In Which I am Dreaming About My Ghosts Again by Beth Gordon

The ones who stand as tall as windmills: who glow like wolf breath across the field: the ones with runners’ bones & beating hearts as loud as a parade. The ones without constraints: embalming fluid: marble names: the ones who speak the language of television without hymns poisoning their veins: my ghosts who never died. My ghosts who never died: the ones who escaped the cemetery of my heart: the ones who packed a suitcase with photographs sliced in half & left my eyes behind: my ghosts who meet in dark bars. My ghosts who meet in dark bars: the ones who floated in my womb like goldfish: like stars: like hurricanes in a coffee cup: like zinnia seeds swept downstream: my hungry ghosts: my hungry ghosts. The ones as full as a pantry: the ones who swallow good bread & ripe tomatoes & sugar as sweet as a train: the ones who smash plates into blades: the ones who carry bouquets: the ones who twirl like ceiling fans: the ones with my love on their lips & fingertips. Daisy chains: my ghosts: my ghosts: my necessary ghosts.

 

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother, and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poetry has been published in The Citron Review, Passages North, EcoTheo Review, RHINO, Barren, Pidgeonholes, Pithead Chapel, and others. Her full-length poetry collection, This Small Machine of Prayer, was published in July 2021 (Kelsay Books) and her chapbook The Water Cycle was published in January 2022 (Variant Lit). She is the Managing Editor of Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art and the Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press.

Before Kaddish by Elisa Karbin

While you bucked and brawled
against the nexus of your last
near-morning, the feuding

cells of you were already in decay.
Under the always-on striplight,
diffused to a deep fade between

the poles of this world and the next,
the frenzy of division cut its last
course through you.

Your body practiced
calling itself forth. A dry run
of the inevitable—the soon-expected

specter’s reluctant rise
in the tongue-slacked
rasp of this blue-burnt hour.

While you were dying, electricity
melted from minutes,
an unruly volta of the last synaptic

symphony’s wild refrain.
This, the veil that lifts,
that invents itself for you.

 

Elisa Karbin is the author of the chapbook, Snare, and poems that have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Diode, CutBank, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, and West Branch, among others. She earned a PhD in poetry from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was also a Tinsley Helton Dissertation fellow. Currently, she serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Marquette University. She has two cats. Find more info. at www.elisakarbin.com.

Stop Asking Me How I’m Doing by Bear Weaver

I cough up a cancer poem so y’all will shut up
about writing as healing. Like there’s anything
romantic about your body breaking your heart.
My surgeon sends me to an oncologist he calls a
snazzy dresser. He means gay. My gay oncologist
recommends cannabis and I ask if he knows any
strains that stop time. A trauma survivor advises
me to integrate this experience with my sense of
self. I think I don’t know what that means but just
now my self was a lizard tucked under a rock in a
screaming hot tank, occasionally scuttling out to
bask on a log and hope the lamp fries it. My guts
and I are hollow. They blew up the seed bank so
there goes the last of my schemes to resurrect my
grandmother. Also, I lost all my nose hairs. Did
you want me to include that in the weekly update?
My dad doesn’t know how to regulate around this.
Surprise. He’s always forty-one flushing pills fifty-
one begging yet again for absolution. He’s burnt
himself down to the bowels a thousand times and
yet. I stare at this poem for twenty minutes and
finally understand survivor’s guilt. But he won’t
do either of us any good dead. Also, I love him.
Thanks for the money, folks, and most days I want
you and everyone else to fuck off. How’s this for
meaning-making? Everything I’ve ever written is
a love poem and so is this needle. Amanda, all I’ve
got for you is this: My sense of self says the guts of
me will always be seventeen and too young to die.

 

Bear Weaver was built by Florida’s Gulf Coast, as were their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. They are currently writing, residing, and cancer-surviving in southern New England, but can be found tweeting and lurking @WvrBear.

The Females of Some Species are Larger by L Favicchia

My instinct is not to bite.
Instead I’ll show you all
my little square teeth,
point them out to you
one by one name them
then leave my mouth open
and breathe.

Enamel speaks a thing you can’t
understand—the grain of sand
churning in the oyster
who layers thick saliva
over and over until pearl
to numb the gnawing and is still
left with a tender lump inside—
one she is torn apart for.

Why isn’t the female larger
and more colorful? Give me
the terrified red veins
of the albino raven,
the deep flush and large forearms
of the orchid mantis, also afraid.
Let me have fiery long hair that stings
with the smell of burning oak.

When I skin myself, I skin myself
in front of a mirror to see
all that pretty muscle.

I rehearse what crying looks like,
in my wardrobe keep buttons
that close soft bobbled sweaters
and feel an increasing desire
to become mud, to lie

beneath leaf litter and hide
from grabbing hands
that would put themselves inside me,
playing dead to save myself
from the salt of their fingertips
that craves a wound.

 

L Favicchia is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Kansas and is the editor in chief of LandLocked. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Post Road, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others.

A Small, Private Sadness by Amorak Huey

Dusk dense with pending rain
& a cold front shoving its way across the water,

I want to believe
anything is possible

or I just want to be handsome.
I know how shallow

desire is & still
I want & want

& open the window
to let in the cooling sky

& this breeze hums your name
& the clouds slide over

& pat a space next to them on the bed
& the temperature falls

& out beyond the pines
a great lake churns & churns.

