"texts i never sent" by Dina L. Relles
Hannah Larrabee’s Wonder Tissue won the Airlie Press Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for a Massachusetts Book Award. Hannah was selected by NASA to write poetry for the James Webb Space Telescope program, and she's a recipient of a 2022 Arctic Circle Residency. She recently guest edited the climate change issue of Nixes Mate Review. www.hannahlarrabee.com
The Observable Universe
We’ve all heard the question why is the sky blue? but why is it dark at night?
is something else entirely. It becomes a story beneath the science, like
infrared of Botticelli’s “Man of Sorrows” revealing a sketch of Madonna
and child. What did he decide? Was it prayer rearranged into another
prayer? We are left with what is observable, what we are meant to see.
The universe itself is illuminated just right; what we see is light having
traveled this far and that’s it. So much light still on its way. We’ll never
see it all, no human being, but maybe a tarsier with big soft eyes or some
distant relative gripping a tree, the night sky getting brighter. I’d hate it.
Leave me inside the sensuous dark or at least be bold enough to bring me
a brighter lover to obscure the sky: Andromeda, or maybe Saturn and its
rings taking a closer seat, the scale model of desire collapsing. 12 degrees
tonight and a ladybug clings to the kitchen light. The stars are clear as hell
in this crisp air. When I ask what is observable? what I mean is what is still
making its way to me? I’ve been told we create the kinds of relationships
we want, and of course that’s true but it doesn’t consider the distance
required to travel. It matters sometimes to be far away. I am standing
watching the ladybug wondering which prayer was closer to Botticelli--
the one he hid from us, that seems right.
"Sapphics II" by Caitlyn Alario
Caitlyn Alario is a queer poet from Southern California. She received an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently a Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in MORIA, Third Coast, and elsewhere.
warm night in the athens apartment. each night
beer bottles & nail polish on the balcony.
slow wind. each glass container almost empty.
the square sounds open,
full. lo fi from our roommate’s laptop. m says
she likes mythos better & it’s on the list
for tomorrow. all the greek beers taste like stale
piss on my new tongue.
plates in the sink. mismatched glasses. i don’t think
too much about how our nights have been ending.
m coming home from a hookup & scuttling
into my bed, drunk
breath & quick kisses. slips in & out the door.
on the metro i try to ask how she feels.
she tells the others i might be lesbian.
i think she was cruel
accidentally. we all have ex boyfriends
back home. sex with mine was good, but he liked to
pin my shoulders to the ground when i thought we
were playing. i act
like i know all the secrets. like humming when
he’s in your mouth. like french fries cure hangovers.
like girls can kiss in dark corners at parties
& kiss after too.
"My Friends" by Michael Battisto
Michael Battisto has work that can be found or forthcoming in The Normal School, HAD, Poet Lore, The Shore, MoonPark Review, and elsewhere. He has lived in many places, but now he lives in Oakland. You can find him on Twitter @mbattisto3 or @michaelbattisto.com.
My friends and I exchanged dead fathers
until our smiles were the same. We drove
through old songs to other states to find
what the midnight there meant. Expecting
our bodies to be bankrupt by thirty
we pawned our arteries and stomachs
for chemical epiphanies. We might fast
for a week to buy tickets to stripped
auditoriums, where the music slowed us
into the present tense. We sold seats
to canceled concerts and smoked our guilt
with the profit. We borrowed each others
clothes and partners and beds and confessed
our shame through relapses, then slept
on the nude floors of stranger’s houses.
We listed our dissonances on the walls
of our ashtray apartments. We snorted
cocaine off stolen exit signs and made sure
no one went. Eric and Chris play-fought
with knives and threatened to let the other
win. We were children humming our
innocence and hammering on ourselves
with fists. We bought cigarettes instead
of food whenever we could and predicted
when each other’s bodies would end.
In our conversations we declared silence
obscene, and left blank pages in our hidden
diaries for our friends to write helpless
commentaries and promises we
almost believed we would keep.
"Dear H" by Ben Togut
Ben Togut is a queer poet and singer-songwriter from New York City. His recent work is published or forthcoming in Mumber Mag, The Offing, Hobart, and elsewhere.
I scrub flies from the shower,
dark shapes from cheap tile.
