moth eaten mag

literary press est. 2023

moth eaten mag is a queer gothic space for your gorgeous hauntings and ghostly rottings.established in may 2023, moth eaten mag is dedicated to showcasing and uplifting queer writers. our tastes include horror, slipstream, stream-of-consciousness, things that are creepy, eerie, haunted, weird or strange. we especially love pieces that combine the darkly horrifying with the starkly beautiful.

WEBSITE FEATURES: we are currently open for website features! see general guidelines for submissions below.ISSUE SUBS: issue II subs open dec 15 to jan 31 for our themed issue: evening with a vampire.CHAPBOOK SUBS: closed; will open on dec 1st with our sister publication, dogleech books. find sub guidlelines here: dogleech booksmoth eaten mag accepts poetry, art, flash fiction, short stories, photography, reviews, essays, and hybrid works. no hard word limits. send us as much as you'd all submissions to [email protected].we'll leave the formatting up to you. just make it legible (or provide transcripts).please include your name, pronouns, and a short (50 words) bio with your submission.please use appropriate content warnings for your work. we're down to read dark shit. just please let us know what we're in for before we begin reading.simultaneous subs encouraged! just let us know if anything you've subbed gets accepted elsewhere so we can congratulate you!!we are currently a non-paying market. we offer issue contributors one free copy of the issue their work appears in as compensation. there is no compensation for website features.we are a one-man show. we treasure each submisson and take the neccesary time to read & decide. current turnaround time to hear back from us is 1 week to 3 months.happy submitting <3

dre levant

dre levant (he/they) is a trans masc genderqueer writer & artist. majoring in english with a minor in visual arts, dre has a love for the creative that can't be sated. dre likes to wear as much glitter eyeshadow as possible, collect cozy blankets and make wine cellars in minecraft. he is the author of icarus rising (kith books '23), jack invites werewolves to the tea party (alien buddha press '23) and our lil atrocities (paper teeth press '23). for snippets of poetry and cat pics, follow @drethepiper on instagram and twitter.

assistant editor

sochi (he/him) is a flame point siamese mix. he is a cancer sun, so he loves loves LOVES cuddles. his favourite toy is a blue ribbon and he likes to snuggle right up on peoples' faces. he's still learning how to read, but he is doing his best and can't wait to review your submissions.

assistant editor

greyjoy (he/him) is a little rascal of a tabby. he's a leo sun with a capricorn moon so he's all about being held as much as possible. he mostly naps on the job.

[email protected]

moth eaten mag presents
❀ an online vault of delightfully dark work ❀


❀ by Jerome Berglund

accompanying photogragh by Jerome Berglund, used with permission of the artist

ALT TEXT for Jerome Berglund's "A GIRL IS AT HER MOTHER'S FUNERAL"A GIRL IS AT HER MOTHER'S FUNERAL‘Why is it always three years later the disgruntled kook comes crashing in guns blazing, emptying a stockpile of magazines?’ the presenter asks us all enigmatically, eyes beady and Sphinx-like
and a lone hand shoots up, mouth attached to it mumbles aloofly, ‘Because that’s when and where it all started going wrong, to hell in a hand basket s***’, and the orator nods approvingly
jotting a quick note next to his name.
hopes rain
will put the fires out
controlling weather

about the author

Jerome Berglund has many haiku, haibun and haiga exhibited and forthcoming online and in print, most recently in Bottle Rockets, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku. His first full-length collection Bathtub Poems was just released by Setu Press.

published February 18th, 2024

"What Girls Do In Empty Classrooms"

❀ by Claudia Jane

accompanying art piece: "girl" by dre levant, used with permission of the artist

What Girls Do In Empty ClassroomsShe dances like mother earth is her guidance to the center,
firm winds flowing through the open window of the empty classroom,
failed illusions of the purple sky.
In the early mornings of Thursday, not a soul goes by
besides the wise ol’ professor who pretends
she doesn’t exist,
(unknown smiles from both parties in the know).
Lashes are closed onto cheeks,
images of a better Earth flooding her mind like purifying incense;
she dances, stepping over dead bodies whilst
twirling spiderwebs around her pointed finger
covered in ink and gems.
Reality is not unlike the darkness of it all,
creaking Docs and skirt in the kiss of nature.
Peace stays for only hours
(much too little time).
Chalkboards are covered in dreams–
confusion arises, yet
she smiles sinisterly, entranced
in this gods forsaken world.

about the author

Claudia Jane is a hard of hearing Creative Writing student in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a lover of the human arts and late night dreams. You can find Claudia at cjanepoetic.

published June 9th, 2023

"Coloikn, born from the skin of a tiger" & "Jumping Bunny (Joseph Beuys dedication)"

❀ by Irina Tall Novikova

"Coloikn, born from the skin of a tiger" by Irina Tall Novikova
Materials: watercolor, paper
Size: 50x70 cm
Year: 2020

"Jumping Bunny (Joseph Beuys dedication)" by Irina Tall Novikova
Materials: ink, paper
Size: 10x15 cm
Year: 2023

about the artist

Irina Tall (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and also has a bachelor's degree in design.
The first personal exhibition "My soul is like a wild hawk" (2002) was held in the museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, she raises themes of ecology, in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chernobyl disaster, draws on anti-war topics.Find Irina on Instagram: @irina369tall & @irinanov4155.

published June 10, 2023

"you replicate personalities like a shattered mirror"

❀ by tommy wyatt

accompanying art piece: "sideways" by dre leavnt, used with permission of the artist

ALT text for tommy wyatt's poem, "you replicate personalities like a shattered mirror"chrome clouds brazen with venisonblue striates, your body ready to splutter
skydown if you wear your hairsprayed wig so deadblonde and long. whose identity
have you stolen this time, kicking your rubberblack heels into dirt bloated slovenly
from your grift—too many actions one person is capable of doing you might
as well be starrypocked topography, shattering yourself in a glittering of pieces
to foam like seawater and its mist, all things no one will look at, at least not directly
— wrists where we can see them, please, and not in a surveillance way, we
just need to make sure you aren’t sculpting the body into a forkedworm
again. waving your tongue as a white flag has more venom to it than you think.
if you prune yourself into the landscape, dirty the stars with grayblue, and
empty the ocean to make way for a tomb, whose name should we write on the headstone?

about the author

tommy wyatt (he/they) is the author of NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL HORROR! (Gutslut Press, 2023), So, Who's Courage? (Bullshit Lit, 2023), JETTISONED (selfpub), and others. he's currently writing about dissociation and the things that go bump in the night, and probably is reading Goodnight Punpun as his cat, Cosmo, is by his side.

