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.

What Jupiter wrote to Ganymede after years of separation by Satya Dash

Beloved, so much around us was remarkable,
I forgot to mention I was in love with you.
While fires rose in me and boulders exploded,
I mistook it for the tenacity of constipation.
My vanity, my bastion of resilience gave away
to white hairs & chalky scars when you left.
Besides, I only call it love to quarantine
the helplessness any ambiguity can cause.
It’s embarrassing to admit I have dreamt
about crashing your wedding, then eloping
with someone else. I know, I know.
It isn’t something I expected of me too.
There were days when news of you breathing
far far away was enough for me not to stop
breathing. At least not from my own
perpetration. I must tell you I’m coming to visit
this fall. For the liquids in my joints prefer
vulnerability only in a climate of moderation.
Even now shy seas of green celestial rot
claw at my shores every night a moon carelessly
disrobes. I have already made a note to hide a moon
in my underwear. Glowing like a ball of deep
goodness, trying to make the animals in me
worthy of you. Don’t you remember: how en route
to the Lord’s asylum, we strutted along, your hand
in mine. How the stars glanced at us, my neon
crotch. And in that moment I knew what
to do―from the light I compelled from their zodiac
lamps, I slanted into a shaft of brilliant pheromone.
But the planets never understood this― I only did such
a thing so that the stars wouldn’t look at you. Did you?

 

Satya Dash’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Passages North, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Florida Review, Pidgeonholes, Glass Poetry, Prelude, amongst others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator too. His work has been twice nominated for the Orison Anthology. He spent his early years in Odisha, India and now lives in Bangalore. He tweets @satya43.

When he asks me to try doggie style, I think by Madeleine Corley

of the pigeon in the courtyard last week. How what I first thought was confetti thrown in celebration were feathers ripped from a body. How the seagull cornered her. How he made it seem quick. How the stalking started miles before the meet. How my colleagues call it natural selection. How girls of fourteen are forced brides in North Carolina. How biology states I am of animal that cooks offspring in a womb. How fellow mammals count my eggs and debate them over breakfast. How scrambled still makes a good dinner. How the crane fly was beguiled by my kitchen light. How it flailed in an effort to escape my stale apartment. How it snuck back in through the cracked door and flew directly onto the stovetop. How blue the gas burned. How its wings singed up like paper. How another grave could’ve been the cocoon of a spider. How the spider asphyxiates and curdles the organs of its prey. How sticky and trapping his hand pets my thigh. How there are seemingly endless species. How, of all breeds, Carolina Dogs are his favorite. How this touch binds me and burns me to wingless.

 

Madeleine Corley (she/her) is a poet by internal monologue and loves the color of nostalgia. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor for Barren Magazine. Some of her work has appeared in The Hellebore, Twist In Time Lit, Moonchild Magazine, DARK MARROW, as well as others. You can find her on Twitter @madelinksi, on Instagram @wrotemadeleine, or on her website www.wrotemadeleine.com.

All giant deer kings hail from Limerick by Meg Mulcahy

Beast and bone tower in dead zoos
without fail, each time a skull that housed a heritage, antlers angel wingspan
fractured lines fermented shifting permeance
presiding over dark and crumbled earth, beetle-shelled glint, rotted rain
melted you away in every stride, chocolate carcass left us hollowed eyes of someone who
saw wars and cherry wine flow bitter from the mouths of flies
bolted down through yellowing joints, strung up in a new world and I,
the furthest from magnificence, can only gaze upwards in imagined genuflect,
and in our visits the displaced may comfort the dead.

 

Meg Mulcahy is a poet and writer based in Dublin, Ireland. She runs on cold brew and hope. Her work has featured in several publications including Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Crêpe & Penn, and Silk + Smoke, winning the Halloween Flash Fiction Competition 2019. You can find her on Twitter always @TheGoldenMej.

Master of My Domain by Marissa Glover

I do what I want. I’m an American—
no asking if he’s happy, not caring
if she’s satisfied. I make my own way
in the world: Kick off the bed covers
or hide under sheets; stay silent or
scream. Maybe all of this. Maybe none.
In America, we’re taught finishing first
is all that matters. Here, selfishness is
not a crime. You can’t depend on anyone
to make you feel good—this is a fact
you learned early, when your parents split,
when Marc Bowman’s ambition
got him caught in a kickball double-play
to end the inning. So you learned to please
yourself—now both explorer and native
land. Discover what you love most
about creation. It is good. It is good. It is—
Say your own name instead of God’s
as you finish.

 

Marissa Glover teaches and writes in Florida, where she is co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Marissa’s work recently appeared in Mothers Always Write, Whale Road Review, Fresh Air Poetry, The Cabinet of Heed, and Sweet. Her debut poetry collection, Let Go of the Hands You Hold, is forthcoming from Mercer University Press in 2021. Follow Marissa on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.

tell me i’m prettier when i smile by Danielle Rose

because i do not desire to be a road pocked with potholes / but these scowls gouge the path ahead like too many pecking crows / & this is entirely a dream i can wake from if i can just find the right phrase / like i am a kiln & i become a burnt orange / the sounds stretch & yet i am still dreaming / & this stretching does not decide for me it is a lesson in constraint / like when gps coordinates turn out to be wrong / or how i want to build rhetorical arguments from childrens’ balloons / i want to watch them soar & disappear & become just another dot of clear sky / tell me i am like the sky / & lie to me / tell me i am expansive & clear / i need to hear that joyful clouds reach their hands into my chest / because i can feel them inside of me / storming / telling me i am pretty when i smile / i want to be a set of cascading conditions / like a logical proof or the way i am always sneaking away from my fear / tell me i am prettier when i smile / tell me / become a cloud & tell me that when i am pretty / it is impossible to be so empty

 

Danielle Rose lives in Massachusetts with her partner & their two cats. She is the managing editor of Dovecote Magazine & her work can be found or is forthcoming in The Shallow Ends, Barren Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Empty Mirror, Homology Lit, Turnpike Magazine, Kissing Dynamite & elsewhere.

Don’t worry about returning it by Devaki Devay

I’ll lose everything, eventually.
I’ll leave my phone on a restaurant table
the night before I fly out. Someday
I won’t recognize the number. Listen,
I left my notebook full of secrets under
one of the chairs in the lecture hall. Now
someone’s heels are brushing against
my newest molestation. It doesn’t bother me,
I lost my headband between the cushions
of a bus, I fell asleep chest up, once I managed
to imagine it was the Earth moving fast
and not our wheels. I’ll lose my wisdom teeth
without ever realizing; I’ll wake up
with pulsing memories of metals at my jaw,
fingers in my mouth,
blood seeping soft in cotton balls.

 

Devaki is a community college transfer at UC Berkeley studying rhetoric, as well as a reporter for the student paper. Their writing, which has appeared in Entropy and Royal Rose Magazine, centers around childhood trauma, loss, and the South Asian diaspora.