Ava Hofmann was born and raised in Oxford, Ohio and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Louisiana State University. She has work published or forthcoming in cahoodahoodaling, Palimpsest, and Be About It! zine. Her poems try to extract radical-queer/trans-femme imaginary archives from the weird, forgotten, and broken depths of literary history. You can follow her intermittent activity on her twitter, @st_somatic
Light palo santo until it smokes, hold
the wood in your hand and write your
own name in the air above your bed.
Play Stevie Nicks.
Gather bumblebee jasper (for palm-
sureness), rose quartz (for the heart that’s
not muscle), calcite (for clarity like
skylights). Burn sweetgrass.
Stand in front of the mirror and find
your own eyes like you’re looking for
love coming off a train. Hold
If you cry, allow it. No need to collect the
saltwater, but sip it from your cheeks (a
tonic for sleeplessness and headaches).
Say aloud to your own face:
I’m molten silver over coals, I am
the whole gulf stream current, I am
every raspberry in June, I am
my own shrine.
Anne Vetter uses photography, video, and poetry to tell stories about queerness, intimacy, and Jewishness. She graduated from Colby College with a BA in Anthropology and Art. She is a published poet, with work forthcoming in The Lascaux Review and elsewhere. Anne currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. More art and writing can be found at acvetter.com.
First, you must cultivate belief in words
and the magic of repetition. Then choose a boy
and write his name in combination with yours
across eleven notebook covers. Employ
your girlish powers of design to your future
initials—repeat them until you love the change,
until becoming another becomes your second nature.
Then, before someone sees your heart on the page
rip it out, crumple it up, and burn it well.
Give up that boy and write another’s name
with yours. Repeat. Each time it will be quicker
to take his as your own. Keep faith in spells—
repeat repeat repeat each name the same
till one becomes your final moniker.
You’ll find that incantations fail. Or maybe
you did—lost the rhythm, gave up each boy’s name
too soon. Now then,
it’s time. Give in to body—
the way it falls and rises, molds itself
like damp spring soil in his hands.
Sink your faltering belief
into the divinity of flesh
and flesh together, wrapped
in sweat-drenched sheets, stuck
like plastic wrap to slabs of meat.
Dig deep your stone-sharp nails
in the communal pleasure of skin and
focus only there. Lie back—watch the smolder
of a half-smoked Kamel Red in the ashtray
beside your fallow dirt-caked bed.
Try to catch the glimmer of moonlight
You will grow tired of a body unsupported
by words. You too will have your fill
of lust alone & the moon, still out of reach
But reach you will—up and out of the sordid
earth. Stand now: Wring out
your sweat-logged skin
and give it breath again. Resurrect
the fallen rhythms of your fruitless school-girl
incantations— rearrange their rhymes
into fluid lines more honest to a heart
well-traveled. Speak aloud of what (you fear)
does not exist. Call out the absence
of a name. Give words to your imperfect wants
and what you don’t expect from his response.
Repeat at least three times, then listen: A voice
will join with yours—body bound, yet rising.
* Parts 1 and 2 previously appeared in Mezzo Cammin 11.1.
Andrea L. Hackbarth lives in Palmer, Alaska. Her poems have appeared in Flyover Country Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Gravel, Mezzo Cammin, Temenos Journal, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.
jacklyn janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, & a direct descent of the divine feminine. she can be found @ Thought Catalog, Luna Luna, DumDum, Anti-Heroin Chic, Pank, Split Lip, Landfill, Yes Poetry, feelings, Heavy Feather, The Opiate, Potluck, Vending Machine Press, Entropy; A Shadow Map (CCM) & Rooted anthology (Outpost 19); & elsewhere. she is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. her baby @ femalefilet. her chapbook fitting a witch // hexing the stitch forthcoming (The Operating System, 2017). she is an energy. find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrology readings.
Meet the dove with the empty mouth at your own door. Plant one olive tree. Wait three years.
Meditate on the inner workings of one eyeball, and then, the other. Now your sight is clear.
Visualize your body spread across a leathern sheet. Imagine your feet are stitched to the floor
Imagine the earth is entering through your back and feel the weight of antlers burst from your own head.
