Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a Chicago-based poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. Their second chapbook, GESUNDHEIT!, a collaboration with Chen Chen, was part of the 2019-2020 Glass Poetry Press Series. He co-founded and edits Underblong. Recent work can be found in Moon City Review, Sundog Lit, and Bat City Review, among others. Perchance, read more at samherschelwein.com.
How to Cook Your Family
Six mixing bowls. Fourteen blenders. Who needs this
many kitchen aids? An avalanche of appliances from
the taut, turquoise shelves. Every rubber spatula you’ve
ever dreamed of in the pull-out cabinet next to the
stove, packed so tight it’s stuck shut, inaccessible
Mother makes Challah most weeks, though she often
makes extras, for the weeks she wants just to pull
one from the freezer. A special Hungarian mixing
stick, an overnight dough, hidden recipes she changes
just barely over time, they’re impossible to copy
Clean out grandma’s house. She’s in a senior’s apartment
complex now. Not a nursing home, my mother says aloud
for herself. Though Grandma wouldn’t know. Her
Alzheimer’s, ten years old. I’ve inherited many of
the extra kitchen bowls, tools, essentials she kept buying.
Don’t forget to mix
Yeast for the bread to rise. Raisins on holidays. Gefilte
fish from scratch, Brisket recipe from Great Aunt
Esther. My grandmother was the best cook in town,
in the Jewish community. My mother was the best
cook in town, in the Jewish community. Where I grew up.
Sprinkle, ever so gently
sesame seeds. Sprinkle dirt on the grave. Sprinkles
in your eyes, reading a speech goodbye. All good
cooking comes in pinches, my mother once said.
And she lives that way, too. Pinching out her sadness,
the sprinkles hardly visible. Not even coarse.
Leave out to cool
I was like that. I was a balloon of smiles. They’d
shoot out of me with so much force. Pinching back
my hair, back my hurt. I’m learning to unfurl.
I have a book of recipes, but I don’t need them.
This tart, I baked anew. My own strawberries.
Marianne Chan grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, and Lansing, Michigan. She is the author of All Heathens from Sarabande Books (2020). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, West Branch, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.
Say what you mean already, the man snarls
with a string of floss hanging from his teeth.
You imagine that if you pull at the string, his whole
mouth would click on, incandescent. You stand
in a friend’s bathroom. The night drinks a glass
of Diet Pepsi. You feel refreshed inside of it.
And yet, the man is here yelling: Say it. Spit it out.
The story. What’s the story? But sometimes
there is nothing. No story, no character,
not any reason to be at the party, other than
the fact that you like games of Twister, aperol
spritzes, the rolled-up prosciutto on a sugar
maple board. Sometimes there’s only the smell
of bleach, a clean bathroom that never looks
clean, only the slush of memory tumbling
into the gutter, dark and barely solid. Sometimes
there is only the silhouette of an owl outside,
the sheet music of its hoot, the German houses
on the street that remind you of a version
of Germany you once floated within, but now,
can no longer imagine. You want to say the story,
it’s here somewhere. But at the party, you’re under-
water with no goggles, your reading glasses
floating to the surface. What is there more
to say? It’s all bubbles and tile down here,
but no speech, and you’re ready to come up.
VALLEY OF FIRE, NEVADA
for J., A., & C.
October and the world alternates in vermillion, cantaloupe,
gray and tan. Limestone swirls: cream stirred into orange coffee. We
find ourselves in the petroglyphs. A thousand years ago, people
carved their own image—four figures holding hands—into rock
covered in a patina of iron and manganese. But we are not the
descendants of these original people. These minerals did not leach
from our bodies and evaporate over hundreds of years. We are sullen
transplants in search of red Aztec sandstone, knobby desert knees,
What does sedimentary mean, really? I think of the four of
us—an accumulation, broken segments cemented to broken
segments. Before you, I was a single person carrying a bike up the
stairs, listening to the radio in a tiled kitchen, but now, we are glued
here in this lumpy land, this amphitheater. We lay our heads on each
other’s rock shoulders. This was all sea at one point. All strung
together by water.
Jason B. Crawford (They/He) is a Black, nonbinary, bi-poly-queer writer born in Washington DC, raised in Lansing, MI. In addition to being published in online literary magazines, such as High Shelf Press, Wellington Street Review, Poached Hare, The Amistad, Royal Rose, and Kissing Dynamite, they are the Chief Editor for The Knight’s Library. Jason is a cofounder of the Poetry Collective MMPR, a group of poets who came together for laughs, bad memes, and nerd culture. They are also the recurring host of the poetry section for Ann Arbor Pride. Crawford has their Bachelors of Science in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. Their debut chapbook collection Summertime Fine is out through Variant Lit.
