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No Oasis For Victims

Left naked in the desert
with a song in my head.
A cactus the only way to pierce my heart.
Repression is the sand around my feet,
after awhile it stops burning.

Who knows where I’d be
if he hadn’t dropped me here
like a parcel for someone else.
I never thought I’d be his problem,
a catalyst of violence and voodoo dolls.

He holds a pin for every day
and on Saturday there’s extra.
Bits of hair, skin, drawn on eyes,
a serious doll, my mouth a straight line.
The stuffing comes out, he pushes it back.

On Sundays, when he goes to church
with his family in the air conditioning,
does he think of my naked body burning,
my dry mouth, the hurt between my legs
as he strokes his daughter’s blonde hair?

(this poem was originally published in Red Savina Review)

(this poem also appears in Sarah Lilius's new Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "Thirsty Bones", available here - https://www.etsy.com/listing/522718674/new-thirsty-bones-by-sarah-lilius-2017?ref=shop_home_feat_2)

*

[    ] Culture

            Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming,   sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of some forms of sexual violence.*

Rape, you are an animal.
The media gives you cookies,
you’ve grown fat, snarling from the cave.
I open my eyes to your terror.

Your world has been created.
We need to cut the power to your brightness,
lights flicker, this lightning is not fireflies
wild against dark sky, waiting for palms to cup.

We need more sound. To open our chests, display
lungs and let out the words.
Women, your screams, even muffled,
weren’t silent. They grow inside, canyons of dirty sound.

Victims drive to therapy,
they lose sleep, they harbor PTSD,
they hush as rose petals
that fall from the flower.

They are statistics silent on a page,
the ant crawls up your leg,
slap and he’s dead, silenced for existing.
           
            1 out of every 6 American women: has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.**

I am 1 out of 6 American women.
Teenager. He exists. Has children.
He probably doesn’t seem the monster
that has broken the way silence
arcs inside me.

Not many know this of me.
I open my mouth to speak the words,
it blooms like bloody heads crowning,
it’s a release, my face hot and shamed.
The words, stone birds sitting on a wire,
unable to make bleak sounds
of warning.

My silence, the place I hide, overgrown
with weeds, they smell fresh,
shaking their seeds from green heads.

Now it’s laid out like a snake suddenly
on a table, I want to cut off the head,
feed it to my rapist in the dark.

And when he screams NO,
maybe I’ll take it out or maybe
I’ll make him eat it
with open eyes.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture#cite_note-3
**http://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims


(this poem was originally published in Thank You For Swallowing)

(this poem also appears in Sarah Lilius's new Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbook, "Thirsty Bones", available here - https://www.etsy.com/listing/522718674/new-thirsty-bones-by-sarah-lilius-2017?ref=shop_home_feat_2)

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13.

What the Dark Brings Me

When I ask,
the dark

offers me its
gifts.

A tree of eyes. A
hand in a jar,

its owner, lost.

I swallowed a
wedding ring,

once.

It tasted like
dust and tears.

Bone and gold.

(Source: Ellroy, James. The Black Dahlia. New York: Mysterious Press, 1987. Print.)

~Sarah Nichols~

*
12.

The Patron Saint of Dead Women

I heard the reporters lying
to my mother.

I hear everything now.

Death is too loud.

They told her
I’d won a
beauty contest.

A beauty contest !

Don’t they know

that I’m the patron
saint of

dead women

everywhere ?

I watch over them now.

Waiting by the phone.

(Source: Ellroy, James. The Black Dahlia. New York: Mysterious Press, 1987. Print.)

~Sarah Nichols~

*

11.

Columbus

Our lesson for today: Columbus
was not a nice man. He chopped off hands
that came to him empty of gold. You children
could make better discoveries than him
without his brazen ships and brute force.
Your brains are able to build new trade routes
between left and right hemispheres. You
can harvest cane and make something new,
beyond stupefying sugar and rum. You’re
the generation that finds a way to produce energy
from candy wrappers and lunar tides!

