Issue 1: Beside the Clock’s Loneliness

The theme for Issue 1 of The Confessionalist was left open to interpretation, and we were surprised and delighted to receive so many poems that deciphered our theme in various ways.

Our writers entrusted us with their poems written in the loneliest hours of the night, poems that call on memory and experience, and those that reveal personal secrets and troubles.

We dug deep to find the connection between these topics and our theme, and we were not disappointed with what we uncovered.

We hope you love these poems as much as we do.

“I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:

Something else is alive

Beside the clock’s loneliness

And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:

Something more near

though deeper within darkness

Is entering the loneliness…”

“The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes
MY LIFE IN PICTURES
Jeffrey Zable

So my father takes a photo of me with a smile on my face, seemingly
a happy baby. Then I’m walking into a room and he perfectly captures
my surprised expression. Then another time my father takes a photo of my
cousin and me. She looks as if she’s twice my size, even though she’s only
a few years older than I am. Years later, he takes a photo of my two best
high school friends and me, the three of us with long hair, mine being the
longest. None of us are smiling, and other than that I have no idea where
we went after we left my parents’ house. Not too many years later, I’m
back from college with a B.S. in psychology and staying temporarily
with my parents. My father takes a photo of me, and though I’m smiling,
I’m worried inside, wondering what I’m going to do with a degree in
psychology. Then I decide to go to graduate school and become a teacher,
and on and off while visiting my parents my father takes more photos,
which sometimes include one of my girlfriends. Several years go by and
my father passes away, which makes me feel sadder than I ever remember
feeling. We sell the house that I grew up in since I was eight years old and
I help my mother find an apartment, but after a few years she can no longer
take care of herself so I move her into a care facility that’s not far from my
house. After two years of dating my most recent girlfriend, who’s 20 years
younger than me, we become husband and wife. We both visit my mother
often and have a special celebration for her 100th birthday. The woman
who organizes social activities at my mother’s facility takes photos at the
celebration, and a few days later gives us a framed photo of my wife and me
on each side of my mother. My wife and I are both smiling but my mother is
expressionless. She has dementia and has no idea what’s happening; has no
idea that she’s just turned 100. I look at the photo, focusing mainly on my
mother and feel a sadness come over me. I know that after my mother passes
away I’m going to feel like an orphan regardless of my age. As my wife
occasionally takes photos, I wonder if she’ll take one of me when I’m very
old, maybe sitting in a wheelchair by the front window in which there’s
a fair amount of sunlight. She will tell me to smile, which I’ll probably do,
if I still have my faculties. . .

3 A.M.
Cheryl Caesar

“Three A.M…. Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death… and wasn’t it true, had he read somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time…”
— Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Outside my window, sleet is slanting,
wolf hour devouring hunter moon.
I am wrapped in quilts and chanting:
Comfort. Coddle. Cosset. Cocoon.

Occult Fracture
Rachel Warren 

Three weeks after
we fuck there is

reticence

which sounds like hesitance
like silence
like both

In your empty living room you
dig a trench between us

a graveyard of agitated bees
homeless ghosts of something buzzing
ghosts of something stinging

I hum to fill the crevasse
sticky-kiss mmms
pinging in the cracks

they sound like
ghost moans they
sound like
sad
moaning ghost bees
like mmm
like ohhhh

and then they sound like

nice point break
RJC Smith 

it is humiliating to walk an open wound,
a fish trailing blood.

constantly seeping in is the paranoias
like, maybe I am a sleeper cell.

it would be a shame
if i went out and did ‘em wrong.

shame make me drunk.

if i should be destroyed it is fine,
freezing.
all i have are warped sentiment.

if i am out there
and you should come riding in on a big surf
and destroy me
it is fine.

if i should be eaten with fork and knife
it is fine,
should i poison the drinking hole.

let’s say you came in
after putting out my apple-core heart—
to bob, to float—
surfing on a tidal wave to destroy me.

IT IS FINE.

just don’t hang around
and weigh down my body 
after. 

