Teeb Al-Rubaiaw

oh you

I fell for her, fell harder than I could have ever fallen

Her sweet voice, ringing in my ears

She told me once “Elizabeth, you are to die for”

Her humor, drying the tears that dared to spill from my eyes

The warm, happy feeling I’d feel when she speaks to me

My mind corrupted with the thoughts of her

“Elizabeth, please hold my hand, everything will be solved”

Wondering what would happen if she was real (is she not)

Elizabeth, you know that wouldn’t happen, don’t you? I can’t be let out” If I could meet her one day, what would we do?

Would you, my love, like it if we both wore pretty dresses and danced around in the fields??

How would we go about our day together?

I told her “Beatrice, you are to die for. What would I do without you” as I stood with the rope hanging around my neck

She responded with “Eliza, please don’t go”

Or would I forever not know the answer to my questions?

“Eliza. Please”

My mind is so cruel for threatening to die if she ever left my side

“Beatrice, I’m so sorry, love. I’m so sorry I tried to do it”

For making me fall for her and wanting to hold her in my arms. (is she real)

Its okay, would you please be a dear and get me a slice of cake” Could I ever meet someone just like her?

(You know you wouldn’t, don’t you, I’m created for you!)

If I did, would I ever love them the way I loved her?

Of course not Beth! You wouldn’t love anyone else. I’m just who you want me to be” I yelled back and told her “BUT WHO ARE YOU REALLY?

Would I discover the darkness that lies behind love?

I’M YOU, ELIZABETH. BEATRICE DOESN’T EXIST” (i feel dizzy)

Sometimes we can be so blinded by what we imagine

Making it seem so perfect, so flawless

Clean and crisp, so effortless

She whispered into my ear and told me: “you are everything I hoped for

I looked at her with tired eyes and spat at her “you never hoped for anything, Beatrice.

But in reality, they aren’t so perfect.

With empty holes, ink spilling from the page, perfectly flawed. Have you realized that now?

Who was that? Elizabeth, why did you have that girl…THAT GIRL!! Cant,,, she see me lingering about???”

Beatrice stop yelling, she can’t see you. I’m the only one who can. I’m all yours” (i’m unsure about you)

With blasts of color, making it seem like a mess because that’s who we are That’s what makes us, us. Do you see it now?

Elizabeth, would you like to go to dinner with me? I found a nice diner just outside of the city.” “Love, you know I can’t take you out with me, remember what happened last time we went out?

They tried to lock me away from you” (i couldn’t see you anymore) Oh you,

how could I end up like this

Looking forward to my dreams, just to see you

“Beatrice, where are you??”

“In bed, come take a nap with me”

Wanting to be alone so I can think about you

You fill my head,

You are poisonous drink, seducing me with your scent

With your skin

With your darkness.

I’m going insane but I like it

Your skin, so soft and delicate, how I wish I could touch it (my hands go through yours)

You hugged me afterwards and I can’t shake the feeling of knowing that you’re just in my head

Pushing away everyone and everything just to have you

“Lizzie, don’t forget tonight! Our anniversary”

“How could I? I cancelled my plans just for tonight”

Yet you aren’t human. You do not breathe, nor do you sleep.

You’re kept in my mind, locked from the world to see

“How many times must I tell you?? YOU CAN’T LEAVE THIS HOUSE”

And why is that, huh, WHY CAN’T I LEAVE THIS HOUSE ELIZABETH

I want you to leave, escape from this place but you won’t go

(what is reality)

But really, I’m the one who doesn’t want to let go

You’re still here with that beautiful smile plastered on your face

The sweet smell of your hair every time you walk past me

“Why are you smiling at me?”

“Nothing, you’re just beautiful”

“Beatrice, you smile even when you are angry. Why can’t you smile for real this time”

I’ve gotten used to you being around

I’m getting sick of you

How could you so effortlessly be so happy all the time?

In reality, you never were happy. You existed for me.

