Our swollen summer issue HAZE features more poetry than any of our other seasonal issues. We had to expand this issue to accommodate all of the gorgeous work we received.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: blood, death, birth, explosions, bugs, loss, spit, mention of sex, needles.
they're all falling in pieces.
prose by kelsey fuson
When Floating Girl was born, her Down Mother did a headstand and let her pop out on her own, her anti-gravity doing all the work. Floating Girl came out screaming, as all babies do. No one else was in the room to grab her as she rose. The placenta stretched out, six feet, seven feet, eight, stopped just before she hit the roof. She screamed some more. She reached for her Down Mother, covered in blood and amniotic fluid. Down Mother was too tired to grab the placenta, instead let her legs fall back down onto the bed, splatter shades of red on the tarp she’d laid out. The placenta jerked Floating Girl down, just slightly, just enough that her Down Mother could see her face for the first time, wrinkled and wet, with her Gone Father’s nose and her Down Mother’s high brow. Down Mother held her arm out, cupped her hand so that when she squinted, it looked like Floating Girl’s face was in her palm. A drop of blood fell from Floating Girl, off her nose, landing on the tip of Down Mother’s tongue as she opened her mouth to yawn.
The sky explodes the day I get fired. Birds and airplanes are falling all over the place, weather balloons, hot air balloons, balloons from a birthday party that slipped out of the hand of the now- six-year-old and floated away before she could catch them. They’re all falling in pieces. The explosion cooks most of the birds so we squat on the lawn and gnaw on the geese that landed in the neighbor’s yard, swallow hard tendon and bits of feathers melted to the flesh, suck the marrow from tiny bones as boiled blood drips down our chins. I have a job interview in a few hours, but first we make love under the smoke where the sky used to be. You light a bonfire and we stand downwind of it, inhale the new sky into our lungs. What’s another thing that kills us?
Kelsey Fuson is an amateur author who lives and works in Greenville, South Carolina. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in LandLocked Magazine, perhappened magazine, Strukturriss, and CLOVES Literary.
we were always transplants.
poetry by tierra deacon
Even Grafting Couldn't Bind Us Together
fighting for dominance regardless of terrain.
tendrils around one another's hearts,
back and forth.
We were always transplants.
No matter how far our offshoots stretched out,
we couldn’t dive deep enough
into foreign dirt,
to stake a claim.
My roots withered first,
pinning for the
soil I had once known,
who I’d seen grown through cracks in the pavement,
Your roots recoiled in sunlight.
The kind that hit just at the right moments.
they couldn’t find enough grime
to sift through.
We were not designed to be plotted in the same pot.
in all time and no time.
poetry by joanna c. valente
Your death is a mystery to me
and all death is
the only thing
we can’t possibly know
Your father texted me and for a moment
I thought it was you.
You came back for me
even if undead
in a text message through
this other body
give you life. I want to believe
you are giving me
to tell me it’s all
okay, that you’re still
translucent curtains between us
obscuring a silvering lake,
a unicorn reborn inside
in all time and no time.
And you were right:
the men in your family die
and you weren’t
I hoped for.
You are someone I love.
Loved, will love.
Time is incongruous.
You’re laughing and smoking
a cigarette, not your last--
both of us know
the twisted, cosmic
these flowers on my night
stand are not the same
flowers you once
they will find another way in, i'm sure.
poetry by alayne ballantine
Ants - Part One and Two
Ants have worked their way into my mouth and woved themselves between my teeth.
They have invaded my eye sockets and are traipsing across my skull.
They are burrowed in the blankets of my reality.
Forever in my frame of mind.
We both crawl across the earth biting out in our desperation.
The corpses of a thousand tiny ants rests upon my soul
I stamped them out and sealed their doorway
They will find another way in, I’m sure.
They are bugs, just like me.
But we cannot coexist
For they march across my eyelids
Creating earthquakes in my dreams.
I sealed their fate
With wax and lye- just like mine
Now I pick their crumpled bodies out of my hair.
And laugh as I brush their mangled forms off of my skin,
Knowing we are the same,
That I will be their match someday.
If not already…
poetry by joshua t. james
The cookie man, soft and sugar
Creeps down Bacon Street
Filthy rat, but with perfect teeth
Dirty boy, dirty boy
Pretty girl, (pretty) girl
Candlelight checking out
Double-checked greased hinges
Swing open to wet nests, little bird
Awful man, shortbread sweets
Balcony prick with the tasty treats
We got our bellies full now
Bouncing along the old fat road
We all ate good tonight
intimate moments of quiet.
photographs by cecilia mignon
Mignon's work pauses for intimate moments of quiet, using instant film to capture delicate light and shape. They create compositions of photographs using solvent transfer, cyanotype, and mixed media to create poetic space and foggy dreamlike landscape
bask in patience...
photographs by lauren.napier
A lack of transparency. An inversion cloud that hovers around Salt Lake City in the distance. The fog upon the haunted rock. A dress hanging in the window of an obscured scene. A Brno steeple hovering in the dawn. Woods obscured at dusk.
Sometimes the moment with the camera allows me to bask in patience….seeing my subject clearer. And sometimes questions lie in the captured clouds.
poetry by kara dorris
half a year wasted...
poetry by amanda maynard
.it's rude to spit.
its burning hands
down my throat
and I gag
on the hot
of half a year
...one of her last teeth...
poetry by marc isaac potter
Back Fence Happiness
I want happy:
Strawberries and raspberries
Over the back fence.
Erin smiles, brushing some earth
From the fruit, for chewing
Strong crushing gums.
One of her last teeth
Falls out into her hand
And she laughs, winces,
Then cries, fluttering.
Her fence neighbor Mathilda
The woman who wants happiness,
Offers to pay for the artificial teeth.
Erin, like a humpback whale
A puppy, or a college quarterback
Who runs 99 yards for the win,
Realizes she is loved.
like a lover, like a tomb.
poetry by leslie long
sometimes i imagine it differently.
shedding the sweetness like skin.
crawling through your window quiet, quiet,
the moon round & white & so heavy.
sometimes i imagine it like this. tasting your fear,
gulping it down like breath, crisp like water,
like apples against my teeth.
breaking your body beneath me,
ribcage soft as wet clay.
your bones so brittle, so dirty,
so fragile like the whole of you.
yes, i would say,
yes, this is the only pleasure your body
has ever given me.
i hold my grief in the palm of my hand,
like a bird,
collect it like fallen petals from a flower.
my grief holds me like an ocean,
like a lover,
like a tomb.
...something sweet and sick.
poetry by priya ele
I want to gorge on warm
even though I know it will taste like something
sweet and sick
I want to press handfuls of fire
down my throat and into my stomach
let my breath sift like ash
I think I want to burn
watch dust curl off my top lip
feel my ribcage unwind and pull towards
a symphony of movement
and sculpture under my skin
It’ll peel back and then turn from soft to
black and chalky
Maybe I'll be able to write
with the charred tips of my fingers
Last month you held me
like I was smoldering
I had a dream where I turned my head
because I saw you in the corner of my eye
The sun was too bright and I had to squint
against the haze
It smelled like sunscreen and sugar cubes
melted together on the sidewalk
And when I moved my neck I felt something crush me
and then release
The pain of it was like dried syrup on my tongue
something sweet pressed between lips
to lick off of hands
I kept looking for you to find you
I never did
I imagine the ash will taste sweet too
when it's all that's left
Maybe you'd scoop it
your hands were always soft
Maybe you'd let it work into your palms
and under your nails
maybe even before it all goes cold