May Prompt: Restoration 

Brick and rubble, shattered glass and fallen eyelashes. Bruises, scrapes, scabs, blisters. Build it up and tear it down, do it all again. Fix it up, make it new. Is life just a recovering act? How do we jump back from the uneven cruelty of life? Let’s talk about the broken, the healed, and the technique.



Written by Lauren Pankin


In a field of grazing papal bulls,

my mother the infanta beheads the bobbing yarrow,

plopping their sun-burst crowns into her basket.

For the lesion poultice: arnica, tarragon, sage, hanged

topsy-turvy in the baked Iberian basement to dry.

Xylem parched as desert manna. Inducing the Flood

to form a pulpy paste, her hands knead the masticated

stems, browning petals, powdered pistils of stigma and ovary.


My mother the intifada. Her mother the sandalled expulsion her

mother rising earliest to kindle climbing flames in the cavewomb her mother

the sacrosanct rib.


Her husband the splintered.


Gold maravedis or:

ten red furrows plowed with a knotted lash

for any of my fathers found wandering without the first yellow star

(shawled backs as tattered as tempested sails)


limpieza de sangre trampled onto this new-bellied crone of a continent.

No absolution for those spearing pennant-bearers

or for me,

as I lie in a bed of mosqueblue sheets

cradling the head of a Spanish man with eyes

darker than an empty ark.


restore me of optimism

Written by Jack McCoy


I don’t think I ever felt this cynical. It’s not that I simply don’t have faith in religion, but in multiplicities: systems of government, financial institutions, relationships, just about any system of which society is comprised of. I don’t really have faith in myself or my work anymore. My words don’t feel as if they hold any weight.

I saw a homeless man hitting the freshly planted tulips with his homeless sign on Monday at State and Washington. Four days later as I was inching towards thirty hours of not eating I grabbed three flowers, tulips, bit off the petals, and spit them out on the corner of State and Ninth.


A lot of people are relying on me. If I fuck up, I could ruin the lives of some of my closest friends. I’m a filmmaker first, and with each successive film, each choice of composition, I feel the films becoming increasingly hollow. I have meanings and ideals I want to say, and the more I have to say, the more intentionality I have, the weaker the message appears.


I’m writing this in hopes to complete something, offer some trigger to reveal optimism which perhaps hasn’t disappeared, rather hidden under some cloak of an artificial “artistic edge” I don’t remember placing inside myself. I don’t remember when it was I got to be so damn sad. I remember being eight or nine or ten in Presque Isle, Michigan, seeing my cousin Ben by the lake and telling him I was going to drown myself, but I thought that was some sad joke the adults took too seriously. Fifth grade through senior year I occasionally, when the stressful school load was too much, would enter my kitchen at late hours, hold the knife up to my wrist and struggle to hold it. I always placed it back where it belonged and would consider myself  a coward. Freshman year, college, the freedom to hurt myself in ways I didn’t expect… oncerta binges, staying up and not eating for sixty to ninety hours at a time, eventually I started peeling off the gel of the Concerta pills and snorting them. Five hour energies, lot of cough syrup, Xanax, Klonopin, I fucked myself upwards, downwards, sideways, diagonally sometimes all at once before I discovered cutting. I don’t want to get into it too much, but it was partially due to my exhausting lifestyle I didn’t understand.


My sophomore year I was clean of the bad drugs and cutting. I remember smoking pot, listening to Ricky Eat Acid’s "Three Love Songs" and making the realization, verbatim, “You can just be a good person.”  I think part of that was consciously directed to those in my life I have hurt, albeit unintentionally, though I now think unconsciously it was directed towards myself. I can just be a good person. To myself. I forgot this somewhere in the last year. I haven’t stopped when I’ve needed to stop, or giving myself a break. I have a fear of failing to continue after I stop. I don’t know if I lost this optimism somewhere in the midst of the election, in pushing myself too far in delving into the personal, regarding my own work, or where. I just know I stare at the CTA tracks the way people shouldn’t stare at CTA tracks. I know I feel guilty too often. Too often not good enough.


I don’t know if writing this has helped at all or restored any form of confidence, but that seems irrelevant. I just need to finish something, even if it just ends like this.


invisible children//side b

Written by Max Gamero


stop asking for a prayer – 

the invisible children

are the ones who will bless you.

they heard you before

you knew how to speak;

and when everyone else

hid the truth

you understood,

like it was a god-given

mission or invitation

that you had to bear

each and every bullet

in front of your little sister,

a benediction of sins

she didn’t understand,

something she didn’t know

when you told her

how hard the world hits,

what it feels like

to have noxious fumes

compressed so deep

in your shriveling lungs

you forget how to breathe

because only then

do you learn how much

you love the air;

or the way this earth

funnels septic acid

into your throat

rinse and repeat

with corrosive Listerine

intestinal dreams

digest and vomit

a lonely string of words

twelve letters

five syllables

a dropped beat an

“i did it for you”

she’ll never know about.

