I Can Count To 10 vol.2

I Can Count To 10 v2 download



My Mother’s Child by Jasmin Roberts

AIN'T NEVER LIED by Jared Paul

A 50s themed diner serves my family for breakfast by Sara Mae

America by Valerie Lawson

In a Place Where Everyone Was Empty by Victor Infante

Soundscape: 51 Holworthy Street by Evan Cutts

Everyday Is A Black Girl by Siaara Freeman

gray-black-broke by Justice Gaines     

ode to stubbing your toe by Myles Em Taylor

the bullet teaches us how to dance by Daphne Gottlieb






My Mother’s Child


I tell myself we are alike

That there is softness in her for me

I have never seen it

Even affection came

With hard edges

Hugging closed doors

Is all but impossible

The knob kept hitting me

In the stomach

I stopped trying and

Embraced the hinges that

Kept her hidden instead


The first time she said “I love you”

I was 18

On the other end of

A land line in a college dorm room

The words felt unsafe

I waited for the air to

Smell like something I recognized again


And hung up without

Saying goodbye


My roommate was playing

Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic

And I sang along to the last verse

Rocking slowly

Arms tucked into my body


She still says it

I say it back now

Rushing through

The vowels sounds

Holding myself

The way I always have

The “love you too”

and the “bye”

Run together

As though they are the same word

And for us

They probably are


Goodbye is the thing

I'd been waiting to say

To her since I could talk

And I love you

The thing she taught me

By omission

And mostly I only know

How to say goodbye to love too

Through years of practice

Silent tears soaking soggy cheeks

I have perfected

The art of goodbye

“Hello, I love you”

Is much more unfamiliar

Like a dry pillow

In childhood

I'm not sure I'd know it was mine

If you asked



Jasmin Roberts person. poet. queer angel. plant-loving turtle



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2







Out of nowhere Dad turns to me and says:

Remember that summer when I lent you the apartment,

back when I was working up in Boston?

I never told you this, but one night

I came back to get some things

without letting you know.

I walked in and you were on the kitchen floor

back against the wall sobbing like a baby.


I just kind of stopped for a second,

you hardly noticed me. I saw the bottle

and knew that you were drunk,

but that's not why you were crying.

I got you a glass of water,

then patted your hair and went to bed.


I wanted to tell you that all the things

that hurt you in life weren't that awful.

Or that they were that hard sometimes

but being hurt like that was part of how

the whole thing works. That it gets better.

That in the end everything will be alright,

but I just couldn't do it.


I couldn't lie to you like that.



Jared Paul is a writer, performance artist and community organizer from Providence, Rhode Island. He is a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist and an eight-time coach of the Providence National Youth Slam Team, which placed second in the nation at Brave New Voices 2007.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2




A 50s themed diner serves my family for breakfast


My mother hates runny eggs but will still sit beside me

while I swallow them down in a red booth

Or will smile bright yolk eyes that run,

get mopped up in a hunk of rye


My father is the box of Cheerios a waiter eats

in the corner of the kitchen

three cigarettes into his third double of the week


My brother is the Heart Healthy omelette

or at least the wilted spinach in it,

that which is always first in the pan,

the way it shrivels in cooking oil,

the way it folds into mushrooms and tomatoes so quietly


My sister is the three bites of cold pancake

The hardened syrup left behind in their wake

The pad of butter opened, but untouched


My dad’s parents are two smoking cups of black coffee,

dark roast because it’s 7PM

and decaf gives Elaine a headache


My mom’s mom is the half-a-grapefruit add on

or the cottage cheese

or the tub of I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter

stashed in someone’s purse


My mom’s dad is the syrup

But only if its Hungry Jack


The niece that got suspended from school

is the ketchup everyone insists tastes funny


The cousin that is depressed

is the meal sent back


The nephew that lives with a “roommate”

Is the green cholula hot sauce


My panic attacks

are the side of avocado slices everyone wants to order,

but are just too much money


The check is

“The only thing we fight over”


The 50s themed diner

Is the way that we don’t talk about this poem


The napkin they wipe their mouths on is me

I am the crumpled lipstick kiss

I am the clean up after,

Where the crumbs collect

Or what is folded and set aside with an empty plate



Sara Mae is a Baltimore-raised Boston-based slam poet. By day she is a coffee slinger and student, and by night a slam poet who will stand behind any microphone that will project her profound angst. She represented Slam Free or Die of Manchester at 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam, is repping Emerson at 2018 CUPSI Nationals and is the director for Feminine Empowerment Movement Slam (FEMS) Tournament. She believes in the magic of blue bicycles and orange lipstick. She hopes you think her bangs are not too long




I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2






I am a spectrograph.

