Sophia Mold

Kept To Remember

A room well lived in
Sits around me
Surrounds me
With memories
Cards pinned
On the notice board
Messages of feelings
Felt for one another
Receipts from dates
Collected forever
His and her shoes
Lined up together

Curtains pulled back
A small window
Throws dull rays
On the spots
Of imperfection
Papers strewn
Across the desk
Clothes bundled
Left on the chair
A thin cover of dust
Lays on the surfaces
Easy to wipe clear


Sophia Mold is a university student from the UK, studying English and Creative Writing. She also works as a poetry editor for The Lincoln Review. Sophia is an emerging poet and has previously been published by The Lumiere Review, Vaughan Street Doubles and Siren Magazine.

Three Poems by David Barrick

House Band

Boris Karloff invented all the instruments we play. They sound pitchy and strange. Erratic intonation. There’s no Hal Leonard manual, no standard tunings; our fingers need extra time to find the holes and fret the strings. We need to open windows, have a cross breeze on stage feeding the big-mouthed reeds. Don’t be shy, move up the dance floor—these songs harmonize at just the right angle. Tilt your head, listen. Hear the counterpoint of crickets, creaky sepulchres. Hear the tides rushing in to join the band. Come up, try these oblong instruments—no roadies, no bystanders here. We long since did away with firm boundaries.


Chapel Head

His eighteen stained-glass
lancets glow: oil paint mosaics
locked in lead. Brass bells
dangle, sing in the lofts
of his steeples, one eyelid
blinking over a rose window
planted in a broad white face.
He kneels at midnight, chin
resting in snow, choir filing
through his tall oak doors.
The snap of sheet music:
euphonic carols echo, chime
up through his rafter sinuses.
I am but a humble vessel.


Omens

A cauldron of cloud stews
the sun’s puckered eye.
Weathervane cockerels point
to the town’s oldest elm tree.
Birds sing low strings of notes
sounding like vowels. The wells
toss up clots of crimson moss.
Walking home, the magistrate’s
knees jolt and lock, dropping
him in the road, bags of eggs
and milk bursting in the dust.
The whole town gathers
in the square by the churchyard.
Rain sizzles on dry headstones.
The children have no questions
about any of it.


David Barrick’s poetry appears in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Train, The Dalhousie Review, Juniper, perhappened, and other literary magazines. He teaches and writes in London, Ontario, where he is Managing Director of the Poetry London reading series. His first chapbook is Incubation Chamber (Anstruther Press, 2019).

Two Poems by Chris Blexrud

Songs in Space

The tick and trill
of longing, of hearts
baptized in the cool unknowing
of this new nothing
between us

how vanished throats
do not forget their prayers
but merely let them rest


Viridity

A stretch of sidewalk
so overgrown
it feels like jungle
like hate on the skin
like eyes in the night
like bodies trapped
beneath sheets

All that heat’s got nowhere to go
but into our lungs
past dry throats
to that blank space
at the end of your last sentence,
the dead air at the bottom of the page


Chris Blexrud is an editor and writer living in New Orleans.

‘The Problem with Loving Temporary Things’ by Evelyn Maguire

I watch my sister dig a moat. She is unbothered by the sand encrusting her legs, her torso, her arms. She spears her plastic shovel into the sand over and over, tossing it aside and getting in with her hands when the spade isn’t working fast enough. The moat is being dug around a crumbling tower, poor in construction because none of us wanted to help, really. It is more of a mound of wet sand than a castle, lopsided and distinct only from a single seashell, a near-perfect sand-dollar, placed on top. 

My sister is five and I am seventeen. She was an accident, but we call her a miracle. 

Every now and again, I hear her calling to me, beckoning me to aid her in her doomed fight against the ocean. I pretend not to hear, or I offer a half-hearted wave and a thumbs-up, hoping that placates her so I don’t have to join in. After a while, she stops calling, but she never stops digging. 

