When I dream of you now you’re always writing
often in verse, leaving shape-poem diamonds
for me to find on 1990s monitors
in our old residence hall on College Street.
They say, we were disaster held
in common. Say, I
know you loved
and tried, although
Another night you’re in prestigious journals,
have shed your family name.
You touch my arm
and say you didn’t know, then, who you were.
And I’m not jealous. I know you're my mind
speaking to me, leaving letters on my pillow.
You won’t exit ungracefully for that lover,
all you want is to be near and exchange kindness.
I didn’t know who I was then, you say sadly,
And I say, that’s all right, come hold me now.
Catherine Rockwood reads and edits for Reckoning Magazine, and reviews books for Strange Horizons. Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors To Obtain Perpetual Motion, is available from The Ethel Zine Press. A micro chapbook, And We Are Far From Shore: poems for Our Flag Means Death, is forthcoming from Ethel in 2023.
Immortal jellyfish, as their name blasts in your face,
Live forever. And what do they do with that?
What sonnets have they written? What thoughtful proofs
Have they submitted to a jury of their mathematical peers?
I’d settle for an aria of unsurpassed beauty,
One you’d do whatever necromancy required (herbs,
A piebald goat’s thymus, an incantation about the firstborn)
To bring Maria Callas back to sing.
To think there are people
Alive who heard Callas, maybe not in her prime,
But when you are supreme, the shoulder season is glorious.
Like roses. They’re bred for continual beauty
Or fragrance, even if they are not the top note
In any perfume I want to wear; grey amber,
Ambergris, floated in to cold beaches, whales’ beneficence.
Remind me why we left the sea? We come back every year
If we can. Implausible, scaly mermaids (never mermen)
Cannot lose their appeal. Dolphins, my son tells me,
Are always ready to fuck.
Daisy Bassen is a poet and community child psychiatrist who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, Smartish Pace, and [PANK] as well as multiple other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.
Whale Foam, Sea Honey
Clouds bruise the night,
defile every map the stars
scribble on its open palm.
I lose direction, hardly
see the maw of indecision
before it wraps me in teeth
& tongue, traps me
in another skin. I breathe
air sour as surrender
in this cavern of bone
unflensed. If only the moon
flowers bloomed in this
darkness to light
the way to change—
Cobble a raft of squid beaks
& seaweed & slip
into ocean where salt cleanses,
sun hardens, wind blows
sweet instead of foul.
Shed the corset of control,
breathe sea-gold upon the shore.
red-pickup men pass me & my bike on montlake
their dog-tongues unfurl & then bark thunder thighs & then
the sound of vinegar & then I stop my body & then I eat
their words & then my belly hurts & then I face my pretty face
& then I sing strange hips to prove my worth & then I blue-
pill my fat & then I breathe too much & then I grow arms inside
my arms legs inside my legs & then I claim my space & then
a man christens my limbs thighs of the world & then we
pack and travel & then we glory each other & then he forgets
parts despise whole & then I skin ice to stay warm & then I curdle
his blessing & then I sing my hips to claim my worth & then I write
a new ocean & then I braid breath into wind & then I garden wide
and always & then I refuse to disappear
Lynne Jensen Lampe was born in Newfoundland and raised in Wisconsin and Louisiana. Her collection Talk Smack to a Hurricane will be out September 2022 (Ice Floe Press). Her poems—which often deal with conformity, sanity, gender, and faith—appear in many journals, including Figure 1, Yemassee, The American Journal of Poetry, One, and Rock & Sling, as well as SMEOP: Urban, a UK anthology. A finalist for the 2020 Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize, she lives with her husband and two dogs in Columbia, Missouri. When she’s not throwing squeaky toys, she makes time to edit academic books and journals. Find her online at http://lynnejensenlampe.com
Hinged at the hip, I lift the veil of woolly
thyme, where threads of bindweed disappear,
white into earth. Arrowed leaves coil sedum,
milkvetch, hyssop’s sweet mint—my hyssop
thrumming with this solitary bee, night after
night. Smoke-penned, we despair, absent rain,
record heat, dirt’s covering of the root
of the root: long taps that circumnavigate
underworld. Haunt us, enigmatic
endings, while demons at midday publish
our work from rooftops. Reveal things never
before revealed. Snap under the pull of my hand—
white as the next fear. White as the next
thunderbolt to take the mountain and leave
no rain. As the horse, messageless.
Kathryn Knight Sonntag is the author of the poetry collection The Tree at the Center (BCC Press, 2019). She has recent and forthcoming poems in Colorado Review, Ethel, Rock & Sling, The Shore, Psaltery & Lyre, The Inflectionist Review, and the anthology Blossom as the Cliffrose (Torrey House Press, 2021). She works as a freelance writer and landscape architect in Salt Lake City. kathrynknightsonntag.com
Days drip warm honey
colored sunlight through
verdant velvet cutouts
maple and oak.
Your wheat stalk hair and
China rose cheeks
sweat beads a diadem
while wind-chime laughter rises on the breeze
I click you into a memory
Katelyn Botsford Tucker is a teacher and writer. She paints, is often caffeinated, and absolutely terrified of outer space. You can find her on Twitter @KatelynBotsford.
I thought it was clear—
but the instructor
said he didn’t know
what was happening.
that the stanza break
in the two stanza poem
I couldn’t find words,
but the women,
in the workshop,
said it was clear—
it wasn't evident.
the women agreed—
it is clear,
it is clear,
it is clear.
