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).

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).

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.

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

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

Seeing the rare douc langur in the semi-wild, outside Danang

by Chloe Martinez

In pictures: his round ruminant belly. He chews 
betel leaves all day. Bright ochre legs, sensitive face, framed 
with a white ruff. When blinking: mysterious blue eyelids. 

How do we protect it? We bring people. They see the monkey 
and they fall in love. Unburdened, confident, the eco-tour guide 
took us up the mountain. Even the children grew quiet, 

squinting into the leafy depths. Finally we stopped and gazed 
into the douc’s shining eyes, which remained quite open, 
no blue to see but that of the sky. We stood in the empty road 

clutching cameras. Meanwhile, the douc, regal, 
plucked a branch and removed each one of its leaves, 
just as I do with a bunch of basil. His sharp little mouth 

moved, chewing. The sea like a sparkling tray was held up 
in the background of him. The red-shanked douc ignored it.


____

Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. She is the author of Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020), which won the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and Ten Thousand Selves (The Word Works, forthcoming 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Shenandoah, The Common and elsewhere. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College. See more at www.chloeAVmartinez.com.

Not-Yet-Official Girl Scout Badges

by Chloe Martinez

Forgetting to Eat Breakfast While Reading Badge
Luxuriating in Bed on Sunday Morning Badge
Catching Lizards by Their Tails and Releasing Them in Safer Places Badge
Sitting in Mom’s Office After School Because She Missed Extended      
   Day Signups and Instead of Complaining, Putting All Her Paperclips into One Giant    
   Paperclip Chain Badge
Dancing in the Supermarket Badge
Sorrow for the Dog You Can Hear Howling Every Morning Badge
Imagining Badge
Being Patient While Your Little Sister Has Yet Another Fit Badge
Badge for Intensity of Focus
Badge for Kind Words for a Friend
Steadfast Refusal to Eat Foods You Don’t Like Badge
Delight Badge
Distractibility Badge (also called Noticing That Flower Badge)
Badge for Laughing So Hard You Fall on the Floor
Rolling Your Eyes and Returning to Your Book When Your Parents Try to Give  
   Educational Lectures Badge
Living in Your Body Badge
Tripping and Falling Badge
Insisting on Your Own Pronunciation of “Mesopotamia” Badge
Stroking Your Mom’s Hair When She is Crying Badge
Comic Book World Creation Badge
Actual World Creation Badge
Slamming Bedroom Door Badge
Desiring Justice Badge
Badge of Being Nervous Before the Piano Recital
Badge of Doing it Anyway
Sharing Dad’s Obsession with the Pan-Asian Mega-Buffet in Ontario Badge
Secretive Looking at Yourself Happily in the Mirror Sometimes Badge
Insistence on Doing it Your Way Badge
Badge of Putting Things in the Places You Want Them to Be
Tiredness Badge
Badge of Wonder
Not Caring That Much About Collecting Badges Badge
Distinct Beauty of Your Own Particular Self Badge
Born Just Before a Snowstorm Badge
Being Oh Being Beloved Badge


____

Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. She is the author of Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020), which won the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and Ten Thousand Selves (The Word Works, forthcoming 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Shenandoah, The Common and elsewhere. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College. See more at www.chloeAVmartinez.com.

Marianne Moore

by Tom Snarsky

The knight asks, stellarly, if he can
Cleave gulls into nü shapes
W/which to pepper our cracked sky like

Mastodon on vinyl, or maybe aging
Into a mirror made of teenagers. I flaw
Whilst winsome and make breakfast

My priority, flowing down the river
Of the average workday *completely*
Unafraid; listen for speeches,

They’re how you know a character
Is in love. If you notice the actor
Making choices that’s because we

Needed that model of how to take
A snowflake on your tongue and
Shepherd it fully to meltdown. It is

Thine, the Renaissance painting of changing
My mind, and it predates the invention
Of chiaroscuro by ~ -500 years.



____

Tom Snarsky is a math teacher who writes poems. His book Light-Up Swan is now available from Ornithopter Press

Our Mother Who Loved Strangers More

by Jessica Cuello

didn’t want strangers in her house.
Strangers were separate and pure.

Omens for an unknown guest:
hair floating in a cup

excrescence on a candlewick.
Strangers kept their hearts preserved. 

Ours were shrivelled quince 
shrinking from their child skins.

They came from her interior—
messy, weepy, without warning. 

She always took the stranger’s side, 
the stranger’s word. In her obituary 

she wrote: To remember me, 
be kind to a stranger. An utter, 

a total, a perfect. No bloody cord
to them, no hurting likeness there.



____

Jessica Cuello is the author of Liar, selected by Dorianne Laux for the 2020 Barrow Street Book Prize and forthcoming in 2021. She is also the author of Hunt (The Word Works, 2017) and Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. She is a poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review. Read more of Jessica’s work at https://jessicacuello.com/.

First Shower Ever on the Niagara Falls Church Trip

by Jessica Cuello

At eight I felt a caress / from the diary with the metal clasp 
The conch shell whispered in my ear / I touched the hard pink flesh

I kissed paper / stroked my own hair / passed my hands against 
the wall back and forth / Wall like cloth / cloth like skin to touch

I kissed it / My first shower was on the trip to the falls / We leaned 
close to peer in the cavern of Death / a mist that touched the neck

I peeled the paper from the tiny motel soap / The water only came 
out cold / So this was a shower / water pressure touching skin

The other girls left me on the trail /  slow animal / I did not 
push back / The held are brazen and the touchless cowards



____

Jessica Cuello is the author of Liar, selected by Dorianne Laux for the 2020 Barrow Street Book Prize and forthcoming in 2021. She is also the author of Hunt (The Word Works, 2017) and Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. She is a poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review. Read more of Jessica’s work at https://jessicacuello.com/.