Heretic in the Catacombs

by Colleen Abel

When I got out from under
the damp tongue of the priest’s 

sermon, there was something I was
finally ready to declare

something grave:     God
as the great

naught     God
as un—     not ur—

All I held:     fictionalia

& then I went to the castle
of bones     the bunk-

beds of martyrs     with God
yawning from the clammy tufo

requiring nothing

Heresy is easy scoffs the marble 
saint     the axe marks 

in her neck say try believing   

& there was something I was—

finally ready to




____

Colleen Abel is a disabled writer living in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in venues such as Lit Hub, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, Colorado Review, PleiadesPoetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Her first poetry collection, REMAKE, won the 2015 Editors Prize from Unicorn Press. She has two chapbooks, HOUSEWIFERY (dancing girl press) and DEVIANTS, a hybrid work about stigmatized bodies that won Sundress Publications’ 2016 Chapbook Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from UW-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing and the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. She is the Poetry Editor of Bluestem magazine and Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Illinois University.

Note from the River

by Twila Newey

Fall had just turned cold 
the year I hung over you—speechless and intent—
death making an end of all 
my exquisite preparations—words 
stolen from my mouth. 
Here, when I speak, only fireflies fly out. 
Sultry and opaque I slipped 
through the haze between worlds 
that postcard you kept writing me 
Joy was to be endured as well as sorrow 
like a fountain vanishing the body flows 
for a little while. A risk 
to return as mist rising
in another century, another shoreline, 
I trusted your impulsive hospitality
What else could I do but try 
to speak again of light—
of desire—maybe 
shake us both free 
of father’s tongue. I’m telling you 
it was a mistake to weigh my pockets 
down with stones and wander into water.



____

Note: Italicized lines are from Virginia Woolf’s “Moments of Being.”

Twila Newey lives and writes at the confluence of poetry, local ecology, motherhood, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers in Northern California. You can find recent work at Green Mountains Review, About Place Journal, and Radar Poetry.

Possession, the act of

by Corinna Schulenburg

Then, this: that a woman made of water
or not even water, but the reflection that light 
knits on top of it, that this woman might,
as any clever ghost should, lure a set of lungs
to where she could, flavored as a vape,
slip sweetly down the pipes and seize the wheel,
and what do you call an exorcism outside in,
and what do call this place, this stab of dock
where fog makes amphibians of us all,
and gives us breasts on chests that once
were smooth as cutting boards, and ferries
pronounce the birth with horns that sound
like whales in slow motion as the woman
sheathes    my self    in skin and shakes down
my hair, which curls around the air like vines, 
and hey there, can you show me the way to town?




____

Corinna Schulenburg (she/her) is a queer trans artist/activist committed to ensemble practice and social justice. She’s a mother, a playwright, a poet, and a Creative Partner of Flux Theatre Ensemble. Poems in: Arachne Press, Beaver Magazine, Capsule Stories, Eclectica Magazine, Lost Pilots, Long Con, LUPERCALIA Press, miniskirt magazine, Moist, Moonflake Press, Moss Puppy, Oroboro, Pastel Pastoral, Poet Lore, SHIFT, The Shore, The Westchester Review, and more: https://corinnaschulenburg.com/writer/poet/  

What is Gold

by Jennifer Funk


Brick is the color of the trunk lifting 
each sequined limb aloft, 
and brilliant is the color of the leaves 
seen shimming from the bed
where you are taking me apart.

I would have you bury me
under your tongue. How often 
I wept in girlhood for unclaimed desires. 
The high, myopic whine 
in the word itself was intimate 

to me. What I've learned to keep to myself 
is little, ever-so inclined to skin 
myself open like a ripe orange. I trouble 
with good things, cannot let them
just be. Like you, with your 

faithful mouth. Look at me
here, splayed out in the back half
of the bloom, fizzing 
with pleasure, pleasure
scurrying through the skin

like rats on fire. I would say 
I want you, but the truth is hotter, worse,
is running for its life, every miserable
nerve traveling down with the same
worry-bomb: I'd rather miss you.

From your honeyed mouth
to my barbed mind, here at the edge
of our greenery, would you always
want a body so soft? So tenuous?  

You say you can stay, say you're going to 
				for as long as I let you.



___

Jennifer Funk is native Californian trying to prove her mettle in New England.  A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, she has been a scholarship recipient of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and The Frost Place. Recently awarded The Friends of Writers’ Levis Post-Graduate Stipend, Jennifer is at work on her first collection.  Her poems can be found or are forthcoming at The Kenyon Review, The Cimarron Review, Four Way Review, Painted Pride Quarterly, The Boiler, Pangyrus, and elsewhere.

Dear Corporate America,

when will it be enough?

when you have died, and your body is rotting in the ground, and the acidic rain burns below the soil into your bones, will you admit that it mattered?

when I cannot have children, because the impact of another human, another body, replacing yours in the world’s ever growing carbon footprint, would be too great a burden to bear, will you see what you have done?

when the lakes run blood orange with the pollution to fuel your corporations, when I can barely breathe for fear of your filth in my lungs, when I only get half the years you did because you have preemptively killed me, will you acknowledge the way you ruined us?

