my mom lay in the tub for two hours forcing me
to use the toilet before I go
in my Winnie the Pooh panties
I go, watching her use silver scissors to cut
her dark brown pubic hair into a straight vertical line

Clif Reeder
Illustration by John Oquist

Auburn Lice

she blames her stretch marks on me
I think they’re beautiful
making shapes like I do with the clouds

I would get head lice all the time “from the kids at school”
she would yell as her hands pulled off all the infested bed covers
the Powerpuff Girls one and the blue dolphin one
she put on white clear gloves and started mixing Revlon Auburn hair dye
into my thick short hair, because it was cheaper than Nix.
every time she would threaten to shave my head bald

she calls numbers on the back of items and
complains to receive free products
2 laundry soaps (Purex and Domino) because it was watery
4 cigarette boxes (Marlboro) because they were stale
and 1 tube of Crest toothpaste

when the tip of her middle finger was slammed off
by a powder-puff blue steel door
she would rub the healed part on my arms and face
I cringed and laughed

my mother tells me she can be like all mothers and kill me
she miserably says “should’ve abandoned you in a dumpster.”

when Christmas came along
she went to Salvation Army to get me gifts
she wears a black leather jacket printed with flowers
with navy jogging pants and K-Swiss tennis shoes hanging off her heels
I had new clothes, my red corduroy pants
that I would only wear if I wasn’t eating or in the mud

she rubbed Vicks vapor rub on my legs when I cried with growing pains
made me warm green tea with milk and sugar when my stomach hurt
she let me call her a bitch whenever she called me one

-Jennifer Reyna,
LSA Senior

Business-clad and blistered

Business-clad and blistered, we’re here to save the world with our bear hands. Sharpen teeth and wit to bite words down to size and the ideas of them too.
I saw a man waiting for a train with a red hat and an ice heart, shattered and taped, his shadow falling over the crests of sound waves and ocean ones.

Sip tea slowly, friend and don’t let eyes fall until suns rise behind them because there is work to do in separating yolks and giving order to unsaid things.

But here are the headlights and illumitory translations. Now maybe we’ll see the peace sleeping on a pile of yesterday’s newspapers with a snowflake crown. Now maybe we’ll stumble down sidewalks and streets to meet this sleeping baby king.
Sing him lullabies,
Lay him rest in the curve crib of the moon.

-Beenish Ahmed,
RC Junior

Life as a celestial body

earth must be maddeningly lonesome. yeah she’s got us writhing about
on her skin but it’s like gloucester cried out in blind bitter rage,
as microorganisms wriggling upon our skin are we to earth-undetectable
until the microorganisms breed chaos. but even the microorganism
duplicates, replicates, touches, reproduces. earth waltzes by herself
through a vacuum, never touched never wanting to be touched and she’ll
burn you to a fucking crisp if you lay a goddamn finger on her.

her huntress, banished by that one violent crash that launched her
away from earth’s delicate lapping shores, gets pushed farther away
from her love, farther away from her fiery embrace. earth’s blazing
object of desire spins her around, drawing her closer then spinning
her away in some cruel tango. oh how she would love to feel the fire
press up against her own, oh how it would burn and oh how they would
both blink out so quickly.

-Josh menter,

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