Joanna C. Valente is the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Xenos, and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault.Read More
Ages ago, this town was all wood.
You had to get to know each tree as a
madrina. You knew this birch that creaks
with wind guides you west; this willow with
bark soft as hair would sing songs from
before the arrival of sky. And everyone
could hear the spirits.
BY ANDI TALARICO
Happy 29th birthday in prison.
I write this to you on your 29th birthday, which you’ll spend in prison.
Happy Birthday, little brother, in prison.
I meant half-brother. It matters.
I don’t know how to write this letter. I don’t know how to do it.
I hate you.
Her life mattered too.
She was 23. She was 23 and you gunned her down over $60 worth of shit heroin. You did that.
I hate you.
I hate you for making this family the wrong kind of poor. A snarl of statistics on rural poverty, a tragedy so common, so small, you’re not even a footnote in the 10 page New Yorker article on the opioid epidemic. I read it on the train to work. I read a clinical article on the pharmaceutical industry on the train to work in New York City. In my ears, airpods scanned the highs and lows of Chet Baker. The most distant mirror.
I read about your world at arm’s length. I thought of you saying-
“Fuck you, Andrea, and your perfect fucking life.”
“Give me 20 bucks, Andrea. I know you got it.”
“You’re not better than me.”
I watch your arrest on the news. They show a picture of the dead girl on the bottom right corner of the screen. The reporter asks you what you have to say for yourself. You snarl,
“Get out of my face.”
I know you’re no broken branch on a perfect family tree. Not even a tree, really, a snarl of a thorny bush, really, a tangle of blighted limbs, really. To call anything that happens here cyclical is to bestow too much order upon it. Really.
We have different fathers. Yours was not a great man. Let’s say that. Let’s remember that when his chemicals crested or cratered, the wrong pill, say, the wrong smoke, the wrong spike, the wrong sniff, it usually ended badly for our mother. You’re too young to remember her broken arm. You’re too young to remember when he still drank. I watched him pour a beer over her head during an argument. I watched her hurl a glass ashtray at his face and almost blind him.
I was seven when you were born, barely not a baby myself. I learned how to love a new human through you, your bright brown eyes reflecting everything you saw around you, new and holy through you. You, on my hip. You, taking the bottle in my hand. You, a small version of me. You, making a big sister of me. You. You named me DeeDee. I named you Young King. I wanted to give the world to you. You.
Our mother joked that she named you for Jesse James. She always liked the bad boys best.
Your father was one of the worst.
I know it was right after he died that you spent your first bout in Juvie. What were you, twelve? Thirteen?
I know that you chose violence over grief, or violence through grief, or violence as grief, or that maybe violence is a grief, or that maybe grief is a violence in that it can murder the person bearing the weight of it.
It is not lost on me that your drug of choice is a pain-killer.
I love you.
I hate you.
That poor woman. I grieve for her life.
You poor child. I grieve for yours as well.
The letter I send will say just this,
Try to have a happy birthday. You know I’m here if you need books. Love you, little brother.”
Andi Talarico is a Brooklyn-based writer and reader. She’s the curator and host of At the Inkwell NYC, an international reading series whose New York branch meets at KGB Bar. She's taught poetry in classrooms as a rostered artist, and acted as coach and judge for Poetry Out Loud. In 2003, Paperkite Press published her chapbook, Spinning with the Tornado, and Swandive Publishing included her in the 2014 anthology, Everyday Escape Poems. She also penned a literary arts column for Electric City magazine for several years. When she’s not working with stationery company Baron Fig, she can be found reading tarot cards, supporting independent bookstores, and searching for the best oyster Happy Hour in NYC.
Paper, pen, stapler. Your voice.Read More
She said that she thought my non-fiction professors didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. My friend, in her attempt to explain things in her way, told me that my mentors didn’t want anything to do with someone as "dangerous" as me. Someone who, as she put it, would be dead by twenty-five and would cause grievous, irreparable pain to the two professors I was closest to.Read More
Joanna C. Valente is a ghost who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017), and received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, Them, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere.Read More
Amy Saul-Zerby is the author of Deep Camouflage (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and Paper Flowers Imaginary Birds (Be About It Press). Her poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Spy Kids Review, Mad House, and Bedfellows Magazine. She is editor in chief of Voicemail Poems and a contributing writer at Fields Magazine and The Rumpus.Read More
BY CATHLEEN ALLYN CONWAY
Author's note: These are all found works, some using modified versions of traditional poetic forms. Their sources are Toby Whithouse's Doctor Who episode VAMPIRES OF VENICE, Stephen King's SALEM'S LOT, the stage adaptation of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, miscellaneous Sylvia Plath poems, and DRACULA by Bram Stoker. They are part of a longer work, Bloofer, a collection of found poems on the female vampire that forms the creative component of my PhD thesis.
THE VAMPIRE WHO SAID HE WAS YOU
He bites. A mouth just bloodied.
The blood flood is the flood of love.
A love gift utterly unasked for.
Death opened, like a black tree, blackly.
The box is only temporary, the
black bunched in there like a bat.
I bleed or sleep all the blackening morning,
separated from my house by headstones and corpses.
I am red meat, red hair; marble facades.
The corpse at the gate petrifies as I rise.
THE VILLAGERS NEVER LIKED YOU
I wake to a mausoleum.
This is the room I could never breathe in.
Black bat airs wrap me, raggy shawls,
blue garments unloosing small owls.
Eternity bores me; my soul dies for it.
I eat men like air. I never wanted it.
LUCY’S SWEET PURITY
I could see in the white flesh a dint
then Arthur struck with all his might:
contorting and cut, The Thing writhed,
a blood-curdling screech from red lips.
Arthur never faltered, deeper driving
His stake into the body, twisting and wild,
crimson foam smearing white,
blood from the pierce welling, welling.
The teeth ceased to champ,
the writhing became less.
On his forehead sprang
drops of sweat, broken gasps
came his breath, and a light
broke his face, glad and strange.
Cathleen Allyn Conway is a PhD creative writing research student at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the co-editor of Plath Profiles, the only academic journal dedicated to the work of Sylvia Plath, and the founder and co-editor of women’s protest poetry magazine Thank You For Swallowing. She has previously worked as a journalist on UK trades and national newspapers, and as an English teacher in inner London. Her poetry has appeared in print, online and in anthologies. Her pamphlet Static Cling was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2012. Originally from Chicago, she lives in south London with her partner and son. You may follow her intermittent feminist ranting and retweets at @mllekitty.
In a strange way, she has become my pregnancy muse.Read More
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.Read More
Part of growing up with someone is learning how to grow apart too. When we started high school we drifted a little. Our senior year we had anatomy together and became friends again. We spent every morning together in the commons area eating breakfast. Our friend, Emily, dubbed us "The Breakfast Club" and decided which characters from the film we were. The night we graduated we all rode together to the local movie theater still in our graduation regalia and we watched back to back movies before going home. My own family had pizza and gathered together, but we went out together instead. I still think about it a lot: the way friends become family.Read More
The doctor wasn't supposed to
but she prescribed herself
to try new things.
"Something new once a week,
Ben Roylance is a poet and ufoccultist from Allentown, PA, living in Amherst, MA. Editor and founder of Apport Editions. Editor of the Occult/Paranormal section at Entropy.Read More
Alda Merini put a lot of poetry and other writings into this world, but it is hard to find a lot of it translated! Below you will find both poems and aphorisms, or as Merini called them "spells of the night."Read More
Her body is an “exotic” thing that cannot rest within the boundaries of appropriateness.Read More