by Margaret King
I've always loved hardware stores
Everything in its place
Every item practical,
For needs I hadn't even thought of
His therapist often talked about
Life skills, coping skills
As if life could be faced with a visit to the hardware store
As if they sell levels for minds
And super glue for relationships
And tape measures for invisible distances
Studfinders for singles in search of love
Safety goggles for the comment section
I digress. For us:
A crowbar to pry the lid off this interminable night
And open the lid on dawn
A crowbar to peel back our interminable separation
And let in the light, the happy reconciliation
A language to tell you how alive I was that autumn day overlooking the lake
How alive it all was:
Deer, dragonfly, daisy
And dry wind chimes rustling the blaze leaves
Breadcrumbs that still biodegrade
But only after forever
Painter's tape—of blue so oceanic
It hasn't been seen since the Silurian seas
Covered the Upper Midwest—
That stretches between us like a reel unfolding
Every beautiful moment under summer's moonlight
When white-tailed deer looked like ghosts, silver and shining.
Margaret King is a Wisconsin author who enjoys penning poetry and flash fiction. Her recent work has appeared in Moonchild Magazine and Great Lakes Review. She is also the author of the poetry collection, Isthmus, and has flash fiction forthcoming in MoonPark Review.
by Christopher Arksey
Here’s to you my little mucus-mover,
green-brown Black Jack,
paper-packed sucking stone.
My washed-up relic, breath of fresh patina,
bit of grit with skin as rough
as a trawlerman’s backhand. Not a whiff
of wellbeing about you. Until
your liquorice turns menthol; enough
to flare the nostrils.
Till you’re tongue-smoothed,
suck-sharpened, lashed and brined
and swallowed in the fish sauce of saliva.
Till we meet again
when my nose blows foghorn
and my throat hawks phlegm.
Note: Fisherman’s Friend is a brand of strong menthol lozenges originally developed in 1865 in Fleetwood, a small coastal town in northwest England, to give respiratory relief to deep-sea fishermen. According to the brand, the fishermen began to refer to the lozenges as “friends.”
Black Jack is a brand of aniseed flavour sweets made in the UK.
Christopher Arksey is a writer and voice actor living in Hull, UK. His work is also published in Full House Literary Magazine, forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit and Porridge Magazine, and he’s currently writing his first poetry pamphlet. You can find him on Twitter @chrisarksey.
by Molly Andrea-Ryan
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
-Sylvia Plath, “The Rival”
Some days, it’s just me and the cat alone
in this yawning apartment. Each night,
we are surprised by the setting sun,
the long shadows climbing the walls
like wallpaper women.
The Kit-Cat Klock, a gift from my mother,
hangs too low. Its pendulum tail tempts
while its eyes slide back and forth,
keeping time in nervous glances.
The cat stretches her elastic body
and in one swipe,
The sound of my own feverish keyboard
in chorus with 100-year-old floorboards
gasping under paws the size of silver dollars—
how easy it would be to swear off language
and bide my time
on all fours.
I think of my mother alone in strange house
after strange yawning house, keeping watch
over something small and pink, packed with explosives
and unvoiced need, each bone and cell a piece
Molly Andrea-Ryan is a poet and prose writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work often centralizes womanhood and mental health. She received her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University and works as a freelance content writer.
by Dinan Alasad
nile tilapia on Friday
and the house smells
like the river.
my father knows the sea,
he can spot the North Star
on any sky.
when he was my age,
he spent months on a ship.
I remember the faded pictures,
him softer in the face,
half-smiling in stained overalls.
holding his guitar,
like a life-jacket.
he picks at my fish for me,
piles the flesh
in front of me.
about the thorny bits”
“I, also, couldn’t look
dead things in the eye”
he doesn’t say.
Dinan Alasad is a writer, translator and econometrician from Khartoum, Sudan. Her writing has appeared on RE:, 1919, The Drinking Gourd and Trad Magazine. You can find more of her work on her website whenever she gets around to launching it, in shaa Allah. Follow her Twitter @DinanAlasad to catch this imminent launch and any other updates.
by Jeremy Michael Reed
She described him once as “took to wandering.”
The picture I’ve seen of him is drunk
with fishing line, friends, and glass bottles.
This passed down version of him remains.
But then today she tells me he’d come visit.
She remembers him lying in bed with her
to calm her from fear the rain lent her in rhythm
against shingles on the roof, and that he slept
alongside her until she slept. Breath for breath,
each part of him exists, love and all else still
present at once, a combination that has me
returning to his grave, past the Salvation Army,
those waiting out rain under the bridge,
my knowing what stone says and still driving.
