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© 2019 PHEMME Zine

issue 3.

vol 1.

PHEMME

CONTENTS.

TEXT

today is monday, Anthony AW

i (am here to save you), Anthony AW

In Sixth Grade, Sadie Shuck Hinkel

An Introduction to Women’s Healthcare, Sheryl De Pree

But Nothing, Anna Sanderson

like places on earth, ada pelonia

These Are Things to Leave Unspoken, Kayla King

Bi-Nary, Keana Águila Labra

Happy Mother’s Day, Keana Águila Labra

4 letters, Grace Willcox

I Dyed it Purple (excerpt), Grace Willcox

Chattahoochee, Eva Niessner

persephone in august, Darcy Shull

The Monsters in My Closet, Sarah Feingold

VISUAL

18th and Greenfield, Hannah Bender

Photos from Glitter (Concept, styling, and modeling by Chi Ilochi; photo shot by Anthony Hughes)

Lights Are On, Rickey Rivers Jr.

too sick, Hannah Bender

These Are Things to Leave Unspoken

by Kayla King (she/her/hers)

True memories master none but falsities into fictions
you tell when too drunk. You take a swig of vodka, talk about Sylvia,
and her drink of choice in that book about someone else.
But it’s her, you say. And you explain something about the idea of being naked giving you goosebumps,

but not from cold. There is a very good chance
they will commit the moment to memory, but it will never be right.
How long will their lie last beyond that night? You’ll shiver
three weeks from now, and they’ll assume
you’re thinking about them naked and they’ll assume you only write
sex scenes from dreams because you only dream about them.
Maybe it’s not the way of thinking back
and back until nostalgia knots you. You could tell yourself to stop
swallowing words like they’re nothing, but you wouldn’t listen
anyway. And so it’s done: this endless, spirographic lie
where they think you the narrator, instead of the ghost
of a poet. Haunted by the writing. Emptied by this poem.
An echo. Yes, an echo. Like the curse of Fate; you call things this
way when you have an aversion. That piece of thread, so red, that tether.
You wrap it around your index finger once and again and again
until you lose feeling. Now you’re not broken, but numbness asks:
what have you done? You can’t find the words
despite claiming commitments, despite grasping for grandeur
in paragraph or phrase. But then again, you deviate.
Remember they say less is more,
but how can that be true of loving? The lie taste is nothing now.
You don’t want that on your conscience.
But he was all numbers, and when you divide him by you, you’re not sure

what you get because you’ve never really understood taking half of a fraction.

Because you like the feeling of a whole bed to yourself.
But anyway, your taste bud is falling off, and you’ll try to forget
the scratch against your lips because it wasn’t real, and maybe it never will be.

And the smile you turn up isn’t real. This you know. This you will remember.

 

I Dyed It Purple (excerpt)

by Grace Wilcox (she/her/hers)

 

I’ve been in California for a month. I’ve dyed my hair strawberry blonde, and then once it faded because I didn’t bleach my hair beforehand, I dyed it purple. I pierced my nose for my birthday weekend in Reno where I met my dormmate’s sister, boyfriend, and his best friend. The piercer lied to me when she said I’d only feel the very tip of the needle, the part where it hurt the most. I voluntarily cried as the needle was inserted into my nostril, waiting for the tip of it to end.

Reno is where spaghetti and chocolate ice cream cake is waiting for you on the counter after a four-hour bus ride, and where a drunken 30-year-old man is fumbling in the bathroom on a moving Flix Bus, trying to shut the door while he whips out his penis in public. We dropped off our luggage in the kitchen of my dormmate’s house. We each took turns sneaking into the bathroom where her mom stored an entire closet full of liquor, so much so that if you took four shots of Jack Daniel’s or cheap tequila, she wouldn’t know the difference. She never found out.

My dormmate's boyfriend's shampoo smells like all of the shampoos that are in places of temporary stay: the sleepover you went to when you were nine, the hotel you stayed at for one night in Ashland, the travel size bottle in the very back of the cupboard once you've run out of Beauty & Love & Planet. I added an extra pump into the palm of my hand and huffed it like an attempt to get high off a memory.

