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Fall 2021

hi mom it’s a great day today

i see it from my bed/ long-snake-moan of a whore in exile/ cold light of small hours behind/ a wall of letters beating as moths/ and men/ do/ before sunlight smashes its curled toes into/ alarm clocks/ not many know this but/ windowpanes and/ expatriates contain miles of silences/ each morning i put on sadness like a sweater/ and try to write it all down/ now i am weeping/ never mind/ how to post/


K.S. (they/them) is an aspiring writer from South Asia. They primarily write poetry and have had work published with The Daily Drunk, The Sparrow’s Trombone, and Koening. Additionally, they have more work forthcoming with Warning Lines, Sledgehammer, Gutslut Press, and Inksounds. 

When People Tell You GAD Can’t Be That Bad

imagine sweet alyssum

blanketing the ground[1]

the heaven-scented blooms like

clouds to the cicadas[2]

you move from forest’s edge to

cross the meadow, creep[3]

with footsteps slight & nearly

still while wind glides through[4]

the field to make these petals

sway[5]


[1] where you grip gravel / drip out rubies / face crammed in the shattered earth / face crammed in a pillow / here where everything will spark / you drip with turpentine / heat-veined autonomic being / here a mouth singed / opened wide / still cannot gasp /

[2] crawling over skin with twiggy legs / each stamping down a diagram of shame / its scrawled dimensions / feeling like dried aster down a shirt / an empty bottle / man’s breath in an ear / you think of how small you could shrink / how little stays yours through this swarm /

[3] & slink & call this your escaping episode / a space between missed calls & texts / not opening the blinds / one image of fatigue’s your finger clawing / double bass strings / here see the bone worn with abrasion / here see a body filed down /

[4] the quarries mined for sertraline / fluoxetine / citalopram / the quarries mined to pave a synapse / pair the thirsted nerves uprooted / twisted into knotted braids / your knotted hands when trying a half dosage / how each rock drops / lands back at the start /

[5] against your skin & offer palimpsest / which tears itself again / anointed in this frenzy / here with no bridge left to cross / here where everything repeats /

CD Eskilson is a trans poet and editor from Los Angeles. Their work
appears or is forthcoming in Hobart, Pleiades, Cosmonauts Avenue, minnesota
review
, and they are a 2021 Best of the Net nominee. CD is poetry editor
for Exposition Review. They are an MFA candidate at the University of
Arkansas.

What Happens to Fish in the Tank After Closing Time?

Julia Watson earned her MFA from North Carolina State University. She’s the Writer Liaison from Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things and a Poetry Editor at Chaotic Merge. In 2021, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the NC State Poetry Contest and Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize. She won the 2018 Sassaman Award for Outstanding Creative Writing from Florida State University. Her works have been published or are forthcoming in The ShoreThe Hellebore, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, among other journals. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her grumpy dogs. You can read more of her work at juliawatsonwriter.com.

untitled

when we stopped
suddenly
in a snowglobe of potpourri

we, the world, paused
to breathe
it wasnt goldenrod or the asters,
no flowers in the desertlookin forest

i looked down

you sniffed the handful of dirt in my hand
it was the most beautiful scent i ever smelled.

paradise is a
sunny rock

selenite, heaped
i made a snow angel
with sand
and we all picked
sage
wild and fragrant
shimmering
artemisian

hours later
im sobbing on a sunny bluff
for the first time in weeks
from chariot’s speaker
bjork reminds me to open up
my mouth as the sun sets on the water

mostly we cry for each other
everyone, i mean,
we cry in awe and i cried in terror
or maybe its just fear
(not terror)
to live now, in the place im in, i am an alien
to the land
im trying to untangle the histories i was never told

Pandemic Haibun

by Stephanie Lane Sutton

I greet the sun squinting in the morning as my dog squats 

on a leash & it is not the first wince of the day: again, woke

in a room splayed open by light, gazed toward a dream, 

half-remembered. In another room, I stretch my fat 

against muscle & bone & hope my abdomen 

will ache like a faultline ripped open by friction

by this time tomorrow & by this time tomorrow

I will have lived another day between two boulders 

smashing together, my head being squished 

like the object of some child’s play in perspective.

