Amanda Crum


I was raised in Kentucky 
but you can trace my cells 
through the crumbling infrastructures 
of Ohio. 
Veins as a map, 
corpuscles as the ashy trees 
studding rocky faces. 
Where clouds 
smudge the mountainside 
my heart lies in repose, 
clutching the moon like an old man 
laying flowers on a grave. 
We always imagine
there’s enough time to go back 
and find the ghosts 
of our grandmothers nodding over front porches, 
roll our toes through the grass 
our mothers once did somersaults in. 
But every map is finite, 
each fold creating fissures 
that cannot be undone.

Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work can be found in publications such as Eastern Iowa ReviewBlue Moon Literary and Art Review, and Barren Magazine, as well as in several anthologies. Her first chapbook of horror poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, made the shortlist for a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2015; her latest, Trailer Trash, will be published by Finishing Line Press in early 2019. She currently lives in a tiny town in Kentucky.

Christine Slocum

Metrics for City Living

Economic Vigor As Measured By Conversational Rhetoric (0-5):

0: People don't talk about your town because it no longer exists
1: Your city is full of “opportunity” because there's so many vacant houses and buildings
2: Your city’s most prized industry is obsolete, but reverently referred to
3: Civic leaders and marketers declare a "renaissance” in your city when a couple yoga studios and coffee shops open up in the part of town rich people find undesirable 
4: No one talks about revitalization because a defense contractor is the main industry, and fuck, we're always at war. Your city is rich.
5: Your city is synonymous with success, despite mind the homelessness and poverty


City-wide existential dread as measured by Public Art (0-5):

0: Public art is exclusively heritage statues with smiling faces
1: Public art is in the form of colorful murals glossing over/ignoring the colorful parts of the history
2: Public art are all abstract black sculptures
3: Public art is cute and prominently featured on the waterfront as a tourist trap but is actually about death
4: Public art is most prominent under bridges as a tourist trap and includes a piece called “Wall of Death”
5: The city has no public art


Intimacy with Neighbors as Measured by Access Granted to Interior of My Home (0-5):

0: I am a figment of your internet world and you only know I live in the City 
1: You have a sense of the neighborhood I'm in
2: You know my address and dispute it’s in the neighborhood I claim to live in
3: You drank a beer on my porch that I provided to you
4: You've been inside my house and I cleaned it before you arrived
5: You've been inside my house and I did not clean it before you arrived


Intimacy with Neighbors as Measured by Access Granted to Home (0-5):

0: We didn’t know you lived there
1: We have stood at the edge of our driveways discussing trivialities
2: I stepped into your living room to drop off outgrown children’s clothes
3. I drank a beer in your backyard or on your porch
4. I have seen all rooms but the bedroom, even though you initially told me this attic is an "office"
5. The entire interior of your home, have rifled through your apartment's cabinets looking for soap; you either gave me your keys or left the house unlocked so I could let myself in to do feed cats, snuggle cats, or leave pesto in the basement refrigerator

Christine Slocum is an applied sociologist specializing in anti-poverty policies, particularly homelessness. She lives in the city of Buffalo with her spouse, two kids, and two cats. You can find her talking about the bird's eye view - both social structures and actual birds - on Twitter as @ChristineLSloc.

Eric Lochridge

High Holy Day Deconstructed (Easter 2018)

We bagged all the traditions---
the bunny, ham dinner, egg dying,
sunrise service and the risen Christ.
No one woke early.
Instead we did brunch and a movie---
steak hash, pannu kakky, deviled eggs.
Sipping mimosas and picking at banana nut
muffins was our Eucharist,
The Last Jedi our sermon for the day.
At the table, my wife, my son,
my daughter and her girlfriend--- 
a communion at which all were welcome.
Our new tradition
left the old tales behind.
The rain transfigured briefly
into snow, no rising, only falling.
Then the sun came out.

Eric Lochridge is the author of three chapbooks: Born-Again Death WishReal Boy Blues, and Father’s Curse. His poems have appeared in DIAGRAMSlipstreamMojave Heart ReviewHawaii Pacific Review, and many others, as well as anthologies such as WA 129 and Beloved on the Earth. He lives in Bellingham, Washington. Find him on Twitter @ericedits.