We made smoothies every morning because Reno has longer seasons than Washington, and the cold birth of rain that lasts nine months on a bad year doesn't occur here. I remembered ironically making smoothies during the winter in our marble-countered kitchen with terracotta tiled floors back home. I only drank half of them, but consistently only half.

I romanticize men when I swipe through the endless disgusting sea of Bay Area Tinder. Good men from bad men from boring men from men who are so bad in bed to men who can’t drive because they’re borrowing their parents cars to men who spend four minutes talking to you and then expect sex to be their reward to men who aren’t really men and are just a manifestation of my low standards. I really should just delete the app.

I told my dormmate’s sister that when she turns 18 I’d go with her to get her first tattoo. We spitballed lies and excuses for her to use on her parents if they would ever hypothetically find out. She feels like my little sister and I want to hold her hand while she gets inked.

The bus ride to Reno is four hours with an hour stop in Sacramento. I write about Ray and other things, mainly the good I remember. Like Milk Duds. We talk about the birdhouse my best friend’s boyfriend has at his place downtown, and how the trampoline gets wet when it rains and makes for a good 30 minutes of fuckery. We make tea and cinnamon rolls in the morning on straight hardwood floors and granite countertops, listening to Vulfpeck and Still Woozy. What the fuck is real? What the fuck is wrong? I think I can fit with your tone. I’m going to dye my hair blue once the purple fades.

18th and Greenfield

by Hannah Bender (they/them/theirs)

The Monsters in My Closet

by Sarah Feingold (she/her/hers)

 

I bump elbows with them every day

hanging from the wire hangers like dancing skeletons

when I come here to hide

 

Spectral

 

organic chemistry

global warming

the amount of cockroach parts the FDA deems as “safe” in one jar of peanut butter

 

Scaley

 

going to hell for how I love

the people on earth who think I’m going to hell for how I love

calculus pop quizzes

 

Slimey

 

the strange stain on my dorm room carpet

the lines that dance across my friend’s forearm when she waltzes with her razor blade

making her pulse do the polka

parking tickets

 

Spooky

 

deadlines

that moment before you’re really awake

but you’re not asleep anymore and your body becomes a Frozen Flesh Prizon

Alzheimers

 

Spine chilling

 

gas station sushi

cancer

commitment

 

Sinister

 

how much I love you and

the thought that some of my friends will never be able to accept us

the way these closet skeletons do

like places on earth

by ada pelonia (she/her/hers)

 

i grew up in turmoil

flocked by birds outside

of their cages, their

   eyes   leering,

     beaks  whispering

in soft voices but mostly

   yelling  names

they deem as endearments

when i speak their voices seem

      booming

from the inside of their egos,

crying out it’s unfair, what they

did should make me    flutter

in extreme joy, what they

said were mere    compliments

that i must take

     word    per    word

these birds, while soaring

 outside   their    cages,

    egos  bulging,

there i stood, mind whirring,

thinking of ways

   of getting them caged

today is monday

by Anthony AW (he/him/his, they/them/theirs)

 

i don’t know

who i am

from one day

to the next.

Lights Are On

by Rickey Rivers Jr. (he/him/his)

4 letters

by Grace Willcox

i cried in a thrift town dressing room breathing in the fumes from past bodies: trashy cologne, dead skin, molded armpits, stains of blood. none of these things are as bad as they seem. their bodies are my body. baby phat sweats and size 30 levi’s why the fuck is size 30 too big when a size 28 used to fit around this size growing waist and you used to fit inside me until i got rid of the deadweight. they could’ve named me after the PAIGE jeans i lived in. i was a 10 when my mother hated seeing me. We hated the rings of black around my eyes and the lines of white between my thighs and i wanted her to not see me for all of me but for what she was when she was 20.

i cried in a crossroads trading company. fingerprintssmudgedup against the mirror i wanted to puke on or are the lights too bright? is this skin too pale? is any man going to love me like my father loved my mother in ‘94? i cried in my car getting gas on the way to a goodwill. flannel tongue-tied around my tits because this body won’t stop swelling won’t stop sinking into the ground heavy won’t stop trying to float just to be yanked back down by calloused hands i swear i’m a hot air balloon with whiplash. my bare heels crash on the linoleum floor when i walk. i don’t think i can silence them.

i cried in the exit of the goodwill. i got my period like a long-lost-gift like the “fuck you” that tore us apart like the 35 pounds that snuck up on me like.

i cry and bleed at the same time.

