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Issue 37 • July 2020
The SEX Issue
edited by Jake Tringali

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionJake Tringali

The First Three Minutes/Kabbalah 3 • Lorraine Schein
invocation of my guardian angel in six sexts • Camille Rosas
I Could Not Help • Susan Calvillo
The Kraken’s Bride • Deborah Guzzi
In Periphery of Sight • Rob E. Boley
Shapeshifter • Mary Soon Lee
For Auden, Regarding Leda • Greg Beatty
This Will Only End In Disaster • Isabella J Mansfield
Infinity • Jose Chapa
Fruiting Bodies • Holly Hallam
My Metalman Looks Best Covered in Plasma • Clayre Benzadón
The Many Brides of Snow White • Jordan Kurella
Running My Fingers over Continents • Cathy Bryant
In a Mirror, Dimming • Richard Leis
Her Dress • Josh Pearce
To the Boy Who Asked If I knew Gibson & Then Took off My Clothes • R. L. Cohen
Bride of Frankenstein • Courtney Bates-Hardy
CERN 48 • Jennifer K Dick

The First Three Minutes/Kabbalah 3

I said, “All you have is this moment.
The twenty‑first century’s yesterday.”
You said, “Let’s swim to the moon, baby.”

Time waves thunder over us
as we undress in our parallel universes.
I’m drowning in yours
I’m going down on yours
and you on mine
with the long fierce tongue of exploding suns
licking at the swelling clitoris
at the center of my universe.

I’m aroused by the black distances of Space
they make me supersaturated—
the décolletage of those depths,
that endlessness clasped tightly around me,
wearing black spandex and nothing else.
The farthest reaches embrace me.

Space plays with itself and swings all ways at once.
Space spreads zir legs open to the approaching rocket.
But what ze really wants is my hand up zir black hole
and my tongue licking hard at the blue clitoris of flame
at the center of the universe.

Bright tongue of fire
tonguing the galactic clitoris, arousing its folds of void and matter,
licking itself into creation, as I lick it.

Oh faster faster
past the speed of light—
lick at the center of my universe
till I catch, catch fire and burn
throwing off arms of new matter around you.
Creation is conflagration and now I am, too.

And then the vision comes …
above the vault of the heavens,
are 955 domes
and above them, the high and exulted throne
and above the throne,
a consuming fire
and His precious throne.
Oh, all His servants are fire!

And now I am fire on fire, flowered into fire,
and your servant, as you are mine,
head still between my legs,
my throne, yours.

—Lorraine Schein

invocation of my guardian angel in six sexts

i. angel of god, deliver me to the doorstep of your wilderness. lead me into temptation. teach me everything you think there is to know about thirst and i will teach you what i can about ecstasy. offer me neither a kingdom nor a temple but sacrilege: all the dirty things you would do if you were here. bury your sins in me the way you know i like to be fucked.

ii. how hot is the fire under the flesh? what face do you make when you come? is it the same one jesus had before his corpse leaked enough water for the nearest man to guzzle and become a believer? did you know that the line between pain and pleasure is as thin as the one between forgive me father for i have sinned and punish me daddy i’ve been very bad?

iii. wouldn’t you like to see me on my knees before you, lips wrapped around your name in prayer? you can use my grandmother’s rosary to bind my wrists to a ruined statue of an archangel in some back alley church and take me pressed against the hilt of his sword. i promise you, no one is watching. not even god.

iv. o wicked angel, what a mess your holy wars have made of the sky. what a garden you have made of me, what an agony. my pussy weeps for you. i call for you at night with legs spread wide as your wings, wondering what it would feel like to be pounded until i am a moon sheet of host you can tuck under your tongue for later when you are hungry again.

v. let me learn my nakedness in yours. let me baptise you in the river between my thighs. the games we play, three denials of the cock: you get a kick out of making me beg and in my hubris i cannot help but do the same. not that i mind —i went to sunday school for a year to learn my unworthiness before i earned the right to taste a body willingly given.

vi. eve took the fruit and i the seed of the serpent. meet me on the other side of the confessional and tell me you want this. i am a trespasser making myself known to a transgressor. maybe that’s how we know that there is still something immaculate to be forgiven in each other, and where to find what little of it is left just to see it ruined.

