Hooligan Mag Issue #24

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snail ma il


Anyone that has ever spent time working in a studio knows that after thirteen-hour days of intently listening to music, when you finally get to leave for the night, the last thing you want to do is listen to more music. However, this past June, two days before my band would head to Baltimore, Maryland to record our own record, Snail Mail’s debut record Lush was released and I found myself not having enough hours in the day to listen to it. Songs like “Heat Wave”, “Stick”, and “Anytime” instilled a sense of queer longing I hadn’t felt since originally discovering Tegan and Sara’s So Jealous. For this reason, I was eager to have the opportunity to sit down with Lindsey Jordan at Mercy Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee to discuss the in’s-andout’s of Lush, and the lessons she’s taken away from touring thus far.

I want to start with talking about your use of pronouns lyrically. I read your interview with Liz Phair recently and you mentioned using “she” pronouns and feeling more comfortable using them but there are no she pronouns on the record. Well there are “he” pronouns being thrown around that refer to this other guy that someone is dating. The pronouns are flowing free without there being any “she’s”. You also refer to a couple of characters as “babe” and “my love” throughout the record and I’m interested in hearing about how you land on specific pet names to use while writing. I think the song “Full Control” is kind of condescending, but there are new Snail Mail songs I’ve been writing where I use “babe”, but I don’t use it very literally. I also use babe in a very loving way; I like that word a lot but that song itself is very condescending. Bob Dylan -- I’m not going to compare myself to Bob Dylan -- but he uses it in a way that’s a little bit of a bold and dismissive way. He uses “babe” in his break-up songs sometimes and I feel like I was just listening to a ton of Bob Dylan at the time and I think that’s where it stems from. I personally use babe in real life that’s not condescending. It could be though, if some guy came up to you and was like, “hey babe” I’d definitely leave. But I would never talk to someone I cared about like that. It’s not as warm as calling someone “your love” or “honey.” Babe, it’s just kinda cold. Dang, Full Control definitely one of my favorite breakup songs in a while. So you said that there are new Snail Mail songs already - when you’re setting out to write a full length do you write songs and then pick the best ones, or do you write with themes and a sense of cohesiveness already in mind? I feel like it’s more of the former, I just write and write and write until I have enough songs that I want to keep. Themes seem to crop up and I tend to stay within those natural thematic circles. But yeah, I more just write until I have the songs that I want to use and then stop. When you were working on these songs are they usually done when you bring them to your bandmates or are they ideas that you flesh out as a group? I pretty much finish them before I bring them to the band. Do you give them part ideas and then they put their own touch on it? Alex, Ray, and I are pretty collaborative when it comes to full band writing, I just tweak it a lot. I usually let them run free and then critique it until it’s what I imagined it being. So if you had all these songs finished, what made you take “Stick” from the Habit EP and put it on Lush? I wrote that song really close to when I recorded it, and I usually like to give songs many months to grow and to be changed. I didn’t really give it any room to breathe. Then we started playing it live for a year or two and I noticed a lot of room in the song for cool production techniques. In particular, the idea that I had in mind - it just sounded way more expansive and cool. I had the idea of re-opening the conversation and working it out to see if it was usable and I sort of felt like it ended up being this whole other thing and I wanted to give it an opportunity to shine. Since you brought it up - was Third Eye Blind an influence on your use of open tunings? I actually didn’t know they used opening tunings until you just told me. I do like them though and this song is on our pre-show playlist.

