Vanessa Maki is a writer (& other things) who is queer & full of black girl magic. She has work in various places such as Entropy, Susan/The Journal, Rising Phoenix Press, Sad Girl Review among others & is forthcoming in Sorority Mansion among others. She is founder/editor of yell/shout/scream & rose quartz journal. Her debut chapbook “press ctrl-alt-delete” is available on Payhip. Follow her twitter & visit her site.
Amanda Aunspach is a recent graduate from the School of Art at Ball State University. She was the recipient of the Muncie Arts and Culture Council’s Award for Arts Advocacy in 2018. Her current work explores the ways in which queer sexuality and feminine expressions of gender are regulated and exploited by main stream culture and feminism. Her work aims to celebrate the areas of sexuality and romance that are often ignored and shamed.
The work being featured is meant to reflect the parts of drag culture that are often lost on straight society in the wake of drag becoming more main stream. The drag scene has always been a place for the queer community to express their frustrations with the upper middle class of straight white citizens, who have systematically keep them down. These photographs emphasize the socially critical aspects of drag culture rather than the purely entertaining ones.
The city of slums and shining sights
Is not as clean as country road.
They contrast one another.
Neither can be docile or tamed.
Each holds its own dangers
As well as unique delights
These varying dominions of coexistence
Between architecture and natural habitat.
The concrete jungle, ruled by wall and stoplight,
Cannot remove Nature’s foothold.
Vines of ivy crawling ever upward and outward
Mingle on buildings’ sides, grafitti-covered.
Cracks in pavement serve as furrows
For weeds and arbor seedlings
As underfoot they’re trampled
By all the busy passers-by.
A forest of steel, glass, and brick,
A city to be quite precise,
Appreciates flower and rooftop garden
But forgets what gifts they bring.
Many of the organisms on the planet coexist in a vast harmonious ecosystem, a natural utopia, the most perfect earthling utopia. Symbiosis is a part of citizenship. It’s not kindness. Simply, symbiosis is the right thing to do. The mutual goodwill and aid ensure the survival of all. The spider hangs her webbed hammock betwixt the trees. Wind shapes the faces of stone. Algae and moss reduce the condemned structures to heaps of rubble. The ants, the construction workers, build up and dig beneath. The bees produce golden honey for their children, the generation of the future.
And likewise, songbirds nestle their eggs warmly aloft in the arbor. Leaves fall softly and silently in the autumn. Flower and leaf fade and pass; they move on. Spores move into the unoccupied neighborhood, and fungus takes the place of flower. The foot of the tree feels for soil. Roots cling to present life. Leaves of scarlet cover grass so green. And a snow comes in its due time.
Snow: blanket so white, blanket so light. Snow protects the underworld from frost and chilling bite. Spring dawns upon the world. The white blanket disappears effortlessly and with ease. Hibernation’s sweet call lessens, retreating for the year. A new sort of age begins, starts afresh, repeats itself. The calendar is not a block of time but rather a belt annually renewed. Like the food chain, seasons seem to be a perpetual cycle, linked one to another. Yet in none of these does oil hunter or forester rest. Humanity does not only inhibit a utopia for its own kind, but it invades and drains the safe haven of nature itself.
Betsy Jenifer is an eighteen-year-old writer and artist from Vellore, south India. She has been published in Canvas, The Claremont review, Polyphony, The Door is A Jar, The Tishman review and Foliate Oak, among others.