Move Out, I am in Love

 I love you the way you want
with no thunder and a faint, loverly light
-a thatched hut’s lantern flicker to your fleeing night train
Soothing kohl in my eyes as I work my way up from the floor
to reach for my prize
Your smoke rings swirl right through my lips, slightly parted
to complete the blanks you have no time for
No brushing against the skin of your pride, my hands are full
with stuff you start and leave undone

Then I love myself the way I want you to
doing things for myself that would make me happy
talking myself into a mood for loving
mirroring my pleasured image, releasing my knots
while poor Atlas holds up our tottering universe
which leaves no space for trivial niceties
Human sacrifice is such a cliche!

Sometimes when you brush past me in the doorway, I scream
“ Who the heck are you, bumbler?”
too much in a relationship with the mirror, too skilled at self-love
to forgive the slightest of slights from inept strangers
for this love is an misnomer for a dead albatross
that I can carry alone and with ease

 

Sharjah/ United Arab Emirates

Horizon House

The first time we met, Chris spit an entire glass of milk at me. He was disgusted that a straight girl was going to be wiping his ass and changing his dirty diapers. That was before I’d come out as bisexual. And before he made up his mind to like me.

It was my first day as a volunteer at Horizon House. Harry, the owner, was baking bread and I was sitting at the dining room table chatting with the half-dozen men during breakfast.

Harry was a bear – I had no idea what that meant at the time – I’d learn a lot during my time at Horizon House. He made a mean omelet and his blueberry pancakes were to die for. The guys loved me. To this day, most gay men do. But not Chris. Along with the milk that splattered my face, he rubbed sticky maple syrup in my hair, and smashed the aforementioned pancakes and stuffed them down my shirt. Toxoplasmosis eats away at the brain. Harry told me Chris couldn’t help himself. He was like a 28-year-old toddler. 

I wasn’t sure I’d last very long at Horizon House. Day one sucked. What would the second day bring?

I’m not sure how we ended up becoming best friends. Maybe it was because I attended to his vomit without gagging and rubbed Vaseline on his chaffed anus without flinching.

And in return, he never questioned that I could love both men and women.

 

Richmond, VA

South Texas, South of You

Wait for it.

Sit outside next to the window. 
Next to canary yellow and blue sills. 
Be steady and patient, but don't let his blue eyes find you crying.
Be happy taking trips to San Antonio, forgetting what he feels, 
replacing it with someone else. 

Wait for it. 

That person that will walk with you by the salt flats and watch alligators bake themselves. 
They do nothing but wait. 
Why do I still Love you? 
Why do I still need to know you? 

Homesickness makes me sick of having to remember home. 
I am losing interest in those poplars and cool kids.
Remember what you are doing and remember that someone loves you and remember that someone is thinking of you and that someone wants to understand you. 

Are you wanting to understand them? 

Wait for it. 

Sit by the dunes and watch the sea mist in the street light. 
Night time's biggest secret on the Coastal Bend of Texas. 
Wait for it to cover and coat. 
Run with it dodging crabs and affection and try to understand its fascination. 
Find wonder in the ordinary, that's really all you can do. 
Find that wonder in someone and don't let go.
don't let it go
don't let it go
please don't let it go. 
I don't think I've truly ever done that. 

I'll wait for it.

 

Corpus Christi, Texas

I am 22 from Richmond Va. 
Most of poetry is inspired by climate and nature, and my addiction to putting myself in uncomfortable situations. 
I have recently moved to Texas, and I am trying to find comfort in writing as I make this transition

Note to Self: Stay at Home

I never know why I agree to go to parties. I generally don't have much if any fun. Perhaps because I have a need like anyone else to connect to others, sometimes, but I learned long ago I prefer my own company.

I remember going to my new friend's New Year's party, in particular. I am not much of a drinker so I stuck with water and soda. The only person that that I knew was my friend and she kept ditching me. Also no one there was particularly friendly, and I am painstakingly shy around people I don't know along with having social anxiety.

