The Encounter

by Constance Hansen

I have abandoned
the desire to learn

the name of the woman
floating in my childhood

bathtub. The first time I asked,
she stepped out of her polka dot dress

and into a cloak of clamshells and kelp.
The second time, she just stood there

dripping saltwater on the bathmat.
The third time, her index finger rose

to her lips in warning gesture. I ran
into my brother’s room to swipe a soft

pack of Marlboro Reds in offering,
but when I returned, she was gone.

I wonder after her
no more or less often

than cathedral pigeons
shitting down a fractal staircase

marvel at the vanishing
miracle of math.



____


Constance Hansen is an editorial assistant at Poetry Northwest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at Harvard Review Online and EcoTheo Review. She was a finalist for the 2021 Fugue Poetry Contest. Constance holds degrees from Middlebury College (BA Religion), The University of Washington (MFA Poetry), and Seattle University (Masters in Teaching). She lives in Seattle with her partner and young daughters.

Meet Me

by Constance Hansen

At the edge
of the mistaken
lake. Meet me

at the edge
of the woods,
where water

only laps rocks
in the wind, which,
too, is moon-ruled.

Meet me under
the towering firs,
where girls hung

used tampons
by the tails, like mice
on a haunted

Christmas tree.
The sisters were weird.
They’d been saving

their fetid darlings
in film canisters
and ornamented

a wintering
rhododendron
with contagious magic

because they favored
the boy who slept
inside the window

it scratched. How
do I know this
is a confessional poem?

Because I was there.
Meet me at the edge
of memory & fantasy,

of childhood & adulthood,
of attraction & repulsion.
Meet me in the middle

of the lake that GPS
led the car deep into.
Meet me in a faith

such as that, however
terminal, however
misplaced.

Like the moon,
we float on water;
we’re always new again.



____


Constance Hansen is an editorial assistant at Poetry Northwest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming at Harvard Review Online and EcoTheo Review. She was a finalist for the 2021 Fugue Poetry Contest. Constance holds degrees from Middlebury College (BA Religion), The University of Washington (MFA Poetry), and Seattle University (Masters in Teaching). She lives in Seattle with her partner and young daughters.

Lifesaver

by Cyndie Randall

Look down. See me on
the subway platform. Say
hello. Pick me up, undress me,
put me in your mouth. I taste
good and it's surprising, like
peaches and summer in your childhood
swing. Tuck me between lip
and gum. Say hold on,
we're going for a ride. Feel
young again. Climb aboard
the electric flash. Pucker your face
and suck more me out of me.
Bob your head and whistle. Whisper
I'm glad I found you.
Tell me I'll always be
with you. Swallow. Miss me.
Tongue the raw of your cheek.



____

Cyndie Randall’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, DIAGRAM, Crab Creek Review, Longleaf Review, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, Pithead Chapel, The Pinch, and others. She works as a therapist in a small town near Lake Michigan and is also a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine. Find her on Twitter @CyndieRandall or at cyndierandall.com.

(Starlight) (Cricket) Template

by Beth Gordon

praise all future near misses:

meteor shower: study group: windshield crack: sparrow bones: smoke detector: detonator: backyard  
swimming pool: 

flying tire: funhouse gunshot: 

              starlight earthquake: 

frog invasion: flood plain 
wasp nest: manhole cover: 

              local time of error: praise:

praise the preacher on endless loop:

praise all neighbors with ambrosia salad: praise the china plate:

                         recite her morning: cricket chatter: cricket light pole: cricket   
                         hop scotch: cricket cabaret: praise her handprint: hold her
                         raindrops: lemon snail: mud pond sailboat: hermit crab: jump 

the sidewalk: jump the mousetrap:
praise the lonely dog/			          praise the broken chain:



____

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poetry has been published in Passages North, EcoTheo Review, SWWIM, Into the Void, Pidgeonholes, Barren, Pithead Chapel, and others. She is the author of two published chapbooks and her full-length collection, This Small Machine of Prayer, is forthcoming in 2021. She is Managing Editor of Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press.

(Icebox) (Transmission) Template

by Beth Gordon

The easy bake oven covered in soot.
Battery-powered and uninformed. What
can be wound can be rewound and finger
printed. 		                Please place this doll into the crib	    (exactly)
as you did your child. Ignore the police
officers who dial back your thermostat: they are sweating and homesick for mother’s
icebox lemon pie. Do not memorize
badge numbers. Gather her seahorse her comb
her shoestrings her unflustered purple bear.
							                                   Howl.
Coyotes and neighborhood dogs will arrive and dig holes to the moon. Bury
broken radio parts that will never 
be unburied. Translate all transmissions.



