Post Modern THOT : Natalie N. Caro


Natalie N. Caro is a Bronx-born poet and the 2013 recipient of the Bronx Recognizes Its Own Award in Poetry. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Lehman College/CUNY and an MFA in Poetry from City College/CUNY where she was selected as one of the first recipients of the Creative Writing Fellowship. Sometimes, she swears that school saved her, but then she thinks about colonization of the mind and feels some type of way. Natalie likes to tweet at bars about teeth and trauma. Follow her and her scattered thoughts on twitter @scatteredstanza.

Who is your favorite female identifying written character and why?

I can’t pick one, and so my favorite renegades are Edna Pontellier, Jane Eyre, and Sula. There’s something about the way these women live their lives, a rawness to their experiences in context. They also have this deep connection to the earth. They feel every bit of the world in them, and perhaps it’s because they understand its language that they are so brazen.

What literary work by a female identifying writer had the most effect on you as a writer and/or person?

Nayyirah Waheed’s SALT has pretty much changed the way I view language and my own relationship to it as a reader coming out of the postcolonial condition. Her ability to pack so many ideas and images into a couple of lines of poetry is nothing short of brilliant. Her work is as rich and real as it comes.

How did your work/works in Alyss come about? 

Date-Rape emerged out of many discussions. A lot has been said about the under reporting of campus rapes and sexual violence against women, in general; the narrative is, unfortunately, often one-sided. Much of my reading on consent and duress has forced me to come to terms with the reality that young men can be raped too. The conversation, I felt, needed additional voices and perspectives.
What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?

My most memorable writing moment is being anthologized for the first time. I have two poems in the forthcoming Afro-Latino Anthology from the University of Houston Press. Many of the authors I find myself in the company of are pioneers and legends; it’s humbling, to say the least.
What is your favorite piece by another writer from Issue Deux and why? 

Making choices is difficult for me, and so I have two poems that stirred me: Almost Someone Coming Home by Alexandra Smyth & Baptism by Jamie Lyn Bruce. In the interest of full disclosure, I took workshops with these two powerhouses, and even then I was a huge fan of their work. They both arrest the reader with a strong sense of place; once they captivate you, they whisper something big and rippling in your heart.
What are you currently working on?

I’m working on getting my first chapbook published “Post Modern THOT,” It’s a collection of poetry that deals with trauma of being of being a woman caught in the Male Gaze, or something like that. In the meantime, I’m experimenting with my website/blog:

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?

At the risk of sounding trite: Alice in Wonderland has always appealed to me—mostly, because her curiosity was always stronger than her apprehension.

Disasterrific : Alyssa Yankwitt


Alyssa Yankwitt is a poet, photographer, teacher, bartender, documenter, and earth walker. Her poems and photographs have previously appeared in Fruita Pulp, Gingerbread House, Penwheel.lit, Metaphor Magazine, Red Paint Hill’s “Mother Is a Verb” anthology, The Lake, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Spry Literary Journal. Alyssa has incurable wanderlust, enjoys drinking whiskey, hates writing about herself in third person, and loves a good disaster. You can visit her artist page here:


Who is your favorite female identifying written character and why?

Probably Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights. She’s such a complicated and complex character, passionate and impulsive. She’s a wild and free-spirit, but I always felt she was struggling to truly be free. Also, her ghost comes back to haunt the man she loved. That’s pretty hardcore.

What literary work by a female identifying writer had the most effect on you as a writer and/or person?

I don’t think I could choose just one.  Three huge influences would have to be: Sonia Sanchez’s, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Sandra Cisneros, Loose Woman, and Kim Addonizio’s, What Is This Thing Called Love.

Sanchez’s work affected me due how lush and sensual her poems are. There is such a musicality to her writing, both in sound and on the page, specifically through her use of colloquial language and the way she would use the page as well. Reading one of her poems is like having someone whisper a secret into your ear; that intimate and that important.

Cisneros’ work affected me because of its boldness and bravery. I remember when I first came to her poetry thinking: damn, these are bold and brave poems. There were poems about affairs with married men, about the complicated line between being a female Mexican-American and how her family viewed her as “old maid” because she was unmarried at 30. These poems are from a book titled “Loose Woman.” Cisneros’ words are unafraid and unapologetic. That’s the kind of writer I strive to be.

