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.
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
We kick a heart into the snow with our winter boots
Drop our wet things to the floor,
climb the stairs in our underwear
From the window, two question marks, each
asking the other. We kiss, a symmetry
of imperfection, a shape no math
could predict. We sleep and listen
to the radiator tend our shirts and socks. Listen
to see if the form we made holds through the night
In the morning we go back and pierce it clear through
with an arrow where it swells the most
Jeffrey Hermann‘s poetry and prose has appeared in Hobart, Palette Poetry, trampset, Juked, Kissing Dynamite, The Shore, and other publications. Though less publicized, he finds his work as a father and husband to be rewarding beyond measure
her head held
static, like a sparrow-
hawk steadies its body
while its eye
is stapled to the sky behind it
as it emerges
from its fur ruff
like roasted fowl
rising from a crammed platter
so still, slicked lips through
on sun-parched paving,
until the clamour of injury,
panic and breath like thin tins,
the nearest thing,
or softest substitute
all I can locate -
not a canteen,
but its ancient box,
from petrel, fuzzy
onto the floor,
with an eternal
one-eyed view of the fire
slide, hollow, under the child’s
floundering head, as I challenge her
through clown’s lips
to push my hand
with her belly
like it’s the most natural thing in the world
Alex Innocent is a poet from Yorkshire, who chooses to live in Norwich. ‘Moist’ is one of her favourite words. Among her other favourite things are caffeine, prime numbers, and writing short third person biographies.
“…the homosexual was now a species.” — Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I
you did, at least after
learned of my want
of a different
a few aberrant
from a coveting,
that does not abandon me
even after my wrist is
raw until I start
as if boys
could ever know penance
when raised on
such that they latch onto
the promise of
Yet you forgave me,
but I wondered for what:
in my mouth
you did not expect
to encounter there,
your conclusion that I am
only my wanting.
Travis Chi Wing Lau (he/him/his) is Assistant Professor of English at Kenyon College. His research and teaching focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, health humanities, and disability studies. Alongside his scholarship, Lau frequently writes for venues of public scholarship like Synapsis: A Journal of Health Humanities, Public Books, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Barren Magazine, Wordgathering, Glass, South Carolina Review, Foglifter, and The New Engagement, as well as in two chapbooks, The Bone Setter (Damaged Goods Press, 2019) and Paring (Finishing Line Press, 2020). [travisclau.com]
The sidewalk wears a sunset
of rot. Brittle wrought iron,
sloughing oxidation and peeling
paint hems lapping seams.
The reservoir is crimped
secure. Signs warn us
not to trespass, water only
wet for our eyes. Wary
fingertips page parched foxtail
split ends, how many bodies
one handful can rip, barbs drawn
down into useless blades,
hay and seeds crush unsaid
into roughage. Silence inflates
lungs with sticky humidity. Doves flee
our sleeves, slipping through
the barricade, their last
great trick, drowning
in water that isn’t ours. Still,
ducks splash down, perfect
skipped stones, while we
examine our hands close,
to check for blood and rust.
Andrea Krause (she/her) lives in Portland, Oregon. She introverts inconspicuously on Twitter at @PNWPoetryFog. In the summer, you can find her resting in a hammock between giants.
I wake up at 7:45 and imagine how I would feel about a woman sitting on my face and decide then and there that there has to be a better way to determine my sexuality. As an abstract fantasy and tangibly there is no gender that I want to see looking down at me before I eat my oatmeal. At night I find lesbian porn that for once doesn’t feel like straight women kissing. Like my queer feelings, the porn was always there and I just had to look for it. My therapist tries to tell me that I don’t need to figure out my sexuality and that will I ever really know? I know that the correct response is obviously doctor you’ve never been a  year old girl [who feels imposter syndrome about wanting to kiss women.] I say nothing. I worry that I’m not ““bisexual enough”” (?) until I run out of energy to care about labels. As someone who tries to avoid appropriating experiences that aren’t mine I sure do diagnose myself with extraneous conditions. One day I will be the bisexual girl who cried illness. Until then I am just bisexual and for once not crying.
Lucia Gallipoli is an undergraduate student concentrating in sexuality, love, and art. She is probably lost somewhere in the cycle of worshipping Mitski and Kate Bush via Spotify and forgetting that they exist for a few weeks. Her book reviews can be found on Instagram @TenderPages.
Today, I shuttle the lime tree from sunbeam to sunbeam like a cat, clap gnats stigmatic. Today writers introduce themselves to themselves, outraged. Today is hardball sugar suction gone compost.
Today, an unexpected bequest from a great aunt! Signatures and mailings; runcinated circular stamp. Today is waxy paper; a long, light box carried backward up stairs; hundreds of stitches to bind protection; cold under cotton.
Today is eggs bathed bright; walkie-talkie on walkabout; pans of old dirt smuggled from under an overturned carpet; hamburgers passed through a window. Today a tabby pounces on grasshopper-shaped foam; rows of knots restructure thread into elastic; oranges disemboweled and reconstituted cryogenic; observant video image carried through half-unpacked house.
