Between the trees—Becki Hawkes

After they were finished 
they left me in the woods 

and there are only trees now: 
white birches owl brown grooves between 

each pathway out 
a passage further in 

some days 
I am so hungry I eat the scared things the velvet
skin the inquisitive mammalian skulls 

their outraged little hearts flicker 
against the roof of my mouth 
pulse in my gullet sleep in my acid 

floppy crops of mushrooms 
tug in all my torn holes bleed
weakly when I pluck them out 

and I am a hut 
on tensed yellow chicken feet 
an oven that yawns with bones 

other days 
I turn cunning snout out 
the cool forest berries 

splatter my rose and nipples 
with their juice 

let my lips grow fat 
inviting 

them all back in: the lost prince 
the huntsman the handsome wolf 

most don’t make it 
and those that do 
say that they were lucky 

but there is no luck 
there is only me now 

scabbed and crowned in lichen 

only I decide

Becki Hawkes is a writer, communications worker and former arts journalist from London. She has had poems published in magazines including Ink Sweat and Tears and Trouvaille Review, and short plays performed in various small theatre locations.

photo by Elisa (via unsplash)

Planet of the Monster Girls—Jessie Lynn McMains

Come come, out into the streets with us. Us, monster girls. Come run through the streets of the Planet of the Monster Girls. The Planet of the Monster Girls is a planet within a planet. It’s a planet you can only find when it’s autumn on earth. It’s always autumn on the Planet of the Monster Girls. Always the season of hooded sweatshirts and Halloween costumes, hot cider and dead leaves crunching beneath monster girl feet. Always autumn and always nightfall, always the hour when the streetlights come on, when the shadows lengthen and girls lurk, monstrous in the shadows, waiting for their next victim. We monster girls know secrets. We know the secret of how all girls are victims. We know the secret of how all girls are monsters. We take turns playing monster, playing victim. One of us wears a black cape and the rest are her pale, trembling virgins. One of us menaces the night with gloved hands and a knife, the rest of us give her our most bloodcurdling shrieks. Come. Learn our secrets of menace, of night. Learn our secrets of fangs, blood, fur. Secrets of tombs, of swoon. Come howl at our five moons. The Planet of the Monster Girls has five moons: Lorre, Lugosi, Chaney, Karloff, Price. They are named for our favorite monster-men. We bathe in their cold old-film light, draw power from them. We love them so not because they are men but because they are monsters, and only they can understand how monstrous we are. When we fall asleep at dawn we dream of them. Of our Doctor Gogol and the fiendish need in his bulging eyes, we dream he loves us mad enough to kill us, dream of his hands around our throats. Of our Count Dracula and his black cloak, his leather-winged alter ego, we dream we are the ones he vants. We dream he flies into our bedrooms and mesmerizes us with his eyes until we gladly offer up our pale throats to his undead bite. We dream of our Wolfman, his taste for flesh and how his desires are so strong they transform him into pure desire, all animal, all monster. We dream of our Creature, of his hulking frame, the way he grunts instead of speaks. We dream we were made for him, his firm-boned brides, how his touch could electrify us alive, Alive! We dream of our Professor Jarrod and the silken somnolence of his voice, how we would love for him to turn us wax, keep us forever in his house of horrors. Come, b-movie lovers and midnight monsters. Come visit the Planet of the Monster Girls. See our five moons pinned against the night sky by the church spires and weathervanes that loom high above the streets we roam, the streets as wide as a studio backlot. See the stars, their celluloid flicker. See us roaming the streets, trick or treat, breathing hard beneath our rubber masks. Us: mummy, werewolf, madgirl, creature. Dance with us in the falling leaves, a red-gold-orange-brown orgy of decay. Come. It is autumn. The wind sinks its fangs into the veins on our necks. Smells of candy corn and candle wax, the rotted guts of pumpkins. We are waiting in the shadows for your arrival. Only a girl who is full of screams and casts her spells by night can find the Planet of the Monster Girls. Come, find the Planet of the Monster Girls. The wolf bane is blooming and the autumn moons are bright.

