Stain'd Magazine, Compulsion

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Stain’d Magazine



Stain’d Magazine is a literary and arts publication committed to uncovering the washed out wonder of the world. Seeking expressions of unfamiliar representations of beauty, unspoken histories, scars and dirt, and blood, but mostly honesty, however grimy, if it is truly true to you. At Stain’d, we celebrate anything that invigorates and challenges what we know about the world, pushing back on numbing comforts and moving instead towards creation and the unseen and unheard. This issue explores compulsion on a human level. What persists inside of you? What habits or actions consume you? Why do you feel obligated to exist the way you do? This issue is about our compulsions; our behaviors that we cannot control that inherently make us who we are (or do they?). Whether internal or external, compulsions take form in us and guide our lives. They can be embarrassing, controlling, motivating, obsessive, pathological, or intrusive, but regardless, they’re hard to shake.

of her internship with Stain’d Arts. Grace is a student at Emerson College studying magazine production, art history, and gender studies.

Cover Page ............................................................................................................................................ About Stain’d .......................................................................................................................................

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Woman on Fire, Olivia Cama ........................................................................................................... Kate Carmody & Justin Horrigan ...................................................... Always Running, A.C. Koch ............................................................................................................... penetrating thoughts on a long drive home, Sam Albala ............................................................ How to become a nomad in 54 easy steps, Amelia Parenteau ................................................. firestorm, Sarah DG LaRue .. ............................................................................................................... I’ll hold it until it becomes irrelevant, Sam Albala .................................................................... Untitled, Philip Tran ............................................................................................................................. Perennials, Amelia Parenteau .............................................................................................................. Ravine, Ben Renner ................................................................................................................................ it’s not enough until it hurts, Sarah DG LaRue............................................................................... Constantly Coping, Elle Billman ........................................................................................................ skullspace, Sam Albala ......................................................................................................................... Bleeding for St. Louis, Amelia Parenteau .......................................................................................... this time, with feelings, Sarah DG LaRue ........................................................................................ Glossary ....................................................................................................................................................

4 5 6 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 21 22 23 24 26 27

Woman on Fire // Olivia Cama It all started when I was seven My dad started getting sick And I began to go around It started with backpacks Checking them in sets of three Then looking at street signs As far as I could see As time went on it changed And soon it was all gone I was cured at last Nothing was really wrong Until it came back even more The number three was worse I swear I saw it everywhere It followed me around just like a curse With candles on a restaurant table I would make the waiter put it out But only if they were able I started to check the outlets The burners on the stove I saw visions of a burning house

The vents were next to happen And sinks to not waste water Visions of myself on trial Convicted of manslaughter Now it’s a daily routine Hourly to be exact And as time continues So does the impact As the day goes on it changes It’s worse before I go to bed As I lay there quietly My mind is racing instead The thoughts are vivid then The images are back I’m sure the room will burn Because of the dedication that I lack Seeping right into my heart But I know that I must check again Before my sleep can start

Kate Carmody & Justin Horrigan

ALWAYS RUNNING I rode my bike to the park downtown every day that summer, and I noticed a woman who was always there running the

Fine, so the lady likes to run. We’ve all got our thing. It didn’t freak me out, though, until I was on a late-night cruise through the neighborhood with friends. We all had gin-and-tonics in our water bottles and pedaled along the curvy bike paths through the park, sipping and talking shit. And there she was. Just a shadow in the dark, running along the lake path like she was trying to wear a groove in the world. her. “Is she a meth-head?” Jimmy Kwan wanted to know. “I don’t think a meth-head would last that long,” I said. “She’s here no matter the time of day, for at least two months now.” “She’s stuck in a loop,” Cordelia said. Cordelia had ten thousand followers on her cos-play blog. She came up with the hashtag #AlwaysRunningLady, and posted photos and funny captions. The next time I went to the park in the afternoon, the lady was still running, but so were two other people dressed like her. A dozen others stood at a distance, snapping photos and consulting with their phones. On a bench nearby, two older guys sat in the shade of a willow tree telling stories. At least, that was what it looked like. One would talk for a while, the other would nod and laugh, and then the roles reversed. Every time I came to the park to see the Always Running Lady and her admirers, the two storytellers would also be there, regaling one another.

