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.

Peach Delphine

Naming is not Ownership

My mother will never
call me daughter, dead name
stitched to living flesh,
there never was a father,
just an accident report,
black and white photograph

Sky scoured cloudless
wind uncoils, loping across waves
with long strides of a bobcat
anxious for shade in the tangle
of fox vines dropped
from cabbage palms and oak

We share shadow
absence stalks our days,
as dry season shifts to wet
cumulus proofs over inland heat,
footprints, no longer visible, trail
away into scrub, sand and palmetto

Sea assembles waves
beyond arc of horizon,
Moon pulls tide
into the embrace of mangrove,
our feet sink into sand and shell,
small birds sort wrack line

This form is water made word
this form is flesh made wave,
ghost made smoke, a burning
banked up in ash, left for the morrow

Balancing contradiction
easier burden than what you dead name
which is already gone, what you name dead,
so much ash taking shape as absence,
when you press your ear
to the shell it is not the sea
but your own emptiness coiling into conch

The question, loaded on a scow
of burdens, makes port,
“When did you know?”
As if knowing could be uttered
over whetstone, slurring its song
as if knowing was a certainty,
a passport through shadow
and streetlamp, not another false moon
moths circle to exhaustion,
not another blade of hibiscus flowering

Anclote

We have an old dog
with a bad leg,
we have a book of scars,
and a bucket of knives,
an iron pot polished to reflection.
Moon did not plant these palms
unfolding fans of a skyward urge,
there is no one to pray over us
we have empty hands
with only words of weather,
shelf clouds,
frontal boundaries,
tropical systems,
where the scaled bodies of moonlight and tide
conceal themselves
in the shoals and reefs
of our eyes.
We have reflections
of fragmentation
and a long row to windward.
We have two baskets
of laundry and an overripe
mango for the little possum
in the cabbage palm.
We have woodstorks
bald and contemplative
of wind or the small brown anoles.
We have peanuts boiling,
one quart of chowchow
and four quarts of pickled jalapeños.
We have abandoned
the pretense that we are not expendable, that we are not already
in the hangman’s pocket.
We have candles
and a hatchet, a flat iron skiff
and a tarp.
We have a vow, an oath,
a talisman of a small owl,
carved of lignum vitae,
we have the word
of absence ,
we have become smoke,
rum
poured into the glass,
a kedge
fouled in coral


Peach Delphine was born in Tampa, Florida. Worked as a cook. Infatuated with undeveloped Gulf coast. Twitter@Peach Delphine

Taofeek Ayeyemi

supplication

a ma fabebe i beyin, a ma fabebe
kotan kotan, sa laja n lami
a ma fabebe i beyin o

a mother holds her boy’s body like
a blurred monochrome picture
her tears roll into his eyes as if
to say a fuel is searching for fire

they say his mother stumbled
upon a block with her mouth
that her tongue the sharpness
of fang pierces the elders’ body

& its blood flow into her son’s
future. blocks his way like a flood
we talk of the future as if it’s eternal
but it’s the hand of mousetrap

the hand of arrow, the steps of ram
the movement of things moving back
to later be flung far forward into
space, into unseen, into the future

he who closes his eyes & throw
a stone should be hit on the head
his snail’s mouth that curses
should be made to genuflect

a ma fabebe i beyin, a ma fabebe
kotan kotan, sa laja n lami
a ma fabebe i beyin o

but when man lost his brand new
beginning, it doesn’t mean he has
lost a brand new ending. the sun
up there can still dry his wet linen

let the sunlight slips into his
cold room and warm him into
life. let the fire he didn’t kindle
not eat him up. not eat him up

mother of a child is his succour
children of orunmila are salvaged
by the horse-tailed anther
i raise my tongue in supplication

we have come in prostration:
we beg with this hand fan, we beg
finish! finish! is how dog licks water
we beg you with this hand fan

we wave this handfan & blow
coolness into your hot eyes
we hold our palms before you
let his world be the white of dove

a ma fabebe i beyin, a ma fabebe
kotan kotan, sa laja n lami
a ma fabebe i beyin o


Taofeek Ayeyemi (fondly called Aswagaawy) is a Nigerian lawyer and writer. His works have appeared or forthcoming in Lucent Dreaming, Ethel-zine, The Pangolin Review, The Banyan Review, the QuillS, Modern Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, contemporary haibun online and elsewhere. He won Honorable Mention Prize in 2020 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, 2019 Morioka International Haiku Contest and 2nd Prize in 2016 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Prize.

