“Britney Spears and Me Dance Naked at the End of the World” & “Soil Slut (Ars Poetica)” by Madeline Augusta Turner

Colorful collage pieces, including a Barbie and sequins, on a pale green background

Britney Spears and Me Dance Naked at the End of the World

oh Britney, you saw how the colored lights and the last bus running rattled with my
teeth. everything still hurt when the party was over but i was nothing other than
sublime. remember how i danced so wild, how i was glitter, was tits-out and ethereal
sunshine of a spotted mind? like, have you ever tasted boston crème filling from another
woman’s chest? each and every svedka-soaked night a ménage à trois lobotomy and you
were there, Britney. and i lied. i never said that i hurt so bad. but you saved me, Britney;
I talked to you through everything, you holding your heart in the background and
dancing to the rhythm of someone else’s hips, always a performer but relentlessly your
songs have played somewhere each time it happened. you’ve been with me, britney, in
all of those spaces: the frat house, the backseat, the laundry room, that bed, that bed,
that bed, that bed. who needs a guardian angel when you’re this invincible and fragile?
who needs justice when there’s always toxic bleeding through the walls, you singing me
to a place where my body is mine? a taste of redacted lips. a taste of all of those lips on a
ride to somewhere i hope could be home, the place i can’t hear the song even when it
starts to play again.

Soil Slut (Ars Poetica)

i am the object of desire and no longer do i change
        & every minute i change i miss a body

that was never just mine to become. that i once memorized
        our legs, the tangle that once untangled was still the thread that was tangled

so i worry there is no objective end to this life and the only god left is naked
        in bed and listening to "drivers license." again

i am reduced to the dirt in my core and somehow i am
        a part of u. & i am

maybe still feeling u crumble inside of me
        where i am still rotting, where god is sweating too,

where nothing is sacred. where i sing to myself in public
        and think about those things

        “dude … have u ever wanted to have sex with dirt?”

& the answer is obviously
        but we know johnny cash died of a broken heart

& that i will too. i want this rot
        or to feel the pain of someone so i become them

because i have never been good
        or back to the beginning

where i forget who i am
        until i am covered in decay, those things

i can’t wash out of my hair. the way u look me in the eyes
        and as soon as we die we begin again

to love this place between my eyes that open
        with ur heartbeat and close with the muddy creases in ur palms

        dude .... happiness is suffering re-invented

and i am not happy
        but look at me, i am still

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Madeline Augusta Turner is a cosmic cowgirl and place-based storyteller who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her writing—centered around love in the face of apocalypse and healing in the face of violence—is shaped by her ever-growing community and her life at the intersection of industrial decay and endless cornfields. She graduated from Smith College in 2021 and currently works as a waitress at a historic New England diner. Her work can be found in DEAR Poetry Journal, Hecate, Rejection Letters, Stone of Madness, and others. Say hello on Instagram @madelineaugusta or on Twitter @soilslut and check in anytime at madelineaugustaturner.com.

Charlie Saxton is a painter from Canton, Ohio.

This month’s special issue “NOSTALGIA IS?” was guest edited by Kevin Latimer and Brendan Joyce of GRIEVELAND. Brendan Joyce is the co-organizer of Grieveland, a student at Cleveland State University and the author of Character Limit (2019) and Love & Solidarity (2020). Kevin Latimer’s poems can be found in Ninth Letter, jubilat, Poetry Northwest, Passages North, & elsewhere. His plays have been produced by convergence-continuum. Along with Brendan Joyce, he co-organizes GRIEVELAND, a publishing project. He has won fellowships, scholarships, & awards from The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland State University, & Twelve Literary Arts. He is the author of ZOETROPE (2020). He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.