Myles Taylor

Unskilled Labor

Behold my barber’s gilded scissors, a gift
from a loyal client. Look at the planning, the economy,
of the razors on hooks the barber’s height,
the best ones worn-handled, their storage trunk
scattered with stickers of old bands resting
in dead iPods in coffee table drawers. Come with me,
to the street. Watch the house painter’s pants
match every few buildings he passes, as if the city
were trying to copy them. Watch your morning barista
pull a rosetta without looking. Peek in the shop windows,
admire every crisp fold the floor staff creased into every
shirt, watch the quick wrist of the window-washer,
witness the wrangling of the dog-walker’s five leashes,
the two-part movement of the city worker sticking litter.
Come into my restaurant! Admire the server
and their patient smile. Plant two knocks on the kitchen door,
shout in, and bear witness: line cooks seasoned
with years of oil and salt, working so smooth
they’ve made it a dance. Clogs two-stepping while sauce
whips the dish, the sous milly-rocking a metal bowl
into the bus bin, the bang of the skillets to clear
the crusted rice in time with the beat from the phone
propped into the metal six-pan on top of the reach-in.
See a hand reach back and be given a spatula
it didn’t ask for. Watch the dishwasher replace the glasses
in the blink of an eye while she FaceTimes her niece.
It looks nothing short of telepathy, the slide
through narrow spaces like wrong sides of magnets,
all of which have a knife. And still conversation flows:
who just sold a sculpture, who has a paper
to write, who’s playing a show later, who was up
until 4 am at their other job, performing a whole
different dance, a symphony of second-nature
movements, muscle-memorized like their country
is a fatigue mat and they have mapped every corner.
I only dream of labor if I can make it beautiful,
so I slice every scallion like a gift-wrap ribbon and roll
my eyes at every customer who taps their foot.
Skill is love. Do you? Love? Show me yours.
Your skill. Walk me through your day and allow me
the scenes I won’t see. I want to see your method
for cleaning a bathroom the quickest. Your filing system.
Your best customer service voice. Or do you go home
to a sparkling kitchen someone else cleans,
eat food someone else cooks, watch shows
someone else writes? Do you use programs
someone else codes, attend meetings someone
else schedules? What do you do? You take.
And you hold what you take. What a skill,
being handed things. Such talent
in holding.

ode to the mirror

We can see our reflections. Humans just can’t see
what we see. We become insular. The act of lonelying
is to have a myth no one will get close enough to let
you dispel. I don’t want his blood. I want something
in it. But we try so hard to be untragic
we pick the next easiest thing.
A terror in the night.
Reject the old silver and opt for black.
I sit wide & smoke for the rasp
& get too bold to hide. Why do you think
I keep saying I don’t gamble with sunlight.
I keep hearing things.
I take selfies in bathrooms
I could die in and keep doing
my makeup on the train.
I have to limit my futures
based on where the corners
are darkest.
No one can see me because no one is looking.
But you.

I want to be that dramatic.
I want to say I inject
a lineage of man into my skin
every week to stop myself
from drinking my own wrist
but I knew I had the choice:
to appear in everyone’s backgrounds
or keep living my own kind of quiet sin
with the rest of my species. But I know
no matter what kind of light I walk into
I live.
Even after I die. I live.

The Patron Saint of Retail

I heard you speaking to your knotless and well-therapized
friends about listening to your inner child. I know the child
well. She does not speak, though. She points. At everything
she could not have. She feels the swell of possible worlds
in every book store. Spirits in windows of the mall
whisper, you deserve this. And she does.
And so do you, I think. Any glitter that catches
the corner of the eye, any shirt that announces
who you are and what you like. I like your inner child.
The voices of humans are grating on my ears. But this child
knows when to be quiet. This is the child who hid under a coffee table
for an hour, clutching a Hello Kitty figure with a strawberry
for a head, praying her parents would give up searching and go home.
Leaving you in your classmate’s mansion. Leaving you to keep
the strawberry cat. Thinking, she won’t notice. She already has
all of this. If I had all of this, I would give it out like candy
When did you connect the dots, I wonder? When did you realize
it was not cool or fun to be afraid of the future? That your friends
lived in an entirely different world? See, here, under this table,
she still thinks she is the protagonist of the young adult novels
she started reading too early, the grown genius orphan,
the poor kid turned Chosen One, waiting to be Chosen.
You had to go through hardship, the books said, before you become
interesting. But the hardship should be over by now, she thinks,
and that’s when she began to point. You are fully grown
and properly gendered and make good money and still
have the five bone-thin fingers when you do not make good money.
The child has learned to reach through you, her digits
splitting yours lengthwise like two bullseye arrows splintering
each other in the fight for highest prize. And you are peeled
and relenting by now, scrupulosity abandoned to the big,
intense eyes of this child, the unnatural fingers, and she takes
the necklace she wanted, she carries the designer shoes,
she enters your credit card number into the little box.
The eyeliners fall in your pocket. The barcodes scan for two.
The sunglasses stay in the shirt collar. She has read every
spy novel and employs their tactics with relish. In a poem
you lied that you were a bad boy once. Badness
is non-applicable in a system that relies on the evil
of currency. I did not ask for capitalism, it just happened
and now the people flock to me like a possession
could hold their grief for them. It cannot.
But you know that. You’re not stupid. The girl,
she is not stupid. You have just run out of alternatives.
Retail therapy is a harm reduction strategy,
you think, but whose harm? Which harm, and where?
There is so much and only two of you. Where
is the strawberry cat now? Did she keep it?
Do you even remember?

