On the Gulf

Chocolate chip pancakes as thick as my fist,
pink tulips misheard as orange carnations,
rasping pages of old books piled in the window,
you refilling my water glass until beads gather.
      The house would be empty without you in it. ​​
      No, really it would be empty, completely.
      I’d sit on the balcony, smoke cigarettes all night,
      daub the embers in a ceramic ramekin,
      write poems that I’d crumple and burn,
      sleep with the television for muffled company.
No. I prefer smoking on the balcony with you,
after swimming in the pool. Long lazy evenings,
you carry me on your back in the warm water,
my arms wrapped around your shoulders.
This apartment is a cocoon and we are spinning
our web together, glistening like twinkle lights.
      Twenty-eight years, full lungs, stacked baggage
      All that, you carry​         and I am weightless.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Denver, Colorado. Her debut full-length poetry collection Green Card Girl is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. She received a joint MA-MFA in Poetry at McNeese State University and also has degrees from Lancaster University and the University of Chichester. She is the Co-Curator of the Poets in Pajamas Reading Series. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge, No Contact Mag, and HAD among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

Letter to Mr. James Baldwin

Paris, France

I got myself a crepe. No trimmings. I thought it would be alright to allow myself that. The crepe
was thinner than I expected and there was not nearly enough sugar. After that, I went to the
Saint Eustache cathedral. Eustace was burned for believing too hard. The cathedral was
burned down twice because it stood for nothing. You once wrote Europeans had killed off
enough artists to know that they are persistent as rain, snow, taxes, or businessmen. Or
churches. I can't remember if I prayed or what I prayed about. I waited until the dark to go
people-watching. It is the only time it is ok to be a tourist. When you came to Paris with $40,
what did you think you were going to spend it on? If I had $40 I would buy a secondhand t-shirt
that said Princeton lacrosse, an umbrella, spam meat, earphones, and deodorant. I would
never buy a book if I could help it. They take you anywhere but home.

Michelle Oppong is a poet based in New York. Her work often focuses on memory,
womanhood, sexuality, and blackness. She enjoys reading postcolonial novels, watching
video essays, and trying new recipes. She received her BA in Creative Writing from
Emory University and currently works in publishing.

Two Poems: “Elemental” and “Rain Dance”


Water scares me most of all, the ocean 
faceless mother source of cells and 
maw of monsters waiting to reclaim. 
Do not drop my body there, to swell and 
drown, bloat white and smooth
crabs crawling from a flaccid mouth open 
under jellied eyes green mermaid hair
and dark holes home for arthropodic scuttlers. 
Give my body to the fire, the furnace
flames can carbonize this flesh to dust.
As ash return my atoms to the earth, to moss
and cedars, shady places under
mountains over streams.  There 
will water find me, mist and moisture
carry dust down nodding fernbanks to the creeks 
and then the rivers, then will I flow gently into god, that ocean.  
And what of air, fourth element
breath expiring over empty pages. Burn the paper with me
smoke will be my last breath. Fire to air to ash to earth
to mist to river to ocean finally claims me.

Rain Dance

I dress myself in cool evaporation clinging white cotton wet flower petal skirt bare feet leaving footprints that shine flash then sublimate. Droplets meandering cool trails on flesh tracing planes of my face fogging glasses and ears. Breath expiration releasing undressing reflections dot-trickle tickle long down my arm. Wisp cloud of modesty flirts and flees swift-blown a moving veil falls across a bright half-turned face. My body licked clean by the rain.

Wren Donovan’s poetry appears or is upcoming in Emerge Literary Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Harpy Hybrid Review, Honeyfire, Hecate Anthology, and elsewhere. Her piece Trivia placed second in Emerge’s recent prose poetry contest. She studied at Millsaps College, Chapel Hill, and Southern Mississippi. Wren lives in Tennessee and lurks on twitter @WrenDonovan.

Ode to the Imperfect Moon

O moon,
my east begins with you.
in your easy light
I stand beside the long
shadows of my life.
I want to swallow
the world but know
it won’t go down
so I turn these stones
and rotted logs
in search of crickets.
surely I can swallow
crickets, swallow them whole.
I say these words out loud:
tibia / femur / tarsus / claw.
and when I walk
my feet will sing.

Liane St. Laurent is an old dog learning new tricks. She has washed dishes, driven horse-drawn carriages, picked apples, taught English and is currently an IT professional. Recent work appears online and in print in The Banyan Review, The Penmen Review, Sidereal MagazineThe Poets’ Touchstone,  Emerge Literary Journal, among others. Liane lives in New Hampshire with her husband, their two dogs, and an array of woodland creatures. Catch her online at lianestlaurent.com or connect on Twitter @lianestlaurent


the bold interpreter—300 million years
         of cephalopods
                  spewing ink
         for concealment—for poison or healing
for refuge. Plumes across the depths—
which is to say; Dearest F,
         I made so many notes today
                 in my mind—as if at backyard target practice;
         —aiming sloppy at the heart of it in passing
hoping that something might stick, or transfer
        but no—not without ink—
                  the go-between.
                              Tell me, my love
                   about your ink.
         Tell me about mine.
Heart to blued fingers
​        to grooved paper—or wood—or canvas
​​                  could be skin—the pygmy
​        octopus glowing in the depths
disgorging a pseudomorph of ink
        —a fantastic doppelgänger—conjured
                   from ejections—used to mislead
        the predator.

Donna Spruijt-Metz is psychology professor, poet, and recent MacDowell Fellow. Her poetry appears in Copper Nickel, RHINO, Poetry Northwest, the Tahoma Literary Review, the Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbooks are ‘Slippery Surfaces’ and ‘And Haunt the World’ (with Flower Conroy). Her full length ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ is forthcoming (2023, Free Verse Editions). Her website is https://www.donnasmetz.com/


cw: allusions to sexual harassment, assault
start: chin placed to ridge of shoulder, calm confessional
breathed into sensitive ear as eyes (mine) dazed at the
river (inky) blotting blush and sweat onto my cheek an
apple away. no questions or olive branches, just the slip
of a knot near the jugular.
another: manhattan-worn sandals cracking concrete towards
dessert (sweet), teeth licked clean from eggy rice and one-way
streets (unreversed). a palm at my spine towards an avenue
i knew to follow and i don't even know you, why are you — ?
— flesh withdrawn, toes keep tapping to the ice cream beat.
before: a leaning back (forward) with hand pressed to feather,
guitar on mattress, exhaled wants into buds that tremble
(sunset) on the tips of ember. gaze open, gaze close, a haunt
of shoulds craved (carved) into plaster.
again: spoons brushing sesame and ice, liquid and tame. courtesy
slid one way (his) over the counter, error 444 (no response).
fingers press waist towards takeout and i don't even know you either,
what are you — ? — hunger burnt, drumline down (too) hushed
streets, cross fingers (legs) and hope it's not empty.
one more: brush (force) palm on pillowing chest and braid glory
with white, trace the crack (close), beg my quake as quiver
shadow lays, hand grips onto something (anything) — neck
of moon, sheet of bed, source of seed and sky.
and, an epilogue: hand splayed in fives, trace earring (butterfly)
in fingernail and tongue. sweat and wind, word and fodder, wink
on and up, knife slices the wrapper to share (even) — banana
split, attention spliced, arm tender at the swing, lips cracked
at the nerve, velvet peeled from phantom hand to call it
a gift.

Vanessa Hu (she/her) is an avid latte-sipper, occasional ballroom dancer, and serendipitous writer. She studies Computer Science and English at Harvard University, and has been published in Corporealand VarietyPack. You can find her ruminations @vanessahwrites on Twitter and Instagram.


In the presence of you, my mind blurs fear with estrangement. The documentary said polarized light is the way

fiddler crabs distinguish the space between familiar objects, distant forms.

