by Jeremy Radin

Why the Great Silence


            after Alejandra Pizarnik

Why the great silence

I scream at the cattle

turning their circles

in the field of asters

Why the great silence

moo for me my mournful

choir I demand the mooing

asters sticking up

between my toes

and now I am climbing

a tall aster to the sun why

the great silence the aster

grows from under

my solitude so thin so thin

the cattle watching

they say nothing the cattle

eating asters passing grief

from one stomach to the other

like a fad between

generations hand over hand

I go up the aster

with my stolen milk from one

great silence to the next

like an aster between

the stomachs of a cow

and arriving at the great silence

I am welcomed

not as a friend but as

a double over the cattle

over the asters over

the field of all my failed little songs

Powered by Froala Editor

Jeremy Radin is a writer, actor, teacher, and extremely amateur gardener. His poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Ploughshares, The Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, The Journal, and elsewhere. He is the author of two collections of poetry: Slow Dance with Sasquatch (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012) and Dear Sal (Not A Cult, 2022). He is the founder and operator of Lanternist Creative Consulting, through which he coaches writers and performers. Follow him @germyradin

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

by Noor Khashe Brody

Proof of Living

I drive down I-5 past almond trees
             flat charcoal vector field
scoring the direction and magnitude

of last summer's fires
             In my right mirror
flickers a crane

in a brown ditch bowed
             marble Madonna
wings parting white folded robes

Starlings swarm the overpass
             their mud nests
thick oil paint slip

past as if I’m not the one moving
             At the Grapevine I park
in the shade of a Shell station

sleek grackles lurk
             below an old poplar
little birds like sepia memories

arranged on a picket fence
             Surfing San Onofre at sunset
I mistake a string of gulls

for a helicopter
             through soft breakers
I follow the perfect

silver circle above the horizon
             I think, I have caught the moon
at its fullest watch it

for a few seconds or minutes
             when clouds weaken
it bites my eyes

the sun all this time
             That night on the bluffs
three aircraft land

in the grass their wings
             stern black brows
Back home

I pretend highway 24’s roar
             is the hush of a stream
the yard is squirrel

scrabble on redwood
             slow yawn of a Boeing
ambulance wail

bird mnemonics—
             hoodle hoodle drink-your-tea cherry
cherry cherry peter peter jeremy

I don’t know what
             each song means don’t
know what the ambulance meant

I am relearning nouns
             from early childhood:
truck, sun, bird, plane

I read the crane was an egret
             the starlings were swallows
I look up

the aircraft
             its name,

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Noor Khashe Brody lives in Oakland, CA. They are a graduate of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People. Send noor fanmail and find their published poems and crosswords at

Powered by Froala Editor

by J.P. White

You There in Bed Still Sleeping

Any minute now, I am going to fall more and more in love

With every encounter in my world. The stinkbug on the ceiling,

The mouse in the ceiling joist, the linden that died over the winter.

Any minute now, the spring that will never arrive will be my friend

And the dream of the angel with the flaming sword who keeps

Me from returning home. Any minute now, I will stop writing

letters to the governor and telling him where he has failed

to meet his obligations and I will sit gladly under the rain fly

of everything I don’t understand. Any minute now I assure you

everything in my world and yours will be regarded as sacrament.

The locked door, the open window, you there in bed still sleeping.

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in many places including The Nation, The New Republic, The Gettysburg Review, Agni Review, Catamaran, APR, Salamander, Catamaran, North American Review, Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, Southern Review, The Massachusetts Review, Water-Stone, The New York Times, Willow Springs, Crazyhorse, and Poetry (Chicago). He is the author of five books of poems, a novel, Every Boat Turns Screen credit for Moving Parts. He is also editor-at-large for Plant-Human Quarterly.

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

by Brendan Todt

What Little Present He Could Give Her

The open-layout kitchen was in the middle of the house, and of course there was no way to avoid it. He asked her not to pass through it. Not to come down and investigate. At one point he asked her to stay in the bedroom, close the door, and not smell anything. This was unfair, ridiculous, counterproductive, and afterward he opened the bottle of sparkling rose, poured her a glass, and brought it to her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just wanted it to be special. To be a surprise.” 

“It’s something,” she said. And then she stopped herself. “I appreciate the effort.” 

He didn’t like hearing about effort. He wanted to pull it off—a dinner like the ones they used to enjoy at the fancy restaurant in Minneapolis when they lived there. But they had talked in the bedroom longer than he had planned, and so by the time he arrived back downstairs, the beurre blanc had overboiled the pot and somehow one of the two grouper filets was missing. 

“The sonofabitch dog,” he said out loud. He knew his wife couldn’t hear him. He knew the sonofabitch dog couldn’t either, old as it was. It impressed him as much as it angered him to know that the dog had somehow gotten paw or snout onto the counter and snagged one of the two entrees. The dog would die soon, he knew, which they were both prepared for. But he was not prepared for telling his wife he would not want another. Not ever. He was prepared for kids. But kids were not like dogs. 

