Wicked banshee press death and rebirth 2016

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MOTHER What does it mean? she asks, looking up behind her glasses, the lines of the bifocal the newest exhibit of age. Shaking my head I smile tightly, all hope of bonding dissolved like the sugar she put in my coffee, even though I asked for black. I try explaining the poem but if I need to explain it I haven’t done my job. She hates it when I use the word fuck, thinks it’s a dirty word, a cheap word. But that is precisely what it was – he didn’t make love to me on the ground, twigs digging into my skin till they tattooed his name onto my back. She hands the journal back to me, the meaning of my poem put aside like this week’s recycling. I shake my head, it’s yours to keep. She smiles thinly, a tightrope I’ve balanced for years. I won’t read it again, she says, knowing I’m unarmed when she lobs the bullets. I swallow the dregs of my coffee. The sugar bites my teeth. -Courtney LeBlanc

Lonely I like to pretend that I don’t live alone. I turn on music, the television, and all the faucets - anything to drown out the unrelenting percussion of the man next door beating his wife. After having my wall kicked in three times in the middle of the night, I learned quickly not to call

the police. I still find bits of plaster near my fridge. Does she find pieces of her face near hers? At an age where most people have a family, a car, and a home, I live by myself over a seedy pub. The entrance to my building is marked by vomit and discarded pizza flyers. There is no doorman tipping his cap, but there is a homeless man slumped against the door amid syringes. Instead of placing a decorative wreath in the entrance way, he's marked the door with piss and bloody handprints. My neighbours are all professionals, with letters on their C.V.s like D.U.I. and P.C.P. They learned to count through incarcerations 1, 2, 3. They learned to spell through diagnoses of hepatitis A, B, C. Every apartment is its own retail outlet, but all the merchandise they move is damaged: crack cocaine, cracked jaws, ass cracks…the hallways always smell like ammonia and the Bic pens that they’ve used to write their life sentences. At night, when the drunken fighting in the parking lot keeps me awake, I tell myself that someone who sold their soul has no right to complain about the empty feeling left behind. I touch the scars that remind me that things have been worse. I drink black coffee to wash mucus and shame from the back of my throat. “Why are you so angry?” asks the guy at the poetry slam as he slides his slimy hand down my spine to grab my ass, as if a lifetime of being handed bouquets of purple and black bruises made every day Valentine's Day, and every meeting in an alleyway a date. Cosmo Magazine says the first rule for attracting a lover is not to appear desperate, but it doesn't tell me what to do when I haven't been kissed in five years, or what to do when I live in Babylon but have always wanted a son named Zion. There is no article about loving when you are as shattered as the crack pipes outside my building, or how to appear desirable with sewer system veins. I’m 35 years old and scared to close my eyes because I’m afraid of being left in the dark. I like to pretend that I don't live alone, so I save my tears for when the womyn next door Locks herself into her bathroom with an ice pack. We both sit in the tub to weep. It’s the only time I don’t feel lonely. -Beth Murch

A Resurrection You are meadow-minded to think gravel was only a creek-leap. She didn’t see you running, just coming into your own legs. Nothing but knuckles in her arms. Roadside with spine weaved flesh and eyes wet, her rings catch your velvet as she connects the spots on your back, kissing the bloodscent from your nose. With moss-breath still in her lap, she watches your bone-memory resume and crank your body upright, bend by bend. Then run to forget the stare of headlights, or die a lonely death.

