Amira Al Wassif

The same old story

Every time I start to laugh
Somebody invents a new way of laughter
I run to the closest mirror
Burying my swollen face
Counting my disappointments on my fingers
No music in the background
Only the cracking of my bones
Do you hear it?
I see you on the walls
Your purple face waving
Like a curse
I put a hand on my right chest
Singing as if the world dissolved
Between my knees
In this story
Adam didn’t eat the forbidden fruit
Just Eve who did
He was busy
Creating a sudden plot twist
God upstairs
Watching in silence
In the mirror
I see your favorite song
Turned into a worm
Crawling toward my belly
Your face
Without features
I ask you
Are you hungry?
You ask me
How did you survive?
And the rest is history.


Prayers from Our House Roof

We were boiling bananas on the roof of our house.
Mother’s laughter clutched the heart of my ears.
She was gossiping with a neighbor.
Mother was storytelling, sweet as poetry. I loved
To watch her tongue play the music of conversation.
They worked on their knees, their noses colored by wood smoke. Boiling bananas was like a prayer
We whispered, sang with faces lifted up,
We made art through peeling bananas, slicing them into pieces to boil on the fire, hoping for a kiss on a cheek
From a bird; an old hymn bathing our exhausted souls.
At the roof’s edge, I overlooked a cavernous grotto, and I saw God cooking for children like me. I watched him prepare the dinner table for them in heaven,
A kingdom of mercy. I stretched my arms to touch the magic, then ran to my mother, whimpering
That I saw God cooking for the children. She smiled but continued talking with her neighbor. I yelled
At my mother for attention, pointing, but she just smiled. I kept watching God make delicious food for one hundred children gathered on their knees around him, longing in awe. I waved to them,
But they didn’t notice me. I imagined the smell from our rooftop carried a kind of hope.
Under my bare feet, bananas peels and two bowls, one for us and the other for the hungry people
In our neighborhood. It became a ritual ever since one hundred children had died of hunger,
One hundred innocent souls vanished. I swear I saw God cooking for them, but no one believed me; they just kept smiling.


Amirah Al Wassif has two poetry collections: For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, February 2019) and the illustrated children’s book, The Cocoa Boy and Other Stories (Poetic Justice Books & Arts, February 2020). Her poems have appeared in print and online publications including South Florida PoetryBirmingham Arts JournalHawaii ReviewThe MeniscusChiron ReviewThe HungerWriters ResistRight Now, and several other publications, and her upcoming poetry collection, How to Bury a Curious Girl, was published in April 2022 by Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC, Fairfield, CA.




Feisal G. Mohamed

These poems are excerpted from Feisal G. Mohamed’s work in progress Nowhere is Safe in Gaza, a book-length erasure of South Africa’s December 2023 application to the International Court of Justice charging Israel with violations of the Genocide Convention. 


an apartheid regime

                                                                                    an apartheid regime
                                                                                                                          discriminatory land zoning and planning

                 punitive and administrative house demolitions                                           Israeli army incursions into


villages    towns    cities    refugee camps                                                             routine violent Israeli raids on their

homes   arbitrary arrests       indefinitely renewable administrative detention


                                   without basic protections

      Israeli settlers

                     with full due process




                                                                                              hundreds of multigenerational families have been killed

in their entirety     with no remaining survivors     mothers   fathers   children   siblings   grandparents   aunts

cousins       often all killed together

                                                                                                                 medics in Gaza have had to coin a new

acronym   ‘WCNSF’   meaning ‘wounded child    no surviving family’



‘I have never seen such a thing before’

                                                                                              Israeli  bulldozers  excavated  and  exhumed  a   hospital

mass   grave in the besieged Kamal Adwan hospital on  16  December     where     26 Palestinians had been

buried                                             Hossam Abu Safiya     Head of Pediatric Services

                  stated      “[t]he soldiers dug up the graves this morning and dragged the bodies with bulldozers

then crushed the bodies with the bulldozers         I have never seen such a thing before”



Feisal G. Mohamed is professor of English at Yale University. His latest book is Sovereignty (2020).




