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PULP CULT QUARTERLY VOLUME 2 SUMMER 2017 poetry, art, essays and more by Pulp Cult Writersʼ Collective

a zine benefitting The Peopleʼs Lobby + Hope For The Day

THE RIME OF YOSEMITE | SARAH CIMARUSTI Yosemite Falls was a screen saver; someoneʼs elusive shot on my computer would become a lost train of thought until I was there in the middle of Spring when water poured out from spider cracks between my feet.

Pulp Cult is a Chicago-based writersʼ circle comprised of women, femme, genderqueer, trans, nonbinary and female identifying writers and artists of all disciplines. We convene to share skills, critique one anotherʼs work in a constructive and safe environment, and learn from each other to further our craft and amplify disenfranchised voices in the literary community. We seek to encourage diverse voices and perspectives through inclusiveness, collaboration and education.


The moss stained stones, walkways of stones the earth decided should be there, or people thought to arrange for others to know how a place can sit and settle in a soul that paces to and fro looking for something that knows itself and does not quake at the sound of its own surge in spirit.

I could spend an entire day watching where I stepped, but the waves called and clamored. Slanted rock walls soaked and cloaked themselves in translucent veils to signal a natural matrimony. I stumbled over my name at the sight of giantess falls, an endless purge of white clouds and cold showers that carve songs into stone split down the middle. Recall an ancient rhyme of people on their way to a wedding when there was water, water everywhere.



If everything was self aware Would a butterfly reluctantly emerge from the coziness of its cocoon only to be amazed by its freshly formed wings Glancing back and forth admiring the symmetry In the fall, would trees grieve the loss of the leaves falling from its branches And would the paths that lead to nowhere become lonely by the lack of travellers Wishing only to feel footsteps amble across its grounded body

Your cinders sprawl and drag across the bedroom

If everything was self aware Would grass think it was greener on the other side, always comparing itself to hues of fellow blades in the crowd And in the spring, as the weather starts to warm, would snow enjoy melting, or find it to be painful As worker bees tire from collecting pollen would they sit to admire the flowers as they bloom And maybe those blooming flowers would intuitively know their beauty was emerging

cradling yesterdayʼs coffee chills and stales on the sill

If everything was self aware Would a forest use its shadows to learn to tell time Anticipating the eeriness that creeps in with the fog of the night But as darkness moves to cover up the sun, would the sun welcome the break from having to shine If everything was self aware Would mountains take pride in the elevation of their peaks But always wonder about the valleys down below Would the wind be glad it is invisible, or would it gust with frustration just to be noticed And as the moon cycles through its phases, would it feel too exposed when it was full Waiting desperately to revolve and be hidden once again Instead, unbeknownst to them, caterpillars morph into butterflies, leaves fall, and seasons change All while minds construct self awareness trying to build meaning And the earth, the sun, and the moon dance around each other in a circle among the stars, Seemingly unaware of what they are creating

settle like snow as artifacts pantomime your wild goodbye a single shoelace knots itself on the rug, meanwhile a mug

where an errant draft whispers sober truths of reckless love through absence, ash and dust



When we met I was sixteen. You were twenty-three. We used to talk for hours. Remember? Like that time you kept me awake For days in a row, crying from exhaustion and fear. You told me you would kill yourself if I got off the phone. When we met I was sweet sixteen. I spent two years, I missed my closest friendʼs birthday tethered to my computer, because you were drinking isolating myself and depressed. for you. I missed school And I thought because I that didnʼt want to be the reason you was normal. killed yourself.

And I thought that was love. When we met in person I was ALMOST eighteen. You werenʼt my first kiss, and that bothered you. But you would be my first in other ways. You made sure of that, didnʼt you? You were my first sobbing panic attack while someone was on top of me. You were my first “Iʼm just going to touch.” You were my first “Iʼll just put it in a little.” You were my first “Shh, Iʼm sorry, Iʼm sorry.” You were my first, But you were not my only.

