We’re on vacation, and we hope you are, too!

If you need a SWWIM Every Day fix, please visit our Archives. We’ll be back September 1st!

However, we are still reading, so please do keep submitting. We might be a little bit slower to respond, but we WILL get back to you!

Until then, Keep SWWIMing.


XO,
Jen & Catherine

by Hilary King

The day my 10-year-old daughter started taking Prozac,
I go full baggallini. Cry-walk into my local gift shop,
stationery in the back, greeting cards up front,
in between bath salts, travel alarms, fuzzy socks.
This was my mother’s store. Not mine. Not

yet. Please not yet the need for socks both fuzzy
and slip-proof. Couldn’t I still trust where I tread
in the world? Until my daughter needed a pill
to push through her clouds, I kept my dreams loose,
tossed into whatever I carried with me every day.

I was ambitious and Christ my shoulder hurt, carrying
a bag full of notebooks,books, pens, lipstick,
another notebook, another book.
If an hour or an idea appeared, I was ready.
Now, therapists and teacher conferences later,

I wanted a separate pocket each for
grief, for anger, for courage.
What I needed to be ready for now
had to be packed precisely and worn throughout the body,
right across the heart.

*This poem won First Place in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hilary King is lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She writes poetry as a way of witnessing, as an aid to memory, as a way to explore the ever enduring mystery of human beings. Her poems have appeared in Fourth River, Belletrist, PANK, Blue Fifth Review, Cortland Review, Mom Egg Review, Gyroscope, and other publications. She is the author of the book of poems, The Maid's Car. She has an 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son.

by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

The purse was the object, not the violence.
An open maw that gaped, while we, away
were bridging (sea wind, slices of rain).  Or,
the purse was an open mouth gone mute, while
I walked alone (low blue sky, one hundred
one cent stamps). You came out of nowhere, or
you wove in and out of five locked cars, an
invisible thread. Each moment became
a film strip, stuttering: how did we get
here? Both occasions, the purse was returned.
Found emptied of valuables on the berm,
or tossed into the tangled wet grass.
You remained ghost shingled with should or could
a genie stitched into each leather flap.

*This poem won first Second Place in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her poetry collections include Interrupted Geographies (Trio House Press, 2017), Gold Passage (Trio House Press, 2013), and There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air (Word Tech, 2015). Her work has been published in Tin House, San Francisco Examiner, SWWIM, Fence, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market, Women’s Studies, and Chicago Quarterly Review. Her biography on Charmian London, Jack London's wife, will be published by University of Oklahoma Press in Spring 2020. Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

by Kim King

She rummaged through the cartons that

were stacked inside the family room,

unwrapping, sorting, tossing stuff

on messy piles of save or sell.

She found it with a crystal vase,

two sequined evening bags, and five

Saint Joseph statues underneath

the mildewed news from eighty-four,

the year they packed up Grandma's things.

 

The wooden box's hinges, latch,

and handle were of brass. It smelled

of musty basement and Guerlain

perfume. Faux jewels and beads were glued

onto the painted cable car—

a missing amber teardrop fixed

with a round blue replacement gem.

 

When she opened it, her puzzled

reflection looked back from inside

the mirrored lid. Her Grandma's name

was printed in a shaky blue

along the edge; the purse empty,

except for two metal hair pins.

 

She saw a younger woman there,

the bag in hand at ample hips,

a trolley swaying over curves,

She heard the ringing bells, the voice

of someone clinging to a pole—

the fog, the fog. And nothing else.

*This poem won Third Place in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kim King's poetry has appeared in Wild Onions, In Gilded Frame, Point Mass, The Midwest Quarterly, The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, Potnia: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Demeter, Poets for Paris, O-Dark-Thirty, and other publications. Her poems were selected and recorded for the Telepoem Booth Project in State College, PA. Kim has an M.A. in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University, blogs sporadically at KSquaredPoetry.wordpress.com, and is looking to publish her first poetry collection. She writes from her home in Hershey. 

