Stephen Furlong is a poet living outside Kansas City, Missouri. He currently is an adjunct instructor at Metropolitan Community College- Longview. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming from places like Bone & Ink, Louisiana Literature, and Pine Hills Review, among others. Additionally, he currently serves as a staff reviewer for the journal Five:2:One and works specifically for the subset LitStyle.
I Don’t Know About You, but Mostly I Just Want to be Held
a line from Mary Ruefle
I am reaching my arms out in the dark looking
for light, if it came, would it be a gift? I wouldn’t know
whether to accept or decline, there’s something about wandering
that keeps me up at night. That and the nightmares, which have returned--
admittedly, I doubt they ever left. Sometimes I’m able to go back to bed,
sometimes I just want to be held—still the distance between us feels like light-
years will pass like shooting stars, miracles if we believe in miracles, hope
hangs in the balance like the last word of a line— I’m still trying to write
about the love I’ve been given. I think it comes through the blinds,
the patch of sunlight my cat always seeks out, warming up his back, I can feel him
shake off the cold and he sprawls out, as to soak in every drip of the sun.
Dorothy Chan is the author of Chinese Girl Strikes Back (Spork Press, forthcoming), Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2020 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry for Revenge of the Asian Woman, a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. Chan is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Poetry Editor of Hobart. Visit her website at dorothypoetry.com
Because You Fall Too Fast Too Hard
Why don’t we split the steak for two
medium rare and the $21 Caesar salad,
is what I always want to say on dates,
because I always come hungry, but
scratch that, I don’t share food with men
I’ve just met, and boy, you’re the most
adorable thing here, but I’m thinking about
how Marlene Dietrich once said that her
favorite food was champagne and hot dogs,
and throw in some cheddar mac and cheese
and you’re golden, and I could really bite
down on a wiener just about now, extra
relish, yellow mustard, dreaming about
the ways you’ll kiss me later, our tongues
touching, me licking your lips in a total
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman move,
and what we’ve got going on is attractive-
successful people infatuation, like if I was
on the McDonald’s menu, I’d be a McLovin’
with double the cheese and fries, and oh
yeah, I’m extra campy, the one non-kids
menu item that comes with the Hello Kitty
toy, and did you know that in the early days
of the millennium, couples in Hong Kong
would go on dates at McDonald’s, like
it’s the hippest thing ever, and I remember
adding chili sauce to my fries and licking
that soft serve of green apple and vanilla
in Singapore, and yes, yes all of the above
is delicious, like sharing this bottle of bourbon
with you, and I’m the type of woman
who knocks over the banana stand
at the grocery store, the smell of whiskey
on my lips, and don’t you just love the rise
and the fall of our mouths meeting, the tingle
you can’t resist, but I don’t want to fall in
love that easily, and I hate it when men fall in
love with me too easily, and let’s just enjoy
the loss of control now, the tingle of bourbon,
the kiss me harder moans, the oh really, boy,
kiss me harder, kiss me under the covers.
Kevin Latimer is a poet & playwright from Cleveland, Ohio. he is the co-editor-in-chief of BARNHOUSE. recent poems can be found in jubilat, poetry northwest, passages north, & elsewhere.
i am going to die in two days but i know this: in heaven, every dead
mother skips across the concrete brick of the fountain. every mother’s
head crowned with gold & daisies. every mother’s body lifted
from brick now haloing around the water like a rainbow. dear God
of swallowed moths & grief, dear God of irony; on every city block
still-alive chalk lines begin to move & take to the streets. in every road,
dirt-dusted dead mothers hold their arms out & smile. jumping
out of every car, sons & daughters run into their arms like hurricanes.
MJ is a Black, queer non-binary poet and parent. Their work is featured or forthcoming at Foglifter Press, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Rigorous Mag, & Borderlands Texas Poetry Review. MJ has received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, SF Writers Grotto, VONA, & Kearny Street Workshop. They are currently the Community Engagement Graduate Fellow in the MFA program at Mills College.
Let Me Be Remembered As A Mother
(Jennifer Hart speaks)1
You will say it long after the plummet.
You will replace mother with monster. Still
I know how I loved them right til the end.
I chose sea so water would cleanse them. Bought
snacks – bananas for six little monkeys –
to line their bellies for Benadryl. Sleep.
Knocked back beers so I could find my courage.
You must know I loved those children. Enough
to kill them. To pay that ultimate price.
Give them to God so Hell could not take them.
Know I loved them in how I chose their ends.
You must know how I prayed, how I kissed them,
and sung. Unhooked their seatbelts – so they could
sleep more comfortably. I loved them like dolls.
1 On March 26, 2018, Jennifer Hart drove herself, her wife, Sarah, and their six adopted Black
children off of a Pacific coast cliff in Mendocino, CA, killing the entire group. All personas are
Taylor Byas is a fun-sized Chicago native. She's spent her last six years in Birmingham, Alabama, where she received both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is currently a first-year PhD student, poet, and Albert C. Yates Scholar at the University of Cincinnati. Her work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, The Journal, storySouth, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, and others.
