I Brought My Pitchfork to Dinner by Maria Santa Poggi

  Because I wasn’t in the mood for agreeable conversation. My ancestors, who summoned me here, are drunk. They are slurring their words. Someone at this table committed murder. I’m betting it’s my distant uncle, Andy, who is also a third cousin. My parents are dead but still are fighting about a trip my dad took to the red-light district when I was five. Some things never change. The Italians are yelling, while the Polish are playing cards. There always have been tensions on both aisles of my bloodline. Another great uncle just called me a horse’s ass for sucking…

Dark Violet by Daniel Romo and Steve Castro

    Eggplant or plum or the shade of an index finger tightly woven with string. Restricting circulation in body parts deemed trivial is a favorite activity of young men simply hoping to stay afloat. After all, boys will be buoyant. A surplus of blood is a matter of breadth and breath. A surplus of blood also helps to spread the undead curse. Vampiros lining up victims like groceries, drained purple, then white like a bone picked clean, lying in powder snow. A string, like human hair, can be used to sever limbs. Some people think breathing is underrated. Some…

A Thousand Miles Deep by Yvonne Higgins Leach

    Fifteen years, she’s still cleaning shit out of the kennels at minimum wage. Still saving the dogs too far gone. The biters. The aggressors. The overly anxious.  Hello, Chance, she’d whisper into his dark cage after work. I’m here for you, shutting quietly her truck door. Come along now, singing the long road home.  Scraps-of-life dogs. Year after year, more hay-laden makeshift kennels. Word of “the dog lady” spread. Dogfight-dogs. Amputees. The dogs of PTSD. Hello, Kona. I’m here for you, Hank. Come along, sweet Gunner.  Under the stars, or in the rain, or among the arrowleaf balsamroot…

2002 (When Ryan Dies) by Kindall Fredricks

    We are moon-smacked cheeks all sugared up with candied Presbytaria and boys’ names stranding tooth to tooth like taffy   When we tangle our bodies around the collective love letter to Ryan the silver legs of the desk are as cool as peeled fruit against our skin still brandied with sun from PE    Ryan sits next to Tanav a name Mrs. Liam flicks from her mouth with an ear- tipped smile         Who delivers it? We are supposed to laugh at Tanav when he stubs his tongue on redcoats at the way his shirt gums “M cha l Jack on”…

In My Spanish Speaking Mouth by Lisbeth Coiman

By Lisbeth Coiman I love you in Spanish because in my mouth your name sounds thick like honey A slow drip down my thighs   Each vowel open                    accented marking the syllables like a poem in Braille My fingers sliding softly on your chiseled biceps   with dexterity on the darkness of your skin The rhotic erres roll from the tip of my tongue onto your robust legs   After a pause               they produce a trill My voice quavering    laughter           relish calls your name with diagraphic elles   Spell love with the friction eñes in the palate of…

To Have Breathed All These Days by Jed Myers

By Jed Myers To have breathed all these days and crossed another winter’s start— to have ridden this rolling pebble through the light’s narrows again! To weather the long dark falling on toward the chance of skunk cabbage clean out of the mud— I spotted a hummingbird poking the shrubs for buds in the lean sun, days past the solstice, and thought, let the frackers erode what they must, let Betelgeuse explode if it wants, and those nests of mutant cells in any of our organs’ lobes see what they can conquer. I’m not alone on this heart’s stretch of…

St. Jerome Writing (1605) by Miguel Murphy 

By Miguel Murphy  St. Jerome Writing (1605), Caravaggio   Memento mori as apology for assaulting the lawyer Pasqualone, earning him Papal favor! There, in his brow, not Lear, let’s say, but Hamlet, if he’d survived to annotate his latest on guts, tears, and semen: Some Notes on Treatment as Prevention, in which he’d snigger, Don’t eat the malus. pate. What appears His stylus, paused and feathered. Thumb, forefinger (he needs a manicure) that same hand in the anecdote removed thorn from lion’s paw, curing it. Sometimes, I can’t get in the catheter, said my friend angrily after the plane crash…

my week off by Aïcha Martine

By Aïcha Martine i ask for the room by the window   they say, honey, you know this isn’t a hotel, right? but kindly, like i just don’t understand things yet   i heard doctors don’t have a sense of humor, that if they do, it is phone-cord extra-twisted   so i don’t ask about the “cleaning fee” and the “checkout early” discount or quip, “send you a postcard when i’m out”   in fact i know not to ask for much i’m supposed to revel in the multiverses they show me and promise never to scoff at tenderness again…

I scared off my past self by Sean Cho A.

By Sean Cho A. and everyone else followed. It was December and the trees were bare and unrecognizable. I welcomed the Canadian geese to my back porch with stale rye bread. My past self used to howl for this and that but I tamed him with daily meetings, ugly proclamations, and long prayers.   My body has been silent in all the right ways: motionless as a January lake. The next task: make a list of people to make amends to. Family that gave me too many last chances, friends who by now could only recognize me by my voice.…

His Mother Locks Him in at Night by Matt Dennison

By Matt Dennison Don spends his days walking up and down the street, now, for the exercise, with a straight black cane to support his white Bermuda legs. He waves. I raise my hand from across the street. Between the passing cars he knife-motions the black threads stitched into his throat: lung removed. Points to hip, leg, and side: twenty-foot fall at the baseball game. Waves his cane all over: blood disease, manic-depression, slight touch of schizophrenia. Can’t sleep, cannot stay awake. He does not point out the thick purple splotches quickly covering his arms and legs, all that I…