by Sarah Carey

I give her the feminine gender, this pride
on my sleeve, reflecting sensibility
and taste. Inside the gap of my scapula

she hangs, curved like a womb,
seamed strap attaching her whole body,
hip to shoulder to mine, a line—

taut at times, as when I press my hand
to the base of her sewn buckles,
feel my mother’s fingers, still at the Singer,

hem-mending after fold and chalk.
Other times she bends into my side waist
muscles, as when I sit to listen

as my mother shares her latest skin flare-up,
asks the specialist to work her in, wonders if
advancing years will cause one’s largest organ

to grow thin, or if that’s just what physicians say
to help old women make peace with pain,
or when she leans against me

for a moment, lets me feel her weight.
Bearing all I hold dear zipped, she models merits
of restraint, yet elides a sigh from deep within

her secret walls when I reach down, across,
inside her compartments to claim
my tube of lip gloss, lost key rings,

forgotten change, a pair of shades, a buried pen
grit glistens. I emerge with all my broken bits
to see that everything we carry,

mold ourselves to, wears, fades away.
I think I don’t deserve her,
but I do.

*This poem won first Honorable Mention in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her work has also appeared in Superstition Review, Valparaiso Review, Barrow Street, Potomac Review, Glass Poetry Journal, Carolina Quarterly, SWWIM Every Day, and elsewhere. She received an International Merit Award in the Atlanta Review's 2018 International Poetry Prize competition and was a finalist in Sequestrum Literary Journal's 2018 New Writer Award competition. Accommodations (fall, 2019) received the 2018 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award. She also is the author of a previous chapbook, The Heart Contracts (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Sarah directs communications for the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and lives in Gainesville with her husband and her exceedingly precocious black Lab.

by Gail Goepfert

Noon. The café line snakes by the handbags, 
fine leather goods meant to entice—a Givenchy GV3 
Diamond Quilted Crossbody Bag, a Nancy Gonzalez 

Cristie Linen & Genuine Crocodile Tote, a Devotion 
Leather Shoulder Bag, adorned with an oversized heart, 
lustrous imitation pearls detailing the envelope flap—

all secured to metal cables and the airy sparkling display 
of glass and gold. We giggle, almost, as we try to resurrect 
the price tags, buried in a zippered compartment,

giddy school girls, under the scrutiny of the salesperson
who materializes from nowhere. Just looking. Seating 
saves us. We order our usual—Cranberry Turkey 

and Tuscan Roasted Salmon. Lunch talk stretches 
for hours, chemo and chaos, Poetry and CBD. 
Things the heart must hold.

How it’s time to say yes to what matters. 
To stop saying sorry when we need to say no.
No need to check words for genuine or imitation.

*This poem won second Honorable Mention in the “Poetry for Purses” Competition in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is a Midwest poet, photographer, and teacher. She has two published books: A Mind on Pain (2015) and Tapping Roots (2018). Get Up Said the World will appear in 2019 from Červená Barva. She’s received four Pushcart Prize Nominations. Recent or forthcoming publications include Kudzu House, Stone Boat, Postcard, Poems and Prose Magazine, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, Bluestem, and Beloit Poetry Journal. Please see more at gailgoepfert.com.

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Baby, you were a tiger last night,
the famous poet growls,
paws at my breast like an apology.

He knows I like it rough.

I know his penchant for variety,
his lust’s juvenescence.

I saw his arm
slip around her flirtation,
saw him meet her platinum gaze,

maneuver her out on the deck,
grope her like he once groped me.

When we make our make-up love,
I picture impossibly young women,
lined up, his for the taking,

and I hear my time running out,
that desperate, loudening thrum.

I’m his blond, his punch-drunk muse.
He knows I’ll go down swinging.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Tinderbox, Cleaver, Diode, SWWIM Every Day, The MacGuffin, Nasty Women Poets, Nashville Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her books include: How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen…, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, Enter Here, Junkie Wife, and The Dead Kid Poems. Her photographs are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. Please see more at www.alexisrhonefancher.com.

by Ellen Kombiyil

with two lines from Bernadette Mayer

 

 

On the avenues, white exhaust tinges blue;
a pigeon nearly gets me, perched over the red church door.

For lunch I pack a ham & turkey sandwich;
I want to hose the city down with bleach.

Mostly images don’t form patterns;
or they do—it’s my mind

arranging them, giving an impression
of continuity, not unlike the man with a serpentine walk

I’ve avoided all my life looking down at my shoes—
When I say the man I don’t mean my father.

Of course, I’m told we walk alike;
from behind we have the same stooped cadence,

arches collapsed, soles worn on a slant—
Is that him I just passed?

I don’t like cooking dinner,
get bored listening to my husband’s yakety yak.

