To Luba, from where we began

by Catherine Rockwood
A floating cloud has forgotten its last rising.

Forgetfulness of all kinds is a great splitter of forms.

Everything is wavering between what it remembers and forgets.

Wind pursues the cloud; the cloud dissolves itself.

What does a cloud gain by remembering?

The towers of silence are the province of a careful word.

A clepsydra weeps in time, because of what it’s forgotten.

Dew is the lost memory of clouds. 

Who shall keep the keepers?  Anyone.

By remembering, a cloud gains in competence what it loses in deftness.

It endeavors to obtain perpetual motion so that it may remain uninstructed.

Everything is wavering between what it remembers and forgets.

Remembering, a cloud will weep in time.

Catherine Rockwood’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Reckoning MagazineScoundrel Time, SWWIM, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and elsewhere.  You can find her nonfiction and reviews in JMWW, Mom Egg Review, and Strange Horizons.  Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors to Obtain Perpetual Motion, is forthcoming from the Ethel Zine Press in 2022.   


	

Giovanna Garzoni, Flowers in a glass vase

by Catherine Rockwood

Let me drown deep. Let me be lost and found
inside this vase I once set on the ground.
Lopsided glass, quick-fused to a small base.  

That’s easiest.  Above it, thick, a crush
of softening flowers, cut in early hush
by servants of the palle who deferred

each choice to me.  And then, all day, I looked.
The painter’s secret’s what the painter took,
her hours.  Find in my work record of those

wherever leaf declines, where the red poppy
bright daffodil, smooth tulips and narcissi
subside with heads drawn downward by the dark

that blooms inside the vessel holding them.  
Their water’s somewhat old and every stem
pressed up against the glass has lost its prime

but I these glories spent in saving	          mine.  

Catherine Rockwood‘s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Reckoning MagazineScoundrel Time, SWWIM, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and elsewhere.  You can find her nonfiction and reviews in JMWW, Mom Egg Review, and Strange Horizons.  Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors to Obtain Perpetual Motion, is forthcoming from the Ethel Zine Press in 2022.   

Nervous Endings

by Jessica Q. Stark
Eros is everywhere. It is what binds.
—John Updike 

She's young in age but knows her sage
She knows a page or two from the book of the luck
—Princess Nokia


Like a probable god, I am

the archetype of a shape


small desires at the end

of my arms and nose


of houses and undone 

hours against bone


This is a memory test. I am going to read a list of words 
that you will have to remember now and later on. Listen carefully. 
When I am through, tell me as many words as you can remember. 
It doesn’t matter in what order you say them.

Village-Love-Body-Airplane-War-Sacrifice-Ocean-Food-Family


What happens against 

a body occupied


a clock’s antidote to

a gone-village, gone


home for dispersion—

an absence, a little 

string laid out 

on life’s plank


on the phone

my mother worries

about her death, what


time it will be

who will care

who will take


she drinks


green tea against life’s

petty inflammations


childhood of rice
childhood of smallpox

of dirty water
and dead brothers—

her mother’s infection


impressing upon the

fabric of her body

like loose thread


I’m older now, she says

a little incantation as 


permission to stay

stone-still against 


memory’s stable—


the food between us

that she lets rot


I am going to read the same list for a second time. 
Try to remember and tell me as many words as you can, 
including words you said the first time.

Family-Sacrifice-Love-Village-Airplane-Ocean-Food-Body-War


What of a village?

My mother left

an airplane 


and returned twenty

years later to a hole in


her body, my body

like a net of 

decisions unmade


you can resist death,

but you can’t refuse

water—can’t garbage


a little white lie


she says the first time

she saw the ocean


she was up so high

moving away 

from every


known word

through blue sky


she moves slower

now and dyes her hair

weekly against


love’s firmament


what is an age,

but accumulation,


but a finite template

for life’s choices—


to move, 
to be still,
to love plainly, 
or to survive


I will ask you to recall those words again at the end of the test.

Body-War-Village-Sacrifice-Family-Love-Airplane-Food- 


		Ocean 
		 
	
Ocean 
			Ocean
 




Jessica Q. Stark, a native Californian, is a poet, editor, and educator living in Jacksonville, Florida. She is the author of three chapbooks, including her latest, INNANET: Love Poem for the Internet (The Offending Adam, 2021). Her full-length poetry book, Savage Pageant, was published by Birds, LLC in 2020. She is a Poetry Editor of AGNI and the Comics Editor for Honey Literary. She teaches writing at the University of North Florida.

