Lines from Billy Collins, Robert Browning, and Script from Legally Blonde (Exquisite Cento Project)

by Andrew Beckett Gibson and Zebulon Huset

Valor lies in bed listening to the rain
as we wind through a flock of abstract, silky, golden strands
                               then a mile of warm sea-scented beach
                                                that made up the miniature town.

The card goes one way, being signed, as the drinks go the other
                                thinning away to nothing,
                                            a salad bowl filled with cash—
                 think of an egg, the letter A,
                                                 with shrieking and squeaking.

You are the rapids, the propeller, the kerosene lamp
                                                (The reporters laugh as they snap pictures)
                you are the dove-soft train whistle in the night
hugging her knees and cowering in a wretched little ball.

He swims in candlelight for all to see,
                                (a cop stands guard at the door)
his death had pages, a dark leather cover, an index,
                                                                  with milky admiration
                (no wonder I find him in the pale morning)
                                                and blue spurt of a lighted match.

You are Jean de Brébeuf with his martyr’s necklace of hatchet heads.

                Outside was all noon and the burning blue,
                                                eating popcorn and drinking red wine.

                                Something is always missing:
his twenty-seven year old daughter and the pool boy.

                 But—all the world's coarse.                Thumb
exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy
                                in his hybrid creole accent.
His dead body                         with a bullet in it
                                              with a beauty queen smile in place.
                 It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen,
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.

 


Andrew Beckett Gibson studied creative writing at North Carolina Central University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Collidescope, The Bookends Review, Random Sample, Always Crashing, and Heartwood Literary Magazine.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review, & Texas Review, among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

Two Poems (Dark matter | Spell against nervous suffering)

Dark matter

by Moira Walsh

Never mind the alligator
at my doorstep or the rabid
fox under the dining table

Your love protects you
from my anti-love

 


 

Spell against nervous suffering


by Moira Walsh

If they see you
standing on tiptoe
to witness the star through the window
that’s enough

Say what you mean,
offer water

Sooner or later,
the outcast
is celebrated

May you live to see it

 


Moira Walsh, born in Michigan, lives in southern Germany. She became a published
poet in 2020 and is the 2021 Anne-Marie Oomen Fellow at Poetry Forge. You can find more of her work at https://linktr.ee/moira_walsh.

Not Beautiful Birds

by DS Maolalai

they are nesting
in the building's
shared carpark. they are
pigeons – not beautiful
birds. two in an alcove
just next to the AC
split units. two
by the gate control,
over the bins. it makes me
feel quite good
to see them
build space there.
I walk
the dog past them,
walk past them
myself. step
around birdshit
like burst toothpaste
packets. check in
every morning
to see how
they're doing,
like a baker
with a fresh loaf
of bread.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016) and "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019).

The Jellyfish

by Anna Attie

In 1991, the jellyfish went to space and their babies
could barely make it back. Picture this: tiny tendrils
unfurling in microgravity childhood—of course

the ocean gave them vertigo. Of course,
they splayed those tiny tendrils, a balancing instinct,
and resigned their lives to bedrest, to watching

their cousins take the lights out in Luzon
and plug power plants with their bodies
in Brisbane, Oskarshamn, and Ashkelon.

They heaved a sigh,
not the jellyfish, but the men who put them up there
with their fantasies of the final frontier.

I think the jellyfish know what they are doing. I think
they plug power plants with purpose.
I think the jellyfish are biding their time.

 


Anna Attie is a writer and community organizer living in Chicago. She recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in English Literature.
Her journalism appears in In These Times, South Side Weekly, Inside Higher Ed,
and other publications. Her poetry is forthcoming in Flypaper and The Offing.

Ghost Nets

by Danielle Zipkin

When she is not occupied with a gulf, or a
marsh, or some other jagged edge, the sea
backlogs through her open cases, echolocating
justice  upon the plastic ghost nets unwilding her
breath.

She verdicts those blueing strangles property,
summons gauzy seaweed and mollusk knots,  deploys
these charms like bees to green the shine, reform it
unrecognizable. Net becomes vertical reefing.

Imperial, she tides on elsewhere, moonpulling her
wake heavy as a badge. She needs no reason  to
report why she corrodes our forgotten inventions.
Her salt and her swallow are warrant enough.

Above, she feels a faraway smoke slash.
Another blue cuts interrupted as spacemen
in smoky American exodus blast towards
a distant, pixellated sky.

Above, a man unthroats a mucky breath.
Another blue unkneels, and verdicts
follow. In smoky American exodus, a city
shouts
for fire, for other colors.

There are ghost nets haunting
every human blue place.

