by Cat Richardson

About This Issue

Welcome to Bodega’s first guest-edited issue, featuring seven poems from seven poets to celebrate National Poetry Month. It’s also our 80th, which feels incredible. 


From the beginning, we’ve wanted Bodega to be about finding essential pieces and creating a space for emerging writers to do just that: emerge. Back in 2015, we had the pleasure of finding Arden Levine and becoming the first national journal to publish her poetry. Since then, she’s gone on to publish widely and has continued to be a friend to Bodega. We began considering guest editors as a way to bring in new perspectives on the essential—to ask members of our wonderful community to show us what makes a piece necessary. Who better to be our first guest editor than Arden, whose poem was so essential to our beginnings? We hope you enjoy this issue—we think you will! Be sure to check out Arden’s note for more on why these poems are indispensable in her Bodega


Cat is a founding editor at Bodega Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Narrative, Four Way Review, Tin House, and Wreck Park, among others, and her reviews and interviews can be found at Poets & Writers, Pleiades, and The National Book Foundation. She has a website, and sometimes she even updates it.

by Arden Levine

A Statement From Our Guest Editor

Certain firsts are important for writers. 


Years back, Bodega became the first national journal to accept my poetry for publication, providing that much-sought stamp on the poet’s passport that welcomes her, wander-lusty, in the strange lands of validated authorship. Here, fifty issues of Bodega (!) later, I get to be a first for them, briefly borrowing the cockpit controls to become Bodega’s first Guest Editor. (For this honor, and also because she is brilliant and generous at what she does, I heap gratitude upon Bodega’s Editor-in-Chief, Cat Richardson.)


To appreciate Bodega is to recognize that its concept (as important as it is effective) is a relative first among literary outlets. Neither a daily distributor nor an annual tome, Bodega instead operates a small one-stop-shop of writing, hand-selected for best flavor and re-stocked monthly for freshness. Its editors marry the rapidness of presentation with thoughtfulness of curation, keeping pace with the speed at which words move in these electrified times but pausing to wire its content together to create a neon glow. And they do this with a taste for ripe language and with ears tuned in to the quiet cracking-open sound made by the work of emerging writers. 


In assembling this all-poetry special edition, I looked for work that provides you with all of the conveniences of a literary corner store (per Bodega’s tagline), and the poets certainly delivered the goods: If you're picking up road trip supplies, there's ancient maps and old star maps. In bait n' tackle, there's lucky talis-crabs for your boat, and buckets for forlornly catching fish. The apparel aisle has moon boots, wayward breeches, and (heart)broken Timex watches. And no bodega is complete without our case, whale meat, curiously-tempting gravel-granola and birds' nests, and table-sized pancakes covered in dream apples.  


(Also, as long as we’re here celebrating Bodega’s growing legacy, I decided to likewise recognize its/my hometown: Bodega first rolled out its awning in New York City, and the poets appearing in Bodega 80 are all New York-area folk, by birth or present address…though some grew up as far away as the Caribbean and Appalachia, and others have their roots in Somalia and Afghanistan.) 


Whether you’ve been with Bodega for all 5-plus years, or this is a first for you as a reader (another first! glad to have you!), I hope that you adore this issue as much as I do. And if I were handing you a white plastic grocery bag for this collection of stanza-sundries, it would proclaim (as is traditional, with that can’t-miss red font and those enjambments like a series of high-fives):


Thank You 

Thank You 

Thank You 

Thank You 

Thank You 

Thank You 

Have a Nice Day!


