genre: Poetry

Zhadan Cento

Zhadan Cento

By Dzvinia Orlowsky   

This piece is part of our Fall/Winter 2020 print issue.


Accused

Accused

By Michelle S. Ramadan   

This piece is part of our Fall/Winter 2020 print issue.


Bedtime

Bedtime

By Betsy Sholl   

This piece is part of our Fall/Winter 2020 print issue.


& it’s hiding in plain sight

& it’s hiding in plain sight

By Tina Zafreen Alam   

  soundtrack: feat. phatkat, j dilla make it spare stark & simple. make this mark, not too clean make it crack static & pop the sound equivalent  of  rough.  feel  every  bump.  texture  this  landscape  you  map  it  i  ride surface glide each moment. it’s all action. you built this up. make it move something… Read more »


Unfathomed

Unfathomed

By Hari Alluri   

—for Adlaw, after Anastacia-Renee / after Kamau Brathwaite, with listening to Honor Ford-Smith, Aracelis Girmay, M. NourbeSe Philip, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Christian Campbell / after Jake Eduardo Vermaas / for Julay The circle glows around you every time you first begin. The remembering, kapwa, the circle. I remember “Right On for the Darkness” was… Read more »


Awake in Elizabeth City

Awake in Elizabeth City

By Tatiana Johnson-Boria   

The air in North Carolina demands you to breathe deep, a challenge for the body to stall, the quickness in its blood. There is no rushing here only time birthing more time, there is abundance. A surmounting wealth of space, begging you to see it spread for miles. The dirt caves in ditches in front… Read more »


No Matter How

No Matter How

By Jennifer Martelli   

Sometimes, when my joints pop, a woman appears and wants to talk to me. No matter how carefully l move, these women want to use their tongues. We all know that the dead can’t speak, but some can shake rice in a tin sieve. A poet told me the first tambourine was formed in Italian… Read more »


Alinea

Alinea

By Aaron Wallace   

Watching Grant paint in twenty-thirteen, and he was asking why food must by limited by cutlery and dishware. I’ve had the answer since the day I ate a bottle of Tylenol. My father bought me the econo-size out of love, and I’ve never repaid him. How much forgiveness can ten dollars buy? I am restive… Read more »


In Which the Second Sex Scene of Moonlight Makes the Cut

In Which the Second Sex Scene of Moonlight Makes the Cut

By Dmitri Derodel   

Your chest is a jug of orange juice,  a gasoline pump,  and this prayer is lazy, just as it should be.  You rise  as if it were for you (and maybe  it is).  Your legs are now the rhinestone in the navel of a belly dancer  as a pair of diamonds watch on,  gaze locked,… Read more »


The World According to Alpheaus

The World According to Alpheaus

By Vernita Hall   

Alpheaus L. Parnell, black British R.A.F. pilot, 1943-1946  In war there are two kinds of soldiers, my dad said: those who fight for a paycheck, and those who would rise for a cause. Be very afraid  of the second one—too much to prove. My Jamaica-bred dad swapped crop dusters for Mosquitoes. There was one kind… Read more »


Child in a Lightbulb

Child in a Lightbulb

By Oksana Maksymchuk   

1 In a tree — a child In a blooming cherry tree — a child in a white gown White on white in the night — a child, warm from sleep Climb a cherry tree said the voice in the night All alone in a tree in a globe of white Her house on fire… Read more »


To Crop, to Thresh

To Crop, to Thresh

By Seth Tucker   

Alfalfa & cloves & the smell of cinnamon coat your skin like fur, the sweat new & not spoiled the condensation of the canvas water bag far off alongside the cattle-truck, steers complaining in their pen your work a panic to keep up, the orbit of hay a form of forever your father shoulders hay… Read more »


Ovotestes

Ovotestes

By Jendi Reiter   

A feathered lady of a certain age grows spurs one morning, learns to crow where once she only chuckled, head-down, over corn and chicks. She hasn’t laid in months but her human is kind, touched by thinking of her first new egg that the baby rolled in wonder, the memory warmer than the stew her… Read more »


Spin

Spin

By Judith Terzi   

I sit at a table dodging plates as they whirl top speed around a room. A plate twirler drops wire on my head. My right hand clenches emptiness when I awake. A therapist friend asks about the dream. I tell her first cancer then surgery to excise. Then chemo, then infection, then clot… Another dream… Read more »


