he traces the tattoo
of Africa on my back
tells me how he wants
to go back to Sierra Leone
he traces the tattoo
A pinhole projects
the moon topping the sun
onto Portia’s palm
“A ballad for messy brown girls” is the honourable mention of Room’s Poetry and Fiction Contest 2018 as selected by judge Vivek Shraya.
Aunt: f. from the Latin amita 1. small creatures that can carry more than their share 1.2 stand-in mothers (who can’t hold seventeen hours of labour over you) 2. photo filler used for major childhood moments: christenings, communions, etc. 3. antonym ex-aunts: members of the family easily erased by divorce
Strip the skin off my body and hold
me tight. Take this ugly brown shell, burn
scar, thrown to sea. Let waves batter
me against rocks, shark teeth ravage carcass,
oil spill on pale water.
the two of us
you face the tv
your lips they twist
perceptions in an instant.
Our 2017 Poetry Contest Honourable Mention.
She built a tower for herself. What a waste
of sand, they all thought, and to not lower
her hair down—who waits, in a desert, to be overcome
—not part of me. She makes up games
like Quidditch and plays with me.
Body throws me down
If our gratitude dries parched, we think nothing of water
If our tongues shrink, we think of nothing but water
nothing of water; foresight shortened
dry, memory of these -dry -days
Abattoirs, Abortuaries, and America (HOO-RAH)
Bleach and Beer-Batters, Batman!
Camaro . . . Catchphrases . . . Catachresis . . .
Donkey-sauce; Donkey-sauce; Donkey-sauce
Our 2017 Short Forms Contest Honourable Mention.
Every night, you sleep on my neck.
Contentment seeps through our chakras.
Low dirt path parts Loch Awe as a helix unbinding.
We walk like thistled mutants to Kilchurn ruins.
. . . I found a pair of velvet-coated antlers,
three fingers reaching from an open palm
still throbbing with platelet’s hot breath
Hold a winesap apple to your brow and think of the worst possible outcome.
Or has the worst already happened? How do you define cataclysm?
Are you dead yet?
We're writing letters to our future selves
wanting to know if we can outlive men with beautiful hands.
black pearls on a string
when young lustrous
men dazzle yet frighten us
for many our first encounters a plundering
The tongue is lost—now blood pools
in her mouth. Her maid stops the wound
with a tampon, split down the middle
like some carpenter’s unlucky thumb.
Currently on Newsstands
Room 42.1, Magic
Edited by Arielle Spence
In this issue:
Amy Louise Baker, Jenny Boychuk, Jessica Bromley Bartram, Monica Joy Claesson, Kess Costales, Sophie Crocker, Ruth Daniell, Alex Hall, Cody Klippenstein, Suzanne Langlois, Teresa E Lobos, Lynne M MacLean, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Isabelle Nguyen, Gaëlle Planchenault, Melanie Power, Natasha Ramoutar, Nilofar Shidmehr, jaye simpson, Cristalle Smith, Emily Urquhart, Yilin Wang, Hannah V Warren, Christine Wei, Lan Yao.