Self-Surgery

Alejandro Villa Vasquez

In the chamber,

of blood and meat.

A membrane.

A lining of tenderness: mine,

his.

It whispers that I lust him.

It murmurs putridly, it murmurs of love.

It tells me he does not tell, tell, tell of me.

What’s behind the flesh curtain—a heart.

I confess before my beige ancestresses,

this pomegranate has a streak of sallow sebum.

Blond, belly fat coagulating in the aorta.

But then come promises of a future,

as big as he makes me:

luminescence of the arches, towers to the north, all ours.

In the air of war,

the promise of mutual destruction.

“My warhead is bigger.”

How we slip on sweat and spit toward ruination.

My guts and bolts, nuts and your socks soaked.

 

Hear me sister, sisters:

I denounce this heart of lard.

I reach into my sick gizzard.

Find that witching zipper.

Disinter the devilish thorn.

 

There,

to the end of the world you made for us.

I

washed away this white swath.

I have been sequestered as a refugee,

freed finally.

This lewd sinew supplanted,

reconstruction begins.

Stitching the torn.

I convalesce in beige,

in a brown blanket,

tiger fur and floral.

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Drunken Love Letters

By Lois Evans

What I’ve learned, again and again, is that I love you.

And I wish you’d lay your edges and scars in my lap like fallen stars in a broken constellation. Wrap them around me. Wrap you around me.

***

We argued a few hours ago. Well, it wasn’t really an argument, now that I think about it. I was (partly and only partly) wrong and was unprepared to be wrong and unprepared for our bickering to thicken into mudslinging. I realized that I was about to strike a nerve with you only after I had done it. I watched the warmth of your eyes cool on me, your smirk vanish. The tension between the two of us make the air stink. And I felt like a little girl.

“I think we agree with each other.” I said, my words an olive branch, the closest I’d get to begging for reconciliation.

“We never do.” You said, knocking my branch to the ground.

So I’m the hurt one now. And I wonder if you’re up replaying my words in your head. My gut instinct is to apologize, but I know it won’t help my heart much. Never is a burning word. Sorry feels like a bandaid sitting in my mouth, buckling behind my teeth before I can conjure the strength to be audible. Perhaps the strength is not saying sorry. You don’t say it enough.

We look blue in this light. Or, rather, you look blue in this light. I’m not too sure of myself.

 

You seem so calm—head pressed to pillow, eyes closed. My body is still buzzing. Somehow, I can feel everything, but can’t move at all. This is paralysis, I think. But a kind I don’t mind so much.

 

This is what making up feels like. Darkness and moonlight and silence except for the colliding of bodies. I blink, remembering the warmth of your breath on my neck, the careful movement of your fingers through my curls. And for a moment, I can forget everything else.

 

You wake up as I’m finally about to sleep. Neither of us says anything. We’re better not talking at times like this. I want nothing to sour the lingering taste of you all over. Just for a few more hours. So you can keep looking at me in that way you do; like you’re carrying a question. And until I fall asleep, I’ll pretend to hold answers.

***

I hate watching you eat. You make a mess out of what should be beautiful, just like I do. And you always make me laugh when my mouth is full.

***

You, in some way, are in all my drunk stories. Pouring a shot, holding open a door, making me feel like a woman.

 

I’ve been a woman for a while now. Longer to some than others, but only a little while to me. You, if I’m honest, don’t matter much in the calculation of that time. Be aware of that.

 

Loving you, as silly as that sounds and feels and is, reminds me of the youth I’ve almost had stolen so many times. This loving thing is stupid and misguided and indulgent. Thankfully, I’ve got some time to be all those things. The trainwreck, that is me, chooses to kill time with the car crash, that is you.

***

A friend of mine once told me something I still think about every time I write. She said while chewing on white cheddar Cheetos, that no man is worth more than one poem or story. I lay on my rug agreeing with her at the time, but my opinion has since changed.

 

One unearned thing. This is all you get. This is all you have earned.

A Reversal of a Popular Soliloquy

Alejandro Vasquez

The staccato stiletto march

of power, now the pearls fly in an arch

while the perfume drizzles from on high.

 

I am man: the lying lust that

foams to rot.

A pair of hoarse girders.

 

An empire I am bound to, tied to my first-skin and pulls

into that piss pile of the unperfumed,

to rulers.

 

Atop the sweet brunette woods and ovarian musk

That swaddled the air at my birth; but not me.

I’m lost like a girl’s mind.

 

The light would cut clear as man’s crudity.

A pristine transcription, it would distill me

crystal drop by crystal drop.

 

That is the clarity unreachable from this male coil.

Monstrous meat: inert, inane

palm trees of my legs terrify me

 

with their infinite weight.

Goddess, from your terrace glorious. Ladies lifting light:

exonerate me.

 

Of zit, pus, phallus, I am too ashamed

to verbalize what I lack.

Sweep me into pink oblivion.

 

Matriarchs, Mother,

manicure my marauding masculinity to

rosy touch. Beatify me, Saint Sylvia!

 

These cries, shrill man.

Dreams, where I am the birthing hips

of creation.

 

Dreams are all they are.

I wallow on my throne of adamantine oak

and pride.

 

Here I am simply, weakly,

man.

the price of ingenuity

By Timothy Gersten

built on decaying roots of wavering attention

mid-afternoon daydreams sprout elephants from water vapor,

suspended in the sky by magic, or science

depending on who you ask.

 

under desks couriers transport

time sensitive messages.

written in number two pencil on wide ruled paper:

do you like me, yes or no?

 

left with a twenty-four pack of crayons,

buildings eight and a half inches tall

reach towards a limitless sky

not bound by rationality.

 

brilliance flashes through toothy grins,

quick wit and giggles overpower the scream

of chalk on a blackboard.

paying no attention to the writing on the wall.

 

the vast universe dwindles with each autumn.

rockets, once made of cardboard boxes,

are now boxy cars on a morning commute

listening to public radio.

 

if dandelions can burst through concrete,

only to bloom a spot of sunshine

and spread dreams with the breath of a child,

then why are they called weeds?

 

and why must they be removed?

Someone else’s sand

Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

We stand

     on the edges

          of cliffs

     

Falling

     in perfect

          circles,

 

The Snowy Plover

     diving

          for its next

 

meal

     in foot-printed paths

          filled by someone’s

 

Bottled thoughts.

 

When all we are

     is ourselves

          we can

 

Paint

     the foreigner’s

          sea glass

 

With our own

     poem

          then curve

 

Our backs

     for centuries

          by the lighthouse

 

Waiting for

     the narrow hum

          of a reply.

 

Our sand

     is most

          definitely

 

Buried

 

(run over by grained

     memory and the salty

          first drafts of love)

 

under

     miles of

          someone else’s sand,

 

But we cannot

     know

          whether the cyclical washing away

          

In the caverns of our

     throats

          will ever drown

 

The passenger

     and prevent him

          from arranging lyrics to our watery hearts,

 

As if his own

     sand-castle brain

          was swept

 

By our poetry.