I Think

by Cassie Walters

Whenever I make love,

I think about you watching-

Wincing and shuttering

As your little girl gives herself away.

 

I think about your bones-

Still and cold.

I wonder how much flesh has since decayed,

And if I would recognize you.

 

I think about you thinking about

What you could have done differently.

I think about

What I could have done differently.

 

I think about that night months ago,

When you came to me and said,

“You made good choices.”

I think about that everyday.

 

I wear your clothes.

Your scent no longer lingers.

I think about the man

I would have died to save.

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Little Blue Pills

Little blue pills,

All nice and packed.

Take one for your troubles,

Feel “nice and relaxed.”

 

Little blue pills,

Swallow one by the hour.

Wash down all the pain,

So the taste isn’t sour

 

Or stays lingering.

To remind you of

Those dark, dreary points

That just won’t get out

 

Of your head or your body

And have taken control

Of your thoughts and your feelings,

Your heart, and your soul.

 

But, with one hasty gulp

Of a capsule and water,

Things begin to clear up,

A nice change, for starters.

 

Then, soon enough,

The sensations of dread

Quickly subside.

The demons have fled.

 

Then you suddenly realize,

The pills weren’t so bad.

They helped you get through,

With no shame to be had.

 

Because it’s not abnormal,

Although it once seemed.

The results are yours.

With newfound esteem,

 

To keep moving forward.

Believe it’s true that

Things are better now,

With much thanks to you.

 

You little blue pills.

So compact and small.

Maybe taking each one,

Wasn’t so bad after all.

by Megan Benjamin

Breaking Open

I just need to write until

every drop of what I have

inside me is on the page, in

permanent ink, bleeding

blue or black, and irrefutable.

No one can tell me

I don’t feel settled, because right there

on the paper, they can see

in curly ink letters

what is scrabbling inside.

No one can

tell me I shouldn’t be

reacting this way, because

the paper is accepting

it, accepting me, it is

what I use to justify just

what I am feeling when and

if my feeling isn’t enough to prove it, then

why do the words make it better, albeit,

       not lesser?

 

Let me tell you about how

the wrinkles around my eyes crinkle

like dead leaves tracing

the cracks in the dried out road, but

the tear-stains marking my cheeks sparkle

like traces of crystal catching light inside

a geode and I can tell you

 

how I need to write what I feel

inside on this paper,

so it isn’t inside anymore. I

need to write

until it’s all out there,

all empty in here. I need to write

until it can’t hurt me anymore,

so I can tear the words

into tiny pieces and see them

out in front of me, so I can tell them:

“you’re real, but you’re not all I am”

even though

I will pour myself a cup

of words, some drowning

some floating

in the savory swirls, and drink

it all back in.

by Emma Sheinbaum

Heavy Blanket

By: Damen MacDougall

 

I wake three times, or just

the once – I can never tell

anymore the nature of what it is

I do in bed when my eyes

are closed.

Winter’s watery light has ceased

its trickling through

my windows, now stoppered by night.

Glancing at my brass chest –

here and there pitted

with blossoming rust –

the clock reads 6pm,

its digital display verdantly

admonishing.

I cast off my throw

and my comforter, my fingers

scrabbling for purchase on a third

that isn’t there – heavy

blanket – intangible, yet

physically felt.

Veiled still by that leaden presence

I rise – sighing – the blanket

whispering as it trails

across the floor, as if

in reply.

Darkness settles like dust

on the profusion of things

in my possession – my empty apartment

brims with things. Dust

settles on them like darkness, too.

I look at the clock – 5am.

I crawl into bed, still wrapped

in that blanket, piling on the comforter

and the throw for good measure.

I look once more at the clock

and think to try again

tomorrow.