—Camille Rosas

I Could Not Help

I could not help but follow
the drowsy fox, the bristly tail
calling to my cheek

Picking blueberries
careful with their dark milk
I keep my hands from straying

It isn’t clear if he sees me
he sings secrets
as if I’m not around to steal them:

This is how to smell a porcupine.
This is how a dead rabbit finds its burrow.
This is how butterflies elbow their way between
a caterpillar mounting a caterpillar.

I balance a berry on my nose
I roll a berry off my cold shoulder
I pinch a berry between my knees

I glance his way, wondering
do I amuse him? but his eyes roll
back and he sings:

This is how sleeping stones build a home.
This is how to stir the air with a name.
This is how to start an earthquake with your tongue.

I slip a berry in my pocket
moments later it seeps through the fabric
leaves a bruise

Its color is close as the skin may come to a void
it spreads down between the legs
like an empty virus

Birthing a meadow of black holes
a quiet supernova hides
behind the clitoris

This doubt in your heart
is a dusty dandelion
at its base lies
a meadow:
he sings.

He sings

All the berries of a star cluster
hold fast to their perch but I pluck one
hold it low on the tips of my fingers

The fox takes it in his mouth
and at the taste of my void, he lays down
his head in my lap and his tongue turns black

—Susan Calvillo

The Kraken’s Bride

Skyclad at water’s edge dashed on the incoming tide,
I sink languorous, splashed by the incoming tide.
Breezes from night’s cobalt sea curl my hair to tendrils,
wisps whip, to cheek, teeth gnash on the incoming tide.
Waves rise to my thighs; a squid explores my core,
a froth rises high, pushed on the incoming tide.
Leaning on tan arms, once winter white, I moan content,
a blush disguised, unabashed on the incoming tide.
Ten-fingers grip the gray, wet sand, knuckled under; I writhe,
Nereides awash upon the incoming tide.

—Deborah Guzzi

In Periphery of Sight

Like all good men I once feared the dark,
its squirming nest of snakes and clicking
womb of roaches, and those horrors only
the ushers for the real monsters, those red
eyed beasts with needle teeth and sickle
claws lurking in trampled moist shadows.
That was before the ocean.
I splashed there with my wife and our
three children, wrestling with the waves
and fidgeting for seashells with salty
toes when in periphery of sight a baleful
white flapped ravenous upon a wave,
surely a shark but only a gull taking flight.
That was before the beach.
I brooded there with my wife and our
three children—umbrella trembling—me
stumbling between damp pages when in
periphery of sight a thick slice of sand
peeled itself away from reality and skulked
beside me, daring me to gaze upon eternity.
That was before the bed.
I rutted there with my wife, struggling with
my deflated self and fumbling with the edge
of her slick soft shell and later lying sleepless
dreading morning’s swelling in periphery of
sight and reaching for my spouse not for
comfort but as a futile offering—a sacrifice.
That was before the dawn.

—Rob E. Boley


Where is the boy you were,
eyes the color of slate,
owning nothing but ambition?

Master of forms,
you bent your body
to the king’s will.

Became his shield,
his sword, his mount.
Wolf. Lion. Girl.

Your self surrendered,
fragmenting, fluid,
mirror to his need.

Where is the boy you were?
Gone. Memory and manhood
shed to slip his leash.

Wordless, nameless,
wide wings carrying you
on the wind’s wild waltz.

—Mary Soon Lee

For Auden, Regarding Leda

She put on his knowledge with his glory.
Yes. When Zeus raped Leda, she saw it all.
The heroes born, the war, and the stories.
She saw the wonder of Troy. Saw it fall.
So what? All women raped see the future.
If not their children's, their own, all alike.
After the tearing, the blood, the suture:
soul pains crying for a demerol spike.
That's not the fear that wakes her up at night.
It's true. He's a god. Those are just the facts.
What she fears is that men might think this right.
Hey, Zeus did it. Must be how I should act.
And praising that act in poet's pure song?
That's shallow, ignorant, and just plain wrong.

