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Bio: Ashley Opheim (Ashley Obscura) is the author of the poetry collection I Am Here. She lives in Montreal, where she is the founding editor of Metatron and co-director of the reading series This Is Happening Whether You Like It Or Not. She can be followed on Twitter @hologramrainbow.
so no i don’t exactly think there’s hope for any of us ok
ice isn’t melting btw it’s rejecting you
can’t tell if this sunshine is trying to be ironic or what
not a statue i just stay still a lot
what if you “listened to your body” and all it said was “goodbye”
the furniture seems to be a lot more on fire since i started thinking of you
*pregames with bone marrow*
my fantasy is a room you’re not walking out of
writing “who did this to you” as the caption to every childhood photo of yourself you can find
there are a lot of cups of coffee but this one hasn’t betrayed me or made me feel worthless yet
i’m the part of the story you fall asleep during
how old is your depression supposed to be before you talk about girls
i like to drive real slow like my life isn’t meaningless
what’s the yoga position where i lie down in your driveway and promise not to breathe
yelling at my blood that it’s not allowed on the bed
twisted dark fantasies about emotional stability
point a camera at me and watch it detonate
now count back from you miss her but she doesn’t miss you
every five minutes i whisper “it sounds like someone’s dying out there” and even i do not know what I mean
teaching the baby how to say yeezy
have your funeral at a poetry reading so you can blame poor attendance on the genre
put my name in your bio wrap it up in a blanket and weigh it down with rocks drop it off the pier
your heart’s first words were “no touching.”
there is cornbread in my tears tonight
i thought i was in love but it turns out i just left the oven on
gonna take your temperature by burning you at the stake
“i always wanted to fuck the most depressed cheerleader in the world”
“you’re making it worse” me every time i look in a mirror
smh if your entire body isn’t a cast you never figured out how to remove
there’s like one self esteem for every twenty people on twitter and they pass it back and forth
today i wore a canary yellow shirt so that people would know i am completely dead inside
taze me until i cum
tbh every time i look at a baby i can already tell how bad its twitter will be
#girlslikeitwhen you kill their parents trust me this one works
So You Think You Can Cum Without Crying
gonna keep buying diet coke until this vending machine is empty enough to double as a coffin
gonna raise these feelings like they’re my own
lower yr expectations lower them gently into the ground
happily married couple seeks third party to kill them
hey girl are you science friday because you are the only thing i love and it seems like you never come
how many fireflies do you have to kill to cure a depression
i look too good to wake up
IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME I’D BE FUCKING DEAD BY NOW
jealous of all the people whose iphones keep killing them
like you’d notice if the fucking rapture happened
no one who can touch a girl’s collarbone needs to build a dream catcher
people only ever want one thing from me and it is space
Bio: RUSSEL SWENSEN earned his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and his doctorate from the University of Houston. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Clock, Quarterly West, Pank, Third Coast, The Collagist, The Destroyer, and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, “Santa Ana,” was released by Black Lawrence Press. His full length collection, “The Magic Kingdom,” is forthcoming (January 2016).
PORTRAIT OF MY STALKER
When my stalker stopped stalking me
I died the death of
a million fat blue genies.
That’s how sick in the bream I was.
I wanted to call him Porgy—
because he could follow the scent
of my truffle—
before I knew a porgy is a fish.
The lava lamps slid all the way
into the psychedelic canal.
Fiddlehead ferns wove a shag rug
that couldn’t fly.
I wept hard
in the terminal.
I couldn’t weep.
My god wings
looped in the gold
from a dying head.
For seven years, I didn’t
from the state.
And then my certificate
I tried to soldier on
without. I vacuumed
in the powder
all the way up the snow scraper
and sucked my hair
into a trapezoid.
Running of the things
off a cliff–
Running of my nerves
off my spine–
Porgy, I begged,
I’m a dwarf
planet, I’m a morphed
I’m a shut canister
in shut cycle,
spinning out of time.
Bio: Debora Kuan is the author of XING (Saturnalia Books, 2011). She has recently been awarded residencies at Yaddo and Macdowell, and had poems and fiction published in Adult, Brooklyn Rail, Buenos Aires Review, Hyperallergic, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is a director at the College Board and also a senior editor at Brooklyn Arts Press. She lives in Brooklyn.
Jos Charles is a southern california writer and founding-editor at THEM – a trans literary journal. They have poetry published (and/or have publications forthcoming) with BLOOM, Denver Quarterly, HTMLGIANT, Metazen, Radioactive Moat, boosthouse’s THE YOLO PAGES, as well as variously online. Their writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, BitchMedia, Entropy, Medium, The Fanzine, The Quietus, interviews with GLAAD, LAMBDA Literary, Original Plumbing, and other pieces forthcoming.
Two days ago, my job went missing. Yesterday, my house went missing. And then I went missing too.
For some reason, I can’t stop moving. I would like to stop moving and settle down.
My job is a three-dimensional rectangle with four floors and is mostly filled with people I do not care about. But two days ago, when I cycled to work, it had been replaced with a hole. I looked down into the hole and saw fire.
