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.
Keith Leonard is the author of the poetry collection Ramshackle Ode (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Believer, New England Review, and Ploughshares. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
To have a mind as categorized as a cupboard of song,
to reach into a dark place and usher forth the exact tone
of your infant's yawn, to hear completely your gone mother's
bedtime song. And then to click the memory back into place.
To even lift the same song twice.
CAConrad has been working with the ancient technologies of poetry and ritual since 1975. They are the author of Amanda Paradise, forthcoming from Wave Books in 2021. Their book While Standing in Line for Death won a Lambda Literary Award. They also received a Creative Capital grant, a Pew Fellowship, and a Believer Magazine Book Award. They teach at Columbia University in New York City and Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam. Please view their books, essays, recordings, and upcoming events at bit.ly/88CAConrad
satellites into space
the military points
them down at us
the inverse relationship
between love we offer
and what we give
this on and
we wanted this
a taste tasting us back
snorting lines of coke
off the biggest cock
breathe like you
read your poems
what the hell
does that mean
I'm breathing it
look at our hands
baked into being
by a fleeting magic
bark with dogs to let
the neighborhood know
you can go to
knock all you want
no one is there now
where the exit signs
are burned out
A Bronx, New York native, Roya Marsh is a nationally recognized poet, performer, educator and activist. She is the Poet in Residence at Urban Word NYC and works feverishly toward LGBTQIA justice and dismantling white supremacy. Roya’s work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Flypaper Magazine, Frontier Poetry, the Village Voice, Nylon Magazine, Huffington Post, The Root, Button Poetry, Def Jam’s All Def Digital, Lexus Verses and Flow, NBC, BET and The BreakBeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket 2018).
In Spring 2020, MCD x FSG Originals published Roya Marsh's dayliGht, a debut collection of experimental poetry exploring themes of sexuality, Blackness, and the prematurity of Black femme death--all through an intersectional feminist lens with a focus on the resilience of the Black woman.
for (insert name)
never knowing how to label a dream
until you want to tell your children apart
you'll forget how
to tell your children apart
not wanting your baby
to die on a cross like (insert name)
or in a cross walk like (insert name)
not wanting him to be like (insert name) lying in middle of the street
not another (insert name) crying he can't breathe
or (insert name) shot at the doorstep
'cause black fist against door
equates fist against body
'cause guns ring out
more than doorbells
or (insert name)'s brains
in that alley 'cause a cell phone could be a lot of things in the dark
but an unregistered 9mm semiautomatic fired over the shoulder
can only be one thing
a broken taillight in broad daylight
eye contact, a counterfeit bill
a death wish
you ain't gon let your son go out like
how they let (insert name) run
just far enough to think
before they shot
you won't let the last time you see him
be like when
they threw (insert name) in the back of that van
hands cuffed behind his back like (insert name) but he still managed
to shoot himself like (insert name)
his spine in pieces like (insert name)
you want him home
like putting curfew on (insert name)'s soul - too black to be out at night
you ain't gonna be asking the news
why they say (insert name) when they really mean (insert name)
got Obama and Kamala callin' us (insert name) like they don't sit around
callin' him (insert name)
'cause isn't that the right word?
‘cause you know ALL lives matter
except (insert name)
how lucky am i,
to have (insert name)
in my bloodline
holy the way (insert name) keeps pushing my pen from heaven
i flap my gums
show the world the fist in my throat
in honor of (insert name)
but my mother begs me home from the protest
says she can't go through what she went through with (insert name)
says this hype over (insert name)
will die just like
and i tell her
i'd rather die for (insert name)
a million times
than die like (insert name)
Stephanie Kaylor is a PhD student in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They are Reviews Editor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Her recent work can be found in publications including Hobart, Protean, and Softblow.
I photograph the ocean to show you there was a moment in which I remembered our smallness, in which I placed the shell to my ear and heard not the roar of past lives but the miles between us. I was never faithless enough to believe there is no smell of salt. Once it meant closeness, the peeling of earth-worn limbs folded into themselves, an indiscernible core. I cut apples into spears when you feared a bite would break your teeth. how effortlessly we crumble. I photograph the ocean to show you I remember life before the weight of bone, before the need for knives.
Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. His book titled, "Someone's Dead Already" was nominated for a California Book Award. His latest book "Heaven Is All Goodbyes" was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award.
A Sketch about Genocide
A San Francisco police chief says, “Yes, you poets make points. But they are all silly,”
Police chief sowing a mouth onto a mouth
Police chief looking straight through the poet
Flesh market both sides of the levy
Change of plans both sides of the nonviolence
On no earth
Just an earth character
His subordinate says, “Awkward basketball moves look good on you, sir... Yes, we are
everywhere, sir... yes, unfortunately for now, white people only have Black History ... we will
slide the wallpaper right into their cereal bowls, sir ... Surveil the shuffle.”
I am a beggar and all of this day is too easy
I want to see all of the phases of a wall
Every age it goes through
Its environmental racism
We call this the ordeal blues
Now crawl to the piano seat and make a blanket for your cell
Paint scenes of a child dancing up to the court appearance
And leaving a man,
but not for home
Atlantic ocean charts mixed in with parole papers
Mainstream funding (the ruling class’s only pacifism)
Ruling class printing judges (fiat kangaroos)
Making judges hand over fist
Rapture cop packs and opposition whites all above a thorny stem
Caste plans picked out like vans for the murder show
anglo-saints addicting you to a power structure
you want me to raise a little slave, don’t you?
bash his little brain in
and send him to your civil rights
Just a white pain
Delicate bullets in a box next to a stack of monolith scriptures
(makes these bullets look relevant, don’t it?)
