Nude

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

Fragile

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. 

Naked

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.

Breastwork

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.

Second Spring

I march now, dodging turds
pushing out sighs into the wind.
I head for the rocks, three men squatting on Top Field
without purpose. No-one has ever questioned them.
For a moment, the irony of newly fertilised earth
slows me down
then I spot wheeling birds over a dry spot, snort at their misfortune 
not to be seagulls circling hot chips.
Round the edges where Sunday brambles caught the little one
sunk in their claws because he’s The Late, The Last
I step it up a gear, try to outpace birthdays which make good jokes
head for the spire, where the field turns itself towards the squatters
leads bored dog walkers and sweaty women to the view. 

I perch on the right-hand man. Wonder
who would see if I rolled down the field like a kid
a pig in shit.
For a while I study my own eye-floaters, try to recall
when I first started nudging my specs away to read at night.
I caw back when a crow mocks me.
Back past the pond
teasing for something to break its surface
I toss in stone after stone after stone, rage at the wild-eyed scarecrow
but miss
wait for the church spire to pick me off like an olive.


Marie Little lives near fields with her husband, sons and a daft cat. She writes in the shed with buckets of tea. Marie has work featured in: Ink Sweat and Tears, Cool Rock Repository and The Cannon’s Mouth. She/Her. She is on Twitter @jamsaucer.   

tl;dr

No, not like that. I mean how once a man read an essay about how to fill an open field with flowers. It instructed him to seed poems like careful enjambment. What is left is a dangling question about how to dispose of a boulder blocking the path of the plough ahead. The way we remove the things we believe do not belong. I mean, yes, that excess is my concern. And what we do with excess—how it rolls between our fingers or tucks itself away into a pocket to be saved for later like the last stick of gum or a ball of collected lint. What remains? That he grows poems while I fold the laundry. You cannot know if a boulder is blocking the plough. You must first run into it. And meanwhile he talks about all the ways it is impossible to know if enough is too much; if too much is exactly enough. What am I saying? Too long; I didn’t read. I am busy devising clever ways to move stone by crafting a lever from all these scraps of paper. I am tucking these words under soil in the hope that they will grow. I mean this isn’t something either you or I can control. Not poetry; I mean what will happen next, forever.



____

Danielle Rose is the author of two short books, at first & then and The History of Mountains. Her work can be found in Palette, Hobart & Pithead Chapel.

Gigan for Beat Downpour

Another lonesome today– 	I shut the door 	to my bedroom. Pop in 	my earbuds– 
bits 	    of beat		of water.	Raindrops knock 		like unexpected guests. 

Instant humidity	    wet with Summer 		sprinkle swamps 	up lush heat.
A budding greenhouse. 	Lightning becomes strobe, animating 	my simple 	
silhouettes into domestic discotheque. 	Walls extend outward, room 	 unrooming

inciting my body 	to multiply  		into my plural versions. 	Condensation collects 
on skin like clothing. 		Crackling tremors prism 		rainbow light across 

my unsealed 		ceiling, bursted.	 Strikes of beat bring feet to movement, splashing 
inhibition. Sound 	tracks, syncing. 	Heartbeats. 		Every pulse, blades of grass 

sprout 		through the brown 	carpet, now indistinguishable 	from the Earth– 
I feel a lighter lonesome. This today 		I’ve opened 	a door toward impossibility to stasis.	 

My various versions collect 	like condensation 	in praise 	dance for our empress of 
monsoon. 	We blur into bits. 		We quench	 	everything, cloudburst 
tongues 	licking 		perspiration 		precipitation. 		Abrupt transitions 

us back into me 	& the choreography 	of quiet.	Grass 	recedes, still glistening 
petrichor’s fragrance, sly 		wet testament 			to liquid metamorphosis– 



___

Aerik Francis (they/them/he/him) is a Queer Black & Latinx poet based in Denver, Colorado, USA. They are a Canto Mundo poetry fellow and a The Watering Hole fellow. They are also a poetry reader for Underblong poetry journal. They have poetry published widely, links of which may be found at linktr.ee/Aerik . Find them on IG/TW @phaentompoet