My number is oxygen

and the color blue


what’s left after the whoosh/

the tidal bore/ the homonym

ad hominem


the humdrumthrum like a Beat Poet

beyond its prime in a velodrome

of sound


filled with fireflies, inconsistencies,

the matter—the ooze and stink,

the wrack armature on which

fantasy draped.



Valerie Lawson 's work has been published in Main Street Rag, BigCityLit, About Place Journal, The Catch, Ibbetson Street, and others with work forthcoming on American Arts Quarterly's website. Lawson's first book, Dog Watch, from Ragged Sky Press, was released in 2007. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times, Lawson won awards for Best Narrative Poem and Spoken Word at the Cambridge Poetry Awards and was a finalist for the 2015 Rita Dove Award and the 2013 Outermost Poetry Prize.




I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2




In a Place Where Everyone Was Empty


I grew up poor in a place where almost everyone was wealthy, child of salt water and sand. Declared I wanted nothing to disguise my coveting, armored myself in leather to protect myself, tattooed Clash lyrics to my skin. In retrospect, it was never the baubles I wanted, the surfboards and video games and automobiles. It was the freedom I envied, the innocence of never fretting a missing meal, of being able to travel without sacrificing bits of bone to the gravel, of not understanding death all. I grew up empty in a place where everybody else was empty, but that wasn't visible from my vantage. All of us swallowed salt water. All of us nearly drowned. Horatio Alger is standing behind me, arms folded, telling me that I should be happier than they are now, that mine was supposed to be a story of hard work triumphing over indolence. It doesn't really work like that, though. Sometimes the broken remain broken. I am happier than some I knew as a child, less so than others. Some of them have become so beautiful they radiate from a country away. Some have become drunken shambles. Some are dead now, and at least one took a turn so dark we don't discuss it in public, save to say I only knew her slightly, yet sometimes I cry for her and what she's lost to a blackening sky. How do we compare lives so greatly diverged when we're ignorant of what demons each other are facing? That we're told to do so was just the first of many lies we need to unravel and unlearn.


Victor Infante is the editor of the online literary journal Radius and the author of the poetry collection City of Insomnia from Write Bloody Publishing. He was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Southern California and educated in England, but currently lives in Massachusetts, where he writes about rock 'n' roll for a living.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2





Soundscape: 51 Holworthy Street


rewind // Big Willie Style //  


the two

of us


I hear the claw marks of loss

climbing off our front stoop,

cussin                                         tearin up

the sides of

 the rock—


remember the fourth of July:  castles in the sky, tiny rockets


crying over my Pops—


them stoop kids, I hear,

grown now; slang street,

cop snow


groundhog’s March:

get shot

clap back

our block

had me hearin



at a young age—




the corner is bumpin       Summertime


heat cracks wide-eyed smiles like

yolk on the street / somebody busts a hydrant  


& Holworthy swells up

drowns in


I hear it

 surge through my bedroom window—


speakers shudderin ‘gainst the wall / we didn’t

hear them /


Duane’s hesitant hands / locked  / hug the

  hall door        


/ open the goddamn door!


/ I think I hear a safety click

back / steel raid on marble /

our second

     story: stone & glass

screaming blue / I catch a        wish

purr in my mother’s chest,

feral breast heaving

for the sirens   to          stop!


else today mother us into song

for the late night / as if that kind

of ‘luck’ is

a blessing (

a rickety ‘twang’

a red-metal storm

in the earth’s mouth



R. Kelly’s I Wish

on repeat—



I hear laughter lapping  



Duante  Duane  Ty  Me      


bouncing from mattresses

to floor, to ceiling;


Playstation’s crystalline startup;

the roar of us


challenging day

to open & close;

what we made

of careful youth


all of us


singing time

to shelter home


our memories, our joy

preserved:  alive—



Evan Cutts is a 23-year-old Boston native, poet, journalist, and writing workshop facilitator. He puts his faith in Black joy, his mother, and writes about Blackness, Boston, and magic.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2





Everyday Is A Black Girl


Monday knows you do not like her. You will say it to her face &

behind her back like you did not pray about & for her yesterday.


Monday is a black girl & she mean business. Monday know you hate

her soon as you see her coming. Monday coming whether you like it or not.


Tuesday still surprised you had the nerve to treat Monday like that.

Tuesday don’t fuck with you either. Tuesday will take off her hoops

& will fuck you up foreal. Tuesday from the wrong side of the week.

Tuesday 2 steps from the church & one from your ass.


Wensday just want to hump without you calling her a whore. Wensday wants to know why

you wont just let her be great. Wensday wants to go pop her pussy, but you call her pussy

a gun, you call anything that it releases dangerous.


Thursday can’t wait till Friday get here so they can go have a drink. Thursday been watching this shit for four days now and wants to know how it’s gone end. Thursday feet hurt.

Thursday ain’t did nothing but work from the time Thursday got here.