—Greg Beatty

This Will Only End In Disaster

but everybody watches 
the launch from the safety 
of their living rooms

ships have risen this way
as your hands rise now
as my skirt rises now 

prepare for liftoff 
you can't hear the rumble 
from this distance 

This will only end in disaster

but everybody sits behind 
screens tapping keys 
and waiting, waiting.

smoke fills the air
restraints fastened
restraint cast aside 

T-minus in the background 
yellow numbers tick down
holding, but not stopping 

This will only end in disaster 

but everybody watches
in anticipation for the
inevitable explosion and waits

with bated breath
with your breath mixed 
with my breath

everyone is going
to hurt when it comes
crashing down

—Isabella J Mansfield


There is music in the engines of this bird
that carries our seed to the light of a new sun,
but even that music turns to noise.

Nothing can be more beautiful
than the sight of these giants in their meditation,
swirling with irradiated storms.

Yet even they become a backdrop, flanked by a million identical stars.

In the mess halls,
the VR pods,
all the bliss of life becomes boredom.

But in this restroom under the command deck

where we secretly search
and hungrily hunt with our hands
all the questions on our skin

we have much to find that is new.

—Jose Chapa

Fruiting Bodies

We trek the forests, through motley mosses
Throbbing polyp corals and
Lichens that brindle under the silver suns
What shining figures are planted
In the alien gardens of Xylaria
Pale flesh, beckoning us with
And queerly whispered flirtations
They welcome us into their colony
A million, fruiting bodies
Chanterelle yellows and blushed reds
Some dripped with sap and nectars
Some blossoming glittering mists
And noxious clouds from
Puckered, pulsing gills

Fifteen years of training, frantic
Telling us not to remove our spacesuits
But pearly padded fingers slip
Away our clothes
Like the shedding of an exoskeleton
“Join us” says the earthly chorus
The whispers of a lotus-eater's dream
Their frilled bone ribs and
Sticky flourishing fingers, fan wide
And hold our faces
And we open our mouths and inhale
Breathe spores deep
Into the back of our throats
And turn our lungs into a garden
Toes spread into the dank mulch
Heady earth alive with
Tuberous roots, that curled along
Our shimmering legs
A shimmering dew-drip from
clavarioid clavicles and bolete cap breasts
And enfold us into their mycelial network
We writhe as one
Our glorious, fruiting bodies
Trembling tendrils, twisting
“Join us” says the chorus
Our lungs open, in ready anthesis
And unfurl into fleshy lamella
Move as one, breathe as one
Tingle, untangle and feel as one
“Join us” we say in chorus

Earth will mount a rescue mission
Of ten or twenty starships
Filled with human bodies
Tall, round, virile, strong and slender
Morels, milk-caps and amanitas
To fertilize the gardens of Xylaria

—Holly Hallam

My Metalman Looks Best Covered in Plasma

My robot wears chrome
boots when we fuck,
revs the vibration

of sensors to drive
into me. I am a witch
with my eye

on the telescope, which is part
of his insides, which is
inside of me,

ejecting plasma,
a map pummeling
in my lap.

I want robo-
boy to slip
into me again,

have his mono-
tone dirty recording
on repeat when he juices

again, I want him
to magnetize as he calls me
a bitch

in bed, to wet my broom-
ed lips until they brush with
the heels of his metal shoes

and his hard
rotating eyes. I push his
buttons, set the command:

tie me.

So my metal-man
tries, plucks a bunch
of bristles from under

me, weaves them
around my wrists,
tighter, tighter—

once I reach my peak
witching hour,

I crown him
my hound.

—Clayre Benzadón

The Many Brides of Snow White

True Love’s First Kiss is a contract: unmemorable to whomever receives it. Those that follow are those that bind: where the kiss is placed; by whom; which lips; and how (much tongue, many teeth). The princess whose hair wrapped around her ankles became mine when I kissed her tender lips, the ones that quivered and quaked with each caress of my tongue. The other princess, with arms strong from scullery work and skin smelling of ashes; she was the one who kissed my neck with shivering scrapes of such sharp canines (and I became hers). Each night our Prince Charming scoured the land for yet another princess, another to bring home. And each night we all lay tangled in each other’s hair and legs and limbs. We were not idle in our patience; we were not idle at all.

—Jordan Kurella

Running My Fingers over Continents

My lust soars over cities and prairies.
Each conquest is a nut to be cracked,
and the globe is my picnic.

The world is a breast, a buttock,
elastic and springy. I fondle its
forests, take its peaks inside me,
lubricate with oceans.

