Logan February

Honey Everywhere Even The Mask On My Face

                                           after Heather Christle


                                           for Arielle

We refined the whole earth so we could live here.
Polished the grass with foolish dancing. The sky
at night is painted in a different myth, some dirty
legend of oppression. Rumors in the honeycombs.

Cruel whispers in the field, a bird chirping on and on
about ugly terrors. Who is listening? What use is
a mirror when all behind us is past? Friend,
I brush your exquisite hair in the darkened now.

I sprinkle you with valuable oils. Are you happy?
You have to be happy. I’ve made you this dress,
I wove it out of dandelions. In a few more hours,
no time at all, the pink sun will filter down

and you will be the single wisp of bright fantasy.
We are surrounded by so much clear water.
Can you hear it? Morning will come, I will run
with you to the river and show you your lovely reflection.

Logan February is a Nigerian poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Washington Square Review, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl, Paperbag, Tinderbox, Raleigh Review, and more. He is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and his debut collection, Mannequin in the Nude (PANK Books, 2019) was a finalist for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He is the author of two chapbooks, and the Associate Director of Winter Tangerine’s Dovesong Labs. You can find him at loganfebruary.com.




Jacqui Germain

What is known as paranoia or maladjusted self-defense

There is never any warning.
To be honest, I tend to create
the history after the fact,

once the face is shattered,
the bridge full of tumors
and rotting wood. I discover

the long-oozing sore, the burning
path that might suggest
a long-standing infection,

evidence which here
means, I am not paranoid;
see, the line of ash and arson,

collapsed metaphors that
might tug the condemnation
free, if only—if only—

but it has always been
this way, without warning,
after the first—suddenly

recognizing no one and finding
the weapon in all of it.
I am so afraid I am

embarrassed, attacked vividly
somehow, by every expression
that even creases their lips

to say, I swear, what I know,
what I know they must
believe about me, must

see across the glass, the
worst remains, bloodless,
heartless, an old, aging monster

perhaps. I lick my nails
until they glisten, slicing
the light to ribbons, clawing

the faces, the memories,
the open curtains and
upholstery, shattered glass

between my knuckles. Once
home, after, I swear, I know
I have defended something—like

myself, perhaps—I coddle
the lonely, rich with isolation,
near gluttonous with it, an

excess of self-absorption probably, but still,
the walls, now six guillotines high,
just as precise and unforgiving,

circle my wet body, supremely naked
and de-skinned, stinging and
joyous, cringing against the cold

air like a newborn, or something
feral and suddenly so clean it does not
recognize itself, beneath

the moonlight, tiny dots
of blood forming slowly atop
the freshly raw casing,

that skittish layer of under-flesh
that peels its eyes open, stunned
and aware—but calm, finally.

We called it a ‘war’ because it was useful, or Alternate Names for Teargas

after Danez Smith

1. blossoming poison

2. forced abandon (before the handkerchiefs)

3. coward’s fire

4. what came without warning, at first

5. the only indictment for miles

6. what came after a warning, eventually

7. America’s presumed mercy—which of course dissipates in the wind, which of course is a choking gratitude in the void of massacre, which of course is our most humble foreign policy

8. nightly ghost brand

9. perfume of the streets

10. measured plague and almost certainly someone’s evidence of god

11. permissible burning

12. summer baptism at the curb’s alter, anointed before heaven & hell & everything in between

13. an extended metaphor

14. front line testimony & bastard badge

15. not water hoses (yet/anymore) at least—which is almost certainly a kind of progress,


          For Canfield

We were obnoxious lovers then.
Loud. Urgent. Seeping fists
through our sun-darkened skin.

A mass of questions marching
across the city, wailing against
the pavement and always returning,

prodigal-like, to the seed of the shattering.
This ravenous freedom, young, brave
and stubborn, so desperate to see itself

it presses everything into a mirror, warps
into a shrieking mouth when the glass breaks.
We loved you, loved you, loved you, lo-

ved you pressed against camera
screens, stoop niggas and gold teeth
strained through protest chants,

a child’s bicycle overturned
beneath our urgent, urgent feet.
The bowl of the neighborhood,

a temporary arena, displaced gladiator
stage where we bent our shoulders
towards the blood, thirsting for it,

drunk on any evidence that someone
like us was alive. That the face in the glass,
across the street, had a heartbeat, too. Once.

