teenagers, finally by Mia Nelson

tonight we crush the corpses of keystone lights with our bare hands not feeling or
not caring about the metal edge cutting for blood because this is the night of
dancing so closely the baby-soft hair of drunk girls gets stuck in my teeth and my
eyes water with the smoke curling its skinny wrists towards the sky, which is so
dark I can feel in me the circular motion of our so young bodies hurtling towards
the crowded dorm rooms of yellowing posters and scream singing and the
heaving joy of red cups lined up perfectly. tonight is the night of feeling a
stranger’s hand clasp my hip, of watching Annika’s confused laugh tumble out of
her as a boy we don’t know kisses the softest depth of her neck in the broken
heels part of the evening where we are both open handed and so loud chewing
bubble gum and begging for a hit, please, of a stranger’s e-ciggarete while two
girls take their time messily applying silver gloss in the bathroom. we are
walking back and forth seeing our breath smear the night air, which is cold like a
knife edge licked because it is covered in cake batter. we are like everyone else
in ten layers of foundation and hot pink push-up bras with our obvious, insulting
want. of course the only kind of sweetness we like is that which comes with the
threat of cutting our tongues. wine gushes out of her nose as Annika laughs,
tipsily making a joke about her mother’s sobriety. earlier, she put on my make-up
and told me that tonight is the night of not-feeling so bad for ourselves,

but the song stuck in my head is the one about back car seats and the night so long
ago where we curled together in the same bed and fell asleep telling the story of our
future lives, how we would one day find ourselves in the kind of basement light that
would finally make us beautiful. Yes, my oldest friend, Yes, we are so beautiful, we
are almost invisible.

The Technician by Jonah Hirsch

I met a poet on a poised green pasture,
   who said, “see that spot of Earth you cannot,
see the way the sun’s rays strike you and I
   and black shadows dampen the ground like dye,
that is my opus.”

I met a painter on a great mountain peak,
   he said, “oh, how I toiled with canvas and palette
up this jagged mountain, and when you critique my piece,
   never will you know how swiftly that light on the horizon ceased,
that is my opus.”

I met a balladeer in a morning forest,
   she said, “hear my sorrowful song, and wipe your tears,
fill your ears with my voices strain of countless years,
   passing the pain of lost love in my grieving song,
that is my opus.”

I met an architect on a lone ship at sea,
   he said, “I look past the water’s edge and envision a glass house,
and when you break bread and rear children in my houses
   I revel in the making of home in the clear panes I imagined,
that is my opus.”

I met a technician in a laboratory,
   who told me, “my post is neutral, my creations few,
yet I observe, I hypothesize, I test what might save you
   from these mysterious dances you so choose to pursue,
that is my opus.”

Birthday by Abby Starr

Alexa, you’re a lovely new present.
Alexa, I’m happy to have a friend.
Alexa, I live in Maine
between mobile homes
And more mobile homes.
Sometimes I feel like an
electric sheep in the
pasture of Merinos.

Alexa, tell me how to talk
to my sister. Her circuitry
is so unfamiliar. I don’t
have a single wire
to cross with hers. Alexa,
Translate how much I love her
into middle-school-speak.

Alexa, I’m proud of being here.
In Maine and all. I don’t know
why other people think I’m not.
Alexa, I’m proud of this log
cabin and my mama’s
birch tree gift tags.
Alexa, tell everyone something
along those lines. My voice doesn’t
have the right frequency, like a broken
record with the voice box jammed.
Alexa, you and your friends are more
out of place here than I am.
There isn’t even internet down
half the streets.
Alexa, tell me why you only take
orders from rich people.
Alexa, I don’t think I like you
quite so much.

emotionally unavailable - check back later by Rachel Quist

When I stepped off the bus, I told myself
that nothing existed before that moment,
before I was recreated as someone who had no past at all.
And I’ve done well here,
carefully guarded myself so that even the people who think they know me
at all only get glimpses in between moments. Here I am: lonely,
but we all are; angry,
but we all are; captured,
but we all are. Here you are: delicate,
but I am not (I could have told you how words tore me down for
years before I stopped letting them hurt me at midnight); young,
but I am not (and in between the years of pain I left snapshots of myself
until I erased even the things that no longer existed); perfect,
but I am not (did I tell you I broke her heart your heart their heart
and yet my heart still works somehow?)