Something told me to bring some snacks when I headed to the park after midnight on a Tuesday night. Not only was the lady still running, and the storytellers still telling stories, but there was a young couple quietly leaning into each other and kissing on a checkered blanket in the middle of the grass. I’d seen them earlier that evening, but they hadn’t stood out. Ditto for a little kid playing in the moonlight with a big yellow Tonka truck in a sandbox by the tennis courts. Shouldn’t he be home? But here he was, playing nonstop. I walked by each of them, and left them little baggies of peanuts and an apple. For the Running Lady, I held the snacks out Hey Cordi, I messaged, I think we need to start feeding the #AlwaysRunningLady and the others. Within minutes, #FeedTheLoopers was trending, and people started showing up with sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and fresh fruit and juice boxes. After that, the loopers never stopped doing their thing, and the people bringing snacks never stopped bringing snacks. Me, I had other things to do. The cafe was on the other side of downtown, but I always made a point of being there around twilight when the crowd was thin. I usually managed to snag my favorite spot, at a marble tabletop in the corner by the open garage door that looked over the outdoor terrace. I’d never given it any thought, but the same barista was always behind the counter in his apron stained with espresso dust. “Hey-hey, my man,” he always said. And there was the woman at the third table back with her hair hanging over her face as she stared down into her phone, thumbs furiously tapping. I’d never seen her look up, and she was always here. If the sun was still shining I’d drink green tea, but if the light was waning I’d drink cider. A man sat in the corner opposite me, at his own marble tabletop next to the open garage door. He was always writing, non-stop, every time I came here. He took a sip of golden cider, and the satisfaction on his face was so vivid that it gave me a tingle of buzz. I sipped on my own drink and our eyes met as we both smacked our lips and said, “Ah!”


penetrating thoughts on a long drive home Sam Albala

I want to make out with you and I acknowledge that the you I want to make out with isn’t really you but it is a you that I idealize and who used to passionately make out with me just for the sake of it & not because we didn’t really even know each other yet.

Photo: Escaping the party Ashton Lyle

How to become a nomad in 54 easy steps // Amelia Parenteau One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

Quit your demented day job. Quit everything.


Learn to live out of a suitcase. Learn how to carry everything on your person. Learn you are stronger than you look and that it’s never as bad as you thought it would be.

Fourteen. Fifteen.

Learn to ask for what you want.

Handwrite the building management company a polite note saying you won’t be renewing your lease. Fall madly, passionately, impossibly in love with someone 17 years older than you are. Argue with the landlord over whose responsibility it is to repaint the apartment back to the boring colors it came in.


Say thank you for every single generosity the world shows you.


Develop a heartbreaking world wide web of true friends and kind acquaintances. Feel your consciousness stretch.


Realize you never truly mastered world geography. Take a map quiz every morning.


Keep saying yes until it’s not fun anymore, and

Twenty. Twenty-one.

Learn Wolof.

Rent a U-Haul. Spend a penultimate night with your lover. Lost in a fog, take three wrong trains and end up in the middle of Long Island with a dead cell phone. Arrive very, very late to your roommate’s graduation. Go home. Freak out. Forget the U-Haul. Rent a storage unit. Walk deep into the “bad” neighborhood in the wrong direction before realizing your mistake and retracing your steps. Sign some paperwork. In a frenzy, pack everything you own into boxes, bags, and suitcases like your mama taught you. Sheets of paper between the plates. Drive away. Keep driving.

Learn to sleep two in a car in the Vermont woods, on a bare mattress in Abidjan, alone in a California King. (Pro Tip: Buy an eye-mask.)

Feel like a stranger and an intimate insider everywhere you go.

Twenty-two. Be available. Twenty-three. Be present. Twenty-four. Learn to lose things gracefully. It wasn’t meant to be.

Learn patience through practice and waiting. Counting backwards from 100 sends so many minutes downstream.


Learn how to tell your roving story to each audience, who needs to hear what.

Twenty-seven. Set goals you can check in on, while life carries you around the world.


Discover which parts of you stick, no matter where you are.

Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Thirty-three.

Get better at lying.


Discover some people don’t even know you left

Remember to eat your vegetables. Discover your lover was gay all along. Learn you’re going to have to live with some regrets.

Make time for family.

