The Man in My Stomach

Image: © “Bobby and Betty, circa 1953” by Patrick Q

Author: Emilie 

TW: This text speaks about compulsive eating disorder. If this subject is sensitive to you, dear reader, maybe skip the reading of this text as it is not a shiny depiction of healthy behaviours.

Emptiness. I am full of it. From the very bottom of my toes to the top of my head. It takes so much place that I could throw up. It is devouring me. A hunger that drives me mental. There is no amount of food I could eat that would fill it. This void is always starving. No drink can quench its thirst. No candy bar, no grilled cheese, no leftovers, nothing can satisfy it. 

Although my head wishes so deeply to reject it, my screaming body refuses to. I picture this it as a man, an older man. Not oldold. Old like your best friend’s older brother. The kind of guy that would fuck a minor but would look cool because of it. Not an adult yet, definitely not a child anymore. The kind of person who would make toxic look appealing. Who tells you he loves you when his actions show you the scary opposite. The kind you know will throw you away like trash. The one that makes you stay. Well, that is the man living in my stomach. 

Please, dear reader, do not get me wrong, I hate him. As much as I am able to love. I told you. I am mental. Not in a cruel way. I am not the man in my stomach. I am mental in the medical sense. My therapist says I don’t have a classic eating disorder. Whatever this means, it pleases my pick-me girl self. I emotionally overdose and they drive me hungry. They mostly happen after fighting with my mum. We, my therapist and I, think it is due to my cowardice. Sorry, the proper words are: ‘I am unable to express my limits and emotions in front of my mother because she invalidates them’. Despite the fact that paragraphs could be written about my dear mother, this text concerns the man in my stomach. Let us move on.  

So, I eat. This abyss inside of me needs to be fed. Not just food by the way. He wants more. He craves for people. He wants more than dicks and pussies. His main desire is love. To love and to be loved. So, I dress up nice, wear cute and sometimes revealing clothes, put make-up on and I fall in love. Over and over again. With anyone really. Over and over again. I do realize it is not genuine, but I am attracted to its rush, like moths are enchanted by light. The man in my stomach craves for emotional over-eating. I feed him all the time and, sometimes, when satiated, he is not that bad. When a boy touches my arm a bit too long or when a girl maintains my gaze, the man in my stomach is happy. He gives me chills. He definitely has a type. I have another. He likes broken people. People with traumas, with something shiny that comes from grief or loss. My personal type is composed of talented and passionate people. Mostly artists. And artists are often broken. Consequently, we agree on the kind of people we fancy. He wants to eat them, and I am confused about what I expect of them. To love them? To be loved by them? I am clueless. You are right, dear reader, it is sad. Like really sad. 

My younger self would not be ashamed nor surprised, just disappointed. She was longing for so much more. She had enough dreams to fill thousands of worlds with. She was an artist. An unbroken one still. The kind of artist that you see in children movies. With eyes imbued with curiosity and harmless mischief. She would paint on invisible walls with the imagination that lived in her compassionate heart. All of this to say that, staring at my phone, I feel nothing but the overwhelming presence of emptiness. 

As my tears run over themselves on my cheeks, I feel sad about being sad. I am empty. A living void in autopilot. Maybe if I dared to look inside of me, I could find the trace of a fragile butterfly, sleeping in its delicate cocoon. Maybe it will survive this season of nothingness. Maybe not. It is the hope that may or may not live inside of me. But for now, there’s nothing else in me than the man in my stomach. And Hell. His name is probably Chad. 

The Request

Image: ©️ “Ordinary Wooden Spoon” by limecools

Author: Anonymous

Write me a poem about the 
ineptitudes that plague your 
insipid character, that stumbling 
tongue I ceaselessly point out.

Or perhaps about the mild indulgences 
of an ordinary existence you do not
mention, in order to postpone your 
appointment with my reprobative whacks. 

But not about my petulance at the sight 
of you biting a whole, unpeeled apple 
(idolized alarmists have sensed a worm 
and aesthetes will gasp at those caving 
teeth: “so unsightly”). 

Nor about my lifelong sobriety 
quenched by inner quarrels. They 
leak as small fits cracking large 
wooden spoons, or soaring word 
bricks in lieu of dictionaries.

Write me a poem, implored the mother,
without writing it about me.

Ghazal


Image: © “Abandoned Porch Barn and Windmills 1407 C” by jim.choate59

Author: V. J.

Why do we chase light in the night and dark by day?
What’s sad is that to die suffices a day;

To live it takes eternal seconds of
Mad fight to break the flow of every day.

