art·ti·fice // clever or cunning devices or expedients, especially as used to trick or deceive others
Brooklyn Magnitude by Samantha mackertich
Glitter floods down and suffocates, heels smear crayon maps on marble, lights shiver and catch
onto feathers and skirts, church bells toll to the pulsing music, everyone wants to be here, but only a handful of feet trip
over each other. Bodies salivate and soak up eveningwear puddles that ripple across the floor. They call it the best
night of their lives, but toss back shots. The make-up and sweat and chlorine peel away, every layer raw as the last.
They’re not animals, they couldn’t be more human; skin blue and eyes dripping to the floor.
And you flinched by lizzy sobiesk
When I wake up, I try to remember what you called the moon: light shredded to confetti, the sun an alcoholic angel with a halo around its neck. I wait for the cooled lipstick stain to look like dried blood so that I can pretend I'm in a fairytale you like—maybe we can grow old trying to rub the need off of our thumbs.
I want to see you outside; we can sit under our false sense of lamplight and safety; it doesn't even have to be at night for me to be okay (with you, with me)— we could talk on the trampoline and I can use cough drops to cover my vomit breath, so your little brothers don't notice how much has changed, and you can pretend you don't notice either.
I'll make you tea and make fun of you for drinking it (you pretentious asshole, you); we'll watch a movie and move just close enough to make me feel conscious of every part of me, every limb, (my cynical certainty becomes then but a circus freak show) but I'll never know if you realize how I've stopped breathing. Your eyes, haunted and fixed, will dig into the television screen.
quay west, salford quays by eleanor bennett
when this poem is finished by jonny wiles
When this poem is finished it will fold in on itself until it reaches this tipping point of the third dimension.
When this poem is finished it will become a text breasted robin, or a swan with ampersand eyes that might never blink,
and certainly it won’t sing or fly south for the winter. But it’s tame enough, and on warmer days will sit comfortably on a branch or palm.
Honeycombed by claire oleson
In the rivulets of red hair that crescendoed over Lacy’s shoulders, Elaine was entirely lost. She loved how the afternoon light kissed the auburn into an alloy of brass and gold. She liked to think it was music coming out, the glow strumming up inaudible operas along the lengths of red. Lacy’s freckles too, were part of that noise without sound, tiny sun-bruises scattered across milk. She wanted to try to name them all, just because she knew it couldn’t be done. She labeled them quietly when they sat together, giving the coffee-colored points little titles she’d forget five minutes later.
They found a dead bird one day, when they were walking back from their abnormal psychology course, a dead bird in the middle of the sidewalk. Lacy had lapsed into revery, astounded by the stillness of the avian corpse. Elaine was reverent as well, not for the bird, but for what the little death had done to that freckled face. She didn’t remember what species it was, even though once they were back in their room, Lacy had googled it with a fever in her fingers and shouted its name out, a blurred replacement for a memorial. Lacy remembered the name where Elaine only remembered the species of shock that had bloomed in Lacy’s eyes.
There were times when the mess hall was full and loud and leaking with laughter and Elaine wished that it could be empty. All she wanted was a place where she could sit and watch the red-haired girl be without the interruptions of other people’s walking bodies. Sometimes she dreamed that she had no inhibitions, that she could stand up and tell everyone to leave, and that they would understand, because they knew it was worth the evacuation to allow her a better view of Lacy and her hair.
In the pockets of time they did have alone, Elaine was too weighted down by doubt and terror to say anything out of the ordinary. She feared that if she ever did say anything true, really true, those cacophonous locks would just drown her out. One time, she’d looked at Lacy with real eyes, hoping that where her voice fell short of brave, her pupils might pick up the slack. Lacy just giggled and told her she looked a little crazy, not getting how many neurons were sending emotional postage through her head or how much time she’d need to recover from all that looking. It was her own fault, she knew, for being silent and hoping that the potently beautiful compilation of another person’s consciousness would notice her unexpressed affections. But still, this did nothing to ease the ache of wanting to name every freckle.
One night, in late November, Lacy came in with a jar of honey under her arm. Their room was dark but the hall lights were on and the honey took the fluorescent gleam and sung a little yellow hymn through the glass. Elaine had wanted to jump up from her bed and extend a shaking finger to the jar and scream, “There! There, that color, that light, that’s how I feel!” But instead she just turned over in her sheets and feigned sleep. She listened to the tiny crunching of Lacy eating saltines in the dark with miniature honey choirs dappled over them. After Lacy put the box away, Elaine wanted to applaud, to thank her for the music that couldn’t be heard and the soft-crunching performance of ingesting sodium and sucrose. But she just stayed with her back turned to the other bed and tried to hear the fading breaths of the lovely human.
In the morning she saw the jar of honey, the lid half-on and contoured with a few sticky traces of fingerprints. Lacy saw her watching, and thinking she was looking at the honey, told her she could have some.
Virgen de guadeloupe by noah s. thompson
Before the redemption by samantha mackertich
With pastel pumps and parasols open under cathedral ceilings, a white dress can dab a bloody lip.
Heels meet cobblestone meet marble. If she’d known about the rain, she would’ve worn her trousers.
Men call, but she never turns. They are her children; she almost pities them as she sweeps
past and twists the ring ‘round her finger ‘til it slides loose. How much does a diamond sell for these days?
Her manicured fingertips scratch at straps and pull at the corset laces. Scissors meet braids meet pearls.
She is whole and unrefined as her skirts slip across her thighs— vows are empty after a night.
cutout by jonny wiles
It is cardboard with air running through at the chest: oh-two cross-sectioned. Propped up at the beltline, a burgeoning half-inch
thick, dolled up in print: tall walled with a jumper or skirt. Its hands can only grow and shrink where its copy would move if it needed you
or reached out to stop or catch. Moving from window to window, breathing as far as it lets air in, leaving traces of a moment of space behind it. It does almost
everything. It’s almost enough to jolt into a purchase or a wither or a knotted moment of giving more than it takes: stepping on its paper toe, and watching it walk.
soak by eleanor bennett
I’m seeing jesus in codeine by lizzy sobiesk
When I'm in the morning limelight, I freeze— I have no excuses for what I've become. I'm ballooned, swollen, I'm sweltering sadness for a camera that I don't want to look into.
And I think about what could be a galaxy or a black hole that is impossible to understand, you'll get lost in forever, and I wonder if I’m in hell.
God was a drunkard who made up bad nursery rhymes for kids, eyes look like small nebulas. God went to church wearing a coral, cake-shaped derby hat. Snickering about Sue Anne's pregnant teenage daughter. God's something sweet—something melancholic and alone—
and the people who watch absentmindedly, but speak loudly make sour, scrunchy faces at me, at my friends patting me on the back, at the water tracks on my face and I understand.
Who's to say if I'm really anyone at all?
mirrored feathers by noah s. thompson
mayfly kiss by samantha mackertich
I lick the mayflies from her lips, let the wings catch in the crooks of my teeth and buzz until my tongue is numb. My palate
shapes the word into a hand- shake as my name stales—toothpaste crusted on the sink. I leave her hanging. She turns on the tap.
She prods the pockets of my throat with a narrow finger and pinches my prepared speeches. I beg
her to press harder, snap the cords, stain my teeth a rusted, cracked red that bursts up and out of my veins.
She licks the insects from her lips. I had thought she would have waited, I cannot say I will.
I let the wings of her mayflies linger and dissolve into the cuts in my cheeks.
vitality by eleanor leone bennett
the pink hat and its strings attached by melody barnard
I'll have you know, I trusted him. Most completely, in utter faith from the most insolent corners I straightened out my snark and leapt with over a hundred percentage riding in the front seat of my heart I could have sent letters more pristine to describe my faith. I would have written everything in ink and submitted the scratchings before they even dried, they wouldn't have dared smear, nor drool, nor even spittle on the most elegant strokes of my mighty handiwork, for it was in all ways, in 360 degrees, confident. ... But there was this hat, you understand? I had never laid eyes upon it before, but from the breeze of fate, it soared and gently settled in on my thoughts. It came not from myself, it could not have, I assure you, not from myself. But it did slightly hover down on the causal couchness of my daily ramblings... And if you had glanced at it, I'm sure you'd see what I saw! The threads over and in and outwards pulling inwards binding strong now, but loose and all in a passing straight in its individual place, yet everywhere else, I confess. ... I got dizzy in the flur and blur Oo sense and dimes and dollars I could have sworn I saw the headwear gleam and glimmer! It grew slimmer and slimmer and it turned, folding over itself with Origami edges, with creases and eagerly sweaty-palmed even in the most inwards flaps, and under and over and into a doubt.
And once there is doubt, There is nothing left. The catastrophically confident car had crashed. Because of that hat, and the most singular individual who owned it.