Jeremy Michael Reed holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, where he was editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts and assistant to Joy Harjo. His poems and essays are published in Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is an associate editor for Sundress Publications and an assistant professor of English for Westminster College in Fulton, MO.
by Chloe N. Clark
at least not from
of overcooked pasta noodles
or missing the sunset or the coffee gone
cool or the papercut from the modem box
I realized that I wouldn’t die
if I died
in my dreams,
that one came young
as I died over and over
in my sleep. I dreamed
of the slip, the waves,
the gun, too much
as a child to ever believe
in the easiness
of living. Though, I have come
to understand that caution is best
served on the side
of chasing moments—a little sprig
to keep you safe but not enough
to hold you in. I realized
I wouldn’t die without
telling you I loved you, without
seeing an alligator, without
once staying up all night
just to watch the sunrise from the other
side of morning. There are so many small
wonders I keep in my pockets
to weigh me down
on days when the realization
doesn’t come easy.
Chloe N. Clark is the author of Collective Gravities, Your Strange Fortune, the forthcoming Escaping the Body, and more. She is co-EIC of Cotton Xenomorph and can be found on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes. She believes “moist” is an important word to describe cake.
by Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson’s most recent books are The Afterlife (Worple Press, 2019) and Deck Shoes, a collection of essays (Impress Books, 2019). In 2015 Anthony published Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe Books), after his blog of the same name. www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com
by Raye Hendrix
Today was promised snow
but the sky is pure
as the purest robin’s egg
inverted, sun a yolk.
This morning before the light
approached the window
my lover left me
to make the coffee (strong
the way I like it) then
came back to kiss me
on the mouth. Today
there is no snow
but it is so cold
it doesn’t occur to the ice
that holds the fish at the harbor
market to melt. Today
the wind comes from the west
so the market doesn’t smell
of sea life, but of sea, so
the mongers are pleasant.
Today the Russian man
who sells piroshkies and never
smiles sells piroshkies
and smiles. I buy two of his
piroshkies and he gives
a third for free. Today
my lover lights my candles,
surprises me with cake.
My sadness is so large I can’t
find anything to hold it.
Raye Hendrix is a writer from Alabama. Her debut micro-chapbook, Fire Sermons, is due out this Summer from Ghost City Press. Raye is the winner of the 2019 Keene Prize for Literature and Southern Indiana Review’s 2018 Patricia Aakhus Award. Her work has been featured on Poetry Daily and in 32 Poems, Shenandoah, Cimarron Review, Poetry Northwest, Zone 3, and elsewhere. She holds degrees from Auburn University and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Raye is a PhD student at the University of Oregon studying Deafness, Disability, and Poetry. You can find more of her work at rayehendrix.com.
by Ankh Spice
Begin again—born to cold-swaddle-
sea and she wraps me to nurse
this grievance with gravity.
The sinews of snap-and-blast
let go. Grit floats from my hinges.
It is very early, the water’s skin
thinned to eyelid, and whole worlds cradle
rocking behind the fold. I ‘gator, sightline only
for the ripple, smalled disrupt
of my body mapped
onto hers. All the disquiet
I am, she writes larger, out and out
forever but gentle as a pulse
of jellyfish and yes out here
I understand the thumb
on every scale heavy
more than anywhere else.
Rain begins. She embraces each child
as he falls, soon overcome
by a chatter of circles, spreading
brief astonishment— O, O, O—
then, again, murmured part of her vast. Me
too, me, too. No way to tell
why my face is wet.
Ankh Spice is a sea-obsessed, queer-identified poet from Aotearoa (New Zealand). His work has been published widely, with several poems nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he is a joint winner of the Poetry Archive WorldView2020 competition. He’s a co-editor at Ice Floe Press, a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine, and shares a lot of (often-moist) photography and poetry on Twitter @SeaGoatScreamsPoetry, or on Facebook @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetry. You’ll find quite a lot of his published work here: https://linktr.ee/SeaGoatScreamsPoetry.
by Lily Greenberg
Lightning chaser, maker of pies,
she who reminds violins how to sing—
none of that matters here. Naked,
we become unknown to each other.
Thrown water on fire, a blanket of heat,
and we are ten women sighing in the dark.
Hole in the ice tonight. Chatter spins
its wheel (will you, won’t you?) tires out.
Full, empty, these melt into simple words.
We are young birch twigs gathered into a whisk,
night birds layering question and song,
the weak call of the shofar, we are laughing.
We do not think, charge stinging feet
through the snow and plunge. Electric,
back again, awake. What falls from us,
this clearing, we carry in our eyes.
Lily Greenberg is a poet and writer from Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Hobart, storySouth, Third Coast Magazine, and Hole in the Head Review, among others. She is a 2021 Breadloaf scholar and the recipient of the 2021 Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry judged by Jennifer Militello. Lily holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of New Hampshire, and lives in Portland, Maine where she is working on her debut book of poems. Find her on Twitter @lily_greenberg.