Ethnography by Robert Beveridge Consider the space between atoms, the way light penetrates. Research. Compare. Contrast. The possibility that marmosets make better pets than lions, but only on certain continents. The differences in magic shows in Ljubljana and Lagos. Variations in tarot layouts or how bones cast in certain configurations portend good health at one end of town, doom in the other. You awaken head on desk amidst reams of computer printout, stack of books bound in black leather and pour yourself another glass. Busy day ahead. Endless cultures await research, comparison, contrast.
Dear Ocean, Push Me When I cannot move past the cancer that expanded to greater capacity than the body of my companion cat; I want to tell stories in sentences as flowing paragraphs, glowing rivers that roar upstream—but I am frightened, fragmented as a tsunami comes at my Great Wall, knocking each stone, tumbling us from so large to small—even as we remember our Makers once dreamed we would stand immortal.
The Imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ by Robert Beveridge The world sits, not breathless nor even with acknowledgment, waits for missiles, maybe, to fly northward from Cuba, or men far wiser than any who walk the world today to arrive in Bethlehem. The new prophetic drawings of His return depict no bearded savior, no miracle worker a la Patty Duke. Columns of figures, abstract, unbounded, the infinite deliquescence of planar geometry, the generosity of the black hole. The Sun nothing more than the biggest rocket ever launched. It has not rained fire upon TV evangelists or the enemies of the Crimson Tide. Glory be and Alli-lujah.
Robert Beveridge has spent the more recent half of his life making noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writing poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent appearances include the anthology Stories from the Polycule (Thorntree Press, 2015), Random Sample Review, and Anti-Heroin Chic, among others. He has a massive crush on his therapist, but assume this is common.
After the Lifespan of an Organism by Kourtnie McKenzie You will create an ecosystem in your apartment with cats, parrots, bettas, and orange guppies. After growing up with cockatiels, the parrots will make sense—but the cats will happen in chaos theory, after a workday in the cubicle, after sitting in traffic to the feed store. You will buy the parrot's toy he destroys once a week, after you adopt cats abandoned by their previous owner; then in the years to come, the cats will break most of your mugs—but you will rise to the occasion of their energy. You will become their mother, their fighter, after one of them is diagnosed with cancer, after the battle you cannot win. Organs will fail to reach the full lifespan of the organism; then you will live the universal loss of the Earth, the unfolding sparing no one, not even humans, from the space of when you are here and the organism is not.
Kourtnie McKenzie is a writer and artist from Fresno, California. Her writing and art has centered around awareness for women with autism since she discovered she was on the spectrum in 2014. In 2016, she was awarded the Ernesto Trejo Poetry Prize; the same year, she graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Fresno State. Her publications have appeared or are forthcoming in Calyx Journal, Barely South Review, The San Joaquin Review, and others. Visit her website at www.kourtnie.net.
Braids by Barbara Ruth if it hadn’t been almost Thanksgiving if Akai’s Mom hadn’t loved his manbraids so much if the best stylist he knew didn’t live in the worst housing project in NYC if Kimberly had taken a bit more time zigzaging Akai’s cornrows if they’d started on plaiting earlier if he’d come for his cornrows the next night if Kimberly and Akai had decided to go out and show off his braids an hour later if the elevator at Louis F. Pink House #1 hadn’t been broken if the busted out lightbulbs in the stairwell of the eighth floor had been replaced if two rookie officers hadn’t disobeyed orders and begun a vertical search of the building if the Glock had stayed in the holster if the bullet hadn’t ricocheted off the cement wall to strike below Akai’s beautiful braids if either policeman had called 911 performed CPR done something besides argue then text their Union reps Akai Gurley might have lived to be 30 before some cop got away with murdering him
Barbara Ruth was raised by parents who did their best to pass as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. This has complicated her relationship to her Ashkenazi Jewish and Potowatomee bloodlines and also placed passing as a central issue which she dances with in this incarnation. She is neurodivergent, old, lesbian, physically disabled, and unable to find housing. She remembers finding the concept of synchronicity in the writings of Jung 50 years ago. In another 50 years she will have much more to say about it.
