by Reina Skye Nelson

Love Consumption

In intimate circumstances,
                                in the lavish discotheque

pure and ecstatic

I will be born again at noon.

you are a liar and a thief               I was pleased by
                this. I tell you about
the flesh and what time does to it.

here, psychiatric treatment is not a matter of
putting pills in someone’s mouth

it is art, is pornography
               it comes to you.

Oh wow. Oh, the gurgle and moan                                here have
the heart…my big fat heart.

Because I am interested in the human body. It excites me.

I would take you into a freezer in the meat market and hang you
on the hook like a lamb.

My galactic butterfly, you spin
sunlight into electricity, to emit a soft violet blast.

Honey I love you, I would cut you up one piece at a time.

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Reina Skye Nelson lives on a farm in Olympia, Washington and is an undergraduate student at The Evergreen State College where she studies fine arts and creative writing. Her work has appeared: in The Alexandria Quarterly, SAND Journal, The Underscore Review, Periodical, Forlorn and Right Hand Pointing.

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by Eric Morales-Franceschini

Aesthetic Theory

—after Ada Limón’s “The Real Reason”

That it was once a felony offense to fly the Puerto Rican flag on the island is not my story to tell. It’s my daughter’s. Not long ago, she posted to her bedroom’s wall the “Smithsonian Map of the World.” She’s

an avid reader of fantasy and a freakishly good eight-year-old artist. All of which is to say that, like her father, she’d rather live in an enchanted world. We looked at the map together, pointing to the

equatorial lines and mountain ranges, taking in the scale of the oceans, and wondering how cold it gets in Russia. Innocent. Then, as if instinctively, I looked for the Caribbean islands. You have to understand:

Puerto Rico is so small that you can’t take for granted it will even register on a map of the world. Usually it’s a small speck, no name affixed. And, yes, sometimes (indeed often) it’s not there at all. But

there it was, respectfully robust (all things considered) and appropriately green. I said its Castilian name with a boricua accent and said it with a smile. My daughter’s used to this, so she smiled back. But then I

looked to the bottom of the map, where all the flags are depicted, and palms to the heavens, said: “Y dónde carajo está la bandera de Puerto Rico!?” She’s used to this, too, so she giggled but knew I was

dead serious. What you don’t know is that I’ve never liked our flag. And that’s not meant to be polemical. It’s purely aesthetic, or it would be were it not for history. But all the same it’s a boring

facsimile of an already bland and unimaginative flag, and when I was a kid I loved to look at flags. I’d open our yard-sale encyclopedias and I’d rank national flags all like I’d rank NFL teams, regardless of

how they performed or whether I was supposed to love or leave, fear or loathe them. It was all a matter of beauty, especially of flamboyant colors and solemn icons. Just look at Angola’s or Afghanistan’s or

Bolivia’s. Or, for that matter, so many of the Caribbean islands’ flags, each of which you can find at the bottom of that map, except Puerto Rico’s. Don’t get me wrong. The fact that a Saint Lucian or

Grenadian child could look at that map and see themselves symbolically exist is something to applaud. There are islands smaller than Puerto Rico, after all, and they don’t usually show up. But here was my

daughter, already learning how insignificant she (and her kin) is, already learning to think bigger is better and more is more. And, yes, I’ve heard it said that rallying around a flag is a“syndrome,” and I

don’t necessarily disagree; it’s just that some flags haven’t flown freely all their lives and I want something else for her: for her to wake each morning to a world not orphaned, a world beautiful and unscathed

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Born in Puerto Rico and raised in southern Florida, Eric Morales-Franceschini is a former construction worker, US Army veteran, and community college grad who now holds a PhD from UC, Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. He is author of the chapbook, Autopsy of a Fall (Newfound 2021), winner of the 2020 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. His poetry and reviews have been published at Moko, Acentos Review, Kweli, Witness, The Rumpus, Boston Review, and elsewhere.