“I have to send my meeting notes out in the morning,” he says;
I stir fry the tofu-slash-get distracted

by the inner turmoil of paying rent
& what it means to be a good person.

In another place or through window tint
it appears to be raining on asphalt.

Storm pipes branch beneath swarming feet;
we weave around each other

like flamingos on takeoff or just before dancing,
each of us moving in unison, a dot on the GPS.

Little Dot move left;
Little Dot don’t move just blink in vertical space

going up the office escalator, toting coffee in a paper cup;
Little Dot plugged with earbuds.

Riding backwards on trains we’re time-lapsed
like night scenes, streaming taillights, headlights

the signal’s shifting red-green;
or we flicker like flamingos

mating in the infrared,
each orange splotch with a yellow heart

pulsing “at once above/below” as Bernadette says,
and “it’s easier for love to have a million neighbors”

seems a breezy thing to say, appropriate
not slutty, our mouths’ sucking frenzy;

or we zag in blue swaths like zebra fish
flaunting eyes, lacing fins, in fact

yes, I’m avoiding the text
just in from my landlord asking WHERE IS THE RENT

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ellen Kombiyil is the author of Histories of the Future Perfect (2015), and a micro chapbook avalanche tunnel (2016). Recent work has appeared in diode, The Moth, Muzzle, Plume, Pleiades, and The Offing. She is a two-time winner of the Mary M. Fay Poetry Award from Hunter College, a recipient of an Academy of American Poets college prize, and was awarded the Nancy Dean Medieval Prize for an essay on the acoustic quality of Chaucer’s poetics. She is a founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a mentorship-model press publishing emerging poets from India and the diaspora. A graduate of the University of Chicago and Hunter’s MFA program, she currently teaches creative writing at Hunter College.

by Shannon K. Winston

Girl Carrying Bull, by Vladimir Fokanov

 

I carry the bull on my shoulders.
Some days the weight is impossible:

its skull bores into my collar,
sweat pools under my arms,

and trickles around my breasts.
This is the price I pay for being

headstrong and outspoken.
My first words: not yes or please,

but no, my way, never.
I want, I want…

Other days, delight burns
in my legs, my arms ache

as I hoist this beast through
the void, across rivers

and sandbars, over snowcapped
mountains, and through galaxies.

My muscles, its muscles
burdened and buoyed by gravity.

And always the trembling
of my body,

its body, our bodies
on the brink—

I sigh, it grunts.
I smile, it breathes.

Only when we reach a clearing,
do we turn to one another

in some gesture of self-recognition,
do I dare whisper:

Yes, sweet lovely creature
we will make it though.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Shannon K. Winston’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Dialogist, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and The Los Angeles Review, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and currently teaches in Princeton University’s Writing Program.

by Nicole Callihan

On the beach, asking questions of the wind, 
it was the horse conch I straddled, 
but what was it I thought I could know of the wind 
that it did not already know of me? 
It is a Monday in July and having no poisonous flowers, 
no magical seaweed, not even salt on my skin, 
I lunch on salmon in plastic, separate the flesh 
with more plastic, sip bathroom sink water 
from more plastic still. I consider 450 years from now 
when this plastic will finally, if it’s weak, decompose, 
and I am grateful I will be dead by then, 
that my daughters will be dead, that their daughters 
will be dead, because I do not want to imagine us 
standing vigil, remembering this very summer day 
and how well the plastic held the salmon and the water. 
As the years go by, my thirst gets deeper. I keep 
meaning to ask my mother to write me a prescription 
that will make me skinny and sober and solemn, 
but she is busy too, the shit-for-brains ex-husband, 
the vials of poison, the Baked Lays. She recommends 
only the latter and slips me a map that takes me years 
to realize only leads back to her. But I’m talking about 
the wind, or I’m talking to the wind, talking with, 
and the wind is acting lovely, is brushing my hair 
from my face. When Ella’s hands are dirty, she holds me 
really tight and says, I love you so much, mama, 
I love you sooooo much, and she wipes the grease 
all over me, and I say, Oh, I love you too, until I realize 
I am a napkin. Let me suck your nipples, mama, she says. 
No more milk! I say and point to the plastic cup. 
She’s too old for this. And so am I. But in plastic years, 
we are hardly even born. In plastic years, I would only be 1, 
and barely 1, and unable to form words yet, and so could 
do little but sit on the beach and pretend my shell was a horse.
Giddy-up, I would say, Giddy-up, but it would sound 
like nothing. Everything starts out sounding like nothing. 
And, probably, in the end, everything sounds that way too.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. Her poetry books include SuperLoop (2014) and Translucence (with Samar Abdel Jaber, 2018), and the chapbooks: A Study in Spring (with Zoë Ryder White, 2015), The Deeply Flawed Human (2016), Downtown (2017), and Aging (2018). Her novella, The Couples, will be published by Mason Jar Press in summer 2019. Find out more at www.nicolecallihan.com.

