Leah Mueller

Oz Moment

Pay no attention
to the man behind the curtain
frantically maneuvering levers
to avoid detection. The man
only does what is natural
for someone who hides.

He covers himself with
cloth and branches.
He waves his hands in the air,
talking loudly to confuse
listeners. You are the girl who
believed a boy could fly
across the street. You want
to believe the man. His
huge head looms above.
His lips continue moving.

Something always arrives
at the last minute, to pull
open the curtain. The head
grows louder, halts when
it sees nobody’s listening.
You demand an explanation.
You will stand guard in front
of the doorway, until your armor
finally disappears. The man
will vanish with the head.

Pay more attention
to the man behind the curtain
next time you’re stupid
enough to leave home. If you
wander too far, you
won’t remember the route.
The man will take his wagon
somewhere else. You’ll
need to retrace your steps
until you find the place
where you fell asleep.

Leah Mueller is an indie writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, Queen of Dorksville (Crisis Chronicles Press) and Political Apnea (Locofo Chaps) and three books, Allergic to Everything, (Writing Knights Press) Beach Dweller Manifesto (Writing Knights) and The Underside of the Snake (Red Ferret Press). Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Summerset Review, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest.

Alexis David


The girls ran in and out of months. In and out of October, November and December until January frosted their feet with champagne and firecrackers burned their elbows purple.  

Their flank muscles hardened and softened. Their brows filled with wine crystal sweat and in their mouths they held the salty tang of lemon and olives.

On the forested path through February and March, the spring rain melted the snow until the snow was nothing but water, until the water was puddles, the puddles were rivers, rivers that sound like harps, harps that called them new names that weren’t names at all but rather nouns. Fish. Guppy. Fin.

One girl bent down to slosh water into her open mouth, red and worried. This had been such a hard life for her. Such a very hard time. It would be good now to be in the water.  

The second girl stepped bare arches onto stones, felt cold in the navicular bones of her feet. She wasn’t the thinking type. She placed herself gently into the water and felt only cold. Not baptismal at all, but yes, something transformative. They both looked to one another, wanting to remember each other as they were now.

April showered and showered and the currents thickened like a Scandinavian ocean. Like unfamiliar water. Like black sand beaches where glaciers melted and released all the women and men who had fallen into wintry chasms such a long time ago.  

The girls crouched forward and dove under the cold water, feeling the lemon taste of their mouth bob up and out, floating to the surface. The tastes their tongues tasted would also be left here on this shore.  

They swam together again. Swam quickly. Their arms turned to fat red muscle and they pulled themselves into the dark undercurrent. Deep. Deeper now. Way down. Became bottom feeders.  The quiet happy kind that are hard to see.

Alexis David has an MFA in fiction from New England College.  Entry number 45 on her google doc bucket list is "punch someone in the face."  This is a bad idea, so she tries to write flash fiction in a way that feels like punching someone in the face.

John Petelle

Blue Circles, Dark Stars

A blue circle surrounds the moon.
My astronomer friends
have a name for this,
an explanation.
I know better.
It means someone dear to me, 
weeps slow tears.

We all look upon identical stars,
yet our visions diverge.
Standing next to me,
my wife says
“Those clouds are a barking dog.”
I observe no such thing,
seeing only a lawnmower, flinging grass.

Three states to the south,
my childhood friend has clear skies.
No airy vapors there.
His atmospheric view,
estranged from mine.
The distance between us,
more than earthly miles.

I stroll a concrete path,
two miles of sidewalk to a nearby park.
What passes for a hill in this place,
boasts an observatory.
Stargazers fling knowledge at me.
Their words like asteroids, 
impacting among dinosaurs.

I strive, and fail again.
Unable to see the ancient shapes.
Their forms elude me.
Ignorance darkens my mood.
Like an eclipse,
chasing these distant suns
to oblivion.

The lunar nimbus has faded.
Black velvet sky,
perfectly surrounds ivory sphere.
My blue circle knowledge is true.
Does this mean their lamentations have ended?
Or are they a stranger to me now,
as unknown as the zodiac?