Jacqui Germain is a St. Louis poet and freelance journalist with work appearing or forthcoming in The Offing, Muzzle Magazine, Blueshift Journal, The New Inquiry, The Nation, Bettering American Poetry, and elsewhere. Her poetry often involves an excavation of history and memory, challenging linear assumptions of time, progress, power, and experience through an intimate lens. She is author of When the Ghosts Come Ashore, published in 2016 through Button Poetry, and has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Poetry Foundation’s Emerging Poets Incubator, Jack Jones Literary Arts, and the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. jacquigermain.com.




Caroline M. Mar

Stage 1: Cold Shock


There are an average of seven drownings per year in the lake, most due
to cold water shock, even among those who are capable swimmers. Or were
before the water folded them into itself:
                                                                           a pocket of failure, a slipped
                            seam of darkness out of the summer
                                                                                                       sun’s light.


My body in the summer heat, skin a prickling of sweat, the stick
of flesh to seat before I rise, look out over the edge, and dive.

My lungs seizing together inside my chest: a cavity curling inward.
The body, built for survival. The water still icy from snowmelt.

Difficulty holding your breath

It takes a certain force to move your limbs
               as you tread water. Remember to cup your hands,
like this. To kick just so, and steady.
               To keep your neck above the waves, to gulp air
like guilt, to hold it before you let it go.

Feeling of suffocation

I have felt this shock in my own body. The delicate line
between body and brain. The pain
of doing the thing that keeps you alive.

Italicized text from National Center for Cold Water Safety, “Cold Shock.”

Stage 1: Cold Shock
Threat No. 2: Heart and Blood Pressure Problems

Cold water immersion causes
an instantaneous and massive
increase in heart rate and blood pressure because
all the blood vessels in your skin
constrict in response to
sudden cooling, which is far more intense
in water than in air. In vulnerable
individuals, this greatly increases
the danger of heart

my body to shudder, to shock,
exuberance and joy,
there is racing doubt, possibility of failure, might explode, or might survive, might
the body? A live wire, electric, dangerous, it is
against the water’s conductivity, deeper
cells, the cold awakens something,
my certainty that my life has meaning.
silly heart, hopeful heart, busted heart, swim through

failure and stroke

Italicized text from National Center for Cold Water Safety, “Cold Shock.”

Stage 1: Cold Shock
Threat No. 3: Mental Problems

aquaphobia: fear of water, specifically of drowning
claustrophobia: fear of suffocation and restriction
hydrophobia: fear of water
               though the human body is 80% water  
ichthyophobia: fear of fish
               that time we ate lobster on a beach in Cuba and you laughed and laughed, delighted
               that your fear had subsided, you no longer believed
               it was swimming around inside you
xenophobia: fear of the unknown
chromophobia: fear of a color
              in this case, I suppose the color
              would be blue
achluophobia, or nyctophobia, or schotophobia, or lygophobia: fear of darkness
               most children have this, it is not abnormal
               to fear the loss of a sense, sight being
               one upon which we rely heavily to understand what is happening
               around us, just look
               how many names, though none
               are clinical
thanatophobia: fear of dying
phobophobia: fear of fear
              : fear of not being found
                             those rumors, again—
                             all those bodies
              : fear of being found
              : fear of being too late

Stage 2: Physical Incapacitation

When the waters rose, the forest stayed. What else can a forest do
but stand. There would be no fire inside the lake.

There would be no ground to tumble down. Just water rising,
cold and blue, the floods of the next era.

Sometimes the change comes over you like that all at once. A drowning.

Hundreds of coolies were tied together and weighed down
with rocks. Straw hats removed, queues tangled, thrown in to save

the cost of their pay. The historians say this is unlikely. Given
the railroad payrolls showing each Chinese contractor paid,

given how little Chinese labor cost, given the distance
from the Truckee railroad camp to the lake. Given

every other history I know:
chains, bodies of water, ghosts—

Sometimes a person isn’t a person at all, but a weight
to be freighted onto someone else’s shoulder.

Why not the silent lake? Why not a flood of furious bodies
fighting toward the coldest surface?

The forest stayed, and drowned.

Stage 3: Hypothermia

The lake is steel-shirred grey, a sheet of velvet,
soft-napped. Water barely stirring. The snow
is loud as an earthquake, house shaking

with dropped weight as the slide overcomes
the roofline. Winter’s thundering reminder:
some things cannot be stopped.

