Wylde Parsley

here is a queer coming-of-age novel without a coming out scene

I would let her 
destroy me, no doubt 
I’m a hapless 
dyke and she’s got 
lemon rind laughter 
that makes me shudder 
through my born-again 
baptist sunday-serious self 
she’s got sacrilege 
written like jolly rancher stains 
around her lips it’s 
like, the flesh is weak 
and willing, giddy 
little stolen sugar packet 
swig from a syrup bottle 
aged like an impatient sigh 
and dripping condescension 
for those who just 
don’t get that she’s 
only and exclusively 
the manic part of manic 
pixie dream girl not half 
as trapped in another life 
I failed driver’s ed 
in order to take it with her 
and we crashed the car together 
and of course it didn’t 
go up in flames like we 
wanted so there’s no use pretending 
we didn’t douse it in lighter fluid 
while licking butterscotch 
ice cream from our sooty fingers


Wylde Parsley is sometimes a writer and always a cryptid enthusiast. Their work has appeared or is upcoming in Birdcoat Quarterly, New Flash Fiction Review, Vagabond City Lit, Rio Grande Review, Every Day Fiction, and various other publications. He can be found on Twitter at @emjparsley.




Jesslyn Whittell

ASMR 99% of You Will Fall Asleep to This Confessional Poem

           Posit climate change as the hand from a person’s warmth taken out 
           of context and uploaded as healing over several types of distance.

           The instructions are as follows: Relax. 
           Be hypothetical. 
           Her touch is the best metric for tired. 
                                                                                 Her mouth is a bubble ceaselessly replayed. I know
                                                                       everything she could tell me. 
           Thank god I have a body to tell me that nothing has changed
           and nothing changes, 

           empathy as ambient noise 
           in a video game 

           trauma as compulsive

                                                                  on the couch with a please-touch-the ache, tracing the dotty
                                                                  lines that are everywhere, things inter-measurable and
                                                                  commiserating. I say body but that’s never what I mean.

You could substitute other abstractions for it, make a variable of me, make gaping that explicit verbal arrangement we have to write about each other while our clothes and sheets dry. This is not a love poem because I have a sense of my body as both a solid object and a vulnerability, it’s a love poem because I kinda love it, the rapid simplicity of unit, of my atomic aura hovering around me like a factual tractor beam, and then the miracle of a hypothetical touch dissolves it all, dissolves me, distance refracted into dissonance of lazy invocations, an association who’s heels get stuck in the fresh-mowed neurons patrolled by the cop in my head, my mouth slack with its own sweet pollution, pollination of literal garbage in the sewers of the cities in my Brita water filter called “low-grade euphoria.”

I didn’t think I’d like being healed but I do. It’s surprising because there is no curse on my lips or stone in my eyes or any other clear demarcation of before and after. I am clotted full of thresholds that don’t lock, cured and recovered. Updated. You can measure the damage, but first you’ll have to coax it out of hiding. It cowers in the weeds of infinite growth, it trembles with deceptively original timing. 

This is a terrible confessional, I’m sorry. I haven’t done this in a while. What else should I tell you? Someone builds houses, and the rent goes up. I’m fumbling the format for intimacy: it looks so like exhaustion here.


Jesslyn Whittell is a grad student in English at UCLA. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, Lammargeier, b l u s h, and The Rambling.




Adedayo Agarau

fine boy writes a poem about anxiety

i ask my girlfriend to pray for me & she pulls my name in a two minutes voice note
throws me towards heaven & receives me with gratitude

i miss everything i worship:
                          a.      my God
                          b.      my woman
                          c.      my mother & grandmother
                          d.     the music flaming from rooms we bless with the heat of our bodies

the way i desire her body is the way anxiety desires me
               i am wanted by all the things that haunt me in my dream

my grandmother, my grandmother
pulling me out of air


                                 on a sidewalk on 7th street
                                 a dead cat is someone’s pet

in ibadan, a dead cat
is someone’s grandmother


                    as a fine boy ko ye ko ni anxiety nau
                    o ni everything to fe, o ye ko ma dupe ni

i thank my God who puts sunlight on my table
who wakes me in the morning & offers me to trembling

who sits outside the apartment near River Landing
smoking a stick of cigarette with menthol switch

who asks me how Nigeria is
who, when i say dáadáa ni,

does not ask what i mean

there is little i can tell you, the anger is towards the door that never opens inside me; i make
eba in the morning & vomit everything later & when my mother calls, she asks why i’m thinner
than h/air

