Hooligan Mag Issue #16

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Letter When we think of visual arts, we think of the transformation of thoughts into striking imagery. There is a connection between what we think and how we see it, and oftentimes visual artists provide the bridge that our words simply cannot convey. With this issue, we have compiled a group of incredibly talented artists that all work with similar mediums, but through entirely different lenses. Their approaches are unique, but their determination and passion is what makes them successful young creators. We believe in artists who aren’t afraid of themselves; artists that hold no shame when showing off their identities to the world. Each artist featured in this issue embraces who they are, producing films and taking photographs based on what they believe in, not being swayed by popular media, but questioning it instead. We work towards changing popular media by reinventing the norm. With the help of these visual artists, we can embrace the power of inclusivity and the importance of representation. It is time to bring forth the voices that have been silenced for too long. It is time to celebrate their work.

TO MANY MORE CELEBRATIONS, Rivka Yeker and Morgan Martinez




The origin story of The Spectacle is like many we have heard before—it is a phenomenon born of women. Hannah Welever, a Chicago-based cinematographer with roots in Ohio, is one of those women. Hooligan sat down with Welever, a co-founder of The Spectacle, to talk about the inner workings of the group and how it has allowed the work of Chicago creators to find a place on screen. With the help of other intrepid filmmakers and friends, The Spectacle has created a place for Chicago’s artists to express their individual voices through film. The independent films screened each first Sunday of the month at the Annoyance Theatre, where they have been held for the past nine months, are curated entirely by the Spectacle team. Each grouping of films, approximately 14 per screening, are brought together for one night under a central theme. It is no easy task curating a line up month to month. Up until the most recent screening, Welever has never missed a single event, showing extreme dedication to the work of others. Not only has The Spectacle created a community of loyal filmmakers and film watchers in the city of Chicago, but it has also fostered a community fiercely dedicated to supporting the massive undertaking of creating.

How did you get involved with The Spectacle?

My friend Ally Hadly and I got to a point as female filmmakers [at] Columbia College where we got sick of the sexism we were noticing. Being 18 to 20 years old and very passive, because that is what we are taught, and in a classroom setting with all these hierarchies—we started a Women in Film Club. It was essentially a mix of that and the cultural studies program where we would have really intelligent people from the cultural studies department come talk about things like the male gaze or how to talk to women you know—things that are relevant. It is so crazy we did that a few years ago because that shit is so hot and relevant. We got so involved and it is still alive at Columbia. We had a great turn out. We [combined] what our feelings were and how we were treated in Columbia’s film world with this community where we would talk about it and share our stories. One of my roommates was head of the documentary club and I was head of the women in film club and we all kind of friends, but doing totally different things and at a point we all got together and decided to have a screening to showcase all this amazing work because Columbia wasn’t doing it. And then The Spectacle was born?

What is the point of working tirelessly to make all this stuff if we can’t watch it in this beautiful film building. The first joint screening we all had was four or five hours long. We just said ‘we will take anything, send us everything, just come be there’ and we were there. I remember thinking ‘why the fuck did we agree to this? It is so long and it needs to be more refined and have a Q and A and so much more’, but anyways that is how things started. Messy and big. Once that happened we started chiseling away at what we wanted to see. It started at Columbia because we had a space and if you have something finished, you want to see it big and with great sound.

KEEP UP WITH How did things evolve from there?

Once I graduated, I realized there are more filmmakers in this city [than] the 10 I [was] seeing who are my age, with similar backgrounds. As a super diverse city there must be more. I started finding venues around the city that would be down to have screenings. I am so blown away by the number of super talented filmmakers who still come every month. [At] the last screening, we screened a feature film made by someone who started coming a few months ago and then asked if we would be interested in showcasing his work. That screening was the first one I haven’t been to in a year. Do you think you have built a community in Chicago?

You are not doing it for yourself. That is just not how community art programs work. It is going to be exhausting, but being able to bring people together in that way is priceless and just enough fuel to do it month after month. If we make something that is a really strong 90 minutes and if you come for the first time, then you will probably come back. If you love Chicago, it is a great way to be informed as to what is happening and what other filmmakers are doing. You hand pick each movie and put together a whole program. When you are curating do you try to in. corporate films whose themes confront social is. sues?

