Hari Alluri

Cordage: itinerary



[follows a deer the way a breeze walks
behind an unsuspecting deer] 1


[takes aim]2


[retrieves the guts, a fire
on the edges of her favourite time]3


[dances for and like her meal]4


[sets up her bedding, thanks the night
for keeping itself dry]
[is awakened by stars peaking behind
brighter stars]5


[ finds the rhythm of this specific cord]6


[names the string a name like perfect aim]7


[notices Ekalavya, between whittling
arrows, finger his worn
string with song]8


[considers whether to smuggle the string
onto the statue’s lap or onto the next of
his arrows gone astray. Whether to walk
up to him with the string in hand or
return back to her day] 9


























1       This arrowhead 
          to the rock
          my first ancenstral
          mother struck.

2       The strands of my hair 
          the arrowhead
          now dangles
          from as amulet.

3        My lean to my mother’s lean
          before I was conceived.
          The part of the tree I lean with
          to the parts I cannot reach.

4        My elbow bend, the scar 
          it carresses, my swishing swishing
          hips. The bracelets made of wind
          I wrap around my wrists.

5        My yearning
          into this one long sash 
          two can lay on close: 
         climbing from knee: over-
          flowing shoulder: back to waist.
          The sash’s fold like a lover’s ear
          at the tickle in my neck.

6       This deer gut string I sing
          toward its own
          accumulated chorus.

7       The impression my teeth bite into this loop.

8       When strung, the bracing
          required, drawn over the hook,
          a contract: tree to animal,
          like breath. The need to stay
          attached, the need to flee.
          The muscles built to curl
          protection around a fawn.

9       The torque at bow. And arrowhead
          at contact point
          where flying ends. The hesitation
          transfer, automatic, core to cord to cord.


Photographer: Erik Haensel

Hari Alluri is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya Press, 2017), Carving Ashes (CiCAC/Thompson Rivers Press, 2013), and the chapbook The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel Press, 2016). A co-founding editor at Locked Horn Press with fellowships from VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas, his current projects are supported by grants from the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Hari’s work appears in the most recent Poetry In Voice anthology, as well as in The Capilano Review, Counterclock, The Margins, Massachusetts Review, Ovenbird, POETRY, and Wildness, among others.




Jacq Greyja

Untitled 1-5

i am twenty-six. 
i have not bled in two years.

do i accrue interest? 
very well then i accrue interest
(i am sweat 
equity, i am
sunk cost fallacy)

a prolonged inability to hold (others): 
unable to hold (physically) (others): 
unable to (say i cannot) hold:
(to others) i cannot hold:

devastate: to preamble
devastate: to carry a fire which, according to witnesses, has already been “put out”
devastate: to weave blood with the skin of one’s fingers
devastate: to be on the point of devastation
devastate: to be at least or minimally impacted
devastate: to declare insufficient proof
devastate: to possess the body-miracle,  “I can’t keep living like this”
devastate: to strum high and once, “I don’t want to live anymore”
devastate: to unname a flood
devastate: to quiet an empty room 
devastate: to exercise one’s domestic right to
devastate: to return

i apologize to all 
the orchestras, i 
cannot be held in 
the suspense of 
others, so little 
demands so 
much, narrate the 
day something like 
how i’ve seen it: 
now / now / now / 
now /wait / now  /
now / now / 

disarmed & 
with savory 
i annihilate 
my future 

the fumes 

i don’t want 
to find another 


Jacq Greyja is the author of the poetry chapbook Greater Grave (The Operating System, 2018). Their poetry has appeared in Bettering American Poetry, Columbia Poetry Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Apogee, Hold: A Journal, Dream Pop Journal, Peach Mag, and elsewhere. Their poetry and collage pieces have exhibited at The Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive and Bushel Collective. Jacq is a William Dickey Poetry Fellow and current MFA candidate in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. They live and work in Berkeley. More about Jacq can be found at greyja.com.