Addonizio’s work affected me in a similar vein as Cisneros, but it went a step further. Her work too is unafraid and unapologetic but there’s also an edgy grit to it. Reading her poems feels like someone slapped you across the face and then gave you an incredibly passionate kiss. It’s frenzying. But there’s also a delicateness to the poetry; it can break your heart, sometimes two or three times in one poem. Again, this is a balance I try to attain in my own writing.

How did your work/works in Alyss come about?

My poem, “Allen at 25,” came about after the suicide of one of my closest friends. As most suicides are, it was unexpected. A huge bond that Allen and I shared was reading and writing poetry. I found out after that many people didn’t know he even wrote poetry, including his family. They only found out after his death. It took me a long time to write this poem, I think in part because it was also me coming to terms of his actions. It made me wonder what had such a powerful grip on his heart that he couldn’t talk about these important things. Why he couldn’t tell his family about the poems. Why he couldn’t talk about what made him want to end his life.

What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?

I was in a grocery store with a friend and we ran into one of her friends, who worked there. Our mutual friend went to introduce us (and I had no clue who she was) and before the introduction the girl said, “I know you. I saw you read at the poetry reading a few weeks ago.” She then went on to recite her favorite poem I read (which was unpublished), nearly word for word, to me.

What is your favorite piece by another writer from Issue One and why?

Nazia Jannat’s, “Self Portrait for Whiskey Kisses.”  First, because I love whiskey (and whiskey kisses) and second—which I think really sums it all up—is the line “no more ashamed of being ashamed.”

And from Issue Deux?

I am going to choose two. First is Jen Stein’s “Moving Day in April.” I love this poem for its repetition and its sound. And the sound isn’t simply the word choices but the imagery as well. This poem, in the guise of a whisper, is screaming, wailing, singing, and howling. This poem broke my heart in the most beautiful way.

Second would be Merie Kirby’s “At six I wanted to marry Godzilla.” I found it clever and loved all the imagery of water and liquid, from the obvious ocean to the slurping of bowls of noodles and drinking tea. Also, I maybe wanted to have marry Godzilla at one point, too.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve got a couple of chapbooks I’m trying to find a home for. So any publishers or presses who like my work, please feel free to contact me. Yes, I did just shamelessly self-promote.

You can keep up with my work on FB artist page:

as well as on Instagram: bklyn_chaos

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?

Well, me of course!




At six I wanted to marry Godzilla

He was tall, strong, warped
by radiation into crankiness and behavior
that proved ultimately self-destructive.
When he stalked back into the ocean, I cried.

It isn’t just radiation
that warps a man to the shape of anger
and sets his feet down hard on the floor.

Or maybe we just haven’t properly categorized
guilt as radioactive. Smothered anger
as glow-in-the-dark. Nuclear fusion as a byproduct of grief.

Some nights all is well. We slurp up
our giant bowls of noodles and watch game shows.
We read Gengi and Shonagon to each other,
sip tea, comb our sand gardens.

Other nights: tight lips. Anger
like the rush of scalding water
from hidden underwater vents.

Rending of rice paper screens,
shredding the tatami mats,
pots of rice down on the floor,

Those nights I find myself
knee deep in salt water,
trying to keep him on land.

But tonight I want to turn,
lose my own shape in rough waters,
see if he is strong enough to stop me.

Merie Kirby

Grundy County


This is weed country. Not sticky pocketfuls of buds; the lush pot fields have just been burned by the Feds in a fit of irony. Besides, the locals brew up stronger kinds of numb. These are the kinds of weeds that
would shoot out of sidewalk cracks if this town could finance public sidewalks, and in the absence of
sidewalks, choose to choke ditches instead. Everyone here in some stage of not yet or no longer
belonging. Crowded Cherokee crowded out Chickasaw; Five Tribes uprooted and given a garden plot
Now people who look like me practice poverty in this rich land. The money for rosebushes ran out
somewhere west on 64. Here one of the 2 banks in town will charge you money for not having enough
money. 23 years at the Piggly-Wiggly or moonshine on the side of the highway, white rag waving in the
night. But say you made it, say you’re kudzu climbing the overpass, emerald ambition. Say you own all
the hardware stores for 3 counties. Every lawn mower starts with you. Everyone needs a lawn mower
for the weeds.

