2 poems by ed ahern
It’s refreshing to be ignored.
When coupled horseshoe crabs hold fast against waders’ feet.
When Virginia Creeper surges over mowed grass.
When young rabbits stare back without fear.
When cats in heat jailbreak to waiting lovers.
When salmon jump dams to spray their milt.
When I’m irrelevant to the process.
Tell me again how important we are.
Shiny pebbles in the stream,
appealing flickers in the flow.
Never knelt to wet my knees,
and watched them tumble away.
Agate and pyrite, gneiss and amber,
untouched, unknown and memorable
We seldom even spoke.
illustrations by bridget roddy
In Willoughby, Ohio there is a white hut on the side of the road and they sell handmade ice cream in store bought waffle cones. They do not have Superman flavored ice cream.
If your shoes do not have laces, they can’t come untied on the escalator. If your coat doesn’t have buttons, they can’t fall off on the train and roll under a stranger’s seat.
This last year or so has been pretty tough for a lot of people, and it never hurts to be nice.
this illness is forever by isis nelson
cw: chronic illness
to be chronically ill from a young age is to know the taste of resignation better than that of happiness
it is old facebook comments and constant questions about why you were never at school before you left
(“i was sick” was apparently not a good enough answer)
it is “you might grow out of it with age”
(you will not)
it is briefly vomiting in your mouth while burping and getting on with your day, because this is just your life
it is your stomach feeling like lead after eating
(and learning to dislike food because it only causes you pain)
it is dark humor about your many disabilities because it’s one of the few ways you can cope
it is the concerned gazes of your mother and doctors after getting on the scale
(you lost weight again; you shrug, it’s not your fault your appetite is so moody)
it is laying in bed after eating fast food and being acutely aware you’re going to be sick for the rest of your life, probably
it is unconsciously comparing forms of suffering
(you don’t have it as bad as some people, but that doesn’t mean you have it all that good, either)
rosh hashanah services.
my trumpet’s own feast.
at planet fitness
parking lot, you on your phone,
I whistled, you smiled.
I saw you dancing
at club columbus, wanted
to take you to bed.
convenience store aisle,
your denim jacket, smoky.
deep blue eyes. call me.
steam room at the gym,
your towel slipped as you stood up.
I liked what I saw.
sucked you off in the
safeway bathroom, you left once
you came. what’s your name?
picked up cigarettes
you’d dropped, standing in front of
The Pearl, your teeth glowed.
indigo boys by marie fonbah
"The inspiration towards my photography usually comes from the rawness of human nature, adventure, and of course nature itself, and how they intersect. I have an appreciation for documented memories, and within that, bold details and realness, and in these photos I hoped to capture the joy and solace felt in adventure, plus the beauty in black boy joy."
Every year on the day Mina’s victim perished, Luke drove to the boy’s house and waited outside in his car until both parents left for work. Then he would go and slip an envelope of money under their front door.
Sometimes he wondered what the boy would have grown up to be. Who he would have become if Mina hadn’t snuffed out his flame before he’d had a chance for it to catch fire and really dance. It had only flickered before Mina whispered and extinguished it, like the small waxy candles on her birthday cakes each year.
At times, Luke’s wonderings got confused. His imagination wandered down paths that didn’t exist, twisting and bending reality, until the boy was his and Mina’s son that they’d lost. And then he grieved even harder than he’d ever grieved for him when he was just a helpless stranger who crossed their path by unforgiving coincidence. It became easier to forget this way that he and Mina had never actually had any children of their own or even gotten married, leaving them with no tangible links to tie them together after they parted ways. Only the invisible bonds of memories and disappointments.
“We don't deserve to have any children,” she said when their efforts at getting pregnant failed yet again. “Not after what we did.”
Then they thought of the boy’s parents together in agonizing silence, so thick they couldn't find each other through it. His hurt made no dent in her resolve. She just stared out the window, though with the curtains closed, she couldn't see outside.
Luke had held Mina close, eight years earlier, as they danced cheek to cheek on cobblestones under the streetlights on Montmartre. With him humming la vie en rose into her ear.
“You can hardly claim to be drunk on only one glass of wine,” he said as she swayed away from him afterward, her movements unsteady and hypnotic. He said the same thing three years later, the night they left their favorite restaurant, as they argued over who was sober enough to drive.
The sky was a rigid obsidian and the street winding through the woods that Mina preferred to the busy highway was quiet with no lights anywhere. When their car thudded, rough and violent, they both breathed, "deer", before continuing home, shaken.