by Crystal C. Karlberg

My mother plunged her hands into the dirt
like a woman who knew she couldn’t bear fruit.
The roses were her children, calling through
the salt hay, through the storms doors until spring.

The zinnias looked up at her with pink,
their almost faces, their peculiar needs,
requiring a mother’s touch, love
in summer when the beetles stretch their legs,

with barbs that bring her back into the room
where lighting from above was clearly not
the blue-robed Virgin Mary that she saw
above the neighbor’s house when she was young.

Her ring fell through a hole, was never found
like all the babies she would never hold.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Crystal C. Karlberg teaches middle school English. Her writing has been published in Mom Egg Review, The Compassion Anthology, Soundings East, and Scary Mommy Teen & Tween.

by Jennifer K. Sweeney

In the dissolve of the ordinary—kitchen sink,
corralled line at the bank—I reach for myself
like a mother whose arm pushes back

her child-passenger at the stoplight or
I reach like a child carelessly
smoothing the silk of her mother’s

skirt while reciting bits of song.
Automated phone call, another stripe
of ants across the floor,

I do not think to do this but suddenly
realize I have been holding my shoulders
my face my throat O the throat so wants

to be held in a little cup of blue light.
The body with its aches and silences,
who can understand it?

Mostly the holding does little, but still
better than not. And sometimes it is the only
kind thing I can do. I often wish I were

kinder. That’s a hard one. Or maybe
less hard than it seems. Once I slept
in a tent in a field I thought was vacant

as a man I thought I loved tried to hold me.
The body and all its mistakes, the however
did I end up here
filling the damp dome of canvas.

In the night, a cloud of wild horses came thundering
toward. I heard them through my body against
the ground from a great distance and then

so close as they skimmed the tent they nearly
trampled us and I held the sound gaining
and breaking, I laid down into it,

dug my fingers into the earth
as they rode the night, I knew their bodies
were waves and terror and distance,

though I never saw them. I knew
that the soul is a little bottle rocket
even when it seems a mistake

stuffed into a cheap coin purse,
and that a mistake is often a porthole
from which one can peer

to make out the shape of any approaching light.
I held my forehead when my thoughts felt too dark
to bear, I held my womb the years I could not

have a baby, I held my mouth
when I could not easily speak in a room.
And just once when I held my heart—

again my hands reaching for the thin pulse
to ease it, make certain it was there—
wet thump-wet thump, just once

it felt like that. Over the field my heart
came rushing, toward me and from me
without regard for the rest of the being,

and now, each time since,
I hold it to remember
that marvelous ruin of praise.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three poetry collections: Little Spells (New Issues Press, 2015), How to Live on Bread and Music, which received the James Laughlin Award, the Perugia Press Prize and a nomination for the Poets’ Prize, and Salt Memory. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, her poems have recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, The Awl, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard, Kenyon Review Online, Love’s Executive Order, Mid-American Review, New American Writing, Stirring, Terrain, Thrush, and Verse Daily.

by Katrina Roberts

Please breath, unfurl without a hitch, fill lungs with wind, rise, then
fall to rise again ad infinitum. Mere moments, you might cease, or seize

instead, constrained concavity squeezed, two grasped balloons, gone
limp. I gasp. Party’s over, each steampunk gear, all mechanisms grinding

to a halt unseen but felt, a siren’s clutching, a meter’s coin of time
drained into a black hole, a wreck of gulls, flecks, particles, the idea of

existence cracking open lesions in the addled mind riding above; if clods
kick up into clouds of dust, or clotted smoke slides in to choke

the valley, or fear lodges deep within a throat slippery, wet this
second, now brimming with ash or remnants of trash a burn barrel

harbors somewhere too close to let its throbbing pink songbird
sing, writhing to adjust its tenuous frayed grasp, not wanting to lose

