Sarah J. Sloat splits her time between Frankfurt and Barcelona, where she works in news. Her poems and prose have appeared in The Offing, The Journal and Sixth Finch, among other journals. She is currently working on a series of visual poems. She's on Instagram as @sjane30.
Predators in an Abandoned Drive-In
fig crinkle flickering/ culled oil celluloid/ rain hit bone
hibernation no/ anemic cinema/ iceman on air ripe prairie
throttled open snow/ northern spotted owl/ nettled photos worn
netted protons howl/ air thin bone no/ on law born/ brawl on
barn owl—predators? teardrops/ Dear ports/ (Auden’s chance
edit)/ a hectic den/ a seined dune catch/ a catch died unseen
sea slew/ seal sew/ aweless weasels/ shawl we tow
dead elk wraith/ saw-whet owl/ death like draw
(radiated whelk) red-tailed hawk
Previously published in Crazyhorse.
Jon Pineda is the author of the novel Let's No One Get Hurt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018). His recent poetry collection Little Anodynes won the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry.
When Brother's First Son asked me
where it happened, where his father could not out run
death, I tell him the truth, but feel heavy with the
weight of witness, a wild gun shot ricochets in my
throat. He wants to know if it happened in the back
yard where his father as a boy once raced behind orange,
and sweet lemon trees, scrambling over warped
fences to escape bb gun games. Shoulders shot by other boys.
Brother was a big target. Tiny bullets pierced summer
skin but they smiled at the gun play with those they called brother.
These easy pains heal clean. They are not the ones that mark
some boys. Boys that always carry those scars, even after
wounds are no longer circled red. Mother tells First Son not to
wear his hoodie over his head. Don't walk to the corner store alone.
Be back before the street lights turn on, she says, just like she told
Brother as a boy. Are these the warnings Brother would have given his son,
knowing that sometimes it is not enough because some boys,
some brown boys are never just boys to some.
Previously published in Raven Chronicles.
Casandra Lopez is a Chicana and California Indian (Cahuilla/Tongva/ Luiseño) writer who’s received support from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf and Jackstraw. She’s been selected for residencies with the School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her chapbook, Where Bullet Breaks was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center and her poetry collection, Brother Bullet is forthcoming from University of Arizona. She’s a founding editor of As Us and teaches at Northwest Indian College.
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.
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.