ETHNOGRAPHY, Robert Beveridge

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, Kourtnie McKenzie

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, Robert Beveridge

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, Kourtnie McKenzie

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, Barbara Ruth

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”, Wil Gibson

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.

DANGER: ALLISTIC POETS EMPHASIZE MEMORIZATION AS THE ONLY WAY TO PERFORM, Lucas Scheelk

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, Robert Beveridge

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.