Friday could not wait to pop off. Friday shining on you mutherfuckas. Friday got her weave did and your lover paid for it. Friday don’t give a fuck about all the shit you was talking. Friday wearing that dress like she wear your nerves. Friday wear that dress like she wear her dreams.


Saturday is Fridays twin. Saturday knows tomorrow she will have to talk to God, either personally, or through prayer, and she just wanna shake her ass tonight, she know you gone say, what you said about Monday, what you said about Tuesday, what you said about Wensday, & Thursday, & Friday, about her, & Saturday don’t give nary a fuck.


Sunday smells like hot combs and grandmother hugs, smells like judgment and warm rolls all in one. Sunday loves you as she loves herself, like a lesson.


Siaara Freeman is the founder of wusgood.black and an editor for Tinderbox Journal. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best American Poets 2016, and Bettering American Poetry 2017, and was a 2017 Button Chapbook Finalist. She is a 3 year fellow of the Pink Door Women Writers Of Color retreat. She is currently the resident Lake Erie Siren. In whatever free time she has, she attempts to grow her afro tall enough for God to mistake it for a microphone and speak into her.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2





cracked open a rotten egg


had to bang it a little harder than usual

peel the two halves of the shell from the split

smell the fatal mistake seep instantly into the air

watch the death fall out

it dropped so quickly


it should have been gold

the yolk there should have been a sun

now it’s just gray-black-broke as the bodies

worked like mules in the heat


it should have been a body

grown into a sun kissed skin

grown into a son or daughter or child

now it’s just a corpse not even worth a funeral


it should have been a home

a soft fluid womb

a nourishing protection

a promise and a future

it’s just a foul wreckage now


there is no salvaging this spoil

no saving this egg

this black

this once could be separated

now it’s all just run together

white indistinguishable from sun kissed

rot indistinguishable from body

home cracked and split and seeping

stench reeking of lineage


cracked open a rotten egg

and it dropped so quickly

fell right into what i was cooking  

one drop

one bad egg

and now the whole meal is ruined



Justice Gaines is a Black trans woman poet based in Providence, RI. Xe is a Pink Door Fellow and a three-time semifinalist at the national college slam, CUPSI. Xe is the 2017 Providence Grand Slam Champion and a 2017 FEMS Poetry Slam Champion. Xyr work is a practice in becoming unapologetic and unafraid, writing in dedication to xyr community and xyr name. You can find xyr work on Glass Poetry Press and Wusgood Mag.


I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2




ode to stubbing your toe

after Angel Nafis


Thank you to a life that can afford all of this hard furniture.

Thank you to a childhood so full of clutter,

to afford the Legos I’ve stepped on,

to have edges and awkward shelves to bump against.

We are not here for the minimalist aesthetic, we

are here to fill ourselves as much

as we are able, and we did:

all of this clutter. All of this ownership

in this tiny, dilapidated house that will

never fully be ours, so we claim

everything else. Claim cheap plastic.

Department store shoes. Thank you

for the kind of pain that results in better spatial awareness.

Thank you for all the corners that taught me

not to trust a room that was too pretty.

Thank you for teaching me to feel comfort

in sharp, dangerous imperfection,

to come to terms with how inherently cluttered

this life was bound to be. I end up stubbing my toes

on it most of the time. Thank you for helping me

grow accustomed to the pain.



Myles Em Taylor is a Boston-based poet, organizer, and possible ghost. They are the Slam Master of the Emerson Poetry Project and Editor-in-Chief of CORRIDORS, a literary magazine focused on student mental health. They represented Emerson College at CUPSI for 2 consecutive years and represented the Boston Poetry Slam at NPS 2017.  Their work can be found at FreezeRay Poetry, voicemail poems, Slamfind, and Beech Street Review. Catch them at the Cantab every Wednesday night, or arguing with the espresso machine at their day job.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2





the bullet teaches us how to dance


I want you to know:

When the girl shot herself in the street,

I was not dancing.

I was in the club darkening a corner,

or walking lonely home with

my heart balanced on a cigarette tip,

a wounded deer, my chest, staggering,

that night, that year, my whole life that

I could not find

the girls whose mouths matched mine,

whose mouths made history

eating fire in the street,

yelling because it felt good

and maybe because it mattered.

The girl knew the difference

between yelling and screaming.

The girl shot herself in the street,

haloed green in the traffic light, painted gold

detonated like a disco ball,

spilling like a drink and red red red.


She didn’t say a thing.

Blood shines black in the dark.

The unhurry of the ambulance lights

floating lazy around and around.

 Everyone walked away.

After the bullet, the white chalk halo.

Believe: This was everything she had

left of her, lonely and angry

and rage and gone.

People did not stop dancing.

