LIST INCLUDES MULTIPLE PRIZE NOMINATIONS
Grandma Knows How the Neighbor Boys Have Started to Look at You
Grandma’s scar is a thick purple rope that erupts at her left temple, slashes over her eyebrow, blights her eye, bisects her nose, carves a millipede into her cheek and terminates, flaccid, at the hinge of her jaw. She does not cover the mirrors. She does not shutter the windows. She does not fear a midnight walk alone.
“It’s better, my love, not to be beautiful,” she says, sweeping the knife’s edge like calligraphy over the honing rod.
there is a man in the corner hemorrhaging
I see him flicker
like a lung patient
gasping for a smoke.
Because we know it’s going to happen
Black girls barbecue bullets
before swallowing. A little smoke
helps the wave of injustice
go down a little easier.
BEST OF THE NET
Blood spilling in our courtyard
father sacrificed a cow for Eid ul Adha
A blossoming deathbed of a religious ritual
A woman butchered for not bleeding the first night
the moment you take it in the tub
will never be worse than
the moment you realize
you never plugged it in
Long sleeved shirt, to hide my arms
Those fucking scars, from when I was sixteen,
Angry kid, nowhere to vent,
I turn up early, to make a good impression.
my son won't stop decapitating
I kept trying to fix it
But honestly -
It felt better
When we both
With our boots.
What I Want to Tell You the First Time You Mention Divorce in Front of Our Children
Eric Scot Tryon
Tell me what you know about dismemberment. The tearing apart. The pull until something gives. Ligaments like piano wire. Tendons like the first memory of your father. Things that snap and break. And once detached there is no mending. No coming back together. Not like how clouds pull apart like taffy then reunite with shifting winds. Not like how water poured into water is water. The permanence of dismemberment doesn’t leave scars, it leaves large gaping cavities. Sink holes that swallow trees and houses and people like after-dinner mints. It is so much more than the mere separation of flesh.
WE WANTED TO SING IT FROM THE LIGHT
We wanted to see what it felt like, both of us making love to Maryanne at the same time in her summer home. Ecstatic consent a good addiction. Our better angels celebrating as the warm New England night pulled to closing outside her window. We tried to focus on her, on her pleasure, we really did, but our eyes held blue-bright electricity across her body. The homespun afghan made grooves along our knees. Grooves, little furrows for rougher lips to fill.
We wanted to know, pushing each other with very male laughs afterwards, bottles of beer hanging from loose fingers, if there was more to life at eighteen than walking these empty streets where crows made the dark blink.
We wanted to study philosophy at university. To be big men in the big world. We wanted to get piss drunk. To get so drunk everything was strange and funny, but not so drunk the walls started to crawl. And we wanted to kiss each other under silky lamplight, right outside our dorm, hands yanking collars. Stubble-to-stubble. Bite-to-bite-to-bruise. We wanted to see. We wanted to know. How desire would hook its fingers under our ribs and pull.
We wanted to break free. We watched that old telescope snap from its tethers on Twitter, decades of science caught under the weight of elementalism. We ached for the wreckage, knowing how our bodies still carried wounds from the forest floor. The bluejays were mean bastards, but they didn’t care who became crushed velvet or who became an apple core or how quick we spent ourselves under delicate pink skies.
We wanted, after graduation, arms slung around waists to mimic a shallow camaraderie, gazes held a fraction too long in front of our parents, to drink each other. To unzip our bodies to embody each other. To grab the wishbone at Thanksgiving—because of course we would be living together—smirks replacing smiles as our fingertips brushed the white spine of possibility.
We wanted to speak our love.
We wanted to speak our love so we could watch gravity make the words kneel on softer ground.
electroconvulsive therapy and me
When they seized my brain
I thought I heard God
but it was just the nurse
It’s okay now.
granddaddy filets a fish
picks bits of plastic
out of its white belly
and fries it up anyway