By now you are the cliff I throw myself from. 

Arrival is obliteration. You, a fisherman, hook

snared in my lips you refuse to tug. Wither my flesh

to froth on the waves that claim my body, lap by lap. 

            Like ghosts, the crests

            dissolve into sand, dividing

            the sky from the land. 


Stephanie Lane Sutton was born in Detroit. Her writing has appeared in in
The Adroit Journal, Anmly Lit, Black Warrior Review, The Offing, Rhino
Poetry, and Thrush Poetry Journal, among others. Her micro-chapbook, ‘Shiny
Insect Sex,’ is part of the Bull City Press Inch Series. She received a
creative writing MFA from the University of Miami, where she was the
managing editor of Sinking City. You can find her doing live interactive
writing on Twitch as @AthenaSleepsIn.

concrete (after bill moran’s godsalt)

3.

concrete: “characterized by or belonging to immediate experience

of actual things or events.”

hi, i’m concrete.  sorry.    i’m a-concrete.   i’m ali-concrete.  okay,

i’m alicia, i’m mattress top.      i’m matter, this matters-matters,

i’m watching a film of a film,   and i’m the conman

conning you out of knowing what you want when you want it.

sorry-   let me turn myself into concrete,   let me-   concentrate.

con-concrete   control myself-   let me start over:

2.

i’m in the front seat when i should be in the back.
i’m living on purpose. i’m living despite my-concrete.

my friend tells me my hair matches the stop light

and keeps on driving.

my eyes are traffic lights and the traffic.

i lick the liquor store off of my lips and thank god,

for the first time in five years,

that i am broken.

i tell my friend that he needs to break, he says “you break it, you buy it”

and i break like a habit, like an inconvenience, i can cheat my way out of anything, make room in store aisles, in line, always cheat myself, walking inside the con-con   convenience store,   i overhear someone say that

they don’t like the dark – no one does.”

1.

and, suddenly, i’m sitting in the dark, on screen, listening to my boyfriend fuck his girlfriend, and the girlfriend isn’t me, and i should be okay with sharing, really, sharing space, but the space is so limited, (con-con-con convenience (convenience stores, under microscope, open 24-hours, (don’t look at me, i’m not here, (sheets cover me like convenience, (co-ins, i’ll pay with this body (pardon my concrete, concrete, con-contradiction, (i’m asking you to keep the change. 

0.

hi, a confession,   i’m changing my tone,    pressing hands in wet concrete, and everyone i love turns into concrete, and

(why do they have to do that?

(what-why do I have to mold them, walking contradictions

(and am left to conserve nothing but concrete and concrete

and concrete into concrete into concrete,

(and sink into cheap wine and time,

(and i close my eyes for a moment, like a restless driver, in the wrong lane, (carving out time for them to carve into me?

(i can’t say my name but i can spell it in concrete.

the word ‘I’ bonds this body to itself and hardens over time.

talking feels a lot like listening. and listening  feels a lot like learning. and learning feels a lot like concrete that I can’t push through unless i’m already sunk-                                                                                                        sorry.  


Alicia Turner holds an MA in English and is a grant writer & storyteller. She can be found writing confessional, conversational poetry in an over-priced apartment somewhere in WV. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Four Lines (4lines), CTD’s ‘Pen-2-Paper’ projectFreezeRay PoetryDrunk MonkeysLuna LunaDefunkt Magazineépoque pressSpace City Underground MagazineThe Daily Drunk, Sybil JournalExPat PressRejection Letters PressScreen Door ReviewJ Journal Literary MagazineSledgehammer LitTaint Taint Taint Magazine, among others.

Bird Heuristic

by Avery Gregurich

for David Lynch

Daddy and Mommy were dancing in the kitchen, their
wedding picture caught in their clapshold, tearing a little
in between them while they swung. I watched, and after
all night long oscillating, they gave up again. Where I
come from, the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always
music in the air. Next morning, Daddy took his lunch down
into the mine, but missed when the canary brushed his cheek,
him thinking it was a bat. Adjacent the funeral, Mommy and
me bought a bird to learn our new, sad language. It’s best
to buy your standard cage birds in the spring better for them
to be feathered enough for snow. Most die in transit. Keep
them fed on finely chopped meat, a reasonable quantity of
spiders. Let it sharpen its beak on a cuttlefish bone. Now
we finally awaken to a familiar voice after we left the radio
on for a month straight. Our bird sings like Tammy Wynette
and Mommy snaps wildly out of time with its tune. I’m just
so glad that other hands have gone down the shaft again this
morning so that we could sit here amongst this music and stare
hard into the light.


