what my dead mother would have said about the pandemic

by Lu Chekowsky

fuck ‘em those assholes with their stupid dicks
in charge of us all glad to kill us for a buck
they don’t know shit about love
and they’re ugly too
so ugly that’s how they get so mean
their mothers never loved them and the girls are too smart
i feel bad for them almost
baby men in gold rooms crying themselves to sleep
so afraid they don’t know how to feel afraid
they really thought it’d be all suits and handshakes and pussy george clooney or something
i could’ve told them keeping people alive was hard work
but joke’s on them and nobody asked me
all that power gives them those sad boners we’re goners
but i imagine i’d have a boner too if i were them
a real pretty fat one with veins throbbing purple
exploding out of my designer wool dress slacks could you even imagine
it’d be so fantastic to do anything
without caring about anyone else
how free i’d be too with no fingerprints or heart
it’s the bones they have to worry about now
the piles of bones just piling can’t explain those away
all these little boys with wet toilet paper stuck to their shoes
we know what they don’t
that ugliness isn’t good for business
that’s why we’re always smearing lipstick on our teeth plucking endless chin hairs
making jello molds for bad neighbors
if i were being honest though
i’d tell you the most surprising thing is that i never thought
i’d live long enough to see this again
rotting bodies stacked and counted
everywhere the echo of anger and applause

Lu Chekowsky is an Emmy-winning writer and creative director who built a successful career in media through gut intuition and addiction to approval. Lu has been a writer in residence at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts, Gullkistan in Laugarvatn, Iceland and SPACE on Ryder Farm in Brewster, NY. In 2020, she attended the Tin House Summer Workshop with Saeed Jones and won the Pigeon Pages Essay Contest, judged by Morgan Jerkins. Her work can be seen in Bending Genres, The Main Review, Hobart and at lchekowsky.com.


Shannon Hearn is currently a PhD candidate at Binghamton University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming with 3:AM Magazine, Big Lucks, cream city review, Juked, Fugue, Heavy Feather Review, and others. She received her MFA in poetry from Queens College, and lives in Brooklyn with her partner Coleman. 

what i apprehend of time travel

Ash Good is a queer & non-binary poet, designer & activist. They are co-founding editor at First Matter Press (a 501c3 nonprofit), curator of Bloom open mic & a reader for Frontier Poetry magazine. Ash is the author of four collections of poetry & their work most recently appears in The Timberline Review, Not Very Quiet Rise Up Review. They live in Portland, Oregon. www.ashgood.com


My job is to light a fire. The suns
of my dreams have told me my job
is to light a fire every night

and I have taken it to heart.
I keep the bass line thumping,
I keep my tongue my wick to
the flame

I’ve lit birthday candles and tea lights
smoke grills and semaphores
trash cans and sanitariums

I’ve burned down the bank
so we might conceive of relations
outside of finance. I’ve mapped
exit plans and escape routes.

The suns tell me to lay low,
to keep my belly to the grass.
I turn the key
to start

Jane Cope is a poet and translator based in Chicago. Their work has appeared in publications by PilotPress London, Hooligan Magazine, Best Buds! Journal, and Upstairs at Duroc. They also host occasional online community writing workshops and artist meetups. Find them on twitter @gouinasserie and on instagram @kitchencobweb

Naturalists Are the Nightwatch

Out to douse the pool lights.
Already I feel the moonburn I’ll wake with.

For moonburn,
the dried heads of sunflowers.
Rub. Waning, then waxing.
Little siskins fall out
and help to peck the
relax deeper.

Done right,
next time you’ll be a bear
of freshwater pearls.

You lumber, you growler,
scratch on the deck.
The whole of the duck migrationers
are in the pool.
They dip & dab for the strands
of notes falling off your pearl itch.
In webbed clef.

They can have a little more time.
As long as their quacks
don’t shine in anyone’s eyes.
And they put the waterwings back.
Since the Duck Stamp is coming.
And the nocturne the moon meows
comforts on her widow’s walk the marsh.

Shea Foreman is a motelier from Kitty Hawk, NC & author of The Big
(Killyhonk Press, 2016), a collection of marine pieces. In between duties
at the family business, he writes his poems & rides his bicycle & fashions
figures out of string.

