Lately by Emry Trantham

I have wanted to destroy things.
Throw eggs, one by one, into a broad tree

even I won’t miss. I want to hear the shell
burst, see the broken yolk drip-shine against bark.

In fantasies I buy every plate in Goodwill
and bring them home to smash

against my stained concrete driveway.
Hurl arch shatter, every plate I found

in Goodwill, every plate I placed in my cart
and hauled to my trunk. I want to shoot

things. Pumpkins, maybe. Finger to trigger
to a gaping exit wound, sticky pulp

and seeds blasted out over my front porch.
I have no gun. I have no pumpkin.

What I have is this apple, glowing red
and round in the palm of my hand.

What I have is this knife, sharp enough
to slice the thin dusky skin of the fruit,

sharp enough to carve its white flesh.
What I have is precision, what I have

is a plate full of apple slices
to take outside to my children.

 

Emry Trantham is an English teacher in Western North Carolina, where she is raising three daughters and writing poems. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Booth, Tar River Poetry, Carolina Quarterly, Noble Gas Qtrly, Cider Press Review, Cold Mountain Review, and others. She was also a 2019 Gilbert-Chappell Emerging Poet.

The Recluse by Jose Hernandez Diaz

A writing residency, at my kitchen table, where I wake up at 4 a.m. because of insomnia from meds, and write a poem about a skeleton in a maze, and no one is around to say it’s cliché, so I publish it in a book called: One Hundred Days of a Recluse.

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Southeast Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of a collection of prose poems: The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020).

Call Me When You Need Me by Marisa Crane

will you brush my teeth for me? is the question tossed about this house at night
while bats flap their wings outside, not knowing the myths they carry
it’s healthy to learn to trust people
that’s what all the therapists & self-help books say
I know a thing or two about the teeth in my jaw
attachment theory says we need consistent love from our caregivers
for the inconsistent times, we have stuffed animals & blankies
we have our wings to wrap around our cold quivering bodies
it’s the moments like small gods stacked on top of each other in a trench coat
it’s you smiling through a foamy mouth while I decide what to read in bed
we go looking for molars with just the right crunch
the right break-you-open-&-see-what’s-inside
but we never look in the most obvious of places
(the loneliness of an underwear drawer off its track)
earlier there were the too-full grocery bags, the list, the spilt blueberries,
the you watching me watching you eat a meal I made
the dog follows us into the bedroom
he tells stories with his eyelashes, their snowflake linger
I should be listening but I can’t stop thinking about a baby bat
hanging upside down hugging a teddy bear

 

Marisa Crane is a lesbian writer and editor. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pigeon Pages, Pidgeonholes, Drunk Monkeys, among others. She currently lives in San Diego with her wife. You can read more of her work at www.marisacrane.org. Her Twitter handle is @marisabcrane.

The Witch of Maurepas Calls the Swamp to Hand by Jack B. Bedell

Slow, whole notes draw the swamp’s pulse
right up to her lap. Skinks and grasshoppers
crawl across the grass, baby squirrels

and rabbits come out from the woods,
and mosquito hawks float in the air
around her shoulders. Even eagles

dive out of the sky to be near her song.
She sings as if her pitch could
feed the whole swamp, as if

the breadcrumbs she offers, could
heal all need. Her melodies stoke
the breeze and pull the tides

toward her heart, and all the eyes around
blink in rhythm with her blood.

 

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Shore, Pidgeonholes, Cotton Xenomorph, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, saltfront, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

When His Surgeon Called and Asked If I Had Questions by Jacqueline Hughes Simon

I had no questions
After three days all I knew

was how beautifully thin
I was My pants slunk

from my hips which
jutted out like wings

My ribs were sharp
and caught on corners

My torso long and ropy
with no respect for my neck

It rained I wore boots
and had thigh gap

In the cafeteria
my pretty nails

brittled onto the tray
Talking with doctors

my teeth loosened
My elegant cheek-

bones split my skin
My golden hair fell

out and I knit it into socks
I couldn’t shit or

remember who I hated
I was magnificent

 

Jacqueline Hughes Simon is a writer living in Berkeley, CA. Her work has appeared in Written Here – The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Poecology, The Cortland Review , and others. She is currently an MFA candidate at St. Mary’s College, California.