Myles Taylor is a transmasculine writer, organizer, mentor, award-winning poetry slam competitor, food service worker, Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, and glitter enthusiast. They are the current producer of the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge. Their first full-length collection, Masculinity Parable, is forthcoming in December 2023 with Game Over Books. Their list of publications can be found at, and their neuroses can be found on social media @mylesdoespoems.

Jeneva Burroughs Stone


—for Jim

Breath, a fabric washed too many times, wears thin. Our knowing diminishes toward the horizon, which, as we eventually understand, can never be broached.

In this photo, see the sky flattened the way of Turner—blue brushwork beneath furling clouds. He’s gone, too. Everything evaporates.

Love lists to the left. Then to the right, always in need of propping up. The horizon seesaws; sea and sky meet so high above the heads of children on the shore. How can they drown in thin air?


His brain a sort of imagistic jazz: cacophony of white and gray juxtapositions. Darkened areas like the bruised dead, but without death’s grip or grin. Cold white crenellations of the cerebrum, apparently set on pause.

My anticipation is itself a form of knowledge.

Viewing the scan-set cut by cut, deeper and deeper into what the neurologist lays claim to as knowledge. First his eyes and nose, the nose a depth charge marking latitude of the primitive hunch of the brain stem. His eyes, perhaps, latitude of thought.

But where thoughts? Where thinking? Each of us watching hunched in the electric buzz and synaptic snap of our own contained skulls.

And his mouth sunk deep on the face, well beneath the brain’s bowl, empty as a drain.

The neurologist points to dark areas, danger zones, and reads him like a book, or like a teacher giving us his take on a poem we feel we already understand.


If there is a god he is digital. A god of necessary and invisible spaces. Of something and nothing: one and zero.

I am not so much as a mote.

Blue swirled the cavern and I turned to you. Along its inner seams crept persons small as mites. The infestation reached its upper limit, its jar mouth, and the swarm lipped the canister spilling its calculus down the sides. Your eyes went dark from an animal sadness that stemmed from disbelief.

That moment when the rocket achieves lift is the point at which I think of you: the same point at which miracles happen. The body of eternity encoded like a closed door. I, too, want to knock and come in.

A god of numeric spaces.

We ate the metal cold then hot re-entry blistered our tongues. The atmosphere pressing like a forced kiss on the hull or a fontanel stretching the world’s perineum. If we are so tender, then what of us survives?

The clean clear talk of mathematics.

It waxed and waned and a supernumerary grew. Super-numinous in all its silken force. Tell me the angle of imprecision. Or the unit of yaw. Consciousness dissipates as outer rings are reached. Plosive semi-arcs of speech burst, bubbling off a planet’s curvature.

Tension between one and nothing makes the world.

Jeneva Stone (she/her) is a poet and essayist. She’s the author of Monster (Phoenicia Publishing, 2016), a hybrid meditation on caregiving, disability & medicine. Her work has appeared in NER, APR, Waxwing, Split This Rock, Scoundrel Time, Pleiades, and others. She is the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, Millay Arts, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program.

Elizabeth Robinson

The Voynich Manuscript

for I was convinced that it could be read by no one except yourself


Note that a living thing is not named after its author.
A lost thing may be named for whosoever finds it.

It is not unambiguously known.

And in the uneven light, a glimmer.

For here we are not readers, but depictions
bathing in pools,
pools of light.

We are women
with our tiny, upright nipples.

Whose waters flow continuously
from page to page

by what spring unknown.

This welling up. This witch
floating buoyant in her iniquity, this

verdant green water by which to mix
transformation into transformation.

Alchemy’s mud resists the advice of clarity.
And from lead: gold’s blood

pulses, a script that will bear no translation.
Sorcery says that what we

can never understand may
still be beautiful. Nude

stars brandished in the hands
of women who prefer crowns.

only with each other in their fluids.

Yes, trespass. And ink of iron gall
smeared over with late color.

So they swam into untranslatable



Those who so cavorted disappeared then,
as when the roots of one species

fasten to the leaves of another, flowering
from yet a third.

