- Love by Asela Lee Kemper
- A poem about going climbing (and falling in love with you) by Skye Wilson
- THE UNDOING by Zamiya Akber
- the national suicide hotline responders know me by name by Brianne Grothe
- Ballad of the fallen lovers by Brianne Grothe
Enter garden fever, man & woman & the snake bite
enter your veins, like taylor and eve alike she lost
her reputation in a paradise lost, lady got lost in
her lovegame, all she wanted was His Stupid Love
Him: Dim my eyes to a God i’ve never smelled before,
why don’t you come a bit closer? suddenly we’re naked
& alone & sexy & we know it, why don’t you come a
Her: Enter a hunger i’ve never tasted before, the fruits
of our labor are nothing compared to this sparkling sin,
sparkling apple with the red core, nothing old applies
here, everything new applies here, take me in your mouth
& eat me like a vampire does, tell me of my scent
tell me tell me tell me my name, all good & evil &
wicked & lovely, never something He gave us,
i ask-tell you, lover, to name me, & I will tell you
tell you that You are Good
Both: The Beast smacks voodoo into my veins, your love
is my new drug, enter the Never-Neverland, who knew
it would mean the new Always?
TW: SUICIDE AND SELF-HARM
i told her, her name was faith,
that my ex had finally left me all the way
and that i felt like stabbing myself again
she said have you self-harmed before i said no
she said do men always make you want to self-harm
i said yes and i started to cry
she said to print out a picture and put it on the wall
a picture i could push on with a Q-tip, prick with a pin
punish with a dart, a picture of him, because your
body is a temple hun
he told me he loved me every other day
after he dumped me for over two months
she said to not let him make me kill myself, that
i needed to separate myself from the hurt he made
me inflict, that maybe we could be friends later
when i have a new boyfriend so that it wouldn’t
matter if he made me so, so mad
i said i didn’t even want to be friends
i told him about the Q-tips and darts and
he didn’t text back
i think the whole thing is funny now
but My Dad The Therapist would say
that’s because i’m labile again
so i sit here wondering if i have bed
bugs again or whether i just itch
because i’m crawling out of my skin
he finally responded to the darts
i feel better now.
This is how the undoing begins –
us within the arms of a sun-drenched bus stop,
my lips pressed against your knuckles,
your eyelids glistening with golden light
When I told that boy I loved him,
what I meant was –
I’m not afraid of dying anymore.
I think I stopped being afraid the first time I realized
that pouring those sleeping pills down my throat
would only take a minute – three, at most
or maybe I stopped being afraid
once I called out to God for the final time,
the memory of that uncomfortable silence
ringing in my ears until dawn arrived.
If I must say something, let it be this –
I found you the way a vagrant finds home,
away from motel rooms and knees
stinging with blood.
This is not to say that we didn’t fall apart eventually,
gutted matches caressing a flame for far too long –
This is to say that
I made a promise the night you left and
lifted it to the sky –
I will never forget you.
I promise, I promise, I promise.
Zamiya Jay is a Singaporean writer and photographer who is currently based in Lahore, Pakistan. She is the founder of Velvet Voices, a platform dedicated to spoken word poetry. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, religiously listening to Jhene Aiko, and drinking too much iced coffee. You can find her on Instagram @zamiyazamiya.
Social media handles:
It’s been a long time. My teeth tug
at the loose skin of my cracking lips.
I strap in to ascend and fall, with visions
of my scab-strong body tumbling, tighten
my harness to uncomfortable.
You set up the belay,
check every aspect of my knots
before you smile me up the wall,
where I pant too hard for this slow climb.
Soon, I reach a gap too big to stretch.
No choice but to leap
and plummet, heavy for a moment with dread
and chalky fingers, which lunge, shred open
on the rock with scraping pain.
As you catch the rope that holds me,
I look down to the cracked baskets
of your strong hands, and, half-willingly,
I descend to you.