Some Summer’s late afternoon on the porch
Seems to be like dull or sun or Sunday

The dance of the wind blown out of the leaves
Gives a glimpse of what there was yesterday.

We own everything but what matters most,
We own the light; the night; the dark, but not today.

Staff Members’ Christmas Wishlists

Author: Leah Didisheim

For this year’s issue, we asked our dearest staff members for their Christmas wishlist and they kindly agreed to take the time during this stressful period to write their wishes down. So, (drumroll please!) here are their deepest desires revealed here and only here just for you! And thanks to their generosity, you can appreciate the best baby pictures they have of themselves. Without further ado, let’s read about our favourite teachers from another angle!

Kevin Curran:

1. The chance to relive my youth! (But this time with friends and without living in my parents’ basement until the age of 35.)

2. An opportunity to explain myself, properly, about that “incident” in Las Vegas, which I think has been misinterpreted and blown way out of proportion.

3. Further to above: My dignity back

4. A statue of me, erected in a public place, that says something to the effect of “He Was Right After All.” Nothing too fancy. Just a little larger than life-size. Not embossed in gold or anything like that. Marble will do. Perhaps in a Grecian pose?

5. A written apology from all those who have wronged me. You know who you are! I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOUR BETRAYALS AND YOUR . . . [is hastily bundled out of the room by men in white coats]

Kirsten Stirling:


1. Some research time

2. A direct wormhole to New York

3. The complete collection of Moomin mugs

4. Another date with James McAvoy




Anita Auer:




1. Heaps of snow

2. A little red riding hood cape to go with the dress

3. A time machine to listen to all the different dialects in the history of English

4. A date with Poldark





Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet:

1. Necromantic superpowers

2. A one-way ticket to Ibiza

3. Dinner with Edgar Allan Poe

4. A magic mushroom home-growing kit




Benjamin Pickford:

1. An invisible, immaterial bookcase, which would hold all my library without taking up any actual space in my apartment, but still hold actual books and not electronic files

2. A complete set of the OED, all 20 volumes, to go on that bookcase

3. Fluency in French, German, and Italian, instantly

4. A year’s supply of Branston Pickle (this can be an ongoing Christmas request, I could never have too much Branston on hand)

5. A pub crawl with Karl Marx, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Friedrich Nietzsche, though I’m not sure that any of them were notorious boozers (maybe it would be more fun with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, and Mark Twain…)

Andres’ Poems

Image: ©️ Andres Stadelmann

Author: Andres Stadelmann

Shampoo

I spent several hours looking at that door
In silence
My mind racing in every direction, but my body still.
Waiting, hoping
It cried out to the silence, begging it to respond
Instead it lingered, there, by the door
An old memory of a long-forgotten friend
The door responded in its stead
Alive—it shook and cracked and gaped its wide and loud mouth
Whispering, slow at first, then whistling ever louder until its scream, cut
   by the sudden grasp of the
handle, rang my eardrums.
The intruder, not yet half a man, wore that kind of awkward expression
   meant to display a weak show of
embarrassment all while betraying the narcissistic pride lying
   underneath
The decisive ones were the ones who played with the silence
Those that opened and closed the door
Those who let it rattle unabated, begging for attention
Without knowing, me, sitting alone in that silence was the biggest
   offering I could have made
The silence meant everything all of a sudden.
And I, as a part of it, took greater meaning as well
There was no greater way of loving her, than sitting alone in that
   silence
And so it would take off,
whispering tentatively to the floorboards,
swaying gently in the rafters,
leaning by the entrance,
and I with it, transfixed, and yet in constant motion
There are those who go to the batting cage and crack their bats until
   the silence overtakes them all, and
there are those who cower in fear in the company of endless and
   mindless chatter
But the silence persists nonetheless, molded by your heart in its barely
   motionless chambers
It’s so loud you can hear it, pounding in your ears and extending to they
   very end of all your extremities
It’s so soft that to hear it you have to listen very carefully
To truly hear it
In that silence I cried.
Silent teardrops filled with noise
That rolled off my face into the awaited abyss.
And as my still body began to move
It called out my name

Tío

Oh Dani did I cry for you
Such eyes I had not seen

Memory does strange things to time
Of that blurred still when you attempted to cross the world in an instant
   on your broom (you must miss
hurting your knees now)
Sportive drive pick-ups
A crack in exchange for a smile
The virgin hairs on your cheekbones
But your final words
Impressed
Seem a lifetime away
I look at my garden
Grown over with weeds
And I’m aching with that loss
To put dirt on my hands
Of toiling to cultivate, bleeding and sore
With a seed of trust
Some good to invest
And you’re still running on that beach