Tammy Bendetti

Moth Queen

Filthy soil kisses, little mushroom people slept dreaming — not of large cream eyes folded, cork-stopped inside bottle. The wings fluttered like tangled ribbon, pushed against the moon’s luminous glowing, drowning in light-air. Prisoner Queen of Moths learned to love the smooth glass, curved against her back as cuddling, the stories she told the echoing walls — an invisible ink diary.

A large bear bit the cork open, shatter-glass, shaking the Moth Queen free. Mushroom girls ooh-ed and aah-ed and “liked” her freedom, spored peacefully.

Not want of leave for glass, the Moth Queen ripped off her wings to make a dress, stuck shards into wing holes — each memory-piece had its place like windows. She bled out asleep and warm, hand clutched around the smallest shard.

Kaela Danielle McNeil

War for Dinner

             ~After “Photograph of the Girl,” Sharon Olds

War is redefined
as the city breaks.
Death is a news flash.
Destruction, a televised event.

The privileged
flip and pan.
Loose propaganda is gold
they recite at dinner.

Here: young girls shift
and reach for less food across
the dinner table. The men
argue and the boys kick.

There: young girls hide under tables,
cradle their knees, rock fast
against splitting cement. The men
fall dead and the boys run.

Soldiers with foreign tongue
circle the city—fast vultures,
instinct blackened.
Boots crackle shattered window.

There: the city cramps, presses
young wombs ready.
The young girls brink, they pass
over without their mothers.

Here: the young girls bleed
on satin cushions.
They excuse themselves and shame
is passed by their mothers like a dish.

Sarah Lilius


A scene at the dinner table, imaginary rice bowls
      clanking clanking clanking till all the chopsticks break to
      pierce every fixated white eye

A chance to maim any claim to malleability, out
      now, get out now

A splinter cracks wide open
      the fat ceramic, red blood on white, bleeding sensation of
      fate in your gut

A mountain is only yours when it’s permeable,
      fingernails soil-cracked yellow
      up to your elbows in salt

Another genuine white friend stopped at
      the threshold of your house, confused, so

A white baby in savage bloom, in waiting to
      brandish your guts with
      every stain you buried in haste

All your poetry situated in the united states, a landscape
      whose innocence throbs with the
      heat of piss, shiny so shiny

How do you tell anyone who would listen

See that it’s not too late to
      begin again: side-eye the pliant white of this page,

Gentle, like a multiplication table

All the answers pulsating in the fist you hide behind your back

Grace Liew

everytime i speak, my gums bleed


english, a kind of pesticide, kills honeybees.
the crude stingers of verbs chap my lips.
i learned my abc’s in flatbush, isle of glottal
stigmatas, mother tongues strapped
to the spiked back of the queen. summer
the dandelion’s fur gets airborne. summer
a black girl cups its hairs, makes a wish
in the only language she knows. the heavens
rain teeth seven days & nights, jamals
akiras awaken hysterical, toothless
clawing their mouths. the wind, ancient
interpreter, throbs. hums. like a didgeridoo.

Amber Atiya

Almost Someone Coming Home

after Anne Sexton

There is always another story, and in this one I am
almost someone coming home. Floes of ice crack
on the Potomac, the first freeze in as many years as
I have been alive. I believe in coincidences, misspelled
names on tickets, the undulating light which grows
warm between the fractures in those interior spaces.

My brother and I have separate specialties: one of us
is the eye of a needle: expertly empty, a vessel for the
passing-through. The other is a bent nail in the doorway,
unnoticeable, waiting to catch on your bare foot. The
phrase “I will outlive you,” comes into my head as we wait
in the elevator and for a moment I feel a thrill of sibling

triumph in this cruelty that is not even my own, before
remembering these too are the statistics that say I will die
undignified, alone. I will breathe for at least ten years longer,
three times three plus one, deadly arithmetic of this gap
between us. I want to reach for his hand in this absence, but
the elevator chimes and he walks off into the fluorescent hall.

Alexandra Smyth


I called him a pussy

because it was the weakest

place that I could find;


it yielded the     easiest

beneath the razor of

a fifteen year old



“Four years my senior

and still a virgin,“


He stood in front of me, fragile

and half-naked;

I laughed.

               There are girls out there

that put boys in positions

they don’t want to be in

because they can.


I ate up soft boys because

they were //easy//.


Like I used to be.

Natalie N. Caro