I really would have given anything to just become invisible, sink into the floor, or have had the ability to walk through walls just to escape.

I like people, but on my own terms, and I think that's okay. Being around people constantly is an emotionally and physically taxing endeavor for me. I need time to get away and recharge.

Also, I like being alone. So to me parties just seem a waste of time because I could be doing something more productive unless of course it's a wedding, graduation party, birthday, or anniversary because these things deserve to be celebrated and there's generally people there that I know.

My time is meaningful to me and worthwhile. I don't want to lose precious time in a life already too short to occupy things that make me unhappy.

Note to self: don't go to the next party. Stay at home and be happy in your pajamas instead.

 

Meadville, PA

Linda M. Crate is a writer whose works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of the Magic Series, the forthcoming Phoenix Tears, and three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn, Less Than A Man, and If Tomorrow Never Comes. You can find her skulking about here: https://www.facebook.com/Linda-M-Crate-129813357119547/.

Dear You

I never thought that I would be embarrassed to be friends with you, and it isn’t what you think—I’m fortunate enough to know that.

I want to tell you how embarrassed I am when you’re loud (but not obnoxious), outgoing (but not assertive), but I can’t.

I can’t because I’m too quiet (still), private (secretive), and I don’t know how to say what I want to say.

I don’t know where you are right now because you never told me when you left. I should have asked, but I wouldn’t have known how. All I do know is that it wasn’t your fault and it wasn’t mine. We don’t talk anymore; we haven’t for a long time.

“That happens sometimes,” our mothers said. “Friends come and go. That’s life.”

But life’s stern rules didn’t apply to us when we were small and identical in every whichway. We practiced magic spells (stolen from Harry Potter, made up from the origins of the dictionary) in your bedroom closet, where the door was just a simple bedsheet pulled to the side. We slurped the packaged ramen your brother prepared for us because we were too clumsy and he was too lazy, but it tasted like what we imagined the “real thing” to be. 

Sometimes I reminisce on these things with a warm smile, and I can’t help but wonder if you do, too. I like to think so, but something tells me otherwise. When we arrived at our new high school, dewy-eyed and soft-skinned, you changed—but perhaps I did, too. You made new friends like you always did, but this time you didn’t forget their names and you saw them everyday and you liked the same things they did—I did, too. I stayed to myself (contained) and hated myself (self-explanatory) for it. I wanted to be like you, and I was embarrassed for wanting to be like you because high school is the age of being yourself, but I didn’t want to and I didn’t know how. I didn’t know a lot of things then, and I still don’t know. 

If you could read this now—I wish you would, but I know you can’t, won’t, because you wouldn’t remember us anymore.

Special Girl

The passing of decades renders it as a shaken snow globe, but the memory is frozen in time - vivid stories of lollipop trees, m&m-strewn paths, jellybean rain, and the occasional french fry tree. Fairies were ever-present if I could just turn quickly enough to catch a glimpse of their world within the green fairy moss that was everywhere, and be whisked away from my world to theirs. The day I ran out to the Enchanted Forest behind Grandma's house and saw actual m&m's lining the entrance to the forest, I knew without a doubt fairies were real. 

Racing back to tell my Grandma, she opened her lap to my anxious, rambunctious, messy self and listened intently as I told her all about the fairyland she had created for me. Her soft and lilting voice, laced with a touch of the "Old Richmond" accent, was solace for the mini-storms that already raged in my 7 year old mind. When I spoke, she focused all her attention on me - her Special Girl, as she called me. Me, the chaotic child, the one who tested my family's patience to the limit with my out of control fears and emotions. Me, one of 13 beloved grandchildren, and she called me her Special Girl. 