I can’t enjoy autumn—any moment you’ll text.
I make playlists to fill the quiet.
I listen to Joni but I only think
of summer, your easy smile.
Do you remember that day
in Iowa City, the light in the trees?
Today I learned you ended your life.
Today I went back to the old house,
stood at the same intersection
where I stood on so many mornings.
At the edge of your life, did you search
the night for meaning, for one last star?
I lie awake. I wonder how we fare
in this project of living.
"Self Mythology" by Saba Keramati
Saba Keramati is a Chinese-Iranian writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, AGNI, Passages North, The Margins, and elsewhere. She is the current Poetry Editor at Sundog Lit.
I learn and I mourn
for not learning earlier.
The mint grew but was not eaten.
A harvest turned to waste.
The old brick of this house keeps
the wandering night air cold and inside.
I cannot fathom my mother
before she was my mother.
What forgiveness is necessary,
for someone doing their best?
There is no relief, only the swell
of an inward tide back toward the self.
I learn and I mourn.
There is no anger,
only truth. Only consequence.
Only: I, gazing at the past
of my own body, the shell
of myself melting, meaning I will drip
to a future where I am a mother;
am my mother, and all is what she helped create.
There is also what we broke.
There is also what we mended.
One day, too, my daughter will break
upon the shore, and still
she will float back.
I see it endlessly.
Originally from Texas, Shannon spent twelve years in Turkey and is currently located in Québec City, where she is pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology. Her debut poetry collection, Such Excess of Light (2021), was released last year with Kelsay Books. Recent work has appeared in CERASUS, Viewless Wings Press, Agapanthus Collective, The Anti-Languorous Project, Plainsongs, and Wild Roof Journal. You can connect with her at shannonlise.com.
THE WAVE IN MY HEART IS A GREAT GREEN WAVE
You and I know all about
how the rain comes late
like an afterthought, like a
kiss you could have given.
Time is a story full of green
windows closing, mostly forever.
Every morning somebody
else who could have been
saved, saying, what light it
was, that almost found me.
Study the dried-up places
on the dark road to God’s
house, find out how much
longer you should have
waited, where you should
have stood beneath the
window, what it would have
taken – such small wings.
If the person had woken up
one more time, maybe it
would have been the day
they noticed their name –
the watergreen shine of it,
field of lilies falling to light.
Lauren Saxon is a Queer, Black poet and engineer living in Portland, ME. She loves her cats, her Subaru, and spending way too much time on twitter (@Lsax_235). Lauren is Editor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and her work is featured in Flypaper Magazine, Empty Mirror, Homology Lit, Nimrod International Journal and more. Her first chapbook, "You're My Favorite" is forthcoming with Thirty West Publishing. Selected publications can be found on her website, www.laurenMsaxon.com
WHEN I TELL THE FLOWERS HELLO, SHE KNOWS
— After Paige Lewis
that i am talking to directly to Her
i’ve grown weary of saying the phrase you left us
though it was your choice, of course, to leave
alternatively— i acknowledge that your decision
was actually a simple change in residence
that these days, instead of merely one body,
you call every shade of purple home
sometimes in sunsets, but more frequently in the flowers
that i find, conveniently scattered amidst my path
i am walking to work and there you are blooming
oh hey, my love i say to you, in particular
sometimes i pretend to be annoyed
to be frustrated to see so much of you
yes? i ask, what do you want this time?
always with a smile in my voice
even when you were alive i remember
how much you loved attention
and while this has become our routine i am
often shocked to see you in places where nothing should grow
to see you on days when there is no sun
when i want, so badly, to join you
there you are—
saying Hi in a voice that is
somehow, softer than the bellflower petal itself
it stops me in my tracks
and with a deep inhale i realize this
is the closest I can get to you
next i hold your home directly in front of my face
so close that it sometimes brushes against my nose now &
then in a different realm,
you are standing just inches from me and
this is my favorite part--
when the flower flutters gently in the wind
i rush to inhale what must be your breath
saying hello, once more
"On Polyamory" by Lisa Summe
Lisa Summe is the author of Say It Hurts (YesYes Books, 2021). She earned a BA and MA in literature at the University of Cincinnati, and an MFA in poetry from Virginia Tech. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bat City Review, Cincinnati Review, Muzzle, Salt Hill, Verse Daily, West Branch, and elsewhere. You can find her running, playing baseball, or eating vegan pastries in Pittsburgh, PA, on Twitter and Instagram @lisasumme, and at lisasumme.com.