Yes. I would say that if you have a stage to stand on and you are not representing those things then you are doing a disservice. Our Q and A’s I take really seriously. If I have 14 films, I will hit up the white cis men, but I am making sure to hit up the queer film maker and the black filmmaker. I want the stage and the screen to be diverse. As a programmer you need to be mindful of keeping everyone’s voice buoyant and afloat. You don’t want to pull some down and lift others up. It is all about the representation because seeing a stage full of 20 female filmmakers is a huge visual.

www.thespectacl www.hannahwele


lechicago.com/ ever.com/



by joseph longo photos by annie zidek

Understanding Felton Kizer demands an examination of his social media presence. On Instagram, he promotes himself as a photographer, artist, and entrepreneur—a focus on the visual, as he calls it—but don’t expect to find any self-portraits. Instead, the fashion photographer showcases his personality through the models he shoots with. On Twitter, he is unabashedly candid, commenting on American Idol or ranting about other facets of pop culture. There is no pretense or professionalism, but he wants it this way. As he puts it, “if you can’t accept me in my Kat Williams, you don’t deserve me in my Beyoncé.” Kizer’s “Beyoncé” took years to manifest. Due in part to a self-understanding developed after continuously transferring to various schools and living in multiple cities. He finally settled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. By then, Kizer felt that he had arrived. Although Kizer has moved around, he’s surely rooted in Chicago. Hooligan sat down with Kizer at the Hyde Park Arts Center, where he first got his start in art, to talk about his passion projects. The artist and activist is a photographer and founder of the online magazine and website Off-Kilter. His mother once told him he could do anything. Kizer listened and his work ethic reflects his mother’s advice.

How did you get involved with the Hyde Park Arts center?

I started taking a class here back in 2008. I was in 8th grade, so around 14 at the time. It was an afterschool program and they offered pottery. I was like, ‘I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what this is. Let’s try it out.’It was a pottery class with like 15 other kids from my school. My teacher said, ‘You’re very helpful. Would you want to work here during the summer?’ I needed a job. I needed money. How did you transition from ceramics to focus on photography?

Here, I stayed with ceramics. I did ceramics and printmaking. I never did any photography here until my senior year when they started an art program called ArtShop. I started photography through high school— which is a block away. I started freshman year doing yearbook with them. You spent time travelling while coming of age. How did you compare the various communities artistically?

Chicago is segregated and it’s terrible. The art scene is terrible in that way, but that’s just how Chicago is in general. That’s why you have all these different damn trains to cater to different people to cut people off from the world. When I say the Hyde Park Arts Center, people are like “What’s that? Where’s that? Oh, we don’t go down there.” But, people who live in Hyde Park stay in Hyde Park unless they need to go up to the Loop. It’s made up in that way where you don’t need to leave your neighborhood. You miss out on a lot of different people, opportunities, and that sort of thing. It’s difficult to finagle my way through the art scene of Chicago. I try to go as many places as I can—different areas, talk to different people. So, I just have to make an effort leave my bubble.

This segregation and the non-unity—is that something you like to address within your work?

I guess underlying [themes], yes that is what I do. Because all of the different people I work with, you can’t say, “Oh, Felton has one type of model he shoots [with].” You would just be lying. I guess I may have one look that I put on all of them, but it’s always something different— something exciting. Why the specific focus on fashion and portrait photography?

I just love how people look. I’m really interested in that. It sounds kind of creepy. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I started with that. [In] yearbook, that was my thing—shooting people. That’s all yearbook is. It’s what I’m used to, and then it’s exciting. Everything else I would just get bored. How would you characterize Off-Kil. ter? It's more than just a magazine or a website.

If anything, I would categorize it as an intimate movement of artists. A true safe space for conversations, for engaging, for partying, or whatever. So, whether [it’s] an event, an issue, a podcast—even our monthly music playlist—whatever we can do to mix it up and talk about some shit. Why is it important for to take an activist approach?

It’s important to me because there’s so much information out there, but not enough people have access to it. I feel like I’ve been privileged in having information and [access] to great amenities [from] the school I went to alone or just being here at the Arts Center. I’m privileged to have had [these] great opportunities and have that information out there, and I know a lot of people don’t. Why not? People are putting it out there. It just seems the right thing to do.

You've done photography, you've done other art work, and you've taken on a lot with Off-Kilter..Why do so much?