Avery Gregurich is a writer living and working in Marengo, Iowa. He was raised next to the Mississippi River and has never strayed too far from it.

Choice

Standing in Walmart before a shelf of thirty-seven different kinds of toothpaste, I am compelled to comprehensively read and examine each box as though my life depends on this decision. Partway through the text of an ambiguously named “Glacial White” flavored paste, I remember one I saw in a targeted ad which was blueberry flavored and came in a hand soap-shaped container. It was supposed to whiten your teeth, and I wondered how many times I would accidentally try to wash my hands with it, and wondered what could be in toothpaste to make it worth twenty dollars and I know if I left empty-handed with the intention of ordering it, it would sit in my Amazon cart for weeks because I feel guilty ordering from there and can never be bothered to get my wallet, and I used to know my credit card number when I was younger—I used to know a lot of things. Like how to be decisive. How to like things without constant fretting and analysis of whether it’s good enough to be liked. And I’m not talking about art made by rapists or pedophiles, I’m talking about the color blue and Jane Austen novels, and how I’m twenty-six and have just spent thirty minutes of my life trying to choose a god damn toothpaste as though this one choice can undo the wake of regrets I wade through each night before I fall asleep, and every day I sit at work staring at a wall with chipped paint and pushpin holes, and a shadow of what once hung there.


Emma Hair is a poet, artist, and editor based in North Texas. Through poetry, she has found space to explore emotions, capture moments, and ask possibly unanswerable questions. Her work has previously appeared in Black Telephone Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, and Square Wheel Press’ inaugural anthology. You can find her on IG @em.hair or on Twitter @emhair.

About the Tornado

I burn most of the things I own
right after buying them. Some of them
are cigarettes, and I guess that’s okay,
but often while driving to work
I’ll forget my left hand set the house
on fire while my right hand set
the house on fire.

I like it when old people tell me
about how everything used to be better
before I was born. I don’t think
I’m the problem. Young people
often tell me to go away
when I sit in the tattoo parlor
and tell them they are making
a horrible mistake.

But I don’t think they’re the problem
either. Most of this city is grass
spread out on each side of the expressway.
When mowed, it’s easy to compare the surface
of the Earth to your very own face,
but there are differences,
just like the difference between architecture
the concept and architecture the actual stuff.

When I set fire to this town,
watching the fairgrounds melt
like metal and candle wax
I will smoke a cigarette, and it will
just be something I did.
Firemen will try to arc their hoses
high enough to put out the ferris wheel,
but up there, at the top, there is no fire
and there can be no water.

Most of the old people
understand this truth,
and that is why they sit there
and let flies settle in their glasses
and let the beer go flat
just so they can tell me
that the town you’re born in
is the only town you’ll ever really live in.
Being Texans, they actually believe this.

Young people, too, think they are wise
about all kinds of things, and even though
they are wrong, this is a kind of wisdom
and it cannot be reproduced.

A tornado came through here once.
Not really, but it could have.
Tornadoes are always showing up.
They never ask if they can stay,
and I guess they never stay that long,
but they leave a mess, an indelible
impression everywhere that they go.
I am not like this.

This makes it incredibly easy to start fires,
and I have started many, but there are always
more, every day, that I haven’t started,
and that’s how I make peace with the idea of it.

There are so many important things to eat.
There are so many important things to drink.
People make movies and often you get to see them.
It’s amazing to sit down after a long walk.
Every few weeks there’s a holiday of some kind,
and your mother sends you card. It isn’t much,
but it’s unexpected so it means a lot.
And then you burn it.


This poem previously appeared in Sink Review.


Steve Roberts has a bachelors and masters degree in creative writing and
poetry from the College of Santa Fe and the New School. He’s been
previously published in the tiny, Sink Review and the Hartskill Review. He
lives in Dallas with his spouse and two cats.