Blame.
DS Maolalaí

and the worst part was
when I heard after
I fell apart
like jenga blocks
and excited dogs. days
start normal;
then sometimes
they change. and the worst part was
it was weeks later
when I heard.
and worst; a friend
had to tell me. the worst part;
we weren’t in touch
anymore. I think
I should have guessed
you were a suicide – often enough
you had told me.

no one understands who i truly am
Linda M. Crate  

i was dandelion dreaming,
wishing on stars,
hoping and praying;
but he never came—
daddy never loved me,
and my father and i were always at odds;
nightmares were my reality
from a young age—
i learned that it didn’t matter
how much you loved
sometimes people didn’t love you back,
and sometimes you weren’t loved
in the way you needed to be;
sometimes no matter how understanding you were
no one would fathom you no matter how hard
you tried to explain yourself
no one wanted to listen—
the clock sat idly by ticking away hours
always seemed so long when i was young
time never seemed to pass,
but now i blink and it seems a month has already
passed into oblivion’s eye;
i always had dreams about my real dad
frequently he was a vampire
once a werewolf
rarely a man—
guess that should have shown me all i needed to know
my father was a monster,
and so as a monster’s daughter no one understands
who i truly am.

The Blood Rushing Through His Hand Echoes Throughout the Universe
Ariana D. Den Bleyker                                                       

i.

His love has fangs & horns to tear—

if you love in error,
fear will bite you,
& you can’t see your own fate,
let alone the fat fingers pressing
into the image of yourself
reflected in his eyes.

[Remember that face.]

ii.

His love is Russian roulette—

pouring from the gaps
between his fingers,
broken glass melting
from the rage of his eyes
when he looked at me
with my heart in his teeth.

[I wanted more from him, for him.]

iii.

His love is a body of ashes—

floating over me, his hands blood
reminding me that it wasn’t love
unless it hurt. I fall with him,
against him, into a grave
that’s soaking wet & suffocating.

[I died on that wall.]

iv.

His love is a graveyard—

forcing my body to be homeless,
bones pulsing with ache,
with something / something / something.
But there can’t be any maybes
because I hold those maybes
between my teeth too.

[I’m the pieces of him in my own body.]

v.

Somewhere a father’s love drives home
with fragments of me under his fingernails,
calls me hunted, takes a long, hot shower.

Teddy Bear 
Marc Darnell   

Ginger never sleeps.
He’s big and watches over me.
I think of him as my daddy

since my real one’s never ready
to read to me or play.
When I visit him he either sleeps

all afternoon, or keeps
yelling at me till I cry.
I think of Ginger as my daddy

because every
time I need a friend I
turn there he sleeps

like a big lug, with button snaps
for big love eyes
Mommy glued on.  Daddy

texted me last night and said he
was moving to Texas and this was good-bye.
I wonder if he also cries before he sleeps.
Ginger, watch over my daddy.

Portrait in March 2019
Dakotah Jennifer

My stomach is a sink.
My feet are drains,
My organs, muddy water.
Sometimes, I can feel everything leaving me
My kidneys and spleen slipping through my left leg and my pancreas creeping down my right.
I am an old, dysfunctional machine. I come and I go, but don’t notice the leaks or the broken
windows.
I don’t feel the frigid air until it is in my cavernous lungs.
I don’t sleep, I rest.
I do not inhale, only exhale.
I give and give and never stop and now
I am a sad, empty thing.
I am the ghost of myself inside a metal shell.
I am the tin man who has always needed a heart, but has never asked for it.
I am not vacant,
but filled with a mindless, murky slosh.
lonely, I think,
But        less—
not even
                                 there.

Dan Collins Could Have Written This Better
(A Villanelle.)
Cathleen Davies 

We lie alone together, and we drink
Unspoken, we are touching skin to skin,
All these sensations make it hard to think.

You carry your black notebook stained with ink
Show me stigmata nightmares weaved from sin
We lie alone together and we drink

When you kissed me I felt my stomach sink
In darkness, heard your lips stretch to a grin.
All these sensations make it hard to think.

We’re laughing now, our faces flushing pink
Hearing the records empty static spin,
We lie alone together and we drink.

I wonder now what pushed you to the brink.
I try hard not to let the answers in.
All these sensations make it hard to think.

We pass around the bottles with a clink
Your loved ones left to take it on the chin
We lie alone together and we drink.
All these sensations make it hard to think.

INTERMITTENT
John Grey

Loneliness asked for me.
We met at a coffee house and discussed books.
Then we tied balloons to our ears,
floated above the Memorial Park
where geese nibbled and old couples did laps.
And, before we parted, I amazed him
with my big secret – he was me.
At that point, one of us disappeared.

But I did take the call.
Whether it was solitude on the other end,
the conversation never let on.
The topic was music this time.
We each had our own favorite song
by coincidence, one and the same.-
Then we hung up.
And it was like every object in my entire life
put down the phone.