The snow is loud beneath the plow, its spray
an arc of meditation. The snow clings, a sticky sheet
to the sides of the sweating trees. This cannot last

forever. Snow melts into the lake, the icy rocks.
Winter: grey and grey and grey; crystalline
whiteness. The greydark water will not freeze,

the lake too deep. And what can survive
that kind of cold? Nothing, nothing, my mind’s
lie: the fish are fattening, swimming slow.

Yes, too, the snow is quiet. Muffling every sound
but the crunch of my footfalls following
the shape of your boot prints, as I follow you.

Stage 4: Circum-rescue Collapse

an erasure

Original text from National Center for Cold Water Safety, “Cold Shock,” found at www.coldwatersafety.org/ColdShock.html

Caroline Mei-Lin Mar is a high school teacher and poet. A San Francisco native, Carrie is doing her best to keep her gentrifying hometown queer and creative. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, an alumna of VONA Voices workshop, and a member of Rabble Collective. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, New England Review, Connotation Press, and CALYX, among others. You can follow here work here: http://www.rabblewriterscollective.com/caroline-m-mar.




Aeon Ginsberg

Against Brunch

Can I call myself a witch if my only rituals
revolve around a migraine I get roughly every
one PM on a Sunday? Brunch seeps through my skin,
maple syrup curses and hexes against dippy eggs,
brunch is a curse we have given ourselves when
we decided that breakfast could be called something different
when 9-to-5’ers aren’t 9-to-5’ing, and so maybe all
food service workers are in someway mystics for bearing
the burn of a decision hubris created.

Shed the layer of skin that is all coffee ground and honey stick,
my skin has never been softer than after the 9 hours behind
a la marzocco, and for this I’m conflicted, but no one needs
to call themselves fancy for drinking orange juice and Andre
(maybe this is Andre’s curse, something aggressive and full of headaches).

If working Brunch makes me a witch I do not want magic
in my world, I want dippy eggs at home, in bed, alone.
If being full of magic means spending that energy at work,
please fire me for my insolence, pyre this body against the flat top
grill, fry me over easy. If it isn’t too much, over medium.

Joan D’Arc, what kind of egg did they burn you at? Sunny side?
Were you poached in gods mouth? At least I have enough power to stop a spell
asking for poached witches with their toast for 7 dollars an egg.
There might not be much use for breakfast magic in anything but
denial, so I know I will deny away until my paycheck denies itself
into groceries or rent instead of a knife
slicing down the middle of me
in anticipation of something dippy.


the powerhouse of the cell.

a waitress goes viral bodyslamming a pervert – rejoice!
I want to body slam everyone who ever hurt me

but I am weak now so it is time to work on getting swole
until it’s possible to body the world.

Remember when milk was supposed to give you strong bones?
I stopped drinking dairy and now it just gives me strong gas

so maybe bodyslamming is off the table, but I could chokeslam
with my unfortunate bowels – rejoice to your distance: for being downwind(?) from me.

I used to be fit and even than I was better at running away
from my fears, then running into the flames of unforgiveness.

When I was young, I remember running from anything
that could bite into me, whichever way that would be.

One of the last memories I have of my brother is restraining him
from swinging fists at me and my mother.

He was a powerhouse of the cell, the cell being the family.
I need to get swole so I can do more than just run or restrain –

I need to not be afraid of my mortality so much that it overtakes.
But I am afraid. If they recorded it, my first autonomous feeling

would probably be fear. Fear of myself, of the world, of mankind.
Being alive is a shitty undertaking. I need to undertake getting swole.

Take the rug from under myself, I don’t get to decide that this world
is worth being strong enough to destroy me.

The Undertaker chokeslams Mankind through the top
of the cell in ‘98 – when I’m swole I’ll chokeslam mankind too

and through that will know if it’s worth it to live long enough
to die for a world destined to overpower you.