published June 14, 2023

"If You Let Me" & "Darker Magic"

❀ by Sadee Bee

accompanying art piece: "Demon Babe" by Sadee Bee, used with permission of the artist

If You Let MeMy hurt bites like a viper. Venom seeping deep, burning a path to the heart
of all things.
This hurt is Henbane and Oleander steeped in the richest nectar.
It must go down easy. If you could taste the bitter sting, the prickling
on your tongue. You would beg me to stop.
Yet, I have only just begun.
Feel the gnashing of teeth, coated in Stinging Nettle, rip
into that wanting flesh.
I will only hurt you if you let me.
Let me hurt you. Only hurt you. If you let me.
You should not let me.
Oh, my dear, my hurt shall devour you.Darker MagicThese are no holy hands /
sanctified eyes / nor pure
intentions /
I spring from darkness /
Of darker magic /
Once coveted by all /
Now hunted to ruin /
Erased from lips /
I shall not suffer silence /
Fear my wrath /
My bellows /
From beneath this Earth /

about the author

Sadee Bee is a queer artist and writer inspired by magic, strange dreams, and creepy vibes. Sadee is the Visual Arts Editor for Sage Cigarettes Magazine and the author of Pupa: Growth & Metamorphosis and Magic Lives In Girls. Sadee can be found on the web at

published June 19th, 2023

"mothman gives me some advice"

❀ by B.C.A Morgenstern

accompanying art piece: "moth eaten" by dre levant, used with permission of the artist

mothman gives me some advicei met mothman in a crumbling treehouse in the west virginia woods, just him and i in a haze of rotting
wood and petrichor. there, in the silver moonlight, he caught me in his glowing red eyes— the most
seen i’d ever been. he wanted to strip the bark from my core and i let him. between kisses that tasted of
campfire smoke and lemongrass, i told him everything. i opened my chest to show him the hollow holes
that littered it like craters. when he traced their edges with his proboscis, it was almost reverent. so i
kept going; i told him about the things that lived in the parts of me that weren’t hollow. the fog, i said,
motioning to my throat. the spiders, i said when i showed him my lungs. the mold, i said when he
cradled my brain in his hands. he held it more delicately than anyone else before, as if it was more
precious than rotten. there was only one thing left to say to him: a desperate plea for help, more of a
prayer than a request. “you think i can get rid of what haunts you?” he scoffed. “no. no, that’s
something you must do yourself.” but that’s impossible. i don’t know how. i don’t even know where to
start. “your first mistake was thinking they were something to get rid of. don’t you remember what you
learned? matter cannot be created or destroyed. only transformed. you must learn to transform. like
me, you must find a chrysalis. and, more importantly, you must emerge when it is time.”

about the author

B.C.A. Morgenstern (he/they/xe) is a writer creating poetry and fiction about various topics including (but not limited to) growing up, queerness, identity, love, and all the places his mind wanders to when he forgets to keep it in check. Currently, they are in the process of preparing their debut chapbook, Playground Graveyards, for publication. You can find xem on Instagram @bcamorgenstern and on

published June 20th, 2023


❀ by conor thew

cw: religious trauma

accompanying art piece: "limbs" by dre levant, used with permission of the artist

ALT TEXT for "apostate" by conor thew
cw: religious trauma
part monster, part matyr
i kneel to confess, all sins on the table
born from dirt, i grovel and writhe in the soil of my creator
begging to earn my patch of barren earth
i am told there is no place for me -
deny what i am and be looked upon proudly
(a thousand eyes, seraphim, pierce my troubled heart)
or fall, as lucifer did
unloved, unyielding, and yet fit for purpose
believing in god is no safe investment
as a child, i was shaped from clay with no glaze
pastors laughing in glee as i split in the kiln
soldiers of god have cracks bestowed on them
battle born, devoted follower
even his son made to suffer our ineptitude
the pastor says i may be forgiven
"we would not deny those that would die in His name"
like a tree in the sun i look up to the sky
and ask gently why our god wants me dead.

about the author

conor thew (@gravesgate) is a 22-year-old trans writer and poet from the uk. this poem was written to explore the religious trauma he experienced growing up in two christian schools, and the shame he felt for being a closeted queer man during those years.

published june 26th, 2023

"The ghosts of the old cemetary" & "The right angle is the symbol of death"

❀ by Laszlo Aranyi

about the artist

Laszlo Aranyi (Frater Azmon) poet, anarchist, occultist from Hungary. Earlier books: (szellem)válaszok, A Nap és Holderők egyensúlya . New: Kiterített rókabőr. Known spiritualist mediums, art and explores the relationship between magic.

published June 26th, 2023

"The Glory of Our God in Nature" by Melissa Owens

❀ accompanied by artwork, "Angel of Death," by Sara Julia Campbell

cw: religion, blood

"Angel of Death" art piece by Sara Julia Campbell, used with permission of the artist

The Glory of Our God in Nature by Melissa OwensThe roses were growing across the road ─ or, more accurately ─ through it.
When Walter stepped out onto the sidewalk from his small cottage this morning, on his daily 7.5 minute commute to his parish church, he stopped before he had set his foot down, and slowly brought it back to rest beside his other nicely-polished leather loafer on the front porch of his house. Coming through a small crack in the pavement was a curling green tendril, on the side of which a small, pink rose bloomed. As he watched in open-mouthed awe, the vine grew, unfurled several more small, pale green leaves, and formed a bud which, as though he were watching a timelapse video, grew, swelled, and finally burst forth a pale orange rose, slightly larger than the pink one.
Walter looked up across the road, and saw that the pavement was crisscrossed with cracks, growing larger as the vines of the roses thickened and grew before his very eyes. He dropped to his knees and held his hands up to the heavens. Tears dripped from his eyes and he found his mouth mumbling every prayer of praise and grace he had ever known, and a few he hadn’t until this moment.
It was as he had gotten to the end of another set of hail marys that he felt the green on his ankle, where his finely-tailored pants had risen above his corgi-puppy patterned socks. He turned back to see a soft, thin green vine slowly slipping over and around his left ankle, and then another crawled up the shoe on his right foot, wound through the laces, and started to tickle his skin. They hadn’t gone through the porch of his house, but had grown towards him from the cracked and broken road. Then he felt something grab his hands, held together and raised up in praise. Snapping his head back to face the road, he found a thick vine had grown directly up from the ground beneath him and had wrapped firmly around his wrists. Walter supposed that at this point, he ought to have felt panic. Instead, he looked to the heavens above, and praised The Lord of All Things.
As his head tilted back to bathe in the light of our heavenly father and sing his graces, the vines from his feet, now strong and thick and already blossoming with red flowers, crawled up his back and sent a young shoot around his balding head. The crown grew, aged, thickened, became gnarled and powerful, and soon Walter felt thorns digging into the flesh of his forehead. He tried to move then, tried to brush them off, but it was, of course, far too late. His hands were held fast in the braces of the bright red flowers, the thorns dug into his scalp, and he felt a trickle of blood flow down his temple.
His scream echoed across the empty, cracked pavement as his crown bloomed with blood red roses.