D-TOWN
Gerard Sarnat

          i. Forget Me Not

          22Nov16
          Dearest JFK,

          You were a freshman there 27 years
          before I walked in the Harvard Yard
          during that millisecond as it all ended.
          Casting a once clear-eyed catholic glance
          into our country’s future, could you imagine  
          today’s state of affairs exactly 53 years later?

          In need of comfort, member of the Class of ‘67.

          ii. What’s The Dallas Dealio?

                        “Because something is happening here
                        But you don’t know what it is
                        Do you, Mr. Jones?”
                        Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man,” 1965

          Capping off three-plus terrible days of gun violence,
          another bad shoot only a few blocks from Dealey Plaza
          where JFK was assassinated, this time he’s an ex-Marine
          transforming slippy conditions of a peaceful rally protesting
          white-on-black cops-killing-brothers into a fish in a barrel
          sniper’s alley fatal funnel story; or in plusher Republican terms,
          fiddle a two foot putt — until the bomb squad’s robot detonated
          Mr. Johnson before Micah could diddle dongles to take out dozens.

          iii. But Who’s Counting?

This Thanksgiving fell
on the fifty-fifth anniversary
of JFK’s assassination.

Though some of us elders
still carry that torch,
annual memorialization fades

for the better in terms of
Big D, perhaps not so much
regards the rest of us.

                            iv. R.IP. J.F.K.

                            29May1917-22November1963

                            Young man,
                            a week from today you would
                            have been
                            one hundred and two
                            except six months
                            plus fifty-five years ago
                            thou died
                            after which
                            as vowed
                            in our Harvard Yard
                            I’ve never been quite
                            the same.

poem for the things that trigger me
Wanda Deglane 
 

1. the toilet flushing
                 that blast like a bomb bursting the morning stillness
2. the buzz of my phone
                 endless and angry like a scorned bee
                 and all the people caring enough to check in on me
3. tall, aggressively confident straight men
                 and how I know I couldn’t fight back
                 how I shrink
                 and forget how to speak
4. the sensation of metal
                 scraping against metal
5. the way I can wrap my fingers around your forearm
                 effortlessly
6. the moon, hanging swollen above me, close enough to breathe
                 like the pockmarked face of a martyr
7. the screeching
                 the clawing
                 pin-pricking across my skull
                 nails dragging against my brain
8. your ribs peeking out frightened
                 from canvas-stretched skin
9. certain five-letter names
10. news stories of women who fought back
                 and still didn’t make it
11. an intersection downtown
                 the sun crouching low behind skyscrapers
                 the restaurant on the northwest corner
12. the way you give this illness a name
                 mold her into a girl in your head
                 the way you call her a friend
                 while she stares at you like a meal
13. the pictures I stumbled upon at 15
                 the hip bones
                 the chins carved from jagged glass
                 you tell me this is what god looks like
                 I’ve gone cold but I force myself to keep looking
                 I’m sick
                 we’re so sick
14. a french movie, bathed in red
                 and I can’t stop shaking for hours after
                 and I hurt because she hurts
15. and you, looking over your shoulder one last time
                 don’t worry about me, still playful
                 still skirting the line between girl and ghost
                 your skin is gray, you haven’t bled in seasons
                 you’re slipping from my fingers and I don’t know who to call
16. I didn’t hear you were dead until months later

Icicle 
Hillary Essien  

On some days I find myself
Wishing I could melt the way ice does.
The joy that keeps me frozen has never been my own.

Reunion
Marc Darnell    

Oh, tears, I remember you.
You come when things get dark.
I’m sorry but your salt won’t get me through

the depletions that will now come true
now that I’ve tripped again on bad luck.
Tears, I remember you

even when you’ve been gone for so
long I forget your dirty trick,
that drip to my lip your salt won’t get through

since I cry with a closed mouth. Who,
what, brought you this time, for Marc,
oh, tears, Marc remembers you

he and I a soul split in two
when the last Great Knife left its mark
and you like lead came leaking hotly through

more than just my eyes, for skin weeps too
when even bone goes blue, the beaten cage sick.
Oh, broken build of body clamming up you
dry up my once wet words, and I’m through.

before i go
Dakotah Jennifer                         

before i go
i want to tell you that i feel alone in every room
and that i’m afraid that i’ve grown too dependent on the people i fear do not love me.
i want to tell you that i think i have to watch tv or i feel lonely.
i want to tell you that i’m afraid of losing all of my friends to other people
ever since i lost my first best friend to no one.
i want to tell you that i feel like i’m losing everyone all the time
and that
often
i feel as if
my best friend is somewhere else
with someone else
unless i am the only entertainment in the room.
i want to tell you that i’m afraid my happiness will always be dependent on other people
because it always has been.
i want to tell you that i’m scared of always suffering like                        this.
i want to tell you that i’m hopeless
and i really want to tell you that i’m not sure it will ever end.
but i also want to tell you that somewhere
deep deep inside
my heart believes there will be a day
when i am not lonely anymore.

