Beyond This Courtyard There Be Dragons

by D.S. Grauel Gloves, nitrile with the scent of industry, Mask, moist with fetid breath, the two—a double-edged salvation– are not with me at this tender moment. One in the trash. The other, laundry room sink. My face is nude.   I open the door with Barbaresco Nebbiolo in hand, a cellar selection gifted from a friend in Porta Venezia, Milano. Ex-patriot, locked down in the quartiere. Soldiers outside. I swore to save it for my birthday. But it is debatable if birthdays will come.   I step outside into the courtyard for the elixir of life: air. No cars.…

Book Review: Atomizer

by Sara Grimes Elizabeth A. I. Powell doesn’t pull any punches when satirizing her lovers in Atomizer. The collection is a sassy, whip-smart treatise on the deceitful nature of love, using the extended metaphor of scent as a cover-up. Powell brings each love under the microscope of her fierce poetry to see if it is in fact a gem or a lump of coal. Oftentimes it is the latter. She extends the same analysis to all love relationships—romantic, imagined, or familial. In “The Book of Sires”: “My homage: He was an atelier of garbage. How his microaggressions of Paco Rabanne…

Devourer by Elya Braden 

By Elya Braden  Devourer (2007), Dana Schutz   inspired by Devourer  by Dana Schutz What if people could eat themselves?                                                       – Dana Schutz, 2007   Before satisfaction, the abandonment of restraint. How long have I craved the particular salt of my own skin? My four-year-old thumb in my mouth, nesting in hunger’s soup. For years, tiny pricks and cuts bloomed red on my fingers’ ridges and valleys—clumsiness or a thirst for my own…

Photo Essay: Near & Far

When California locked down last March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the physical world seemed to shrink overnight. To contain the virus, we were instructed not to travel unless we were frontline workers. Many of us were confined to our homes.

Something to Cool You Off

by Dean Smith Saturday afternoon, summer of ’44, heat rising from the Durham tar, Private Booker T. Spicely boarded a bus, cradling a watermelon for a mother and her son, strode proudly in uniform into the second to last row. The driver, Lee Council, watched him from the mirror, never said a word until two white soldiers got on, then pointed to the State Law sign requiring negroes to “sit from the rear,” and told the black soldier to move all the way back. Spicely stood up, smiled, and said, “If I can take a bullet and die for democracy,…

Into the Afterlife

By Cliff Saunders

What happens when you die?
I think you’ll open at last
into the pain of oceans,
into memory and its horizon,

into music, music, music.
I can’t tell you when the lilies
will be glorious, when red flags
will be singing over the edge

Sweet Nothings

By Cliff Saunders

There is no brotherhood of smiling wizards,
no mantra against the bells of teen spirit.

No mystery here—stones celebrate with song
how they shape the world into mountains

and waterfalls, their voices full of gracefulness
and elegance. We ought to let them dream

The Search for Happiness

By Cliff Saunders

Want to be happier?
Welcome birds to your
vast coral bed of remembrance.

You are assured of getting
your compass of moles,
your weekly copy of available space.

Give your heart a little bit
of soul, a pivotal spin
on the altar of your mountain porch.

Decade Old Elegy: Personal Dream

by Sean Cho A.

and you wake. You’re in the passenger’s seat
now here’s the first choice:
look forward or
look left
what you chose says a lot
about trust. Let’s say you look left.
The man driving looks like your father.