Pigeons Are Having by Sarah Sarai

Unprotected sex
on top of my
air conditioner,
upsetting most
of my flock who know
I run a moral
air conditioner
at top speed.

There’s no talking to
a pigeon.
Only arm-flappage
in a stiff wind.

I live by example which
I set.

Not in concrete with
a palm I set
nor in jello
though I swoon
at shimmerings.
Vulnerability.

Of women.

I ask pigeons
protect themselves from
the consequential and inconsequential.

I ask women.

 

Sarah Sarai is an independent editor in New York. Her poems are in Sinister Wisdom, The Southampton Review, DMQ Review, Hobo Camp Review, Barrow Street, Zocalo Public Square, and many others. That Strapless Bra in Heaven, her third poetry collection, was published by Kelsay Books in 2019. She grew up in L.A. and still checks stats for the Dodgers.

Duck Fat by Audrey Gidman

A duck makes a good gift. A dead
duck. Neck full of bones. Tender,

she says. C’est très bien. The best
part.
Her tongue slips,

even now, after so long. I ask
her if she misses France.

She hands me a duck & says
nothing. Later, in the kitchen,

I pull the wings apart at the joint,
peeling & smearing fat

& puckered skin, loosening
until they unhinge.

I slip my finger somewhere
between the sternum

& the inside of the ribs,
push through the dark hollow

of carcass & twist
the spine until it pops

at the vertebrae, body
in two. I pile

the pieces in a pot to simmer,
imagining my mother’s

hands as I work. Slender & olive-
skinned. I know she worries

I do not have enough
so she taught herself to kill. I coil

the neck around the breast,
trying to make it fit. It bends

in a way mine could. My mother
says we do what we have to do.

The word mother gets stuck
in her throat like a bone.

 

Audrey Gidman is a queer poet living in Maine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in SWWIM, Wax Nine, The Inflectionist Review, The Shore, Luna Luna, Rogue Agent, The West Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, body psalms, winner of the Elyse Wolf Prize, is forthcoming from Slate Roof Press. Twitter // @audreygidman.

Literary Realism by Ayokunle Falomo

And then there was you who traded a kingdom he could
            not hold for a kingdom he could not hold. Inside

your left ventricle, a small village. Inside your right, a court.
            Inside the court, a court jester plays judge—his gavel

a turkey leg. Inside its marrow, a two-throated beast
            who’s made a castle for himself. Inside your hunger,
another hunger. Inside that, another. And so it goes.

            Inside the hole where your tongue once was, a cage.
            Inside the cage, a parrot that only knows to repeat
every word you’ve ever thought but never said. On the south

            side of your personal heaven, God sits on his card-
board throne & holds an avocado pit. As if it were the world.

 

Ayokunle Falomo is Nigerian, American, and the author of African, American (New Delta Review, 2019) and two self-published collections. A recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell, his work has been anthologized and published in print and online, including Houston Public Media, The New York Times, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Texas Review, New England Review, Write About Now, among others. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from University of Houston, a Specialist in School Psychology degree from Sam Houston State University, and is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry.

Dear Andrew Cunanan by Dani Putney

When you smashed
Jeff’s head in, the love
of your life’s mouth agape
across the living room,
I was there, a fourth
presence in the apartment,
learning from the greatest
sugar-daddy killer in queer
history. Though I was born

a year before in your Cali
home, my soul astral-
projected to that night
in Minneapolis, a day after
my parents’ anniversary.
Diwata carried the flame
of my spirit to you for a lesson
in balance: fire doused
in the city of water, a Filipino

embroiled in the intimacy
of white death. I fused
with you then to form a whole
person, your half of Luzon,
mine of Cebu—no need
for David, Lee, or Gianni
in our purgatory of gay
mongrelhood, our torso
clad in gilded Oroton.

Some say you were
a psycho, but I only saw you
with my baby eyes: a tempest
unstuck in American empire,
a bundle of entropy
much too premature
for the future we deserve.
In this life we’re but tiyanak,
Drew, lost in trails of blood.

 

Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx, and neurodivergent writer originally from Sacramento, CA. Their poems appear in outlets such as Empty Mirror, Ghost City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Juke Joint Magazine, and trampset, among others. They received their MFA in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women and are presently an English PhD student at Oklahoma State University. While not always (physically) there, they reside in the middle of the Nevada desert. Dani’s debut poetry collection, Salamat sa Intersectionality, is now available from Okay Donkey Press.

Ode to My Sleep Mask by Michael Mark

satin slip

of void

masqueraders’ façade
villain’s guise

classic
                                                                                    hole
                                            black

stack of bills
and ceiling crack
concealer

even

the cat’s gaze

i fantasize inside
you noon to                                                                                     new moon

                                                        locked in
clockless flight

my eye
nighty my
cloaked orbuculum

tapered abyss

over my nose

bump
and slope

 

Michael Mark’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Arkansas International, Copper Nickel, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Salamander, Salt Hill, The Southern Review, The Sun, Waxwing, and The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry. He’s the author of two books of stories, Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). His website is at michaeljmark.com.

