Week 68: Kyle Wright

Under the Skin

Little buying
spurt the sun
held high
streets pulse
beat warm insides
brought in fruit
bins and green shades
of time
pneumonia rupture
dreams masked
repetitions measure
mutations defining
this blank space

Everything Will Be Alright

Young toddler singing
Everything’s Gonna be Alright
in grocery store parking lot
Pink light, warm still, sun sets fast
I hear on radio when I get back in car
supposed to snow tomorrow
Singing fading as I enter store

Lost Little Grey Cells

trees blow
communicating pain
sadness
need bread
corners
mark meetings
lost to bad
connections
honks of smoke
too much time
wearing at the cells

Bio:

Kyle Wright is an author and student currently residing in Ann Arbor, with work published in a few local zines and in so many stacks of old notebooks, and also forthcoming in Subterranean Blue Poetry and The New Grindhouse. He writes and creates across many disciplines, living with his partner, cat, and their ever-growing hoard of books.

Week 67: Debbie Collins

gonna kick tomorrow

 

my life is full of light and I am righteous
in my suit of mirrors, so happy when
everything is so wrong

the habit, the habit

the god of pills is crouched down
in the corner of my room and he’s
not leaving soon enough for you

the failing, the failure

you, on the edge of the bed with
my quick love in your hands
you can’t look at me now

I’ll try again tomorrow

 

Bio:

When not writing about unredeemable people in bad situations, Debbie Collins enjoys letting her dog drag her around her neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. She also likes cooking and reading tiny novels on her tiny phone. She has been published in Third Wednesday, The Lake, and Flatbush Review, among others.

Week 66: Howie Good

Blood and Masks

Milk froze in a cow’s bulging udder. John had paint he said we might be able to use to fix things up a bit. I don’t work for free, but sometimes it just happens. I went off to collect drop clothes and brushes. No one had mentioned the new obstacles to traveling by day or the way everything was falling out of windows. By the time I got back, a van loaded with weapons was burning at the side of the road. To everyone’s amazement, the flames actually danced.

Bio:

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.

Week 65: Jennifer Ruth Jackson

Absentee Father

 

Pause, cut the applause off mid-cheer, and
Screams of fans mid-screech like a bird of prey
Strangled in flight, body never found,
Never touching down

Erase the players off the grass, scrub them
With the brush of age or sponge of amnesia
Light uniforms, dandelion puffs, sift breezes during drifts

Ignore the sore limbs body-promised
By unyielding, plank seats
Our shifting (no relief) frozen with the spectators now
Your head bowed as though you seek
Removal from this snapshot of time

 

Bio:

Jennifer Ruth Jackson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Red Earth ReviewBanshee, and more. She runs a blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers called The Handy, Uncapped Pen from an apartment she shares with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @jenruthjackson

Week 64: John Grey

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OR BUST

 

He stays up all night writing his autobiography.
Secretive and anonymous, the shadow within the shadow,
he hopes that his words can do what his life has not.
He smokes. He plays chess with details from his past.
He tells tales on himself. He primes himself for execution.
Bloated from clutter, the attic room looks like the insides of a horse.

He’s not passionate enough about sleep to bother with it.
It’s like bandstand music. It’s loud but he doesn’t really hear it.
He prefers the drugs and the coffee that take him to
the archipelagos in his head, the isles passionate, godlike, visionary,
lands where dwell the imaginary friends of his fierce solitude.
Their histories may be as frail as sunlight on bottle cap
but, in the midst of all this traffic, they are the only ones that matter.

First chapter is one child crying.
Chapter two is a garden hose writhing like a snake.
Chapter three is from a time when men and women lived apart.
Chapter four is spit from deep down in the lungs.

He stays up all night, an unholy man feeding off blank responses.
Sometimes, he’s the outsider crashing his own life.
Then he’s the steady overflow from the times that cannot hold him.
Or he’s upside down, his feet cruising the skylight.
Or the mystery to himself that’s mopping up the carnage.

He knows that, ultimately, he’s wasting all this blood on nothing.
That’s the beauty of all this sacrifice.
He’s a searchlight with pale, excitable hands.
He barely skims the waves.
The vessel is in danger. He knows it’s in there somewhere.

 

Bio:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.

Week 63: deb felio

Always One More

 

While men withdraw their deposits
trying to distance themselves from the cost
the women in the meantime need
to keep their legs and fingers crossed.

 

Bio:

deb y felio is a witness poet exploring and writing the under-represented sides of historic and current issues. deb lives and writes in the hills of Boulder Colorado and is active in the Denver Lighthouse for Writers and the Stain’d art community. Her work is published in multiple online sources and in the print anthology Hay(na)ku ( Eileen Tabios, editor).

Week 62: Colin James Sturdevant

The Narcissist’s Martyr

I remember your budding, strange            strange love while in high school   & the red hum of my face’s cheek   one night of your drinking & candid speech.            your mechanical hand slapped       my face cracking the porcelain calm.                        meat below me on a plate               grilled, yellow caramelized onions                butter coating the steak        your words filling the air.      stumbling. straggling. loosening to hug me that was really a noose.     lashes & whippings.                           christened       skin.

