MM James

Plastic Heaven Lasts Forever 

 13 eons ago i grieved shyly— 
 as i couldn’t make mincemeat 
 out of the night we met, 
 i had a hard time with the teeth, 
 entirely non-compostable.
 no lies, really decomposing.
*this is our empty box 
 [perhaps outrage is a conditioned
 response to move what we cannot touch]
 mid-afternoon & i think 
 those thoughts inconsolable: 
 “O, to unscramble your face 
 like those sliding tile puzzles 
 you find gambling in cereal
 boxes until they are no longer plastic.”
*this is our newborn box 
 [we realized electrons can only push
 so we scrabbled my knees 
 with your daisy chaining fingers
 in an attempt to touch] 

 like the gum in your anagrammatic intestines,
 has it really been 7 years since we were
 unchanging? a linear  perception of time is like 
 rounding my height down to 5’11. 
 plastic heaven lasts forever 
 & my bones are tethered for as long as forever is.  

 *this is our terminal box 
 [like the little letters you passed me 
 while we waited for time to reboot 
 the right-side of their mind.]

[they make me feel like you’re really here.]

MM is shown before a flatscreen television which display san image of a brick fireplace wood fire. MM has black hair and pale skin. MM wears lavender eyeshadow and black lipstick, a green maxi skirt, and a black silk or polyester blouse with a dagger collar, and ruffles to either side of the front buttons. MMs arm is outstretched on a wooden plank table. On the table are a silver lava lamp with blue fluid, and a stack of The Simpsons DVD box sets.

MMJames (Maggie Matthew James) is a concrete poet and essayist from Sussex and the Bay Area. Their work has appeared in *82 Review and Jeopardy Magazine. They moonlight as a roly-poly who lives in our brains, @pingotooby on Instagram.




Maya Owen


 after Mary Oliver, for Karl von Frisch 

 If you’re having a panic attack
 you should try to notice three things,
 like your toes in your shoes, the pressure 
 that frees the cold spritz of a grape,
 laughing in the other room at what 
 she'll come and show you in a minute.  

 With honeybees, there’s a dance 
 that means Nectar is near
 and sweet, and another expressing 
 nothing but joy. 
                Entomologists accept it now, 
 but it would be decades before the man who first noticed 
 was acquitted of “Jewish” science.
 That’s how it is with noticing: 
 when you do it first, they find a way 
 to call it madness.









                     How long have you been talking?

 Meanwhile I’ve been diligently 
 admiring your eyelashes. Maya, 

 this is important, you say. You mean 
 the light on your eyelashes isn’t.  












 Noticing pollinates noticing.
 Ask Mary, obliged to notice / more 
 and more about the white moths, 
 the pink moccasins. All that

 energy. A bee’s life 
 is like a magic well: the more you draw from it, 
 the more it fills with water, said Karl, 
 beneath his moustache made of bees. No one 

 finds the centre, just a wasp 
 inside a fig. The work 
                     will never be completed—
            this meting out 

 of secret choreographies, of a timely             
                     sprig of eyelash-light
            to those who pay attention, who move 
 towards the nakedness of things. 

Worm Song

As I’m sure you know, earthworms
have voices and sing.
I don’t need to tell you
that their stridulations
can be heard
through twelve miles of soil,
and that they emit these sounds not as we previously thought
(muscling through burrows, dislodging air)
but by opening and closing their mouths. So you know, too, they rarely
sing alone, preferring a chorus. And they have five hearts,
and two simultaneous sexes, and busy the surface
with nightly orgies. Our lives depend on the worm’s
pleasure, as well as its toil.

No doubt you’re aware that earthworms were sacred in Egypt.
Cleopatra permitted no farmer to trouble a worm in the midst of its work.

It was a good law, Cleopatra’s.
She understood—how worms, simply
by doing worm things, make date palms, plum trees, pomegranates
possible. And how gingerly
we ought to tread on the earth, saying sorry
worm, sorry, didn’t see you down there. No
no, it’s my fault. As you were.

You’ll have realised by now why I’m telling you this.

I thought that we would be sacred to someone.
I thought there would be a law on our side.

One guess
what my nation protects
instead of our trampleable
bodies, our buried
voices and songs.

Cut an earthworm,
you’ve heard, and its halves will heal whole
then shimmy off—flummoxed
but largely okay, shaking their pink
heads free of the dream
of a lengthier life.

It’s a game children play,
practicing tyranny, thrilling their friends:
look how much they can inflict
without squirming! Look
where the myth of resilience

Below loam,
beneath leafmould
a worm song winds down.
Not diminishing.

Maya is shown before a wall of magenta. Maya has dark or dark purple hair of a few inches length, parted at the side, and pale skin. Maya wears a black stand collar shirt, and a dark grey or black blazer with wing lapels.

Maya Owen writes, sings, and hopes to see a whale in real life. Her poems appear (or will) in The Offing, Palette Poetry, Berfrois, HAD, The Shallow Ends, Muzzle, and elsewhere. Sometimes they’re nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net Anthology. Currently she reads for Monstering, a magazine by and for disabled women and non-binary people, and has accidentally started a queer roller skating club. She’s passionate about the proper etiquette for transporting snails to safety after rain. 




Jocelyn Patten

Lonely Diagnosis

And if my allowing myself to be brought here confuses you, if you think for one minute that I am singing one song and dancing to another, then you have not been following along. Stick to the facts. That’s what I have to tell everybody. They are clear and crisp and lay cold and unblinking on the snow banks that lined the drive here. I press my nose to the glass and nod at each, and as they pass they slip under the car and up into the backseat and down my stomach. I feel them still; they have not melted, despite the heat in this room. There are hundreds of them, and they tell the story of what has happened to me, what was done to me in the beginning, what must be stopped. I will open my mouth round and wide, and each fact will come slipping out, only to attach itself to the blank wall that faces our chairs; there they will remain hard and sharp and be beautiful and powerful and all-knowing. And all I will have to do is point and say, here, here is all that you need to know. Here is where my doctor refuses to look, and here is what my mother does not accept. But you can see it, I know you can, and you can understand what the truth is. You can stick to the facts. You will recognize the danger I am in, and order that I be removed outside the city limits, far from the grey grip of the pill-pushing death angels. Gone, wiped off their video screens, the metal disc in my brain growing weaker and weaker with every moment. Come spring, it will be mere dust, and one morning I will stand up and sneeze, and it will all be gone. 

Jocelyn Patten lives and writes in Ottawa.