And still, I stayed. With every one of you. Gaining new firsts. The first time a hand that wasnʼt my dadʼs slammed into my face. The first time I felt the lurch of morning sickness. The first time I had ever seen that much blood. And you were only worried it might survive and youʼd be tethered to me Like I was tethered to you. And I thought it was normal. The screaming fights and guilt trips. Flashing back to being helpless in that house. Knees bruised Grains of rice digging into my flesh. Teaching myself to be sorry for everything I did or said. For existing. For making you angry. For making you hit her. For making you hit me. And I thought that was just life. She taught me All this Was just life All this Was Normal.

AFTER THE ELECTION [NOVEMBER 9, 2016] | EMILY BEREITER The morning after the 2016 Presidential Election, I walked into my local coffee shop to have breakfast as usual. That morning like other mornings, it was packed with people. Unlike other mornings, the majority of people seemed oddly subdued. I felt I knew the reason. Who wouldʼve thought that the man who insulted women, disabled people and Muslims would become the President of the United States? As if to add insult to injury, there was a small group of people who seemed happy about Trumpʼs win as they talked loudly about he would change the country for the better. While none of the other customers confronted the group directly, I overhead one man say to another, “Look me in the eye and say that Donald Trump is good for social security or Medicaid.” While another muttered that while they were free to voice their opinions, there was no need to be gleeful about it. After that morning, I now see the truth of phrases like “the atmosphere was thick with tension” or related descriptions. Never before have I felt such an angry and sad atmosphere as I did in that coffee shop. It was so thick that I couldnʼt wait to get out of there. But wasnʼt anger always a part of Donald Trumpʼs platform? Tapping into the anger of those who felt their voices were not heard? Voices full of anger at a system that failed them. Voices who were angry as their country changed rapidly around them. Changes from who ran the White House to the very cultural landscape of America. Voices that were angry about any number of things and voices that wanted to see change go their way. If it was anger that elected Donald Trump, then there will be even more anger now that he has won. Yet hopefully that anger can be mobilized into supporting organizations that help those have been hurt by Trumpʼs rhetoric. I do not want what I saw and felt in that Starbucks to become commonplace around America and made even worse for those that Trump and his supporters have vilified. After all, there is a reason comparisons have been drawn between Donald Trumpʼs campaign and historical figures like Adolf Hitler to fictional characters like Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort. Screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the Back to the Future

trilogy recently revealed that the vision of the alternate 1985 where antagonist Biff Tannen made millions in the casino industry and now controls the town of Hill Valley, was directly inspired by Trump. Therefore, if Donald Trump continues his platform of stoking anger and fear of “the Other” then we must fight back. If he is Hitler, be the countless brave men and women who protected their Jewish neighbors and friends If he is Darth Vader, be Princess Leia If he is Biff Tannen, be Marty McFly If he is Lord Voldemort, be Harry Potter If he is Emperor Palpatine, be Luke Skywalker We must stand up to Donald Trump and show him that he will not let us live in fear and hatred. We will not stand for his bigotry, racism and disrespect for women. All of those real people and fictional characters that I mentioned above stood up to the bullies and dictators of their societies. America does not stand for bullies and we just put the biggest bully of our times in the White House. As saddened as I was by what I saw and felt the morning after the election, I still have hope for this country despite what the election results tell us. I will stand up to Donald Trump because he has positioned himself as someone who wants stop Americaʼs progress, both within the country and on the world stage. Donald Trump does not have—nor will he ever have—my respect. As a woman, I cannot in good conscience give respect to a man who has said the things he said and done the things he has done to women. Eight years ago, then Senator Barack Obama gave us hope and we now must keep that hope alive if we are to make through the next four years. Hope that Trump will not destroy all that we have worked so hard to build over the past eight years. A country that accepts people no matter the color of their skin or their religion. A country where diversity makes us stronger not weaker.