Imagine the body of your enemy in a shallow pool of water. Imagine a green thorn tapped and untapped into each of your enemy’s heels. Watch the fluid draining from the enemy’s feet stain the pool arsenic.
Cup your hands as if you are holding a heart in each. Allow the energy of your hands to scoop the liquid from the pool. Continue until the pool is empty. Now you and your enemy are equally grounded.
Make oil of your tree’s olives. Place the oil in a copper bowl at the intersection of you and your enemy’s roads.
The animal that comes to drink will be the familiar of you. Or, the animal that comes to drink will be the familiar of your enemy.
You will feel perfect fear, either way.
This isn’t a spell to ward anything off.
Touch your skin until there is a vibration of yourself above yourself. Drink rose tea until yourself is even larger. You cannot be harmed.
Walk in the direction of the familiar with one hand outstretched.
Candice Wuehle is the author of the chapbooks VIBE CHECK (Garden Door Press, 2017), curse words: a guide in 19 steps for aspiring transmographs (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and EARTH*AIR*FIRE*WATER*ÆTHER (Grey Books Press, 2015). Her work can be found in Tarpaulin Sky, The Volta, The Colorado Review, SPORK, The New Orleans Review and Prelude, among others. She is originally from Iowa City, Iowa, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Candice currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where she is a Chancellor’s Fellow at The University of Kansas. Find her at candicewuehle.com.
A spell for surviving the Trump presidency
Create a circle of ferns
larger than your body
Lie down inside the circle
with your feet facing north
Place an onyx stone
over your heart
& masturbate while meditating
on the tones
the interior architecture
of your stardust ancestry
I am the vowel sounds
that make a lilac hue
Repeat as needed
Mai Ivfjäll is a bilingual poet based in Stockholm (by way of Atlanta). A graduate of the Danish Hekseskolen, Mai’s poems have appeared in The Offing, Floret, Tidskriften Ordkonst, and elsewhere. Her tanka poetry diary can be found at 57577etc.tumblr.com
Carve a circle in your chest with a knife your mother touched. Wash your hands in the copper river it creates. Prepare a meal of thyme and wine, to be consumed at the hour of your birth. Craft a shrine. Draw a sigil in the earth. Crush a doll with mortar and pestle while speaking the names of your childhood friends in a language you do not know. Place a candle in the window under the light of a waxing moon. Hum the tune your grandfather used to calm you in the restless night. After all of this, open wide. Devour hell and all its companions. Grind the sweet old bones between your teeth.
Erin Marie Hall is a pagan, poet, and visual artist from South Bend, IN. She earned a BA in English at Indiana University and now works as a program coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. Her work, which explores sexuality, mental illness, the body, and the apocalyptic, has appeared or is forthcoming in Unlost Journal, After the Pause, Rust + Moth, and your nightmares.
~to shut the mouths of those who speak evil, hateful rhetoric~
Carve a hole in the base of a black skull-shaped candle. Fill it with nettles (Urtica dioca) and slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra) and seal the hole with melted wax.
Baptize the skull with oil (olive oil will suffice) while chanting the name of your sharp-tongued enemy. If so inclined, carve the fiend’s name across the forehead of the skull. The candle is now your enemy.
Light the wick with a wooden match. This is no time for tacky plastic lighters.
Warm stick pins over the candle flame and insert them into the mouth of the skull while reciting the following three times:
“Your vile words are stuck in your throat and your curses no longer wound the innocent.”
Let the candle burn down completely while focusing on your intent. Do not doubt that justice and truth will prevail.
After the candle snuffs itself out, toss any remains on your enemy’s property. If you do not have access to their property, dispose of it in running water or bury at a crossroads.
Bathe in saltwater to disperse any negative energy clinging to your aura.
Christine Green is a freelance writer and newspaper columnist. She has been published in various literary journals including aaduna, Germ, The Light Ekphrastic, The Big Brick Review, Laundry, and Brain, Child. She is also a 2016 Pink Door Literary Fellow. In her free time Christine hosts a monthly literary reading, “Words on the Verge”, at A Different Path Art Gallery in Brockport, NY.
Christine is a Californian at heart and dreams of living near the beach as well as finding a decent taco in Rochester. She reps Hufflepuff and Libras everywhere.