Thirty-six. Thirty-seven. Thirty-eight. Thirty-nine.

Learn how to self-comfort.


Take a 21-hour Greyhound bus trip, seated next to a Jehovah’s Witness who survived brain surgery last year. Accept her literature, give her your number.


Love your friends with all your heart. Tell them how much they mean to you.

Forty-two. Forty-three. Forty-four.

Fall in love with a new city like you worried you were no longer able to.

Fall in love again. Accept the generosity of others. Sink into an unexpected depression.

Forty-six. Forty-seven.

Reconcile with your gay former lover. escape alone for one summer month. Regret it every morning; cherish it every night.


Keep going home to your parents. Observe what comes up.


Keep leaving.


Stop buying travel insurance. Develop a concise way to explain your life to other people.


Fifty-one. Fifty-two. Fifty-three. Fifty-four.

people, an anchor for your narrative. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. Visit your mentors and elders. Listen up. Hope. Remember this is exactly what you wanted. Keep moving.

firestorm Sarah DG LaRue

the fever dream i lived burrowed for safety i wore burn marks proud signs of passion as my self grew numb passive scar tissue coated and started to replace my skin i sang to myself you were saving me as i ran relays daily around your storms my chest weighed down with dead things my own words unsaid feelings turned to stone unwanted unwelcomed discarded i am unrecognizable in my mirror save my eyes but even they see me with suspicion bags beneath them growing as my stomach shrinks from furiously trying not to stir your boiling pot i grew small

forgetting who i was without your eyes without your love clung to you like the only tree in my storm too blind to feel you are the storm crashing winds in brilliant chaos digging up my demons pin on me keep me running after them after you in the name of love my burning spirit raged hot pained outbursts my only semblance of meeting your frenzied pitch you planted scalding seeds of love in me and i turned to ashes you took one more breath and i disappeared how can i not see death in your eyes

guesstimating the weight of the moment when our eyes first met exiting the elevator somehow a sink hole glitch sucked up the importance of real introduction adding together the average weight of this moment and the last moment I ever had with you pre-sunrise unable to walk looking for the thread that connects to late into the night your smile as bright as your eyes opposing stories don’t balance the walk away my heart presses against the visuals burnt on my skin like a brand raised flesh pulsing black

don’t blame my heart for trying to shatter There is not a device strong enough to connect the elevator to the plane’s gateway

I’ll hold it until it becomes irrelevant Sam Albala

no object wants to carry an iron romance I don’t want to remember staying awake in your arms becoming a duty of belonging nothing heavier that constantly cataloging the importance of gone

This veil I wear sleeves, Inside I’m in knot of shoulders Won’t the curious come inside? past my blades and sinew in puddles where the lust drips down Beneath every rock wall and stone path within this heat inside me forges ingots for a riverbed still waiting for enough to soak through. I’ve never really been fucked. My brains remain inside ready but still planted waiting for someone to set the charge. These sleeves can take the blast my spillways were rebuilt the channel torrents of kerosene the damn of my diaphragm is riveted in 4 inch ceramic tiles and I summon a drawbridge at whim made of tree trunks and vines that harden into the glass wherever anyone braves a footstep. I stoke the kiln hotter, and hotter, Looking for the opposite of absolute zero, So that anyone strong enough to survive has proven that they too, can take this intensity. Barefoot I test myself upon coals crusted white beards of heat. There is plenty a room for visitors. Each one welcomed, sought, treasured, held, and cured their clay into armor.

- Philip Tran

Photo // Ashton Lyle Untitled

Perennials // Amelia Parenteau Eternal return, making new meaning out of old streets, corners my own landmarks and sewing the map together in my head, no longer hot on any heels, taking pride in a place I don’t belong, but keep coming back for more. And old habits become new again, the wind smoking my cigarette my low back, I seem to have misplaced the moon but I can still see the stars, my Cassiopeia queen perched sideways on her throne, so familiar and so far away. friends ascribing their love dates in the universe, as if they could pin it in place with mortal chronology, as if there were something the screeching of the 7 train. man, insisting to the laundromat lady I need to do it myself, buying lightbulbs for my former lover in the second neighborhood haunted, in awe of each other.