but nobody saw your art

the bitter self-sacrifice


the i-can’t-hear-you’s

Pummeling your ribcage

when you’re drowning in air

your sister is behind those

whirly bones, petrified wood,

rubber concrete and hopscotch lines,

“what are you talking about”

turning into

“how could you do this.”

when your sister puts together

what you taught her,

she learns what a relapse is called.

you never wanted her to

know how cold it is

when you stand with arms out

and people walk through you,

when the sculpted scars

that used to be on your arms

now move to your liver

until you rupture

the lining of your stomach,

and when they see

you self medicate with painkillers

you become a murderer in their eyes,

you kill the only tangible thing

in this entire world

the mortal connection

achieving divine metamorphosis

you become the maggots that rot corpses

the enzymes that break down carbon matter;

that’s why they brand you “toxic”

you’re poison baby

you’re a thousand fuckin cigarettes

in one mouth

you’re cancer

because they see you growing like

the iridescent kids.

somebody bless the fearless unseen

the godless kids

the lucid dreamers

because god forbid another

toxic progeny

sticks himself in the arm

with his father’s whittling knife

and sculpts a new life

a cardinal leaving the nest

the transfiguration that you could never see.

look deeper, look so deep

you drown in the eyes of

somebody you thought

you could love

you drown in corporeal misery

in tears and shame

the effervescent flame

i had never even felt.

you can’t swim in your sister’s eyes

you can’t swim at all

to catch you

they harpoon you through the chest

and toss the rope

into a ceiling fan

and its then in cyclical motion

you see the world as it is

an impalpable blur,

and you realize

god is another sick fuck

who can’t see;

you did it for her

three day post-crucifixion

entombment and all

you died for her

you died for your sister

and you still have to pray for her

With dead vocal cords

without life in your body

without soul in your bones or

voice in your strings you better

pray for your sister

that she never has to see,

pray for her never

to become one of the

invisible children.



Taken by Madeline Happold


Written by Tanner Colmer


I can remember a I time I wanted to know everything. Every world dilemma, every local issue. I wanted to know what was happening outside of the small circle of “my personal space.” This desire was based off an aversion to ignorance. I regard my social circle as intelligent, maybe not in the conventional sense of the word but they had their own ideas and opinions, many that seem thoughtful and profound, some that seemed a little misguided. Still, wonderful people.


Then there was me. So out of the loop, and consequently baffled by any line of conversation that I found it best to remain silent and listen. There's an argument that more people should remain silent, and I’ve come to enjoy some of its merits. You learn a lot about people when you just let them talk to you for several hours, not saying a word, maybe a few nods and grunts of acknowledgement. It's a strange way of communication.


However, it gets tiresome. I wanted to contribute, I had my own thoughts and opinions that I wanted to believe were valuable. So, I started reading. Starting with the news, not just good sources but also infinitely worse ones. It was my understanding that to be able to carry out a discussion or argument you had to learn all sides of the same story. I would spend hours pouring over news articles and interviews over the same “Hot Topic” of the day, finding what opinions I liked, being disgusted by the ones that I don't. Gays are people too, but we don't understand them as a culture and that frightens us. Women are still mistreated, misrepresented, and undervalued but Men are upset to be lumped together and painted as an evil patriarchy. Cops are killing Blacks, Blacks wanna kill Cops. Pollution, violence, social injustice. Bombs are being dropped in Syria, bombs are being dropped everywhere.


I have never been more depressed or anxious in my life than just sitting in my living room and reading the news. It started me drinking, it started me smoking, it made me all around misanthropic. I started to hate the world, because it certainly wasn't worth loving. To make the situation worse this was all during the 2016 election campaign.


I was full of information that I didn't know what to do with. Do I volunteer at a soup kitchen to help the poor, or as a freedom fighter in the Middle East to help fight ISIS? None of these causes seemed to line up with what I was trying to get out of this experience. There was no fulfillment, only confused voices in my head constantly contradicting each other.


It wasn’t until late at night, having a cigarette on the porch, that I realized that none of it mattered. That I wasn't marching in a protest or fighting a war.


I was just sitting outside.

And the breeze was refreshing.

And the city was silent.

And I thought to myself “ you need to live here, not miles away in a different state or different country, but right here.”


I don't stop reading the news, because the news is important. I don't stop caring for other people, because where would we be without them? But now I remember to breathe, and not worry about the world getting better. I alone am not going to solve the world's problems, and it's not my responsibility to. I’m just gonna do what anyone decent person would do, and be the best fucking human that I can be.


Dear humidity,

Written by Megan Stringer


You make my mind hum

With your insistent flashing,


Like a dance with my baby

Sister on the swingset,


Pushing away the only good thing.

As if games (entertainment)

Worth playing, worth

            Strumming, worth

Stroking my amygdala

To coax

Her out, soft and sinewy.


Away from comfortable and

Eating into memories,


Long gone smells returned by

The upward glance, off my

Porch step into





The shoes hanging from the tree outside my window keep

Swinging. They won’t shut up, or

I can’t stop listening.


Thanks to all those who submitted for our May prompt! Take a look at our June prompt, Fever. Send any questions and submissions to by Tuesday, May 30th.