The Physician

The Physician

By David O'Connell   

asked, splutters, then gasps, hacks, his hand, index finger held up, a moment, it says, for he can’t catch his breath, is bent over, shoulders, head, neck jerking with the effort, fist at his mouth as if yanking a fishing line, its hook sunk deep in a branch of his wet lungs, his eyes shut tight… Read more »


Black Girl Catholic

Black Girl Catholic

By Jourdan Nichelle   

I like dipping my hands in the metal bowls of water & making everything I touch holy. Holy forehead, holy chest, holy lips. I am too old to sleep through sermon, too young to listen. Holy pew. Holy basket for offering. My grandmother passes soft mints to busy our mouths. Not busy enough. Holy sweet.… Read more »


Say Her Name

Say Her Name

By Gary Percesepe   

Bodies matter, the way they break open, the way fluids spill. In my dream she stands at the foot of my bed wearing a half-smile, her nose twitching, her hands holding a wine opener. Say her name.  She lies on top of me on the white couch in the living room watching Breaking Bad; the… Read more »


Hints of Not Letting Go

Hints of Not Letting Go

By Denise Bergman   

her wrist veins blue, a woman lets go the trapeze bar rubs chalk into her palms wipes chalky palms on her silver sequin leotard • elsewhere a woman keeps breathing / breathing she breathes / breathes into a broken child hit by a hit-and-run • elsewhere a subway rider Jay St. to West 4th grips… Read more »


Adaptation to Extremes

Adaptation to Extremes

By Marilyn McCabe   

A single-celled organism has learned to distill toxins to a slow drip of the one it needs, as how the wolf boy learned to live without human love or language, how the widow lives in loss, cannot throw away the hair in the brush, keeps it in a small lacquered box, how in a house… Read more »


The Harvesters

The Harvesters

By Valerie Duff   

—after Peter Brueghel Why a tree except the world sustains? The harvesters’ clean whites so far from town. Like fountains, water drops of grass heads. Like postscript, endless roads through Flanders. Close up, men like lapel buttons through haloes, mending, mending. Like snakeskins, white shirts against gold. The maze leads, panoramic, to the earth’s shelf… Read more »


and i say yes to the way the grass

and i say yes to the way the grass

By Wendy Drexler   

  needs the soil and the soil needs the grass, the way the candle needs the wick and the wick needs the candle. Yes to the way the lion and the buck need one another, and the bluebird the caterpillar. To the ocean that needs a shore for its waves. Yes to the cymbals for… Read more »


If Bach Kept Bees*

If Bach Kept Bees*

By Vasyl Makhno   

Translated from the Ukrainian by Olena Jennings   Creaking like hinges and bolts attached to the shutters —  in a section Pärt listened to a bee choir enveloped in a golden translucence in quiet if the bees grew to love Bach if the hive was filled with music he would not have to rely on… Read more »


Hospice Voices in the Age of Corona

Hospice Voices in the Age of Corona

By Eileen Cleary   

  Does my roommate have a fever? (    ) I hope I’ll get to die of my cancer. Long enough not to die alone. (    ) Will I see my brother? (    ) Wondering how my mother. My mother. My phone number. I know we spoke. This morning but. She can’t. Should I? We should.… Read more »


B Sharp <br>Blues

B Sharp
Blues

By Sean Singer   

Today in the taxi I drove two jazz musicians to LaGuardia, the singer and her husband, the pianist. I recognized them right away. We talked about Duke Ellington. We drove by Marcus Garvey Park and it twinkled like his plume hat and gold epaulets. The pianist lifted his hand like an axle and the singer

“Kill Me Again, Or Take Me As I Am”

“Kill Me Again, Or Take Me As I Am”

By Emily Van Duyne   

Whole years have passed with me in a state of graceless longing, a desire to be sanctified: the kind of woman who can order a crumb-topped buttered muffin, bursting with hot blueberries, sit & pick at it, barely chewing, barely tasting that deconstructed cake. Taking it slow. I know, this me nods to the man… Read more »


