How to Read Poetry While Drinking Monster Alone in a Dimly Lit Cubicle by Angela Qian

If you are lonely, read poetry.
If the poem is a love poem, break a bottle into two asymmetrical halves.
If the bottle has mead inside, lick the ferment from the ground up from your toes to your shins.
Become once more a stranger to your body.
If the bottle is empty, proceed to the next poem.
If the poem is not a love poem, identify the ways in which it is a love poem.
Name it love for a sentimental sadness, love for summer grapes, love for the child who clutches your hand,
love for a good steak and a crisp, translucent onion, love for the sweet purple comforter which covers your face when you sleep—
Or identify it as a cut poem.
If it is a cut poem, identify the ways in which the speaker is cut.
Identify if the cut was healed from a blood wound or honey.
If it is a blood wound it will howl on all fours and shriek under the moon.
If you are angry, get on your knees and shriek too.
But if you find a honey poem, think of all the bees.
The bees work industriously somewhere out there, all yellow pollen and sticky haze.
If you are a bee-lover, read poetry.
If you are a lonely insect, like all of us who crawl and never fly far enough
off this wretched Earth—
Read a love poem. Suck honey. Cut a poem open, and the pain will last one second, then a lifetime.
Let the sharp blade of the feeling slice you. One moment. Sweet open.

 

Angela Qian’s writing has been published in or is forthcoming from Pleiades, Shenandoah, Witness, The Common, The Guardian, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and several other outlets. She received her MFA from NYU and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Find more of her work at angelaqian.com.

Gen Z is Made of Wood by Coleman Bomar

A Silicon Valley millionaire
pays me nine dollars an hour
to be his coffee table.

He doesn’t use a coaster.

At night
the vape pen softens an image: trees
burning from the inside.

I can’t dream, but God
has enough content for
a new video.

It’ll be an apology, and he’ll
cry like a crocodile
on camera.

 

Coleman Bomar (he/him) is a writer who currently resides in Middle Tennessee. His written works have been featured by and/or are forthcoming in Blink Ink, Drunk Monkeys, Eunoia Review, Maudlin House, X-R-A-Y, and many more. He enjoys 90’s grunge music, and dogs who are too friendly.

Ode to the Empanadas on Pacific & Elm, with Apologies to William Carlos Williams by Carla Sofia Ferreira

Please forgive me, I did not ask the internet for permission
to call it a bodega, the small corner market less than
a two minute walk from the third floor apartment on Pacific,
no less than I was allowed to let my cheeto fuzzed fingers fold
over the pleats of my crisp maroon and gray skirt. In those days,
I confessed my sins to a priest I was not sure would ever see heaven.
How could he? Had he tried the empanadas from the corner market
on Pacific and Elm — fried crispy corners enveloping ground beef
and yet the juices running? Was this not absolution? I believe
in small and human graces: the pleasure of lunchtime
in the crowded cafeteria, the salve of antibiotic on a skinned knee,
water from the rusty faucet after the kickball game on the asphalt
parking lot. Miraculous, those empanadas, and oh they tasted good
to me, they tasted good to me.
Sorry I—
am not sorry.

 

Carla Sofia Ferreira is a Portuguese-American poet who grew up in Newark, New Jersey and who teaches high school English in Newark today. A recipient of fellowships from the Sundress Academy for the Arts and DreamYard Radical Poetry Consortium, her microchap Ironbound Fados was published in 2019 by Ghost City Press. She believes in community gardens, semicolons, and that ICE must be permanently abolished. For a copy of her free poetry prompt chapbook, Eat a Persimmon, created for high schoolers and their teachers, please go here: https://www.carlasofiaferreira.com/post/eat-a-persimmon.

Wild Horse by Cathy Halley

Your hand ring heavy against me.
Thigh high, sumptuous endeavor.
We will see tomorrow how your masculine touches mine,
charged particles left to vague.
We seed,
sow two streets with the same name in different boroughs,
sing caramel songs that refuse to liquid.

