Poetry, Issue #69


An ode to kidneys / CW: Eating Disorder References

If I’m being honest with myself – which I rarely am these days – every attempt to purify this body has destroyed my own temple.
            I have knelt at the front of a church and given my heart,
            I have purged the body over the porcelain altar at 3am,
            I have filled the empty within myself with ice chips and water,
all in the name of sterilizing that which is life itself.
To clean the stains of the cloth without realizing that I am
both the fabric of time and the dripping colors that dye it. 

And every attempt to rid myself of unholiness failed for the
fundamental reason of misidentification. My eyes misrepresented
the shadows within me, while my tongue misnamed the toxins
I purged. But you are the only part of me who never listened to
whispers among pews or peers. You’ve always known what
this body needed to retain or eradicate. You, a different sentinel
of salvation. You, who never lost the true meaning of becoming

Why Birdwatching Is Better Than Talking To God

After Nikky Finney

The cardinal at the bird feeder is actually my grandmother.
I know this is true because my momma said so, and
she communes with the dead far more than I. She tries
to teach me how to talk to every loved one I’ve lost:
It seems like the trick is to keep their spirit in your ribcage
and pay attention. But by now I have a graveyard chest and
a lack of focus. 

On a canyon trail a year ago a butterfly landed on my
father’s foot. My momma informs me that the butterfly
was actually Auntie Arah simply because “that bitch always
liked your Daddy better.”

Still, at 60 years old my mother got her first tattoo.
It’s a monarch butterfly. It’s also her sister.

I don’t bother telling Momma that bright red cardinals are
usually male. This feels irrelevant to matters of life and death.
A robin visits the feeder but robins aren’t relatives and so my
Grandmother attacks it. I mean the cardinal squares off with
the robin. Less street fighter, more samurai. This is not the
bird feeder, this is my Grandmother’s studio apartment,
this is her piles of spaghetti western VCRS. Clint Eastwood
quickdraws. Somehow the robin is shot down from her horse.
The bright red cardinal is victorious and my Momma laughs
from the window.

She says, yes girl, that is your Gammy. 

What to do when people try to convince you that all your nostalgic childhood cartoon characters actually exist in Purgatory

Call me a beta version for the certified Children of the Internet.
Old enough to play outside sometimes, young enough to learn
about incognito mode the hard way. Call me internet soul searcher,
elementary school MySpace page, chat roulette too young,
club penguin too old, Still searching for the Webkinz killer, still
Dying of dysentery on the Oregon Trail, Call me the one who gaslit
my teachers into thinking  CoolMathGames was actually
an educational site and not an adobe flash player safe haven
in the windowless computer lab.  

There’s a certain morbid curiosity exploited at our fingertips.
Read why the Spongebob Characters represent the Seven
Deadly Sins, or how Angelica from Rugrats is actually dead. That
Ed, Edd, and Eddie is about purgatory and here is the evidence.
There’s a little corner of the internet where clickbait feasts on
my unbridled nostalgia – and I go there often. Anything for a
Visit to the days of limitless youth. 

The Marianas Trench is both a place you can Google and a
Place you can go. I explored the depths once back when it
was just called an algorithm. There’s a study somewhere about
How easy it is to hop from a Youtube Video to another, and then another,
And then suddenly you have a hate crime in your hands.
See the internet is not a safe place. 

Call me old enough to know better,
call me young enough to click the link anyways.

The Sun Rises with You

An ode to the brain. 

Some nights, the crickets tap dance for me
under the silver smile of the moon, signaling
the beginning of my most intimate time with you. 

I feel like I’ve spent days sleepwalking only to
wake in the night, head obliterating my senses
with senseless wonder. You overheat my skull,
specifically between the hours of 2 and 4 am,
and these are the moments where I give up
sleeping to sit by the window with you. 

Time is the first dimension I will love you in.
I know that yesterday I did not love you.
But the greatest romances cannot happen
overnight, so when the sun rises,
I will commit to writing joy. I promise
to carry the blooming with my chest.
I am multitudes, I contain all of myself,
Which is to say, you contain all of myself. 

And from now on, when you gift me
with a dead bird on my doorstep,
I still let you inside the house. I will
still let you curl up on my lap and
rest in the chair by the window. 

Because hasn’t it always been
you and I? Haven’t we always listened
for the hazy song of the sun cresting?
Even through every sleepless night,
we’ve always watched the sun rise

Birthday Cake Nihilism

A Contrapuntal Poem

today i am six years old and
the ballerina on my cake caught fire
my mother plays pretend firefighter
the dancer’s arm melts into the frosting
someone next to me starts crying
but i will laugh at the pictures later

i am twenty-six years old
but i am ready to watch the world burn
while everyone around us panics
like the final curtain call
i too play the role of apocalypse prophet
when everything goes up in flames

By Briana "Bri" Craig

Briana “Bri” Craig (she/her) moonlights as a writer of stories, poetry, and plays. She has published poetry in a variety of literary magazines, including: Antithesis, Plainsongs, FOLIO, Decomp, Bourgeon Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig, and more. When she is not writing poetry, Bri also enjoys playwriting. She has published a play titled, Purple Ink (Pioneer Drama), and has had work selected for multiple play festivals.