Dry

After a drought the ground
must accept what the ground

can accept before the creek
can fill, for the creek

is not a gutter, but permeable.
Consider this first storm preamble

one soon forgets but nevertheless
establishes theme. . . unless it never

rains again, in which case
it is coda, the creek: a crease.


___

Michael Metivier (he/him) is a writer, editor, and musician living in Vermont. His work has appeared in EcoTheo ReviewLAABjubilatCrazyhorse, and African American Review, among other journals, and is forthcoming in Bennington Review and Northern Woodlands.

Holy Jesus-Free Bingo Hall

I dropped into your white dream like a drunk lost bat, 
only days after you dropped out of mine. 

The titanium light-room littered with banquet tables, 
draped in white like a Last Supper Bingo event, 

one where Jesus and the apostles went missing.
The intense light came from an unseen place, 

everything a glowing shock of x-ray.
Your spare littering of possessions, a humble display,

the church sale no one showed up for, including you.
Helen Reddy was ready, her relics spread over a table, 

your weird little secret, one of many. Autographed LPs, 
stashed in a pink gift box, her toothy smile 

leaping with confidence, like deer tails, off the covers. 
I touched them. You appeared next to my shoulder like magic, 

tall and vibrant, my height, smiling, happier than I’d ever seen you. 
You assured me you were fine with your olive, sparkling eyes. 

Your black shock of hair, a Rorschach nest splashed against 
the white shout of everywhere canvas.

“It’s waiting, you said,” without moving your lips, 
speaking about Harold’s tricked-out, Jaguar hearse.

You would have to go out some strange way—in Max style.
Red taillights glowed against wet black asphalt, unfurling 

from the edge of a brightly lit holy Jesus-Free Bingo Hall, 
into your shimmering, satiny, starlit sky.

Mist rose from twin tailpipes like cigarette smoke, 
and then you were gone.



____

Koss is a queer writer and artist with an MFA from SAIC. She has work in or forthcoming in Diode Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Hobart, Kissing Dynamite, Five Points Anti-Heroin Chic, North Dakota Review, Feral, Chiron Review, Prelude, Lunch Ticket, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, Feral, Lumiere, Rat’s Ass Review, Best Small Fictions 2020, and Kissing Dynamite’s Punk Anthology. Keep up with Koss on Twitter @Koss51209969 and Instagram @koss_singular. Her website is http://koss-works.com.

We’ve Hardly Begun And

already have ruined this great
bullish experiment, the shining hill
city with no real sense of lasting
design or weight, flowers placed on an
empty casket. Too late. Most mistake any men in scrubs
for doctors: dazed by the prospect of good health, patients
guess incorrectly. Then, when begins the pitch —
Hey! A medical supplies salesman? Who let you
in the operating room? It is flim-flam for sure, like no
jam on your peanut butter sandwich, or the
knife used to slice strawberries from the garden, twitching
loose to nick your thumb. You should be careful,
maybe look for helpers in the world, those
nice morticians coming from upstate to move bodies
out of overcrowded NYC. See? It’s not hard to
plan ahead, to make wishes known so you don’t end up
queued last and lonely, hoping for a
real doctor or sandwich maker, at the very least
some daisies to brighten this empty room. That may be
too big an ask, butter yellow when the skies grow gray and we are
under it all — sleet and hail, gale-force winds, snakes leaking
venom as they fall from above and land to wrap around our
wrists like bracelets, like something gold and rubied
Xena might wear when she arrives to save our skin. I’ll always be with
you, she says, right after accidentally stabbing her best friend.
Zoinks! Bet you didn’t see that coming — the end, I mean. The end. 



____

Laura Bandy attended the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers PhD program from 2009 to 2013, where she received the Joan Johnson Poetry Award. In 2018, she won first prize in the ‘Trio of Triolets’ contest judged by Allison Joseph, and received third place in the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award/ Illinois Emerging Writers Competition that same year. She has had work published in Soft Skull’s Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, Ninth Letter, Sin Fronteras, River Styx, TypoPithead Chapel, and The Laurel Review among others, and currently has poems in Midwest Review and Longleaf Review, with work forthcoming in The Florida Review. Her chapbook, Hack, will be out with Dancing Girl Press in 2021. Laura hails from Jacksonville, Illinois, home of the Ferris wheel.

In This Night of Storms

              —for Gabe

After singing you 
to sleep, I lay you down.  
Outside, a week of heat 
ends in streaks 
of lightning and rain.  
A close strike 
cracks the black egg 
of night, blanches blue-white 
the curtains by your crib. 
You sleep, though suddenly 
illumined like bone 
in an x-ray, like a candled egg.
Air and earth boom, 
then rumble back to a solace 
of water and wind.
Small in this thunder, I 
lean over your crib, listen 
to your breath, and wonder 
what the lightning struck,
and where and when 
it will strike again.



____

Matthew Murrey‘s poems have appeared in many journals such as Prairie SchoonerPoetry EastSplit Rock Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden.  Matthew is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship, and their debut collection, Bulletproof – selected by Marilyn Nelson – was published in February 2019 by Jacar Press. Matthew works as a public school librarian in Urbana, Illinois, and can be found online at https://www.matthewmurrey.net/ and @mytwords on Twitter and Instagram.

