DISTURBING WORDS || DISTURBING IMAGES
STRONG SEXUAL ABUSE CONTENT
QUARANTINED IN MY NATIVE VILLAGE
Laia Sales Merino
i look out of the window and i see El Cadí
snow still between the mountains and the sky
i see the stones of Talló’s church
i see my cousin’s house
i see the field you raped me on.
LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURQA
free of carmine and spirit.
For the perfect pout
on Muslim Tinder.
We eat granola bars for dinner at a beach
where the restrooms double as motels.
The hours eat themselves.
An arch of clouds dissipates.
The condoms in the sand—like most of us
—have no choice.
under the lie of ‘job hunting,’ i leave the house before seven
to go panhandling near town with my
needle-scabbed skin engulfed by the hoodie
i wore in middle school. But
at the end of the driveway, a garbage truck roars and nearly crushes me
these mother fuckers can’t drive for shit;
i guess there’s always next week
My Grandmother let me play hooky from Elementary
Stephen J Golds
I didn’t like the parking garage at the shopping mall.
My grandmother said that many people
had killed themselves there
The Other White Meat
My not-blood niece in another life was
a pretty little thing with a round face and freckles.
She wanted to design clothes, bring back the 80s.
Her favorite thing to watch was infomercials,
especially the rotisserie chicken.
She sat in that single-wide
and kept her eyes glued to the screen.
All the men stole a glance at her pre-teen chest
on the way to the bedroom
where Mama did meth
but that golden skin
would just spin and spin.
Flames lick the back Continental Road Attack
—Tires named for an assault will never give
a smooth ride. The bike—“Hawg” my dad calls it—
twists in the heat, an effigy of my longing,
yet another thousandth place trophy proving
my dead brother is easier to love than me
Lonely, cross-country trips lead me to find bibles in the drawers of off track motels
and when I’d thumb,
flip, scatter through them
I’d wonder why the words wouldn’t quite take
Wouldn’t quite stick
as well as the cum on the worn out carpet
They lived in filth, those boys,
broken teacups and blood in the sink.
Don’t wear that skirt again,
they like to break pretty things.
The first time you died
I had my hand in your hair
while you spewed out
a heart-shaped bowl of vomit
Miriam Navarro Prieto
I want to party so hard homophobia comes
to a close, so wild I lubricate
my hands and give the patriarchy such a fun time
he can’t help but collapse, ‘do anything you please
with me, babe’, he’ll plead, and I’ll comply.
I moved back from Spain
to attend therapy full-time
at the local hospital and
all anyone asked me was
How’s Your Spanish
Hawaiian Punch and Valiums
Nothing for dessert
Lisa Lerma Weber
You promised you weren’t like those other guys.
Then you got me drunk on cheap beer
and told me to just put it in my mouth.
You shrugged when I told you fuck off,
never called me again.
I should have known better.
I’ve got stretch marks
on my spine – I’m growing;
and I was made
for vintage dresses, for
Catholics and confessions, and
baby, put some holes between your ears.
learned it from mom
When I’m fighting with my mother,
I am meaner to unoriginal men on dating apps.
Both want more of me than they have earned.
Ignored, they call me a fat, ugly, whore.
Sometimes, I forget they’re wrong.
Fred Shrum III
They call me copper top at the bar
Though my hair is black
But for the pieces of air conditioner I sold
To buy another drink
You tell me you can’t decide
if the crisp tang of chlorine tastes
like clean or like drowning.
I kicked at the pew and mother tutted,
Placing a hand on my knee and shaking her head.
I wondered what she would do if she knew what I’d done
With the man reading intercessions from the dusty pulpit,
Eyes lowered and praying earnestly for world peace.
Guido Garcia Lueches
The metaphor of you
fucking me under a full moon sky
distant volcano spewing red hot lava
muffled by the deep blue sea
almost writes itself.
the god I genuflected to
Presented by David Calogero Centorbi
as an altar boy
was the same god they found pissing
blood into the Trevi and asking
the virgin martyrs,
why the long faces
I hate this fucking game.
In and out, up and down.
We play it every time he comes by.
I really don’t know the rules, but my uncle says
I have to play.
what i want is what he wants / which is paper-thin / me / flat / as a display case / see? / i’ve always been
good with my hands / fingers meet / my throat / burns with desire / to be fit / for the idiomatic butterflies
in a man’s gut / to make myself / a dainty frame / i press down / and empty my mouth of stomach acid
Love hit like a concussion,
left me vulnerable to your persuasion.
I latched on to you and stayed,
even when you had me shatter my wrists
and called it collateral damage.
Ate an edible
Reading outside under trees
Life is sometimes good
By Nkateko Masinga
At your house for lunch, your mother says to you,
‘Your friend is beautiful.’ Later, in the car, I ask, ‘Does she think we’re just friends?’ You say, ‘She thinks you’re beautiful.’ I smile. At home, I stand in front of the mirror and try on your mother’s compliment, try to haul it over my blackness like a new dress. It doesn’t fit. At night, her voice echoes:
TWENTY-FIVE CENT CRUCIFIX
I hung him
on my rear view.
Not because I believed,
but because, when I finally do
maybe he will.
Your life, like the brand of tampons you use,
is no longer any of my business.
Our life together is over.
Nevertheless, I hope
you’ll let me know when our dog dies.
cracked light, stains.
didn’t make it.
I am no woman without a hood
Mama says I am a bad liar.
I once told her my pads are soaked with red water.
she waxed my pointy scalp
and asked me to keep it to myself.
good girls don’t share dirty secrets.
don’t read verses of Koran, she said.
because God loves mothers
but considers young girls a surprise gift
that he is too afraid to unwrap.
wrong place, wrong time, right answer
My mama did not
raise any sons dumb
enough to get in
to a bar fight when
there is more than
hog parked in the
I DON’T REGRET IT
I crashed parties, spurned all
your gods. I was the girl jumping
from the burning building
with my pink dress on fire.
In a cross-street in a suburb, after dark
An overturned police car burns
Masked children surround it, watching silently.
One finally speaks.
“He’s gone, finally.”
By Lindsey Heatherly
I swallowed a handful of lichens when I discovered
the world was lead and my heart, silver.
The world melted into a pool of mirrored metallic,
once The End came, and saw, and flippantly flicked
her meticulously manicured middle finger
into the space where the skies met the ocean,
once displaying a brilliant blue.
I ran like a fawn freshly birthed from the loins
of Nature’s dead womb, collapsing and crumbling
like gingerbread houses; teeth spitting
from my mouth like sugar coated gumdrops.
I dropped to my knees to breathe life into Chaos
and one, two, three, four, five, breath, breath –
again and again, I pumped the hollow space
where his heart should have been.
I hysterically howled for God to step in, so
he dropped off a body bag to zip Chaos up tight in.
Not what I meant, but what did I expect?
For the man with a ram for a head
was walking his newly acquired property line
down the middle of the interstate.
In a buffalo plaid button up and cowboy boots,
he tossed his cigarette into the gasoline
seeping from the wreckage.
As his snout twisted into a smile, I closed the door
and laid down to take a nap, my body falling
into itself like sand slipping through an hourglass.
The timer in my brain buzzed, so I laced up
my boots to go backpacking up the mount. I hiked
for days up that crater of a rock, and I was seething
when the ground displayed into view as I looked up.
Instead of stars there were lichen, so I plucked
the prettiest pieces from the mossy portrait of
the Cosmos and stuffed them into my pockets
as I gazed out into the expanse
and watched the world begin to melt.