 


Danielle Zipkin (she/her) lives in NYC with her husband and puppy. She has poems published in The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, Jacqueline Suskin’s Expressions of AweHumana ObscuraSamFiftyFourFeels Blind LiteraryA La ModaVAINE Magazine, and elsewhere. Most days, she educates middle schoolers, dances, and haphazardly gardens. Instagram: @dalyssaz.

Ink

by Celina McManus

FIRST DAY

lungs swallow sludge as moat
time lost under woosh of waves
lop “i am here!” stirring up heat
and heartbeat lurching at the limbs
of my mother’s living body     snip
i awake my mouth wide as the river’s
and what is this foam? i rinse  spit
hear “don’t touch that” as a goldendoodle
sniffs my exposed tongue      we exhale
in harmony    the dog is tugged onward    ink
spills from my fingerprints    light rings expose
trickles of language    in my hands  the sun
a clock!   each day i wake up in a fury at the river’s
edge        my body washes up        while the sun
and moon collapse on top of one another
romping as an evergreen

                                                                                                              FIRST DAY REVISITED

                                                                                                  what is there to know besides now
                                                                                          this october day again and in the same
                                                                                             octave? woosh of waves lop as death
                                                                                                returning          six becomes six again
                                                                                    boats rewind and slow as grace incarnate
                                                                                        struggle home ask why you still love me
                                                                                and fall back asleep before you can respond
                                                                     again at the river sits a mating crane he trumpets
                                                                    “mercy!  mercy!” in ecstasy i pluck his bill off   tuck
                                                            each individual white feather under my head and i sob
                                                             wildly        i sob as the crane curls bill-less on the lump
                                                                 of me     on this day the river rises       i am driftwood
                                                                      i plead to the crane     i only wish to stop thirsting
                                                            unable to respond he flies away and nothing appears
                                                  a real alive nothing a nothing that stimulates cottonwood
                                                                                                     to root deeper into a dying world

 

 


Celina McManus is a poet and educator. She received her MFA from Randolph
College, where she was poetry editor for Revolute. Her work is featured or forth-
coming in Hooligan Magazine, Peach Mag, and Cobra Milk. She is from the foothills
of the Smoky Mountains and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Sangre y Sudor

by Michael Berton

por siglos y siglos
la lengua de la patria del mundo
escribe en la sociedad

la gente pregunta
los libros
los místicos
los ancianos

sobre cual país
sobre cual moneda
sobre cual cultura
sobre cual moralidad

la boca de la tierra está llena
con sangre pudría y ceniza
del fuego que ha nacido

el aliento en la voz
de las palabras
en los sueños
sudor de un pronóstico
locura en una cueva

el miedo es un arma
de los que olvidan
la imaginación

años pasados años futuros
nunca recuerdan
cuando los cuerpos danzan
en un congreso carnal
y las almas timbran
juntos en un sonido eterno

 


Michael Berton is an educator, traveler, tequila aficionado and percussionist. He is the author of "No Shade In Aztlan" (New Mitote Press) which came out in 2015. His poetry has appeared in The Opiate, Acentos Review, Cold Noon, Talking River Review, Caesura, 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar, Fireweed, Hinchas de Poesia, Blaze Vox, And/Or, Volt, Shot Glass Journal, The Cracked Mirror, Night Bomb Review, and others. A native of El Paso, Texas, he currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

I’m No Climatologist

by Thad DeVassie

But when it starts raining frogs and broken crutches
everyone will take notice – the weather around these parts

is changing. There goes a mistuned piano plummeting
from a penthouse window. Young girls rub their tingling

knees before the onset of acid rain and thick traffic.
The one holding the leash is doing a different kind of barking.

Take it for granted, for what it is: random snippets, punch lines,
tiny revelations suggesting a world out of whack, wholly off kilter.

Ask if this is the new plague, if this is the new world disorder,
if this too shall pass with time, if spring is just around corner,

if it is even possible that this story, where sustainability is in
sustaining selfish abilities, offers us a swan song, a cameo,

at minimum a decent ending. Then notice the steel umbrella ready
for your lifting, for what rains next, as the wheels are about to come off.

 


Thad DeVassie is a lifelong Ohioan who writes and paints from the outskirts of Columbus. He was awarded the 2020 James Tate International Poetry Prize for his manuscript SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES. His chapbook, THIS SIDE OF UTOPIA, will arrive in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press.

香格里拉 SHANGRI-LA

by Michael Chang

 

To be honest with you, I just assume everyone speaks Chinese

What happened to that Scottish boy with the different-colored eyes ???

If trends are cyclical, is it time to bring back CHATROOM POEMS ????