Skye Wilson is a glittery, rugby-playing feminist from Scotland. She is working towards an MSc in Creative Writing at Edinburgh University. She is forthcoming in Detritus and From Arthur’s Seat. Skye is extremely bisexual and loves ugly shirts, and poems about fear, hope, and belonging. Her pronouns are she/her.
Instagram: @skyegabrielle; Twitter: @skyegabriell.
Whenever my friends post
wedding photos on Instagram,
I’m too ashamed of not
putting myself out in the world,
crossing my fingers if I find
the lucky one.
But I want love.
The kind where it doesn’t live in daydreams,
and he comes out looking like
RM from BTS in a tuxedo,
stretching out his hand for mine as
we dance beneath string lights
and NAO sings our song
i want the kind of love
where even if i stutter a word or two
he still hears me.
I want the kind of love
that when it breaks my heart,
I still think about him
whether he’s gone for 5 minutes
or for too long.
the kind of love
where I just want him in my life
friend or lover,
forbidden or meant-to-be.
I want the kind of love
where it’s warm
that I feel at home.
It’s strange that I take the pain inside my mind
and numb it until I can’t quite tell what’s real,
swallow another something to block it out more still,
until I can’t even see the terrors that stalk through the dark.
It’s stranger still that I can’t silence the pain outside,
even as I hide the bruises and slices and stabs
and welts and wounds and broken hearts,
as all the while they shape into figures
haunting shadow streets in silence.
My friend announces that the ‘martyr teacher’ narrative is harmful,
Contributes to deficit like a war on ideals, idealization losing.
I do not know if this is true.
Like Dido, I have been searching for a pyre, for a sword to fall on,
Perhaps so the gods of guilt will finally take pity.
Certainly it is not the liar hours, the cat burgling expenses,
the papers that follow you home like starving strays.
It is not even the terraforming cartographers who never leave
The satellite but always have new ideas on how to remake
The mountains to their pre drawn specifications, nor
The guardians who consider your words a gospel
Against their personal failures.
I, a rapidly wilting cardboard cutout of a homunculus, barely held together
By scotch tape and an overdeveloped sense of obligation,
Am required to make precisely 1.47 million microdecisions every twelve seconds,
Sometimes as meaningless as a smile, sometimes as life changing as one.
Let this comment go, pick your battle, maybe it makes the next one more meaningful,
Maybe it permits an invasion.
I can’t tell if I choose the right door more often than not
Because most often, the other side is a high budget gothic play, full of mist and fog and trap doors, manned by a drunk stage manager,
it can be hard to know
What will happen and when and what cue triggered it.
Today I opened a treasure box formerly filled with sheer satin promises, now
Occupied by foil wrapped bribes and offered the contents like magic loaves,
Knowing the horde would descend like vultures, like arrows, but that’s fine,
I prefer the shade.
Perhaps this will undermine my tissue thin control the way tide can still
Tug at plexiglass, perhaps it feeds a cycle of entitlement like stained laundry.
Or perhaps these gelatin lies molded like fruits are the closest he’s come
To the real thing in weeks, perhaps she finally remembers I am not her enemy,
Despite every person with my face seeming to tear her down.
When I haul myself, finally to my bed, a map of tomorrow’s worries already carving themselves around my eyes, my soul deep fatigue is nothing that should keep you
From this sacred sacrifice. The phantoms haunting my joints flutter like fractured moths,
Each wingbeat a what if sonata, an if only elegy. Did you know the collective noun
For moths is ‘an eclipse’? Something beautiful yet obscuring,
A darkness made of flight.
you expect this to hurt,
as though your absence has an effect on me,
like I am sitting near something
so that you can call out to me.
And you think I would wait
because your allegiance of friendship
is supposed to quell my
So I sit here and smile,
because my darling,
fire has bled through these veins,
and I have lived three days in purgatory,
and the heaven you think you’d put me through
is nothing like the hell I have lived through.