When this spell fails, you must grip your heart at both ends and twist it hard like a dish rag. What seeps out is bitter like poison, but do not throw it away. Store it in a Tupperware. It should not be forgotten. In the meantime, seek your remedies with care—ginger candy for nausea, ginseng for fatigue, cheap wine for heartache. Tie a knot of sage tied around your bedpost to keep the soul from calcifying.
Stop checking the news. For fuck’s sake.
Yarrow balm will help you stop picking at the scab on your knee, the wound you received when you tripped in the street last Tuesday, and which you now think was probably an omen. Not since childhood have you torn a hole in your stockings that way, or seeded the earth with your blood. Now a week has passed and you’re still sucking breath through clenched teeth, your jawbone warm with pain. It is time to open your mouth again. Uncoil the words off your tongue and lay your curse. Lay it hard, like the slap of skin on asphalt.
Jen Julian is a 2016 Clarion alumnus and PhD Fiction student at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She received her MFA from UNC Greensboro, where she acted as editor for The Greensboro Review, in which she was also recently published. Her essays and short stories have also appeared in North Carolina Literary Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Cleaver, New South, and The Chattahoochee Review. She calls rural North Carolina her home.
Start with a four-by-four-inch piece of paper.
Fold the paper in half by bringing the top edge down to the bottom edge.
Fold the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Crease the edge with your thumbnail.
Fold the upper right corner to the bottom left corner. Crease the edge with your thumb. Ignore the red streak it leaves behind.
The paper should now, fittingly, have an X at its center.
Turn it on its point, fold the top corner point to the crux of the X. It should now look like a diamond and if angled correctly and swiped at a certain speed, will cut like one.
Fold the bottom corner point to the top edge.
Fold the bottom left and right edges to the center crease.
Ignore the sound of cracking bone, it is only a memory, not the paper’s marrow.
Run your nail across all creases and see how the red smudges seep into the fibers of paper, snuffing out the white. Remind yourself to find your manicure kit and soak your hands in hydrogen peroxide. Remind yourself you warned him. Hold the paper in between your fingers and evaluate your work so far.
At this point, the crane resembles a red and ivory marbled ship. Pretend that’s what it is; the buoyancy of this fantasy will calm you. This is why you enjoy the paper arts. It keeps away the idleness, it contains your terror in tiny folds. Keep the deformed bird afloat on the imaginary waves for only a few minutes; it’s essential you keep your nautical wishes at bay. There isn’t an ocean or river for hundreds of miles and the temptation to submerge the remains of your secret in the man-made lake down the road will only further implicate you.
Finally, fold the top and side corners back.
With considerable force, slam the palm of your hand down and flatten, flatten, flatten.
The crane seems to have taken on a shape you didn’t expect. There is still time to fix it.
In the middle crease, on what could be considered the flattened paper’s left ventricle, write your crime. Write what you did—you will never right what you did—and seal the paper heart with clear nail polish from your manicure kit. Now it is a water-resistant talisman. As long as the paper is safe, you are safe. From the law, from his ghost, from yourself.
Slip on his wedding band when you miss him. He kept it on your nightstand; he claimed silver made him itch. You understand. Silver makes you itch, too.
The part of you that belongs to the moon is calm again. The shovel and lye are waiting and you must find time to clean the crescent curves of your fingernails.
Marytza Rubio is a writer and tarot card reader from Santa Ana, CA. Her writing has appeared in Los Angeles Times, Slice Magazine, and The Normal School, as well as in the anthologies Choose Wisely and Exigencies.
A Precaution against Injuries
Whoever carries the right eye of a wolf fastened inside of his right sleeve, remains free from all injuries.
Stinging Nettles — Good for Banishing Fears and Fancies, and to Cause Fish to Collect
Whenever you hold this weed in your hand together with Millifolia, you are safe from all fears and fancies that frequently deceive men. If you mix it with a decoction of the hemlock, and rub your hands with it, and put the rest in water that contains fish, you will find the fish to collect around your hands. Whenever you pull your hands out of the water, the fish disappear by returning to their former places.
A Good Remedy for Consumption
Consumption, I order thee out of the bones into the flesh, out of the flesh upon the skin, out of the skin into the wilds of the forest.