Portrait in a Bathtub

From a 2021 photograph by Joanna C. Valente

Do you lie soothing 
in suds, creating feet waves 
warm while covering you 
in bubbles, pen over your
earlobe or keeping your
hair up in a bun, while 
the faucet drips, strings
of classical woodwinds
serenade you symphonically 
as poem lines permeate 
along with steaming unfinished
rhymes splash your body 
poetry soaking in sound bath
your mind seeks to quiet horn 
honking traffic stalled cabbies,
annoying construction worker 
cat calls, neighbors bickering 
in untranslatable profanities, 
the orchestra volumes to  
soothe you, finding the perfect
floating relaxation spot, warming
as inspiration poems gathers 
steam in the bathtub, do you
reach for a pen? Transcribing 
saltwater lines as soap drips on
the page of your journaled 
notebook, or do you soak 
eyes closed continue becoming
one with water, the inner 
music hither as NY winter
window cracked, shivers 
afloat lukewarm bathtub 
chills you in imperfect concentration.

Adrian Ernesto is the author of Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, Between the Spine from Picture Show Press and La Belle Ajar & We Are the Ones Possessed from CLASH Books and Speaking con su Sombra with Alegría Publishing. Adrian is a LatinX Poet who lives with his wife in Los Angeles with their adorably spoiled cat Woody Gold.

do not delete, I am not finished

it's a raw deal
the hunting heron's
frightening eye

it's a square call
from a round mouth,
the frog's fear

we imagine
such an end
or if we don't
who can blame us,
having escaped for so long?

I think about how large we are
and how small.

it's a raw deal
however you cut it
predator or cauldron

sample or multipack
deadly affection,
unkind love

no science heals
this living

Kyla Houbolt (she, her), born and raised in North Carolina, currently occupies Catawba territory in Gastonia, NC. Her first two chapbooks, Dawn’s Fool and Tuned were published in 2020. More about them on her website, https://www.kylahoubolt.com/. Her individually published pieces online can be found on her Linktree: https://linktr.ee/luaz_poet. She is on Twitter @luaz_poet.

The Day You Didn’t Drown Me

you left your fingerprints  
scorched into the skin  
on my throat  
and in my hair,  

a soft laugh  
at the sharp intake of my breath  

I left my palm print  
on your stomach  
and the indent of my nipple  
against your back  
as your mouth filled with smoke  
and your mind with mercy  

Do you remember?  
that was the day  
you didn’t drown me  

Christina Barlow is a book collector who lives in her library in a sea-side village somewhere in Africa.


last night’s hue was a Kate Moss red
but a salmony pink is better fit for a Monday
technically “coral” but I try not to think
of those dying reefs

tomorrow I might go for something
more plummy, perhaps even “Heroine”
that’s the person I want to be
not heroic, but bold and with
an electric side of mystery

I have plenty to choose from
most shades of red, except for nudes
not much point in those
I know one day I’ll have to take off
the mask, then I might grow timid
and go for a matte lip gloss
but that isn’t yet, I can still
breathe into my secret fog chamber
embellished with scarlet, vermilion and fire
all the fruit I’m hoping to ripen into

Maija Haavisto (she/her) has had two poetry collections published in Finland: Raskas vesi (Aviador 2018) and Hopeatee (Oppian 2020). In English her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in e.g. Wondrous Real, ShabdAaweg Review, The North, Streetcake, ANMLY, Eye to the Telescope, Shoreline of Infinity and Kaleidoscope. http://www.twitter.com/DiamonDie


to my parents

I get the feeling, still, that you two think 
he is a fragile egg & I am a rock,
unbreakable, unshakable, golden.
That’s what our name means, from the German: gold stone. 

Let me tell you, 
I was not as resilient as you thought.
I was not an adult trapped in a child’s body.
I was a child trapped in a child’s body, unable to move.   

Why can’t you see I crack & cry & break & bleed?
I am the egg. He is the fox, 
scratching at the tiny doorway,
looking for more, hungry. 

Phil Goldstein is a journalist and writer who has been living in the Washington, D.C, area for more than a decade. His debut collection, How to Bury a Boy at Sea, is forthcoming from Stillhouse Press, and his poetry has been nominated for a Best of the Net award and is forthcoming or has been published in The Laurel ReviewRust+MothTwo Peach2River ViewAwakened Voices, The Indianapolis Review and elsewhere. By day, he works as a senior editor for Manifest, a content marketing agency.