Hanging the Bat House

by Bryan Moats
I
I can see down into what used to be
a cattle dipping pond, 
where at least one horse is buried
and lawnmower batteries rot. 
I can hear geese. I can smell rooftops. 

II
White knuckling the swaying 
branchless pine, 
twenty-five feet high, this is also where I keep 
my fog knife safe. Folded up 
in the airstream. It rains. It is raining.

III
Great puddles of thinking just deep enough 
to please the bright Indian Runner 
and the weight of some fat Muscovy. Water 
seeks gaps in suet. To ruin the bird’s seed. 
To keep me in bed. To yawn all over me. 

IV
I begin churning clarity 
the moment I hear thunder on the way, 
bouncing over the surface 
of the forest’s ready ministries. They have settled 
and spread out as a fog at twenty-five feet above the valley floor.

V
It still rumbles. Now the thickness
of dawn and its sister, 
an overfed cat, join me
at the top of the swaying naked pine. 
We sway. We are swaying.

VI
We never know where to go with this
moment. We never know where to go with
this top-heavy moment. Like three
sedate Harold Lloyds.
Accidentally going on with things. Slicing nothing.

Bryan Moats lives in rural Arkansas with his family of five. He is a farmer, illustrator, volunteer firefighter, writer and former editorial art director for the Arkansas Times. Find Bryan on Twitter @BryanMoats or Instagram @brynomite.

Call When You Get There

by Rachel Trousdale

For CAM

The Milky Way, like crumbs on top
              of a vast galette—studded
with ripe planets, like figs—
	      how you have enjoyed
everything you taste;
	      as you pass Alpha Centauri,
please, find a radio signal
	       sent to us by the sulphur beings
of the horsehead nebula,
	       and into their code add instructions
for tasting this last bottle
	       of the wine you left behind
	       .
	       .
	       .

Rachel Trousdale is an associate professor of English at Framingham State University. Her poems have appeared in the Yale Review, the Nation, RHINO, and Diagram, among other places. Rachel is the author of the poetry chapbook, Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone, and her latest critical book, The Joking Voice: Humor and Empathy in Twentieth-Century American Poetry, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Find Rachel on Twitter @rvtrousdale.

“It may not have been the rain at all.”

— Joseph Cornell (dream journal entry 12/11/61)

by Lee Potts

I’ve mistaken the specks and threads floating 
in my old eyes for crows against storm clouds. 
Rain interrogates the shape of everything 
it falls on and finds the sword hidden 

in every monument’s history. But once it ends 
there’s always a catastrophic forgetting.
The rain becomes rivers, the skies always clear. 
We’ll see constellations cross the ancient stage 

for our tiny applause tonight. They always hit 
their marks. I’m a man. I’m allowed to forget 
about my own body. To even forget that it’s bound 
to dissolve like some soft gritty pill under 

God’s own tongue.

Lee Potts is an Orison Anthology nominee with work in Firmament, Rust + Moth, Whale Road Review, UCity Review, Parentheses Journal, Sugar House Review, and other journals. He is poetry editor at Barren Magazine and his first chapbook, And Drought Will Follow, will be released in April 2021. Lee lives just outside Philadelphia with his wife and their last kid still at home.

I did not notice the birds

by Michael Sun

It was raining. It was raining that late fall rain, just-shy-of-snow kind-of-rain.
Gray sky, so I was watching my feet kind-of-rain. The kind of rain that puddles
shallow in the sidewalk, makes slick the faded reds of stamped-down leaves,
so I watched my black sneakers, toe over toe. The bone-chill rain washed out
my memory of warmth, the two cups of coffee in me gone cold, so I walked
down 53rd with my hands in my blue raincoat, and my head down.
                                              I did not notice the birds until they flew up past me.
Gray and brown birds that must have been pecking for food. Those sparrows,
juncos, or finches – or whatever they were – they must have been there
the whole time. But walking with my head down, in the rain, my hands
in my blue raincoat, I saw the earth rise. I saw wings lift from dirt.
From nothing, from nowhere, which is to say, I wasn’t paying attention
because of the rain. Because my head was down, and when I looked up,
they had already gone, dissolved beyond fences. And I wasn’t even that
depressed, I just wasn’t paying attention, and the birds, the birds flew
from nowhere and surprised me so, so surprised I had to tell you about it.
I confess, I wasn’t looking for wonder, didn’t even want it this rainy morning,
but it happened. I am so happy it happened. A flight of birds from nothing
gone to nowhere, and oh, if you see me weep this time I swear it’s joy.

