Alan Chazaro is the author of This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album (Black Lawrence Press, 2019) and Piñata Theory (Black Lawrence Press, 2020). He is a graduate of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley and a former Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow at the University of San Francisco. His chapbook, Notes from the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge, is now available for order on Ghost City Press. He’s on Twitter and finally IG, too, @alan_chazaro.
In a Vernacular of Speculation
In 2021, a student told me: there’s incredible political violence while stepping
towards beauty. It sounded true. I wrote inside my notebook: what would happen
if authority was reversed? There’s a world beyond us that no amount of line breaks
can enjamb. I’ve tried. Maybe that’s hope. But this doesn’t answer anything.
In class, we asked how perspectives are disembodied & who receives evidence of
happiness? We used phrases like this hits close to home, which is both
terrifying & comforting, since it implies we’ve had a body to shelter
a home inside of even if that home is now being hit. I wonder: What is kindness
if not cyclical? What is poetry if not ceremony? These are topics we’ve circled
together. There are things I’ll never understand about certain hues of blue,
about loss. I don’t know if I’ve lost anything, really. Maybe this is a harmonized
prayer about the things we have left. Maybe the world is burning, or maybe
the world was already burnt. It’s a matter of perspective & speculation. Nothing
is really original these days. We sample and borrow forgotten oldies. President
Biden was sworn into office. Someone Tweeted how Vice President Harris locks
us up. Amanda Gorman joked she was a 60-year-old woman in a 16-year-old body
when she transformed in front of our nation on live television. I never said
I’m trapped, but isn’t that what this sounds like? Confinement could be good
or it could be bad. It depends on where you stop your doom-scrolling. It depends
on how far you’re willing to go. This isn’t a matter of politics or poetics. This is
a room filled with people, with the ceiling about to burst. Maybe that’s freeing,
or maybe it’s crushing. I want to write myself into gratitude. It feels distant but
my fingers are still moving. When I got my stimulus check, it arrived as a prepaid
plastic card with directions for activation outlined by Money Network®. It seemed
treacherous somehow, but wasn’t. My dad doesn’t care enough & wants to know
if I’m watching the Warriors game. Truth is, I am. What else can I hustle right now
besides Steph Curry’s wrists? Ball harder is what competitors
shout when a game is getting out of hand. I guess it depends on what game &
whose hands. I guess this about a shot clock & reading Ross Gay & being
present in this moment. In a few seconds, I’ll have to exit this poem & get
ready to Zoom. I’ll have to jump back into it like I’ve never left--
even when I’m already gone.
Deema K. Shehabi is the author of Thirteen Departures From the Moon and co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here (PM Press), for which she received the Northern California Book Award's NCBR Recognition Award. She is also co-author of Diaspo/Renga with Marilyn Hacker and the winner of the Nazim Hikmet poetry competition in 2018.Deema’s work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies including Literary Imagination, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Poetry London, and Crab Orchard, to name a few. Her work has been translated into French, Farsi, and Arabic, and she has been nominated for the Pushcart prize several times.
A Summer’s Tale with Fire Birds
Ghosts of hybrid hummingbirds, iridescent green, lurch forward in the charred
trees along the highway. We drive to the lake basin as thousands of acres burn:
redwood, white fir, ponderosa pine, giant sequoias, the rhythm of their fall apparent
only to firefighters & prison inmates making two dollars a day. No sign
of the large pebbles, mossy and slippery at the lake’s entrance.
We barely notice the water’s altered eyelids, shallow at the sky’s mouth.
This time, our entry into the cool current at high altitude leaves you with no air,
and our boys gawk at the spectacle of a breathless father. Bruised with sea eyes,
they know nothing of checkpoints nor functionaries with ruby-lined fingers at passport control
windows. They have a home beneath a live oak and Siberian elm, its windows are married to
arbutus marina, its fences are lined with honeysuckle vines. Our sadness,
a penultimate inertia, is more expectant than theirs. In the morning, you crave
a lupine grief, an easel kiss on the nose. In your dream, there are two of me,
one through the keyhole and one on your side of the door. Does she wear a nightgown
with anemones, too? I ask. We gleam open like the lake, our rib cages still intact.
Kayleb Rae Candrilli is the recipient of a Whiting Award and of a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. They are the author of Water I Won't Touch (Copper Canyon, 2021), All the Gay Saints (Saturnalia 2020), and What Runs Over (YesYes Books, 2017).