This is so cliché, but my mother told me I could do whatever I wanted, and I believed her. Well my mom said I could, so I’m about to do it. I get [that] all the time. People say, “oh, you’re doing too much. You need to focus on one thing, ” even people I work with now. If I just did that, we would not be here right now. When you shoot, do you typically have an overall theme or message you're trying to get across?

I work with the visual first and worries later. That’s very much how my brain operates. I see things before I think about anything. Is it a concern to stand out among the many photographers and on-line publications?

I’m not worried at all, because what I do is unique in its own way. I’ve never been worried in that, because I believe in myself; I believe in what I do. People are going to get it or they’re not, and that’s going to be that. There’s so much that people can choose from. You can have more than one favorite; it’s okay. It’s alright to like this publication and that one as well. There’s no need for the whole competition thing. It’s foolish. People are going to do things differently, and you need that. We need difference.




"What makes projects true and special is when the artists and the people who are making it lived it."

Artists create for different reasons. Each one has a chosen medium, a desire to craft, and something to get off their chest. For Minhal Baig, L.A. based and Chicago born artist, there is no order to the criteria of being a creator. For her, they all blend into the same priority—the same agenda of telling honest stories about versatile characters. We Skyped on the day that she was editing a music video that she wrote, directed, and produced for musician: Brandyn Burnette. Her schedule is never free. She is always seeking new work—itching to make something and trying to be on set as much as possible. It’s inspiring, really, because anyone that has spent 14 hour long days with the same people can at least understand the basic level of exhaustion that filmmaking can bring. “I would never put myself through all the work of production unless I really cared about it,” she says. People often don’t realize the amount of grit required in these processes—the amount of energy needed just produce something that is worthwhile. For her, there is no option to make something that isn’t. Baig graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Visual Arts, meaning that she has no classic film training— she started as a painter and a playwright. Considering the level of form and creativity in her work, one would think otherwise, but people tend to forget that just because someone went to film school doesn’t mean they’re going to make exceptional films. Likewise, someone who didn’t go to film school absolutely could. Minhal is dedicated and with her knowledge focused on the visual arts, her work is visually striking and particular, as if a painter meticulously crafted the entire film—which in this case, one did. She’s no stranger to narrative, either. Her comic, Sunset Cleaners, published by Image Comics, is about the minor traumas she experienced in the days, months and years after 9/11 as a Muslim-American. Baig is talented in just about every way possible. She is also capable of being kind, calm, and easy to speak to. People like her don’t come around too often, especially not in her industry. Since Minhal is such a passionate worker, it’s hard to find people on that same level, which makes gathering a crew all the more difficult, especially when money is tight. “I always have to give a disclaimer for every project,” she says. “You can not be doing this for money.” For many, that sounds harsh and exploitative. But at the beginning of a film career, you will be working for very little—for exposure—to build partnerships and connections. Multiple times she points out that there are other ways to make money, especially if you’re passionate about your projects. “Low-budget music videos are not going to make the same as a commercial and I try to make that clear,” but at the end of the day, it’s up to young artists to decide how they are going to further their careers in an industry that doesn’t care about the individual. Baig guarantees that the outcome of each of her projects will be quality work, and she promises to put each team member on the roster of people she will work with on upcoming endeavors—ones where she does have more money.

