The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

PRAYER: SYRINX

I’ve had enough of gods of dipping lips
to pondwater & receiving soundless ripples
in response Let this psalm call to my body
instead How she stiffened in his arms
Became phloem then marrow then phloem
again A field salting itself before being
plucked fallow How pinned beneath
him she witnessed the hoopoe stalk
a pair of nightingales The hawk lance
voles on its talons The thrush shake
seeds from its feathers
My body my
thorned membrane is there a story where
he not us tapers & snaps into a new
shape Where we leave him an uprooted
reed to shrivel on the sun-parched bank


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dress, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

WHEN I DEFEND MY NAME IN COURT

I arrive smeared with filth
& crushed
asters Palm pressed
to a leather bible I say
my goddess is a nest of grime my worship
a cheap strap-on pursed under the tongue

The jury of gleaming women staple my birth
certificate to my forehead reciting
the deadname while by hand or
by vise witnesses
fail to pry my hips wider Without
verdict the judge recounts
stories of women hexed
by the sun’s spit of women never
believed Locked out
on the courthouse steps my love
watches transfixed as a shrike
pins robin hearts to her left index For want
of relief for want of a branch


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dress, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

THE ANTLERED DOE

A man doused in roebuck piss says
I saw it as I skinned its thighs
& laughs.

Your death always a joke, the shock
of womb, a punchline.
Darting through

underbrush, your hooves
resounded like cackling children.
This velvet crown, not always a betrayal—

In rutting season, the tongues
of stags & doe alike climbed
your hind leg, crying
I opened for my beloved but she was gone.

Now is the hour of moths
& the body remade as
a sack of buckshot.

A child bundles you in sweat-stale
flannel, lifting you onto the truck bed
like a distant sister. Nestled

against your snout, he mouths
a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts
to hide themselves away like fawns.


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dres, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

AUBADE WITH BALL GAG

“Masturbathon” is the ideal form of sex activity for this trans-gendered subject.
-Slavoj Žižek

Love in this omnivorous air
this weave of straps & copper we must look like
a lone woman who can’t stop
touching herself

A tangled braid
of bone A prairie of orchids
speckled in amber in pudendum
in hooks Please lean

closer & hear the cries crackle
along my jaw like hooves The spit
circle my throat like a supplicant

Before re-entering the world that makes
a husband of me you clench
the absence of my breasts

At the unclasping our twinned watermark
our afterimage fading


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dres, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner

FRONTISPIECE

I think of how gods prefer their oracles
blind & their prophets impotent,

how two milligrams of estrogen
was enough to mold Eve from a shard of bone.

If only the world would hush,
I could hear my skin thinning.

Listen: sleep is a wasp’s nest inside the mouth.
Come morning, I am doubled over

the sink, spitting stingers & wings. Each heave
a prayer for a homeland,

a recitation of the Song of Songs.
In this manner, the body learns its shape.

As I scrub the lining of my cheeks
with lemons,

the rinds speak
in my great-grandmother’s voice—

Child, your hips have already fused.
A gash in my mouth sings

of all things made new
as it hardens like a cataract.


This selection comes from the book, The Wishbone Dres, available from Bull City Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Cassandra J. Bruner‘s The Wishbone Dress was the 2019 winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition.  She earned her MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University where she served as Managing Editor of Willow Springs Books. Finalist for Black Warrior Review‘s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, their poems and essays have appeared, or are upcoming in The Adroit JournalBlack Warrior ReviewCrazyhorseMuzzleNew England ReviewNinth Letter, and Pleiades among others.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino

Fight (I Know You Can Hear Me)

The one that’s made of time.
We took turns naming things,

which is the traditional way
lovers sharpen one another.

Point: Remember when I drove your car
for you so you could dry your nails

out the window?
What do you call that?

Counterpoint: Somewhere in the world
a snake gets lost in an endless

tunnel of its own skin after shedding
doesn’t quite go according to plan.

Nobody knows how to feel
about it. What is prey?

Well, what is plunder?
A stillness goes viral as the room fractures

into danger between us.
Come on, it’s late, you say finally,

and with such sudden gentleness
I mistake you for dawn.