Hide and Seek

It starts so simple⸺a boy
lost in a field, covered
in twigs, spread thick
to the fingertips. He learns
to play dead. How to still
his earthquaking chest
while others hive around
him in search—their loud
howls drifting towards
the timber in waiting. Most
of the others have all been
found and hung to dry
at the wrist by this point,
but this cannot end
until all of the faggots
have burned⸺childish game
they play. Who can spill the most
blood into the firepit to watch
the flames glow neon, how to
turn a boy into a blooming field
of flames. The art of hunting
with a lit torch and palms
full of gasoline, they continue
to scour. They cannot find
the boy, he stays hidden.

jason b. crawford (They/Them) was born in Washington DC, raised in Lansing, MI. Their debut Full-Length Year of the Unicorn Kidz will be out in 2022 from Sundress Publications. 


A huge breast glowing in the sky
appears to me as I near home,
a mirage of fiery, fleshy orange
on a Monday in December.

I have no poet’s praise for it,
only a woman’s astonishment
at a monstrous bitch of a moon,
a crone’s breast bared to the sky.

Joan Barasovska lives in Orange County, North Carolina. She cohosts a poetry series at the independent bookstore Flyleaf Books and serves on the Board of the North Carolina Poetry Society. For thirty years, Joan has been an academic therapist in private practice. Her poems have appeared in Kakalak, San Pedro River Review, Flying South, Madness Muse Press, Red Fez, Speckled Trout Review, and Main Street Rag. In 2020 Joan was nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Birthing Age (Finishing Line Press, 2018)was her first book of poetry; Carrying Clare (Main Street Rag, 2022) is her second. Orange Tulips is forthcoming later this year from RedHawk Publications.

With the Wash On Our Hip

We are bigger when we’re born,
but the past is not a prologue.

When we first get into the world,
every last thing is otherworldly.

Makes you wonder where we came from.

But then, maybe before we get to the middle of our allotted time,
with our hair in knots and the wash on our hip,

and a permanent ache in our joints, this all becomes it all:
it’s our kids turn to momentarily wild-eye the world.

Makes us begrudge where we are.

We get to the point where our future 
is present, where we can see the future 

as forming and reforming 
(washing and rewashing) the past.

And yet, we cannot help but grieve.

Megan Wildhood is a neurodiverse writer from Colorado who believes that freedom of expression is necessary for a society that is not only safe but flourishing. She helps her readers feel seen in her poetry chapbook Long Division (Finishing Line Press, 2017) as well as Yes! Magazine, Mad in America, The Sun and, increasingly, less captured media outlets. You can learn more at meganwildhood.com.

Healing is So Small

The ocean is a seed 
on a low, coughing land
and what does that mean 
what does that mean
for us who are the salt
of the earth?

I know what it means
for those who are the light – 
show the way, not yourself – 
but do those 
who are the salt 
preserve or dissolve?


Megan Wildhood is a neurodiverse writer from Colorado who believes that freedom of expression is necessary for a society that is not only safe but flourishing. She helps her readers feel seen in her poetry chapbook Long Division (Finishing Line Press, 2017) as well as Yes! Magazine, Mad in America, The Sun and, increasingly, less captured media outlets. You can learn more at meganwildhood.com.


I am doing the post-holiday dishes at my mother’s.
Antique crystal, water tepid, not hot, Ivory soap, 
and even though the champagne glasses, alas,
were not based on Marie Antoinette’s bosom (I’d liked 

that story, and she did commission milk cups inspired by 
her left) they are breasts in my hands today, the day you
meet the oncologist. They are warm, soapy, valued, fragile.
My clumsy hand flexing inside the bowl could shatter them. 

Christmas Eve, when I heard it had spread from your gone
breast to the other, lymph, and liver, the choir’s glad tidings 
of great joy, pine scent, broke my brain. Pure beauty starved 
me, making me crave more descants, imagining your kind heart

despairing at the prospect of darkness and silence, missing 
midnight masses. Later, I hear that your son wonders 
why the Chemo Princess gets all the attention. Teenagers 
can be as toxic as any drug dripping through a port-a-cath. 

I help with the research from three time zones away, learn
magic words, pertuzumab, trastuzumab. Pray. If I daydream, 
will I miss a fact that could help prolong a life? Can words,
can the word, work? As I close the file I’ve named for you, 

the computer tells me “Word is saving Anna.” 

Tina Kelley’s Rise Wildly appeared in 2020 from CavanKerry Press, joining Abloom & Awry, Precise, and The Gospel of Galore, a Washington State Book Award winner. She co-authored Breaking Barriers: How P-TECH Schools Create a Pathway from High School to College to Career and Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope and reported for a decade for The New York Times. She and her husband have two children and live in Maplewood, NJ.