        1.    where will all fear go when god takes over the city?
        2.   whose gratitude will drive the lambs into the swine?
        3.   what am i without the dream where i am gasping for air?
        4.   what name do we give the fire that eats my fingers?
        5.   my mother beads a basket & fills it with water,
        6.   who does she mock if not her son that cannot hold water?

they laugh at me
when i run in 
the blues of

they laugh at me
when i run in
the grey of

i hear their shadows
& dream of their socks

a lizard crawls towards a car
& the driver halts.

i’ve witnessed a car run into a pack
of boys walking tiredly from 

your god is everything 
that lets you come inside.
mother, lover.

this trembling is
not without a destination.
i dance towards fire—

fuck memory.
fuck everything.


Adedayo is studying for MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop’23. His manuscript, The Morning The Birds Died, was a finalist in the 2021 Sillerman Prize. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected for New Generation African Poet (African Poetry Book Fund), 2020, while Vegetarian Alcoholic Press published his chapbook, The Arrival of Rain in January, 2020. His poems are published or forthcoming in World Literature Today, Frontier, Iowa Review, Boulevard, and elsewhere. Adedayo is the Editor-in-Chief at Agbowó: An African magazine of literature and art. He is the editor of New International Voices Series at Icefloe-Press. Adedayo edited Memento: An Anthology of Contemporary Nigerian Poetry.




Darren Donate



white + splain, after mansplain. 

whitesplain (third-person singular simple present whitesplains, present participle whitesplaining, simple past and past participle whitesplained)

    1. 1.      To explain to the Mexican: they haven’t had
               the real      authentic pozole,

                    the kind
               with bits of     brain, hominy.

    2. 2.      To explain to the Mexican: they haven’t picked
               their teeth clean, the cerebellum

               hanging from a finger nail like
               a true Aztec, Mestizo.          Lifting the

               bowl with both           hands, gulping
               down blood—coming to       gray matter,

               the chunks that     contemplate
               quantities of melanin—suddenly

               molting,     shedding the ivory of
                     your skin—becoming brown.

    3. 3.      To have a white man call you beaner. To have
               a white man tell you not to use that word.


Darren Donate is a first generation Mexican-American and visual poet. He previously obtained his MFA at the University of New Mexico. Darren is currently teaching high school and coaching wrestling in Tucson, Arizona. His work has been most recently featured in DIALOGIST and is forthcoming in Berkeley Poetry Review.




Laura Da’

Why Lazarus

Because a woman was disinherited 
            by a disinterested witness
            in Turkey Ford, Oklahoma
            because she married 
            in the Indian way 
            and zinc was found 
            on her allotment.

For the sake of the sixth born child.
            Last of the animal surname, 
            son of he named 
            for the third son 
            of Jacob and Leah, 
            who ran from home chased 
            by a flickering length of leather.
            Like a contrary land breeze 
            from mountain to sea, 
            not stopping until he 
            hit salt water.

Because my own father’s father
            was made citizen 
            at age fourteen. Beneath the land 
            he tended for his children 
            covered rivers flow 
            under suburban foundations.

Because a park, reservation, or monument bears the same official 
            symbol on the map:

Park, reservation, or monument     .   

            A lonely figure surrounded by endless fields.

Because in removal, 
the Shawnee were not permitted 
            to carry any tools
            that could be used 
            as weapons.