I can’t talk about gender without also talking about hunger / I salivate for neither and eclipse my body in androgyny / Bless the hot takes that say white androgyny isn’t the same as noncomformity / I need to know my body isn’t what I should run after / yet I run after it / I have been hungry for as long as I have been uncomfortable / with my monikers / with the sound of my name in your mouth / call me what you will / just don’t call me late to a dinner / I wouldn’t show up at to begin with / an unconscious strike against masculinity / women cook / men eat / and I wither / I can’t talk about being a trans feminine body without talking about the hunger I hide from / in the darkest parts of the water / catfish in the mud / me, a woman / me, a heart so slow / you could mistake it for your own / I’m ashamed I wasn’t born with a skeleton as delicate as my self-esteem / so I stale my bones / peanut brittle body / I can’t talk about my hunger without talking / about my gender / my moon and my sun / constant eclipse of wanting / I ask for progesterone to redistribute the fat in me / I redistribute my time to avoid meals until there is cleavage / the second I start thinking of my transition / as against something I cannot control / is the same second the penned my date of birth / it can be recorded once more when I tried on a dress in a friends dorm room / a sweet sixteen of bones / I drown in my saliva and a man I don’t know / calls me sweetheart / how I wish to hydrate off of my own blood / bite the tongue that feeds you / and I am tongueless / show me a way to avoid mirrors and I will / show me a way to avoid meals / and I will / and I have / I work 8 days a week and don’t give myself time to eat / and yet only my muscles wither / okay google “how to shrink your skeleton” / okay google “how long can you strike against hunger” / my gender is in solitary / until another queer calls me a babe / and I drink my way into desire / drink desire to fill myself / full house of liquids / must be a siren / must mermaid my body against a current / the moon is full against the sun / and I am blind to my exposed ribcage / curious that I’ve never lost my voice / but never known what song to sing to be ravenous for a meal / I can’t talk / about gender / or hunger / without reference to the absence I salivate for / my gender is a burning star / my hunger the rock that wanes in orbit around me / my body stands in solidarity against myself / I drink and it refuses to eat / I eat compliments about my body as they crest the jetty of my skin / so soft and without / fault / so when I talk about my gender / I talk about my hunger / my little titties and my fat belly / so empty and wanting / hiding behind every excuse / manmade levees / child of poverty / my stomach learned from my cabinets how to be so empty / my one excuse / I never learned to eat / so I swallow my saliva / I never learned how to be a woman / so I become a monster instead / all ribs / the hull of a ship I build with my bones / polish with my pills / use the fat I grow chemically to hold myself together / the tides are changing so I need to learn to float a full feminine body / I won’t make it to the bottom of the ocean / no matter how small I make myself


¹“If the state is taken as an actant then there
is little need to decide whether it is an actual
 “person” or not . . .”
–Stefanie R. Fishel, The
Microbial State:   Global Thriving and The
Body Politic

Starting     a    habit    takes    a
reminder,   a   routine,   and   a
reward. I  don’t  want  to   keep 
waking  up  if  it  means  I’ll  be
reminded that  life is a  routine
where the  imbalance of  power
rewards those  that  strip away
everything  from  the  people  I

Aeon Ginsberg (they/them) is a writer and performer from Baltimore City, MD. They are the author of two chapbooks: Until The Cows Come Home (Elation Press, 2016) and Loathe/Love/Lathe (Nostrovia! Press, 2017). Aeon is a Taurus, a barista, a bartender, and a bitch.




Yongyu Chen

Call Me

Yongyu Chen studies Comparative Literature at Cornell University, where he helps edit the Cornell undergraduate poetry review Marginalia. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, DIAGRAM, jubilat, Indiana Review, and Sonora Review, among others. He is from Beijing and grew up in Knoxville, TN.




Janelle Tan


                                                                                                         you start to collect what people say to you.

your mother:
is it permanent?

             as you lie on an ottoman,
              hair arranged like a chinese fan

                          you wonder if she understands that hair, like the forest floor
                           regenerates itself.

                                       being a bleached blonde is temporarily
                                       permanent, like a clipping tucked in soil:

                                                    every day it inches towards regrowth, invisible at first.

your mother, two months later, as you board the flight to see her:
are you back to black?

             your brother echoes the same question.

                          you picture them chopsticks in hand, picking up strands
                           of steamed kangkong and deliberating if you are sufficiently chinese
                          to be seen with the family

your spanish (one-time) boyfriend:
you will always look more natural with black hair.

him, while lying in bed after eating curry:
you’re asian, remember that.

                          as if to squash you
                          back into a mooncake mold.

your vietnamese-american hairstylist:
do you notice increased attention from men?

                          as if the most essential part of a salted egg yolk
                          is not its flavor but its yellow.
                          as if black hair means rice paddy.
                          as if whiteness is a country manor with acres
                          of hedge mazes and i am kissing the iron gates,
                          pleading with outstretched arms.
                          as if my most natural habitat is a landscape
                          wiped off a ming vase.

