travis tate is a queer, black playwright, poet and performer from Austin, Texas. Their poetry has appeared in Borderlands:Texas Poetry Review, Underblong, Mr. Ma’am, apt, and Cosmonaut Avenue among other journals. Their debut poetry collection, MAIDEN, was published on Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in June 2020. The world premiere of Queen of The Night was produced at Dorset Theatre Festival this August and will have another production at Victory Gardens Theatre in Feb 2022. They earned an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. You can find more about them at travisltate.com.
after Andre Leon Talley
quiet sleep is sought after
but not necessarily needed--
neither, is needed, the birth
of small flowers in a meadow
or god’s request for rain, sky
throwing its mirth in our faces
like when your good friend
has good news
& good news is good news
& this is how we profess
for one another
there are citadels of joy:
a list of simple things
that ache with undemanding sentimentality,
for a reminder that the weeded garden
often is still beautiful.
& we call for more beauty,
not to satisfy some need for consumption
but to watch your eyes grow
when you realize the wealth of worldly pleasure
is, duh, in the eye of beholder,
held for many moments
until it blends into the next.
Look, the leaves sweeping the cement,
riddle with weak trash.
Alissa M. Barr is a critical care nurse and writer originally from South Central Appalachia. She is currently living and working in Aurora, Colorado. Her work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Salt Hill Journal, and elsewhere.
Once, in anatomy class, we were asked to select one skull
from a shelf of skulls. Each one was a gleaming bleach white,
except the one I chose—discolored with cracked eyeteeth.
Nothing real shines. I held the weight of it in my hands
lighter than I expected it to be. I loved the smell of gasoline.
My grandmother’s kitchen burned by the grease overflowing
from a deep-fryer. Brush alight in the barren fields. The smell
of smoke clung to my hair hours afterward. Once, a boy
with dirt-caked fingernails held a Bic lighter to the base
of my neck. Threatened to burn me there. Is virtue a privilege?
I slapped him. Once, I was obsessed with cleanliness.
I wanted to scrape the world off my skin in thick slices down
to the bone. Now I relish filth. I want to be good less than
I want to be alive. I no longer believe in self-sacrifice.
I don’t envy the lamb. I envy the one sharpening the knife.
Ed is a teacher and the author of 'Sautéing Spinach With My Aunt' (Desert Willow Press, 2018). He was selected as a featured poet for Cathexis Northwest Press, and other words can be found in or forthcoming from Water/Stone Review, Hippocampus Magazine, One Teen Story, Perhappened, Parentheses Journal, Drunk Monkeys & more. Readers can follow him on Twitter (@EdDoerrWrites) and visit his website (eddoerr.com).
Man Shocked To Discover Brain Washed Up On the Beach 1
Does anyone expect to reach the end whole?
Each step, a sloughing: a life measured
in the weight of loss accumulating.
The sun dims. A snow-blanketed bough snaps.
The cold presses air from lungs.
If we’re lucky, we offer our hearts willingly,
chamber by chamber, in effigy.
Without dust, how would we know
that a house once teemed with life?
You see, for thirty-six years, my guts
have trailed behind me, a slack rope:
even when I’m lost, I’m moored.
Far off, waves shatter against the shore--
in moonlight, like these, we iridesce,
so should you discover my brain
washed up on a beach, know this:
at the end of it, it’s a joy to be found.
1 Title taken from the headline of a CNN article published on 9/20/20.
Michael Bazzett is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Echo Chamber, (Milkweed, 2021). A recipient of awards from the Frost Place and the NEA, his poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, The Sun, The Nation, and Granta. His verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh, (Milkweed, 2018) was named one of 2018’s best books of poetry by the NY Times. Find out more at www.michaelbazzett.com.
from The Book of Unknown Facts
Because it occurs at subsonic levels outside the range of human hearing,
it’s a little-known fact that the full moon howls.
After a cloudburst in summer, the ground is riddled with puddles.
When a poet drinks a cup of coffee, an angel falls asleep.
The very moment the moon becomes full, it begins.
We might describe the sound as otherworldly if we could hear it.
These puddles paradoxically offer us windows into the sky.
This is not a form of equilibrium.
The groaning does not register in our ears. It merely moves as waves
through the water of our bodies, rippling our cells like lily-pads.
In this moment, an observer who looks down can see
up, and thus discover the something
that is not there and the something that is.
This occurs so that the angel can dream white roots into the dark soil
of the coffee grounds. These grow like fine hairs until the seed splits open.
