poetry

table of contents

“root canal” by Hannah Hoover

“accident” by Hannah Hoover

“Nana and Haha’s” by Julia Robertson

“Splitting open” by Allegra Solomon

“creatures of night” by Natalie Dupre

“Truman” by Maddy McFadden

root canal

Hannah Hoover

pushing my thumb against the flesh 

of an overripe heirloom tomato, 

i forget tomorrow and everything else. 

until the shriveled up old man 

(looming over bags of potatoes) 

Asks my natural hair color. 

i stare at the black holes in his teeth, 

try to retrieve whoever i was before this.

when i can’t hold my breath any longer

i pull back the hat, exposing my roots. 

he nods slowly, as if understanding.

i am afraid his teeth may pop out,

like candy from a pez dispenser. 

i’m just joking with you, he says, 

and finally leaves (no potatoes). 

i watch until he turns the corner. 

it isn’t until i look back down that i notice

the juice, dripping from my wrist like blood.

accident

Hannah Hoover

I came from potholes puddled by

the cries of my fatherless friends

and the stale piss stench of Shae

Beasy’s two-bedroom one-bath.

space

Three Bath and Body Works candles

in every room never masked the scent,

only gave a sugar plum balm to dog shit.

I spent many nights washing my own feet

space

in the sink of her bathroom, watched

intently by the Mickey Mouse wallpaper,

after stepping in piss or shit or vomit,

careful not to use a white towel.

space

We didn’t talk about it, just

breathed through our mouths,

while her mother collected coupons

for more three-wicks to burn.

space

When the other girls came over

I wondered if they could smell it, too.

Or if their cloud of Pink perfume

was enough to smother everything. 

space

If Shae noticed the scent,

she was good at ignoring it,

the same way she ignored Haley

holding a pair of scissors to my ponytail.

space

Once, one of the many Yorkie puppies

took a leak on my sleeping bag.

The other girls giggled and screamed,

grateful, as always, not to be me.

space

Sinking to the tile of the bathroom floor,

feet sticky and face flushed,

I called my father and asked him

when the laughter would stop.

Nana and Haha’s

Julia Robertson

Three stories of memories, 

where a dead dog’s bones tremble under the anthills, 

where honey-oak branches rustle in quiet winds. 

Untouchable, unstained: barefoot baseball and movie marathons, 

holiday parties and swing rides to the sky. 

Tucked away under the midnight staircase lies mother,

sweating out vodka and swishing leftover powder

around the crevices of off-white teeth. 

This once wild-haired, bony-freckled beauty 

rots here in the darkness:

broken dreams, bursts of tears, yellow bones. 

I dream of her drowning in pills; 

I dream of her leaving me on a busy street to die. 

She echoes in my brain like a ringworm swirling under skin. 

I can smell old leather and peach perfume and 

the stale breath of a once-familiar old man. 

I can feel the cold, soft skin of his doe-eyed wife on my fingertips; 

I can see the sunlight swirling through the beautiful stained glass; 

I can hear the hum of the wooden ceiling fan,

the phantom clippings of a family dog that died moments before I came home:

My First Loss. 

But mostly I feel bits of her in me, 

when I cough or sniff or go to the doctor’s.

Yes, I feel bits of her in me, 

when I breathe or cry or ask for help.

Oh god, I feel bits of her in me, 

toenail clips and leather and peaches, 

and the once golden part of her skin

begging me to run far, far away.