about the author

Melissa (she/her/they) is trying her best. She spends her days sunbathing in the blue plant light in her living room, since there's very little sunlight in London nowadays, and reading poetry to her girlfriend. She loves gothic horror a bit too much.
about the artist

Sara Julia Campbell [Sajuca Art] is a Freelance Illustrator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sara creates artwork out of her home studio and has been working professionally since 2015. In that time, she has worked on a great number of projects – big and small – for a variety of clients in several different countries. She has a background in oil and acrylic painting but now creates her pieces digitally. You can see more of her work on

published February 25th, 2024

"a message to our happy emotions"

❀ by C. C. Rayne

cw: discussion of self-medication

accompanying art piece: "pretentious" by dre levant, used with permission of the artist

a message to our happy emotionsJesus Christ, couldn’t you be a little more consistent? We keep checking for you in the corners of
dustbins, and behind the sink, and in that little spot where the kitchen plaster is cracked and
crumbled with mold. You’re not allowed to take vacation hours without telling us, you know? It’s
quite irresponsible. We checked the backyard, but you’re not anywhere in the overgrown grass.
You’re not in the shed, and we had to break the window to force the doorknob, so that’s a real
inconvenience. And even if you need some time alone, could you at least call once in a while? It’s
not like we need your advice. We’ve learned quite well how to manage without you. You haven’t
been very present these past few years, after all! But even with the new routes we’ve worked out, the
new train tracks where our higher cerebral functions run…we’ve found we miss how you feel inside
us. How we feel in our ribs and bellies and thighs. How you brighten the room, a strike of lightning
when people congregate, when love is traded freely. We know we took you for granted. And we
know we can’t force you to come back. But also - we wish we could. If we could swallow you down
like a lozenge, we would gladly do it. The pill would be pink, and we’d laugh at the color, and then
we’d cry at the laughter, because we missed laughing so much, because it feels so good to feel good
again, and then the tears would wash the happiness away. and we’d panic, and we’d need to take
another pill. And so the cycle would go. That wouldn’t be sustainable. But nothing is sustainable
anymore. Anyway, this is just a voicemail to say that if you want to come back, we’ll welcome you
home with open arms. We don’t know what you look like these days. Maybe you take new forms.
Maybe we won’t recognize you. But we’ll try - we’re going to try! We’ll leave a lamp on the porch,
and we’ll keep the back door unlocked. We know you’re shy; you don’t have to announce yourself.
You can just walk in. If we’re sleeping, you can come sleep between us, and we’ll hold you in our
arms. Like nothing ever happened. Like none of this ever happened.

about the author

C. C. Rayne is a writer, actor, and musician based on the East Coast. A lover of all things weird and discontented, C.C.'s work blends the magical with the mundane. You can find more of C.C's work (current and upcoming) in Bowery Gothic, Crow & Cross Keys, Grim & Gilded, Wyldblood Press, Sublunary Review, Soft Star Magazine, Eye to the Telescope, and Word West Revue.

published July 13, 2023

"A sapphic respin on 'The Raven'"

❀ by SK Meenakshi

accompanying art piece: "feckless" by dre levant, used with permission of the artist

A sapphic respin on "The Raven"❝ Poetry with her coaxings and lurings splayed open on my lap; a steaming mug of tea on a chair,
Unfettered heart tonight; dreary eyes and the grandfather clock striking midnight,
An obsidian hail against my window; obscuring the talcum moonlight,
I look up from my volume of poetry; a raven perched on the windowsill; beady eyes regarding me placidly.
An incomprehensible fear descends into the empty caverns of my heart,
"For what do I the owe the pleasure of your presence, majestic raven? Fiend of the dusk!
King of the black forest! Harbinger of forebodings and tribulations!
What set of trials and terrors will you weave in my journey, tonight?
What frightening anguish shall I envisage by your presence?
Or are you mayhaps a friendly companion to my depleted heart? What magic, if I may inquire?"
"Nevermore!" It shrieked!
Heavens! How I started!
"Nevermore! Nevermore!
Nevermore! Nevermore!
Nevermore! Nevermore!"
It chorused, the room spinning in my vision,
I flung out of my chair, the world shattering at gunpoint!
The dainty silhouette of the raven twisting and wrenching,
Like the barks of a dried-out, shrunken tree, seized in the eye of a storm, dusted with witchcraft.
Hail mary! Bloody mary! The sounds of a dying being; a transmuting being!
Murky blood sluicing through the trembling veins, a shadowless aberration springing forth!
A dollop of a moon! A chalice of crimson! Aromatic trills seeping from rouge lips!
Madness rattling around in my head like the caws and croaks of silver-lined ravens,
A milky leg of a maiden sliding down my windowsill like rivulets of loose pearls,
Behold! An enchantress of dusk! A shape-shifting enchantress of black art and starlight gleaming on her skin,
Her dress- a mesh of black feathers and dripping scarlet blood; piercing eyes and needle-point claws,
Enchanted and bewildered; my back hit the locked door of my bedroom,
Wobbly consciousness and heartburn of rosy flames circling my tenderly throbbing heart.
Soft-footed and graceful; noiseless like the dead leaves sweeping across the marble,
She reaches out for me; hungering eyes and a smile like glass shards poking through my heart,
Her next victim; her fingers dip between the rift of my collarbones and I melt into the floor,
Smelling of wood smoke and pine cones; her bellowing burgundy hair cascading down her cheekbones,
Whispered incantations against my ear, a lullaby for sweetly stirring dreams of intoxication.
"Nevermore!" She mutters; her fingers digging into the skin of my arms,
Her teeth sinking into the softness of my neck, "Nevermore!"
"Nevermore shall you lament over your weary poetry and volumes!"
"Nevermore shall you sit in your chambers, yearning the balm of love for your parched heart!"
"Nevermore shall you spill your soul out to the indifferent moon, beseeching on bent knees!"
"Nevermore, young dove!" "Nevermore!"
"Sail with me into the undying night, into the intangible where no human's touch will mar you!"
The ribbon tying my hair together drops delicately on the floorboards; a last ivory thought in my charred head,
My ruby earrings discarded, naked and spinning on the precipice of frenzy; violet eyes glinting in the twilight,
Hands interlocked and her lips against my dew-specked temple; a crooked smile
And off we go floating into the night! A rush of icy air and an ocean of sparkling lights,
A pair of ravens cawing in the night; reflected off the windowpanes; flower heads softly nodding to the rhythm of the breeze.❞

about the author

SK Meenakshi (She/He/They) is an undergraduate student pursuing her degree in BA English Honours at Kristu Jayanti College, Banglore, India. She has published a poetry collection titled, "Shades of Solitude." They are an avid reader and an aspiring writer.

