Emily Banks

Gabrielle

Always the bad girl in the games we played,
because I’d found her lying on the street
and never could shampoo the smell of cigarettes
out of her hair—this must have been a time
when mothers in Park Slope still smoked.
She was once maybe blonde,
coarse curls I couldn’t run my fingers through
and never tried to brush. That kind of doll
with a soft plush body, rubber arms
and chubby dimpled legs. She always cried
when she got F’s on her spelling tests,
or was put in the corner for being mean
to other girls. Lashing out
because they left her out, the girls bought new
and dressed from catalogues,
who carpooled to gymnastics class and shared
Food Co-op snacks. She only had one dress,
a purple floral Velcroed in the back,
no longer really fashionable for dolls
in our neighborhood, who by then
were starting to wear bellbottoms
and Soffe shorts for gym classes where Gabby sat out
unprepared or embarrassed herself,
her hand flapping uselessly while the basketball
rolled out of bounds off her. And then she’d throw a fit:
flail her bare feet smack against the wall,
wave her arms with a fury to strike
her own cloth body, hurl her neck
faster and faster weakening the seam
where her head was sewn on,
plastic lids clacking against her eyes.


Emily Banks lives in Atlanta, where she is a doctoral candidate and poetry lecturer at Emory University. She has an MFA from the University of Maryland and a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Free State Review, Cimarron Review, storySouth, Muse/A Journal, and Pembroke Magazine.

Alyssa Hanna

Toxicocalamus spilolepidotus

it’s in a book, i think, buried in the thick soil of an index,
the places to find me. i’m a name and a shape and a color
maybe, but i don’t know if i’m anything else; they saw me
once and they’ve been searching ever since. 

but they haven’t found me. and they won’t find me;
i have been hiding in the crevices of their shoes for so many years since,
trampled by months and mouths and quiet desperation,
but they’ve never once bothered to check their boots.
i will remain here, as long as i need to, until they tire themselves out.


Alyssa Hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared in Reed Magazine, The Mid-American Review, The Naugatuck River Review, Cholla Needles, Crack the Spine, Rust + Moth, and was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. alyssa is an aquarium technician and intends on pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in Westchester with her fish and four lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter

Liana Fu

moral guidance for decisions

In the margins of
Sunday service pamphlets, 

under the guise of god’s all-knowing
fluorescent lights, 

the ink bleeds
black for my 

sins. listen, it’s in the heart
beat—kindness instead
of obligation

once, I stood so straight-skirted,
legs-tighted and converted in line,
Mrs. Gray let me choose 

between M&M’s or Skittles,
to which I didn’t say, 

the taste of God
feeds me into neither.


Liana Fu is a student at the University of Chicago majoring in Creative Writing and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies. She was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago but tethers herself to Hong Kong. In 2016, she was nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her memoir/personal essay. She edits for Blacklight Magazine, a literary magazine dedicated to publishing works by people of color, and occasionally writes for South Side Weekly and The Chicago Maroon. She is currently interning at Chicago Review.

Christopher Hopkins

White feather 

The sea is older, 
and the wind 
older still.
The sands whispers, Goodnight,
now our light is milk to the darkness,
and each star speck 
is a father’s peck on a daughters head. 

All of the good in the world 
is there,
and in all our 
celebrations of wonder,
I am the happy drunk. 


Christopher Hopkins was born and raised in Neath, South Wales. His debut poetry chapbook Take Your Journeys Home was published by Clare Songbirds Publishing House in November 2017 and has received a nomination for the IPPY book award for poetry. His poems “Sorrow on the Hill” and “Smoke and Whiskey” have received nominations for the Pushcart Prize. His spoken word poetry has also been featured in a podcast of Golden Walkmen Magazine, which will be included in their ‘Best of the Year’. His work has also been featured in the MIND Anthology Please Hear What I'm Not Saying (February 2018). He has a YouTube channel dedicated to his poetry readings.