Sara Hammami


i miss you the way polaris parkway mall has a grand piano at the base of the escalator in the pink carpet pink wall department store. when it was empty, papi would play the three keys to the pink panther theme song. i miss you the way i knew how to do it perfectly, once upon a time, i miss you the way i miss pressing my tongue to teeth until a faint impression makes a jangle out soft chord percussion. i miss you the way i miss all the fireflies once they spray pesticide. one night i woke up to a dark so vast not even the moon could touch me. i miss you the way i miss the mall. arm in arm and ankle aching. for the last year, i’ve only eaten unripe fruit. i miss you the way i miss summertime wildberries. i miss the soft bite of peach. the sunlight on the peel of mango. i kiss my last box of strawberries into the yard and hope they come back to me wanting. i do miss wanting. i miss holding my breath. i miss turning my lungs inside out. i miss myself into frown lines. i miss you into ribbed over xylophone. when i unbox the house, i leave all last impressions of you up. is this a selfish poem? this is a selfish poet. i miss the long line. i miss the decanter of crystal and tropical storm. i miss you and all the pastel houses on the shore. with hurricane season coming, i miss clear skies. i miss the impression of wood. i shred into tissue-vein paper. i paper-mache a mirror. i miss the reflection. i miss taking the outerbelt home. i miss the abyss of forest. i miss the time before i knew the outerbelt was called the outerbelt. i miss keeping my eyes closed. i miss enjoying my voice. i miss pulling into the space next to the space by lettuce lake park. i miss looking. i do miss looking. i’m sure it had a name, once. i miss remembering our names vividly. i miss us into an oblivion. i miss you into a new language. we break/shift into a new mode of conversation. i miss you like i miss the landline.   i do miss the landline.   i always loved everyone at the end.        briefly,                                                       i reconstruct my whole life.

iram of the pillars


              LIMINAL SPACE:                                     we all become
                                                                                                other. sudden. everything i do,
                                                                                 we did.  before.                                 clay tap these pillars
                                                                                                              up there
                                                                                                                              on that slant.



                                                                                                                                                             I WOKE UP IN
                                                AGONIZING ANHELO.
                                                              I SAW,
                                                                                                         THE TWO OF US
                                                                                             A FAR OFF PLACE
                                                                                                          A HOST

              LIMINAL SPACE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of every desire,
                                                                            the most tangible
                                                                                                            that i whisper, then dissolve    
                                                                                                                                                                           y además,
                                                                                                                                                          lo coloqué en encounter
                                                                                                                          chance & entangled
                                                                                                                                                                      sweating y lo

                                                                            YOU’LL FIND ME HERE AGAIN.
                                                                                         CAVERN CRACK MY JAW
                                                                                                                    REMOVE MY RIGHT HIP
                                                                                                       IN THE CURVES OF COCCYX A CITY IS
                                                                                                                                                             A DNA PRINT
                                                                                                                                               A DUST DANCE

                                                                                                                                               OH, WE WERE HERE ONCE,
              LIMINAL SPACE:


                            HERE IS THE TRUTH — THE STORY LONG SUBMERGED +
                                          UNDISCOVERED — NO — ERASED — WE REVELED
                                          DIM LIT SUN — FINGERS ENGULFED DEEP IN FLESH
                            FLOOD — SMELLING OF SWEAT + SOAP —
                                          UNDER EONS OF SAND I UNCOVER A WATER
                                                        BREATHING — LIFE — UNHOLY — I COWER — BURY
                                          THE GLASS SHARDS — WHEN THE WORLD FLIPS
                            SOMEONE TURNS MY REFLECTION INTO JEWELRY —
                                          SOFTENED — ENMESHED — IN LOVE — PALATABLE
                            SCORCHED DAYS GONE, GONE, GONE! UNIFORM, FINALLY!
                                                                                    FINALLY! FINALLY! FINALLY!


sara h. hammami (she/her) is fragmented between language(s) & is always thinking & dreaming of life underwater. she has poems living with DEAR Poetry Journal and Grist.




Robin Steve

(transition as) times i almost decomposed

as mosquitoes                                    a forgotten dark sliver in the canopy     more poison than
                                                              blood streaming through my veins     my body so hot     my
                                                              mother said     it almost glowed

as ostrich meat                                   that my father     made us eat     i regret     nothing more    
                                                              than eating speed on land     as if it was nothing     but a

as lichen                                                i turned     into dust     to try and be     algae     & fungi    
                                                              & a mirror for insects     to be used     for everything     that
                                                              needs     to be built              

as sea lettuce                                      sticking on the soles of my feet     often     picked up    
                                                              & held     against the sun     to see    its lack of veins
                                                              sometimes     shredded like tissues     rarely     deep fried &
                                                              crushed     between teeth

as pigeons                                            whose corpses     i almost stepped into    more times that i can                
                                                              count     their necks bent     at too acute angles     i  meet
                                                              them     on every street     as if they were dropping     from the
                                                              sky     instead of rain

as someone i was not                         is sleep really that similar to death? asleep     i have been    
                                                               everyone     and someone else: a woodpecker     a cowboy    
                                                               a werewolf     even a sea storm     even     my past self

as deep deep purple                            could rot     ever bruise? could it ever match     my skin    
                                                               when i press     fingers into flesh     and let them sink     too
                                                               much     hoping     to reach     deep     within     the soil    

like when in summer the asphalt slightly melts and my thumb can feel hot softness giving in