John Petelle is a Desert Storm veteran of the Marine Corps. His varied career includes years spent as the editor of the Nebraska American Legion’s state newspaper, computer instructor for an elementary school, and numerous technology startup companies. He currently assists in the creation of machine learning algorithms, focused on healthcare technology.

Jude Marr

Did I Miss My Entrance, or My Exit?

on a bridge crusted with ash, bearings lost, I roll out from under
a back-seat dream of progress and ask—

what place is this?

on my knees: bodies jostle, and I am scourged by drumbeats—

how am I here?

on my feet: but my sky-view’s marred by arms as branches, shaking
fists, and stiffened fingers: darkness punctured by digits—

I can hear my heart’s rattle—

I remember—

in a radiant city (near, not far) wingless bodies burn
at every intersection (walk, don’t walk) wheels turn against flesh
as the last bus heaves into heedless traffic—

on a wall, scratched and scarred, a charcoaled flower sheds petals.

Jude Marr teaches, and writes poetry, as protest. Jude is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and also poetry editor for r.kv.r.y. For links to more work, or to buy her chapbook, Breakfast for the Birds, please go to http://judemarr.com.


Howie Good

A Safe Place

A beam of solid blue light passes through the ceiling. I lie awake wondering, “Is this really happening?” Most nights an elderly woman knocks on the door and, without speaking, hands me two babies. “Where is there a safe place here?” I always want to ask. “Can you show me? If you can, I’ll go there.” Over her shoulder, I can just make out the mutilated silhouettes of wrecked cars and abandoned strip malls. Tonight, in addition, it’s raining, the rain hissing like poison gas from shower heads under which millions died. I know who the murderer is, but detectives are keeping an open mind.

Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.

Ace Boggess

North on I-95 Through Georgia

I cross another river
after briefest lapse of land
ten fifteen twenty—
I’ve lost count &
names like secrets whispered in a dream
there are so many: 
brown like molten chocolate
garnished on all sides
by emerald growth 

I want to stop the car
get out & stare
to note curves
pregnant bellies
their differences & sameness
to calm myself
with trickle
the occasional splash of fish

there’s no pausing
I have land to put behind me &
this is more like window-shopping
for endless stillness &
a fashionable coat I can’t afford

Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.


on loving and moving

it doesn’t matter how long you’re dating
or in a relationship with someone
when they ask you to help them move:
do it 

if you’re serious about a long-lasting partnership with this person,
don’t refuse or blow them off fake a cough, or a coma
call in sick from work if you must
cancel any other plans you have
with anyone else
it’s a mutually cooperative
experience that will
bring you both closer together

just make sure you don’t break their stuff
especially any mirrors

damn thing slipped out of my hands
and shattered into countless shards
resulting in a lucky number of years
of misfortune

you said you weren’t superstitious
that it wasn’t a big deal and
told me to just replace it

i still wish i didn’t think that i could

i still wish that i’d dropped to my knees
to a ground glittered in galaxy
looked each supernova in the eye
and saw lifetimes of glass-absence splinters
the forehead-kiss breadcrumbs
trying to follow the trail of you left behind
until i've reassembled every loaf
and sweet pastry in the bakery

i thought i could find another
at Walmart or IKEA
instead of having any idea
of a voice that sounds the way
sun rays glimmer across
teary oceans of joy
waves of wonder
rippling fingers across
the drops of your reflection

i wasn’t thinking
i didn’t know at the time that
your mouth was a crystal cavern
a diamond smile
of happy stardust words
a platinum personality
and a goldmine chest

maybe i didn’t really love you

love is the frame of
four-letter confinement
to corners
perception prison vision and finite
an empty space to be decorated
filled to appear greater
but you are beyond
aesthetic, ethereal, above
the kind of stuff Plato's
forms are made of
essence omnipresent in senses
that could only allow me
to experience you briefly
instead of only ever being in love with
watching my dreams die

i made a mistake:
smashed myself
into a carbon-copy cliché
of another fucking love poems
just like many other love poems
written over a lucky of number of years
about comparing broken heart misfortune to
an unknown amount of heavenly glimpses
into some semblance of the original
that fell apart
star by star

i don’t remember what
originality looks like
i don’t even know the difference
between losing a soulmate
and losing my grip
    (i should have gone to work that day.)