An Ode to the Ones We lost
Tori A. Hernandez

If I took a step back in time, what would I do?

I’d choose to take a walk with you.

A walk with the loved ones gone, to hear their laugh and see their smiles just one more time.

Maybe I’d get to hear a story or two, maybe even nine.

One can only hope and pray to get to see you again one day.

But as for now these things I say are nothing more than hollow words, spilling out from behind the lips of the one who’s been left behind.

ol' friend
Jules

when the night comes
the loneliness approaches me
and, like and ol’ friend,
puts its hand on my shoulder

bitter tears
wet my cheeks
and soft hiccups
escape my mouth.

in the darkness of my room
with the thick and fast
ticking of the clock,
i realise
how lonely am i.

i’ve only had
the good ol’ loneliness
by my side
all my life.

Arrival
Judy DeCroce 

Bad news weighs more
  on the tongue,
  in a letter,
  by a phone’s deeper ring.

     Until an hour ago, the world was normal.
              August…
                            humid…
                                           breezeless…

repeated over and over
just another middle in an eventless week

The phone rings… in drops the news–
you were dead, not today.
but an entire week away.

A week of ordinary days and you
missing in them.

Timesuck
Kristin Garth 

A summer saying pretty please, a year
of crawling, hands & knees, with head hung low,
an ass up high, aspirating tears,
deflecting eyes. Spring my sadness couldn’t show—
mendacities in voice memos. Pretense
of being piece you see, a Playboy
coerced selfie. Winter I wrote past tense
to joy, you do not read memoirs of toys.
I whispered secrets you forgot that year
of loving whom I should not — a timesuck
against a talented tongue, souvenir
of subjugation young — tear clusterfuck,
my hello kitty calendared months all smeared —
I cannot suck this up another year.

honeydew  
Wanda Delgane

I’m masturbating noiselessly while you’re lying asleep
beside me. I’m thinking of your smile pressed against
my teeth the first time we fucked, the way your hands
itched to know every part of me, even my forearms,
even my eyelashes. I’m thinking of all the girls
I could be kissing now if I had a little more self-respect.
tonight you fucked me raw because the condom fell
on the ground, my knees pinned to my ears because
god knows for you I can be nothing but flexible.
you’re smiling in your sleep like you know you’ve
already won, make a sound half-between a chuckle
and a sigh. I hate myself too much to cum.
in the morning you tell me about the weird dream
you had, and even this disappoints me. you’re playing
xbox with your friends, you’re dropping racial slurs
and hints that it’s time for me to go, and I’m in
the bathroom holding an empty toilet paper roll and
pointing at myself in the mirror, silently screaming,
you did this to yourself. you did this. you. I can see you
thinking of kissing me if only to smooth my frown,
but I leave wordless, gutless. I drag you around
all day in my chest, kicking and clawing but like
everything else I take it. I’m drinking too much,
I’m drafting a text to you I’ll never send. it starts
with, I still want everything for you. it starts with, you have
to know, somewhere dizzyingly deep inside you, that I’m worth
more than this. it starts with, I wish I was bottomless,
limitless enough to love you. it starts with

The Race
S

Time runs
You run from it 
Trying to hide, 
Escape,
Nevertheless
Your loneliness is too great.
Earth spins 
Creatures age. 
No matter what 

You lose

triangulations
RJC Smith

pre-industrial hole-in-ground fucking. pre-rendered head. some classic rock to sober up.
tertiary look from third person for gaping flaw in your person.

big gaping maw in your person,
slurping Budweiser.

something on your person.

immobility like webbing that I’m aware of now but not later. like it’s dark out now and I
think of a music but not later. like I’m drunk now but not later.

I’ve been excluded from the horrible thing, having thought that-

it’s best here than my house for three days.
then my house for three days.

it’s unsustainable, I think, yet if I change at all it is minute, not immediately detectable,
like the process of aging.

I don’t like getting to the part where…
               it’s bad.

with every vibration
I’d like to abandon all the barely committal things,
and leave.

maybe if I knew how to drive.
I’d make mix cds and get high in the suburbs some time.

because the truth is that-
I can’t be happy for you,

I’m sorry,
crookd breast-hand and wearing a sweater.