What Runs Over won the 2016 Pamet River Prize and was a 2017 Lambda Literary finalist for Transgender Poetry and a finalist for the 2018 American Book Fest's best book award in LGBTQ nonfiction. All the Gay Saints was the winner of the 2018 Saturnalia Book Prize, selected by Natalie Diaz. They are published or forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Academy of American Poets, TriQuarterly, Puerto del Sol, Bettering American Poetry, The Boston Review, and others.
*"POEM IN WHICH I CHALLENGE..." appears in Kayleb's 2021 collection What Runs Over.
POEM IN WHICH I CHALLENGE MY FATHER
TO AN ARM-WRESTLING COMPETITION
AND FINALLY WIN
More than a decade has passed since I saw my father,
in the parking lot of a Wilkes-Barre strip mall. More than
a decade since he took my sibling to the Hawaiian Islands
and dosed them with oxy, meth, and heroin. In that order.
None of this should have surprised me. But, of course, it did.
When my sibling finally came home, they brought home blown
veins, a back full of scars, and a pillowcase filled with bruises.
My father once forced a crack pipe into my hands, right after
I was discharged from the hospital, and right after
my 18th birthday. I’m sure there’s something beautiful
to say, somewhere, tucked between the facts
of our lives and my old Pokémon collection.
My sibling is sober and vibrant and alive.
My sibling is way more fun than I’ve ever been.
Nothing should surprise me,
but it does, and that’s enough.
I have so few fond memories of my father,
but what I have, I hold.
He read me the entire Kamandi Comic series.
and I studied that Last Boy on Earth.
I learned how to survive an apocalypse
and how to be a boy.
It’s 2020 now, and both are proving useful.
When I was 7 years old,
my father and I play fought with inflatable
circus swords in the sunroom.
When it came down, I expected a knighting,
but instead, the plastic seam
sliced my cornea. I suppose most children
taste this same bittersweet
syrup when they think about their fathers:
sugar dressing up a lemon,
an eye patch over a rivulet, a pretend pirate
only until the wound heals.
When the stock market crashes, I am happy
to have nothing but Hot Fries and Orzo invested,
in the pantry. Sometimes it is easy to have so little,
or at least uncomplicated. My mother loved Hip-Hop
and my father beat her for it. If she and I drove around
alone, she’d turn up the radio and explain: It's like
the more money we come across the more problems we see.
My mother had our property logged of all its timber,
so I could move away and learn to write poetry.
My father spent all that maple money on marriage
counseling, but my mother wasn’t in attendance.
Sometimes I want to go back, just for a meal
of Steak-umms and frozen orange juice. But who
has the time to rewind. My parents are finally
divorced. I am writing poems. Those downed
trees I used to climb are sawdust.
A POEM ABOUT ONLY BASEBALL
Bubba, we were out there
on the diamond together,
and you were always shining
the brightest. I remember
you catching a pop fly just
to roll your body right
into a front flip. For you
it was about being the best,
and looking good while
you did it. God, we were
just children and the world
was ours and we couldn’t
be hurt even when we were
hurt or hurting. Every small
town has a story about a
talented and beautiful boy
who is smoldering. I was
the only girl on the little
league team, and though
I am no longer a girl,
you were always so fiercely
soft with me. When I lost
my teeth at second base,
you searched the rocky
infield dirt and told me
not to worry about the money
it would cost to put me
back together. I think
about your daughters often,
and I want to pass down some
of the gentleness you gave me.
I keep it all in my wallet, still,
tucked between receipts and
the coordinates of our town--
our town that takes all the good
ones, and never looks back.
Julianne Neely received her MFA degree from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where she received the Truman Capote Fellowship, the 2017 John Logan Poetry Prize, and a Schupes Fellowship for Poetry. She is currently a Poetics PhD candidate and an English Department Fellow at the University at Buffalo. Her writing has been published in Hyperallergic, VIDA, The Poetry Project, The Rumpus, The Iowa Review and more.
A man asks me if I have ever seen
Picasso’s Woman Ironing. Yes
and no, it depends on what you mean,
man. I have seen my mother ironing
my father’s shirt while he watches TV,
no willingness to smile, an unruliness
that kicks you in the teeth. Yes, I have seen
a friend, a woman’s face through hot
steam. I have seen myself growing
inside of tree, a root, that’s it. I
count them, the women who I have met
with polymer fiber materials in their chest.
