Light tan #35

By Cosmo Halterman de Ochoa

In Texas I am white

But I am browner in the Mitten

 

When it’s winter I bronze with the moon

Cool in blues

Round face, round body, white like

A baby’s bottom

 

A white baby, that is

 

When it’s summer I don’t think

About much of anything

Just that I’ve never been skiing

No pizza, french-fry, slip fall

No slope in Utah, or of my nose

 

Just hills

 

When I’m away it’s always freezing

I’m always cold

 

At home I’m in the sun

Crisping, turning on glitter beaches

On hot red dirt, concrete pressed in patterns

I’m fine like sands through a sieve

I’m thick like leather

About to be tanned

 

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a letter i cannot send, no. 3

Anna Letson

intoxicated by my mind and the glass at my lips

i spilled the truth and everything locked up inside me.

afraid of vulnerability, i gathered my thoughts

hid the key in the back of my mind.

you know suppression makes things imaginary.

 

you aren’t supposed to remember when the door is opened,

when the truth splashes across the carpet and breaks the glass.

don’t hold these things against me,

because when i sober up, they disappear again.

you know suppression makes things imaginary.

 

don’t mistake a window for a mirror,

because we are not the same.

i gave you everything

and took nothing away.

you know suppression makes things imaginary

Flying

By Ahsem Anwar Kabir

A little birdie looks out the nest

with gusts of wind beneath his wings,

filling him with a conquest

to find a branch from which to sing.

Never knowing all that went

into this moment, all it was

with ardent, garnered confidence,

his talons part the twig in trust.

But soon he finds it’s not so quick,

under skies this humid, dull and thick.

He thinks he’s singing pretty songs,

and once he’s right, but then he’s wrong.

Those who fly with him give him hope:

just enough to keep him out of crisis

but he thinks of tying a noose of rope…

oh, if only he were armed and flightless!

Most times, he feels not even that strong,

but aimless and prodding, detached and absorbed.

Civil, not salvaged, pushing along,

he waits, but his perch leaves him ignored.

Flying away, he knows not to what:

a high, mighty branch, or a deep, worthless rut.

And in staying away from swaying astray,

he does okay, but still he prays:

“Let me out of this place:

where the air is hot and heavy!

where the branch is but an abstraction

ever so distant: a façade of my imagination,

where all the currents feel the same,

sending me back and forth

like an empty soul with no control:

apathetic, trapped, apathetically trapped,

between the two extremes of repose and dreams!”

Well… whatever he, she or it is,

wherever he, she or it lives,

God seems to be bearing witness,

so our birdie persists until it’s Christmas.

Jaheem

By Jemima McEvoy

     “You haven’t missed much. It’s been raining non-stop for the last two weeks.”

I squirmed a little in the cold metal chair, wondering whether it had been an appropriate thing to say. Jaheem, the boy sitting opposite me, took in the statement with a cool disregard. It seemed as though he barely even registered what I said; the corners of his lips turning up slightly as he leaned backwards in his chair on the other side of the glass. The gentle, orange glow reflected a halo onto the separation between us, and I couldn’t help but think about how he was beautiful. Big, beautiful, black eyes, beautiful dark, dark skin. A beautiful smile that made me sad. His skin was cutting against the “danger” colour of his clothes, but he didn’t seem dangerous. He was so small.

     “I don’t like wearing this,” he put his thin fingers onto his temples and rubbed in a delicate, circular movement. I watched in uncomfortable silence for a moment, thinking of the right thing to say. Knowing I couldn’t promise release and I couldn’t truthfully say that he’d be wearing sweatpants or a sports shirt any time soon. I don’t like to lie to my clients, but I hate to incite false hope. He raised his eyes so they were directly in line with my own—it was unsettling. Not because I was afraid of him, but because the way he looked at me without faltering made me think that he knew more about myself than I did. Another thing that scared me was knowing that he did it and not knowing why. I didn’t know what to say so I shook my head and flitted attention back down to my notepad which sat undisturbed on the grey plastic table below my damp palms.

Men. Part One

By J. Cartwright

Men like to leave me:

My brother, and father.

I fill the hole with boys,

and they leave me too.

My first boyfriend in two weeks,

second in three,

third in three days,

fourth in a month.

Bang Crash Boom Sting,

one after another.

So sometimes I thank God

my brother wasn’t shot—

Bang,

but stabbed instead.

I hope it hurt less.

I once watched my muse

trip and fall

face first

to the ground—

Crash.

Like the sound of shattering concrete.

Sometimes I envision the way

my father fell from the ladder—

Boom,

onto his back.

Is concrete better than a bullet, too?

I should ask my muse.

My biggest fear is that

a man will never hug me.

my brother and father had this way;

they would wrap their arms

around me so tight

when they let go

my whole body

would—

Sting.

Men like to leave me.