02 Jul

Poetry – Andrew Navarro

Spanish
by Andrew Navarro

My mom often tells me
how as children
for a while
we were good friends.

But that was before
the first grade.
Before the burnet
speech therapist
clipped the tip
of my tongue
like a
bird’s wing.

Because you stopped
playing with me Spanish.
Said it was because I couldn’t
roll my r’s and couldn’t say
your words the same anymore.

Yet, I tried. Every night
my angry tongue struck
the roof of my mouth
clenching flint stone
to try to reignite the pit
filled with ash covered bones
of my ancestors behind my teeth
with orange flames again

But I only managed to reopen
my oral scabbed wounds
and I learned every night Spanish
how your words taste of blood.

 

 

Drowned Children
by Andrew Navarro

A sea is the best way
I can describe life
to my students.
A large dark blue body
of uncharted opportunity
that we gotta ride through
in order to build our
separate worlds
atop islands of stability
sprinkled all over
the cold flesh of salt water.

And man believe me when
I tell you It’s cold. So don’t
teeter too close to the edge
of conventional wisdom
keep your head about you
and you’ll soon find
dry land to build a home on.

But there have been those
rare few who don’t
seem to care about drowning.
Who question if you
could really grow a beautiful dream
in dirt. Rare
few that I’ve lost,
that chose
to dive into the waters
in search of treasure
of gold, and jewels.
To wander the jagged
ocean floors of the abyss
with all the other drowned children.

_________________
Andrew Navarro is a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire, a teacher in Moreno Valley, married, and has a passion for writing.

02 Jul

Poetry – Corinne Shearer

Drafts
by Corinne Shearer

They ordered you like new furniture,
picked out your delivery date by jabbing a finger at a pocket calendar.
You came out unclean. Offended by the fluorescents,
you were subjected to the airy speculations of the doctor
that ended up being true- those limbs were made for movement.

The family cat did not like you.
He avoided your sticky, probing fingers and the gaping
vacuum that was your mouth- a door always left ajar
which let loose from its basement a human’s cry ancient
as the ribbon corridors of bowels.
But someday, sooner rather than later,
the crotchety Maine Coon would entrust you with its sorrow-
cast up at you its dying gaze that flickered on and off,
like the orange porch light you will kiss your high school boyfriend under,
as the maggots set up their suburbia inside its lower intestines.

When you were one there was a snowstorm.
The world welcomed you with ice and a full body
rash, made you wait years for the luscious little girl hair
you would become known for. When you were three
you unlearned how to breathe, began turning blue when overly-excited.
They told them your clothes were too tight, but it’d be years before you’d have
the weight problem, and subsequently the eating problem, but much later
you’ll invest in Thich Nhat Hahn and the inspirational tags
on Yogi tea, realizing how “just fine” you grew up to be.
You’ll remember too nostalgically the timbre of self-hatred,
the illusion that clenched fists can feel like a grip
on a wheel you know doesn’t exist- but you hold your hands
at ten and two anyway, just on the off-chance there is a God.

But before all that you turn six and learn what momentum feels like.
You beg to be spun from anywhere on anything
until your vision and stomach flip on its side.
You’ll crave disorientation all your life,
you’ll make a career out of falling.
At eleven you understand what it is to be lonely,
filling her absence with self-sufficiency,
and quiet, and a hunger for excellence.
But this is around the time you grasp the concept
of mortality and nothing can make you forget the imminence of death.
Even when you visit the expensive sunlit café you can’t shake off the dread,
can’t look at your mother’s face without seeing it white-lipped and dead.
You’ll feel something similar at thirteen,
lying awake in amber shadows (you still use a nightlight,
not subscribing yet to the salvation of ignorance)
suffocated in equal parts by the way people can break one another
and the irony of existing at all.

Looking back you’re still transfixed by your first kiss
At fourteen during truth or dare at dusk behind a half-
crumbling historical site. You hone your love of contradiction,
betting the Moravians would never guess that their meeting house
would someday be reborn as the place where
your tongue met Dominic Fetter’s, which was too big
but impossibly warm and soft like bubblegum.
At sixteen you get high.
The scope of your existence is as narrow as the creek
where you will negotiate barefoot between rocks as you search
for a glimpse of those iridescent tricks of the eye- fish.

You fall in love somewhere along the way,
you will break each other’s heart at more distinct points.
Almost twenty, you leave on a plane
fourteen hours and a horizon away.
Home dissolves in your wake
but you will still cling to those few months as
a glittering gift; sweet, dense and messy like mochi.
You come to know that he needs you to say it more than
you need it to be true, and how not all loss feels like losing.