Jessie Lynn McMains (they/them or she/her) is a writer, publisher, and zine-maker. They run Bone & Ink Press and were the 2016/17 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI. Find them at recklesschants.net, or on TumblrTwitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie.

image compiled using photos by Johannes Plenio and Curly Girl (via unsplash), and brushes by Obsidian Dawn

Two Poems—KC Bailey

Harvesting Seconds

she collects minutes
plucks them
from dawn’s early morning air
              the freshest hours
places them in odd socks
to hang from oak trees
for rooks to pick at
and unravel time

Suggestion

The radio tried to warn me, with songs
that spelled out disaster. Lyrical omens

I kept way back behind thought
of action – cynical superstition,

a frequency unheeded. Consequence
of dismissive coincidences.

Specks of toothpaste on the mirror
making foreign constellations –

they spoke of another place
within this time, dared me

to follow them. I chose the truth
I thought I knew, and stayed behind.

Now ravens that rule
from Pugin’s pinnacle

taunt me – mocking calls
they know all the directions

that don’t lead home, they see
I am misplaced and know

I burned the map.

KC Bailey is a writer/poet from the UK. When not writing, reading or walking her dog, she practices Tai Chi and drinks Earl Grey tea, though hasn’t yet mastered the art of doing both at the same time. Publication credits for poetry, fiction and non-fiction include Black Bough Poetry, Monkey Kettle, The Ekphrastic Review, CaféLit and the BBC. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing and can be found on Twitter @KCBailey_Writer.

photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz (via unsplash)

Three Poems—Amelie Robitaille

Cold Bodies

Carve me into ice, fashion me into a 
glassy sculpture one that lets you see 

just enough of what lingers behind
through me. Lift your chainsaw made to 

sputter my edges into smoother curves
chisel an ever-tapering body to last me 

just beyond the winter. My body will distort
those who hide in the shadow of the frost 

I will cast upon them. Any flaws upon my 
surface are your own. Scratch the tools that 

built me off until your nail becomes the very 
colour of my flesh. My mass is yours to wear

out. Mould yourself to my unbending hips
worship the creator’s masterpiece a legion 

of crystals to outlast the hypothermic hearts.
Deceive yourself into exposing your neck 

warm, throbbing––
I yield only to the sun.

Death’s Price

In bright sunlight Death will tap your 
shoulder if it senses you forgetting that her growing 
up will bring about your growing old.

She’s four there’s pitter-patter on the 
stairs she cracks the door and tumbles in she asks you
how to blow the moon into an air balloon;

if you could moor the stars to make a midnight 
sunroom; will you look below the mattress to make sure 
the mice returned to their own mother;

do you think the shadow’s feeling sad
about her being scared; could she befriend a fallen 
fly and teach it how to dance—

murmurs in the night remind you Death has
wept for worse than swollen hearts and taken more than 
pregnant bellies made of dreams.

There comes a time for Death to 
stare you down despite the night light 
you plugged in for her.

Headed West 

The used-up film rolls on,
a bird’s wings flap migrating up and down,
two-legged creatures long to flutter away too.

They cause a ripple in the clouds with 
a flash of en-lightning they become—
the used-up film rolls on.

Feathered up humans with rough talons 
sit upon thrones throwing shit at rodents:
two-legged creatures long to flutter away too.

Birthed by greedy mouths they want
more easy prey, more skins to lay—
The used-up film rolls on.

Come autumn birds fly off for good,
the man-made human feathers turn to shit.
Two-legged creatures long to flutter away too.

Yet they refuse to pay for the feathers now only 
good for dusting rolls they still refuse to change.
So the used-up film rolls on while the
two-legged creatures long to flutter away too.