From such overgrowth, watered
page by
page after

pages of bloodletting and

Surely no evil can attend when magic
cannot be attributed to any source.

Overgrowth redounds to ingrowth,
a chord amid chordless melody, they say.

They sing.


They say the clumsy creature is a dragon
and the dragon a sign of evil,

but so frayed the quill, so faded the ink
and no surplus blanket of color

that evil is only a salutation, a spell
in preparation:



the naked woman spreadeagled,
aloft on her green wave who mutters,

as if half asleep,
“Prepare for dragons,”

as she herself exhales

the green fume which
replaces the moon

and controls all tides.



The angel appeared as a cloud,
but rather than wings
—articles of levitation—
there were
bubbling down her back.

Translation: the weight
of the sojourner perches upon her own shoulders,

as divine carbonation. The sky
saturates this figure,

as each messenger has a taste for
her own condensation.



Sequence was a mystic or an aphrodisiac
bending from the veins or through them.

Beginning clings to its stigmata only because the hollow
rejects explanation. Erotic error

hovers over its indentation, center uncontained.

Sequence, no, a clot, no, a knotted cluster of veins
that claimed itself as a body.

Aphrodisiac that stirs the no-body.

Adoration that scorns fulfillment as excess.

This holey vessel. This. This. This

sequence becomes epiphany, choking itself off.

Sequence wandering without shoes, then without feet.

To renege on delirium.

Orgiastic sequence diffused in a cloud of pronouns.



The sleeper embedded
silver thorns in her
palm. Sleep-sighing,
she strikes a match.
Incendiary as glycerine,
her hand wicks light.
The body circles around
this, an inspection of its own
imposture. “Body,”
she sleep-talks, “you are
my candelabra.” Mortal
afire. “Speak in tongues,
as the unfeasible
do.” Tongues radiating
to the hand, clutching
its receding word.



Radiant veil, undiscover what has overcome you.


We once were explorers and then we were exterminated.

Posthumously, we protest.


When we were done away with, we shrugged, gave way to the body, walked it along

the Camino. Florid pennant.


We strode toward the frontier of eradication, took the pelt from our sinew, gave it up

to its word: a name of sorts, a synonym.


The new definition of shimmer: evaporation. The lake that wanders.

After the fact, we refused. Arranged the skin as a sleek scarf and let it spell itself

before it proceeded from view far beyond the road.

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of Excursive, recently out from Roof Books. Thirst & Surfeit is forthcoming in a slightly mysterious future from Threadsuns Press. Robinson’s work has recently appeared in Conjunctions, Fence, Image, Volt, and other periodicals.

Pat Nolan

Winter Light

First power outage of the year
the deluge that preceded it
everything much quieter
except for the faint hiss of cosmic
background radiation (or tinnitus)
even the neighbor’s flags flap in
silence as the steady glazing rain’s
constant splash murmurs at the eaves

the wild goose chase of my days
there’s still a great unknown out there
and I did my best to find it

at the depth of speech
resides the soul of wit
represented in surprising
tangents and keen insights

not so much a note but a bookmark
on the creative flow of that particular
state of mind as a travel in time
the holiday hangover extends to mid-month
as a giant disruption in the flow of days

a library parking lot full of occupied
vehicles surfing the public wi-fi aura
most of whom would be intimidated
by the stacks of books inside

among bright green wet spangled grass
small birds flit flutter and flap away
as if on one wing at the leashed
four footed approach in the barely
perceptible rain mist rising from
the ranks of evergreens on the far shore
as the evident quality of winter light


Awake the world is a vast conflagration
in dreams we nurture the flame
—attributed to Heraclitus

Why shouldn’t today
be like any other day
the sun rises it will set
who am I to stand in the way

old memory flies from recall
lights at the tip of the tongue

gaze into the picture of myself
(in the fractal blur of distance)
take one long last look find
familiar arrangement of atoms
majesty of a greater existence

(pen failed had
to switch to pencil)

restless before the precipice
crowded by the accumulation of
things clutter of personal history
day’s neutral cast affects
my concentration I could fuss
over some arcane matter or simply
bathe in the rattle of jackhammers
down the street not to confuse
the artificial with the present
the more I appreciate life
the more I am consumed by death
one the absence of the other
my work is about accrual
a representing of the past
in a way that pictures
the present as an identical ideal

the crisis of faith comes
when I realize it doesn’t matter
how good I am or think I am
a relativistic judgment
placed on the altar of hope
in honor of the memory of
my inevitable oblivion

a gigantic ennui conspires
to silence what I see
is as nature ordained
light but matter moving
through space time the relative
velocity of that motion

some write for a living
I live for a writing
publishing poems is like
now I’ve had my fun I have to
submit the paperwork when
I first thought to write it was
to become a man of letters
so that in my later years
the philosophy of Gorgias finds
purchase nothing exists and
even if nothing did exist there
would be no way of knowing
knowing that there is no way to
acquire a certitude nothing exists
yet as Heraclitus reminds
in the end all I can do is point
at the way things are

