Ode to Autistic Love

by Jasper Hardin

After Everything Is Gonna Be Ok and Josh Thomas

If a bouquet folded out of classical sheet music is a sign of love then so is the handmade accordion of envelopes M gave me in eighth grade. Each with a letter of what I meant to them. My also undiagnosed bestfriend who scripted Star Wars with me during recess and didn’t care who stared.

If asking your partner if she needs you to stay while she stims is love. Then so is the day I went nonverbal in the grocery store. N my youngest sibling grabbed my hand tight. Typed me messages back. Told me she loved me over and over and helped me get home.

My whole life I’ve been told autistic people cannot love. That we are an empty glass terrarium. A piano with all the keys removed. That something remarkable could have bloomed here if only I was living. That the most I ever will be is a dirty room filled with maggots. That my autonomy is something I cannot speak for. That I will never find someone who wants to lay next to me while I sleep covered in my weighted blanket. Who apologizes when they hurt me. Who tells me they love me while flapping their hands.

An autistic girl and her autistic girlfriend are now painted like an exquisite love story. Complete with a brother who tells her she’s not a burden. A misguided sister who always learns at the end. This has to mean my queer autistic self is a tent of monarch butterflies all flying in formation. That must mean I’ve always had worth.

If you, an autistic person, dance with your autistic partner or sibling or friend in front of all the people you’re scared will judge you. If you drown out your internalized ableism with original songs or you keep stimming when everyone tells you not to, then you must be a garden filled with roses folded out of everything you’ve ever adored.


Jasper Hardin is a poet of many identities who lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They competed in the 2018 Rustbelt Competition. They are the author of the self-published chapbook I Could Be A Galaxy. They founded a literary journal dedicated to non-speaking and semi-speaking disabled writers and visual artists called Explicit Literary Journal. They have work published in The Mighty, Rising Phoenix Review, What Are Birds and Runestone. Jasper is the co-creator of the one act play The Golems Protect Themselves, which made its debut at Final Frontier Festival. They wholeheartedly believe that dragons are real.

My Minor Exigencies

by Karlo Sevilla

An itch neurotic on my nape
nags for what it needs. Nails
uncut, my fingers oblige, pawns
of the mind that yields. In the cold
shower, the strong soap stings
the claw marks down my skin.
But it’s superficial. I’ll be fine
in an hour or two. Won’t deny me
sleep. Another epidermal irritation,
and I’d do it again. I look forward
to your warmth tonight. Won’t ask
where you’ve been. You know
that I take tenderness in lieu
of truth. Sometimes. Some nights.
When the body, not knowledge,
draws out my docile claws.


Karlo Sevilla, from Quezon City, Philippines, is the author of the full-length poetry collection, “Metro Manila Mammal” (Some Publishing, 2018), and the chapbook, “You” (Origami Poems Project, 2017). Twice nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, his poems appear or are forthcoming in Philippines Graphic, Ariel Chart, Thimble, Matter, Radius, detritus, Small Orange, and others. He currently studies for the Certificate in Literature and Creative Writing in Filipino program of the Center for Creative Writing of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and is a member of the Rat’s Ass Review online poetry workshop.


This poem previously appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review.

Boy of Summer

by Annette Covrigaru

i.

A cool gym closet, our refuge, cardboard
boxes, plastic floor hockey sticks and basketballs
like discarded adolescence, we balance on roller
skates too wide and slim, trace and retrace an
oval track that doesn’t exist, cut corners, hold
our breaths. We are bound in our bodies –
oversized tees, sweat burnt eyes, iridescent skin.
I think then say Liberating, my friend asks What?
and I don’t repeat it.

ii.

I lick the hair on my upper lip and swallow
summers’ liquids into my Coca-Cola and mucus
coated throat. Don’t go anywhere she texts as I
follow a firefly down Avenue B because I never
knew light could float this low. I follow until I
don’t because the edge of Tompkins Square Park
swells with dribbling and laughter and fuck offs,
rhythms of antonymic motions and emotions and
for a moment I’m in the belly of boyhood, lulled
and starved.

iii.

