Our Place by Yanita Georgieva

Everything is breaking at the same time.
The washer is refusing to drain.
A jar of miso cracked the stovetop.
The oak floors warped and soaked up
all our neighbours’ baths, and just last week,
we shivered in the shower, pouring kettle water
on our feet. But we are determined.
Every day we learn to fix things with our hands.
First, we warm our legs without a working boiler.
Then, we learn to ease the front door off its hinges,
let its weight lean into one of us while the other
lifts it open. Tonight, we’re squatting in the kitchen,
passing a tray of murky water back and forth
like an elaborate machine.
Soon enough, the washer’s drum stops leaking,
and we pull the filter out, shove our fingers in
to find the culprit. A safety pin!
– you’re laughing.
A bit of cardboard from my shirt!
We splash down on the wet tiles,
watch the animal we tamed and nursed
ease back into its body.
It’s beautiful – the washer,
the spin cycle, the kitchen
you called me from last year
saying, I can picture you here,
cutting a lime into wedges.

 

Yanita Georgieva is a Bulgarian journalist raised in Beirut, Lebanon. She lives and works in London, where she is an MA candidate in Poetry at Royal Holloway University. You can find her work in Hobart, Alien, HAD, and elsewhere.

The Parched Queen by Corinna Schulenburg

Wound vac purrs and little jewels
of blood float from my body wondering
what they did wrong.

I try to explain, but my throat
croaks from intubation, my brain
seems to have misplaced the keys.

It’s easy to fall in and out of sleep
that isn’t sleep. It’s easy to say
this wholeness is the answer.

This wholeness stings like bees
with fists full of sweetness. This wholeness
is thirsty as the Parched Queen.

Do you know the Queen?
I ask my blood and piss as the tubes
ferry them to wastelands.

She ruled the dry places, her scepter
a snake’s bleached rattle on the tip
of an elephant’s femur.

She banished all water from her realm.
She thought this would cure her thirst.
Even the vultures wheeled away.

When her thirst became impossible,
she cut herself open as a door
with the spikes of a cholla

and do you know what happened then?
Her thirst poured out of her,
staining the desert blue and green.

My blood and piss search for a moral.
It’s easy to fall in and out of
morals. It’s easy to say

pain is the door we open into
wholeness. It’s harder to tell the body
this pain is also tomorrow, is also

the day after, the weeks to come,
this pain is the blue and green,
is the whole coming round.

 

Corinna Schulenburg (she/her) is a queer trans artist/activist committed to ensemble practice and social justice. She’s a mother, playwright, poet, and a Creative Partner of the Flux Theatre Ensemble. Her poetry has appeared in Arachne Press, Capsule Stories, Lost Pilots, LUPERCALIA Press, miniskirt magazine, Moist, Moss Puppy, Oroboro, Poet Lore, SHIFT, The Shore, The Westchester Review, and more. https://corinnaschulenburg.com/writer/poet/

Tuesday by Micaela Walley

My lover makes dragon
noodles on a Tuesday. I watch him
measure sriracha with his tongue.
I know that tongue like I know this
place, my home, between his lips.
He sips red wine as I tell him a joke,
his smile stained in soft purple.
When light seeps through his teeth,
I imagine glow in the dark stars
on the ceiling of his mouth. Wind-chime
vibrations when he laughs or says my name.
Micaela. like a chili flake brush of heat
to the cheeks, like his favorite word
to swish, swirl around & swallow.

 

Micaela Walley is a poet and essayist living in Baltimore, Maryland. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Baltimore. Her work can be found in Huffington Post, ENTROPY, Hobart, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. You can follow her on Instagram & Twitter @micaela_poetry.

Horoscopes by Randi Clemens

We found them between ads for discount flower pots and a story of in vitro success, and I’d ask my mom to read mine. Try to understand the shape of a lion’s mouth, the color of water running over the side of a pot. Forecasts, love, written in dusty tongues she so desperately wanted to sink pincers into. She would sometimes buy them from the grocery store, tiny scrolls in clear plastic cylinders. Hers on orange paper, mine—blue, opposites on the color wheel. I like to believe the solar system and I are intertwined, our cells made in the furnaces of stars, the fate of the sun determining mine. I count the ways in which the moon is at fault for so much, so many crumbling constellations of lies I tell myself.  The stars are so heavy, ripe with what it is to be beast, to be bearer. I would look at my mom and think of all the starry things that we could never have. How the world is shaped elliptical and it keeps returning us back and back to the pages of the newspaper, the ink on our fingers, the seeds of something we could never map just right.

 

Randi Clemens is a poet, editor, and educator who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She holds an MFA from Northern Michigan University, where she previously served as the Managing Editor of Passages North and taught creative writing. Her work can be found online at Pidgeonholes, LandLocked, Lammergeier, Meow Meow Pow Pow, and Up North Lit and has been nominated for Best of the Net.

My Next Life by Bill Verble

I’m completing the form:
Selection of Next Life
It’s due by Wednesday.

You never know what
you qualify for.
Maybe a tortoise or a redwood
or one brick in a great pyramid.
Maybe the life of a mayfly,
a Big Gulp cup taken to the landfill,
or the mold on a sandwich
forgotten in a locker.

The lives we get
are funny like that.

This time I’m up for a Life of Minuscule Importance
Is this an upgrade?

Section One: Moments and Spaces
(Select One)
 An open door on a parakeet’s cage
 The curtain parting on a stage
 A crack crawling on a dam
 The pop of cork
 The silence in a room with a corpse
 A symphony’s second movement

These don’t appeal, too much like another life
of being overlooked.

Section Two: Portentous Things
(Select One)
 An unfound shard from a shattered plate
 An electrical arc coursing a severed line
 Animal tracks in the muddy grass
 A pickaxe chipping for a vein
✔ A deadly storm’s first falling inches

Oh yes! The first flake of a blizzard
talked about for many years.
That’s the life I want.

 

Bill Verble lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his family. He’s inspired by his father, a former poetry teacher. His work appeared in the recent edition of The Poeming Pigeon. You can find him online on Twitter at @BillVerble.

They Will Leave with Debris by Ajay Sawant

        1. they come
in a harrow of sacred pilgrims to the arch,
beloved         bestowed         &         innocent
with a creek in the smile

our old pillars are falling apart, like singles:
as a strand out of mayhem
but today, first, the smoke is in the barn
like an orchid fire     or     obvious forest agni —
a citrus split in the dark centre

We stand, we fold, we finger,
the horses are dead and the ashes are craving rabbits.

        2. they tell
it would be the last time, last Oklahoma
farmland on gunpoint

I told you they would come for us
                        in a kind way.
I told you a bit of your meat
will run on the rear of my neck

I raced, I tried, walked backwards on the leaky
pebbles across the pond.

        3. I try
to climb a wounded horse, I told you they were no guests.

        4. they think
Of making it into a cemetery. A dead horse,
a dead master, and until you call us dead.

        5. I told you
The only way this would end was in ruins.

        6. I would
run a pint of beer in the falling pillars
and hide to Alabama.

        7. they watch
when you cry on the lost island
you will become a feathered man
a mad bloke left alone after a red storm,
        a late worm
when they go after you
                they will take everything but debris.

 

Ajay Sawant is the assistant editor at the Southern Humanities Review and 2021 CPB Writing Fellowship recipient from The Bombay Review. He has received honourable mentions for the 2021 Christopher Hewitt Poetry Award and Dan Veach Poetry Prize. His poems and critical work appear in The London Magazine, Live Wire, Hawaii Pacific Review, The Bombay Review, The Louisville Review, Lunch Ticket, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. Ajay often tweets at @ajaycycles.

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.