Gabrielle Spear

Anne Teaches Me About Desire

The first time I read Anne’s diary is the first time I meet myself.
If only I could have a girlfriend! she writes,  
daring to place an exclamation mark after the sentence,
daring to write the sentence at all,
and it’s as if I’m writing in my own diary, admitting
the words I am too afraid to put down on paper,
lest they be read by the whole world one day.
The first time I read Anne’s diary is also the last time
I ever name this desire in myself for, soon after,
I hear my mom and her friend
speak in a concerned tone about Anne
—specifically the things she wants to do with boys
and girls with her body; soon after, I am made
fun of by the boys in my 6th grade class for loving
a book about a “lesbian,” and I’m not sure
what that word means, but I know what it sounds like,
so I turn my obsession to the Holocaust, no less strange,
I realize now. Alone in my room, I spend hours studying
our contours: our frizzy hair, our nose, our eyes,
tilting my head the way she tilts her head when she smiles.
You see: I’m falling in love with myself through Anne.
I will spend my life studying the history of erasure
omitting my revelation the way her father did
—the way my father will do for me—
in a feverish attempt
to hide my own history. 


Aubade After the Resurrection

In Nyamata and Ntarama, churches 
left intact as tombs: banquets
of blood swollen from witness,
rosaries rubbed raw from terror,
ID cards seared as scripture,
sticks the size of my body
used to mutilate the mothers,
matted, soiled clothes
on pews await
one last homily.

Through grenade-studded doors laughter
from school children reverberates
off walls stained with their relatives.

By the altar splayed with machetes,
the stone eyes of a poor village girl
once forced to bear a savior.

In the crypts, kidnapped earth
stares back and I am filled
with the desire to touch
their faces. So infinite.
Thousands of years away,
the crucified carpenter holds
out his nail-shaped palms
to his doubtful friend:
Reach here and touch
the reality of my being.

The thing about genocide is
even when there is proof
it is still impossible
to believe.



For this story to make sense, you must understand we thought we were being told the truth. You know this fable as well as I do: white men gather the people they displaced for a feast and call the feast, gratitude. The white man who sold this origin story declares slavery gone and, like magic, all is forgiven and he is the hero. The mapmaker’s logic is no different here: All roads lead to the road that was erased. Of course we believed them when they told us the only proof we needed were the bodies at our feet. Who were we to challenge the dead? You must understand the dead make death look so easy. I’ll admit, I was jealous of their stillness. So much so I didn’t know if I would ever learn to speak of the living again. It doesn’t take much to mistake battle cries for reconciliation. The bread and wine in your hands for the Son of God. There is a word in these hills for people like me: abasazi. The foolish. Those who speak out because they have lost their minds and have nothing else to lose. You see, in the Land of a Thousand Hills, even farting during the king’s coronation can sound like a rebellion song.


Catholic Girl attempts to escape 
Catholic Guilt by losing
her virginity in her Lord 
and Savior’s Homeland, 
believing this will cure 
a decade of repression
only to find lustful 
over injera,
stripping naked, 
and fucking
(a generous term) 
in a conference room
dedicated to peace,
that is, maintaining
the status quo,
brings no reprieve 
—or, why else
would she write 
this poem
as penance.



make me an instrument of rebellions.
where there is hatred, a birthday party where all my friends are friends with each other.
where there is injury, a wedding with motown’s greatest hits and whitney houston on repeat.
where there is doubt, makeout sessions upon makeout sessions upon makeout sessions.
where there is despair, a lifetime supply of cheese and ice cream that doesn’t give me the shits.
where there is darkness, a shadow cast rendition of les miserables starring my family. 
where there is sadness, every cherry blossom catching golden-hour selfie light.  
grant that i might receive as much head as i give.
grant that i may not seek to be so presumptuous as to think i’ll always get laid. 
grant that in dying we are born, not to another checkpoint or prison,
but a heaven with a group text that never feels overwhelming,
a netflix that never asks us if we want to keep watching,
every land finally a holy land, every body finally a birthright.