                          as if i need the colonial tongue to wag at me:                       
                          don’t try to be white.

waitresses at chinese restaurants:
you speak chinese? i thought you were korean

waitresses at korean fried chicken places:
you’re not american?

where are you from in california?

                                                                            ethnicity is elastic
                                                                            until it snaps.

            after the third bottle of peroxide you are the beginning of a joke.

man on the street:
a blonde asian wearing an ac/dc shirt walked into a bar

                          you start to wonder what futures can be derived
                          from peering at the sediment inside a bleach bottles –

                                                                 or if you are less chinese with all your pigment stripped.

Love Song For My Eyelids

my father’s cleaver falls like a bomb
and bone makes itself subservient, comes away
jagged like a beer bottle smashed on a railing.

            i have spent years saving up for someone to slice
            my eyelids, stitch skin to skin,
            create a crease.

standard pork belly is fifteen percent fat.
fatty varieties average thirty. my eyelids:
whatever percent, they cannot lift themselves.

            my eyelids are a tubby boy sleepily waiting
           for his mother. my eyelids try to slap themselves
           awake but droop their heavy heads.

until the gunshot of my father’s cleaver renders
every blink a beg. he hangs a cutlet,
red flesh, skin drooping in his window.

            sagging eyelids are the penance paid
            by a butcher’s daughter, for every
            pert and round thing dismembered in their place.

Janelle Tan was born in Singapore and lives in New York City. Her work appears in Arc Poetry Magazine, Bone Bouquet, and Stoneboat. She is the recipient of a 2018 Academy of American Poets Prize, and is currently an MFA candidate at New York University. janelle-tan.com.




Mia Ayumi Malhotra

from A Death Diary: Day 10

I don’t know if there is a word for what I am writing: a death diary?

For years, you kept a record of each day: visitors, medications. Notable events.

Your caregiver’s name, the one with the red coat and yellow buttons. After dinner, she laid a hand on your shoulder, though you did not wish to be touched.

How sad it is that even this last memento of the dead should vanish.[1]

Your last entry was two weeks ago.

I did not know I was to continue your work in this way.

Saturday, the day of your last entry. Wednesday, the day you died.

Why do people keep diaries? Prisoners, explorers, regents—of course. But there are so many others, nobly addressing the entire future.[2]

In death, I can speak to you as I could not in life.

In death, perhaps you hear me as you did not in life.

Typing the words, The day you died, I have the feeling of someone watching over my shoulder. You are both here and not here.

Nothing is sadder than the time after a death.[3]

Sunday, you woke coughing, lungs filled with fluid.

Monday, you refused morphine, insisted you would not die.

Tuesday, you did not speak at all.

When I said goodbye, I did not know it would be the last time, though I felt it was possible.

There were sandwiches for lunch. In the kitchen, dozens of plastic vials, tagged with name and medical number.

They stopped giving you eye drops.

To write a diary is to make a series of choices about what to omit, what to forget.[4]

Afterward, I touched your cheek, which felt very cold but still very much a cheek. How my mother’s skin feels—soft and strangely intimate.

Though a cheek is not a particularly intimate part of the body.

Although to touch it is a different matter. Or to kiss it, which I did.

Paper cups and mouth swabs dispersed throughout the house, objects whose functions had ended with the same finality as your body.

It is sad to think that a man’s familiar possessions, indifferent to his death, should remain unaltered long after he is gone.[5]

Left in a pile on the washing machine: the flannel shirt you wore the day before your death. A cotton nightgown.

This is an account that has already ended. It is Day 10 after your death.

To write this diary, chronicling the days after your death, is to write past the end, into the silence that follows the final statement.

And so I write into the beyond—for me, a new kind of blindness.

The body is interred in some lonely mountain and visited only at the required times. Before long, the grave marker is covered with moss and buried in fallen leaves. The evening storms and the night moon become the only regular mourners.[6]

Is it possible for the dead to keep a pillow book?

Do I lack imagination, a Japanese woman poet writing in the style of Sei Shonagon?

Maybe I should write a novel. Dense, literary realism with a sweeping, masculine plot.

But instead, these airy, ethereal musings. My interest in ephemera. Today’s thoughts, which pass over the face like regret.

A new question: are you now a ghost?

What is the different between a ghost and an ancestor?