Tiffany Belieu

Two Negatives

When I close my eyes all I see are
teeth and the terrible ways we open.
Walked the line, so close to
disgust, thinking you beautiful 
I wanted to press my fingers
into the abscess of your skin,
suck the puss and leave
no evidence that feelings festered.
You left so much of yourself
behind, stray cords, shoes
discharged in carnal
encounters, we were meat
not meet-cute, more caution 
taped crime scene than romcom.
I can’t compare us 
like a conclusion, like gravity
love that pulls you is amateur
our magnets push,
seductive repulsion.

Tiffany Belieu is working hard on her dream of writing. Her work is published or forthcoming in Meow Meow Pow PowCollective UnrestThe Cabinet of Heed, and Okay Donkey among others. She loves tea and cats and can be found @tiffobot on Twitter.

Jonathan Everitt


Let there be MTV. Let there be Prince. Let there be George. Let there be one final summer before an eternity of labor. Let there be Gap pastels and Chess King denim. Let there be beige plastic window units to cool sleep sofas in remote rooms of the house. Let the boys slip beneath chilled percale and electrify the dark. Let there be fatted calves over crumbling charcoal and bicycles with tumescent tires ready to outrun country mutts. Let there be chlorine-gilded hair and hotdog-warm skin under cobalt skies. For the church is empty, for every family has forsaken the pew for the park, the altar for the ocean. And the steep-sloped upper room of an only son will fill with new words and familiar fabric softener and beanbag chairs before black-and-white TV. Let the heavens be silenced for three days by a new wave of electric violins. Let the uncut yards well up with footprints and clotheslines and picnic tables ignored. Let every hymnal slam shut by the power of neglect. Let every pool glow in black light. Let torches illuminate the bare skin of the preruined in their warm bath beneath a pin-pricked navy night. Let the swell of summer be the envy of Satan. Let the alkaline baptism of the awakened tease every hair sprouting from their hills and valleys for the first time.

Jonathan Everitt is a Rochester-based freelance writer whose creative writing has been published or is forthcoming in Small OrangeThe Bees Are Dead, The Empty Closet, Lake AffectThe FingerImageOutWriteEscape into LifeThe Upstate Gardener’s Journal, and is the basis for a short film. He has also co-led a workshop for LGBTQ poets and co-founded the monthly open mic, New Ground Poetry Night at Equal Grounds Coffeehouse in Rochester. Jonathan is currently a creative writing MFA candidate at Bennington College.

Laura Potts

The Night That Robin Died

I remember it best as burnt lips and black
that night when the mouth of the house spat 
you and your terminal news out to the stars 
and back. Before the last evening hours 
had passed, flame yielding life to the ember,
the crack of your ash called a duskdark September
too soon to its spring. It was the summer to never 
remember. Robin, that radio screamed all the night
like your ambulance light living on and tight
was my wren-clenched flesh, was the glut
in my throat for you, lost-light bird never cut
from the cage. The age that was yours was the loudest
and long, but that old August day blew its dust
far on past those bones growing epigraph-grey:
a memento that death is just one storm away. 
These days, one more last-light life blown out,
the heart in my body beats that much more loud.
Oh gallow-bound you with the ballroom grin,
for each crowd at your feet another rose out in
a mutual call, a language too dark for the masses
at all. That fall from the world, as springtime passes
its breath to the last, was the black blacker blackest
that my past has carried. After that passage, dusk folded
and wearied away, I stood at the gate summer-coated
to wait, watching your far-flaming ghostlight fade.
You never doubted the fire that flared, that made
you a light living on in that night. While bone-body dies
and we look to the stars bygone-bright in your eyes,
know only your laughter lit hearthstone and home.
Know yours is the name never lost from the stone.