You are beautiful like my manners

Crystals really do a lot to a room I want to eat on a pile of crystals

Please do not ask abt my self-care/writing routine b/c if I had one would we be here? I think not

My Chinese eyes are all squinty from zooming in on low-res poetry images

Premium content—Madonna told me to be good & I have exceeded expectations

Haha Cavafy I wonder if he would have written abt me do you think he was into Azn

Sweaters are like hugs

Read abt Whitman “self-ghosting” & when I say I have a new kink—

RECENTLY VIEWED ???? I am still watching this ish

My default setting is Azn Glow

Read 6.5 as 6’5” & that tells you all you need to know

They say find a job you love & you’ll never work a day in your life. Well I love judging your shit

Attn universe I need to win some contests it is Chinese holiday so I can do whatever I want

What’s your favorite non-sexual act of intimacy?—NAPPING ALONE

Some of you talk so serious abt manifestly terrible poems & I’m like hehe cheese

PSA: talent is only minimally relevant. Dedication & discipline are much more important.

Chris Evans moderates & throws his shield at interruptions

If you made a horror movie, what extremely upbeat pop song would you want slowed down &
creepified to play in the trailer?—Higher Love

Between this Viet Thanh Nguyen quote (“poetry, the least expensive of the literary arts”) & Robin
Coste Lewis saying she became a poet after suffering brain damage—I feel so validated

Eoin—you’re like 75% vowels—daz hot

I don’t use track changes my word is final

Phil of the Future is still cute. I wish you well in my future endeavors

A famous author said to me: with 3 words you have ruined this picture for me you really are a poet

My work being taught—I feel very powerful almost like D. A. Powell

My poetics is pre-outburst Galliano, 16 collections a year, Couture & Pre-Fall & Cruise & Resort . . .

My brave poetics putting hot sauce in a Valentino bag

These jobs really b tryin to get me to do work for free. No to “writing tests”—have you met me?

We are poet we have no land just cup noodle

I hate mini muffins

Great enterprise invent cranapple

Baked potato, 1962

Resting like a DOG! A SICK CUSTOMER!

Maybe iz like farewell tour. Maybe iz like animal going home to die

I don’t do trends but these pink & black covers are a trend I approve hunny

I don’t know what load-bearing means but am admittedly intrigued

I’d be Patron Saint of Best I Never Had

Met a poet who said her fav books are Harry Potter I said yes yes very sad what has happened to Dobby

Need m*n to open particular jars but other than that drawing a blank

Every day I live in fear of being misidentified as another Azn poet but then I realize there’s no one like me

Writers, when you request a blurb, you don’t need to frame it by saying how gross or terrible or
whatever you are. We KNOW! TRUST!

Dog treat dat human also eat

I have the worst migraine after editing ms & this whiskey is not helping ???? I was told it would ????

Saw photo of tacos & said that is an excellent idea

Wonder if DC Madam is back in biz b/c Lady G has a flip phone so I KNOW they are not on apps

Thank you Russian giveth Chinese taketh away

A construction worker, a m*nly m*n, wants to know what’s so different abt my sex poems. Sir, I say, I am actually desirable in them. He weeps

Call me Costco b/c you need a membership & I am a lot to handle

A poet tells me they listen to Chopin while reading my work. If you’ve read my poems, I don’t foreclose the possibility that you’ve been naughty & skipped ahead, you will appreciate how hilarious that is

I am smol I am petite the Meowth of the team

I just remembered a Senator who claimed to be a tech gal but did not know how to email

Jane Hirshfield has a book called Cum Thief. I once wrote a poem abt queer angels texting. It is lost
to the anus of history now

We are poet we know what la petite mort is thank YOU!

 


Michael Chang (they/them) is a Lambda Literary fellow who was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock, & many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net & the Pushcart Prize. Their manuscript <big shot manifesto> was selected by Rae Armantrout as a finalist for the Fonograf Editions Open Genre Book Prize, & another was a finalist in the Diode Editions Book Contest.

Dragon Year

by T. Dallas Saylor

Pouring water for tea,
hanging up a shirt,
starting a car it can happen—
one day, somewhere deeper
than TV, to-do’s, or tacos,
perhaps for the first time
since the toys were taped shut,
the keys returned, the earth
shoveled in the hole,
it dawns—you’re
happy.
You can poke it
and it doesn’t pop.

 


T. Dallas Saylor is a PhD student in poetry at Florida State University, and he holds an MFA from the University of Houston. His work meditates on the body, especially gender and sexuality, against physical, spiritual, and digital landscapes. His poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Colorado Review, Christianity & Literature, PRISM international, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Tallahassee, FL.