Wild Life

Sea haze gossamer net
atmosphere saturated
by light reflected off
tiny airborne atoms
capturing the rainbow

deer stray into
the meadow facing
the fading orb
birds grow quiet at
the onset of night

setting sun’s rich
light buttering
an upturned face

the evening sky requires
long looking into
(five she saw her first fox
her joy was affecting)
strangers unto ourselves
in a stranger land

Brain Static

aphorisms are a form of eternity

The fine white grains of information
oscillate at a particular frequency
that determines our wavelength
and contains the essential sparks
of the universal continuum

it all comes down to not
being able to do the math

eventually we’ll all become irrelevant
systems will stop functioning for us and
we must give it the old simian good-bye

we are the result of our technology
eventually we will walk through walls
or walls will lose their reality
under the assault of our reiterations

elliptical epigrammatic
fragmented informational quanta

information is physical

in the sinkhole of civilization
the implosion on the culture grid
results in power outages of the soul

the soil and then the psyche
experience shaking along the faults

every situation finds
its own resolution as well
as its incipient enigma

self-conscious of history
as being aware of the field’s wider
horizons necessity is the intent
to do right even though you’re wrong

what started off as attention getting
has turned into a profession
genius follows in tragedy’s footsteps

the siren sounds especially mournful
echoing down through the canyon highway

days spent in absence create presence
that has exactly that quality

the attraction to transparency
starting at the last part of the thought
and trying to remember the first part

a meme when properly framed and
worded doesn’t begin to be properly
decoded but must first be unpacked
of its layered cultural meaning

all my years of wisdom left to the open sky
back porch whittling away a whole afternoon

what do I know of illness and death
until I am beholding to both

There’s Always Something (About Cats)

“I could have written that” establishes
us as phenomenologists of reading

— Gaston Bachelard


Old gods garbed in memory
spent too much time
in front of the screen
got a cramp
in the visual cortex

passing through
a spell of wet
not so much rain
as a damp washcloth
or the inside of a big
ground scraping cloud
lays a sleek glaze
on flat surfaces

writing’s uniformity overruled
by unpredictable speech

silver blue twilight haze
stark dark leafless trunks
spirits in spirit

hang out with the cats
they with me warming winter sun

Townsend’s warbler in
the white camellia bush

tortilla moon

jumble liar

shadows bend the light
soften the edges
I have a problem with
anyone who is not me


Some days it’s hard
to tell work from play

afoot in a world of cats
I must be moving slow
past catching up with me

those feelings
how foolish
they seem once
they make it
to the surface

leaping not looking

looking back
no going back

just ask Orpheus
when you try
putting him back
together again


Soggy catkins on the wet deck
late season storm

the world is full of anal
retentives and highly structured
constructs appeal to them


The cats offer
their kills in return
picking pin feathers
out of the shag

why can’t I be like
a cat and sleep twenty
hours a day be thrilled by
the dark and its lurking
shadows receive homage
on my stroked fur or
scratched head to start
the throaty engine of purr
lie among blades of grass
in fascination of everything
that moves or flits like
my life depended on it
that moment alone that time’s
passage is of no consequence
there where there is


Pets draw me from my
shell and I go to them naked
open as I can no human


A breeze stray leaf
fell from the eaves
(or was it pushed)

gone around
the bend
no one promised me
a straight line

dust happens

gray coastal bone
chill felt this far upriver
cats huddle together


Social learning as visual
theft candidates for replication
the more intermediate tones
travel an imperceptible wavelength

punctuation in poetry abolished
a hundred years ago
many still
did not get the memo
the poetry memo of poetry


a poem is an interrogation of
sentience on the page
lab notes of the intellect

the cat stares into the abyss
a patch of sunlight on the rug

in the bright ideas dept write
novel using Roget’s Thesaurus
as the organizing principle
(would likely be quite lengthy
aptly titled The Sore Ass)

walk around thinking
how it should be
while doing what it is


Autumn rain
summer furniture yet
to be taken in

who owns cats after all
they own me and use
some kind of weird
mind control to get me
to feed and pet them
coo words of endearment
while allowing them
a place to shed and dig
up plants in the garden

selfish as a cat
the pleasure of my own company
to the exclusion of all others

early sunlight
amber frozen trees thaw
a leaf shower

Who Was That Masked Man

The cold pale premise of first light

became a legend in my own mind
hung around to bask in my own glory

may be at the root of the problem

a seam of clouds bands the blue

little sleep raccoons
overhead shuffled in the gravel
of the rainwet flat roof

then there are days when
each of the items that come
down the assembly line of moments
are slightly defective and require
trips back to the drawing board

the passing tenor of some
sour or stale weighted
with a fugitive anxiety

life is unreasonable in
its absurdity and confronting
the irrationality with a wish
for a moment of clarity in
which everything makes sense’s
the epitome of the absurd
mortality the daily repetitious
heartless hostility of nature
and the discomforting strangeness
of the other all conspire to spin
the world in ill-tempered hues