The center is not the spirit. Or the burrow.

It is the grainy pieces that surround us. I am in pain for you, but I do not know you. The earth is dying, but insists on wind,

trembling upside down, a walnut tree's leaf.

Pattern is holy—if not, then body. What I miss most is the ability to hold

what is right in front of me. The swallow shits on the branch below, precious touch without even touching!
Our containers are separate so we fight for a piece of toast

buttered how we want it. One day soon, a hymn in the grass will startle.

Remember the hummingbird? Remember one bright species hovering close to your red shirt

while the sun attacked the cells of your skin?

Nicole Stockburger is the author of Nowhere Beulah (Unicorn Press, 2019). Her poems and visual pieces have appeared, or will appear soon, in Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Two Peach, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a BA in Studio Art and English from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied darkroom photography. Her work has been supported by the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. Nicole lives just up the hill from her iconically hyphenated hometown, Winston-Salem.

Ghazal, interrupted

For the one who stopped what they were doing to make this
so we would have something at least

boiled water and stirred until the powder dissolved
so we would have something at least 

added pale shriveled grape, cube of pear, sliver of peach
so we would have something at least 

slipped halves of bright red cherries all from a can of store brand fruit cocktail
so we would have something at least

sweet taste     


	 in time 
					       orange Jell-O

            	 my      (firm, cold) 


I hope I accepted my tiny glass bowl took my spoon 
said please     said thank you

I hope I said something        
at least

Susan Barry-Schulz grew up just outside of Buffalo, New York. She is a licensed physical
therapist living with chronic illness and an advocate for mental health and reducing stigma in
IBD. Her work has appeared in New Verse News, SWWIM, Barrelhouse online, Nightingale &
Sparrow, Shooter Literary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, The Wild Word, Bending Genres, Feral,
Quartet, Wordgathering, Gyroscope Review, Harpy Hybrid Review, West Trestle Review and

Light Iris

When visiting your mother and her wife
at their house, the last on a Maine road bound
to the edge of a cliff, a sandy expanse stretching 
below wide-open gleaming glass windows,
we slept in the basement bedroom, under the pink 
scalloped sheets and walls of framed female nudes, 
your hand pressed over my mouth, my eyes moving
between the illustrated breasts and yours. 
In the morning, as the ocean air licked the living 
room furniture and dark, salt-stained curtains 
floated freely over the kitchen table, my bare feet 
smooth on the whitewashed and worn brick floor,
I snuck into their bedroom, a skylight illuminating
the quilted queen bed, high-posted and bloated 
with sham pillows, where the open-faced white 
flower of an O’Keeffe painting returned my gaze.

Carling McManus (she/they) is a queer poet living in Appalachia. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Best New Poets, Pleiades, Meridian, and the Beloit Poetry Journal. She has received fellowships, scholarships, and awards from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Rona Jaffe Foundation, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the National Poetry Society, Pigeon Pages, Frontier Poetry, and Carve Magazine. A survivor of conversion therapy, she is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ civil rights. Carling lives on a mountainside with her wife and two border collies in Mink Shoals, West Virginia. Find more of her work at carlingmcmanus.com 


Early morning chill,
the rich, mahogany scent
spilling from Mr. Coffee,
a full pot on
always. She sits
in the garage, slippers
and a striped silk robe
from an old friend who
found it in Tokyo
in the Eighties
while training Buster
Douglas for a match. She
doesn’t say much in these
early hours. It’s her time,
coffee and cigarettes.
She wears a shower
cap to keep the smoke
from soaking into her
thick, red hair.
She returns, ready
for us like a trainer
preparing for a match.
I too pour coffee
sit outside quiet
imagine myself
in her robe.

Andrea Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based writer whose work is published or forthcoming in Roi Faineant Press, Rejection Letters, Allegory Ridge, Moist Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She can be found on the web andreataylorbooks.com and Twitter @minadre.