Happy Mother's Day

by Keana Águila Labra (she/her/hers)


i. I wish I were enough

but I was born in the transition

when the cold chokes the fall
all I’ve ever asked for
were her hands,

but today is her day.

 

ii. she and I exist in the transactional

yet I remain in the exchange. 

persephone in august

by Darcy Shull (she/her/hers)

dark-eyed persephone sits

on the kitchen floor

legs spread and bent like

moth wings catching light

 

here the pantry bursts
with ripe temptations

plum, persimmon, pear
plucked at the height

of edible youth—

outside, the orchard

is heavy with bees
 

in time will come a death
and then a wailing

a frosting of the valleys

where her mother tends

the wheat and drives the cattle

 

in time she will descend
and call the harvest

when locusts shriek

and peaches drop

like rotting miniature suns—

the flies come for the viscera

the sparrows for the flies

 

there is terrible wonder

in this soft decay of fruit

this exchange of little birds

from god to god—
a dread and a reverence

found elsewhere in

the origins of snow
the semaphores of love

Glitter

Concept, styling, and modeling by Chi Ilochi (she/her/hers)

Photo shot by Anthony Hughes (he/him/his)

i (am here to save you)

by Anthony AW (he/him/his, they/them/theirs)

I’ll be your mirror / Reflect what you are,

in case you don’t know

— I’ll Be Your Mirror by The Velvet Underground (ft. Nico)

 

the wind rustling your hair

is saying hello. The universe

knows which eyes who meet

yours on the street need

to see. The fire-station windows

serve as your full-length reflector.

The city wants you to
love yourself. Your feet carries

more than your body. Mind

the business of others. Ignore

brightly lit signs that beg

for you to become them.

You bought the pointer-finger ring

because you could spin its

dial. Call your loved ones
darlings, which includes these word:

anthony i sincerely love you

Bi-Nary

by Keana Águila Labra (she/her/hers)

 

She doesn't know anything about me

but I dare to presume everything about her

slick hair, dark and tied in a ponytail

ready to strangle me in my sleep as I

dream dangerous things

 

I take glances and Time
with Her wry smile,
acting as my wingman

She slows Herself,

the air is viscous

 

I don't order anything

I can't move

 

my eyes raze the world

to get to her.

too sick

by Hannah Bender (they/them/theirs)

An Introduction to Women's Healthcare

by Sheryl De Pree (she/her/hers)

 

“Are you sexually active?” he asked nonchalantly, snapping the blue latex glove over his hand and surveying the tray of shiny instruments laid neatly on the rolling table near my feet. I stared at his fat blue fingers and the coarse, black wrist hair poking out of the rubbery cuff. I pulled at the flimsy paper sheet covering my nakedness.

“Yes,” I answered, mortified.

“All-righty, then, Baby. Scoot your tush down toward me and drop your knees wide open,” he said.

 

I scooted tentatively and again, until my ass cheeks found the table edge. I settled my feet firmly into the stirrups and dropped my knees cautiously out to the sides.

 

“Try to relax, Honey. I’m not gonna bite you,” he teased.

He held out the blue hand to the nurse and without a word she doused his fingers with a clear, oozing lubricant. The slippery blue hand disappeared beneath the sheet and found its way into me, cold and intent on its upward trajectory.  The doctor’s other hand settled near my bellybutton and pressed downward. It felt like he was trying to shake his own hand through my pelvis.

 

“You’re gonna feel a little pressure now, Sweetheart,” he informed me, unnecessarily.

