Dear Luis

My dear Luis
come get me, I’m at the shore
wishing I was stone
so as not to feel no more.
Orlando got me running
I was never good at track
got used to wearing Romanov corsets
and outrunning the tide
but it can still take me
like it did forty-nine.
My dear Luis
come help me up
so we can take Poseidon’s seat
the ebb and flow
now ours
to breach their dams
and recede that tide
uncovering havens where I can shed pretense
and honor the forty-nine.


Oswaldo Vargas

Oswaldo Vargas is a Michoacán native raised in California’s Central Valley, and is a student studying History and Human Rights at the University of California, Davis. Previous work has appeared in the first issue of La Concencia de UC Davis and will appear in the forthcoming IMANIMAN: Anzaldúa Poetic Anthology.

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Orlando

Oh Orlando, your rainbow heart is bleeding

Red, raining down lágrimas Latinas de colores

Lives lost, stolen in segundos, vanished

An unbelievable act, rooted in one man’s odio

Never-ending, destroying the sanctuario of many

Donde podían ser quienes eran without fear

Oh Orlando, our collective heart is bleeding


Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

Eloísa Pérez-Lozano grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Iowa State University with her M.S. in journalism and mass communication and her B.S. in psychology. A member of the Gulf Coast Poets, her poetry has been featured in The Texas Observer,aaduna, and The Acentos Review, among others.

Piña (Pinecone) 6/16

From BOUQUET FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE PULSE NIGHTCLUB AND FOR ALL QUEER PEOPLE OF COLOR ALIVE AND RESTING IN POWER

for memory

how many times could the list of our dead wrap around the earth?

how many more names will appear before I am finished saying just one?

if I gave every needle on an evergreen one of your names, would there be enough?
would they be yours?
or would they be the names that were hateful to you?

how many of your souls will cringe
when you are misgendered?

how is it that even death will not protect you from that violence?

for memory

for 9 black people at a bible study
for 300 indigenous women and children at Wounded Knee
for 500 years of genocide
for 500 years of names that they will refuse to say
for 21 trans women killed last year
for 14 trans women killed with 6 months left this year
for the lives that deserve to be counted but will not be

for memory

because we are never allowed to forget
we are not safe
at our jobs
in our homes
our churches
our thought-to-be-safe havens
our funerals
our parades
because we know that somewhere
there is a knife
a bullet
a bat
with our name on it

for memory

inside each of your names is a forest

life and air

overflowing

for memory

you are real
you are loved
you are more than the list that your name appears on
you are missed
you are missed
you are missed

we will not forget you


Lucas Garcia

Lucas Garcia is originally from Albuquerque, NM and is now based in Chicago, IL. They are a playwright, poet, and fiction writer; their work can be found in plainchina  and in Re:Visions.

The Idea of Dance

For the Victims of Orlando

is
moving your body
as if it were your last day,
touching stars on the ceiling
spinning as if you are in control of gravity,
of the tides
and taking in your arms friends and strangers

It is not
moving your body
on your last day,
never dreaming of touching stars again,
losing control of your spin
falling down in the tide of your own blood,
and being taken in the arms of friends and strangers


Wendy Labinger

Wendy Labinger is a 2016 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. She teaches English as a second language at UCLA’s American Language Center and has a master’s degree in deaf education from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.  Wendy lives and writes in West Hollywood.

A Fire that Started from Nothing

Walking home alone
confused among the chrysanthemums
I shouted aloud:          Where do we go from here?
There needs to be something,
someplace, somehow far from                         here.
Here, where the road is
littered with mottled-black
stones breaking through
or the ones that died trying—
and by trying, I should say fighting—On this particular night,
I dared myself
to think of all
the volcanos
I could’ve been.
And there are many,
so I implore you: turn              from our cities                                                 as they burn
watch our sky unhinge it jaws like a yawn. Open like a mother’s arms
after years without contact. The clouds are your mother’s
lips landing upon a swollen bruise violently-violet and hidden away.
Our sky is the color of smoke as it gets in       your eyes. Every so often
the sun saunters to the center              and bleaches everything
pinecones and needles, narratives and evidence of last night  ’s arrogance
There are many white              gay                   men
with many more opinions                    about                                                               Orlando,
but this
will happen
again. And then
they will have more to say
but what I want
to say has a memory
of its own        something
they could not
hear                 something
like happiness
that violet self
that old, ornery,
original alone.
Grey as the lip
of the lake
where tiny fish
flirt with birds
dancing the impossible-blue.
Those tiny fish were my kin. Mine. With names like the one my father gave me. A name I had
to chase down                         to write down              on papers         as they rollicked          across rivers agendas   and             state-lines                    to write this     and only you                reading it         here                                                                                                            will read it.


Roberto F. Santiago

Roberto F. Santiago received his MFA from Rutgers University, and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a 2016 Community of Writers Fellow, 2015 Sarah Lawrence Fellow, 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, the recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Poetry Prize, and his debut book of poetry was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. Roberto writes and produces his own music, and likens himself to Tennessee Williams in a poodle skirt, Gloria Anzaldúa in culottes, and/or James Merrill in short-shorts. Currently, he works as an educator in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with a fiction writer and 15 year old cat that edits most of his poetry…whether he asks her to, or not.

After José Clemente Orozco’s Man of Fire

One evening the summer sun isn’t enough.
Fourteen years old, a blue plastic kiddie pool

in the middle of the street. We choke a bottle
of lighter fluid over it. We strike matches

and let them fall. Then we skate, attempt
Ollies over the flames. We watch it melt.