He asks me if I am on PReP
or why I am so careless with my own body
He has seen boys like me before
eager to ruin what little we have
I am drunk off my ass
and this man now looks like an open field
or I look like open season
to these other older men
This is, after all,
The Chicago Jackhammer
where the men feast
on the young like me
But I am drunk and willing
to be a plate for any mouth here
Surely, it is the sadness that brought me
to the table with an apple in my teeth
Jee Leong Koh is the author of Steep Tea (Carcanet), named a Best Book of the Year by UK's Financial Times and a Finalist by Lambda Literary in the US. He has published four other books of poems, including his most recent collection Connor & Seal (Sibling Rivalry). Originally from Singapore, Koh lives in New York City, where he heads the literary non-profit Singapore Unbound. https://singaporeunbound.org/
Palinodes in the Voice of My Dead Father
"A palinode or palinody is an ode in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. The first recorded use of a palinode is in a poem by Stesichorus in the 7th century BC, in which he retracts his earlier statement that the Trojan War was all the fault of Helen." (Wikipedia)
Tell your mom
love her less
than your sister.
speak to my wife
a whole life
it was fair
since she has
has her dad’s
I nodded to
of pork porridge
If I had
to do it again,
I would have done it
but there’s no
when one is dead
is always hungry.
Our last dinner
at the burger joint
with the bikers
eating not with
disciples on the road,
I did not have any,
reassembled from the winds,
you and your worldly
your sister, her husband,
and her two hearts,
sagging and smiling,
until the waiter,
leather-clad, dark glasses,
who had been staying
out of sight
asking us just once
how we had
saw we were done and
brought us the bill.
Geramee Hensley is a writer from Ohio. They are Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Their work has been featured in Button Poetry, Indiana Review, Hobart, New Poetry from the Midwest 2019, The Margins, The Recluse, The Shallow Ends, and elsewhere. You can find them @geramee_.
The office job boils down to a series of tasks that could ultimately be completed by anyone.
Please apply Zeno’s paradox of the arrow to social mobility and the desire to scale
the corporate paywall. I do mean paywall. It is no secret that how much money you have
is directly proportional to the number of dolphin tears for which you are responsible.
What an ocean before you! An unending playground of mammalian sadness. In the words
of the inimitable Rachel Ray: yum-o. In the words of my father, drink up, bucko.
There is simply too much heartache to go around, and you have only three stomachs
if you count your lungs. Repeat after me: everything about your life has happened before,
bears repeating and is a series of tasks that could ultimately be completed by anyone.
Repeat after me: the violence you commit is uniquely destructive in the sense that
it occupies a specific slice of space-time. There’s a series of people erased
at the end of the first sentence. There is a set of innate conditions, let's call them
privileges, readily available, and more importantly unavailable to a series of people erased
at the end of the first sentence. Repeat after me: the love you make is uniquely creative,
generative of a soft tissue in the core of an abdomen. That tissue is a series
of repeatable cells emergent of a redundant organ performing a repetitive task.
From the single-cell task to a multicellular repetition yields an increasing complexity
of redundancies asymptotic to what? Repeat after me: you are an unrepeatable
anomaly in a series of unrepeatable anomalies performing a series of uniquely creative,
differently-privileged tasks that could ultimately be completed by any series of replicative
r e d u n d a n c i e s a p p r o a c h i n g a d e l i n e a t i n g l i m i t. Y u m - o.
Dustin Pearson is the author of A Season in Hell with Rimbaud (BOA Editions, 2022), Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018), and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). He makes gif poems that he posts on Facebook and Twitter and adapts them into short films that you can view on his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy0BS0iNlLm_l1bAqqR0OBQ?view_as=subscriber
My Brother Outside the House in Hell
I fell asleep
after I told myself
I’d watch him.
What convinced him
there was relief to find
in the flames outside
when he’d seen already
what I showed him?
I woke to his smell.
The heat of the door
and his turning of its knob
burned to the bone before
he could get it open.
His flesh fell uneven
and beaded on the hardwood.
The circling flames
blew through. A plume
of hellfire brushed me back
from where I’d been standing,
but I rushed
to the one window
to track him. I watched
my brother running, the flames
in a cruel attachment
to his skin, his arms
flailing. He ran
with his mouth open,
as everyone outside was,
and crying, though
no tears, no
of conditions. The fire
took his face,
and for his black skull,
all I could think was
how we’d once been told
that deep down
the two of us were identical,
beyond the arrangement
of muscle and its appearance.
I knew the house
would never let my brother
back in, but even waking
from the dream, I knew
I wouldn’t wake
from any decision
to leave us separated,
in the moment
our eyes opened
to unite us, but even
migrating to the door,
I couldn’t open it.
on my hands and anticipating
the pain of the outside,
I failed each time.
I walked back
to the window, watched
my brother disappear.
I was left alone in the house,
my brother finally
let to roam. And though
I knew under those terms
we’d never see each other again,
I knew we found a home
outside the sea
of each other.
DT McCrea is a trans anarchist poet living in Akron Ohio. Their work can be found at Honey and Lime and Taco Bell Quarterly. In their free time DT enjoys contemplating the nature of the universe and plotting the downfall of capitalism.
On Occasion of My Own Death
Please read this poem as I walk into the ocean.
Don’t read it on the beach with a crowd of listeners
I don’t want to make a spectacle.
You will know when it is happening.
You will have a dream with many broken things:
a zippo lighter
seven snapped human femurs laid at your feet.
In this dream a cardinal will be perched in the window sill
It will hold in its left talon a daffodil.