If only I could fill pages
As quickly as I spilt tears

C’è

Anna you were beautiful
Like everything on that day
And you made that greeting, to me
And that smile
And your profile picture
That day I realized that you don’t go to a wedding alone as a bride,
   for the groom
But as a friend, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, niece, child, woman
And all this was true
For that secure hand
For those enchanted voices
And for the gaze of the one who stood beside you
It would be trite to call it love
Almost reductive
But for a glance
That outside in that stable someone cultivated for the first time
Yesterday you witnessed
And today
I expect nothing else

Lucie

Remember when I said I was alone?
That happened again today
And when I was sitting there,
Just looking at my screen
I thought

When I consider that
A million miles away
Someone visiting a foreign country
Reminiscing about long lost friends
I find myself on a train
Looking out the window

A memory of some time
Passed with people
Whose names and faces I recollect
But who was I?
And why should I recall?

When not thinking
But only feeling
That one beat
Calls my name

I wait

And close my eyes
Or perhaps I close my eyes and wait

But regardless


I go back to sleep

The Caveman’s Shadow

Image: ©️ Manuel Ferrazzo

Author: Manuel Ferrazzo

My pain loves me more than you ever will,
She understands me like nobody else,
And when my blood drips for her she pales,
She knows that, for her, my hands could just kill.

She cuts my chest open to rip my heart,
Out of the hole which now stands here empty.
I can’t feel anything so I am free,
Hope ends where with undying love I start.

I wouldn’t want her to be my enemy,
I want her to be less scared of me,
I want her to understand and witness.

Witness my shame and my sorrow for her,
She will finally see me in her fur,
And decay shall be voice of weakness.

The Time We Took

Image: ©️ M. A.

Author: M. A.

The lucid idea
that love was merely a concept
ceased to exist
little by little
since the day
our eyes first locked.

Six years
of mutual unconsciousness
of the other’s existence
yet subsisting within
that tangibly close proximity
which served the sole purpose
of leading up to that
one ocular exchange.

It was that prelusive look
we shared
that perpetuated longer
than requisite
and that entailed
a series of events
that shaped our lives
to prevail such as they are
today.

The disappearance
of the butterflies never came,
it was instead superseded
by the feeling
of the ultimate piece in a jigsaw puzzle
slotting immaculately
into its emplacement;
you are everything
I never knew I always needed.

That bittersweet wait
consisted of many
profound twilight discussions,
exchanging innocent affection
and soul-reflective glimpses
into each other’s eyes.

Up to that moment,
I never had desired anything more
profusely than to entrust
my uttermost vulnerable
proof of love
with you.

From the time we took
which claimed the extinct rush
we were never in,
rose up the question;
“why waste the sweetest moments
of falling in love?”

My guinea pig died last Friday.

Artistic Picture of a Guinea Pig

Image: © M. S.

Author: M. S.

I cried when I heard the news.
I cried because I loved my guinea pig.
I cried because nothing lasts forever,
               Even having you with me.
I cried because I’m tired,
               Tired of not being enough.
I cried because nothing really matters,
               Even when I’m with you.
I cried because you don’t love me enough,
               Enough to make me feel special.
I cried because I felt sad.
I cried because I cried.

And also, because
               My guinea pig died last Friday.

Of Ice and Smells

There is a Frozen Pond in the middle of the picture with trees all around it.

Image: “Frozen Pond” © nighttree. SourceCC Licence.

