Honey, Toasty, Marshmallow by Sara Potocsny

My mother bought my son three fish then fled the state.
Black Mollies. Nothing special. I was angry about them,
until I scooped the first from the bubbling tank, limp. I turned
the net and shut my eyes until he plopped into the porcelain bowl,
afraid I might never get good at this. The others went too,
all within a day. The store confirmed our lethal water,
then asked if I’d brought them in for a refund. Still,
they were loved enough to be named: Honey, Toasty, Marshmallow,
in that order according to Sol, who cried once for each
and then a whole lot more when I said “No” to a cat, instead.
I don’t know what lesson he’s learning other than things die,
and I was hoping he’d get a little more from a first pet than that.
We weren’t ready then and probably aren’t now, either. For tonight,
the tank is just a fountain in the dark, water rushing water into place.

 

Sara Potocsny is a writer in Syracuse, NY, where she lives with her son, Sol. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and a chapbook called The Circle Room, published by Lover Books. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in HAD, Hobart, Juked, Los Angeles Review, The Racket, Radar, Rejection Letters, and others. You can find her on twitter at @sarapotocsny and IG at @spotocsny.

Nephthys Again by Marcella Haddad

I’m measuring time now by your shadow.
Measuring it badly. There’s a requirement in the old
country, that you have love ready when you land.
That you should use bright colors for your
husband’s scarves so you can spot him on his ship
approaching. That you should use bright colors on
his cartouche so the afterlife can see him coming.
And why the fuck does any of that matter when
you’re gone. That you’ve done this. And do any
oddities matter. Can you still see small enough or
are you as large as a soul. Are you carving through
the fog. Are you returning. Did you land safely.
You don’t respond. Did you land safely. Can
anyone tell me. We are all watching the horizon and
turn away one by one. And look over our shoulders.
And trace the entire earth. And repeat. And rest.
And remember. And eat. And eat. And land safely.
And the colors come home.

 

Marcella Haddad is an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst, the Managing Editor of Moonflake Press, and a Tin House YA 2022 Scholar. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Variant Literature, Everyday Fiction, Apparition Lit, and others. You can find her in a tree, or at marcellaphaddad.com

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.

Whale Fall by Bex Hainsworth

Pale jawbones form an archway,
ribs reach into a vaulted ceiling.

No stained glass or frescoes,
only a shattered spinal mosaic:

this is a simple temple
for pilgrims to receive bounty.

Crabs creep from sandy cloisters
to share in the sacrament,

a communion with hammerheads
who tear fraying white flesh

from the chalice of a skull.
They are joined by anglerfish

who carry their candles in the dark:
a vigil for the whale-prophet.

She sank through the centuries
after the hour of her death

to become food-dust in the deep.
This is her afterlife.

Yellow moss clings to the crypt of tail
and squat pectoral fin bones, relics,

headstones, settle with fossil debris
in the sea’s vast graveyard.

No choir can be heard in the abyss,
only the silent echoes of humpback hymns.

Eels congregate in empty sockets
and all souls gather for the feast.

 

Bex Hainsworth is a poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Paddler Press, Canary, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.

Three Digit Numbers by Ross McCleary

Dial:
          101 for Police (Non-emergency)
          111 for NHS (Non-emergency)
          112 for Emergency (EU-wide)
          113 for Emergency Biscuits (Sponsored by Richard Osman)
          123 for the Speaking Clock
          203 if dissatisfied with the status quo
          256 for the Speaking Clock’s disappointed mother
          277 to purchase a book on starting an MLM
          326 for feedback on your CV (Spoiler: it’s not good)
          333 to foment insurrection in the workplace
          360 for an accurate count of the number of breaths you’ve taken since midnight
          431 to speak with someone who can tell you why you dream of owls so often
          434 to overhear people in your office talking about you (Sponsored by Ginsters)
          496 to overthrow the system
          540 to learn what your manager really thinks about you
          559 for a count of the total number of steps you’ve taken since you were born
          599 for feedback on your Poetry (Spoiler: it’s not good)
          615 to be informed about where all the hidden microphones are in your house
          647 to become a departmental informant (Prizes to be won)
          668 to install an interim government
          701 for a new invasive thought to replace the one you’re currently having about how everyone you know is a spy and secretly hates you
          729 for when you regret overthrowing the system
          779 to learn how many hours you’ve spent looking at porn
          800 to electrocute yourself
          819 for when your regret metastases into a deeper malaise
          858 to erase that memory, you know the one
          965 to have someone explain why your feelings of guilt are both valid and selfish
          967 to flee the country
          998 for a therapy appointment to deal with the unplaceable guilt that manifests in its most insidious and unmatchable forms after the clocks go back and the nights draw in like a vampire with its teeth inches from your neck
          999 for Emergency Services
          000 to apologize, profusely, forever, for everything

 

Ross McCleary is from Edinburgh, Scotland. His work has appeared in Structo, Litro, and Extra Teeth. He believes in repetition and Carly Rae Jepsen.