This will signify nothing.
When you awaken from this dream
this poem will be sitting on your lap.
Someone will hand you a glass of water
and when you look up you will see thirty folding chairs arranged at the foot of your bed
occupied by eleven people.
When you finish reading the crowd will say
What a beautiful poem.
What does it mean?
and you will drink from the glass of water.
Noor Hindi (she/her/hers) is a Palestinian-American poet and reporter. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Winter Tangerine, and Cosmonauts Avenue. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Literary Hub, and Adroit Journal. Hindi is the Senior Reporter for The Devil Strip Magazine. Visit her website at noorhindi.com.
I’ve been saying goodbye to everything.
The artichokes on my kitchen counter — tiny hearts quivering
under a knife, my grandmother’s aging knees — persistent
and achy, the way my mother sometimes looks
at the sky — all glimmer and home. In dreams,
my car drives backwards, I run too slow, I am sitting atop
a streetlight, smashing a bulb between my teeth.
I’ve been exercising my body away. Here,
take this machine called my sadness. Toss it
in a lullaby, it needs tenderness, spring, maybe
a little hymn to hum it to sleep. Zina’s favorite flower
was sunflowers. They’ve been following me
around everywhere I go. A decade’s past. My best friend
and I are breaking up, but I’ve been grieving
for so long my eyes become flutes. I wish to ask
my grandfather what happens after we die,
but everything I say sounds like a quiver.
It’s so hard being a person. I promised Zina she’d live
forever. She gave me the sun instead.
Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and teaches college writing. She is also an award-winning poet of four books: In Defense of Objects (2009), O Dear Deer, (2011), This Too (2017), and Fearn (2019), as well as the scholarly collection of essays, Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain. Poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. She lives in the hills just east of Los Angeles, where she serves as the faculty editor of MORIA Literary Magazine at Woodbury University.
Mid-Life with Teeth
What if you don’t jump the shark, you just swim up to it
and touch its body with one of your fingers. Its toothsome grin
wrapped in the skin of silvered shingles, after storm after storm
roughs them. Gills like shuttered windows. The whole machine
turning on you, a house in a hurricane-force wind, time
you thought you could weather. You want to do something
besides just starting over, over and over again. You want the arrow,
which resembles a tooth in the mouth of this imaginary shark,
to hit home and stick, sprung taught from your fingers.
You want to stop throwing away body parts. You imagine
your discarded breasts, floating on the tide like a bottle.
Inside is a message that something is trying to end you.
It is small and hungry. You hurl all this flotsam back
to the surf as far as you can. They are bait for the shark.
They will bring it closer. What’s left are two scars--
mouths, straightlined and unamused—running over
your heart. You will fill the scars with color, with ferns
and starlight and wings, like repaired cracks. You reach for
a word—kintsugi—to describe your body as a bowl,
the gilt-filled breaks. This is the life of an object.
The shark, of course, is an empire of greed.
Lyd Havens lives in Boise, Idaho. Their work has previously been published in Ploughshares, The Shallow Ends, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Lyd will graduate with their BFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University in 2021.
I only mis-gender myself when Fleetwood Mac comes on
I’m not a woman, but part of me
is always going to be a teenage girl,
screaming into rivers and watching
herself weep in the mirror. Sometimes
my hair grows like a curse word.
My lipstick smears, and my teeth
find a new hysteria to fantasize about.
I still identify
as a spiteful bitch. The gold dust settles
on my cheeks, but I don’t. The tables
and now my father is afraid of me.
Damn my fury, damn my forgiveness.
I’ve learned to fight like an anarchist racehorse--
my legs will give out before my heart does.
When I was still a girl, I cut all my hair off
in mourning. Twice. When I was still a girl,
I found my grandmother’s childhood braid
framed in an attic. She sliced it off herself
while angry at her own father. I sleep
with scissors next to my bed, just in case.
I practice a running start. I tell the mirror
what I want to tell my father:
you will never get away from the sound
of the [ ] that hates you.
Sam Herschel Wein- How To Cook Your Family
Marianne Chan- 2 poems
Jason Crawford- PReP
Geramee Hensley- Redundancy Limit
Dustin Pearson- My Brother Outside the House in Hell
DT McCrea- On occasion of my own death
Noor Hindi- Unkept
Linda Dove- Mid-Life with Teeth
Stephen Furlong- I Don't Know About You, but Mostly I Just Want to be Held
Dorothy Chan- Because You Fall Too Fast Too Hard
Kevin Latimer- MIRAGE
Taylor Byas- Rooftop Monologue
Matt Mitchell- FINE LINE TRIPTYCH
Todd Dillard- Will
Heidi Seaborn- Under The Bed
Heather Myers- A Rainbow, Just For A Minute
Donna Vorreyer- In The Encyclopedia of Human Gestures
Conor Bracken- THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO A MAN
Ben Purkert- 2 Poems
Emma Bolden- What Women's Work Is
Chelsea Dingman- Lockdown Drill
Raych Jackson- Pantoum for Derrion Albert from the Plank
Elliot Ping- in the eighth grade
ii. dance moves
D.A. Powell- Sneak