From a porch, someone’s father yells
—his voice as strong as his hands still are.

Eventually, the fire is put out. Eventually,
we each walk home and enter rooms

we will sneak out of at night to make
the best decisions and the worst. Eventually,

the last summer ends and some of us move
for jobs in towns far north. The rest of us go

up the street, to stay close to our fathers who
will become bound to an illness we stay up late

searching cures for. Watch the slow extinguishing
of the body: fathers with canes; fathers pushing

walkers; fathers up the slants of sidewalks
in electric wheelchairs. And when we see

our fathers, and they see us on the street,
no one can bear to wave. Dumb and tough

is all we were. But that does so little.
What I want now is to take it all back.

When I imagine it, the blue is burned
into the street. It’s the next day: I’m already

too late. But knowing what becomes of us
and our fathers—who yelled or left,

and never came back for reasons
we placed atop our shoulders—

I begin picking at pieces melted
onto the pavement, trying to chip away

the blue like a God who has yet to realize
he’s fallen. I believe I can still reconfigure

the sky & align the stars. I won’t move.
This time sun goes down laughing at me.


Michael Torres

From Pomona, California, Michael Torres spent his adolescence as a graffiti artist. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in BOAAT, Forklift, Ohio, Huizache, Miramar, Okey-Panky and Paper Darts among others. He has received a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome Foundation. Torres is a CantoMundo fellow.

 

Shimmering Heartbeat

Thump, thump, thump
You beat against your marrow cage.
Thump, thump, thump
Your sound travels in narrow waves.
Thump, thump, thump
You pulsate brilliant vibrational hues.
Thump, thump, thump
Of exuberant, shimmering, sensational purples and blues.
Thump, thump, thump
Constant and predictable.
Thump, thump, thump
Essential and critical.
Thump, thump, thump
Spreading love with every beat.
Thump, thump, thump
Hugging every other heart you meet.
Thump, thump, thump
You beat against your marrow cage.
Thump, thump, thump
Until you’re met with another’s rage.
Thump, thump, thump
You shimmer with all of your might.
Thump, thump, thump
Holding on for dear life.
Thump, thump, thump
Your shimmering heartbeat will carry on.
Thump, thump, thump
Through our memories and everlasting bond.
Thump, thump.


Erica Gonzalez

Erica Gonzalez is a single mother of 4, lifelong resident of Santa Ana, CA and spiritual activist. She is an entrepreneur and co-founder of S.A.V.E., a non-profit association dedicated to teaching youth how to help themselves by helping others through programs designed around meditation, yoga, and community programs.

 

in arcadia

it was almost the fourth

of July so I made a little

cross out of balsa wood

with a birthday candle

where it split at the top

when I went to light it

it turned into a Reaper

drone and flew out into

the green depopulated

countryside of my heart

 

my heart has six chambers

it crawls like a mollusk

I’m walking the streets

concealing my heart

under a Stonewall t-shirt

screaming You won’t do it

and singing Happy birthday

so sweetly and under my breath


Zack Anderson

Zack Anderson is an MFA candidate at the University of Notre Dame.

Pulse

Pulse

Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you,
This body, loose, young, the body that swung,
The sweaty shiny comfortable skin, the eyes that flashed,
The legs that jumped. Drink this, drink in the body,
This body, that body that came through the day,
Colliding, brushing with other bodies, this body, moving,
Smooth skin against rough cheek, blue silk dress,
Lipstick on the polo shirt, the shorts of a pixie chick,
The torso of a Latino lifeguard, the hands of a spectacled African man,
This body, that body, whose body shivered, shook,
Arms raised to the heavens, shouting its praise,
This body, that body, pulsed to a beat last night–
What body now lifeless lies on the dark red floor,
Sacrificed with the blood of a new covenant
As broad as the arc of a rainbow
In a crowded club in Orlando, the body mashed
From holes that flash, from hells that erupt from
A morning of night, taste this body, taste that meat, eat
The body of the world, no longer in the world.

–Susan Chute, June 12, 2016


Susan Chute

Susan Chute is a poet and librarian formerly with The New York Public Library who now lives and writes in New Paltz, NY, where she founded and runs Next Year’s Words, a popular reading series celebrating the creative voice of the Hudson Valley.

4. Bargaining

What is a life worth?

In wartime we talk of brave souls
who pay the ultimate price for
freedom, democracy, a way of life.

So maybe if somehow all these deaths
lead to understanding, to change,
somehow we think maybe it was worth it.

Is it Worth it? Worth it?
How can it be worth it? worth all this death?
Can good ever be bought with such bloody coin?

Orlando, Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook, Columbine.
Where is this payoff, tradeoff, for all this death.
When we do not learn, we do not evolve.

Is a life worth a change of heart?
Is a life worth an opening of eyes?
Is a life worth seeing who we are?


Cleo Creech

Cleo grew up on family tobacco farms going to a strict Southern Baptist church his family had founded in North Carolina. He’d go on to study writing, ceramics and printmaking. His past poetry exploits include being an editor for the GA Poetry Society, a founding editor for the Java Monkey Speaks series, as well as a board member for the Atlanta Queer Lit Fest. He’s been in a number of journals and anthologies, and written several chapbooks. His anti-bullying piece, “The Peace of Gentle Waves,” was turned into a choral work by the Great South Jersey choir. He currently works as an Art Director for a large home improvement company in Atlanta.