Theme X: Love & Sex, Introduction

About two months ago, I got a text from my roommates then-boyfriend: “Hey Tia, will you write a haiku about blumpkins for me?” Charles knew I was the right person to ask—someone who gets equally as excited about poetry as they get about sex. If you talk to me for more than 10 minutes, I will find a way to work sex or my own personal love life into the conversation. When WSN came out with an anonymous column titled “Love, Sex & All the Rest,” I thought there was no better way to celebrate its birth than to dedicate the Under the Arch theme to the very relevant topic of Love & Sex—because what college student isn’t constantly thinking about either? Enjoy this week’s sex-ploration (lol).

Happy Reading!

Tia Ramos, Editor

Theme X: Love & Sex, “Near”

By Sebastian Muriel

Norman was playing video games when a domesticated pack of confused girls swarmed into his apartment. Half-eaten breasts bounced as countless bloody teeth clenched on bottles of alcohol. Norman quietly scooted closer to his video game. Brad, his roommate, came in last with a girl’s ass clasped in his hands.
The girls sucked on liquor with determination and let their breasts speak for them. Brad threw Norman a bone with his smile. Norman smiled like a doll and wiped a drop of girl blood off his cheek. Brad sniffed his finger, wrinkled his face, and grunted. Girls’ teeth flared and gnashed, eyes rolled back and quivered.
Brad browsed through asses and breasts. Norman browsed what game mode to play on his video game. Brad waved his smelly finger and led the girls to his bedroom, one by one. They formed a line and panted like starved dogs. Norman politely offered them something to drink while they waited. When Brad finished, the girls limped out of his room, mouths guzzling with spit, sperm, and tears. Norman offered them something to drink. They said they were fine. His video game lit up. He won.
Later that night Norman puked out his heart and frantically prayed.
Norman stutteringly prayed while he peed in the urinal. A clearly faked cough mixed with a dainty fart echoed from one of the stalls behind him. Norman’s stream wavered for a bit. His prayer ceased.
“I know you’re in there.” Norman said.
The man in the stall cleared an already clear throat.
“It’s okay.” Norman farted. “See? You’re in a safe place.”
The man flushed and pooped loudly. At the end of the flush, he cleared his throat. Silence.
“I still heard you,” Norman said, zipping up his pants. They met eyes through the crevice of the stall. “What’s your name?”
Norman empties his savings and flies across the world to visit her. They kiss and hug. He gives her a teddy bear. One of her friends tells Norman that his name is Steven. Norman asks her but she denies infidelity and says she became an actress. Norman says that’s ridiculous and takes a step towards the airport. She cries and screams that she works on Broadway and that she acts as Steven’s girlfriend. Norman says that he’s sorry and congratulates her. She jumps and claps her hands in glee. Norman smiles and rips out his teeth. One by one.
She slices off fat from her legs and hips with a magazine. Fat in the trashcan. Tears on the mirror. Norman stabs himself with porn and opens his mouth to be fed. His jaw locks as he waits endlessly. Bone makes his keyboard dusty.
Do you like me now, she says.
I like you just the way you are, he says.
I can change, she says.
Okay, look like this one, he says.
Okay, she says.
She slices, discards, cries. Norman stabs, opens, starves.
How about now, she says.
Ah aggghhhh awwww, he gargles.
I love you, she says.
Guuuuhhhhh gggrrrghhh, he chokes.
I don’t know if we’re good for each other, she says.
Sure we are. Just look like this one, he says.
I’ve ran out of skin, she says.
You’re getting my bed dusty, he says.
Sorry, she says.
Spread your thighs, he says.
They’re bones, she says.
Spread them, he says.
Okay, she says.
They’re dry. Go find a dog, he says.
Okay, she says.
We’re done, he says.
Okay, she says.
But first, pray with me, he says.
Norman woke up with a hard-on and prayed hard. No one ever explained to him what it really meant to fear God. He thought himself low and dreaded the anticipated divine blow to his shaved face.
He dragged a whip with him wherever he went. If he thought of rest, whip; of desire, whip; of recognition, whip; of hope, whip. The flesh on his left arm was lacerated to the bone. His right arm was strong from whipping and masturbating. Though he never talked about his masturbation.
He had used up his girlfriend to pieces. He stopped watching porn, but still masturbated every night. This was the one part of him he disliked. Norman spent the days after his breakup repenting, whipping, and building his own cross to crucify himself on.
When Brad walked in on Norman masturbating and praying, he offered him a drink and a girl. When Joe saw Norman’s remains of his left arm, he told him he needed to get a place of his own. But Norman stayed true to his penance.
Norman thought himself low and spent nights in frightful prayer, tearing away at his hair. Fingers cut into his eye sockets. He ran outside until he puked three times. He purposely cut his nails to the flesh.
Norman’s Bible collected dust from his bones for three years. One morning he dusted it off cracked it open. He tucked in his hard-on. Romans 8.
“Oh, the Gospel. Right.” he said. He threw his cross out the window, cut up his whip, put a cast on his left arm, and went to a support group.
Norman didn’t pray as he walked to his first support group meeting. Brad was across the street walking his girl on a leash. Joe threw his kid’s baby teeth out his apartment window.
Norman was finally near a salvation not of his own. When he crossed the street, a car struck him and killed him instantly. Joe and Brad died that day, too.