I want to grow old with my brother, with the love of my life, with my college friends and neighbors I was raised with from just down the street, I want to have not only ten and twenty and thirty year high school reunions but fifty year reunions, sixty years of marriage, seventy years of fruitful life

I remember joking wryly with a friend of mine in middle school, when we were all of twelve years old, that it didn’t matter whether or not we’d be successful in our careers because the world would burn before we even got the chance to start

you have stolen my future before I even got the chance to develop my past

and for all of the worry instilled in my generation, all of the documentaries violently pushed before our youthful eyes, still too big and round for the faces we hadn’t grown into yet, still glassy with the childhood curiosity that is supposed to reflect promise and potential placed before them but rather shone with infographics threatening two degree celsius increases to the world’s average temperature, video clips of hurricane wreckage in Puerto Rico, of California on fire, of evacuations from the mountains just a few miles away from my home

for all of this worry, you changed nothing

you stole our innocence in the name of a problem we are now responsible for solving

you caused this, you recognized this, yet you have continued to dig deeper, year after year, with these irreparable damages in the name of profit margins, stock prices, projected growth and 

money,

money,

money,

money makes the world go ‘round, money is worth everything, money is worth me, my future, my health and my happiness and my hurt

because where would we be without your stupid fucking money?

maybe we would be in a world where white rhinos did not just become functionally extinct

maybe we would be in a world where my cousin doesn’t have to check the air quality index every time she leaves her apartment because she lives in a major city

maybe we, I, could enjoy the teen years like you got to without this crippling fear, this doubt, this imminent doom that is largely out of my own control

I am terrified

I am so scared that humanity won’t pull through, that we won’t get our shit together and find a way out of your crisis, and I will not get the life I deserve

and you won’t even admit you are in the wrong

so when I am lying in the grave that you dug for me -

no, the grave that you dragged me into -

I will cry out one last time, and I will push this pain

out of my body, out of my spirit and my life and my person

and I hope it finds its way back to you in this universe

you will feel the slap of my death across your face as if it was imprinted with my own hand

and someday, somewhere, I hope you suffer for it


Sincerely,


Your Daughter 



____

Catherine Malden is a student at Duke University studying Computer Science and English, with a minor in Creativing Writing. She is currently a sophomore from Denver, Colorado. This is her first time publicly sharing her poetry.

My Mother Washes the Kitchen with Her Face

by Sam Herschel Wein

She can be tired, awake until 2AM then making 
breakfast at 7AM just in from 6AM jogging, 
two blueberry pancakes slid onto the plate 
from the buttery pan, she’s exhausted, her own mother 
ailing for 13 years, losing her memory, forgetting 
who we all were, then dying, she’s crying, hiding behind
the door so no one can hear. She works 12-hour days
at the hospital and her eyes sink to the floor 
when she gets home, still, she cooks dinner, 
her husband who says thank you says I feel guilty 
all of a sudden, she never followed her dreams, 
she wanted to be a writer? A musician? A lawyer? 
But he doesn’t question too much, falls asleep 
on the couch, and my mother washes the kitchen 
up with her face, still unchanged, she looks like 
how I remember her, at the dinner table, 
coming out and 17 and in my tennis clothes, 
she’s crying, sighing, for days, around the house, her face, 
next to mine in my bed, hymns, guitar, her gentle, 
perfectly pitched harmonies, every moment with her 
sends my mind back into my memories, like when she 
would make homemade pizza loafs that sliced into rolls 
whenever my friends came over, her face, working 
incessantly, the kitchen, the holiday dinners of brisket 
and chicken and brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes 
and lemon curd dripping over a matzoh-meal dairy-free cake, 
the gentler evenings, when we’re all relaxing and she worries, 
and she’s up late nights, every nights, that exhaustion, 
a lifetime, but it’s still her face, after I write the poems 
about her, after she says I should stay quiet just be quiet 
about being gay, after she shows up to my chapbook 
release party, and I think, look at us, trying 
so hard to look like the love we have to give, to look like 
two hands assembling homemade cookies, 
5 different kinds, onto silver trays, passed down 
from her mother, from her mother’s mother, to me




_____

Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a Chicago-based poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. Their second chapbook, GESUNDHEIT!, a collaboration with Chen Chen, was part of the 2019-2020 Glass Poetry Press Series. He co-founded and edits Underblong. Recent work can be found in perhappened magThe Adroit Journal, and Sundog Lit, among others.

In the Hotel Room

by Sam Herschel Wein

              I show up 
my mother says
              to your readings 
she starts to cry
              and you write 
              about me like I’m the villain 
              in your life. 
My dad sits. He is wearing a tie. 
She has removed her good shoes.
I am on the bed, with a red face.
              All I did was drive you to soccer practice
we sit in a silence
heavy as calico comforters kicked
off the bed, furled on the floor.
How do I explain? 
It wasn’t just soccer. 
It was evening guitar, and baked goods, 
and helping me move, and and 
and. But never admitting that she hated 
that I was gay. That she couldn’t hide it.