Thigh hairs sprout from follicles crackling like
bang snaps on New Years and mom says Shave
this new you
but there’s no new to this me,
only flashbulb memories and resurrected flesh.
They say skin is the largest organ and isn’t it
comforting to know we’re always exposed?
I apply testosterone to my shoulders, a tacky
gel thick with an alcoholic odor that dizzies
and gags me until I grin. It sinks through fat
and blood and tissue, barriers to pastlives, to a
boy gasping for existence, ready for air.


This poem previously appeared in Yes, Poetry.

when will you start to miss me

by m mick powell

it’s true i restrained myself from getting on my knees
and lapping the spilt wine from the floor after you left.

a pathetic cross to bear: my body bearing the burden
of proof; my desire being asked for a language that existed

beyond itself and a creole coming crystallized in a bloom of ash;
a new alphabet convexed in cinder, my tongue all covered in soot.

marvel at this new grease between my teeth, at my regal undressing,
baptismal lap dance in the land of the living. most dying things die

without ever knowing the theft of a wild heat, the sacrilege of building a god
in the image of a numbed wound, the making of a body into a garland of rose

dust and magnolia glitter. i’m saying i am most lonely when i remember.
i’m saying a window is an entrance and an exit and neither at once,

that winter is the first and the last season of the year. that i loved you
before you left and, after that, i waited, made the jasmine rice soaked

in coconut milk, the lemongrass tea sweetened with nectar, the appointment
with the psychiatrist in new haven; sorted an arrangement of blood-wet rubies,

sharp-shined and contorted to the odd shapes of my hand, wore them
and caught on fire. burned. magnified. nursed the hurt in a gilded coffin

and felt no better. i’m saying you hurt me. i’m saying
there’s a version of this story in which you are the villain.


m mick powell is a queer black femme feminist, poet, and professor. Her poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, Tinderbox Poetry, Winter Tangerine, Apogee Journal, and others. Mick’s chapbook “chronicle the body” won Yemassee Journal’s second annual chapbook contest and was released in March 2019. She enjoys talking about beauty products, bodies, and baked goods. More here: www.mickpowellpoet.com 

The Title of This Poem is Drake Ass Niggas Unless You Are Not Black, Then It’s Run Me My Money

by Tianna Bratcher

To all the men who ask me for my real name and not my stripper name,

what is knowing my real name going to change for you? 

whether it’s Tianna, Alex, Diamond, Peaches, or Rozay 

this ass still gon’ shake the same! 

A lap dance still gon’ cost 20 dollars 

(and I’m not here to get to know you better) 

so shut up and run me my money 

Dear all you Drake ass niggas, 

sitting at the tip rail whispering

you don’t have to do this

who come into the club

to try and save me or fall in love 

I did not clock in to find a boyfriend 

or be the next Aaliyah, Alicia or Bria 

off the single on your new mixtape 

this is not a rap song

this is my job

and according to my rent, tuition, 

dreams, aspirations and refrigerator

I do need to do this

just shut up, and RUN ME MY money!

To the man who told me my hair being in a bun looked like I didn’t put any effort into it, AKA my boss, AKA another white man who has told a Black woman how to wear her hair in the workplace. You have never laid edges before or managed to slick your baby hairs down just right with a toothbrush or just brushed a Black woman’s hair back before.  All These Things Take Effort. But I shouldn’t expect you to know anything about that since you’ve been balding since you were 13. Today you are a lucky man. You are lucky I need this job. You are lucky I tucked my wrath between my teeth and spared you by clenching my jaw instead of my fists, 

SHUT UP!  and run. me. my. money. 

To the @#!$ who think my job is so easy,

who tell me they could do a better job / if they were a woman, 

never mind the bruises / the unwanted groping and sex offers / 

or sitting with a man who prefers you quiet / naked / 

as he spews his privilege and 5th beer all over you* 

*Shut-up-and-run-me-my-money

Do you know what it means to be a Queer Black woman with an understanding 

of cis-heteropatriarchal capitalism AND be a stripper:

it means removing your tongue 

trying to hide your identities in a g-string 

it means some nights spent crying because no one wanted a dance 

from the Black women, but all the white women went home with racks

it means entertaining your oppressors. Speaking of oppressors, 

do you know how hard it is to dance for someone who voted for trump? 

white men be my number one enemy 

and number one customer all at once

I service men who believe serving them is not an actual job 

like I’m not literally bending over backwards to put a smile on their ungrateful face

they make excuses as to why they can’t humanize me 

they see me as some object to possess, not someone to pay 

so            instead

of                 telling 

me                  my job                

is                 so easy

SHUT. UP. AND. RUN. ME. MY. MONEY.


Tianna is a Queer, Black, woman, sister, and auntie originally from
Anchorage, Alaska and is now residing in Oakland, California. She has been
published in The Shade Journal, Placed 7th at WOWPS 2020. The 2016 winner
of Best Love poem at Collegiate Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, placed 5th
at the National Poetry Slam 2017, 2018-2019 fellow at The Watering Hole,
and a 2017 Queer Emerging Artist Resident at Destiny ARTS. She has a BA in
Interdisciplinary Studies and dreams of opening a creative arts youth
center. Her work centers reclamation of the body, Black girl/womanhood,
healing through generational trauma and shaking ass. Tianna is a twerk
influencer, Steven Universe lover and spends much of her free time admiring
trees.

Taxidermy: Papa’s Cancer Makes A Home In My Monday

by Miona Short

after Joshua Bennett’s ‘Taxonomy’

My mouth opens: 5:00 am sits down and waits for tomorrow. The clouds are buxom today. The cold is coming. The cold comes. My mother’s words from a dream. The cold melts. What I’m learning in physics class. The Laplace equation is a special case of Poisson. No charge. The minute hand is divorced from the hour hand. And they are both running away. Beet juice. Carrot juice. Papa’s cancer. It’s windy. My coat is somewhere on the internet. Legendre polynomials. Boundary conditions. The inside of a Crystal Gem. The lake. The rapist around the corner. Beet juice. Carrot juice. The cleansing. The hiding of sweets. Papa’s cancer. The long fast. The long fast. The anxiety of focus. Papa’s cancer. The Bible. The best friend who sleeps close. Queen Sugar. Insecure. Atlanta. How to Get Away with. Mississippi. Papa’s cancer. The lie of being radically soft. Ferromagnetism. Paramagnetism. The Schrödinger equation says one thing about everything. The influency of my love language. The potential well. The imperfect math. Papa’s cancer? The angular momentum of a breathless afternoon. The rain. The cold. The wind. The walk to the best friend that sleeps so close. The dead phone. The lie of being radically soft. The honey in my tea.


This poem previously appeared in WusGood? Magazine.

Tableau for Saying Goodbye

by Jennifer Greenberg

Blankets, blankets, bed
of worry. There stir,
there sleep, there shake the
dreams. Skin to skin, we
spooled like thread. There mouth.
There feet. Our quiet
disbelief. There try
try try, and need need
need, and touch on touch,
on neck on neck on
neck, kiss neck. Bite, blow,
bend the curtains back.
Bless light that bolts the
windows with breath of
morning. Warm on warm.
Want on want. Bless nose
on nose and knees. Brush
hair from the face, that
face, that face. Brush up
against and away
from. Us, this us, this
locomotive us,
touch thigh, touch palms (that
holy palmers touch)
just to please, please, please,
apologize for
nothing. Feel home, feel
sick. Feel many miles
between us. Want kiss.
Want more kiss. Want to
want to want to need
you. Want old days to
come back new. Want all
this wanting to just
die already. There
tease. There take. Grasping
for what’s already
gone. Make noise. Make tea.
Make prayer for the
lonely. Hold hands. Bless
hands. Devil took my
hands. That crave. That quake.
That itching in the
gut. Bless lips, on lips.
Devil took my lips.
Here comes the blue, bruise
sky. Backside of the
moon. Underside of
night. Give hug. Give up.
Give me your sideways
eyes. Gonna miss those
looks, gonna miss those
bones; neck; breasts; chest, bell
for the blood that keeps
ringing. Listen, hey,
listen. It’s ringing.


Jennifer is an opacarophile and associate editor with the South Florida Poetry Journal. More of her poems can be found at Literary Mama, SWWIM Everyday, Homology Lit, Coffin Bell, Frontier Poetry, The New Southern Fugitives and @LegitLiterature on Instagram.

