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.
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.
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