I sing in part my identity
wearing the mask of myself

Pat Nolan’s poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in North America as well as in Europe and Asia, including Up Late—American Poetry Since 1970, Poems For The Millennium (Vol. I), Saints Of Hysteria, The Paris Review, Rolling Stone, Exquisite Corpse, Triada (Spain), and Otoliths (Australia). Author of over a dozen poetry selections, his most recent are So Much, Selected Poems Vol. II (1990-2010) from Nualláin House, Publishers (2019) and the thousand marvels of every moment, a tanka collection (Nualláin House, 2018). He is the author of three novels including the online fiction Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius, available for perusing at He is also founder and editor of The New Black Bart Poetry Society and its blog, Parole, now in its eleventh year. Made In The Shade, a poetry document and limited term project that began posting January of 2022 and ended on December 31, 2022, can be still be accessed at His most recent fiction project is Dime Pulp, A Serial Pulp Fiction Magazine (, now in its third year. Pat lives in the redwood wilds along the Russian River in Northern California.

David James Miller

Burn Accord


grey shores surface line
sky become sea as
burns horizon was haze
was surface indistinct
sea waves sky was with
breath as shores fused
to sea




grasses ash as sea under
a line of breath become
sky was ash a black sea
an indistinct sky shores
listening a black line
a controlled burn night
falls across psalmic




calls into manifest black
line grasses become sea
an indistinct sky opens
what controlled burns re
store an evening psalmic
accord a listening light




was waves in unknowing
an indistinct sign night
articulates in listening




sea become grasses an un
knowing breath calls into
manifest shadows mnemic
a distance air empties of
sounds a voice distance re
calls sea flattened in ash




was haze in late light an
unknowing become list
ening psalmic the soft sky
each unknowing accord
grasses breathe sky waves
fuse late waterline an in
distinct sign become ash




a horizon evening empties
of listening become skies
distance recalls




ash sighs across listening
shores a waterline psalm
ic skies manifest with un
knowing breathes black
ened a surface accord as
night an indistinct sea

David James Miller is the author of the books and chapbooks CANT, Fold, As Sequence, and Facts & Other Objects. He edits Elis Press and SET, a journal of innovative writing. He lives in Cleveland with his family.

Kevin McLellan

The Ladder

i shouldn’t


from him


a glass of


for some



a collection
of some

long stray

hairs down
my face


tired of
my own


also means
a deficit;

the insistent

move in


hear myself
ask myself

“not the same

were we?”

so now

the climb
must happen


Field Guide

yes i go


the shadow of i

doesn’t want
to go outside


the equipoise:

i (verb)
(article) (descriptor)

(body part(s))

or when
i see a father

hug his son:

seeing after not

in blood


i say “it’s just
a turn”

and it stops

the kind of rain

that inspires

me to say, “good

to a stranger:





if reset is


so i

i: the



the core



paired i

keep still:

The Erratic Field

an in-


to turn

the corners

my mouth







in hyphens



let them




and un-




the max

and the


too i

to go:


The Soundtrack
as Propaganda

the word

was rain

yet in

it should

have been


the thumb


the pushed


the fallen-


by strings

goes rigid


near the end
he made



at a kitchen

at extras:


my defenses

so i don’t

the good



he works

hard: all
the internal


but what
are his



you argued

the sandwich:

sat down
to eat:

Kevin McLellan is the author of: in other words you/ selected by Timothy Liu for the 2022 Hilary Tham Capital Collection, Hemispheres which is in special collections including the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona, Ornitheology, [box] which is in special collections including the Blue Star Collection at Harvard University, Tributary, and Round Trip. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and you can find out more about him here:

Kylie Hough

Prognosis Uncertain

This monotony rampant in the suburbs. The constant hum of electric drills and the wringing out of Op Shop cocktail dresses. It isn’t the way I imagined I would go. I light a Red Head and watch it fizzle to black. With my butcher’s knife, I slice and dice my way to the dog park. Someone swing high ahead of me and look back smiling on the upturn. Bring your philosophy and your poetry books. I am an unrealised nobody moulded from midnight. I have the potential of a hand grenade and the attention span of a clown fish. By day I scrub toilets. Boats power past, a tabby meows at a magpie. At night I talk with moving shadows. Who’s there? Oh, it’s you. I act like silence, breathless. To be heard is so close to being loved, it is almost impossible to tell the difference. This is not akin to some field trip to the zoo. No, this is warfare. This is sculpting a tin man with gloved hands. My liver poisoning someone else’s blood. Trevally in a tidal wave. I am two hotels away and freedom looks like walking fully clothed into salted black water. The tunnel of light after the feeding frenzy. A shark shaped shadow slips through the lip of a wave and I dash from the seashore. Surely someone will notice I’m playing at opposites. Somebody maybe wants to dance with me in the dunes.

