by Jules Jacob

Gardeners stay your eyes to flowers

hikers, trails     walkers, paths.

Let insects have my leaves,

yellow-rumped warblers my berries.

I cling to those temptation woos

closer     I will tendril fingers

brush rushinol between breasts

and lips, your oiled hands forever

touching. Pustules, inflammation

pain, red lines     teachers I gift

after you’re gone—what do you

give me?     A rise in carbon

an increase in size and potency,

my agents distributing greenhouse-

gassed seeds.     Burn me,

I’ll blow you a reminder.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Julie “Jules” Jacob is a contemporary poet who often writes about dichotomousconditions and relationships among humans and the natural world. Her poems are recently featured or forthcoming in Plume Poetry, The Tishman Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rust + Moth, Yes Poetry and elsewhere. She’s the author of The Glass Sponge, a semi-finalist in the New Women’s Voices Series (Finishing Line Press) and a resident of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Poetry Workshop. Visit julesjacob.com.

by Amy Watkins

An osprey beats the wind with bowed wings,

steady till it drops and shakes in flight.

The wind catches and it rises again.

I watch from the porch where I’ve come early

to stop avoiding our father’s call. Last night,

I turned the ringer off then on then off again,

swiped down to ignore but texted back.

There are two birds in the tree across the street

and a third circling and circling, rising and falling

in the wind from a distant hurricane.

The phone rings. He wants to talk about you.

They say each bird attends to just seven others, and,

in this way, a thousand starlings turn together

like one creature. I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.

Once, you and I climbed the hills outside

Florence, Italy. Our dearest ones climbed with us

and, because we were few and each one loved

by all the others, I thought we made a kind of net

that might hold the breaking world together.

A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurora

borealis, a sheer curtain caught in wind,

twisting, tracing a path through twilight.

A hawk swoops low over the osprey nest.

I think it might land, but it doesn’t. You ask to meet

for coffee. Our father calls, and I don’t answer.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Amy Watkins grew up in the Central Florida scrub, surrounded by armadillos and palmetto brush and a big, loud, religious family—the kind of upbringing that’s produced generations of southern writers. She married her high school sweetheart, had a baby girl, and earned her MFA in poetry from Spalding University. She is the author of the chapbooks Milk & Water (Yellow Flag Press) and Wolf Daughter (forthcoming from Sundress Publications).

by Jeannine Hall Gailey

The voice it was in the storm

in the fire in whirlwind

spoke to me and told me

and it was in my veins

it left a scar inside my arm

the many needles

the bone the blood

knit me together in my mother’s womb

and said it is good

but things went wrong I complained

and he opened a river inside me

and he said it is good and

my tongue grew silent in the shadow

and inside my brain exploded with light

holes illuminating the disintegration of nerves

that tell me left from right that tell me when

I’m spinning I’m spinning God catch me I’m slipping

the swift tilting the backhand of God left me broken

let me fall

behold do not be afraid of the light

An aching hip a broken ankle my lips screwed tight

the many places the angels have touched

and left me limping

God spoke and my angel wears a tunic

sewed up with my scars

Wholly, Holy, Holey

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, which won the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.

by Jenna Le

I crumple marriage offers made by fishermen,

masons, bakers of brioche, for I know

my consecration is to marry the

great Van Gogh. Look at history and see

men of genius wrecked before there is

the chance for one brave girl to swoop down, dangerous

to his enemies and doubters, the

critics and hecklers, and save him from that storm.

My love shall be his shield, prevent the terrible.

No shy virgin, I’ve seen four decades; they

have handled me the way some clumsy half-

cocked violin restorer does a never-

again-same harp. I know the score. I found

Vincent living with his mother in these

snake-filled backwoods, where gossips embroider the dangers

of his past romancing of a whore. Sufficient

to say I’m not scared off. Inside me, too,

there is a prostitute and a barkeep,

a seamstress and a siren and a shore.