This selection comes from the book, That Ex, available from Big Lucks.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Rachelle Toarmino is a writer and editor from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex (Big Lucks Books, 2020) and the chapbooks Feel Royal (b l u s h, 2019) and Personal & Generic (PressBoardPress, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts AvenueMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Metatron Press, Shabby Doll House, and other places online and in print, and has been anthologized in The Cosmonauts Avenue Anthology and My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry. She lives in Buffalo, where she works as the editor in chief of Peach Mag, the communications and development manager of Arts Services Inc., and a teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino

BASES

I make you read The Glass Essay

I make you follow @SheRatesDogs

you use words to describe my memories
that I use to describe my memories

you pick a cat hair off my collar

I ask you how work was

we fight

we fight

we work it out or forget we’re fighting

I buy travel sizes for your place

you greet my houseplants one by one

desire replaces wonder
replaces fear
and back again

we agree solar flare
describes the feeling of your body
as it leaves my body

we agree longing
describes the feeling of our bodies
looking for one another

you say the trick is to remember
that worlds orbit heat
and you’re right

you ask if you can make your heat
less your own
and then you do


This selection comes from the book, That Ex, available from Big Lucks.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Rachelle Toarmino is a writer and editor from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex (Big Lucks Books, 2020) and the chapbooks Feel Royal (b l u s h, 2019) and Personal & Generic (PressBoardPress, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts AvenueMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Metatron Press, Shabby Doll House, and other places online and in print, and has been anthologized in The Cosmonauts Avenue Anthology and My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry. She lives in Buffalo, where she works as the editor in chief of Peach Mag, the communications and development manager of Arts Services Inc., and a teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino

NUDES

after Anne Carson

Nude #1. That one alone
in her living room. Finding another
way to settle an argument. Oil

diffuser on-again, off-again.
Nude #2. That one in the passenger seat,
looking like the last thing you need.

She better be finished. In the end,
the driver says, it won’t be cinematic.
His won’t be the last face you see.

Nude #3. That one with the touch
completely like music. They can’t get inside
that feeling enough. She moves

in her own light.
Kisses into them the question
Is this how you lose her?

Nude #4. Look who’s trying
to prove a point!
a man yells at that one
specifically. She knew where to look.

Sings his name now like a ritual.
Nude #5. That one is a feral
little ruin. Heels off

and running. Quick as thought.
Nude #6. All those ones in the group chat
catching their breath.

I never liked him, one says.
That ancient proverb.
Nude #7. That one thought she was out.

Take everything, she says,
expanding as she speaks. Hit or be hit.
The locks inside her change.

Nude #9. That one winks into the void.
Sings Tell me I’m a problem.
Was born into this world skeptical

and hurt, and look where that got her.
Nude #10. That one got it all wrong.
Got bangs. Got steps in.

Nude #11. That one knows
too much. Watches porn she’s already seen.
She’ll be sorry. Leaves

without closing the door.
Nude #12. For that one, forgiveness is an option
the way luck is an option.

Every regret inside her like another life.
Pain opens like a mouth. All mercy
and teeth.

Nude #13. That one’s new way of killing
needed a new way of speaking.
Like filling silence.

It would be too easy.


This selection comes from the book, That Ex, available from Big Lucks.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Rachelle Toarmino is a writer and editor from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex (Big Lucks Books, 2020) and the chapbooks Feel Royal (b l u s h, 2019) and Personal & Generic (PressBoardPress, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts AvenueMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Metatron Press, Shabby Doll House, and other places online and in print, and has been anthologized in The Cosmonauts Avenue Anthology and My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry. She lives in Buffalo, where she works as the editor in chief of Peach Mag, the communications and development manager of Arts Services Inc., and a teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino

Beating & Rotting All At Once

I’m learning a lot lately
about the visitation rights of a memory,

and how it feels to have joint custody of yourself
with yourself.


This selection comes from the book, That Ex, available from Big Lucks.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Rachelle Toarmino is a writer and editor from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex (Big Lucks Books, 2020) and the chapbooks Feel Royal (b l u s h, 2019) and Personal & Generic (PressBoardPress, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts AvenueMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Metatron Press, Shabby Doll House, and other places online and in print, and has been anthologized in The Cosmonauts Avenue Anthology and My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry. She lives in Buffalo, where she works as the editor in chief of Peach Mag, the communications and development manager of Arts Services Inc., and a teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: That Ex by Rachelle Toarmino

Hard Feelings

feeling old when you open a folder of drafts

your hands and where to put them

your legs and how to lean

writing cover letters
and feeling like you’re a product review

thinking your voice sounds unsalted
when you hear it on a recording

feeling lonely inside a furniture store

grief

love

nostalgia

using people as templates
and making them live as characters
or contradictions

getting sad to cope with being bored

wishing you could kill a memory
like hunger

by feeding it


This selection comes from the book, That Ex, available from Big Lucks.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark.

Rachelle Toarmino is a writer and editor from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex (Big Lucks Books, 2020) and the chapbooks Feel Royal (b l u s h, 2019) and Personal & Generic (PressBoardPress, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Cosmonauts AvenueMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Metatron Press, Shabby Doll House, and other places online and in print, and has been anthologized in The Cosmonauts Avenue Anthology and My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry. She lives in Buffalo, where she works as the editor in chief of Peach Mag, the communications and development manager of Arts Services Inc., and a teaching artist at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Sarah Clark is Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She’s edited folios for publications, including Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms, Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, First Peoples, Plural. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations.