the same week that you leave the west coast they board up the complex and every time I want to remember you I have to take the detour

by Adrian Belmes

They trimmed the palms in the parking lot, you know?
I look at them now, and I think, “What a good thing cut short,
what a fine thing to lay barren.” In the hospital down the road from that house,
I thought I would write about the strangling figs in your yard.
It’s low-hanging fruit, markedly poetic. Who is the host and who is the vine
that grows parasitic and beautiful? It’s easier to write a metaphor
than it is to have a conversation.

But I wrote about surfing, radiology, and meth,
Steely Dan, your salty bong. I still can’t believe
I bought you a Brita just so I could drink water. Yes,
that might be a biohazard, but the beach at San Onofre
is still open to the public, so who are we actually going to trust?
If we could divine the shape of grief through sonography,
would we find Jesus in the ultrasound, a bastard, smiling?

Fuck this. Come out on the water with me. It’s quiet,
a little dangerous, but nice. I might even tell you it’s God
when we feel closer to death.


Adrian Belmes is a reasonably depressed Jewish-Ukrainian poet and book artist residing currently in San Diego. He is editor in chief of Badlung Press and has been previously published in SOFT CARTEL, Philosophical Idiot, Riggwelter Press, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. His chapbook, “this town and everyone in it”, was published by Ghost City Press. You can find him at adrianbelmes.com or @adrian_belmes.

I Was Taught: Don’t Disrespect Aretha

by Marlin M. Jenkins

with thanks to Brennar Goree

When she wail, your body betta

     wail. She belt out Swanee

Swanee you best buckle

   like a shoe, like spit-shine,

 like your body channeling

that swung 4/4 and the crooked

  waiting snuck into each annunciated

     letter. Make your back

  a horn, your wrist

       a bass spinning like a pirouette;

 make your body a Queen

         in Waiting, too. Aretha

    didn’t dump her soul out

      like cracked eggs in a skillet,

   like jambalaya from pot to bowl

 for you to have stiff

        knees, feet that can’t

     roll like a rocking chair

       with some stank

   in the nails holding the wood

 steady, though it cracks, makes

     noise seeping

  like nose-breath, like the inhale

    between waiting for me and

praying for me, or

    how I love you and

 how I love you—if Aretha

       even ever need to stop

to take a breath. Maybe you can’t

     do right by your mamma,

   how many calls away common ground

         might feel, like all the soil

       from here to Detroit dry

            and blowing away like dust—

   maybe you can’t do right by

          every lover you kept

     waiting, can’t do right

       by everyone who’s died

  without you telling them

    what’s real, whatever real is—

but you can learn to do

    what you can to do right

 by each verse, become smooth

       rumble and crumbed butter,

   background and backbone, sacrifice

      offering to and of yourself with her

  voice become each joint.


Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and currently lives in Minnesota. The author of the poetry chapbook Capable Monsters (Bull City Press, 2020) and a graduate of University of Michigan’s MFA program, his work has found homes with Indiana Review, The Rumpus, Waxwing, and Kenyon Review Online, among others. You can find him online at marlinmjenkins.com.

The oval end of it

by Natalie Sakarintr

Each summer, I shed my skin like a cicada
and eat custard apples with both hands,
holding them toward the sun.

In December I wake up dreaming of the flood.
I have wrung it out again, one year in every ten.
The crack in the spine and
the dog ear of my quarter life.
And somewhere nearby is a place where
I used to live. It tastes like cold water
and there are organs playing
—a harmonica stuffed in my sister’s pocket, whistling.

In another life I say:
I was born in Phuket before the tsunami.
I give myself a new name it is Margot
it is Pygmalion and the sculpture.
It is the choked river, pockets full of coins
orange peels and egg shells.

Now I wake up dreaming of the fires
my burnt hands, my hanging broken arm. We light things
on fire and call it burning off /we call it preparing. Now—
more than ever it feels like I am suffocating. All these plants dying around me
and swimming in the ocean with my eyes open again.
What it means to be a girl and what I’m made up of.
The things I want to burn.


Natalie Sakarintr is a writer and aspiring editor from Melbourne. She is currently studying the Masters of Writing and Publishing at RMIT. Having grown up in rural Victoria, she is interested in displacement and identity. She has been previously published by Going Down Swinging, The Bowen Street Press and Potluck Magazine.

