Second Spring

I march now, dodging turds
pushing out sighs into the wind.
I head for the rocks, three men squatting on Top Field
without purpose. No-one has ever questioned them.
For a moment, the irony of newly fertilised earth
slows me down
then I spot wheeling birds over a dry spot, snort at their misfortune 
not to be seagulls circling hot chips.
Round the edges where Sunday brambles caught the little one
sunk in their claws because he’s The Late, The Last
I step it up a gear, try to outpace birthdays which make good jokes
head for the spire, where the field turns itself towards the squatters
leads bored dog walkers and sweaty women to the view. 

I perch on the right-hand man. Wonder
who would see if I rolled down the field like a kid
a pig in shit.
For a while I study my own eye-floaters, try to recall
when I first started nudging my specs away to read at night.
I caw back when a crow mocks me.
Back past the pond
teasing for something to break its surface
I toss in stone after stone after stone, rage at the wild-eyed scarecrow
but miss
wait for the church spire to pick me off like an olive.


Marie Little lives near fields with her husband, sons and a daft cat. She writes in the shed with buckets of tea. Marie has work featured in: Ink Sweat and Tears, Cool Rock Repository and The Cannon’s Mouth. She/Her. She is on Twitter @jamsaucer.   

tl;dr

No, not like that. I mean how once a man read an essay about how to fill an open field with flowers. It instructed him to seed poems like careful enjambment. What is left is a dangling question about how to dispose of a boulder blocking the path of the plough ahead. The way we remove the things we believe do not belong. I mean, yes, that excess is my concern. And what we do with excess—how it rolls between our fingers or tucks itself away into a pocket to be saved for later like the last stick of gum or a ball of collected lint. What remains? That he grows poems while I fold the laundry. You cannot know if a boulder is blocking the plough. You must first run into it. And meanwhile he talks about all the ways it is impossible to know if enough is too much; if too much is exactly enough. What am I saying? Too long; I didn’t read. I am busy devising clever ways to move stone by crafting a lever from all these scraps of paper. I am tucking these words under soil in the hope that they will grow. I mean this isn’t something either you or I can control. Not poetry; I mean what will happen next, forever.



____

Danielle Rose is the author of two short books, at first & then and The History of Mountains. Her work can be found in Palette, Hobart & Pithead Chapel.

Gigan for Beat Downpour

Another lonesome today– 	I shut the door 	to my bedroom. Pop in 	my earbuds– 
bits 	    of beat		of water.	Raindrops knock 		like unexpected guests. 

Instant humidity	    wet with Summer 		sprinkle swamps 	up lush heat.
A budding greenhouse. 	Lightning becomes strobe, animating 	my simple 	
silhouettes into domestic discotheque. 	Walls extend outward, room 	 unrooming

inciting my body 	to multiply  		into my plural versions. 	Condensation collects 
on skin like clothing. 		Crackling tremors prism 		rainbow light across 

my unsealed 		ceiling, bursted.	 Strikes of beat bring feet to movement, splashing 
inhibition. Sound 	tracks, syncing. 	Heartbeats. 		Every pulse, blades of grass 

sprout 		through the brown 	carpet, now indistinguishable 	from the Earth– 
I feel a lighter lonesome. This today 		I’ve opened 	a door toward impossibility to stasis.	 

My various versions collect 	like condensation 	in praise 	dance for our empress of 
monsoon. 	We blur into bits. 		We quench	 	everything, cloudburst 
tongues 	licking 		perspiration 		precipitation. 		Abrupt transitions 

us back into me 	& the choreography 	of quiet.	Grass 	recedes, still glistening 
petrichor’s fragrance, sly 		wet testament 			to liquid metamorphosis– 



___

Aerik Francis (they/them/he/him) is a Queer Black & Latinx poet based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at linktr.ee/Aerik . Find them on IG/TW @phaentompoet

Lifecycle of an Irregular Shape

We kick a heart into the snow with our winter boots

Drop our wet things to the floor, 

             climb the stairs in our underwear
 

From the window, two question marks, each 

asking the other. 		        We kiss, a symmetry 

of imperfection, a shape no math


             could predict. We sleep and listen 

to the radiator tend our shirts and socks. Listen 


to see if the form we made  		holds through the night

In the morning we go back and pierce it clear through

with an arrow where it swells the most




____

Jeffrey Hermann‘s poetry and prose has appeared in Hobart, Palette Poetry, trampset, Juked, Kissing Dynamite, The Shore, and other publications. Though less publicized, he finds his work as a father and husband to be rewarding beyond measure