Gabrielle Spear is a poet and educator living in New York City and raised in Northwest Arkansas. She has received support from Goucher College’s Kratz Summer Writing Fellowship, Brooklyn Poets, and Catapult. In 2017, she was named a finalist in LUMINA’s Borders and Boundaries Nonfiction Contest judged by Leslie Jamison. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in fields, Sonora Review, Matador Review, Glassand other publications. You can follow her on Twitter @gabsters93 and on Instagram @verycuteasparagus.




María Lysandra Hernández


having two or more languages is a       cock       fight, beaks       snap ping       at       each       other’s
necks for the domain                   and trained       only for that     they only want to see              blood
and feathers, whether that means           life        or        death,              no ifs, ands, or buts; tampoco
quieren                 dudas,                 quejas                 o         peros–              pero…when   people  ask   me
what language i think in, i tell them    i                            think                 in                           dreams,

with no policing of language                     or fear of white canons amputating our limbs that grasp,
uphold, embrace, and carry our families and countries           limitations conclude our           selves.
we seldom speak in fear of our tongues being corralled          and caged.        see,       my        mother
always told me to     ar     ti     cu     late     my words when i spic out my mind
                                                                                                                                                           that the gringo
teachers won’t like if i’m late to enter discussions about        me.        the first professor to diagnose
my speech problems was         yt         they diagnosed me with             Too-Many-Words,

from different sources              fighting for conquest of my     brain and tongue            remember      to
cite sources in MLA!
  she told me          the amalgamation of languages was a                f o u n t a i n
not  of youth,   but of proof of   my country’s   resilience.   if only my grade school teachers were the
same way, instead of enforcing                     inglés                     and                     Spanish.         i         could
barely banish one language when one whispered in my ear the answer to a question,                 or
when the other mumbled poetry that insisted to be spit              out.               outside           of          my
country, people only ask for my           first         and          last name            but how will they know

                                                                                                                                        i     carry     my     mother’s
with me wherever i go? i also inherited her universal language of laughter and dance           her
kindness          her poise         her  habit   of   getting   so   enraged,   when   anger   bubbles   to   brim,
neither she nor I can identify whose mother to shit on,               what r’s an s’s to scrimp and save,
what other way than to summarize a hurracounous rage with a savory and all-encompassing
           puñeta                 i not only mutter                carajo                     or                     hijoeputa,           but
yell out


noun. (plural: inconceivable)

the act of being on the loose, a tightening of the noose, being unchained
              and lacking every possible possession except for a ripped Bible
              that’s bloodstained and muddles passages like Exodus 6:6;

synonymous to unaffiliated, poverty-stricken, unlucky, inconceivable;
              see Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela
                            See, L’Ouverture’s version of liberation only gave his
              people a quavering economy;

                            Communism doesn’t birth liberation in the crib of an uncivilized
              country, but rather spawns chaos.

related to those-countries-that-were-ungrateful-of-the-Crown and
              those-who-read-Marx; see Guevara, Che.

antonym to hegemony, capitalist, unified, civilized, etc.

too expensive, unattainable, we’ll become Cuba! communism will run rampant, do you really
want that happening to you?


María Lysandra Hernández is a BA Writing, Literature and Publishing student with a minor in Global and Post-Colonial Studies at Emerson College. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is currently the Head of Writing at Raíz Magazine (@raizmagazine on Instagram), Emerson College’s only bilingual and Latinx-run publication. Her work has been published in Raíz Magazine and she can be found on Instagram at @marialysandrahern.




