TRIGGER WARNINGS: allusions to trauma, mental illness, breakups, feeling lost, body horror, suicide, the devil, Chernobyl, dying, affairs, blades.
it's hard to say what hurts when so little doesn't.
poetry by bee lb
just a little, just because
you’ve asked me to say what hurts,
and my eyes have asked me to let
salt drip, and i say no to both.
close my body like a cage,
the only thing keeping my mind
something resembling living.
i digress. i’m regressing. all the
hurt is welling up and who am i
to stop it? it’s hard to say
what hurts when so little
doesn’t. i’ll attempt to
this mind is out to kill me.
a life lived in defense of itself
is hardly life at all.
throat coated in years
worth of enteric and the very chemistry
of my brain is not my own.
still, the urges plague me.
to further my tongue’s truth, i cannot
remember the last day i did not spend afraid
of myself. afraid of my hand’s
capabilities. afraid of the knowledge
available to the tips of my fingers
and the question
of my mind’s ability
to go through it.
if you ask me to uncandy the coating
of what hurts me, you’d best be sure
the answer won’t stick in your throat.
winter clings to each scared part of me
every time i say scared i consider saying
sacred instead. so you know the decision
is there— so you know i’ve chosen fear
i know it's telling
but we won’t say what
back to the cold that clings, wraps its way
around my small body growing larger
every day. i pull myself out of myself
just to fall back in. i get up
i watch the world blanket itself in snow
i watch the birds that were meant to
leave months ago leave trails leading
nowhere, their end sudden, covering
the home they’ve made of water
oh, if only wings were mine. not their wings,
to see the end and know
it is nothing
those perfect, strange shapes
but we know the truth.
the truth is they left, they entrusted their weight
to the sky and the sky held them
their legs lifted, heavy bodies bobbing,
and the air beneath them refused
to let fall
the wings too, spread and holding
the knowing without saying and all the trust
between them. the sky must love those birds
the truth is they should have been gone by now
but the days these days approach a warmth
that encourages life to stay even
when it shouldn’t
this truth approaching my own,
too close for comfort
life will do as it will, regardless. life will cling
to any warmth when it should have left
at the first bite of cold
when the edges of my window freeze over
all it takes is the press of a thumb
for water to drip down;
i thought it would take more.
i thought the cold would seep into me
but my warmth seeped out
and the resulting pool of wet is a problem
i don’t care to solve
when the trail stops you assume an end
and when an end isn’t found
life is what trails on
life isn’t in need
of trust to continue,
unfolds regardless of belief.
BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. They have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. They have been published in Revolute Lit, Roanoke Review, and Figure 1, among others. They are the 2022 winner of FOLIO’s Editor’s Prize for Poetry as well as the Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry. Their portfolio can be found at twinbrights.carrd.co and they can be found, on occasion, at @twinbrights on IG.
more distant, less real.
poetry by robin sinclair
How Love Ends in Boston
you are crying as you kiss.
this is winter in Copley Square.
this is Boston, where your life together was lived.
this is the last time, and
you both know it.
they try to smile some comforting way.
you try to laugh at the mucus you sniff back
but all you can feel is the weight of
that you'll heave down Trinity
under the deadest sky.
you'll look back but they'll be gone.
they watched you, though,
Robin Sinclair (they/them) is a queer, trans writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Their chapbook, SOMEONE ELSE'S SEX (Bull City Press, 2023), is about living and surviving as a damaged trans person in a damaged world. It is about sex, the commodification of queer history, the collateral damage of the closet, bigotry, finding love, and trying to heal. All author proceeds are donated to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
prose by maggie bowyer
All the Places I Have Lost Myself
On a commuter ferry / In the warm mist coating her chest / In a deep breath / Driving through a ghost town called Arapahoe / In laughter more brilliant than the summer sunshine / Between cobwebs crowding every doorframe / In spiders crouched next to every lie / On backroads back to the ferry / In the feeling of her legs against mine -
In the feeling of an empty bed / In the twelve inches of snow / In numb hands, less feeling hearts / In burying urges, straining against glances / In poems under my bed / Deep in the mouths of men / Beneath the sheets with someone else’s legs against me / On the winding roads back home.
