Boona Daroom

Nervous Break

National Guard units have mobilized
On a syndicated game show. Today

Contestants shoot up a dental lab
With machine guns. I can feel it burn.

Through the power of suggestion alone
We see the quantity of fried chicken grow. 

I got here and there were 700 people in line.
Massive liquidity courtesy of central banks

Ceaselessly and self-referentially disclosing  
Sensitive data stored on personal computers.

Beachcombers in an old-timey dining hall
Meet, paint the cars with spray cans, rock 

Hips on thin blood and chew zinc.  There
Are condominiums where pharma reps 

And distant lovers sleep in beds. Carnivals
Cruise. Flu season blooms in the conscious.

Boona Daroom's work has appeared in LIT, SOFTBLOWMonday Night, among other places. He lives in Brooklyn.

Theadora Siranian


The winter sky is fraught

with clouds promising spring,
something about fennel and almonds,
a vague memory

of skin stickied by dates. The soft
choke of an artichoke resting
in a hand’s still palm.

A trick of the gods underground, bored
by their own games of lust and longing,

lazy among the floating ashes
and burning lakes. Is this how Persephone

returns home, with this swollen surprise lodged
like a peach pit under the tongue,
reaching long-throated

toward the light: crystal flute gasping with thirst?

Or is it instead Hades she longs for
during the off-season? Birdsong slicing

like broken glass under bare heel
between the rape charades and fruit platters, 
naked men and women

in heavy chains bearing big trays,
offering the couple bloody,
throbbing gifts next to the grapes and kiwis.

Persephone, sweatsoaked and languid, hearing
the command, moans, baby, don’t send

me up there again. Not back into
the sunlight
. But, like all daughters, she goes.

Theadora Siranian is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has had poetry appear in Bryant Literary Review, Amethyst Arsenic, and DIAGRAM, among others. In 2012 she was selected for inclusion in the Best New Poets anthology series, and in 2013 was a finalist for The Poet’s Billow Pangaea Prize. In 2014 she was shortlisted for both the Mississippi Review Prize and Southword’s Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. She currently lives and teaches in Brooklyn.

Chris Costello

No Vacancy

God is a waiting
room, sterile walls and unanswered prayers. He is
the steps of a decaying coffee house
piled high with snow. 

He is a halfway house, between here and where you need to be. 
Your front porch on that sticky summer night where I stood
anticipating your kiss.

God is a burnt-out neon sign, a roach motel with no beds
a sleepless place where you will wait
for the rest of your life.

Chris Costello is a writer, editor, and educator in Central New York. His work has previously appeared in Nine Mile Magazine and Stone Canoe. He is a regular contributor to The Forge News.

Eric Allen Yankee

The Gun

These festering exit wounds
      do not build a trail to heaven.

The gun is always the heretic's
       weapon of choice.

Cradle the pistol.
    Cradle the pistol.
Cradle the pistol.  

Forget the body.

Eric Allen Yankee is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of Chicago. His work appears in The People's Tribune, Calamus Journal, Five 2 One, RISE (2017 Vagabond Books), Overthrowing Capitalism Volumes 2 & 3, The Good Men Project, Sweet Wolverine, and others. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of Bees Against the War (2017 LocoFo Chaps/Moria Books), as well as the upcoming chapbooks American Bullet (Atomic Theory) and RIOT (Finishing Line Press).

JC Hopkins

The Sun Comes up Quickly, Now

the song, a garbled bag of birds
the trees outside my window are golden
today, i will drive the electrolux all over this place;  
taking up the extradited crumbs of children
left in their hunger and haste

in this emptiness i imagine
what could be present
what could be devised
what could be devastated
out of paint and string and palette
as if crave was a word that could be used
for this purpose, then i crave, 
if not a person, then a puppy

JC Hopkins is a poet, painter, playwright, novelist, Grammy nominated songwriter and jazz big band leader who lives in a part of Brooklyn known as Windsor Terrace. He curates a monthly poetry reading series for Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers called Poetry 99. He is the managing editor of the literary pulp fiction journal Noir Nation and the annual poetry anthology Love Within Love.

Shamar Harriott

Eight Days Without You


I texted
you didn’t answer.



I watched
A Streetcar Named Desire
and I christened myself
Blanche Dubois.
I walked
around saying, 
“Daylight never exposed
                  so total a ruin.”