Turandot Shayegan


you are woman in your full frontal
rearrange me stranger, so that i am un-deceased                 and i can snap your little        blue
body between my thighs and mold your        beet-flesh into my child’s                   navel.
you were         too many whores for the apocalyptic. it is to be risen.

palate-eater,               why do you                  dare chew the meat of my                  mouth you are
too much inside of my stricken, i       am unpinned. i wish i could               peel back the sleeve of
your womb.                                                                 and be one with your crevices

you are a type of persimmon             so irrefutably orange it would be for dionysus a pound of
cathedral if you broke like the green brand of rasputin in my paper capsule for fringe swallows in
your air from my spine pocket

there is unlikely but it is too many for restoration.

i am for neanderthal a clean-maggot. it seeks my skin paper and un-lulls. that is a creationist in
escrow. i am unwound.


Turandot Shayegan is a student from Los Angeles, California. She was recently named a 2019-2020 finalist for the LA Youth Poet Laureate. Her poems seek to deconstruct and disrupt traditional notions of grammar and syntax, exposing the raw materiality of language as a form of new expression. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in filling Station and Drunk Monkeys, amongst others.




Juliette Givhan


I have a joke for you
               What is the only plant that grows
               When you feed it blood?
                                                                                   The cotton tree.

Did you laugh?

I’ve been thinking a lot about 
ancestry lately,
as I’m stuck still in the trap 
of an existential early 20s.

I’ve been thinking about who I would have been 
on the continent,
if I should do like the diaspora— 
pledge my allegiance to an idea of home
I’ll never be able to corroborate— 
claim Ghana, or Nigeria or Cote de Ivoire 
as the place before the chains

(my last name is French, after all.)

I took Anthropology in college
and my professor told the class that
Ancestry.com, really any DNA testing kit,
was full of shit,
and a door closed
and my heart broke
all over again.

There were two white people
at my family’s Christmas last year.
They were the only people who got
23andMe kits.

In the first creative writing class 
I ever took, the teacher asked everyone 
to go around the room, 
answer what our names meant
what story they told

Givhan… where does that come from?

I’ve been thinking about the ancestors 
as I write a book influenced 
by myths from a country that colonized 
a good chunk of the world, 
ones I’m familiar with 
because they were what got taught.

I think about them 
when there’s an uptick on Black twitter 
of posts saying shit like:

Buck up y’all, they’re dancing in the Kingdom, filled with joy at what you get to do
without them chains. Make their sacrifice worth it. Make them proud.

(or whatever fits in 120 characters.)

I took a class on African Religion
and almost holy disregarded the units
on Catholicism and Christianity, 
preferring the flavor of the ATR tales, 
like the one where a chicken 
helps create the world:

Obatala climbs down a gold chain
and scatters sand from a snail shell. 
He releases the bird to go bat shit—
wherever it kicks
a sandstorm of hills and valleys follows—
and the world began.

(I think I should stop eating chicken)

I like to think of the Orishas as my ancestors
when the flesh and blood reality
of historical violence
on bodies that look like mine 
starts to consume me.

I think of Obatala and the black cat
brought to a creation myth—
whose only job was to curl up beside him, 
keep him company in a new made world—
and I see a way of life 
where I don’t have to be alone.

I think of Olokun livid as fuck, 
drowning half the new made world
because a man was too stupid 
to ask her permission 
to enter and terra form her kingdom—
and I don’t feel the history 
of Black women powerless,
raped and separated from their families.

I think of Shango and how fucking sick
a Black god of thunder must be—
Static Shock meets John Henry meets Jesus

(but obviously not white-washed Jesus) 

and I feel strong knowing
he could beat the absolute shit 
out of Zeus, if it came to it.

But then I think of the golden chain 
Olorun allowed Obatala 
to hang off the edge of the sky 
in the first place—

find myself shackled 
to the same kind of narrative.

So I’ve been thinking 
about ancestry a lot, 
but also about theft.

The continental kind. 
The kind so huge it can’t be replaced by reparations

(though it’s a good fucking place to start)

The kind that has punched a hole
in the fabric of this history,

a loss so permanent it’s opened a pit in me 

that no number of stories could ever fill.