“People have a hard time knowing what it means to do 100% of their job,” she says. “Especially if little money is involved.” But Baig isn’t just using her cast and crew, in fact, she’s pushing them to see what it’s like to put their all into something that will be good. She is inspiring them to become just as passionate about the project as her and she is encouraging the notion of collaboration. She has been told over and over again that $5,000 as a budget for a music video won’t work or that she’ll have to steal locations. In these situations, she has no other answer but, “It’ll take more time and more phone calls, but that’s work I’m willing to do for something I care about. If I can’t hire someone to do something, then I learn the job.” Baig has the much needed confidence and determination that pushes her to the top. She knows that no one else is going to be doing it for her. While money is a constant difficulty in art, especially when artists are trying to make inspiring work, Baig was originally told by her playwriting professor to enter the screenwriting field because there would be more money there. She thought that when she graduated, she’d be a producer. As a graduate, she was on track to being financially successful, impressing her parents and peers when she landed a job at an agency in L.A. fresh out of college. She worked in the mailroom, and then became an assistant to a TV agent at United Talent Agency. In the eyes of everyone else, she was living the dream. Her job was prestigious and impressive, especially for a recent grad, but Baig says, “I realized that I [didn’t] want to work on that side of the business. I think it takes a particular kind of person. I don’t think I’m that person.” So what kind of person is she? She has the work ethic and the talent to be anyone or do anything, but it is the world of production that steals her heart. She wants to be the person making the art, not the one distributing it. Her least favorite part about filmmaking is the writing, which is slightly bizarre, since she is a brilliant writer, so she elaborates by saying, “writing is lonely. You sit in front of a computer screen and you type, but there is no fun to it. I do it because I have to.” To her, when she is directing, she gets to work with other people and with editing, you work with the footage and it’s visual and exciting. With writing, you are working with words and yourself, and oftentimes, it is an isolating and long process. Despite these challenges, writing her own screenplays has helped Baig be taken seriously on film sets. Since she didn’t go to the American Film Institute like many of the people she works with, these skills help her earn trust because her colleagues know that she knows what she wants out of the film. Baig doesn’t simply hand her script over and begin working—each project requires a much more extensive process of dissecting the script and making sure everyone understands it. She likes to ask questions like, “what’s best for this story?” and, “what will it make it the most emotionally impactful?” While her colleagues are immensely talented technicians, she has to make sure the emotional creativity is there as well. “I want to make sure the script feels alive,” she says. “What makes projects true and special is when the artists and the people who are making it lived it. They lived in the space and made the writing into a living breathing thing.”

KEEP UP WITH MINHAL www.vimeo.com/minhalbaig www.twitter.com/minhalbaig

Baig doesn’t hide her desire for success. Her short film Hala was Vimeo’s “Short of the Week” and was published on NYLON Magazine. Hala was her first large project that required a lot of planning, time, and cooperation from her team. Money was raised through supportive friends, family, and other filmmakers who liked what she and her crew were doing. By squeezing the good out of social media, the film raised enough to become the successful project she had hoped it to be. The film itself is a coming-of-age story, one that features a 16-year-old girl trying to figure herself out, while still respecting her parents and religion. It is honest and relatable, but also attempts to show a reality that mainstream media normally tries to hide or misrepresent: a Muslim girl doing everyday teenage things and thinking everyday teenage thoughts. Baig’s main approach when writing characters has less to do with a political ideology and is more about telling an honest story about the character. “One of my biggest pet peeves in movies is when a marginalized person is a main character and it suddenly has to be political,” she says. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to explore stories that haven’t been told—she naturally wants her characters to be interesting, not just typical cliches seen in popular media. She says that Hala isn’t autobiographical, but being a Pakistani Muslim-American that is a daughter of immigrants, the film was personal. In the film, the main character is Iranian-American. Baig whole-heartedly believes in casting people that are true to what their characters are. Not only did she cast Iranians, but she also had an Iranian-American on set to confirm that everything Minhal set up was accurate. The consultant on set also made sure the Farsi the parent characters were speaking was correct in order to make the acting authentic, not a poor portrayal of real people, but a genuine one. “When a movie is about a white person, the movie isn’t about the whiteness,” she says. For her, the same should go for any non-white character. In the film, the character Hala is like anyone else. She skateboards, listens to music, and is interested in dating. Baig makes movies to tell stories, to show a world that might not exist in the mind of the viewer. Baig is passionate and determined and her work reflects that. She is prepared to show the world of film that she is capable of telling hundreds of different stories. She is an artist and artists exist to create, to expand their minds and learn about anything and everything. Minhal creates because it’s in her blood—because she can’t stop. The world needs people like her: people willing to invest themselves entirely into something they believe in while also maintaining a sense of modesty. Minhal creates because she has to, because for her, there is no other option.


Natalia Leite is cool—really too cool for words. At 31-years-old, she has already been a part of her own production company, created her own web series, Be Here Nowish on Youtube, and recently has been taking her first feature film Bare (starring Dianna Agron and Paz de la Huerta) to film festivals all over the world. We got in touch with Natalia at the beginning of August and were totally starstruck. Our biggest lesson learned from her: be weird, be confident, and, “don’t ever stop.”


"I think a lot about how to tell stories that show our shared humanity."