Diary of a Dead Poet

The kale tastes like cardboard smells and I’m telling you, I’m trying. You stand under a deluge of cold water ripping into you like road spikes because it’s good for your immune system. Or something I can’t put my finger on that jabs like an uppercut to the jaw. I pick Aloe Vera from the garden and smear it on my skin under a pre-midday sun. You spoon magnesium into a plastic glass and watch me swallow until there’s nothing left. But the baby girl, initiated into this patriarchal prison. I don’t tell you about my dream. The one I have where your nervous system shuts down in the middle of the night and despite outside attempts to bring you back to life, you can only watch from your position on the ceiling of Accident and Emergency. Get on with it, you say, and I run around the neighbourhood in circles until I’m stopped by a man who asks me to Cocktails and Dreams. Because it’s a club, Love, and you know you want to. You’re looking down on your fitting body in horror now, two-one-shock, limbs flying, me—smiling. I’m someplace else and I’m telling you, I’m trying. But when you’re already dead, there isn’t much you don’t have to smile about.

No Place Like Home

I have this idea for a story. In it, there are two people. There is you, with your broad chest and your muscled arms. There is me, with my perky breasts and my dimpled smile. It’s a story of high school sweethearts and Disney endings. There is this castle made from yellow bricks set amongst rolling meadows of daisy and clover outside a township that glimmers green and gold. Surrounding the stronghold is a mote filled with angry alligators looking to chomp men who hurt women, children and other domesticated animals. I live in the top chamber on the thirty-fifth floor at the end of a spiral staircase you climb with the force and passion of a steed half your age. There is a white mare I feed oats to in the stable. It necks with a black stallion. The same one you ride into the sunset, me on my white horse galloping beside you. Side by side we journey, toward everything bright lights, white-picket-fences, kinky sex, two-and-a-half-kids, safe jobs, a fixed mortgage, Prozac, bullshit and banter at TGI Fridays, tantrums and track marks, rehab, unemployment, cutbacks, setbacks, climate change, Smirnoff, despair, sex trafficking, glacial melting, and grass-filled-billies smoked Saturday nights which morph into Monday mornings. And it’s lovely. And it’s wonderful. And it’s all we hoped for. Except it’s not. But we don’t mustn’t can’t. Instead, the story ends. Back it up. Reel it in. Edit. On a Sunday morning in Spring, light streams in on a gentle breeze trailing through curtained windows. Blueberry pancakes and freshly squeezed orange juice are served in the super king by adoring, impeccably-behaved, A-grade children with white teeth and sparkling eyes. A kiss, a hug, a dozen lies swallowed.

Kylie Hough writes on Yugambeh land. She was a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction 2018 and long listed in Room Magazine’s 2021 Creative Nonfiction Contest. Kylie received a 2021 CA/ASA Award Mentorship, was a finalist in the 2022 Page Turner Awards, and shortlisted in the 2022 Woollahra Digital Literary Award. Her stories, essays and poems are published in literary journals OyeDrum, Litro Magazine, Posit, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and others.

Jasper Glen

To Spar in a Dark Field

To spar in a dark field for I was alone
In a dark field again at night for that
Was commitment to poetry. Proxying,
To spar, meaning to stand in for its
Absence, all earth and forgettable body.
A death merchant, exchanging terms
Of green. For are you ready? Fight.
If not at the skin does speculation end
Somewhere? A far-out boat perchance
Or the linger of calm water; preparing,
Pep-talking the storm. Of course, a foray
Into talking crows too. Established 1991
The Blackbird, an illegal underground saloon.
I forgot my passport: blackbelt
For lying I never earned an officer’s badge.
I was in a car once too, and a kind of
Disturbance took over me.

Amur Cork Tree

The tree and its erratic shadow
On the sunlit grass. The anarchy
Of the abstract. I try to erase it;
Just make it darker, x-raying
The tree’s exoskeleton,
Its natural shade; crawling
In accordance with the sun’s
Movement; the serene plain
Of an orchard. Black, ragged
Limbs. The amply shaken
Tree; the dead fruit.

The Watershed

When did I enter the florist shop
astonished keeper of fine mirage

said what her beauty reflected was
a miracle calm, threshold of

fronds for asking space.
A floral arrangement preternatural ‘n pungent

-sporadical growth one here’s a hectic
scattering dendrite garden lending the soft spine-
veins snaking the various layers.

I pick a stamen, elevator at the one-limit multi-level mall
I present a vascular plantment, red cannister/dead-on bulb

and you’re looking in the one eye exact,
steroidally kept them alive by curtains.

