GIVING UP THE SUN
To rip the colors from the sky,
to stretch the horizon across the street.
To crash, to tear down walls
built around bodies as if they belong there.
To remember, to forget—
to lose and find and lose again.
To absorb turpentine like water.
To swallow the desire and throw
armfuls of air into the air. To boil
and bubble and pop—to consume
the self-portrait in the mirror,
to crack and crunch. To eat
fistful after fistful of glass
streaked with yellow and gold
until the only thing left is the floor.
Kaylee Duff is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing for Children & Young Adults at The New School in New York City. She is also an alum of Bowling Green State University’s Creative Writing program. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Gertrude, Superstition Review, Prairie Margins, and more. She currently lives in Brooklyn, where she makes a lot of soup. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @kayleeplease.
During the short summer months we hung
our laundry on the clothesline, linen
flapping in the wind, announcing surrender.
The only battles I knew were the ones I raged
with my sister, fighting imaginary foes
and sometimes each other. We dutifully hung
the bras and underwear on the inside lines,
sheltered from view by the towels and t-shirts,
just as our mother taught us. The clothes smelled
like summer sun but were always stiff, no matter
the fabric softener my mother added to the wash.
When I followed a man I loved to Puerto Rico,
played house on that island, we had no dryer
so once again I strung clothes along a line
that stretched across our balcony. Every
afternoon a thunderstorm rolled through
and every day I made a choice: mad dash
to collect the nearly-dry clothes or let them
get soaked and dry again. Eventually I left
the island, his jealousy a battle I could no longer
fight. I left the linens drying on the line,
waving in surrender or goodbye.
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press). She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.
The Good River
all good places have a river, nadia says
as we cross the bridge over the river that
splits waco in two.
she must be right, I think,
or as close to right as is possible these days
we see two teenage girls by the water,
wisps of dark hair sticking to their necks.
they’re wearing doc martens in the dead of summer and
the thick, gummy platforms make welts into the pavement,
reminding the ground that they’re still young, still here
it was the summer of innumerable death.
it was the summer of George
it was the summer that was not just summer but
every day pressing into each other and suffocating us
as if there was not enough space
for all the lives that deserve to be lived.
naming them here is no memorial but an
incapable of holding lives too ordinary,
to be allowed to run their course.
we who are left, for now,
find patches of grass to sit on
and rivers to cross
hoping for small bits of today to stand on
before we’re ravaged too
our topo chicos clang against each other inside nadia’s red tote
as we walk back from the bridge
under the blackbird speckled sky
this must be a good place
and we a good people
to have earned all these rivers.
Mery Concepción (she/her) is an Afro-Caribbean writer and poet based in New York City. Her work deals with themes of embodiment, Blackness, womanhood, family, (un)becoming, and healing. She hopes her work can make space for the messiness, and beauty, of our collective survival. You can probably find her on the A train, in a messy kitchen, or curled up with a book.