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.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

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. 

by Alina Stefanescu

You meet a nice immigrant that fills
up space with stories about Bosnia;
fills in the gaps with New York. The

question of Alaska is melting and yes
ice cubes in your Fanta would be nice.
You perform the usual astonishment

at her skilled use of English idioms. She
smiles and spills an affinity for the Brontes.
Her hair is Crimson Tide red, protected

by trademark. She hates football but maybe
plays anything when in Rome. You are a solid
Greek graduate of togas and keg-stands who

can italicize any era into parties. She says
it is difficult to unburden yourself to men
that don't see you as separate. She's dying

her hair orange for Auburn next month.
You think middle schools should teach
physics or start earlier—and you hope she

can tell you're joking. Being hilarious.
She says it's hard to talk to men that can't
hear you. Which is strange since you'd never

disparage her accent. She says men can't hear
her ever plus never. Your hair is solid pine-trunk
brown. You ready that quip about separate

spheres ideology but the waitress drums
her nails against the menu plastic. As if
to say: You pompous old fuck, no thing is
separate & here I am, serving you anyway.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama. Her poems and prose are recent or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, Prairie Schooner, NELLE, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor of Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. Her first poetry chapbook, Objects in Vases (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016), won the ASPS Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her first poetry collection, Stories to Read Aloud to Your Fetus (Finishing Line Press, 2017) included Pushcart-nominated poems. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize and was published in May 2018. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com or @aliner.

by Heidi Williamson

What waters our bodies have received
—each filament of rain
coursing the length of our skin
lies undiscovered now at this dark hour.

In here, the night is quiet and cool. Outside,
the wild rain courts the grass: even in the dark
I feel its greening—the grass glossed like keratin smoothly
anchoring, protecting the dust of us.

I lean against the solidity of your clement body
soft with sleep, lean in to you. On your arm, your hand,
each tiny hair responds to my disclosing touch.
The territory of your body grounds me, strands me.

The grass has craved this all day:
the phantom rain fell too lightly to reach land,
the heavy sun striking out
droplets as they formed.

Above all, my uncontrollable heart
coils wild as the wild rain outside
springing right back up again
from the earth where it belongs.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Heidi Williamson is the current Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK. She is a poetry surgeon for The Poetry Society and teaches for The Poetry School and National Centre for Writing. She mentors poets by Skype worldwide. The Print Museum (Bloodaxe) won the 2016 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry. Electric Shadow (Bloodaxe, 2011) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. For more, please see www.heidiwilliamsonpoet.com.

by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

You could also
believe that instead of the arc
bending toward justice, it falls into mud,
that there is no magnetic pull of goodness lingering
in the stars. How some of us will end in a nursing home,
alone, our minds washed of the stacks and stacks of scenes
we held in the folds. Or maybe there will be rebirth—
scientists have regenerated parts of dead pigs’
brains. I wonder what returns—The trough?
The suckling at a teat? The last touch
of dirt on those four tiny feet
before the slaughter?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has three poetry collections, The Human Contract, Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera, forthcoming in 2019. Recently, poems have appeared in Artemis, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO.

by Ray Ball

I think
I can’t see a deer
on a page
without bracing for impact
the word evokes
not one car crash
but two antlers
shattering windshields
in stricken moments
replicated later in a set
of vanishing headlights

one summer morning
a dear friend and I gasped
snippets of conversation
and gossip pushing our tempo
quick turnover on a shaded path
clouds of mosquitos
blocked the sun
when we startled a doe

her eyes reminded me
of the color of a totaled sedan
of the terror of waking
as glass breaks and soars
of the way winds lift
off a river the way
darknesses intertwine
creating a fragile anchor
to tether a vessel between worlds

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor, Pushcart-nominated poet, and editor at Alaska Women Speak. Her first chapbook, Tithe of Salt, was published by Louisiana Literature Press, and she has recent publications in Coffin Bell, Moria, and UCity Review. When she's not in the classroom, you can find her drinking bitter beverages, researching in the Spanish and Italian archives, or on Twitter.

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

he’ll ask if you’re the same girl who used to live on Clinton St, and weren’t your sons 
once friends? Old, with bushy brows and a scraggly beard, he’ll be even more repellant. 

You’ll recall his fusty smell, how he’d push his way into your apartment,
sit too close to you on your couch, uninvited, stroke your hair.

He’ll ask if you remember the handmade books he tried to sell you
scribbled drawings, pages of ramblings disguised as poems, ink-splotched, unintelligible,

glitter escaping from the gaping pages onto your apartment’s grey shag confusion;
how he almost coerced you into buying one, you, who could barely make rent, 

who could barely afford cheap, Payless shoes for your growing boy.

Did I come on to you back then? he’ll ask, gripping your arm so you can’t escape. 
He’ll feign foggy, confused. When you answer yes, he’ll smile, and say,

Yeah, well. In those days, I came on to everyone.

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L.A. poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Diode, Nashville Review, Wide Awake, Poets of Los Angeles, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She’s the author of 5 poetry collections; How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), Junkie Wife, (2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (2019). EROTIC, New & Selected, publishes in 2020 from New York Quarterly. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. www.alexisrhonefancher.com