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a writer, director, [and] actress, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil. But have been living in New York City, and sometimes LA, for the past 10 years. I come from a visual arts background, which has really influenced my style of filmmaking. I love filmmakers and artists that deal with surrealism [and] different realities. I like David Lynch. He has such a great sense of humor and [a] dark surrealist approach. Tonally, I think my films take on a darker, sort of bizarre essence. [I’m] also a fan of the work of Andrea Arnold, who did Fish Tank and other amazing movies, because she really strives for authenticity and real human interactions—something I always strive to do. I love to direct real people and blend them in with professional actors. I also pull a lot from my observations from reality, and my own experiences and observations of humans—the absurdity of being alive at all. What made you want to be a filmmaker?

I was such a movie lover as a kid. I would watch films and be so touched by [them]. Films influenced me to take risks, to find myself, and to understand my life and my relationships better. I just saw what a powerful art form it was and wanted to be a part of that. When I was young I would stage events in my bedroom, like with my toys, and photograph them. I was always trying to create my own reality and that has kind of been a theme in my movies too. What has your experience been as a queer woman working in the film industry, particularly in L.A.? Being pegged as queer is both a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. It’s a blessing because you get to be automatically embedded [and] associated with a network of the most creative thinkers, artists, and souls who all want to work together and help each other. On the other hand, even though I am proud to be gay and proud to be a woman, it’s sometimes annoying to be segregated and categorized as such, rather than just labeled a filmmaker. What advice would you offer younger queer,,non-male artists— particularly filmmakers?

Dont wait for approval. Don’t apologize. Don’t compromise your vision. And if you love it, don’t ever stop. Also, if someone ever questions your authority, even subtly, just because of your gender, sexuality, or age, stick it to them and prove them wrong.

Your first feature film Bare explores much darker elements than Nowish. What inspired you to write Bare?

Bare, and all my work in some form, is inspired by human relationships: the psychology of how people interact and why they do the things they do. I have a million psychology books in my home and love reading about and understanding humans. I’m also really drawn to themes around sexuality and alternate realities. The hardest part about making a film is just making it. I mean, it’s so hard to pull a production together. There are so many people, money, and a million elements involved to make it happen. So much can go wrong every moment, especially on low budget films. In the middle of it all it’s really important to stick to your original vision. Film has the potential to morph into a million different versions of itself—many of which may not be what you had in mind. So you have to trust your gut and not give up elemental parts of your vision. When was the last time you felt scareD??

It takes a lot to scare me. I get scared of Trump and Trump supporters. I get a little scared for the state of humanity every single day. But I try to use this all as fuel, and do something about it through my work. When was the last time you felt in love?

Every second with my girlfriend, who is this amazing, inspiring and positive person. I feel in love everyday right now because I’m directing my next feature film. I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love. Even on the really hard days, when you’re dealing with diva actors and things not turning out as planned, I still go to set every morning feeling in love because I’m doing what makes me happy and telling the stories I think are meaningful. What do you feel is the biggest responsibility of a filmmaker as a storyteller?

Film has the power to let people metamorphosize. It is a universal language. By showing other perspectives or telling other people’s stories, it allows people to see the through line of humanity that exists through all cultures, time periods, etc. It is an empathy machine. Its use is as universal as having the power to change your perspective. I think a lot about how to tell stories that show our shared humanity. What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my second feature film, written by Leah McKendrick and starring Francesca Eastwood, called MFA, which is centered around rape crimes on college campuses. It’s a thriller about an art student who taps into a source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. She becomes an anti-hero set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free. It’s a super important and timely topic with the recent rape crimes in the media and documentaries like the Hunting Ground shedding light on the issue. [I’m] super excited about this new project! ​

Ricardo Bouyett by nohemi rosales all pieces by ricardo bouyett

For Ricardo Bouyett, a fine art photographer and filmmaker, making art starts with two things; emotions and colors. It starts inside his mind; he experiences everything through color. To him, is a very intimate experience. Inspiration also comes to him through his emotions. When asked why he makes certain pieces, Bouyett states that his feelings guide him. “I’m just a big bag of emotions. So when I feel something, it just floods until I explode,” he says. “When I see something in my mind, I just know I have to make it. I feel like something is taking over me.” Ranging from fine art portraiture, to short film narratives, Bouyett’s art is subversive. Though it is fictional, it makes an impact by telling stories of real life issues. His photographs and films grapple with the complexities of toxic masculinity, homophobia, sexual and domestic violence, rape culture, gender, and race.



