bellyful

JP Seabright | indigo c.  | Annalisa Hansford | Olumide Manuel | Clarice Lima | Avery Yoder-Wells | Salonee Verma

JP Seabright

JP Seabright (she/they) is a queer writer living in London. They have three pamphlets published: Fragments from Before the Fall: An Anthology in Post-Anthropocene Poetry by Beir Bua Press; the erotic memoir NO HOLDS BARRED  by Lupercalia Press, and GenderFux, a collaborative poetry pamphlet, by Nine Pens Press.

Harvest

Your hands  
     dirty gnarled
as you 
          dig deep for us
     lines etched
on palms 
          mirror tributaries
     that circle 
your eyes

 
Winter will 
     wipe them clean 
we will
          live another year
     sustained by 
such efforts
          weathered prayer
     soiled hope     
earth-apples 

 
Burlap rosehip 
     hawthorn gooseberry 
we are 
          succoured by
     hedgerow
clothed in 
          undergrowth
     bone-gnawed
and scavenged

 
On return 
     from forage 
we will
          gently unfurl 
     your burdens
soothe cuts 
          bruised skin 
     uncurl palms 
find love 
          within 

indigo c.

indigo c. [he/they] is a multidisciplinary artist and a rose with many thorns, whose work aspires to combine the haunting with the beautiful. find more at indigopoison.carrd.co

HUNGER [how to cultivate a body in the forest]

damp skin touching in the sleeping bag at night,

a lone finger reaching for the cavity in my

heart. 

/

we learn to cultivate our bodies during 

harvest season, fill each exit wound with

nourishment: like lovers, we shall be each others food,

let our breathing mirror because after all –

isn’t

        that

                what

                            love

                                       is?

 

we’ll sing to each other of how flowers                 bloom

in between // our // fingertips // and

when honeyed dawn arrives 

i still want you to be holding me. please.

let’s knit our hands together like the threads

on your sweater

                                                   i don’t want to wake up holding wool yarn

                                                   trying to knit up the slits in my stomach

 

//

 

pondweed reeking from our lips; algae melting

on ripe cheeks and you’re plucking my fractured pieces

of an inherited past. i’ll let you heal me and trace your

finger down my ruptured spine

and then wipe the blood off on the moss

 

///

 

blackberry brambles wet with juice, leaking and festering

in our stomachs. i’ll spit violet ink out and it’ll

spell a                 new story, a new history.

 

////

 

i’ll eat pomegranate and rice and swallow the little rubies.

it’ll keep my heart warm. i like the way the warmth

stings my lungs but at least i’ll have your lips

as    a breathing mechanism.

 

/////

 

and i will whisper to you 

‘hunger is a blessing’

 

//////

 

and you’ll tell me

‘i promise    i’ll never

let you         be hungry’  

Annalisa Hansford

Annalisa Hansford (they/them) is an infp, libra, and freshman at Emerson College. Their work appears in Emerge Literary Journal, The Hearth Magazine, and Eunoia Review. They read for The Emerson Review and Concrete Literary Magazine. In their free time, they enjoy listening to Gracie Abrams and drinking vanilla matcha lattes.

sunflower seeds and splinters

the girl who locks eyes with me in my lit studies class 

picks splinters out of my skin and plants sunflower 

seeds in my palms. we laugh at the way our lives

unravel like loose threads of childhood sweaters 

collecting dust on the shelves of our hometown. 

she speaks sentences but i hear melodies. we swap 

spit like it’s honey, share secrets like verses from

our favorite poems. after class, she asks me to paint 

her nails the shade of autumn. we graze fingers under

the fairy lights in my dorm room. my pillow molds to 

the shape of her head and her breathing slows to the 

rhythm of the moon’s orbit.