We do not by any means forgot the dead, even after months and years go by, but, as they say, “the departed one grows more distant each day.”[7]

I am adrift in the openness of this new time—there appears no beginning nor end.

[1] Kenko, “30,” Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko, trans. Donald Keene (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), 31.

[2] Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2015), 7.

[3] Kenko, 31.

[4] Manguso, 6.

[5] Kenko, 30.

[6] Kenko, 30-31.

[7] Kenko, 30.

Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Isako Isako, winner of the 2017 Alice James Award. She received her MFA from the University of Washington and is a Kundiman and VONA/Voices Fellow. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Yale Review, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Read more at: miamalhotra.com.




syan jay

(Blood) Quantum Mechanics

:: the fundamental theory that describes
             nature at the smallest scale of energy

             from atomic and subatomic ndns ::

have you ever seen how the sun clears
             a saguaro? a billion phosphorous petals

ruptured on the spines of its fruit,

coming to bubble like diabetes-pricked fingers.
             my uncle told me that no one appreciates
ndn science—they could never know how
an auntie beads algorithms and protein structures
                          with just the
             right shades of blue and yellow.

these are original tricksters
bound to knowledge, without
needing words, to know what has been cannibalized
by colonial teeth.

how can you
measure genocide? by carnage, weak tongues,
             or fealty to blood laws?

could i know an elder who comforts this body
without gender but full of violence measured
                          against it?

                          [the uncertainty principle states
             that both the position and the momentum
of the free particle ndn

cannot be measured with complete white

i learn to paint my face with patience
while my mind watches light refracting
between the window and a man’s eyes, belonging

to the hand who holds a depressor
             on my tongue, spreading papillae
                          like the legs he will attempt to explore later,

                          as he asks me if my family has a
             history of alcoholism? and did i
read about what is happening at Standing Rock?
             but is not interested in what i say,
                          until two days later:

             i crawl into the emergency room,
kidneys beginning to fail.
             the nurse asks why i didn’t come in earlier?
                          how did i even manage to get there?

             how do you explain that your dna
is fortified by braids of anguish? that after so much
             time and attempted assassinations,
                          even the smallest [subatomic] ndn
             knows every wound and how to survive it?

Loanword for a Body

the satellites above, in metal bondage, are trans-                                                                    mitting
             information to thankless people
             whose hands flicker each other’s holes,
             as the moon swallows the shadow of its former
the prairie, where I was born, was once trans-                                                                           sected
             by a pink sun, split open in the sky
             from my mother’s singing
             & my throat echoing her in cries
when Creator made me, they were trans-                                                                                   lating
             not-girls & not-boys into whole people
             w/ knees inventing new words as they opened & closed
             & when asked for my name, silent I’s dripped from my lap
on the day I return to the crows, my body trans-                                                                  gendered
             ceremony w/ yellow ochre swept on unzipped skin,
             my two young sisters will sing & cut apples
             to feed the feathered & femme pallbearers,

             who during my wake
              will feast & hold me as their own
              before letting the river silt
              know the true name of this body.

My safeword is restless

We have an apartment with a small patio
& we can hear every inch of rosemary
grow from the herb garden. We watch
cottontails scamper down the cement wall
separating us from “colonial”-style homes.
We stop making jokes about the houses.
We grow tired of ruminating on the same scab.
We know the past is preserved in error here.
We have no children & I start making tea
to make my body feel useful during the long
afternoons where even the breeze cannot fill
such absences. It is early summer & sweat
collects at the back of our knees. We explore
the salt of each other. I share with your mouth
& its wounds. We fuck carelessly, leaning on
the window, afternoon sun nesting on our heads.
We run our fingers through each other’s hair,
scalps warmed, & what we feel takes the place
of want. Do you think there is a universe where
instead of rosemary, the garden grows white roses,
& the cottontails turn into salesmen for vacuums?
Could we learn how to hold onto that life too?
The version where we make comfort from what
we are given? & the one where our want died
& was replanted in the soil? & the one where even if
we try to coax it out, our want feels no need to bloom?

syan jay is an agender, Dzil Łigai Si’an N’dee (White Mountain Apache) cyberbrat who lives in invaded Nipmuc/Massachusett/Wampanoag land. They are the winner of the 2018 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize by PRISM International. Their work has been featured in wildness, Barrelhouse, Glass Poetry, Palette Poetry, and more. Their debut poetry collection Bury Me in Thunder is forthcoming with Sundress Publications. You can find more of their publication history and additional information at syanjay.com, or on Twitter @mxsyanjay.