One of his very first projects was a poetry series titled Letters for My Body that he wrote for himself as a form of healing from the trauma of being a rape survivor. “At the time, I didn’t know who to talk to about it,” he says. “I had never heard men talk about [rape]. I had never even heard them mention it, so I didn’t know where to go.” When asked about his work, Ricardo doesn’t really refer to himself as an artist, but rather someone who is just trying to get a story out there. In the photography and film industry, there is a lack of discussion on how men are involved in conversations and discourses about rape. “At the end of the day, all of these issues on domestic violence and sexual violence are men’s issues. And I don’t think they get addressed in that manner,” Bouyett says. “We all know how crooked the system is,” he says. “But we’re not having conversations on how we can hold ourselves accountable. Let’s start with our homes, with our communities, and ask ourselves how we can change.” “Ultimately,” he says, “what I want to do with my art, is spark some inspiration in men, so that they can look within themselves and ask ‘how am I [contributing] to rape culture, how can I be a voice to change this culture?” As a gay Puerto Rican, he lives to defy expectations imposed on him, whether it be about sexuality, gender, or race. In his work, Bouyett beautifully confronts trauma, abuse, love, and desire. His photographs are whimsical, and slightly fantastical. They speak to the feelings we have, but cannot always explain.

"were not having conversations on how we can hold ourselves accountable. Lets start with our homes, with our communities, and ask ourselves how we can change."

In “Oh Buoy”, a collection of fine art photographs paired with poetry, there is a poem that examines manhood in American society, part of which reads;

“Shove me into a lilac bush. Crush my bones and my heart, So I can learn to unfeel. Teach me the ways of men. Bury me in the ground for refusing hate. Scold me for loving other men. Kill me in the name of machismo pride. Teach me the ways of men.” While going through Ricardo’s collection of short film narratives, entitled Lionheart, it is hard not to feel enveloped in a world that was at once both beautifully fictional and painfully real. The narratives pull at the heart: a mother who finds her son wearing lipstick, a man being beat up and called a faggot by his own brother, a woman being choked by her husband. Though I don’t know the actors, the fictional victims of violence and hate, I know and feel their pain. The way Bouyett creates their realities is a mirror of our own lives, and he sparks the necessary reactions we should all have towards this violence. His pieces are visually and emotionally invoking, truly provocative, and inspiring. Bouyett’s beliefs and creations leave viewers thinking that if we only had more art makers who are as in tune with their feelings and ideas and as passionate about transforming the current rhetoric of violence, rape, and identity as he is, we would see great, monumental change.

spilled ink

spilled ink SPILLED INK

Spilled Ink

MOUTH by Scout Kelly Take a picture of me with the cigarette. This is the year of the mouth. You said that I looked as if I were expanding growing taller. (And I am) I am stretching like a trash bag to fit everything inside. I am afraid to become too large, too full to fit inside my parent’s house. At night I dream that my teeth fall out like crumbs and turn into gravel. When I wake up, I can still taste saltwater and I am so thirsty.

Stupid.. by Rosie Accola Everyone I make out with is a human croissant, all flaky and beautiful. Not the sort of thing, you could live off of just something to shove down your throat when you’re tipsy at 2 A.M. a light snack. You can’t build a life with stale carbs alone.

HURRICANE SEASON by Jade Mitchell The first time we met, I mistook you for tornado: watched you hold the room in one breath, only to tear it down in the next. Your name became hurricane season. I wanted to broadcast it like a warning, to become stuck in the pull of your pressure lines. You were the first person to change the seasons inside of me, to inhabit the rooms of my mind once barricaded, the locks now torn at the seams.

Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand? You were the only one to open me up, and not make a fire out of me.

switch by Peyton Brunet Like fingers pressing into the hollows of my cheeks the wet coil of my tongue waits to tell the truth to tell the story

the one about the year

I feel a hot hand on my knee I feel the face of the sky break open I become tenderheaded and cruel because this is how I was made, in the furnace of the throat She tells me

Women are better in destruction.