self portrait in my grandfatherʼs jacket | ANNA McCOLGAN and all of a sudden strangled thing in me never soft thought once and for too long the tight wind in all these boys trivial base for thrashing arms excretions here body release only as symphony only as circling my own slop fertile also magic cuz self evident somewhere else this sputtering crooked machine seeks to boundary matter for romantic unmaking of self to stockpile same old things we all get one of birth death body but not i little old me i imposed on by this wretched i live some other place somehow not here amongst the noises

when i say there is a man in my head i mean my head is a man when i say my head is a man i mean always asking for my work and so my time and so my money i mean always saying what it doesnʼt mean when i say my toes are men i mean have names when i say my lungs are men i mean every day i try to burn them alive and staying i mean torture i mean i donʼt want to look them in the eye mean just if i did it would be gift these days broke not curious or might find mirror catch self hidden OR be tricked AGAIN i wish to wake from this find my own knuckles paled by pressure gripping neck peel off instead my eyes donʼt close and they are watching instead fit loose in every inch



Carry me out to sea My legs are fins My skin breathes I have lost the ability To stand with a grave society Fools plan how they will end Drifters play when youʼre gone To The Water We Go

THE GRADUATE | SARAH CIMARUSTI The server has to repeat herself.

A year ago I was in a cornfield about to run my leg of a long race when she called, voice in disarray.

“Iʼm not sure what kind conversation yʼall are having, but it must be pretty good” she says, handing us the check.

I couldnʼt touch her wreckage, but tried anyway, sounding more like a fortune cookie than someone who lives with seven-foot shadows.

My father and I reach for it in the center of the table, and our fingers touch.

Sometimes love is lost over static.

We laugh at her brand of honesty. Itʼs true; we canʼt take our eyes off each other. I canʼt remember the last time my parents broke bread instead of promises together. I promise you forgiveness is harder than you think because the work is not done through thinking. My sister smiles underneath her graduation cap, a gap between her two front teeth. Cherry lipstick, studious, black rimmed glasses. When did she get glasses? Her eyes dart back and forth from my cocktail to her coke.

When I ran, my feet rubbed raw against the soles of my shoes, blisters bubbling on my toes. There was no such thing as a breeze in that kind of oppressive heat. I wanted to run toward her, not alongside a team I just met. In the booth, I adjust the clasp of a necklace my mother bought her. I cry, and my sister cries too. She has always cried openly. Everyone gives us our moment of loud silence. This is the kind of conversation weʼre having.



In a vessel Held together by run-down ligature I will dwell.

1. There was a girl named Lilith—she wore raw silk and draped herself in gold.

Wandering Led by this faulty organ in my chest Aimlessly.

She knew that a woman is a warrior, little God turned machine. She was exiled to

Lost in tides Scouring the ocean for a means to mend This bruised heart. Forever Though rough tides may soon rip me asunder I will search Tirelessly For the warm embrace of your open arms As we sink.

the Earth that bore her, buried a libertine. Sheʼll never be clean. Weʼll never be free. 2. We walk with our backs to the wind, dodging whips, still keeping pace. Heading down a royal road aimed towards a land named for forgotten saints—a debt to the vault of heaven that we will never be able to repay. 3. I woke with a crown of lilies above my head, palms nailed to bedposts. Iʼve built a 21st century Zion, waiting for a whiskey priest and a miracle. I am a temple of one, the christ on the cross, I believe in one God by the name of Me. Amen.

BROWN BOY | ALYSSA CARABEZ He stopped speaking Spanish at school last week because the white kids made fun of him. Soon he says, he will not talk at all. He tries to not be lonely, but he would rather stay quiet. He never sees his papi, except well past midnight. Everyone is sleeping, at least two to a bed. No AC in this steamy July, and Mama keeps the windows shut because thereʼs been three break-ins on this street, and sheʼs not taking any chances. He makes sure to be up when his papi comes home, fighting the weight of the heat that tries to lure him over to sleep. He knows his papi has come home through the smells. Even after a shower, he climbs into bed, his hands reek of fish, steak, and seasoning from working in the back of the house at restaurants, all day and all night. He is scared his papi will leave soon to be a bricklayer in Texas, where some cousins say they donʼt check papers. At least Texas is closer than Michoacán. He could visit in the summer, Mama and all the kids on the Greyhound bus for hours. But for now, itʼs a make-the-sign-of-the-cross-and-kiss-your-thumb Good Night, Quique. BY HAYLEY DEVITT

RAZOR SHARP | CATHARINE YOUNG Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

Margaret left the lights off and closed the curtains over the big window that faced west. She got herself a glass of water, an Excedrin. Put her leftovers in the refrigerator, and sighed. She would not get to grade her studentsʼ papers tonight or do laundry or dishes. She kicked off her shoes in defeat.