 

Note: In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh wrote about Margot Begemann, briefly his fiancée, “It’s a pity I didn’t meet her earlier—say 10 years ago or so. Now she gives me the impression of a Cremona violin that’s been spoiled in the past by bad bunglers of restorers.” He ended their relationship the same year it began. Margot drank poison but recovered.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Jenna Le (jennalewriting.com) authored Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018; 1st ed. pub. by Anchor & Plume, 2016), which won Second Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards. Her poetry appears in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, West Branch, and elsewhere.

by Kami Westhoff

That August, smoke stitched itself to each breath’s tunneling wisp.

The lush lungs of your three-year-old tarred half-pack-a-day dark,

the veins in her eyes cragged crimson. The west was burning,

and without your repentance, your boyfriend said, you would too.

Afterward, your daughter said she didn't understand why your face

was blood-burst when her father told her to kiss you good-bye .

Or why your body, whose arms had lifted her when something 

she wanted was just out of reach, or held her back if that something

might hurt her, why it was rooms away from the lips that kissed better

every bump and bruise. 

By mid-September, your daughter’s lungs were crisped clean

with the ocean’s exhale, her sclera once more white as bone. 

The sky in the west again unflawed—nothing marring its blue

but the scribbled edges of pine trees and moody mountains.

He claimed he didn’t want to hurt you, but couldn’t argue

with a god that’s always wanted you dead. Always wanted

your blood a dark river beneath the earth’s scorched scars,

your body just the soil that swallows it.   

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Kami Westhoff’s chapbook, Sleepwalker, won the 2016 Dare to Be Award from Minerva Rising, and her collaborate chapbook, Your Body a Bullet, was published recently by Unsolicited Press. Her work has appeared in journals including Meridian, Carve, Third Coast, Phoebe, West Branch, the Pinch, and Waxwing. She teaches creative writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.

by Kristin Garth

near guillotines, acclaimed headsmen of means.

Duplicitous gleams eyeing you, their thighs

secretly tattooed, surnames, killers, kings,

state-sanctioned blowjobs, beheadings so why

not princess—even you? One bed, one head,

misstep, or two, detected, collected, stored

fine wine uncorked, with lords, midnight, rust, red

aroma, royal deficiencies poured

some stone-floored cellar, behind arched oak doors.

A happy ending may require cunning,

a crown to topple, rolling heads on floors

ideally yours. Best sacrifice is queen.

Appeasement is the strategy you take.

They’re carnivores, and you serve them cake.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart Prize- and Best of the Net-nominated poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Yes, Glass, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, Drunk Monkeys, Luna Luna, TERSE. Journal, and many more. She is the author of the chapbooks Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press), Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, January 2019), and Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press, March 2019), as well as a full-length collection Candy Cigarette (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, April 2019). A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony will also be published by Rhythm & Bones Press in June 2019. Follow her on Twitter @lolaandjolie or visit her at kristingarth.com.

by Diane K. Martin

Tucking the wings back under the bird’s body must have resurrected

her, because there was Mom, already chopping onions. We didn’t talk

about my lifestyle, my father, or the burnt-to-a crisp skin of my brilliant

career, nor did we chat about the time she stuffed the turkey with Saltines

because they were on sale at Raley’s, and everyone got so thirsty we all

got drunk, even the children. We didn’t reminisce about past Thanksgivings,

like the time I arrived late and my brother slammed the table and roared,

“We are not going to save her any goddamn salad.” Mom made a point

of reminding me that she set out a half grapefruit for my appetizer,

because I’m allergic to shrimp. We didn’t mention her bad heart—or mine.

