Tag Archives: Issue 7

Jill Has Root Rot

By Kyle Brandt-Lubart

A helicopter parent

Cared too much to ask

What do you need

Knuckle deep kept hidden

Puddles pooled at the bottom

Can you cry into your stomach?

Jill learned how because 

She needed to store it 

Somewhere untouched by pointed fingers

Good egg turned bad seed

Prying neighbors brayed

Why did she go so far away?

Gossiping winds know

She found somewhere to sow

Her mistakes into sweet moans

To let them ripen into her own

Bump and grind with them 

Into marigold mornings

On the phone amidst static

She wonders how gratitude and disdain

Become intimate with one another 

And if one day she will

Want to plant another seed

Near the cold concrete landing pad


Kyle Brandt-Lubart (she/her)  is a poet, visual artist, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who resides in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Brandt-Lubart works full-time, providing free therapy services to uninsured and underinsured individuals living with mental illness. She was a St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Community Arts Training Institute Fellow from 2017-2018. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Vita Brevis, Agapanthus Collective, and MoonInk Tanka Poetry Anthology, and she was selected as a Dear Butte writer-in-residence for Fall 2021. She is co-author/illustrator of the chapbook, It Made A Sound, which is due to be released in Fall 2021.

March

By Felicia Zuniga

Slides in and out
as he pleases
warm some days
cold the next
an inconsiderate liar

Now he breezes in like a false spring

and blows hot secrets into my ears

promises destination vacations, sand and blue skies

so I pack away my wools

until he cancels last minute again

He acts distant on the phone

I can hear the wind in his voice

feel the ice in his touch

unexpected fury and fights

When I see him again

he’s green with delirium

drunk with indecision

by the time he’s gone for good

it’s already April Fool’s and I realize

the joke is on me


Felicia Zuniga is a writer and communications specialist who lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and two young sons. She has been writing poetry for over a decade and has been published in a variety of journals including Contemporary Verse 2 – The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, The Antigonish Review, Montreal Writes, Existere – Journal of Arts & Literature and FreeFall Magazine. She has a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Honours with a Creative Writing Concentration from the University of Calgary. Learn more at www.feliciazuniga.com.

Poison

By Parker Penhasi

Poison is a collage is a mixed media painting, with scenes comprising various pages from Concussion Skate Mag and New Noise Magazine, two journals that explore different underground scenes Parker grew up around. Being from Southern California, skateboarding and music often went hand in hand, so they use these cutouts to show the interrelationship between these seemingly unrelated scenes. Both embrace alternative lifestyles and a rejection of larger social expectations. This collage was constructed so the subjects all interact with each other while still maintaining their individuality.


Parker Penhasi currently lives in Olympia, Washington and has been able to focus on their artistic career while schools have been closed, waiting to finish pursuing their BASocio in California. Parker has contributed to various local projects, from posters for shows to album art for local artists, such as Virtual bird. They have also been a featured designer in a small screen printing business, Message to You Prints. Influenced by the underground, alternative music scenes they’re a part of, and by broad-spectrum leftist ideas, painting and illustration have been a lifelong passion of theirs. Today, they continue to experiment with new mediums and themes as their career continues to grow. Parker’s art can be followed on their Instagram page.

My North Star is Rhinestone

By Kate Miano

When he runs his hands over me, one part

juts out metal:

A freshly tilled valley,

by which his touches can trail

to other pieces of my topography.

Punctuating my torso for five years

it’s become as much appendage

as an arm.

A bejeweled wound, I carved myself

to map beauty.

Like a secret treasure I know it’s there

before anyone sees it.

My body’s North Star.


Kate Miano (She/Her) is a waitress/editor/writer/occasional nanny. She has an English degree from Suffolk University and has been previously published in magazines such as Venture, Overheard Lit, and Dynamis Journal. She lives in New York City and enjoys yoga, rooftops, and art museums. Kate can be found on Instagram and Twitter: @katemiayes.

Mouse Bites On Moving Boxes

By Dominic Loise

Nibbles naw at the compressed corrugation 

till out of style shoes shuffle past 

barely supporting their fallen arches

a whiskered nose turned up 

at chewing this fine aged leather and laces

walking by with the assistance of the worn 

wood hand me down cane from the sealed off attic

grey blur along the wall border trim

barely seen in the corner of cataract covered eyes

one last home improvement project 

stepping out on cold garage cement 

to the tool bench by the permanently parking car 

hunting by memory around well organized compartment drawers 

then giving up the search allowing something free reign


Dominic Loise (he/him) is open about and advocates for mental health awareness, as seen with his essay writing for F(r)iction. His work has appeared in Alchemic Gold Poetry Society, Alt.Ctrl.Jpg, Analogies & Allegories, Calm Down, Clementine Zine, Collective Realms, Emotional Alchemy, Goat’s Milk, Innsaei Journal, Mulberry Literary, October Hill, Ouch!, Push up Daisies!, Raven Review, Re. Collective, Refresh and Silent Auctions. Dominic was a finalist in Short Editions’ “America: Color it in” contest.  You can find Dominic on Instagram @dominic_lives.