The Glass

By: Charles Hess

There was an island once, somewhere in some forgotten hemisphere, which carried a curious people on its back as it waded through the endless ocean; that ocean was, to that quiet folk, an ocean of permanence, a cautious and inquisitive body, a force through which Nature was contained. Those people only knew that island and that ocean; those people only knew that world and that space around it. Then, one day, the breathing waves spat forth a device from its weightless foams: a framed and gilded mirror, no larger than the oval of a coconut. It was fortunate that the first man to find it was a sagely wanderer; it was convenient that he did not try to free the man inside. The man then retreated to the center of the island and built, with shoots and palms, a modest hut. As the years circled the sun, the people rumored the man to be some strange Shaman; they would often visit him, one at a time, to see his magical device. Look into it as deeply as you may, he would whisper; there is always something more, he would repeat. Everyone that looked into the glass saw themselves and marveled that they could now know the details of their own faces. This was enough for them to acclaim the Shaman and his wonderful instruments. It would be years before the Man, a common villager that had visited the Shaman many times before, would enter again into the light of the palmed hut. He had seen himself in the glass hundreds of times before, but he believed in the Sage’s words. He believed there was something more. So, on this particular visit, the Man looked as deeply into the glass as he could. He looked into his eyes; he saw himself looking into himself. He then exited the hut and wondered what he would see if he looked into his eyes in his eyes in his eyes. The Man then realized that the Sage was correct. There is always something more.

 

I Listened

by Emma Nadine

 

Some people say that depression is like sadness

that never goes away

As though my only symptoms are a frown

and an attitude

As though being sad for a day can etch bloody scars into blank slates

I used to be beautiful

But depression hangs on to me

like a parasitic steam bath

Opening my pores to weave its way deeper

 

Some people say taking a deep breath

makes it easier to handle

As though my lungs aren’t filled halfway up with dread

Let me drown in it

This time being half full doesn’t make me optimistic

 

Some people say, “get over it”

As though the bottle of pills under my pillow

doesn’t call to me every night

As though I don’t wear a cloak of fragility that screams

“I listened”

Fingernails

by Andrea Millares

 

Fingernails are the first to go. Hair stays coiffed,

shirts remain tucked

and eyes unbagged—

in the beginning, at least.

 

But my fingernails are the first to go.

Bitten and picked at, soon the floor is covered in tiny shards of white armor.

The skin curls back

like when the wind catches the pages of books I have no will to read

and my fingertips glow an ugly, irritated red.

Please, don’t look at my hands for too long.

You’ll see and you’ll know

and I don’t want anyone to know

not even you—

not yet.

And trust me, the unprotected flesh screams at me,

just like it whispers to you.

Your echo is not unwelcome,

 

but forgive me for getting frustrated with broken records—

Even when the tune is one I need to hear over and over again.

Are You Scared of the Dark?

by Emma Sheinbaum 

Are you scared of the dark? Of the

way it seems so still? Of the sunspots

that sparkle for just five seconds, for the first

five seconds of darkness? Of the second

they stop?

 

Of the way the dark

starts moving, shifting, when you stare

into it for too long? Of the heaviness

it rolls onto you? Of the emptiness

it carves in you? Of the

static it hums inside

your ears? Of the static it

starts inside your head?

 

Of the anonymity

it makes of you? Am I

scared enough to turn

the lights back on, will

the lights ever turn back on?

Mirror, Mirror

The mirror hacked up her image,

Eyes, teeth, skin,

slapped her with it

and watched it drip down

the cottage cheese rolls

of her body.

Disgusted, she could feel

the chunks of undigested disgrace –

find their way around her frame,

sliding and turning

like cars driving over

fat hills, till they hit

the floor.

She knew the truth of the reflection:

that this plate of glass

would be the only

thing to look at her.

Was she beautiful?

Her mother told her yes,

but then again her mother

wasn’t swollen from failure

and the hour

missed at the gym.

Maybe the mirror lies,

jealous of her petite frame,

displeased with its own.

But that would mean

she was beautiful.

And that could not be true.

Because she could still smell

the sour vomit,

the tickling, unwanted flesh that hung

like soaked cotton

on her arms.

It began to dry,

a permanent reminder of

imperfection, stuck

and crusted to every

part of her that

she wished

to destroy.

A door opened behind her,

the girl: drenched in the vomit

of her own creation,

lost in the mirror.

Her mother:

watching a skeleton cry

its bones trapped

and pushing through, stretching

the skin that jailed them inside.

Vomit slipped down

its frame, no curves or ridges

to slow it down.

The skeleton stood,

crying tears of failure;

of the things only she could see.

And the mother watched,

crying tears of failure;

wondering what she could

have done.

And the mirror spoke to them both:

Was she beautiful?

‘No, no.’​

by Nicolette Tingo