In the Hotel Room

by Sam Herschel Wein

              I show up 
my mother says
              to your readings 
she starts to cry
              and you write 
              about me like I’m the villain 
              in your life. 
My dad sits. He is wearing a tie. 
She has removed her good shoes.
I am on the bed, with a red face.
              All I did was drive you to soccer practice
we sit in a silence
heavy as calico comforters kicked
off the bed, furled on the floor.
How do I explain? 
It wasn’t just soccer. 
It was evening guitar, and baked goods, 
and helping me move, and and 
and. But never admitting that she hated 
that I was gay. That she couldn’t hide it.

              The poems are working, I said. We are sitting 
              here. We are beginning this conversation. And.


Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a Chicago-based poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. Their second chapbook, GESUNDHEIT!, a collaboration with Chen Chen, was part of the 2019-2020 Glass Poetry Press Series. He co-founded and edits Underblong. Recent work can be found in perhappened magThe Adroit Journal, and Sundog Lit, among others.

Upon Reading That Butterflies Can’t Get Sodium From Flowers So They Must Seek It From Other Sources

by Chelsea Dingman

Some find it in shit. Some in dirt. Some in tears. 
Three tortoises in sun. Butterflies surrounding them.

Drinking their tears in a Peruvian jungle. Elsewhere,
four of us. 1985. There were never five. The Columbia

valley. The turtle we got after our dog was mauled
while we were sleeping. How I walked home each day

wanting to feel alive. Which is different from not wanting
to die alongside my father & my dog & my mother

who had cancer she kept hidden with her
cheque book & the decades of men who storied our lives

as though any man would do. As though fathers
didn’t keep turning up dead, like all the good 

gods before them. And there was nothing I could do.
Nowhere to surrender salt water to the world & ask

to be surrounded instead. Just quiet. The river
passing slowly beneath bridges. Rain falling.

Commensalism: the estrangement of selves
into tenses: before & after the shadow

of a girl had fled & I was left. Lonely. My mother
waking to the dog torn apart in the garage. 

Her tears, as she held the collar in her hands
that morning. As I peered in a casket, black

stitches peering back. I refused to cry. If only
I would’ve known how to be surrounded. 

How to offer something of myself to keep something else
alive. It is always morning in this story. Or mid-afternoon.

Or night. It is always 1985. December. Or it is 2007
when I have my first miscarriage in Florida

& the light is thin as December 
in my heart & I am tired of pretending miscarriage

isn’t a form of self-harm. Or it is 2020 & I find
myself with a new child, but I can’t stop

crying because I fear I might die, soon or too young,
dehydrated by her hot mouth. The lives turned to salt

in my hands as my brother goes to rehab
after almost dying & my mother is in hiding

again. What would any good god do? Or what god
would do any good? I don’t know what it means

to be loved. A woman I work with loses her life
as I research & write. Still, her daughters 

wake up alone. What is there to do but cry?
In Florida, I become dehydrated just by being 

outside. There is no shortage of people
crying. Nor guns firing across golf courses

& campuses. I am never more afraid 
than when I am alive. I vow to leave. My children

clasped in my hands. But each country I touch
makes me cry. Each time I am turned to salt

again, called orphan, or woman, or service animal. 
And my first country, my mother: not dying. 

Not mine. Which is to say: there was a gun
in my father’s hand one night. 1976. As he drank

& she cried. As I struggled to stay alive inside
her. But that is their story, not mine. I leave Florida

to walk my children past my childhood
river. A pipeline cuts through houses

where I walked away in the dim winter
light. I find myself standing by the river,

looking for a place. Nowhere that isn’t dear
around us. Where I am alive in the cries

of my children, raucous or raw,
& everything that is our lives. 


Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her third collection, I, Divided, is forthcoming from Louisiana University Press in 2023. She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Visit her website:

Cannot predict now

by Lyd Havens

The summers of my youth were friendless. I stole 
maraschino cherries from the bar my father 
worked at, hid in a booth and tried to knot the stems
with my tongue. He taught me how to use 
the dust mop. I switched the cue balls out 
for the 8’s. I traced my hand and tried to predict
my own future. The fries were burnt. Sandy 
snuck me Sprite in a shot glass. After clocking out,
my father drank too much. Ten more minutes. 
Twenty more minutes. Outside, the street signs 
melted; eggs fried on the sidewalks. Even then, 
I wore close to the bone. Stop being so antsy, 
my father said. I wanted to be an actress 
until I realized I can never veil my emotions.


Lyd Havens is the author of the chapbooks I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018) and Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Their work has previously been published in Ploughshares, The Shallow Ends, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho, where they will graduate from Boise State University in December 2021.

(You will be like a foal, says my mother)

by Lyd Havens

You will be like a foal, says my mother 
when I talk about re-entering
someday. The fleeing is still 
so vivid, as if it hasn’t ended yet.  
Un-greened pasture, stagnant 
womb. I fantasize about the crowds 
I never questioned; the lake full 
of tamed jellyfish on the other side
of the world. It’s true, my legs feel so new 
these days. They fold like a deck
of cards under me when I stare 
at the sky. Kumquat light 
staining the shingles. A small tornado 
of feathers in my backyard. I want to ask, 
where is the bird? Does it miss itself? 


