The Witch of Maurepas Calls the Swamp to Hand by Jack B. Bedell

Slow, whole notes draw the swamp’s pulse
right up to her lap. Skinks and grasshoppers
crawl across the grass, baby squirrels

and rabbits come out from the woods,
and mosquito hawks float in the air
around her shoulders. Even eagles

dive out of the sky to be near her song.
She sings as if her pitch could
feed the whole swamp, as if

the breadcrumbs she offers, could
heal all need. Her melodies stoke
the breeze and pull the tides

toward her heart, and all the eyes around
blink in rhythm with her blood.

 

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Shore, Pidgeonholes, Cotton Xenomorph, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, saltfront, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

When His Surgeon Called and Asked If I Had Questions by Jacqueline Hughes Simon

I had no questions
After three days all I knew

was how beautifully thin
I was My pants slunk

from my hips which
jutted out like wings

My ribs were sharp
and caught on corners

My torso long and ropy
with no respect for my neck

It rained I wore boots
and had thigh gap

In the cafeteria
my pretty nails

brittled onto the tray
Talking with doctors

my teeth loosened
My elegant cheek-

bones split my skin
My golden hair fell

out and I knit it into socks
I couldn’t shit or

remember who I hated
I was magnificent

 

Jacqueline Hughes Simon is a writer living in Berkeley, CA. Her work has appeared in Written Here – The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Poecology, The Cortland Review , and others. She is currently an MFA candidate at St. Mary’s College, California.

 

Freckle (A Haibun) by Julia Gerhardt

The towel has moved from the innocent huddle over my shoulders to the firm knot between breasts. I want to drape the towel over my shoulders again, as if I am able to protect myself from strange and desirous things, but I won’t. I’m too big now & it would show too much of me. The bareness of my body reminds me of the emptiness in my belly & since I am hungry all the time now, I eat. I bite, crunch, lick, swallow. There is a spot on me I swear is a freckle until I lift my arm to my tongue & taste it. Something I thought was so very much a part of me is gone. When I realize its impermanence, I shower again. I bathe, clean, lather, suds. As I reach for the towel once more, I am no longer bothered by the way I position it, but instead

                                                                                        I am saddened by
                                                                                        the chocolate stain I mis-
                                                                                        took as a freckle.

 

Julia Gerhardt is a writer from Los Angeles, now living in Baltimore.  She was nominated for the Best Microfiction Anthology 2020 and Best Small Fictions Anthology 2020. She has previously been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Umbrella Factory, The Airgonaut, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Cease, Cows, Literary Orphans, Rogue Agent, Flash Fiction Magazine, Monkeybicycle, and others.  Her work is forthcoming in the Eastern Iowa Review, fresh.ink, Moonpark Review, Sea Foam Mag, and Club Plum.  She is currently working on her first novel.  You can find her at https://juliagerhardtwriter.wordpress.com/

Instead of Heraldry by Matt Broaddus

When the bell tower chimes,
throw me off the roof.
Crocheted into my wool
cocoon. With all the almonds in Calaf
gathered illegally by peasants in the night.
To make pastries and carve them with little angels’
chainsaws. Breakneck death
strolls beside me, a lightning storm.
The wheat rolls off in gritty balls
like the ancient walls of the town.
Men with guns,
hired to live in the turrets of the villas
and shoot each other,
shoot each other.

 

Matt Broaddus is a Cave Canem fellow and author of a chapbook, Space Station (Letter [R] Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Fence, Foundry, Sundog Lit, and Black Warrior Review. He lives in Lakewood, Colorado and works at a public library. Sometimes he tweets @mattbroaddus.

In My Dreams, I Own a Laundromat by Elise Triplett

The Mother finds me washing my hands
with lavender detergent in the employees only room.
“The washer ate my dollar,” she explains lifting

the lint crown off my head and the lint veil
from my eyes. I follow her, and root my hands
through its intestines, pinching out each quarter:

“Do you want me to scrape the dirt off those
with my teeth?” She shakes her head, so I place
them in her palms. “Why is there a sea turtle

painted on your window?” I wanted to be constructive.
I say, “I feel unfurnished without it.” The Child watches
me from a metal cart. He’s not supposed to be in there.

“He’s not supposed to be in there.” The Mother hushes
me: “Be constructive.” I want to be. She gets another
washer going. I pick apart the crown, make gloves instead.

