XXXII (from Utopia series)
I am a girl
in a white field.
I am the son
I am the mother and
sister moving mountains,
I am father and
ghost from below
the Bodhi tree.
Previously published in Fourth and Sycamore.
Bryan Edenfield was born in Arizona but has lived in Seattle since 2007. He was the founder and director of the small press and literary arts organization, Babel/Salvage. He hosted and curated the Glossophonic Showcase and the Ogopogo Performance Series. His writing has most recently been published in Construction Magazine, Meekling Review, Dryland, and Plinth. He is currently one of the Jack Straw Writers for 2018.
Here is his website: http://wordlessdictionary.wordpress.com
doing the same things
thinking something will change.
doing the work
dumping out expectations
that never rise
full and hot.
where it hurts
waiting to be cleansed
allowing live things
from somewhere else.
Previously published by Fig Root Press.
Seattle transplant, Jalayna Carter, is an emerging storyteller from St. Louis, MO. Her work is born of the tradition set by the Black Arts Movement through the lens of Poetry of Witness. It is just as much the result of a love of science-fiction and the re-imagining of personal history. She studied literature and journalism in the Midwest and from there developed an interest in interdisciplinary media. A 2018 Jack Straw Writer's Program fellow, she explores Immersive Poetry focusing on sensory stimulation through technology. She’s had pieces published by Third Point Press, Reality Beach, Puerto Del Sol and 2Leaf Press in the Anthology, Black Lives Have Always Mattered. You can find her on IG (@just.jalayna) and Twitter (@just_jalayna) talking about her plant babies. You can follow more of her work at www.JalaynaCarter.com.
New Patient Intake Form
In the beginning, there was a window
I pried the blinds to make light
of my losses
I fished my hands into and shattered
What a hook I was
doubled in the beginning
In the beginning My mouth
and the gasp upon impact
The skull intact
and the brain increasing
activity where the neurons
Slowly I filled the form
My torso scored in order
only a diagram
Previously published in World Literature Today.
Janine Joseph is the author of Driving without a License, winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. Her libretti for the Houston Grand Opera/HGOco include What Wings They Were, “On This Muddy Water,” and From My Mother's Mother. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University.
When You Talk About a Dead Deer
For Kelli Russell Agodon
The buds in my garden respond to such grief with a refusal to
open up their petals in full light. Air, dank with sorrow,
makes my garden smell like a cemetery. Ghosts juggle in the
bath under feet and I can only hear a trombone, a devastating
note grafted by the wind on my broken cello still living with a
heart and two kidneys. The flowers in my garden (once a
forest till my last lover made me this tomb of four walls here
to beat the snow and reach the last breath with as less anguish
for death possible) were untamable, they chased the deer and
the lost alike. The lost dropped one by one, so did the deer.
Grief stilled their bloom until my wild hands relieved them of
the guilt, and they became tamer. When you talk about a dead
deer, it reminds me of the builder of my nest who sailed tons
of musk pods down the Yangtse to a bustling metropolis and
wondered how someone's horror, someone's pain can be sold
for money. He then died here, in redemption, and in his body
was impermanence sculpted of regret, of a lifetime measured
by dead deer.
Previously published in Crab Orchard Review. This poem was written after reading Kelli Russell Agodon's "Hunter's Moon", which may be read here.
Author of Whorelight, Linda Ashok is the 2017 Charles Wallace India Fellow in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Chichester, UK. Linda’s poems and reviews have appeared/forthcoming in several publications, online and in print, including Crab Orchard Review, The Common, The McNeese Review, Poetry Kanto, Friends Journal, Axolotl, Skylight 47, The Big Bridge Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poets, Mascara Literary Review, The Rumpus and others. Linda is the Founder/President of RædLeaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts (2012) and sponsors the annual RL Poetry Award (since 2013). More at: lindaashok.com
The first person you fall in love with
will be a deer. You will want to cradle him,
but his instinct is to vanish. Scuttle. Scurry.
He may lie down at the end of the forest
in the sorrel, but you won’t ever see him
even with the binoculars you bring into the wild.
Perhaps, he’ll disappear on a trail beside you,
and you may be charmed by his departure.
He is worried about your heart spear, what you keep
hidden, but you are not a hunter, you are just tired
of walking alone through this night.
Previously published in Waxwing.
Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of six books and is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. Her most recent book, Hourglass Museum, was a Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize, and second book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room was chosen for the Foreword Book of the Year Prize for poetry. Kelli is also the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast, a yearly writing retreat for women that takes place in La Conner, Washington. She is an avid paddleboarder and hiker who has a fondness for vinyl records and hammocks. She lives in a sleepy seaside town a ferry ride away from Seattle. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com
Full Metal Hanuman
They fling us at empires
When a cosmos needs to die.
Engineered by the best AI minds
Of New Lan Xang,
In the boot-tubes we sing:
“They’ll never let us in,
They’ll never let us in
To holy Himapan!
Not quite monkey, not quite man!”
In the future, true havoc needs more
Than a mere dog for war.
Laotonium shell around a simian soul,
Dropping through the sky, ready to die,
Armed to the bone with three strong hearts
Tailored for express mayhem and murder of
Your pristine social orders,
We close our eyes with time enough to dream,
Six hard minutes through the hot atmosphere:
Visions of fabled Dao Vanon, our own planet,
Our own Xaesar, our own books of law and liberty.