A shortlist of cheeses and wines I would take home for free when I worked in the Specialty Department at Whole Foods by K. Degala-Paraíso

Sancerre: a French wine so light and crisp, it lands somewhere between spring water and God. Small chunks of bougie cheeses, sloppily wrapped in butcher paper: a sliver of Le Fromager, a double-cream brie so clever and smooth, it could seduce the sternest person you know; a corner of Rum Runner from Wisconsin, sticky and sweet and stuffed with crunchy salty bits; fresh, herb-coated capricho de cabra; stinky Camembert; a simple-yet-elegant goat gouda; garlicky Boursin. The parmigiano reggiano crumbles when you slice it, and I abruptly remember how the world crumbles beyond this ranch where we  temporarily live: a pandemic, a coup, videos of anti-Asian hate crimes every morning, a global death count so high it’s almost desensitizing. Almost. And sometimes — sometimes my grief gut-punches me so hard my ribs go numb. Sometimes, my broken hand is in such cheddar-sharp pain, it blinds me. But here, in the tall grass under the apple trees, in the split-second when that orange globe hangs right above the treeline, you’re gently placing a rosemary cracker slathered with brie on your tongue, and you close your eyes before you chew, and I remember how much I love you, and — for just this moment, I believe that everything will be alright.

 

K. Degala-Paraíso (she/they) is a Filipinx-American experimental writer with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Pitzer College. Her work has also appeared in miniskirt magazine and PANK Magazine. She teaches creative writing through GrubStreet. When she’s not writing, you can catch K. wreaking culinary havoc in the kitchen and follow her online at www.kdegalaparaiso.com.

Summer shame by Jax Bulstrode

i think we should criminalize golf / i’m making a pros and cons list for buying the haunted house down the street / starting a petition for mangos to not have that seed / in the middle / i think we stop denying ourselves pleasure / especially the mango eating kind

i’m going to seed bomb the neighbor’s front lawn / join me / i’ll make burgers afterwards and drip sauce on my bare toes / you don’t mind do you? / a mess?

we are old enough now / to know how to swell into summer / into silver rings, drink stolen gin / meet me on the back porch / we can compare mosquito bites and cut our hair short

back to the mango thing / how would we do it? / remove the hard bits / the shame part?

 

Jax Bulstrode likes to write poems, cry, and preferably do both while taking a bath. Jax has had work published in Verandah Journal, Gems, Plumwood Mountain, and Blue Bottle Journal. She is from Naarm/Melbourne.

The Lure by Gretchen Rockwell

The first lander on Venus lasted fifty-three minutes.
It survived long enough to send pictures back and verify
the world was waterless—that humans could not survive
there. The strange yellow images look like something
from a fever dream, cloudy and corrosive. Venus
flytraps are brightly colored, the better to attract prey.
Their sensitive tendrils stroke the air, know when
to clamp down and when to stay agape. They smell
sweet, surely—the better to draw smaller life in.
The flies don’t know any better, misstep, and then
it’s over. The snap of the trap moves too fast for us
to understand. We know the plant can remember
when it has been touched, that it holds the memory
of motion for more than a few seconds. They evolved
from sticky traps. Some theorize life on our planet
came from Venus ages ago, carried on an asteroid,
contributing to the rapid rise and fall of so many species.
Some believe there may still be life in the Venusian atmosphere,
hidden high in the sulfurous clouds. We still don’t know
what the dark streaks mean, whether they could be
microorganisms or simply swirling greenhouse gases.
As I nudge a struggling bug towards my flytrap, I remember
Venus is the brightest thing in the sky besides the Moon,
it is our sister sphere. We won’t be able to resist going there,
to consider building cities in the clouds. Even if we know
it will kill us. We can never leave the unknown alone for long.

 

Gretchen Rockwell (xe/xer/xers) is a queer poet who can frequently be found writing about gender, science, space, and unusual connections. Xe is the author of the chapbooks body in motion (perhappened press) and Lexicon of Future Selves (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press) and two micro chapbooks; xer work has appeared in AGNI, Cotton Xenomorph, Whale Road Review, Palette Poetry, and elsewhere. Find xer at www.gretchenrockwell.com, or on Twitter at @daft_rockwell.

Pelt by Brittney Corrigan

The drape of your body-not-body
across my arm brings death so close
I don’t notice, feel only the rush
of my blood against soft-creature
skin. How the patterns in your fur
are so still, so un-fleeing, I can
marvel at the single white stripe
that divides your dark brow,
the way it rivers down your back,
disappears into gray-mottled sea.
In your face, I see only empties—
not sockets, not eyes—hook
my finger through absence, stroke
the clean, unburrowed slope
of your toothless snout. Where
once strong paws moved earth,
turned worms into the light,
now there is only the ghost
of your long-clawed digging:
tanned hide smooth against
my living skin. Entrail-less,
your death has charmed me
with its novelty. I press
my nose to yours, imagine
the animal stink that does not
rise as I turn your pelt over, offer
your not-heart to what draws near,
stalks at the edge of the knife.

 

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Daughters, Breaking, Navigation, and 40 Weeks. Solastalgia, a collection of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene Age, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press in 2023. Brittney was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection. For more information, visit http://brittneycorrigan.com.