Robin Steve is a trans queer poet and researcher. They live in Dublin, where they are pursuing a PhD in creative writing. Their research, funded by the Irish Research Council, focuses on the intersections between trans poetics, trans ecologies, and trans temporalities. Their poetry has been published on Honest Ulsterman, Abridged, and Impossible Archetype. They are a member of the Trans* Research Association of Ireland (TRAI), which you can find here. You can find Robin on both instagram and twitter at: @robinsteve189.

Rook Rainsdowne

My Trans Body as a Spanish Giboso

Excerpts from YouTube, X (Twitter), and Facebook comments

Your egg hatches.

There are soft hands.

Soft eyes meet yours.

World of song and chirp.

Warm dry nest. Safe.

The soft man smiles.

“Hello,” he says.

“Pretty bird,” he says. Voice soft.

The cage is clean and there are birds.

Wear sunshine.

Sing lemondrop bright.

“Pretty bird,” he says. “Pretty bird.”

Stretch and flutter.

Cage plastered in ribbons and rosettes that agree: pretty bird.

Sit on the soft man’s warm finger.

He strokes your bare chest, your curled feathers.

Be grotesque and twisted.

Be half snake half gargoyle.

Be loved.

Rook Rainsdowne is a poet currently attending Eastern Washington University’s MFA program. They have been published in Protean, Ligeia, and Fifth Wheel, among others. They are a co-founding editor of COOP: chickens of our poetry. You can find more of their work on




Rasha Abdulhadi

Koans to Love By

sweet as my lover’s concern and the solution
sweet as winning the argument and my lover’s pain

sweet as moth light in the mountains on a screen door
sweet as leaving gifts in the waiting homes of my friends

sweet as my lover’s shame and a long ride alone by the water at night
sweet as my lover’s regret at what we grew and harvested ourselves

sweet as she got it right this time, finally, my mother, I wish
sweet as a 3/4 ton diesel truck with a tape deck and a mountain highway

funny as the hell we make ourselves and the dog’s impatience with my reasons
funny as calamities visiting in group tours and an exit interview with nothing to lose

we danced like old folks on a long walk by the charles river
while the hours passed like books lent to friends
while the hours passed like casualties

A hungering word

I arrive first enemy of empty teeth
first and worst even before the hunter’s claw, lingering longer
long thin whine, ache in bellows and brain,
feeling that destroys other feelings
ambition killer, focus murderer, murderer outright,
thief of mineral in bone, thief of sugar for thoughts,
disaster of the body to scavenge itself

I am weapon always of the king
end always of the empire
threat of breadwinning withheld
what your family can’t or won’t feed you
the pit, the pendulum, the carrot, the stick
born triple sibling to desire and fear,
root deeper than anything you can learn or unlearn or choose

I have become        cudgel of tyrants,
cosmic excuse of robber barons washing their crimes in charity
an accounting error
the failure to distribute abundance
a carefully curated and choreographed theatre of death, a danse so macabre
          to keep us all in line, to keep us all on the factory line, to keep us all on the running wheel
dangerous margin sliced so fine, founding stasis of world order,
the match to light revolutions.

Rasha Abdulhadi is calling on you—yes you, even as you read this—to renew your commitment to refusing and resisting genocide everywhere you find it. May your commitment to Palestinian liberation deepen your commitment to your own. May your exhaustion deepen your resolve and make you immovable. May we all be drawn irresistibly closer to refusals that are as spectacular as the violence waged against our peoples. Portrait by JJ Dumont, 2020.




Malcolm Friend

J-Lo wraps herself in a Puerto Rican flag wrapped in an American flag,

and a collection of chords bundles into a skeleton.
Diva wrapped in two flags, voice wrapped
around songs marching one long funerary procession.

How natural it is to sing American.
How natural it is to hope this cacophony maps
us a country: collection of chords, bundle of skeletons,

repetitive rhythm this empire’s lesson.
The coquí’s croaked nocturne cracks
our anthems from one long funerary procession,

sugarcane fields and coffee crops embedded
with a chorus of protests. An archipelago slapped
into a collection of chords, bumbling skeleton

of an orchestra symphonized until there is no question—
we are American as anyone else who isn’t really, the gap
between our every song just another funerary procession.