So Lazarus broke ground 
            with his fists and toes, raked red earth
            with a gar’s jaw. Peeled limbs
            from the trees to burn for warmth, 
            slid corn kernels down the side 
            of his forearm into holes 
            quarried with his bare hands.

Because the cougars extirpated 
            from Shawnee homelands 
            track me in my sleep 
            and a knot in a tale 
            shows that the story could go either way.

For the sake of the words of faith:
            no talk, instruction, or translation 
            in native language was permitted
            to the daughters of Lazarus
            at the Seneca Indian School
            even for the youngest pupils. 
            The Shawnee bible 
            being the only exception.

Because an ancestor was the twelfth 
            child of that year 
            and the missionaries 
            tallied the twelfth letter 
            of the alphabet
            and went thumbing 
            through the bible for a name.

Because the etymology 
            of the word martyr is to bear a witness:
            Indian trails holding steady 
            under concrete highways.

Because Lazarus made Jesus weep 
            as a friend and call him 
            back to the world.

For we, the resurrected, 
            so solitary in our vast fields
            need to call out to one another
            by name in this new territory 
            where the fee simple is neither.


Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher who studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is the author of Tributaries, American Book Award winner, and Instruments of the True Measure, Washington State Book Award winner. Da’ is Eastern Shawnee. She lives near Seattle, Washington.




Diamond Forde

Poem in Which I Was Supposed to Write about Cain and Abel, But I’m Tired of Writing about Death

So instead, a houseplant
arching a trellis of its own strong stems,
elephant ear, Colocasia, what my aunt called
Alice, ready for the inevitable mothering
of her own mother, she tended Alice
with the surgical precision of a woman
seaming silver to the sharp ends of the moon,
and even when she yelled at my cousins
for crawling through the jungle-mess
of its large leaves, scattering soil so far
she could find the hard balls of Perlite
trailing, trailing, sometimes she’d let me
water or cull the gold and ghostly curls
of a dying sprout, hung like a wrung-out
washcloth, and in my hands
I like to think she saw a potential to dig,
to muck deep into the manure 
of my imagination, sprout offshoots 
I hope to plant in someone else someday
when I am no longer afraid
to think of myself as a god large
enough that every heart-shaped leaf
dicing light to dust could beat in my own chest,
and I have never made a life 
but I’ve reached into the refuse
they make of our stories and found hearts
hardy as crocus bulbs, and in this poem
I am planting a world for gxrls to live
where kudzu climbs, and is welcomed.


What I Wish I Said When My Stepmother Asked Me If I Planned to Go to My Grandmother’s Funeral

You tell me I’m selfish—it’s true. I’m particular, too—toast my bread on one side, pluck my toenails in my plush-down bed, sneeze and shout so loud our small hound slumbers with an eye transfixed

on the pollen pilling the sill 

and martyrdom, that supposed mechanism of motherhood, won’t tick in me, but there’s a fig tree feathering behind the old brick building at work, and each fall it droops with newborn fruit, green bulbs purpling like bruises, flush with fresh meat, seeds pink as flagging tongues, and there’s a cove cratered beneath the broad leaves, large enough to sit in, to reach for every wine-dark drop, eat, cream its custard against my teeth, and isn’t it divine to hide behind fig leaves? 

or that for each fruit to bloom, a mother dies—a wasp slipping into the fig’s snug end, wings clipped in entry, antennae ripped from their stalks—blinded by a need to breed, which is not a metaphor, just an insect giving body for brood, because love is a force greater than grief 

and we weren’t meant to mother 

but I know love, found it in the joyful tunes of my own breath, in my hands clapping verbs to thunder, in my thigh’s singular notes, and maybe if you’d listen, you’d hear it as my grandmother heard it, 

in her last pulse, that thrum not swan song but a mulch-womb buzzing to fruit.


Diamond Forde’s debut collection, Mother Body, is the winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. A Callaloo and Tin House fellow, Diamond’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Honey Literary, Obsidian, Massachusetts Review, and more. She serves as the Fiction Editor of Nat. Brut, and she lives in Asheville with her partner and their dog, Oatmeal. diamondforde.com.




