Self-Portrait: I want to bake God into a cake and then eat him alive. I want my fingers dirtied with strawberry mix, dripping egg yolk, flours.
Self-Portrait: Some nights I can feel his fingers inside of me, puncturing my organs like a cold mirage. I drag my own body across the hallway, burning. Stare in the mirror but find seafoam for my eyes. On my palm, I write there are dead things inside of me and I don’t know what to do. I try therapies, different kinds of tea, but nothing seems to work.
Self-Portrait: All I did in quarantine was bite my braces off & learn how to spear fish with my nails, black as scud.
Self-Portrait: Women are so pretty it makes my teeth gnash, inborn violence. I want to put my hands in their hair, my mouth on their navels. Men mostly bleach their hair orange, forget to clean their bathrooms, make unexpected noise.
Self-Portrait: My sister wants us to go shopping for crop tops, so I rim my mouth with honey & cream, I go six days only drinking water until my skeleton eats me alive. The green of the fabric goes well with my eyes, she says.
Self-Portrait: I wish I was the type of girl who had to watch her drinks more often at clubs.
Self-Portrait: I think about growing my hair out, the long dark braid of it, so long that I could rip it from my scalp and strangle men by their throats. Instead I put on lipstick & fake an accent & watch bad porn with the volume on mute so Braxten will maybe text me back.
Self-Portrait: 13-year-old Mother Mary splayed onto the barn floor, feeling the Baby gnash and splinter inside of her like a cruel star. This is my body / this is my blood.
Self-Portrait: The only place I can breathe is science museums where bones obstruct the windows and everybody is a dead thing. Here: muscle mass. Here: bacterial infection. Here: human teeth. A woman with an ID card right above her breasts asks me if I have a discount & I put my hand to my own cheek, lifeless.
Iris Preaker is a sad girl writer and a junior in high school. Her work has been recognized by Lumiere Review and the Adroit Journal. You can find her on Twitter at @bechdelss.
For Kenneth Patchen
When I followed that wounded fox
the other twilight, I imagined all the nights
she must’ve taken the same route, same tracks,
all the same save for my headlights
that sainted her limping to her den,
her haunches new to the gait she kept
this time. Just grazed or shot? What men
(yes, men) might’ve done this, except
those whose master was mindlessness,
was the cyclopean, steadied crosshair
that superimposed that thinning cross
and then left only bloodstains there
that might’ve matched the rust of her fur
or those of the young waiting for her?
As the dung beetle navigates the milky way
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
– John Muir
Maybe a straw as sextant,
maybe a blade as ballast,
its own sphere travels a longitude
going by constellations
to draw its own map of earth,
its own temporal astronomy, too.
It is its own god, its own myth,
in the beginning genesis from excreta,
molding mud as other deities would clay,
to fasten the stars to its sight
as the sunflower earns its name
and maybe the dandelions become Andromeda.
Dell’Amore, Christine. (2013, January 23). Dung Beetles Navigate Via the Milky Way, First Known in Animal Kingdom. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/dung-beetles-milky-way-navigation
William Dubie lives in Hollis, NH, and teaches at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Every night at the foot of our bed, your toes are silk;
the belly of a tulip. They hang over the mattress hillside
& my feet search out yours, seeking solace. Beloved you,
lacing your toes with mine in the coveted thrall of prayer.
In daylight, on our hand-me-down couch, I use my teeth
to coax the thick nail from each of your toes, daintily,
as if seated in some four-star eatery. You laugh all the time
& wonder aloud what people would say if they could see.
Every time I lift my eyes, your crescent moons
on the tip of my tongue, & ask what people?
Shannon Wolf is a British writer, living in Denver, Colorado. She received a joint MA-MFA in Poetry at McNeese State University and also has degrees from Lancaster University and the University of Chichester. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge, Great Weather for MEDIA, and No Contact Mag among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.