When I’m not thinking of dying, I like to play
God. Look; from this angle, the world folds
inward like a Monopoly game board,
and those people below are more than just ants
to crush in the pretend-pinch
of my index finger and thumb. See the top
hat and thimble, the boats and silver dogs
backsliding along the sidewalks? I wore my old
Converse today. The soles unstitching
from the canvas, the beginnings of lips
around my toes. Enough flex
in the soles to cuddle the roof’s ledge the way
the other woman might hold a man after
a fight with his wife. I don’t want to jump,
only to be reminded of how thin the line between
breathing and falling. How fragile a crossing.
With the sun setting like that, it looks like you
could hike uphill right into heaven, these skyscrapers
steps for the giant. And the sky like hand-pulled
cotton candy, sifting into ropes of rose
and gold, stretching and re-stretching itself into
mouthfuls. Listen, I told you I don’t want to jump,
but what a view. Watch, the sky is hemorrhaging
twilight. Makes me want to scatter myself
on the sidewalk tonight.
Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to venues like The Boiler, NPR, The Shallow Ends, Homology Lit, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others.
FINE LINE TRIPTYCH
the universe a fine line on the curve of my hips, spread open like an ocean
for the intersex boys. i studied the way i hum over the pronoun of dna,
i reach my hands into the bellies of stars. i feel my skin stretching
over every muscle, carved straight from atoms along a coast of gender,
balancing atop a colony of medical charts, god shouldering me
through times when my body was a country sprawling across a gray area,
chromosomes turned neon in the electric water of my open mouth, howling
beneath the dark of a waiting room. like a disorder hungry for
a rapture, i will never think of myself as anything more than
a fine line, as anything more than the remnants of spring,
some destruction of a girl sent out to sea,
a y-chromosomed angel my father never wanted to be destroyed.
Todd Dillard's work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, Booth, The Boiler Journal, and Electric Literature. His debut book "Ways We Vanish" is available from Okay Donkey Press. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. Follow him on twitter via @toddedillard.
Your death came with instructions.
I buried your hands in bluebonnet fields.
I glued your teeth to glow-in-the-dark stars
and glued the stars to my basement's ceiling.
I pinned your ears to the alder tree in my backyard,
found them a week later wrapped in burgundy cocoons.
Your death came with extra parts too:
Elbow skin like two used bar napkins.
Soy sauce dish of your collarbone.
White hair, which scurried into corners like mice.
I asked the galaxy in my basement: What should I do?
But it was too busy multiplying,
new stars blossomed every day,
some with two teeth, eight, a whole grin.
I placed the extra parts of you in a Ziploc bag,
placed the Ziploc bag in my kitchen's junk drawer.
Spring arrived like an ex in a dream.
The hair ran into traffic, and then
the cocoons burst like touch-me-nots.
No sign of the ears, though,
no sign anything else had changed at all.
Just a feeling, like waking up to a soft knock on the door,
but when you answer there’s only light
snow, which vanishes as soon as it kisses the ground.
Under the Bed
I found my daughter’s strap-on.
I ran my finger its length, hard
but with a little give in the rubber.
I circled its tip and thought
not of all the dildos or penises I have known--
and I have known so many. But,
and forgive me for this,
I thought of my sons--
their young, small penises.
And I remembered their baths. The oldest--
his penis inflating and floating to the surface
to join the boats and rubber ducks.
Ten years later, I’d pick condoms off his bedroom floor,
after a girlfriend’s visit.
The youngest too, eventually. Beneath his bed--
condoms furred with dust.
And I remember when I ran marketing
for a sex advice internet thing
and brought the children along to my big
condom giveaway event.
What was I thinking?
The little one was six and asked if he
could have a rainbow one when he grew up.
Yes. I said yes to that--
yes to rainbows.
Heather Myers is from Altoona, Pennsylvania. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University and is a PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of North Texas. Her work has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Palette Poetry, Reservoir, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2018 AWP intros award.
A Rainbow, Just For A Minute
I imagine other worlds,
the one where my brother still breathes.
He runs around the yard, the space he takes
open and endless.
The heart holds
beyond its weight:
my family’s hurt, a lost timeline, anger
curled and sleeping on the porch
at night. The sagging of the trees.
A patched architecture. Holes in the floorboard.
The other children asked why I live
where I live. A woman saw into me.
She said, you have a light about you, a glow.
I believe this, and radiate
rings and rings of light
hot like the coils of a burner.
On a walk, in the woods:
a miniature house.
Eggshell blue. Lots of windows.
Somewhere I could stay.
Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), both from Sundress Publications. Her poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in Rhino, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, Whale Road Review, and many other journals. Her third full-length collection is forthcoming from Sundress in 2020.
In The Encyclopedia of Human Gestures
Kneeling again at the altar of my dog’s shit,
a genuflection of civic duty, the park equipped
with plastic bags to ensure my reverence,
I am struck by this position, for what better evidence
of the divine than the workings of the body, all
its wastes and its contortions, the joint’s ball
and socket rolling with the bend, the foot’s tension
arching to balance on the toes, the orchestration
of the hands that comb the grass to scoop the mess,
the same hands that will later survey this aging flesh,
the same hands that will run soft across the lush
landscape of your body, the one I know by touch
and scent, animal in my devotion, as we both
falter toward our demise, into days that host
obstacles our younger selves would dismiss,
lowering instead into a different type of worship,
one that requires no words, and isn’t this also
something holy, both of us bending to curve into
the other’s failings, blending all the broken parts together
in a silhouette that resembles prayer?
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