Ravine The enemy attacked the encampment the moment the sun peeked over the plain stretching forever to the east. John Smith, a missionary sent to convert ‘friendly natives,’ as his overhanging rock protruding past the edge of the ravine, a deep canyon with a meandering stream at its heart, an artery pushing red silt through the ancient walls. out the screaming. Amidst the chaos above and John’s silent prayers below, a small girl entered the cave with him. She climbed down, squelching the blood-choked mud spreading at the entrance but she steadied herself and hunched deeper into the cool shadows and sat. There was nothing to do. They could only wait and hope. John knew of a fort downriver where they would be safe if they could survive the journey. Eventually the battle noises shifted from anger to despair and businesslike killing. John resisted the urge to spy over the blood-spattered cave mouth. The screams subsided, but the surviving men and rounding up the women and children. The bloody sludge advanced from the cave entrance, encroaching on their hideout. The girl sat in the dirt, eyes on John. She crossed her arms in front of her knees, red lines, scratches, running down them. Hair like the night.

All hope that had lit the girl’s eyes was extinguished. She looked at the dirt where they sat. John imagined her thoughts. A grown man hiding with her in a cave. Hiding like a child, like her. They heard shouting close to them, then a splattering, drawing their attention to the cave mouth. A wet, red strand of blood hung from its lip. The stinking mud puddle was bathed in a fresh cascade of dark viscera. A body must have fallen above them. The attackers were shouting at each other, cleaning up their mess, taking whatever food they tribe—would be left for the animals, some corpses sent down to the bottom of the ravine where their bones would feed the creek and its creatures. That’s how these raids went.

John knew he and the girl wouldn’t reach the fort without carrying food, water, and maybe a weapon or two. His gaze swept around the camp. If they took their time and foraged,

He knew where the tribe kept their stores of dried meat. Sometimes they dug a cellar for it, but here they had been in a hurry, arriving at these more favorable hunting grounds only yesterday. Wait here,” he said to the girl. But when he moved toward the food storage tent the girl followed.

opened her eyes wide enough to look, then closed them almost shut again, as if she had seen enough. When she managed to open them wider, John thought she gazed into the shadow that bordered all existence between the light and the dark, the small dying embers and the everlasting shadow. John tried to follow her gaze but found only the

ago with his tribesmen was gone. He rummaged through the empty sacks for meat of any kind—smoked or raw, clean or gritty with dirt—but found nothing. On his hands and

steadily until the girl’s shivering in the howling wind slowed their progress. John carried two blankets draped around his shoulders. He stopped, wrapped the smaller blanket -

“They bury their murderers while the innocent go to the carrion.” John raised his voice over the wind.

“It’s okay. Let’s keep going a while longer,” he said softly.

They marched on, the stars wheeling above them. Boulders and small plateaus became shadows against the dizzying extraterrestrial light, trespassers in the sky. After the girl had fallen behind him some distance, John stopped and waited for her, looking back into the darkness anxiously, waiting for some terrible fate to befall them both. ing God by looking back at his home and everything he lost. Of all the divine judgements God wrought on His people, turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt simply for glimpsing the destruction of all she’d known was particularly bewildering and cruel to John. He wondered where the marauders crossed the ravine to attack his friends. When the girl reached him again, her eyes wide at the sight of him waiting in the night, he led her The pair followed the canyon’s edge, keeping its chasm to their left. They tore the jerky in strips with their teeth as they plodded. John couldn’t taste the meat and he didn’t feel lips, surprising him. He thought about what their lives had been and where they intersected in their brief encounters before the raid. His memories of her danced just beyond the edge of his recollection, yet she recognized him, he could tell. Her reluctance to speak to him troubled John. What did he say to her before that he can’t remember? How had he behaved in their previous life?