published July 19th 2023


❀ by Loki Diakiw

romeoyour fever bones still lay in the groundwork of my church;
that sacred building in the hollowed ribcage of our dusty town,
run with stones dry from the ghost of rivers long gone
and god,
i pray at those pews alone
just me and the dead birds at the altar.
the wings crushed;
fly-ravaged strings of tendon and sinew.
you bring a stench with you that i cannot bear,
like a flickering light obscured by dust on the glass lanterns,
like the insistent hum of flame on its last helping of wick and oil,
like the goodbye that has not left my ears.
it lives there
as your corpse lives under my feet
and i love you
and i love you.
and i love our crumbling walls where no one walks
and i love your smiling phantom and rotten cheeks and ruined heart
which could not hold the melody of the hymns your mother sang
and i love you
and our stupid church
and the stupid god that took you,
if only for your mother’s sake.

accompanying photograph by dre levant

about the author

Loki Diakiw is a long-time obsessive of fantasy and grimdark genres, and will never turn away from reading anything dragon-related. They are working towards a BA in English and Philosophy, and have attended several years at the SIWC. Specializing in prose, short stories and hopeful for the commitment to finish a novel, you can find Loki @lokidiakiw on Twitter and Instagram.

published August 21st, 2023

moth eaten mag❀ the shop ❀

(please click the picture of each item to be taken to the page to purchase <3)

moth eaten mag issue i (digital version)
$0 digital download

moth eaten mag issue 1 (print copy)
$20 + shipping

"terrence vance" holographic sticker

$4 plus a wee shipping


❀ by Marc Isaac Potter

cw: self-mutilation

CellularSome people pick their nose
At a cellular level.
Nothing will satisfy the craving More than picking a scab, or
Picking their nose
Until it bleeds
Or creating a new wound.
This is - only sometimes - done
As a deterrent to cutting
Oneself open with a
Jazzy razor blade

accompanying photograph by dre levant

about the author

Marc Isaac Potter (we/they/them) … is a differently-abled writer living in the SF Bay Area. Marc’s interests include blogging by email and Zen.
They have been published in Fiery Scribe Review, Feral A Journal of Poetry and Art, Poetic Sun Poetry, and Provenance Journal. Twitter is @marcisaacpotter.

published September 4th, 2023

"The Big Bad Wolf, Slain"

❀ by Ly Faulk

The Big Bad Wolf, SlainYour hide—scraped clean of meat and blood—
drapes across my shoulders. I press your lifeless jaws to my neck,
press down like you used to do. Jagged and yellow, your teeth leave
indents on my skin, mere ghosts next to the scars you left.
I cannot recreate how your breath smelled
as it bore down on me: sweetly rancid. Nor can I summon your body's heat
as it pressed against me, your arms tight as you held me captive.
Your jaws around my throat, never ripping, only gripping.
This victory crumbles like clay around me. I would give
anything to be your beloved victim
for one more night. I run my fingers through your fur
and cry diamonds to scatter on your grave.

accompanying art piece by dre levant

about the author

Ly Faulk (they/her) is the Editor-in-chief of Eco Punk Literary. Their latest chapbook, Hope, With Bladed Wings, is through Alien Buddha Press. Her upcoming projects are Middle-Aged Mermaid, out in December 2023 through Naked Cat Press, and I Don’t Think I’d Make A Very Good Borg Drone, out in January 2024 through Back Room Poetry.

published November 22nd, 2023


❀ by Dori Lumpkin

graphic descriptions of corpses, tenuous family relationships, deep sea/vast space, body horror

accompanying artwork by dre levant

WhalefallThe water is rising, mother, and I can’t help but think that you lied to me. That you aren’t coming home soon. That I am stuck, bailing out bucket after bucket from our home—our little boat out at sea—and you will never return. At first I did not mind. I enjoyed the sound of the water and the call of the waves.
There aren’t many birds out here. You always liked that. It reminded you of how far away we were from land.
It has been weeks, mother. Is your corpse rotting in your rowboat, skin stuck to the wood of the oars, crusted over with dried salt? Or did your feet hit the mainland and suddenly you realized that you didn’t belong anywhere else, you could never possibly return to me—to the ocean you came from.
The water is rising, mother. Do you even care? It touches my feet and washes across my ankles and reminds me exactly of who I am and who I will become. Was it not enough for you? Did you crave the taste of unsalted air and long for fresh clay under your nails? Have you forgotten how you pulled me from sea foam, screaming your name and understanding my higher purpose better than you had ever hoped?
I’d rather you dead than a fool, mother, but I fear you are both.

What lurks beneath is rising to the surface, mother, and it knows you are gone. It sings to me at night—a mourning song that no one else can hear, and I take it to mean that you are dead. Death means different things to the sea, so I will keep writing in hopes that your body is drifting beneath and can receive my words. I pray to what lurks beneath that your soles have never touched land. That you remain stalwart, mother, as you have always encouraged me to do.
The water continues to rise, faster even than I can bail out. The sun is hot on my back when I work, and it makes me remember the depths. How cold. How comfortable. Nothing like the surface. The cursed in-between that keeps me from where I’m meant and pushes me where I can never go. I do resent you sometimes, mother, for pulling me from the foam and making me yours. Solid. Real. But I remember the gentle rocking of the waves and the song of the deep and I am comforted.
Hands rise up over the sides of the boat when the mourning song is sung. They reach for me, skin sloughing off rotted bone, and I do not reach back. I know that they were sent from beneath. The deep. The sunlight scares them, but they remain as stalwart as I am supposed to, and continue to grasp.
Are you coming back, mother? I will not wait much longer, and am growing more disappointed by the day. I will bail the water out, but the sea will not linger on you long.

