The Kind of Love Your Mother Felt

Time will bury girls and boys

paint their minds 

then blow 

away

I was bright– and you were new

I was a poem yesterday

Now

 cut my skin– or kiss my mouth,

The notes I sing are always 

gray.—and every time you look at me

My eyes 

are nothing much

the bitter kiss

 of compromise

 stained your lips 

and stole your voice

you’re a stranger.

 I’m a ghost.

and i can’t reach 

through all your noise

I’d float through all our clouds of smoke

—that’s if I felt I had a choice

but 

Every morning, I feel older

dark nights crawl, 

and 

warm days race

–you’re so black and I’m too blue 

our bed

 is such a lonely place.

Every day we wake up dry

in fields too brown for rain to save

we’ll

–sleep in weeds until we die

yes,

–sleep in weeds until we die

-Angelisa Miranda

All Warriors Have Scars

A scar is yesterday. It is the corpse of a memory too sharp to be forgotten. And Zanthia’s body was a graveyard. 

 

Her olive face, handsome yet delicate, bore a slash from her brother’s axe. Arms, back, and legs too were cloaked in tough mutilated flesh that told of her bravery, her loyalty, her glory and not least of all, her suffering.  

 

The bullet wounds were new and the sight of them still struck her with a cold pain. Six of them, potted into her shoulders and her thighs like bubbling heaps of melted wax.

 

She had traveled on for some time, hoping that the marks would heal. Regarding them as healthy, living tissue in a brief phase of ill, but skin is never the same after it is broken. It cannot feel. Instead, it sits flaccid, trying hard to imitate the smooth rosy shade of life. A tombstone in a garden of blooming nerves.

 

She remembered the Elven sorcerer, Elanil. Her delicate features, her piercing blue eyes, the sound of her screams as the wraiths drained her magic the day that Voshla turned against them. There had been too many men on the battlefield that afternoon. Zanthia could not protect her. She could not save her. How foolish she had been to believe she had found a new family.

 

But, where would she go now that she had seen the limits of her power and the cowardice of her companion?  For the time being, the innkeeper Arkurius Tillman had offered her room and board in exchange for security. As it were, there had been nothing to do but drink and remember how her heart had betrayed her; today was no different. Zanthia planted herself in a corner of the tavern and watched as the patrons stumbled through.

 

After her third ale, she noticed a pink-haired gnome bard at the far end of the bar, her large eyes staring intently, awaiting Zanthia’s permission. The moment their gazes locked, the gnome smiled widely, and started toward her with a swift and clumsy walk. Getting into the tall bar stool was a struggle for a creature with such short stocky limbs, but Zanthia held back her laughter.

 

The gnome extended her hand. Angie was her name and she seemed insistent on getting acquainted. She lifted her hand to the barkeep, signaling for two ales and turned her attention back to Zanthia, who dismissed her coldly:

“Return to your bardic songs, gnome. I wish to drink alone,” she said.

 

The gnome offered a knowing look and after bracing herself, she continued with both caution and sincerity: “I will leave if that is what you wish, but I have been watching you and you must know that we are not so different. I come here for a reason. I understand what it is like to be the only one of my kind, to fail the ones I love, to drink until I am a stranger to myself.”

 

Zanthia did not react well to the possession of forbidden knowledge. This creature was a danger to her. She readied her great sword for a swift decapitation. Angie raised her hand slowly and spoke with authority. A cool light emanated from her center: “Do not fear me, Zanthia. I come as your guide and creator, brought to you by ally not foe. Destroying me will mean a more final end than you could imagine.”

 

Zanthia pressed her blade against Angie’s neck firmly enough to draw a single drop of blood. Through gritted teeth, she spit a threat, “Tell me now, who wishes to enchant me and I promise to make your death a painless one.” 

 

Angie’s eyes grew large, but she was not afraid. In this moment, a gentle warmth breathed into Zanthia and she knew the scars on Angie’s spirit as she knew her own– A dead father. A mother driven insane by neglect and abuse. A childhood steeped in loneliness and isolation.—She was reminded of herself, had time been less violent, but equally painful. Just then, Zanthia spotted a pale blue pendant of summoning against Angie’s breast; there had only been one in all of Golarian, and it had belonged to Elanil.

She paused and lowered her sword. And then with broken hope she pleaded, “ Gnome. You are sent here by the great Elven sorcerer, Elanil. Speak the truth; does she survive? Has she sent for my help?”

 

Angie’s face sagged into a frown. She looked into her ale and imagined drinking it down. She thought of all the deaths it could help her forget, and she wondered if it was more painful to know or to remember. She spoke once more, hoping that this time, she would be heard:

“ We can never be assured of a happier future, and I know all too well that no magic can bring your family back. But know that Elanil is within you, and for as long as you live, those who meet you, will also be meeting her.

It is true you could not save her, but if you accept it, she can still save you.”

Angie slid off her chair and onto her feet. She approached Zanthia carefully and they embraced. An icy wind enveloped her and she remembered the sound of Elanil’s heartbeat. Her eyes opened and Angie was gone, the ornate pendant left where she had stood. 

