‘2 More Poems’ by Laura Paul

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We Bought a Condo!

Defend Boyle Heights!
Crucify Laura Owens!
All artists are to blame!
(But what about the developers?)
All artists are to blame!
(What about my friends who can’t
afford to live anywhere except Chinatown?)
Also—where do the refugees go?
I was born in Fullerton
does that mean I have to return there?
My boyfriend grew up on the west side
does that mean he has to become a billionaire?
I’ll never know who my biological father is
does that mean I’m white?
He was born of a Jew
who lost his Jewishness and
assimilated, losing everything.
Does that mean
I’m lost too?

House in L.A.

Should we buy a house in L.A.?
And watch it go up in flames
for one million dollars?
Should we slave our lives
in order to live?
And bit by bit
I will submit
each poem I write
to the mortgage company?
You’ll start wearing a tie,
drive a car.
In the summer we’ll refer to it
as Q3
and laugh
at our lack
of pleasure.
Or should we continue to live instead
in the tree house that hangs over your neighbor’s yard?
Giggling into the night
and sneaking out during the day
so that we never
get caught.

Laura Paul is a writer living in Los Angeles. Previously, her work has been published by the Brooklyn Rail, Entropy Magazine, Eohippus Labs, Shirley Magazine, and featured at the West Hollywood Book Fair and Los Angeles Zine Fair. She is the author of Entropy’s monthly Stars to Stories column and since June 2018 she’s been filming a weekly video series of her poetry at poemvideo.com. Raised in Sacramento, she’s earned her B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master’s from UCLA. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @laura_n_paul

‘To Live and Die in L.A’ by Laura Paul

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To Live and Die in L.A.

I wanted to live and die with L.A.
I think of it as my home
I want to go home
Is it stupid to love something that’s going to die?
My, I felt my bones just this morning
Momento mori

Hollywood’s always been real estate
You can see it on the sign—
agents everywhere

Abandoned hill houses
worth too much these days
Writing on the walls
fresh coat of paint—
and you’re gone

Who needs art
when you’ve got a view like that?
But no one can attack
foreign investors
because they’re too far away!

People born in L.A. act
as if it is so artificial
but when you’ve been raised in a trap
Los Angeles is like a wonderland
which it is
which is why
they tend to dismiss it in the first place
and instead reach for constructions
of sober existence
not realizing
its artifice too

They move out, looking for reality
believing such a place
must have
much less fine weather

Love is not having to go
somewhere else
I like living in a place
where I can call David Lynch my neighbor
I hate that I can see the Beverly Center
the office where I used to work
I love that I can see the ocean though
the chaparral, the sky
the emphasis on lightness

L.A. is its own kind of realization
one where you’re aware
that you’re living in a sensation
unlike New Yorkers, or even rural Americans
who believe that having class, or no class
is something beautiful
innate
and natural

Here, we understand
the superficiality of it all
And don’t care which college
you came from
(which is sometimes good
sometimes bad)

I came to L.A. because I thought it would radicalize me
little did I know it did
It taught me the radical enjoyment of pleasure—
that I could take myself seriously
without forgoing delight
You think that where I came from
taught me that?
No

I enjoy my life
Stumbling around the neighborhood
to reach the lookout spot
acting like some sort of
sedate Hunter S. Thompson
Drunk off of sleep
shirt half unbuttoned
instead I smoke a ball point pen

I like Los Angeles because it is plural
You don’t have to be one thing—
you can be something and nothing at the same time

A city of many cities
I’ve never met one person
to define all of this

L. A.
U R A
dream!

So don’t get mad
at the sun for shining
get angry at the investors
who told you it had a price

Laura Paul is a writer living in Los Angeles. Previously, her work has been published by the Brooklyn Rail, Entropy Magazine, Eohippus Labs, Shirley Magazine, and featured at the West Hollywood Book Fair and Los Angeles Zine Fair. She is the author of Entropy’s monthly Stars to Stories column and since June 2018 she’s been filming a weekly video series of her poetry at poemvideo.com. Raised in Sacramento, she’s earned her B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master’s from UCLA. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @laura_n_paul

‘9 AM’ and ‘Flood’ by D.T. Mattingly

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9 AM

I receive a text message,
reading that I have absolutely
nothing else to worry about.
That I should never respond,
and live my life, so they can
live theirs. That I’d never be
a good father, anyway, with
or without their say.

Flood

Facing censure as years of tears
reflect the sea, a blanket that
my parents never gave me.
Manliness absorbing into pores,
venturing home, silence weighing
heavier than a remiss heart.
Returning as a wave, the rage
of the neglected waters exuding
into a house full of shamefulness.

