Workshop With A Distinguished Cisgender Heterosexual White Male Poet

I thought it was clear—
but the instructor
said he didn’t know
what was happening.
He alluded
that the stanza break 
in the two stanza poem
was shit.
I couldn’t find words,
but the women,
the women,
the women
in the workshop,
said it was clear—
the speaker
was raped.
He said
it wasn't evident.
In harmony
the women agreed—
it is clear,
it is clear,
it is clear.

Dustin Brookshire is the curator of the Wild & Precious Life Series and founding editor of Limp Wrist.  He is the author of two chapbooks—Love Most Of You Too (Harbor Editions, 2021) and To The One Who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012).  With Julie E. Bloemeke, Dustin is co-editing a forthcoming Madville Publishing Dolly Parton anthology. Visit Dustin online at  

Weekend Getaway With Mom a Year After Her Stroke

My mother, in her crimson coat,
crosses the pedestrian bridge,

refusing to use its green railings.
Follows the fox-footed snow

to the lake. Her eyes, hungry,
on its wind-whipped waves.

All weekend she gets asked,
Am I walking too fast for you?

All day she is told to speak louder;
by the couple we drank with

when the storm knocked out power, by
the kind waiter who moved here from India.

Speak up, please dear! I can't hear.

On the lakeshore, Mom pauses
to examine a Japanese barberry––

red branches vibrant as an artery
against the gray sky. She kneels,

slowly, to brush off the snow
from a single wild daisy.

Lisa Alletson’s poems and prose can be found in New Ohio ReviewCrab Creek ReviewTypehouse LiteraryGone Lawn, and other journals. She writes on Twitter at @Lotustongue. This poem is included in her book ‘Good Mother Lizard’ – winner of the 2022 Headlight Review chapbook prize.

excerpts from the creek.


                                                                                                                                                   how the water
came and went. what repelled it from this land. the full trace. traced back where there are too many
moths at the mouth of the creek

                                                               vena cava heart, cracked, unleashed what I had been holding
in, intermingled. I watch the reverse-rot of the flora from behind the glass, wings brushing against
my ears, each bolstered by the word that held them captive, spinning in trained circles.

shadows undulate on the glass, take me back to when the loam was formed, made, shaped from the
muse who falls, bruises, and sighs the carving into existence.

                                                                                                             the rift remains soft, buffered by her
breathing, in and out, slowly, calling for something to fill.     

                                                                                                          night condenses itself into heavy
blackberries, which burrow themselves into the empty space, bursting, bleed violet. the creek flows
from where it began — below.

                                                      I watch the first creatures haul themselves to the edge, sip it, and fall,
unconscious, not yet used to its toxic purity. clusters of green unfurl, roots deep in the underground.

grow delicate red limbs to pull toxic water through and puncture themselves with globules —
sundew. filter all that is needed to redistribute decay. the sun dips, grows heavy, tumbles down the

                         gathering leaves, birch bark, twigs, bees. plunges, then bobs to the surface, bubbling
the creek, turning the lavender water yellow, a boil, and then sinks as quick as its descent began.

a fox screams, my hand raises to the glass, melting it away. the creek blows back, breath funnels itself
toward the water, making way for me, keeper of this place. keeper of the records. keeper of streams.
moths swarm my head clashing in my ears

                                                                                    I brush them away but they stick to my skin, leaving
trails of deep blue. the scene repeats.

Scarlett Eliza Wardrop is a poet with an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. Her poems can be found in Diagram, DELUGE, and Dream Pop Journal and reviews in EcoTheo ReviewEntropy, and Kenyon Review.