John willed himself to envision the map he studied before he came to these lands. The map had many unlabeled features, which seemed at the time theoretical, even illusory—these unnamed landmarks both existing and not. He tried to envision the name of the fort, place it letter-by-letter before him now as he walked. He saw the map, and the dot where the fort was on the river, the meandering line they walked beside labeled ‘Ravine.’ They stumbled over talus broken eons ago, rough, volcanic rock slowly disintegrating. After a time, a light rose in the east and the stars started to rapidly disappear. ach. Eating it was like taking medicine. But the girl ate hungrily, already wrapped in her blanket. tering of a few birds, and soon he fell asleep curled into his blanket. The sun was high in the sky now, its heat trying to invade the cool space of the cave. Then he saw them in the distance. Rising above the shimmering plains were the sails

He looked back across the canyon for the ships and their sails, but he saw nothing. The clouds took benign, amorphous shapes. The girl stirred and sighed in her sleep. The day’s warmth advanced further into the cave. John crouched beside the girl until his legs numbed. He wasn’t a man prone to visions and hallucinations. Strange things have appeared to men gazing at the mirage, the band and closed his eyes to the insanity around him. He hadn’t slept for days. Maybe exhaustion and hunger overtook him. But deciding it was hunger didn’t satisfy his worry. MalHe hadn’t been asleep long when the sea of voices somewhere in the abyss startled him awake. He rubbed his eyes. The sun hadn’t moved far, but John felt like he had been asleep for hours, maybe days. He shook his canteen, still about half-full, and took a sip. eyes away from the girl wrapped in her blanket. John closed his eyes to the imagined accusations rising in a cacophonous wave. Then, remembering the girl’s unmoving form, he opened them again and rushed to her side. Had he slept a day and a night? Did the girl have a sickness he had allowed to fester? She hadn’t moved. John breathlessly put his hand on the girl’s shoulder and moved it back and forth. He didn’t want to be rough with her, but he didn’t want to be too tender, and thus inappropriate, either. He felt her boney body through the blanket. For a sickening ness. ened her huge, dark, red-rimmed eyes and she clutched the edge of the blanket. She started pulling it towards her as if to leave, bunching it up in her arms.

John held his hands up in surrender, pleading with her: “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I’m not trying to hurt you. I’d never hurt you,” he said, his eyes wide. The girl’s gaze dart“God has put you in my care. I will never hurt you. You understand? I am a servant sent to protect you,” he said. He didn’t know where the authority in his voice came from. The girl’s face drained of fear, and the tension in her shoulders unwound, allowing her to let her arms and her blanket fall. She kept her distance, but after John held his hands slept until darkness set in again. John woke when the night’s breeze grazed his face. His dreams receded away from him like the tide rolling out. The girl was sleeping peacefully in her blanket, her small instantly covered any evidence of its existence. Thick clouds had rolled in while they slept, blanketing the plain and the canyon with the same darkness as the cave. Resolving to let the girl sleep a few more moments, John crouched by the cave mouth and listened. Nothing stirred in the dark ravine. He looked back at the girl and thought about how best to wake her. He would be careful not to make or say the slightest gesture or word that could come across as indecent. The two of them would have to journey un-mapped miles overnight and spend another long, sleep-troubled day in another smelly cave or some other undesired location, if they were lucky. The girl surprised him by waking quickly to his soft touch on her shoulder. In a moment, she had gathered her things and their meek supply of jerky and they set out once again into the night. They watched the murky sliver of the moon rise and wax weakly through the clouds as they walked, its meager glow gave their footsteps a dim ambient As John’s mind wandered, he thought about the nocturnal creatures they disturbed: Did they hide in the same place in the vast plain, season after season, year after year until been trampled and left to scuttle away at the sound of approaching boots? the jagged rocks led back down to the edge of the ravine. John decided the trail was too dangerous for a little girl. He looked to his right to see if there was an easier way down. too unsteady to be a lantern. John pointed to the light, then to himself, then to the girl and whispered, “Stay here.” He made a staying gesture with the palm of his hand. Her blanket dragged on the ground. He pulled it up and gently re-tied it. He didn’t feel her through the blanket. He looked into her eyes as they glinted in the darkness. “Stay here and wait for me,” he said slowly. “I’ll not be long.” thought, as he drew near, scraping his hands on the sharp rocks. His mind either dismissed the pain or he couldn’t feel it anymore. His disturbance of how the rocks had lain for millennia made his approach obvious, so he announced his presence. “Hello? Anyone here? I need help. A settlement was attacked further up the river. I have to—” be it was a trick. He already regretted leaving the girl alone. As he looked up at her, expecting to see an enemy brave grab her by the hair and cut her throat, he wondered what he would do if that transpired. If he chose to live on he’d be a coward the rest of his life, but if he killed himself he’d be condemned to Hell for all eternity. “Hello?” a woman’s voice came from the darkness just beyond the candle’s reach.