When their son died, very early, it hit her hard that it didn’t seem to hit him hard. He wanted other children he had said at some point, probably too early. He wanted that child, too, he quickly clarified. 

He went upstairs again. With nothing. He said nothing and kissed her. He did not like leaving her alone like that. Again.

This was all supposed to be part of a romantic evening. An anniversary. A happy one. They each remembered the date they found out they were pregnant. They remembered the birthday, and the day their little boy died. 

They hadn’t started trying again. But they hadn’t been protecting themselves, either. Sometimes it was hard for him to touch her because she felt like one long, tall wound. “I want you to be here, present with me,” she’d said once, while they were in the middle of things. To which he’d said, “Okay.” 

He split the remaining grouper filet in two. He would use it as the appetizer and move the gnocchi to the main course. He ran his knife up under the skin of the fish. He’d gotten good at this, especially after she’d bought him the fileting knife from some artisanal metal shop in Kentucky near where she used to buy her Bourbon when she visited her mother there. Off came the whole skin, with just a minimal amount of cleaning left to do. He held the skin of the fish up in the light like a pelt, as though he were a man who had just killed a wild animal, a man living in a world in which there were no grocery stores and no beurres blanc, where the death of children was still a sad but endurable occurrence. 

He loved her, but he also suspected this may be their last anniversary. He didn’t think it was fair. If their marriage was going to end, he thought, one of them ought to be responsible for it. Somebody ought to have cheated. Sinned. Gambled away more than half of their shared life savings. 

He had dressed up in shirt and tie for their dinner—under his apron—and was sweating and wishing he was handsomer. Maybe if he were handsomer, he thought, it would be easy for him to snag another woman for a night. Then he could bed her, discard her, and confess it all to his wife. That would make for a clean break at least. She wouldn’t have to think of the child they’d lost when she talked about her divorce. And he could feel like a man—a bad man—but a man again. 

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Brendan Todt lives in Sioux City, Iowa. His most recent work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Necessary Fiction, Reed Magazine, and The Ekphrastic Review, where his poem “Because the Living May Be Worth Something, Too” was selected as a Best of the Net nominee. He won the 2021 Juxtaprose Poetry prize. Brendan teaches creative writing at Morningside University.

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

by Fay Sachpatzidis

Aunt Bank

It was a dark time.

The year was 2004. I was 12 when my mother loaded up a U-Haul truck and drove my six-year-old sister Lana and me 500 miles south from everything we knew—including our father after 20 years of marriage. In her North Carolina hometown—a small insignificant place nothing like our home in Brooklyn—my mother stepped into newfound independence, stopped wearing her wedding ring, and began working for the first time in over ten years.

Because she worked the night shift as a correctional officer in the town over, she dropped us off at our great aunt’s house instead of leaving us home alone every night. My Aunt Bank must have been about 75 or 80 at the time and was extremely bony. She lived alone in a dilapidated house and had a lazy guard dog that she kept chained to a tree in her front yard. I don’t believe my mother was very close to her but she was the easiest option.

My mother beamed with pride every Friday, when the teller slid her week’s pay under the partition window at the check-cashing place, even though it was significantly less than the spending money she once received from my father. Every night my mother packed her lunch for the next day—whatever leftovers we had and a can of Pepsi—and returned the next morning just in time to drive us to school. I learned very quickly that the creature comforts I was accustomed to—restaurant meals, newly released Nike’s, cable television—were relics of a former life that no longer existed.

Unlike our two-family home on our tree-lined block in Brooklyn, my mother shoved us into a two-bedroom box on the edge of town. It had belonged to my grandmother before her death and sat abandoned on two acres of land, surrounded by sprawling, overgrown weeds and a graveyard of rust-covered pick-up trucks. The house was weathered and square, with a dilapidated front porch that creaked loudly each time we walked across it. Its wooden floors gave us splinters and were the same ones my mother ran up and down as a child. After many years of neglect, the house needed plenty of renovations. My mother took up the challenge and spent every day after work chipping away at a long list of repairs, employing local handymen for any tasks she couldn’t do herself. Lana and I each had our own bedroom, while my mother converted the living room into her own. The living conditions were a far cry from our previous home, but that didn’t prevent my mother from skillfully decorating each room like an elegant English manor—the product of her obsession with British period pieces and the glossy pages of interior decorating magazines. She has such an intuitive gift for color arrangement and transforming dollar bin fabrics from Walmart into stylish draperies. So much so, that in another life, she would’ve been an interior decorator.


I didn’t really know my aunt too well or why we called her “Aunt Bank” when her first name was Ophelia. Before we moved down South, I only saw her in photos. In person she was frail, with wrinkled, cinnamon skin, saggy breasts that swayed when she moved, and a hunchback that peaked out of her nylon nightgowns like a knoll. And then there was her voice—a small, shaky vibrato mixed with a Southern drawl—that forced me to strain my ears when she spoke. “Wehhhll looook who it issss” she would say each time she opened the door to let us in.