* Previously published in the poetry collection ‘bliss in die / unbinging the underglow’ from Swimming with Elephants Publications, released March 2018

bassam (they/them or xe/xim) is a national-award winning spoken word poet, proud auntie, and settler residing on the traditional territory of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant (colonially known as the “Greater Toronto Area”). they are a member of the League of Canadian Poets, an executive board member with Spoken Word Canada, and has toured Turtle Island performing spoken word. a (gender)queer, Jewish person of Middle-Eastern descent and a longtime sufferer of body dysmorphia, bipolar and eating disorders, bassam believes in radical kindness as resistance to colonization, that there is no peace without justice, and that intersectionality is vital in the struggle against kyriarchy.

Toni La Ree Bennett

Post-Coital Revelations

After orgasm, as the blood spreads
out from the groin where it rushed
as if to an emergency, revelations come rushing
in to fill the void —  
the regret of insipid aspirations that will never

be fulfilled, the nakedness of silence endured,
the realization that the body barrier
cannot really be crossed. All the self-delusions
nurtured in order to keep humans
walking upright are shattered
in that first post-coital moment, but instantly
begin to rebuild. And we thankfully forget, 
because we could not bear it, what it was like

to be as absolutely open as a newly shed snake.

Toni La Ree Bennett’s verbal and visual work has appeared in Gold Man Review, Gravel, Poemmemoirstory, Puerto del Sol, Hawaii Pacific Review, december, and Memoir among other publications.  She is also a photographer and lives with a flock of feisty finches. Photography can be seen at tonibennett.com.

Patricia Grudens

every minute I’m not exercising

I’m getting fatter. I can feel the bagel I ate last tuesday
still stuck to my thighs like I’m sneaking a snack into the movies.
I stand in line at the grocery store, lifting my half-gallon of milk
as though the three minutes of bicep curls I complete with four pounds of dairy
will make my arms a little thinner.
I tell myself that the breakfast for dinner I treat myself to
once a week is the reason why all men disrespect me;
I have made my own silhouette too curvy,
I have made my own clothing too form fitting,
I have made my own ass too big
and I have no one to blame but myself for choosing to get to bed
by 11:30 every night instead of going
to the 24-hour gym.
if I were thin, like the girls at the spin class I tried out once, 
I wouldn’t attract the wrong attention. 
it’s all my fault
it’s all my fault
it’s all my fault
every minute I’m not exercising
I’m losing my mind.

Patricia Grudens is a twenty-three-year-old woman from Long Island, New York. She has been published in Pink Panther Magazine, The Tipton Poetry Journal, and Torrid Literature Journal. She believes that writing is so important, especially in times of hopelessness, to begin the healing process.

Janna Willoughby-Lohr

As a Woman with a Body

As a woman having a body,
there are all these ways to be judged,
if you don't
look right    act right
talk nice    be ladylike.
You better keep your hairs in place
and your face made up,
your teeth so white,
your smile tight, 
your razor sharp just beside your perfume.
Keep your figure trim and your trim figured. 
You better be beautiful
because it's always your fault.

As a woman having a body,
I suck in my gut in public, worried,
            just a little
that someone will see me, think I'm fat.
They'll use that
and they'll judge me, make me feel
I’m too little or too much.
A lot of this judgment comes
from other women.
But we
don't think
about that
too much. 

As a woman having a body
out in public, I also worry
        just a little
that a man will feel the need
to press his will
upon my body,
he'll think I'm luscious,
wanna fuck me, say,
       Baby, you should smile more.
I'll be forced to fake it with my lips,
nod politely, keep it moving
lest rejection make him violent,
take it out
upon my body. 

So much judgment
that we pass
onto ourselves as though we're strangers.
       Suck in that gut, stick out those tits,
       tuck in that chin, duck out those lips.
       Highlight that hair and line your eyes.