Olumide Manuel

Olumide Manuel is a Pushcart-nominated poet, an environmentalist, and a biology teacher from Nigeria. His poetry has been published/forthcoming in Twyckenham Notes, Feral Poetry, Uncanny Magazine, Agbowó Magazine, Magma Poetry, Sandstorm Journal, Sublunary Review, Ice Floe Press, Club Plum Literary Journal, ARTmosterrific Journal, Gigantic Sequins, Isele Magazine, Muse Pie Press, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. He tweets @Olu_midemanuel

Deborah Dish

                              butter me pink,

you sandwich of porcelain skin.

I know of rose and of lavender,

of the brilliance of turmeric, &

the timelessness of thymes, but

in you, all the scents converged

into a jollof. a plate of your love

is like a streak of shades slanting

your cheeks in their half-smiling

pose; like a perfectly fried dodo;

the grease of sweat when you roll

into me & I suck in the flavour

of your neck.

Clarice Lima

Clarice Lima is a young bilingual writer and Literature undergraduate from Brazil. With a lifelong love for stories and all things warm, they mostly want to be kind. Her words can be found published or forthcoming on VIBE, small leaf press, The Augment Review and elsewhere. Find them on Twitter @candiedcowboy.

last summer before away

fruit filling your belly button the aftermath of red in my tongue

we spend summer glued by watermelon spit and edging anxiety

wishing nothing more than ice love dissolving pink on our gums  

but then again also a banquet of approval and rows of white teeth

for things won’t bend to our will unless we make it ours we bite 

countless tasteless dreams simply to have something to chew on 

that not from our homes we sprawl our knees bitter on the sharp 

ends of grass we grow more teeth than tongue we make the sun 

the lollipop of our own we bleed mosquito bites on kitchen tiles 

bellyful and swift footed and ever loving the youth we maintain 

savory shivering on our wide wounds so it won’t evil escape us 

we do so knowing that it will we cry in heated tongue spices so 

we don’t shame our pride on the last starry night you call me and 

i can tell by the glint of your name you are already far and away 

i pick it either way your voice oozes sweet you tell me you cannot 

be all over me again or for any other season i fall in love with you

i beg autumn to come quickly knowing that you won’t

dinnertime

it is told that love enters through the stomach

it is known that it is the stomach to sieve the mistakes

there is a hint of uncertainty in all we give

as if unaware of the size of our liking

or the other’s hatred

we believe what

we hope it is

not true

all the time

i believe

you would never

give me your hands for nourishment

and that your house is already plenty

for me to be a significant addition

i believe

the heart is the liver

and all that ever poisons me

will be what takes me out of this earth

i don’t think you care

for whatever ancient literature has to say

how can time dictate a life

is your everlasting question

i am the answer to

i don’t think

eggs will ever make me any good

because i threw them up when five

i think

i will never be fully forgiven

for all the meat stored in my gullet

i believe

i am the animal to prove you wrong

all the times

i don’t know how you feel

about this

you open the cabinets of your kitchen

you bake me cake

you don’t pray before we eat

you make not a mistake

the entire meal

my belly does not growl for the eggs

you are the one to forgive my faults

Avery Yoder-Wells

Avery Yoder-Wells (they/them) is a trans, queer poet studying creative writing. They own two cats and their favorite fruit is mango, preferably in squares. They lurk on Twitter at @averyotherwise.

Crop Rotation

When I am grown, and nonetheless in love,

I will brush the sensitive bend of your wrist

and learn which foods to make you.

Lunch is a tango I’m already mastering—

I only choked the kitchen cabinets with smoke

the first time. Grilled cheese rewards practice,

and any ambrosial feast should not fill you

on beginner’s luck. You should gasp, just a little,

wonder how better you could kiss this temple

tomorrow. So lunch is a work and a rapture

in progress, and dinner is irrelevant.

We’ll share takeout and foreign recipes,

map the dip of your shoulder through anatomy

textbooks, or recite bad poetry that stuck burrs

to our legs and palms, or recite better poetry,

or search up how kissing happens.

Is tongue involved? Could we substitute

that ingredient for cumin, or cheese?

So dinner is collaborative, an exercise

in ancestral suggestions. Therefore I plan

to make you breakfast. Scrambled eggs,

the only dish you didn’t teach me,

flecked with cheese and morning sun.