The surf fills her moat, over and over. The water rushes in and she shrieks with displeasure as it leaves the moat a little shallower, a little more reclaimed with each pass. She buckets out the water. If she is lucky, she’ll get a few minutes’ head-start before the next wave strong enough to reach her. But as the sun dips lower and the wind feels cooler, those breaks are ever more brief. 

My sister was born with cerebral palsy. She may live to benefit from the free senior beach pass, or she may die before college. Despite the doctor visits, we aren’t sure how severe it is yet. We’ll have to see how it plays out. 

She performs this ritual every time we visit the beach. She must remember how it will end, with the remnants of her castle as a mushy, indistinguishable mound and with her in fitful tears. Yet the castle is still built, the moat is still dug, and the watery siege is still fought to the bitter end. 

Now, the moat is more often flooded than dry. It is the beginning of the end. Her flower-shaped yellow bucket is no match for the tide. I picture myself leaping up, my father and mother behind me, buckets in hand, joining her. Together, we would keep the ocean at bay, deepen the moat, raise the gate, guard the turrets. As the moon rose overhead, the tide would be diverted around one lone sand castle, protected by its tireless family of sentries. But I stay on my towel. 

Finally, a curling wave crashes. This is it. My sister sees it, too. She stands in front of her lumpy creation, skinny arms outstretched against the coming onslaught. She screams a guttural war-cry. But it is no use. The foamy surf floods the moat and storms the castle, collapsing the tower back into the sand, all in the span of a few seconds. My sister looks back at where her castle once stood. She picks up the sand-dollar and drops to her knees. 

As I watch, she starts to cry.


Evelyn Maguire is pursuing an MFA in Fiction at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine Overheard, and was a fiction finalist for the 49th New Millennium Writing Awards. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in North American Review, The Foundationalist, and Sink Hollow.

Three Poems by Lucy Whitehead

Spirals

Everything grows from the heart.
We curl around ourselves,
ancient sea creatures
spiralling out like Catherine wheels
from the moment of conception,
voyaging in the womb
from that unknown place
where worlds are born,
beating against the warm walls
of our shoreless oceans
in our translucent skin,
our unpigmented fur.
We are all water people,
liminal mermaids.


Antirrhinums

After gardening
my husband tossed a torn packet
of snapdragon seeds onto the bed.
Forgotten pinpricks of darkness spilled
onto sky-blue Egyptian cotton sheets,
worked their way into crevices. One
crept into the corner of my eye
danced like grit in an oyster shell,
scratched its way into my dreams,
split my skull into two
soft shadowed petals of
sculpted moonlight
sprung so tightly
they snapped back
and swallowed him.


Stranded

I want to throw this body back,
this body with its net of pain
where I flap and flounder
day after day, year after year.

Look beyond these sparkling scales,
this rainbow gleam, these sequin eyes.
My cells still remember
the dance of the sea.


Lucy Whitehead‘s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Broken Spine Artist Collective, Burning House Press, Clover and White Literary Magazine, Collective Unrest, Electric Moon Magazine, Ghost City Review, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Mookychick Magazine, 3 Moon Magazine, Neon Mariposa Magazine, Parentheses Journal, Pink Plastic House, Pussy Magic, Re-side, and Twist in Time Literary Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @blueirispoetry.

Two Poems by Miriam Gauntlett

zoetrope

what is the word
for when an image
looks more real and
distinct than the scene
it’s reflecting?

desire, maybe.

on the brick wall
the last of the sunlight casts
shadows and the future
plays out in black and ochre

there’s no risk you wouldn’t take.


survival is my name

after Ross Gay

In the early hours I returned
to the river I used to frequent,
those long dark days ago.
Two magpies hopped across
the path & two suns rose,
one in the smooth water &
one in the clear dawn sky,
& with abrupt clarity I realised
it had once seemed unlikely
that I would rise to see the
dappled light on the river –

but now I know that I will do it
again, & again, & again. a small
& tenacious miracle. I know.
my colours are green & yellow & purple
& all the hues in between. I’m joy.