A corpse washed by today, mother, and I hoped that it was you. It was too bloated to be recognizable, and the barnacles and maggots and fish and other creatures had already eaten most of it. My hopes of it being you weren’t high, but I said a quiet blessing as it passed anyway. Just in case.
I have stopped bailing out the water now. There is no point. It will continue to rise, and with it will come what lurks beneath the surface. I think about that a lot, now that I’m not longer bailing. About the deal you must have made with it, to rip me from the foam and comfort just to call me yours. Are you afraid of me, mother? Is that why you left? You couldn’t stand for me to be the harbinger of the water, weren’t able to look at what you had done with easeful eyes? Are you ashamed of me, mother?
I hope so.
I hope you never return, if the mainland is where you went.
One of the hands breached the gunwale of our boat last night, bringing sinewy strands of muscle and skin along with it. It wrapped its way around my throat and squeezed, tight. But I never needed air to breathe, so the effort was pointless. I wonder if the rest of them will join it soon, pulling ropy flesh across the deck in an effort to drag me beneath the waves.
I hope they do.

I’ve been wondering a lot about my creation recently mother, as the water continues to rise. I was never meant to bake in the sun, and you’ve known this since my early days. My skin will blister and curl and peel, and all manner of home remedy will not cure it. The only relief would come from washing it with salt and sea foam. You hated that. It was a reminder that I was never truly yours.
The thing that lurks continues to rise, and the hands continue to grasp. I welcome both of them, along with the water that reaches my knees now. You would have told me to find the hole, to patch it, and continue to bail. I will not do this. I do not trust your judgment anymore.
Why did you leave, mother? You never told me, only assured me that all would be well, that you were doing the right thing and making the right choice. I’m certain that assurance was for you, and that there were tears in your eyes as opposed to the careful shine of the moon. You were doing the right thing, by leaving me. You were doing the right thing, by looking at what lurks beneath the surface and saying goodbye.
You will never be forgiven for your right thing. I will never forget this.
Corpses continue to pass. I no longer wish them to be you. You would not be good enough for such a fate.

I did nothing today, mother, and it was lovely. I laid down at the bottom of the boat and let the water rise over me. I opened my mouth and drank it in, like you always told me not to do. It was like air. It made me whole. Not an inhalation—an absorption. The sun made it warm, and the salt coated my tongue.
Water gives life. You always taught me that, mother. I came from the water, and I am living. You did not come from the water though, that much you made frequently clear. You were different from me, how I am different from the fish and the plankton. It was never said that you were better.
But I know you meant it.
It was nice to sit and float, and just let things happen. Let the corpses pass without questioning their identities. Let the hands rise and reach and cover me with their rotting flesh. Let what lurks beneath the surface sing that mournful song, and open my mouth to harmonize. You would hate this.
I revel in that fact, just a little bit. That you would hate my lack of accomplishment. I’m not sure what it means, that I am so glad to have possibly upset you, but it fills me with an unbridled glee.
I am at peace without you mother, but I still wonder.

The mourning song has turned into a shriek, mother. It rings deep in my ears and feels like a summoning. It is also anger. Pure anger, that fills the sea with a hollow vibration. I wonder if what lurks beneath the surface will try to find you. Make you pay for leaving and never returning.
I do not think you are worth it, but I do not know the price of the secrets you keep. You tended the water for so long, you bailed the boat for years without question, and you turn your back on everything that ever gave you home?
There is so much knowledge you never gave me, mother. You leave me here, to fend for myself, to figure out my own destiny, when I lack so much.
I have never been a slow learner, though. I do not believe that I need you here in order to continue on, so I will do what I do best. The water moves on without you. The water persists. The water is violent and peaceful and never, ever forgets.
I know I won’t forget, mother. The way you tied your salt-crusted curls up and told me not to worry. You just had some things you needed to see about. You’d be back soon.
You ignored my questions when I asked them. Told me to stop worrying so much.
I wasn’t worrying, mother.
I don’t worry.
Do you?

I have reached back towards the hands, mother, and they have accepted me. I still do not know what they are, or where they have come from, but I assume they are an appendage of what lurks. They move together now, as one unit. I know I am not like them, but they are like me. Does that make sense? We are the same, but I am stronger. I do not wish to be one of them, but I know they will become part of me no matter what. I am finding myself, mother, in every day you are not here.
Does the mainland sand burn your feet, mother? Does the wood of the dock where you rest in fear of the water, dig into your skin, splintering and festering underneath, destroying you for all you’re worth? I hope it does. People like you, people like me, we were not meant to run from where we belong.
I found your shoes once, mother, and never told you. A shameful thing to own, shoes. Why would you need them when our only floor is the ocean beneath us, and the sanded wood of our boat? Were you planning your departure all along? Perhaps you were always meant to leave me. Perhaps you were never strong enough to become what was truly needed of you.
Perhaps that is why I exist at all. Because of your cowardice.

What lurks beneath the surface has stopped singing, mother, and I am not afraid. We no longer mourn together, but instead we wait. I know that a time will come when it rises, when it takes me in as one of its own. That is what I have always been. You ripped me from it as a child, in whatever damned deal you made all those years ago.
It wants me back.
And I want to return.
The night will fall, and I will rest as I always have, waiting for it to ascend. Waiting for it to claim me as a child of the water. I will finally return to the place I was always meant to grow. The place you denied me, out of the selfish duty of motherhood.
Perhaps I will sing in its place, since it no longer graces this earth with the sound. I will unhinge my jaw and release the mournful whale-call that is as much of a threat as it is a melody. Then it will truly know that I am here. That I am ready.
That you have been forgotten, and in your place, I will stand strong. Stalwart. Hopeful.
I don’t deign to think about the dreams you might’ve had for me, mother. They do not matter anymore.

A whale died in the water, mother, and the fish have all gathered to take part in its offering. I watch flesh rise like snow, and recognize it to be more of a blessing. It has always been a gift, to die at sea, and I will not take it for granted.
I can see the thing that lurks beneath the surface. It rests just beneath the whale, siphoning skin and fat and muscle and remnants of baleen and intestine.
The water has risen even farther, and I think perhaps our little boat—my little home—will not last. This is fine. There will be nothing for you to return to, though I doubt you will ever return.
There is not an explosion as I sink towards the gaping mouth. There is no relief, no sense of wholeness. Only a reminder that I am returning to where I came from.
This will be the last time I write to you mother, and even now, writing is difficult. My words will bleed out into the water, but they will reach you regardless.
We will reach you regardless.
The water cannot be stopped. You know this, and you were foolish to ever think you could escape. I will become one with the thing that lurks beneath the surface, and together we will find you, and we will consume you. You will become a beautiful offering, and I will personally rend the skin from your bones as you inhale nothing but water.

about the author

Dori Lumpkin is a queer writer and graduate student from South Alabama. Their work has appeared in Diet Milk Magazine, Ram Eye Press, and is forthcoming in many other places. They love all things speculative and weird, and strive to make fiction writing a more inclusive place. You can find them @whimsyqueen on most social media websites, or check out their website:

published November 30th, 2023

"ragweed season"

❀ by nat raum

cw: death, drowning

alt text for "ragweed season"
flashbulbs are still dancing in my eyes coronas of deep
dark pooling dread i take myself out of context sometimes
praying i might sound sane saline water clinging to my
brow even after heaving on the surface
within the baptismal font the bearer of death:
in the undertow hot tub lights cycle in perpetuity
through blurry vision i never could keep
track of anything let alone swim goggles man o’wars
swirling above in flood currents red skies by night
red eyes by morning
[the last time i regained consciousness, stevie nicks
was playing in the grocery store.]

accompanying photogragh by nat raum

about the author

nat raum (they/them) is a gendervoid creator based on occupied Piscataway land in Baltimore, MD. Their other ride is a decomposing body of flesh and bones.