Laura Potts is twenty-two years old and lives in West Yorkshire, England. Twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her work has been published by Aesthetica, The Moth and The Poetry Business. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was nominated for The Pushcart Prize and became one of the BBC’s New Voices last year. Her first BBC radio drama aired at Christmas. She received The Mother’s Milk Writing Prize and a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

Matthew Early

You Were a Cliff

from which I fell—
through bedsheets of souls with hurricane-holding smiles,
landed on rocks at the bottom of lime-rim glasses.
If I could have pulled you along,
down to where I learned to find peace
in white-knuckle holds on bottlenecks and
judging strength of rapids and whirlpools,
you would have seen
how I romanced the jagged edges
of broken glass half-sunk in sand.
I once found thrill in falling,
but when you pushed me from your summit,
I learned how to wake up each day
like the bartenders always switched to juice by midnight.

Matthew Early is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. He holds a BA from Muskingum University, and is currently pursuing his MFA in creative writing at Butler University. He is the recipient of the 2018 Beulah Brooks Brown Award in Poetry. His work has also been featured on The Academy of American Poetsonline website, His work has been published in Echo, and First Circle, and he has placed in several collegiate literary competitions.

Jane Fleming

[things I lost by “accident”]

You gave me the rings on my fingers and the
            Bells on my shoes
Just like the song says—
Just like the Grateful Dead
And I sold them for $150 
                        At Fred’s gold & pawn 
And I never got them back 
Because they smelled like you 
            And they felt like you 
And the turquoise wrapped in silver
                                    that you said was from 1962
that New Mexico silver that you promised 
turned my finger green
                        just like I thought it would do. 
And I ran through dust like an elephant 
            Rolling my trunk through piles 
                        just to rid myself of the scent of you
and your fake peyote obsession like 
            Val Kilmer with hair so wild and long 
            that you thought starved mountains sprouted 
            you from the ground your sun-bleached 
            callouses touched—
But it didn’t want you and your New York muck
            That turned silver green
                        Just like they said it would do. 
Because my name is not Janis and I don’t have scabs
            around my elbows like you
but my skin is bruised yellow alongside the green—
                                    healing wounds I’d forgotten about 
too long ago to count 
pink scars from running through the woods with bare feet 
            bare feet          bare because you liked me better
without protection 
                        with lips sewn up so I breathed through my nose 
but not too loud; not to wake you 
            not to wake you until I could finally poke my tongue through 
and tear apart the delicate threads and call myself a bitch 
                                    before you
could call me that too
                        and now the bruises are yellow alongside the green instead of blue
because they are healing without you.

Jane M. Fleming is a PhD student in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Ocotillo Worship which is forthcoming from Apep Publications. Her poetry and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Drunk MonkeysBarren MagazinePussy Magic Magazine, and Pink Plastic House: A Tiny Journal, among others. Her poetry, prose, and collage portfolio can be found on her blog, Twitter: @queenjaneapx

Laurinda Lind


In my dream, my cat came back
reborn as another cat, but one hind 
quarter went bright with blood.
No one could help, and it cost
me critical time trying not to touch
or look since that leg seemed
slick from an inner slipping,
as if just bringing itself forward 
or else back were enough to make
a vessel burst inside and now
there was no hiding the excess 
harm. And this accident of its 
birth seemed both lurid and sad, 
as if it were a subset of my own 
life, and was an overdose of love.

Laurinda Lind lives in New York’s North Country. Some publications/ acceptances are in Blue Earth Review, Comstock Review, Constellations, Paterson Literary Review, and Radius; also anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press) and AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss and Grief (Radix Media). In 2018, she won first place in both the Keats-Shelley Prize for adult poetry and the New York State Fair poetry competition.

Rob Wilson Engle


by reaching your prying hand 

out then back towards your body 

the heart dismantles itself no less

to please the skin, bristling

with a membership to your own life’s

most private spaces, majesty

and is there a word for

uncomfortable euphoria

it leaves your bedroom a mess

and the rest of your life 

in perfect order, 

first, model your joy after marriage

next, divorce your partner and

flea the song, long and low,

emanating from the dark trees 

the birds alight in perfect asymmetry

and aren’t we all just having fun 

here with our sternums partly-exposed

to the sun, they say what doesn’t kill you

make you longer and when the shadows

rattle against the west side of the house

you hide in bed like a hieroglyphic

until the panic passes you find your way 

to your backyard at dawn

discover an heirloom, buried.