Man, yes, I have seen the painting and no,
I have not and did you know, man,
that modern doctors suspect Picasso
was a sufferer of a disease called Meniere’s
and that is where ideas for his paintings
came from and leave it to a man to make
a billion dollars off of it. I am a woman
and yes, I am bitter while I lose my hearing
and the room spins, and I tell the neurologist
my vision looks like a Picasso painting
and he nods because Picasso paintings are so
damn famous and mercy never arrives
on time to save such grief and I wish
I could see straight but moreso I wish I
could tell the doctor my vision looks like
a Kusama or a Bourgeois or an O’Keefe
but no, it looks like a fucking Picasso
and so back to you, man, yes, I have seen
women ironing and no I have not, but I have
seen women give an hour for every minute
and I am a woman and I have watched
as we have overdrawn a revolution
and I have looked in the mirror as if I am not
supposed to be there so no, man I have
never seen the woman ironing and I never
will run alone at night and never forget
the sound of men laughing and yes, man,
I did see the woman ironing my tongue
smooth so I could not scream, and it is
the little things I hate about his pictures
so small I have nowhere else to store them
but my eyes and to hell with men who make art
I really mean this go ahead and inhale
my saccharine scent and yes, man,
of course I have seen the woman ironing
of course I have not seen it
and if Picasso were here with us, man,
in this room I would see nothing
but he would see me ironing.
How Do You Take Your Coffee, Mr. Armstrong?
Twelve men have pressed airy boots on top the pubescent surface of the
moon. Forty-six years and twelve men have pressed airy boots on
top the pubescent surface of the moon. O irony! O opportunity to construct
metaphor of man’s hulk yet ethereal foot traipsing upon the budding face of a womanly moon!
Though, one must keep in mind, they say there
lives a man in the moon. Who they are I do not know nor
care to hear what else they have to say. If Earth’s natural satellite
were a man, then surely I would have seen him opening up
[jars for lesbian households and wearing] cologne trilling brotherhood. I
would have seen the moon breaking things with his mouth. Yet, it is suspect
only coming out at night, glaring center attention of
a vast sky. Maybe I am seeing it—the man in moon
pulling on a cigarette, floating down to a woman walking in the park,
twisting his lips with a har har. O Moon Contrite, look
at your hands, I wouldn’t eat off them! Perhaps no women have
been to the moon because it does not need cleaning yet or because
the moon does not want to deal with a bitch on her
period or because strawberry daiquiris are not served on the moon
or because the moon prefers a man’s firm handshake or maybe the moon
just doesn’t want to get married or because [women know nothing about]
sports and everyone knows the moon loves a good game of football. One small
step for earth, one giant leap for mankind. I wonder what they found on that whaling
leap for I wouldn’t know I am still drowning in the deep end of
the shallow puddle they jumped. Scientists say more is known about the moon
than the deepest parts of ocean. I find this hard to believe. Us
women have been bustling across floors of unlit seabed for years bearing pressure
on chest until developing gills to breathe and have found
something prolific in sinking over flight.
Jake Bailey is a schiZotypal experientialist with published or forthcoming work in Abstract Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Constellations, Diode Poetry Journal, Guesthouse, Mid-American Review, Palette Poetry, PANK Magazine, Passages North, Storm Cellar, TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Jake received his MA from Northwest Missouri State University and his MFA from Antioch University, Los Angeles. He lives in Illinois with his wife and their three dogs and you can find him on Twitter (@SaintJakeowitz) and at saintjakeowitz.wordpress.com.
Dial Z for SchiZo
I peeled my face to fuck the snow
The raptors at the door
They want more / To snare the toe and eye
The lie is in the loin / The coin / The calf / Sea parts staff
Parts per million
Lead paint contains what’s part-of-a-balanced-breakfast
A mess / Is the mind in retreat
See mouth and mound / Found / Can’t forget
They peeled my face to watch the show
Barrier of Barb
The body is a barrier of barb
For wandering light upon the lawn
Citrine cinders coat the expanse in fire
Light unseen in jostling maws
They declawed the bears
But they stare all the same
Being is a chore / When there’s more
Of you than is sane
The body is a barrier of barb
Of bare, of sound
The driver swerves over root and stem
He doesn’t know these grounds give rise to crack
We lack whole, the hole is bulbous knife
Life is what undoes the shell
And hell is wrought in wrangled snarl
It mars the making of the soul
Your role is cast
The body is a barrier of barb
The body is the scarier of sins
The body is the body is the brain
A fucking stain
Catherine Weiss is a poet and artist from Maine. Their poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Tinderbox, Up the Staircase, Fugue, Okay Donkey, Birdcoat, Bodega, petrichor, Counterclock, and elsewhere. Their debut full-length collection Snarl of Wildflower (Game Over Books, 2021) will be published later this year. More at catherineweiss.com.