Hurricane Family

               
               When hurricanes come my daddy prepares
                            by rooting soles into the floors of our house,
               rooted into the wetland his daddy poured Lord Calvert’s into.

                            No longer a buckra’s sharecropper,
Grandma Lizzie and Granddaddy Silas rooted
               a bottle tree of twelve
                            inconceivable indigo children.

                            My daddy repeats to my ma,
                We’ll be fine,
                            and I believe.

                                          When the hurricanes came, it moved me
                            more than I wanted. I hooked my innocence inside.
                                          Wild water became swords. My sisters and I played in
swooning pine. Dark, slick, splash, and I was terrified—

                my thoughts of trees falling on top of mobile homes,
people waking with blue Earth inside their rooms,
                worlds swept up for miles out all around,

                            and in our front yard—I was afraid
                                        while we ran, we danced, and we leaped.



____

Marlanda Dekine’s forthcoming collection, Thresh & Hold (Hub City Press, 2022), won the New Southern Voices Poetry Prize, selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Dekine is the creator of the self-published book & mixtape, i am from a punch & a kiss. Their poems have been published or are forthcoming in POETRY, Emergence Magazine, Oxford American, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Dekine is a Tin House Scholar, a Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow, and a Fellow at The Watering Hole. Their work is obsessed with ancestry, memory, and the process of staying within one’s own body, leaving spells and incantations for others to follow for themselves. They live in South Carolina with their wise dog, Malachi.

a mound of butter

Before we met, I had a thought I’d paint
a mound of butter more famous than

Vollon’s. How his painting’s cream
did not soften the ego—

Now, the thought winces. Now, I am
all interior feeling, all terrified love,

All ants climbing over each other
searching for cause.

Some days, I picture myself burying
you with my ambition,

two fish tongues wrapped in brown
paper that I lay soft in the earth.




____

Marnie Ritchie is an Assistant Professor of rhetoric at a liberal arts university in Tacoma, WA. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in JukedFIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshowBurning House PressMoon City Review, and Yes Poetry. Find her on Twitter: @marnieritchie

Another Thought

             after Eduardo C. Corral


I pull myself together out
             on the ocean surf after the boy
texts about a dream he had,

a dream where we were flirting
          with another guy, or he
was flirting with us.

I’ve already written this poem,
          but the boy told me to write

about the dream, about the jealousy
          he felt when the guy sent me a thirst

trap: a body like no other in a swimsuit.
          I’ve already written this
poem, but sea brine shivers

my skin, thoughts rippling
          through me, streams of
air from his opening lips;

as chill envelops, the arms
          of some ocean god, I imagine

us swimming together,
          nimble as dolphins—

am I not his animal?

We flicker through
          the water, kissing with

the bite of salt before
          I wake up from the dream.




____

Reuben Gelley Newman (he/him) is a writer and musician from New York City. His work is available in diodeDIALOGIST,Hobart Pulp, and elsewhere. He was a Fall 2020 intern at Copper Canyon Press and works in the library at Williams College in Williamstown, MA. He tweets @joustingsnail.

Pelvic Physical Therapy

every week at the doctor’s office, I fold
my boxers inside my pants, and pull

the scratchy sheet up to my hips.
I didn’t know I could get used to this.

the moon hides once each month, just like me.
we are brothers, and I am the jealous one.

tell me if it hurts, she says.
it hurts, I say.

but it’s okay.
that’s how I know

it’s working.



____

Kaleigh O’Keefe is a gender outlaw and proud union member living in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Their poetry has appeared in Breaking the Chains: a Socialist Perspective on Women’s Liberation, Slamfind, won the PRIDE Poetry Prize in Passengers Journal, and is featured on indie music legend Ceschi’s album Sans Soleil. Kaleigh is a contributor and editor for Liberation News, is a co-founder of Game Over Books, and hosts the First Fridays Youth Open Mic in Jamaica Plain. Find Kaleigh online at www.kaleighokeefe.com, on Twitter and Instagram at @KaleighOKeefeOK.

I had another dream where the roof caved in. 

the plaster bulged 
like a huge 
pregnant belly, or 

a cyst. cracked 
like a dry 
knuckle. I reached 

out my hands 
like I could 
catch whatever fell 

from it. shouted 
like it could 
listen. the water 

poured like an 
omen. I woke 
cloaked in sweat, 

one hand on 
my plaster womb, 

one hand on 
my pouring chest



____

Kaleigh O’Keefe is a gender outlaw and proud union member living in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Their poetry has appeared in Breaking the Chains: a Socialist Perspective on Women’s Liberation, Slamfind, won the PRIDE Poetry Prize in Passengers Journal, and is featured on indie music legend Ceschi’s album Sans Soleil. Kaleigh is a contributor and editor for Liberation News, is a co-founder of Game Over Books, and hosts the First Fridays Youth Open Mic in Jamaica Plain. Find Kaleigh on the web at www.kaleighokeefe.com and on instagram at @kaleigh.okeefe.poetry @FirstFridaysJP @GameOverBooks

Cracked Wall

by Hulian Zhang

Little flowers and leaves on the wall
If you could tell me 
How you sprout grow blossom 
I will know how you cracked the wall
I will know how our softness could be better placed 
In this similarly solid rocky world



____

Hulian Zhang (she/her) is currently a PhD candidate in Medical Ethics and Law at Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University (UK).