Souls for a Quick Come-up

by DeShara Suggs-Joe

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

–Mark 8:36

souls for honey                souls for matching socks  souls for loose change  souls for loose squares  souls for loose  souls for MTA fare  souls for polices badges souls for jammed guns   souls for souls    souls for clean teeth   souls for full stomachs  souls for health insurance                souls for orgasms   souls for good grades   souls for good   souls for debt      souls for spells  souls for fire  souls for flowers    souls    souls for rest   souls for anxiety  souls for faith   souls for Jesus  souls for the blood   souls for the bloody    souls oh souls souls for gel pens     souls for getting out of the bed   souls for the begging   souls for Popeye’s chicken sandwiches     souls for vegans    souls for clear liquor  souls for cleanliness    souls to glitter    souls for bodies              souls for corruption     souls to ships  souls for oceans    souls for land   souls for war           souls for asswhoppins   souls for revenge        souls for takeovers     souls for lottery tickets        souls for luck   souls for souls    souls for blacks     souls go black    souls been black   souls for the meek                  souls for reparations   oh those souls for sales   souls for generational wealth   souls for pieces   souls for dinner      souls to taste     souls taste better with hot sauce   souls for hot sauce     souls for kin   souls be kin  souls for calling the souls back   souls for going home   souls for knowing home is always   souls for the north star        souls for sweet potato pie    souls for cornbread    souls for singing a sugary hymn    souls for sermons    souls for remembering   souls be remembering   souls as scars  souls as backwash   souls for backlash   souls for granddaddy  souls for big mama        souls for greenhouse gas   souls for planets      souls for destruction                                                                                                     

Souls for valuables       souls oh souls stay on your ass ‘til you show them the money


DeShara is a queer black poet and the Creative Director of Workshops at Winter Tangerine. She co-founded Daughter’s Tongue and is a former member of the Youth Speaks Collective. She received her MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. She is a 2016 Callaloo Fellow, 2017 Poetry Incubator Fellow, and a 2018/2019 Pink Door Fellow. She’s been published in Tinderbox Journal, Winter Tangerine, The Texas Review, and others. She’s also been featured on Button Poetry’s YouTube platform. She has performed at the likes of Spotify, Yahoo, and Pinterest but considers home inside a classroom teaching creative writing or listening to her “Feels” playlist on repeat.

RED

by Hiwot Adilow

Let me not forget the cliché scents
of my dad, all red: cowboy killers
on his hip, old spice, his Phillies cap
faded and stained with sweat, Arab
oils on his wrists, wot my mother
cooked clinging to his hands.

I want to remember his dimples,
how he’d pour red label into OJ
and say all the ladies used to kiss me
here and here. The mornings,
I’d sit at his bedside and listen
to his dreams of phantom children
crawling beside me on crimson carpets.
He wanted a dozen sons
when the house was bright.

Before time covered us in dust,
I peel back my own scabs to pluck
memories from my waning brain:
shotgun, I stare while he steers,
his left hand still alive, he drums
some tizita on the wheel. While he drives
to Abyssinia he says: daughter, do you know
where you are? In a pink shirt his cane
clicks thru the present and he invites me
for a tour thru his new kingdom,
all fluorescent buzz, death behind a curtain
screaming for help, he grunts while he yells
for the sick to shut up, uses his good arm to rise
and guide me past a staff of daughters who smile
and call him papi, they call me pretty, and finally
he says, of course my last drop, my baby would be,
he walks with me slowly to the elevator,
I don’t want to let go or say I love you this time
when he shows me out, when he says stay good instead of goodbye

LOL

by Sadie Dupuis

Deftly I network
out of the thrum
to my phantom subterranea

Promos hovering
lo like bats
the flying dream
where you frantically paddle
your claws off the porn

Do you still want
to be my duplicate

Does my voice offer
a genial uncanny

So glum all twisted
in a slipshod knot

It’s me conning my way into the gleaming credentials
vs me who can’t just go get a new one


Sadie Dupuis is the guitarist, songwriter & singer of rock band Speedy Ortiz, as well as the producer & multi-instrumentalist behind pop project Sad13. Sadie heads the record label Wax Nine, which recently launched a weekly poetry journal, and holds an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, where she also taught writing. Mouthguard, her first book, was published in 2018 (Black Ocean); poems have appeared in outlets including jubilat, Sixth Finch, and Rolling Stone.