It's The End, It's The Beginning: Reflecting on 2016

Compiled December 24-31, 2016. Released January 1, 2017


HoJun Yu - Christmas in Chinatown

+ 11.9.16, Emma Eisenberg (Click to Expand)

The night before we voted my body knew something I could not yet imagine: Build that wall, they say. We are going to rebuild our bridges, he says. Our roads, our airports. When they said, I’m dying, I said, go ahead and try. I thought we lived in a land where he was a joke, where even though the feeling might be: I’m dying the action is not: die. It turns out that we live in so such land and I am the last one on earth to learn it.

We thought it would be a celebration. I made a chocolate cake. My friend made bread with poppy seeds and another, a crackling wit, a woman from Iowa, who grew up alone in a sea of hate and swam two thousand miles and very fast made cheesy potatoes. There are beans on the table, and lint, and we are almost thirty and have lived the last eight years under Obama and Emily Dickinson the cat screeches between my toes.

This morning, in the only safe room my kitchen, cold windows, vinyl rug, I held onto the sink and then I held onto the trash cabinet handles and then
I was on my knees below the sink looking up and out the window at my neighbor’s house— Miss Shirley, church crown on Sundays— attached to mine by a brick wall and I found that my mouth was open and my body was open and I was saying please, and I was asking please, and I was asking it from a God I do not imagine.

When he said, Every life matters in America, I did not listen. He doesn’t tolerate things that don’t Work, they say. He will never forget who he works for. He works for everyone in this room. When he said, We are going to win, we will be strong again, the strongest in the world, never again will we be trampled, I did not let it in. I built my own wall around my body, my house, this neighborhood: queers on dates, tea in the afternoon, clinking cups through plate glass street windows where Tara who is black and Michael who is white each hold a hand of their child Marco— five, in a pink snowsuit. Back on my block and Venus’ sons are being harassed by the cops again and I stand with a gallon of milk as just another witness. Don’t forget to seal your windows, Ms. Shirley told me. I forgot.

Why does this country hate my body so much And why do I feel like I am little today a little girl of ten maybe or fifteen. That wall feels familiar I’ve built it before around my body: Touch me and I’ll kill you. I spent another life tearing it down. We were there in that room and my friend was wearing sex handcuffs around her forehead and her boyfriend—gentle, because gentleness is the highest reaches of strength— was stretched out on the floor in a poncho and we lived in this neighborhood and it was flawed and I loved my life.


I

He says swallow so I walk
only in straight lines
like the girls who proffer up
their wet dreams, like piles of hazelnuts,
to the locally uniformed boys.

There is apple skin in his rat teeth.
He bites me down smells
of tournament vomit.

In my own belly an apple rests
like giant horses without any fields.
He empties my bins.

II

swallow he says so I walk only in straight lines like the girls who proffer up their wet dreams like piles of hazelnuts to the locally uniformed boys there is apple skin in his rat teeth he bites me down smelling of tournament vomit in my own belly an apple rests like giant horses without any fields he empties my bins

III

swallow he says
so I walk

IV

the girls proffer up their wet dreams.

V


& the apple skin, & his rat teeth,
he bites me
— Loisa Fenichell
Beth Wittenberg, Bend Don't Break

Beth Wittenberg, Bend Don't Break

+ Houseguest, Philip Matthews (Click to Expand)

If you were Satan, you’d be pissed too, asked to kneel

before god made flesh, not even, the prototype of god made flesh, the practice round, idiot man stumbling through the garden, god’s legs

keeping him upright. Then came the woman with an actual brain, who is closer to the idea god has. Let’s call her Petal, who reaches her

claw to the thin-skinned fruit, that in picking, finds her her hand, in eating, finds her two lips like two rosebuds that can

speak, rub and vibrate, pop and ring, aloud as well as in her head, in contract with the garden snake, finds her her twice-threaded DNA, both godly and human, which was

god’s idea in the first place, god in the first place. At Christmastime, the Christians bring

the tiny breads to their mouths. I carol along with them, even I have a sun-god to celebrate the coming of, the solstice pushing back the winter’s night

like an eroding shoreline, Satan’s wingtip picking up slack earth, until black as the land he is working in, he brings forth wheatfields to feed us, in daylight, firelight, shepherds

dozing among them, more vigilant at night. I can almost see the raised scythe. I wonder what my mother, ordained, is thinking

as she shares the fire in her hand with me, who was born again and now is not, pagan in a sheep’s wool, taking the sheep’s breast in my mouth, as twelve

deacons, all men, stand ominous in candle-shadow before us.


I stood on a beach at night
where the sand was black, where the water was black
so dark, I could not see the line where the earth met the sky

My world was a shadow

(As a child I couldn’t sleep in the dark
always, I kept a light on
bright enough to let me see
A radiance to keep me safe and let the dreams unfurl)

But here, on this beach, I could not make a light
not without blinding the eyes of mothers seeking a warm shore
and driving them back into a dark sea
-not even a spark, one shivering flame-
for the sake of little lives being buried in the sand beside me

eggs, fragile and new

I watched them, falling softly to the earth
hoping that each one would be safe
and in time would hatch
piercing their shells
and striding towards the salt
till a tiny few, marked with blood and tears
would at last enter the sanctuary of the sea
-returned to a mother’s arms

For this not-even promise
for this hope
I stood in darkness

And yet, as I gazed upwards, all I could see was light

a thousand-thousand points breaking the darkness, and scattering it
reflecting off the sea and returning to the sky
-shining in my eyes-
stars that made it seem I had reached the edge of the world
and with merely a step, I could fall…
weightless
…into that light

It is that horizon I seek now, walking without a light among new lives
hoping that this darkness lets me step into the stars
— Becca Debus, "sea turtles and the edge of the world"

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Celina Siegel, Maybe We Should Have Listened to Each Other More

Celina Siegel, Maybe We Should Have Listened to Each Other More

Loisa Fenichell, "Girl, Market, Mexico City 2016"

Loisa Fenichell, "Girl, Market, Mexico City 2016"

my PrEP chapstick
tastes of cherry
tastes of adolescent
french kisses

they say it could mean
the end of AIDS
they say it protects
99 percent

keeps us
safe from HIV

so this is the taste
of the end
of an epidemic?
— Laura Rena Murray

+ "politics.jpg," Anonymous Submission (Click to Expand, Seizure Warning)

politics.jpg


+ "leadership.jpg," Anonymous Submission (Click to Expand, Seizure Warning)

leadership.jpg


I.
In the blue of the sandstorm, I saw cacti, 
and I saw cacti, and I saw cacti.
Virgin of Guadalupe walks to slice cacti
and accidentally slices her fingers. 
As in the sandstorm, she sees God.
II.
Like the Virgin of Guadalupe, I saw God.
III.
Like the Virgin of Guadalupe, I sliced my fingers
on the cacti and bled homes. I bled how he taught me
when the sand had reached my eyes. I saw cacti 
and bled until fat viscera tumbled onto the heated sand. 

IV.
In heaven have I asked ‘why capitalize the H’
and there has been a silence deep as the throated heat 
that dwells within the sand. The Virgin and I 
wait for a mirror with which to inspect our breasts
for their growth. Mine swell slowly, though enough
to feed the Boy Pauper, who throws honeysuckles
into my face, then thumbs my forehead as though
he were the coming of the second born child.
— Loisa Fenichell
Kirk Pearson, For John

Kirk Pearson, For John

my thoughts
keep spinning

themselves

into
feelings.
— Laura Rena Murray

Marie Chapman - untitled

Marie Chapman - untitled