MARCH, 2019

TO BE LOVED IN PARTS

BY NIA SIMONE

“i don’t usually
date darkskin girls but”

sends me into
a frantic panic
i long to sever the ties
i have to my identity
in one large snip
a big chop
or a heavy handed scrub
with the sponge my
Grandma used for
deep rooted stains
just
a
buff
and
polish
and i’ll be enough
to love in full
to be loved in small pieces is

“i don’t usually date black
girls but”

only behind closed doors
and subtweets
my blackness is admired
cherished and respected

in the light
i am only cornrows,
a fat ass, and ebonics
oh to be juiced of all ‘desirable’ qualities
by those who add the beverage
to their morning routine
with their flat tummy tea
but what’s left?
a woman in fear—
crippled by both her identity and the loss of it?

“you’re dark af.
you should be thankful
i’m still here”

straight lace front wigs
and foundation 2 shades 2 light
give me a taste
of the promised land
a land of compliment
without an asterisk
the next time
i visit i’ll dig myself in the ground
pat the dirt across my body
maybe they won’t notice
i’m not one of them
and i’ll get to stay

FIXING

BY JAY CALHOUN

…Must’ve been all the sex.
Says she.

Cute and quick
Her light response to the split sagging bed,
And the old bolt that once held the frame-halves together.

Maybe…,
Says he.
Tired,
Not wanting one more thing to fix.

She hands-over the pieces:
One quarter-inch bolt,
Bent
With it’s sheared-off head.

…Really lasted a long time,
She offers,
…Since before the kids.

He slowly folds his knees and back,
Making a floorward move.
Half-under with legs out,
Like some auto mechanic in dress shoes.

…Maybe we should have had more sex,
He grunts.
…And broke this when I was young enough to fix it.

…Careful, old boy
Says she,
rubbing the ratchet up his arm.

…Stop that.
He growls,
But under the bed,
He’s smiling.

COBWEBS

BY CHRISTOPHER ALAN MCDANIEL

There’s something magic underneath the sound waves of music. Maybe it’s the understanding that performing instruments on a professional scale takes clout, passion, and talent, or maybe it’s simply the feeling that music elicits when it’s understood. Those broad neural networks simulating past emotions from a song that blared over WVW radio stations are more than that nostalgic experience. Take, for example, the first night I rolled ecstasy: I bought a McDonalds’ Happy Meal just for the toy that came inside the decorated box, and I feel that same tilt every time Earl Sweatshirt speaks on a lo-fi beat: “Rawer than the skinned knee cap on the blacktop.”

During those malleable years, Tony, the ginger giant, looming in at six feet five inches, was the only individual I knew who could vomit Earl unconscious. Take, for example, the first night I rolled ecstasy: Tony had drunk an entire twenty-four pack of Natural Ice to himself, alongside a handful of muscle relaxers, and sat stoic, eyes closed, head swaying. The reverb from the DIY stereo system rattled the glass panes in the front door as the song played, “Chilling for awhile on a pile of the rest of them.” That internal rhyme scheme on top of hollow production will always remind me of Tony.

Hollowness appears to be a trend in the music that continues to speak to me, dusting off more cobwebs from those networks. Deftones dropped their seventh LP while I resorted to warehouse labor to make ends meet in my early twenties. As I covered chalkboard paint across inserts of wood screwed into antique portrait frames, the new age rock gospel streaming through Spotify over it’s-got-to-work-for-now cellphone speakers lingered in my ears and guided my frayed paintbrush like the strokes of a pick against the strings of an electric guitar. When I screamed, “Cut through this razor wire and dine on your heart,” I accidentally lobbed, splashed, and smeared some of the black paint across my forehead.

You could hear the same band echoing from my ripe orange automobile as it rocked back and forth outside a house party somewhere in Keeling, VA, circa 2011. I find myself sweating and panting naked over Ivy who has her legs wrapped around my hips and her nails dug into my shoulder blades. The party isn’t over, she’s singing along, as hard as it is for her to keep a beat moaning, and I’ve never been more susceptible. We see the people passing by through fogged windows, but we don’t stop for anything. “Do you like the way the water tastes?”

After I got a call saying Tony had died, I felt a similar flicker growing outward. The spark that decays a fond memory into a moratorium. A familiar lo-fi beat began over my hatchback’s speakers as I held my head in hand, and it’s as if I could see him still in the backseat: “Rawer than the skinned knee cap on the blacktop.”

CONTENT

BY NATHAN HARRELL

I long for your smile
Like an empty carousel
Longs for the laughing child.

I search for your laughter
Like the bluebell searches
For the dusty bee.

I chase your welcoming hands
Like the geese chase southward
The fading warmth of summer.

These fireside journeys warm me
Like the first rays of sunshine
Spying over the blue grey horizon.

I breath in the smoke,
Hold it,
And I am content.

PREVIOUS: FEBRUARY, 2019
RELATED: 21 QUESTIONS WITH BEN ELLIS

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