We just chopped, boiled, simmered, stewed, sliced, roasted, and sautéed

in butter, and then twisted the turkey wing and tucked it under the body

of the bird, even though it meant breaking the bones a little bit to do it.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Diane K. Martin’s work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Tin House, Plume, and many other journals. Her poems have been included in Best New Poets and have received a Pushcart Special Mention. Her first collection, Conjugated Visits, a National Poetry Series finalist, was published in 2010 by Dream Horse Press. Her second book, Hue & Cry, is forthcoming from MadHat Press in September, 2019.

by Khadijah Lacina

i watch

through

dusty

window

panes

the glide

and splash

of tires

on rainwet

streets

the hipcocked

mama sweet

sly on the

corner

laughing

at the old

man on

the bench

whose words

are pushed

down lost

in the

murmur

of leaves

pressed into

unyielding

asphalt

_______________________________________________________________________________________


Khadijah Lacina grew up in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley, a magical place where back-to-the-landers and rednecks peacefully coexist. Today, she lives on a small homestead in rural Missouri with her children, goats, chickens, cats, and dogs. She is passionate about speaking up, working for change, and is writing a book about the years she spent in Yemen. She is a writer, teacher, translator, herbalist, and fiber artist. Her chapbook, Nightrunning, appeared in 2017 from Facqueuesol Books.

by Alexandra Corinth

what is a body if not sand—

glass ground into fine

fragments of otherworldly shimmer

masked by the sum of skin and organs

dunes shift and crumble with time

touching everything, even the inside

of folds unseen or unknown

pieces of me lodged

in you

and isn’t it magic

how we are not we alone

how our scars fit into the narrative of these tides

how I breathe you in

how you exhale into my mouth

this sea is the same as our hands

70% of every gesture

moved by a great pull that doesn’t need a name

even though we do

part of me is already gone

eroded by you

or another starry being

and I smile

shining like the moon

on a quiet surf

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Alexandra Corinth is a disabled writer and artist based in DFW. She is also an editorial assistant for the Southwest Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Mayo Review, Mad Swirl, Thimble Literary Magazine, and Atticus Review, among others. Her poem, “A Guide for the Visitors of Solovetsky Monastery,” was chosen as a top 10 winner of the Writer’s Garret’s 2018 Common Language Project. You can find her online at typewriterbelle.com.

by Risa Denenberg

I dream                                                a beating

fists and belt                                       look here, I say  

pointing to                                          my thighs

you missed                                          a spot

running                                                out of space

 

I want to live                  and               I don’t want to live like this                      

 

I dream                                                an inferno

coughing up blood                             air dense with smoke

perennial forest fires                          plum-colored bruises

on my palms                                       it takes some time                   

to unfurl                                              back to vertical

                             

I want to live                  and               I want to die

 

I dream                                               “the big one”

I brush off dirt                                    walk into a café

order a latte                                        I never ask

the birds                                             at the feeder

to share                                              their nectar with me                            

for them                                             it’s everlasting

 

I want to die                 and               I don’t want to die

 

I dream                                               a funeral pyre

the new passport                               expires in 2026

such is                                                the confidence

my government                                 has (in me)

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Risa Denenberg lives a quiet life on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, and works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of lesbian/bi/trans poetry. She has published three full length collections of poetry, most recently, slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018). Her poems have been published online and in print journals including Moria, HIV Here and Now, Calyx, Ithaca Lit, Spry, Permafrost, Jewish Currents, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

by Lisette Alonso

to the gods of dried milk and malnutrition,

the gods of wanting and outstretched hands.

her husband just kept putting babies in her,

is there a kinder way to say this out loud?

blessed was her body’s fertile soil, rich and

earthen and teeming with life until it wasn’t.

how after so many seasons the loam became

nutrient starved, begging mineral and rain,

but still the sky and earth conspired against her,

still the babies came and the husband, hallelujah,

less man than bull, less bovine than insatiable,

a predator stalking the bedposts, always anointing.

blessed were the babies, the sea of infants expelled

by her body, dragging her spirit behind like an umbilicus. 