Rob Wilson Engle is Pittsburgh native, poet, and personal trainer currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. His creative work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Reality Beach, Profane, Phantom and elsewhere.

Tomas Marcantonio

when summer came to brighton

she came wombling from devil's dyke

like a piece of wind

with a wicker hat and dress of 

billowing bees that went off 

suckling for nectar


her lips glistened

with the morning dew of the downs

her skin glazed with the salt 

of the breeze that carried

from the white cliffs of woodingdean


children flung their arms in the air 

and went rolling

green tumbleweeds into the valley

collecting grass tagalongs in their hair

giggling when she caressed their faces 

and left them for the sea


the boys on their blow-up boat

cracked open the warmed cans 

from that glorious hour on the pebbles

they tasted her salty splash when their 

upper lips kissed 

the back-flipped ring-pulls


she took the rays from the orange orb 

and spun them 

with her spider wings

attached them to the ripple crests

until they sparkled


at the shallows 

ankles of blue bone

and the toothpaste froth of the tide

came in to white screams and went out 

all peach-cheeked laughter

pale elbows perched on the pebbles 


and shook their heads


she hauled in the tide 

from threads of silk

a thousand-armed puppeteer

dragging green-black jungles of seaweed 

over the stones


at the arches she dropped hot honey

into plastic cups of gold

painting wet circles on picnic tables where

hens and stags and proud brightonborns 

tapped their feet 

and slapped red thighs for the band


she caught the marbles of rhythm 

and ballooned them

a glass blower

and they cacophonied under the sun


yachts escaped the marina walls

swans with their wings aloft 

at a river's yawning mouth

she filled their sails with a gentle breath 

and sent them bounding

gaily toward the piers 


sailors on deck saw the pillars of smoke

barbecues that blackened the pebbles 

and curtained the long promenade

sausages burnt on one side 

and burgers pink in the middle


she followed the sails to the piers

to conduct the sunset murmuration of the starlings

they swept over the skeleton pier

a mournful dance that 

breathed and pulsed 

the tail of an aimless comet


summer babes dropped their doughnuts to their sides to watch


then she cut the strings of her starling kites 

and let them loose

and she left summer to waltz 

its own caramel waltz 

from the horizon


summer had come to brighton

Tomas Marcantonio is a fiction writer from Brighton, England. He has been published in over a dozen journals and anthologies, most recently Soft Cartel, Schlock!, and X-R-A-Y. Tomas is currently based in Busan, South Korea, where he teaches English and writes whenever he can escape the classroom. You can connect with Tomas on Twitter @TJMarcantonio.

Graham Irvin

my mother was cruising the manure highway

her voice spoke an endless fog 
she asked how do you make friends with pig death 
every man had white eyes and farm hands
eighteen agricultures were making bacon 
from goldsboro to bolivia 
somewhere is a hometown no one pronounces
blood was a river george washington couldn’t cross
the sky was blue and a baby’s pupils boiled
no one was left to cut the kudzu
main street smelled like spit in chinquapin 
she raised us in an ivy growth insane asylum 
our eviction note was written on chipped paint 
breakfast was a dry pond hugged by scum children 
sunflower dollars weren’t worth the exchange
we could sit and breathe and not notice a thing

Graham Irvin is from Kannapolis, North Carolina. His chapbook The Woods are now a Traffic Jam and my Family is Deleting Itself was published by Really Serious Literature. His writing has appeared in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine,Soft CartelSouth Broadway Ghost ReviewThe Nervous BreakdownInstant Lit Magazine, and Philosophical Idiot. Follow him on Twitter @grahamjirvin and Instagram @trash_gram_.  