An Homage Of My Father


My mother told me once,
when I asked why I never knew
Alabama soil. Blackness. The richness 
of my place on this earth
in this tree,

a story about walking with my father 
and the truck that drove by 
and the people inside who slowed down
to throw bricks at them.

I asked Did you throw them back,
teach them a lesson?
and her mouth said the no her eyes couldn’t,
busy as they were saying something 
in a language I didn’t understand then,
horrors I couldn’t pronounce as a child 
in a dialect unused to the flavor of lynching,
my white teeth in this black mouth 
unable to let the knowledge of death 
slip through its gaps.


My father is as Black
as I like to imagine the soil
in that place we were taken from.


The things I know about my father,
are that he used to go to movies with friends,
where one person would buy the ticket
and let the others in through the exit

that he learned how to drive using a friend’s car
because no one in our family owned one,
used to cheat at cards, palm them,
have one up his sleeve to rig the game,
that he walked 5 or more miles a day
to get to a bus that would take him
to a segregated school,

that he grew up using an outhouse,
no indoor plumbing,
and that his parents were sharecroppers,
his father died young.

I know my father has a bad back
from teaching soldiers
to jump out of helicopters,
that the VA hospital gives out cortisone shots
in the years it takes
between insurance claims and surgery,

that he joined the Air Force to get out
of a South so deep and dark,
he still won’t talk about it,
won’t acknowledge that some part of me
is curious what part of her
might belong down there
with the ones who never left.

I know my father had a brother
who died in a motorcycle accident
one who’s a trucker
one who calls occasionally,
another that totaled my father’s car
while he was deployed in Germany,
another that stopped on a highway in Seattle,
threw the car with my mother and my father and himself
into reverse, to take the exit he’d overshot

I know he still talks to Shirley
and one other sister, Ernestine, I think,
that another sister died

I know he married a white woman,
had three brown daughters,
that he takes care of four cats
and puts money in my account
when I get scared I can’t afford
to be alive,

I know he didn’t tell my mother
about his family reunion
two summers ago,
that he was silent as she yelled at him
when I let it slip.


I know that some kid called him a nigger
at his job
and that if I could,
I would rip that fucker apart
tear the word out of his throat with my teeth
scratch our history into his body with my nails
and it still wouldn’t be enough

to keep it from happening again

to erase the trauma of all the other times
he’s been called something
I can’t protect him from.


When I told my father
about getting kicked out of a class at OSU
to make a spot for the white students
who hadn’t gotten in and complained,
he said, Hang in there, kid

because he knows better than I ever will
that you can’t be Black in this country
without having some part of yourself


My father is Black as the soil
I like to believe exists
in that place we were taken from

and he makes me cry
when I think of all the bad things
that could happen to him
for existing here.


My father is Black as new earth
in an old world we never got to know,
and I thank the god he still believes in
but I never could

that he is my father.


Juliette Givhan is a poet and MFA candidate at Oregon State University. She completed a BA in English with a minor in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. Her writing explores popular culture, memes, myths, and the intersection of identities—all in an attempt to learn how to survive as a Black queer writer in America.




Angelique Zobitz


You must be thinking of my grandma’s people. 

Must have me confused
 with someone else. 
I see the resemblance.  
But I’m not the one—

won’t be  

compelled to cradle
every word on my tongue 
behind the caging of my 
teeth only birthing

Black ass bon mot babies 
for your pleasure. 

Bite my tongue? 
I’ve heard, hold your peace, 
& requests that I stay calm
(& maintain the illusion of peace. 

Recall, we’re all happy 
if we’re quiet.)


My people trapped sharp
words in the esophagus, 
dulled them down on the concrete 
slabs of solitary confinement 

sacrificed in silence
while carving in the throat

I was here 

bold subversive graffiti 
scrawled in the night.