____

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother currently living in Asheville, NC. Her poetry has been published in Passages North, EcoTheo Review, SWWIM, Into the Void, Pidgeonholes, Barren, Pithead Chapel, and others. She is the author of two published chapbooks and her full-length collection, This Small Machine of Prayer, is forthcoming in 2021. She is Managing Editor of Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and Assistant Editor of Animal Heart Press.

if you don’t have milk, whipped cream will do

by Elly McCarthy

my recursive heart, tethered 
to the tides and what will and what
does—she pleads for milk, 
for all the wrong things to soothe 
the rash crawling up her spine 
like ambitious bougainvilleas 

as we cycle in and out of hibernation 
strung unknowingly along, a line 
of ducklings anchored to their mother 
I hypothesize about whether we can survive
another winter when they keep on 
arriving 

in absence of blatant rotting, we are still
intent on carrying out the process of dying
and I wonder where all the spiders are right now 
eyes hungry for tessellations, sensical sequences  
amidst the clouded afternoons 
I can’t help but

to love the existence of patterns and be 
forcibly bound to their iron heart 
sharp edges surprising, welcoming 
I urge her not to call these parts ugly 
to let them live another cycle unnamed 
not ready to part, yet constantly 
on the precipice 



____

Elly McCarthy currently lives in Chicago and spends as much time near the lake as possible. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in The Raven’s Perch and Hooligan Magazine’s Spilled Ink, among others. You can find her on Twitter at @naturallog_ 

FOUR SNAKES MAKES OUR FLAG

by C.T. Salazar

earth @ your lips earth saying I was a good
son and look where it got me look hard but
in the dark it’s impossible to know what flag
what fog + what face you’ll face thankfully
the dirt is always warm look @ me holding
the heat like terracotta it looks like weeping
how the angel must hide his face in his hands
a posture the artist mistook for grief but 
grief is most visible in the jaw winging 
pain only the shoulders can carry tend earth
and it blooms up your name in your mother’s
voice how you thought an angel must sound
all this trumpet vine who else would say your
name yes reason enough to acre the aching




____

C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking, forthcoming from Acre Books in 2022. He’s the 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. 

FOUR SNAKES MAKES OUR FLAG

by C.T. Salazar

you’re still here	opal in the creek begging
by and by 	 I reach across (to 
				                         /
					                       almost touch you)

              here’s history but bear with me, it’s bloody     God said
              be light    + the crocus the honeysuckle the callalily   we

used our hands for the worst of it	 we fell into a pile
of brown leaves that was mostly moths	+ collected

		rainwater in copper-bottomed pots  this
		isn’t the history I mentioned 		this
	
is rain washing into the radio, a voice hitting static

like birds flying into laundry   I put my ear 
to your chest  clouds 
                                        like rams   you undo the evening

with your hands alone		you don’t have to apologize
+ light wept down      I know even if you stay,

a lonely pink sky would wound us so




____

C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking, forthcoming from Acre Books in 2022. He’s the 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. 

10,000 Feet Above Sea Level

by Laura Passin

A hummingbird hangs like a drone,
tries to sip nectar from my breasts.

My father told me he and my mother, 
three marriages ago, camped in this same park, 
breathing each other inside the thin sky.

Sometimes you are the flower.

Sometimes you are the elegy yourself.

Sometimes you are the elsewhere,
            the seas, ineluctably rising.



____


Laura Passin is the author of Borrowing Your Body (Riot in Your Throat, 2021) and All Sex and No Story (Rabbit Catastrophe Press). She earned her PhD in English Literature at Northwestern and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Toast, Rolling Stone, Electric Literature, and Best New Poets. Laura lives in Denver with too many pets.

i woke up & it felt like spring

by Caelan Ernest

The birds, their hum. It’s           inevitable.  
I thought maybe it       was                                 rain,  
the strange music, the solitary disco,  
but nothing seems to be dancing.                                   It is  
far too early                                              to be dancing.  

Time warp, I thworp                                              within it.  
Wet, flapping at                         the                                             mouth,
and the last thing I need is more  
water.                                                           My tongue has become
a safe-haven for the plovers—  
each bud a sprite with                cooling salt  
the swans like to dip                                                                    their wings into.  

Shed                    gray-feather,                             darling,  
call                      everything your swan song  
from the bird bath        to the feeder and pretend           you  
were never the ugly                                                                         duckling
dancing                                                                   alone.



____

Caelan Ernest is a nonbinary poet, performer, and thingamajig living in Brooklyn, NY. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in WUSSY MagazineHayden’s Ferry ReviewBAEST JournalWe Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2020), The Poetry Project’s House Party, The Felt, and more. They hold an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute. They are Director of Publicity at Nightboat Books. Hit them up on social media: @transputation.