Napoleonic Ambitions

By Kyle Brandt-Lubart

Like a dagger drawn before

You can see the whites of their eyes

A malcontent mist gathers forces

Particulates aligned by entropy 

Descend on the rotunda

A fully formed reflection 

Of man’s most infectious needs

Doesn’t stop to hear the sermon

Before the bayonet charge

They are guests in a foreign land who

Crush seeds underfoot

In the name of carnivorous showmanship

Left gnawing on bones

Denied the choicest bits

How to fiend for nourishment

Didn’t need to be taught

To fallow field tenders

Who grew tired of wait your turn

They chant glory be as

Disposable heroics earn 

Cheap paper ribbons

To celebrate the empty shell of victory

Claimed on scorched Earth

Without treatment or salve

The burned follow the blind

Who follow the hungry

As they march into howling winter

Insatiable for power’s contorted shadow


Kyle Brandt-Lubart (she/her)  is a poet, visual artist, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who resides in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Brandt-Lubart works full-time, providing free therapy services to uninsured and underinsured individuals living with mental illness. She was a St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Community Arts Training Institute Fellow from 2017-2018. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Vita Brevis, Agapanthus Collective, and MoonInk Tanka Poetry Anthology, and she was selected as a Dear Butte writer-in-residence for Fall 2021. She is co-author/illustrator of the chapbook, It Made A Sound, which is due to be released in Fall 2021.

Undressed

By John Maurer

One must be comfortable in their skin

Before they peel it with scalpel

Before they lay it in front of the fire

Before they can stop calling it a mask

But this is blush and mascara on a ghost

And I am a raft on a river you can’t step in twice

Since those who know everything have told me 

There is nothing to know

That everything cancels each other out

That knowledge is a drunken game of tennis

Intelligence is the white woven net

This is what we stumble over

Yes, because we are drunk

Also, because we never stop playing

And a game that never ends

Is a game that can never be won


John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than fifty others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)

Summer in Spring

By Yuu Ikeda

Summer already

dwells in spring

I feel it

by my skin

In calmness of spring,

in warmth of spring,

howls of summer

resound weakly

The howls like blazes

fill my skin

with heat

gradually,

and then,

I’m swallowed

by summer

although I’m in spring


Yuu Ikeda is a Japan-based poet. She writes poetry on her website. Her published poems are “The Shadow of A Cross” in 3 Moon Magazine, “On the Bed” in Nymphs, “Love? or Death?” in Sad Girl Review, “Poetry Drops Like Raindrops Do” in JMWW, and more.

Three Words

By Kaleena Madruga

Describe yourself in three words, Khal says. He prods the growing fire with an unravelled wire hanger.

Um, I start, pulling my blanket a little tighter over my shoulders.

Abrasive. Creative. Driven.

Good ones, Chris says, nodding.

I don’t think you’re abrasive, Suzanne offers kindly. I shrug.

I have created a misty kind of coat; it envelopes my tougher memories, the sad ones and the bad ones, making it hard for me to remember things exactly as they may have happened.

Abrasive.

Some people know about my divorce and some who don’t. There is also one, Chris, who knows but does not wish to know. So I keep to myself most of it, good and bad, but there are jolts like a metal stick against wood amidst the heat that hit me when I am unprepared.

I fell asleep most nights alone, before and after, before because I was actually alone, during because my ex-husband worked later, and after because I had no choice. I remembered moving into a dingy, ugly, unhappy apartment and thinking that I would be ok if I could fall asleep that night. I did fall asleep quite easily, but I was not ok. Sleeping was the only thing I was able to do with a relative routine for two years. But I have been abrasive long before this.

I often talk to my therapist about how masculine my house was. My father, my brother, my mother, my pets. Looming, loud, competitive, confident. Dark hair, dark skin, dark fur. Masculine. I asked for a canopy bed, purple walls. I had tangled hair that refused to be brushed smooth; my mother had to spray it with a detangler, yank the comb through. My skin, covered in thick Portuguese hair, became dry in the heat, eczema scabs up and down my arms and legs. I craved softness, quiet. I’d ask my mom to teach me how to do makeup, and her face would twist like she’d tasted a lemon. I don’t wear makeup; she’d say and toss her hair behind her shoulder. I don’t need it.