 

Elise Triplett is a writer from Dayton, Ohio. They have been published in Black Bough Poetry and interned with Mid-American Review. They can be found on Twitter @TriplettElise and elsewhere, probably.

Jellyfish by Josh Sherman

Sorry I couldn’t stay any longer
Had to remove any sign that I had been there
That a misplaced can might upset you
I didn’t want a misplaced can to upset you

So I collected all the cans that might upset you
and straightened all the chairs and arranged them
to make sure everything was on right angles
I find comfort in 90 degrees and straight lines

Because after a hurricane you clean up
You emerge from a wood-planked place
and you set forth to collect the debris:
a chair wedged in the sand, a refrigerator in a ditch

But watch out for the jellyfish
thrown from the ocean by a cyclone
that traced an arbitrary path
like the one that led to you

 

Josh Sherman is a Toronto-based journalist whose poetry has appeared in Back Patio Press and Neutral Spaces Magazine. His fiction has been published online in Hobart and in print in the Great Lakes Review.

Elusive Shadows by Steve Castro and Daniel Romo

My shadow left me on occasion. At times, he did so to visit his favorite haunting grounds. He once left me to cohabitate with a creature of the night. Why are you always sneaking off? I wondered. I posted an advertisement in the local paper for a new shadow last week. Sadly, my old shadow, the only shadow I ever knew, died of a heroin overdose two weeks ago. Last week, I bought a Pet Rock from Costco. I named her BetterThanAnyShadowCast, a constant (night or day) not dependent on the sun. There’s loyalty placed in an object not needing to copy your every move, an independence embedded in simply sinking to the bottom of a pond. Thursday night, I think I swore I saw my shadow with another man, a burly lumberjack the color and scent of Montana. Friday morning, I ran my hand back and forth across my new pet and remembered how demons and death stalk us all. I’m getting used to the chill across my neck that I believe wants to be adopted. Sunday morning, and still no one has replied to my ad.

 

Steve Castro’s debut poetry collection, Blue Whale Phenomena, was published by Otis Books, 2019 (Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California). His poetry has been published in Plume; Green Mountains Review; DIAGRAM; Forklift, Ohio; Water~Stone Review; etc. Two prose poems he co-wrote with Daniel Romo are forthcoming in Hotel Amerika. Birthplace: Costa Rica.

Daniel Romo is the author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press, 2019), When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014), and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). He lives, bench presses, and rides his folding bike in Long Beach, CA. More at danielromo@wordpress.com.

Just Visiting by Alana Saltz

I employed a molten owl
to deliver my braids
to mailboxes

all along the street
where you lived.

As you watched, foxes jumped up
onto your shoulders—

delicate and wild,

shining fur waving
from the wind.

There are fragments I remember
like costumes
under clothes.

Tell me there’s more to life
than you
and trees.

The trouble is confusion.
I’m always waiting to stay.

This mouthful of years tastes
too sweet.

We built a fort behind the stream,
held down with sticks and rocks.

I wonder if it’s still there.

Pieces of it,
anyway.

 

Alana Saltz is the Editor-in-Chief of Blanket Sea, an arts and literary magazine showcasing work by chronically ill, mentally ill, and disabled creators. Her poetry has appeared in Occulum, Five:2:One, YesPoetry, LadyLibertyLit, and more. Her debut poetry chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light, was released in February 2020. You can visit her website at alanasaltz.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alanasaltz.

Self-Portrait as Season 1 of American Idol by Micaela Walley

When Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, she squealed
into a microphone and America felt that shit hard.

I am American, but more TV than reality.
I am more idle than Kelly. A cat hurls
his body over my own as I type and I squeal,
but it’s not the same. If I’m being honest,

there is no space at the judging table
when I’m around. I kick everybody out,
go on with the heavy business of singing
into an empty room.

A montage of every time I’ve loved someone appeared
as Daniel Powter sang you had a bad day, the camera
don’t lie and America changed the channel before I could
give myself any credit.

I am American, but I do not believe
in auditions. If you pause before you say my name,
I know you’re going to say it. I know
I’m never going home. I know home
is a stage with no exit left.

When Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, she sang
into a microphone some people wait a lifetime for a moment
like this and I didn’t believe her. Not for one minute.

 

Micaela Walley is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. Her work can be found in HuffPost, ENTROPY, Gravel, and Oracle Fine Arts Review. She currently lives in Hanover, Maryland with her best friend–Chunky, the cat.