So who did influence you to use open tunings? Grouper records when I was in my early teens. Nick Drake and Mark Kozelek. Not American Football? No, I never had an American Football phase but I appreciate them. You’ve been touring so much recently and are the only gay person in your band, do you ever feel drained not being around queer energy? I think it’s funny because Alex and I are neighbors and some of our romantic pursuits intertwine. I don’t know how to say it, but I actually feel like I can relate to them a lot because we’re all interested in women and there’s not a lot of “interested in men” energy in the band. Actually, in a way, I can relate to that more. Only because I grew up with Alex and Ray and Ian is my friend from home so we all grew up together in a very organic way. I really choose to surround myself with them. I hang out with a lot of non-men on tour, I have a lot of friends that I see along the way at festivals and stuff too. But as far as boy energy, I love the ones that I surround myself with. I totally get the importance of having a really strong tour support system. I love touring with the guys in my band too. You played hockey, right? What was that like? It was [formative], it was all I knew because I did it for so long and then chose to stop when I was a junior in high school because it didn’t really fit my personal interests anymore. I’ll always love it I just didn’t like being around those people all the time. You also need to dedicate so much time to it, it’s a really vigorous sport and I had other stuff to do. I just figured it wasn’t that important to my mature life but it was still a big part of my youth, and a big part of who I am. I did street hockey in a league when I was growing upYeah, I did too! In the third grade. I did in the fifth grade and I was put on defense and someone hit the puck off off my shoe and it went into the goal which was scored as an own goal or something - and all the guys on the team made me feel so terrible about it so I never played again after that which is such a bummer, but definitely a huge character development. It’s a really young age for that stuff to be happening, sports are hard. Young boys are super intense. Okay - enough about sports, back to music. Do lyrics or music come first while writing? Music. So do you just have an idea and then whatever you’re feeling at the moment are what the lyrics are about? I write the entire piece and arrange it, then write a vocal melody and lyrics which usually just come to me. I’ll start with a theme or an idea or emotion and build off of it but the whole song comes first. I feel like a lot of the musicians I know or talk to are kind of the opposite. They’ll write a poem or something and try to attach music to it eventually. I’ve only ever done that once. Is it a song that’s out? Yeah, it’s “Static Buzz.” - Man they need to turn off my playlist so I can focus.

How’d you pick songs for the playlist? Oh man. The playlist is really long just because we have to listen to it every night on shuffle. We went on a tour with a band that only had ten songs on their playlist, and we were on tour with them for so long and it was insane. I put a lot of new bands on because I just wanted to spread the good word. What new bands? Well this is True Blue. Then there’s Alvvays, Dean Blunt, Princess Nokia, Sheer Mag, John Mouse, George Fitzgerald. There’s a Spongebob thing on there. I’m happy you brought up Spongebob so I didn’t have to. Best show ever. Totally, very formative. I’m really bummed because I just moved here from New York so I won’t be in town for your shows with Alvvays. They’re great. Oh no! They’re so good live, they don’t mess up at all it’s insane. We saw them at Coachella where it’s impossible to play a good set -- it’s not impossible but it’s just a weird environment. Festival soundchecks are very limited and all the bands we listened to that we knew sounded kinda off, but Alvvays was perfect and I was blown away. You’re playing Madison Square Garden soon. Do you ever feel like you’re not taken seriously when you walk into these huge venues? I think we are, like you mean by the staff? Yeah. Do you feel like if you’re overly confident employees are standoffish? I think when you’re the opener for a big band you’re not supposed to strutting like you’re really confident. We’ve made that mistake before where it really puts people off. For the most part, we get a lot of respect, it’s all about how you carry yourself and just demanding respect with your posture and being polite to the staff. Literally just being like, “this is what I’m here to do, set my stuff up, do it and then take it down” and people really respect that. As far as people in the crowd, I have no idea. I’m sure there’s disconnect because people aren’t there to see us but sometimes they are. It’s all about doing your thing and not really worrying, as long as you’re not being arrogant. I believe it’s a fine line and it’s possible to be arrogant. There’s certain things that we don’t do when we open that we will do when we headline and you know, just the way you carry yourself on stage when you open rather than when you headline is different. Being respectful when you play for someone else’s audience is something and it’s a different set of manners and etiquette. How was playing Coachella? It was great, I love Coachella. The food is really good, the bands are really good. We got to see friends, hang out and party. We also got to be in California for the week between the two which was cool and then just did it again the next weekend. I got to see Beyonce and got paid for it, it was sick.


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an interview with Lately I’ve been wondering about what poems do. We often hear about what they help us do -- they are a balm, a motivator, a light to guide the way. All of these are true, and I think it’s helpful to imagine what poems can help ourselves accomplish or pursue. But, I’m also curious about what poems themselves actively achieve within the space of their page, how they act as verbs. José Olivarez’s new collection, Citizen Illegal (Haymarket Books), provides tremendous insight. The poems in this book question the meaning of words we use flippantly, they imagine what sanctuary and solidarity look like, and they give name to love’s countless shapes. In both his poems and in our interview, it’s clear that José actively thinks of himself in the context of several communities -- those of Chicagoans, family, Mexican and Latinx people, and poets, while considering what it means to be a citizen of these communities. In his own words, Olivarez writes, “[with] an ethic of reaching towards my people and giving us poems that make us feel powerful & dangerous.”