I drove two miles to
get my dick sucked. 
I didn’t come—
I couldn’t stop
   thinking about you.
(I will tell you
    this story when I see you again;
    if I see you again.)



Natalie called.
She asked about you.
I told her
you were okay but
I didn’t say
it’s been two days since
I heard from you.

I did not tell her
I love you.

I did not tell her
I crave you.

Some things are
still sacred.

I turn
off the news—

Everybody here
is a fascist.

I call
you Stanley Kowalski
I say
I will not love you.

your name written
in fire across
my chest—
         sweet Incubus.



I never knew
I could ache this much.
I never knew
I could miss anyone this much.
I never knew
I could be this terrified.

I am shapeless
    without you.

It happened
so insidiously: 
colonized me.



2 a.m.

I am
in heat.

In five minutes
I will be



Loneliness ravages
like any flame, 
red lunacy consuming
my nakedness.

I call

I call
you Death, 
last bright peonies before
the tanks came.

I call
you Heathcliff,
ramshackle house
of anger.

I call
you disease, 
blood-borne virus
through the bones
of the living.

I call
you atomic bomb,
pink slaughter
in the west—

I tell the walls
I love you.
(I write the sonnet
I will sing when I see you again; 
if I see you again.)



is mythic in your absence.

Streets splinter
shards of memory. 

Your shadow
bleaches everything.

This place is
useless without you.

The sun rises
severed head on the horizon
and my body folds
into its own darkness.


My ears
attune to the absence
of your laughter.

dies in this silence, 

I wish
you would call.



Bomb-blasted void,
raw heart pulsing with shrapnel.

There are terrorists
in Barcelona. 

I am overtaken
by love, that red terror.

My bones splinter
beneath its belted wheels.

Do you care
            if I survive?

Do I care
            if you die?

(I will burn this
poem when I see you again;
if I see you again.)

Shamar Harriott is a Jamaican writer living in South Florida. He is the recipient of the 2017 Debra Vasquez Memorial Award for Excellence in Poetry. His work can also be found in Panku and Vagabond City. He likes mermaids and Joni Mitchell.

Alyssa Trivett

4:26 AM

I play freeze tag with spirits suspending
over counters in the kitchen. 
Forgot the waffles,
now, taking up residence in nearby car trunk,
in the color of a gangrene foot.
Detached the kitchen sink faucet accessory and
gunned down all the flies within spraying distance.
Whirring fan blades provided the eulogy.

Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas station receipts while chirping down coffee. Her work has appeared in VerseWrights, In Between Hangovers, Otoliths, and Five 2 One.

Robert Ford


I stand by the gaping window and
wonder how you do it, just watch
madness drive by erratically in its
slow car, round and round.
See the children stomping schoolwards
every morning, slumping back, afternoons,
as old women and men, heads
too heavy and worn to hold aloft.
Garbage scatters like crows quarrelling.
The sun warms the concrete heroically,
but no-one feels it. There are an infinite
number of ways for nothing to happen.
All of them end in emptiness.
In the evening, there is no darkness,
just a curious light laughing at gravity
breaking its laws like ribs, one by one.

Death has finally found a home
in your open mouth. It is

furnished with stolen goods
found discarded by the roadside.

Robert Ford lives by a lake in the north of England. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including AntiphonDime Show ReviewButcher's Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at

Skyler Jaye Rutkowski

For Pre-Teen Girls:

When the world crashes
around you into a symphony
of cymbals and grows so loud your
ears resemble blood more than
cheek, join the part of the band
that folds the skins over drums and makes it a
good beat. 
This sound will hallow you, rip
away the toughest part of your
stomach lining, tear away
at the hips and fill your chest
with cortisol unless
you beat the world to the punch-
Knock the wind out of the chaos, 
recruit a better fight team,
teach your skin to soften
in replace of scars, too many girls
turn to leather and call it
You are a conductor- 
electric brass, the voltage
causing glorified light
to the tune of becoming. 
Take the charge, amplify
the noise- make a silhouette
out of the song, 
Find refuge
in an unfinished ballad.