Dustin Brookshire is the curator of the Wild & Precious Life Series and founding editor of Limp Wrist. He is the author of two chapbooks—Love Most Of You Too (Harbor Editions, 2021) and To The One Who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012). With Julie E. Bloemeke, Dustin is co-editing a forthcoming Madville Publishing Dolly Parton anthology. Visit Dustin online at www.dustinbrookshire.com.
My mother, in her crimson coat,
crosses the pedestrian bridge,
refusing to use its green railings.
Follows the fox-footed snow
to the lake. Her eyes, hungry,
on its wind-whipped waves.
All weekend she gets asked,
Am I walking too fast for you?
All day she is told to speak louder;
by the couple we drank with
when the storm knocked out power, by
the kind waiter who moved here from India.
Speak up, please dear! I can't hear.
On the lakeshore, Mom pauses
to examine a Japanese barberry––
red branches vibrant as an artery
against the gray sky. She kneels,
slowly, to brush off the snow
from a single wild daisy.
Lisa Alletson’s poems and prose can be found in New Ohio Review, Crab Creek Review, Typehouse Literary, Gone Lawn, and other journals. She writes on Twitter at @Lotustongue. This poem is included in her book ‘Good Mother Lizard’ – winner of the 2022 Headlight Review chapbook prize.
how the water
came and went. what repelled it from this land. the full trace. traced back where there are too many
moths at the mouth of the creek
vena cava heart, cracked, unleashed what I had been holding
in, intermingled. I watch the reverse-rot of the flora from behind the glass, wings brushing against
my ears, each bolstered by the word that held them captive, spinning in trained circles.
shadows undulate on the glass, take me back to when the loam was formed, made, shaped from the
muse who falls, bruises, and sighs the carving into existence.
the rift remains soft, buffered by her
breathing, in and out, slowly, calling for something to fill.
night condenses itself into heavy
blackberries, which burrow themselves into the empty space, bursting, bleed violet. the creek flows
from where it began — below.
I watch the first creatures haul themselves to the edge, sip it, and fall,
unconscious, not yet used to its toxic purity. clusters of green unfurl, roots deep in the underground.
grow delicate red limbs to pull toxic water through and puncture themselves with globules —
sundew. filter all that is needed to redistribute decay. the sun dips, grows heavy, tumbles down the
gathering leaves, birch bark, twigs, bees. plunges, then bobs to the surface, bubbling
the creek, turning the lavender water yellow, a boil, and then sinks as quick as its descent began.
a fox screams, my hand raises to the glass, melting it away. the creek blows back, breath funnels itself
toward the water, making way for me, keeper of this place. keeper of the records. keeper of streams.
moths swarm my head clashing in my ears
I brush them away but they stick to my skin, leaving
trails of deep blue. the scene repeats.
Scarlett Eliza Wardrop is a poet with an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. Her poems can be found in Diagram, DELUGE, and Dream Pop Journal and reviews in EcoTheo Review, Entropy, and Kenyon Review.
they look inside the palm of a mother’s hand and find
what had been sought after for every generation:
evidence that each zippered genome marries itself with
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood.
What had been sought after for every generation?
documented traumas informing clinicians of circumstances, of
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood,
answering pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”
documented traumas inform clinicians of circumstances of
who precedes daughters, and who preceded her, and she who
answers pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”
answer: her predecessor, whose softness contains multitudes of dysfunction.
the one who precedes every new daughter, duplicating traits she loathes from herself,
imposing imperfection to descendants in her line of genetic mutation.
each element she originates streaming through each vulva, each lip
different than the ones before and each child asks “what’s wrong
with me?” as hairs pepper their cusps hued congo pink, ellipses trail torsos,
lines burrowing further as years pass, striping their bodies with inheritance
of weight watchers on fridays and hiit classes on sundays at fourteen,
all are a scapegoat from her cervix migrating across the generational gap
all are pressing their lips together, puckering vulvas between their thighs
praying the tingling goes away when they see outlines of breasts, praying
numbness dissipates when they sit on a park bench, praying it all breaks, preventing
what they found inside the palm of her mother’s hand.
Kay E. Bancroft (they/them) is a queer non-binary poet, educator, editor, and reviewer from Cincinnati, OH. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from Randolph College, and a BA from the University of Cincinnati. They serve as Poetry reader for Frontier Poetry and Poetry/Hybrid reader for Longleaf Review. You can find their writing in Voicemail Poems, Hooligan Magazine’s “Spilled Ink,” Cotton Xenomorph, Longleaf Review, The Rumpus, Beyond Queer Words, and more. Explore their work at kayebancroftpoet.com
It was your birthday
in the back room of Confetti's, with tiki cages
and a dance floor like a boxing ring. I saw him
holding you, cradling your ass against the zipper
of his blue jeans. I wished I were a monster—mouth full
of fangs and rusted keys, fingers like the sharp, marble peaks
of mountains I'll never climb. I wanted to be that beast, baby,
if only to scare him away, to keep his hands out of that hair of yours.
Driving to school the next day, your neck was covered
in cherry pits. It was hot. I kept the windows down.
Hunter Burke (he/they) is a queer poet and performer originally from Friendswood, Texas. His work has been previously published in Passengers Journal, Impossible Archetype, The Beacon, and on poets.org. He was the recipient of the 2019 William C. Weathers Memorial Prize for Poetry. Hunter currently lives in New York City. Instagram: @hemmett__