Have you ever seen snails smooch?
Such passion in the tiny! Like insects,
I have loved this planet all over,
skimming deserts to reach hot haunches.

Every thousand years or so I stop, gulp
the fizzy air and take a moment to pity
the frustration of the ever-circling,
never-touching moon.

—Cathy Bryant

In a Mirror, Dimming 

Beyond the scarred surface, I saw the bones of the Moon,
the geology of a crime. He would not speak of it.
I was an amateur astronomer. He invited my peeping,
flickered. How lightly He was a mote of dust
I would blow until He shook. How deftly He tightened
His grip. I spent many a moonlit night naked,
held, and holding Him. He was the mirror
to the mountain of the man under my skin
enduring all things. Out of the whole,
the part had come, but that which is perfect
had been done away. When—one eye pressed to my telescope—
I broke up with the Man in the Moon, He put away His remains.
His motions are a physics that fucks with the utter silence,
especially near a shore, where the ocean is longing.
He is bones again, but I have my hands
to remember Him by. They drift down,
still shining with silver lust. They urge me
right out of myself.

—Richard Leis

Her Dress

(Her skin, her thatch,
her lips) biology
is the dress she pulls on
over her physics (
her curves, her triangle,
vertices, and other points
of interest

her spring, her bounce,
the energy, the tension,
and her friction)
and it hangs loosely
on her frame until

she fastens up glass buttons
of fragile metaphor
and zips metal teeth clenched
together between velvet lips.
The dress tightens, becomes
indistinguishable from her figure

(but then I
break her buttons,
her smile
with my fingers inside the velour
peel off the skin dress

shell her
raw, soft, and cool
this creature formed solely
of swells and indents
in space and time

with crackles of imaginary
particles behind her iris
and softly
promises of pleasure's

—Josh Pearce

To the Boy Who Asked if I Knew Gibson & Then Took off My Clothes

as the world burned beneath us-
fingers dig into obliques-
mouths pant and ashes bloom
like roses of silence ’round plexiglass domes
coddling the last orchids- pansies-
lilies of the valley of silicone dust.

perfectly bio-optimized bodies synchronize.
only the synthetic remains on asphalt coated
beaches of your dreams.

thighs spread- folded flesh the color of a television tuned
to a consensual delusion of a future
coming over and over again … gasping at shared hallucinations

skin dappled with neon. neon sweating out into night.
night flickering with screens reflecting limbs. limbs
made of blemishless silicone skin-

—R. L. Cohen

The Bride of Frankenstein

The Bride of Frankenstein does not exist
except as a reflection of the monster’s
desire, and the doctor’s decreased appetite
for creation.

The monster’s enormous head hangs
over her with its longing eyes. She still
wears the sheets from her absent bed,
and the winding cloths still cling
to her inflexible fingers, with their
shredded tips.

Her purpled lips so recently kissed
by their electric wills, her skin
still ravaged by their grasping
hands, their intimate stitches.

One lightning white shock
blows back from her brow—
she is terrible in her distance
and incandescent in her rage.

There is no consummation here:
no bridal suite,
no strip tease,
no release.

Her eyes see beyond his expectation:
she cannot quench his loneliness.

Her pale body merely reflects the moon.

—Courtney Bates-Hardy


I dreamt that the director of CERN decided it was high time we sued Chippendale’s megastar Ian Ziering for his use of “Hard Probes” as the 2014 show-stopping Vegas headline act. “Hard probes,” the director explained to the jury and judge “are the intellectual property of CERN.” This, in turn, lead to a vast number of international physics labs and noted physics researchers from Ramona Vogt to Carlos Lourenco, as well as the 2013 Cape Town University Hard Probes Conference organizers to leap into the fray, debating vociferously before a perplexed audience about the origins and issues at stake with quarkonium and electro-magnetic probes, everyone claiming the term “hard” as their very own. Meanwhile, Ziering had slipped up to the podium in his Velcro-off chaps just in time to halt the lab-coated scientists fistfight by holding up a massive, cobalt synthetic probe, which, as he flopped it around in the air, remained quite stiff. “I think,” he proclaimed clearly into the sudden silence, “this matter can be easily rectified. Just tell me who it is that manufactured this particular hard probe, and the proceeds from the show are all yours.”

—Jennifer K. Dick