When you return
you’ll move away, following through on a threat for the first time.
You hide out in a city of 8.5 million,
dissolving into the rusts of the Harlem skyline.
You learn how solitary a thing freedom can be.

At twenty-one you write poems.

 

 

Villanelle
by Corinne Shearer

Your palms like valleys catch the rain.
These hands turn over empty,
there’s no refrain.

These are the things that remain:
The tenor of your voice and labyrinths for fingerprints,
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

You waited but I never came,
too preoccupied with speculation, why
there’s no refrain.

You are this thing I scrub out over and over like a stain,
but I’m not one for self-restraint; I visit this place often just to watch
your palms like valleys catching the rain.

It’s not well maintained,
all the houses are overgrown, their insides spilling out across the lawn;
there’s no refrain.

What did I gain–
the blaze of this city pales in comparison to
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

 

 

______________
Corinne Shearer is a recent BFA graduate from SUNY Purchase. Freelance writer, dancer and choreographer currently based in NYC.

13 May

Poetry: By Ann Schlotzhauer

Guadalquivir, by night

A thin man, bathed in unperturbed night,
Walks across a bridge
Spanning a river older than time
He has gray eyes
Like the sky
Over the ocean
After a storm has only just passed
And he walks, as I watch, hand in hand
With a boundless void in a bright sundress
And he smiles with his slightly crooked teeth
And his slightly too-large nose
As he tucks his arm around her so knowingly
And it pains me to watch but I cannot look away
As he is sucked in by the void
And I know in that instant that it is too late
But is the void to blame?
If it only wished to be near the people with the kind gray eyes
Is the void to blame?
If it warned him of the danger long before this moment
Is the void to blame?
He was thin, with gray eyes set in tanned smile lines
And his nose with that slight hook that he so hated
And the void so loved
And his teeth, once straight, just perfectly crooked
I set his face in my memory
I set it there to stay forever
To commemorate what happened
And now, because the tragedy has already passed,
I can pull my eyes from the bridge
And scanning the indolent river
My eyes alight on each pair of stars
That are commuters rushing home after a too-long day

Pasta Water and Music

You stand in the kitchen cooking
All the windows open
Pushing air from behind me toward you
As I watch you let the pasta boil over
Always the pasta boils over
And you let it
Like a ritual
And I breathe in the sweet air of springtime
But I wish I could smell you too
Over dogwood blossoms and pasta water
And there’s music playing
Because you can’t cook without music
I always forget music
When you’re away
I forget this simple pleasure
And believe I have to live my life in silence
Awaiting your return
I don’t know the song but it’s rhythmic
And interwoven now in the spring air that fights to enter our windows
And all I know
In this moment
Is contentment
I remember all the times before when such happy things hid from me
And all those harder, sharper memories
Make this new life even sweeter
I fill my lungs
To the roots
With this air and this moment
Hoping I can breathe deeply enough to infuse it in my bones
I want to be made of this moment
With pasta water on the stove
And spring air pushing music in to every corner
I want it to shield me from the darkness that I know will come again

Morning Tide

In the morning the tide comes in
And sweeps us away
And we let it
We let it carry us around the world
And back again when the sandwiches are ready
We bathe in the water that has touched all mankind
And returned lovingly to tell the tale
We are one with it all
Because it allows us to be
We are thankful

Guadalquivir, by afternoon

In the afternoons, when our classes were done
When we’d returned from the stone-faced university
And eaten a hearty lunch of fish we never could identify
When the sun became too hot to stay inside
Luring us, like long-lost lovers, to its rays
We’d walk along narrow sidewalks
Always pointed toward the water
Like birds with metal in our noses
Always pointed
We dodged past schoolchildren skipping home in uniform
And we talked so fast
Interweaving air with words
It’s a wonder our lungs kept up
And when almost to the water’s edge
We stopped
Because our trip needed something more
And we debated and argued and weighed pros and cons
But there were always only the two options
Churros con chocolate o helado
And once we’d decided
We’d rush to the nearest
The tingle of metal guiding us there
And we’d fill our hands with treats we’d done so little to earn
And then, finally, the river
Because there’s always been something about masses of water
Something about its slow, steady movement
That makes you believe your own life is marked by progress
That makes you believe worry is unnecessary
And all is as it should be
We’d sit in the shade of gently dancing willows
Then move to the sun then back when the sun offended
And our talking slowed and our breathing slowed
And in those afternoons that stretched longer than any others
All was as it should be

_______________
Ann Schlotzhauer is a Kansas City native currently residing in Wichita, Kansas with a small gray cat. She enjoys creative expression of all kinds and her fiction and poetry can be found in Junto, Foliate Oak, Cardinal Sins, and more. 