Self-Portrait as a Cattle Trail

Self-Portrait as a Cattle Trail

By Diane Glancy   

An overland route traveled upon— leaving hoof marks and a swale on the land   cattle— bovine animals with four feet, esp. domesticated members of the genus Bos, as cows and steers Middle English catel, from Anglo-French katil, chatel personal property, from Medieval Latin capitale wealth from capitalis of the head— trail— Middle English trailen,… Read more »


Vernal Scrooge

Vernal Scrooge

By Paul Hostovsky   

The hounds of spring are on winter’s traces and I hate a slobbering dog. All this mucus and affection is making me sick, not to mention the ejaculations of the junipers, oaks, alders and maples–I can’t stop sneezing and I’m all congested. The erectile tail feathers of the wild turkeys–the way the males display them… Read more »


After the Burning

By Jeff Friedman   

We held each other as our bodies turned to smoke and rose above the burning leaves. Hawks plunged through us, carrying bits of us in their beaks. We settled on roofs, clung to nests and nets. We drifted and drifted like cirrus clouds, like long tongues licking the sky, like glittery trails. Below, mounds of… Read more »


Not Shadows

Not Shadows

By Huma Sheikh   

About my past life, my American friends shake their heads, blinking. Pints of shadows fall, a mother’s womb swept bare. Some things are good unseen. They see nothing that looks like that girl I was, cherry- dappled cheeks, fingers curled around my mother’s hand, unclenching, picking on an elephant bell ringing in the window, the… Read more »


Joachim

By Harriet Levin   

(1881-1941) Grass swords browned at the hilts drowned in fog. I come across their sharp points as if a homing device had pointed me here for the first time and walk across that grass where it can offend me. Cut by cut. I wanted to see it for myself—huts, forests, the sound of rifle fire… Read more »


Your Word

By Javy Awan   

I’ll take your word for it—whatever you say, whatever you teach, whatever you explain, whatever you describe—I’ll take your word for it. Whether science, literature, medicine, sports, agriculture, history, theater or film, art or craft, politics, philosophy, any field you may name— make your pronouncement, sound bite, or claim, adjust my perspective, expand my thought,… Read more »


Cherries

By Robert Carr   

Basin of summer on wrought oak dining table. A brick clay bowl filled with pits. The men around my table speak in baritones. Pleasure groans. (More important than words.) I’m smitten by the taste of cherries lowered into mouths. Spit. Sweet skins broken. Poison in sealed stones. It’s just after midnight. Rosiest fruit consumed, crimsoned… Read more »


Glimpse of Stillness

By Robert Carr   

Unable to stand the year he was nine, stiff legs bent and hollow, my father had nothing to do but watch wisteria grow. Tendrils inched through cracks in a bedroom pane. Brass wheels slipping on a knotty floor. Beside the alarm – his aspirin therapy swallowed. At ninety-two he’s gray plaster. Turned to side, he… Read more »


Oil Sheen

By Marc Vincenz   

Driving into the country along the straight track of a manmade road. Ahead, a canyon billows dust-smoke, words tremble in the lobe, an old melody whirs deep in the cortex. Light rises—or an illusion of it. Ahead, a field of cacti wavers— lingers. Rusting water silos with perched crows. Serpents snaking somewhere below. & the… Read more »


Rez Town

By Elizabeth Tornes   

–For Maanakwadiban The forest huddles over our town like a mama bear protecting her cub. There’s no traffic light, just an endless debate about whether or not we need one. Everyone knows everyone else, with nicknames like Weeders, Pug, Cricket, and Beebeeosh, their given names long forgotten.  We know whose relatives are whose, who’s gone… Read more »


Expert of the Apricot Groves

By Valerie Smith   

She comes bearing fruit, ancient by way of Asia, Africa, Alabama, digging for time, six thousand years to the other side of the world. She comes bearing fruit, rock- serious ovaries birthed without, breaking, blooming white as winter leaving overnight. She comes bearing fruit, ripe, finger-circled gifts boxed, settled into levels, for reduced swelling, burning… Read more »


The Fundamentals

By John Zedolik   

Those minerals erupting from maxillae and mandibles show our roots to the hard earth that will not yield to soft circumstance if it can manage—like these choppers and mashers above and under food for more than just thought that often bites back with acid or crunch etching the enamel or cracking the crown so requiring… Read more »


an open letter to my mixed little “Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals”