Margaret approached her apartment building, arms overflowing with her day—a bag full of papers that needed grading and Styrofoam encased Pad Thai from lunch. Her blonde hair swept over her eyes while she fumbled in her purse for her keys. She unlocked the deadbolt, and as she crossed the threshold into the foyer she was hit with an incapacitating headache.

She needed to lie down, and she needed to close her eyes. And keep them closed. Margaret walked down the hallway toward the bedroom, and with every step she became more and more nauseated. Bile crept up her throat and receded back into her stomach like a tide. With each wave of nausea the taste of chicken and peanuts became more prominent in her mouth.

Margaret closed her eyes against it.

She went directly to her closet to peel off her tight tailored dress and throw on an oversized t-shirt. Her dress was halfway over her head when she realized that Douglas had left his entire set of free weights directly in front of the closet door, making it impossible for her to open in her current state. She threw her dress angrily on the floor.

Margaret swore she had no history of migraines. Over the past few months, though, she was plagued with increasingly painful and increasingly frequent headaches. The odd thing was, they always started as she walked into her home. And even more strangely, there was a certain sequence of events she could expect from the rest of her evening. She would drag herself up the two flights of stairs to the apartment she shared with her fiancé and open the door to find that Douglas was not home. Even though Douglas was always home. He would slip in hours later, smelling of whiskey and armed with her favorite hyacinths or a too-big bar of dark chocolate. He would rub her back until she finally fell asleep. And the next morning she would wake up feeling entirely normal, Douglas nuzzled up against her. “I need to see a neurologist,” she said aloud to the empty stairwell. “Or a therapist,” the stairwell replied. Ignoring this, she unlocked the door to her apartment, and before she even called out, “Douglas?” she knew that there would be no reply. Refusing to find anything other than coincidence in his absence, she gently closed the door, and her eyes, just for a moment.

“Why are you here?” she shouted at the weights. “Why isnʼt Doug?” the weights shouted back. She ignored them, and decided to get directly into bed sans PJs. When she made eye contact with the bed, however, a tsunami wave of pure nausea surged through her. She knew that she wouldnʼt be lying down to rest any time soon. Even as Margaret bolted into the bathroom with the expectation of meeting her Thai noodles for the second time, she noted that the quilt had been lazily thrown over the pillows rather than folded neatly back to showcase the contrasting underside. quilt had been lazily thrown over the pillows rather than folded neatly back to showcase the contrasting underside. Why had Douglas remade the bed? Margaret retched over the toilet, eyes closed, as questions lit up in her mind. Where was Douglas? Retch. Why had he blocked her closet with hundreds of pounds? Retch. Why would her slob of a fiancé bother to remake their bed after napping?

The consistency of the vomit spewing from her mouth felt nothing like Round Two Rice Noodles. It was entirely different from Partially Digested Chicken Chunks. It was, indisputably, hair. “Open your eyes,” the hair said to Margaret in a calm, clear voice. Margaret did not want to open her eyes, but knew that in order to move forward she must. She fluttered her eyelids open and took in the scene in front of her: a thick hairball of long dark brown curly tendrils of another womanʼs hair balanced serenely on the edge of the toilet seat. “Where did you come from?” she asked the hairball. “You know the answer to that,” the hairball replied. Margaret found that she did know, and that she had known for months. Her migraine disappeared. “Itʼs all over, isnʼt it?” she further inquired, but the hairball remained quite silent. Margaret put her head down on the toilet seat and cried, but she kept her eyes open the whole time.

