Another Teacher Poem by Richaundra Thursday

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.

Purgatory by Lynne Schmidt

My love,
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
poor
aching
heart.
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.

 

Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne is a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.  

dissonance by Melis Gordem

a sigh leaves my lips
as i ponder and decide to wander
with a ballpoint pen.
clicking its top,
i draw out a piece of paper,
as if removing a sword from its sheath,
and i smooth it down on my desk.
transcribing tedious thoughts,
my tool travels across the page:
it’s sharp when striking down k’s and z’s
and dull when rounding out b’s and p’s.
flipping the page,
its edge ricocheting off the wooden desk,
my grasp on the pen tightens
and its ink bursts blue blood onto my palms.
licking my lips, emotions overtaking my eyes,
alliteration of miserable memories scattered in lines,
slant rhymes of the same shattered experiences,
i whisper pain, agony, angst in my quatrains.
the cursive loses cohesiveness—
the phone rings.
She’s calling.
“enough,” she hisses.
i hang up and slam my phone onto the desk,
causing my pen to fly as if it were drifting
in space along with the debris of my drafts
and it rolls.
the ink stains the floor.
a whimper escapes from my lips,
tears drip onto the blank sheet of paper

I’m watching 90 Day Fiancé by Juliette Sebock

I’m watching 90 Day Fiancé,
or one of its half-dozen spinoffs,
and I’m yelling at the television
like it’s a football game of love
and immigration and she somehow
doesn’t see him blatantly deflating
the balls, misses friends playing
referee, screaming at the to just see
what’s happening in front of them.

I’m watching 90 Day Fiancé
and I want to yell at her to walk away
but I can’t because I know that I’d do
the same, god damnit, I’ve done the
exact same thing and refused to turn away
when I knew enough to hide, to run,
to pull away as if my life depended on it
because really, it’s the only way
I’d ever be safe.

I’m watching 90 Day Fiancé
and I wonder if you’ll be waiting
at the station, standing on the other side of
a hotel door, or if you’ll be next on a plane
to meet someone and that someone
isn’t me, that you somehow haven’t seen
what’s right in front of you.

Operation Manual by Lynne Schmidt

TW: Sexual Trauma

Jessie told me
that a partner worth having
would build their own manual
to understand how to handle me.

They would know the moments to tuck my head into their shoulder
when I’m coming unraveled.
Or when to slide their hand into mine
while their finger tips explore the places belt loops protect.

They would learn to not ask certain questions
or when to push me to talk.

They would teach themselves when to row their boat into the calm ocean
or when to set an anchor and brave the goddamn storm because I couldn’t find a pen.

And so,
here I am on a couch with a potential new partner.
and he won’t let me drink.
Not that he won’t let me drink,
we had tequila with dinner which was hours ago and has burned its way through my system.

But that, he doesn’t want to touch me unless I am sober
unless I am right here beside him
and not lost and tuned out in my head.

So I try,
but also during dinner, he looked me in the eye when he said he cared about me.

When he told me all the ways I’ve disrupted his life,
and how my presence was the best part of his day.

And I believed him.

But this moment on the couch with my unbuttoned jeans,
this is something I’ve never been good at.
Because while his hands are new, and while his smell is unlike anything else,
my skin feels the ghosts of literally everyone else before him.

The ones who didn’t ask permission before slipping under the fabric.
The ones that were so rough they came away with hands bleeding.
The ones that didn’t stop when I said no,
Shoved away,
Tried to escape until the exit sign burned out and I was left in pitch black pretending this was happening to someone else.

My best friend said the next partner would make their own manual to know how to handle me,
and when he asks if I’m okay,
I can’t speak.

Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne is a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.  

house of Melis by Melis Gordem

oh! welcome to the house of Melis.
would you please come in?
make sure you cleanse yourself
with the withering rose petals.
before we begin,
i’m sorry.

ah, be careful!
despite the repairs,
there still might be glass shards
and crystal tears near the sill.
doesn’t the window look so lovely now?
its stained-glass acts as a prism,
reflecting the iridescence
that is in you.

next… oh my, don’t trip over her broken branches!
if you end up falling onto elm’s trunk,
her bark can tear your skin
like a piece of paper.
elm? the tree that’s growing here, of course!
she started sprouting when this house was built,
but she’s now growing out it.
do take the time
to caress her leaves,
feel her veins,
but please be gentle—
her edges are sharp.

i know this tour was done in the dark,
but here’s the issue:
the lightbulb.
she fears being too bright,
can you believe that?
she’s too in her head,
for when she is needed,
she hums, sighs, and whines
throughout the night.
her insecurity causes
her to conceal her light,
even from herself.

and that’s it, any questions?
if anything, please return
so you can
peer out the windows—the process of healing.
grip the roots of elm—the reclaiming of life.
whisper to the lightbulb to glow—the practice of kindness.

the keys are scattered outside for you,
so please,
won’t you come visit again?