22 Apr

Poem: Celebrity Crush by Gabrielle Lee

celebrity crush
by Gabrielle Lee

when the hot boy in the tv show steps forward
and shakes his long, wavy hair i have to ask my friends
is he the love interest? because i don’t get it
his standard of beauty is ugly to me
like ethan craft in lizzie mcguire
i never understood what his fascination was
with his own hair
shaking it every five seconds
like he was freeing it of dirt
after a day at the beach
only they lived in middle america
or some shit

who cares
the point is

i was in love with gordo
the best friend
the one who gets overlooked until the movie
the jewish one
i liked that he cared more about filmmaking
and being a decent friend
and unicycling
and all the other weird things he liked
but didn’t care what anyone else thought about those things
i liked that he hid behind his hair and let it do its thing
and that he was always around to give lizzie a hug
and when i think back on it i never liked most boys on tv

i always thought the girls were prettier
the awkward heroines who tripped over their own words
with braces and freckles and glasses and frizzy hair
their vulnerability
insecurity
confidence
vibrance

and it isn’t until years later that i realize
that my taste in men is limited
to jewish and asian boys
while my taste in women spans everything
and there were plenty of pretty girls on tv
but the boys
just weren’t
there
Author Bio: Gabrielle Lee is a California-based writer and editor. She has a BFA in Dance Choreography and a BA in English from the UC Irvine, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. A past Managing Editor of Willow Springs and now working for the government’s space program, Gabrielle writes and edits by the candle of the night (sometimes literally). Her first novel, COMFORTS WE DESPISE, is forthcoming from Zoozil Media in 2018. Find more of her work on her website, riewrites.weebly.com, or shout at her on The Twitter @yesrielee.

12 Mar

Memory Beauteous-Audio

The following is an audio track for Memory Beauteous in Volume 3, Issue 3

12 Feb

Psychedelic Codeine Mobius Strip

Tim Hatch

i. 

The People’s Republic of Snot 

has, once again, sent an invasion fleet 

into my head 

and I’m tripping 

balls on a bag of shrooms 

because laughing at the news with God 

is the only sensible way 

to ride out a head cold.  I’m wearing 

thirty-dollar socks and I’m pretty sure 

my feet        have an erection.  

My internal organs 

are compressed 

I have weak thumbs 

and a mouthful of disease 

but it’s only five episodes long.  Netflix and Hell 

are kind of the same thing, 

kind of perfect on a cold day, but I want 

to go outside, run        jump        ride a bike 

eat mystery meat on a stick.  The future was 

supposed to be flying cars and teleportation, 

not bagging our own groceries and televisions 

that tweet.  #bullshit

ii.

I stood in front of a 7-Eleven 

without my penis 

selling a wide variety of pork pie hats 

(as you do).  

My mother crouched nearby 

in the underbrush 

blood stringing off her chin 

eating a sable.  

iii.

Glossy, early-morning 

memories of cheating 

on women.  I wish 

I could blame it on being younger.  

Where on earth is 6am?

iv.

      in my mind in the mirror

                my beard says

   walt whitman       hey man, got any change?

v.

Write to Congress!  Demand they solve

all 32,000 FreeCell games!  

Demand they recognize orange 

as a primary color!  Is there any problem 

            America 

         can’t solve?

vi.

Wish I still had my old Pee Chee 

folders.  The ones with the right 

colors (dried blood on goldenrod).  

vii.

Pulling rainbows out of my under-

wear, a look of mock surprise on my face, routine 

disappointment on my wife’s.  Honey— 

Goddammit.

viii.

Is this really        every week?  

All this        mayhem?  This bombing 

of countries with toys?  To save        face?

05 Jun

Volume 3, Issue 1 Now available!

cover

© Samantha Johnson, June 2015

Volume 3, Issue 1 is now available online! We are slowly moving back to our regular posting schedule. Volume 3, Issue 2 should be posting in early September. We’ll be working over the next few days/weeks to get Volume 2 posted for download.

Keep your eyes open. We’ve got some big news coming up in the next couple weeks and hope you will celebrate with us! Thank you for your support!