HOLDING YOUR SILENCE | JEN SAMSON This morning I tried to press my sorry into you, the morning of you not looking at me, that morning ALL OUR LITTLE DELTAS| JEN SAMSON of whatʼs hanging there Sometimes between us, I just want you branch sagging low of rotting fruit to hold me. this isnʼt ours I think this isnʼt us. I think about all our little deltas. I search across the console Do we go about our lives on autopilot? feeling your set jaw like holds in a rock face, Hold me. frantic grasping for anything solid in the crag This city, itʼs a crowded lonely. anything to hold onto I ache for vibrance. anything Where did you bury your speed? where did you bury it? Hold on Are there any more potatoes? And I held the back of your sleepy neck. You know, the finest silt is rich new earth extend your mouth empty yourself here.

HUMANS ARE LIKE TREES - HEREʼS MY TREE STORY | JASMINE JAURIGUE Trees come in many different sizes, colors, shapes and different environments, climates, and roots. The earth is home to about 60,000 species of trees, and they are all beautiful in their specific unique way. Each has a different story by witnessing so much in their lifetime as they stand tall and still.


We are similar to trees. The earth is home to billions of humans from different parts of the world. We all look different, and our roots are different. Where we come from, our background, and past shape who we are today and leads our path for the future, no matter what storms come our way. Our roots, like trees, start from the seeds of our parents. Not all of us know our biological parents, but our seeds are planted from somewhere – whether we are aware of our parents, love them or not. The history of our parents or families who raised us and their personalities shape who we are today. We learn about life through those surrounded by us, and their genetic DNA is what makes us look different from others, and sets us apart from different cultures. My seeds were sown from my dad, a Filipino immigrant to the U.S., my mom who was born and raised in Chicago from English, Norwegian and Native American heritage – also known as white. Many experiences helped shape my roots to make me stronger, and the trunk of my tree thicker. Since I am biracial, I stood out in a forest of trees looking the same with more nutritious and privileged soil than I. I looked different and I lived in a trailer park which made me the object of ridicule. Their fingers stretched the skin from the corners of their eyes toward their ears, and sounds of meshed rambles and accents came out of their mouth to emulate a foreign language: to mock me and others who are different than they. The trunk of my tree was forced to grow as I learned to accept my identity as a biracial person from a lower class. They may not understand, but looking and living differently is who I am, and it is okay. No matter what stage of life we are in, we have or will go through challenges that

Like a tree that gets tested by the weather and other humans, many different experiences of love and pain test and stimulates our growth. I faced some turbulent weather when my parents divorced; I faced the consequence of rebelling against the law and losing my childhood home due to it becoming too old to maintain. Ultimately, it was my pain and struggle that made my trunk thicker. However, the two storms that shaped my life the most during those years was giving my heart, soul, and trust away to someone who took advantage of it and watching my grandmother die in front of my eyes. Feelings of confusion, depression, and anger controlled my soul, and it was hard to process my next steps in life. When storms of pouring rain, wind, lightning, hail, cold sleet, and snow trample and enrage over on top of the earth, trees cannot run away, hide or protect themselves for safety or comfort. They have to endure this pain, but the storm passes through, and the pain is temporary – even if it is for a few weeks, months, or years. In response, trees still grow taller, and their trunk becomes thicker and stronger. Like trees, humans are not defined by their mistakes, by what hurt them, or by what they feel. Our identity is not what happened to us or what we did, but it is our journey and what holds us together in the process. Our past should not be an excuse; it should be the experience that we learn from to inspire us to be better. Like seasons, the leaves of trees may fall to the ground, and the snow may freeze them numb for a few months, but the spring comes and trees sprout new leaves again. /// continued at jasminejaurigue.com ///

HEALING A MORTAL WOUND | SAVANNAH ANTHONY how do you begin to heal when youʼve broken your own heart how do you wipe away tears that have long since disappeared this time the hurt is entirely your own your heart decided to skip every other beat and your breath refused to come all on its own this would be so much easier with some villain or scoundrel to blame this would be so much easier if you had broken my heart instead but you are good and kind so i selfishly wished that you were mine i cut my heart on the jagged edge of emotion and so i alone was left with the scar it is not of your own design that god made you so that i felt cherished with your words and heard the future in your voice it was arrogant and foolish to think you felt the same warmth from me you are light and you are gold and never belonged in a pauperʼs hands this would be so much easier if i could hate you instead but i cannot and i will not and i do not know if i ever will