 

Amorak Huey’s fourth book of poems is Dad Jokes from Late in the Patriarchy (Sundress Publications, 2021). Co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of the textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and the chapbook Slash/Slash (Diode, 2021), Huey teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Any Other Person by Arielle McManus

sometimes I like to go on real estate sites & look at apartments for sale in cities other than my own & imagine the kind of person I’d be if I lived there like if I lived in Stockholm I’d have a red bicycle with a silver bell & short hair bleached white-blonde & I’d have a terrace to grow berry bushes & Queen Anne’s lace on & I’d either only smile or frown I haven’t decided which yet & if I lived in Berlin I’d have a neck tattoo & would sleep under a skylight always at the mercy of the weather always at the mercy of something bigger than myself & I wouldn’t think twice about the number of calories in a pint of beer but I’d still be so thin & god you’d be so jealous & if I lived in Paris I’d smoke Gauloises on an ivy-covered balcony & I’d look like some tragic heroine in a novel rated 3.7 stars by people on the internet who don’t know the difference between a prose poem & a lyric essay & I’d have a study full of philosophical books in languages I don’t speak & never will & I’d wear glasses even though I have 20/20 vision & if I lived in Porto I’d drink black coffee standing up in my kitchen tiled with the white & azure azulejos that I stole from the Porto São Bento railway station in the cover of night just me & a chisel & a masonic hammer under the star-needled sky I think I could hear the ocean if I stopped the clash of metal to ceramic long enough to really listen only I’m never quiet enough to hear the waves heed the warnings just skating by on whispered promises & maybe tomorrows mustering up just enough strength to see myself through each acrid dawn

 

Arielle McManus is a dual Swedish-American citizen, learning as she goes and writing from a tiny, sunlit room in Brooklyn. She is an assistant editor at Atlas & Alice, and her writing has been published by a variety of literary publications including Passages North, Entropy Magazine, and Cabinet of Heed, among others.

Greetings from Somewhere in Spacetime by Adam Gianforcaro

The greens are brighter somehow. The grass
not grass but a speaker for soundscapes,

yard songs like forcefields, pulsing
with peace and purpose, sermon-like,

the way cool air fills the lungs
with both rest and waking. Every day

is today if one considers physics. Or
think instead in terms of reflectance curves.

Yes, today is glowing green, hedge-like,
untrimmed because it’s a wild hedge

without ties to property or pension, waving
in the wind like ceremony, like couplets

printed on glassine paper
then gently placed atop pool water,

which is to say, we are outside again:
the mating song of crickets

bowing wings with wings, an orchestral movement
under the guise of question, wondering

if today is actually today, as in
the moment one thinks of as now. Nevertheless,

time goes on with its many shades of green—
lime and pickle and pear—and so many sounds:

crickets and cicadas, the buzzing of bees,
but man-made things too: motors, machines

of all types. One could call it a symphony
if they were kind, but the world is never kind.

A cricket dies of old age after ten weeks.
The earth swallows everything.

A hideous, hungry caterpillar the earth is, until again
it is leafy and green, blissful in its budding.

Time passes and then it’s the sun’s turn to swallow.
More time and then there is something else.

A cosmic flower, dark with pull. A black hole
that never covers its mouth when it yawns.

 

Adam Gianforcaro is a writer living in Wilmington, Delaware. His poems and stories can be found in Poet Lore, Third Coast, RHINO, Bending Genres, HAD, Maudlin House, and elsewhere.

When there was nothing but darkness we ate darkness by Jeremy Radin

When there was nothing but darkness we ate darkness
When darkness was nothing but darkness we ate
When we ate nothing there was darkness but
darkness was nothing & we were nothing
In the darkness we ate our hunger
We grew & harvested darkness
We darknessed in nothing
We ate & were happy
The darkness our
nothing & then
there was salt
& the wars

 

Jeremy Radin is a writer, actor, teacher, and extremely amateur gardener. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, The Journal, and elsewhere. He’s the author of two collections of poetry: Slow Dance with Sasquatch (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012) and Dear Sal (Not A Cult, 2017/2021). He lives in Los Angeles. Follow him @germyradin.

One of Those Days by Molly Thornton

The itch begins on my first right toe
And scrambles up my leg
And I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done

Thick scales replace skin
And I scratch furiously at what was my foot
Now green-gold and clawed

I hope again for salvation
But the change, it does not cease
Chain-link petals run up my thighs

Where once a girl I was
I turn
In the unlikeliest of places

Scanning People from the grocery magazine stand
Eyeing my still pink hands

My loose carrots and their leafy tops
Roll down the black mechanical belt
Cans and jars ride behind them

By the time the cashier asks for my ID
I’ll be unable to prove
Who I was

I react to a surge at the base of my spine
Like a cart was crashed into me
I turn around to give side eye
But there’s no one there

Instead, a tail grows fast and protrudes
Into the aisle

In my last moment of human thought
I remove my glasses
and brace for the screams

God this is embarrassing.

 

Molly Thornton is a queer, LA-based multi-genre writer. Her hybrid, prose poetry manuscript Proof of You was long listed by the 2020 [PANK] and Dzanc Books’ contests. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have been published in The Los Angeles Times, They Said anthology, Hippocampus Mag, Lavender Review, and more, and also has poetry forthcoming in Peach Magazine. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow and WeHo Pride Poet.

Stones by Hilary Sideris

Gabriela cancels the lesson,
says she’s in agonia

sharp dolori in the lombi
Google says loins.

You don’t question her pain,
only her use of agonia,

which meant death throes
in your San Lorenzo youth.

People also ask: How do our
bodies store bile? Do we need

a gallbladder? Why does Google
Translate suck so much?

What do you know about
her dolori? A gastrointestinal

surgeon spooled my cistifellea
through my navel, sent a video.

 

Hilary Sideris has published poems in The American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Mom Egg Review, Poetry Daily, Room, Salamander, Sixth Finch, Sylvia, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. Her most recent book, Animals in English, Poems after Temple Grandin, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2020. She is a co-founder of the CUNY Start program at The City University of New York, where she works as a professional developer.