Transformation The warp of things bends beyond the horizon’s dark curve. You slip your skin. All the way— pain will not destroy you if you keep bartering breath. Drape it like a flag across your forearms, your hanging flesh your muscles naked and bloody in the air. Go outside, tack
You speak of Dreams as if they’re expected. Out my window planes fly loud & low, bombs descend & burst; lowered onto Momma’s head the way heavy things are meant to tumble. Concrete & clothes. Carpet & skies. Black smoke scatters to the blue like incense burned before the Prayer. I have four walls around,
Where We’re From – Jaime R. Wood (For Felicia)
the Waffle House satiates midnight drunks, steak knives punctuate slurs, slice through meat like it’s holy. the sun scorches black tar streets as if to punish the earth where soybeans used to grow, and before that cotton, gathered like snowdrifts in the ditches, tar black backs muscling down the rows, arms like machines, but bloody. no one will tell you who you are where we’re from, that your granddaddy owned somebody else’s granddaddy and that’s why you can’t go to the dance with Damario, why the cafeteria is color coded. the 10th grade algebra teacher makes you stand up in front of everyone to solve the problem, which you didn’t choose and don’t know the formula for. you hold your breath and shut your legs until you forget that other girls’ breasts make you wet and making boys erect during Sunday service is a sure fire cure for the chastity belt blues. where we’re from love is a tightrope walk, a hunger just out of reach until there’s nothing left to do but hold down the bloody steak like a schoolyard lie, cut it up, and chew. Jaime R. Wood is the author of Living Voices: Multicultural Poetry in the Middle School Classroom (NCTE 2006). Her poems have appeared in Dislocate, Matter, Juked, ZYZZYVA, DIAGRAM, Phantom Drift, among others. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her cat Alistair who has trained her to turn on the water faucet every morning so he can drink out of the sink.
Permission by Irene Doukas Behrman — Photography by Devin Shacket
“Visit Israel for free,” says Sahar. “I would.” You are both home for Thanksgiving, eating hamantaschen from the kosher bakery down the street. In between bites, you ask her if she thinks you are Jewish enough to visit Israel for free. “First off, you’re eating hamantaschen,” she says. “So are you,” you start to say,
Puberty Commemoration Tiny wolves stiff conversation weights the wrists spread the ghosts thin as jam honey the locks. Sunday questions dangling one hairpin, then another. You are growing animated. I put my hand around you our thirst so delicate. Warm me up, I say. Afterward, I only remember that it was winter.
Flight I wanted to help – I did, when I saw you cartwheeling across highway lanes, pushed and bullied by rushing traffic, no longer lifted by streams of air. You sat there – stunned. I could not bear to give the weight of my wheels. As you blinked, crumpled wings leaning against pavement, I swerved
Dear Sweet & Sugared I miss 2 a.m., Virginia Slims between MAC lips, second-hand cami with rose-print, when they mistook me being on the clock, pulling into the park, asking if I’d go with them into that frostbitten night. I would risk it now. Those degrees, that job, these divisions between my dirty roots and
I’m hungry, he says, and although it isn’t true, I say Me too. We walk against the wind for half a mile to an open-air market tucked in the alleys off one of the main streets that slices the city in thirds. We are welcomed by tubs of dull apples and dusty strawberries, the smell
A 6yearold girl giving voice for the first time to curvy Barbie sings in a testing room at Mattel’s headquarters. Her playmates erupt in laughter. When an adult comes into the room and asks her if she sees a difference between the dolls’ bodies, she modifies her language. “This one’s a little chubbier,” she