Toxic

There are pools of brine
on the ocean floor.

Brine is heavy water,
with a higher toxicity.

The edge of a brine pool
looks like another beach

at the bottom of the sea.
I have rooms like this in me.

Poison up to my knees.
I could drown eels,

if I wanted.
Sometimes I imagine

if the worst thing I ever did
was done to me

instead.

Catherine Weiss is a poet and artist from Maine. Their poetry has been published in Tinderbox, Up the Staircase, Fugue, Okay Donkey, perhappened, Birdcoat, Bodega, Counterclock, petrichor, HAD, and Flypaper Lit. Catherine is the artist behind the collaborative poetry chapbook/card deck I WISH I WASN’T ROYALTY (Game Over Books, 2020). They are also the author of chapbook-length poem, FERVOR (Ginger Bug Press, 2021) and full-length poetry collection, WOLF GIRLS VS. HORSE GIRLS (Game Over Books, 2021). More at catherineweiss.com.

Saying Goodbye


            dedicated to Adrian Walker

A lone seal, just beyond the cresting waves,
Plays in glorious isolation.
Gulls soar above, a silent question
In the blanket grey sky.

Memories of sunnier days whisper in my mind,
As I recall collective laughter and soaring
Kites that seemed unending.

Beginning now a new chapter
The seal plays on, unaware of time or place,
As we walk on, pushing forward
In soft sand, that gives and sighs.

Helen Openshaw is a Drama and English teacher, from Cumbria. She enjoys writing poetry and plays and inspiring her students to write. Helen has had a short monologue commissioned by Knock and Nash productions. Recently published and upcoming poetry work in Secret Chords by Folklore publishing, Green Ink Poetry magazine, Words and Whispers magazine, The Madrigal, Fragmented Voices, Loft Books and The Dirigible Balloon magazine.

From Ruth, To a Woman at a Crossroads Moment

I make decisions like this:  
feeling for fire. 

Life asks us to average
things out, become even-keeled.

But I never agree. 

When it holds out a pen so I might sign
my assent, I keep my hands busy, 
full, grabbing whoever, whatever
makes me most myself.

Megan McDermott is a poet and Episcopal priest living in Western Massachusetts. She is the author of the chapbooks Prayer Book for Contemporary Dating (Ethel Zine and Micro-Press) and Woman as Communion (Game Over Books) and a full-length collection due out in late 2022, Jesus Merch: A Catalog in Poems (Fernwood Press). Connect with her more at meganmcdermottpoet.comor on Twitter @megmcdermott92. 

Miss, Mrs, Ms, Ma’am

These words are the
Bagnell dam built by
Union Electric before
I was born and 

These words are damned
Double damn and
Goddamn 

And privately owned
By a company that 
I don’t work for and 
Never applied for and
I want to scream
And break open

Kit Steitz is a poet in Columbia, Missouri. They have an army of geriatric cats and dogs and almost exclusively write their poems while sitting on rocks in creeks and glaring at people.

Solitude

This morning on the pond,
a great blue heron hunkered
low on the grassy tip of what yesterday
was a peninsula. The night’s rains
cut him off from the shore.
No matter. His outspread wings
plunged the shrinking island into shadow.
I spent the day thinking of you.
Eric Lochridge (he/him) is a poet and editor living in western Washington between the mountains and the sea. He is the author of My Breath Floats Away From Me (FutureCycle Press, 2022) and three chapbooks. His poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, UCity Review, Okay Donkey, and Kissing Dynamite. Find him on Twitter @ericedits and at ericedits.wordpress.com.

Two Poems: “self-portrait with moving boxes” and “second epistle to a plague saint”

self-portrait with moving boxes

a ship in peril, i jettison
easy: paperback books
and gray sweaters,
the slick television
from my brother.
but also a survivor,
i cling to the wrack
of myself: coke bottle
music box felt
angel dead succulent
typewriter desk lamp
poison ring rose
quartz leather sheath
and small knife pink
vibrator
              beeswax
                               little
book of moon phases
from my mother—
i can dispense
with the plain
and daily
but my artifacts must stay
with me
               floating

second epistle to a plague saint

come into my room and stand
at the foot of my bed. every
surface in the house is studded
with arrows. reach first
for the door, the water, the bread.
cover my body with your body.
hold me apart from the world.
by candlelight i'll be your boyish
saint irene and tend the wounds in your thighs
and stomach. your neck like an open cage
and the wild thing in me. in the morning
i'll clean the sheets. we'll start again.
be my wall, my border, my barrier. by night
i'll take you down.

p. hodges adams

p. hodges adams (they/them) is a poet and playwright from a small town in michigan who received their MFA from the university of virginia. they love to write about the body, art, and memory. their work has appeared or is forthcoming in shenandoah, cutbank, sycamore review, new orleans review, december magazine, arkansas international, northwest review, and elsewhere. hopefully they will transform into a beam of sunlight someday soon.