Marcus Myers

Instagram Selfie: Dayne Behind the Wheel

Wool cap all side-cocked, old-school,
you know, a cazj Jay-Z, one head-
phone on left ear. These eyes
writing internal rhymes
for pissed off and tired,
or I just want to kick it. This face
shoulders a boom-box,
a heart with secret beats for he
whoever deigns to step up, for she
whoever holds my glance a while
as my Range roves by her flow
as fleek-gold as the Nile.


Marcus Myers lives in Kansas City, MO, where he advises gifted and talented high school students, teaches composition to high school seniors and college freshmen, and works as a founding co-editor of Bear Review. His work has appeared in The Cortland Review, Hunger Mountain, Mid-American Review, The National Poetry Review, Pleiades, The Rumpus, Salt Hill, Tar River Poetry and elsewhere.

Matt Duggan

Detritus

A busy waterfront – saffron coat of drunken leviathans, a crowd of silvery whores camp playboys waltzing with the lights from a lost traffic cone; They drink the warm whispers from cold women sipping from the immortal glass and its deathly charms that scribe in ink shades with shaking hands; Scoffing on winter- berry and prosecco hand cooked crisps where brave words ravish a lecher of mockery; Tongues leak the leftovers of politics pristine table tops with fragranced yellow candles laminated menu with marmalade steak;  A collection of the graceful and grotesque littered streets of fish and chip bellies beggars stroll in ripped suits and dress. Behind the ruins in amber and elephant grey we hooked up dead celebrities in the abattoir stood in a matchbox of a black and white sunrise killing all the hippies turning their bones into gasoline; Wrapped in burger relish with too much cocaine a girl in high boots of leather steps over the wobbling wrecks of detritus; like fleshy relics in gutters mascara trails like dried lines of cold tar those portly creatures disperse for a brawl broken hair slides – ripped blouses at dawn. Those men that eat quinoa oatmeal a strawberry infused cappuccino with a short scattering of hazelnut were the men we knew as children who once fought imaginary witches on the high-street now they’ve succumbed to be the people who live inside hibernating in closed rooms as serial petition signers.


Matt Duggan’s poems have appeared in Midnight Lane Boutique, The Journal, Ghost City Review, The Blue Nib, Into the Void, Osiris Poetry Journal, and my new chapbook A Season In Another World is available from Thirty West PH.

Justin Goodman

Lay Off Pt.2

“Stop all the clocks, shut off the telephone.”
                                    -W.H. Auden, “Funeral Blues”

 

and tomorrow creeps in so smooth
i almost wrap my collar around my neck
the sun is a black dot & i am so trialed
so warm is the bed I slip solemnly in
a siren warns of shadows in the clouds
my alarm casts a shadow overhead
my family have been forgiving figments
standing over me like anglers, aglow,
dad looks like JP suggesting i organize
if i can’t clean my room, i am worthless
i’ll clean my room when i’ve gotten up
time flies through the open window
and falls to a crack on the concrete
humpty dumpty with wifi capabilities
haha i laugh without smiling like in court
the jury is out. will the sun ever rise?


Justin Goodman earned his B.A. in Literature from SUNY Purchase. His writing--published, among other places, in Cleaver Magazine, TwoCities Review, and Prairie Schooner--is accessible from justindgoodman.com. His chapbook, The True Final Apocalypse, is forthcoming from Local Gems.

Sage Enderton

10 summer thoughts

  1. this is the summer i realized some part of you makes up my heartbeat.

  2. we sit and drink french press coffee in the middle of the forest for months and we never have to worry about straining it twice to remove the grounds from our teeth.

  3. i was made to rebel against my father, drowning in rose petal oceans between phases of the moon. i realize this while standing in the virginia water.

  4. one day i will wake up to the sun in that wood cabin everyday, swimming over you in an attempt to convince your freckles to emerge.