Desperate to avoid eye contact with this man or his expressionless nurse-accomplice, I cast my gaze to the ceiling. There, affixed right above my head, was a poster, shiny and creased, fresh from the center of some seedy magazine, featuring three bronzed male strippers. Their oversized oily pecs, bowties, and thongs fell pathetically short of seductive, but I suspected the gynecologist might think otherwise. I stole a quick glance his way and caught the smirking corners of his upturned lips. He was pleased with his private joke. I rolled my head to the side, closed my eyes and waited for the indignity to end.

Glitter

Concept, styling, and modeling by Chi Ilochi (she/her/hers)

Photo shot by Anthony Hughes (he/him/his)

But Nothing

by Anna Sanderson (she/her/hers)

What’s wrong with him? Jess asked. 

 

We were at her favorite café, the latest in a long line of places she liked to frequent faithfully for a few weeks, then discard as if they never existed. As we sipped too-strong coffee from brightly colored mugs, the faces of the greats watched from the walls — Joni and Kurt and Marilyn, all wearing matching expressions that told me I wasn’t fooling them; they’d seen it a hundred times before. 

 

Jess looked up from her mug and fixed her gaze on me, dark eyes drinking me in as she waited for a response I didn’t have. In the end, I just shrugged. 

 

Not good enough, she teased, and a slender finger found its way to the bare skin of my arm, giving a gentle prod. 

 

I stuck out my tongue like the child I always became when Jess was around.

 

What? Him or my answer? 

 

What do you think? 

 

I thought of my date with Jack last Saturday; the way he slid the jacket off my shoulders and pulled out a chair for me at the restaurant; the cute dimples that framed his lips whenever he smiled, which was more often than not. He smelled of clean laundry and bubblegum, and he spoke about life with an enthusiasm I sometimes worried I was losing. 

 

There’s nothing wrong with him, I admitted. Nothing at all. 

 

But?

 

But nothing, I said. 

 

Jess smiled knowingly.

 

Oh, come on, Hannah...

 

I thought of my increasingly frequent meet-ups with Jess; of our coffee dates and film nights, and evenings spent in arty, side-street bars stumbled upon after too much wine. I thought of the way hours seemed to pass like seconds when we were together; and how her mere presence could put a smile on my face, no matter my mood. 

 

She said, There’s always a but, isn't there?

 

I thought: But he’s not you.

Chattahoochee

by Eva Niessner (she/her/hers)

Mason-Dixon line be damned, I knew I could not be a southerner when you stood in the doorway, leaning into the rage of the Juneday sun, and shrugged—

 

“It’s not hot enough to go swimming yet. Let’s take a walk by the river.”

                                                               •

Everywhere we went, I could pretend I was kept. In the city, in the suburbs. In the tourist traps and in the movie theater and in the market. On the banks of the Chattahoochee, I could imagine being someone’s girl.

 

Did you know then, of all the gifts you gave me, the greatest was the mirror in my mind, the one that let me watch myself on another woman’s arm?

                                                                       

                                                               •

Snakes and toads and witch’s pets by that riverside, newts and butterflies, kayakers and dog walkers. And, melting like butter pecan, me, too Northern to find a home in a place like this.

 

But we can still pretend.  

                                                               •

                                                                    

How happy the library book must feel to be borrowed by someone who adores it, even when they both know it will not be for keeps.

Glitter

Concept, styling, and modeling by Chi Ilochi (she/her/hers)

Photo shot by Anthony Hughes (he/him/his)

In Sixth Grade

by Sadie Shuck Hinkel (she/her/hers)

I kept a set of make-up remover wipes in my SpaceMaker

pencil box. On the after-school bus, I wiped away the red lip-liner

 

& the black under-the-eye-liner that I had carefully painted on at 7:48 am.

I used to think, while disrupting the straight line of my scalp

 

& parting my hair in zig-zags, that it wasn’t safe for the bus not to

have seatbelts. I imagined flying through the windshield when we hit a patch

 

of ice, my Sterling Blue shadow and Pretty Peach blush bloodstaining the snow.