Hearing the Silence
Kara Goughnour  

I hate not sleeping next to you
because I hate the weight of waking
alone, the cold brushing against my shoulder,
nuzzling my wet cheek.
I keep a steady diet of dissatisfaction
and DayQuil, write the bad taste out of life
with enough dissimilarities to call it fiction
without the lie left on my tongue.
I don’t take kindly to kindness,
can’t trust the first good things
to happen to me
because they’re the first good things
to happen to me. But I am always letting things
happen to me, always taking
just the suggested amount,
swallowing it down without a choke.

In-Out
A. Martine

When I do the old in-out in-out, my throat is mine to hold,
fingers hug the lip of the sink, tumble, tumble, down it goes.
But the question, like my pounding blood, insists: when do I know I’m finished?
I never seem to find the end,
like a depth-less pit, a tale with no conclusion —
except this tale is of my own making, an endeavor I must finish one way or another,
if not here and now, then a road no less difficult, in fact more.
By the razor, by the line, by the abstinence, by the nail, the voices, and I come back to the
tumbling,
sometimes.
Despite the hum and the sigh of my aching body,
I find I leave the job unfinished. Might I as well have never started?
Would it make a difference, asks my disappointed conscience? It would not, if not for the
present, ever painful pull
on the side of my throat.
Days later, it will remind me that indeed I did,
and I was there at that time, and the sink remembers,
and my throat remembers,
and my lungs remember,
and my stomach, the muscles they do remember,
and my heart, soldiering on,
it does remember, remember it does.
I don’t forget.
And when I step back just to come back to it again,
In a few hours’ days’ months’ or weeks’ time,
I return to the dance,
I un-pause the melody
and reclaim this rhythm I know so well,
know so well.

How I Do The Dishes
Matthew Little   

When I do the dishes
I always wash
the forks knives and spoons first.

I always start
with the forks knives and spoons.
I never take a plate out of the water

if there’s a fork knife or spoon
because if I do
I’ll have a bad day tomorrow.

I’ll upset the routine-
it has to be
forks knives and spoons first

and then the plates
and then the bowls
-actually no-

after the forks knives and spoons
I do the spatulas and tongs
and the cheese grater

then I can comfortably reach
for the plates and bowls
then I’ll add more soap

and sponge up the cups and mugs
and I’ll leave them by the sink
and if I do exactly that

if I do the forks knives and spoons first
and then take care of everything else
then the world will take care of me.

Tomorrow
I’ll be okay
as right as dishwater

Opportunity
Cathleen Davies

The Opportunity Rover died
On Mars
Alone
While it was getting dark
And his batteries were low.
And at the time,
I was reading
About Ziggy Stardust
The man who fell to earth
And sacrificed himself
In reverent crucifixion.
And at the time
I was grieving
A beautiful young boy
Who wrote stories about
Catholic guilt
Repressing sexualities.
And I thought about how much this boy liked David Bowie.
And I thought about the Spiders from Mars.
And I thought about rock and roll suicides,
But mostly
I just worried about Opportunity
Because it is
So scary
In the dark.

City of Light
Elodie Rose Barnes 

You asked me, once,
to show you my city, and I think
I took you to St Sulpice;
to the quiet, narrow streets around the church,
where light and shadow dance slowly
around the corners, and where time moves
to no one’s pace but its own.

Ask me again.

I would take you there again,
and this time I would show you the trees
that drip fire and honey onto the cobbles
instead of leaves;
here, one reality is no more distinct
than another.

I would show you the other half of the story
that both good and evil
forgot; if you slip from hell here
the fall is broken by the roof of heaven
and neither will know or care.

Comforting?

You look horrified, yet horror
has beauty too, just like the soul that love
has abandoned. Light. Unanchored.

Weighed down by nothing more
than a memory. Floating
amongst the stone, on the solitary chime
of a bell that the rest of time forgot.

stronger than they'll ever be
Linda M. Crate   

lonely a broken clock
i sat waiting
for someone to need me

tried to be a friend to all,
but no one was ever there for me;
always had to face every darkness

in my life alone
at first it used to hurt
now i have come to face the music

i am stronger than most are—
even though i sometimes
would like someone to lean on,

i know that i have to depend
on me;
because no one else will catch me

when i fall—
i am there for everyone else,
but i face many things alone;

no one understands how strong i am
they all underestimate me
but one day these cowards will see

i am stronger than they’ll ever be—
and every fake friend will be intimidated into silence
until they leave nothing but their voids in my life.

re:
Phylocalist

lips, hands, heart so bloody.
taste like honey.

there is nothing saccharine sweet about this.
there is only bitter cold and the acid reflux
that your stomach creates after you throw up so many times
you end up emptier than you’ve ever been.
i’ve seen myself curled up in front of a toilet seat,
organs spilled out before me:
a heart, a pair of lungs, a brain, a liver.