“Who’s there?” John answered.

Before he could raise his guard to this disembodied voice, his story spilled out, simple and brief: “I’m John, I’m a missionary. I was living with a tribe not far from here. We were attacked two days ago by our enemies. I escaped. Show yourself.” An elder appeared from the shadow of a boulder just catching the candle’s light. Her face looked ancient, but she stood tall and straight like a young woman. John was immediShe examined him up and down. Her face betrayed little emotion save for a detached melancholy, possibly concern, which she likely wore to hide her thoughts. Finally, a pitying look came over her. “A holy man from far away,” she said. She squinted over John’s shoulder into the darkness. “And a girl.” John and the old woman looked up at the child, her fragile form barely discernable from the sky and the dark shapes of the rocks reaching skyward in vain. hood, not a strand came free in the wind. Her eyes were dark and narrow like the girl’s. John guessed she belonged to another tribe, but he didn’t ask, the subject was irrelevant. John formed dozens of theories for what she was doing in the night with nothing but her candle for company. the Lord, but he hushed the distant voice in his mind. He knew he’d gone far beyond the time and place for recited prayers. And whatever judgement she had of him wandering alone in the desert with a small girl he would withstand wordlessly. He was tired of being afraid.

“You don’t have far to go,” the woman said after John and the girl settled on a few rocks near the candle. “I saw an encampment not far down the river. An expedition of some kind, from the fort.” “Thank God,” John sighed. The woman leaned over and took John by the shoulder, shielding her words: “The girl will be saved. Your trial will end. Soon, you will be free of all this, your blood poured out.” The old woman produced a knot of dried meat from her pocket and handed it to the girl. She looked at John again and smiled thankfully, wrinkles appearing around her eyes. “You have done well, spirit, to make it this far. Guiding a small girl in a dark night such as this is never easy.” John bristled at what she called him. Perhaps because of his pale skin, she thought of him as a spirit. It was an antiquated view, to be sure, but he let it pass. He rose and slipped “I am glad I found you. I make my own blessings for wanderers in the night,” the woman said. She reached into her animal hide jacket and took out a small clutch of sticks and leaves wound in a bundle. It looked like sage, but as she burned it, using the candle, fragrances unfolded that John hadn’t smelled before. He inhaled, absorbing the new scents, along with, he felt, the breathing of the winds blowing the desert all around him. He couldn’t remember what the last thing he smelled was.

at John in wonder as the smoke drifted over them. As his eyes closed, John waited for the cold to seep into him, but despite the persistent breeze, it never came. Instead, a greater awareness of his perimeter arose, as if he could opened his eyes to ensure the girl was wrapped safely in her blanket for the night. She laid on her side, asleep. The woman watched her like a mother, still chanting softly. John closed his eyes again. They woke disoriented and numb. The woman was gone, her tracks lost among the rocks strewn on the dusty ground. What remained of the candle was a small waxen stump frozen in a hardened splotch. squinted into the distance, looking for the expedition the woman spoke of. Maybe she could lead them to it. She couldn’t have gone far. Down in the ravine, footprints appeared in the red river silt. They were footprints made by invisible people with bleeding soles badly worn from marching, always marching, as they made a path; they disappeared before John’s eyes. John wanted to mention his visions to the girl, be he didn’t know how to explain what he saw. He knew the elders loved to tell stories rich with ghosts and spirits wandering the He handed the girl their remaining food and they started walking again. John had barely eaten anything in three days, but his stomach didn’t complain. He found he had the strength, incredibly, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Before the sun could start cooking them in their skins, John saw people on the horizon. If they were more marauders, he and the girl were dead anyway, their escape path blocked and nowhere to hide with little food to sustain themselves in the wild. He marched straight at them, unafraid. Perhaps they’d vaporize like the other hallucinations. Whatever they were, he’d throttle the girl himself before he let them hurt her. Finally, they could see the features of the people coming towards them. They hadn’t disappeared. The girl seemed to recognize one of the faces. Her pace quickened, despite the hot ground. She leaned forward, overtaking John, and broke into a run toward the expedition. There were several tribesmen and women trekking back to the camp site where the massacre had taken place. They were protected by several cavalrymen dispatched from the fort. One of the women burst into tears when she saw the girl. She broke ranks, dismounted her horse, and hurried to the little girl running in the dust. They embraced, clutching at each other’s black, matching hair, crying. John watched them. The girl squirmed away from her mother’s embrace for a moment to look back for him. The last thing John saw was her eyes searching for him as he joined the wind and took his place among the hidden stars behind the veil of the sky.

