Moist

Why should it be so hated, the word for soil
as the farmer longs for it, for the fresh loaf,
for the inside of the lips, the indoor pool’s
sweet chlorine air when winter burns your throat?
For the brush against your thigh of a dog’s nose,
for skin vital in its perspiration,
the velvet eyelid petal of the rose,
those other lips below, and the agile tongue?
Maybe only one who has been dry
and cold for years under Saturn’s tutelage
would need to praise the word that all decry—
a word for tears, for the heart, for new ink smudged.
A word for the peach after the knife goes in:
pried deeply, split, its inner gold now shown.



____

Anne Myles’s poetry has appeared in the North American ReviewSplit Rock ReviewSweet Tree ReviewLavender ReviewEkphrastic Review, Early American Literature, and other journals. A recent transplant to Greensboro, NC, she is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Northern Iowa and in 2021 received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.

Thanksgiving

The moon is white slivered as a new tooth. 
One by one, spots of stars blink open 
at my children, nestled in the van on the long road 
to my mother’s. I look back, say, look, the stars,
to the littlest who is sleeping with her mouth 
so open I can see back to the spaces her molars 
will fill. How empty and full, a root. I want 
to cut down a tree when we’re back home, 
but I’m remembering that story 
where the uncle cuts down the babies 
of the mountain—trees—for gold 
his niece won for collecting just the fallen 
things. What falls into our laps 
when I open the windows, hamburger wrappers, 
scraps and receipts flurry up. One child is sleeping, 
the others’ faces glow blue in the strange light 
of their tablets, blue-faced as morning. 
They don’t want to look out 
when I say look how awake the night is—
We are driving the long road through 
West Virginia to my mother’s little white 
house and homemade pie, and I know she’ll watch 
my face for each new line—we are born 
travelling, stay seated, close and open 
our eyes to find mother, a line 
also. Goodnight road. Tonight, we’re
together and fine. 




____

Sara Moore Wagner is the winner of the 2021 Cider Press Review Editors Prize for her book Swan Wife (2022), and the 2020 Driftwood Press Manuscript Prize for Hillbilly Madonna (2022). She is also 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Sixth Finch, Waxwing, Nimrod, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com

WHEN I THINK OF MY HOMETOWN

The murky borderland near Dahomey. 
Thatched roofs that house hoes & cutlasses 
& yet farmers appease the god of rain. 

The marginalized village of smugglers 
who die like mosquitoes 
in the bloody hands of khaki men. 

How miserable amenities are unnecessary 
in the kingdom where ballot boxes 
must reach & where heads shall queue 
under the scorching sun to vote in oppressors. 

& for hands to write & for tongues to read, 
legs bear the risk of taking the wards 
of the poverty-stricken fathers to afar. 

When sickness conquers our immune system, 
we think of how to die & where to die;
whether under our leaking roof 
or in the empty hospital. 

When I think of my hometown, 
pure tears embrace my poor cheeks. 



____
Moshkur Ajikobi (fondly called P-Seven) is a student of English language in Lagos State University. His work appears or forthcoming in Punk Noir Magazine, Lunch Break Zine, Rather Quiet, Coven Poetry, Riverbed Review, Brown Bag Online and elsewhere. He has published numerous ebooks (anthologies and short stories). He is the brain behind Rub Bitch With P-Seven, a free weekly newsletter. You can find him on twitter @almoshkur and Instagram @peeseven20. 

Anatomy of a Moth

Your hand on my thigh
after a glass of white wine

and I wish that I, too, could live
	without lungs. We seek spaces

in our bodies soft and dark;
	we emerge with crooked wings.

For you I will be translucent.
Hold me up to the light. 



____

Taylor Hamann Los holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is an MFA student at Lindenwood University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in CLOVES LiteraryEVOKESplit Rock Review, and Rust + Moth, among others. She lives with her husband and two cats in Wisconsin. You can find her on Twitter (@taylorhamannlos) or at taylorhamannlos.wordpress.com.

#FullMoonHaikuContest

Congratulations to the three winners of the July #FullMoonHaikuContest: Reuben Gelley Newman, Marjorie Moorhead and Chloe Martinez! Each winner receives a poetry divining deck from Turtle Point Press.


Reuben Gelley Newman


Illuminated 
Doubt: in your light, new antlers 
Limn my head. Begin. 





Marjorie Moorhead


Supermoon, full, hot
Sprouting antler moss tonight
as we buck and toss





Chloe Martinez

Darker and darker:
my country, my tired earth.  
Loom in, moon. Listen.

[In the morning she was an opening]

In the morning she was an opening 
to another room, not a door, more 

like a window, an opaque pane
where the light, bending slightly, 

shone like the sound of darkness,
shimmered like the call of a pair 

of veeries whose songs circle each
other. Through her mouth the day 

passed, clocked its pains and sorrows,
the leaves turned in the wind and

looking west the sun hissed on the sea’s
cold horizon. Through her came her

mother’s voice, so far away that she 
could remember it only in rain. 

A small fish slipped through, 
threading its thin body along

the softness of the river’s lithe
current. Through her opening 

the day flowed like sand from one
side of the hour to the next. Filled

one room with beaches, then the next
and the next, until they reached the ocean.

All open, she could enter and swim, 
become porpoise, water, molecule, air.