Upon walking home a day later, my house was gone. My house was a warehouse unit with a car garage next to it. That, too, had been replaced. But this time, it had been replaced with a mass grave. Everybody inside of the grave was naked and pink.
And today, I woke up but when I opened my eyes everything was red. As if my eyes were closed. Around me, the sound of traffic but the sound was muffled as if two pillows were cushioning my ears.
My vision slowly came back. I was on the floor. I couldn’t get up. My legs had been replaced with walking sticks.
This couch is uncomfortable.
Things got better for a while. I came back. I was conscious and my legs were legs, my arms were arms and my head was still intact. This is the way life should be, with everything in place, where years go forward and minutes die in seconds.
Suddenly, everything was worse. I was sitting in a chair at the top of a Georgian townhouse in 1765. Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English dictionary, and other artists, were taking turns kissing me all over my body and I didn’t say no.
And then they taped my eyes open and my glued my hands to a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Johnson laughed at me and I asked: why me? No answer. I was forced to play Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt is a two-player game. Player 1 controls the ducks.
Back to reality, I decided to go and buy a flute of bread to satiate my hunger.
Outside, the weather blinded me and I couldn’t see again. All I wanted was to go back to work and resume life as it was.
I woke up in a field. Cows surrounded me. I was thirsty so I grabbed an udder and sucked. No milk came out.
Upon returning home, three of my high school friends were sitting in my sitting room. I asked why and they said they wanted to talk about my absence. Theodore remarked that my drug abuse was ‘pronounced’ and I said: please leave.
My job came back to work. So I went back to work.
My colleagues commented on my shaking.
Upon returning home, I had a shower and all my skin came off. I went to dry myself. An elderly gentleman called Fellows told me that’d be a bad idea. I went up to the roof of my apartment block and dried off my skeleton.
Don’t worry, they told me.
I was told that I could take a two-week holiday. My boss said I looked thin. His assistant said I looked like a skeleton. I told them that I was a skeleton. I told them I was trying to find my skin again.
They fired me. Now what?
My house didn’t want me either. It told me to leave. I asked if we could talk this over and my house said nothing.
I asked my friends for help: could you help me out/have you got a couch I can sleep on/Just until I get back on my feet. The answer was no. They said they didn’t feel safe around me.
I went to the library and found a small opening behind a bookshelf. I now lived behind a collection of medical journals. I would travel out every day to bring provisions for my new home. I had a pillow, a yoga mat for my back and some tarp for a cover.
I learned many things in my new house. But there are only so many times you can read about Central African lymphomas and ambiguous genitals.
An artist named Koonig said I could stay at his place. He picked me up because he liked my legs. He said to me: “do you like my apartment?” I said: “Sure.” And I did. He laughed and patted me on the back. My jaw fell off. He said: “the ceilings are high. Don’t hang yourself in here!”
The weeks passed by. I liked Koonig and he liked me. I was not sure whether I was coming or going most of the time. I asked Koonig just to check. “Koonig, am I coming or going?” He said neither and this didn’t really help.
Koonig got me back on my feet. He gave me some new skin. I wasn’t moving around all the time anymore. People weren’t forcing me to play games I didn’t want to play. People weren’t kissing me on my body against my will. Time was suddenly finite and organized.
Koonig sat me down and stroked my legs. I looked at one of his paintings. It was of a man sitting down having his legs stroked by Koonig. I struck Koonig aside the head with a tire iron.
I left the house. I ran far away to a mountain and looked out on the city. The lights were moving. I had a headache because I felt every single person in the city moving. I just wanted to stop moving and be surrounded by silence and a black blanket of darkness.
And that’s all I remember: how pretty the world looked when it wasn’t there.
Bio: Oliver Zarandi is a writer. His work has recently appeared in Hobart, Electric Cereal, theNewerYork and The Boiler Journal. He’s working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Find him on twitter: @zarandi.
THEORY OF ASH
Behold the THEORY OF ASH!
shouts the woman in the public square
whose face is a carnival mask.
Some spectacle is surely about to take place.
What will you do when your mother is dead?
What will you do when your mother is dead and you come
face to face with the woman whose face is a carnival mask?
The Man of Good Questions asked.
What could I say to The Man of Good Questions?
I lay down with the Injured Thing in the grass.
And that’s when the crowd gathered. They gathered
in refutation of all refutations. They gathered in the absence of
anything else. What is the meaning of the THEORY OF ASH?
The Man of Good Questions is asking now. (Ascending the stage
is the woman whose face is a carnival mask.) I don’t know, I tell him.
I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of what is about to happen.
Bio: Sarah Schweig is the author of the chapbook S (Dancing Girl Press), and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlas Review, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Maggy, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Philadelphia Review of Books, Verse Daily, The Volta, and Western Humanities Review, among others. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University, where Ben Lerner awarded her work the David Craig Austen Memorial Award for Poetry, and former Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist, Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, and Emerging Poet Resident at Poets House in Manhattan, she works as a senior writer at a criminal justice think-tank in New York City and studies philosophy at The New School for Social Research.