And for a moment I imagine myself dressed in
the cloth of two flags—how they thrash, how they flap,
tune my body into a collection of chords over my skeleton
and every song I know into one long funerary procession.


All Diasporican All the Time

—after Taína S01E05: “En Español”

All flags draping fire escapes or windows or rearviews all the time.
All sky blue flags ’cause fuck Americanization all the time.
All bomba plena salsa reggaetón blasting from computer speakers all the time.
All Don Q or Palo Viejo but never Bacardí rum nationalism all the time.
All plátanos eaten at whatever Caribbean restaurant you can find all the time.
All Clemente and Don Pedro portraits in the restaurants all the time.
All Clemente jerseys even if we’ve never been to Pittsburgh all the time.
All TV blasting home runs and strikeouts from baseball games all the time.
All rooting for boricuas en las grandes ligas all the time.
All rooting for Puerto Rico against the US in international play all the time.
All weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepa all the time.
All How could you tell I’m Puerto Rican? all the time.
All straight A’s in high school Spanish while stumbling over a Spanglish tongue all the time.
All pronouncing it Porto Rico ’cause Americanization fucks us all the time.
All substituting spices and produce in the family recipes all the time.
All Cheo boleros on the heartbroken days all the time.
All gray Seattle skies instead of tropical sun are heartbreak all the time.
All Puget Sound chill instead of Caribbean Sea breeze is heartbreak all the time.
All summers passed without a trip to Borinquen are heartbreak all the time.
All plans to bring Pops back to the homeland one last time falling through all the time.


Malcolm Friend is a poet originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University and his MFA from University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of the chapbook mxd kd mixtape (Glass Poetry, 2017) and the full-length collection Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple (Inlandia Books, 2018), winner of the 2017 Hillary Gravendyk Prize, and co-edited the anthology Até Mais: Latinx Futurisms (Deep Vellum, 2024). Together with JR Mahung, he is a member of Black Plantains, an Afrocaribbean poetry collective. He currently lives and teaches in Austin, TX.




in8 iĐ

O-ring Codex

in8 iĐ is the author of the forthcoming 2-byte βeta Ei8ht ½-Loops, from which this excerpt was taken. Collectively, under various other identities, they have published other book objects including 1/ 4 i am ĐNA, 4ier X-forms, Textiloma, A Raft Manifest, and Ark Codex ±0. They also make music as Sound ƒuries and blog at




antmen pimentel mendoza

A Hookup Explains His Planned Ouroboros Tattoo as I Contemplate Deleting All Photos of My Ex from My Phone

          Look at the engine.
          Tell me the names you will use
          for every fire there:

                                 disgust—[Portrait in a large
mall in Manila, smiling in a food court] I
could not bear the vinegar, distilled, white,
could not stomach the lake bubbling at the
vents from their place in history, history
being a body of water unfathomable,
spanning ancient land masses for a crown.

                                 want—[Mounting me, in a
mirror] I no longer seek who isn’t seeking me
but there’s no accounting for the lonely
decades, ribless years I spent yearning and I
thought this ghoul might be the stopper large
enough for the wide mouth it never occurred to me to close even on the driest of days.

                                 thirst—[On a picnic blanket
in Tilden, under the sun our temples brushed
lightly against one another] I can’t write
about anything but the spit anymore, but the
christblood stains lifting from the floors of
my tongue by a new brew, and though I
imagined my first kiss after the ghoulish man
would sicken me, might be milkfish on an
unknowing palate, I couldn’t stop asking the
man to pour his spit into me.

                                 sweetness—[Our pitbull in
lap, on a bench, above the bay] I ask, but what
of the rot? what of the saccharine profane?
what of the animals dangling bioluminescent
appendages to lure? to lull?

                                 geography—[Smoking a
joint, on the rocky shore of the Yuba River]
I jest about physical limitations, list
activities that are not in my blood like ice
skating, field hockey, living away from the
ocean, and I hope my ancestors have a sense
of humor, want me to remove all limits.

                                traditions—[Pissing cock out
in the mirror of a Seattle rental] I cannot
account for the saints I ask for by name, the
beads I count, every curve of heat I call god
under my breath.                        