____

Rebecca Siegel lives and writes in Vermont. Her poems have appeared in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, as part of PoemCity Montpelier, Dust Poetry Magazine, Analog Magazine, Goat’s Milk MagazineZócalo Public Square, Container’s Multitudes series, Straight Forward Poetry, and elsewhere.

Plums


every round fruit you could dream
stacked in perfect piles gleaming
for the giving sweating their sweet
juices their scent of readiness to
be split she taught us by silent
gesture to know ripeness with 
a soft squeeze we sought the dark
plums ready to shed their skins
open to us and let us drink our
fill

plundering blossoms like bees

in the small shed by the dock
the smell of gas and oil the
greasy rags the Evinrude lay 
dissected and open in innocent
exposure you caught me at
thirteen infixed me harmed me
so gently I didn’t understand
I was wounded until years
later

thundering like a storm I was

my own bowl filled to brimming
I was my own spilling and stain
the dogs chased rocks we threw
into the river dove to the bottom
and brought the heavy stones to
our feet all afternoon their teeth
worn smooth how long I’ve 
worried this one it turned me
into a vowel long low and 
open



____

Rebecca Siegel lives and writes in Vermont. Her poems have appeared in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, as part of PoemCity Montpelier, Dust Poetry Magazine, Analog Magazine, Goat’s Milk MagazineZócalo Public Square, Container’s Multitudes series, Straight Forward Poetry, and elsewhere.

Bicycle

For Max Schleicher


A man rides his bicycle to a coffee shop. On his way he sees the waves on the lake and he sings along. He stops at his father’s grave and plants a cherry tree. It bears nothing but seeds and over time even the squirrels try to ignore the darkened pits falling from its branches. The man gets to the coffee shop and orders a black coffee. While he drinks and looks out the window he sees his reflection. He adjusts his tie, straightens his shoulders. On the way home he says hello to a stray dog. It barks and jogs down a side street, curled bear grass dropping from its jowls as it runs.

____

Andrew McSorley is the author of What Spirits Return (Kelsay Books). A graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at Southern Illinois University, his poetry has previously appeared in journals such as The Minnesota Review, Poet Lore, UCity Review, HAD, and many others. He lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he works as a librarian at Lawrence University. 

The Minotaurs

Don’t I, after all, deserve a world of love?
Haunted and far from the home I knew, I entered
the darkness of the baths. Warmth seeped
in: the clink of the ticket machine, the hum

of murmurs and sighs. Far from anything I knew
I asked a man for directions. He smiled
white as a silver dollar, his answer clinking
against me: a prize I had won without knowing.

Here in the maze men prowled, directed by
their desires. One stood by the door
- his body turned like a prize against the light -
watching as the others filed in. He displayed his desire

with the directness of a monster. Every door
led into dimly lit corridors, wide baths
filled with watchful attendees. Many men
would approach me, speaking in clipped syllables

I pretended to misunderstand. The dim corridors
swelled as they filed in. It was after dinner, 
time for the second feast. They approached
each other, ready to warm their bodies

and in the shadows they feasted, a dinner
of darkness transformed, conquered skin.
I had imagined myself ready for sweetness
but nothing could prepare me for this

transformation of touch. All my life
I believed in my own exile. I was not
prepared for the men who approached me
who said silently with their touch that I was here,

that I was desired. Like many exiled people
who were welcomed open-armed, I believed in love
but my heart could not reconcile it.
A thousand times desire asked me to be let in.

A welcome that scorched at me, illuminating
the heartwood of my denial and fear.
I wanted to be strong like a monster, racing a thousand times
against the fire. But from absence comes ribs of zenith

a wasteland for the heart. I deserved love
but fear blinded me: it made me a maze of myself. 
Like a minotaur, I wandered with the night at its zenith
searching for love’s burning mantle --





note: The final image of this poem, "love's burning mantle," is received from Seán Hewitt's poem "In the Bode-Museum."
____
 

Kendrick Loo is a poet and reviewer. His work has been published in fourteen poems, Singapore Unbound, and Sundog Lit, among others. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @stagpoetics.

Parable of the Swallows

In those first days of songless absence, centuries 
ago, scientists swore swallows dove

into lakes and rivers, spent winters submerged—
breath held, silt-swaddled; so much so  

that they solicit fishermen to draw the swallows up
in nets so they might have proof, revive them. 

Other hearsay goes, the people of the towns assumed
the swallows shed their feathers, shrank 

into tree hollows, survived on sun-gained stores,
could go unseen so long as they became 

unrecognizable. It was a comfort 
that swallows might persist as kinds of ghosts.

Another theory at the time proposed a sleep-
flown space migration, the swallows simply 

steering up and stirring only when they felt 
the lunar cold. Winter was a question

charged with loss; a sky of eaves, unnested. 
The swallowless imagined

an enormous possible—in those days, 
the swallow a shorthand for the soul. 



____

Violeta Garcia-Mendoza is a Spanish-American poet, writer, and photographer. She is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops and a reader for Split Rock Review/Press. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Peatsmoke, The Dewdrop, and Saint Katherine Review.  Violeta lives with her family in Western Pennsylvania. You can find her online at https://www.violetagarciamendoza.com and on IG @violeta.garcia.mendoza and Twitter @VioletaGMpoet.