"ragweed season" was first published with horse egg literary and was subsequently published with moth eaten mag on November 30th, 2023

"whalefall (death of a god)"

❀ by conor thew

cw: slight body horror, religious imagery & death

alt text for "whalefall (death of a god)"
she cannot rise
the filth of her is too heavy to bear
staining everything she touches with golden blood her
crumpled, shriveled form laid bare on the snowwrapped
in broken scripture.
even as she lies, pierced by a thousand swords, her eyes
bone-white and empty
primitive death does not smother her
oracles still listen for her voice in the dark
prayers made, but never answered
- in the name of the godchild,
the blood, and the empty cradle -
she lies dead.

accompanying art piece by dre levant

about the author

conor thew (he/him) is a twenty-two year old trans poet from the uk, with a love of gothic literature and mythology. his most recent obsession is re-claiming religion through a queer lens, and “whalefall” aims to do exactly that

published on Dec 31, 2023

"Sweet Serenade in G Major" by Clem Flowers

❀ with two photos by Avery Timmons

Sweet Serenade in G MajorThat little sound in your walls - nothing
That little uneasy dread of the dead of night in the back of your neck - nothing
Building settling a mouse a drop from upstairs water in the pipes having a normal oneRight.
Just breathe deep & keep
that thought as you turn
out the lights turn on
The Simpsons & pretend
you didn't see those
eyes from out the crack
in the backroom y'all
never go into and how
you saw them as you
undressed for the shower
Definitely didn't hear
breathing get heavy or a
glint off a camera lens
Just turn over & go to sleep to the sounds of Homer making his WonderBat & keep a tight grip on the kitchen knife under your pillow. Why you keep it there -Right.
Here's hoping
he hasn't
gotten bored
of you yet

about the author

Clem Flowers (They/ Them) is a poet, gorgeous monstrosity, and generally queer as hell cryptid, with 10 chapbooks & a full length book of poetry to their name. Lives in a cozy apartment with their wonderful spouse & sweet calico kitty in the desert. Found on Twitter @clem_flowers & on Bluesky at
about the photographer

Avery Timmons is an Illinois-based creative holding a BA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago. Her fiction can be found in Fterota Logia, Mulberry Literary, and other online journals.

published March 3rd, 2024


❀ by Oliviah Lawrence

cw: body horror, grief/death, body image issues, self-harm, implications of mental & emotional abuse from a parent

