Kathleen Langston lives and attends school in Brooklyn, New York. She is interested in the intersection of the physicality and ephemerality of bodies.
You must be miles away
like the lightswitch to the overhead
I feel pointless in my eyes of god
that elliptical governess and so
I wash my name in the sink with hand soap
stolen from cold and humid
I wash my until my hands pink outside of
the briny and soap obscured water
they harden the way my () should have
my name would grow bark
to hide cambium
and crack knowing the seal was a good job worth the while, that is
my name would fall hardened
to the bottom of the sink basin
without needing to fill in with water
swell to an imagined fullness
my name would fall due to the weight of covering itself its tracks it’s scratch mark from standing too fast
from the kitchen table
my name would bellow from dark corners
out despite webs that will outlast me covered in dust
my name would be impervious to washing in the bathroom sink
and despise the way I thought I ought to
or despise the way I rest my —head, hand, heart— on the porcelain sink as though my name wouldn’t be
forced to scrape its teeth when I pull myself off the counter.
Third Day of Christmas
Through the kitchen, by the egg shells,
I smell the stale pin needles snapped
step by step over the carpeting
grounded by the pestle of feet winding in and around
needles appearing ground-ridden
as the cardinal red metal stand is kicked up
and pulled like a child as in an airplane
The Christmas tree flies and is carried over my Father’s shoulders
out to lay fertile next to the trash bins.
He asks if I want his shoes
brown leather with a lolling tongue
and the heel moves in waves up and down
nudging the shoe forward as it slaps down,
or the place where the tassel should have been
replaced now by the mesh left when duct tape is
pulled away and fossilized perpendiculars remain,
or where he dynamited the heel flat
the plateau betraying a slight arch like a sigh.
The sound of the heater like a bird praying
for flight but not compliant enough to fall
to descend out on His shoulder
perched knowing the sap between His thumb
and pointer finger and the return call
His feet make as he pulls his shoulders bird-forward.
The bird puffs out knowing that it can’t convey
the size it bellows from, the throat squeezing tight and shut,
and it calls for Him to give, for to give is to try to make forgiveness.
In the sun
your body swells like a stem
Oh, if I could stop the
world from making that sun set
however soft, like tender
and useless my feet with my face melting and my heart drooping like
a crocus falling purple into its final rest,
the sun sets,
or more away from the sweat
or the heat in my hair.
My arm is not your arm
You do not need to
apologize for the cruelty of a body—
my body exists as apology.
And the sun, a sunken breast,
the outline existing as the
sweet-soft marking left sore behind
by the weight of tissue
(Who am I to intern the sun a body?)
forgive me metaphor
forgive me sunspots or where I was permeable
and yet my eyes forgot to blink
forgive me my scar where I went to pare back
and pared myself instead, a curve formed red
blood that looked odd in the high afternoon
bright on bright, I tried to bring
myself to blind sunlight, an unintentional knock out.
—but if you remember my sins,
don’t let me pin them all on a body of light, light-years away.
“I’ll tell you how the Sun rose—”
The most barbaric quality of my life—
waiting for the stench of my urine
to be covered by the smell of dying blood.
Let me tell you
that I have always wanted to mutilate
my girl of a body—
to cauterize myself clear
after finding the way the inside of my body looks, reacts to the air
and turns red;
to stop my moles as they stained outwards
because they proved the previous and continuing
extreme blankness of my body
(however, my eye cannot prove the same);
how the scratch on my inner arm turned blue
the tedious skin there that despite thinness would not break
but conduct the image of the white tears on my lower back
stretched around my wavering
spine, who will never pull taught enough to unkink those marks free.
Let me tell you how I imagine the sun rose—
The toilet of that public bathroom
was the basin of the earth;
I watched before I sat down
the red stain inside the toilet like a moon in awe. There
I saw that this is what it is to have these organs so shored against ruin
here, to push out your world only to have it rot sitting in a hole with an end in sight,
so when you dropped your blood it burned red
never quite turning black—
which perhaps becomes a more holy color of my iron
because it accepts all light it can be given—
black was an end in sight, and no body
is so unfit to die without an extension of itself
(A child made of imagery if not from congealed blood?).
I would like to become vague if
that could promise me a way to watch the sunrise
and know how it feels to be that all consuming and consumed red of a star.
From the Editor:
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