Theme X: Love & Sex, “I wrote this for you, and for that half empty bottle of Jack”

By Natalie Soloperto

When I’m quiet I can hear the sound of your bones shifting beneath my eardrum. Your nipple sits below my chin, and the crease between your neck, and your shoulder beside my inflamed lips. They burn with the feeling of insecurity in love, with words that I cannot tell you, with the desire to say: “I hope my sheets aren’t stained”, or “I know you love her more than you love me”. Still, from beneath the layer of evening, and before the sound of my roommate’s breathing will return to the room, and before you fade from this bed and untangle my thigh from between your knees, I listen to the sound of your heart beating, and it reminds me that though you are the infinite cause of a knot between my lungs, you are also human. Beat, beat, bum, bum. Beat, beat, bum, bum.
The emptiness of the space between us has a quiet sort of longing that wraps itself in a talcum-fine, wisp of held breath. Your fingertips are an alarm clock waking me from my teenaged drowsiness, while your eyes lull me back to sleep. The smell of your skin is sour, like burning papers, smog, and the bed my best friend died in. Maybe the inside of your bones is fermenting; “Do you feel alright?” I long to ask. Instead, I do not question your eyes, which gore me from their sunken sockets. I do not question your hand which cups the curve of my hip close, and pulls me in — he does not love you. Beat, beat, bum, bum. 
When I am quiet, I can hear the ghosts whispering from within your torso; they’re nestled beneath your heart and above your gut. I recognize the voice of one, a strong bout of laughter, and the sound of my most unending agony. Too far above the place you draw strength, and too far below the pensive of your compassion they lay in wait, hoping to dig their ways from your belly and wind up within my ribs. Yet, some are also my ghosts, too, and when they begin to realize their whispering is echoed within my own skin instead of entering into a dialogue, you pull me from your chest — beat, beat, bum, bum — clean the cum off of yourself and illuminate the distance between our lives by checking your phone — you need to go, and I need to cry. 
That’s how it always was between us, your inner mysteries would cry to me from your finger tips, and I would kiss them softly, rest my hand on the space between your jagged cheekbone and rigid jawline and hope you knew that when I would slowly drag my thumb across your freckled skin, it was me telling you — do not tell him you’re in love with him. Beat, beat, bum, bum — it was me telling you that there were other men before you, who did not leave holes in my life, though they tried their best. I whispered through my entirely fractured, yet unbroken heart that I both loved you, all of you in your whole self, and that I kissed another man last night. I kissed another man last night. He and I were standing in a bar, and the feeling of his stubble was uncomfortable against my skin, and I could feel my bottom lip searching for your name on his tongue, or for my name on your tongue, or for a million and one scenarios to make an earnest believer out of me who will listen when your ghosts tell me that somewhere in a locked chamber of your heart, maybe you — this is just sex, and he does not love you. Beat, Beat. Bum, bum.