(useless, all of them.
they keep me alive.
didn’t they get the memo?)

i am stone faced and selectively mute.
i will talk to everyone but you and i.
there are no words that can be shared
between the bones of what once was.

there are no tears to your eyes.
there is no suffering, no pain.
i am all that is right in the world and i need no help.

this hole doesn’t exist.
this dagger isn’t stabbing me.
these pills aren’t poisoning me.
this love isn’t killing me.

(i am fine.
i was fine.
i will be fine?
i should be fine.
i won’t be alive.)

there is always something where there seems to be nothing.
matter cannot exist without dark.
i cannot exist without the pain.

is there anything
in this nothing?

Origin (After Dante Collins)
Dakotah Jennifer   

You ask for origin,

I speak of opposites brought together at birth and oceans spitting up fire. There was a child given
a name she chose, decades between loves, centuries between respect and self. There was a happy
movie, romance novel beginning, middle but no happily ever after end.
There was a transfer, funds and feuds, lively hoods, blame.

You want me more detailed,

I say three to four parents, erasure, revelation, hidden bodies and skeletons I knew nothing of.
Doors swinging shut, smiles, handshakes, nothing too dangerous. Rentals, adventures, late notes
and absences, scoldings, families wedged against a rock and this predicament. Suffocation,
drowning, bleeding out, slow revival.

You say less death, less hurt.

I say but how in this bleeding life can death not be the most prominent co-star?

You say ok, more family, more ground.

I say everything doubled, all blood and water
Only gravel and filth between homes.
No frowns until you see everything in just the right way. Constant flight, not the good kind.
Accompaniment, symphonies, lost bags, lost motives, lost tears. There was a plan, made into a
mistake, spiraled out of control, lost its footing, fell into the sea, never to be found.

You say no more, tell me of it simply.

I say simply is not an answer as much as it is taking the knob off of a door. Removing the boat
from the sea, leaving the car parked in the spot.

You stop speaking,

I laugh, having all of the answers does not float me like a boat as I thought it would. Does not
take me by the hand and lead me to the water, makes me drink the wrong kind of salvation, gives
me enough to keep me gasping.

You stay quiet in the corner now, afraid of asking questions I can answer.

And I think of how nice it must be
To go home and not worry about where that is
Who wants you there and who doesn’t
And if those are the same people
Or if they were both you all along.

The Wheel Turns
Gerard Sarnat 

Visiting Free Speech
U.C. Berkeley from
Victorian Havad
that spring of 1964

cuz worked his buns
off to get me stoned
for that very 1st time
— think it was inside

a humungous high-rise
dorm maybe Chaney
in Unit 1 on Durant
— but unsuccessful

I was sooo relieved
when zilch weed
became available
we settled for beer.

Now here we are
our lifetime later,
there’s just no way
he will take a toke.

At the Bottom Quantum
Ben Nardolilli

Miles of reasons.
No reason they’re still measured in miles,
but length is a quality of theirs
regardless of how many degrees
high or low they go to reign all over me

My drowsy skill, I dodge the center
wherever I stand or sit. No focus except
for the direction my eyes use to look away
from the glare of the sun.
Every direction is equally lost

Previous techniques are ringing
in my ears, a collective echo singing advice.
It turns to junk on my plate
every morning when I wake up.
I’m a phoenix who has forgotten its wings

According to Wikipedia
Ludo 

When things started making sense again
and I could see that I was loved
I was flushed down
                                out of this
and in that spinning, left behind somewhere
thrust into a slight misprint of layers, I live in the
unaligned edges and not in the figure they form
in between
Tasting metal through my palms
I see myself now, without magenta
as the worst hibernating bear, or raccoon
                                 or tardigrade
Yawning and stretching its ugly little legs
according to Wikipedia
surviving all five mass extinctions

Edges
Hillary Essien  

I have gone from a poet who has loved and loved,
To one who writes with a knife.

Listen to me,
I know the secret of my tragedy.

I have put the clothes of this earth
Over my worn spirit.

And my screams are louder than your voice,
My swords are taller than you.