Recipe for a Mood Ring Stuff the Michelangelo sky into a blender, letting cotton-pink wisp like child’s curls. Make a cup of tea: Take the tentacle swirl of cream’s first kiss with black-steep, and freeze. With a pipette, extract the a summer sky over green lights and billboards, Grind night’s freckles into fine powder, slice a piece of the sun (careful not to break the crust) and fold over egg yokes. Pluck a single bead of water from a midnight bath and inject gems with color. -Kailey Tedesco

NO LANGUAGE BARRIERS Last flight out for long ago booked vacation, searching for elusive R&R, we passed Sandy from 30,000 feet, landed in West Palm Beach airport; hailed a cab - the driver, a displaced Haitian man, his defenses fixed and revitalized – unlike Port au Prince. His body language screamed perfect human emotion; crushing handheld radio, pulling cord as if a stubborn mule chained at its end – there seemed no end for him. He spat at the radio, demeaning me and my sister in a fragmented language he thought we did not understand; high school French served us well. And for us, the end came at hotel entrance – we tipped and toed into natural stone lobby with water feature foretelling bigger better water features, a trailer for big show coming to Jersey soon. As we checked-in, our parent’s checked into our home; their mandatory evacuation ‘safe house’; we all believed Sandy was Irene, a supporting rainstorm, a disappointing headliner to Weather Channel hysteria. Hotel TVs detailed coverage Super Storm Sandy, Storm of the Century, we listened, turned away from graphics but our too slow necks and eyes caught sight; slopping up watery images; flooded homes, flooded towns, tears - babies floated away; we could not be deaf or blind. See - there is Seaside Heights Ferris wheel, iconic relic - lost - returned to the sea. My sister and I lost touch with family, text just in, next door neighbor’s write parents safe in our house, contact semi-restored, cell-to-cell We returned from our fitful restful vacation, our elderly parents lost on land by sea, devastated psyche, devastated retirees, lost memories, lost monies, lost inside our home, and we return displaced in our in-tact out-of-whack house, filled with displaced parents, displaced daughters, displaced sistersAnd we understood the displaced Haitian taxi driver, there seemed no end for him. For us the end merely began,,, -Victoria Kalos

Bridges (Munster, 2010) 1: We fuck in a closet Drunk And carefree Like two jellyfish Blindly reaching for each other In the dark 2: He loves me, he says 4 months later And one more visit We’ve spent 48 continuous hours together Lighting dynamite with the embers Of our cigarettes 3: He says he’s in the hospital Slips a note in my locker: “Come find me” Come find me I follow the breadcrumbs to the cell Picking the pieces of his face off the floor 4: English is his second language The first is a scar that reappears every few years And tells him To cut off his limbs 5: The ghost of him leaves for the outpatient program The doctors give pills that can kill if you mixed with alcohol I make a career of drinking For the two of us 6: We fuck Like two matchsticks Trying to ignite ourselves I pour gasoline on bedsheets To help things along When he tells me to stop I pretend not to hear him 7: It hurts, he says

I know.

Timber From the beginning I was honest. Told you what happened. Waiting 2 years for you to look at me... differently. I’m sorry if it’s hard to tell the difference between you and my rapist to me it’s all the same when the lights are off. At night we lie like wood in a lumberyard and I pray for my skin to splinter your hands; thinking they’re “His”. I still wake up with the memory of fingered flames searing flesh but I am not your project This is who I am: Bruised fruit ugly wishing love was enough to satisfy you. You pull the strings, make me a puppet to your sex. You say I’m too sensitive; Too protective of what is mine. Four months of abstinence I’m still growing my limbs. Hear this forest falling around you. You asked me if my rapist could make me cum just as hard as you could. A wooden puppet rotted by the pull of the strings but you gave up the moment your ego

your ignorance and your dick became more important than both of us. -Melissa Rose