I didn't see her often, but when I did, it was always the same: her arms were safety personified, her house was my refuge, her presence enfolded me in peace, and her affectionate chuckles at my silly antics bolstered my already-dwindling self-esteem. Her love was always right there waiting - love like I'd never experienced anywhere else. When anxiety rose up to take hold like the terrifying monster it was, it was her voice that could calm me. She knew me, and more than that, she saw me. Her empathy and compassionate nature were unmatched. She once told my mother, "Missy is a sensitive girl, and she'll need a lot of extra love and understanding as she grows up."

I have carried that statement, the knowledge that she deeply and inexplicably understood me, and the memory of her love like a balm all my life. 

When she died, I couldn't cry, so deep was the grief of my 9 year old spirit. My body and mind expressed their grief in other ways over the years. She was my safe person, and I was never the same after she died. 

Whenever I see vibrant green fairy moss or read about fairyland or enchanted forests, when I get a brief whiff of the lavender-like scent that enveloped the breeze around her house on summer nights, I hear her laughter and imagine she's with me still.

Vicks Vapor Rub and Weed

When Chris was nearing the end, he took comfort in watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show and smoking pot. His dog, Charlie, curled up inside the ratty gray sweatshirt that reeked of stale sweat and Vicks vapor rub. I would curl up next to Chris, feeling his ribs poke my side and inhale the spicy-sweet scent of weed. 

We had been best friends for three years. I’d never known him before AIDS, his brain addled with toxoplasmosis, his body covered in lesions. I’d never seen him weigh more than ninety pounds. He was always cold to the touch.

“I used to be beautiful in drag,” he told me. Over and over again.

“You’re beautiful to me now,” I whispered. Because he was. And I’d rub his thin, rubbery body with Vicks which calmed him, while he sang, “I’m a sweet transvestite from Transylvania” . . . in what must have once been a sultry voice. Now it was just weak and squeaky. 

“I want you to marry me,” Chris said on the day before he died. “Maybe that way my parents will love me again. If I’m married to a woman, you know.” They had disowned him when he came out.

I promised him I’d marry him. “You’d be the most beautiful bride,” I said.

Chris died in our sleep with the smell of Vicks vapor rub and weed wafting in the air and Charlie the dog curled up in his chest.

 

Richmond, VA

Julie Harthill Clayton's work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary, GayRVA and more. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She is working on her first novel. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.

The Strand Wasps

Celeste pointed them out to me, when we were sprawled out in the sand, underneath the moonlight.

“They’re called strand wasps,” she remarked, reaching down and scrubbing the heel of her foot furiously, brows furrowed. I had never heard of them before, and so she pulled out our grandfather’s gold-rimmed magnifying glass, which she always kept in her purse—just in case. She pointed it at the ground, where the organisms were to be seen scrambling away, then took a long drag on her cigarette. The insects had blue, close-to-translucent-but-not-quite wings, a pinkish torso with eight legs on the left and then six on the right, and a narrow stinger on its bottom. “That little thorn thing there attaches to your foot and hangs on like the damn thing won’t ever touch earth again. But that’s when they mate with your foot. Know that orgasmic feeling you get when you walk on hot sand—that’s the stinger breaking your flesh.”

I stared at her, in horror and disbelief. “What?”

She laughed, loud and high-pitched. “That’s why your foot goes numb afterwards! After their stinger goes in and stuff, the strand wasps insert their eggs—fertilized and everything.” I leaned back. “When your foot starts to feel kinda like static—like electric and stuff—that’s when the baby wasps hatch and squeeze out of your skin and fall onto the ground. Most of them go and find their ways back to the shore. Like turtles. Did you know that strand wasps can be grown fully born? Depending on how long it takes for the human to take off their shoes?

“The wasps, I guess, were ‘created’ when Dean Martin made a burger and didn’t cook it all the way on the grill,” she said, tucking the magnifying glass back in her leather purse from Nigeria. “The burger actually caught fire the second he put it on there, so he threw it off and tried pouring bourbon on it—he was drunk; it didn’t work out. But then he just left it right there. Eventually the flames went out. Some regular old ants—dark red, not pinkish like the strand wasps are—crawled onto it and started munching away. That damn raw, bourbon-infested burger mutated those poor little ants into the strand wasps. Kinda like Spider Man but then again not at all.”