Sayuri Ayers

The Return

Miles from the Ohio border
I feel the cinching—
earthworm curling around my pinky,
meadow grass clasping my ankle.
From the Milky Way
you beckon, offer me 
shadow of clover garland
woven through Orion’s belt,
the dangling dagger. 
Under a childhood blanket,
we channeled names
of boys. With darkened eyes, 
you told me how you drowned
a black kitten. I lifted up 
my nightgown
to show you a bruise,
a pulsing nebula. 
We scooped darkness
from the moon’s silver bowl,
feeding each other. 
Still I taste the sweetness—
woven crowns, nectar drawn out
like thread. Driving home
I swerve around
the caved form of a badger.
Its belly, spilling
moonlight.  I reach
into the night to find you—
meadow like endless sea,
years sloughing off like petals.

Sayuri Ayers is a native of Ohio. Her prose and poetry appear in EntropyHobartThe Pinch, and others. Green Bottle Press released her chapbook, Radish Legs, Duck Feet, in 2016. You can find her at

Ronnie Sirmans


No one remembers her name, but long ago
she suffered loss that drove her to her knees
at the water’s edge of the stream nestled
right behind her house. While vital hurts 
can be ascribed one word, such as orphan
or widow, her void didn’t translate so easily.
Exhausted from prayer or crying (or are
they the same thing too often?), she fell
into the waters that had risen to rapids
from the storms she caused or ignored.
When they dredged her from the stream
along with mud and rocks like afterbirth, 
her hair had become tangled with a limb
lodged so deeply into that deathbed,
someone brought shears to cut it loose
like lamb’s wool before the sacrifice.
The hair tangled unto itself and floated.  
The body of water then fed into a river,
which garbled over stones, mumbled
along wider banks, and tried to drown
weaker creatures along the way. That
led to an estuary, with its fecund smell,
life amid death rotting in brackish waters.
Oh, that knot of hair held strong, tighter
than the poor woman’s own grasp on life,
her compounded little and large tragedies.
Currents took the tangles into the sea,
where they crashed alongside waves,
and the woman’s venomous losses clung
while the sun and salt bleached the mass,
and then it all washed back on shore,
strands of hair now nettles that sting
my bare feet when I walk over them,
and my husband smiles and says he has 
to piss on me if I want to ease this pain.

Ronnie Sirmans is a newspaper editor whose poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, The South Carolina ReviewThe American Journal of PoetryBlazeVOXGargoyleDeep South Magazine, and elsewhere.

Heather Quinn


knots along a threadbare rope 
winding back to the shtetls 
of Latvia, Poland, Lithuania
to Ellis Island
to survive
pack away the pogroms 
the green of Lvov 
the yellow Star of David
crematorium ash
handmade sweaters
hand-carved pipes
everything crammed
beneath skin and sinew
to be incarnated as sepsis 
barking dogs
my mother showered me
in splintered glass 
bits of Hebrew text
burning candles  
and wiry dolls
belonging to my grandmothers
to my great-grandmothers
this great great ache 
an ark to crush each rib
I examine dusty maps
crocheted afghans 
moth balls and matzo ball soup
every matchstick and cracked tooth
I whisper, Evelyn, Irene, Lena, Minnie
their names bound to this poem
scratched Into the earth of this poem
kneaded into the bread of this poem
rye to feed the dead

Heather Quinn is a poet living in San Francisco and is drawn equally to life’s light and shadows.  She is awed by that unnamable and indestructible force that burns brighter than shame.  Her poetry is often inspired by such heat as it reveals itself in language and art.  She has been published in Burning House Press, Zoetic Press’ Nonbinary Review, Minnesota Review, and West Marin Review among others.  Heather co-founded a peer-led poetry workshop, which has been meeting regularly since 2002. She spends her free time searching for sunshine through San Francisco’s fog while drinking black tea and trying to convince her cats to clean up after themselves for goodness sake.    