How are you doing? What’s on your mind? Thank you for asking. I feel pretty good. My book release party is in a month, and I just spent this whole weekend celebrating Fatimah Asghar’s book, If They Come For Us. Fati said this thing yesterday about how we used to sit in our apartments in Logan Square together when we first met dreaming and reading all the books we loved, so for us to have books coming out within a month of each other and for Britteney Black Rose Kapri’s book [Black Queer Hoe] to come out on the same day makes my eyes a little sweaty. Your last book, Home Court, was co-authored with Ben Alfaro. What did you find similar or different about writing the two books? Home Court was cool because it was my second attempt at putting together a collection with a friend. I also released a self-published and printed a chapbook with Cydney Edwards called Seeing Double. With each project, I’ve gotten closer to articulating myself how I want. I had a reading for Seeing Double where I read a poem and afterwards someone came up to me and said they were sorry. I realized that what I thought was powerful about the poem wasn’t conveying. I wasn’t writing precisely enough, so I was giving people space to pity me and I hated that. I think the question I keep turning around my head is how to write about my histories, personal & communal, which include some trauma and violence, in a way that doesn’t give people tourist access to pain. I want to write poems with a love ethic. With an ethic of reaching towards my people and giving us poems that make us feel powerful & dangerous.

I think the question I keep turning around my head is how to write about my histories, personal & communal, which include some trauma and violence, in a way that doesn’t give people tourist access to pain. I want to write poems with a love ethic. With an ethic of reaching towards my people and giving us poems that make us feel powerful & dangerous.

Throughout the collection, there are a series of poems titled “Mexican Heaven”, which repeatedly imagine what this place might look like. Some of these vignettes align with our expectations of heaven, and others challenge them. For example, one section where you say “all the Mexican women refuse to cook or clean ... so heaven is gross.” What are your thoughts on the way we imagine utopias, especially in speculative or futurist works? Eve L. Ewing says that all of her poems are true stories. I don’t consider my poems speculative. They are true. I’ve seen on social media that you share a lot of Lucille Clifton’s poems, and you make reference to reading her in “Summer Love.” What about her work speaks to you, and how do you think your poems are influenced by her own? I love Lucille Clifton’s poems. Her poems have an anthemic quality that is hard to reproduce without sacrificing the quality of the work. I love poets that make their poems look seamless. Ada Limón’s writing is like this, too. I read Lucille Clifton’s “moonchild,” and I can imagine writing that poem. I am capable of a revelation like “only then did i know that to live / in the world all that i needed was / some small light and know that indeed / i would rise again and rise again to dance.” Yet, that poem is very difficult to write. It turns out, I actually can’t write that poem. So, I study her writing because I want to learn, and because I need her poems. Lucille Clifton’s poems prepare me to face the world and win.

One poem I keep coming back to is “When the Bill Collector Calls & I Do Not Have the Heart to Answer,” because it’s this imagined space where the speaker’s current and younger selves meet each other and also exist at the same time. If you could spend a day with nine-year-old José, what would you do? If I hung out with nine-year-old José, we would probably play a lot of video games. My homie’s nephew is ten and when he comes over the house, we play a lot of video games. Video games were way worse when I was nine, so I’m sure I’d be impressed by the graphics of the games. On a serious tip, I wrote this book because I wish I had this book when I was a nine-year-old. At nine, I felt like I had to choose one identity and perform that identity to the max. I was always scared I wasn’t manly enough or Mexican enough or American enough or whatever. I would have asked my nine-year-old self what was up, and I would have listened. Poems like “(Citizen) (Illegal)” and “Mexican American Disambiguation” explore political or academic buzzwords that get used so often that we focus more on the words themselves than the people or topics they aim to represent. Are there any other words or phrases you’ve been thinking critically about that maybe didn’t make it into the book? All language is poetic. Martín Espada has this essay where he explains that the language of the War in Iraq is a type of bad poetry. What are “weapons of mass destruction”? It’s imagery. I was listening to the radio one day years ago and they were talking about whether or not “advanced interrogation” is ethical. I had no idea what “advanced interrogation” was. Was it like an AP Test? Was it the scientific category for Final Jeopardy questions? They were talking about torture. “Advanced interrogation” is a dishonest way of saying torture. Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about about the “wellness industrial complex” & how things get packaged as a product. Self-care, joy, body positivity, all of these words that are very important to me get eaten up by capitalism to sell me a product. I guess capitalism is deep on my mind. I love that in the acknowledgments, you mention that conversations with your students helped shape the poems in the collection. What did these conversations help you better understand about your work, or just about life? Before working with Luis Carranza, Victoria Chávez Peralta, and Ken Muñoz, I was writing towards an ambiguous audience. I was writing towards my nine-year-old self, my teenage self. Luis, Victoria, and Ken gave my poems a real audience. They could tell me