Skyler Jaye Rutkowski is a poet and spoken word artist from Buffalo, NY. She has recently represented her city in Denver as part of Buffalo's 2017 National Poetry Slam team. She volunteers at Just Buffalo Literary Center and is a proud board member of the Human Rights and Genocide Studies institute. She has recently been published in the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry and is currently working on her first chapbook manuscript. She tweets @SkylerJaye23

Joe Hall


Dear Rob, 

I know tomorrow you are getting your leg amputated
but right now you are taking a placement exam
in a computer lab by the downtown 

bus station in the hope that you can start
banking credits toward a drug counseling
certificate if only you can blink away

the white hot pin-holes boiling
their way through some solve for X equation
on your leg’s last living day. Rob, I know

this is probably bad timing but I
wanted to tell you the Biosphere—you
know—that dome of triangles by the river—

well, they’ve got a picture of you in their display
on global warming and the city—you’re slipping on ice
and your ass crack is hanging out

and the display doesn’t mention cutting carbon
and only farts out solutions
to the end of the world  

that only end the world. Rob, I felt like
this is the kind of thing you’d want to know,
and I still think about what you told me

in rehab, when you were only eating cornflakes:
that part of the pleasure of hearing
someone pour the liquid of a melody

from an instrument is knowing one day
it will be outmoded. No one will play it again. 
Anyway, Rob, you’ll probably get this after your surgery. 

I hope you did good on the test. 
Your friend, 

Joe Hall is a writer, researcher, and educator in Ithaca and Buffalo, NY. He's the author of three books of poetry on Black Ocean Press: Pigafetta Is My Wife (2010), The Devotional Poems (2013), and Someone's Utopia (2018). He's also written two collaborative chapbooks with Cheryl Quimba and a books of poems with Chad Hardy, The Container Store Vols I & II (2012). You can follow him at

Elli Orchid

My 368th Year of Oppression

In 1650, black people were stolen from our homes and ripped away from our families.
Despite being torn away from everything we knew
We began to shape a new culture for ourselves out the bones of our old one
And the scraps that white people fed us.

In 1996, my mother tried to put pink lotion in this half Irish fro.
My hair looked frozen in time
Unsure if it was nappy or not
But it held on to this product
Like my roots were reunited with something that also seemed so alien
And it took a whole bottle of Pantene and two weeks to get it out.

In 2000, I began to hate my name.
I wanted to be a Sarah or Jessica
But my mom wanted me to have a name that fit me:
A white girl name that's spelled weird
So that substitute teachers still can't read it
But it sounds “regular.”

In 1877, black people were in political limbo
Not quite slaves anymore
But still not quite citizens.
We held on to each other and our newly crafted traditions like a safety net.

In 2003, I began middle school.
I was still stuck in the middle
Looking for a safety net.
I decided to try basketball,
But it turns out I have asthma
And I was suffocating myself.

In 2008, I finally went to my first school dance.
I wasn't sure how to move my body
And although I could feel the beat in my soul
I stood frozen in time
Unsure if I was able to booty dance like the other colored girls.
I held onto the wall all night.
In 1965, white people decided we were allowed to participate in their culture.
They began by taking ours and trying to sell it back to us in the form of Black Panther t-shirts
And chains made of the gold that they stole from our motherland.

In 2011, I began to feel comfortable in my skin.
I realized I like rap music and began to take dance lessons.
Now when I feel down I throw on some Cardi B and remind myself I'm a bad bitch
And shake my booty like the colored girls in the Kenmore West gymnasium
But I still know every word to every System of a Down song
As if it were my mother tongue.

It's 2018 and too many times I have seen black people of all shades
Harassing each other over how to be black
Our people separated over arbitrary rules of identity.
White people on the top laugh as we become more and more divided
Because Deshawn talks too white
And Marquita doesn't like her hair in cornrows.
Our mixed brothers and sisters lost in a limbo of not being quite black enough
But not being white enough either.

368 years in and were still eating table scraps and shit.
We all know that green bean casserole is white people nonsense
But if you like that shit
Call it reparations and lick your plate clean
Because it’s 2018 and we are all being oppressed, 
No matter which way we’re dressed.

Elli Orchid is a crusty 25 year old who spends most of her free time exploring the natural world. Her poetry is influenced by her struggles as a woman of color and is mainly focused on changing the dominant cultural narrative. She has been a featured poet at a number of events around Buffalo and her work has been published in My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry as well as the Ground and Sky quarterly chapbook. You can find her on the westside of Buffalo petting all of the neighborhood cats.