  5. i sleep in the heat like a withering dog- the way they always made me feel.

  6. when i feel like tearing out my hair i take the flowers i’ve dried and crush them up.

  7. i am pursuing the tail light of some old pickup truck like she’s tied up in the hatchback. she’s not even there, but it feels like every other nightmare.

  8. i am a 1 in 20,000 chance- or mistake, depending on my mood.

  9. those feelings fade away any time i watch the sun rise or set. always remember that every day you can be born again, and again, and again, and again.

  10. live in the warmth that this earth gives us. i want to take every feeling i’ve ever had and pull it out by the root, and plant it in the middle of the picnic field i’ve never had a picnic in.


Sage Enderton is a queer poet from Buffalo, NY who is approaching her senior year of high school. Her poetry and prose have been featured in publications like Pass/Fail, Wordplay, My Next Heart: The Buffalo Anthology, and Peach Magazine. Sage also creates self-produced zines in her free time and serves as a Youth Ambassador for the Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Kate Wright

Let’s Have a Funeral For Each Other

Build wooden boats
small enough to hold
in hands and kiss goodbye.
Pile these pyres high
with pictures, boarding passes, old
receipts crumpled in pants pockets,
and gum wrappers found
on car floors. At exact sunset,
on the last day of the year,
we will exhale incantations,
whisper every curse we know
as we strike our matches,
cast the boats into water
and watch them burn.
As flames dance into distance,
we will erase messages, delete
numbers, swear each other’s name
for only reverent conversations
about the dearly departed.
When the last ember crumbles
to ash, we will wade
into water too.


Kate Wright received a BA and MA in English from Penn State University. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Columbia College Literary Review, Cold Creek Review, Buck Off Magazine, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @KateWrightPoet

Steve Deutsch

Leroy

It was right after the rent-a-cop—
with his fine-tuned 
sense of self-preservation
made his tattooed self scarce,
that they came on the court,
so loose-limbed 
you imagined them melting
in the August heat.
Yet their procession
seemed as inevitable as the tide. 

I hadn’t realized I was still dribbling
until Leroy was on me—
face to face.
I had played b-ball with him
at pick-up games on Stone Avenue.
He was like some sub-atomic particle—
Leroyiam,
always moving.
He was good
and when he went up for a jump shot
I was left defending knees.
Leroy showed me a metal Band-aid box
full of twenty-two shells
and a taped up pistol
as ugly as Brownsville.
He told me—
“I’d stay off the streets tonight.” 

Soon after
the draft started
to round up the basketball stars,
the craps addicts,
and the layabouts
from the bowling alley. 

Word was
Leroy flushed 
his subway token
and took off—
with just his basketball
and his dad’s pay envelope.
They haven’t caught him yet
and the smart money says
they never will. 

Perhaps, he will 
grow old 
and prosperous—
on a court somewhere,
lofting one-hand set shots
over his grandkids’ heads
and catching only net.


Steve Deutsch lives with his wife Karen—a visual artist—in State College, PA. He writes poetry and the blog: stevieslaw@wordpress.com. His recent publications have been in Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, will be published next year by Kelsay Press.

Vivian Wagner

Terminus

I learned the word “determine” from my mom, as I read aloud to her in the car driving from the mountains where we lived to the desert where I went to school. I pronounced it wrong, with “mine” like possession, like a hole in the ground. She corrected me and told me what it meant: to make things the way they are, the way they will be. The piñon pines and sagebrush rolled by as we climbed Walker Pass that warm morning. I could see my mom’s wispy brown-gray hair above the car seat. That morning, now, is permanent, the way things were, a place to visit, but remembered slightly differently every time. Was it warm, or was there snow on the ground? Did she tell me what it meant, or did I have to figure it out from the context? I think of that moment now, on a trip when I visit her grave in the desert, touching her smooth stone carved with mountains and pines, the Sierras in the background, determined to visit a past that’s always turning into the way things will be.


Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she teaches English at Muskingum University. She's the author of Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).

Gervanna Stephens

attempts on my life

I had a skateboard when I was younger
and I was good
uncoordinated and shit at not falling over my own two feet,
but on that board I glided. 

My sister fell once, and
if the board was even visible in a room before she entered
it had to be removed.
She never wanted to fall the same way again. 

I thought she was mad,
now looking back at all the times I flung myself headfirst into the jaws of indecision, burning buildings and war zones
I am amazed I am still alive. 

I survived soot and rubble
broken glass and the ripping of happiness from my chest every time I fell
I think my organs were tired of me
tired of working to save me when I failed to save myself.

I was destruction and discord
apocalypse made flesh
suicide in an already destroyed form
my sister never wanted to fall that way again, 

and me,

I just wanted to glide.


Gervanna Stephens is a Jamaican poet and proud Slytherin with congenital amputation living in Canada. Her work has appeared in magazines like 8 poems, TERSE. Journal, WusGood.black, Whirlwind Magazine, Enclave, 12 Point Collective and Anti-Heroin Chic. She hates public speaking, has two sisters who are way better writers than her and thinks unicorns laugh at us when we say they aren’t real. Tweets @gravitystephens.

Margaret Siu

Meat Factory

China, 2004:
115.88 boys crafted
for every 100 accidental girls

 

In the meat factory
you want sons to wear your name
and their sons to wear your name.
You think less about the machines,
Daughters. Faceless, nameless, seen but never heard.
You’ve pressed their hips and shipped them
back into the delivery room.  

For each sack of fresh bone and blood,
you check its gender and,
phew-its-a-boy, carefully stamp your name on,
barcode and all. You take care
to shun her and leave her in
garbage disposals and road-sides. Turning profit,
her small body fills inventories for orphanages,
she will never carry your name. Children,
wrapped by the long fingers of marionette strings
lace between your teeth. You wait
for new machinery finding BREAKING
NEWS: fewer of those child-rearing hips.  

Listen, the growing silence of factories around you.
Watch the leftover girls become leftover women
and plead for them to be your brides, new bodies oiling new factories.
Watch the leftover women become iron women,
they wear a new armor you gave them
every time you killed their sisters.
When you tossed their carcasses aside,
new goddesses hatch from the rubble.
Every time the old meat machine cranks
you cut your own strings.


Margaret Siu is majoring in Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas, has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the National Taiwan Normal University (國立臺灣師範大學) and a business certificate from Harvard Business School’s HBX program. Siu is the founder and Editor in Chief for international, multimedia publication Apricity Magazine; in addition, she is the recipient of the James F. Parker Poetry Prize. Siu is an avid fan of Naomi Shihab Nye, Mong-Lan, and Lin Manuel Miranda--those who endeavor to narrate their cultures through verse.

Linda M. Crate

i was planted

hot air balloons
always seemed magical to me
i want to ride in one, one day;
one of my dreams
i have yet to
to accomplish on my list of never ending
adventures i need to go on—
but one day
i will go, i tell myself;
because despite my fear of heights
i have a love for clouds, for blue skies,
for sunsets, for sunshine;
i want to know the fire that lifts into
the sky like the sun rising
east each morning—
i want to kiss the clouds and know
all their secrets and myths and truths
to see if i can reconnect to roots
of my brother and sister stars
for i am a daughter of the moon
her fires have always burned me open
forcing me to bloom sometimes
when i thought i was buried
i was planted.


Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has five published chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), and splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), and one micro-chapbook Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018).

Drew Pisarra

Germany in Autumn

You don’t want to talk politics.
You  just  want  to  get  in  bed
where   the   politics   will   play   out
in    weird    role-playing    games
that     will     land     me     in     some     blue     state
where      the      bliss      floats      near      the      ceiling
somewhat       out       of       reach       but
visible        to        the        naked        eye
gazing         from         my         naked         body
struggling          with          a          naked          truth
that           you’re           not           good           for           me
so       
            much
                        as
                                    necessary
                                                            .