Splitting open

Allegra Solomon

Today I thought about the way 

words form in our mouths— 

the air pumping our cheeks basketball round 

and flaking chapped lips turning inward, 

forming mere consonants into metered sound, 

tongues sneaking through parted teeth 

and spit oozing through the cracks 

down, down, down, 

into the hollow pocket of our lower lip

space

I thought of how the feel of the construction 

of the Portuguese word “cafuné” is nearly

as gentle as the act itself—

tiptoeing around a beauty that can’t 

be directly translated into English 

but can be wholly felt in the light 

breath released mid-word,

the gentle bite of the lower lip,

and the knowledge that the word exists at all 

space

How exactly are you meant to gather yourself— 

pucker and round your lips appropriately— 

to tell the person across from you 

that they played an intrinsic part in the 

construction of the You you currently are 

without feeling you are giving yourself away

space

Do the parentheses and crescent moons forming

in the outers of my cheeks not bellow admiration

because I can’t seem to say I love you without

touching my tongue to the roof of my mouth 

and bleeding through the next syllable on impact

space

Is that book I’d given you still dusting above your television 

and could you not infer that my willingness to part 

with an extension of myself meant I’d memorized your phone 

number the day we’d first met 

space

My arms are fully extended and shoving 

crinkled eyes and borrowed things and brushing knees 

and calls in threes and diverting looks and 

worn out books and quality time and shaky sighs 

under your eyes I’m sorry I can’t curve my lips

and chew on vowels correctly I’m sorry I’m swallowing 

niceties whole and you can’t shove your arm down the 

narrow of my throat and sift through all the goo for the Good Stuff

aphasia’s a lousy thing and I never learned to move my mouth that way

creatures of the night

Natalie Dupre

Burned into my eyelids is the memory of my mother

leaning over my thin body, blonde hair coated in moonlight, 

pulling a blue blanket up to my chin, whispering ghost stories

of girls we don’t know or care about. 

space

I picture their dismembered bodies in shallow graves, severed limbs, 

sputtering bloody hearts, purple necks. Shadows spin across her face

from a night-light in the wall, words unravel from her mouth 

the same endless twisting stream.

space

Don’t be like these girls, these dumb girls who trust too easily and 

wake up dead in the bed of a man’s truck. Men chase and men coerce 

and men capture and men kill. Those are just things men have done 

and will always do. Men are not like us. 

space

Boys are not inherently bad. I think bad is a thing taught and

groomed and played with, and boys are precursors to men 

who either know suffering or don’t. Once, you were just a boy,

I was just a girl. There’s something romantic about our past states of being.

space

Now, I know you like I’ve known my own shadow, 

biting at my heels, stretches of darkness down the sidewalk behind me.

You are bright glowing eyes, a hot weight pressed into my spine.

Give me decapitated roses and breathe vodka down my nose again,

space

follow me through the dark and haul me off into uncertainty,

where nothing exists except the two of us and your cold little eyes.

If I were a bird or an angel you might clip my wings–, stroke my chin

until I learn comfort in this cage you’ve made.

space

So, when she finds my purple heart writhing on your floor, she’ll say,

 I told you so, I told you so. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, that she 

assumed the worst of you. I’ll lick the blood from your wound like a good girl 

and sharpen the knife you intend to kill me with if it makes you feel better.

Truman

Maddy McFadden

Metered Dose Inhaler with a spacer clenched in the sweaty hand while

dreaming of Nikes

and cherry blossoms fall like smoldering 

ash as the dark-salmon-skinned baby laughs and—

I wish I had a daughter to forgive me.

Do you feel that? An endless breeze when Eve doesn’t eat

the apple. Do you smell that? Tulips. (Ad Rem,

but not quite).          Perfect. Soft,

but not quite. Canted towards the sun, but never swallows.

The pistil is the first to shrink.

space

The little girl thinks under her shower, 

“What if there was no sin?”

She fears Jim Carey in The Truman Show.

You have to feel rage to feel good, she knows, but she hates

when her mom chokes her for being a pig and—

space

did you hear about the Sockeyes

bearing their children just to die?     Useless.

Like

treadmills or plastic plants or forgiveness when you try.

If self-respect causes pride and desolation, then

what’s wrong with grace or a different type of nothingness?

I’m still unsure. Irresolute. Unresolved.            Scared-of-fucking-

everything-but-masked-

as-a-mild-mannered-prick. Un-absolved,

I guess.

space

The girl squeezes her eyes…

a neck topped by sweaty curls running inside the sun and—

I wish I didn’t have asthma.

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