Three Poems by Ben Murigu

Black Houdini For a while, he’s been missing our Mheshimiwa— A shepherd unseen A leader heard A presence unfelt A true, black Houdini. Five party-branded calendars Cheap and unseemly Used and discarded After having angered our visitors Marred our living rooms. No word from his honorable person No help from his hired personnel. No progress report on his projects Stalled or otherwise No newsworthy mentions No fruitful radio discussions. A Harvard-educated marine biologist Who’s a mirage A myth A true lie, living and breathing— A ghost in his classy government-issued office at Continental House A stranger at his posh wananchi-built…

Thirteen by Tara A. Elliott

Plunging blade into white water,      my older cousin leaves girlhood  in the smooth wake     of creamless strokes.  Later, I creak the vanity     open, knock over bottles and jars      and hunt on Barbie-like tiptoes     for the can of Barbasol. I fill the bath with water so hot it turns bathroom     to cloud, perch along the lip of the tub—     my father’s razor heavy with the weight     of adolescent want. I will not ask anyone how—just     lather, drag the blade, and slice shin into a strip…

POETRY: The cover-up by Saida Maher

  You are poetry with verses that make you gasp and an ending that makes you joy-cry like the day you cover a heavy-handed arabee tattoo that begs for forgiveness with an olive branch from the motherland and you pick the olives and pop them in your pretty pink mouth and, when you’re left with the pits, you recall the seeds of doubt you sowed in falasteen, so you swim over the sea to dig them up and you throw your back out in the below-sea-level swelter and discover that the doubts have sprouted and overgrown, but it’s nothing you…

POETRY: Methuselah Star by Olga Maslova

Some say it’s older than the universe itself but we could see it through your binoculars, the ones you carried to the opera the time we split forever over the third act of Lehar’s Stargazer. We lie on the grass beneath Methuselah adjusting the lenses, Bausch & Lomb your dad’s, their leather holster nearby repaired a few times by an Amish cobbler in Canton, Ohio. Both men would disapprove of us two women=sin, E=mc2 The energy I pour in you today I will wrestle back tomorrow; all the while, Methuselah floods its light into the void for fourteen billion years.…

POETRY: I See the Blind by Laine Derr

I See the Blind Flashing in the morning light, knowing change is but a coin tossed in the air, neither heads nor tails, cement-kissed cheek unable to turn (keeping still) lest I wake the sleeping ones. Cuffed up for being of color, of consequence. Feeling weight, long dead, of a grandmother’s song: On Sundays, I see the blind. When they caught up to me, I slept like a stone, newly polished – a glistening red. Laine Derr holds an MFA from Northern Arizona University and has published interviews with Carl Phillips, Ross Gay, Ted Kooser, and Robert Pinsky. Recent work…

POETRY: Too Much by Jason M. Thornberry

He gave them too much of not enough, So they brought an empty birthday card And lay it against his wet headstone. Jason M. Thornberry’s writing appears in JMWW, Los Angeles Review of Books, North Dakota Quarterly, Harbor Review, Entropy, TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. Assaulted by strangers, he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Relearning to walk and speak—and navigating post-traumatic epilepsy—Jason earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University. He’s currently seeking a home for his first novel. Jason lives in Seattle with his wife and dog and teaches writing at Seattle Pacific University.

POETRY: Death Is a Dress Never by Ellen Devlin

Death is a dress never worn, waiting in our closets linen or wool we can die in any season a dress too important to wear, pushed into a dusty corner of occasion dresses bridesmaid dresses don’t fit dresses sale dresses dresses the moths got dresses bought in bad light drunk dresses pooled on the floor worn out dresses worried dresses we never get it right. Ellen Devlin is the author of the chapbooks Rita and Heavenly Bodies at the MET. Her recent journal publications include Beyond Words (2023), Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art (2023), Muleskinner Journal (2023), Rock…

HOW TO MEDITATE I & II by Mykki Rios

HOW TO MEDITATE drift your skull to lilacs crest your brow with pineapple sage dream rose into your nostrils wake crying butterfly pea and cornflower fill your lungs herbaceous inhale parsley exhale mint rinse your hair with rice water let the dark of your insides deepen plum and charcoal  where light won’t reach fade your bruises with buttercup whiten your eyes with heartburst ring in every bitten strawberry stake your core with yew so you leak starfruit and cotton candy grape dance turmeric into your hips saffron your thighs balm your foot soles with aloe or clay HOW TO MEDITATE…

too tired to lie down by Maestro Gamin

I’m tired how murder  follows us how we’re an all too accessible play area  for anger’s russian roulette merry go round and how this, patronizing, cautionary life of smiles and apathy for our death  waits freer than we ever were sweeping us vagrantly in riptides complacency in a glass of tap water poison in flint from slave patrol city minders too scared to be outspoken, too sour to let peace slip toward our space, too eager to kill their way into a co-opted white saviorhood. the sum of me after I regather what’s left, never amounts enough to save any…

Ethical Anarchy by Brenna Cheyney

We go together like loofah and linen— compostable, antimicrobial— soil cake in the gut house, nice parasites with stylet quips, sealing lips from disease. Mutuals suggest we left our dust to mingle—  skin cells, hair shed— without banter laughter balm, and yogic twister lip calms. Or maybe you’re the night sun  and I’m the fun jungle, mistaking fungal for lunar— blue oysters, deep-fried— hinting at single on the side. Crushing on de-extinction, we go together like thylacines and  fat-tailed dunnarts, a daydream, scheme-editing with funds and labs, distracting from the crisis at hand. Sweet tongues for invasives, trachea bent from…