Love Poem for Obliquity

Let the phone ring—ignore
the dishes in the sink, the dust
swept underneath the rug—

because here are your legs
wrapped around my legs,
here is the curtain of white light

that fills your collarbones, washes
your face like a stone. Your body
against my body on this specific

planet, in this exact rotation
of its axial tilt, is an impossible
equation—stunning in its waning,

fragile like the bird I found
so lovingly unfolded by the ants
on the porch, until just the bones

were left, the bones and my voice
asking Where, asking stupidly,
as if there could be any answer:

Where, where did you come from?

Kate Levin received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City. Her poems have been featured in Suspect Press and University of Northern Colorado’s publication The Crucible. She is the first-place finalist of the 2016 Rosenberry Writer Awards in poetry and the winner of the Rosenberry Prize for her poem, “When Mourning Comes.” She is the author of her self-published poetry chapbook, Letters to the Wind.


after Skyrim; for Molly Brodak

In the game he resurrects a creature,

walrus-like, that comes

galumphing after him

in the way I feel

I am kept, in the way

I admired your precise grace

like the end of a crystal snapped

off in a wound. Something is

growing inside me because I asked.

I wonder what you never

asked for. Off camera

the child’s laughter like Satan’s bells,

like fruit.

Donora Shaw (née Hillard) is the author of the poetry book Jeff Bridges (with illustrations by Goodloe Byron; Cobalt Press, 2016) and several other works of poetry and theory. Shaw’s poems have been recognized by the Poetry Foundation, Poets House, and The Pushcart Prize, and her work appears in Hint Fiction (W.W. Norton & Company), Pedagogy, Women in Clothes (Penguin Random House), and other anthologies and journals as well as on CNN, MSNBC, and WBEZ Chicago (NPR). She lives in her home state of Pennsylvania with her husband and family and recently gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Merrin.

hold what the ship could not

Pendambaye Z. Smith is a Black poet/scientist who is invested in the ways Black women sustain themselves in the midst of antiblackness. She has attended The Watering Hole Writing retreat and is a forthcoming Cave Canem and Pink Door Writing retreat fellow. You can find her work forthcoming or published at Rattle, Interim Poetics, and Root Work Journal. Penda is a 2nd Year MFA student at Louisiana State University and coffee helps her to survive in this world. She really loves coffee. 

Don’t Let Mom Write the Obituary

Hey, so
I think I might be dying.
Or already dead.
I’m not sure what the difference
is because my head
is a ‘94 fleetwood hearse of detachment, driving
forward to an end date
on my to-do list,
toward the ceremony
of the doing and the done and the left
unfinished, you know?
This world is a cracked
urn anyway, ashes waiting to spill.
I am excited to die.
You probably think that’s your fault,
some nature vs. nurture complex (I know) you
are the type to write eulogies
of viral Facebook posts.
You might die first.
Might already be dead.
This message
could be the last of us—
whatever we ever were.
Parent-child “it’s complicated,”
maybe you are the reason
I want to die.
You already resurrect my deadname
every christmas.
Casket of straightened hair,
shaved legs, she/her pronouns
at my funeral, will you tell the room
my life was just a phase?

Sage Agee is a queer, nonbinary poet and parent living in rural Oregon. Ze is currently inspired by the works of Billy-Ray Belcourt and the unbelievable evolution of their brand new baby, Otto. Their work has appeared in Goats Milk MagazineWarning Lines Mag and is forthcoming in Honeyfire Lit, Sledgehammer Lit, TheTideRises, and Impossible Archetype. Zeir poetry has also been nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net Award.


Every time we cross paths long membranes

Weaken. Porous windows, vision merges

After our eyelids rub. Darker sense but

I recognized you still. After you shaved

Your head your name was ashes.

We scooped cinders of a flagging fire

From the pit and spread black dust around

The roots of a garden thronged with nightshades

And squash. The coal you smeared said how the dead

still feed on our spent embers. Weak renewal

glistened in the dark like an earring, the moon.

Your hair still surges back lighter. I ran

Ahead of myself to thank you for that hug,

You opened me out of myself, the gates

To the garden, our blurry kingdoms, black

Anthers in our yellow blossoms, pincers

For night’s blue powder, first and last light sifted

Like flour, coated the line between seeing

And being as one. You particulate, you

color in a cloud. Ether, I’m sensitive.

seep through me like sleep.

Tobi Kassim was born in Nigeria and currently lives in New Haven. His poems have appeared in The Volta, the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and The Brooklyn Review.