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.

Family Heirloom by Lilyanne Kane

On    

    pulpy  

        grass ‘neath

            the willow tree,  

                onyx snakes

            surface / thrash

       as water sweeps

    out of flooded

soil. Silver-fisted

    Grandaddy snatches

        one serpent. Gripping oil

            cord of sentient muscles

                at the base of its skull

            he slides the slippery

        beast into fledgling

    eggshell hands that

I    crack   open.  

    Zeppelins dripping

        along the vast sky

            within me. My thumb

                crosses sleet scales. Its

            tail thrashes. The

        creature constricts

    its tail around my

plump wrist and

    my viscid grip slips.

       Twin scarlet droplets

            sprout as fangs snap

                then vanish into the

                crick. I swallow salt

                and anger. The water

         runs clear of leechlike shadows.

      Still, I stalk through the reeds, rage-

        scorched, ‘til sunset as if I could        

             unsteal         his          bite,

                    exchange venom      

                         for naiveté.

                                 )

                                 (

                                 )

 

Lilyanne Kane is a non-binary butch lesbian poet and educator. They hold an MFA from the Mississippi University for Women. Their work can be found most recently in Passengers Journal, SOFTBLOW, and Open Minds Quarterly. They are on Twitter @CrumbPrince and on IG @PrinceOfCrumbs. 

Teratoma* by Keshe Chow

we were heartbeats together
                                              we share the blood
we whispered sweet words through webbed skin
                                               on our hands;
i bided my time, watched you outgrow your caul
                                                but i’m frozen,
my cells divide, hazard lights–
                                                suspended in time.
you surround, stifle, axphyxiate me
                                                i slowly dissolve,
like i’m drowning, and then i disappear,
                                                i won’t secede to
the agonal trappings of
                                                your fleshy prison.
this blighted half-life; won’t you just
                                                pull my hair
curl ‘round your finger, ‘cause i like it
                                                just like that.
what would happen if i burst out?
                                                i would just
strip off your mantle and take it,
                                                shred your skin.
you see, dear sister, you already forget–
                                                I have teeth    

* This piece can be read as two standalone poems, or as one whole.

 

Keshe Chow is a Malaysian-born Chinese Australian veterinarian living in Melbourne with three humans and two cats. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Analogies and Allegories Literary Magazine, Maudlin House, Cross & Crow Keys, and Wrongdoing Magazine. In 2020 she won the Perito Prize and her short story was featured in their anthology.

Anatomy of a House Fire by Stella Lei

  1. Kitchen: Gas on the stove. Grease in the air. The pop-pop-pop of heat shriveling paper towels and dishcloths, fabric wilting into itself like a flower in reverse.
  2. Dining room: Smoke swelling like a storm. Placemats melting into table—saving spots for ghosts—checkered squares bleeding into particle board grain.
  3. Living room: Sofa cushions sparking. Mantle photographs—lips pursed before candles and cake, dimples, gapped teeth—burning like flash paper, each soot-smeared face a burst of gold.
  4. Closet: Twin coats tangled in embrace. Size small tucked inside large.
  5. Study: Patents. Novels. Comics. Superman flaking into ash, It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s—
  6. Hallway: A mother running, feet tangled in the carpet’s plush. A mother crawling with her head below smoke. A mother.
  7. Bedroom door: Fists blazing. Skin cracking against wood. Nails scratching against knob. A cry. A shout. Wake up. Please.  

 

Stella Lei’s work is published or forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Milk Candy ReviewWhale Road Review, and elsewhere. She is an Editor in Chief for The Augment Review, she has two cats, and she tweets @stellalei04.

Lilith with Snake, with Body by Kathryne David Gargano

lilith with snake
 
Link to text readable PDF here: poetry lilith with snake gargano

 

Kathryne David Gargano (she/her) hails from the Pacific Northwest, but isn’t very good at climbing trees. She is a queer poet and fiction writer currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Her work has been published in Pithead Chapel, Salt Hill, Phoebe, minnesota review, Tahoma Review, and others. She can be found on Twitter @doubtfulljoy.

op-ed from the balloon that escaped the trunk of my mom’s car in 1989 by Catherine Weiss

all balloons should be shaped like balloons / not letters / do not espalier a balloon sentence to a wall / for any reason / even to be inspirational do not do this / it is a cruel abomination / the only message a balloon should introduce is the concept of loft / tension / desire / for elsewhere / & beyond / & before / this is the inherent dignity of a balloon / also do not fill a banquet hall with balloon bouquets / or a living room with mylar minnie mice / do not be cavalier with the balloon / nor take the scarcity of helium for granted / do not photograph a balloon / without her express permission / balloons are the provenance of mystery / specifically childhood / & accumulated dust / never allow a balloon to expire / exhausted on the pantry floor / without proper ceremony / and if you tire of a balloon / do not tell / your beautiful friend / big & yellow & covered in stars / that you do not love her anymore / instead / consider your commitment / a green ribbon tied around your wrist / rekindle what you can / smell that good rubber-skin smell / touch the balloon with the flat of your tongue / please / i urge you / do not let her go