 

Freckle (A Haibun) by Julia Gerhardt

The towel has moved from the innocent huddle over my shoulders to the firm knot between breasts. I want to drape the towel over my shoulders again, as if I am able to protect myself from strange and desirous things, but I won’t. I’m too big now & it would show too much of me. The bareness of my body reminds me of the emptiness in my belly & since I am hungry all the time now, I eat. I bite, crunch, lick, swallow. There is a spot on me I swear is a freckle until I lift my arm to my tongue & taste it. Something I thought was so very much a part of me is gone. When I realize its impermanence, I shower again. I bathe, clean, lather, suds. As I reach for the towel once more, I am no longer bothered by the way I position it, but instead

                                                                                        I am saddened by
                                                                                        the chocolate stain I mis-
                                                                                        took as a freckle.

 

Julia Gerhardt is a writer from Los Angeles, now living in Baltimore.  She was nominated for the Best Microfiction Anthology 2020 and Best Small Fictions Anthology 2020. She has previously been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Umbrella Factory, The Airgonaut, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Cease, Cows, Literary Orphans, Rogue Agent, Flash Fiction Magazine, Monkeybicycle, and others.  Her work is forthcoming in the Eastern Iowa Review, fresh.ink, Moonpark Review, Sea Foam Mag, and Club Plum.  She is currently working on her first novel.  You can find her at https://juliagerhardtwriter.wordpress.com/

Instead of Heraldry by Matt Broaddus

When the bell tower chimes,
throw me off the roof.
Crocheted into my wool
cocoon. With all the almonds in Calaf
gathered illegally by peasants in the night.
To make pastries and carve them with little angels’
chainsaws. Breakneck death
strolls beside me, a lightning storm.
The wheat rolls off in gritty balls
like the ancient walls of the town.
Men with guns,
hired to live in the turrets of the villas
and shoot each other,
shoot each other.

 

Matt Broaddus is a Cave Canem fellow and author of a chapbook, Space Station (Letter [R] Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Fence, Foundry, Sundog Lit, and Black Warrior Review. He lives in Lakewood, Colorado and works at a public library. Sometimes he tweets @mattbroaddus.

In My Dreams, I Own a Laundromat by Elise Triplett

The Mother finds me washing my hands
with lavender detergent in the employees only room.
“The washer ate my dollar,” she explains lifting

the lint crown off my head and the lint veil
from my eyes. I follow her, and root my hands
through its intestines, pinching out each quarter:

“Do you want me to scrape the dirt off those
with my teeth?” She shakes her head, so I place
them in her palms. “Why is there a sea turtle

painted on your window?” I wanted to be constructive.
I say, “I feel unfurnished without it.” The Child watches
me from a metal cart. He’s not supposed to be in there.

“He’s not supposed to be in there.” The Mother hushes
me: “Be constructive.” I want to be. She gets another
washer going. I pick apart the crown, make gloves instead.

 

Elise Triplett is a writer from Dayton, Ohio. They have been published in Black Bough Poetry and interned with Mid-American Review. They can be found on Twitter @TriplettElise and elsewhere, probably.

Jellyfish by Josh Sherman

Sorry I couldn’t stay any longer
Had to remove any sign that I had been there
That a misplaced can might upset you
I didn’t want a misplaced can to upset you

So I collected all the cans that might upset you
and straightened all the chairs and arranged them
to make sure everything was on right angles
I find comfort in 90 degrees and straight lines

Because after a hurricane you clean up
You emerge from a wood-planked place
and you set forth to collect the debris:
a chair wedged in the sand, a refrigerator in a ditch

But watch out for the jellyfish
thrown from the ocean by a cyclone
that traced an arbitrary path
like the one that led to you

 

Josh Sherman is a Toronto-based journalist whose poetry has appeared in Back Patio Press and Neutral Spaces Magazine. His fiction has been published online in Hobart and in print in the Great Lakes Review.