And arepas, so I am taught even more—

both, breakfast, where I can bundle you

sleep-sappy into the kitchen, and thank you

on my knees and my ribs. And if lunch

is the sprawling evolution of a sutra,

while dinner is anecdotes chicken-scratched

under psalms, then breakfast is silence.

Just eggs and meditation. I break the shells

over your fists, and we reap each peapod,

our mouths coaxing the warmth from the pulse.

ghazal on stealing fruits from your grandmother’s fridge

strip the sour gauze / red from the plum. hold,

dig bright bruises into / a tremulous thumb hold.

 

dishes cup asterisks / spread in the sweetgrass

birds dipping soup springs / that fresh rains come hold.

 

the living room cabinet / bristling with fabric

pleated skirts, bonnets / in china’s numb hold.

 

glowing mezzo-soprano / melding berry diacritics

strained understanding in every / bright hum. hold,

 

the mess of dilation / safe harbor, night counters.

i drink milk and green grapes, / and deep sweet plum, hold.

Salonee Verma

Salonee Verma is a Jharkhandi-American writer and the co-founder of antinarrative, a collaborative zine. Her work is published or is forthcoming in Backslash Lit, Pollux Journal, zindabad zine, Dishsoap Quarterly and more. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find her online at salonee verma.card.co.

DEAR MUMMY, WITH LOVE FROM UNI

Mummy I am writing to you because I am trying

to make thekua for someone I love & I don’t

know how I’m going to manage deep-frying in a dorm room. 

 

Here’s the plan: I’m going to find 

a patron of the arts by which I mean hopefully

someone in my first period is rich & owns an

apartment & misses fried food enough to let me 

shape coconut & flour into rounds big

enough to fit an entire palm in. 

 

(Once you told 

me they call it heart of palm 

because the most important 

part of a life can fit in your 

palm.) 

 

Mummy, then I will fry 

thekua for my partner who 

you already have fed once, 

long ago when I didn’t know how 

to cut garlic for those I love. 

 

The problem is that I don’t know 

the recipe & I can’t figure out 

how to trap sunlight through 

a kitchen window & Mukesh 

through your radio & the curry 

leaf plant C.P. looking up up up— 

 

how to catch it like Pokémon 

into deep-fried dough.

NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS WHO ARE BASICALLY LOVERS

Do you remember, I said. Do you remember 

when we went out to dinner, all ten of us, and 

you gave me the olives off your plate with 

pinched brown fingers? I picked out all the peas 

& put them in your bowl. Together we finished 

an entire meal. I ate the squishy steamed things 

you hated like they were birthday gifts. Neither 

of us was born on the anniversary of thick noodles 

stretched out & slurped down & making a home 

on the paper napkin in your lap. Family reunions, 

except it’s meeting family for the first time over, 

are best created at restaurants. You know how 

greenhouses concentrate the hot air & magnify 

it to let the plants grow up? If a restaurant doesn’t 

incubate love like those chicks we brought to 

life in second grade, then there’s not much 

point in giving up the time we could be spending 

kneading garlic into bread together. But this 

is different. This is our friends making noise 

music across the table. This is a promise to 

meet again next month for hot pot. This is 

pulling out dripping rusk from chai & stuffing 

it in open mouths. This is fighting violently 

over the right to pay the check like our fathers 

and fathers before that used to. Do you remember, 

I said. Do you remember something that has 

yet to happen but is sure to? Mark your calendar 

for the 26th. Send a text to the WhatsApp group 

chat. We’re going out to love & eat good food 

and maybe in the end, that’s the same thing.

EDITOR

Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer & artist. She edited for The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq 4.5 Writing Showcase (2020) and has participated in workshops including RAWI Wet Hot Arab-American Summer (2019) and Tin House Winter Workshop (2022). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and appears in Sycamore Review, Vagabond City Lit, Kissing Dynamite, Mizna, & elsewhere. Find her on twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.