough of it
and began hiding my dirty clothes.
I was tired of coming home
to find my clothes already cleaned,
folded perfectly on the shelf.
After a few days of success,
she approached you at a time
when both of us were home
and demanded I hand it all over.
Winning or losing depended
on who was most trusting
of your patience and forgiveness
on such a trivial issue.
                                          I lost.
I gave your mother my shirts,
socks, pants, and underwear,
and she carried them away
toward the washing machine
like loose carnival tickets.

Matthew David Manning is an English instructor at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in the Intensive English Program. Matthew holds degrees in creative writing from Arizona State University and PSU. His poetry has appeared in various publications including I-70 Review, Red Paint Hill, Rust + Moth, Kansas Time + Place, and Chiron Review.

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3 ways girlhood smelled

Three. because from age ten to age thirteen I woke up that time every morning (they said it was for no reason)

 

One: oil. a dermatologist prescribed it for me to rub into my flaking skin (it smelled like peanuts and cold medication and it drifted around and soaked my pillow. three years of dance and I needed it because the doctor said stress was yanking me to pieces starting with my epidermis)

Two: earwax. (that sharp tangy smell clogged me, I couldn’t hear music in ballet class, Mama said the stone they pulled out of my ear belonged on a necklace, but it didn’t fix my deficit—logically, it should have)

Three: Mama’s deodorant. (because when the night felt so empty that stung like nettles and my insides did too, I’d scream at the moon, maybe, but probably not just because its shadow always looked like a burglar. she’d run down with the newspaper and while she read I’d shove my teary head into her armpit and only be able to breathe in little nostrils’ wheezes)

 

Three because at age three I took scissors to my little body (and cut until they found me in 300 runny pieces)

Three. because I could have done four but three is special, isn’t it?

Riley Borden is a seventeen-year-old logophile from Whidbey Island who avidly reads, writes, and blogs in her minimal free time.

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New Year’s Resolutions and Dreams

The black pearl sea laps at the wreckage I’m floating on
while a spotlight moon reveals jagged shore
where people in beautiful clothes gather
to talk of how wonderful they all are,
how neat and good. In this dream their faces
are 3D vivid like a movie.
Looking at me slantways
they lie and lie while the willful wind brushes my cheek
like a hand turning my head toward the stars.

This year I pledge to take more Vitamin D
to prevent Despair, Depression,
Disgust, Detachment, and most of all,
Disappointment—
the real cause of death for every single one of us
no matter what the doctor claims.

This one is a flipbook that just loops endlessly until I wake:
People I am not close to anymore
or just acquaintances
are in mundane situations speaking nonsense
Alice-in-Wonderland jabberwocky over and over.
I rarely dream of my children,
husband, parents, brother or sisters.
My subconscious mind
even has a subconscious mind
like a funhouse mirror.

I lie down resolved to dream of trees I have loved:
the one with the swing, the one like Eve’s in her Garden,
another one where the bees live,
where the crippled fox
sent me a poem across silent snow.
To go out on a limb means you’re going where it lives,
that fruit that doesn’t stand for anything else
only the way forward to the next day
and the next.

This year I pledge to take more Vitamin L
to replace all I’ve lost.
I will forgive myself for forgetting,
forgive myself for remembering.
No longer the flat character in someone else’s story,
I’ll make my heart murmurs
speak up—
but most days
I pledge to be still.
Be still.
Be. Still.

Rita Sims Quillen’s new full-length poetry collection, The Mad Farmer’s Wife, was published in 2016 by Texas Review Press, a Texas A&M affiliation. Her novel Hiding Ezra, released by Little Creek Books, was a finalist for the 2005 Dana Awards, and a chapter of the novel is included in Talking Appalachian, a scholarly study of Appalachian dialect published by the University of Kentucky Press in 2014. She also published a new poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press in 2014 titled Something Solid to Anchor to.

One of six semi-finalists for the 2012-14 Poet Laureate of Virginia, she received a Pushcart nomination in 2012 and 2015, and a Best of the Net nomination in 2012. Her most recent full-length collection, Her Secret Dream, is from Wind Publications in Kentucky and was named the Outstanding Poetry Book of the Year by the Appalachian Writers Association in 2008. Previous works are poetry collections October Dusk and Counting the Sums, and a book of essays, Looking for Native Ground: Contemporary Appalachian Poetry.

Her poetry, short stories, reviews and essays have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Antietam Review, Roanoke Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Connotation Press, Potomac Review, The Texas Review, Blue Fifth Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Laurel Review, Appalachian Journal, Artemis Journal, and the Birmingham Arts Journal, and she was anthologized in Bloodroot and in the Appalachian volume of the Southern Poetry Anthology series published by Texas Review Press.

She lives and farms on Early Autumn Farm in Scott County, Virginia. You can learn much more about her, her work, and the beautiful Appalachian mountains at her website: http://www.ritasimsquillen.com.

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Years later, I see the man I ran away from,

his jaundiced skin, red eyes, the baldness and all the rest of him that disappears into the white hospital bed. I am no longer that child of 11 but I still fantasize about this moment: I go up to his respirator and finger the clear, plastic cord controlling the flow of air. I lean over and whisper, “I have come here for my childhood,” and bite a tiny hole into the plastic tubing. He makes a faint suckling noise. And that’s when it happens. I open the door and walk through.

Kimo Armitage draws upon the rich stories of his youth spent in Haleiwa, Hawaii, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He is the winner of the 2016 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in poetry, administered by Poets & Writers. Armitage published his first novel, The Healers, with the University of Hawaii Press in April 2016.

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Volcanic Roars

As I sunk into bed I knew I would never
return—I felt it burning, cushions unleashing
something from within, blinding bold, without fear,
and as I struggled I started to turn
to ash—flaking off the bone—I knew
that it would be impossible to extinguish, my room
turned orange then blue. All of your secret
notes, your stuffed animal Pepper,
and your father’s painting—the one he made
just for you—followed the path
of my bones. Our room echoed with
a flash, then our house, then Pine St.
blinked. All that remained was your necklace,
the one you threw into the woods—buried—
protected by birds and plants with purple
and magenta leaves. If you go to the spot
where your necklace now lives, I promise
it’ll be right where you left it—waiting for you

Jake Rosenberg is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University, and his work has previously appeared in Eunoia Review and Sucarnochee Review.

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