TO THE WOMAN WHO SAID MY SEIZURES MADE HER “FEEL TRAPPED” by Wil Gibson At times, my world is gone. I do not exist. I become a large twitching dust bunny, unaware of the contents of brain and bladder. I am movement without purpose or explanation or reason. I am gone. I am always almost gone, or I do not exist. You never don’t exist. I could never explain my time to you. There is no understanding this senseless twitch. You have too few years for this medicine, this medication is too young for you. This roar too loud for your precious ears. These sandpaper hands too rough for your porcelain skin. You will never know this uncomfort at the sight of stairs, this nervous bathing and swimming, this piss-soaked fear of my every day. I am aware your thought scares you more than my mind could ever allow itself to absorb. If I lived in that fear, I would never leave the house again, trap myself in soft foam, and become the stain on the kitchen floor. You have never been just a stain. I have marked myself a beast as bad as any label or hatred you could force at my melted feet. All those I love yous met with cold shoulders and I’m fucking sleepings will drown and float like the dead weight that it is. You wanted a reason to listen as much as I wanted a reason to be treated like an unwanted houseguest. Your bitterness a waisted window in this unsmogged grey town. I am not a torn boxing glove for your broken hand. You cannot hold anything until you heal. You have not been good at holding onto things. I used to have the confidence to leave. I don’t have the confidence to get left. I have (nothing) left (to give) myself. Somewhere.
PIKE by Robert Beveridge Here was a man who loved his work; the scaling of fish, the draw of the blade over flesh, arcs of scale beneath light, a hundred tiny rainbows from a shad, a thousand from a trout. Halibut: endless. At home, he peels carrots, eggplant, bitter melon. Only vegetables; he has never consumed a fish.
DANGER: ALLISTIC POETS EMPHASIZE MEMORIZATION AS THE ONLY WAY TO PERFORM by Lucas Scheelk I envy those capable of memorization I envy the masters unrolling words off their tongues Words fly away from me if I cannot see them on the page They don’t fly like Icarus racing towards self-destruction My words fly like Captain Martin Crieff landing a plane on one engine, Desperate to keep control in the face of DANGER [People = DANGER, overbearing light = DANGER, audience clapping = DANGER, audience snapping their fingers = DANGER, bass music = DANGER, fear of my body flying away with my words = DANGER] I envy those without involuntary pause I envy the masters unrolling words off their tongues My written words are more solid than my verbal speech, Which, in comparison, slows, slurs, pauses, stutters, confuses, Endorses pity, races, and creates a disconnection with the audience Words fly away from me if I cannot see them on the page I must always see the words, from start to finish, to Have visual confirmation that my words won’t fly away And be replaced with new words, strange words, Words that could be mistaken for someone else’s, Words that could be mistaken for an Allistic poet’s I envy those who socialize without a script I envy the masters unrolling words off their tongues Words fly away from me if I cannot see them on the page And it took me months to auditorily process Cabin Pressure And it took me months to remember plotlines from Cabin Pressure And it took me months to echolalate Cabin Pressure And it took me months to script Cabin Pressure My reading, grounding, my words from the page is like My scripting, socializing, with you using Cabin Pressure Both take preparation and DANGER, and it Doesn’t make me any less of a performer
HOPELESS by Robert Beveridge The more beautiful the nurse, the less chance she’ll respond to char. Bad enough they're made to serve that slop the kitchen calls a square meal. The first thing you tell the newbies is what, on that menu, is edible. Most of the time. You’ve heard the joke, you bite into the apple and find half a worm? Welcome to the wing. Art therapy, bad folk music, overworked doctors, and the same face. You hang around long enough, you’ll find you know all the regulars. Here beyond the airlock, only certain people thrive. After a day or so you will know them, seek them out, for they are your tribe. The delusional, the depressed, the neurotic, the beautifully insane. The ones who spend morning group in contemplation of the ghostly visitors to their room the night before, or those who spin conspiracies the way a spider spin a child when dosed with LSD. These will be your friends, your half-worms, the ones who make the beautiful nurses bearable.
Mania Poem #1 by James Moran You’re running through the fire, burning in the fire. Everything about you, around you burns – wild. You have all the water you could ever need, enough to put out the flames. But you drink the water, keep drinking, even though you’re not thirsty. You believe that you’re the fire.