so how do you begin to heal when youʼve broken your own heart i made promises to myself and tucked them away inside your eyes

they write books based on less tragic tales and provide manuals on loving and hating but not on neither nor both i cannot hate you even as i try to unlove you

i dreamed of a future i had no right to see a future for youbut surely not for me

even that is more impossible still then simply turning back the clock from behind tired tear-stained eyes you ask me if i will wait

when i opened my heart to share these visions with you you said that you could see them too then you spoke words so they would never come true

if i let myself i would while countries sink and mountains fall while valleys fill and seas kiss the sky i would wait through it all

you love me you sayand that much i still cannot believebut this is neither the time nor place as matching tears mar your face

but if i let myself wait what would be left in the end it would kill us both all over again and this time there would be no resurrection

i never wanted to hurt you i only ever wanted your smile but i have stolen it from you and now i do not know if i will ever see it again

sonnets are written and stories are craftedcivilizations rise and fallthe course of history has been irrevocably altered all in the name of love

you love me you say yet i see the truth in your eyes and i hate to know i have made you speak in lies you want to but you cannot

but i have made an effigy of love and love a dagger of me and it has held us down in sacrifice and made us both to pay the price

so how do you begin to heal when youʼve broken your own heart when you and i are both in pain and now i have murdered us both

-so how do you begin to heal when youʼve broken your own heart

EMOTION | SAVANNAH ANTHONY the first time you see me you pass me by a brief glance but is enough all the same for i will not be relegated to a fleeting thought or memory i am an emotion all on my own you cannot define me you cannot describe me but you will try and fail a touch of sadness a spark of anger ignited by mystery and thought i will consume you all the while i am an emotion all on my own and you will have no word to call me so you will lay awake feeling but never knowing so the second time you see me you will ask for my name just to hear me speak to have a name for what is now flowing through your veins even so that will not be enough you have a feeling you have a name but that is just one more thing to call out the next time you are with someone else

so the third time you see me you will ask for my time and honey i must stop you there my time is the most dangerous thing i could give you for i am an emotion all on my own you have dreamed me at night but that cannot compare to me in the light and once will never be enough you will want to kiss my eyes and feel my hands and experience my words whispering over your mind you taste this once then without it youʼll die how could i presume to know i am a woman a force unto her own how could i presume to know ʻcause darling you are an emotion too

A QUEER JOURNEY IN SEVEN PARTS | ALYSSA CARABEZ 1. In pretend games, you were always the boy. Aladdin, Dimitri, Simba. You didnʼt mind. 2. Taking too long putting your bike away, you found a magazine in the garage. Not a nudie mag exactly, but thereʼs beautiful lace on beautiful body parts, Lips that look like they would be soft, and Britney Spears. And you canʼt stop gingerly turning each page taking your time to look. 3. Youʼre a gay cliché. Youʼre in love with your best friend. 4. She doesnʼt care for hugs, but she hugs you. You feel special. You feel like kissing her on a Wednesday movie night on her couch. A pillow on her lap is the only thing separating your head from her thighs. That and her parents are in the next room. And youʼre too scared to anyway.

5. The first girl you kissed was in college. You really are a cliché. You would make out in her dorm room between classes to twee pop. It was all sweet and soft. She wanted you to meet her parents, to be the girlfriend, but you couldnʼt. 6. All the boys you have loved: brown, femme, queer. They shared secrets only with you. They broke your heart, discarded you anyway. 7. Cut your hair off. All of it. Grow it out. Cut it off. Repeat. Feel like yourself, no matter how you look, no matter how you dress. Youʼre you.

A SCAR IS A DOOR | JEN SAMSON You scored your arms and then your thighs why. I know why. Your dark alleys are different from mine. I donʼt let myself sleep. A scar is a door.


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Pulp Cult Quarterly Volume 2  

Pulp Cult creates its semi-annual compendiums in order to raise money for non-profit organizations close to our hearts. Pulp Cult Quarterly...

Pulp Cult Quarterly Volume 2  

Pulp Cult creates its semi-annual compendiums in order to raise money for non-profit organizations close to our hearts. Pulp Cult Quarterly...