Blue This line is not about you as much as it is for you As much as it is the density of bone and hard tendon matter against the rip currents Blue suspension cables leading down to the corridor in your forearms Flexed muscles in hidden passages that open and close like elevator doors Your hands they open and close like elevator doors They are pivotal yet underestimated thunderstorms look at what they hold Like the blink of a match from within a cyclone A shutter speed to take it all in To snap Polaroids of the moments leading up to your grandfather’s grave stone Play them like a black and white picture book His eyes wrote every story and remember that you know them all by name A contrasted memory broadcasting the bullets of automatic fire The world’s greatest weapon is a poem like an AK 47 A heart beat doing a sonnet on automatic fire Some people you know like a sonnet but you want to love them like an ode Like a sestina of their grace use your fingertips to carve out the form of human anatomy onto sloppy register receipts The stranger with kind eyes telling you he sees special things in you that the mirror never sees Make a wish on the bones for moment but who cares Finger paint with the words even if the words don’t make sense Pretend they are vowels or rainbows in iambic pentameter format until the next current hits Pretend they are beautiful Live like you are dying because it is better than dying to live Hold onto precious moments Hold onto them tightly like they are kite strings Like they are the cords that ground you from boundaries of being a human to the transcendence of being a god Like one minute there is time and the next it slips away The next minute the elevator door close and times slips away The clock is the worst judge of character because it has the face value of stone Its pale dinner plate face knows nothing about us, it just spins I want to smash it everywhere because I am still full from last night’s meal And torn blank pages I am full with everyone and this line is not about you as much as it is a piece of you As much as it is something to remember A jigsawed crescendo of seconds mimicking the tap dance as you footworked your way into my life Like you are an expert at the tango And I am always willing to dance even if it is cold Even if we are drowning in shallow rip tides As you grabbed my hand and we spun around to become the voices found in empty parking lots or

in The silence of midnight oceans as we said this moment should last like a summer And I never want to be the one to forget anything So I write poems out as memories on cue cards or register receipts Connect the dot wisdom Because someone told me once that writers never die But I never want to be the one to forget how to live. -Alexandria Savastano

Incinerated Psalms of Blood 1. Do you even know what cremated body parts look like? They might be bigger than you think. They might be smaller than life, but larger than death. Visualize your own eyes growing into red beet shapes, one on each side. 2. Envision the incision made by unexpected incisors, turning your roots into shrapnel, then setting them into flame. Even if you never believed in hell, you are now a burning carousel dripping down. Your afterlife will be mixed into the eye holes of dead horses and you will be praying for one of them to please come back to life. 3. Horses hidden in hoarfrost keep emerging in bad dreams. Horses run through hoarse barns. Hemlines narrow their slits. You can stick a baby horse inside

a nightmare conveyor belt. Dripping aborted debris onto a field

She Another swaddled slaughter. You can't keep squirming away from this scene. Asphyxiation will turn into ossification, put pressure on the dream. Which one? The twisted prop set of trying to figure out if this is an omen or your own choice. Entreating for another entry wound, more and more extreme until the dream rips a mermaid out of the water, holds a machete up high to the sun, then the double fin returns. At half-light many hours later, the sword becomes an oyster catcher catching coal as the sun keeps dying. Am I dying along with the myth? Am I a discolored hag fish trapped inside a vase? A witch, every which way reminds us of the power of lights to snag arteries, sudden fluctuations, red disarray stuck inside a turntable. Thrown down under water while still trying to play my songs. -Juliet Cook

YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD Get over being got. Empty from pockets dreams of being understood. This will never happen. You are fringe. Go away. Sit at the edge of a mountain, or an ocean, or a road. Let it do what it does, just like you will do what you do, like you could ever stop yourself. Leaving is knowing the unknown is better by virtue of not being now. You are not the first. You are not the last. You are not alone, even when you want to be alone. Everything you are running from is standing directly behind you. It will not kill you anymore. Remember, all the chocolate, the blow, the neon triangle drinks, cocktail olives, acid tabs, lines, pills, bottles, crooked leather smiles, dirty palmed eyes, liquid and broken, promising. None of this is an eraser. A lockbox. A security guard. A hero. Remember what pulls you down. Remember that it serves you – the pulling. Indulgence is another name for Soothe. Reliability is an impossible thing to hope for. That doesn’t make people any less valuable. The disease may be shame. The disease may be inflammation. Know that it could be the food you eat. Quit eating things. Avoid gluten, or dairy. Sugar or soy. Eggs or nightshades or nitrates. For weeks. Notice what happens. Pick one thing. Eat it all day long. Notice what happens. Quit drinking alcohol. Stop smoking pot. Notice what happens. Take back your body. This is your body. Know that coffee makes you anxious. Know that sugar makes you cry. No shower is hot enough to burn off bourbon palm prints. No numb will press their fingers any further away. Know it could be the thoughts you think. Know that you are never what you think. They will tell you, over and over, to get over yourself. What they are trying to say is that your world is not so small. The word “should” is not of you. It is someone else’s belief tugging at your reins. Spit out the bridle. Buck. You are not workhorse or show pony. You are embodied. Resist. Forget that there are things about you that will never change. Know there are things about you not worth changing. Know that Indulgence is another name for Surrender. Know that this is all about Shame. Purple bruises sit only so long before they harden into stone. Resist. You are embodied. Remember, you came out screaming. You are human, a capacity to feel. You are a library, collecting stories and dust. You don’t know who you are without either of them. Know there are so many places for you. That nothing is on accident. That you are no accident. Even though you have been told different