You are a sinkhole of wonder.
I lie down with you and let it happen,
like conversation, like lyes, burning good.

Be gracious now and wait.

We are a successful series.
You are legs that end in true ankles,
sheer mouth, wrists I hold and lead.
Lend me your delivery, how you move your hands.
Your happiness. Mine.
An unmatched opposition. A pair, approved,
tenderness of color.
Your hair beneath your neck,
an elegant expression—mouth open some, softened, let go,
your eyes unafraid at night and in silent light,
unblinking broken,
a horse in the wild at dusk eating grass,
ten, twelve, fifteen, me.

 

Cathy Halley is the Editor in Chief of JSTOR Daily. Her work has appeared in Pocket Myths and poetryfoundation.org.

Foodie, or I Miss Every Hometown Cookout by KB

Fuck the presentation, I want the food to taste good. Like chopped
slop covered in barbecue sauce brisket. Like mama’s wing flings
on top of greasy paper towels with a side of somewhat burnt
sweet potatoes. I want the meal to give me -itis I can feel in my tongue;
tums needed to hush up the organs telling me I’ve made mistakes today.
None of it was a mistake, really. The only thing I regret is not asking
for extra hot sauce, extra communion with my niggas over hot plates
while barbed off in backyards with an uncle that has bunions on his toes
hollering, CAN YOU HEAR ME under the Bengay. Today, I hear you auntie.
Swearing I forgot to take the chicken out; making chitlins in a room of people
with my blood or at least best interest in their hearts. I say your name,
spaghetti & fish after a friend has went to pasture. I say your name as I look
at the coffee shop menu, wondering what has a sprinkle of spirit in it.

 

KB is a Black, queer, nonbinary miracle. They are the author of the chapbook HOW TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF WITH A WOUND (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Saguaro Poetry Prize, and a 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices fellow. Follow them online at @earthtokb.

Puffy Little Pink Heart by Hannah Grieco

It’s not you, it’s me. It’s not that I don’t feel this, it’s that how I feel doesn’t matter. It’s not that I don’t like you, didn’t want this to happen, didn’t plan to get that drunk and sit in your lap and, okay, maul you in a Burger King booth in front of that family with their four small children. It’s that I really am too old to do those things and also I have two small children of my own and a husband and I can still taste the fry oil in the back of my throat and it, and you, are giving me heartburn. It’s not that me sleeping with you was symbolic of who I used to be and the way I used to act, it’s that I’ve been trying desperately to not turn into something symbolic, something comfortable, something that fits easily on a key chain, something that everyone recognizes when they see it, something sticker-like and shiny, but not too shiny, like maybe a puffy little pink heart sticker on the back of a Mother’s Day card. It’s not that me sleeping next to you wouldn’t remind me of uncomfortable, brave, unrecognizable experiences and feelings, it’s that I don’t get to do uncomfortable, brave, unrecognizable things anymore. It’s not that you aren’t pretty, because you’re so pretty, so pretty I scooted next to you on that bench and asked for one of your fries, the only vegan thing on the menu, which was why we went there in the first place, and I’d been making fun of you all night for being vegan, but actually I find it so appealing, so beautiful that someone cares that much about anything anymore. It’s not that I wouldn’t cast this all away in a minute, because I would cast this all away in a minute, in a second, so fast my entire life would be an intertwined blur of the past rapidly decomposing and you and me driving down the highway in my runaway minivan, Indigo Girls and Dar Williams and KD Lang on your shitty old iPod shuffle, your hand on the back of my neck, my hand on your knee, above your knee, the part of your knee that tickles if I squeeze even a little. My hand on your knee and my heart in my throat.

 

Hannah Grieco is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. You can find her online at www.hgrieco.com and on Twitter @writesloud.

