Nashville

"civil engineering"/"Peine forte et dure"/"Begotten" by Blake Pipes

civil engineering

i move gravel around in my mouth
somehow under the impression
the flavor will lend order
between death knells

around me
cranes swing forth skyscrapers
          just as predicted
by the street corner
preacher

          nobody wants to have fistfights
                     anymore

so stay asleep as long as you can

the tallest men just sling papers
and forge ink replicas wrought to
choke our animals

this sunday
i shepherd the hammer through
the television set, fatigued finally
by god’s slippery slurs,
and in my hand, glass glints
like so much fish flesh

          i have wanted atonement
          ever since i was a little
          girl

my lithium-ion blood
staggers like coal clumps
into the furnace

and i thin, i thin

Peine forte et dure

The water in the fishbowl gets lower
and lower. I think about draining it,
but never do. The fish floats around
the bottom, still dead. This week, I took up
boxing in hopes of being hit in the head.
So far, no luck. Yesterday, I heard

a man clad in sandwich boards
screaming on the street for a new law
that would force every major leader
to demonstrate signs of the stigmata.

Wading through the crowds listening to
him had me late to boxing. American life
is starting to feel like one big reboot
of the witch trials where participation is
mandatory and advertising more streamlined.

News stations call for witch blood,
demand retribution from the
covens marching in the light of day.

Do you want to be the witch
or do you want to be the accuser?

I sleep in the grass tonight, wake up
come morning. No one notices the deviation
from the script. I check the mail and walk inside.
There is leftover soup in the fridge,
but I think it’s gone bad. Out the window,
the neighbors have a fire going,
preparation for another trial.

I empty the fishbowl and
put on my boots.

Begotten
     For Sleep Paralysis

I wish you would stop choking me
while I sleep, stop lingering at my
back. This morning, I found broken glass
in the bathtub and I laughed
because with a crooked eye, it looked like
those ballet dancers
with their rubbed red shoes
and fine appetite.
Remember that one we saw last summer

whose pirouettes drooped like the death
of a spinning top? This month, she washed up
dead, no spinning top. Since then,
I have disabled every decoder ring in America.
Here is a portrait of myself
when I was younger. The story of my survival bleeds
out of both nostrils—you may have heard
that I

can’t see the future anymore. Days like now
I’m skittish. I try to position my body
so nothing is touching it;
the best I can do is stand straight,
a willing sacrifice of toes.

Yesterday, I painted the walls with a substance
that will not accept light,

each swath dressed beneath a fattier swath.
I watched the swaths propagate
and pin thick layers across my artifice,
my body of hollow columns.
Tonight, the carpet digs quietly against my face
and the dead dogs come out like switchblades.

No number of windows can protect me from the sky.

They just keep howling.
-
Blake Pipes is a recent graduate of Belmont University with his sights set on screenwriting. He has been published in Drunk Monkeys and was the recipient of the 2015 Sandra Hutchins Humanities Symposium Award for Poetry. He likes Nine Inch Nails more than you do and is currently attempting to read Blake Butler's full bibliography.

"Street Tar Home" by Emily Hunerwadel

I woke up as a crystal vase
sliding from the roof of the car—
exploding on the pavement, screaming like bells.

So, you labeling my eyes as delicate,
what do you think about as my nose kisses concrete?

What about upturned bedskirts and soldered joints,
creases and newly driven nails?

What if we keep saying the words,
and they become the moon?
What if they burn blue
like the pot-holes in your mind?
-

Emily Hunerwadel is an MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is southern-bred and yet somehow doesn't have an accent or an affinity to hot, humid weather. She has a Bachelor of Science in Audio Engineering and is probably somewhere fixing some electronic device. She was a finalist for Columbia Journal’s 2016 Winter Contest judged Mary Ruefle. Her chapbook manuscript, Professional Crybaby, was a finalist for Split Lip Press’s Turnbuckle Chapbook Prize.  Her work has been published in the Vassar Review, Elke: A Little Journal, The Sun Star Review, and Bizarro Pulp Press. 

"The audio files of partners I and II" and "camilla the eternally pregnant chainsmoker" by Annie Grizzle

T h e a u d i o f i l e s o f p a r t n e r s I a n d II
( i n i t a l i c s )

F e a t u r i n g ::
Mysterious partner I and the other one.

I : I do not think she is wearing underwear, no
     II : get out from under there or
I : What do you think of the couch colors?
    What do you think of the floral décor?
     II : I need you to stick your hand down the sink
                                    Baby please
I : I caught you spying on the yard line
     II : I felt the mailbox up for
I : mow time, I can’t get grass on these shoes
     II : I’m stressed
I : I need petunia
     II : baby baby
I : please
     II : baby please
I : My toothbrush has your hair
    I think I found a hair
     II :: I use your toothbrush for my
I :: Insides!
     II : for my
I :: insides,
     II : A real skin breaker this evening
          A real blue on gold lining
          I can’t hear you with the t.v on
I : Antibiotics for mother so
    Antibiotics for brother
     II : I left the dog in the van but I forgot to crack a window
                                    Baby please
I : I can’t sleep, I
     II : can’t breathe
I : I want a garage
     II : I want with pretty summer cars
I : I’m generous
     II : I play the piano
     II : I metaphorically shut door
I : how poetry won’t
     II : knock no more
I : It’s raining
     II : well, yes, [ PARTNER ONE ] there may have been dancing
I : Quick, what’s your favorite word?
     II :  pharmaceuticals