LaVerne Thompson


Your promises have all the integrity of autumn leaves
and a sooner expiration date.
This is why your voice cracks when you speak,
why your lies smell like pumpkin spice,
feel like an extinguished fire.
I think of all the wasted wood  

drowning in its own ashes.
What's it like to be a lumberjack?
To have Paul Bunyan lineage - you inherit nothing but tall tales.
You will slaughter Babe to eat her loins
then curse her for not resurrecting for you.
How does it feel to level a forest
as though this destruction is the only way for you to have a hard wood
floor stained by your own pride? How many homes
have you paneled with pine feelings just for the sake
of aesthetics?
But for once, this poem isn't about you and if I'm
going to be every bit as honest as you were not,
this poem is about me standing in a forest and yet being a lonely tree.
This poem is about me beckoning to men in
flannel and hoping to God the axe is just for show,
knowing that I will fuel my own extinguished fire.
But this poem isn’t just about how we made a hobby of deforestation.
It's about how trees never get used to holding on too long -
our leaves are proof of that.
It’s about the time a gardener stopped to look at  
what remained and I expected him to demand fruit
but he smiled
and I expected him to break a branch
but he climbed me instead
and I expected him to wander through the woods
but he sat
and I expected his disgust at my bark
but he was quiet
and I realized how rough I'd let myself become
but he was understanding
and I waited for the axe to come
but I felt water.
And I waited for the lumber mill
But I felt water.
And I waited for the flames
But I felt water.
I stood quaking at the roots
and he stood with me 
and now I know the nurturing of spring time.
I know a gift the giving tree never saw.
I know what it is to be enjoyed without being devoured,
to have someone who can't see the forest for the tree.

Originally from Rochester, NY, LaVerne Thompson has been interested in poetry her entire life but didn't get serious about writing until high school. She soon earned a place on Slam High, Rochester's competitive youth slam team. She spent the next two years performing in numerous spaces around the Rochester community and in competitions across the country, often drawing on personal hardship and the fight for social reform in her work. After her time with Slam High came to a close, LaVerne continued to hone her craft, leading to her work being featured in Critical Youth Studies, My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry, and now, Ghost City Review. 

Amber Day

Recurring Nightmare

Moonlight on the lake,
a pile of white night gowns—
maps to an underwater stream of light. 
The flowers around the lake
grow tongues inside their petals when it rains. 
But these are the truths I must live by:
the night gowns are shadows 
that lead to nowhere, and if a moth lands 
on the water, the lake will change color.
Two wolves drink from the lake. On the water,
the wolves’ shadows are cobalt blue.  
They’re swallowing mirrors, reflections of themselves. 
I imagine the alphabet set on fire then 
doused in lake water. The only 
surviving letters form my dead lover’s name. 
If I follow the logic precisely, he will emerge 
from the lake, but near the nightmare’s end, 
I forget the final axiom. 
The moonlit water forms the body of a human 
and walks towards me. A moth lands 
on the water’s outstretched arm.

Amber Day works as a recreation specialist for people on the autism spectrum and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Child Life to help children cope with illness and hospitalization. Amber’s poetry is forthcoming in Eratio.

Kerri Farrell Foley

Reading Peyton Place Inside a Planned Parenthood

Mothers, our mothers 
Kept it hidden in the back of their delicate drawers
Next to the sachet seeping essence into unmentionables
Pawed over and swallowed, pages and pages of forbidden 
apple white 
Things, our things
Eyes move, scanning a horizon for keywords
Familiar phrasings we know, we all know. We each had to sit
Straight backed in uncomfortable chairs, posture 
like paper
Backs, our backs
Sore as we drain. Before we were women we were eggs
We save our own shells and try them on sometimes
To see if they still fit. Vanity or pride, 
sampling six-or-seven
Days, our days
Maybe it's the way we were raised. Late to shed our shyness
Then reminded daily how the mantle had felt on our shoulders
Because husks have a function and the 
sermon was
Protection, our protection
Recognize a similar shade of shell and hope she’ll say
I was seventeen. I was thirty-two, I was twenty-six. 
And you can say I was too. Unafraid
to tell

Kerri Farrell Foley is the founder and managing editor of Crack the Spine Literary Magazine. Her poetry and short prose has been published in Black Words on White Paper, Short Fast and DeadlyFlash Daily, and others. Her novel In the Margins was published in 2013.