Choirs of insomniacs attest to this silence, which they sometimes compare
to what hovers above a pond after the plop! of a bullfrog.
When a rain puddle holds the reflection of the cloud from which it came,
the cloud can briefly see itself through the eyes of its child.
A shoot then pushes its way to the surface. If transplanted, it grows
into a tree and in seven years it bears fruit, most of which comes
thudding down in the rains of October.
Yet wolves can hear it.
When the puddles dry up, so too does this avenue of self-knowledge,
leaving a blind-spot on the ground.
The fruit lies in the grass, bruised and uneaten.
When deer come to eat the windfall, the fruit is transmuted
into bodies capable of astonishing leaps.
So a wolf howls at the moon
offering both a reply and a kind of translation
and thus becomes a poem.
Carrie George is an MFA candidate for poetry at the Northeast Ohio MFA program. She is the graduate fellow at the Wick Poetry Center where she teaches poetry workshops throughout the community. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her work has appeared in Peach Mag, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere.
Removing and Repositioning
Narrative, like memory, can take any form. Consider perspective: the person telling the story, their agency, their hungry, hungry hands. I might tell it like a lost girl hoping to put her trust in any human thing—even a boy with hands. I might tell it like he didn’t mean what he said to come across the way it did. I might tell it like benefit of the doubt. Like every boy has hands. Like every boy’s hands go where hands are destined to go, even if that going is counter to my silly wants. I might tell it like we were friends. I might tell it like I knew what he asked of me every time. I might tell it like it was a hallway I mean a room I mean a dark corner I mean behind a tree I mean a nightmare I mean a closed door I mean a broken light bulb I mean a torn clothesline I mean a bathroom stall I mean a packed audience I mean an alleyway I mean a river I mean the produce aisle I mean backstage at theatre camp I mean a windowsill I mean in the back seat I mean the closet where the brass instruments sat in leather and collected dust I mean
He might tell it like claiming the meal he deserved
Jess Smith is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice at Texas Tech University. Her work can be found in Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, 32 Poems, The Rumpus, and other journals.
Not too hard. A very fuckable
face. Hard. Made me want
to read more poetry. You will really
like it!!!!! She only gave
good grades to leftists. Cute
outfits. Cute brain. You will fall
in love. Dumb. I thought poetry
would bore me. Too much. I’d take her
again. In my dreams, her eyes
float out of her face
and up to the ceiling, her jaw
unhinges and slaps
the floor. In my dreams,
I pull her ears to stretch
her face wide open like
an accordion. She wants you
to learn. Not enough. Very
caring. A voice like a lullaby.
Jenny Irish is the author of the hybrid poetry collections Common Ancestor (Black Lawrence Press, 2017) and Tooth Box (Spuyten Duyvil, 2022), the short story collection I Am Faithful (Black Lawrence Press, 2019), and the forthcoming chapbooks Hatch (Ethel, 2022) and Lupine (Black Lawrence, 2023). She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University and facilitates free community workshops every summer.
No dreams. No buttercream. No nesting bowls. No sugar beaten into shape. No doe and fawn in
the wildflower field. No toast crisp and cut to soldiers. No soft-boiled egg. No eggcup. No little
throne for a beheading. Mouse tracks through the flour. A hole burrowed through the bread. No
eat your fill. No second helpings. Before birth, I was the rough work, good enough. A daughter, I
became the failed spell cast with petals and a candle flame. Crinoline, velvet ribbons. My child-
mother’s father picked a name. No magic in our meeting. No songbirds. No rare light. A tall girl,
legs limp from kicking. A wet infant with a greenish slick of hair. No two fingers touched to the
forehead. No two fingers touched to test the temperature of the baby’s bath. Everything pink,
until a finger’s snap switches it to black. No lullabies. Farmland plowed and harrowed. No girl
left fallow. Take me to the river. Show me where the deadfall caught the body. No more pretty,
pretty. No more use for an ivory comb. No more haunted wanting. Girlie, at last, left alone.