It's all your fault, you realize... 
That as a woman
I've allowed the public to decide
that having a body
is worth the shame of
never being able to hide.
To give it up to passersby,
You're hot or not, girl. Don't be shy.

As a woman having a body,
a public body, held in judgment,
I cease to be a separate being,
instead a plaything, dressing
to feel pretty
        it’s for myself  
it's assumed that it's for others,
and it's my fault if I am raped,
my skirt
     is asking
my breasts
    are asking
my female body asking
to be used
just for existing.

As a woman having a body
that's built a baby, 
I'm now considered
My tits are large
but not
the right kind of large.
My hips
aren't smooth,
my belly is striped.
And my role of beautiful is over
and that too is my fault.
I gained
too much weight,
didn't lose it fast enough,
didn't wear a bra to bed,
I’ve nursed my baby for too long.
I wouldn't
cover up my dark circles,
couldn't hide
my acne marks
and the world has so much judgment
on a woman's body parts. 

And so I nurse my baby, out in public,
because he’s hungry
because I’m full
and the comments come
         You’re doing that here?
                  What if children see?
         Can’t you just pump and bring a bottle?
                  What if someone’s husband sees?
         Your baby is too old for that. 
                  I would never.
         What is wrong with her?
                  That’s disgusting.
         You’re disgusting.

So worried that a child will see
what breasts were really made for.
That a husband would see
and would have to think sex.
That somehow I’m making them
uncomfortable on purpose.
It’s my fault again.

But I nurse my baby in public,
aware of the stares,
aware of the talk,
because the more a woman is seen
as something other than for sex
the more women are seen
as separate beings.

I nurse in public with my body
because it’s mine.
Because it’s mine.

Janna Willoughby-Lohr was a member of the Nickel City Poetry Slam team from 2005-2008 and was part of the first team from Buffalo to ever compete in the National Poetry Slam in Austin, TX. Janna has been an editor and layout artist/designer for Earth's Daughters literary magazine since 2007. She is also a teaching artist through Just Buffalo Literary Center and the Western New York Book Arts Center. Janna also spent many years as the "Poetry Czarina" for the Buffalo Infringement Festival and has been a core volunteer since its inception in 2004. She performs regularly with her band, BloodThirsty Vegans, a lively mix of hip hop, ska, funk and reggae. She runs her own business, Papercraft Miracles and is a self-proclaimed WAHM (work-at-home-mom) to her two young sons.  In her free time (haha) she likes to do yoga and cook tasty food.


Andy N

Hardrock Village

When we were young
you used to sneak in frequently
after Mother and Dad were asleep
whispering to us who
you’d just seen from Bowie
on his alleged final tour
To Chuck Berry
and his small band
who’d arrived on stage
over an hour and a half late
only to get bottled off
within 20 minutes of starting,
Melanie who sat on
when we began went and sat on
the edge of the stage
singing requests all night long
like she was in a small village
until her voice eventually went
And the Faces whom
you laughed and laughed
at for ages afterwards
when their drummer
fainted and fell on his arse
halfway through their set. 
Each night you were there
Fever pitched
With an electric ambience
Stroked in slight sunlight
Mirrored with crowds queing
Up the road to get inside. 
Igniting your limitations of
Your own singing
With each chord blasted out
Each drum beat slightly
Out of tune
Or context

Sifting into infinity 

Burning cold glass
Over yesterday’s memories.

Author’s note: Hard Rock Village was a hard rock concert venue in Stretford in the early 1970s.

Andy N is a poet, author and ambient musician from Manchester, UK. He has published two books of poetry, Return to Kemptown and The End of Summer and is the creator of the Role Reversal and The Barbarians of the Wall series. His website is: http://onewriterandhispc.blogspot.co.uk/.