if I was off-base or wrong. They were a big part of workshopping these poems. Their own work also opened up possibilities. Victoria has a beautiful poem about their mom and in it they use Spanish in a way that doesn’t seek to translate. That poem helped clarify how I could write beyond a poetics of translation. Ken has a series of poems that take place within a Latinx grocery store in a gentrifying neighborhood. Those poems helped me think about a poem like “Gentefication.” Luis writes anthems and seeks to mobilize his community. All of those stories and styles were influential. They are fantastic writers in their own right. For the folks in Chicago, where in the city would you most like folks to read this book, and what snacks should they have with them? Haha. I love this question. Here’s my ask, I want you to read this book on your favorite Lake Michigan beach. Bring a beach towel or a blanket and pack your favorite snacks. People have all sorts of dietary restrictions and allergies, so I’m not going to get too specific. If it was me, I’d be bringing some brown liquor, I’d bring peaches, ricotta, and some honey. Then you gotta read the poems out loud to the lake. If you have a group of friends, that’s even better.

Keep up with José Olivarez at joseolivarez.com/

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Interviewing a creative whose work has left me feeling raw and exposed was an intimidating thought for me. Sam’s art locks you in a closet with a bright light and lays the deepest, most intimate parts of yourself before you. There is no moving away, no shame, just truth. To be in the presence of someone who does not seem to fear or find flaws in the dirty honesty of intimacy is exciting and scary and inspiring all at once. Samantha Q. Bailey, a writer, actor, director and all around bad bitch, is very self-aware. She is aware of her world, the way she presents herself, and the way she maneuvers and takes space. Space is something that can be difficult for Black Women to sit in deeply: What are we allowed? How do we continuously make ourselves smaller without sacrificing our sense of self? It is an impossible facade of balance. And yet, something about Sam feels as if she has it all figured out, regardless of how desperately she wants you to know that she doesn’t.

Her rise came with her first web series You’re So Talented, which premiered on the then infant Opentv. A show focused on Bea (played by Bailey), a 20-something actor attempting to survive heartbreak, judgement and the harsh reality of living as a Black millennial in Chicago. As writer, producer, director, and actor on the show (how dare she?!), it was the one thing Sam had always wanted to do, regardless if anyone loved it. The Gotham and Emmy nominations are proof that people did. Speaking with another midwestern artist also reminds me of what I miss about being home, and the creative spaces that are crafted for us and by us there. On the west coast, a sense vulnerability is missing. In midwestern spaces, people are more concerned when you dedicate your life to the arts. So many people throughout my life have told me: “It’s unstable. Uncertain. No way to make a solid life or way for yourself and future family.” People like us live to prove “good intentions” wrong. We drop everything that makes us comfortable and work four jobs and live in communes and drive cross country to foreign places in the pursuit of destiny. I think of my artistic nature as a midwestern work ethic with a healthy dosage of west coast self-sabotage. Los Angeles is a foreign space for both of us; this place is built on entertainment as industry. Most people here are involved in Hollywood some shape or form. The goal is always success and accolades here, but we agreed that it oftentimes does not feel “real” or conducive to true community building. Especially when you have to focus on the career side of the landscape. “I think about LA and myself in LA a lot. My experience of LA is not LA, it’s Hollywood. I moved to the industry, I did not move to the city. I am not around the LA that built NWA or Ava DuVernay… LA has a lot of strong communities of color and strong feelings of community and I don’t want to negate that. But I don’t think Hollywood has a strong feeling of community.”