accompanying art piece by dre levant

by Oliviah Lawrence
Her presence pulses from the dining room, thickening the dark air. I knead the dough in the kitchen. Since I have been back the lights are dying. Only the kitchen, dining room and her bedroom’s dull bulbs are left.I had been brushing my yellowed teeth when I got the call. She had died. She had died and I would have to return to the same house I had been born in. Did my sobs still live there; in the rusty bathtub plug, refrigerator's glow, creaking door handles, or had they died when she had, when I would?Standing in her room with its white trim like a picket fence, and the tea-stain rings in the wallpaper, I felt I had never left. That I had lived in these walls everywhere I had gone, a tent around my heart, flapping behind my ribcage. I decided that she wouldn’t stay in that room. I couldn’t stand in there without my skin itching, and my eyes blurring, and my ears filling with white noise, so I laid her on the dining room table. She would have told me to lay down our nicest tablecloth, the green one with patterns cut out along the rim. I had always thought it looked like two girls holding hands again, and again. She believed it looked more like one girl was dragging the other along.She still had my blue eyes, two water balloons ready to pop. Those waxy eyes scared me. Somewhere behind them silent words and glares survived, the start of her will.It took me two days to pluck up the courage to yank her eyelids closed. When the yellow crust crumbled off under my nails, I couldn’t bear to wash it away. Beneath my touch those eyes had begun to deflate.Her eyes used to narrow when I left a plate beside the sink, ketchup spread thin over the flower pattern. Now I can let them stack and stack, until the house is thick with the stench of tomato, and you can no longer see the marble counters. Out the corner of my eye, I see a glass of orange juice with fur floating inside. My stomach twists and my throat burns. I will not be sick. I will not dirty the sink.An acidic burn forces its way into my nose, and I scrunch against it like a newborn. I should light a candle. She would say that I need to watch the flame, or the whole house will burn down.I punch into the dough, a wet slap filling the room. The raw mass bulges between my fingers like flesh. There is too much; too much for just me. She would remind me that if I eat that much, I will have to buy new bras, that my skin will be covered in worms the purple of bruises. That no one will love me. Who am I without someone to tell me that, to show me how to be good?A scratching has begun in my throat. When I swallow, I taste dirt and salt. The headache is back. Or maybe it never left, just waited in the doorway of my skull, its fingers curling around the frame until I moved the wrong way.With a swipe, the dough plops into the bin. The bag crinkles, and something falls from the overflow of rubbish. I grit my teeth. I’m like a teenager again, wading through dirty clothes and half empty cans. When will I grow up?Outside the grimy window is a waning crescent moon. I know its name from that time we sat on the back step, staring at the splatter of stars as she traced the moon with a painted nail. Her hand was colder than the stone beneath my feet. She told me that I had to stop being so goddamn needy, I wasn’t a dog was I. My fingers popped and whitened under her grip.The waning crescent is no longer a friend and I turn away. Let it glow on my back.The acid claws its way down my throat when I walk into the dining room. Choking, I yank my jumper up to my eyes. On the collar two wet patches stain the pink into a red. The jumper is old, with its sleeves gripping my forearms but I have run out of black clothes.The curtains twitch but stay closed. In the darkness she is just a lump on the table, with her feet dripping over the edge. She would want me to open the windows, let in the night air, but it is her that stinks. Some things never change.The smell needs to go. People will start complaining. They will peek and prod behind the curtains. They will say they just want to talk, have brought cookies, need to catch up, but they are here to see the dust in the corners, the grease in my hair, and the dead flies behind the picture frames. So much dirt that she needs to throw in the washing machine and leave to dampen the air. I know she is right. The floorboard bends beneath my feet.I inhale the thick, earthy rot and flick on the light with trembling fingers. A buzzing replaces the quiet. There she is, she has been waiting for me.Her skin is bloated purple and black. A tree of veins wind around her neck and down beneath her clothes. The day I laid her on this table she was stiff and heavy but still looked like porcelain. Now she is cracking and can’t tell me how to fix it.Her hair is thinning. Glimpses of her pale scalp shine through like moonlight. When I pull my hands away from my own scalp, they are woven with blonde threads.I have been finding my hair everywhere recently; clumps on my pillow from where I failed to sleep, in the bathtub plug after I forgot to wash myself, on the counters and in my food. I am finally losing weight and that should make me happy, but I avoid my reflection.Her body is plump, the table creaking beneath her. I want to hold her, feel the rough skin against mine, but I have never been allowed. Instead, I run my hands over my flattened stomach and smile. This is what we wanted.When I was young and would fall over, it was almost certain that I would end up hurting myself, whether it be a graze, a cut, or a busted lip. She would run her fingers over the wound, bring it to my lips and let me inhale the metal scent before I licked the blood. It would flow down my throat as smooth as saliva. She would say that everyone bleeds, but people only care when it is themselves. Sometimes I would imagine it was her blood I was drinking.My jagged nails tear through my palms and wrists. I pull apart the cuts like they are seams on a handmade dress. After choking for a while, the blood transforms into a steady flow. I cover my hands and begin to slather her.She is cold, colder than stone. Colder than her hand that night. I stare at her eyelids and swipe on another layer of blood like eyeshadow. She is a shining ruby. She steals my breath.A new ache is blossoming in my head. Decay sneaks through the blood like a dead rat trapped behind the walls, rotting in the pink insulation. The thought of sending her away creeps into my head. A bucket of warmth washes over me and I sway. How could I do that to her?Her sagging skin spreads like dough under my harsh rubbing. The metal smell is so strong that maybe people will think I have started to tear out the kitchen. I will toss the microwave into the front garden.Her mouth hangs open like a front door on rusted hinges. I nudge it closed. Still the smell lingers. Her teeth are weak like clumps of sugar, if I am too rough they might dissolve.My foot kicks something soft beneath the table. A cardboard box that I found under the stairs, its sides scarred and mutilated. The box’s bottom is waterlogged and clings to my fingers as I hoist it up onto my knee. Inside is a small bottle of perfume, a bear with a plaid bow around his neck, and a folded bedsheet.From where the perfume has been pressed upside down, the golden nozzle is dripping. A cartoon girl peels from the perfume. Beneath my nails the blonde hair crumbles.The perfume sneezes onto her skin, disappearing quick. Citrus soothes my nose but is snatched away before my shoulders can loosen.My grip slips as I try to unscrew the nozzle. The perfume in tinged yellow and I pour it down the length of her body. Blood bubbles and smears, revealing patches of mottled skin underneath. I knead the mixture of blood and perfume into her skin. Even though the room smells of lemons, I can still taste the lingering metal.I take out the bear, holding him to my hip. The beige fur is bunched in rough tuffs from years of twiddling. Thick black thread hold felt squares to his head and stomach. He gives me a frayed smile.I place the bear on her hip, but with his clean skin he looks like a full moon in a starless sky. She was right, he is too childish. I should have let her throw him in the black bag when I was nine.Wiping my hands on the jumper’s pocket, I find something hiding inside. I slip my hand in and stroke the plastic, my nails catching on a familiar groove. A lighter.In the shadows the lighter could be green, purple, red. I stare at the murky colour because I can’t meet the bear’s beady eyes as I flick the flame. Soon his bow in swallowed by fire. When the flames lick at his fur, they grow like long fingers reaching for my hair. I jerk away, almost dropping the bear. My eyes burn and I grit my teeth to stop the tears; she is right, I am reckless and ignorant. I itch the cigarette scars beneath my sleeve. My eyes roll back at the stab of pleasure as the fabric rubs against a fresh wound.The bear is blackened. His face crumbles inwards, the nose and eyes gone. He shivers off ashes that I catch with my feet. I pat his head and tuck him into the thin space below her armpit. Her hands are in fists, and she keeps her arm stiff when I try to coax her into holding him. I take a step back and leave the bear barely touching her skin.A dark red stain emerges from the bedsheet as I unfold it. A familiar brown outlines the mark. I blush. To hide the stain, I turn the sheet over. A throbbing comes for over her abdomen, warming my hands.I tuck the sheet around her as if I am about to read her a bedtime story. I think about kissing her forehead, but she would shrivel away from my touch.Plumes of smoke puff from her open mouth. A mixture of rotting leaves and fruit muddy the sweetened air. Holding my breath, I tap her mouth shut but it falls open again. Her jaw tears the thin skin at the edges of her mouth, leaving only grey sinew to hold it together.Tucked in the box’s shadows is a small, glittery bag I hadn’t noticed before. Through the glitter, I can only see glimpses of what is inside; white teeth that I pour into my cupped hand.The teeth are half the size of my nail and are crusted black where the roots used to be. I roll the teeth between my fingers. The same way I used to roll them around and around on the last string of gum, before she would yank them out. I wouldn’t even cry.I peer down the purple ridges lining the inside of her throat. When I pour the teeth inside her mouth, they clack softly and bounce off the inside of her cheeks. A few rest on her swollen, grey tongue while others disappear into her stomach.I turn from her, dropping the bag into the box. A hacking cough sends prickles over my skin. With trembling limbs, I rise from my crouch.Something slices the soft skin of my cheek; skims my eyeball. The sensation sends goosebumps through me, the same way biting a fork does. I cringe, batting at my eye. Small teeth rain into my hands. Looking up at the ceiling, I see spreading dark patches.The teeth dribble from her mouth, catching in the remnants of her hair and ears. She is pushing me out. She wishes she had done it years before, but it is too late. There is too much of me and she isChoking.Her voice is raspy and grating like scratching two pennies together. My heart shatters my ribs. A tacky acid dries my throat; I am choking too.A mess.I clamp her mouth shut with both hands. My knuckles whiten under the pressure, still her voice leaks through the gaps in my fingers, into my pores and veins that pump too fast. The walls shake dust from places I couldn’t even reach, and warp like they are talking themselves.‘Stop,’ I say, ‘I’m sorry.’Ash falls from the fireplace onto the cream carpet. The blood in my veins crash. My heart stops.Clean it. Do you want to be stained, dirty girl?I trip around the table before freezing. A pair of nail scissors wait on the windowsill. They are warm and the point burrows into my palm. Swirling the scissors creates a bead of blood, swallowing the metal point.Am I ugly? I should skip breakfast; you too. Don’t want them legs getting too fat.She shouldn’t think things like that about herself. Her skin isn’t mottled, it is a marble, her hips curved not overflowing. I wish she saw herself the way I see her.‘Yes, I should,’ I say. ‘You are beautiful. Don't say those things about yourself.’The blades separate into a guillotine. Copper crust is wedged in the crossover, and it flicks off as they creak wider. I wince at the feeling of it on my tongue, the white worms underneath squirming.Disgusting. Good thing I’m here.‘You’re hurting me,’ I say.No one will love you like I do.The guillotine snaps shut. My tongue slaps onto her chest and flails like a slug in salt. My mouth fills with metal and my eyes roll back. There is no pain just the feeling of lightness, like leaning away from the toilet after being sick. Boiling blood drips over my smile and onto her skin.The tongue flops against my fingers, before falling into her mouth. Her cracked lips and cheeks bulge. If I stare long enough maybe the two tongues will fuse into one.A gurgle echos inside her throat. The tongues peel apart, wet and curlingDon’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.Who am I? Who am I without everything she does for me. I look to my hands, covered in blood and missing fingerprints. She deserves more.Don’t eat that, don’t wear that, don’t say that, don’t‘I won't,' I say.Clumps of my hair are stuck to her skin, the blood plastering the strands flat like a new fur coat.You need me.The sheet darkens to the grey of snow sludge, and the stain seeps through a bright red. Blood pours from my eyes and down my cheeks. It will stain the carpet.I snatch the sheet off, and it floats to my feet, tickling my skin like claws closing around my ankles. I shriek until my head spins and almost jump up onto the table beside her.You’ll die without me.The blade rests in the soft joining of my ear and skull. My ear peels back, slapping on the table like a licked stamp. The other ear is not far behind. They slide from the table and into the safety of the bedsheet. New stains spread out towards the corners.The lightbulb swings, smashing into the ceiling and flashing bright. The walls press against my throat. Somewhere a loose pipe is hissing. I hear a squelch as I dig my fingers into my wounded ears.She once told me that the creaks in the night was the house settling. I imagined that it had been on a long journey, legs reaching over rivers and houses, its roof fading in the sun, before it chose this small space of grass to settle down. Now those noises are muffled, as if I am listening to them under my duvet in pink pyjamas again.You’ll be the death of me.I am a raven letting out a shriek that rips the flesh from inside my throat.Her bloated hand quivers. Her stiff arm reaches for me. She knows what I need. Her eyelids flash open and inside those eyes are nothing but puddles. Blue clumps stick to her eyelashes.‘I can help,’ I say.My eyelids tear like wrapping paper beneath my nails. It feels strange but also satisfying, like poking a bruise. It takes a few attempts for my shaky fingers to curve around my eyeballs. I yank and they tumble out, slapping my cheeks. In one pull they pop from the cords.My hands fumble over her lips and nose before slipping into her wet sockets. My eyes fit perfectly and roll around under my fingers as I move away.My smile trembles but is stitched into my cheeks. She is almost back, almost completely whole and it is because of me. Who would she be without me? A warmth spreads through my chest. I am her and she is me. My heart smashes through my ribs.My jumper and bra shed like skin. Then I reach for it, plunge my hand through my chest, curl my fingers around my heart and pull. Small black veins clutch on, but I swipe them away like cobwebs; then it is only the heart, pumping and swelling in my hands.It slips between my fingers, but I dig my nails into the rough tissue until I feel flesh hugging me back.