grip on its storm-tossed jerking swing; if this thorax were a brittle
vessel rolled on seas, within this metered corpus you make a cage

of 24 arms to cradle my gimbaled heart, stunned sparrow stuffed
into a torn garden glove to keep it calm: I can’t, I can’t…. Tiny

corset stays sprung though still too tight; I’m the minke whale
beached at land’s end to house a colony of crabs, each elegant

arch between your staves a door sluiced with stinging brine; you
exploded, a shattered wine cask, seeping juice, dismantled, jagged,

flayed open when we slid and slammed into a tree; I’m sorry, afraid,
my only casket; not yet a corpse I work to calm the weightless soul

weighing you down, my cavern of ticking stalactites, my straight
jacket, my box of meat, silt, rain—containing this wheezing song

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Katrina Roberts has published four books of poems, Underdog; Friendly Fire; The Quick; and How Late Desire Looks, and edited the anthology, Because You Asked: A Book of Answers on the Art & Craft of the Writing Life. Her work appears in places such as The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets. Her graphic poems appear or are forthcoming in places such as Poetry Northwest, Permafrost, and Evergreen: Fairy Tales, Essays, and Fables from the Dark Northwest (Scablands Books). She teaches and curates the Visiting Writers Reading Series at Whitman College, and co-runs the Walla Walla Distilling Company. See more at www.katrinaroberts.net.

by Carolyn H. Zukowski

A stand-alone herald of light in the marshes
among the reed beds. Contemplate. Question
the shallows for toads and newts. Still, the body
an exclamation point between land and sky
or a divining rod between land and water.
         
                                Regrets start

like this—a stone unturned. Thoughts, minnows
left unpursued. Weather threats. Risk
the awkward pull of flight. A reach of wings
draws shadow over the hot salt flats. To land
is to make a slow, murky splash. Repeat.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Carolyn H. Zukowski likes to combine words and wanderlust. She runs Hostel Krumlov House & WriteAway Retreat (www.krumlovhouse.com), and is managing editor of The Literary Bohemian (www.literarybohemian.com) while living in her adopted town of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. You can find her poetry in Envoi (UK), Orbis (UK), Poetry Salzburg (Austria), RHINO (US), and SAND (Berlin).

by Caridad Moro-Gronlier

I have crossed a continent
to cast forty-nine names into the sea,
cuarenta y nueve nombres mangled
by anchors—Flores, Paniagua, Sanfeliz—
on a beach strewn with bones
of giants: Redwood, Sequoia, Sitka Spruce.
Behemoths that would not stay buried.

Before the ruined beauty of this necropolis,
saplings cleaved to elders, grew
stronger in each other’s arms
as they danced in darkened groves,
lit by the strobe of sunlight, dappled
limbs akimbo, unprepared for annihilation,
unprepared for the spilled sap, the glint
of the axe, the buzz saw, the prayers
planted at the root of their destruction.

I step over titans battered down
to driftwood, stripped of tannin and pulp,
bark bleached white as sheets and offer
forty-nine names to the sea,
cuarenta y nueve nombres.

Here I can believe the ocean
returns what she is given.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Caridad Moro-Gronlier is the author of Visionware (Finishing Line Press). She is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant and a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in poetry. Her work has appeared in The Tishman Review, The Cossack Review, The Notre Dame Review, The Antioch Review, The South Florida Poetry Journal, and others. She is an English instructor for MDCPS, an English professor for Miami Dade College and the Editor of The Orange Island Review.

by Erin Murphy

                        after Shakir Li’aibi



The world is a moonlit rib,
a disheveled vigil, a shackled

clock. The world is greedy
geography, empty bells,

unripened tides, breathless
shells on a desert beach.

The world is a newborn
nun. The world is a fluttering

gun. The world is extinguished
chants, listless ships, bleeding

thieves. It is clouded vowels,
the taste of sound on the tongue

of a young girl. The world
is every word unfurled.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Erin Murphy’s eighth book of poems is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, North American Review, Field, Brevity, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. Her awards include The Normal School Poetry Prize judged by Nick Flynn, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net award judged by Patricia Smith. She is editor of three anthologies from the University of Nebraska Press and SUNY Press and serves as Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State Altoona.

by Terese Svoboda

A fork and a spoon lie together
to spoon and to fork.

E = MC squared says the spoon.
I don't have the energy says the fork.