 

Zanthia wandered out into the street, her great sword sheathed on her back. Somehow the deformed lumps upon her body seemed different; they reminded her of who she was, of what she had overcome.

All warriors have scars; Zanthia would not make the mistake of living in the pain of them. Morning was the best time to travel, but the sun was setting now. She jumped onto her horse and began to ride.

 

She did not know where she was going.

The Walls We Are Inside

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For the man who doesn’t need me,

I am a million wanting hands growing from stones

too hard

and impenetrable to sprout

anything at all.

Against me, an ocean.

–cold.

–grey.

It is a mirror

unconcerned with the self I want to see

–always

I am facing the wrong direction

and so is he.

Sometimes,

I am an open mouth

wrinkling for lack of moisture and he is the whale’s tail

fanning warm, salty air against my tongue.

It is then, that wet and dry are the same to a wanting body

and survival

is in a difference I refuse to know.

If only I could sink beneath the water

where his eyes are.

Would I know him then?

-Angie Hoover

Art: Goodbye by Michael Harford

That Kind of Girl

That mouth hanging open

-dripping

like a soiled dish rag–

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–she is porn

–she is titilation

she is the repulsion that

comes afterward

with green fingernails and wet, dying eyes.

Sweet, cherry nipples

stuck on Tender breasts

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She’s here

for you

sweaty–

greasy–

limp with filth.

  salty fingers on her tongue

she wakes

alive again but at the bottom

–where hell is

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defile her-

Life says its safe to make her stink

to make her cry

She’s made for this.

On a good day

she feels numb

cause

She knows how

To be

A thing with no center

There, but not really.

a rusty red husk

drying

in a shadow

by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork by Keith P. Rein & Cassidy Rae Limbach

When She Waves

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For Hellos and

goodbyes

my hands are

brittle sticks

stiffened by the forceful elements

raised up as if ready to punish the space

between us

with a strike.

unable to grasp–

They are unable —

to feel

to hold

Affection slides off of them.

and

sharing is lost.

Whether coming

or going

they wag.

wag.

wag.

Hi There.

 Hi there,

whoever you are.

“Her Wave” by Angie Hoover Hillhouse

Artwork: Shadows by Bird Heart

The Silenced Wound

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A scar

is yesterday

It doesn’t stab through lonely bones

or bite at freckled wrists.

It only

sits–

flacid.

— The corpse of a memory

that I have

forgotten.

Callous and benign

 in a garden of  blooming nerves–

Trying hard to imitate

the rosy shades

of life being felt.

But still-

it does not fit

Still

it does not See

that

it is not the same

 and it

can never  be—

“The Scar” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork: The Rising Sun by Peter Campbell

Of Empowerment

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Being in a gi again.

Tying my belt, again.

The meditation, knelt, eyes closed

As on the precipice of a great plunge.

 –

I am changed now :

My skin is not as young,

Not quite as pretty as I was.

My joints not quite as limber.

But my sweat still smells the same.

A clenched fist – remembered – is the same.

“A fist is a fist is a fist.”

Five years ago, when I began, tying my white belt, that’s what they said.

And now, dusting off my green-brown, I hear again

And again:

“A fist

is a fist

is a fist”.

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I look at my fist.

I remember keeping my nails short.

I remember wearing no makeup with confidence.

I remember

Balance

and

I could defend myself

if I had to.

Bowing into this keyhold door,

This is my dojo

my school

my home.

Deep somewhere in the roots beneath the floor boards

and the fibers of the carpet

is engrained my sweat

and my blood

and my tears

And there is magic here

underfoot

Because it is here I first saw

The glimmers of who is my true self.

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And I miss it

As a tree after a drought might remember its first bloom.

A level of introspection unparalleled as

what you do when a punch is coming at you.

I miss the intimacy of Kumite

Because to fight in this way is to know someone better

than a lover might know one.

I set my hands on guard,

I look you in the eyes,

and it is essential that I know you.

A strike and block exchanged —

The wing of a crane

or The bite of a snake,

and I know you.

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Oh, and I would rake as tigers claws might do.

I flew on wings and “rode the wind”.

My feet they moved as leopards do.

“A fist is a fist is a fist.”

And over clenched fist is set

an open one.

This means “Peace over Power”

To temper jagged steel

as I might have been.

But I’m back now. Things are different,

as I’ve said —

Ephemeral things like

the skin around the eyes.

But there are other things that are just the same.

And in these timeless stances,

That’s where I will find myself.

Untitled Martial Arts Poem by Vanessa Cate

The Way it Happened

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Cold sands

rolling

over dents and dunes

silent as death

and

only my chilly lips between to feel them pass–

At once, light

and stiff- a densely packed strip of shoreline

 separating east from west.

spit from swallow

speak from sleep.

I recognize this place.

It is where pale

strands of life

rest

on my nose

exhausted after being pulled

and stretched

It is where fingers sag limp

from grasping the wind

too tightly.

And you cannot help me

because only I am here

with my voice

breaking against that relentless wind

that tells me

I can never know the truth

though it is buried somewhere near

“The Way It Happened” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse

Artwork by Agnes Cecile