forgive her, god of never, she couldn’t feed them all,

couldn’t find them in the dark to suckle them,

 

so that the littlest ones flared out like match heads,

and then what was left of her became ash and bramble,

her mouth numb as her breasts and the palms of her hands,

her head a terrible buzzing so she never spoke another word,

blessed were the children who remained, parceled out

to neighbors and kin, but the tiniest ghosts she kept

tucked like stones beneath her tongue, balled like fists

between her ribs, like prayers to an immovable god,

forever and ever amen.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lisette Alonso is a south Florida native and holds an MFA from the University of Miami. She is the author of the chapbooks Wednesday’s Child (Porkbelly Press) and The Album of Untaken Photos(The Lune). Her poetry has appeared with New Letters, The Tishman Review, The Nashville Review, and Mothers Always Write.

by Jennifer Wolkin

Fear of loss           is a neural pathway full of             trigger    

warnings laid down    to rest       after a                 first loss,

then fires         again &                        again

after each successive              loss, then fires                again

when no active loss                 is         looming

except that       now loss          always          looms

like bubbles     in an otherwise smooth                       syringe           

loss looms,      large,            even        while watching

the ocean meet the sky           as if,    to allude    the horizon

never   ends,         as if,   to allude       no one   ever      ends,           

a first loss    begets learning    loss exists,   learning loss

exists               begets fearing it                   begets  taking     

vital                 measures to perceive          control of

its timing              begets  sitting right                     in its eye            

instead of            being           hurricaned       with the   cruel

load of               having  to lose   with       no warning                       

with no provision            for the pain, for    the grief     

for the grief that grows,          for the grief          loss knows. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Wolkin is a health/neuro psychologist, speaker, writer, and mental health advocate. She is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing and literary translation at Queens College. Her poetry is published/forthcoming in multiple publications. Jen is most passionate about writing at the intersection where the mind, body, brain, and spirit meet—about the holistic human experience—through the eyes of both her own experience, and through her professional lens.

by Lorena Parker Matejowsky

I am saying the road to happiness is through hell

I am saying this road hurts my heels

You arrived at the wrong time

You arrived when he wasn’t home

I can see how a forest falls down

I can see a sinkhole from its source

I am trying to make a map out of muck

I am trying not to walk on the water

There is a trail that tastes like ghost orchids

There is a swamp sitting here with my son

I am talking about taking slow wet steps

I am talking about birds that stand still

I do this so I can show you the scrub jay

I do this like he will die any day.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lorena Parker Matejowsky is a resident of Central Florida but spent her first thirty years in Texas. Her poetry was selected for the 2018 AWP Intro Journal Prize and Best New Poets 2018 anthology. She's sorry about Florida and Texas, y'all.

by Alexandria Petrassi

                                                       after Pablo Picasso

 

Imagine you walk in on a woman being unmade. It’s late:

you descended for a glass of water or a macaron or an excuse

 

to lay claim to a cold sliver of night. In front of her, an artist

preaches to a canvas. Youth is nearly ripe in her. Her hips assert

 

curve over the upholstery. The armchair’s dark fist rests on her thigh,

remembering some other bounty. Her face is a still lunar phase.

 

Child ebbs. Woman waxes. One eye understands: she is an offering.

The artist begins to erase the woman’s shoulder flinching under his hand.

 

Breasts embark from their perch on the canvas. Her fingers collapse

into roots. A pearl necklace floats in the sea of her absence.

 

Are you still watching? Her body invites glaze of paint like shroud.

You cannot see the metallic kernel of his eye. You can only see

 

what he lets her keep. Hair like butter. Hair like mint. Skin like

packed porcelain. Skin like bruised sky. Lilac lips. Moon rock labia.

 

Divisions are desirable. They are doors. Open or closed.

Maybe you wonder what she dreams. Maybe you imagine

 

her eyes cast toward sealed clouds, her body stretching over

the grass where the absent sea drifts and sinks upon it.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Alexandria Petrassi studies poetry in the MFA program at George Mason University. She is Editor-in-Chief at So to Speak, an intersectional feminist literary journal. She is the winner of the 2018 Mary Roberts Rhinehart Award in Poetry. Her work has appeared in CALAMITY, Crab Fat Magazine, Sweet Tree Review, The Seldom Review, on The American Writer’s Museum’s blog, and on Stillhouse Press’s blog, Moonshine Murmurs. You can find her on Instagram @alexandriapetra.

by Paula Persoleo

The female mates

only once

with her mid-

Atlantic blue.