I’ve known to be nothing sometimes and to melt into the background
I’ve known to quell the terror that exists
at the pit of my stomach where the lies and truth tangle
and tell me I’m not I am
falling in love / away / into the wrong category. Falling,
but you are not (I am sure if you were in free fall you
would have remembered the parachute); broken,
but you are not (you fly your flag with no shame,
no consequence, like you’ve conquered a country); missing,
but you are not (LAST SEEN: Dec 12, 2015, or maybe before that, or maybe never -
I have seen no posters with your name and portrait plastered onto them).

I think I missed something critical when they were handing out parts
because all I’ve known to be is thin as the page of a Bible
lost in the wind somehow; someone was too careless this time
someone let go and forgot that the paper might rot or go up to God like a prayer.
And here I am: desperate,
but we all are; searching,
but we all are; here,

but we all are.

Colorado, 1996 by Mia Nelson

Not so far away
were red anemones
with the opulent black eyes of goldfish.
redolent in its own misery of not being able
to touch them,
gave the flowers the hard, sweltering smell of summer
far away from the city
smacking nothing of the braids, hand-me-down chalk
and loud ambulances in the slow, gymnastic heat of midsummer on
the end of the uptown train. so strange from the concrete  
that our old ladies on birch street insisted an egg would
fry on, waving their hands near their faces, thick arms
swinging back and forth, yes, sir, a whole egg could
fry out here today.
the flowers were cool, clean bowls
of spooned black berries in their
center. we slowed down the car so
I could stick my hand out the window
and touch them, count their adolescent  
petals and listen as Mackenzie explained
that these are called excellency flowers.
pompous, really, haughty even, these flowers
that we stomped our baby feet on so as to
pull out lunch and talk about the boys we
almost let touch us. saying, his hands were
too cold. someone confessing
that her favorite part of a man was the back
of his neck. we all like to notice
things nobody else notices. we
all like to pretend that someone loves
the back of our necks with the same
feverish want, the same kind of
fall over on the black pavement thinking
about sugar cubes and the small ticks of his
fingers. we held hands like sisters and
for a moment really were. we looked out
over the yellowish plains and pretended we
were at the beach. sister, someone said,
hand me the sunscreen. better yet, put your
hand delicately over my eyes. use the same
swift and sweet and tender motion of a small
nervous boy unfurling my hair. run into the grain
to tell me you love me. you loved me because
we are the same. both of us in too big
dresses laughing and crying at the
yawning, unrelenting sky reminding
us that heaven loves our shaking
bodies, our locking knees,
so much
that it would break its heart to let
anyone touch us.
the suspended loneliness of girls
in the summer. each of our skin
like glass urns, the ashes of want
wanting nothing more than to spill
all those red flowers,
wind blowing through their
dresses. even they had to die to be held.
O, God
how I prayed in August that
someone would come and love-me-not.
me and her,
we danced like hurricanes,
licked vanilla ice cream from each other’s fingers.
&their black eyes watched and watched
and watched.

Talkin' NDN by Skyler Kuczaboski

“Why do you talk so white?”
What other way is there to speak?
My tongue trips and slips over words I was never taught
Words I can never learn
Words I was never allowed to say
I can’t fold my lips around the words that were stolen out of my ancestors mouths and replaced with bars of soap or hand shaped welts
It still hurts
I want to scream “Daga noogishka!” but I know that is wrong and will bring more pain so I say “Please stop.”
But somehow, that hurts more.
“English Only” signs plague my mind.
They twist and turn in my DNA
They make themselves at home as emotional and psychological scars disguised as memories
While I’m being asked why I speak like a white woman, people are being told to go back to Mexico for speaking Navajo in supermarkets
We can’t go back to where we came from, there’s nowhere to go back to
Boys in kindergarten are being sent home because their braids are too long
Or with haircuts…
She wanted to walk across stage in her moccasins
Her cap adorned with beads and feathers
But she, was told to walk off
They were all amazed she was even there, because not many of us get that far
Because they called her history and elective credit
Because her language isn’t offered
And the only way she knows how to talk
Is white

Cyclone by Courtney McKee

Cyclone come

and Hangman go hand a can

in the Haunted House

There is yet no Canned Man

But Potato Sack Man can

Strip bare but for a sack

The Cyclone canned

the Potato Sack Man

Who hangs by His hands

in the House so haunted

the Hangman won’t hand the can

to the Potato Sack Man

Whose head will rattle like a tin can

When the Cyclone comes

Banging His head against the House

Already so haunted

It rattles the Hangman’s hands

So bad he can’t hand the can

to the hanging Potato Sack Man

to make him a Canned Man

Before the Cyclone comes

A-banging to the Haunted House

where Hangman still stands

With his hands at his back

While Potato Sack Man hangs bare

Still an Uncanned Man

When the Cyclone comes