Tim Goldstone

Never to Return

In three-hundred years of attempted occupation
of this cold green wet
sucking land where marsh-wind
and driven rain alone can kill a homesick soldier
the Roman garrisons stationed here
could never once ignite a single beacon fire -
so no help ever came against the thrashing axes.
Afterwards, on the site of their hill fort, 
nourished on the nutrients of Roman bones -
long grasses flourished
on barely recognizable grave mounds,
their whistling stems flattening themselves
to the gloaming earth whenever the  
Indigenous spectres glided by, patrolling, imprisoning.
Today, hawthorn hedges enclose this place -
they grow quickly on this land
and are good at containing its livestock,
if not the sounds of its invading dead
who on the night wind will still cry out for release -  
still scream for the warmth and comfort of hearth and home
until warned to silence by the clanging of a Celtic dawn.

Tim Goldstone lives deep in rural Wales, where against all advice will walk into marshland until he sinks. Travelled widely including working and backpacking throughout the UK, Western and Eastern Europe and North Africa. Published in print, online, and anthologies - including The New Welsh ReviewStandCrannóg,CambrensisAnti-Heroin ChicEllipsisAltered States, The Speculative Book, and forthcoming in The Cabinet of HeedDéracinéThe TroveVeil: Journal of Darker MusingsCadaverous. Recipient of Welsh Arts Council scholarship. Twitter: @muddygold


Bobby Steve Baker

One Winter Morning Before the Slightest Bluing of the Eastern Sky

He drafts metallic licks of breath-steamed glass, 
small body pressed against the dark storm door.
On my tongue too, the taste recalled─ exact.
My grandson ten and I am ten once more.
My nose to pane huff deep to keep alive
the ever shrinking cloud of warm on cold.
An honest game, no parable no sign.
Just wings whose fold and unfold I controlled.
Now I see my boy create not wings but shroud─
Life is mist I watch the wax and wane of it. 
This evanescence calls a darker mood.
A window slate black as the last sigh lifts.
At ten I gave no thought to failing breath—
did not sense the chilled last lick of death.

Bobby Steve Baker grew up on an Indian Reservation on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. He has an MFA in Poetry from National University and an MD from McMaster University in Ontario. After a few decades on faculty in the College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, he now writes full time. He has published recently in, San Pedro River Review, Prick of the Spindle, Hunger Mountain, Stonecoast Review, Cold Mountain Review, Cloudbank, solidago, and many others of equal quality. His latest book is, This Crazy Urge to Live, (Linnet’s Wings Press).

Paul Sutton



If only this poem would write itself.
Proof I'm no poet – no one at your
memorial service believed I was.

Science scares me now –  
how I'd vanish into my head; 
it was as if ‘dead like that.’

Did that kill you, the daughter
you never saw, songs of
loss in Irish bars – tearful
generalities – your little girl
growing up on her own?

It's not so wrong to judge. Let's worry
for children, the damage they suffer:  
their absolute need for parents. Your
service, the talk of fluorine chemistry, 
intricate successes. And who am I
to write of failure – drifted, wasted –  
angry as a wasp at a window?

Long first-term afternoons, Inorganic
lab, Oxford blue into violet. Whirring
magnetic stirrers, heart-ache colours,
transition metal ions – surely that's
magic? Somehow it’s passed me by.   

Imagine a hot afternoon, somewhere
in America, sidewalks and successes,  
places with tenure and funding and
citations of publications. And then, 
think of a girl who wants to see her
father – when he can't ever see her. 
She's not invisible, but the strongest
spectroscopy won’t bring him to light.

Well, that’s it – all in the past – who can
count the bits? These constant seconds,
views from windows, odd thoughts on
old conversations – ‘we’re the loneliest
men alive!’ you joked – the morning our
finals started. No way to say I remember.


'Saw you once, never again – 
this falls into my imagination.' 

Even on days when the sun shone,
in the air was sadness – whatever.

Beds are warm; they made you sweat. 
Keys left in doors that wouldn't open. 
I've taught so many like you, and
I didn't do enough for them.

Now I remember the hidden glances: 
children of junkies; domestic violence  
witnesses, their pictures in battered
old exercise books – crude houses,

the sun not smiling but crying. It's
not convincing now, that emotion –  
and my own little one, the smallest
change to her house bringing tears.