Michael Sun (he/him) is a Korean American poet from the suburbs of Chicago. A graduate of Dartmouth College and attendee of the 2019 Frost Place Conference, his poems appear in Hobart After Dark, The Compass Magazine, and Bloodroot Literary. He is currently a medical student at the University of Chicago and tweets at @theprodigal_sun.

Swamp Thing Has a Change of Heart About Invasive Species

by Jack Bedell

When I was a man, I used to sit on the end of the dock fretting over hyacinths and nutria clogging up the bayou. I had genuine dread over tiger shrimp wiping out our local species. Now, hidden in the palmettos, I watch government skiffs putt downstream with agents cradling their guns and dropping depth charges into the water, and I can’t help but root for the carp leaping at their helmets, can’t stop praying for the snakeheads here to grow large enough to pull these men out of their tents at night and drag them into the water for safekeeping.

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern ReviewPidgeonholesThe ShoreOkay DonkeyEcoTheoThe HopperTerrain, and other journals. His latest collection is Color All Maps New (Mercer University Press, 2021). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

The Capable

by Samantha DeFlitch

Through the rain-haze, the tollbooth appears 
heavy on the land, asking so much, demanding.
The night extracts. The rain-could-be-snow
takes our final dime. We could be gentle, here: 
the lagging deer can, given time and necessity, 
clear the berm. Once, even God slowed down
their car on the turnpike and waited for the lame
animal to pass. A wild and elemental moment for
God, who knew, and knows, and will know when 
all things die - but in this moment, gentle goes 
the passage, and it its own time. This is just to say: 
I, too, am worthy of the holy moment, this kind 
dimming of the headlights amid deluge and asphalt. 
Please: don't deal me out. Name me capable and
point my body where the road will guide me home.
Capable: it means bringing food to the children 
without hope. See: I drag my leg behind as I push
pills past the dog's throat; worthy woman trudging
through a remarkable life. Overhead, hanging 
far beyond the Pittsburgh smog and rain, stars 
have come out in real soaring spirals and the deer 
has taken up some yowl. A tired animal, and soft with 
eyes saying please: I was here. Don't forget about me. 

Samantha DeFlitch received her MFA from the University of New Hampshire, where she is the Associate Director of the Connors Writing Center. She is the author of Confluence (Broadstone Books, 2021). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Appalachian Review, On the Seawall, Driftwood Press, and Hobart, among others, and she is the 2018 recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her corgi dog, Moose.

Let’s Be Christian Soldiers: Activity and Coloring Book – 1950s

by Megan McDermott

I am ready to detest you
until the Etsy listing
shows me your Joan
of Arc illustration,
and I am swept up
in a moment of
girl power feminism
and/or bisexual swooning
for my imagined
crush: Joan, the saint
I would date if I had
to date a saint. Onward
Christian soldiers
becoming acceptable
if it’s me and Joan.
Yes, let’s be. Me and
her both “brave, bold
heroine”s, though I’ll
wear a dress and let
my hair swing across
my lower back. I
would bumble on
battlefields but
could maybe match
her “flaming spirit,”
being both woman
preacher and drama
queen. Let’s be
Christian soldiers
and never die.
Let’s be Christian
soldiers and forget
also how to kill.
Let’s be Christian
soldiers, enflame
our spirits with God,
with each other,
with tongue.

Megan McDermott is a poet and Episcopal priest living in Western Massachusetts. In 2018, she graduated from Yale Divinity School with a certificate from the Institute of Sacred Music, an interdisciplinary program dedicated to religion and the arts. Her debut chapbook Prayer Book for Contemporary Dating will be out later this year from Ethel Zine and Micro-Press, and recent poems have been published in The Night Heron Barks, Miniskirt Magazine, 8 Poems, and Amethyst Review. Find out more at meganmcdermottpoet.com