MCR’s THREE CHEERS FOR SWEET REVENGE TURNS 14 YEARS OLD & I AM WRITING DOWN MANTRAS TO REMIND MYSELF THAT I NEED TO STAY ALIVE | by Adrienne Novy

after Dr. Eve Ewing

I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails black & I will not be a funeral. I will paint my nails

                                                                                                  /

While I was heavily working on one of the drafts of my new book Crowd Surfing With God, I was also taking the year off from college to get mental health help. May of 2017, my depression had caused me to spiral out of control, and I was losing hair due to anxiety and trichotillomania. The best way I’ve been able to describe what it is for me to live with mental illness is that my brain is constantly screaming at me. It’s strong and aggressive and refuses to stay quiet.

I think that’s partly what drew me to pop-punk as the specific genre of music that I wanted to thread through Crowd Surfing With God—the community of music and its noise, the distorted guitars and scratching chest voice, the way artists thumbed their noses at religion and the people in power. I knew I wanted to have a coming-of-age arc in the book, and emo and pop-punk music is a part of my story. There’s an edge to this genre of music but there is this vulnerability beneath it. I think we all have songs from when we were teenagers that we remember listening to when we cried ourselves to sleep and struggled to articulate the ways that we weren’t okay.

It’s not that I was in love with this genre of music only (although I adored My Chemical Romance and went to Warped Tour twice with my friends), but instead I was more fascinated by it, the raw emotion that often pooled from it, how we as human beings associate certain songs with people we love or how it helps us process our grief. My Chemical Romance really did that for me.

I also wanted to take a genre that is often forefronted by able-bodied, misogynistic, cishet white men and turn it on its head and have it fit my narrative. I wanted to hone in on that vulnerability and I wanted to explore that noise, the specific ways those songs made me feel, the sense of belonging in a group of outcasts that was eager to welcome me home.

                                                                                          /

Adrienne Novy’s latest book, Crowd Surfing With God, is out August 21st from Half Mystic Press. The book is a coming of age journey through poems: a story of self-acceptance that discusses growing up with a rare genetic disorder & mental illness, family & being in a multifaith household, pop culture, & the acts of playing & listening to music bringing you closer to yourself & to healing. It is available for preorder now.

107 | by Joseph V. Milford

tried to remember the last time i stayed with her in a hotel. only powdered eggs came to mind. everything dehydrated. my friend says I live like an astronaut. Spartan. desk-command center. according to the San Diego Zoo, there are over 4600 species of lizards. husbands and wives too. Jesus Lizard lyric: “More than an occasional hazard/ You run the risk of conceiving a bastard.” the lounge lizard is a Basilisk Lizard—it runs through bottles, crosses oceans of copious alcohol. your heart palpitating like a vibrating divining rod. like a hula dancer on a dashboard. like fear. or the best day of your ever-loving life? but a listless man? we all need our devil’s workshops. gone freebooter. gone raiding. gone wild-cattin’. free from excavation. knowing it must happen. the irony of teaching The Epic of Gilgamesh while you are homeless. your students are as well. you are freckled with cuneiform. they pockmarked with Pokemon. meet in between with notes.

 


 

Joseph V. Milford is the author of the poetry collections CRACKED ALTIMETER (BlazeVox Press) and TATTERED SCROLLS AND POSTULATES, VOL I. (Backlash Press). He is an English professor and Creative Writing instructor living south of Atlanta, Georgia. He also edits the online poetry thread, RASPUTIN, A POETRY THREAD.

Lost Tarot: Knight of Stars | by Celeste Rose Wood

Expect an accordion wind from the south-
south west tonight. It will fold stars

between the gills of water in your fountain.
Stars are breathable and stars are also

inaccessible currency. Sometime after nine PM,
you arrive at an epiphany as the epiphany

arrives at you: The moon is a large nose.
“Those aren’t craters, they’re nostrils,”

you’ll whisper sometime after sometime after
nine PM. Before midnight, expect the neighbor’s cat,

Sue Ellen, to walk the spine of your fence
like a marble rolling up an incline.

The moon can smell everything you’re doing,
so be as imprecise as possible.

 


 

Celeste Rose Wood’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, River River, and Barking Sycamores. As a hermit, i.e. agoraphobic, she thinks it sucks that many people buy into capitalism’s opinion of “disability entitlement” as dirty words. Her dreams are of things like necromancy, mermaids, and healthcare for everyone. 

the conjure | by Donna Spruijt-Metz

the first joint was in
Marilyn’s garage – we smoked
I felt nothing

then I felt everything
as if the car had exploded
and well it could have

but at fourteen
who thinks about that
I could see tendrils

linking me
to these cruel girls
daisy chains made of light

I had no context for
visions but they
would come and go at will

for years – mostly they were gone
and unwelcome
until I began

to long for them – train
for the clear sight
the danger

of coming close
piercing a membrane
between here

and elsewhere – once
years later
driving down Sunset

I held out my arms
I could feel
the buildings on either side

of the road
gently brushing
across my knuckles

 


 

Donna Spruijt-Metz is a poet, translator, Professor of Psychology and Preventive Medicine, and founding director of the University of Southern California Center for Mobile Health. Her first career was as a professional flutist. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in venues such as OR, Vinyl, The Rumpus, and Poetry Northwest. She still can’t decide what she wants to be when she grows up. She can be found on Twitter @DSMPoet for poetry and @metzlab for science. 