Terri Linn Davis is Associate Editor for Five South and is an adjunct at Southern Connecticut State University where she teaches writing composition through essays on monster theory. She is the recipient of the Jack and Annie Smith Poets and Painters Award (2018). Her poems have most recently appeared in The Daily Drunk Mag, Janus Literary, Emerge Literary Journal, Ghost City Review and elsewhere. She has been invited to attend the 2022 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop for poetry. Terri Linn lives in Connecticut with her co-habby and their three children. You can find her on Twitter @TerriLinnDavis and on her website www.terrilinndavis.com
For the Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits
Mary Toft (1701–1763), was an English woman who created controversy when
she convinced doctors that she had given birth to rabbits. This resulted in the
ruin of several famous surgeons and the respect of the medical profession in
In 1726 (after miscarrying), Mary Toft stuffed her wanting
cervix and labored her full womb into a bucket--
giving life to three severed tabby legs and the backbone
of an eel. Later, a local surgeon with thirty years of delivering
mothers presumed to see for himself; he complained that Mary
was sullen and stupid, until she writhed and pushed out a baby
bunny. Before long, she’d birth seventeen rabbits—some without
bodies—full of corn and hay, knife cleaved, half grown.
England’s doctors believed Mary. For their children marked--
born cleft lipped and knock-kneed, born still,
they knew the sin was a woman’s: imprinted by the intensity
in which we watched the wasps hunt in the garden; the way, sometimes,
our eyes never wavered whether they sampled Gladiolus
or the rotting meat of field mice. After they delivered Mary
of several pieces of flesh, she was captured, like Miller’s daughter,
and she lay there day after day full fevered—barren.
The king charged her as a vile cheat and imposter. They hid her in jail
because the real tragedy was the mens’ reputations and the drop
in meat sales—England too disgusted to cannibalize rabbit stew and jugged hare.
I am like you, Mary, marked by blood feeling.
I know the clotted milk of infection, the dead rabbits, the weight
of it sewn in. I know: I know what it’s like to feel so empty
you stuff whatever live thing you can find into the hollow space inside you.
Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. Much like the means of production, he believes poetry belongs to and with the masses. He aims to inspire those chills that make you frown and slightly twist up ya face in approval. Darius believes in the dissolution of empire and the total liberation of Africans and all oppressed people by any means available. Free The People. Free The Land. Free All Political Prisoners.
YOU’RE NOT A POET TIL THE STATE BETRAYS YOU
writing a poem is to punching a cop
what punching a cop is to voting blue
it’s like comparing apples to punching a cop
unc, this whiskey is callin me your name again
blood in the august sun dares me to jump
dirty knife in the sink sings about vengeance
untouched ammo screams about loneliness
am i a punk for writing the state’s mortality
can an empire bent on death ever die
do pigs fly to hell or is hell already in them
will angel wings make me a better fugitive
devil on both shoulders says squeeze
we all somebody’s child tryna get home
you’re not a poet til the state betrays you
NEW SHIT ABOUT OLD SHIT
these is between-job poems
these is third shift politics
these is no sick-time ramblings
crooked teeth between coffee stains
desk imprints next to handcuff scars
edge of the counter kinda dangerous
cobwebs fill the spiral in my notebook
weaving a story about secondhand creativity
speaker of the poem got a puppet mouth
speaker of the poem breaks the fourth wall
unfortunately poetry leaves the governor’s jaw in tact
i write in third person so pigs don’t know who to choke
i write of violence like a child forged in a lit furnace
turn away from the carnage and the zombies will find you
turn your back on genocide and you volunteer for the next noose
death is a matter of how you interpret disaster economies
sittin up at 2:00A.M. fightin sleep for a better casket
siftin through used books for inspiration in the margins
Julia Kolchinksy Dasbach emigrated from Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Many Names for Mother, winner the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019), finalist for the Jewish Book Award; Don't Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize; and 40 WEEKS, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2023. Her poems have appeared in POETRY, Blackbird, American Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. Julia holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the Murphy Visiting Fellow in Poetry at Hendrix College and recently relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas with her two kids, cat, dog, and husband.
When my son says, I don't love you, I want to tell him about lilacs
how sometimes I don't love them
their careless smell of childhood & sudden
bloom their sweetness lingering to rot
& sometimes I don't love his grandmother who always
loves lilacs & smells of them when making threats
of suicide if I marry the man who will become
his father & all the lilacs in her garden
will die if I move away or say
the words I don’t
& sometimes I don't love
coffee if it's gone warm
or the bed when I am too far
from hitting it or the pillow
sometimes I fucking hate
the pillow when I bite it
when making love isn't
actually loving & I won't say
fuck in front of him
no matter how much I want to or tell him
that sometimes I don't love
his mouth & hands
biting & scratching
his head of curls drilling
into my stomach or
slamming into the wall & sometimes
I want to tell him all the things
I do not love but instead
I reassure him after each I don’t love you,
Mama, how much I do I do
I don't know how to love
how the lilacs will keep
coming year after year
how rot is its own sweetness
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