Tonight I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders.
I hid in the dining room from a movie I knew would stress me out.
I am not writing a song. I am not stitching an embroidery.
In general, I like to lie face down
on the sofa. I like to eat snow.
I like when people remember I exist. I clip my nails.
I wear a ring. Sometimes I even like the sound of my own
singing voice, sweet and uncertain. My desk faces a window.
The reflection: my round face. A downturned mouth. Glasses.
I wish I believed in life after death.
I could try to brute force my way into faith.
It occurs to me I maybe heard somewhere scientific
that there is no free will because all events have already happened
and time is an illusion. I extrapolate: I will always be me.
I extrapolate further: perhaps I will be reincarnated into June of 1986,
the same. I like this. I have a nice existence.
Sure, I have spent too many nights drunk and calling my mother.
And more texting friends who don’t care to hear from me past 8.
I can’t stand myself alone. But I would like to keep on going.
What about the babies who died babies.
They remain in very small loops. The unjustness
of the theology I have made up
for my private comfort is disturbing. But since when
does anything have to be fair to be true.
Or believed. If I am its author, I must write it beautiful
and also good. I will try again.
"End-of-World Scene in Which We Don’t Make Love with a Backdrop of Fire Because I Have Low Sex-Drive, Depression & We Could Have Avoided This" by Camille Ferguson
Camille Ferguson lives in and loves Cleveland, Ohio. Camille recently graduated from Cleveland State University where she received the Neal Chandler Creative Writing Enhancement Award. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Rabid Oak, Madcap Review, Jam & Sand, Drunk Monkeys, and Okay Donkey, among others.
End-of-World Scene in Which We Don’t Make Love with a Backdrop of Fire Because I Have Low Sex-Drive, Depression & We Could Have Avoided This
I’m always babbling about the flowers, flowers from my throat¾but my mouth blooms into wounds. Orchids open like stars; holes open, in the sky, like mouths. I can’t open my heart, speak from it, or get off the couch. I love you, but it’s unimportant. Look, outside—the sky oranges all the way from California. You want more--not of me but from me: my body a distant planet. My touch—'nonexistent.’ I wish, I wish, I wish. I’d love it--to cease--to go out like a light. Decay, destabilize, vaporize. I’d pummel everything in reach like enraged bees, bloated star that I am. I wish it, upon the most beautiful of stars—bright memoirs left streaked on a tar-black canvas. I’m done with passion, it’s emaciating. I wonder if I’ll make it to see us wasted.
Outside, sirens sing unending, elated. Maybe, finally, I have been annihilated. I am strange & spent. On bitters brewed of my own pessimism, I drink like the world is ending.
Outside—the world is ending. I love you, but it’s unimportant.
Fargo Nissim Tbakhi (he/him) is a queer Palestinian-American performance artist. His writing can be found in Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Mizna, Peach Mag, The Shallow Ends, and elsewhere.
For My Little Wooden Fisherman
Laborer, little life-
Bringer. You dangle
Off the precipice
Of meaning. Stranded
Without anyone to feed
Or teach. Out to sea,
Gazan fishermen are restricted
To fifteen miles of water. You have
No vessel to care for. No kin
To lose. You are no island,
Little tree. A string alone
Is a map to one fish. Together,
Knotted in love and conflict,
We are maps towards plenty.
Little wooden fisherman,
I took a piece of bark
And carved for you a boat:
A place to sit, a way to float.
My life is now joined with yours.
May the two of us use it well, and learn:
Give a man a revolution
And he will eat for a day. Teach a man
Travel Log: Visit Palestine!
after Steven Duong
When they let me out of that black site on the Mercury settlement,
I roam a spell. Break knuckles for a laugh.
Try to phone my mother but no answer.
Time stretches out and I do too, I fall in and out of a good thing.
Thank God they never fixed the gravity, for my knees
are piss-poor after the beatings and the lightness helps.
Somebody offers me transport to Earth. Decline.
I spend my days drinking and trying to get close enough to someone
with a passport to rob them. No luck.
Days were, I used to be honest. Days changed.
Try my mother again. Still no answer. I wonder if she’s floating
somewhere outside of range.
Visit Abu Khaled outside New Jerusalem. He is dying so I pray with him,
then pocket some cash when he’s asleep.