There is another facade rooted in trying to find the balance of wanting to work in the field that moves you with the harsh realities of the space’s refusal to make room. It’s something I struggle to reconcile; something that holds me back from going full throttle towards my goals. But Sam refuses to let the systems at work keep her from doing what she was born to do. She found her way to film post graduating from Columbia College with a degree in acting. After a short move to New York and one particularly excruciating theater experience, she decided to start writing for herself. “I got to a place where I was doing this play and got asked to twerk in a slave costume with a gun pointed out to the audience and was like, you know what, there is a line of self respect and I’ve been hitting up against it for a few years now and that was just not something I was going to do. Chicago has a very big live lit scene and Sam Irby was one of the first people I met there and she was the one voice that made me want to write. I started doing Second City work and again realized that I didn’t want to do performing but really did like the short form which brought me to the webseries (You’re So Talented)... We got Tribeca and it’s been rolling ever since”. I was really drawn to the way Sam’s career has begun to take shape. It is not a fairytale or a lucky occurrence, but a consistent determination to find the medium that will best service the art she is striving to share with the world. I have spent most of life in silence, and attempting to make myself as small as possible. It’s why I became a writer: creating worlds bigger than myself without having to ever truly expose my identity was gratifying for me. Words on a page are universal. In a book or a script, I could be whoever I needed to be to enact the change I needed folks to see. But Sam has broken away from that notion. Her words are a critical extension of her as a as a black woman. As a creative. As a midwesterner. If there is any takeaway from this interview, it’s that the thing you are missing is out there, and you just have to be invested in the search to discover it.

Sam has an astonishing amount of projects happening simultaneously. She is currently directing for television, finishing up the Film Independent Program and developing multiple projects for various formats (yes, including Brown Girls for all the fans out there lusting for information on the show’s arrival. It’s still in development at HBO). She barely has time for herself, her days consisting of being on set, in general meetings or writing and creating decks for her projects in production. As millennials, we are conditioned to do as many things as we can as often as we can and through that there is a loss of balance. Add being in an environment that is not conducive to cultivating that balance, it makes it even more foreign. I can honestly say I have never met balance. Sam is no different. Even though we are at different points in our lives, it is something that we cannot deny we would like to have. “I really want the balance. I’m 29 and going into being 30 so I have a whole different phase of my life [coming] and wanting stability even if it’s shaky stability… I know that I don’t want to be a director for hire for my whole life. In order for me to not do that I need to be creating content and in order to do that I have to be in Chicago… Here, I don’t ever really feel grounded”. For a theater kid who didn’t consider film “art” until a few years ago, Sam has an incredible eye for direction. Her style of directing and her vision for a shot are so particular, but so free from the constructed rules of a standard filmmaking that it makes her one of the most skilled in the game. In You’re So Talented, there are moments that are so intimate, and the camera just holds, no escaping the discomfort of being vulnerable. I mentioned how much her works reminds me of mumblecore and she lit up. “This black girl was hella inspired by mumblecore! People really get mad at me about this, but I really only watch movies as fun entertainment. Like, INDEPENDENCE DAY is one of my favorite movies. I was just such a theater person. I took a [course in college] called Story in International Film and Fiction. I saw all these foreign films and fell in love with Gael Garcia-Bernal and like Y TU MAMA y TAMBIEN and AMORES PERROS. I was like oh shit, there’s an art to this that I didn’t even know about. It’s interesting. Film is such a young art in general and to have this mainstage of white men who are considered the gods of it [even though it’s a new form]. And everyone is just recreating what they’ve done. So I’m really interested in different ways of storytelling. And different ways of exploring characters. Which is why mumblecore was so exciting to me. It was something that felt like it went against the status quo of how these films were made… And it also made me feel like, ‘oh I can do that’. I can sit in my living room and put a camera on and just shoot my friends”. I gushed about how much I loved YST and was intrigued to know how involved with creating the shot list and the overall production process she was. As a first time director, it can be harrowing to take on so much responsibility out the gate. But she loves nothing more than taking shit head on. “I am very involved with the shot list. And I did not know what any of that was in the first parts of shooting YST. But, Mateo Gonzalez who is my favorite cinematographer in Chicago, literally told me, ‘I don’t think you know that you’re a

