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.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

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.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

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. 

Published
Categorized as Poetry

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. 

Published
Categorized as Poetry

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.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

In the cathedral of bare branches

by Jessica Coles

too much happens imperfectly
rain clouds serve uncountable deities

with acolytes in brown robes who don’t 
know how to drink what they spill

I can’t find a hymn that sings
perfection as a multiplicity of peonies

months out of green, grass serves 
brown’s purpose while I untangle

from ugliness, dig toes into dust’s wisdom
invent plainsong prayers for rain

wait for an old goddess to tell me 
what makes water spillable

what imperfect droplet transforms
the song in earth’s throat


____

Jessica Coles (she/her) is a poet and editor-on-hiatus, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Treaty 6 territory), where she lives with her family and her judgmental tuxedo cat. Her first chapbook, unless you’re willing to evaporate (Prairie Vixen Press), was published in late 2019. Her poetry has also appeared in Prairie Fire Magazine and Write (The Writers’ Union of Canada).

Published
Categorized as Poetry

Roads Into Fog

by William Woolfitt

after Kimiko Hahn’s “Mine: a crazy quilt of men from West Virginia”

I cannot see with your eyes, but I let 
your poem’s grainy images take me 
to barstools, coffee, miners, the kitchen 
of Fred Carter, disabled black foreman 
from Fayette County, who organizes 
the black lung movement, never quits. 
There’s Carter in his godfather hat 
and green suit with white stripes—
there, a woman saying her town smells 
like oven cleaner, the plant’s fumes 
give her polyps—there, men waiting for 
x-rays and tanks, the blood gas test. 
Carter says, miners don’t die of natural 
causes in West Virginia. I try to know 
dust that soots and rips the soft air sacs, 
tars blood and spit—that chokes Carter 
as he says the heart gets overworked, 
calls for jailing coal operators who ruin 
miners, the water, the air. I drive icy 
roads through hollers, ribs of rock,
the curves gauzy, the steep asphalt 
busted, the drifts dirty as lungs.


____

William Woolfitt is the author of three poetry collections: Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014), Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016), and Spring Up Everlasting (Mercer University Press, 2020).

Published
Categorized as Poetry

WILDFLOWERS

by H.E. Fisher

When the boy was little, • Chicory • there was no sewage treatment plant  in town. • Green Adder's Mouth • Raw sewage went into the creek.                 • Woodland Lettuce • The creek curves around the town • Creeping Myrtle    • like a horseshoe • Tall Hairy Agrimony • and was a tributary of a great  river. • Puttyroot Orchid • The river was polluted • Western Pearly Everlasting • with nitrates • Twoleaf Anemone • from farm runoff and 
waste water • Galax • from industries like steel production. • Thimbleweed   •Nitrates are found in fertilizers and explosives. • Liverleaf • Mercury and PFOA, • Blue Toadflax • a chemical used in making Teflon, • Pale Meadow Beauty • also polluted the river. • Broadleaf Arrowhead • Like all               the children in town, • Thimbleflower • the boy swam in the creek. • Doll's    Eyes • His father fished in the creek. • Golden Glow • The creek was the source • Trout Lily • of the townspeople’s water • Clasping Bellwort •         for drinking, • Baneberry • washing laundry, • Blueweed • and for bathing.         • Spike Gayfeather • Many of the living beings • Wild Comfrey • near the creek and river • Summer Lilac • got sick. • Appalachian Barren Strawberry  • Still, wildflowers grew along the bank. • Widow’s Frill • The boy could  name them. • Hot-rock Beardtongue • Sometimes he would pick some      to bring home for his mother. • Small Bonny Bellflower • She would put   the wildflowers in a clear glass vase • Cancer Drops • and fill the vase    with tap water • Coalwort • which traveled in a system of pipes • Sorrel •              from the creek • Wild Yam • to her kitchen sink. • American Bluehearts 

____

H.E. Fisher‘s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in Miracle Monocle, SWWIM, Canary, Feral, and Dream Pop Journal, among other publications. H.E. is pursuing her MFA at City College of New York, where she was awarded The Stark Poetry Prize in Memory of Raymond Patterson. H.E. lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

Published
Categorized as Poetry

Some People Feel Free at the Beach

by Robin Myers

Why? This one was flat as an inlaid
headstone. It glittered like zirconia.
The sun seemed mostly interested
in exacting consequences.

I guess it’s not the ocean’s fault
that it keeps everything from
everything else. But I couldn’t not
imagine everyone around me in uniform.

It was the sort of place where that
was a logical thing to do. And where
I didn’t stay long enough to watch the tides
be tides, or remember the moon.


___

Robin Myers lives in Mexico City and works as a translator. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Yale Review, the North American Review, Alaska QuarterlyPoetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Her book-length collections have been translated into Spanish and published in Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. She writes a monthly column on translation for Palette Poetry

Published
Categorized as Poetry

A Shaft of Light With Dust in It

by Robin Myers

for the Australian journalist who published an article about having a miscarriage during the fires
of January 2020

I am
a child
and think
the light
has made
the dust,
that dust
is bodiless 
without it.
it’s bodiless
all right,
but every-
where. and 
everywhere 
expands: a 
seething air,
the substrates 
churned, words 
hounded, smoked 
out of
their dwellings. 
we are,
it seems,
more mesh
than vessel,
a cloth
that breathes
the stuff
of worlds
unsafe for
us to
drink. I
always hoped
to trust
this porousness, 
wanted my
skin a
cipher for
the brume
of human
hurt and
wasted time, 
our designs 
on surfaces
of magnitudes 
we should 
respect. I
take my 
longing back. 
or wish
I could.
you are,
like me,
like all
of us,
I’d like
to think— 
before our 
own extra- 
polation into 
numbers, thaw 
and diesel, 
clocks and 
watersheds— 
a window- 
gleam,
the opposite 
of shadow,
a way
to make
some fellow 
matter visible. 
and I,
a child,
reach out
my hand
to touch 
you—you 
who are
not what
you harbor 
but in
whose form
it shines.


____

Robin Myers lives in Mexico City and works as a translator. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Yale Review, the North American Review, Alaska QuarterlyPoetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Her book-length collections have been translated into Spanish and published in Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. She writes a monthly column on translation for Palette Poetry

Published
Categorized as Poetry