Cathryn Shea

Drano Didn’t Work

Roy’s Sewer Service is here
and from the roof of this
two-story we call home
but don’t own, Roy himself
(no, it couldn’t be Roy
because the guy up there
just grunts Yep and Nope,
he’s sweaty in worn pants,
he isn’t listening to a word I’m saying,
and wouldn’t Roy himself at least act
as if he cared about my opinion?)…
Let’s say, a man who I wish were
Roy himself
is shoving a clean-out rooter
down the maw of this house,
which has accumulated
many years of cloggage
(is that a word like
“baggage” is a word?)
and the walls
resound and groan
and all I can think is
this place
is going to have
one very

Cathryn Shea is the author of four poetry chapbooks, most recently the micro chapbook “My Heart is a Salt Mirror Like Salar de Uyuni” (Rinky Dink Press, 2018) and “It’s Raining Lullabies” (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poetry has been nominated for Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net 2017 and recently appears in Tar River Poetry, Gargoyle, Permafrost, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. See and @cathy_shea on Twitter. 


Ethan Milner

Hesped for a Hatchling

        Morning, sameness. The way I wake each day: a wager
on the news, the weight I’ll carry with me, the weight  

        I can bear to place. Today’s story was light: gay vultures
in Amsterdam hatch an abandoned egg with no mother.   

        The morning before and the morning before that I worried
I’d appear on the next day’s broadcast, the latest victim

        gouged by knife to neck or the shrapnel of a bomb. Must
I bear witness to the miracle of a hatchling, or each new

        horror? Why can’t I remain sedated in this soft light? 
I’ve proven my wounds to be true. They are profound, 

        I sing about them, and nobody listens. I’m not brave enough to
look elsewhere.  Imagine me open to such suffering, to each 

        astonishing gash in the skin of my safety: hysterical, screaming
like I do in my dreams— at no particular target, just my fugue 

        and the flotsam it creates, and the teetering horizon lost in
syncope. I mean I can’t possibly feel this pain all the time 

        or I’d die. My rotten guts would wring me out. So I meditate
on my vision of safety: lolling zephyrs, sunlight, palms on soft 

        switchgrass. Even in these fields, distant sirens ring. I sweat
under the sun. I lie and am lied to by the lightness. I am lied to

        by the constancy of my shelter. How can I look away? 
They pound on the door so hard the screen cracks. 

        My ocular nerve atrophies; this dyskinesia persists.
I stumble to the bedroom and collapse.   

       The graffiti on my headboard runs and glares in blue light,
so the swastikas twist like pinwheels in the wind.  

        They came for the vultures and took the  
hatchling, and I did nothing.  

        They came for my wilderness, and still
I did nothing.

Ethan Milner is a clinical social worker in Oregon, providing therapy and crisis intervention at a school for youth with special needs. His work has appeared in The OffingdecomP, and other outlets. His writing on music can be found in the archives of

Amy Kinsman


when you meet god, he’s on the open mic
of the seediest bar in town and you’re slamming
down the pornstar martinis, politely declining
something quick and dirty in the nearest alley.

you didn’t come here for a cheap fuck; you just
didn’t want to see the twats you work with.

because on the weekends you don’t pretend -
even if you’re still blonde haired and blue eyed,
you tell that that your first name’s really levi
and you wanted to do your parents proud.

so much money spent on a public schoolboy
education; on ppe at cambridge, all so you could

do something with mortgages, some shit
with stocks, with acquisitions and mergers and bite
your tongue when your colleagues debate back
and forth on eugenics, laugh along when

jew is the punchline. at this bar everyone hates you,
but at least you don’t hate them and when

god calls you by your name, you pull up an extra stool.
you let him take a seat, turn to him and say
his song was great, but who’s he kidding
if he thinks he’s going to make it?

sure, he can have your last cigarette.
isn’t that song sweat, that chorus line of

fuck it all, come with me.
put those banknotes to the breeze,
to the first empty cup on the high street.
fuck the suits and haircuts.
fuck the upper-middle classes.
fuck working for the weekends.
follow me.

it begins outside, under the orange glow of a
lamp post while god smokes like he’s been doing it
since fifteen. your ted baker suit a black stain in
a crowd of charity shop jumpers and hand-me-down
boots. they’re saying what, him?

and god says yeah, him.

Amy Kinsman is a genderfluid poet and playwright from Manchester, England. As well as being founding editor of Riggwelter Press and associate editor of Three Drops From A Cauldron, they are also the host of a regular poetry open mic. Their debut pamphlet was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017 and is due for publication in April 2018.

