Instead of breathing forward, what if the world froze our bodies taxidermied into last memory of love? 24-hour diners full, hands suspended in a prose between a basket of fries and lover’s lips. Dance bar in Le Marais stuck in pre-chorus, your waist enclosed in the warmth of her hips, subway screeches to the tune of Sondheim’s “Somewhere” under weight of a New York August never longing for September’s end. In this taxidermied dream the only thing unfrozen is a sculptor molding an atmosphere of unformed clay, aching, thirsting to find its shape in the folds of living.
Sydney Haas (she/they) is a writer and theatre artist based in Seattle, Washington. They spend as much time as possible next to a body of water or behind an espresso machine. She recently graduated from Seattle University with a degree in English and Theatre, and is excited to see where life takes her next. You can find their work in Horse Egg Literary and more at their website, http://www.sydneymhaas.com.
Two Fish Beckon Me Closer
I place candles in the sand by the edge of the shore in an attempt to keep the waves at bay but nothing stops the ocean.
I want to take care of everyone’s babies on the family vacation but they do not think I am wise enough.
I raise my hand to complete whichever tasks he wants to complete. He wants to clap the erasers in the parking lot and so I follow.
I am noticed by my third-grade teacher who cherry-picks me but I am unashamed. Chalk fills our lungs; we cough.
I bring my new stuffed animal for show-and-tell because it is the right thing to do. I wish I had friends who wanted to drink in the woods with me.
I become the last person to care about drinking in the woods. I still care about drinking in the woods and sending the people I love long messages about drinking in the woods.
I expect a negative response, but I get a positive one. I receive many blessings for my family and I, but I cannot tell which family.
I place candles in the sand by the edge of the shore but when the tsunami rises to kiss me on the forehead, well, I cannot refuse.
Patti Creamer is a person who sometimes writes poetry. She currently lives in Austin, Texas and is studying Computer Science at Austin Community College. Her other published works can be found here.
notes on a womb
my palms when I cup them
I hold them close
to my ear
I can hear
a rush of blood crashing
as an ocean
these small bowls of water
Audrey Gidman is a queer poet living on the Kennebec River in central Maine. Her chapbook, body psalms, recipient of the Elyse Wolf Prize, is forthcoming from Slate Roof Press. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in époque press, FEED, Anti-Heroin Chic, Ogma Magazine, e·ratio, Q/A Poetry, and elsewhere. She received her BFA from the University of Maine Farmington.
Portrait of Self-Isolation with Fruit Flies
The fruit flies arrive in July. We search for the source and find a forgotten tomato, punctured flesh weeping ripe juices atop our fridge. Dispose of the food, get rid of the flies, right? Easy. I seal the offending fruit in plastic to go out with tomorrow’s trash.
The flies remain—hunt out another food source, feast on whatever we leave spilled on countertops, unwashed in sinks, dropped in fresh garbage bags. The sanitation workers collect three times a week, so I start tossing quarter-full bags at the curb on every occasion to cut off the supply. I take to storing orange rinds, banana peels, and grape stems in a Tupperware in the freezer for the days in-between.
“They’ll all be dead in two weeks,” my boyfriend says on a now-rare visit from across town.
Two weeks pass, and they are not. I am affronted by the plastic I must waste with this trash routine. Things like this shouldn’t last more than two weeks, I think, for I now measure time in self-quarantine blocks.
A new roommate moves in from Georgia, so per Governor Cuomo’s travel advisory, I stay home for fourteen days and monitor for symptoms. The flies have migrated to my room, so I set traps: apple cider vinegar mixed with dish soap in a jar, sealed with plastic wrap poked full of holes. After two days, one drowns. Then another. Within a week, a third, but I kill far more by hand.
I do not eat or keep food in my room. All I drink is water as I lose my mind, clapping air while the clanging of sheet metal screeches in through my window from the construction site a block over, but only during the hours of my work-from-home schedule. Occasionally, I hold my trap up to the light and see the bodies of mine enemy drifting on the surface.
A week goes by with no new victims, so I ditch the trap, think the problem’s gone. It’s September now, and I’m wearing a sweater indoors. Cozied up, I spot one: a black dot flashes across my glowing screen. Easy to mistake for a floater in my field of vision.
It seems now there is only ever one. Some days I kill it, others I don’t, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Every day it is reborn, like a gnat-sized phoenix. I begin to accept that we must co-exist. Only by choosing not to be annoyed will I defeat it; the hammering, buzzing, and drilling from across the street serves as an unlikely soundtrack to my pursuit of Zen. This is my Myth of Sisyphus. I’m living the plot of Groundhog’s Day. It’s 2020, time is a lie, and I don’t remember the last time I left my apartment. I’d call the fly my white whale, but I never finished Moby Dick so I don’t understand the metaphor; I think I just need to stop chasing it before it kills me, right? My boyfriend’s battling cockroaches in his new place; this is such a minor issue when seen in scope.
But still the question: what’s the source? Are they feeding on my sealed Mint Julips lip scrub? My sealed Juicy Grape ChapStick? My sealed Winter Candy Apple body spray? I blame the gaps in my air conditioner, the tears in my window screen, the carelessness of my roommates who leave food scraps in the trash can, a ready banquet. I even blame the flowers I bought myself for my birthday.
They are multiplying again. The din outside my window sounds louder than before. I’ve given up and started eating cheese crackers in my room again because clearly there is no end. This has gone on so much longer than any of us thought.
Emily Polson holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University and has been published in Catfish Creek, Book Riot, 433 Magazine, and the Brogue. Originally from central Iowa, she now lives in Brooklyn and works in book publishing. You can follow her on Twitter @emilycpolson.