Amy M. Alvarez


from the Tagalog bundók & Cebuano bukid: 
each meaning mountain, rurality, folded-up
land far from ocean, from Proto-Austronesian
bunduk: higher ground. When American

soldiers menaced the Philippines after
the nation declared independence from Spain,
Filipinos used bundók as cover, descending
on an army used to prairies, to brown faces 

protecting sacred ground raging across 
open field instead of behind trees raining
fire down the bundóks. Those soldiers 
birthed the bastard word “boondocks” 

in these mountains, migrating meaning 
toward remote country, hinterlands 
where the people, in their estimation 
(and what is the estimation of a nineteen-

year-old American boy worth?), were less 
civilized or civil. I imagined a boondock 
being watery wasteland and didn’t expect
it to mean “mountain” in my stepfather’s 

first tongue or in Cebuano, Cebu being part
of the archipelago I know well from my time
with church folk who proselytized to the choir,
molding Protestants from Catholics, but also 

running clinics, providing materials to teachers, 
giving teens community, inviting young trans 
women to hang out, delight in sisterly love. I met
my first out trans friend in Cebu at fifteen; 

she taught me the Cebuano word 
for cockroach as a gag: uk-ok. Bakla 
is Cebuano for gay man and transwoman.
bakla     bukid     beauty    bundók 

Jennifer Laude was a bakla, Filipina beauty 
murdered by American marine in a bathroom
stall because his own desire was distasteful 
to him. He could not understand the forests 
of her bundóks. The murderer was released 
after five years of a ten-year sentence. He—
and I don’t bother naming the man from
the boondocks because names are themselves

honorifics—had AC in his cell, was paid a quarter
of a million dollars while he twiddled the thumbs 
that held Jennifer’s head in a toilet. The US military
will remain in the Philippines in exchange for vaccines. 

Babaylan: from the Austronesian balian—
a word for shaman from the pre-colonial 
Philippines. A babaylan was almost always
a woman like Jennifer: shamans by nature,

guided by spirits of ancestors who brought
them back to their bodies after traveling 
to astral boondocks until colonizers drove
them into the mountains. I wish a medium 

beyond words to guide Jennifer back to her 
body. I wish an army of bakla babaylan: 
beautiful, fearless, thundering down the
bundóks, fire streaming from their painted lips.

Amy M. Alvarez is a Black Latina poet, educator, and scholar. Her work focuses on race, ethnicity, gender, regionality, nationality, and social justice. She has been awarded fellowships from CantoMundo, VONA, Macondo, VCCA, and the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, River Styx, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Born in New York City to Jamaican and Puerto Rican parents, she now lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, and teaches at West Virginia University.




Jo Blair Cipriano

Body Image Therapy Center: Day 8

“You know, I’ve been doing this a long time.” Me too. “Funny, Joey…listen: almost always, the root of these things is found in the relationship with the mother.” The mother. “Sure, try to imagine your mother.” Imagine my mother? “Even when we think we have good relationships with our parents, we learn in recovery it’s often more complicated than that.” So you’ve had an eating disorder too, then. “We’re not here to talk about me.” We’re here to talk about me. “Yes.” And my eating disorder. “Right.” You have no idea what we’re going through here. “Why not?” Because you don’t. “What if I told you my sister died of complications surrounding anorexia?” Did she? “What if she did—would you trust me to understand?” So my brother should be a therapist. “That’s not the point.” You switched bodies with your sister before she died. “Of course not.” So I don’t get how you think you can help me. “Let me try.” Try. “What’s your family life like?” Great—I’ve just found out my brother’s an expert on bulimia. “Joey, if you’re not going to take this seriously, I can’t help you.” My brother doesn’t have a job. If you need help, he could start on Monday—we could use the money. “Fine, Joey, fine. And your mother, what about your mother?”