As one half of the conceptual art duo Saint Flashlight, Drew Pisarra activates poetry in public spaces including the takeover of a Brooklyn movie marquee with film-themed haiku in 2017 and the dissemination of "lost poems" first at the O, Miami Poetry Festival then DC's Capturing Fire summit/slam in 2018. Additionally, Publick Spanking, a collection of his short fiction, was published by Future Tense.

Evan James Sheldon

When I lived on the moon

I mostly sat and watched.
There’s not much else to do up there. 

Did you know that the earth has phases
too? Shifting from a shard of blue-green to a full  

earth, depending. Once there was an eclipse
and I brought out a folding chair, put

 on special glasses. I had planted
a willow and its wavy, delicate branches

split the eclipse shadow like a greenleaf
prism; a hundred hundred little eclipsing

earths dotted the ancient gray dust
beneath my feet. I thought of all

the earths before me and knew
I would need pick one to return

to and leave the rest behind. Shadows
are darker on the moon, they

creep slow and remain. Things
last; footsteps and collisions.

When I got back, you were gone.
And now when the moon is full, I strain

and try to see, to find, all
the tiny shadows of the earths,

those wavering suggestions of possibility,
to which I might have returned.


Evan James Sheldon's work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Spelk, Roanoke Review, and Poetry Super Highway, among others. He is a junior editor for F(r)iction.

Amy McClure

HE COULD BARELY BREATHE

Ted Bundy’s long term girlfriend
Said he was a nice guy
You sang The Beatles to me as we laid on
a mattress on the floor
of our one bedroom apartment
We could barely afford
I was the peak of the mountain of love for you,
I thought. 

You hated me long enough
that it finally became mutual
Our love was a ship that traveled us between
Oceans and time
I’ve been blocked from your life so long
I forgot how gray your eyes were
Or the worry I’ve felt for you every second,
Since you left.  

In the heat of the summer,
I am reminded that our love sunk like a ship.
That ship sunk with such force that it,
drowned all lives that surrounded it.
Holes punctured to the core,
Crashing water filled each crevice.
We are very similar,
We both struggled with forgiveness,
and reality.
Ted Bundy struggled with those too.


Amy McClure is a Vermont based poet. Her writing focuses on humor and the weird things that happen in her semi-boring day-to-day office life. Some of her work can be seen published by The DailyUV.

Sarah A. Etlinger

Reflections on Narcissus

The vase of daffodils you gave me
sits on the center table,
aching yellow and preening
atop hollow tubes cut
precisely at the knees
to be top heavy and glorious.

They hold the air hostage:
I cannot help but think
of Narcissus, forced to endure
his own reflection for eternity;
condemned to draw nutrients
from clear water.

But when I look at them all,
fanned out, their stems
hugged together in the clearest water,
I realize:

sometimes the body chooses hollow--
chooses water
or a patch of snow outside
rather than early spring soil
full of richness;

sometimes the fear
of not drowning remains
more powerful
than that which could save us.


Sarah A. Etlinger is currently an English professor who lives in Milwaukee, WI with her family. Her work can be found in The Gyroscope Review, The Magnolia Review, Cliterature, and many others including anthologies. Interests in addition to writing include reading, traveling, cooking, and learning to play the piano.

J. De Nero

I am a modern woman and will try most anything to heal

I read an article titled Can Apple Cider Vinegar
Fix All Of Your Problems and my emotions
all corralled behind an inactive electric fence.

I am not yet thirty and my back is a natural disaster.
My back is an invasive plant. My back is wisteria twisting
my body in a playful chokehold. My back hangs like a trumpet
flower, doubled over, in attempt to be modest, not-too-showy.
My back tries to shrink, tries to make itself smaller,
to balance others in the room, who command more space.

