fish

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.

today, 
he picks at my fish for me,
piles the flesh
in front of me.
“be careful 
about the thorny bits”
he says.
“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.

My Grandmother Describes Her Father

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 JournalValparaiso Poetry ReviewWestern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is an associate editor for Sundress Publications and an assistant professor of English for Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

Yesterday I realized I wouldn’t die

by Chloe N. Clark

at least not from
the unkindness
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. 

Like Rain

by Anthony Wilson

Piano notes
arrange themselves

with help
from you

playing them
in twos

and threes
then pause

before coming
home again

in twos 
and threes

fresher than
before and

exactly the 
same except

you played
them not 

knowing what
came next



____

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

LAST BIRTHDAY (WITH HER)

by Raye Hendrix

for M

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 PoemsShenandoahCimarron ReviewPoetry NorthwestZone 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.

Perfect circle

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.

Sauna Women

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 HobartstorySouthThird Coast Magazine, and Hole in the Head Review, among othersShe 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.

Antiquated farm buildings I would like to be after another child is killed by the police

by Dina Strasser

I want to be a cider house. 
I want to be drunk and hold the apples of generations.

I want to be a chicken coop because
one side must be fully paned
fully open to any light. 

I want to be a potato cellar.
Warm, long and low. 
A house for people
cut off at the knees . 

I want to be 
nowhere near the manse.

I want
to seem to serve singular 
and unlinked
out in the rape fields,
horses pacing in the hot walker in the morning mist
as if alone. 

I want to be an old log corn crib.
Cradling the seeds to sleep.
Arms wider than my feet, to shed the rain.


____

Dina Strasser teaches English to K-12 students who speak other languages. Dina serves as a reader for LongLeaf Review and the ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment) Journal of Oxford University. 

Where the Waters are Tender

by Stephanie K. Merrill 

I am keeping faith in seaweed 
now the kelp, the dulse, the nori, the alaria
manifesting salt from the sea
for this salt of the earth flesh
this ocean this deep dive of cells.
I am eating billions of years backwards.
Everything in the sea is the sea.
Everything in the body is the body
opening doors to all that roars in the waves
in the healings in this sudden archive of grief
in these carnival days in these carnival names
in these carnival stalls called loss. Every night now I dine
with the porpoises, with the turtles, with the manatees 
among tender curtains swaying just below high-water mark
these oxygen-chanting relics from the seed millennia
this fresh home with all its ancestral essential hopefulness.


____

Stephanie K. Merrill has poems published in The Rise Up ReviewBlue Heron ReviewSage Cigarettes MagazineFeral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming in the June 2021 issue of UCity Review. Stephanie K. Merrill is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a retired high school English teacher. She lives in Austin, Texas. 

Song of the River in Winter

by Mary Ardery

You cross just before dusk. January water
floods your boots, surges up to your knees,
then pierces your thighs. Goosebumps
rise like ridges on a map. You still shiver
even after changing into dry clothes.
Remove your gloves to give night meds
and feel your hands ache in the freezing air,
a bone-deep throbbing as you twist countless lids
off pill bottles, your fingers clumsy with cold.
When the women lumber drowsy to their tents,
their keychain lights blink on and off and on,
blue dots breaking the distant black.
Meanwhile, the river rushes on, a lullaby
that haunts you like children sweetly singing
in a trailer for a movie where no one survives.


____

Mary Ardery is originally from Bloomington, Indiana. “Song of the River in Winter” is about her time working as a field guide for a wilderness substance abuse program in North Carolina. More of her work appears in Missouri Review’s “Poem of the Week,” Fairy Tale ReviewCincinnati Review’s “miCRo” series, Prairie SchoonerSalt Hill, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where she won an Academy of American Poets Prize. You can visit her at maryardery.com.