The heart slips into the rotting delve in her chest. Just on the other side of that thinned skin is her heart. Black and shrivelled but there. So, so close.'I won’t leave you I promise,’ I say, ‘I am nothing.’My hands are too heavy and numb to lift from her chest. I collapse on top of her. Her abdomen throbs against mine.The hissing is gone. I only breathe when I remember.Remember what? The only thing left is the slow, thumping heart.

about the author

Oliviah Lawrence is a horror and speculative writer from the North East of England. In 2023 she completed an MA in Creative Writing with distinction. Lawrence is inspired by horror video games and the uncanny. Her writing explores the female experience, body horror, and obsession. You can find her @oliviahlawrence on Twitter.

published March 10th, 2024

"sorry for dreaming about bleeding on your leg"

❀ by Savannah Gripshover

cw: blood, unhealthy relationships

accompanying art piece by dre levant

sorry for dreaming about bleeding on your leg
by Savannah Gripshaw
I haven’t said your name since last summer when I was bubblegum-drunk
And in parentheses I added (he wasn’t a love interest) because I knew
Any voyeur or ghost or eavesdropper clinging to my shoulder would
Certainly see you in that light: dazzling, seafoam strangling your
Poison-pretty throat – you rise from the sea, dripping and strange,
And when you sip in that first fresh breath between your wolf-teeth,
You invent obsession: hello, Cupid. You’re shorter this time around –
But this morning I dreamed about falling asleep with my head on your lap
And somehow someway I wormed myself forward until my rioting red
Insides slithered out clot-fat on the blue scales of your withered jeans
You laughed, teasing, feigning mad, performing – we’ve played this game before,
A waltz of teenage gestures; pretend to run and I’ll give real chase
Run for real and I’ll chase what we once pretended – I want you, silly and sickly
Or at least, I used to and I wanted it so bad it rewired my brain
In the cartoon shape of a hole you left behind in the gummy pink nerves,
Still mucusy with memory and pulsing with dollhouse possibilities
You’ve got some kind of majesty, and I wish I could say that cowboy-brave –
Spit armed and ready at the front of my teeth, hand at a holster swelling with steel
But instead I’m a one-dimensional little nothing floating through your feed
And a half-memory half-forgotten plastered between yearbook pages;
I can say this with confidence: you will never mention me for as long as you live
I’m simply not that important, not a shot in your cinema slideshow of adolescence –
But I think of you, and I clarify, and I analyze, and I summarize, until I’m lore-dizzy:
(He wasn’t a love interest, but when I think of the molecules that made him
There is a heat raging inside me, cosmic and horrible: I orbited a sun
That no longer warms me / I, cold moon on the outer edge of existence,
No longer exist in the storyline of stars / I, teenage nothing, become
Human-with-taxes, and you still linger with your pretty molecules,
The ones that chase me down in dreams, the ones that never say my name)

about the author
Savannah Gripshover is a writer and student from Kentucky. Her work has previously appeared in Miniskirt Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Crab Apple Literary.

published March 17th, 2024