Today is a caffeine-powered bulb stuttering leaves or beams through fog or ground and intermittent cold. Today is anxious awakening before dawn certain I slept through my alarm; a back that won't unclench; a frayed body tenting bodies more threadbare. Today a loved mother beat blood cancer and died of bacterial infection; animals roamed the house searching for missing children; part of a voice rubbed off before it left my throat.
Today is a braid to the jugular; outsourced drugstore condolences; three pots simmering jowl to jowl. Today is regurgitated leaves; missed doses; cut nostril; mineral ring around the reservoir; blue ribbon dither. Today an Oreo impersonates a macaron; methanethiol smell of new asphalt shingles across the sash; revenue service checks.
Today is a drawing haltingly colored; heaving fur perched on two pillows; a pirate's gold hoop; a cup of methylated xanthines; chartreuse toenails. Today I propose alternate terminology based on pinball machines and computer architecture; agonies of a northbound waistband. Today, a photosynthetic teleporter accident congests in the buffer; snapped threads knotted await reinforcement; a translated letter apologizes for another timeline; manful rubber dinghies in laudation.
Today has a hundred names; a bin-stuck bag; unexplained puddles the size of sand dollars. Today is fairy-fist ice knocking each window; song's melody missing; arrival date lost; message sent in secret; secret message displayed deniably; circle of air with the worst removed. Today, a negotiation of nations with nations; unexpected snow slush inch; fish the space heater from a dusty closet.
Today's list gets longer as I strike tasks off; I know the connotation of vacation versus leave, know English and American robins are different birds; elliptic resumption. Today sent noise in circles round the block; new jokes to show the speakers aren't comedians, enjoy companionship; textural inversion of popcorn pudding and crunchy applesauce; congratulations in wire.
Today is the morning wail of an electric saw, flat-tire prunes. Today, a backyard train simulation; short pants pulled off high shelf; dirt siphoned from a rotating tub; speculative audience for European cinema.
Today, a naughty circle is in the hearts; a brand new woman; scooter skullduggery; child-dangerous pellets through the greensward. Today, my parents are shot; a computer and I guess at each other's gaps; performative resentful reading; the demand to choose a hobby.
Today, claims of lustrous skin are not supported by the FDA; a pickup baseball field is larger than Fenway but smaller than Central Park; rumored aphrodisiac of dreams; watercolor flowers 33 years apart. Today is old lint gripped by plastic chopsticks, angled wooden spoon; visible lines on erased faces; itchy pebbles; absentee morning; last week's memory at ten times speed.
Today's newscast: a salesperson warns us we are professional hairstylists with psoriasis. Today split my trousers with muscularity; discussion of lung anatomy, inflated and not; bone corridors beneath Paris. Today, I deprive myself of sleep to reach an altered state, transcendental. Today is good riddance; blood spot cleanup; centers dissolve but the outer wall holds. My breasts remain my breasts.
Romie Stott is a poetry editor at Strange Horizons. Her poems have most recently appeared in The Deadlands, On Spec, Polu Texni, and Dreams&Nightmares. As a narrative filmmaker (working mainly as Romie Faienza), Romie has been a guest artist at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Dallas Museum of Art, and the National Gallery (London). She is currently involved with an experimental photosymphony about the Tokyo train system. You can find her portfolio at romiesays.tumblr.com.
I am done toying with lies she says
to bee as she guzzles sadness
from bee’s inner thigh
I have never been
a follower nor addicted
to a queen she sighs,
throat deep in yellow stardust and I wish
someone would believe me as she climbs
into bee’s hair and combs honey from her roots I have never
known love as hungry
as this I am certain I have never known.
Madeleine Corley (she/her) is a writer by internal monologue. Currently, she serves as managing editor at Barren Magazine. Her work is forthcoming/has appeared in Stoneboat Literary, Olney Magazine, No Contact, HAD, and more. Find her on twitter @madelinksi or on her website wrotemadeleine.com. Honeydew water is underrated.
There’s a chair in my mother’s room
bought at a thrift store for $15,
loosely wearing an orange and black
cover, like a still-drunk woman wears
last night’s stained nightgown.
Her drinking chair. I recognize well
how the hollow hours passed there.
I’ve spent those same hours, days, weeks,
months, years, decade—fingers pressed
to the pipe, straw poised, pills crushed, liquor
chugged: I never got invited back to parties.
I sat in her chair, not high, but false mighty.
Delirium tremens kept her in intensive care.
Again. I dumped her uncracked bottle of rum,
my favorite brand, down her kitchen sink.
I stayed to speak with a woman after a local AA
meeting, crying on her shirt—I still haven’t taken a drink,
a technicality. Here I sit in my own little room, seat
of my mind where nothing can ever be fine, loops,
spirals, misfires. Nothing good pours from me but need.
Dry drunk with claw marks in the arms of my chair.
Christina Xiong is the author of Ghost Monogamies (Ghost City Press 2019) and The Gathering Song (Finishing Line Press 2018). Christina’s work has appeared in Versification, Poke, Cotton Xenomorph, Brave Voices Magazine, and others. She’s a freelance editor and collage artist, often working with found objects to create tactile art.