So why do you sit there staring at us
like a pause button? Like fools,
offering iron pyrite? It breaks our hearts
to tell you it’s just not gold. To watch you lose
your fingers, joint by joint.


Ctrl

I press the power button and thumb the analogue sticks,

            I want to play war today.

Thirty seconds to choose a weapon,
I pick the VMP, a sub-machine gun
used for close range—
blood pixels are starting to look real these days.

                        ***

I imagine the bone vaporizing
from the bullets I shred into a leg.

                        ***

The game goes on without me, other players
killing other players. I stand over a body
breaking the right trigger on the controller
putting everything I have into some idiot’s dead body,
It doesn’t move anymore, but
the red pixels still…

~Peter Braddock~

*

9.

Windex

Sitting in front of the T.V.
my body transforms into
a mouse.

I scurry around the floor looking for food,
when a foot catches the end of my tail.

Mother stands over me with a clear china glass,
the ones kept locked away and never used,
      and a bottle of Windex.

The glass comes down trapping me inside,
the edge tilts,
and a mist of Windex fogs the glass,
she watches,
waiting for me to die.

~Peter Braddock~

*

8.

The Sickness

Sometimes I want to lie down
on the track
let the train roll
over my center
and cut me right
in half
so I can give it up
to God
or
the devil
whoever gets here
first
I desire the stigmata
a label
a sign
something to show I’ve been
I’ve done
more than flesh
more than time
I understand the cutters
who carve those perfectly
straight lines
along an arm
or leg
maybe discreetly under the foot
I should cut
and open the void
blood it out
release all the shit
that has screwed me up over time
let any residue of
hope
brown and
dry onto
scarred
flesh

~Donna Dallas~

*

7.

Afterlife in America

            You spat smooth rocks at a sheet of tin. I wrung a canary's neck. I hummed the Defense of Marriage Act. You pulled a cowboy hat over your ears. I fixed a miniature radio, from which you heard Kennedy's faint voice say "cut out its kidneys, mortal fool." You read The Hobbit. I wandered the flat part of the world. You married a space between tombs. I pursued the giggling shade of Warren G. Harding. You turned into pale smoke. For some reason, I became a woman named Magda and forgot all about the Department of the Interior. You visited Spokane. I wept. Now you live under a hill. You shave the heads of deserving children. I think of you often as I destroy these bicycles. The cure for slow Time is fast Amnesia – try some. It's the only way to keep your balance as the drunk Earth wobbles through Old Night.

~
Matthew F. Amati~

*

6.

Endings

            The princess was saved. The spaceship exploded. The map was found, then the treasure was found. The human and the antelope girl kissed. The henchmen died en masse. You could distinguish the neurosurgeon by her emphatic breasts. Sidekicks were usually one of the following: dwarf; alien; ethnic human with attitude/folk wisdom; talking marmoset; talking dog; talking dragon (miniature); Joe Pesci; talking umbrella; a false God. The Father gave advice. Then he died. The villain had it all sewn up, until he didn’t. The castle wall crumbled. The hyperdrive began working again at an opportune moment. The sword glowed. The eagles took everyone home free of charge. It's over now, and we're drinking Schnapps and shooting things in a junkyard.


5.

No Other Way

Is there a voice
as sharp as a cut nerve,
or an answer to unravel
this relentless groove?
Is there divinity in stagnation
or purpose to a dead womb?
Can even a great love withstand
evenings of always the same
bleak gestures - a snapped jugular,
a lost future?
Is it burning like an enemy in our closet
or like a miracle denied?
Is it a triggered revolver in the pit
of all our youthful promise or a transmuting faith
that rides this kissless wound?
If we give this back or give it up will it be
the bed to hold us, will it nurse our roots
to flower, or drop us unwanted?
Will there be rescue from this slumbering void
or just the iris of our common eye looking, looking back
at its old and destroyed self?

4.