Ballpoint Bed 
Kara Goughnour 

There’s a sick satisfaction in writing
in the same way that there’s a satisfaction in gutting things;
the death fingered from a nicotine leaf,
the fallow deer flung roadside from one false leap.
In my sleep, I am trying to write still.
In my sleep, I have more poems or success than I ever will.
I’m not sure what success means to me anymore,
but I do know that I don’t care about living
without a challenge. I haven’t yet written
until my fingers bleed. I haven’t yet written
anything harboring a lifetime of centuries
but I know these hands capable of it
for the simple reason that other minds have been.
In my sleep, I wake and there is no weight
to this body. I wake and the day I wake to doesn’t demand
anything but writing, anything but returning
to the bed again, a body whole.

Uninvited
Chiara Decillis

             i used to hide 
             in the countryside
             
of my hometown  

little did i know 
that a war could 
be ignited 
by the mere act of love

             your deepest fear 
             is alive and breathing 
             but your snide remarks
             fall on deaf ears 

you’re not invited at this feast 
and the procession i am heading 
just won’t come your way 

             girls are on my carriage 
             there are flowers in abundance 

i think you’ll understand
that here there is no room 
for the bloody thorns 
you want to throw 

             i am almost sorry
             your streets are sadly narrow 
             and the waters of your spring 
             have never been so shallow 

— the greatest act of self love
              was allowing myself 
                            the freedom of love itself 

Transformation
Daniel Romo

The most vulnerable man stands before you without clothing and shame.

His muscles swell from protein and a pain formerly fueled by the need to create
a sturdier core.

Every strongman’s body is his hiding place.

In death, Samson brought down the Philistines and his own failures.

In seasons of being ignored, I bench pressed a personal best.

Each man struggles with his own personal Delilahs.

But note the elongation of the triceps when a man extends his arms towards
the woman he loves.

How, just below the skin, muscles become chiseled and defined when he finally
knows who is worthy of holding on to.

Despite the heaviest of lifting, all the repetitions in the New Testament can’t
bring back life in the Dead Sea or in any dead weight a man still carries with him.

There’s no need for me to flex in front of a mirror anymore when she feels safe
and secure by simply being held.

Prescient haiku
Gerard Sarnat 

Volatile market
for my basket of stocks,
I’ve got insomnia.

Positioning sleep
well assets in quality
safe havens for now

in 2020
maybe Prez will serve a term
of a different sort.


Contributors –

A. Martine is a trilingual writer, musician, artist, an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press and a Managing Editor of The Nasiona. She might have been a kraken in a past life. Some of her fiction and nonfiction can be found on The Rumpus, Medium, Lamplight, TERSE. Journal, Metaphorosis, and Bright Wall/Dark Room, among others.

Maelstrom | Medium | Twitter 


Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, eighteen chapbooks, three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you’ll fall in love with her words. 

Twitter


Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Local Train Magazine, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.


Cathleen Davies is a writer and teacher living in Santurtzi, Spain, originally from East Yorkshire, England. She did her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at UEA, and then her Masters degree at the University of Birmingham. She’s had a handful of publications which can all be found here: https://cathydavies1995.wordpress.com/


Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany and Sligo for 25 years; she earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and taught literature and phonetics. She now teaches writing at Michigan State University, gives readings locally and publishes protest and other poetry in the U.S and abroad.

Chapbook out for publication: Flatman: Poems of Outrage in the Trump Era.


Chiara Decillis is a young Italian girl who lives and loves to translate her feelings into words and her broken whispers into fluid sentences. She stands for human rights and believes in the inherent kindness of human beings.

Instagram 


Dakotah Jennifer is an eighteen-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing at eight and has loved it ever since. She has been published in Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, the Grief Diaries, and Ripple Zine. She has also interned for the JMWW literary magazine and recently won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, was recently published by Bloof Books. 

Instagram | Twitter 


Daniel Romo is the author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019), When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014), and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, PANK, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. He has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and he is an Associate Poetry Editor at Backbone Press. He lives and teaches in Long Beach, CA. More at danielromo.net.

Twitter


DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)


Elodie Rose Barnes is a writer, reader & traveler, originally from the UK. She has tried her hand at a number of things across the globe, from legal secretary to yoga teacher in the Bahamas, before settling on the job titles of ‘wordsmith in training’ and ‘planetary explorer’. She now splits her time between England, France, and Spain. More of her work is published or forthcoming in Rose Quartz, Down in the Dirt, Crêpe & Penn, and the Purple Breakfast Review (Wordsmith HQ).

Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter


Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed homeless and prison clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. He won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is published in academic-related journals including University of Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Arkansas, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Slippery Rock, Appalachian State, Grinnell, American Jewish University, Sichuan University, University of Edinburgh and University of Canberra. Gerry’s writing has also appeared widely including recently in such U.S. outlets as Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, poetica, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Circle, Every Day Poems, Clementine, Tiferet, Foliate Oak, Failed Haiku, New Verse News, Blue Mountain Review, Danse Macabre, Canary Eco, Fiction Southeast, Military Experience and the Arts, Poets And War, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Texas Review, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times. Pieces have also been accepted by Chinese, Bangladeshi, Hong Kongese, Singaporian, Canadian, English, Irish, Scotch, Australian, New Zealander, Australasian Writers Association, Zimbabwean, French, German, Indian, Israeli, Romanian, Swedish, Moscovian and Fijian among other international publications. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY for pamphlet distribution nationwide on Inauguration Day 2017. Amber Of Memory was chosen for the 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium. He’s also authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), and Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids, five grandsons with a sixth on the way and looking forward to future granddaughters.


Hillary Essien is a short story writer, poet, blogger, and digital illustrator. 

With hopes of being a published author in the near future, she writes mostly at night and all times in between. 

Recently, her poetry has appeared in Capulet Mag. 


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies.

Recent writing appears in The Local Train, Defuncted, Corvus, Rosette Maleficarum,Tigershark, Former People, Remington Review, Alba, Hypnopomp, Up The River and many others.

In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.


John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. He has recently been published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.


Judy DeCroce, a former teacher, is a poet and flash fiction writer.

She has been published in Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, The Sunlight Press, Cherry House Press- Dreamscape:An Anthology, and many others.

She is a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband writer/artist Antoni Ooto


Jules can be found on:

Instagram


Kara Goughnour is a queer writer and documentarian living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They received their Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional Writing from The University of Pittsburgh. They are the author of “Mixed Tapes,” forthcoming in the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chap Series. They are the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and have work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over thirty-five others. Read their collected and exclusive works at karagoughnour.com.  

Instagram | Twitter 


Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Yes, Glass, Luna Luna, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys, and other places. She is the author of eleven books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press) and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (The Hedgehog Poetry Press) and the forthcoming Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press, 2020) and Dewy Decimals (Arkay Artists, 2020). 

kristingarth | Twitter

Linda M. Crate is a writer whose works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018).

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Ludo is a drawer of chunky-cheeked cats. Sometimes they suffer but mostly they thrive. 

Twitter


Marc Darnell is a facilities tech and online tutor in Omaha NE, and has also been a phlebotomist, hotel supervisor, busboy, and editorial assistant.  He received his MFA from the University of Iowa, and has published poems in The Lyric, Rue Scribe, Verse, Skidrow Penthouse, Shot Glass Journal, The HyperTexts, Verse-Virtual, Blue Unicorn, Ragazine, The Literary Nest, and The Pangolin Review.


Matthew Little has been writing poetry since 2012. His only other publication thus far has been seen in Anti-Heroin Chic‘s May 2019 farewell issue. He resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he’s hard at work perfecting his poetry and fiction writing. 

Facebook | Twitter 


Phylocalist Mel (penname phylocalist) is a Mexican non-binary boy in his early 20’s. Part-time writer, full-time coffee drinker. The emo kid that proved it wasn’t just a phase.

AO3 | Twitter


Rachel Warren is a Portland, Oregon poet, editor, bear enthusiast, and Magazine Contributor at Ayaskala Magazine. You can find her words in Barren Magazine or on her

Instagram | Twitter


RJC Smith is a writer from New York and New Jersey. He has work published in X-R-A-Y and forthcoming in Post Road.

Twitter


S is an 18 year old student from Finland who likes poetry and unicorns.

Instagram 


Tori A. Hernandez, born and raised in what used to be a small town in California, escapes reality by writing. She is 24 and currently working on getting degrees in Psychology & English in hopes of becoming a published author one day.

Instagram | Tumblr 


Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, and Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Honey-Laced Garbage Dreams (Ghost City Press, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).

Instagram | Twitter


Staff and Contributors –

Camron Watford is the photo contributor for Issue 1. Cam is based in South Carolina and takes photos of nature, cats, and people. 

Instagram 


Heidi Miranda is the editor of Issue 1. She studies literature and has been published by several small zines. She was encouraged to create The Confessionalist after an unsuccessful search for confessional poetry zines. 

Instagram 

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