Ben Renner

it’s not enough until it hurts Sarah DG LaRue Photo // Atlas Theater by Ashton Lyle

independent codependent spoiled privilege down the drain with chronic pain typical jewish virgo sun control freak critic freak freak freak cancer moon, emo baby for some tangy twist of balance hippie helper healer heart princessy anxious horizontal workaholic crass asshole mind bend-over-backwards stubborn overlover and undersharer with a body that just won’t quit quitting addicted to pain killing with kindness to everyone not-me

spills over without good reason other than overlong suppression an invisible inevitable dam burst when can i soften soften (and forgive) soften (and forgive) when can i feel other than this pain

Elle Billman I’ve been constantly coping Filling each moment to the brim With distractions And habits. When I spill over It comes out in handfuls of hair.

: a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out body hair


dancing on the edge of a rust red steel beam hanging 222 feet your throat which is a roller coaster ride

I do not want to get on

Sam Albala Photo // Ashton Lyle Anti-Antifa

only you grab me like I am sugar cubes to dissolve into your teeth you laugh & laugh & laugh while dipping your toes into my skullspace

another body is not a real mirror just a series of bouncing lights and you are blinding me mad ungloved hands excavate my story & I run. I run & run from it

lungs want to be reburied fearful of truth hitting the air because you will feel this body not for you

Bleeding for St. Louis Amelia Parenteau

Bleeding for love, I skinned my knee occupying your sidewalk, hoped it would testify to my bleeding heart, my immoderate passion, my unkempt desire, fragrant as my unwashed hair, I peed under a bridge and stopped shaving and didn’t complain, hoping to draw you in with the bright beacon of my tranquility, preternaturally chill, my very ability to be enough for myself. I don’t know how to tell you I want you, or at least want to know you, or at least want you in my bed, or at least have fantasized about you meeting my family, or at least have doodled what my signature would look like if I took your last name, or at least count the number of days, hours, minutes between your texts, or at least want to know why you were so hot and then so cold. Was it something I said?

You, so coiled up in your sorrow I can barely to other people there is hardly any you left for you to hang onto, having a problem feeling present, stress winnowing you thin although you’ve stopped smoking, the cops always pull you over on your way to Kansas City, but never give you a ticket. It feels like we’re missing the opportunity of each other, or maybe it already came and went, but I’m having a hard time discerning and phone numbers (in that order), and texts and admissions of longing and desire and photographs of bodies of water and bad jokes and barbs and messages of solace, solidarity, and now, silence. My left knee is nothing but a scar, and a story.

detained protester // Ashton Lyle

this time, with feelings // Sarah DG LaRue put on your coat i guess it’s cold in here this house set to warm and still i see my breath to survive i rub my hands together faster only faster spark ignite (it’s still cold) melt icy chainlinks into warm caresses i can’t stay home my sweaty skin

turns icy so everywhere anywhere trying to keep warm burn forever i set myself of course burning alive i incinerate in all consuming blaze becoming embers my scorched earth rages i live on somehow warmed by my destruction

ART Ashton Lyle, Streetlight (cover, back cover); Escaping the Party (8); Untitled (13); Atlas Theater (21); Anti-Antifa (23); Detained Protester (25)

POETRY Olivia Cama, Woman on Fire (4) Sam Albala, penetrating thoughts on a long drive home (8); I’ll hold it until it becomes irrelevant (12); skull space (23) Amelia Parenteau, How to become a nomad in 54 easy steps (4); Perrenials (14); Bleeding for St. Louis (24) Sarah DG LaRue , firestorm (11); it’s not enough until it hurts ( 21); this time, with feelings (26) Philip Tran, Untitled (13) Elle Billman, Constantly Coping (22)

PROSE A.C. Koch, Always Running (6) Ben Renner, Ravine (15)

SIX WORD STORIES Kate Carmody & Justin Horrigan,

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