We’ve Hardly Begun And

already have ruined this great
bullish experiment, the shining hill
city with no real sense of lasting
design or weight, flowers placed on an
empty casket. Too late. Most mistake any men in scrubs
for doctors: dazed by the prospect of good health, patients
guess incorrectly. Then, when begins the pitch —
Hey! A medical supplies salesman? Who let you
in the operating room? It is flim-flam for sure, like no
jam on your peanut butter sandwich, or the
knife used to slice strawberries from the garden, twitching
loose to nick your thumb. You should be careful,
maybe look for helpers in the world, those
nice morticians coming from upstate to move bodies
out of overcrowded NYC. See? It’s not hard to
plan ahead, to make wishes known so you don’t end up
queued last and lonely, hoping for a
real doctor or sandwich maker, at the very least
some daisies to brighten this empty room. That may be
too big an ask, butter yellow when the skies grow gray and we are
under it all — sleet and hail, gale-force winds, snakes leaking
venom as they fall from above and land to wrap around our
wrists like bracelets, like something gold and rubied
Xena might wear when she arrives to save our skin. I’ll always be with
you, she says, right after accidentally stabbing her best friend.
Zoinks! Bet you didn’t see that coming — the end, I mean. The end. 


Laura Bandy attended the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers PhD program from 2009 to 2013, where she received the Joan Johnson Poetry Award. In 2018, she won first prize in the ‘Trio of Triolets’ contest judged by Allison Joseph, and received third place in the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award/ Illinois Emerging Writers Competition that same year. She has had work published in Soft Skull’s Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, Ninth Letter, Sin Fronteras, River Styx, TypoPithead Chapel, and The Laurel Review among others, and currently has poems in Midwest Review and Longleaf Review, with work forthcoming in The Florida Review. Her chapbook, Hack, will be out with Dancing Girl Press in 2021. Laura hails from Jacksonville, Illinois, home of the Ferris wheel.

In This Night of Storms

              —for Gabe

After singing you 
to sleep, I lay you down.  
Outside, a week of heat 
ends in streaks 
of lightning and rain.  
A close strike 
cracks the black egg 
of night, blanches blue-white 
the curtains by your crib. 
You sleep, though suddenly 
illumined like bone 
in an x-ray, like a candled egg.
Air and earth boom, 
then rumble back to a solace 
of water and wind.
Small in this thunder, I 
lean over your crib, listen 
to your breath, and wonder 
what the lightning struck,
and where and when 
it will strike again.


Matthew Murrey‘s poems have appeared in many journals such as Prairie SchoonerPoetry EastSplit Rock Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden.  Matthew is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, and their debut collection, Bulletproof – selected by Marilyn Nelson – was published in February 2019 by Jacar Press. Matthew works as a public school librarian in Urbana, Illinois, and can be found online at https://www.matthewmurrey.net/ and @mytwords on Twitter and Instagram.

Hurricane Family

               When hurricanes come my daddy prepares
                            by rooting soles into the floors of our house,
               rooted into the wetland his daddy poured Lord Calvert’s into.

                            No longer a buckra’s sharecropper,
Grandma Lizzie and Granddaddy Silas rooted
               a bottle tree of twelve
                            inconceivable indigo children.

                            My daddy repeats to my ma,
                We’ll be fine,
                            and I believe.

                                          When the hurricanes came, it moved me
                            more than I wanted. I hooked my innocence inside.
                                          Wild water became swords. My sisters and I played in
swooning pine. Dark, slick, splash, and I was terrified—

                my thoughts of trees falling on top of mobile homes,
people waking with blue Earth inside their rooms,
                worlds swept up for miles out all around,

                            and in our front yard—I was afraid
                                        while we ran, we danced, and we leaped.


Marlanda Dekine’s forthcoming collection, Thresh & Hold (Hub City Press, 2022), won the New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Dekine is the creator of the self-published book & mixtape, i am from a punch & a kiss. Their poems have been published or are forthcoming in POETRY, Emergence Magazine, Oxford American, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Dekine is a Tin House Scholar, a Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow, and a Fellow at The Watering Hole. Their work is obsessed with ancestry, memory, and the process of staying within one’s own body, leaving spells and incantations for others to follow for themselves. They live in South Carolina with their wise dog, Malachi.