I was and still am obsessed with feminine beauty. I dye my hair blonde and blow dry it straight. I whiten my teeth, shave my arms and legs and feet, and my face and my pubis. I rub lotion all over myself, inject my forehead to make it smooth. Every day I put on makeup. My underwear is lacy. I am the ugliest I’ve ever felt in my life.

Standing in a dark bar trying to reconcile after the cheating, I am drunk and holding onto a pool cue with its base pressed into the ground for balance. My misty jacket of protection disables me from remembering exactly what I said that night, but my ex-husband leaves alone, tears brimming in his eyes.

After it was over, I only sought out men with girlfriends. I didn’t cry or ask for help. I wanted to prove that what happened to me could and would happen to anyone. Two years later, I was a sick and bruised skeleton. I developed something close to shame, but there’s a better word for it I haven’t found yet.

I treat my body like it’s as disposable as I feel. I pump it full of alcohol, allow it to stumble, to be handled, unloved. I talk to myself like a nemesis; I punch my mirror and let it break on my hand. Disgusting, I say to the shards of my reflection and my blood. You are disgusting.

More from Goat’s Milk Magazine

Creative.

If you can figure out a way to get fucked up every day and ruin all of your relationships, you have to be pretty creative. I am dependable and eloquent enough with my words to maintain a job as a freelance writer. I make just enough to buy enough bottles of wine every night to send me into a coma. 

Years later, I attempt to turn everything I hate about myself into a collection of stories to be sold and held and read. Creative.

I find Chris at a small table on a Tuesday morning because we are reading the same book. I am pleasant enough, but I have not loved anyone in years, and I certainly haven’t touched anyone that I got close to liking, including myself. Even though I am shiny and new, my insides are still sick and decayed, healing but slowly. I am grateful that I now live somewhere with seasons, as I can attach imagery to my innards. My outsides are spring, blooming. My insides are winter. Dead.

But I try, I try with Chris because something inside the dead forest of my winter tells me that he is worth it. And while I am terrified of love and even more terrified of myself, I let him in. Time passes, and I begin to see myself in different ways. I finish the things I’ve started. I treat my skin and body better; my insides bloom. 

You are very bright, so creative. My boss says to me. We are speaking over the phone, so I wince like I’m about to take a punch. She never says but. She just leaves it there. Bright and creative.

Are you a creative person? Suzanne asks Chris.

Not at all, he laughs, puffing smoke out of his mouth.

That must be hard, she says, considering her hands. She is so creative that it must be intimidating.

Whatever pride I had is shoved back into a drawer and saved for myself. I remember that my grandmother when she was alive, used to sew. 

I sip my beer and nod, re-writing this whole story in my head.

Driven.

I can tell you that I know what it’s like to want to die, to hope that you will just drop dead, so you don’t have to do it yourself. 

But I can also tell you that I know what it’s like to want to live. To really live, to feel everything with such an immense magnitude that you could turn it into something beautiful if you held onto it instead of trying to wash it away.

I will tell you that I gathered up everything I had and tried to save my life because of these two feelings happening inside me all at once. I can say that the wanting to live felt bigger but much scarier. I can tell you that I held onto the armrest of my airplane seat, shaking on my way to a new life, still very much afraid of my old self. I had two suitcases and was sitting in a pad filled with blood from the baby I’d aborted two days before.

I cannot say that I figured anything out or that everything is ok. When people tell me I am brave, I tend to diminish those words, wave them away in the wind. I did the things I had to do because I didn’t see any other way. I am not brave because if that plane had started to go down, my grip on the armrest would have remained the same.

I do not say any of these things tonight, with my friends, or ever. I hold onto them, and I look at the stars. I take my three words, and I hold onto them; they are mine, I like them.


Kaleena Madruga received her BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. She lives in Chicago. Kaleenamadruga.com

Day Race

By Felicia Zuniga

It trickles away helplessly

wordlessly

without warning

Who knows the things you could have

accomplished

if it didn’t jolt away

your lifeblood

if it didn’t slash

your face with wrinkles

if it didn’t choke

you of the talents

you knew

were harboring inside

somewhere

The sun performs its

perfunctory duty

The moon sneaks into

work on time

The seasons play their parts with

alarming bravado

How come you can’t keep up?

always lagging behind, winded

they are powered from within

You’re evidently unplugged

Leaking consciousness

evaporating fickle cells

that were once filled with

something

Blink and you’ll miss it

the idea that could have

brought you great fame from

today has just floated away

on a wisp of goodbye

on a strand of yesterday


Felicia Zuniga is a writer and communications specialist who lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and two young sons. She has been writing poetry for over a decade and has been published in a variety of journals including Contemporary Verse 2 – The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, The Antigonish Review, Montreal Writes, Existere – Journal of Arts & Literature and FreeFall Magazine. She has a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Honours with a Creative Writing Concentration from the University of Calgary. Learn more at www.feliciazuniga.com.