- Cecily Schuler

Our Rivers Will Be Graveyards

Let’s discuss the workings of a gun The miles of rivers worth of sludge we stuff down the barrel. The way we wave it around in the air maniacally before pulling the trigger. Let’s discuss how we loaded the gun How we made bullets out of Gods and Russian rouletted our outcomes. Let’s discuss the holster The way we shoot our hearts despite our mind or maybe our minds despite our heart and spend eternities handicapped by hate. Let’s tell one of the Gods that we took handfuls of dirt that he/she/it created and threw it in their face to blind them. Let’s tell them we forgot what beauty that dirt contains so we decided we’d rather it die. We float rivers bloodied by our hands where we skinny dipped away our bones. We rest at the bottom. We grow weary searching for understanding and become blinded because our eyes are dazed by the sun. We put that loaded gun up to our head and kneel to say a prayer. Convinced one of those Gods is at the end of one of those bullets, and they are because we put them there. Placed them there with all the delicacy of power and listened to the soft melody of a songbird and the hurried rushing of this river and in the second that we pull the trigger

became overwhelmed with the warmth and comfort of falsehoods. The Death of a Super Hero I remember the day the Camaro wouldn’t start. Mom frantic as she always was before school; we were running late. She called you for help and you swooped down within minutes. I was 8 and I truly thought you had materialized; this Superman for my Momma. I didn’t recognize until much later that you were living with us and she was hiding it. I don’t think she fully knew that at that time, I wished you did. I wished you were around, always. I wish you’d remained the Super Hero I thought you were. I wish you hadn’t decided when I matured that my light was desirable, that placing your lips to mine and sucking out the shine was worth your demise. Please know you destroyed so much potential. You took hearts with hope and with the simple strength in your hands you smashed them. You took my mother’s partner and you washed him away every. single. time… you dipped your hands into the coolness of my clear waters. You dragged my Caped Crusader out to the backyard and you beat him in the face until I could no longer recognize him. You broke his fingers and knocked him out at the knees. You shoved kryptonite down his throat and strangled his honor. You left his body and muddied my waters. Leaving just a memory of him to float on with me eternally. I wish my mother was comatose. Sleeping through an alternate reality, incapable of waking. I wish you could come along, place your lips gently against hers and renew the light you extinguished. I wish you could be like Superman, rewinding the world with your lightspeed to rethink and redo these choices. I wish you could feel how sometimes you are every hand that touches me. I wish you knew that my wish came true and that you’re around now always.

- Sarah Moran Bipolar. It feels like the sound of someone hanging up; you realize the breathing sound on the other line is just your echo. That moment of white noise, dead air before the vibrating sound takes over and the call drops.

Fear of God & Ketamine ( a very long list) I found out the other day I grind my teeth in my sleep how, on occasion, I talk to myself through clenched cracked tooths about glycerin, Lysol, Diet Coke, malice, crabgrassand empty cartons of milk.