Raymond Philip Asaph

When Summer Comes

When summer comes to Long Island again
and wild orange lilies are on the roadsides, 
we will ride together in your car or mine
to the south shore beaches or the north shore parks, 
or your favorite frozen yogurt place and not fret
about our hypoglycemia or getting fat, because love, 
when it’s free, increases the appetite for all things sweet—
and we will not need to speak in whispers any more,
nor worry and about being seen hugging in public
or holding hands, because you will leave him
when summer comes, or by next autumn, 
and we will have the love we have at last.

Work by Raymond Philip Asaph has appeared in Glimmer Train, Poetry, The Humanist, Tampa Review, and elsewhere. Asaph’s good fortunes have included a Stadler undergraduate fellowship to Bucknell University, a Vogelstein grant for poetry, and a graduate fellowship to NYU. His first book, Four Short Stories and Ten Love Poems, is available from Amazon. Off the page, the author goes by “Phil” and can be reached at

Kari Rogers

Dispatches from an Anxiety Heiress


While I was kept in water,
my best friends became best friends
and then they became famous.
Being a good daughter,
I kept tabs on the proximity of the end
and now it’s too late to be shameless.

While I was fertilized in shit,
everyone went to school
and then became teachers.
Being an idiot, I mined history for everything cool.
Now I can’t recognize my features.



I remember everyone's birthday.
I just can't wish them a happy one.
I have an eye for all the best things
but I guess I just don't understand fun.

Have you ever sat and calculated
all the work there is to life?
I'm so fucking tight inside.
I'm going to shake, bend, snap, and turn white.

Do you know what year this came out
or how many this has happened to?
Do you know how many hours I wasted
thinking I was through?



All I had to do was call
but I swear the number was fake.
You've gotta count all your problems
just to see how much you can take.
I put them all in order,
catalogued by age and duration,
and maybe notebooks full of illness
are the next big teen sensation.



Girl next dumpster,
daydream nonbeliever,
and a homestaying queen.
I can show up and breathe your air
but I can’t
and I won't
stay clean.

Give 'em hell, your slice of the truth,
and one day it won't hurt
when your problems with other people
are not printed on a shirt.



Life is pretend, talking is work.
Perform for survival and feel like a jerk.
I know there's lots of people like me
isolated throughout the Earth
but what if we all got together
and I was still the worst?

Kari Rogers is a Los Angeles-based writer and undergraduate student at Pasadena City College.

Jonel Abellanosa

The Unwanted Child

More maidens are scared of the light
From my light-violet eyes. 
It’s probably not my fault.

More mermen are aghast at my scaled
Tail. I’ve severed it dozens of times,
But I regenerate faster than the axolotl.

There may be more stardust in my breath,
There may be more winds in my words,
But it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.

Since the time my entire village
Escorted me to the adoption center,
The storm has been whistling,

It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault
I know the future. It’s not my fault
I’ve to foretell the midsummer lake

Echoing a blue moon.

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry has appeared in almost two hundred journals, including Rattle, Poetry Kanto, The McNeese Review, Star*Line, Pedestal Magazine and Danse Macabre, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Dwarf Stars and the Best of the Net awards. His fourth chapbook, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree,” and his full-length collection, “Multiverse” are forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing HouseNew York.

Lucas Gonzalez

fertility dream

it is snowing outside the window we
drag overdue trash into the snow
sort through mail exodus toward both
orange juice and french toast everything needs 

more of this snow and its belligerence when we
wake its character is hard and frozen over so we
walk carefully on the abdomen of the earth when last week it was
too nauseous-ly warm for the season barely enough for 

snow to stick but in the dream the scar
was unseamed and snow fell out of it
but when you talk of dreaming in a poem nobody knows
if it's real or just a conceit meant to carry us out to some 

greater meaning but the snow is only interested
in suggestion for an instant as the wound seems
not to take you but to give you even more strength as I shake
a branch wet snow falls down your neck and the child screams
i seek an alternate quality of light even as
snow tries to swallow us there is ever 

in me what makes me want to continue on without dying
to make some house against the weather naming what has changed
or gone then put them in some hymn or order

Lucas Gonzalez is a first generation American writer, artist, and musician born and raised in New York City. His first book, Maple Machine, was published by 826 NYC. A Pushcart Prize nominee and a winner of the Robert Haiduke Poetry Award, Lucas holds degrees from Middlebury College and is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at Columbia University, where he serves as Community Outreach Editor for Columbia Journal. He lives with his partner in Manhattan and plays around the city with his rock band.