The Barnacle Tide of Steller’s Sea Cows

by Orchid Tierney

Sea: possibly cognate with gisig (Old High German), suggesting ponds, suggesting marshes, and sigan, suggesting to sink, suggesting to flow down, suggesting Hurricane Dorian sea-swept three sea cows into the sea-water. Sea cows did not sea-sink, were sea-framing and sea-loving, were sea-gentle. They understood their sea-bodies in relation to sea-salt and seawater. Became sea-marsh. Sea-shouldering, their taut sea-tails were sea-svelte. Sea-ensuing sea-shot with sea-brown and sea-white, their coarse sea-smiling sea-hides were sea-fed. Sea-lulled sea-bodies floated upon the sea-thick sea-air of the sea-hurricane. They were sea-light in the sea-swift seawater, were sea-artists, sea-kind sea-buds, unlike sea-corpses and sea-horses for they were sea-filled with sea-filth of sea-distemper, shared sea-fever with the sea-mad seagulls. Sea-soft sea-eyes sea-encrusted with sea-dregs and sea-dust. Sea-dirt sea-hardened in the sea-skins of sea-mouths. They sailed under sea-fire. Sailed like velella, sea-rode the sea-mountains, their sea-legs named the sea-that-fold with sea-cold sea-feces. They sea-sensed themselves sea-rosy like seasoned sea-shrubs and sea-urchins. Sea-licked the sea-surface with their sea-tongues until they beached upon Cedar Island like sea-shillings, overwhelmed with sea-awe of sea-land. They relearned the memory of motion.

The sea-sweet sea-cows were sea-slick with sea-sleeves and sea-snapples. Once, a sea-strawberry, sea-sparrow and sea-sucker, only the slat of land swotted the sea-cows with sea-sickness. The seaboard un-sea-ed the sea-cows on sandy landcape. Dripping with sea-lentils on their land-hinds, the land-cows land-grazed over land-waves like land-beetles and land-bugs. Land-boarded by land-dunes, they were land-born. Land-cast by the land’s sun salt. Land-cows land-made land-claims to the land-club of other land-dwellers and land-tussock, but the sea-memory hollowed out land-fever. The land-wash land-lapped over their land-water land-hooves. These land-cows were landfyrd, without land-hunger even as they seaduced their tender land-legs. On the small land-mead, they land-lacked land-sickness and land-speech. Sealess with sea-speech. They savoured their new species.


Orchid Tierney is an Aotearoa-New Zealand poet and scholar, currently living in Gambier, Ohio where she teaches at Kenyon College. She is the author of a year of misreading the wildcats (Operating System, 2019) and Earsay (TrollThread 2016), and chapbooks ocean plastic (BlazeVOX 2019), blue doors (Belladonna* Press), Gallipoli Diaries (GaussPDF 2017), the world in small parts (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), and Brachiaction (Gumtree, 2012). Other poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Jacket2, Journal of Modern Literature, and Western Humanities Review, among others. She is a consulting editor for the Kenyon Review.


This poem previously appeared in Empty Mirror.

Terra Rima (After Jack Collom)

by Brendan Allen

love is born of thing-ness &
         I choose to love the bedded dirt,

the edible earth beneath the stove-
         range. I love the sprouted-new tufts

of mold as they muddy the grout. I love
         the ant-ball’s tributaries, flirting

the lost taffy. the more I choose more love,
         the more things sing their thing-ing song.

here, listen: each damp ring on the tabletop
         begs you to join me, to raise your feet & assert

this place I’ve saved for you.
         on the couch, run your fingers along

our blanket’s underbelly & brush me. now, let’s
         call up some friends. it’s a sectional, after all

it’s tectonic. but it’s also just cushion. all these borders:
         just cushion. it’s our house & the throngs

at the door don’t have to listen to us if they
         want a piece of it. I choose to love these walls

because I’ve saved this space for you. now you
can stretch out on the carpet, count our love, sing something new.


Brendan Allen lives in Philadelphia, where he pursues a poetry MFA and teaches undergraduate writing at Temple University. He’s currently working on a text-based, choose-your-own-adventure, poem-generating video game. You can play a demo at https://bibliomancer.itch.io/centoquest.

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