On the Gulf

Chocolate chip pancakes as thick as my fist,
pink tulips misheard as orange carnations,
rasping pages of old books piled in the window,
you refilling my water glass until beads gather.
 
      The house would be empty without you in it. ​​
      No, really it would be empty, completely.
      I’d sit on the balcony, smoke cigarettes all night,
      daub the embers in a ceramic ramekin,
      write poems that I’d crumple and burn,
      sleep with the television for muffled company.
 
No. I prefer smoking on the balcony with you,
after swimming in the pool. Long lazy evenings,
you carry me on your back in the warm water,
my arms wrapped around your shoulders.
This apartment is a cocoon and we are spinning
our web together, glistening like twinkle lights.
 
      Twenty-eight years, full lungs, stacked baggage
      All that, you carry​         and I am weightless.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Denver, Colorado. Her debut full-length poetry collection Green Card Girl is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. She received a joint MA-MFA in Poetry at McNeese State University and also has degrees from Lancaster University and the University of Chichester. She is the Co-Curator of the Poets in Pajamas Reading Series. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge, No Contact Mag, and HAD among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

Letter to Mr. James Baldwin

Paris, France

I got myself a crepe. No trimmings. I thought it would be alright to allow myself that. The crepe
was thinner than I expected and there was not nearly enough sugar. After that, I went to the
Saint Eustache cathedral. Eustace was burned for believing too hard. The cathedral was
burned down twice because it stood for nothing. You once wrote Europeans had killed off
enough artists to know that they are persistent as rain, snow, taxes, or businessmen. Or
churches. I can't remember if I prayed or what I prayed about. I waited until the dark to go
people-watching. It is the only time it is ok to be a tourist. When you came to Paris with $40,
what did you think you were going to spend it on? If I had $40 I would buy a secondhand t-shirt
that said Princeton lacrosse, an umbrella, spam meat, earphones, and deodorant. I would
never buy a book if I could help it. They take you anywhere but home.

Michelle Oppong is a poet based in New York. Her work often focuses on memory,
womanhood, sexuality, and blackness. She enjoys reading postcolonial novels, watching
video essays, and trying new recipes. She received her BA in Creative Writing from
Emory University and currently works in publishing.

Two Poems: “Elemental” and “Rain Dance”

Elemental

Water scares me most of all, the ocean 
faceless mother source of cells and 
maw of monsters waiting to reclaim. 
Do not drop my body there, to swell and 
drown, bloat white and smooth
crabs crawling from a flaccid mouth open 
under jellied eyes green mermaid hair
and dark holes home for arthropodic scuttlers. 
Give my body to the fire, the furnace
flames can carbonize this flesh to dust.
As ash return my atoms to the earth, to moss
and cedars, shady places under
mountains over streams.  There 
will water find me, mist and moisture
carry dust down nodding fernbanks to the creeks 
and then the rivers, then will I flow gently into god, that ocean.  
And what of air, fourth element
breath expiring over empty pages. Burn the paper with me
smoke will be my last breath. Fire to air to ash to earth
to mist to river to ocean finally claims me.


Rain Dance

I dress myself in cool evaporation clinging white cotton wet flower petal skirt bare feet leaving footprints that shine flash then sublimate. Droplets meandering cool trails on flesh tracing planes of my face fogging glasses and ears. Breath expiration releasing undressing reflections dot-trickle tickle long down my arm. Wisp cloud of modesty flirts and flees swift-blown a moving veil falls across a bright half-turned face. My body licked clean by the rain.



Wren Donovan’s poetry appears or is upcoming in Emerge Literary Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Harpy Hybrid Review, Honeyfire, Hecate Anthology, and elsewhere. Her piece Trivia placed second in Emerge’s recent prose poetry contest. She studied at Millsaps College, Chapel Hill, and Southern Mississippi. Wren lives in Tennessee and lurks on twitter @WrenDonovan.

Ode to the Imperfect Moon

 
O moon,
my east begins with you.
in your easy light
I stand beside the long
shadows of my life.
 
I want to swallow
the world but know
it won’t go down
so I turn these stones
and rotted logs
in search of crickets.
 
surely I can swallow
crickets, swallow them whole.
I say these words out loud:
tibia / femur / tarsus / claw.
and when I walk
my feet will sing.

Liane St. Laurent is an old dog learning new tricks. She has washed dishes, driven horse-drawn carriages, picked apples, taught English and is currently an IT professional. Recent work appears online and in print in The Banyan Review, The Penmen Review, Sidereal MagazineThe Poets’ Touchstone,  Emerge Literary Journal, among others. Liane lives in New Hampshire with her husband, their two dogs, and an array of woodland creatures. Catch her online at lianestlaurent.com or connect on Twitter @lianestlaurent