filmmaker’. I’d send him pictures and we’d talk for hours and he taught me in that way. So I always say I come from the school of Mateo. There is something in the way that I shoot that is not film school”. She is very adamant about how much she dislikes the traditional way of doing things (The Aquarius in her jumps out and I love it). “Let’s try to figure out how to get coverage in a nonconventional way. Let’s play shit out in one take. I want to do more exciting and interesting things that open things up. Or brings them in more. I’m a very intimate director. I am interested in intimacy and the human condition in that way. I want to shoot life in urban settings. I want to show growth in concrete jungles”. Feeling a strong sense of community is a crucial human need. For those living with more marginalized identities, it is often times a gift and not a right. It is something we have to find, cultivate and protect at all costs. Seeing someone like Samantha, who is so vocal about not only what she wants but what she needs, is crucial. Her focus on building up the community for creatives of marginalized identities, is so comforting. She is forcibly making space in a world that, regardless of all the articles and “Initiatives” being announced, still does not give a fuck about what we want or need. “Fatimah [Asghar] and I work together a lot. Sam Irby and I are trying to work together. I try to be cognizant of who I collaborate with. I am constantly talking about how I want to meet more creatives of color who are on my level so that we can create together and move up. I think they oddly keep us separate from each other to keep up this crabs in a barrel thing. Like, you’re gonna be the special black unicorn and we just make you shoot to the top. And like, that’s dope but also lonely because once you get there and look around and see that the only people celebrating and collaborating in your success are old white guys. That’s not what I want. I want to be creating with people who are like me and move up together. Like that Judd Apatow thing but without those guys. Doing that for us.”

Even with this “renaissance” occuring in media, there is still a feeling of disconnect. Its hard because we have cried and fought for black stories and queer stories and female stories to finally be respected and told through our lens, but even that doesn’t feel like enough. I find myself turning away from television, even though I love it. There is too much of it, and even with that, none of it ever seems to scratch the itch of what I feel like I need. And then feeling emboldened to critique those things? We have three major black lead shows, and if you say an ill thought about it, then people think you were never with the shits. How do we exist and create and critique our work without it sabotaging the movement? Can we widen the space and also be critical? It often feels like a trick question. We talked about the idea of these shows being slices of life, but ultimately, a slice of a singular pie will never be enough. We need the whole damn bakery. And we deserve it. Because our experiences are different, no matter how many identities we share. The way we exist is completely our own, and we have to feel emboldened to tell our experiences and take up space in our own nuanced ways. I asked her the one thing I ask everyone, and I am always grateful when people answer. The question of what does liberation look like, in your own eyes. A question that, to me, is an invitation into the soul of a person. “Liberation looks like, to me, being able to experiment and work without the burden of [being] perfect. There is a particular burden on people from marginalized communities to represent every aspect of their communities. That is really difficult for artists. I think someone tweeted once like y’all love art but hate artists. And that’s some real ass shit. They want your work but don’t care about the mental gymnastics you have to do in order to curate and create that work. Like, Brown Girls cannot represent every brown girl. It can’t. Not if we want to to tell a real nuanced story that feels real and intimate. But maybe you’ll find something in it that you do and can appreciate...That is all I can do.” Sam is not simply talking about inclusion or what Hollywood should do. Her life is her action plan. Her work is her liberation. Her crew is inclusive by design but also simply because it is an extension of herself. She is commandeering these spaces and taking no prisoners because, for her, there is no other way. She is not trying to be anything other than what she is. There is nothing more jarring and powerful than a black woman understanding her power and utilizing it. It is a kick in the stomach, and it makes yo-

u question the ways that you maneuver this fucked up world. No one is safe from the harshness of this society, so the least you can do is kick some ass while you figure it out. Sam is kicking ass, taking names, and being 100% herself whilst doing it. “I’m a black midwesterner who grew up baptist who is no longer religious who has a lot of queer friends and practices in queer communities and hates industry. That is my experience and most of my work will come from that lens... There’s nothing about Hollywood that I am trying to preserve.

There’s nothing about Hollywood that I am trying to preserve. I don’t want to be attached to anything or anyone that is harmful to communities that I am a part of or adjacent to. I don’t want to help sustain that. So I say burn it all down.

I don’t want to be attached to anything or anyone that is harmful to communities that I am a part of or adjacent to. I don’t want to help sustain that. So I say burn it all down”. And you better believe that she is more than willing to light the first match.

