in nightmares you cough
so hard and so loud and
your whole body heaves
and your ribs all splinter
and fluid fills your lungs
and phlegm pours out of
your mouth until you just
choke on yourself. some-
times you shake so very
violently that your atoms
all fly apart and suddenly
you’re nothing. sometimes
you liquify into the couch.
sometimes you rot from
the inside all the way out.
there is always either no-
thing i can do to help you,
or so much i could do but
you won’t fucking let me.
we crawl towards each other, our bodies
lurching and creaking, our mouths open
and gasping, silently screaming for the
contact. our broken bodies are dragged
towards each other excruciatingly slowly
by our disgusting need, our pathetically
human wanting. we will never touch. not
even bruised, cracked, bloody fingers
grasping and clasping. we stare at each
other from across this fucking burning
room with all of its slammed and locked
doors and we cry tears that neither can
see because by this point they’ve gone
dry; we could never admit anything so
it makes no sense to start now. we
just crawl around, avoiding eye contact
but wanting to touch and smell each others’
hair and fuck and eat expensive cheese
and grow old and we will grow old, we
are growing old, in this burning room.
we will crawl towards each other forever
or until the world and all its suffering
finally ends, whichever comes first.
SOME THINGS, THE WATER CAN’T WASH CLEAN
i watch the same stale glimpses
of who we could have been together
dance in the flame of the candle i bought
to get over you; i am to light it and
think about letting you go and then
you will be gone. this is powerful magic.
this is helichrysum, frankincense,
neroli, and cedar. this is four pieces of
pink kunzite sinking into the molten wax.
this is burning on the sink as i scald
myself in the shower, wash you off of
me, wash you down the drain and away.
it will burn and you will be gone and
all i will have left are faint scars i can’t
even remember hurting to achieve, and i’m
slipping through your fingers like a nosebleed.
Dani Tauber is the author of just like soft fruit (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press) and it’s always summer in hell (APEP), as well as the editor in chief of Vulnerary Magazine. She's had work appear in Resurrection Magazine, Pink Plastic Press, RLY SRS LIT, Screenshot Lit, and The Aquarian - among others. Instagram: jewel.wing / vulneraries | Twitter: DRAINPIPEEE / vulneraries | www.vulnerarymag.com
Pink Light (2021)
My therapist’s armchair creaks. Tell me: What is it
about hope that feels so challenging?
I look past the tower of books about loss
and out the window, remembering
last night’s fast traffic on Forest Ave,
you standing in the intersection
the blurred half-moon
above that big, loud, exuberant
lighted sign. HOPEFUL.
The crumpled mask tumbling
from the back pocket of your jeans.
The kissably soft sunset air. Crickets singing
at my feet. The sky so many sweet feathers
of gold, pink, lavender above us.
How I tried then to pull you
toward the crumbling curb. Come on.
Get out of there. It isn’t safe.
Kate Horowitz is a poet, essayist, and science writer in Maine. Her poems have appeared in journals including Rogue Agent, Monstering, SIREN, Doubleback Review, and Yes Poetry; on matchboxes; and in anthologies of poems on pop culture, tarot cards, and inanimate objects. You can find her online at thingswrittendown.com, on Twitter @delight_monger, and on Instagram @kate_swriting. Kate likes moss and rain and dogs on the beach and long walks at night. She lives by the sea.
it is summer in the poem and we are living
three of us, in some family apartment
on the fourth floor perhaps sixth
every day, the hiss of onions
in the pan, and the pasta
always has beans in it
stacked on top of one another
we can’t reach the ceiling
and the doorknobs
keep falling off
at night on the balcony:
your moonmouth on my neck
you tell me another new thing
the plants half crispy around us
I know nothing really
belongs to me, but somehow
I have arrived in this moment like a tourist
in my own life
where having an opinion is terrifying
and exhilarating/ means having
to surrender to my own publicness
I want to beetle on my back
with my legs up in the air
I want to grow wings and buzz
in circles around the ceiling
I want to melt across your lap
and her lap
and hers, with
my top off in some dewy bedroom,
the windows open, and I am saying
yes yes yes until I have nothing
left to say
I love every minute of this stupid life
of loving and not knowing
or caring where
to draw the line
of getting really good at something
and letting everybody watch
Hannah Karpinski is a queer writer based in Tio'tia:ke/Montreal. Her work has appeared in publications such as Bad Nudes, Lemon Hound, Verses Mag, and others.