By Matthew E. Henry (MEH)   

my dears, i love you because a hot comb never dared to look you in eye. because your lives are always in autumn—a crisp, stern season of self-awareness. because you stroll through the background radiation of racial anxiety without a hazmat suit. because you have desired to be darker and lighter, invisible, yet star-shine. because… Read more »


Growing Up In The Cracks, Seedlings In The Streets

By Esteban Ismael   

We took root in sidewalks when there were any, followed mile-long tracks in the street, hopscotch games in every direction could break your Mama’s back & every line your father’s missing spine, cracked gravel a slit in a sick arm, soft enough for a weed to poke through, a dandelion or two bright as yellow… Read more »


Among the Rocks

By Esteban Ismael   

I find you sitting in an open trunk in a forgotten corner of the garage. Hands at your sides, the iron-pressed gray-scale dress with black blossoms lifts slightly at the bottom, a pewter sun hat bends over an ink cloud of tight curls, a milky softness I’ve never seen smoothes the curve of your chin.… Read more »


Veterans

Veterans

By Aaron Wallace   

Wilfred, I wish I could share this New England gin with you.         Tonic, lime, ice, and a sprig of rosemary here on the Florida coast where I wouldn’t ask about your writing. I’ve heard many great poets read you. I know your poems well enough,       but those greats always remind the class that… Read more »


By the Way What Time Is It in Prague, Milena?

By Michael Salcman   

  It’s almost always too late in Kafka’s writings, like the parable in a letter he wrote his lover Milena about two people each holding a door handle on opposite sides of the same room, and walking out or not, sounding a lot like Schrodinger’s quantum cat in a closed box, alive and dead at… Read more »


The Imaginary Death Certificate of Frida Kahlo

By Sean Thomas Dougherty   

    I want to write a sonnet about Frida Kahlo’s orange trees, the ones that fed her that she reached up to pick an orange long before her accident and after, the same tree weighed with fruit that reached for her, but my own wife is in the hospital today because she has been… Read more »


What Bird Was That

By Cindy Veach   

  I wake up to a bird calling cheat, cheat, cheat. What bird are you and whom do you call? You caught me sleeping with the windows open. What sounds like footsteps in the woods— squirrels scurrying through dead leaves. Things are not what they seem. When will new leaves arrive? There is no one… Read more »


NOLA

By Jennifer Markell   

Some spit seeds     carry spirits of the dead the drowned     who clutched at clouds Smoke and sugar float     notes up over  the bayou Tinsel moss conceals a wreckage  of alligators Through the banjo’s tunnel we drift— The washboard scrubs the night shines the years      some forgiven  


Murmurations in the Ninth Hour

By Abigail Warren   

One of my colleagues expresses her distress about a Muslim student who wears hijab in the classroom— afraid it might disturb some of the veterans in class. As she expresses, maybe, her own anxiety, I can’t help but notice the cross around her neck with the body of Jesus hanging with that horrified pained look… Read more »


Listening to Lester Young in a Pandemic

By Roy Bentley   

In one borough of a city nearly out of surgical masks, a jazz station repeats like the dream of a better country. Doctors and nurses labor around the clock, dictating a Last Will & Testament between critically-ill patients— given who we are as Americans, the respirator-rhythm alleges we triumph or perish one grim breath at… Read more »


Movement of a Germ

By Barbara Siegel Carlson   

No line divides us from the squirrel washing its face with its hands, or the bird with a piece of string in its mouth, or the man walking in sandals in winter. A dog barks by the stone wall that is crumbling. The wind’s scouring the leafless tree. It has no note—no voice, the invisible… Read more »


April, Merciless

By Frances Donovan   

the cats don’t care if the rent goes up next year right now the back door’s open we tumble out the sunlight’s merciless mere buds on the branches no feathers in the shade the blue jay blares succulents peep green from puddingstone I lay a blanket down cold filters from the ground my head, hurting… Read more »


Jennifer Jean

Hope Is Not Canceled

By Jennifer Jean   

Without a boogie board, you’d fling your body into the curve of the Pacific. Without baby oil, you’d still burn & be tender for days. Without a blanket, you’d drop your faded Eddie shirt, sit—or later, shake it out & mop off the salt. Without shades, you’d razor your hand like a visor—squint at five… Read more »