Every Girl Is A Sacrifice At A Slumber Party | by Julia Beach

There are two kinds of girls at an exorcism
the ones who watch from their sleeping bags
and those who watch perched between
staircase spindles, Gobstoppers on their tongues
reciting Psalms and fizzy plot points
from the latest Sweet Valley High.
Once the movie is over and the demon
is out of the body or back in the box
at the bottom of a lake, they eyeball each other
wondering who is going to be the first to cry
and who will be the first to fall in love
with a real boy. A real cute boy. The kind
you slip into a different body for, like the demon inside
the girl’s body in the movie descending the staircase
like a spider who hacked off her own legs,
tailored her body to fit the lines of her pajamas
and hoped no one would notice the hourglass
tattooed on her chest, frozen in time and filled
with enough hopeful poison to last through
the night. Light as a feather/stiff as a board,
come tell us a story of how she died
in the dark, but in this version, keep the lights
turned on. Tell us how she walked
in the graveyard, but in this version, take her
to the train station to meet a stranger,
and in this version, make the stranger a keeper
of exotic animals with a fetish for long legs
and kneecaps that buckle like a compass
on a treasure map light as weather. Instead
of hands, give him holy water where his nose
is supposed to go. Take his ears and give him
a stethoscope where his tongue should be.
Make him full of mercy, this real cute boy,
in the daylight. Tell us how the hourglass was full,
but in this version, make it full of daylight
savings time so they can have another hour
before sunset brings this story to a close.
And when morning arrives lightly
tell us how you found her legs
hidden in the woodpile, stiff as a board,
and used them as stilts to walk through her ashes.

 


 

Julia Beach is a graduate of the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her work has previously been published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mount Voices, Keep Going, Cabinet of Heed, and has work forthcoming in I-70 Review later this fall. Born and raised in Appalachia, she now lives in New England and works as a graphic designer and marketing/content writer.

 

Baited | by Salem Dockery

The cat sees ghosts in our apartment and I’m jealous.
             I need the
             jump scares every now
             and again to keep my heart pounding.
Each taxonomy of animal has the same number of heartbeats
             in its life.            The hummingbird equal
             to the albatross;
             the cat to the woman to the whale.

My grandpa used to tell me
                            if you nail a horseshoe
                            to a barn, it’ll last 100 years
             so hang it ‘round my neck and watch me dance
             as if it came still red from the
anvil to my milk-fed flesh.

I already take more pills
than he does;
              he asks my grandmother
              for half-Dewar’s half-water when his heart starts
              acting up and even when mine doesn’t,
I treat it the same.

I’m becoming less of a wide-eyed doe
            in the wake of you,
            with your slow, vicious heartbeat, you’ll live forever, it mouths,
            how fast you make mine jerk,
            and what betrayal we buried in the soft
                          soil of the gulley.
            But I still bear the brand of noli me tangere
            on my moonlit ass,
                          naked as my hands catch nothing but silt
                          at the bottom of the river. I picked
my own switch for this.

So my silence is an exorcism in true Southern vernacular.
          My friends drank
          whiskey on Faulkner’s grave and all
                       I got was a mouth full of bees.
           I spat the sleeping queen back into
           the hive with my pheromones still wet
           on her thorax, ransacked the honey.
                         Her heart beats
                         about 1260 times per minute.
                         How lucky that must be.

Once, I cut my toe off and I only really
            feel it now when my leg falls asleep.
The same way blindness is said to be
            balanced out with better hearing,
            my fish-tail toe and
            dead tooth only give fire to the way I kick
            and bite at everything around me. If
                         I get an abscess
                         in my slick mouth,
            right where the nerve is dead,
            I’ll get a gold fake; it’s a spoken contract
                        no one but me
                        is holding me
            to. That’s the
            way I usher
unhappy endings into the universe.

Once a possum caught its tail in a trap
             my grandpa set, and it shrieked until he
             called me over to watch as he grabbed
                          his pistol and fired it.
                          My heart is thrashing loudly now.        Let this be a lesson then;
                                                                                                I never should have made a sound.

 


 

Salem Dockery is a queer nonbinary poet and Pushcart nominee growing palm trees in Durham, NC. Their work can be found in apt, and they have a poem forthcoming in INCH. They curate a cooler self at https://twitter.com/mxbrightside.