Smiling and dancing the night away, not a worry in the world

Come Elizabeth, it’s our favorite song, remember? We danced for hours with this playing in the background”

Hopping on to new adventures, wanting me to tag along

You stared at me and told me to not be late again. We have a boat ride to go to.

I told you “to just let me get ready in peace.”

The more I started to dislike you, the more you faded away

Into this creature, whatever the hell you are

“What happened to your face Beatrice? Why are you so bruised up?”

You happened. Your thoughts of wanting to get rid of me, yet you still hold on to me. You hurt me in ways you can’t imagine”

Oh you,

Is this what love has gotten us?

I LOVE YOU! I COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS”

You’re lying to yourself Eliza. Like you always have been.Drifted us apart till there is no longer an us?

Dakota Garland

Villanelle

Don’t turn on the light.
You’ll give the monsters pain.
Don’t shut out the night.

It is a beautiful night.
Spirits will roam the plains.
Don’t turn on the light.

Let the darkness stay,
To cover the beastly stains.
Don’t shut out the night.

After that tumultuous fight,
The phantoms have much to gain.
Don’t turn on the light.

Force your sorrows to take flight.
Bury the agony once again.
Don’t shut out the night.

Keep the proof out of sight.
Give the devils reign.
Don’t turn on the light.
Don’t shut out the night.

Lisonna Saunders

Hometown

You were my home.
The town I went from being a sad kid with no friends to a happy kid with a group of them.
Hand in hand we’d wander the streets aimlessly, filling the sleepy town with screams of joy.
There wasn’t a life outside of you for me,
nor was I even thinking of one
You were where my friends were
Where my family was
I could navigate you with my eyes closed
You were the main scene in my growing up,
but now you’re just a town.
The little apartment I grew up in is probably occupied by someone else now
Filled by unfamiliar laughter
if there’s laughter at all
My Nana’s and my uncle’s spirits wander those halls,
but I’m not there to feel them
If they’re even there at all
I’m not there
I haven’t been there in years
Do you remember me?
Sometimes I forget you,
but then the memories of you wash over me at the quietest of hours
I’ve left behind very little of me,
but you see me in the face of my two high school friends that still live there
You see me in the stones I’ve turned at the local lake
You see me in the dent I left at our local restaurant when I was learning to drive – unless they’ve since fixed it
I don’t know you
and you don’t know me anymore
We’re both ghosts in each other’s history,

Heidi Donnelly

Cold Love

Alone, in the history books of time
Rummaging through the bedrock of my mind
Haunted by the ghosts of family past
Withered thoughts of them fade but last

I feel a growing sense of melancholy rise
As if from ashes like a phoenix fear reprise
I feel you close now coldness hovers all around
Nice to feel you if I cannot see you around

I would wait here in this deep remembering place
Where I’ll find you even if only cold to embrace
It’s been a long time since I’ve had you here in warmth
But it’s the closest to you my true North

The loss astounding as it writhes round and round my brain
I can’t stop rounding through the history that remains
The sweet thoughts of you oh they heckle through my mind
How nice to feel you hug me tight like cold, cold vines

My love you’re hear and that is all that matters now
How you appear through cold and sound I take my bow
Of thanks to you for coming all this way
And now I leave until we meet again one day

Hannah Talbert

Soul without a Home

this body is mine but I do not own it
for if i did it would be safe
this body is mine
but its been touched by strangers
this body is mine
but why do I hate it?
if this body is mine then why
do I think of him when i see it
my hands that pushed him away
my lungs that struggled to catch a breath
my legs that were pinned down by
his hands that silenced my cries
this body is mine but he owns it

Gail A. Glover

Pink Tights

Pink Tights, symbolic of Nooses used to hang our ancestors. Restricting our individual color until we can no longer differentiate from who we are and who we are forced to be. Cutting off any thoughts of our beauty, choking away at our self-esteem, our self-confidence, our self-worth.