Charles Baudelaire: L’Albatros
Amusement, for the men at sea,
Is flying white and large
For taking; indolent ally
To every gliding barge.
Straightway, from net to poop, the kings
To put on airs and droop their wings
Like oars to paddle sweat.
This metamorphosis; a freak
From stately, main and true!
A sailor’s pipe insults his beak
And laughing limps accrue.
This poets’ regal alibi,
Beyond all bolt and arrow;
On Elba, privately, to die
Or widely fly the narrow.
Souvent, pour s'amuser, les hommes d'équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.
À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d'eux.
Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguère si beau, qu'il est comique et laid!
L'un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L'autre mime, en boitant, l'infirme qui volait!
Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher.
Arthur Rimbaud: Ô Saisons Ô Châteaux
O seasons, O you castles,
are flawless souls just fossils?
You seasons, O you castles,
your class is full. I’m done
with magic! (Blissful 1.)
Long live the cock’s adieu
to melancholy’s coup!
But I no longer care
to hear joy say, Mon cher.
Such charm! The body’s spirit
moves forever near it.
Like rapture’s nincompoop,
all meaning flies the coop!
You seasons, O you castles!
Ô saisons ô châteaux,
Quelle âme est sans défauts ?
Ô saisons, ô châteaux,
J'ai fait la magique étude
Du Bonheur, que nul n'élude.
Ô vive lui, chaque fois
Que chante son coq gaulois.
Mais ! je n'aurai plus d'envie,
Il s'est chargé de ma vie.
Ce Charme ! il prit âme et corps.
Et dispersa tous efforts.
Que comprendre à ma parole ?
Il fait qu'elle fuie et vole !
Ô saisons, ô châteaux !
Petrarch: Rime Sparse, Poem 18
When I have turned my eyes to place
Madonna’s lovely face in light,
these far too heavy thoughts alight
to burn me in a melted place.
My heart can see I can’t replace
its fear without a little light;
as if I’m blinded with delight,
to leave I simply stand in place.
Before I blow this joint and die,
my death will flee; that is desire,
which never comes to die alone.
In silence, gone; let all words die
and no man weep. Let my desire
to see death cry be left alone.
Quand’ io son tutto volto in quella parte
Ove ‘l bel viso di Madonna luce,
Et m’e’ rimasa nel pensier la luce
Che m’arde et struggle dentro a parte a parte,
I’ che temo del cor che mi si parte,
Et veggio press oil fine de la mia luce,
Vommene in guise d’orbo, senza luce,
Che non sa ove si vada et pur si parte.
Cosi davanti a’ colpi de la morte
fuggo, ma non si ratto che ‘l desio
meco non venga, come venir sole;
tacito vo, che le parole morte
farina pianger la gente, et i’ desio
che le lagrime mie si spargan sole.
Jake Sheff is a pediatrician and veteran of the US Air Force. He’s married with a daughter and six pets. Poems and short stories of Jake’s have been published widely. Some have even been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, “A Kiss to Betray the Universe,” is forthcoming from White Violet Press.
The Hawk Dreams of Walking
These feet, useless for anything
except killing and rending--
and clutching—had lost their claws.
flattened, and my wings shriveled
to flaps. I dropped from the nest
and landed upright on my new feet.
I took one step, another.
Suddenly I was running
and leaping through the field.
My tail was still broad and strong;
the wind lifted it and I was almost
flying. I chased and caught a snake,
gutted it, ate everything inside.
I raced rabbits, won two out
of five, and forgot to kill and eat
them. The sun was sinking now,
the air growing colder. I thought
of my nest somewhere far behind
and inaccessible even if I could
find it. I scraped together some twigs
and feathers in the dirt under a tree,
settled in and slept. When I woke
I was in my nest, dawn, early light
shimmering on the frosted grass below.
I wondered what it would be like
to walk on that crusted ground,
and then I heard steps crunching,
a hunter and his dog heading for the river,
and I knew. I knew.
Gregory Luce is the author of five books of poems, including Riff & Improvisations, from Kelsay Books, and has published widely in print and online. In addition to poetry, he writes a monthly column of the arts for Scene4 Magazine. Retired from National Geographic, he is a volunteer tutor/writing instructor for 826DC. He lives in Arlington, VA, but his heart is divided between Texas and D.C.
Uncovered logs from the distant past and the future beyond.