-

Camilla the eternally pregnant chain smoker ,

standing unfortunate angle inspired by the front door she’s never left in her
everything is grey her
house is grey her hair is grey her knees are grey her grass is grey
                               her / is grey / her grass is grey her knees is

some pickled steep at neighborly sweet / if she’s a bald cat she’s / a bald cat
/ stripped / head /
something crawls way up / 6 veins and a dry patch all the way up / 10 hands
painted red crème and / dug in / for fixture and old wood / if there’s a hand
at the top there’s a shoulder with the skin bunched / there’s a left hip in the
spot where she left it stuck / knuckle bones up in around the cross / stitched
/   folded   in  around  varyinglevels  of  hanging  sound   /   she  believes  in
something in / between this piece / her dehydrated meat / she’s not moving
/ she’s been there 20 years / she’s pregnant 20 years / she’s 42 she looks 47
/ everything is grey.

-

Annie Grizzle writes and eats and lived in Nashville once. 

"Non Pearl Body" and "Quilting" by Nathan Wade Carter

Non Pearl Body

God’s eyes are yellow.

I peer into them
in my celestial bed.

The color of god.
Heaven is yellow.

The stars spell things
whether we want them to or not.

Whether they mean to or not.
Whether it matters or not.

Words mean things.
I didn’t think I’d need to say this.

This very long tunnel.
An electric light every so often.

This underground bend
through the mountain.

My eyes get used to this dim.

I have yet
to connect

enough dots
to make a picture.

I stay in bed for days
boring a hole in this spot.

I am surrounding
my foreign body in nacre,

making my own iridescent mother
and being her.

I have this hard object
within my soft tissue.

My mantle has made something
valuable.

My immune response
is beautiful.

-

Quilting

A tectonic inch
My oceans jostled
A cup of water
On a bumped table
An earthly hiccup
Waves pull away
To rush in
Cities reclaimed
I am a new landscape
After fishing the lake dry
After wearing holes
These knees
After spitting
This wind
I sit in a puddle
And pretend I am
A gold fish
All forget and yellow
I use the last pencil
Down to its ferrule
Which holds a finished eraser
One cannot erase what
One cannot record
I survive
A quilt
Warming
Assembled well
Even I say thank you
But there’s a gap
An ocean
I worry
I broke
Without noticing
I am built different
Too many years of feeling I need to be
Fucked or never loved
A sand castle erected so proud
So bound to fall down

I will not sleep with you
I will not live with you
I will not have sex
I don’t want to

-

Nathan Wade Carter is a queer, grey-a poet, musician, and artist living in Portland, Oregon. His poetry can and will be found in Heavy Feather Review, Horse Less Press, Souvenir, Powder Keg Magazine, The Fem, and others. He is editor and founder of SUSAN / The Journal. He writes and performs songs under the name Purrbot. He is recording a new album called DNR. Find him online at nathanwadecarter.com.

"Zodiac Killer" by Naomi Bartlett

Always            through glass you screamed into yourself

before            July knew you before Newports before morphine and blank-slate

catharsis         through county fair dry heat wet cotton candy vomit on asphalt and there

Daddy             sweats oils and carcinogens shrieks fury bellows candor he

echoes            holy illness he is chapped and necking with indigence he is

fifty                  years old and holding you by the wrist taking you to heathen

gods                who breathe peek-a-boo, you are doomed and you’re salty in susurrus sobbing

honey              gumming eyelids viscid and glistening glazed like windows like his eyes after –

 

I                         am sorry

jarred                childhood on the carousel and

killjoy                filler remember black dahlia remember lust remember bottleneck choke and tang

I’ll

 

let                      you be sawtoothed let you soak in stagnation let

my                     hotels grow stale leering through peepholes pillow mints melted face

neighbors         coughing phlegm lungs all rot and entropy so you

overdose          on lullaby and angel dust smoke disassociation

pathologically   drowning transience in a flash flood of ether

quickly              gorging yourself on lapse and navel-gazing you

 

ran                   laughing into the arms of

some               soft eggshell canopy where mother waits smelling of

turpentine       like when you were a child and played God

under              the nothing sky coyote song tearing holes pulping life becoming

vacant             and after rats there were Gilas and then jackrabbits and finally

women            preening then sloshing beautifully to the soft eggshell floor brittle limbs now

xenophobic    membranes ripped apart thorax and abdomen merging

you                  said death will know us all you dissolved into trees you dissected yourself

you                  sat down on the Ferris wheel rode it to its

zenith              and you rode round and round round and round all through the town.

-

Naomi Bartlett lives in Nashville, TN. She spends her days writing, painting, playing the drums, and plotting her escape from the food service industry. She is currently working on completing her BA at Belmont University.