Her house was a hodgepodge of antique furniture with squeaky plastic coverings, yellowing dollies, and tacky dollar store paintings. There was nothing cozy about it, just like there was nothing particularly cozy about her. She had an odd way of interacting with me. Any time I hugged her I was met with a limp pat on the middle of my back. It was almost like she felt pity for me. Pity that I believed she cared. When she smiled at me, it was mechanical as if she had to remember what to do with her mouth. Whenever she reheated leftovers on the stove, she always served Lana a larger portion of food and a dinner roll. When it was my turn, she carefully spooned each sliver of chicken and potato as if she were rationing food. It went on like that for months until I began to pack my own food.

Aunt Bank, I learned, was a righteous woman. A title church ladies use to describe a God-fearing woman who is guided by her strong faith in God. Every Sunday morning, a van would pull up in front of her home and take her to the church. Unlike the old house gowns she wore around us, Aunt Bank’s church clothes were stylish and impeccable. She emerged out of her home wearing suits in rich, vivid colors and an assortment of matching hats. She always read the Bible until she dozed off. We would find her slumped over on her plaid futon with the Bible still in her lap. Growing up in Brooklyn, I overheard stories of Aunt Bank’s husband being a cheater and her youngest child overdosing in a Bronx apartment. Maybe that’s why she threw herself into religion.

One day I came to Aunt Bank’s home with red fingernail polish. “Do you know what kinda girls paint their nails red?” she asked while I read an old copy of Jet magazine on her bed. I looked down at my engine red nail polish and began to shake. “I’m not sure Aunt Bank” I said, staring down at my hands.

“She don’t know Lana. Can you believe that now?” she said laughing, as she turned to my sister who was coloring.

“S-L-U-T-S. And God don’t like them.”

I sat on the bed frozen, pretending to be invisible as my skin began to feel sticky and my eyes welled up. Lana was too little to understand the gravity of her words. She kept on coloring as I quickly began scraping off my nail polish in a panic. I didn’t know what a slut was but I knew I didn’t want to be one.


Every night, right before the sun set Aunt Bank and Lana went outside to kick an old soccer ball around in her front yard. I was never asked to join and understood that it wasn’t worth asking either.

Aunt Bank would let out a small laugh and yell “Goal!” each time she scored. Every few minutes she had to pause for a moment to catch her breath. When they were done Aunt Bank would give Lana a plate of sugar cookies and a glass of milk before falling asleep on the futon.


It may come as no surprise that when my mother called to tell me Aunt Bank died I didn’t react. I can’t even remember what month it was.               

“How?” I said flatly.

“In her home. They found her dead on the bathroom floor,” she replied.

Aunt Bank’s bathroom was located on the opposite end of the living room and had a small window that was always kept cracked. At night when I had to pee, my thighs shivered on the toilet. I pictured her tiny body sprawled out on the cold, blue bathroom tiles unconscious. The cool wind gently sweeping against her skin as the house stood still.

Almost ten years had gone by since I last saw Aunt Bank. We moved back to Brooklyn during my eighth-grade year, and the time I spent in North Carolina became a dreary, suppressed memory.

Over the years Lana and I would laugh about Aunt Bank’s inexplicable disdain towards me, coming up with carefully concocted theories to explain her behavior. Did she have a deep-seeded hatred for biracial children or did her medication cause her to experience random mood swings?

“But that doesn’t explain why she loved you so much,” I’d say to Lana.

“Maybe because I didn’t look like you. My skin was darker and plus I was a child.”

I’ve thought about Lana’s words a lot. My rational mind tells me to trust the simplest explanation: Aunt Bank found my presence painful. I don’t mean the type of pain that carries a slight discomfort which fades with time. I’m talking about the kind that imprints on you and never leaves. When I sort through the fragmented pieces of my memories of her I see a woman who lived in a binary world of Black versus White, who picked cotton alongside her siblings until sundown, who used bathrooms for “Colored only,” who survived in a world that constantly reminded her it didn’t want her. Even though I’m not White or White-passing, I’m still what my cousins down south refer to as “high yella” because of my olive skin tone and mixed race. I’m the obvious enemy, child or not. If the only thread holding it all together is family and I bear no resemblance to anyone on my mother’s side, how could Aunt Bank call me kin?


Recently I was on the F train when the subway doors opened to reveal a short woman in a navy pants suit entering the train. A familiar aroma followed her as she found a seat on the crowded train car. Its composition, reminiscent of a woody trail, consisted of strong musk with hints of vanilla. This phantom scent summoned an old memory I had of Aunt Bank and her perfume. She kept multiple glass bottles of the same perfume all over her nightstand at various levels of fullness. She only wore perfume on Sundays for church service. For a brief moment, Aunt Bank was with me on the subway. While I can’t fully say I miss her or her scent, it brings me comfort now to know that she didn’t dislike me, just what I represented and I can live with that.

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor

Fay Sachpatzidis is a native New Yorker with southern tendencies. She is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize established by John Ashbery. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Normal School, Rattle, and Caldera Magazine among other places.

Powered by Froala Editor

Powered by Froala Editor