Delvon T. Mattingly, who also goes by D.T. Mattingly, is an emerging creative writer and a PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Michigan. His fiction has appeared in Maudlin House, Jellyfish Review, MoonPark Review, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his two cats, Liam and Tsuki. Learn more about his work at http://delvonmattingly.com/. He tweets here: @Delvonmattingly

‘Black’ by Aahna Jain

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BLACK

In the yellow light of the rehab,
She told me I could ask her for anything I wanted,
I ordered her to go fetch her dead husband
Which annoyed her less than I wanted her to be,
But I reminded myself I wanted lots of things,
One of which was her dead husband.,

She took me through the purple hallways for therapy
And all I could think about was that
The brown of her iris didn’t match the brown of her dress.
(Don’t judge me,it’s supposed to happen in books)

She said I could select my activity today,
And I was surprised that someone actually gave me choices.
My mental note:stop joking about her dead husband.

Writing had been my love before,
But it was too complex a task now.
Words seemed distant,calculated lines with calculated meanings,
I needed to be free and words weren’t going to give me that.

So I chose drawing instead,
Meaningless strokes and meaningless designs and meaningless meanings.
With little pink hands that held little pink syringe marks,
A box labeled ‘colours’ was opened.

I wanted to scream that colours were everywhere,forming our daydreams and crushing our hopes,
Not just in a stupid box.
Then reminded myself that I wanted a lot of things,
One of which was the lady’s dead husband.

But they only had broken crayons,
And holding one felt wrong
When you knew the other part was in there
Somewhere,waiting to be completed.

I couldn’t breathe suddenly,
For the box of crayons smelled of loss and separation,
Of pieces formed and never reunited.
I took it upon myself to make them whole again,
Spending the day taping them together,
The blue with the blue,the green with the green.

People thought I had undergone a breakup,
Or two maybe,for I understood the need to be together.
They didn’t know that it’s okay to lose people.
We’re designed that way,to love,to forget and to love again.

But when you break into pieces,
Like the crayons now safely tucked into the box,
You can’t stand up again on your own.
You have to have the other part.

Losing a part of yourself is not something that heals.
It is a gnawing ache inside of you to be you again,
And once you are broken,you can’t tape yourself.
The pieces are lost,sucked into bottomless holes,
Duct tape, out of stock and reach.

I dreamt of a shattered mirror that night.
When I bent down to pick its shards,
One of them got me in my foot
And crimson red-maroon blood oozed out.

I remember the long journey to the art room the next day,
The dreaded opening of the box,the searching of the crayons.
And sure enough I found it,a crimson red crayon taped with maroon.

‘Crumbling Castles’, ‘Testimony to My Paltriness’, and ‘ My Last Poem’ by Aahna Jain

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CRUMBLING CASTLES

As the wind carries with it sandcastles of hopes,
As crumbling walls finally give way,
As fires burning from aeons extinguish,
As years of life fade into oblivion,

The child in me gets terrified,
Of change brought too soon,
Of times forgotten and never reminisced,
Of losing the old in the thirst for new,
Of moving on before letting go.

THE TESTIMONY TO MY PALTRINESS

I hate the stars.

They rave of their freedom.
Of the space that they claim
Of the endless expanse
That they call home.

They rave of my eternal enchainment.
Of my teeny tiny territory
Of the gravity that pulls me down
The reasons I can’t explore what’s beyond.

They rave of their immortality
Of the undying fire within them
Of the generations of mortals
That they have seen perish.

They rave of my fugacious soul
Of the minuscule time between my dawn and dusk
Of the truth that I’ll be forgotten
Lost in the shadows of history.

I hate them not because of what they symbolize,
I hate them because I’m jealous
Because they speak the truth
The truth that I’m too scared to say.

MY LAST POEM

Before dusk:

I was too broken and too wrecked
To complete the list of things.
Things to do in your lifetime.
So much as glance at it.

Under the pitch black starless sky
I did what I do best.
My only activity for years.
I wrote.

But this time I wrote
Not about your perfection or absence or the fact that you smell like home though I never know where
you are.
A suprise-I didn’t write about my ex
Whose forgiveness I seeked,
Warmth I could never forget.

It was not a tale of hunger and greed,
How one leads to another,
Then eventually to destruction.
Didn’t concern the mountains or the sunset or the raindrop that touched my lips yesterday.

I swear I didn’t write about my dead grandma.
Wasn’t in regard to God,the hypothetical being who failed to bring me hope when I needed it the most.
‘What did you write about then?’
You must wonder.
Surely the feeling of despair as you slipped into the void,never to return?
No.