Still Life With Wreckage: Before and After

the spider    alive
still watches   from the ceiling

clots of blood on the floor   rocks
overturned on rough carpet

my bed isn’t mine     it’s evidence     
poisoned   and useless       as a girl    

i understood creation  as distance
from god      who designed you to crave

death in your fist     to recognize
which girls wouldn’t tell

no one    taught me how        
to live with skin that betrays  

how to forgive    the trembling hand
that cushioned my chin

the way it looks now   in daylight

at daybreak   mouth open
the poplar  spits seeds

the shape of his fists
impossible    delicate  

i must’ve prayed wrong      decades
i waited   before he came

life    ripped from my center   then
relief    arrival    the innermost spiral of

a perfect breath     how to know
the way my blood would move

to house him for months
gently    harvesting his name 

i sheltered          this body
is ours now    this wreckage

its mouth   only opens for you

Jo Blair Cipriano (she/her) is a 2019 Brooklyn Poets Fellow whose work has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Copper Nickel, diode poetry journal, Epiphany Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2021 Brooklyn Poets Poem of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Frontier Magazine New Voices Prize. She lives in Tucson, AZ.




Joshua Gottlieb-Miller







Joshua Gottlieb-Miller’s writing appears in or is forthcoming from Concision Poetry Journal, Berru Poetry Series, Poet Lore, Cincinnati Review‘s miCRo series, Pithead Chapel, and MAYDAY Magazine. Previously, he was a Tent Fellow in Creative Writing at the Yiddish Book Center. Currently, he tutors in a writing center, pinch hits at the back desk of the Menil Collection, and teaches creative writing to seniors (memoir) and school-children (poetry).




Sihle Ntuli


after Nkosi Nkululeko’s poem “The Chessmen

* Note: The poem should be read horizontally starting at the word ‘The’ going clockwise into the inner square & ending at the word ‘Game’.
The poem can also be read vertically [downwards] as an octuple poem consisting of eight three-word micro poems all ending on the word ‘Game.’

¹ African boardgame also playable on sand with beads, coins, or pebbles


Zabalaza Republic

  1. 1.

                                      the coup d’etat would not have been possible

without Azania’s heartbeat       black pain & black voices         of all the struggle
songs turned against us            of revolutions archived,          of our volume lowered
by black hands                              that look just like ours,           the country fell silent
as a nation patiently waits        for the president                         to begin to speak 

  1. 2.

                                                        the people shall govern 

a line borrowed                           from the since withered & sealed     long forgotten Freedom charter,    
of small-a-nyana2 skeletons    hidden under clapping of hands        under stomping of feet, 
& all the cadres left behind      after the black consciousness of Biko               have chosen 
to not let imbokodo3 lead         unless flung towards a window          moments before the catalyst
for an impending war                the shattering sound of glass                  a lesson on breaking 

  1. 3.

                                                     the children of the soil need new songs    

to touch beneath the surface,        the movement is only one by name      when we are at a stand-still, 
& it appears we have a problem      of a rainbow with only two colours          songs of Zabalaza                        
as our inheritance                               from the generation that struggled                before us    
of restless troubled spirits                   there is something among us          that is simply refusing to die,   

we say we are tired of these same songs   we are not yet tired of these same songs
we cannot seem to agree on anything,     
 soldiering on with old songs still relevant
the pain is becoming much too heavy     it is almost time to unburden
in language of screams universal

2An infamous quote by South African politician Bathabile Dlamini 
3isiZulu for ‘a large rock’ also used to refer to strong women as taken from the isiZulu saying ‘wathint’ umfazi wathint’ imbokodo’ meaning ‘you strike a woman you strike a rock’.


Sihle Ntuli is a poet and classicist from Durban, South Africa, he has had work appear in notable publications including The Rumpus, SAND Journal & Transition Magazine amongst others. He is the author of Rumblin (uHlanga, 2020) and poetry co-editor of instagram based zine Wild Pine Poetry. Author photo by Niamh Walsh-Vorster.