              The poems are working, I said. We are sitting 
              here. We are beginning this conversation. And.





____

Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a Chicago-based poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. Their second chapbook, GESUNDHEIT!, a collaboration with Chen Chen, was part of the 2019-2020 Glass Poetry Press Series. He co-founded and edits Underblong. Recent work can be found in perhappened magThe Adroit Journal, and Sundog Lit, among others.

Upon Reading That Butterflies Can’t Get Sodium From Flowers So They Must Seek It From Other Sources

by Chelsea Dingman

Some find it in shit. Some in dirt. Some in tears. 
Three tortoises in sun. Butterflies surrounding them.

Drinking their tears in a Peruvian jungle. Elsewhere,
four of us. 1985. There were never five. The Columbia

valley. The turtle we got after our dog was mauled
while we were sleeping. How I walked home each day

wanting to feel alive. Which is different from not wanting
to die alongside my father & my dog & my mother

who had cancer she kept hidden with her
cheque book & the decades of men who storied our lives

as though any man would do. As though fathers
didn’t keep turning up dead, like all the good 

gods before them. And there was nothing I could do.
Nowhere to surrender salt water to the world & ask

to be surrounded instead. Just quiet. The river
passing slowly beneath bridges. Rain falling.

Commensalism: the estrangement of selves
into tenses: before & after the shadow

of a girl had fled & I was left. Lonely. My mother
waking to the dog torn apart in the garage. 

Her tears, as she held the collar in her hands
that morning. As I peered in a casket, black

stitches peering back. I refused to cry. If only
I would’ve known how to be surrounded. 

How to offer something of myself to keep something else
alive. It is always morning in this story. Or mid-afternoon.

Or night. It is always 1985. December. Or it is 2007
when I have my first miscarriage in Florida

& the light is thin as December 
in my heart & I am tired of pretending miscarriage

isn’t a form of self-harm. Or it is 2020 & I find
myself with a new child, but I can’t stop

crying because I fear I might die, soon or too young,
dehydrated by her hot mouth. The lives turned to salt

in my hands as my brother goes to rehab
after almost dying & my mother is in hiding

again. What would any good god do? Or what god
would do any good? I don’t know what it means

to be loved. A woman I work with loses her life
as I research & write. Still, her daughters 

wake up alone. What is there to do but cry?
In Florida, I become dehydrated just by being 

outside. There is no shortage of people
crying. Nor guns firing across golf courses

& campuses. I am never more afraid 
than when I am alive. I vow to leave. My children

clasped in my hands. But each country I touch
makes me cry. Each time I am turned to salt

again, called orphan, or woman, or service animal. 
And my first country, my mother: not dying. 

Not mine. Which is to say: there was a gun
in my father’s hand one night. 1976. As he drank

& she cried. As I struggled to stay alive inside
her. But that is their story, not mine. I leave Florida

to walk my children past my childhood
river. A pipeline cuts through houses

where I walked away in the dim winter
light. I find myself standing by the river,

looking for a place. Nowhere that isn’t dear
around us. Where I am alive in the cries

of my children, raucous or raw,
& everything that is our lives. 




____

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her third collection, I, Divided, is forthcoming from Louisiana University Press in 2023. She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.

Cannot predict now

by Lyd Havens

The summers of my youth were friendless. I stole 
maraschino cherries from the bar my father 
worked at, hid in a booth and tried to knot the stems
with my tongue. He taught me how to use 
the dust mop. I switched the cue balls out 
for the 8’s. I traced my hand and tried to predict
my own future. The fries were burnt. Sandy 
snuck me Sprite in a shot glass. After clocking out,
my father drank too much. Ten more minutes. 
Twenty more minutes. Outside, the street signs 
melted; eggs fried on the sidewalks. Even then, 
I wore close to the bone. Stop being so antsy, 
my father said. I wanted to be an actress 
until I realized I can never veil my emotions.




____

Lyd Havens is the author of the chapbooks I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018) and Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Their work has previously been published in Ploughshares, The Shallow Ends, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho, where they will graduate from Boise State University in December 2021.

(You will be like a foal, says my mother)

by Lyd Havens


You will be like a foal, says my mother 
when I talk about re-entering
someday. The fleeing is still 
so vivid, as if it hasn’t ended yet.  
Un-greened pasture, stagnant 
womb. I fantasize about the crowds 
I never questioned; the lake full 
of tamed jellyfish on the other side
of the world. It’s true, my legs feel so new 
these days. They fold like a deck
of cards under me when I stare 
at the sky. Kumquat light 
staining the shingles. A small tornado 
of feathers in my backyard. I want to ask, 
where is the bird? Does it miss itself? 



____

Lyd Havens is the author of the chapbooks I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018) and Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Their work has previously been published in Ploughshares, The Shallow Ends, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho, where they will graduate from Boise State University in December 2021.