Miriam Gauntlett studies, works & writes in London. She has previously been published in Porridge Magazine and Dear Damsels. Her interests include found families, communism, hiking & tweeting @miriaaaaamg.

Two Poems by Laura Jayne

Poppies

after Dorothea Tanning

A swallowed tongue
savouring its velvet
we furl soft
in secret architecture
lapping our gentle offering
our wetness cast in crepe.

It came as an unclasping
a foaming swell
to meet an ambering touch
our embered limbs
gesturing the collapse.

A body unsoftening
stained in crushed
deliverance
limbs outstretched
to meet a honeyed touch.

A wing in its unfolding
we slip as wisps
into the silt.


Wild Swimming

unshaped sliver
brushing sedge meadowsweet
I slip my fingers between each
weave their limbs in my outstretching
brush their bowed heads
in appeasement

the cleavers seek me out
sticky and softening
set their seeds inside
the furrow of my palm
fold them back and they defer
resin seeping underfoot

honeyed with them
I reach the bank
creep in –
a drip
a rivulet pulled
into a fuller swell
skin holding close an
annointed orange warmth.

chest deep
hands flush with the surface
fingers spread against the
kinship warmth the river holds
in its palm
furrowed soft reaching

again and again and
over my chest deep with
orange warmth
with eyes closed with a rasping
for the wet a wet longing a
seed adrift in a rivulet a
furrow a drip of honey a head
annointed
under –


Laura Jayne‘s poetry navigates relationships between nature and the queer body. Her poems appeared in Cadaverine Magazine and Scribe Magazine, and she has produced a number of poetry events at venues across London, including Rich Mix and VAULT Festival. In 2020, Laura was a guest on The Poetry Exchange podcast, discussing her personal relationship to the poetry of Anne Sexton. Laura holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Leeds.

Three Poems by Jasmine Flowers

Arboreal

see the tree
light the forest.
know her name

~

My face rests inside eyes,
but leaves only see their
own green-tinted nights.

No one makes the way
for me: it all leads north.
A cataracted sky looks on.

Ripe berries burst —
broken capillary cheeks
in sweet-smelling rivers.

~

a choice waits
to be made anew.
none are chosen


purple bovine

my mama’s purple leather jacket:
a gift of a gift. dry skin squeaks
as faults stick-slip ‘tween creases.
memories of a long-gone youth
preserved. polishing deep purple
with oil (like greasing my scalp
before bed). what’s good for skin
is good for skin. we crave touch.

once the cowhide has been dyed
and stitched, no one remembers
the innards or teeth. This lining
is cool burgundy, and the leather
creases perfectly with my face:
a gift of a gift. skin of my skin.


Ribcage

Your wet chest holds more memories than any skull
— living or dead. I’ve seen your chisel of a sternum,
your breastplate of old bricks. Have they served you
well? Does the safe house still stand? Paint the white
porch ceiling haint blue. Spirits might come knocking.

The watch turns to warning — a new eye approaches.
I know your safe house stands. There’s no tired wind
snake-rattling your chest, no red clay clogging veins.
That false train rumble will take us back to your door.
All dirt roads and branch waters come home to Bama.


Jasmine Flowers is a well-watered poet and copywriter from Birmingham, AL. She received her BA in English from the University of Alabama. Her poems are published or forthcoming in perhappened mag, giallo, Versification, River Mouth Review, Rejection Letters, and Mineral Lit Mag. Her poems have been presented at the Monroeville Literary Festival and the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention. She often wonders if jasmines are really her favorite flowers. Follow her on Twitter: @jas_flow.

‘Out of the River’ by Bina Ruchi Perino

The intersection of Scripture and Ponder Street is lopsided, and heavy with history. Walking my dog on a warm January evening, I pass the apartments and houses, and time becomes a river that pulls me under. I am carried down the current into previous versions of myself.

