A week after our father’s memorial service, my sister and I leave town for our cousin’s wedding. A wordless clamp lodges at my temples. My sister turns me sideways in the bed, places her hands in my hair. Maybe I can make it go away, she says.
The women in our family are always the loudest. Our cousin Marsha, yellow hair, red dress, calls out steps: the wobble, the slide, two kinds of shuffle. We dance with her into the din. We’re following orders, we’re miming happiness until we (goddamnit) feel it, every movement prescribed.
It’s a relief not to think for a while.
Later, my sister and I lie side by side on the queen-sized bed because we’re too tired to go back down and request a double. My sister says: Nope. Not tonight. We’re not going there.
Don’t say it.
No tears allowed, no crying.
There’s a snake around my neck that used to be a lion.
Melissa Benton Barker
Melissa Benton Barker’s work appears in Jellyfish Review, Peach Mag, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Elemental, was named semi-finalist in The Atlas Review’s semi-annual chapbook reading period and finalist in Eggtooth Editions annual chapbook contest. She is the former managing editor of Lunch Ticket and a first reader at Vestal Review.
odalisque #7 climbs out of the wall evicts me from the museum
odalisque untitled becomes very invested in her cuticles
odalisque #13 is detained in de gaulle international for the oil pastels in her purse so she
touches up her makeup in the airport bathroom & forgets her foundation inframe
odalisque (black eyes) spoke to me about the parts of the sky she had omitted
on Wednesday I find her bedrooming the beehives in the tree under my kitchen
odalisque #8 is still waiting for the moon to notice her back
Maya Salameh is a sophomore at Stanford University, where she is a member of the nationally ranking Spoken Word Collective and serves as the Inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Markaz Cultural Center. She is a 2016 National Student Poet, America’s highest honor for youth poets, and has performed at venues including the Obama White House and Carnegie Hall. Her chapbook, rooh, is forthcoming with Paper Nautilus Press. Her work has been published in the Greensboro Review.
Blessed are those who cannot see
Or don’t believe in their sight
Or perhaps in vision altogether
For they shall be granted visions of what might be
Rather than what is
Or seems to be
A glut of nothingness
Random in its nature
That circumvents or ignores
The possibilities occurring
All around us
That don’t yet fit
Into a theory
Upon the past
Josef Krebs has a chapbook published by Etched Press and his poetry also appears in the Bicycle Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Calliope, The Cape Rock, The Chaffey Review, Inscape, Mouse Tales Press, Organs of Vision and Speech, Tacenda, The Bohemian, Agenda, The Corner Club Press, Crack the Spine, The FictionWeek Literary Review, the Aurorean, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Bangalore Review, 521magazine, Former People, Grey Sparrow Journal, IthacaLit, New Plains Review, Inwood Indiana Press, Free State Review, Poetry Nation, Witness, and The Cats Meow. A short story has been published in blazeVOX. He’s written three novels and five screenplays. His film was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes film festivals.