I was never written about, captured of course,
In pixels and polaroids.
But they call it capturing for a reason,
For it binds your body in a 5”×7″ sheet.
Your soul caught between reality and illusion.
Writing?It liberates.

So under the yellow tinged sky ,
I wrote of myself.
Of the little miracle I was(read:had been).
Unknown to the world,never written about

I wrote my eulogy too,
Suprised there was so much to say.
You’ll call it selfish
To end my life with my thoughts.
Maybe selfish was all I ever needed.

With the sky decorated in hues of orange and purple,
And my pen automatically working its way on the paper,
I realized that you weren’t so perfect
and my ex not so chaste.

As sun rays pinched my eyes,
I knew the time.The exact one.
Their dawn.My dusk.

After dusk:

Aahna Jain is a 14 year old Indian girl whose hobbies include reading and writing. An introvert,she sesses over the ideas of freedom and her ephemerality.She seeks to immortalize herself through her words and leave a permanent mark on the world.

‘A Letter to My Partner’ and ‘Another One on Memories’ by Lynne Schmidt

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A Letter to My Partner

You were who I was looking for when I was fifteen,
The one whose hands clumsily touched my body,
Whose nose pushes against mine,
Whose teeth clink when we’ve had too much to drink.

You were who I looked for the night he slid his hands down the front of my pants,
Pausing briefly because I asked,
“Have you done this before?”
To which he answered, “This is the farthest I’ve gone.”
So I let him touch me.
Let the darkness of the room feel like safety rather than a prison cell.
Only to find that there was someone else.
And she’d gone farther.

And so we are fifteen years and several partners later now.
And here you stand,
Like a seventeen year old
You giggle when I reach for your hand,
Because you don’t have to tuck your love into a drawer to be pulled out later.
You don’t have a combination on your heart that I don’t have the code for.
You are right here,
In front of me,
Asking if I want to be more than friends.

And I look at my hands,
My legs,
My body,
My brain.
I look at what he’s taken from me,
What the rest have said and stolen, too.

You are who I’ve waited for my entire life.
And now,
I think
I might be too broken for you.

Another One on Memories

Some days, I am too present.
Too aware of the situation at hand,
Your fingers laced through mine,
The cloud placement in the sky,
The exact placement in the parking lot where my phone rang,
Where I answered it three steps away,
When my sister asked, “Why would this happen?”

Some days, my brain retains these memories
Stores them like files in a cabnent
So that when I see you again
Or I stand in this exact spot,
The memories flip through,
A slide show of everything we have experienced together,
Until the film catches flame
And my hands drop to my sides.

Because these things are just memories.
And you are standing in front of me.

And we look through each other

And keep walking.

Lynne Schmidt (she/her) is a mental health professional in Maine. Her memoir, The Right to Live: A Memoir of Abortion was the Maine Nonfiction Award Winner and a PNWA Literary Contest finalist and her poetry has received the Honorable Mention from Joy of the Pen. Her work has appeared in Royal Rose Literary, Sixty-Four Best Poets of 2018, 2018 Emerging Poets, Frost Meadow Review, Poets of Maine, Poets of New England, Maine Dog Magazine, Alyss Literary, UNE Magazine, Her Kind Vida, and others. Lynne is the founder of AbortionChat, and has been and continues to be a featured poet at events throughout Maine. She prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

Twitter: @LynneSchmidt

‘3 Poems’ by Mika Hrejsa

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Buried Beneath The Rot Of Americana, A Girl Begins To Sear The Air Around Her In Wrath

a cut in the dark and neon fuzz on the sensory
america’s addiction torching inside your skull
breath laced with viscera
the moment flares in hot tint and daggers are
bubbling up past your lips
FEAST/THE/DESIRES/DRIPPING/BETWEEN/YOUR/FINGERTIPS

you unknown danger you fanged variable
adrift between transgressions
visage stilled in a fighting stance in vulgar tableau
those demon bones grinding between your canines
and a jugular ready to burst with bane

subject of a specific violence
flicking up those winged tips in defiance
as to scream “fuck you” like its an incantation
you got a stare like a riot on the precipice

all touch eradicates into data for me now

into a digital abyss we’re falling
lost amongst the white noise of our lives
i fuck with the periphery of my existence
moments of sobriety smashed to fuckin nothing
core lit up senses at the spontaneous
filter incoherence to plain fuckin sense
caught up like we’re existing between
tv snow screams give the top layer no question
blasted out perceptions

take a breath
let yourself digitize into the soil
data distortion against the morning dew
nylon rotting alongside the worms until
another sun takes its turn
overflooded paranoia needling under the
stone

