Issue 1.23


Cauchemar

Go ahead. Open the front door
        if this dream will let you. There might

be a turtle waiting outside to look
        you in the eyes, or swamp grown

right up to your stoop. No matter
        what’s out there, you won’t be able

to run, legs way too heavy 
        to carry you anywhere 

safe. More than a cross to hold
        up, or a clear spirit to save you,

you’ll just want a single, deep
        breath, the chance to fill your

chest with some kind of hope.
        If only your ribs would spread.

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in PidgeonholesThe ShoreCotton XenomorphOkay DonkeyEcoTheoThe Hopper, Terrain, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 


content

the visions on just about every third floor in the city · get our stories scaffolded in cheap blonde boards · to get an angle on the ways we sweat at golden hour · and how we spend our fingerprints

on fairy lights to · crop circles round our skulls · swipe over churchyard frames and · smile at death with teeth

it follows us browsing galleries because we like the grids · squinting into prisms to feel shock and wonder · combing scrap piles and screenshots

while we play at borrowing each other’s chargers · and weaving signals into something like a generation · and leaving algorithms hinging on splintering pine

Lindsay Hargrave is a poet with recent and upcoming publications in giallo, Button Eye Review, Maudlin House, and Armstrong Literary. She reads poems with the improvised music group Oarsman and the indie pop band Mỹ Tâm (@sunflowerintheeast) and serves as editorial assistant for Rejection Letters. Follow her on Twitter @notporkroll.


Marjan

All her earrings were mismatched. Her socks too. One set of toes covered in navy blue, the other an explosion of yellow and orange flowers across a purple sky. She didn’t dwell on loss, that’s what we loved about her. The rest of us: heavy with each hole that burned its empty into the palms of our hands. But not Marjan. Marjan wore a veil of everything she had discarded on her way to twenty-five; a trail of notebook pages and photographs and jewelry. They were bright, dazzling ghosts, her multi-coloured memories. Did you know, she’d say, that the average person misplaces up to nine objects a day? That by the time we turn sixty, we will have lost up to two hundred thousand things? She’d giggle, her golden knees ticking together like a countdown. She wore loss like it was a homemade gown. That was her. Glittering in the grief we were all buried in.

It doesn’t matter how she died, only that it was long before sixty. Still, I would bet my every prized possession that she left well over two hundred thousand misplaced objects like a scavenger hunt behind. Never meant for anyone to find, but instead, decorating the earth like honey rain, sticking to rooftops with a pitter patter, her cake batter smile shining through the skylight. That was her. Heavy boots and midnight roots in a living room that was endlessly waiting for death.

Each night, she’d walk in like an autumn storm, everyone’s stories still fresh on her breath, curled leaves swirling onto our living room couch, feet on the table in minutes, a mouth full of secrets and cinnamon hearts.  

Did I tell you that some evenings, I still see her in the sunset? Somewhere between the purple and the light, light blue. “I am waiting for you” I whisper to the pear tree, to the yellow grass, to the empty shed in the distance.

Did I tell you my wrists still pulse from where she used to clasp them? These days I find myself asking for forgiveness from every tree that will never feel her spine wrapped around its body. I am telling all of her secrets, embellishing our memories with the sound of her laughter. All her unwritten chapters publish themselves on our bedroom ceilings, so at least when we’re dreaming, we see her become. In some dreams, we are running backwards into her footprints, retracing her steps until we come upon the rusted keys and the navy sock and the sunglasses with one lens popped out and the earrings waving each echo of her being like seaweed back and forth and back and forth and back. 

Suhoor

We heat bread at four in the morning and push dates between lips
still caked with the confusion of an hour we have not tasted for months.

In the museum of my chest, a grandfather clock ticks a warning.
Ramadan is a month of honesty. We empty to furnish the guest room

for truth. Is how the story goes. If not now, then when?
If not here, then where? You were asked a question.

Before I knew my body, they told me I would lose one tooth
for each untruth and I thought my mouth an empty concrete pool.

Before I knew my body, they told me my lies were written across my eyes
and I thought my skull a magic eight ball. The shake of me enough

to reveal every shameful yes. I offer my head to my mother’s hands
but they close like a flower un-blooming. It is too early for this conversation

and by this, I mean, too late. The prayer matt calls our names
and it is time to speak to a certainty larger than our falsehoods.

//

This month is holy in its reversal.
We sleep in the day and eat with the moon.
Our tears swim upstream
and our names answer to us when we call them.
The dead sip tea in our bedrooms.
The doors swing open.
The locks break in two.
The tall grass moves
to reveal our bare bodies.
The reason is a breeze
that decided to turn back on its way out.
The reason is the tree who gave it permission.
The reason is the teeth that sunk themselves
back into my gums just in time to speak.
I walk backwards into the room
and refuse to make eye contact.

Mahta Riazi (she/her) is a Iranian/Canadian poet, community worker and educator currently living in what is colonially known as Montreal, Canada. She is passionate about friendship, tea, and language learning. She is interested in the literary arts as a way to connect communities and collectively learn and heal. Her writing is centered on themes of family, home, identity, and loss. Her poetry appears in inQluded magazine, Voicemail Poems, Headline Anthology, khejalat zine, and Yolk literary magazine. She is currently learning to longboard.