I know that statistically, some of us are meant to be stabbed. But first there is only
a slight pressure, a metallic taste where my mouth could be. And some muffled sounds
I have learned are cuss words. Or the shaking they do in frustration.
If that doesn’t work. If that doesn’t render me in their hands, there is a blissful pause.
But I know they are looking for something sharper. When they find it, they will pierce
what protects me, even if it makes them break a sweat. They will get to me.
When they do, sometimes they are wheezing;
their breath belabored. They look at me like
I am supposed to cure them, relieve them
The dumb one is leaking and then swallowed.
We are difficult in our packaging, these bodies.
These round, silicone drug-filled things.
Her hand was shaking and I fell from it, so giddy I bounced. Rolled
on the uneven hardwood, fifteen feet from her grasp. I listen to her
suffer. I heard the echo of her fuck and then an oh and I knew
she wasn’t coming for me.
In the middle of this night only half of her can breath,
half of her filled with a corporal cement. The kind nature
designed to suffocate things. Her chest congested
with common things. I could have helped, but why
enable a good rest.
I am faulty; what they advertised.
A real plague
by Natalie E. Illum
Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist and singer living in Washington DC. She is a 2017 Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Fellow, and a recipient of an 2017 Artists Grant from the DC Arts Commission as well as a nonfiction editor for The Deaf Poets Society Literary Journal. She was a founded board member of mothertongue, a women’s open mic that lasted 15 years. She used to compete on the National Poetry Slam circuit and was the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications, and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA in creative writing from American University, and teaches workshops across the country. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox, on her website, and as one half of All Her Muses, her music project. Natalie also enjoys Joni Mitchell, whiskey and giraffes.
I am sins of decades
despite duck and cover
and breathing mushrooms
draft age wars
jungling heart attacks
in the genes
and pollution in
fires in the belly
stringing the lobes
in spider webs
aromas and penstrokes
a mess of bedtimes
no need to pull a Roman
when Broca has forgotten
by David Anthony Sam
Born in Pennsylvania, David Anthony Sam has written poetry for over 40 years. He lives now in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda, and in 2017 retired as president of Germanna Community College. Sam has four collections and was the featured poet in the Spring 2016 issue of The Hurricane Review and the Winter 2017 issue of Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry. His poetry has appeared in over 70 journals and publications. Sam’s chapbook Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson was the 2016 Grand Prize winner of GFT Press Chapbook Contest and his collection All Night over Bones received an Honorable Mention for the 2016 Homebound Poetry Prize. In 2017, he began serving as Poetry Editor for GFT. www.davidanthonysam.com
(Based on a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)
Identical red dresses and white winged bonnets crowded around the drugged man, the rapist. His pulpy face a mess of cuts and purpling bruises. His stench forced me to cover my nose and mouth. Sounds of retching and murmuring in the soupy air. Then, a shrill whistle signaled “Kill him.” Our pent-up rage surged: a red blur kicking, punching, pulling. Spilled blood blended into our Handmaid’s dresses. Later, trembling uncontrollably, I learned he was no rapist.
by Loreen Lilyn Lee
Currently tutoring English and writing at North Seattle College, Loreen Lilyn Lee is a Seattle writer fascinated by topics of personal and cultural identity and how we are shaped into becoming who we are. Her writing often reflects her three cultures: Chinese (ethnicity), American (nationality), and Hawaiian (nativity). She has received fellowships for a Hedgebrook residency and the year-long Jack Straw 2014 Writers Program. Her personal essay “Being Local” was published in The Jack Straw Writers Anthology. She has read her work in numerous venues in Seattle and Portland, including being selected for the Seattle performance of “Listen To Your Mother,” which was produced in 41 cities in 2016.