To replicate an outcrop reaching natural capability.


Intoxicating green complex, phthalo green.
Catch them in real time perform telepathy
via spore communication.

To witness true friendliness:
Careful there, poison protected.

Thanks for the information packet.
That was really important information that.

Of perforations:

Them sense spores perform said telepathy forecast.
Popularizing the pathway/nature catwalk.

Take a photo of me I’m the first
purple flower > alert of spring

and a secret portal: Paris
Museum: what are flowers for but art décor?

Caught, not a natural mirror but furland.
I relate to real plants like fake house plants.

Tell Tarot

Can I dispel my ritual?
A pack of playing cards.

I can tell by hand-worn lines
The age of this practice.

A selection of trumps
On the table, bouffanic.

Occult- a typical pack
Queens, or Jacks

For a spike.
I can play a game with you:

Does it raise the dead?

You don’t understand
The residue.

It does raise afternoon curtains.
OK what links this universe,

And your astrology? The nervous
System, for example.

How can you tell the players
Resolve the absolute?

A crick in the neck;
I can just tell.

This is truth telling
By divination: you will have

A most horoscopic
Initiation: you will return to the old I

The one sitting here at the crooked table
Looking back to where it parallels:

There is a hidden wall,
And a mystifier,
And a globed crystal.

Pineal Gland Meditation

So then you go to the psychic
And the psychic says,

You’re anxious.
You were burned at the stake,

In the 17th century.
That’s why life is painful.

When you picture walking
Across the public square

Whole crowd watching:
See what you pick up

At the apothecary.
Cast judgment.

Rap about it:

A man who repaired his crushed
Spine with thought alone,

Said you can escape the old self
By accessing the body’s latent systems.

A break, so I believed I didn’t need
To be here any longer.

But if the body is practice,
Do I love this place?

Who knows I have a bad habit
Of asking why.

I keep looking for a way out,
For not showing up to practice

This vigilance.
Have an open focus.

Forget the body.
Divergent gate at the brain stem

For gamma to come dim.
Is a homonym I have heard

In these meditation circles.
Calcite crystals shimmerin’,

I have seen the futures.
In one, I become a survivalist.

I derive pleasure from stasis.

Windows, doors, dimensional.
A little red bird.

We’ve taken blood from people at our events,
Watched changes in their brain scans.

In blood values I calculate
98% of my patients get better.

So tell me why,
Believing is just a hobby of mine

Oh prefect,

Jasper Glen is a poet from Vancouver, Canada. He holds a JD and a BA in Philosophy. Poems appear or are forthcoming in AGOTT, Amsterdam Quarterly, Poetry Pause, Rogue Agent Journal, The Wild Word, and elsewhere.

Zoe Darsee

Curriculum Lactis [That’s …]

The day or how I hear her, raining milk

I say, mattering less and less, just like you

But I go to work because I love the problem

House of dandelions

To describe said house, breezy and at whim of word
is to describe dead house, a house that no longer exists.

If I have ever once lied, describe promised house I said to you.

To describe said house is to paint a shadow.
To promise described house, let it quiver in mouth like frame of word.

If I have ever once lied, describe promised house I said to you.

To describe said house with the color of your eyes, to describe your eyes
with the color of a key, to describe keys with chemicals and weather, to justify their age.

If you want to describe age of said house, describe why time was dictionary’s first lie.

To describe said house, in which I grew, in which dictionary grew, in which
I am trapped, in which I describe myself with the vocabulary of a construction site.

To describe said house is to trap a lie in four or more walls.

This is not about you, love, or, your bride

There’s a house on fire in the avenue. Smoke is really thick. There’s a structure on the corner in case you need a place to go.

There’s a roofless structure on the corner. Materials of the structure are paper, glass, plastic. There is a metal banister which remains in place since the hurricane.

There’s no hurricane but the air is thicker than the tree’s strength.

You love the tree because it breathes opposite air. You think, the tree is all that is left of me.

Tree is to the left of you.

There’s truth and then there’s tree. If there is mold there must be a wall. Wherever it’s green there’s humidity.

Near the tree is an outhouse. You darken its windows for privacy. Next to the door is something masculine that barricades itself from description. No further description.

There’s too much to describe. Wood cut into small pieces. You pick a piece, pretending tenderness. What’s that? asks bride. Bride sticks around.

There’s smoke in your bride’s toilet. Facing it, you cry. Facing her, you cry. The brown water won’t recede. You’re crying into brown bathwater. You’re flooding the little room. You’re holding your cheeks in your hands like breast implants. You squeeze.

There’s a doctor in the house that burnt down. The smoke never left the scene. Cigarette, screaming, doctor, cigarette. Doctor divides the room to light it. The house reaches for your ashes. Please, please. Where and when do you ash?

You ash, regardless of doubt.

