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. 

Drinking Chair

There’s a chair in my mother’s room
bought at a thrift store for $15,
loosely wearing an orange and black
cover, like a still-drunk woman wears
last night’s stained nightgown.
 
Her drinking chair. I recognize well
how the hollow hours passed there.
I’ve spent those same hours, days, weeks,
months, years, decade—fingers pressed
to the pipe, straw poised, pills crushed, liquor
chugged: I never got invited back to parties.
 
I sat in her chair, not high, but false mighty.
Delirium tremens kept her in intensive care.
Again. I dumped her uncracked bottle of rum,
my favorite brand, down her kitchen sink.
I stayed to speak with a woman after a local AA
meeting, crying on her shirt—I still haven’t taken a drink,

a technicality. Here I sit in my own little room, seat 
of my mind where nothing can ever be fine, loops, 
spirals, misfires. Nothing good pours from me but need.
Dry drunk with claw marks in the arms of my chair.


____

Christina Xiong is the author of Ghost Monogamies  (Ghost City Press 2019) and The Gathering Song (Finishing Line Press 2018). Christina’s work has appeared in Versification, Poke, Cotton Xenomorph, Brave Voices Magazine, and others. She’s a freelance editor and collage artist, often working with found objects to create tactile art. 

morning swim

to breathe in my mother’s music I learned to push
even columns into the flute 

                          Sarabandes    Minuets    Gigues

danced & paused	         danced
to breathe inseparable

                         I dreamed her dream until I didn’t
                         and left


on virtual boardwalks toward a ridged horizon I click 
like & sigh: trees

                         cloister my view here, my heart
                         for distance


from my mother’s ear for sound and cadence
I learned to love	      our language

                         left it to breathe
                         in another


I push through
chlorinated water, pass

                         a hair and leaves
                         push, reach	  push—

the sun above
an incandescent net below

                         astir




____

Burgi Zenhaeusern (she/her) is the author of the chapbook Behind Normalcy (CityLit Press, 2020), winner of the Harriss Poetry Prize. She co-edited the translations of the poetry anthology Knocking on the Door of the White House (Zozobra Publishing, 2017, J. Ballesteros et al. editor). Her poems appear in Seneca ReviewDiagramOversound, and elsewhere. Find her at https://burgizenhaeusern.com/ and on twitter @burgi323. 

permeable June

             out-swung
window wings spread
             cool respite
                        release cloistered
breathing	porous house
             to porous
                         evenings
             golden
noises
             home to home
mingle
             in the warm dark
so close



____

Burgi Zenhaeusern (she/her) is the author of the chapbook Behind Normalcy (CityLit Press, 2020), winner of the Harriss Poetry Prize. She co-edited the translations of the poetry anthology Knocking on the Door of the White House (Zozobra Publishing, 2017, J. Ballesteros et al. editor). Her poems appear in Seneca ReviewDiagramOversound, and elsewhere. Find her at https://burgizenhaeusern.com/ and on twitter @burgi323.