The fumes of their words are why
my throat is dry from how often 
I refuse to choke gag reflex
fix my mouth.

If you only knew what 
I want to say when you utter: 
temper your temper

as if a soft word makes palatable misery 
as if tongue separates the bitter from sweet
as if it is my party trick to swallow back the bitter pit
as if tying my anger into knots like a cherry stem—


I am not my grandma’s—

Child, that generation put
up with what they had to. 

I never learned how to sweet
and swallow bad produce. 

To fix my lips for long, 
never rouged them red,
in replacement of bloodlust. 

I too want words 
soft on skin soft on psyche
lapping softly in my inner 
ear revolutionary love words, 

like: you matter. 

Until then 
I let sing, 
every word. 


In Love We are all Intrepid Explorers and Cannibals


In my treasure chest of infinity boxes—
earrings made from the luminescent

light of his eyes, scent a cherry pit 
on my tongue, the freedom to take 
up space behind my ear,

worship in the temple of my round belly, 
fingers that glance along the dimple in his back,

his teeth striping electric over, under
and between where my ass bisects into cheeks,

he moon tides between my thighs, 
remind me of hollows between his toes
ripe for plucking—

universes are open for exploration. 


He and I consume one another 
a curving ouroboros, slick

and primordial, a daisy chaining
organism, closed loop of two,

we claim and conquer in the name of  
leave forensic evidence on our tongues

savor skin as soft and salt laden
as butter pecan ice cream

sipped from God’s own mouth.


Angelique Zobitz has work in or forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Adirondack Review, Obsidian: Literature & Arts of the African Diaspora, Yemassee Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Poets Reading the News, So to Speak, SWWIM, Rise Up Review, Rogue Agent, Pretty Owl Press, Mom Egg Review, and Psaltery & Lyre amongst others. She is a Spring 2019 Black River Chapbook Finalist and a two-time 2019 Best of the Net Anthology nominee. She lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband, daughter, and a wild rescue dog and can be found on Twitter and Instagram: @angeliquezobitz.




Ashely Adams

An Ode to My Breasts Featuring Purgatorius unio

On my chest slopes a continent
old, smelling of sun-baked grass,
its prairie rooted in my sternum. 
Here, in the darkness of my ribs, I carry 
first mother, someone like possum, my stretch marks a border
where she shed scales for fur.
She laughs at our new carnivores and their sloppiness, 
chitters, Child, look at the way they butcher
the fat from the meat. Make a glass talon
of sweet trill and word. 
Still, careful, careful.
We both know the dinosaurs 
never died, just changed.
I tuck my head into the fault line underneath my neck
where she buried herself,
thank her for showing me when to hiss 
or bear my belly like the dead. 
Bless her for teaching me 
how to turn sweat into milk.


The Ark Will Not Save the Eurypterid

You push your finger into the sand,
say—here is where we will clean the ocean.
Drain all the saltwater from the world,
use its orphaned film to write
our God-given names.
We are like lobsters;
it is right to eat our woman.
It is time to live on the land.
                                           And we will tell you—
                                                                                               you can’t preach the mud off our backs,
                                                                                               turn our truth ugly with beauty and orders.
                                                                                               Can’t sing down our walls of mucus
                                                                                               and you were right,
                                                                                               we are arthropods
                                                                                               but not lobsters to be buttered and boiled.
                                                                                               We are sea scorpions,
                                                                                                            making footprints in boulders
                                                                                                            making a salvation of carapace
                                                                                                            making a god of ourselves
                                                                                                                                     the first thing, benthic,      
                                                                                                                                             and it was good.


Ashely Adams is a swamp-adjacent writer whose work has appeared in Paper Darts, Fourth River, Permafrost, Apex Magazine, and other places. She is the nonfiction editor of the literary journal Lammergeier. Ask her about the weather.




Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

If Nameless Fields Could Sing

We expected to find it 
alone, just us in that sun 
under the evergreens 
among Zbylitowska Góra’s 
enclosed grass plots marked 
with names and towns 
for Poles, left nameless 
Hebrew text for Jews.      
Instead, we walked into a forest 
of flags growing wild 
without roots. Young boys 
with Magen Davids draped 
heavy, blue stripes over white. Boys 
with yarmulkes and prayer shawls 
and heads covered and arms wrapped  
in each other. So many young boys. A few 
older ones. A rabbi. Two boys helping 
another walk. A disabled boy. And another one. And then 
that singing. Singing
                                        rose like smoke. 
                                                                              Dai dai dai
dai dai dai
                                            dai dai dai dai. 
And one of those boys 
                                            wailed.                              Wailed as the rest sang.    
Rocked and wailed. And they surrounded 
the site 
where children 
are said 
                                            to have been shot. 
Nameless and gone. The grass. Wild flowers and bright
butterflies. Neon green and white amid purple blooms.
                                                                    And the flags.
The singing. The wailing. The rocking. The air 
heavy with prayer. And a smaller group of girls. 
Shoulder to shoulder, dressed in flags too and some 
carrying stones and some one another and most 
crying and some just standing. 
But that boy’s wail cut 
through huddled bodies. 
The boy carried by other boys. 
The boy who didn’t need 
the facts. Who needed 
to wail. But we are not
crying or tearing off our clothes 
or lighting candles but I wish
we were. Wish I could have joined them. 
Sang and swayed and 
wailed. Wish that
was what we had come to do. To linger 
with the unnamed on their soil. To mourn. But we 
came to learn
the facts.
                              To know that 
                                                               on the first day 6,000 were shot. 
                                                               2,000 Poles, 8,000 Jews, and at least 
                                                               800 children by the end of the second.  
That the monument reads
                                                                “Polish Citizens” 
                                                                and forgets
We came to know 
                                                                 the dates  
                                                                 and times 
                                                                 and numbers. 
To listen. But not to wail. 
To hear. But not pray. To learn 
without feeling.
To look for light 
in the break between the trees, 
where evergreens turn black 
against the high-noon sun
and wailing becomes song 
becomes prayer becomes
all that’s left of god.


Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Many Names for Mother, winner the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019); Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize; and 40 WEEKS, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2022. Her recent poems appear in POETRYAmerican Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. Julia is the editor of Construction Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philly with her two kids, two cats, one dog, and one husband.




Oli Isaac

every summer i am reminded sunburns on the back are the loneliest sunburns

i am going to break my phone 
so people can’t hear me but i can still hear them 
and i will hear them speak with their eyes closed for the first time

looking      needing     willing        towards a banister in the darkness 
a therapy session number passed around south london bathrooms
a contemporary confession booth trapping each insecurity inside a trembling voicemail
your voice cracks           your silence dangles

one night i see you eating up breadcrumbs your parents left for you
i join you and we’re doing this together 
you’ll say it’s funny how creases in our fingertips tell us who we are 
but not how far you can run when your past has a head start 
nor the amount of breath you can reach in and steal from someone.

i wrap myself around your waist           rest my head to your stomach 
to hear what futures you have been swallowing           plans fermenting in the last five minutes 

the sieve we inherit         before i broke my arm balancing on the fence
tyre tracks left a divot in my hands that felt uncomfortable for anyone to hold

the light at the end of the tunnel reaches your face 
in the backseat next to mine on the car ride home at 3am        
i ask whether you can smell the burning and you kiss me on my temples
to remind me that you know the weakest spots of my skull


Oli Isaac is a multi-disciplinary artist, based in London, who works across poetry and theatre. Their poetry explores the tension of growing up with a speech impediment & trying to access language to navigate their queer and non-binary identity. Oli co-leads Clumsy Bodies, a trans and disabled-led art duo. They are currently part of Soho Theatre’s Writers lab, and are Roundhouse Poetry Collective alum. Author photo by Suzi Corker.