Natasha King

Paper Birds for Paper Girls

She was the girl with her sleeves full of papers
and she grew up to be the woman with sleeves full of birds.
She shook out her sleeve and it was
a grocery bill, a folded crane, a thrush at twilight.
she grew up to be my mother, my daughter, me.

My mother shook all the birds of her heart out from
under her wrists and threw them at me.
Crucified under paper beaks, I breathed her mother's last.
I moved from city to city and my sleeves were crinkly with
boarding passes, ticket stubs, post-it notes. Safe.
Innumerable lineages of paper women
creased my paper brow with their kisses. Safe.

My mother is an albatross riding a high easterly wind.
My daughter is a dream riding safe in the veins of a pine tree somewhere.
We are a crumpled cocktail napkin full of stains
and cell numbers and sorrows, an index
card with the most important words immortalized,
a whole family of ducks and swans and stooping herons,
paper and flesh, so lost and so found.


Natasha King‘s poetry has appeared in Constellate MagazineOyster River PagesOkay DonkeyGhost City Review, and others. She lives in North Carolina, where she spends her spare time writing, prowling, and thinking about the ocean. She can be found on Twitter as @pelagic_natasha.

‘Dreamsicle’ by Taylor Wyna

This late in the summer there’s a permanent river of orange syrup dripping down my tiny palm—and on Saturdays we turn the garden hose into a make-believe water park. My sister and I steal the splashes aimed for Azalea bushes and our great grandmother’s white peonies.

Dad is sitting in an old lawn chair—he’s the only person I know that can bite into a popsicle without convulsing. When we’re outside he plays mother hen—switching his gaze between us and the stop sign in front of the house. It’s the stop sign he had the city install—the stop sign that hardly anyone actually stops at. Too many times my sister has untangled herself from my parents grasp and run out into the street. Now, like clockwork, we watch our father straighten in his chair as the sound of tires and engines quake from up the hill. All three of us watch as cars roll through the invisible line—then the two of us watch as Dad jumps up. He barks at them—waving the Dreamsicle in his hand like a homemade traffic light.

He stays there until their tail lights disappear and the last bite of his treat is gone. My tongue takes another lap of orange sweetness as Dad turns to see our soaked bodies paused beneath the hose. Even the chill of water can’t keep the popsicle sticks from drooling uncontrollably down our fingers. “Don’t tell your mother we had these,” Dad says, tossing the sticks in the bin. I nod, turning back towards the garage door. Standing there I can hear the quiet sizzle of the kitchen coming to life. She’ll uncover our secret as soon as the three of us greet her with cool sticky kisses that taste like midsummer dreams.


Taylor Wyna is a writer from Birmingham, Alabama whose work has been featured in Aura Literary Arts Review, Reckon Women, and The Daily Drunk. She is the Founder and EIC of Camellias, a Southern Regional magazine dedicated to the modern Southern woman. Say ‘hi’ on Twitter @TayyWyna

Carl Watts

Toledo War

Michigan and Ohio
deployed militias
on opposite sides
of their deployed militias

rifles jamming together
along the Maumee River
bandshell near Toledo
along the Maumee River;

besides mutual taunting,
both sides mutually taunting,
there was little interaction between forces:

squeak of sneaker,
rustling bush, seeming
silence, lack of leader,
squeak of sneaker.

The one military confrontation of the "war"
ended with a report: shots fired into air,
fur, shirts, flares—reports declared—

every three incurring no casualties.


Carl Watts holds a PhD in English from Queen’s University. He teaches at Huazhong
University of Science and Technology, in Wuhan, but due to COVID-19 currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario. He has published two poetry chapbooks, Reissue (Frog Hollow, 2016) and Originals (Anstruther, 2020), as well as a short monograph, Oblique Identity: Form and Whiteness in Recent Canadian Poetry (Frog Hollow, 2019).