In This House
We slip out of shoes and into slippers as soon as we are through the door / We slide out of our worry suits and into each other’s open arms / He gently says “Are you okay?” when he catches that look that means I am most certainly not okay, I have dissociated again / He makes ample noise when he rises to an empty bed, knowing he will probably still startle me / In this house, we celebrate Halloween for two extra weeks and move right along to Christmas / We always get a real tree / We never run out of candles / We choose our cats over our wanderlust / We eat homegrown, home-cooked, healthy until it's time for our weekly Cookout run / You hold my hand in endless waiting rooms and I hold your hand when you call a new therapist / We keep books we hate just to fill our nonexistent future library / We keep score of the laughs so we can let go of little spats.
a guiding light?
photographs by charles march
I feel less interested in including titles & statements and what-not, and more interested in just letting the viewers perceive the images however they’re going to, up to their interpretation.
photographs by dani tauber
I have always had a fascination with cemeteries, the older the better, and these photographs were taken over the course of several years. I have plans to shoot another cemetery series on expired 35 mm film next in 2023.
...to anything that follows.
poetry by samuel j fox
Within the Throes of Late-Stage Capitalism
The devil, wearing leather Prada loafers, struts his scheduled hours behind the television screen mostly on ads during intermission between the shifting of the anchors on the news.
What I wouldn’t give to be beautiful, just for an hour, beneath a flock of doe-eyed stars.
We are at the end of the world: where war erupts because of man’s overflowing pockets.
We are at the end of the world: where the golden capillaries of the earth are siphoned.
We are at the end of the world: even the weather wants to smother us in rain until we drown.
Capitalism and cancer both thrive on unheeded growth.
This is not to say that growth is bad: it truly depends on which direction you intend to grow toward.
God sorts through her recipe cards, searching for the one that might save us next.
The half-gibbous moon is neither a glass half full nor empty. She is a queen waking up with eyes half shut, half open while the blare of horns and shouting of people below have woken her.
A raven asks me a question to which I have no answer nor a crumb of bread to respond.
After the Chernobyl plant disaster, a forest filled with diverse wildlife sprung up out of the calamity.
We are both a pharmakon and love-filled suicide note left behind to anything that follows.
I carve a skin tag off of my neck and hold it out to God. She puts it in her hand, squeezes, and, upon opening it, releases a single honeybee into the desert.
In the hour of locusts, the buzzing reminds me of the television screen I fell asleep to every night as a child, the devil whispering “Order yours today for only three installments of 19.99.”
poetry by ingrid m. calderon-collins
—no small feat--
Nothing is made to last, and soup is the best dish I know how to make.
It is nourishment built on what you already have.
Use, what you’ve already used, and make it new.
My favorite soup to make is lentil soup.
Lentils are lenses, hence the name.
Edible rays of light.
Little eyes, watching me.
I hate being watched while I cook.
But there they are, abundant little fucks, plumping in the hot soup.
nutrire to suckle; -
akin to Greek nan
to flow, -
Sanskrit snauti -
In a 6- to 8-quart pot combine all ingredients and simmer soup, covered partially, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours, maybe—just pay attention to it, like it’s a man you want, but can’t have. Taste it, like you want to be tasted but aren’t. Remove meat from bone. Chop meat aggressively and stir into soup.
prose by sarah forbes
Somewhere on the corner of Jefferson Avenue
I remember holding a blade to my throat & proposing to drain the depravity out of myself.
Instead, to pass the time, I set up a mosquito trap by cutting a third of the top off a 2 liter, replacing it upside down, & adding sugar water. It doesn’t work & they go on living inside the plastic dome.
They go on living & their numbers increase & I watch them panic & swell, so I know they
Somewhere on the corner of Jefferson Avenue I am plunging my fingers into a tape deck.
With a 35mm camera, I am taking black & white photographs of pigeons on the rooftop. I
am standing shyly in the doorway in red lingerie two sizes too small on the Valentine’s Day you’d forgotten.
Somewhere on the corner of Jefferson Avenue an angel let go of its harp string while I was picking up your brother from his latest lick. If you’ll excuse me, my mind is growing its own black hole. I can surely count on dying here. In that very moment, the wound of my depleted life bursts & collapses.
Somewhere on the corner of Jefferson Avenue, I am heating the apartment with the oven,
barely keeping my footing in your psychic undertow. I go fucking bloody mad with it. On Jefferson Avenue, the sky curdles in the pledge of rain. On Jefferson Avenue, one loses life after life.
Field Notes on an Affair
o Look him in the mouth
o Curate swarming subtext
o Mask your volumes of melancholy as best you can
o Learn how to open his face like a door
o Let him be a soft existence in your life, nothing more
o Don’t die here though, you can’t do it beautifully
o We are too animal
o Remember, even in denial, there is some conscious blueprint of acknowledgment
o And you can take comfort in this, or contempt, depending on the outcome
o Move his fingers over your eyes when everything falls apart
o Beveled & lipped
o A film looping
o Memory squirms
o Press the epiphany to the crux
o Take it one day at a time
o Grip his heart black
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