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by Elise Tobin Samaha

How the Moon Can Stop the World from Ending

I have four babies frozen in time. Their little snowball bodies are suspended
in petite vials surrounded by liquid nitrogen. I always think of Jurassic Park,

the false-bottom can of Barbasol. In this fantasy, Dennis Nedry,
absconds with my babies and I save them by being the dilophosaurus,

laying in wait, spreading black tar venom all over Dennis’s stupid yellow rain jacket.
It’s always easier to think about movies than reality, the shrinking tunnel of math

these babies must squeeze through. It’s easier to think about where the babies
are right now: climate-controlled storage units with just enough room.

In movies, climate control can turn the sandy loam of a planet like Dune
into the verdant paradise of Earth. Easier to think of that than a 50% chance of a live birth,

but when confronted with them, under the microscope, reality seems possible.

Each looks glorious! Like the moon in summer: a dusty slate spun perfectly round,
inspiring people to launch themselves into the unknown, and conspiring with the tides

to shape and reshape existence. This moon, my moon, is what they look like.
They are here, and when I am ready, someone will pluck a moon out of its frozen past,

and my husband will watch from a screen in my hand as the moon touches down
into a red velvet galaxy, and we will wait to see if this moon becomes something even more,

something else: a time traveler summoned here from the frost, surrounded now not by
the vacuous vials of cryospace, but by living tissue of the flesh and plunged into the future.

The tiniest time traveler tasked with terraforming to keep its world from ending.
Tasked with living to keep my world from ending, Or maybe just to keep it

from not changing. To keep it from staying frozen in time without the promise
of new life in this aging land. Without my little moon baby. My time traveler.

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Elise Tobin Samaha is a high school teacher. She has had pieces published in Southern Humanities Review and Stepping Stones Magazine. Her education research has been published in Kappan Magazine.

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by Anhvu Buchanan

The Way Out Is Clear

So they cut off all their hair and went out searching for a vessel. Disguised themselves as trees. They hid in the bottom of a boat. Sometimes there’s no difference between ship and shit. Vomit and bombs and never ending water. Under the cover of darkness. Unattached to a country. They were a floating limb floating. What’s the difference between a blossom and a blur? The witness. They cut their lips trying to gnaw through uncertainty. It tasted like the back of a memory. A gesture disguised as a drowning wave. Goodbye to the thirst and the taste of salt water. A forgotten story made of bone. Often water grabbed them by the neck and shoved panic down their throats. They lost their tongues, their words. What do you call a home that’s disappeared in the mouth of night?

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Anhvu Buchanan is the author of The Disordered (sunnyoutside press) and Backhanded Compliments & Other Ways to Say I Love You (Works on Paper Press ). He was the recipient of the James D. Phelan Award and also received an Individual Artists Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He currently teaches in San Francisco and can be found online at or on twitter @anhvubuchanan.

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by beatriz yanes martinez

The Moon’s Sisters

I stopped drinking coffee after Papita Fidel passed away

He always woke up at 2am to brew his first morning coffee

But today I’m brewing the remaining cafe de palo

In the hopes it will chase away my dream ghosts

Have you ever tried to photograph the full moon?

It’s always distorted

I don’t know what I’m chasing but

This morning I woke up

Again on the illegal side of the sun

In      contaminated      dreamland

In the middle of the night

The moon ruptured itself into a wound

her body is honey, rue and lemon leaves

Obscured in a white gauze

I      am      tired      of      contaminated dreaming

My grandmother used to say the lunares on my body, our bodies

Are the moon’s sisters

Each creating constellation armors in our flesh

I found a new one this morning on the top of breast

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beatriz yanes martinez is a queer undocumented person from El Salvador. She was raised in Long Island, New York. In El Salvador, she grew up listening to her grandparents’ stories of the land, embrujos and their ancestors and now combines the tradition of storytelling to write about memories around displacement, mourning, loss, pleasure, queerness, silence/loudness, and re-imagining the self/childhood. Beatriz currently works with an immigrant legal rights organization in NYC while contending with the perpetual cycle of her documented/undocumented liminal status in this country. She was a recipient of the Brooklyn Poets Fellowship in summer of 2020 and a recipient of the DREAMER Poetry Scholarship from the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop.

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