“Ape shall never kill ape.”
“No spill blood.”
The joys of Ahimsa.
A distant world keeping
All of your promises made to us for 400 centuries.
Previously published in Strange Horizons.
Bryan Thao Worra is a Lao American poet and the President of the
Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. The author of 6 books
of poetry, he holds over 20 awards including an NEA Fellowship in
Literature. You can visit him online at http://thaoworra.wordpress.com
where he shares news and opportunities for Asian American poets
interested in science fiction, fantasy and horror.
That Map of Bone and Opened Valves
That was the summer we damned only the earth.
That was the summer strange helicopters circled.
We examined each other’s ears, we spoke with our hands in the air--
It is the air. Something in the air wants us too much.
On the second day
helicopters circle and our legs run
in the fever-milk of their own separate silences.
A sound we do not hear lifts the birds off the water where a woman
takes iron and fire in her mouth.
Her husband is trying to make
sense of her face, that map of bone and opened valves.
The earth is still.
The tower guards eat sandwiches.
On the third day
the soldiers examine ears
of bartenders, of accountants, of soldiers, you wouldn’t know
the wicked things silence does to soldiers.
They tear Pasha’s wife from her bed like a door off a bus.
On the sixth day, we damn only the earth.
My soul runs on two naked feet to hear Vasenka.
I no longer have words to complain
my God and I see nothing in the sky and stare up and
clearly I do not know why I am alive.
And we enter the city that used to be ours
past the theaters and gardens past wooden staircases and wrought
in the morning that puts ringing in our ears.
Be courageous, we say
but no one is courageous
As a sound we do not hear lifts the birds off the water.
Previously published in Kenyon Review.
Ilya Kaminsky lives in San Diego. This poem is from Deaf Republic which will be forthcoming from Graywolf in 2019.
she tells you to stuff a live parakeet in your mouth
that it isn't really a parakeet
that when you feel the head
rub the roof of your dry mouth
that it will become water or wine or whatever you believe it will be
& you believe this because you have survived so many deaths
your poor wings a cautionary tale for a microscopic revolutionary
when the water wine whatever parakeet
slithers down your throat
you are compelled to want to compost yourself
suck your own bones & spit them out in your hair
Previously published in Poetry Northwest.
Anastacia-Renee is the current Civic Poet of Seattle, recipient of the 2017 Artist of the Year Award, and former 2015-2017 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House. She is the author of five books: Forget It (Black Radish Books), (v.), (Gramma Press) 26, (Dancing Girl Press), Kiss Me Doll Face (Gramma Press) and Answer(Me) (Winged City Chapbooks, Argus Press) and has received writing fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust and Jack Straw, as well as a writing residency from Ragdale. Her theatrical mixed-media project, 9 Ounces: A One Woman Show, is a multivalent play unapologetically downward dogging its way through class, race, culture, oppression, depression, survival and epiphany. Her cross-genre writing has appeared in the anthologies: Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism, Sinister Wisdom: Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks and literary magazines in and print and online: Split this Rock, Painted Bride Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, Bone Bouquet, Duende, Synaethesia, Banqueted, Torch and many more. She teaches poetry and creative writing at Hugo House and Seattle University and lives as a superhero in Seattle with her wife and dog.
Tanka as Firework
perhaps this is how
America prefers me:
body bursting mid-
air, blood staining horizon;
exhale and i am no longer -
Previously published in Thrush Poetry Journal.
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American Poet, Activist, and Bioengineering PhD Candidate at Harvard University. He is the author of two chapbooks: al youm (the Atlas Review, 2017), and the specimen’s apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). He is the recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, the Watering Hole, and Brooklyn Poets, as well as the honor of "Best Poet" at the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Rattle, the Rumpus, Mizna, Washington Square Review, Puerto del Sol, and anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry, Nepantla, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology.
Epistle from the Hospital for Harassment
As in a house of mourning / cover the mirrors / Save yourself from
yourself / Open the windows / Feed your history to night / Do not
wrestle / against your story / let it keep happening / then kill it— /
the editor who invited you for coffee / a manila folder of poems /
meticulously typed / and tucked beneath your arm / all those beats
and breaks / silenced / as he thrust his hand on your hip, saying
Sweetheart, try your hair in a bun / and What about glasses / If you wore
glasses men wouldn’t notice you so much / Or your colleague who poked /
a bruise on your thigh / guessing at its origins / Or the man who
made the bruise / Honey, you’re not as stupid as you look— / Cast it out /
until the night is so full of the feathers of your thoughts / it grows
the giant wings of a crow / takes off— / Now lie before the
curtained mirrors / Forget what you look like / For better is a
wandering eye / than the two you clench shut / waiting for him to
Previously published in The Journal.
Jenny Molberg is the author of Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the 2014 Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017) and Refusal (forthcoming, LSU Press). She teaches creative writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and edits Pleiades magazine. Find her online at jennymolberg.com.
Natasha Kochicheril Moni is a writer and a licensed naturopath in WA State. Enjoying this blog? Feel free to put a little coffee in Natasha's cup, right here.