Lyd Havens is the author of the chapbooks I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018) and Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Their work has previously been published in Ploughshares, The Shallow Ends, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho, where they will graduate from Boise State University in December 2021.


by Monika Cassel

A man watches news about us about you					
I’m in the house speaking with my daughters
about where and how many how were hurt
and what will happen now

outside, afternoon sunlight 							
falls against my words, across the lawn,
climbs the maple the twin windows reflect. 
Which daughter will dawn?

Evening light. The crows wonder what help 					
comes. Every day a web—the cloudbank 
settling on the hills, house to house,
—what more to give my children? 

Give today the cloudbank. Here am I alive 					
and in a body awake. Clouded. House shut tight.
I cannot say how to bear I do not know what word
I hold no. I’ll peel and chop the garlic soon for dinner,

catch a syllable now— grief, carried,						
swims words from house to house,
city to city. I might hold my daughters’ hands 
but often they decline.

Ask me to name the tree across the street. Ask me				
where I come from. I grew in my mother in a country at war
as she grew in hers, as my children grew inside me in another before 
I was birthed. By the fire a place to curl up 

& quiet the crows that congregate 						
on neighborhood trees. My daughter—tall, tall—
asks me to hold her. My words bubble up the gray coils 
of the power substation across the street. My hand a fence. 

She tells me a little about her day. She shuts the door, 			
I answer. The spice smell of her hair slices soft 
through the clock of my own childhood. I walk out, see 
the west hills over other houses when I round the corner. 

The year’s last tomatoes pale red. People call out names 		
quiet hum of the machine tired rain on the cheek 
a hummingbird pale moon shading darker. But see 
who was lined up who is the target

here not here when on our street we say					
no never here a no man’s land not 
a long journey home lost the child now grown
remembers the motion of travel

not here we think a lost home a child							
nothing left the child now grown remembers
but no once again the man watches
the screen shows one thing.

So much I have carried something is broken sometimes 			
the hand rests where it was building. The crispness 
of a daughter who wants. The soft curl of her limbs when 
she hides in her bed. 
The beater paddle’s clang bread leavening never knowing 		
which day night dark upon the city lingers across 
treetops soft cheese cut into blocks a pot of milk dropped 
and left where it fell come 

let me catch you								

cowed. Careful. Count me, here 						
—I do not know 	light crowded 
like fog. Where are the hands coming
like the sound of crows 

this one keeps singing me this one’s round, 						
this one’s quiet? To birth is to fail someone—
I’m hoping twilight’s end the undone I was carved 
a pinprick wanting to choose wishing no surprise 

though joy keeps striding into new qualities of 				
light knowing one word too many can snap 
a sentence again. Joy when I am not alone lingers
I swim words.

We mark our ballots here 								
a sparrow 	we swim upstream who knows 
when I can sleep
with fruit with the heavier air

who knows what is unmarked. Whose loss? 					
Names written		my house 
yes here again I come soft
you are here here here come quiet


Monika Cassel‘s poems have appeared in The Laurel Review, Phoebe Journal, and Construction Magazine, and her translations from German have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, and Asymptote, among others. Her chapbook Grammar of Passage (flipped eye publishing 2021) won the Venture Poetry Award. She is a degree candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College’s MFA program and is a teaching artist with Writers in the Schools in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MonikaCassel

Reflections on Minari

by Jocelyn A. Chin

I watched the film this spring
with my 	          whole family:

the television became to us	a mirror
reflecting dreams of

digging through the finest dirt,
                           breathing the driest air,
                           fighting our love at night,
                           wasting water,
                           praying harder,
                           hating our grandmothers because they do not smell like America,

giving thanks to the snake on the open log
making visible
the danger we hold	ourselves.

Ai. 	Are you a father, or a farmer?
	Are you Asian, or American?
	Are we healed, or have our hearts been broken?

Mountain Dew was Mom’s favorite drink when she moved here, too.


Jocelyn A. Chin is a current undergraduate student at Duke University who is happiest when reading a novel in a hammock flooded with afternoon sunlight. When not at school studying public policy and creative writing, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her beautiful family and the best dog in the whole world. Jocelyn finds that her writing oftentimes leads her back to nature, into the lives of others, and closer towards home.

Abecedarian for My Brother Daniel, Waiting to Turn Nine

by Jocelyn A. Chin

Apples wait in our kitchen’s
brown wooden bowl. And you – you wait with
cupped hands, wait for my return, wait to catch my tears as they
drop. Eager to please, you pat my back with your small palm.

Eat this apple, please, 
for the days are
growing shorter, this flying, tumbling
hourglass of spraying sand, no longer waiting. This world
insists that you grow like a weed each night, before I see you.

