Survival Practice

by Jasper Wirtshafter

I know how to start a fire
how to build shelter from sticks and leaves
and how to make love after being raped

I know how to run a 10k
how to cook on an open fire with a steel grate
how to purify water

I know how to navigate the wood and city streets
how to ask a stranger fro help
how to travel light

I know how to file taxes and fill out spreadsheets
how to survive in a world that values my spreadsheets more than my survival skills
values my livelihood more than my life

I know how to survive another comedy show where a body like mine is the punchline
how to survive another horror story where a body like mine is the boogie man
how to survive another news clip where a body like mine is just another freak in a body bag

I know how to administer intramuscular testosterone shots
how to talk someone down from suicide
how to hide pills from myself

I know how to act in a crisis
how to watch my back
how to cope when watching my back isn’t enough

I know because I’ve had to learn
despite every way they say people like me are weak
we are practiced in the habit of surviving

I know we fought so good we made cliche the phrase “it gets better”
soon it will be worse than I have been alive to remember
but

I know queer culture was built from what AIDS left behind
we have survived before
we have survival practice


Jasper Wirtshafter is from Athens Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. He has been writing and performing spoken word poetry for four years.

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I Come from No Man’s Rib

by Brittani Rable

I come from soil
beneath hollow trees,

        from ore
        fissured
        in dewy cavern walls.

I come from the sky—
rain evaporated

        from glaciers
        that bit the earth
        and birthed rivers,

that kept their hearts
solid and dared
anyone to tell them
that they came

        from a page,
        that they came
        in one day.

I come from
stardust
and sulfur,

        from the collision
        of continents.

I come from no story,

        from no invention,
        from no blame.

I come from pink
salt beds and sea
froth. I come

        from the flesh
        of fruit and the woman
        who ate it,

who already existed
without shame.


Brittani is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minor in Creative Writing. She has previously been published in Mosaic Magazine and currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she works in marketing and freelance writing.

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Trump as a Fire Without Light #122

 

by Darren C. Demaree

The eels have found the sand.  They’re not slowing down.  They must plan on drowning in our throats.  We were right to use our bodies as a fortress.  I wish they had found a better way to sanctify their efforts.  They wanted prayers.  They got chants.  They wanted God.  They got to join the processional.  There is no darkness that will not be met with an absolute resistance.  


Darren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing).  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.  He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

Darren’s Twitter: @d_c_demaree

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On Food

by Joshua Everett

If Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben birthed a baby, I wonder if President Obama would pour it on his waffles

I wonder if these Black-faced products are just an inside joke of the Nu Klux Klan that our stomachs are the punch line to

 

How many Black kids have bellies that swell like black eyes

Bruised by blows of empty cereal bowls

And a fistful of crumbs in the pantry

 

How many Black kids have bellies like airbags

Stored with food to keep from crashing into reality

Meant to protect but sometimes fatal

 

For us, food has always been a contradiction

Most likely to suffer from hunger, most likely to be obese

Most likely to window shop at restaurants, most likely to hoard every feast

Most likely to live like a slave and eat like a king

Least likely to live long enough to quench the appetite of our dreams

 

What does success taste like?

While we on the subject what you digest last night?

Can’t feed you knowledge if you hungry

 

We force feed alleged terrorists

Yet starve those who live where hunger strikes

Fresh fruit don’t grow in the desert

They say it’s easier to deep-fry mirages

Plus the journey from soul food to Whole Foods

Creates a trail of tears from affordable housing

 

So we stuck

Between gentrifying greens and

Kentucky fried pleasures

 

The South shall rise again

Only this time it’ll be our blood pressure

Only this time the soldiers won’t have weapons

They’ll just have receipts

Only this time, we won’t have to bleed

We just

Gotta eat


Joshua Everett is from Leeds, Alabama and recently graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He started both writing and performing to try and impress two different women at different points in his life. He’s been swept up in a love affair with poetry ever since. His writing ranges in topics from love to racism to awkwardly stumbling through young adulthood. Music has strong influences on his writing, especially hip-hop, jazz, and soul. The goal of his writing is to infuse these distinct, yet connected African-American art forms to make work that people can really feel. He currently works as a community organizer in Jacksonville, Florida with Interfaith Coalition for Action Reconciliation and Empowerment (I.C.A.R.E).

Joshua’s Facebook

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The Salt of My Tongue

by Sergio A. Ortiz

I’ve known you since stagnant water.
Now, I’ll have to seek
refuge in other eyes.
I am the valve you wear down.

Your body and my body
speak the love they occupy,
the love that restores us unabridged
to what we are.

We will travel
with open skin, without calm,
blind, pointing the way to the rotten,
the ones who still long to live.

I will always dig you out, my bone,
my ghost under the pillow, among men
kissing under poplars.

I’ll be there, chased. A bat flaps
in each of my wrists, then you’ll know
we’ll never be so hidden we forget each other.


Sergio A. Ortiz is a gay Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee, a four time Best of the Web nominee, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

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Self-Portrait as a Hurricane

by Meg E. Griffitts

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Meg E. Griffitts is an MFA candidate at Texas State University and is currently the poetry editor for Front Porch. Her work has appeared in Luna Luna, Hypertrophic, Evening Will Come, The Colorado Independent, and BlazeVox. She believes in black cats, spiced rum, and Audre Lorde. In addition to writing poetry, she enjoys writing essays, giving up crochet projects halfway through, and cooking as therapy. Find her online at: https://www.facebook.com/meg.griffitts and on instagram: nut_meg16

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