E. Kristin Anderson

Hands Open for a Ricochet

                                          (a golden shovel after Kesha)

My breath comes cold, a sort of invitation—the light’s been
waning thin like the iron in my blood. You’ve underestimated
the ink stains on my tongue—now the gap in my teeth is my

personal vortex of filth. I’ll sway the sinister with this entire
mouth filled with flickering candles and salt sparkling to life,
just letting go of secrets, my hair laced with truth. Tonight I

believe in satin and stereo and, from the windows, I know
vitriol—and I ask it to dance. This city is a place for people
who would rather be birds; I hide the feathers. I’m gonna

spin in the stars if the blood lets me, a ghost coming to talk
trash at the threshold and on the street. I’m breaking the shit
you left on the high shelf—glass turns to bees. Look up and

taste the ending now on my lips to live and to burn. Darling,
I’m the root of the apple and the heart of magnolia—that’s
how I’ll bend and break to sting you and how I’ll still be fine.

Girl Is a Fever to Burn the Brick

                                          (a golden shovel after Kesha)

I can’t wait another day to turn the lights on. Using my mouth I
tear myself from this page at dusk. The body knows—it’s been

my flannel and silk to sink into the savory, to hold onto bad living
and more crows tapping at the window. The oak presents itself in

splinters, slides into my skin. I drink myself like a rich red tea, a
warm reminder of the ash and the vein. Seeds are the lonesome

chords striking my vertebrae, the overripe fruit of an entire galaxy
come to die beautiful in garbage. When I wake I am nothing but

little orange bottles. And I am the dirt and the gravel the roses in
my teeth the yarrow down my arms the stiff feathers set to let my

fingers loose to touch the rough bark of the world. These are my dreams
floating in water. No, drowning. No, walking in waves, foaming breath. I

wash my hands in a puddle of apple blossoms, crush the flowers, see
that tired coyote, her teeth out. I take your cooling embers, put them

behind my lips, wear them like diamonds. I’m here and I come
to claim the magic of paper and silver, the mystery of heart and

snake. I let the lace touch my knees and step outside to rescue
myself from the duality of virtue, a human touch to haunt me.

E. Kristin Anderson is an author, poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast who formerly made magazines with The New Yorker and read submissions for Found Poetry Review. Currently she’s an assistant editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant for Sugared Water. She is the editor of the literary anthologies Come As You Are (Anomalous Press) and Hysteria (Sable Books, forthcoming), and is the author of nine chapbooks including Pray Pray Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night, A Guide for the Practical Abductee, Fire in the Sky, 17 seventeen XVII, and Behind All You’ve Got (forthcoming). Kristin grew up in Maine and has a B.A. in Classics from Connecticut College and currently lives in sunny Austin, Texas.




Xandria Phillips


I half-wake in sudor, queer vernacular forgotten in the sinew of sleep.
Wetted by a man whose saunter turns

                                                                            my breed diaphanous,

I fasten myself to his shared anatomies while he ascribes me
to the shades of children we’d make.

                                                                            Sex, my choice

harness for affection, I falter before unreining curiosity.
Trans time and space,

                                                                            I follow the russet roads inside

myself, Accra lanced into my neural system still. My intra-continent sweats
through shirts, and drinks stout,

                                                                            though it tastes of displacement.

I still have a penchant for what misconstrued me, to live among kin in exclusion.
Awake, I don’t conflate touch with knowledge,

                                                                            so my projected selves approach

the helm as nimbus parts me. Their mission is simple.
I buck their tether

                                                                            They tighten its hold.

Never have i ever

            dated a Black person – my father, 2019

never knowing
            the sun’s blue genus

lipped along the back
as the light of a new day

            presses infinitesimal color
into the both of you

there is for me no other
way to tether love

between this vessel
            and the luminous spools

I cast against my ocean’s skin
at the hull of me latent lyrics

            at the helm an onyx compass
-wielding child

villageless in all their wanting

Xandria Phillips is a is a poet, educator, visual artist, and the author of the chapbook Reasons For Smoking, which won the 2016 Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. Xandria’s debut poetry collection, HULL will be published this fall through Nightboat Books. They are the poetry editor at Honeysuckle Press and the curator of Love Letters to Spooks, a literary space for Black people. Their poetry is featured and forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere.