Let’s Be Christian Soldiers: Activity and Coloring Book – 1950s

by Megan McDermott

I am ready to detest you
until the Etsy listing
shows me your Joan
of Arc illustration,
and I am swept up
in a moment of
girl power feminism
and/or bisexual swooning
for my imagined
crush: Joan, the saint
I would date if I had
to date a saint. Onward
Christian soldiers
becoming acceptable
if it’s me and Joan.
Yes, let’s be. Me and
her both “brave, bold
heroine”s, though I’ll
wear a dress and let
my hair swing across
my lower back. I
would bumble on
battlefields but
could maybe match
her “flaming spirit,”
being both woman
preacher and drama
queen. Let’s be
Christian soldiers
and never die.
Let’s be Christian
soldiers and forget
also how to kill.
Let’s be Christian
soldiers, enflame
our spirits with God,
with each other,
with tongue.

Megan McDermott is a poet and Episcopal priest living in Western Massachusetts. In 2018, she graduated from Yale Divinity School with a certificate from the Institute of Sacred Music, an interdisciplinary program dedicated to religion and the arts. Her debut chapbook Prayer Book for Contemporary Dating will be out later this year from Ethel Zine and Micro-Press, and recent poems have been published in The Night Heron Barks, Miniskirt Magazine, 8 Poems, and Amethyst Review. Find out more at meganmcdermottpoet.com

Having a Ginger Lemon Honey Chai With You

 by Saumya R. Kedia
            
            after "Having a Coke With You" by Frank O’Hara
Is even more fun than going to Bombay sans return ticket
or being late on a deadline again, or forgetting our
belongings but never giving up the hope that they 
will return to us. Partly because in your banana  
shirt you look like a modern mermaid who
has discovered the inanity of clothes, partly
because of my love for you, partly because
of your love for ramen, partly because of
Sonipat skies and their continuous sunset,
partly because of our private eye rolls
that reveal more secrets than they keep,
it is hard to believe when I’m with you
that other people are not as transparent 
ergo allowing light through isn’t a function 
of personhood. In the mess lawns, at five o’
clock, we whisper as if the red bricks have
cameras for cement, photographs have face 
recognition…and I wonder why in the world
did we as a species want to be seen so badly.
I look at you and thank god that you are not
a photograph. The photos of our mothers are
enough. We come visit them together. And the
fact that you dance so freely after a glass of gin 
and tonic more or less takes care of rhythms and
the fact that you nap on the grass with me ensures
that the ginger lemon honey chai has been drunk,
the strawberries well-eaten, and the metre sung.
Behind the Dhaba, I never think of my mother
in her bony frame, faded blue denim pants
with contrast stitching matching her t-shirt,
and brown belt, and what good does all the research
do when she couldn’t go to fashion college because
of tuberculosis and an overprotective father. Or for 
that matter the red bricks who wish to be sky blue, 
which is why I want to tell you how grateful I am.

Saumya Kedia is a writer from Mumbai, India. She is finishing work on her first manuscript of poems. You can find her @saumyakedia1 on Twitter. 

Maggie, We Keep Driving

by Alina Stefanescu

            for Maggie S.

I couldn't sleep, my whole head
occupied by endings. Fear sounds the same
up close, every edge shares its lightning.

By morning, the kids want fresh muffins,
something sweet as the commercial
you've rehearsaled: this motherhood.

The cereal poured over a headache,
the happy voice you rent to make
going nowhere sound fun. In a car

with coffee, roads twisted by last night's
tornadoes. The chatter of blossoms, azalea
buds. It is spring in Alabama. The teen

son says geese have teeth on their tongues
which they use to eat souls. You believe it.
Roofs look up from the road. You drive slower,

you slow for hearses. The youngest child
hums; she counts colts in the meadows.
She dreams of riding a Palomino.

You love these kids more than mayo
on french fries, more than midnight,
more than your own mother loved you

which is the algebra of ashes. What is true
remains impossible to measure, or prove.
The littlest raises ten fingers and says

I am both hands now, mommy. I am two
but I don't know about being more. She
says her heart only hoped to be a horse thief.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Recent books include a creative nonfiction chapbook, Ribald (Bull City Press Inch Series, Nov. 2020). Her poetry collection, dor, won the Wandering Aengus Press Prize and is forthcoming in July 2021. Alina’s writing can be found (or is forthcoming) in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, World Literature Today, Pleiades, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Poetry Editor for Random Sample Review, Poetry Reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com.

Milford Sound

by Stephanie Burt

               on Nathan’s birthday


Were the vertical layers made
Advancing or retreating

Why can’t you see
The glacier itself in the mist

Are we entering Asgard or Alfheim
Or Vanaheim where the friendlier deities

Of cultivating vegetables hang out
One soaked-through child loves the sea

The other wants to draw so many
Pictures of it	All of my paper gets wet

Spate or spatter of droplets forever
No one is judged	    Below the rainbow bridge

Under the roar the high amplitude the nonhuman
No one could sail	    This feedback this fiord

Moss and silver beech and assorted shrubs
Will flourish on the surface of the rock

Able to drink salt spray 			      He said
He loved it	     He also said I didn’t know

It would be extremely rainy	I didn’t know
The mountains would be covered in tears

Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. Among her recent books are After Callimachus (Princeton UP, 2020) and Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems (Basic, 2019). A new chapbook of poems about superheroes will appear from Rain Taxi Editions this year, and a new full-length from Graywolf in 2022.

Prayer for Saturdays (After Paulus Silentarius)

by Stephanie Burt

(Greek Anthology 5:219)
It’s better when you blush
	before you kiss me, better
if they don’t find out.
	Let’s tie each other’s shoes.
Let’s run a race we mean to lose.

	Let’s have a crush
that violates the spirit, but never the letter
	of the Comics Code,
where what you almost
	see is more important than what you can.

Let’s run together like melted butter
        under our shared cotton coverlet
tonight, and never let
        anyone tell us we’re brave, or foolish, or bold,
nor give each other reason to doubt.
        Let’s make each other toast
tomorrow morning. Get out your pocket
        calendar. Let’s make our sleepover plan.

Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. Among her recent books are After Callimachus (Princeton UP, 2020) and Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems (Basic, 2019). A new chapbook of poems about superheroes will appear from Rain Taxi Editions this year, and a new full-length from Graywolf in 2022.