if you don’t have milk, whipped cream will do

by Elly McCarthy

my recursive heart, tethered 
to the tides and what will and what
does—she pleads for milk, 
for all the wrong things to soothe 
the rash crawling up her spine 
like ambitious bougainvilleas 

as we cycle in and out of hibernation 
strung unknowingly along, a line 
of ducklings anchored to their mother 
I hypothesize about whether we can survive
another winter when they keep on 
arriving 

in absence of blatant rotting, we are still
intent on carrying out the process of dying
and I wonder where all the spiders are right now 
eyes hungry for tessellations, sensical sequences  
amidst the clouded afternoons 
I can’t help but

to love the existence of patterns and be 
forcibly bound to their iron heart 
sharp edges surprising, welcoming 
I urge her not to call these parts ugly 
to let them live another cycle unnamed 
not ready to part, yet constantly 
on the precipice 



____

Elly McCarthy currently lives in Chicago and spends as much time near the lake as possible. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in The Raven’s Perch and Hooligan Magazine’s Spilled Ink, among others. You can find her on Twitter at @naturallog_ 

Published
Categorized as Poetry

FOUR SNAKES MAKES OUR FLAG

by C.T. Salazar

earth @ your lips earth saying I was a good
son and look where it got me look hard but
in the dark it’s impossible to know what flag
what fog + what face you’ll face thankfully
the dirt is always warm look @ me holding
the heat like terracotta it looks like weeping
how the angel must hide his face in his hands
a posture the artist mistook for grief but 
grief is most visible in the jaw winging 
pain only the shoulders can carry tend earth
and it blooms up your name in your mother’s
voice how you thought an angel must sound
all this trumpet vine who else would say your
name yes reason enough to acre the aching




____

C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking, forthcoming from Acre Books in 2022. He’s the 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. 

Published
Categorized as Poetry

FOUR SNAKES MAKES OUR FLAG

by C.T. Salazar

you’re still here	opal in the creek begging
by and by 	 I reach across (to 
				                         /
					                       almost touch you)

              here’s history but bear with me, it’s bloody     God said
              be light    + the crocus the honeysuckle the callalily   we

used our hands for the worst of it	 we fell into a pile
of brown leaves that was mostly moths	+ collected

		rainwater in copper-bottomed pots  this
		isn’t the history I mentioned 		this
	
is rain washing into the radio, a voice hitting static

like birds flying into laundry   I put my ear 
to your chest  clouds 
                                        like rams   you undo the evening

with your hands alone		you don’t have to apologize
+ light wept down      I know even if you stay,

a lonely pink sky would wound us so




____

C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking, forthcoming from Acre Books in 2022. He’s the 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. 

Published
Categorized as Poetry

10,000 Feet Above Sea Level

by Laura Passin

A hummingbird hangs like a drone,
tries to sip nectar from my breasts.

My father told me he and my mother, 
three marriages ago, camped in this same park, 
breathing each other inside the thin sky.

Sometimes you are the flower.

Sometimes you are the elegy yourself.

Sometimes you are the elsewhere,
            the seas, ineluctably rising.



____


Laura Passin is the author of Borrowing Your Body (Riot in Your Throat, 2021) and All Sex and No Story (Rabbit Catastrophe Press). She earned her PhD in English Literature at Northwestern and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Toast, Rolling Stone, Electric Literature, and Best New Poets. Laura lives in Denver with too many pets.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

i woke up & it felt like spring

by Caelan Ernest

The birds, their hum. It’s           inevitable.  
I thought maybe it       was                                 rain,  
the strange music, the solitary disco,  
but nothing seems to be dancing.                                   It is  
far too early                                              to be dancing.  

Time warp, I thworp                                              within it.  
Wet, flapping at                         the                                             mouth,
and the last thing I need is more  
water.                                                           My tongue has become
a safe-haven for the plovers—  
each bud a sprite with                cooling salt  
the swans like to dip                                                                    their wings into.  

Shed                    gray-feather,                             darling,  
call                      everything your swan song  
from the bird bath        to the feeder and pretend           you  
were never the ugly                                                                         duckling
dancing                                                                   alone.



____

Caelan Ernest is a nonbinary poet, performer, and thingamajig living in Brooklyn, NY. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in WUSSY MagazineHayden’s Ferry ReviewBAEST JournalWe Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2020), The Poetry Project’s House Party, The Felt, and more. They hold an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute. They are Director of Publicity at Nightboat Books. Hit them up on social media: @transputation.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

the ontological point where the harbor curves into girlhood

by Caelan Ernest

meet me at the midnight dip 		  for a sequin plunge     for the tide
caught in a rip 	 	           we’ll dunk down 	 	        to the bottom
             of the seafloor		 	 in time to catch sight
of the the blue lobster 	 	         as she 	 	 	                bounces
             off the oyster’s pit
	 	 	 	 	                 revealing its belly


              is just a gum 	 	 a kind of jelly 		 clutching its pearl
like a headstone        facing 		 west 	 	 	 & there 


              will be dancing 	 	 there will be 	 	 a masquerade
the urchins have invited us 	 	 to wear 	 	 	            their bodies
	 	        on our faces like decorations, 	         old periwinkle
              shells on our nipples 	 like pasties—     even the hermit crabs
will break           out of dormancy 	 	 just to show their feet 

		
for one night 	 	 	           meanwhile 	 	   somewhere above us


             all the voices of the harbor fuse 	 	   into one              voice
their many lucid vibrations rattle the water 	 	 	 our celebration  
             put to a rest 	 	
	 	 	 	                   my body dripping 	 	 in a former wet