Paediatric cranial trauma

her head held 
static, like a sparrow-
hawk steadies its body 
while its eye 
is stapled to the sky behind it
     as it emerges
from its fur ruff
like roasted fowl 
rising from a crammed platter 
of trimmings
     so still, slicked lips through 
powdered visage, 
fresh gullshit 
on sun-parched paving, 
she speaks 

until the clamour of injury, 
panic and breath like thin tins, 
too shallow
to confine
the nearest thing, 
or softest substitute 
     all I can locate -
not a canteen, 
but its ancient box, 
softly faded 
from petrel, fuzzy 
and comforting 
     highlighting 
its tarnishing 
treasure

I tip, 
then shake, 
onto the floor, 
fallen fish 
with an eternal 
one-eyed view of the fire
     slide, hollow, under the child’s 
floundering head, as I challenge her 
through clown’s lips 
to push my hand 
with her belly 
     like it’s the most natural thing in the world




____

Alex Innocent is a poet from Yorkshire, who chooses to live in Norwich. ‘Moist’ is one of her favourite words. Among her other favourite things are caffeine, prime numbers, and writing short third person biographies.

Found Wanting

“…the homosexual was now a species.” — Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I

you did, at least after 
you
                  learned of my want 
                           of a different 
                           species—
a few aberrant 
forms away 

           from a coveting, 
           that does not abandon me 
           even after my wrist is 
                                slapped
                                raw until I start 
                                             to smart,
as if boys 
could ever know penance 
when raised on 
misunderstanding

such that they latch onto
everything: 
                 the breast, 
                 the schoolyard, 
                 the promise of
                                        forgiveness. 
                                 
Yet you forgave me,
but I wondered for what: 

                         your same
                         wanting found 
                         in my mouth 
                         you did not expect 
                         to encounter there,
                         your conclusion that I am
                         my wanting, 
                         only my wanting. 



____

Travis Chi Wing Lau (he/him/his) is Assistant Professor of English at Kenyon College. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities, and disability studies. Alongside his scholarship, Lau frequently writes for venues of public scholarship like Synapsis: A Journal of Health HumanitiesPublic Books, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, WordgatheringGlassSouth Carolina Review, Foglifter, and The New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, The Bone Setter (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and Paring (Finishing Line Press, 2020). [travisclau.com]

Keep Out

The sidewalk wears a sunset
of rot. Brittle wrought iron,
sloughing oxidation and peeling
paint hems lapping seams.
The reservoir is crimped
secure. Signs warn us
not to trespass, water only
wet for our eyes. Wary
fingertips page parched foxtail
split ends, how many bodies
one handful can rip, barbs drawn
down into useless blades,
hay and seeds crush unsaid
into roughage. Silence inflates
lungs with sticky humidity. Doves flee
our sleeves, slipping through
the barricade, their last
great trick, drowning
in water that isn’t ours. Still,
ducks splash down, perfect
skipped stones, while we
examine our hands close,
to check for blood and rust.



____

Andrea Krause (she/her) lives in Portland, Oregon. She introverts inconspicuously on Twitter at @PNWPoetryFog. In the summer, you can find her resting in a hammock between giants.

Bisexual and For Once Not Crying

I wake up at 7:45 and imagine how I would feel about a woman sitting on my face and decide then and there that there has to be a better way to determine my sexuality. As an abstract fantasy and tangibly there is no gender that I want to see looking down at me before I eat my oatmeal. At night I find lesbian porn that for once doesn’t feel like straight women kissing. Like my queer feelings, the porn was always there and I just had to look for it. My therapist tries to tell me that I don’t need to figure out my sexuality and that will I ever really know? I know that the correct response is obviously doctor you’ve never been a [23] year old girl [who feels imposter syndrome about wanting to kiss women.] I say nothing. I worry that I’m not ““bisexual enough”” (?) until I run out of energy to care about labels. As someone who tries to avoid appropriating experiences that aren’t mine I sure do diagnose myself with extraneous conditions. One day I will be the bisexual girl who cried illness. Until then I am just bisexual and for once not crying.

Lucia Gallipoli is an undergraduate student concentrating in sexuality, love, and art. She is probably lost somewhere in the cycle of worshipping Mitski and Kate Bush via Spotify and forgetting that they exist for a few weeks. Her book reviews can be found on Instagram @TenderPages.

Today An Accumulation

Today, I shuttle the lime tree from sunbeam to sunbeam like a cat, clap gnats stigmatic. Today writers introduce themselves to themselves, outraged. Today is hardball sugar suction gone compost.