That doesn't mean

this decapoda

can't survive

without him.

True, before

she's mature,

she's carried

under

the weight

of his shell,

russet pincers scratching

the surface

of the bay's

brackish floor

as she stores him

inside her

to spawn

over and over

alone

with her egg sac.

But

carnivore,

omnivore,

detritivore,

claws crack

clams

to support

a million minions

 

tucked tightly

to her carapace.

Once winter's

cold water comes,

she burrows

in the sand,

insulating herself,

isolating herself,

a scavenging

specimen

in the salty

estuary.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Paula Persoleo is a 2011 graduate of Stony Brook’s MFA program in Southampton, NY. Her recent work has been accepted by Panoply, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Sheila-Na-Gig. She is an adjunct at the University of Delaware and lives in Delaware with her husband.

by Hannah Cohen

Anyway, did you know that I wear

            bad luck like wet shoes?

                        Can you believe it’s been four years since my last

 

date? I’m cleaned out when it comes to mood:

            eager, enthusiastic, excited.

                        Fuck it. Actual texts I get from

 

guys:

            hi or

                        jk or

 

lol—I digress. I am

            making things even more difficult. God, I’m really

                        never gonna get laid again.

 

Okay, okay, I’m being a little dramatic. I should be on meds,

            probably, but I’m too self-conscious to ask my therapist 

                        questions, and tell him how

 

reality outside his room with the blue carpet and wood paneling

            sucks.

                        Truly terrible. Apologies in advance for the ongoing mutiny in my head, one

 

usurper of good intentions after another, but hey,

            vicious cycles have to end at some point. You know I’m done for

                        when I love men the way I failed algebra. Find

 

x, solve for why.

             Yearning for the exact inexactness of my design,

                        zodiac signs, the numbers, the what-else out there.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Hannah Cohen lives in Virginia. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Bad Anatomy (Glass Poetry Press, 2018). She's the co-editor of Cotton Xenomorph. Recent and forthcoming publications include Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Yes Poetry, Gravel, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

by Andrea Dulanto

Did you know your grandparents?

No? 

Then you have no history.

Your mother from Argentina?

Tu padre de Peru?

He doesn’t look like your father.

Is he your real father?

You look white.

Why don’t you just say you’re from here?

Can’t cook,

slightly anorexic.

Middle-class.

Catholic school—yes, okay—we’ll accept that.

Pero Buddhist—spiritual—Unitarian Universalist? ¿Qué es eso?

You only read books in English.

Never read Don Quixote/

tried to read Don Quixote.

Didn’t you leave behind the entire Spanish language?

(but sometimes it’s home)

Didn’t you leave home?

More than once?

The daughter

should stay home.

No husband, no hijos?

Too queer.

 

(not queer enough,

but that’s another poem)

Middle-aged,

sola sola sola.

Familia es todo.

What is home?

What is home?

you listen to Kingdom of the Sun: The Inca Heritage

(is this your culture

or the need to prove your culture)

you read Nelly’s story in the liner notes—

the nuns at school

teach her

singing

is a sin

a musicologist

records Nelly’s father, Don Luis Camasco, with his band of musicians/ guitar makers—

Conjunto Mensajeros Dos de Mayo

they lift their songs

late into the night

Nelly listens

finally, one night, her father says—you’re my daughter

finally, the musicologist says—the nuns didn’t know

all there is

so she sings

the musicologist takes notes—

“a voice harsh from disuse but full of spirit”

you listen

you are not her

she is not you

every voice

is a story

her voice

is a story

hers

alone.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Andrea Dulanto is a Latina queer writer. Degrees include an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University, and a B.A. in Literature and Women’s Studies from Antioch College in Ohio. She has worked as a writing instructor, a freelance writer, and editor. In 2016, she was awarded an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Publications include Gertrude Journal, The Kenyon Review, BlazeVOX, Court Green, and Sinister Wisdom.

