for Dan Connolly by Davy Knittle

wrong sway

it’s a weird lip in her voice

grassy, like she’s standing on 


a hill near a city park bathroom

in a part of her home


city you haven’t 

seen. she’s taken


you seven times and you 

keep noting the ballfield 


and water treatment facilities

spotting the modular suburbs


and dairy farms from the reservoir 

ridge: you’ll go again next week


to ask her dad’s permission 

: old school, you drive and listen 


on the Schuylkill Expressway: 

having your ride home conversation 


with her, when you park 

you’ll see her shape with 


the second floor light behind it 

through the windows : 


for now you listen and layer your

affective city over the actual one


stuck in some traffic, drumming

your fingers to no music 


you’re between a poultry truck

and a harmless white sedan  


sip from an occasional water bottle 

playing I-spy with the highway 


citing some items in her voice

plus a few along the road 

bottling facilities 

YMCA campground


area codes of the stars 

people getting speckled 


in the multistory brewpub 

pausing on their long flat drive 


then you’re picturing what 

the region’s aerial grid would be 


if every box of diapers

or boil in bag creamed spinach 


lit up in trunks 

and stomachs and domiciles 


: you’re in the grocery with a 

parking lot, a block from home 


salad, three limes, Bazooka Joe

with the comics 


on your time or off it :

off dairy for a week, see if


it helps: you’re trying out 

being tireless, what if 


every sweat you sweat or file

you filed that day appeared 


in the information of your eye 

or your body temperature did 


or the sentence “my hands are 

cold” or my tax refund 


is sufficient, or we can angle 

toward the music well enough 


to keep going now that we 

dependably get each other to dance 



Davy Knittle is the author of the chapbooks empathy for cars / force of july (horse less press 2016) and cyclorama (the operating system 2015). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Jacket2, Columbia Poetry Review and The Recluse. He lives in Philadelphia, where he runs the City Planning Poetics series at the Kelly Writers House.

by Nicole Connolly

Or Was It the Drippings

I want to tell you I chose to feed the ducks, that it wasn’t me who desired the lover reliable as bread. O beaming woe, I got on the wrong freeway, approached the gas pump on the wrong side, let you love me by the wrong name. Silver lining—that is, reflective—at least it was distance & something close enough to fuel. Shelve my entire, unabridged slop-slop, uncut from the spine. The trick, I guess: A library’s strength has nothing to do with how many pages you read. I could see everyone who would have me; the car would leave a crosscountry of exhaust like breadcrumbs. The route like the mood of us, lover, an unpracticed patchwork. Sometimes, everyone has to take stock of what they have & hope it’s enough. There was something close enough to indulgence in the eat-through of our winter. Whatever we believed about the eventual sun, it was only the ground—after all—that could unfold. Every yellow head could be a mouth, open.

Nicole Connolly lives and works in Orange County, CA, which she promises is mostly unlike what you see on TV. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University, and her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in such journals as ANMLY, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Waccamaw, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. She currently serves as Managing Editor for the poetry-centric Black Napkin Press.

by Edward Manzi

Simulation Theory


You only smell the rain

when it brings mushrooms.


From basements you

make prescribed phone calls

to distant relatives.


Your descendants

program you to feel

the end


with your head down

like a bored teenager.


Edward Manzi lives in Tahoe City, California. His poems have been published in Word Riot, Paper Nautilus, DecomP, The Bakery, Cosmonaut Avenue and other places. His poems have also been nominated for Pushcart Awards and a Best of The Net Award.

by Victoria Le

The Center

we are digging to the center of the earth

the sailor puts a mirror over his eyes

the center is a thing that makes sound out of reach

it is fragile like a sister

one approaches it slowly and makes possible slow attraction

it turns silently in its house 

the sailor says of his intention, “It is the width of the distance to the center”—the sailor with the white eyes, the sailor in love with the eye of

he looks toward the center                                                                

the sailor with the surly demeanor is eating breakfast in the house of the former

having lunch

taking a siesta

lying down in a bed of rice

in underground tunnels they dig slowly

the sailor stretches his paws, digging

the center is round and yellow

it is a congealed tear in a loaf of bread

yellow droplet

it is a yellow stain that impassive weeps fluid

“yet the sun is so close to us,” the one sailor says to the other 

the sailor cries for the center

the sailors put their backs against each other and their faces point to the center 

the center combines itself with others

magnetizes its surroundings

we sense this as attraction

the sailors look at each other across vast spaces

the center is a thing that moves, like a silent brain, turning behind eyes

it is a person, it is not a person

it doesn’t listen, it blinks when you blink

sailors move around in the dark

the underground makes a sound like a circle

and the sun is so close 

and the sun is so close


Victoria Le received her poetic education from the University of Michigan and Brown University, where she earned her MFA. She is interested in the ways empiricism and revelation interact with manifested life. Her poems and translations have appeared in publications such as Orange Quarterly,The Gravity of the Thing, and Transference. She is currently raising a son, a husband, and three cats in Iowa City, Iowa, where she is pursuing research into the poetics of cinema. 