Author: Katharina Schwarck

“Are you sure you want to go further?”, I ask my best friend Daphne as she, not carefully enough, walks over the frozen pond in the forest behind my house where we are playing. It smells of cold. “Of course. This is solid.” It’s getting dark soon and we have to be home at six. It’s December and like every year I get a new Christmas hat from my grandma. My mum keeps telling me that one day I will stop liking them but I still like them and I cannot imagine ever not liking them. Actually, I’m wearing it right now. This year, it’s green with red seams and a little elf with a red hat who waves at people when I look at them. I’ve named him Bobo. I look down to my feet. With one leg, I am still standing on steady soil and with the other I’m standing on the frozen pond. In summer, I make friends with the little frogs who live here. I’m a bit scared of breaking through but Daphne can’t know that I’m scared. “Are you reaaally sure?”, I insist. Maybe she knows I’m a little scared now. She takes another step and starts poking around in the ice with a stick.
SPLASH.
The ice breaks and we’re both drenched in muddy and very cold water. I scream a little. “It’s so cold!”, I say, trying not to let my voice get too high-pitched. I move my hands around. Everything is so cold and sticky. I am trembling. “Oh, come on”, Daphne says, gets a grip of her stick and pulls me up. I’m almost crying. We get to solid grass. My gloves are floating in the half-broken ice. Bobo is on the ground, covered in muddy snow. I hide my face so Daphne cannot see how worried I am for Bobo. This is such a bad day. We pick up our stuff. “We should probably go home?”, I ask. Daphne nods. We start running towards my house. “Do you think they will be mad?”, we wonder.
The way isn’t far but it has never seemed further. I have never been this cold in my whole entire life, and I’m the third-oldest in my class. When we get to the door, I am so scared to ring the doorbell. I can barely move my hands. Daphne looks at the doorbell expectantly, so I ring it. My grandma opens. “Oh my god, girls! What happened to you?” I start crying. “Oh, but it’s okay.” She starts laughing. “Everything is okay.” She brings us upstairs, takes all of our clothes off. I show her Bobo while rubbing my eye. “Don’t worry my love”, she says, “I’ll make him beautiful and healthy again”. She kneels down to hug me. Grandma smells of home, and warmth, and Christmas. She’s wearing a pink cashmere pullover that soothes into my skin. She gets up again, winks and leaves Daphne and me to take a bath. First everything is a bit awkward but then we can feel our hands again and we play with bubbles and the shampoo that stings in our noses and eyes when it gets too close. “There was a monster in the pond and it came out like this!” Daphne gesticulates while holding a bubble dragon between her hands. “Whooosh, whoosh”, she moves it up and down. “And you beat it like this”, I say, “pfouuuuh”. “And then we helped each other out like heroes!”. She sprays some bubbles on my head and I smell pink and fruity. I grin. We come downstairs in freshly washed bathrobes that smell of white and clean and cosy. When I enter the living room, I am hit by a wave of home and feel good and family. I can hear the oven buzzing, I see some dough rests in the kitchen. My grandma brings us tea. “How are my two princesses? You were proper mud queens!”, so we tell her about the pond monster and about how we helped each other like mud heroes. “Now that’s just wonderful”. She smiles. We take our cups of tea and start staring into the fire that is burning in the chimney. It is properly dark now. My hands are getting just hot enough on my bunny cup. I put my face right above it so the tea heats it too. I recognise the tea. It’s called “evening sweetness” and it’s my favourite. It is round and sweet and yet spicy. But not too much. It is just right. Not many people like it. There is too much going on they say. But I love it. Daphne feeds me a warm cookie. It melts in my mouth as the chocolate chips reach my taste buds. I close my eyes while listening to the crackling sound of the wood. There’s a little fir spiciness in there as well. Maybe grandma is burning a branch of a pine tree or something. Daphne puts her head on my shoulder. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad day after all…

Quarantine Overture

There are cows on top of a hill resting, a clowdy sky is behind.

Image: © Giulia Asselta.

Author: A S

Embrace

Soft shivers delayed

Teeming tears kept at bay

By a long-forgotten memory of warmth. 

A spark not-indifferent

Born of hope and fulfillment

Which have gathered in dust from eons ago.

Sifting and trembling

Those arms lifted daintily

Crushing and calming the silent recluse.

Quiet embers of a past

Lit ablaze by torrential gasps

A reminder of what it means to sleep.

 

Melody II

That shivering sky

Emitting no reason

Wavers unflinching 

to the beat of a heart.

As if were reflected

A tune of inflection

Crying and screaming 

and pulling apart.

But where there is healing

Conceal not your breathing

And stumbling, carefully

Stride into the dark.

 

(Nude)

In the midst of your waking dreams

Three whispers stop by, each begging

To listen. The first caressing and cooing

The second tickling and tingling

While the last, stares at you in silence.

And peeking you crouch below

Reaching for strands thin as noise

Those things which you wear on your shoulders

And on your head. Yet you shiver

And suddenly straighten, brushing those short strands

aside, while your gaze stops to grasp the moon.

And crawling, your heart clutches

at the whispers, calling to scream

among them. 

 

Stanza

Listen. 

On the ramparts of my heart the trumpets are blowing

Not for victory but rather, a cry for truth.

As ragged and tired men go home and weep

For loss of understanding that they do seek

Belated tears fill sorry eyes

and drop.

to endless sighs

But a promise of song lifts their hearts and their eyes

Listen

It’s there.

Brimming with tremor,

Booming in Upheaval

And beating

Can you hear the rain?