Kuchisabishii by Kathleen Hellen

pre-wired for the bliss that maximizes

pleasure
I motive toward the impulse
motive toward taboo—o,

little lonely mouth
opening and
closing

the self self
administering

M&M’s, double-chocolate chip
I oven nothing but
the comfort of

the silver fridge
that Jabbas like a hut
the Ben & Jerry’s—o,

little lonely mouth
transmitting

from febrile tongue
to hips
expanding

a theory of the
sex
without the sex

I feast
on the enormity of self

 

Kathleen Hellen’s honors include prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, and her prize-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Hellen’s poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, jubilat, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, and West Branch, among others. Her credits also include two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Hellen’s latest full-length poetry collection is The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin.

At night I imagine the coyotes by Gion Davis

Laughing together
On the swing sets
At the empty school up the road
The city is finally theirs
I’d laugh too if it was me
Who was I?
My star chart says I was born
To be an employee
When I always felt I should be
A planet myself
Trudging through the universe
As a gigantic lonely eyeball
Leave it to heaven
To tell me how I should
Exist on the ladder
As though it wouldn’t be more
Cost effective for me to drop dead
Abandoning the pizzas I’d pick up
With all the boyfriends I’d have
The tattoos and birthdays
And paying for water
What is it like
To be an unstructured animal
As innocent as Jupiter
And twice as beautiful

 

Gion Davis is a queer poet from Española, New Mexico where they grew up on a sheep ranch. Their poetry has been featured in Wax Nine Journal, SELFFUCK, Tilted House, and others. They have received the Best New Poets of 2018 Prize selected by Ocean Vuong. They are the editor of Rhinestone Magazine and their chapbook Love & Fear & Glamour was published in 2019. They graduated with their MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2019 and currently live in Denver, Colorado. Gion can be found on Twitter @gheeontoast and on Instagram @starkstateofmind.

Shadows by Ruth Lehrer

It’s a good thing to know who your enemies are
That’s what they say when they start worming
into all the holes of your life
tracking your diet your loves your mindset
analyzing meaning in your patterns of poop
what the wrong type of tea can do to your tooth enamel
scribing all your failures
in a chart on a spreadsheet in an app
dictating a memo to all your exes and past librarians
checking all the books you have left on your shelf
for more than six months without cracking
and taking away a donut and six Oreos
for each rhyme you left unfinished

You try to keep your nail biting a secret
but it’s typed in Helvetica on the bathroom wall
in red paint against the tiles blue.

 

Ruth Lehrer is a writer and sign language interpreter living in western Massachusetts. She is the author of the novel Being Fishkill, the poetry chapbook Tiger Laughs When You Push, and many other poems. You can find her website at ruthlehrer.com.

Last Seen Leaving by Laura Ring

Stay off the back roads, Beynon says.
We do not listen. We eat the roads
and the roads eat us – swallow us
like a gullet so we forget.

We want to ride the velvet maw forever –
brushed by bronchioles of northern pine,
the muscled tongue of riverbeds. We are blind
to landmarks: Molly Supple Hill, Bear Swamp

ghosted, empty of reference. We press
our cheeks against granite molars, cool,
carved out of mountains. Lick the water
that falls like tears off lichen-patched rock.

The Folk will try to trick you, he says.
With fruit trees, or a bird with a broken wing
and you’ll be lost.
The road is a marrow bone.
We suck in mile after reticular mile.

Stripped of street signs and last names,
we are innocent of home. The road swirls us
under its nose. How gladly we dance,
like wine legs on the curved bell of a cup.


Laura Ring is a poet, short story writer, anthropologist, and librarian. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in
Dream Pop Journal, Ethel Zine, and RHINO, and she was a recent finalist in the DIAGRAM, Sundress, and Tiny Fork chapbook contests. A native Vermonter, she lives in Chicago.

Meeting Octavio Paz on the Planet Jupiter by Jose Hernandez Diaz

I met Octavio Paz on the planet Jupiter last fall. He said he’d been living there since his death. Myself, I was on vacation with my family. When I first saw Paz, I paused and asked myself, “Should I go up to him, he’s won the Nobel Prize?” I did. I introduced myself as a comic book writer and illustrator and that it was a pleasure to meet him. We shook hands. I didn’t want to talk about writing with him, so I asked his favorite soccer team. “Pumas,” he said. Later, he asked me what was the name of my most famous comic book so he could get a copy. “The Magician,” I told him. It was getting cold on Jupiter, so we called it a night after that. I never forgot his calmness, though, his class and elegance.

 

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). He has been a finalist for the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, the Colorado Poetry Prize, and the National Poetry Series. He lives in Los Angeles County where he is an educator and editor.