by Natalie Sharp

On Barbery

I haven’t been able to afford a haircut for a smooth three months, which is to say, the kitchen is on fire, which is to say, I’m embarrassed at this point by my hairline and the weird bald spots on the edges that become apparent any time my fade—whose blend may determine whether I go to bed alone after a long night sweating on a dance floor, in a nightclub where it is certainly too hot to wear a headwrap or a beanie, though the latter may at least serve to indicate that I am not a wayward straight girl trolling the gay bar for a story (though I, too, have been ensnared by a curious look and a flannel shirt, and this is Colorado, after all, where the look is as much a pragmatic battle against cold as a nod to other queers)—that style that remains a standby of both my blackness and queerness (though the odds are high that no one cares about it nearly as much as I do, except that I feel justified in my care, because I’m not really looking for anything insofar as I’m trying, at this juncture, to have more reckless sexual encounters than reckless romantic ones, which I suppose is in itself a mission, but a mission that necessitates equal parts game and swagger, and critical to that concoction, of course, is the fade)—is less than fresh.


Having left my last Denver barber due to both lack of funds and his insistence that I’m a “Nubian queen,” a phrase I have never heard uttered in the absence of lofty No-tep expectations of my womanly responsibilities, an Ankh or a wooden pendant of Africa (no specific nation; always the entire continent), and a little of that conspiracy theory blogspot slow burn (“KENDRICK LAMAR AND TOP DAWG ENTERTAINMENT SACRIFICED AALIYAH TO ACHIEVE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS ***FULL POST AT BLACKILLUMINATI.BLOGSPOT.COM***”—the words are always screaming, never whispering as you might if you were confiding a real conspiracy), not to mention the abject horror with which I watched my fantasy of looking like that cute blipster from Pinterest tumble to the ground when this barber, pontificating about something political, took clippers to the bangs I had been diligently growing for three months, and I have neither time nor patience for any of the preceding—so little time and patience, in fact, that I am willing to risk the inevitable assortment of boys and men lined up to get their hair cut, the sometimes hourlong wait, and my own immediate general sweatiness at the daunting prospect of entering a space where I don’t know what to do and where, for that matter, the Southern gentility of my Georgia upbringing, with its emphasis on honorifics and amenability, is not helping, nor is the way I show up in a Male Space, where I can tell they’ve stopped talking about pussy just before I’ve entered the room as though I have no pussy stories to share myself, yet in the face of these plights, I am trying to find a new barber.


When I find myself at a shop up the part of Colfax beyond white bravery (for now) off a friend’s recommendation, I am pleasantly surprised to find that there is no line in the sparse room, white- walled and bare but for a mounted television, three vanities, five chairs, and five men, though the smallness of this circle of people does little to alleviate the anxiety I fully expected, my toes curling and uncurling in my old sneakers involuntarily as I mull over and over whether my entrance was rude or would my limp “hello” suffice, and could they see right through me like all the women seemed to at my childhood salon Gifted Creations, where the hairdressers—whose hands had been blessed by Jesus himself for the divine purpose of slathering no-lye relaxer on the scalps of all the little children—appraised with dissatisfaction my fifteen-year-old knowledge of The Wiz, The Color Purple, and Kirk Franklin, who was as far removed from my life as I was, at that point, from anywhere that would cut my hair short and shave a stylish line in the side to the accompaniment of drum machine R&B, so I am struggling to tell the barber who calls me over to his chair after only 20 minutes what is meant to happen to my head here today.


This barber—having just addressed both his plans to stain and epoxy the bare concrete floors of the shop and to buy new grow lights for his personal weed plants, he who is now painstakingly trying to figure out what the hell I’m asking him to do—is not Buddy, but he is thorough in his questions before he picks up his clippers, and goes simply by “O.”


Now that he has parsed my inelegant request for what it turns out is just a faded frohawk, O chats up Buddy’s customer, a man who appears to be edging up on 40 and sits in the other styling chair. “Yup, the president of Mexico said Fuck You! to Trump!”

O, chuckling.

“You know, this is a lot like ’92.” The customer, reminiscing.

“I mean, what’s the next president gon do? In four years, he’s just gonna knock the wall down.”

O, optimist. “How y’all been?”

The customer, curious.

“Aw man, I been goin through the ins and outs.” An older man, waiting.

“Me too. I’mma tell my momma I seen you.” The customer, reverent.

“Yeah, had a stroke the other day, but you know it take a strong man to keep me down!”

The older man, optimist. “Take a whole army.” The customer, chuckling.

The walls of the shop receive, as a staff accepts song, the curious metallic pitch of kinky hair sliced and falling lightly to the beige floor, the floor waiting reverent and quiet, the men laughing, reminiscing, talking shit, and my own optimistic chuckling beneath the buzzing, buzzing, buzzing.

Natalie Sharp is a Black queer writer, dancer, and activist based in Denver, CO. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also teaches undergraduate creative writing. Natalie was a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and a 2017 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow in poetry. She was also a finalist for the 2017 Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets and was the 2018 Denver Mercury representative for the Women of the World Poetry Slam. 

Natalie's work has previously appeared in the Shade Journal, BOAAT Press, Puerto del Sol, Juked, and elsewhere. If you propose to her in a Waffle House, she will probably say yes. Learn more about her at