Let’s say we wore the same skin, or wore it differently,

if she was browner or blacker or redder or the geometry

of ribs or the kindness of her swells or mine.

We were not friends.

I did not know her. But maybe

I had seen her,

breathed her in and out

as we panted on the dance floor,

I borrowed her lighter,

we rattled our side-by-side spines with coffee,

and listened to poets speak like it was the first time

they heard their own voices.

I mean, I didn’t know her. I never met her. I heard her name was Jasmine.

Jasmine, maybe I was looking for you that night,

for someone you had been, someone before

your slow suicide by cigarette, your faster suicide

with the powders and the tar and the spirits

that dragged you forward, a gun in your hand,

into the intersection that night. Jasmine, maybe

I was looking for me.

Blood and guns are the same color in the dark.

Our bodies have always been battlegrounds.

You became your own weapon

firing through time and space

and me, despite my first girl lover, that razor,

and my SOS heartbeat,

and despite my cyanide first girlfriend

and my mayday kisses,

and despite my stomping a coming-out song

over and over in emergency broadcast time

with so much silence instead of a mother,

I knew that despite all this,

I was lucky,

and lucky goes dancing.

That night, the music did not stop.

When the bar closed,

I was covered in sweat. You were

covered by the tv news. We were both


Even through the breakbeat, there is the graveyard,

the tyranny of if and when,

and Richmond, California, in 2008 ,

when a dyke was gang raped by 4 men;

and Washington, DC, in 2009,

when five dykes were attacked

by two men and the police

would not take a report;

and Portland, Texas, in 2012 ,

when two dykes

were shot in the head;

and Mesquite, Texas, in 2013,

where a dyke was beaten to death;

and in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013,

where a dyke couple clung to each other

while attacked by 10 men;

and Galveston, Texas, in 2014,

where a dyke was choked in an elevator;


and Seattle, Washington, in 2015,

where a dyke was attacked with

a pocketknife, a dog leash, and a black marker


and Kenyon Colege in Ohio, in 2016,

where a dyke was raped because

she was “too cute” to like girls,

and Brooklyn, New York, in 2017,

where a dyke was attacked on the subway

until her eye socket broke.

I was always queer

but when a man’s fist hit my lover’s face

I became a dyke.

I had aimed to please,

but now I could shoot to kill.

Jasmine, your body

was always a battleground,

when you walked to work

or walked home

or walked to a club.

The holy war was

in your head and

your body and my body,

so near but never against,

bodies that can coil and gasp,

that can recoil and twist

into coffins so easily

at the ends of cigarettes

at the mouths of bottles and why

should those men’s violence

come as any surprise?

Jasmine, the gun was pointing the wrong way.

This is not rage.

This is resistance.

This is resilience.

This is ours.

Living well is not the best revenge.

The best revenge is living.


The best revenge is to keep going.

So despite Portland and DC and Memphis and Chicago,

we keep going.

This resistance.

This resilience.

This is ours.

Your lonely is ours, and we

keep going. So in your name,

I might just live in sin

whether or not marriage

is now legal. In some states,

I am lewd and lascivious

and my kisses are still crimes,

so I will find girls

to dance me slick and dirty

in Kansas, where that is still

illegal and mouthfuls of girls

in both Carolinas,

where that is still illegal,

and in your name,

panties on the bar bathroom floor

in Louisiana, where that is still illegal,

and maybe two girls

in Oklahoma, just to make it

doubly illegal. And in Alabama

and Florida and Idaho, I will say your name,

say it in Michigan, in Mississippi,

in Texas and Utah.

And now in California, in San Francisco, in the city

of junkies and thieves and whores and poets,

we will dance for you, lonely ghost. Lost girl.


And we will keep going.

We will not march.

We will dance.


From the beginning of San Francisco

through allp the bars and clubs:

Maud’s and Amelia’s,

and the electric slide into memory

of the Box and Club Q and Club Ecstasy, Female

Trouble, Faster Pussycat, Wet, Club Q, Snatch,

dancing the blisters into our heels and don’t

stop dancing for Klitz Club and Red; Junk,

Club Confidential, Muffdive, Club Jesus, Litterbox,

bathed in sweat at Backstreet,

Brownies for my Bitches, a kiss

for the bartender at Hot Pants,

Stay Gold, Rebel Girl, and the Lex the Lex the Lex.

Jasmine, this is not last call.

We are still calling.

Put down the gun.

Come dance.



Daphne Gottlieb stitches together the ivory tower and the gutter just using her tongue. She is the award-winning author of ten books in at least four genres, including the collection of short stories, Pretty Much Dead, and Dear Dawn: Aileen Wuornos in her Own Words, a collection of letters from Death Row by the “first female serial killer” to her childhood best friend.



I Can Count To 10 vol.2 # August – September 2017 # I Can Count To 10 vol. 2


Thank you for participating.