I said I didn’t believe a word, and she shook her head slowly. “But I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet, the part where they become THE STRAND WASPS.” She howled, coughed out cigarette smoke, and blinked the tears out of her eyes. With a finger, she poked the sand and more wasps appeared, little legs twitching and sharp teeth glittering like their multiple eyes. “After the mutation of the regular wasps occurred, these ones were suffocating. Like dry-drowning, almost. Anyway, Dean Martin walked out onto his patio to let his dog out or something and stepped in the half-rotten burger; the mutated ants clasped onto his heel and bred like wildfire. Everybody’s first instinct is to survive. So where’d our Mr. Martin go to after that? To the goddamn beach.” She blew smoke out of the corner of her mouth, rolling her eyes. She seemed genuinely pissed off about it. “Oh yes he did,” she said, bitter. “By that time, the mutated ants had gone, impregnated Dean Martin’s heel, and then died—and by that time, he was on the beach itself, playing tennis with his wife… I forget which one he was married to then… Whatever. The insects hatched and squeezed their fat bodies out of his foot, making it go all numb and stuff like they did with mine. And thus the strand wasps became the strand wasps. Isn’t that a charming little story?”

She tossed her cigarette onto the ground and lit another. The sand seemed to inch away from the butt, away from the dying bright light. She offered me one, and I accepted, stretching my legs out past the end of the white beach blanket we both sat on. I ran a match against the bottom of Celeste’s empty tennis shoe, and the sand shifted again. We waited there under the white moon until both of my feet were numb, and we sat there and watched the baby strand wasps squeeze out of the flesh, bloodless and fat. In a way they were kind of cute.

 

Spring Grove, Virginia

Molly Sperry doesn't know what she's going to do with her life, but she currently enjoys writing fiction (for the most part), reading books (LOTR, Ted Hughes' Crow poems, British mysteries), and playing with her dog, Nani, and her always irritated feline, Baloo.

Supernova

I long to be a star-
watching over the world and
leaving behind my light to shine upon it
long after I depart. 

Too many times, I have heard, "You can't change the world", 
but I believe that I can- 
with the love,
the kindness,
and the compassion
I am earning through the cycle of my life and my demise. 
of my death and my rebirth. 
of my ends and my beginnings. 

Just like a star
experiencing a supernova,
when I self destruct-
when the darkness swallows me-
I bring light to others;
my pain becomes both hard-won experience
and a radiant glimmer of hope.

 

Richmond, VA

Hannah is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University who loves finding meaning in life's struggle, suffering, and pain through reflection and writing. You can find more of her writing at: https://theprose.com/hannahmarie

Worry Wart

All my finest worries
are arranged like collectible
bottles on the shelf.
I am a master of the hypothetical.

It probably started when I
was young, forming stories
in my mind. I've always wanted
to be a writer. I would
write comic books in my head
on long hikes then sketch them
into notebooks.

I even hoped a publisher
could take them and remove
those faint notebook lines
so someone else could enjoy
them.

In kindergarten, I took
fantasy book orders for titles
that did not exist.
Then I feverishly worked
to write them, free of charge,
when the orders came in.

Nobody renewed their
subscriptions, though.

So now I'm working on
channeling the current of
my thoughts into positive,
narrative directions.

Instead of imagining
worries, problems, and woes
like an insurance agent
on overdrive, I'm working
to bring the threading
ideas captive into poems,
stories, and articles.
Even the occasional prayer.

One day at a time, I guess
you could say, I'm working
on getting my worry warts
removed as best I can.

 

Tennessee, US

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His new blog is jddehartfeaturepoems.blogspot.com.