Things slide away, slowly then fast –  
so, you could write an elegy – it gets
forgotten also. People can remember
being happy, not why they ever were.

I stole that from Auden (not the same
words). It's about all I think matters.


Once I was happiest driving any city, to see
the wonder of rooms lit, ground level or up,
far into the sky – to imagine so many lives. 

Now I worry for my little girl, someday up in
one of those rooms – waiting for someone I
won't know, looking out over the incredible 

distance. Who knows where she'll be then,
when I'm not here, maybe as if I never was. 
Somebody once thought the same about me   

and it sort of worked out. I got to be happy,
not without worry but managed to feel. Last
night I dreamed of my father, again; always 

about moving houses, packing his things,
then forgetting one, returning – it was lost. 
There was humour too – a podiatry clinic 

because my toes were growing alarmingly:
the only appointments available at 6 am on
a clear morning of blue ice, beauty frozen.


‘How few the moments that ever get saved – 
how long the time when we live in a grave.’

One day, time’s hands froze at an exact moment – 
meaning something to someone, nothing to others.
The clock in First Quad, witness to so much, is 

now stuck at 11.20: “Penis” time! From “Renis”, written
on a friend’s watch, which morphed into the former then –     
funny once, it made you collapse, when nothing mattered.

It’s impossible to understand where it all goes. 
Who hasn’t thought that too much happens
to be kept? That friend emailed the picture –   
these images surfaced with hundreds more.   

And then a dream with you in it, from
somewhere I couldn't find on any map.

Everyone consoling you on being dead –  
discussing how best to handle everything.

Talking of your daughter
in Charlton-on-Otmoor, the
nights spent sleeping there,
away from her glass mother.

Your last trip, one  
half-term – and you
couldn't find her.

Your son called – when
we got you to the phone,
you couldn't say a word. 

I don't understand
why we dream of
the dead – they’ll
only tell us things
we already know.


I mean, from all the pushing, 
the advancing, the sense of
aim – worry about the future. 
It must have been gradual.
I think one hot day I left the
Lab and just walked, all the
way out to somewhere on the
Iffley Road. I remember the heat –   
awful, too much in a laser room
with blackout blinds. And all those  
people – scientists are awful too.


(for Sean McGrady, 9th April 1964 – 12th August 2017)

Paul Sutton was born in London, 1964. He has had five collections published – most recently from the UK publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press: The Diversification of Dave Turnip, March 2017 and The Sorry History of Fast Food from Leafe Press, 2017. Falling Off (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, January 2015) was Poetry Book Society Recommended Autumn Reading, for 2015. His US Collection Brains Scream at Night (2010) is available from New York (Buffalo) publisher BlazeVox.

Katy Sperry

eating grapefruits in grade school

On the way to school I think of grapefruit flesh.
Consider the way the rind holds in the flesh

as it lulls around metal tin of lunchbox thumping
walls; leaving bruises and burst carpels of flesh.

On the way to lunch I feel warm moisture against
pantie; in bathroom I see red of spilling flesh

Press my fingers against cunt lips to find source
of deep color. Feel liquid between folds of my flesh.

Fold tissue neatly into the stains of cloth to soak blood
I watch the red wash down sink from nails and flesh.

In lunchroom peel grapefruit and slide thumbs into
central column to halve. Stare at insides, pink flesh. 

Divide familiar shape into curves, some bleed sticky juice;
Remnants of red under nails press against pulpy flesh.

