Amy Lawless: Two Poems

The Dark Shit I was Talking About at the Beach

I saw a woman
turn her frown upside down

I saw the
raise her
from despair
   for her own photo
of herself against the water
After the photo her face rested, brow furrowed

I felt the bile rise
I pushed it down
Pick up my phone frowning but
as I
smile I
lift one arm
so by the time...

my smile appears
her momentary fleeting temporary image is rendered
Raise the phone against death and nothingness
against disappearing.

When my boyfriend was fucking me yesterday, I spied a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy
on my bookshelf.
     And what about walking out into the desolation with nothing?
My body percolated in a controlled manner
and then suddenly walking out into the desolation with even less and then after a little while
even less than nothing less than nothing

I never wanted anything
but for beauty to be seen
and feel the love that transcends
   Ya know, laughing so hard you cry
   getting goosebumps while pouring milk into cereal

   The way they talk about stadium lights and hugging
   No landlords or painful cruise ships
   No messes to clean up after
   Those bombs are gorgeous
   Everyone said those bombs were just glorious

Devotion of Union

Far from the trailed brow
of my mother’s disappointment

Far from the pain of menstruation
   and yet so close

Not far from first day of school anxiety
Your balance is below $25

My nephew hates loud noises
When he hears some nearby yard equipment
he says he’s scared but My Mommy will protect me

In The Road the dad and the son walk for ages
Mommy is dead
The father soon also by the end of the book, I think, but I forget
What strong necessity envelopes and hugs
the adults of the future
A soft gravely voice announces with clarity, confidence:
My Mommy will protect me
Praise the sadness of the innocent lawnmower
cutting grass so he may run
on an unwild yard
and laugh with his brother
really making a game of it for the gram
Someday the game is over, boy
and no one will protect you
except for soft money pillows hopefully around you
depending where you are geographically
and your chosen career path
The switch flips
Life is a shit paved street
and some loud machine must sweep it

I stared at the periodic table during class
memorizing whatever
the teacher said
but no I did not retain much
School has failed me
and I have failed the world

But I have a beautiful body
And when I cry
now it is more abbreviated
There’s a lower volume
No cool sonics
   give shape to the thing
Please know that love is not the only thing

Sarah Jean Alexander: Two Poems

for the lack of

i cannot read the word tender in another poem i’m sorry. but i will still write about love, and then i will write some more. there are moments of beauty that exist in the out loud expression of someone else’s name. in the reminder that forgiveness is alive in the same spaces of the world that you are too. in the consideration of another person. usually. that is enough. i am sorry that i cut you off argue like a child cry face down and away when given the chance. apologies. for the lack of grownness that accompany my emotions, often. sometimes you think you know your body! other times you forget about hands and assholes and throats until you use them to cause pain or they erupt on you. i never realized that growing my hair long would be something my mother would be proud of but of course. a good rule of thumb: emote like hell. walk very slowly, if given the chance.

for the love of

when your mother brought you 40 lbs of rice, did you thank her. when she slipped you a hundred dollars before she left, did you hold her hand for longer because you wanted to. when she texted you good night, did you forget to respond. when she cried to you about your sister, did you cry too. when she told you her mother misses you, did you go home. teach your partner to eat every piece of cartilage off that chicken bone. how to wrap samgyeopsal delicately inside a lettuce leaf. shove it into your mouth whole. i wanted to feel closer to my mother and learn how to speak korean, but couldn’t pull the trigger on an $800 language class. i question the worth of my heritage. i look at myself in the mirror and think, i love my face. full as the moon. my mother’s hands and mine. they could be twins.

Cousins: Photographs by Emily Hunt

Weekly Gramma

Amy Lawless is the author of the poetry collections My Dead and Broadax, both from Octopus Books. With Chris Cheney, she is the author of the hybrid book I Cry: The Desire to Be Rejected from Pioneer Works Press' Groundworks Series (2016). A chapbook A Woman Alone was published by Sixth Finch in 2017.

Sarah Jean Alexander is a poet. She lives in Brooklyn.

Emily Hunt's works include the poetry collection Dark Green (The Song Cave 2015), named a "standout debut" by Publishers Weekly and a "Must-Read Poetry Debut" by Lit Hub; New Clouds (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013), a poetry chapbook; and This Always Happens (Brave Men Press, 2013), a book of drawings and text. She has published visual work in Mount Analogue, The Volta, and Gramma, among others, and has provided cover art for numerous poetry collections. She lives in Brooklyn and works as Programs Manager at the Poetry Society of America.


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