My back tries to help me blend in. My back tries to mimic
the lamppost, the sunflower, a parking meter, but it's still
a fat cat trying its best to fit in a windowsill. It’s still a
messy nest of spiders hiding in the corner of my room.  

I try ginseng from the bodega, turmeric from the Asian market,
cannabis, once... or twice…. a day, and one time in Korea,
a woman on the street handed me a green glass jar,
an empty plum wine bottle, as small as my palm.
She had filled it with moths she’d collected from
the street lights around the island. She stuck her finger in,
till the dust collected, and then rubbed it down my spine.

My neck... my back... fix my posture and my stance.

My back is a drunk man in an alley using two buildings
to steady himself. My back is a drug addict, who can’t
keep their head up. My back is the trembling friend,
furious and nervous, the one with their ear
to the bathroom door, praying their nodding
mate’s still conscious.

My back is not a straight line. It’s a limp belt
that wants to curl in around a waist, direct me, coax me up
your stake, so that I may grow to be crowned by the sun.  

My back is the cat again, vase-shaped, and stretching in
the only patch of natural light, (my window lined with quarters
you’ve left like offerings at a shrine.) My back is a wallet
you fold in a half, tucked in the worn outline of your pocket.

My back is three ibuprofen in the morning and two droppers
full of that awful brown liquid, whose name translates
to “horse smell.” My back is a teenager sitting shotgun
in a van, legs up on the dash, a few toes out the window.

My back is the same dark shape your body took,
when your mother found you, crumpled in the basement
like a bandage you finally ripped off. My back is not
the rope you used but the knot.

It is 2018. Of course I try yoga. I am a Sphinx. A cobra.
Now I am a corpse. An aqueduct. A longer version
of myself, but without fear now, stretching out
of my skin and into my best self.

But at night, my back is inconsolable. My back is as sad
as the moon. My back is the tide tossing into your shore,
knocking down all of your beach umbrellas.

At night, when we’re a set of spoons, and I’ve lined
all the pillows with garnets and citrine, amber and topaz,
orange carnelian... At night when our bodies are not
our own, when we’re two trees clicking together
in a storm, the spiders come out
and make bridges of us both.


J. De Nero is a Buffalo gal won't you come out tonight and dance by the light of the moon. She has been published in Peach Mag, BlazeVox, and has work forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue.

Joel’s Family and Friends

When We Were Eating Sandwiches and Those Drunk Girls Asked Us if We Were in Love

a true lost boy on an adventure of a lifetime
slow, wide turns, second star on the right
and straight on ‘til morning

a hot blooded italian & a strong willed irishman
the trance man of the LA Lands
thank you for being there
at my worst nightmare

i'm sorry i was a bad wingman,
but so were you, you nut
you were my best friend
you were a lot of people's
best friend

you loved me
as much as I loved you
and that's cool. Love is not
a big enough word. "Some game, huh?
Some game."
My God.

when we were eating sandwiches
and those drunk girls asked us
if we were in love.
I said:
'yes'.
I LOVE YOU

one of a kind. always
there, even when you weren’t

you are probably the most similar person
to me in all my life
when a plug meets an outlet,
it creates a spark

hwhat, hwhat?

"that's my cigar!—you'll steal another"
"goddamn it, stu! is everything in here crocheted?"
"don't worry, guy. you'll be getting one-a-dem
bear hugs...free of charge."
you said you were staying 5 minutes away
I was lost in corn land until 6am

you lightened up everyone's
darkest thoughts. the affect you've
had on my life, I would never think twice.
the space between us is too much
you are my luck
a day won't go by
that I don't think about you

ace of hearts
best friends don't tell
the most genuine soul
your goofy ass smirk
that could make anyone smile

i think it was your eyes
like home's front window through
which we could see a fire tended well
enough for us all to come and sit
take a load off, be happy
if only for a while
yeah, i think
it was your eyes

family above all

- for Joel