they look inside the palm of a mother’s hand and find
what had been sought after for every generation:
evidence that each zippered genome marries itself with
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood.
What had been sought after for every generation?
documented traumas informing clinicians of circumstances, of
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood,
answering pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”
documented traumas inform clinicians of circumstances of
who precedes daughters, and who preceded her, and she who
answers pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”
answer: her predecessor, whose softness contains multitudes of dysfunction.
the one who precedes every new daughter, duplicating traits she loathes from herself,
imposing imperfection to descendants in her line of genetic mutation.
each element she originates streaming through each vulva, each lip
different than the ones before and each child asks “what’s wrong
with me?” as hairs pepper their cusps hued congo pink, ellipses trail torsos,
lines burrowing further as years pass, striping their bodies with inheritance
of weight watchers on fridays and hiit classes on sundays at fourteen,
all are a scapegoat from her cervix migrating across the generational gap
all are pressing their lips together, puckering vulvas between their thighs
praying the tingling goes away when they see outlines of breasts, praying
numbness dissipates when they sit on a park bench, praying it all breaks, preventing
what they found inside the palm of her mother’s hand.
Kay E. Bancroft (they/them) is a queer non-binary poet, educator, editor, and reviewer from Cincinnati, OH. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from Randolph College, and a BA from the University of Cincinnati. They serve as Poetry reader for Frontier Poetry and Poetry/Hybrid reader for Longleaf Review. You can find their writing in Voicemail Poems, Hooligan Magazine’s “Spilled Ink,” Cotton Xenomorph, Longleaf Review, The Rumpus, Beyond Queer Words, and more. Explore their work at kayebancroftpoet.com
It was your birthday
in the back room of Confetti's, with tiki cages
and a dance floor like a boxing ring. I saw him
holding you, cradling your ass against the zipper
of his blue jeans. I wished I were a monster—mouth full
of fangs and rusted keys, fingers like the sharp, marble peaks
of mountains I'll never climb. I wanted to be that beast, baby,
if only to scare him away, to keep his hands out of that hair of yours.
Driving to school the next day, your neck was covered
in cherry pits. It was hot. I kept the windows down.
Hunter Burke (he/they) is a queer poet and performer originally from Friendswood, Texas. His work has been previously published in Passengers Journal, Impossible Archetype, The Beacon, and on poets.org. He was the recipient of the 2019 William C. Weathers Memorial Prize for Poetry. Hunter currently lives in New York City. Instagram: @hemmett__
Why should it be so hated, the word for soil
as the farmer longs for it, for the fresh loaf,
for the inside of the lips, the indoor pool’s
sweet chlorine air when winter burns your throat?
For the brush against your thigh of a dog’s nose,
for skin vital in its perspiration,
the velvet eyelid petal of the rose,
those other lips below, and the agile tongue?
Maybe only one who has been dry
and cold for years under Saturn’s tutelage
would need to praise the word that all decry—
a word for tears, for the heart, for new ink smudged.
A word for the peach after the knife goes in:
pried deeply, split, its inner gold now shown.
Anne Myles’s poetry has appeared in the North American Review, Split Rock Review, Sweet Tree Review, Lavender Review, Ekphrastic Review, Early American Literature, and other journals. A recent transplant to Greensboro, NC, she is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa and in 2021 received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.
The moon is white slivered as a new tooth.
One by one, spots of stars blink open
at my children, nestled in the van on the long road
to my mother’s. I look back, say, look, the stars,
to the littlest who is sleeping with her mouth
so open I can see back to the spaces her molars
will fill. How empty and full, a root. I want
to cut down a tree when we’re back home,
but I’m remembering that story
where the uncle cuts down the babies
of the mountain—trees—for gold
his niece won for collecting just the fallen
things. What falls into our laps
when I open the windows, hamburger wrappers,
scraps and receipts flurry up. One child is sleeping,
the others’ faces glow blue in the strange light
of their tablets, blue-faced as morning.
They don’t want to look out
when I say look how awake the night is—
We are driving the long road through
West Virginia to my mother’s little white
house and homemade pie, and I know she’ll watch
my face for each new line—we are born
travelling, stay seated, close and open
our eyes to find mother, a line
also. Goodnight road. Tonight, we’re
together and fine.
Sara Moore Wagner is the winner of the 2021 Cider Press Review Editors Prize for her book Swan Wife (2022), and the 2020 Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize for Hillbilly Madonna (2022). She is also 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Sixth Finch, Waxwing, Nimrod, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com
The murky borderland near Dahomey.
Thatched roofs that house hoes & cutlasses
& yet farmers appease the god of rain.
The marginalized village of smugglers
who die like mosquitoes
in the bloody hands of khaki men.
How miserable amenities are unnecessary
in the kingdom where ballot boxes
must reach & where heads shall queue
under the scorching sun to vote in oppressors.
& for hands to write & for tongues to read,
legs bear the risk of taking the wards
of the poverty-stricken fathers to afar.
When sickness conquers our immune system,
we think of how to die & where to die;
whether under our leaking roof
or in the empty hospital.
When I think of my hometown,
pure tears embrace my poor cheeks.
Moshkur Ajikobi (fondly called P-Seven) is a student of English language in Lagos State University. His work appears or forthcoming in Punk Noir Magazine, Lunch Break Zine, Rather Quiet, Coven Poetry, Riverbed Review, Brown Bag Online and elsewhere. He has published numerous ebooks (anthologies and short stories). He is the brain behind Rub Bitch With P-Seven, a free weekly newsletter. You can find him on twitter @almoshkur and Instagram @peeseven20.
Your hand on my thigh
after a glass of white wine
and I wish that I, too, could live
without lungs. We seek spaces
in our bodies soft and dark;
we emerge with crooked wings.
For you I will be translucent.
Hold me up to the light.
Taylor Hamann Los holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is an MFA student at Lindenwood University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in CLOVES Literary, EVOKE, Split Rock Review, and Rust + Moth, among others. She lives with her husband and two cats in Wisconsin. You can find her on Twitter (@taylorhamannlos) or at taylorhamannlos.wordpress.com.
Congratulations to the three winners of the July #FullMoonHaikuContest: Reuben Gelley Newman, Marjorie Moorhead and Chloe Martinez! Each winner receives a poetry divining deck from Turtle Point Press.
Reuben Gelley Newman
Doubt: in your light, new antlers
Limn my head. Begin.
Supermoon, full, hot
Sprouting antler moss tonight
as we buck and toss
Darker and darker:
my country, my tired earth.
Loom in, moon. Listen.
In the morning she was an opening
to another room, not a door, more
like a window, an opaque pane
where the light, bending slightly,
shone like the sound of darkness,
shimmered like the call of a pair
of veeries whose songs circle each
other. Through her mouth the day
passed, clocked its pains and sorrows,
the leaves turned in the wind and
looking west the sun hissed on the sea’s
cold horizon. Through her came her
mother’s voice, so far away that she
could remember it only in rain.
A small fish slipped through,
threading its thin body along
the softness of the river’s lithe
current. Through her opening
the day flowed like sand from one
side of the hour to the next. Filled
one room with beaches, then the next
and the next, until they reached the ocean.
All open, she could enter and swim,
become porpoise, water, molecule, air.
Rebecca Siegel lives and writes in Vermont. Her poems have appeared in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, as part of PoemCity Montpelier, Dust Poetry Magazine, Analog Magazine, Goat’s Milk Magazine, Zócalo Public Square, Container’s Multitudes series, Straight Forward Poetry, and elsewhere.