                                 curiosity—[Portrait in a
basement bedroom, in a wig] I say: what a
gentle name, what a soft practice, what

                                 gratitude—[At a basilica,
gilded] each of my classmates and I were
shown  a   square                       of  tape  on the
carpet,      the teac                        her instructing
us to  use  our im                     agination:      it
was the   baptism                       al font, the acts
of  pageantry  ne              ed       our    
careful practice and around the font, we learn
that rehearsal is the Catholic way.            

                                 habit—[Screenshots  of  a
profile] if I split the fibers enough times, if I
thin the stalks, if we are endless, as promised,
then when is the last of you?                


                           The anger is syntaxed
just above my right hip, logic-bound

into a discrete shape—I extract
like the hair I pull from the drain, like

the repeated ingestion of my own tail, like
telling his friends I’m single

again, like I was always someone tender
enough. I finger bundles of greens

at Berkeley Bowl, imagine what woman
I am when eating each: virgin

with the escarole, menace with the ong choy,
queen with the chard. Woman is a word,

a woman is a bond I can’t begin,
let alone keep. I’m freckled today,

feckless in my hunger for a lox bagel, for a nicer
apartment, for someone hard and raring to go.

Photo by Paul Goudarzi-Fry

antmen pimentel mendoza (they, he, she) is the author of the chapbook MY BOYFRIEND APOCALYPSE (Nomadic Press, 2023; reprinted by Black Lawrence Press). antmen writes, works at the Multicultural Community Center at UC Berkeley, and studies at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. antmen’s poetry is published in Underblong, Peach Mag, Split Lip and anthologized in Best New Poets 2023. antmen lives in Oakland and is online as @antmenismagic and at




Sher Ting Chim


In 1942, under Operation Sook Ching, men were corralled and interrogated, notably in Chinatown,and taken away by the truckload to remote areas, such as Changi, Bedok, and Punggol, where their lives were ended by a firing squad.

I think this is the way
                                    of missing you
Much in the way of
                             missing you
How hungry the stomach
                                          milked to its root
The evening stilled
             into what it has forgotten

How are you before you were
                            & you were you were
                                                       before the                        and
     The words that had eluded us         for so long
                                                                                so long
              the lonely island
                            I’d forged from a memory

The face on the mantle speaks with
                                              Such sad eyes
              Such sad I’s
                            Like I was once a rickshaw driver but.
    Some lots were stones.

Some suns never set

          The long shadows cast
                                   into the cell when they came
                     Incense curling a fist
                                                through the window
                         And I still remember
                                                      the gun that came around,
          The moths caught in my throat,
     And you left through the back
                   Not in front of them please

Those damn buts.

Squared off by the bullet
               into a sky that feels like an eternity No
                             one could have

I think you thought that
             Some time on that long drive
                                                        Into eternity

   If only there was something we could destroy
                               That night in Babel
                If only it hurts much as the giving

And morning glory,
                             you welcome the day after
             The carnival of flies.
                     Only the left behind knows
                                                     what was left behind.

Pa, such is the missing.
                            Such is the missing in the part of me missing
                                                 and missing you.

A Canon of Constraints

Consecration     Take these hands and use it
                               for another purpose, this
Country               has another name we have
                               mispronounced into a
Curse                    We carry scars
                               that we keep picking into
Cicatrices            Where we are circling a moot point
                               like a hawk with a clover in its
Claws                   I know they are called talons but after the
                               war, is our existence not a misnomer? We call
Crooks                 The ones who burnt the mama shops
                               to the ground, not the
Colonial               Rule that ran
                               that night on the
Concrete             Bridge,
                               they made
Crucibles             From our jars of clay
                               in the middle of a
Century               When they are moving
                               but we are still in
Calamity              The many times we have stemmed the
                               blood with mugwort leaves, sleeping in
Candle-light       The firecrackers
                               sound without
Celebration         Someone tells you
                               thank God you’ve survived
Carnations          Line the streets,
                               beneath the wind’s
Caress                  Gentle, like
Caros                    the way my grandma says my father is
                              only sleeping, the same way you’d say
Cerulean             Like forgiveness,
                              only lighter
Carnage              Even in the courts, they will deny these
                              monsters they’ve made.

Sher Ting is a Singaporean-Chinese writer. She is a 2021 Writeability Fellow with Writers Victoria and a Tin House 2024 Winter Workshop participant. She has work published/forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Salt Hill, OSU The Journal, and elsewhere. Her debut chapbook, Bodies of Separation, is published with Cathexis Northwest Press and second chapbook, The Long-Lasting Grief of Foxes, is published with Mouthfeel Press. She tweets at @sherttt and writes at