Gently finger cool bruised carpels; I bring
the segment to my lips, bite and taste pure flesh.

abecedarian for grapefruit

Against my fingers the rind gently meets
before I curve my thumb and begin to press,
cut through exocarp into mesocarp.
Divorce the fruit from leathery rind.
Examine remains of mesocarp clinging to carpels;
fold discarded rind and inhale sweet smell,
glimmering mist of oils released to air in small
hazy wisps, purse lips and breathe a small breath
into warm summer. Stick tongue out
just to try and taste the bitter oil but mist
keeps disappearing too soon to
linger on my lips and tastebuds.
My fingers can feel the oil on the exocarp.
Next slide finger along bottom lip and press thumb
on top of tongue, taste slick bitterness.
Place peel on tiled countertop and
quietly hold broken segments in cupped hands
reexamine the veins of the fruit.
See small seeds behind
translucent skin holding flesh; 
use nail, press segment to break
vein and watch carpels bleed pink against lucid
wall. Finger deeper into membrane’s tear;  
‘xcavate seed. Eat the fruit and leave
yellowed mesocarp clinging to rind and
zest on sticky countertop.

eating grapefruits, age 22

Think of the rind encased flesh, bruised, pressure
on exocarp. The way that it bleeds. The fruit mimics
my cunt, when I dig my nails into the flesh, peel away
at tender, darkened exocarp into exploded carpels. 
Press nails against lucid wall, break skin and stare, 
watch fluids release through incision.

Think of menstruation, press two fingers against
the lips of my cunt, beneath panties, feel warmth
of skin, body, fluid. Remove fingers and see, thick
blood, insides pour out. Release of egg, cleansing
uterus, cervix.

Watch grapefruit bleed, fluids erupt onto soft
skin, beneath fingernails. Carry grapefruit
to faucet, wash hands. Run cool water over
bleeding flesh. Press tongue into torn shape.

Katy Sperry is an MFA student at Northern Arizona University, where she studies hybrid and flash writing. She is the current nonfiction and hybrids editor of Thin Air Magazine. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Essay Daily and PIVOT Literature. Sometimes she writes about citrus.

Genoa Wilson

Standing in Line at Walmart

The angel of misfortune
settled in southern Missouri for the winter.
Warmer than her usual haunts
but still cold for what they're used to.
Wings covering the window
she stood in the bathroom fidgeting
with the toilet paper
wishing my mom would get off the commode
because she really had to go.

Standing in line at Walmart
she watched as we approached.
Her hair hung in ragged clumps
and the smell of smoke permeated
her greasy jeans.
Wings folded under a football sweatshirt
she wasn't fooling anyone.
When I saw her later at the funeral
I couldn't catch her eye.

Genoa Wilson's work has appeared in Black Buzzard Review and Earthwise Literary Calendar. She resides in Syracuse, NY.

Fargo Tbakhi

for the boys whose hashtags did not appear on my timeline

The 6 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories in 2018 so far:
— 'Abdallah Ayman Suliman Irmeilat 14 years old killed on 17 Feb in Shokat a-Sufi, Rafah District, by gunfire. 
— Salem Muhammad Suliman Sabah 16 years old killed on 17 Feb in Shokat a-Sufi, Rafah District, by gunfire. 
— Layth Haitham Fathi Abu Na'im 16 years old killed on 30 Jan in al-Mughayir, Ramallah and al-Bira District, by rubber-coated metal bullets. 
— Amir 'Abd al-Hamid Msa'ed Abu Masa'ed 15 years old killed on 11 Jan in al-Bureij R.C, Deir al-Balah District, by live ammunition. 
— 'Ali 'Omar Nimer Qinu 17 years old killed on 11 Jan in 'Iraq Burin, Nablus District, by live ammunition. 
— Mus'ab Firas 'Abd al-Ghafer a-Sufi 16 years old killed on 03 Jan in Deir Nidham, Ramallah and al-Bira District, by live ammunition. 

how your eyes must have sparkled; how your lungs must have bloomed 

how little we knew of you
dear hearts

how much someone knew of you:
mothers sisters fathers friends
how you were loved, dear hearts, how you were loved

how disposable your bodies were
like you were made of rubble, not of flesh
how i had to find you online
how i had to know to look

how frightening your names were, dear hearts
how hard to pronounce
how cliché your deaths were, dear hearts
how easy to miss
how dead my heart feels, to write this useless poem

how i open my chest for you, crack my ribs wide like reaching branches: here,   
here is unoccupied territory. there are years for you here, decades for you to find
how i wish your names were burned into our eyes, dear hearts. how i wish you mattered- 
how you matter, dear hearts, how you matter. 
how the heavens give you grapes now, dear hearts, how they give you breath to fill
your godsent lungs blooming once again

Fargo Tbakhi is a Palestinian American writer and performer in Phoenix, Arizona. He has work forthcoming in Spy Kids Review, and tweets @YouKnowFargo.