Overpass

In the gravel hole
slumbering in cold fatigue
open and open is tomorrow
never arriving. But pale and pasty
sickness in my mirror is all I see
when I look at my changing body, changing
again to form a great wonder.
Weak as a broken limb, my mind
is empty of inspiration and I am drifting with this seed
from day to day waiting for the sting to pass
and leave only a larger belly and joy
of what (in time)
                 will be.


3.

FIREHOUSE CAR SHOW

The assemblage of emergency vehicles
Crammed into my grandmothers driveway
Looks like the display at our local firehouse car show,

When the engine companies across our county
Polish their vehicles and put them on parade
In the open lot next to the fire hall.

Every emblem on the ambulances and engines
Gleams in the sun as we spot my great-grandmother’s house
Through the branches of her old cedar tree.

With such an elaborate display of life savers,
We expect to see all of our favorite things—

Funnel cakes, clowns making balloon animals,
Loud speakers blaring carnival music before the band
Takes the stage in the picnic pavilion.

Flashing lights from the Ferris Wheel,
The pulsing neon of the miniature roller coaster,
Coalescing with the flashing bulbs of the carrousel.

There is only screaming—but not the kind
We know by ear from the carnival rides.
It's a new kind of shrieking,

Louder than all the emergency vehicles
Blaring their sirens and honking their horns,
Louder than any sound I've ever heard.

My great-grandmother’s bull horn mouth
Is amplifying that noise as she quivers
In the front yard of her home.

Her eyes are fixed on a white stretcher
Surrounded by emergency technicians
Where her daughter motionlessly rests.

They rush my grandmother into an ambulance
Before any of us are able to reach her body.

When she sees the epicenter of the trauma,
My mother echoes the alarm from the driver’s seat
Of our minivan as she parks near the caution tape.

My sister and I join the emergency cries,
Like a pair of desperate fire whistles,
Begging for the mercy of rescuers.

We are louder than the shrieking ambulance
Siren as it speeds towards the hospital.

Firefighters will have to empty
All the water towers in our town
Just to quench our incineration

~Christian Sammartino~

*

2.

TOTALED

The sputtering jalopy on Commonwealth
Backfires the engine of my memory
Into the first gear of grief.

I reluctantly switch on my hazard lights,
Accelerating down the boulevard of loss
Into the pothole pitted lot of her death.

Attempts to correct my steering wheel
Cause me to breakdown in the parking
Space of her absence.

Her final auto body shop is more
Junkyard than nursing home. 

Hospice nurses crowd her like mechanics,
Frantically inspecting a mangled car on a lift
Before it’s totaled, shipped to the scrap yard.

Oil drowns the pistons of her heart,
Seizes the horsepower of her lungs,
Dims the brightness of her headlights.

Someone official checks under her hood,
Empties the fluid leaking into her bedpan,
Injects her fuel lines full of morphine.

She splutters and coughs, backfiring like cars
In the Motor City—she stalls on a highway
Her roadside assistance can’t reach.

Death certificates are on the table,
The wrecker is in transit. 

I call every insurance agent in America—
No company sells collision insurance capable
Of preparing me for the impact of this pileup.

Her lifetime warranty expires and 
She is pronounced unfit for the road.


1.

purple butterflies

I saw you in a dream
your arms and back printed in rows of purple butterflies
me, nervous fairy
milky bovine mother
pull back from the slightest electricity

soldering anodized titanium
a link to our hands
the grounding lacking
I close my eyes to the world around me
a perfect sonnet in maladaptive fantasies
these places where ancient ruins become
mazes and sideways floors
and the dead walk and come out of secret passageways

I meet reality by screaming at tombstones
floating antique, this drapery passing over dried flowers
remove the history to keep it tidy
sleep to streamline memories continuously re-programmed

mouth wide open
key stitched to my tonsils
effervescent, wake up screaming
the intimate something you can’t even give yourself

meeting you halfway is meeting in dreams
and never in your arms
and you don’t dream