Mapping the Imperfect Body by Eleonora Luongo

My hips are tectonic plates shifting. A heart-shaped bone.  In the seams: a spiral vine roots, Fibonacci unravels into feral cliff road. serpentine spine carved from stone I’m strong like the weed is stubborn. Not beautiful but alive. Bent back to an approximation of flower. Reaching. Still. The most scenic roads curve madly, a sweeping dare. Don’t think, drive, don’t die—trace your hands along this map this improper bony land.  each vertebrae a trail leading further in Sky, asphalt, rock, sea smash together, break apart. Skin covers bent bone this grand costume, hair, makeup: splendor          …

Two Poems by Bex Hainsworth

  Fin A small mountain rises from the swell beyond the bow. Grey-black, sleek sheet metal, ready to be scrapped for parts. The hammerhead is hauled onto the deck. A silver hook of fear, pulsing, panicked, twisting like an exposed muscle. Pinned down, she is shorn of her angles, pared to a slender carcass, eel, submarine, then tossed overboard like a surplus torpedo. On the dock, a thousand triangles are laid out to shrivel, a distant sun squeezing them dry. The rest hang from apartment balconies like bunting. At market, the fins are amber flags, half-mast. Layered across the stalls…

my name is wolf (a boy/then a young man) by Chiwan Choi

  at school from 1st grade through grad school / through four different languages the teachers / didn’t tell me about the weight of time / embedded in your body like hauntings / in this house made of bones and skin // a year lost walking on my complexion / and first footsteps at venice beach / as demarcation of assuming this life / that was meant for someone else // all the years at my father’s church in culver city / filled with addicts and the lonely / i never wanted to meet god / i wanted a life…

Brass City by Tiana M. Reynolds

Once upon a time, I dreamt of sirens bruising the morning sky over coffee. There was no relief in the shadows of the buildings, sticky hot fingers reaching across the sea, crawling out of the waves to cast themselves heavy over the fishermen, the beach while I poured a second cup from the pan. The kitchen smelled of breakfast and powdered soap. If I was lucky, he wouldn’t come home that night. Brick by brick, the skyway shrinking but the sun blotted out my name years ago, and I doubted a few bricks could give it back. The day I…

Two Poems by Janice Kennedy

  The Journey There is but one road here in this desert, where mountains rise in the distance only to disappear. At night, when you stop for sleep, the stars fall all around you. What you have left behind, you cannot remember. What you are going toward, you may never reach, like the mountains or that star. But what does it matter when you are a traveler, when there is only one road, and you are on it.   Watermelons This year, my father is growing watermelons. I go out and walk among them in the fields, ripe and ready…

Dexterity by Robert L. Penick

We are the damaged ones making the art singing the songs acting the roles to distract you from self, time and mortality. You can find us at three a.m. on the public radio cleaving time planting hope meaning, joy and, perhaps, stamina. We wait your tables serve your coffee stock your shelves then work our quiet unhinged hours to create the things that keep you human.  The poetry and prose of Robert L. Penick have appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, Plainsongs, and Oxford Magazine. His latest chapbook is Exit, Stage Left,…

Two Poems by Ellen June Wright 

You Ask Me Where It Comes From   It comes from anywhere and everywhere.                     It’s the irritant that starts the nacre’s flow  within the shell, the thing that captures your                    attention and won’t let go. Somewhere in the back of your brain as you go about common duties:                      washing dishes, folding laundry,  it begins to form until you pry your mind                     open with a sharp knife, move the mantle  of the mollusk and roll the pearl between your fingers.                      Inspiration can come slowly, grow like a jewel  at the sea’s bottom or like a stone flung from across                      the street by some rude boy—drawing blood.  That’s…

Studying Myths and Symbols of Pagan Europe by Barbara Daniels

  All over this blue earth, life calls to life, dog to man, girl to an arum lily. Here, dear (insert your name),  we have soup on the stove, steadily simmering but likely to fail again, blown-out lentils, too much sea salt.  I open a book, examine a myth of survival, Celtic spirals, new moons. Blood soaks the stories— dancing warriors, severed heads. I taste a dollop of blueberry honey. Blueberry season lasts five weeks.  Honey preserves its sweet residue. A bird sings so loudly it seems to be on the mantle,  beak open, calling. Why do I live so…

How to Flatten by Jacqueline Henry

  I had never seen a bird flatten itself until I spied a sparrow slip through a slit in the eave of Aunt Ginger’s roof.  It wore a black mask around its eyes, like people do around their fear-of-COVID faces, its feathers beautiful shades of black, gray, and green.  I wonder what it would be like to gracefully flatten. I say gracefully because I know what it’s like to be deflated, and this isn’t that kind of metaphor. This is about fitting into the sacred shape of yourself—in this place, this universe, this eave that really needs you to be…

A San Bernardino Ghost Story by Marissa Alvarez

beginning at the bottom of stairs to a bridge next to the Santa Fe trainyard great grandfather                                 never made it home that pay day stolen wallet stolen patriarch                                a ghost in the bloodline decades of drivers spotting his outline forever crossing the Mt. Vernon bridge footsteps quickening to oblivion a shadow in headlights                                …