Zachary Eller

Art in the Workplace


Buddhas speak our words for us. I trust my liver
to bottles of nettle
better off in the hands of doctors

tucking myself inside my name
the thousands of people exactly like me.
Arteries cast from this workaday body

my organs amble around my room
at night. They don’t know the chilly light
in the window comes from the mirrored moon.

They jump in circles and fall asleep
before returning numbly home.
I took a vacation to one of their shrines.

A muscly purple and yellow god
of arms entwined enshrined in the center.
I cut it to pieces with a chainsaw.

Enraged, my organs tied me up
and left me alone to be sacrificed.
I tried to escape but the door was locked.

Back in the sanctum, the god was reborn
and this time he looked like a hammerhead shark
fashioned from purple and yellow Play Doh.

I know I should have trusted my body.
On a torn out sheet, I write in thick marker:
“It’s dangerous to drink before sleeping!” HELP!!



How cool would it be to pour scalding coffee on someone at work and escape on my bike?

On a cool summer night, I would cruise down New Lagoon Prefectural Road, #47, completely empty. The yellow stars twinkle harmoniously above me. The roads were never made for this hour, but the Prefecture pays to keep the lights on. This bike was made just for me to buy it. Parts manufactured in Southeast Asia, in disparate countries, mapped out on blueprints of company subsidiaries, put together on clocked in time. I was made to buy it by injected ads, my favorite film about stars above me, about finally knowing when to say I’ve had enough, stand up for myself, and enjoy my life, so I gave in and bought the bike. 



push on the pedal for speed— 
endlessly drifting

            New Lagoon Prefecture

Zachary Eller's work has appeared in Cha and is upcoming in Waxing & Waning. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Ali Grimshaw

The passing judgement of those walking by

That tree shouldn't have so many branches.
Its trunk is too wide. I can't believe
it doesn't shave its moss. Just look how
it's growing long and green. It really has let itself go
since I last visited. My therapist could help
if it would just lean a little farther to the South. It should
stand its ground, not let the birds congregate.
Such a mess on the branches below. I just don't understand.
Why doesn't it take time for pruning. It could
be so much better if it just tried.

Ali Grimshaw is the author of the poetry blog, Flashlight Batterieshttps://flashlightbatteries.blog/ She contributes to the world as an educator, coach, and a poet. Her poems have been published on Poetry Breakfast, Vita Brevis, and VerseWrights.

Autumn Echo

boys & girls

I choke down gallons of
Craft brewed hypocrisy
Nearly every weekday
Call it healing
Or hiding

Whatever suits this day
& this version of grieving
I participate in

I want to say
Fuck me
For only knowing how to
Miss him
By blaming
All the people who
Haven’t died yet

See I’ve been
Suffocating lately
From all the false gods
Forming cocaine crop circles
In bathroom stalls
And having the nerve
to call it fun

I still have to look in the mirror
And try to be okay with what I’m seeing

I’m not saying we don’t have
A right to our vices
I’m just saying
He’s dead now
And he didn’t think
It was a big deal either

I know I always do this
Get wasted
And wish his illusive sobriety
On every sick person I meet

There are too many people
Who hate my city for this
Because all the boys & girls
Look exactly the same
Fucked up on floors
In strange places

I mean
You are all the same
I can smell you here
Like sour bar shots
& self-loathing
You all wear it the exact same way

Autumn Echo is a performance poet from Jamestown, NY. She is the founder and Slam Master of Pulse Poetry Slam. She has featured at events across New York State. She writes to make herself uncomfortable. Sometimes, she can’t tell the difference between a poem and a nude photograph. Find Autumn Echo on Facebook and Tumblr, facebook.com/sirenpoetryaes and sirenpoetry-aes.tumblr.com.