TO BE OF THE

by Catherine Bresner

I have known love two and a half times and not known anything about anything

Each gesture positions itself against a white wall preparing for a shadow

The shapes we take are apologies for what exactly we can’t articulate Try to

articulate a cloud I dare you You just can’t A small beetle made its way into

the chrysanthemums and now it’s stuck there Everything is the color green

which is to say that exact color green Picture this a perfect angular

corner of graph paper touching another perfect angular corner of graph paper

and a sharp crease Envelopes are sexy until they are opened Once I loved

a pear tree so delicious that I refused to eat any pears in protest The fruit fell out

of the tree each August and fed the red ants in the garden god says all love starts

in a garden I think god might be wrong

Totally Conscious Control Absolute Control And The Monster Too

by Rob Colgate


Rob Colgate is a poet from Evanston, IL. He holds a degree in psychology from Yale University and spent time studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is currently pursuing his MFA in poetry with the New Writers Project at UT Austin, where he serves as the nonfiction editor for Bat City Review. His first chapbook, So Dark the Gap, was published by Tammy in March 2020. You can find him at robcolgate.com.

neon lights at noon

by Nkateko Masinga

the trouble with crying at Times Square
is that you are a body in a sea of bodies
sailing from one heartbreak to the next

the year is new & you are still just you,
except older, with less apartment space

& less breathing space and a neon red
flash flood alert on your phone screen

you blend into the scene. a neon green
woman dances at an intersection, joy
seeping out of every painted pore. you

offer her your metro card and a smile.
you are soon leaving this city anyway

at 7th Avenue and Broadway, you break
down again, affirming the threat of flood

this scene would be good, so good, if you
were auditioning for a breakout role in a
tear-jerking play about immigration law

& prozac prescriptions. but you are not.
you are merely grieving your twenties

& a failed loan application & a romance
lacking romance, the American dream

a splintered mess at your callused feet.
& this brightly lit city? it neither sleeps
nor sees you weep amid its neon lights


Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning South African poet and 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She is currently the director of the Internship Program at Africa In Dialogue, an online interview magazine that archives creative and critical insights with Africa’s leading storytellers, as well as the founder and managing director of NSUKU Publishing Consultancy. She is the author of a digital chapbook titled “the heart is a caged animal”, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest chapbook, “psalm for chrysanthemums”, has been selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books to be published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets chapbook box set.


This poem previously appeared in Brittle Paper.

August 16th, 2016

by Malik Thompson

We’re in this city park,
night-drenched, my dewed scalp
pulsating beneath your finger pads.
It’s so dark, I fail to see the distance,
vision obscured with shadows &
branches in an undulatory mid-August
dance. I believe I can bloom
in this fortressed quiet, though
I can hear your heart
slamming itself against your chest.

‘…a one time thing…only
for your birthday…’ you murmur
above a heaving ribcage.

Praise be to the body’s honesty,
however quickly it may ash.
Praise be to the largest
star and our orbit around it. Praises
to the way one boy can touch another,
salvation almost grasped
in his hungering palms.


Malik Thompson is a Black queer man proud to be from DC. He is a poet, photographer, and loves studying queer artistic genealogies. His work has been published in Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week series and is awaiting to hear from other publications. You can find his thoughts on literature at his Instagram account @negroliterati.

Call and Response [in this body]

by Cory Hutchinson-Reuss

What draws you out is what you’re here for

Your honeyed anguish and secrets

Your May Queen and Crone

You’ve come for the thicket

Found a home in its hollows

Had its briars in your hair

You’ve seen the bird’s glaring blood

high-pitched and strung

Its dismantled feathered mass

at another bird’s feet

like a nest made of aftermath

You’ve come to sing your voices

into the bramble

Throw them through the bars

You’ve come back to bend

the sky low, to call

that creature        your self


Originally from Arkansas, Cory Hutchinson-Reuss received her PhD in English from the University of Iowa, and now lives and writes in Iowa City. Her work has recently appeared in The Offing, Superstition Review, wildness, Glass, Pangyrus, and The Missouri Review’s Poem of the Week feature. She has been a Best New Poets nominee and the recipient of the Lynda Hull Memorial Prize for Poetry from Crazyhorse. She volunteers in the Writers Workshop at Oakdale Prison and serves as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal. Seed-Purse, a chapbook of poems and visual art made in collaboration with book and paper artist Giselle Simón, is forthcoming from PromptPress.

girl gang or mass funeral

by Haddiyyah Ali

every girl I know has a collection of dead things.

boys are loud,
messy even.
blood
makes them faint. makes them run
and tell.
they think everything that hurts deserves a scene.

but us girls, we know better.
we be catacomb
silent.
we be scream into pillow,
choke on the fibers,
teeth-and tears-and snarl,
hidden
under every floorboard.

us girls, we be magician.
disappear a body, into a body, into a
dress and make it smile a pretty pretty smile
over the stench of rotting flesh. clench everything so tight everything rattles

but us girls, we never make a sound.
us girls, we be mourning.
we speak the same grief.

we speak the same grief.
and it’s all pursed lips and darting eyes,
girl code they call it.
the way i look at you, and you look at me, and we know.
the way we hold each other between sunrise and wet soil.
the way we closed our eyes last summer became undone and whole and felt nothing at all.

just like the things we bury.


Haddiyyah Ali is an abolitionist, freelance opinion writer, and emerging poet. Her creative nonfiction has been featured in the Long River Review and the Black Muslim Reads anthology.

I OPEN MY MOUTH AND THERE ARE NO POEMS ANYMORE

by kiki nicole


kiki nicole is a Black, Queer, and Non-binary multimedia artist and poet. They’ve received invitations to fellowships such as Pink Door Writing Retreat, The Watering Hole, and Winter Tangerine. kiki hopes to lend a voice for the void in which Black femmes not only exist in plain view but thrive. Find them at kikinicole.com.

I am funny.

by Rota


Rota is a poet and public interest lawyer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His chapbook “Giveth and Taketh” was recently published by Wild Pressed Books. Rota’s work has been featured by Button Poetry, BBC Radio, Entropy!, FreezeRay Poetry, iO Literary Journal (forthcoming) and elsewhere. He is a proud member of the MMPR collective and the Assistant Executive Editor of Knights’ Library Magazine which you should submit to!

Half Moon Full Oblivion

by Christian Garduno

Half moon

taking up the whole sky

lowly stars crawl away to become

tomorrow’s constellation prize

A Mighty Benedictine

and Brandy Alexanders

frozen suns illuminate then dissipate

DO NOT RESUSCITATE


Christian Garduno edited the compilation Evolver and his own solo poetry collection Face, while a History undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. His work can be read in over 30 literary magazines, including Spillwords.com, Corpus Christi Writers 2020, and Riza Press, where his poem, “The Return”, was a Finalist in their 2019 Multimedia Poetry & Art Contest. He lives and writes along the South Texas coast with his wonderful wife Nahemie, young son Dylan, and pet bear-cub Theodore Bexar. He usually sometimes writes at https://medium.com/@letsfly2000

Self-Portrait with Bubble Gum

by L.J. Sysko


L.J. Sysko’s work has been published in Ploughshares, The Pinch, Best New Poets, Day One, 5am, and Rattle, among others. She is the author of BATTLEDORE, a poetry chapbook, which was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017 as part of its New Women’s Voices series. She has an MFA in poetry from New England College, and her awards and honors include several Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg awards, an Academy of American Poets prize, two fellowships from Delaware’s Division of the Arts, and poetry finalist recognition from The Fourth River, The Pinch, and Soundings East.