Something with a girl* by Pauli Dutton

                        and a mother.
                                                            Maybe they went shopping
                                      and the mother never came back.
Maybe she returned
                          for a while,
                                    but every time she reappeared,
            she burnt something.
                        Maybe a couch.                                     Maybe a bed.

Maybe it was the girl.
                                        Maybe the girl
                                                                      didn’t want to know.
            Maybe she needed
                                        to obliterate
                        the mother.
                                                      Maybe the girl
                    mutilated herself with

a       freezer of orange sherbet                         crashing windshields
                          and/or edging toward Karoshi.

Maybe she rummaged           rampaged
                                                                        and/or hemorrhaged
                                                                                                          for the mother.
Maybe the mother             didn’t care what the girl did.
                                        Maybe she howled
                            every night                                       until she immolated.

              Maybe the mother                           kissed the girl
                                                    in her dreams.

 

* First line of “Self-Portrait as Nostalgia” by Diannely Antigua

 

Pauli Dutton has been published in Verse Virtual, The Pangolin Review, Better Than Starbucks, Altadena Poetry Review, Skylark, and elsewhere. She was a librarian for 40 years, where she founded, coordinated, and led a public reading series from 2003 – 2014. She has served on the Selection Committees for The Altadena Literary Review in 2020 and The Altadena Poetry Review from 2015 – 2019. She has also co-edited the 2017 and 2018 editions. Pauli holds an MLIS from the University of Southern California.

WHAT CAN WE DO WITH A CAPTURED ASTEROID? by Dare Williams

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PDF Link: WHAT_CAN_WE_DO_WITH_A_CAPTURED_ASTEROID?

 

Dare Williams (he/they) is a Queer HIV-positive poet and artist rooted in Southern California. A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, he has received support/fellowships for his work from John Ashbury Home School, The Frost Place, Brooklyn Poets, Breadloaf, and Tin House. He was the co-curator of the West Hollywood Literature Festival 2021. Dare’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best American Poets. His work has been anthologized in Redshift 5 by Arroyo Secco Press and is featured in Foglifter, The Shore, Exposition Review, West Trade Review, and elsewhere. He is at work on his debut poetry collection. Follow him on Twitter @Dare_Williams13 and www.darewilliams.com.

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.