Second to Last
You rose, hot and in pain like an
Infection. If you had refused to
Ride the breeze you might have
Years like plows upon your back.
What use is the catcall of the
I chose the solstice, an endless
Grab for oxygen.
Then the door closed and light crawled
Through the open window.
Tish Pearlman is a poet, writer, broadcast journalist and community and political activist originally from Manhattan Beach, California. In the 1970’s and 80’s Pearlman was actively writing and gave many readings at political and literary events on the central California coast. Her work also appeared in many literary journals and magazines including Street Cries, Adventures in Poetry Anthology, Carousel Quarterly, and Latitude/20. She began to write poetry again in 2009. Her current work has appeared in The Healing Muse (2010-2020),The Ithaca Times, The Syracuse Post-Dispatch Healthy CNY Magazine, Conversations Across Borders Literary Magazine, Earth’s Daughters and The Iconoclast Literary Journal. Her full-length collection “Afterlife” was published by Foothills Publishers in May 2014.
When it's at its worst,
you wake up with dirt under your fingernails,
sheets specked with spots of blood,
dust and dead skin—the lifeless fragments
you leave behind.
You try to cover your nails—
wear gloves to bed only to wake up clawing,
through torn fabric,
at the scaly patches that taint your limbs,
scratching and shedding but never ending
You sleep in the slick embrace
of lotion after slathering on layers
as if you're spreading out a new skin,
a skin you will rip apart all the same.
So you hide this husk of a body—
behind sleeves and scarves, behind more layers—
that make you sweat,
until one day
hiding isn't worth it anymore.
You slip the jacket off your spaghetti strap dress,
as you feel the wind against your skin.
Zeline is an asexual Filipina American who loves writing fiction and poetry. Her prose has been published in the first issue of Aspec Journal. She can be found at @lilradwriting on Twitter.
The following was written in response to one of our recent poem prompts, from which the poem derives its title. If you're looking for similar inspiration, follow us on social media for more prompts!
The very specific sadness the QA editors felt when they didn't receive any submissions about pizza rat from the rat's perspective
All life's emotions deserve recognition,
Which is how this poem came in to fruition.
To express the sadness of not one submission
Regaling the tale of pizza rat's mission.
A hard day's work spent roaming the streets,
Feeding a family is no easy feat.
But then I struck gold, a whole slice of pizza!
I'll take it straight home for my rat-wife, Lisa.
Jemimah Daly lives in Bristol and works as an administrator, where writing and music are her favourite creative outlets. Follow her on Instagram @jemimahf.