So something broke in me. So what.
My feeling is God never wanted me on this planet and so he isn’t paying
too close attention.
Back at the bar someone asks me about mercy. I say it is like ghosts a thing you want
to believe in but never can feel you deserve.
They tell me no it’s a drink, have I tried it.
I sleep the sleep of a bad person. I believe the things they say of me
on this planet of cells so close to the sun.
In dreams I see my mother aboard the good ship Palestine
A bucket of bolts but it’s ours and it drifts, it moves
And I’m running towards the port but my knees split like knuckles
Somebody asks me about home, I say I’ve never tried it
Mom’s at the porthole smiling like she’s happy
And I’m at the door fumbling through
my wallet, hoping I’ve held onto enough to go inside
SO WE GOT THREE THINGS GOING. WE GOT SOME GRAPE JELLY,
SOME HOMINY GRITS, AND AN EXTENSION CORD.
Frequently people be impressed with some shit that I did that isn’t impressive
For three hours a week, my nana in her usher uniform
People like to fabricate nouns so white you can’t work in them
No one rouged her cheek, none ran her or her stockings
Or stepped on her tennis shoes, sweated her lapel
A cloth I have to launder once I wipe
my face has no stamina
Her man was dead or not your business
I come to the table up, washed like I already ate, painted like I already
Baking soda somewhere seething among my bequests
Frequently people mean to look like (that’s they) money
Framed by a wicker-back I’m spooning
Bleach and black share an etymological base
sugar sheer as pestled glass from stainless
Spent hours cleaning out, daydreaming cresting waves
Stayed knives of a starched collar, whole moons stuck in the lobes of
By the time we make love I’m exhausted and starving
A stunning lover
A contrived still life
Who fingers cherry entrails
With hive of muscadines
While two thick peaches cleave to their pits
And six-piece bone china set
A set designed
Daisies spectate from a standing planter box
Xs and checkers
of decadence rebranded as evident style suggest
Sprays of metal petals, unwilting
color happens at crossings
Madam, I came with the house
If you burnished all this we’d have a different conversation
I mean shit I could go with it, too
AND I LOATHED MY BEAUTY FOR THAT.
this was always sposed to be a story of carnage. copper stripped from a
basement. walls barged down the river, ruddy as the stain on the sister’s seat. 
that day in the rain & the frame still smoking. in the chainlink fence’s revenge,
it split her sole. rust grit & brick dust gripped in her prints. brush hisses in
dense brown hush. horseshoe kicks what you tryna say (trap shut.) into
snowbank the cricket twinkle renders. bring in the big evening. in its black
continuity, we are outnumbered & maneuvered by memory.
her beauty excruciates, emphasizes the cardinally directed reflections affixed to
Marlene Clark’s face. we stop the motion of molten metal & beg it, frozen,
reveal us intrinsically. the child born (e.g., Rosso), as creation, is a solicited
solidification of interior crisis, a temporary & meaningful clot. someone
chooses ruin for the wood. from that shot to this, both a cross cut & rip cut in
which classical sculpture is an anachronism & a parallel becoming: 
grave(n) woman / “wonderful girl.” “barbie doll,” the father calls the mother’s
portrait: blush background, collarbones, curls, tinted lip. easy, the sands of his
pharynx romance: waterfall, rose furls, cinnamon stick. this blood coupling’s
a because of me, its symmetry & fuckery. thou art with me & once fine &
ordinarily poured your good years into systems of profit, piecemeal pocket-
booking stolen feed. grief, grief, relentless thrift. you suffocating burgundy
 What does it mean to me to be firstborn versus the first conceived? Little kidneys. I coax my fuel out of roasted beans. Often I write like a fossil, meatless & downplaying what died to get it done.
 Gunn blackens “Western” time, or Gunn restores flux to the Real amid a fabrication of narrative etiology.
Weniger, aber besser (Less, but better)
It’s fun to blame ourselves for things.
It’s a relief.
The puff of big dreams
shrivels back to normal size.
You think, Probably not.
Probably I won’t get that done
and it won’t matter.
I’m not up for that today.
It’s great to wrap our arms around No
and stay put. I’m fine with failure.
you didn’t do.
My grandmother knew
the real treasure of the world
was a pink line on the horizon.
Owned by none,
commanded by none.
Every evening she climbed
a rickety wooden ladder
to the flat roof
of her very simple home
to gaze out over stolen hillsides
The valleys were small
next to the sky.
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