Amelie is a writer based in Mississauga, Ontario. She is the Publisher and Creative Director of the Savant-Garde Literary Magazine. She holds a BA in Media Studies from Western University and is currently completing a degree in Creative Writing & Publishing at Sheridan College. Her work has been published by Crêpe & Penn and Headline Poetry & Press. French is her first language and she loves cooking, great puns, and cooking up a great pun.  

photo by Pexels (via pixabay) and Arttu Päivinen (via unsplash)

Catches Dreams—Jowell Tan

there’s a ghost
who’s lived here
for years now;

while we sleep,
he floats in –
eats our dreams.

//

“why our dreams?”
you might ask.
well, you see;

dreams scare us.
make us shake,
scream and shout. 

dreams hurt us. 
keep us up
late at night.

the ghost comes,
eats our dreams;
grants us peace.

//

“just bad dreams?”
you might ask.
well, you see;

as payment,
the ghost eats
good dreams too.

we part with
memories
of past joys.

we wake with
gaps in our
histories.

//

to keep peace
in our lives,
there’s a cost. 

his service
requires
sacrifice.

Born, bred, and based in Singapore, Jowell Tan writes prose & poetry after hours for fun and emotional release. His nights consist of writing, rewriting, watching videos on Youtube to avoid writing, and finally, writing again. Please say hello to him on Twitter / Instagram at @jwlltn.

He thanks you for your time.

photo by Jr Korpa (via unsplash)

Goblin Fire—Amee Nassrene Broumand

Your eyes burn beneath my lids.
The smoke of sadness penetrates the walls, the drapes,
the sun-haunted dust.
All’s crooked and full of longing.
Pomegranate seeds festoon the table, garnets
mooning over their unrequited love, the winter sun. Glaring
datura white, the tabletop gleams through the bite and slash
of perennial knives, the grooves pooling with shadows
and hints of sugar. The sun faints,
stirring a hum—
within this slab of hewn pine,
wingbeats.

Cranes circle each other above the river,
becoming the whole sky.

Amee Nassrene Broumand is an Iranian American writer from the Pacific Northwest. A Best of the Net nominee and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in numerous journals including Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist)Rust + MothBarren MagazineSundog Lit, and Empty Mirror. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand.

photo by Viktor Talashuk and Cecile Hournau (via unsplash)

Three Poems—Izzy Peroni

don’t go (home)

ribbon lightning laced around your brain stem
pulled taught to your sinew

the way the camera picks up the shadows in your voice
the gaps between the strikes, rain-scented
bed sheets blue or grey overexposure

the way the ceiling fan air smells after you’re done crying
the way the blanket can’t stay over both ankles at once, the way
your back hurts when you curl up
and your brain stem aches
the same

laces pulled undone sneaker holes
the storm won’t roll in but your skin is wet, the ribbons
are nothing more than camera effects
but your spine rolls like clouds anyway

i wash’d thy face

(in conversation with “The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet)

what pain to afflict on a thought-offspring,
an ill-form’d kiddo in raggs to be dissected without anesthesia, what
blood to draw from deep-set veins that continue to be missed and
missed by nurse untrained. what to make of so much Irksome, so
much blemishes blemishes the spot the spot i leave on my child,
birthmark or cigarette-butt scar.
what can a misformed critter do to satiate its parent, to be
allowed into the light without shriveling up in God’s sun,
God’s eyes, to be allowed to be bleached and pressed between flat
iron and smoothed. what pain to afflict on paper skinned babe, that
cannot be stretched to meet the feet
lest its new skin be shredded and blistered. what middle is met
to prevent pain. what unfathered thought-offspring can be loved by
more than mother. you tell me, kiddo. you tell me how to
wash thy face and not peel your cheek like candle wax. how do i
crimp and crop you until your mindless tufts frame your little
face like your poor mother wants them to. how do i mother a thought
without pulling it apart.