There’s still no roof on your house. Your bride has floated away and the banister’s gone. When you blame her, it makes sense. When you blame yourself, it also makes sense.

A strong wind delivers a page into your hand. There’s no description. You sign on the dotted line. You sign a dotted line. You sign a dot. You erase it.

Where there’s a door there’s a wind that will blow you to pieces.

Zoe Darsee was born about noon on a Tuesday. Later they founded TABLOID Press with Nat Marcus in Berlin. Their chapbook BELL LOGIC (2022) is available from Spiral Editions and a pamphlet, Anzündkind, is forthcoming from The Creative Writing Department. Previous work has appeared in Annulet, Prelude, KEITH LLC, in translation for EDIT Magazin, and in lyric collaboration with musicians Exael and DJ Paradise. They are a candidate for the MFA at University of Notre Dame.

Carrie Bennett

After 44 Years I Am Still Digging

When I planted the word in the ground
it was closer to rain than flower seed.
The dirt embraced its texture.
I am nothing like my body.
The other day I repeated “I am safe,
my daughter is safe” until
the thoughts were absorbed
into the ground.
My mind is nothing
like a clay pot though only in its substance
do I hear the last bee freezing on the ground.
Then the bees were swarming
like a thousand soft buttons.
Each house is encased in its own danger
or maybe I mean a fog set in.
When I learned that the mind can’t
differentiate between real violence
and the violence on a screen I still watched.
The other night I woke after punching
a hole in the wall, so frantic to turn on the light
while the imagined man watched
from the closet. I stood like a frozen branch.
Convinced I didn’t have the strength
I shook my head as my husband
said “yes you did, yes you did.”
I want words to grow into something
green with leaves and it is never so easy
for the wound to close.
When I say rain is it the sound
of a chainsaw or how a father can drink
until his eyes are lost in his face?

Future Motivation

To be in character I collect patterns
on the sidewalks with paper and pencil—
each rubbed copy I hang on a clotheslines
and burn when the sky turns to bat wing.

My new existence requires me to be
in my bed when the moon appears.
I’m not exactly attuned to the seasonal shifts
so I feel more spaceship.
I fell asleep to the glow of my phone.
A new fire withered in the corners.
What I do know is contact always contains
some contamination.

I study my character until the first rehearsal.
I wear green lipstick that easily smudges the walls.
I’m not sure what my name is
and bow to the empty chairs.
My motivation is leaf-change and rainfall.
Any moment can be a pointed flashlight.
The trees grow hands
that are constantly reaching.

After reading the review I think about the body

The men record nature and it is enough for a poem.
Ok I will catalogue the days drawn down.
On that walk I saw a deer and its doe.
On this morning I saw a hawk circling the sky.
But the men also expand on what they see.
They make the image spiritual or at least insightful.
They somehow connect the leaf to a larger body of thought.
My body isn’t a leaf or a thought though it did make another body.
At one point the baby was a thought.
Now the baby is a very small body.
She runs her hands over bright toys that sound like dried leaves.
Then she cries until I pick her up.
Her body is full of milk and shit and spit-up.
It is nothing like an idea of something else.
Her body depends on my body in a way that shocks me daily.


Notes on a Sunday afternoon, or how the machine sleeps in my body

The machine invites me in with its open mouth.
The machine and its rocks revolving around me.
The machine wants more of my body.
The machine decides it’s an avalanche.
A vile chance, an anvil ledge.
I wear three layers and a warm blanket.
I protect the needle and record the motion.
The cage covers my eyes and the ceiling presses down.
How much space does a body need?
The technician tells me to hold my breath, my hands, my mouth.
Stillness seeps into every corner.
The machine makes me believe in shovels and dirt.
I close my eyes and covet cream walls.
Don’t bother the technicians, the itch, the stitch
of the needle as the dye enters my arm.
The machine speaks in falling oceans, sharp ticks,
a giant clock at the bottom of a canyon.
The machine reads me a poem of stumbling fences,
collapsing chairs, corrosive stars and an endless tunnel.
I keep my eyes closed, the tears seep into my ear plugs.
My foot jerks me back awake.
I’ve failed all the tests so far.
I see a dark spot at the base of my brain
when I walk out of the room. A small dirty pool.
A circle, a cell, a smudge. A sloppy dug-out trench
in the murkiness. I can’t close the canister
of my mind so I go shopping high on Valium.
I buy throw pillows and Jordan almonds.
My teeth break from the hard sweetness.
All day the machine inside me revolves around my worry.
I try to make the room of me sterile but there’s always
a piece of fur or dust or dried dead moth to clean away.
No matter how many times I crouch to the ground.
O lure longer than my lungs. O language losing itself in the muck.

Carrie Bennett is the author of the poetry books Lost Letters and Other Animals, The Land Is a Painted Thing, and biography of water. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches writing at Boston University.