Forgiveness? says the spoon.
It is as if we lie on a vast table

says the fork. Useless.
The spoon measures a dose.

Sink to your knees. The fork
submits. The past is prescient.

The fork clasps the spoon.
Of course, says the spoon.

It's all about portion control.
Let's sleep says the fork.

Weep? says the spoon.
The spoon keeps busy until
the fork is sorry too, like the song.

Make me toast says the spoon, and snappy.
The fork says Who turned out

the light? Birds begin singing
their favorite: O moon, O moon.

The table was laid, says the spoon,
not me. Tines, my dear, are everything,

says the fork. My tines are retired.
They spoon through course

after intercourse, the hunger being
incurable, inconsolable.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Terese Svoboda's Professor Harriman's Steam Air-Ship, her most recent book of poetry, was published in 2016. Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, was published in paper in 2018, and Great American Desert, a book of stories, in 2019. "Terese Svoboda is one of those writers you would be tempted to read regardless of the setting or the period or the plot or even the genre.”—Bloomsbury Review.

by Eliana Swerdlow

When you opened my leg,
I imagined I was the cedar waxwing
you picked up off the red patio
after it flew into the living room window,
bouncing back off the glass, its back against
the brick. You pulled its right wing
from its body gently and let the bird rest
on the yellow-striped kitchen towel.
Now, when you leave, you wrap me
in the comforter and tell me I can leave
before you come back. But I am not scared
of your touch like the cedar waxwing.
I am only scared I will fall between your fingers
when you are here and warm,
and I will hit the bed like a brick patio,
my body echoing away from you,
its noise lost in the mattress springs,
my freedom always underneath you
even when my body is gone.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

An undergraduate at Yale University, Eliana Swerdlow is a Human Rights scholar studying English. In New Haven, she is an editor for the street publication Elm City Echo. Her work has appeared previously in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she has poems forthcoming in the Gordon Square Review, White Wall Review, Panoplyzine, and Yale Literary Magazine.

by Susan Browne

Scrolling down my iPhone calendar, I stop at 2071.
That year, my birthday is on a Sunday. I’ll be 119.
If I had to add it all up, I’d say I was way too normal.
I can’t believe I spent a minute feeling guilty
for having lots of boyfriends in my youth
or having sex with two men in one day. It wasn’t easy
getting from the east side of town to the west side
on my bicycle in time. I should keep the faith.
Yesterday, I was in a hot tub with two men.
They were discussing earthquake preparedness.
One said he had a kit that could filter
any kind of water, including sewage.
The other said he had a rafter built in his garage
to protect his car, and it could support
the local high school cheerleading squad doing pull-ups.
Or so the builder advertised. I have nothing prepared
for an emergency, except a gallon of Tanqueray
in the cupboard above the oven because I gave up gin
after my second divorce. Maybe this means I have faith
in something. At least twice a week I wake up astonished
at how living calmly goes on, shoulder to shoulder
with unreckonable tragedy. The men paused
to take a scrolling glance when I stepped out of the hot tub.
Then they went on about where to store the food
and the importance of keeping a pair of running shoes
under the desk at the office.

 

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Susan Browne’s poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, Subtropics, The Southern Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Superstition Review, American Life in Poetry, and 180 More, Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. Her first book, Buddha’s Dogs (Four Way Books), was awarded the Intro Prize. Her second book, Zephyr (Steel Toe Books), won the Editor’s Prize. For more, see www.susanbrownepoems.com.

by Momo Manalang

Mother                                    you splice my mango mouth in June,

 

                    shed my ripe skin                    in pockets of dawn,

                                                                                  lather

 

this naked tongue                    til’ shrimp paste                                  permeates,

 

                   beckon summer           to sing us                     eighteen thousand miles,

 

         until Pampango harvests                     my name                     from the sampaguita;

 

you, an exhausted ocean         who enlivens such roots,

 

          I learn to arrive            home                                      a child of the sun

 

                                   who serenades             without dry lungs—

 

         Nanay                                      you unravel me like seeds unfurling

 

in diaspora’s garden.

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Momo Manalang is a Filipino-American writer from Miami, Florida. She is currently studying Human Rights at Columbia University in New York, and already has plans of returning to the Philippines to pursue various political endeavors. Between July to January, she will be embarking on a leave of absence to Luzon to participate in community integrations with Filipino activists, assist in an international convening of women leaders, and intern at a reputable research institution for human rights.