& then a night when I was in my 20s             you told me: you’re too ugly, and will be too poor for marriage.                       teachers don’t make enough.             no woman will want you. & the stars were drowning.       a few fish eggs tucked in the stomach             of a predator. breath prying for space.           & I didn’t talk back, but cried like a screen door opening & closing.      & hungered for a normal kind of love.          A righteous love. “Love” love.

later as morning pushed night, before blackness was bucked by light, I stretched my face over the pool & looked at my reflection & saw my wooly long hair & could’ve sworn my face had the chops not of a man but a ram, coated as black, and my horns were ground down,                  shorn, to the skin            dust to dust

mother, your love was fickle & cruel & Old Testament

but I still raised my voice & bleated to the sky, cheering thy name, crying for

more! more! more!

 

Bio:

Colin James Sturdevant is an ELA high school teacher and received his BA in English – Creative Writing, Fiction – at the University of Houston. His work has appeared in Rufous City Review, Banango Street., Glass Mountain, Zaum – Sonoma State University’s Litrerary Magazine. He hopes to start an indie lit mag to publish middle school and high school poetry from the nation and beyond someday.

 

Week 61: Marina Kazakova

Above the Babylon of Europe

 

The Ropewalker
was strolling all the day
above the Babylon of Europe,
over
the stone waves
and choppy waters
of Brussels,
barefooted,
bare-hearted,
escorted by birds and clouds,
civil servants,
uncivil sculptures.
pigeons
and sleeping bodies
of homeless –
both victims of hate crimes
right in the heart
of European justice.
On the skybridge of
busy and bubbly
Rue Belliard
the walker paused
enchanted by the escape
of Ariadne –
the foot misstepped,
the walker laughed,
opened the wings
and
in a second
took off
high-up,
towards the
melting sunshine.

 

Bio:

Marina Kazakova is a Belgium-based poet. Her literary works deal to a large degree with confrontation with the past and explore the challenges posed both by memory and grief. She has an MA in Public Relations and Transmedia. Currently, she is a Communications Officer at ‘Victim Support Europe’ and working on her practice-based PhD in Arts “Lyric Film-Poem. A research on how the unique characteristics of lyric poetry can be expressed in film” at Luca School of Arts (KULeuven). In addition to poetry, Marina has written essays and articles for such publications as “The Word” Magazine (Brussels), Culturetrip.com, Seanema.eu.

Week 60: David Bankson

Dark of Winter

 

Despite the pines filled with needles,
I run across their aisle of whitebrown carpet like a groom.

Despite the black silk curtains falling in a smooth cascade of lines,
I crush them in my fist and think of my mother.

Despite my mother’s brown hair falling in a helix
Like a staircase, I walk straight by her.

Despite my running taking me forward,
I gather memories like rotten berries to cover the darkness.

There, with them, I went nowhere. The Spring’s emerald grass
Has blemished the whiteness like a thunderhead beneath.

Above the pine needles, above the shrinking
Whitebrown ground, I take on the clouds from tomorrows

And uncover my face to the dark of Winter.

 

Bio:
David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith
of Prose and Poem, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis,
(b)oink, Thank You for Swallowing, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five
2 One Magazine, etc.

Week 59: Alexis Smithers

Conversation with my Body

I ask what happened to me? and
my body says ​it is not easy
housing crime scenes.

No one picks up the violence,
just leaves it in the middle of the living room to fester
climbs all over the furniture and snuggles into
beds without invitation like it don’t got no goddamn manners.

You try keeping people in here when you can’t have a conversation
without the fucking ghosts chiming in.
They scare so no coming back
the kids don’t even ding dong ditch
this horror story.
every window
every door a howling.
Don’t matter that this mouth can tell a good joke or two.
Who wants to hug wounds?

I ask what happened to me and
my body says
I’d tell you to piss off

but men in church suits and
other swirled in faces have made it impossible.

I ask please don’t tell me and
my body says ​you have no choice.

You are eight years old and
the blood hasn’t dried on your wallpaper yet.
You can’t shut yourself from the evil you are.
Call is coming from inside the house and
you dialed the truth.
Don’t matter how it cold case your hands.

I ask why can’t I be better and
my body says
the last time we gentled

the worst got the best of us.
I wish they had destroyed this house
but that would’ve been too kind
and we are not talking about kindness here.

I ask please can we love them better and
my body says
the police tape strangles the good

we’re trying
to do here.

You’ve got to horrify love
to keep it.

I say no no, nevermind, don’t tell me and
my body ignores
someone reached inside

and you still cannot get them out.

I say I don’t believe you and
my body says

you’re still waiting for her to hit you.
Aren’t you?

I say nothing and
my body says
trauma has riddled our skin

damnation.
Rip us apart
so you can let the ghosts out.

I say The ghosts are still here
and my body shrugs
Sometimes,

the ghosts come back stronger.

I say How do I get rid of this and
my body howls and claws

and monsters:

Don’t you know
there is no cure.

I say I don’t know but this body breathes
even the healing haunts.

 

Bio:

Alexis Smithers is a queer black creator and web development student. 2015 Pink Door Fellow, 2016 LAMBDA Literary Emerging Writer, and 2018 #GrowWithGoogle Scholarship Recipient, they are a staff writer for Autostraddle. Their work has been featured in Shadewusgood.black, and Glass: Poetry among others. You can find their work here, support them on Patreon, and follow them on Twitter.