Forced assimilation into a eurocentric Mindset Of tradition. Internalizing their hatred for our Melanin translates into colorism in our own dance culture.

Insidious comments about having clean lines and smooth hair posit ideas of hatred into our psyches. Racially constructed choices voice opinions systemically biased against…me.

The ghostly presence of those long gone still exists in the recesses of each movement of my legs, turn off my head, and flick of my wrist. Hauntingly accessing my thoughts and stirring up a frenzy of self- hatred.

I rush to conceal the trauma that, unfiltered, courses through my laughter, and is used to cover up the perfect patty persona I have carefully created over the decades to mask the wounds of racism planted in my soul.

Yes, pink tights, a simple reality, Yet somehow profoundly running away with my very essence. Cutting my spirit in half so you only see the dinginess of what’s underneath those – Pink Tights.

(The history of dance tights is that it is supposed to create one line from fingertips to toes, making the person one cohesive color. Dancers of color have had to wear pink tights because of tradition and racism, but we aren’t pink. This is part of my diversity issue)

Alexander Hinds

Recall

I can’t seem to remember what I did last night.
I had nothing to drink,
but I still cannot think
of the reflections that have evaded my sight.

I can’t seem to remember what I did last week.
I believe I had chores.
Eroded like the shores,
go the cliffs of memory from my mind so bleak.

I can’t seem to remember what I did last moon.
The house keys are missing.
My dreams are dismissing,
and my facilities fly away like balloons.

I can’t seem to remember what I did last year.
A task like this so small,
my failure to recall
Is preventing me from knowing what is clear.

I cannot remember.
The human memory is terribly fleeting,
The faintest and oldest of memories retreating.
Thoughts perished like ember.

How could one ever trust a machine like the brain?
Just some blood and tissue.
I have one more issue,
What did I title my poem to be again?

Sleeping Hermaphroditus

Emmet Klaseus

The Louvre was breathtaking
So many masterpieces in one space
So many people

Sleeping Hermaphroditus
Stuck out to me the most
It is a life-sized marble sculpture
The son of Hermes and Aphrodite

He was lying on his right side
Left knee bent and head facing away from his abdomen
His face and hair were feminine with a voluptuous body and breasts
His back was to us and facing the wall was his flaccid penis

The others snickered at the statue’s androgyny
I was enthralled

My tour guide explained how he used to be displayed in the center of the room
Where he could be seen from all sides
Until adults said a group of school children were confused by him
So he was banished to the corner
With hopes passersby would think he was only a woman

Isn’t that how it always is?
Someone different comes along
People don’t understand
They get scared
Diminish the newcomer’s existence
Until they either fit in or disappear completely

I saw a sculpture of someone similar to myself from the 1600s
That was purposefully pushed to the side
But it could have been worse
The museum could have taken out the statue completely
Could have destroyed it even

People like me are dying, have died and will continue to die
As long as others keep pretending we don’t exist
Or worst call us monsters
People like me have history
It is messy, dark, and beautifully complex
Just like everyone else’s
It deserves to be seen

Human or Monster

Ray Boone

Human or monster, is what the question seems to be
What is lurking, what is showing, what is hiding in me

In the first half the day, my wife is a person
But as evening approaches, her statute seems uncertain

Sometimes when I’m with her, her form starts to shape
Her eyes turn yellow and I fear she’s a snake

She says to me: “But you are the same,
I will say who you are, before you continue to defame

Your face is unsightly, your neck has teeth
Sometimes when you’re angry, I seem like something to eat

The holes in the wall are what your talons will make me
Lest I bow to your will and succumb on my knees

Monster or man, is the question you claim
But when you ask me, I say they are one and the same”

I disgrace my horrid wife as she spits me out
From the fangs she doesn’t know hide in her mouth

Villainous me, oh yes I agree
But blameless is nothing I ascribe to she

My fist may have punched the first hole in the wall
Yet she decides to forget the stairs which she made me fall

We both are humans in the day and creatures in the night
We are pleasant to each other until we start to fight