 

Catherine Weiss is a poet and artist from Maine. Their poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Fugue, Birdcoat, Bodega, petrichor, Counterclock, Freezeray, and elsewhere. Catherine was the 2017 Grand Slam Champion of Northampton Poetry and has competed at the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Their manuscript “unlove” was selected as a finalist in the 2019 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. More at catherineweiss.com.

At the Bottom of the Ocean You Weigh One-Third Less by Camille Ferguson

I.
Stiff in early morning the floorboards curse
beneath me, my bones crack like glass, drag behind me
like anchors. I shuffle to the sink;
I yawn warm-stink & I want
to shatter each and every
sauce-stuck wet-mush dinner-platter:
residues of my ravenous.
My hunger permeates.

II.
At the wishing-well I plead to be satiated, filled with grace–
then I swallow the whole lot of dreams.

III.
I think tons                           about tons
        about the act of         sinking.

How dreams weigh you down.

About large, and beautiful, ships greening
with moss in the dark, shiny bodies swimming in & out
of bodies.

About dreams way down.

IV.
I wonder at the bulging debt of my gut. I abase the
full-moon shape; soft-
ness of my jaw. I dream it cuts like glass.
In the ceramic blue wash-basin swims
my sharpened willingness to diminish,
like a circle longing after an oval.
  What an odd desire: to pare myself down
with my silver like a sculpture,
carve myself to a spire.             Something nice to sea:
the thin line of horizon.       Sinking, I see
my crystal whiskey glasses,
the dainty crescent lips of the decanter.
How long before the sediment
of my rancor settles? Before I am acceptable
                                                             & digestible?

V.
With my mutilated fingers
in the foam water washing I wonder how long before
these small knives smooth over, turn to sea-glass, pennies
swollen with the ocean’s blue-green.
O, to be buoyant, foam sliced from wave;
the difference between
solid, & gas. I wish on every used-up penny
I could float, on air, or through life,
like a small beautiful thing.
O, how I wish this were an ode
            to the weight of the whole ocean.
            Instead, I know that
at the bottom of the ocean          you weigh one-third less.

 

Camille Ferguson lives in and loves Cleveland, Ohio. Camille recently graduated from Cleveland State University where she received the Neal Chandler Creative Writing Enhancement Award. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Ligeia Magazine, Rabid Oak, Madcap Review, Drunk Monkeys, and Memoir Mixtapes, among others.

my mouth is full of words i don’t know by Monica Kim

like godingeo. full fish without the head, bones
still poking through flesh. americans like their fish
cleaned, served in bite-sized pieces you can pop
easily in your mouth, melting on your tongue and
swallowing with ease. we like the challenge
of the game: tongue working around a bone
the size of a hangnail, spitting it out onto
the plate, lifting a skeleton of bones with our hands
from the entire fish, making our own nonuniform
pieces with our chopsticks. what is godingeo
in english? i’ve never had to say it out loud
before.

before, i knew what this banchan was
in korean. now when my friend asks what
i ate for dinner the name sits on the tip of my tongue
but melts away before i can even recall
the letter in hangul. i don’t know the name
in english. americans don’t eat this type
of side dish, thin chewy strips of some squid
covered in a spicy sticky red sauce that coats
your tongue with tiny pinpricks. i can describe
it in english but i don’t know what
it is in either language.

when i eat i never ask what i’m eating. some dishes
i know, some i don’t. my mind can recall
the color and the texture and the smell and
everything else except the name. recognition
of food in my mouth but my tongue
unable to speak its name.

 

Monica Kim is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English. She is published in Stirring, and has an upcoming chapbook titled “An abridged medical family history & multiverse of selves” as well as a poem from the chapbook in the Michigan Quarterly Review.

text message to alexia from a cleveland clinic waiting room before an electromyogram by Matt Mitchell

Mitchell Poem Submission

Link to PDF here: text message to alexia from a cleveland clinic waiting room before an electromyogram

 

Matt Mitchell is a writer from Northeast Ohio. His work appears, or is forthcoming in venues like The Boiler, NPR, Indianapolis Review, Passages North, and The Shallow Ends, among others. He is the author of Neon Hollywood Cowboy (2021).