	 	 	 	 	 	                            picture it
			

an orange hat 		 flying off the bow 	 	 of the boat 	 	
             all those years ago 	 	 	             bobbing
	 	 	                 at the surface 	     as if	 	      for air
						
	 	 	 	 	                          the child’s fingers curl
                                                                  reaching back


	 	 oh pond,             i know the fun 	      can’t last          forever
	 	 so swallow me 	         spit me out 	 	    on the north side
	 	 where the sandbar breaks 	 	 	 	                 into breach
	 	 toss me with your tongue          to the island 	 	 of no man 


we both know	 	 the harbor’s 	 	 wailing voice
will never consider this              a proper burial 	 	 without ritual 		
first 	 	
 
							
	 	 	 	 	 	                         don’t mourn me


before morning has enough time           to shake the stars off the roof
              of this place 	 	      yes, pond— 	 	    above me
the clammers will continue to ride out at dawn 	 	 	
in search of harvest 	 	      for their wives		 	     & children
	 	 	 	 	 	 	 	 
                                                                                                     picture it

	 	          the mermaid spurred by the occasion
	 	          to come out of retirement & sing
	 	          her famed song	 
	
this blighted morn
	 	
oh, pond,	 	 it’s you
it’s you who has been
all along



____

Caelan Ernest is a nonbinary poet, performer, and thingamajig living in Brooklyn, NY. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in WUSSY MagazineHayden’s Ferry ReviewBAEST JournalWe Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2020), The Poetry Project’s House Party, The Felt, and more. They hold an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute. They are Director of Publicity at Nightboat Books. Hit them up on social media: @transputation.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

What’s Holding You Back

by Andrew Cox

Fear. And the way Spring insists green is the royal color
The way the word vaccine puts a saddle on a horse 
To ride through the countryside shouting the virus is coming
And how one by land and two by sea are a math of arrival
How arrival enters through the mouth and is swallowed
To dissolve as if it were the pill that supplies answers
To questions we did not ask but used to hallucinate 
Family history and its ride on a boat that went down at sea
The way the word symptom made us lose our voices
The way the word mask taught us to focus on eyes
The way the word normal taught us the lesson of regret
Fear. And the way Spring insists it’s flexing its muscles again



____

Andrew Cox is the author of The Equation That Explains Everything, (BlazeVOX [Books] 2010), the chapbooks This False Compare (2River View, 2020) and Fortune Cookies (2River View, 2009) and the hypertext chapbook, Company X (Word Virtual, 2000). He edits UCity Review.  

Published
Categorized as Poetry

standing in a stupa on a rainy afternoon

by Anuja Ghimire

three statues of gold skin 
sit in lotus position
buddha in the center 
water flows on the metal
a touch without the wetness
we watch monkeys in trees
creeper babies on mamas
my child is a vine on me, too
inside, a monk arranges
ghee-filled earthen lights for the evening
on the door carved generations ago
leans another woman with a child
his dusk colored face 
eyes closing in like the clouds
the stupa is on a break in the rain
and gods are on leave 
but the mother’s om rings the bells
and strikes the incense in the sky



____

Nepal-born Anuja Ghimire writes poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. She is the author of Kathmandu (Unsolicited Press, 2020) and two poetry books in Nepali. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, she works as a senior publisher in an online learning company. She reads poetry for Up the Staircase Quarterly and enjoys teaching poetry to children in summer camps. Her work found home in print and online journals and anthologies in Nepal, U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., Scotland, India, and Bangladesh. She lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband and two children.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

Monsoon

by Anuja Ghimire

in the year that I believe in anything
a boy whispers in school
lightning strikes parents if children lie
I climb into your bed in our flat
my cold back on the wall stained with rain
water releases smell of cement
you don’t fold me like the tucked in rupees
in the elastic edge of your petticoat
your breath moves in small clouds
night is long and lonely without dreams
death fills the room like mold
I latch on the crevice of your stomach
when the edge of your sari falls with the sky



____

Nepal-born Anuja Ghimire writes poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. She is the author of Kathmandu (Unsolicited Press, 2020) and two poetry books in Nepali. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, she works as a senior publisher in an online learning company. She reads poetry for Up the Staircase Quarterly and enjoys teaching poetry to children in summer camps. Her work found home in print and online journals and anthologies in Nepal, U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., Scotland, India, and Bangladesh. She lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband and two children.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

Soaked

by Emily Benson

Rainwater piles up at the foundation
Melting the mud and clay 
Into treacherous sinkholes
The branches of the Live Oak are slick and green,
Dripping, ball moss sprouts ferocious tendrils
While the vibrant rooster of mysterious origins
Which appeared two days ago
Hides from this late-winter deluge
And the raccoons on the roof are quiet in the chill nights
Down by the wild rushing creek
The prickly pears gulp what they can
But the little lime lizards are nowhere to be seen
Not enough heat in their rocks without sun
And while the swans with their great white wings
Glide the lake unconcerned,
The pigeons and I are miserable


____

Emily Benson (she/her) writes poems of humanity, longing, and nature. She lives in Western New York with her husband and two sons. Ms. Benson has previously been published by The Esthetic Apostle, Unstamatic, Airlie Press, Five Minutes, High Shelf Press, Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, and in Hey, I’m Alive Magazine. Her work can be found at www.emilybensonpoet.com.

Published
Categorized as Poetry