i hold my phone out to snapchat
a dead coyote corpse on its 8th day
feeding the cornfield on the town outskirts
caption reading: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN
CONDENSE LIVES DOWN TO MERE PHOTONS
sense of self stripping as i try to rip something
poetic out of from my own mind vomit

terrified daily of the daylight bleeding past
my blackout curtains i cower trying to
mind suffocate to shut out the shroud casting
a halo around our sun that’s flipping between
channels 3 and 17 turning it all to muted red
and black nonsense my eyes closed i cant stop
the visions – towering gears shifting along
unmovable levers not bare to the naked eye
as i realize im operating as a machine with no creator

psycho shutdown too much to bear and i open
my eyes to five hours past walking out to air now
glittering in binary rips that smile through the
cracks between the hydro bonds
i let the cogs punch my feet into the concrete
resting myself fetal against a wall as my vision
begins to focus robotically between the strings
of 1’s and 0’s drifting past autumn leaves
comfortably numb as i feel my body shiver and
bright nothingness begins to tear at the edges of
my vision – all clarity squeezed down to to an ethereal
tone blaring out like a radio between frequencies
a howl buried beneath the newly born realities

idle spaces

flashing my blood caked skeleton
at random cops hoping i get blasted
away for being an extra-dimensional creep

ive only existed in idle space
for seven years and im kinda dying here

engorged tentacles keep slithering from my
voided eye sockets and breaking
all of my shit

my bank account draws its
funds across the aether from a 401k in one of many
dystopian futures:

it is overdrawn by $5.37
from a purchase of approx. 7 dollars worth
of 3 ½ tuna salad sandwiches from the back
of the deli cooler at my local gas station

phantoms smile on me from beyond the
veil of atoms brimming with nonsense

an unknown bag of pills wasn’t in the corner of
my room and then im on the ground shoveling
them down my throat they are melting against
my tongue
they taste like a cyberpunk dystopia distilled
im vomiting blackness now
its sticking to everything

the liquid starts flickering with an array
of those indescribable colors you only see
on the edge of your own dreams

i peer out my window and the glass shatters inexplicably
as a slimey shadow slides back into my skull
it is difficult to perform typical tasks when one has
tendrils escaping from their face every few moments

The Police are hovering around my backyard
shoving drones powered by hellfire through my basement windows
i hang crystals incessantly around the corners
of my room lighting 7 incense sticks at once until
im suffocating enough to think i am safe

‘guilty on charges of: being a fucking
skinless creep and underwhelmingly dead’

every orifice on my body (those i am aware of)
begin leaking the blackness // my hair is clumped together
reeking of the voided substance
my face drips shadows onto my clothes
irises inversed and mouth contorted into a
look of abject apathy i remark ‘i look
like a [DEITY][GOD][DEMON][NOTHINGNESS]
ejaculated across my face, [FUCK]’

i try to step outside the perimeter of my house
and throw my arms up at The Police so ill
get fucking murked (i secretely desire the matrydom
inevitable when its found i was carrying
only my skin and bone and not an ar-15)
but as my foot passes the threshold of my
doorway i wake up on my couch with blood
oozing from the knee down

‘hell yeah here it comes’ i say as im on the
ground trying to cover my wound in dirt
my blood turns dark
the black tears stop and it pools out of that
’empty knee space’
i dont feel a thing i laugh as i realize
im the evil thats been finally defeated

my mailbox smashes through the window
impaling through my skull and p much
converting my head into mulch staining the
carpet
/I DONT FEEL A THING/

the emptiness gushing out of my knee
has turned into a thin puddle covering
my entire living room – i am going to
drown into non-existence ‘hell hell hell
hell hell hell heLL yeAH’
‘every1 loves it when the villain gets
their just deserts lmao’ – the last words
a completely crushed throat manage to
strain out
floating inside my brain soup, my eyes
perceive one more image before the abyss
makes me fuck off:

a letter – ‘we here at bank of america are kinda tired of your
weird bullshit so we’re closing your account
and a representative will be there shortly to
rummage through your corpse for the 5.37 you owe us’

the word ‘beautiful’ darts around
my absolutely !OWNED! skull a bit
beautiful
beautiful

Mika Hrejsa is a transfeminine poet from Indiana that has been writing regularly since she was a sophomore in high school, writing horror-inspired poetry that would go on to include themes of discovering womanhood and 21st century melancholy. Her twitter is https://twitter.com/tokyo_vamp and posts her work at https://medium.com/@tokyovamp.

The artist for the visual to the collaboration Buried Beneath The Rot Of Americana, A Girl Begins To Sear The Air Around Her In Wrath is Nina Kallio, a digital artist from Finland with a body of work ranging from surreal occultism to tattoos. Her twitter is https://twitter.com/spacebian