Today, an unexpected bequest from a great aunt! Signatures and mailings; runcinated circular stamp. Today is waxy paper; a long, light box carried backward up stairs; hundreds of stitches to bind protection; cold under cotton.

Today is eggs bathed bright; walkie-talkie on walkabout; pans of old dirt smuggled from under an overturned carpet; hamburgers passed through a window. Today a tabby pounces on grasshopper-shaped foam; rows of knots restructure thread into elastic; oranges disemboweled and reconstituted cryogenic; observant video image carried through half-unpacked house.

Today is a caffeine-powered bulb stuttering leaves or beams through fog or ground and intermittent cold. Today is anxious awakening before dawn certain I slept through my alarm; a back that won't unclench; a frayed body tenting bodies more threadbare. Today a loved mother beat blood cancer and died of bacterial infection; animals roamed the house searching for missing children; part of a voice rubbed off before it left my throat.

Today is a braid to the jugular; outsourced drugstore condolences; three pots simmering jowl to jowl. Today is regurgitated leaves; missed doses; cut nostril; mineral ring around the reservoir; blue ribbon dither. Today an Oreo impersonates a macaron; methanethiol smell of new asphalt shingles across the sash; revenue service checks.

Today is a drawing haltingly colored; heaving fur perched on two pillows; a pirate's gold hoop; a cup of methylated xanthines; chartreuse toenails. Today I propose alternate terminology based on pinball machines and computer architecture; agonies of a northbound waistband. Today, a photosynthetic teleporter accident congests in the buffer; snapped threads knotted await reinforcement; a translated letter apologizes for another timeline; manful rubber dinghies in laudation.

Today has a hundred names; a bin-stuck bag; unexplained puddles the size of sand dollars. Today is fairy-fist ice knocking each window; song's melody missing; arrival date lost; message sent in secret; secret message displayed deniably; circle of air with the worst removed. Today, a negotiation of nations with nations; unexpected snow slush inch; fish the space heater from a dusty closet.

Today's list gets longer as I strike tasks off; I know the connotation of vacation versus leave, know English and American robins are different birds; elliptic resumption. Today sent noise in circles round the block; new jokes to show the speakers aren't comedians, enjoy companionship; textural inversion of popcorn pudding and crunchy applesauce; congratulations in wire.

Today is the morning wail of an electric saw, flat-tire prunes. Today, a backyard train simulation; short pants pulled off high shelf; dirt siphoned from a rotating tub; speculative audience for European cinema.

Today, a naughty circle is in the hearts; a brand new woman; scooter skullduggery; child-dangerous pellets through the greensward. Today, my parents are shot; a computer and I guess at each other's gaps; performative resentful reading; the demand to choose a hobby.

Today, claims of lustrous skin are not supported by the FDA; a pickup baseball field is larger than Fenway but smaller than Central Park; rumored aphrodisiac of dreams; watercolor flowers 33 years apart. Today is old lint gripped by plastic chopsticks, angled wooden spoon; visible lines on erased faces; itchy pebbles; absentee morning; last week's memory at ten times speed.

Today's newscast: a salesperson warns us we are professional hairstylists with psoriasis. Today split my trousers with muscularity; discussion of lung anatomy, inflated and not; bone corridors beneath Paris. Today, I deprive myself of sleep to reach an altered state, transcendental. Today is good riddance; blood spot cleanup; centers dissolve but the outer wall holds. My breasts remain my breasts.




____

Romie Stott is a poetry editor at Strange Horizons. Her poems have most recently appeared in The Deadlands, On Spec, Polu Texni, and Dreams&Nightmares. As a narrative filmmaker (working mainly as Romie Faienza), Romie has been a guest artist at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Dallas Museum of Art, and the National Gallery (London). She is currently involved with an experimental photosymphony about the Tokyo train system. You can find her portfolio at romiesays.tumblr.com.

Denial

I am done toying with lies she says 
to bee as she guzzles sadness 
from bee’s inner thigh 
I have never been 
a follower nor addicted 
to a queen she sighs, 
throat deep in yellow stardust and I wish 
someone would believe me as she climbs 
into bee’s hair and combs honey from her roots I have never 
known love as hungry 
as this I am certain I have never known.



____

Madeleine Corley (she/her) is a writer by internal monologue. Currently, she serves as managing editor at Barren Magazine. Her work is forthcoming/has appeared in Stoneboat Literary, Olney Magazine, No Contact, HAD, and more. Find her on twitter @madelinksi or on her website wrotemadeleine.com. Honeydew water is underrated.