My parents wouldn’t be able to identify my darkened waterline, my cherry

 

lips. The mortician would have to work in reverse, gently scrubbing off

the color instead of patting it on, preserving the body that never got a chance

 

to be my own.

BIOS.

Kayla King is a graduate of the Mountainview MFA. She is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. Kayla's fiction and poetry has been published by or is forthcoming from Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, Fearsome Critters, Barren Magazine, and Dear Movies Zine, among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website: kaylakingbooks.com or her twitterings @KaylaMKing. 

Grace Willcox is a writer and undergraduate student pursuing her BA at Mills College in Oakland, California. She was born in Portland, Oregon, and her work has been seen in Chaleur Magazine, Elementia, and the 2018 issue of Phoenix, Clark College’s Art and Literary Journal. She is in love with words and the power they hold over our lives. 

Chi Ilochi is a 19-year-old model, artist, and stylist based in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. 

Hannah Bender lives and works out of Milwaukee. They are always experimenting with color and texture. Very early-on they were taught to "paint ugly."

Rickey Rivers Jr. was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. His work has appeared in Eye Flash Poetry, Neon Mariposa, A Twist in Time Magazine, and Peeking Cat Poetry, among other publications. https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/

Ada Pelonia is a writer from the Philippines. Her work has appeared in Germ Magazine, 101 Words, Porridge Magazine, and elsewhere. Some of her works can be seen at adapelonia.weebly.com or on Twitter @_adawrites.

Anthony AW is an LA-based writer. Their work has been or will be published in Boston Accent Lit, Drunk Monkeys, FIVE:2:ONE, Mojave He[art] Review, & Rogue Agent. Their micro-chapbook, Pantoum'd!, will be published by Ghost City Press for their 2019 Summer Series. AW is a part of the Pink Plastic House 2019 summer online residency. They host tête-à-tête, a queer reading series in Highland Park. You can find them on social media as @an__o__.

 

Keana Águila Labra is the Editor-in-Chief of Marías at Sampaguitas. She is a regular contributor for Royal Rose Magazine and Rose Quartz Magazine. She is also a Poetry Reader for Homology Lit. Knowing the importance of representation, her work is evidence that Filipino Americans are present in the literary world. She is on Twitter as @keanalabra.

Sheryl De Pree is a writer based in Decatur, GA. When she's not writing, she enjoys bowling, knitting, and playing guitar. 

Darcy Shull is a practicing poet who was born and raised in Appalachia. Though formally educated in filmmaking and illustration, she recently decided to give writing poetry a shot, as reading it has always been a well-loved pastime. Some of her influences include William Carlos Williams, Margaret Atwood, and Seamus Heaney. Her work commonly centers on folkloric and natural themes, written in a dreamlike and imagery-rich style. She is currently in the process of editing her first formal collection, Levitica, which focuses on feminine figures throughout religion and mythology. 

Anna Sanderson is a writer from Nottingham, England, who writes about the world as she sees it (with the odd twist and turn). Her work can be found online at sites such as 101 Words, A Quiet Courage and Rose Quartz, and in numerous zines and anthologies including Razur Cuts, Maelstrom and Lights Go Out, where she has a regular music review column. Follow her story on Twitter at @annasanderson86. 

Eva Niessner is a queer woman teaching in Baltimore. She is a 2017 graduate of Towson University's professional writing MS program. Her work has previously appeared in Baltimore Magazine and Grub Street. In her free time, she likes to paint her nails. 

Sarah Feingold was born and raised in Charleston SC and is currently an impatient junior at Furman University. Her work has been published in the Furman Echo and previous issues of Phemme Zine. She is a biology major and will either pursue medical school after undergraduate or become a remote sheepherder who knits all of her clothing. 

Sadie Shuck Hinkel is a poet and essayist from the Midwest. She received her MA from Coastal Carolina University, and she is an editor for Electric Moon Magazine. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Manhattanville Review, Barren Magazine, Ghost City Review, Boston Accent Lit, and others.