It wasn't until they saw the boy on the news in daylight-- he'd been getting high with his friends in the woods and ambled over to the road to get better service on his cell-- that the fear of possibilities gripped them and wouldn't let go.
The boy glided through each room of their small yellow and white house, caressing their skin with shivers on the off chance they'd forgotten him. He speckled Luke’s strawberry blonde hair with silver. He drew lines and pressed creases into Mina’s face, one for each year he'd been dead. The boy watched as the silence between Luke and Mina billowed and rippled like strong trees with weak branches in merciless winds, littering the ground with leaves too tired and dry to fight anymore.
The day finally came when Mina said she was going to turn herself in. “Just sleep on it,” Luke pleaded with her. So she did. And in the morning, they didn't go to the police station together. He went through his usual getting ready routine and drove to work. She, on the other hand, packed her clothes and books into a suitcase, and left forever.
Haunted as they’d been, the world had still managed to drizzle rose petals every so often. Thick as satin, airy as silk. Luke never sang to Mina again, but the tune lingered in their heads anyway. But after she left him and the obligation to protect her and her guilt had long since atrophied, the sky was flowerless.
One morning, as Luke sat in his Chevy outside the boy’s home, quite unsure if his parents still even lived there or if he’d been financing another set of strangers all these years, he thought he saw Mina’s head of wild curls across the street and her brown eyes staring straight ahead. He didn’t go check to be certain. He preferred to imagine her there, sitting in a car like his, nursing a debt that could never be repaid.
I used to think
I could see the edge of the world
from the Walt Whitman bridge.
Around the same spell,
a black sheep
would tell me scary stories
I fell asleep to clipped Italian
and soap opera drama.
We each had a place at the table--
I only ate chicken tenders
drowned in ketchup
ice-cream at eleven AM
fingers sticky as I reached
for more Hershey Kisses,
for another hand of cards
in the most loving games of war
I've ever played.
I was a card shark
at that mottled kitchen table for years.
But the evening,
dotted with the golden glow
of end-table lamps,
heralded the arrival of
a drive home
five PM feeling
ants under my skin.
After we’d packed up and,
the leftovers were placed gently
on the passenger’s seat,
my grandmother would wave
from the porch.
brown from all the coffee she’d drink
shone in the fading light
as she smiled.
photography by isha sharma
wreckage by helga floros
so my soul says i’m my own god and nobody can hold me back and leaves my body on the bed my body doesn’t even sigh because she is used to this, being left, and has learned to live with it. once my body fell very deeply in love with someone and thought she could never live without someone but someone said you are too desperate to be loved to be loved and left so my body figures she can find a way to live without a soul, too.
my body lies on the bed for a while but she really cannot spend the rest of her life there, soul or no soul, so she gets out and makes some oatmeal thinking about how badly my soul loved oatmeal, but this does not make my body cry. for a second she thinks, this should make me cry. i am not doing this splitting up business the right way, i am supposed to be very sad and cry a lot into my oatmeal so it tastes like water and salt and wet cardboard. hmm.
my soul is everything my body dreams of which is mostly to say, bodiless. without a body she can fly into the world to Find Herself. she visits many countries and talks with many people even though she is scared of talking and many and people. she finds no substance or self, but it will probably be around the next corner so she must go on.
many years pass with my soul backpacking around europe and my body doing dishes and laundry and homework. my body sometimes think about my soul’s return and how strong she is going to stand, unflinching and proud and better off now. she imagines my soul’s beautiful heart and angry eyes, smirking oh, baby and how she will only roll her eyes in response. she will not take my soul back, which means absolutely nothing when my soul does not want to be taken back in the first place.
one day my body receives a postcard in her mailbox, which she checks every day without ever missing a beat. it’s stamped in a language my body does not recognise and for a moment she thinks of the words lost like that. maybe my body is an untranslatable wound. there’s a firetruck on it which looks like hope surrounded by flames the same colour that look like hell. my body knows in her gut it’s from my soul, even though it does not read anything. no wish you were here . my soul might be many things but at least she is not cruel, my body thinks.
have we been birds? by tamara jobe
This, a pain when we touch,
when we crush between our
sticky fingers all that we've
done : it smells of a fruit
no one has a name for.
We have no name for.
In the mornings we carry the succor
in the backs of our mouths, safe for later.
We talk to the sky in made-up tongues.
In made-up tongues we rabble and gobble
and hunt each other for the right words:
to glut, to skewer, to fuck. We know the names
we call each other but no one else does.
The pulp between us: silken, seeded,
suited. We warble together to hear
our choked songs when we forget
how to speak.