Arroz Con Leche by Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez

When I get lonely—I want my mother. I want her to cut my belly open and pull out a newborn version, toss away the bloodied carcass of an unrecognizable self. I want her to dive into my chest, fight the grip around my heart, and proudly proclaim my heart belongs to her. I want her to find the mouth of the river inside, threatening to burst and drown me, and sing until the waters still. When I get lonely like this, I want my mother; but I am afraid to ask for her. Afraid my longing for motherhood will create too large a ripple, waves exposing unscabbed wounds. Afraid neither has learned to swim in the vast ocean of our grief. Afraid voicing my desire for her will reveal the chasm between us as too deep, too wide, to find each other again, or, for the first time. Today, I am lonely, and I want my mother without her knowing I need her. I speak to her in a language safe for both of us: cooking. Madre mía, how do I make arroz con leche? Her carefully crafted instructions and a mándame foto, her offering. A photo of the overly sweet milky rice, my offering.

YIELDS:

4-6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (128g) of washed rice 

2 (256 g) cups of water

2 whole canela sticks

3 cups (384 g) of milk

1 can (397 g) of Lechera

2 fistfuls of raisins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Wait until loneliness has settled in your belly, carved your lining and made itself a home. Bring water with the canela sticks to a boil and notice your heart’s palpitations as the waft of the spicey scent envelops you. Pour washed rice into boiling, canela sweetened water, and allow the mixture to simmer until you recall how often your mother makes arroz con leche only because you love it. Throw raisins in the rice pot so they soften like a heart before the hurt. In a separate pot, combine milk and lechera and heat, but do not let it reach a boil. Pour warm lechera milk over rice and stir as you imagine your mother serving you arroz con leche after being away for so long. Her warm smile, her tired eyes welcoming you back. To garnish, tuck your yearnings for your mother between the soft rice and the sweet milk. Eat until full.

 

Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez is an immigrant of Juarez, Mexico and raised in Cicero, IL. Her work has been published in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, Hispanecdotes, Everyday Fiction, Acentos Review, Newtown Literary, So to Speak: A Feminist Journal, No Tender Fences: Anthology of Immigrant and First-Generation American Poetry, Longreads, Lost Balloon, Reflex Fiction, and Strange Horizons. Sonia’s writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. Sonia lives and teaches in New York City.

Mojave by Sarah Hernandez

i’ve been lying here for so long
with grass peeking through my hips
and dust working into the gaps of my teeth.

the sky is so big and forgetful,
a place with no memory.
i wish i could be like that.

i hadn’t thought you meant it that time.
the swallow dives down, down, down
and never really hits the ground.

i suppose we had one last First, baby,
kept special in the sun-soaked spot,
in my overexposed skull.

you never visit like you promised.
maybe you thought i wouldn’t remember
but how could i not?

i am the gift you gave the open sky
with grit grinding my joints away,
and your love forever on my mind.

 

Sarah Hernandez is a Texas-born writer and lover of literature. Her main median is poetry, and her sources of inspiration are the forces of nature and womanhood. Her hobbies include hiking, cooking, and witchcraft and her work has previously appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She lives in Austin, Texas.

The Allegory of the Pizzas by Lisa Richter

There were two pizzas, and we ate
neither of them because they were delivered
to the wrong address. For days we could dream
of nothing else, no matter what we stuffed
our faces with. Each pizza would have come
with its own carefully chosen toppings:
on yours, Thai chicken and crushed rose petal,
ground into a paste; on mine, picket fences
and the footprints of baby shoes.
Oh, we had other meals, ordered in
because suddenly order took on a new
importance. We took down all our books
then re-shelved them all by texture.
More than once, we declared
each other out of order and in contempt
of the court of private opinion.
Eventually, our plants had to water us.
I made a slipknot of your hunger,
slid it over my wrist. You turned mine
into a sail and resented me when the wind
puffed it over the lake. What we desired
could not fit into flat cardboard boxes.
No crust in the world could support it.

 

Lisa Richter is the author of two books of poetry, Closer to Where We Began (Tightrope Books, 2017) and Nautilus and Bone (Frontenac House, 2020), which won the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and was longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award. She lives in Toronto, Canada.