At the intersection of Scripture and Ponder Street, it’s 2014 and August is broiling my
college town. I’m giddy, newly moved out, with excitement beaming on my face. All of the freshmen, including myself, are choosing our outfits every morning with the vision of being Somebody Else. I’m walking down Ponder Street with three boys who play guitar and talk about starting a band. We arrive at an apartment and I’m amazed at how I can’t remember where I am. Every moment is gilt-trimmed, a gleaming blur. The boys pull out a bong, an item I have never held in my own hands before. I inhale the thick smoke and pull it down into my lungs. I cough it back up, then stand up to follow them to the patio. They ask me how I feel and all I can say back is: “Everything is in H.D.” The mustard yellow walls of the house across the street glow in the daylight.

At the intersection of Scripture and Ponder Street, it’s 2015 and March is still gilded, but saturated in pollen. I’m feverish with allergies and the desire to begin my career as a writer. In my Introduction to Creative Writing course, I jot down poems dedicated to mental illness. The instructor tells us to imitate a poet. I choose Walt Whitman, replace Abraham Lincoln with Jamie Benn in O Captain! My Captain! My impressed instructor invites me out for coffee across the street. The whole time, my stomach is twisting with excitement and fear. He tells me his writing has been published in a variety of literary magazines. He offers to show them to me and invites me over to his home. Still eager and blinded by glistening newness, I walk with him down to the lopsided intersection. I see the magazines. His lips are on mine and I straddle him. Is this what academic mentorship looks like? The pale house echoes with my guilt and his betrayal.

At the intersection of Scripture and Ponder Street, it’s 2020 and January is quiet. So quiet, I can hear the wind shake the trees down both streets. I look away from the pale house. Sometimes I can’t make eye contact with it. Sometimes I can’t look away. I want to walk through the screen door, pace into the small kitchen, and stare back out from the window above the sink. I imagine his tall frame there, looking out. I imagine what it must be like to see his wife, knowing that he lured a student into their home. The yellow house sits there, demanding my attention. It whispers to me of things I have taught myself to ignore: joy, excitement, trust.

There’s a house between the two, a small grey thing. There was a time between a yellow August and a fevered March. I was a girl bursting with so much enthusiasm that I couldn’t sit still. I talked about dreams as if they were meals on my plate, as if I could eat every last bite. I laughed at the future, believing I had every part of myself mapped out perfectly on my concrete dorm walls. There was a time when time simply didn’t exist. The grey house is quiet like January, mourning something that hasn’t happened yet.

The boys in the apartment across from the yellow house have been replaced with new tenants. The creative writing instructor, his wife, and their young child vacated the small pale house once the couple earned their PhDs. The intersection is an ever-changing river. And even though these memories are stones I keep tripping over as I wade through the river, I’m picking up the ones that hurt. I launch them with a stronger arm.


Bina Ruchi Perino is an MFA candidate at Emerson College. Their work can be found in Rathalla Review, GASHER Journal, Euphony Journal, and elsewhere.

Jiksun Cheung

When The Landslide Passes Us By

Ambling like
Chinese prayer boxes
Brake, start, brake, start,
Red tail lights in procession
Under a rain-lashed sky, down
Detritus-clogged mountainside,
Along typhoon-swollen artery;
We approach the bottleneck:
An inconvenient, unwanted,
Unwelcome, unfortunately
Unavoidable
Collapsed earth.

Move along,
Move along,
Move along now—

Waves the man with the stick.
Unforeseen disruption, an act of god,
Force majeure framed
By the little glass pane, as we brake
Start, brake, start, brake;
The destruction passes us by,
And then my foot lingers on the narrow pedal a fraction too long for I have places to be and people to meet and a life to live and want not to think of putrid crumbling rock beneath the road.


Jiksun Cheung is a brand strategist and a postcard designer. He and his wife share their home in Hong Kong with two boisterous toddlers and enough playdough to last a lifetime. His work appears in SmokeLong Quarterly, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Daily Drunk, and others. His story “Cupola” was a finalist for the SmokeLong Quarterly 2020 Award for Flash Fiction. Find him at @JiksunCheung and jiksun.com.