The thoughts of tracing her freckles, wondering what dissolved her into white powder, cigarettes, shampoo, chlorine, forked tonguesand French vanilla body spray. I was the accidental prick of a pin, razor rash - skinned knees, scratched records - chipped teeth, silverware on porcelain, the echoes of a heartbeat, salty pubic hair and damp rolling papers. She was all ďŹ ngertips and rusting bones, handprints and ketamine, bruised thighs and getting home too late. I was been home all day. She was supine on asphalt, chalky tongue and raw throat, white powder - Bible verses, ketamine and converses, bathroom stall constellations, my heart, and French vanilla body spray. -Nina Lucien

The Gospel According to My Mother Marriage is a business arrangement. An addition to contracted submission. There is no need to salt the pork. There is no need to sugar plans. When silence does not erase the pain of whatever memory has undone, add a tad of forgetfulness, a jugful of wine, two parts small talk and the recipe is fine. Remember, any wound worth soothing will grow

like a cake if it is coddled—any handling of the time to work life’s distaste does not account for towels falling soiled from their hooks and suppers scalding to a burn. Understand it’s the small things that need attention, for once children change into beings other than those we sing to, once they become uncooing, breasts have no use for milk. Look danger straight in the face. Whatever you do, don’t flinch. Why else would stores sell makeup in just the right tone for the bruise, the ache? Silly girl, all this talk of desire. When fruit withers on the vine, you best be sure to let it. When nothing is to be done but exist till he dies, you sure as hell outlive him.

More Always the word slips swift as satin travelling beyond a river of ripples in the small instance between throat and tongue. When I open my mouth to the readiness it comes unwilling. Like I was trained to years ago. Small bird of wanting, always with seeds,

kernelled husks when what I need is the hard protein, the ripe berry, the deep-fried tossed-aside fry lying in its singular loneliness in the middle of the fast food lot, before any other winged creature has caught its wind. Always hungry, I am never what you wished me to be. I am never what you want. Lone wandering, petty girl, hand up and willing always to answer. By day, I hunger in the waiting room of another emergency. By night, I attract all the ghosts. Any other year, the crows would pick my eyes out first. As it goes, I will promise you this: what is left for dead is never what should not exist.

Self-Portrait with Rage A fountain long abandoned. Somewhere in the back of the garden near the trellis climbing skyward there are no roses. No wisteria. The clementine winds its vines around the porcelain base. Coated with verdigris. A palimpsest. A waste. Before they summered near the shore, they left a vacant place. Careless tenants. Cruel. They twisted off the faucets. Choked the air. Underneath the glare of August, the token evergreens, the crabgrass, there is pressure building up in the pipes underneath. Hardly seen, easy to miss. But listen. Like a garter snake’s soft hiss through the slither of its skin there is something in me not pretty, the sound like steam from a kettle. Through the scattering leaves the scent of something like fuel’s crescendo. High-pitched. Tightly strung. Poisonous. Quick. -Alicia Hoffman

Manna Some girls I know only by collective conscious, prayers proffered like the body of Jesus they couldn't bring themselves to eat. I know of them only post‐mortem, like Cleopatra, but extinguished by the empires of their own unforgiving minds. I have mastered the art of convincing my friends to not bingerestrictpurge in 160 characters. I am make ‐shift, but at least I am not hollow anymore. I am so tired of watching my friends die, moths under the glass of mental illness. Sometimes I feel superfluous. Is superfluous a synonym for empty? I am trying not to be empty even though I fit those sterile shells so well. I am hungry and I am tired of weakness, my in ‐ ability to let myself be. I am trying. God, I hope that's enough. I am not good at:

having fun, accepting failure. I'm the real life of the party. I care too much and it still feels not enough. At least I don't apologize for existing like I used to. -Katia Kozachok Banana Split

Hey, Chocolate Banana Girl! Whatcha gonna do with that big ol thang ya gonna lick it before it melts before ya hafta eat it whole‌ before some other jealous woman grabs your prize away

and runs with it through the crowd… or some church lady frowns so hard that it melts in your hand or the righteous stare you down make you wanna hide No…your smile says it all you are tall in your belief your woman… hood serene… -Tumbleweed