She places two fingers in my mouth in prayer. The other hand consecrates the slow water beneath our feet.

Vitriol by Nik Moreno I need a life where the only things coming from my mouth are clouds soft and free of thunder and lightning. Where my words are orchestras meeting your ears like I’ve wanted them to all along. Most days this mouth has a mind of its own. I watch in horror as it spits its vitriol at you. Cut my tongue out and feed it to the wolves. It was never good for anything anyways.

My mother thinks I'm fragile by Madeline Happold My mother thinks I’m fragile She gives me dainty trinkets Happy ceramic dish bowls A melancholy canary singing Love as if I’ve forgotten Love as if she had to remind me That if she loved me at least someone did because Home is where the heart is and love laugh love And other empty euphemisms lining the walls between The roosters and the family portraits trying to tell me What she could never say and I could never feel. I scared her when I cried violent tears of a broken heart Because I made it there and back again but My hands slick with sweat and tears and shame The bowls scattered on the hard hardwood floor I might as well have dropped a bomb Because through my mother’s eyes I died And as the glass broke I broke and she broke That vision of me she believed was true. So now she thinks I’m fragile Wraps me in tattered newspaper And tells me to be careful Each time she passes on a new gift.

Flickered Flames by Jay Diamonique I am so saddened at the loss of potential after a romantic flame The flame flickered and blew out much sooner than I had anticipated Like birthday candles before I got the chance to make a wish I do anything in my power to rekindle the fire No matter how dim or bright the flame burned I cannot stand the thought of “what could have been”s When a candle’s wick has grown too short and you burn yourself in attempt to relight I burn myself continuously, Hoping I will not let romantic potential escape me Because the aromas were so sweet And the mere glow of the flame Was enough to leave me desperately anticipating my very own Happy Never After Curiosity may be the death of me If not first the flames

Esther by Alyssa Carabez Broken Bohemian she whispers in poetry to herself “Why did I get so lost?” Trembling fingers, milky cataract eyes. A somber sigh pulses to escape from a skeleton cage. Edging the walker on countless carpet paths directionless, pacing through salmon diamond printed walls. She once was a beauty, all the nurses say. They laugh & nod at all she mutters, trying to encourage her, keep her talking. The vet, immured in a wheelchair, spares her a wave she doesn’t notice. His stare lies beyond the double-paned glass to the V of birds. “I wish I could fly away with them,” He says with good nature & melancholy to the room of vacant faces. Blinking with slow, heavy eyes his gaze falls to his leg that isn’t there.

Enmeshment by Luke Galvin a long line of amorphous performances i myself am convoluted who am i who am i who am i a bruised apple that never fell far from the tree a delayed reaction to abandonment only now five years later do i dare act out who am i rebelling against by burning the home that never once knew warmth? i am a stranger’s child throwing a tantrum painting my face with the ashes, i remain unrecognized

it was your U­-Haul documents and photo albums left behind that taught me to kiss with my eyes open and check my lover’s breathing once i was a comma shaped egg alongside your thigh and we were never apart

CUTE TRIX by Cheyenne Bartram

My head is a wild river / Please don’t call me daughter / I jump back into my body and sink My mother works on curdling the milk because she thinks I cry too often and this sounds like good love but I promise you it isn’t that Now I’m an adult and don’t even trust mirrors I changed oceans last week And I’m still hungry for more space to come home to This morning I woke up and googled synonyms for sad And laughed until I couldn’t breathe right Somebody else’s mouth made me lonely again and I broke them in half with my teeth this time I do this to stay alive, isn’t that a cute trick I made a house out of old blood and danced for the big wind to take away what I named mine like always like normal SOMEBODY CALL THE FUCKING BRAIN POLICE, RIGHT??? A very bright something howled that it loved me once instead of saying it back I named all of the fruit I’d ever eaten after the way it looked when I ran It’s nice that I remember everyone’s name and stay honey sweet But it’s nicer that honey is literal vomit

I’m like that guy who digs the graves What a lousy thing Hey, I turned my own grief into a shovel so you can bury what you once named joy too I’m a gemini so everybody jokes about how many people are inside me I scream loud in my head that If the sun could touch everything I am now Maybe I would make a better living thing I can’t make the moon laugh And I don’t even know what she sounds like I just know that violent animals yell loud at her and so I call her sister/mistress/birth