When you said it’s like a door
that’s always locked, I said we’ll climb through
every window. When I built a ladder,
when each rung crumbled as I climbed,
when I fell to the ground, when I built
more ladders, when I fell to the ground
again, you met me there, again & again,
every time, in the dying grass, in the rain,
in the rubble, all winter, & it was there,
where we couldn’t stop looking at each other,
& so we didn’t, so we stopped climbing, built a house
we cut the keys to instead of breaking into one
someone else had built, the bricks of it everything
I tried to cling to every time I fell: the perfect
pillow of your cheek on my thigh,
the shirt you leave in my bed
when I won’t see you for a week,
your towel I leave hanging in the bathroom
like you’ll still be here tomorrow.
Caroline Stevens is a queer poet from Minneapolis. She is currently a second-year MFA student in poetry at Vanderbilt University, and serves as the editor in chief of the Nashville Review.
Field of Vision
Tell me the story again, the one where
she and I both wanted what we now have:
sunny room where the only audible noise
is what comes out of us, our animal song.
The way she tends to herself, carefully,
after a shower, steam lifting off skin
as she pulls a comb through long wet hair
like a child guarding a snail shell. How
the only line between presence and memory
is the shape delusion’s shadow casts
on the wall. This morning, for example,
I could have sworn I saw her silhouette
behind the curtains at the kitchen table
with coffee, waiting for me to wake
so she could leave the first mark on my day,
as easy as the crescent moons left from my nails
in the ripening tomatoes. Longing’s colors
stack neatly, horizontally, like an Agnes Martin
painting—blues so pale they seem white,
the pencil lines invisible until another step
closes the space between face and canvas.
Let’s go back to Madison, or Duluth,
somewhere the horizon meets the still lake
in the same shade of blue, where the only way
to remember that the two never
actually meet is to believe it.
Dina L. Relles-
texts i never sent
The observable universe
Caitlyn Alario- Sapphics II
Ben Togut- Dear H
Shannon Johnson- the wave in my heart is a great green wave
Lauren Saxon- When I tell the flowers hello, she knows
Field of Vision
travis tate- MORE BEAUTY
Alissa M. Barr- Living
Michael Bazzett- from The Book of Unknown Facts
Carrie George- Removing and repositioning
Jenny Irish- Rusalka
Terri Linn David-
For the Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits
Darius Simpson- 2 Poems
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach-
When my son says...
Kaleigh O'Keefe- Autobiography of Joan of Arc
Timi Sanni- In This World of Mysteries...
Anna Attie- We Lose Her Over Facetime
Ruth Baumann- 2 Poems
Rob Colgate- Remember These Tulips
Tasneem Maher- Pilgrimage
Aerik Francis- Bebop
Emily Blair- The best ham...
Adrienne Novy- 2 Poems
Daniel Garcia- 2 Poems
Brendan Joyce- moving day
Sanna Wani- 2 Poems
Raphael Jenkins- 2 Poems
Ava Gripp- Your Grandfather Had Secrets
stevie redwood- abolish the dead
benedict nguyen- 2 Poems
Gabrielle Grace Hogan-
Girls Night at the Saturnine Aquarium
Devin Kelly- 2 Poems
Danielle P. Williams-
Alan Chazaro- In a Vernacular of Speculation
Deema K. Shehabi-
A Summer's Tale with Fire Birds
Kayleb Rae Candrilli-
Julianne Neely- 2 Poems
Jake Bailey- 2 Poems
Fargo Tbakhi- 2 Poems
Justin Phillip Reed-
Naomi Shihab Nye-
Keith Leonard- Jukebox
CAConrad- 3 Poems
Roya Marsh- for (insert name)
Stephanie Kaylor- LONG DISTANCE
Tongo Eisen Martin-
A Sketch about Genocide
Despy Boutris- BLOODTEETH
JinJin Xu- Days of Hourless Mothers
Ashley M. Jones- Flour, Milk & Salt
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