Just take the fruit, please, and go out to the sun, play with the
kids next door and remember to share.
Lift your sticky fingers to the clouds, you’ll reach them too soon;
my gifts of LEGOs and sweets no longer satisfy your
needy mind, your bursting body, the round
O your mouth forms when encountering a curious question – I beg you
please don’t grow up. In my dream, in the afternoon, at our
quivering white hammock, you lie in wait, hoping to simply
read a book of poems, with me. Becoming your older
sister has been the very best gift I have ever received. Think!
The way your lips lose their childish lisp, our mother tongue, the way our
umbrella will be too small to cover your shoulders so
very soon, the way you cup your palms, and wait.

Why don’t you bite into life’s bright apple, and
xiao a little, smile for me? Twenty precious white pearls, teeth to the wind–
you could eat the world alive. Thank you, for your joy, your love, for unveiling to me
zoe – for I must believe now, in eternal life.

xiao – Chinese, meaning laugh, smile
zoe – Greek, meaning life, abundant, eternal life


Jocelyn A. Chin is a current undergraduate student at Duke University who is happiest when reading a novel in a hammock flooded with afternoon sunlight. When not at school studying public policy and creative writing, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her beautiful family and the best dog in the whole world. Jocelyn finds that her writing oftentimes leads her back to nature, into the lives of others, and closer towards home.

Fantasy with Nectarines

by Tan Tzy Jiun

Black bark weather in April. The city is half-clothed
in grey skies, lined with fleece. Outside, wreaths of clouds, 

near naked bodies foggy with oil paint behind windows. A small dog 
or three pulling on the leash. The city is barely emerging from

winter’s blanket. I am ready to burn paper, sacrifice
the newborn child, whatever it takes to lure spring back 

into the city walls. The grocery store wakes as the glass door slides 
open. It is early. The fruit section is still crowded with bird-sized

pleasures. Oh. The nectarines have returned to the crates,
flown in on birds from the southern hemisphere. Tightly 

spanxed, their curvaceous flesh dimple. Red pouches
swell like tender cheeks straining against thin rind. My tongue 

gloves its shoulders with viscous spit, I drape the thirst
over hanging breasts of grapefruits and lemons. The blueberries stare 

with their grit-filled eyes as I weigh the nectarines and swathe
them in plastic. I weigh the southern half of this sweet earth.

I then weigh the jealousy of the other fruits: the sullenness of wild
pears, the skinniness of purple plums, and my arch enemy—

bananas. I tie the skirt end of the bag filled with smooth
-skinned cheeks. I tell the plane-worn, eye-bagged mangoes 

it wasn’t them. It was me. Now the nectarine has returned, I am again
under her spell and no one else’s. I hurry home to guzzle sparkling

water, to wet the inside of my mouth for her skin. Then I eat
and eat on the loveseat, crescent away her full moons, 

suck her stomach clean. On the grill pan, rosemary steaks sizzle 
alongside lines of white asparagus. An apron hangs around my neck. 

My husband returns after work, teeth glinting like caviar.
We feed in eden, my salt-crusted contours and burnt edges 

soften in sweet, gravied frenzy. Dessert is next, so I nibble nervously
on my fingers. It is misty April, black with bark. A man knocks on the door, 

and then another. They discuss the species of my desire—
To what ends I will yield and dent. Then, we become 

a long night that refuses to sun.


Tan Tzy Jiun is a poet and historian from Malaysia. Her work is published and forthcoming in Here: a poetry journal, Stone of Madness Press, Sine Theta Magazine, Quince Magazine, and Eunoia Review, among others. You can find her on twitter tweeting her funny little words on @tzyjiun_

in bolinas

by Amy Bobeda

white lace luminesces a dress  free
people made for photo ops in joshua 

tree, I’ve never been that kind of tintype
wrapping my arms in leather belly of a black

rail perched on the balcony mapping fran’s yard
in crayon in my little blue book, the sun printing

silk in my lap down at the bar three drunk men ask
if I’m getting married, the actors say yes, climbing

the toy ship mast outside the hardware store where
solace arrives in diameter pitch and wing width

in the study I swivel through five copies of Burn After
Reading, and wonder if Brad Pitt’s death was surprise

or foreshadowing sliding the book next to itself in the
shelf I walk down to the water to pray, slip 

out of my white casing into the sea. You follow me 
an otter lapping your coat around my legs ruddy freezing 

my cheeks against the rising moon my breast blue like 
the black rail’s belly reding my eyes shadowlike Cassiopeia

reflects the ripples you fold into, the rising tide threatens
my survival, rarely scene in flight tonight my arms mouth

a map of kelp pods across the milky way, the seaside
town who didn’t want my company. 

Amy Bobeda holds an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics where she founded Wisdom Body Collective. She is an editor of More Revolutionary Letters: A Tribute to Diane di Prima. Her work can be read in Entropy, Vol1 Brooklyn, Denver Quarterly and elsewhere. @amybobeda on twitter. 

Months, Moments

by Raymond Gibson

You will wake toward morning.
There will be no butterflies.
The moth in your hand will shatter
to as many moths as you want.


Raymond Gibson earned his MFA from Florida Atlantic University. He published two chapbooks with Glass Lyre Press. New Ruin, a micro-chapbook, is available now from Ghost City Press. He lives in Hollywood, FL.