by Sarah Browning

After Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter

 

How is it I imagine us older, already,

and walking in autumn to this song,

and we are beautiful, as we are now,

beautiful as you are now, when you

look at me. It is autumn, the city is

quiet and not quiet as the song is,

around us, kids on bikes, as we are

wrapped around each other like

the piano and the sax and the sudden

bikes but then the quiet and the yellow

leaves. My arm is through yours, my

hand in your pocket and it is autumn,

late afternoon. We’ve had a quiet good

day of work, each, then headed out

together and the song is the city we love

around us together and we are older but

not yet old and we are beautiful as the song.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The daughter of a war refugee, Sarah Browning is the author of Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017) and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007). She is co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is the recipient of fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Adirondack Center for Writing. She has been guest editor or co-edited special issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and POETRY magazine. Browning co-hosts the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC.

by E. Kristin Anderson

(after Beto O’Rourke)

I swear I will scream until the bluebonnets               come back into bloom                    

    a river of birth      in the ditches on the highway       until the grackles fall     

            yellow-eyed          to perch on my arms,          throats open

        to cry a piercing anthem,                 to purge             the hurricane     

    around us          to pull the windows apart        from every home       so we might

hear      every single voice    the guitars hanging from the ceilings     and rocking

    on the floors        and I am a magnolia tree          older than the bees       and I still

welcome the bees      and the beetles        I have known forever           I am

             a magnolia tree                blooming           under a crescent moon        

 

a Texas moon         if there ever was one        to welcome the water      from the Gulf    

      the things we dare to hope        raining down         on the driest valley       a tornado

                     to wreck the myth of          The Border        to grind our fences to sand      

and I want to breathe that sand      into myself        into my mockingbird heart         

             a broken alarm      so loud against the buzz of traffic         on I-35      against

the beat of the wings of the monarchs            swirling toward Mexico      the winds

     of choice           whistling in every tongue that has ever          kissed the grass

          of my home          where a sunset      is a promise and a sunrise

is a whisper and a love song and         a fiddle and a violin        to tell you the truth

and the truth is my own hands      the glitter and the mud in my skin       it is the time

I was sick         in the ditch        where later primrose bloomed         alongside aster

        it is the blue of my tattered jeans         the blue of the newborn coyote’s eye.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture and Hysteria: Writing the female body (forthcoming). Kristin’s poetry has been published worldwide in many magazines and she is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee, Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night, Fire in the Sky, 17 seventeen XVII and Behind, All You've Got (forthcoming). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker.

by Emily Hockaday

In Viking sagas, language is

roundabout. A sword is a blood

worm; blood battle sweat. Is it this

that made me a poet? Around

my finger: a ring of Frejya’s tears bind

us. Your blood is also of Viking

descent. In Iceland we blend in

with the locals, drinking heavy

beers, eating fish stew, until they hear

us speak: Is this also where my gift

for circumlocution stems? You tell me

you love me and I describe all the ways

in which I would have made a good

conqueror. You don’t argue. We

look out over the glacial mountains

(stone teeth, ice trolls, snow knives)

and beneath, the lava (Earth’s blood,

Surtr’s misery, liquid flame) lies

in wait; there is always seismic

activity here, no matter how stable

or frozen the land appears.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Emily Hockaday is author of three chapbooks—Ophelia: A Botanist's Guide, What We Love & Will Not Give Up, and Starting a Life—with a fourth, Beach Vocabulary, forthcoming from Red Bird Chaps. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including the North American Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Newtown Literary, and most recently the Maine Review. She can be found on the web at www.emilyhockaday.com and @E_Hockaday.