I remember you
Everywhere you lay your hat is the capital of the south
The posture you introduced to that fence
The fence you introduced to political theory
If you shred my dreams, son
I will tack you to gun smoke
The suburbs are finally offended
this will be a meditation too
Despy Boutris's writing has been published in Copper Nickel, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, Guest Editor for Palette Poetry and Frontier, and Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.
I went blackberry-picking, looked down
at my index finger, & watched a wound bloom
with blood. To compare this plasma
to a flowering thing: amaryllis, orchid,
chrysanthemum. To memorize creases,
freckles, the sight of the thorn finding its way
into flesh. All day, the breeze burns
my ears, eyes blurring at the sight of sunlight
filtering through oak branches, that golden
color unbearable, the haze hard to believe
as fable. My mother organizes her top-drawer
& finds a box of my teeth. My mother
tells me love never lasts, a river dissolving
into a ravine with parched rocks. Nothing
left to drink. I call my father to say I dreamt
I swam the span of the Pacific, fled
from everything I know. He reminds me
my name is mythic—body built for saltwater,
memory spanning centuries, trident still stuck
in my spine. & what do we really have
to count on but the sea, water, the light
of the sun turning on the city? Hands
made stiff from the cold, distant smoke rising,
the scent of anise in the air.
Khalisa Rae is a poet and journalist in Durham, NC, and author of Real Girls Have Real Problems chapbook. Her poetry can be seen in Crab Fat, Damaged Goods, Hellebore, Terse, Sundog Lit, PANK, Tishman Review, Occulum, the Obsidian, among others. She is the winner of the Bright Wings Poetry contest, the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the White Stag Publishing Contest, among others. Currently, she serves as Managing Equity Editor at Carve Magazine and Writing Center Director at Shaw University. Her debut collections, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat are forthcoming from Red Hen Press in April 2021 and White Stag Publishing Summer '21
Belly-Full of Gospel
Each morning my grandma rises to find her Bible
still breathing, belting her favorite aria. A lion,
a well, a sacrifice. Crack-of-dawn, coffee-stained,
scrolls making music at 6am. Each page turn a chord
she knows better than hot water cornbread and collard
greens. Wailing Blessed Assurance, What a Friend to crackling
bacon– all a belly-full of gospel summoning spirit to be there
in the midst. Her back buckle and hand wave awakening
a holy ghost- Bash-sha- Shadrach, Meshach- tongue-speaking
spells cast out the demons haunting this old house. “While
I’m on this tedious journey”— a sovereign song soothing her
aching, calligraphed hands. Walk with Me, she asks,
inviting Him in the room. What a meditation, a ritual
to welcome Holy into a place held together by broken bread.
A sacred invitation to dine with her and the browning
hash. Nothing but the Blood and sunrise slicing sound--
stirring a tent revival lasting ‘til nightfall across
her wobbling kitchen table.
Ode to Uncommon Things
If this world has taught me anything,
it has taught me we are obsessed
with naming, with calling a Ren a
Ren, with deciding the weeping willow
was heavy with grief, with echoing
the words Nightjar and picturing
nocturnal hawk. Maybe it's the god-like
power of it all, the villain of conjuring
titles, calling a thing broken and watching
it fall, then calling it chosen–phoenix,
and watching it rise. Who are we
to be cataloged and filed?
All of us just common things
waiting to be named uncommon,
waiting to go from bird to Nightingale,
from pigeon to white-wing, crest-backed
Long-tailed widow. The sonnet we hoped
would be written for our raised backs
and color stripes— unwritten.
Instead, we watched while handkerchief
and pitch pipe got 83. Mementos
to things less miracle than we. Time
spent crafting sestinas to penny loafer,
and pocket watch.
But we are not listed--
we, the uncommon, silvery tokens.
JinJin Xu is a filmmaker and writer from Shanghai. She has received honors from The Poetry Society of America, Southern Humanities Review, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. She is currently an MFA candidate and Lillian Vernon Fellow at NYU, and her chapbook There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife was selected by Aria Aber for the Own Voices Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming November 20.
Days of Hourless Mothers
my mother’s insomnia wets my nose,
You are leaving me
My mother’s insomnia wets my nose,
exhales her abandon
into the muffled orifice,
Exhales her abandon
into night, guilt unclenches
the muffled orifice,
old tissue, balled-up grief
Of night, guilt unclenches,
balled-up tissue, old grief.
I am leaving.
Each hour an organ, a zodiac beast,
twelve hours separate my mother and me,
our days halved, up hanging down,
shadows splitting this American sun.
Hour of the tiger: my mother
calls on the tip of night,
her sun spitting my American shadow,
sorry, sorry for disturbing your sleep.
Midnight tips me into
my mother’s lonesome noon,
always, I apologize in my sleep.
Only one is allowed pity,
Pity my mother’s lone moon.
Double the organ, double the beast,
only one child is allowed to
flip the zodiac onto its knees.
Hour of the lung and its cyclings of qi,
vital, untranslatable beasts
wailing songs of abandon
into night, I wake to
Your call, vital, untranslatable,
my abandon strains your voice,
Why are you awake?
Organs need sleep to heal.
I abandon you to the bright of day.
Listen, your daughter is sleeping，
her organs unclenching
your night’s far shore.
Soon, your tomorrow will ring
her into yesterday’s outstretched lungs,
and when she wakes, forgetting
to call, let her -
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