counter

I’m only awake because you want me to be
              Because my gums bleed faster in my sleep
              Everywhere I knew a greyed out switch in the settings
              Perfect till the last                     drop

Of paint, and I shift from foot to foot
Black matte nail polish in tin can cuts on peachy fingertips
Just below the skin un-deep
              Wondering how many of these people             care      that they could             kill
              Me, but I’m awake anyway

I can’t stand still. I’ve got holes in my fingers.
I’m treading two steps from dead all the time
              All the time loving and waiting
              Hating, and waiting and bleeding                    but breathing

Izzy Peroni is the book review editor of The Sock Drawer Literary Magazine. A poet and fiction writer, she comes from an entirely inconsequential town in Central Pennsylvania, where she currently resides until the world opens back up again. Her passions include Elizabeth Bishop, cats, and horror movies. She is forcefully bisexual, and lovingly queer.

photo by Allef Vinicius (via unsplash)

In the House of Memory—Ariel K. Moniz

Some rooms of my memory
are flooded with golden light, 
and you are there, Cupid-lipped—
inviting me into your arms
from the coldness of living. 

In other rooms, too many of them
you are cavern-eyed and so hungry
the very touch of it undoes me—
I too become a phantom who doesn’t know
it’s her own heart she is haunting. 

Ariel K. Moniz is a lifelong writer, emerging poet, and avid reader. She is a witch, a womanist, and a wanderer who embraces life through the written word. Her work has been published in Bloodbath Literary Zine, Vamp Cat Magazine, and Pussy Magic, among others. She is currently working on her first poetry collection as well as a novel. Visit her at kissoftheseventhstar.home.blog.

photo by Eleni Trapp (via unsplash)

Did You Hear About the Girl—Alexandra Grunberg

And no one will mourn
or ask where I have gone
There will be no mysteries
to be read 
               in the footsteps
I leave behind
               in the snow
clues in a mystery 
leave them be

When the sun rises and you wake
a dream,             half-forgotten
a person,            who you knew
who once left 
               footsteps 
               in the snow
Wonder quietly 
Keep your theories
They are all wrong
They are all unwanted

Did you hear about the girl
               who floated,                                   so high
                              like a snowflake
                                             on a whispered breeze

hear 
she 
never
touched 
the 
ground

               again.

Alexandra Grunberg is a Glasgow based poet, author, and screenwriter. Her poetry has appeared in Honey & Lime, Red Eft Review, and From Glasgow to Saturn. She enjoys obsessing over fictional supernatural villains, hillwalking to isolated locations, and towns that are more character than setting.

alexandragrunberg.weebly.com

photo by Jp Valery (via unsplash)

Two Poems—Halcyon

Empty Knots

Sometimes you are a monster 
with crocodile eyes, vulpine fangs, and a forked tongue.
You will steal, deceive, mangle, and curse. 

Sometimes your shadow will appear twice as large.
The hollows of yourself that you never expected to hold any power
will frighten you. 

It is nothing but hot air. 
You will realize the shapes you see are just tricks of the moon.
Every bedtime creepy-crawler: 
a figment of play. 

Sometimes you are the monster, bearing the clench of a smile.
Sometimes you are the one staring back with the eyes of a child.
Remember the hot air; 
those are bags full of ghosts.

Past Tense

Yellow eyes leer out from empty streets
They multiply behind your shoulder as you pass
Temptation licks your ear 
You want to look back— 
don’t. 

Wait until the road has caved in 
Wait for the moonlight to blaze the sky white
When they tell you to calm down—
burn everything.

Halcyon (they/them) is a non-binary, queer artist of Mexican and Pin@y descent. They’re also an online sex worker, student, and artist. Halcyon’s work is eclectic and fluid; ranging from playful to serious, erotic to sombre. They explore all realms as they believe it an important expression in reclaiming one’s sexuality, spirituality, and autonomy.

photo by Francesco Ungaro (via unsplash)