Keep up with Sam below Twitter: @SamQBailey Insta: @samb.chi And see her webseries You’re So Talented & Brown Girls, in full on opentv @ weareo.tv


SEPTEMBER, by Erin Roux It is a teasing thing: a suspended moment, a breath [ ] a dull hum, like cicadas fucking in grandma’s backyard, a blister for each heel and toe from your homecoming shoes. It is a secret republican, surely -[it doesn’t listen]. It is the Son of a Daddy who gets paidnomatterwhat, wantoning between seasons and it is eighth grade, wearing tights under shorts; yes, it is bending the Fingertip Length Rule while hiding the open red skin on inner thigh on inner thigh, it is a chafe that you did to yourself. It is a rubbing -pink erasers ripping holes through Bible-thin paper and Bible-thin paper folded and folded and Scotch taped onto the inside of the spice cabinet.

BUGS AND BALLOONS by Cait Arq It’s 19 ’til two on a perfect autumn Saturday Claude colors my earsDebussy and his dancing paintbrush And yet I cannot hear a cadence Anywhere Melodies in the city Float off the rails “As it should be” They say “Besides, your words have always been too buried” And just like that I avoid responsibility Sitting in a coffee shop Drenching my blood in sugar and caffeine Elusively And rather, try to dig up those bugs That take shape in my mouth And fly into the ears of my counterparts Or onto the pages of my diary To crawl cringingly visible and prickly-toed I’m tying down polyrhythmic values And dissonant pitches Struggling in pinning them to these goddamn tracks Just for rope to turn to ribbons Of balloons Keeping my melodies floating off the rails Elusively “As it should be.” “Fine.”

MY SNOW GLOBE by Gabriel Lupu The World nestled between two layers of white, Like when you slide under the covers – Warm safe. The flags are still and the air is soundless. You can hear yourself breathe out A cloud of mist Fog the window. Make a hole with the underside of your fist. Peer through the placid snow globe. Nothing gets beyond the glass, says the Grand Architect. You can wallop and bang, Throw metal against the glass with a twang Remind yourself of the covers. warm --------------- Safe Think of the covers that you finally get To cover your feet A room full of Dead Poets Nothing gets beyond the glass, says the Grand Architect As He polishes, you wheel your eyes w-i-l-d-l-y about

IN BETWEEN by Haley Winkle all I am walking between the little parties from freshmen walking opposite downtown claiming they’re going downtown so confident already from latin dance practice behind the museum from youth to elders I wish I had confidence to join and the hole in the ground in front of the museum looks like largo di torre argentina without the cats and history it’s quiet in between more so than i can believe for a monday evening in june

CLAIRE’S IS CLOSING 92 STORES AS IT FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY by Rosie Accola I am your chill girl myth the falsely mediated intimacy of a manicure a dayglo heat lamp situated beside cold hands The bathroom door at this bar is covered in stickers, covered in the gray scum of age. a girl is puking in the sink I can hear the splash of puke on porcelain silk strands of hair framing her face. I take my scrunchie, the heather red one from the vintage shop, off of my wrist and offer it to her. Her friend is already gathering her hair into a ponytail, saying don’t worry, I’ve got it. Alok told me that depression is a failure to be held. This bar is too crowded, there is popcorn ground into the floor there are girls in cropped sweaters so pretty that I forget how to make a sound, dwell in an infatuation that is hesitant and primordial while these boys move with such ease, in crocs and sweatpants weaving through the crowd clutching miller lite is the opposite of camp just a depressing new reality? Think of a group dynamic where the air feels tight like an extra translucent layer the scent of sweat + clay a sandaled foot shaking every time someone speaks, nails scratching against scalps and dry skin. I slept so well in Chicago. someone asks me what’s different, I tell them that it feels like there’s no one here, but I wrote poems with Morgan in her room for hours.

PAST THE HAND OF DOG by Felix O’Connor an itch in the palm there are some types of longing that never leave, the desire to feel joy, love and compassion we are ritualistic, every morning is a harvest, memories turned dreamscapes heaven looks something like an open field of grain in the autumn season, angel voices crooning for the harvest I left my breath there, to rise like heat the heat of our bodies becoming a body poem, we are all sprawling limbs, rivers drain into smaller creeks, we love large and extend as far as we can reach, intimacy from a distance. age wrinkles skin like flower pedals pressed into dollar-bin books, or pressed against the soil left to turn into worm-food, a feast for those we don’t appreciate but owe a lot to – bodies become earthbound constellations, waiting for eventual release.

ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN by Auburn Kelton my aunt says: it is so hot in this house and hell will be even hotter i hope y’all are saved that night, as the dark starts to siphon off some of the heat of the day, my house begins to fill with friends. we six heathens, raising our voice in the doxology in nostalgic praise of a god we’ve forgotten. the crickets chirp the harmony and the song intertwines with the smoky air wafting up to the stars, perhaps even higher. and i don’t know about salvation, but i know these souls have saved me and i don’t know about hell, but i think this is heaven and i don’t know about texas heat but here in bama it feels like a comfort blanketing us as we softly sing christening this porch our own little church lowly holy

LOOK AT ME by Anya Karagulina look at how piercings migrate with the passing months, from nipple to cartilage from nostril to septum swapping mouths take a fantastical amputation: the saw leaves not a clean cut but doesn’t struggle the way it really should she parts from her left leg willingly it does not seem like much not traumatic, not like anything much look at me look at your kitchen table sticky with watermelon left overnight. you say i think the black seeds are carcinogenic when you and i have been sucking cigarettes down all night unbearable sweet, look at where i lie in your apartment & i cannot detangle unbearable hollow, look at where i lie in your apartment & i cannot detangle and how you write whenever you can kissing girls in farm towns whenever you can to no witness. it must not seem like much & it’s not

COYOTES by Ali Cassity When summer came, the children ran free. Packs of us like wild dogs, we scampered through over grass and concrete yipping and howling and snarling. We bared our teeth and howled. Bare feet on black asphalt, we competed to withstand the heat longest and rewarded they who desensitized themselves easiest. I stood on the hot tar and let myself burn. I scorned shoes and knotted my feet into green grass; I ripped it out at the root and held it there between my toes. I walked over fields of wood chips and gravel and willed my feet to harden. When callus covered heel to toe, I walked to the driveway’s center and began to count.

THE BYRD by Mackenzie Werner home is sitting in the dark among strangers with two degrees of separation from you tops Richmond’s landmark movie palace one screen no previews just the same anti-littering PSA that’s played before every film since your mother sat here as a teenager the audience quotes every line we all know it by heart we were raised on it when the older woman in the purple sweater vest looks directly into the camera you hear everyone scoff with her “ew, sick” the sssssssick drawn out by collective ill timing a chorus of snakes munching popcorn surround sound you realize the comfort in ritual the decrepit chairs the sound of someone knocking an illicit glass bottle over the dozens of times you’ve snuck cheap take-out in the man on the screen empties his dustpan wags his finger says “somebody needs parental guidance” and ridiculous as it seems you feel deeply comforted and deeply sad you grip the hand of your best friend tight and the film begins

FISH THEY BLEED by Celina McManus 1. abstinent to the binary laws of secular versus sacred— let us dwell in the fifth dimension of three and seven, hatch me free; surrender my spine, & shove it into the backs of halibut. fog lifts & threatens the needles of trees, hiding miles of ash— brands the back of every wild hog in the hills. fish they bleed, swimming upstream to die small deaths duplicate & sin— take me to the great divide, absent of gravity & mind. 2. black bears feast as a vicious fetus in the cradle of the crevice by the crater that is home. far be it from me to tell you what the dust of the dark side of the moon tastes like.

i am only one who dreams, though i am slaughtered by the sight of laughter and full cups of coffee 3. heaven is simply the vibrating reminder that every rhythm to breach the fragile sheet of Earth is stored in the veins of our open palms.

CHIMERA by Solana Cherise August has left me honey-coated – beaten by the weather. oh, sweet, limoncello sun, you’re burning me alive. my limbs are spotted ruddy as Bordeaux, bold and bitter. mosquitos have always sucked the deceit out of me, the dulcet. I am left citrus-sour, tart as a lemon. I am only half-full of nectar. the summer cannot empty me. cannot beat the me out of me, the bittersweet. the dichotomy. the penchant for being both. for liking both. the month’s honey is nothing more than a palatable disguise for my bloodshot ambivalence, my apprehension, and my aching. for the things that are not-so-sweet. the sour. the sordid. August has left me honey-coated – a shade darker than usual, sweeter. it is a borrowed warmth, I know; something pulled from the sun’s beatings. I know I do not match the weather, that I am no match for the sun. the mosquitos have already proven this to be true. proven me false, a (not so) sweet, summered mirage.