Winter 2023

What Would You Steal from God’s House

Cooper Wilhelm is a poet and card reader based in Brooklyn. He is the author of three books of poetry, the longest of which is called DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE, and also hosts Witchhassle, a podcast about the occult with a fixation on labor. More at CooperWilhelm.com.

Turning 30

your love is like a…
nevermind, i am trying to not get full off similes.
i am throwing away the need to get all poetic
and just trying to stand with both feet inside of my body.
easier said than done, but when i look at you,
i want to say what i mean.

no more metaphors either. i don’t have time,
i am busy kneading dough and listening to fresh gossip.
i’m rolling my eyes at sonnets and turning on the rice cooker,
i’m wiping down the counters and memorizing all the familiar sounds:
kids laughing in the street, your tired voice on the phone,
the hum of the gas stove and the flick of the light switch.
i love it all: how the day ends
and i decide to let another one begin.

if you told me this is what my future would be like
when i was 20, i would’ve gotten on a train and waved
dramatically out the window like carmen jones.
all respect to dorothy dandridge,
but thank god i no longer call a screaming fight an honest bouquet
or whatever i was calling love,
back when i wouldn’t have recognized it
even if it was making soup for me in my kitchen.

now i am turning 30 and aware
of how everything is neither gorgeous or horrifying
but simply is in its being. a sky is just a sky.
a rose is just a rose that i am giving to you
because i wanted to think of you
looking at them on your dresser,
and thinking of me, too.

okay, okay, one more poem before we turn the lights off:
brenda, this morning i woke up
with the pale sun whispering through the window
and the night sky of your cowlicks in my mouth.
when you roll over, your pillow reddened cheek
makes me want to go deep into the woods
and build you another house to grow in.

your slowly opening eyes are sweeter than honeycomb.
your quiet good morning sounds like no one who ever lived.

Levi Cain is a gay Black non-binary writer from Boston, MA. Their writing has been published in Arsenal Pulp’s “Queer Little Monsters” anthology, SAND Journal, Room Magazine, Shenandoah Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Their first chapbook, dogteeth., was published by Ursus Americanus Press in 2020. You can keep up with their work at levicain.wordpress.com.


I answer the phone.
I make telemarketers reconsider
Their career choice.

I put one foot in front
Of the other. I make
Grown men cry.

Nothing seems to defeat
Me. Though I know the proverbial shoe
Will drop one day.

In the meantime I stay barefoot:
can’t be too careful

Who prophesized this world in which I reside?
Not me.

I wanted something different for myself.

Like your voice on the other end of the telephone.
& all the time in the world in which to answer.

Connie Johnson is a Los Angeles, CA-based writer. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Mudfish and Exit 13.

Once There Were Horses

It’s the barn.
It’s the dark.
It’s the latent heat
of wood, summers gone
encoded in cellulose
stacked and bunched.
It’s the horses shifting,
the horses breathing at night.
It’s night and breath.
It’s memory and breath,
remembered sweat
in the dark of the barn,
safe and dry—figment
of sweet hay like memory
just beyond recall.
It’s the ark of the barn.
It’s the horses, the horses
in dark sanctuary.
It’s the latent heat
of wood, of spectral
bodies of horses.
It’s fungible history
in numberless splinters
that hold the dark fast.
It’s the horses steadily
even now.

Cleveland Wall is a poet, teaching artist, and librarian. She is the author of Let X=X and many homemade chapbooks and zines. She performs with interactive poetry troupe No River Twice & with musical combo The Starry Eyes and hosts an experiential poetry series called Poetry Lab at the Ice House in Bethlehem, PA. She is falling deeply in love with antiproductivity. 

Mekatelyu Somethin’…

My mother hides her accent
each time someone asks why she is here,
and what made her leave paradise.

To Americans, paradise is anything
you cannot buy
in the supermarket.

For many of us,
our hometowns are lovers
you find by accident, who do not understand

how heavy their hands get. Whose love is missed
only because of how good they crash
the green innocence of unripe coconuts
against a wall to provide
the backs of our throats with a cool stickiness.

… and all my mother can say
about being in this country is,
I have raised my children here.
I am the reason she bleaches her speech.

Her face bloats any time I speak our language. Smirks
proudly at how quick I change it
for family who think
education is linked solely to the mouth.

We dodge our tongues like
our first lover’s homes.
Fly far from it in hopes that it will not claim
our throats like phlegm
that drags after the suck of unripe fruit.

We try to escape our speech
like it never filled our bellies
with plantain, like it never taught us
how to crust a wound with the sun.

Híl Davis is a first generation Costa Rican American from Staten Island, New York. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University. Her work has been featured in Callaloo, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is currently based in Seattle, WA (Duwamish Land), where she lives with her family.

This poem previously appeared in Cordella Magazine.

Lines Written on a Pizza Box Before Moving

Diandra Williams is a poet, singer/songwriter, and experimental musician based in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to having poetry forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom, she plays guitar, sings, and writes music for her two bands, Lisa and DAMES, as well as solo music she produces with her fiancé Samantha.

Lesbian Litany in the Key of Love by Keyshia Cole

Gabrielle Tola, artistically known as NeptuneMuse, is an Ecuadorian-Egyptian 22-year old singer-songwriter, poet, astrologer, creative director, music producer, and first-generation college graduate with a B.A in Creative Writing. Gaby dedicates herself to world-building her sonic and visual dreamscape through her music/music videos, writing, communal dreaming, and pleasure activism. She strives to heal and uplift queer bipoc through artistic expression from her infatuation with astrology, romance, and magic. You can find traces of all she loves and creates on https://gabrielletola.wixsite.com/mysite or as @neptunemuse on all social media and music streaming platforms + Bandcamp. Gaby is based on Seminole/Miccosukee land, and her work has been featured on various platforms such as VoyageMIA, the Ithacan, the Pandemic Post, and O’Miami’s anthology, Waterproof: Evidence of a Miami Worth Remembering.

I’ve Been Doing Nothing Lately

On Wednesdays I get angry,
and on Thursdays I make pots,
and then I am no longer angry.

When I’m angry I blast Buddy Holly—
but I keep the windows up.
And then I think it’s so funny, you know,
that I’m listening to Weezer,
and I’m reminded of how much I miss Joseph,
and then I am no longer angry.

Chloe drapes heating pads over me
and Lauryn goes to the store for cake
when I say I have a sweet tooth
but my back is aching bad.

I tell Jenna I feel crazy
and she says,
Do you want me to tell you
about a time I did something so crazy?

I stand at the window and I eat mint Milanos
and I watch a couple kiss goodbye.
They are my age and I wish I wanted to roll my eyes
but I see him tip her chin up with his finger
and I exhale.

My parking’s getting worse but
I’m getting better at not feeling
like I need to drive everyone home all the time.

Muddie keeps spare contacts on my sink and goes home in my jeans,
and my eyelids flutter shut when they hum in the mornings.

I’ve been thinking about the man in the hat
at the Vietnamese restaurant.
He was sitting alone and his smile was so warm
and I’ve been thinking about how often
I discount men in hats.

If I step outside I can hear the kids at recess, and the sun smells so good,
and we always find enough chairs for all the friends at the dinner table.
I really don’t listen to Weezer all that much.

Gina brings muffins from work and burns them twice in my oven.
The people at the film shop know my name.
My cousin cries when I take her to the airport.

I think my heart could burst open at the nothing of it all.

Crystal is a recent graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill who currently lives is Durham, NC. She works at a Montessori school and a camera shop.  Crystal is a potter, a film photographer, and of course, a poet.