Arden Levine is an urban planner and poet living in Brooklyn. Her poems appear in current or forthcoming issues of Harvard Review, Indiana Review, and The Lifted Brow (Australia). 

by Sahar Muradi


tasted whale today,

baby eyelid thin

red beet legal here

still, the immensity

of the question

/ /

the houses all

squared with windows

and each lighted

with a glass globe

you marvel, then he

dims: no, to pierce the fog

to guide an iced eye

home or harbor or

living is so much less

wonderful than feeling

/ /

black stones sip

a moan of milk

and mother blushes

this, an arctic day

/ /

which is the secret

-keeper: water or land?

heart emojis by wind

/ /

we went of the faith

consecrated the ground

moon boots and tripod

and waited for the ascension

/ /

what comes green

does not stay

what teases



/ /

she is neither she

though her name dawns

nor it, being a body

that visits, dances,

and dies

nor he, even if my father

appeared kissing my forehead

goodnight, and I laughed

from the howl of loss,

I could not stop

watching that dance

/ /

the sun in the sac

of its own eye

so much darkness

as to inflame hope

/ /

audible light to the sami

chanting gods to end a row

the dead in greenland

knocking at the door

to greeks: jumping goats

heaven’s hounds in japan

my awe like every other

seeks to metaphor and mine

/ /

the northernmost


the novelty

of writing home

/ /

bald spot to sea

the most luminous light

being the screen dark

71º to spectate my own breath

Sahar Muradi is author of the chapbook [ G A T E S ] (Black Lawrence Press), co-author of A Ritual in X Movements (Montez Press), and co-editor of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature (University of Arkansas Press). More at

by Meg Yardley

Ninth Planet

The old star maps, grainy

black and white, are wrong now.

Looking back, we read

them differently.


Everyone’s indignant

at your loss,

but it doesn’t mean they understand

what was lost.


Now I mustn’t speak of you,

must file your image away in musty

albums, between pages of journals,

in folders I never open.


The picture’s neater anyway

without your great arc,

your weird ellipse,

unaligned, individual.


Round black spot

ringed with white:

soon I’ll come around to believing

that you will never exist.

Meg Yardley lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including the East Bay Review, AMP, Rogue Agent, SWWIM, and District Lit.

by Rico Frederick

Not Done, Just Through

Like ah noose on its day off

All I did was hang around

Strangled me some sunlight

Swung through ah lazy day

Me + tht hot Caribbean sun

We gotta thg fa’ each other

Lawd knows I ain’t been

well fa’ ah spell

Arms low like

fishin’ wid ah bucket

Sick + tired

was my Grandpa’s

bone to bury

The only story I had to tell–

dun told on me

Rico Frederick is a graphic designer and the author of the book Broken Calypsonian. He holds an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute, and has been awarded fellowships from Poets House and Cave Canem. Rico is a Trinidadian transplant who lives in New York.

by Carrie Conners

Adaptation: Geophagia IX

Before, it used to soothe her into sleep.

The sound of her neighbor’s car tires

crunching over the gravel in the driveway

to or from the parking lot.

She pretended she was at the ocean

and the gravel was the waves drowsily

lapping the shore. Now the sound


keeps her up at night. Her stomach growls

as the rocks grind under the cars’ weight

and her tongue traces her teeth anticipating

the chips small enough to lodge

between her molars. Fighting


cravings to go outside, fill a bowl

and munch it like granola, she flicks

on the tv and catches the tail end

of The Birds. She’s always liked pigeons

and remembers from somewhere

that they gobble pebbles to help

their gizzards crack the outer shells

of seeds, especially in the winter

when soft worms don’t offer themselves


up after rain. She hopes her hunger has a purpose,

is trying to help her break down

things that she can’t stomach on her own.

When things get easier, when she doesn’t dream

about eating abandoned birds’ nests

until she disappears like they do

late in the year, she might swallow

less grit, need less of the earth to live.    

Carrie Conners, originally from West Virginia, lives in Queens, NY and is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia CC-CUNY. Her first book, Luscious Struggle, is forthcoming from BrickHouse Books. Her poetry has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Quiddity, RHINO, and The Monarch Review, among other publications. 

by Safia Jama

Eating in My Sleep

The other day, looking over a breakfast menu, I told Naomi

I’m kind of a pancake whore


And she laughed out loud like, Pancake whore?

Who even??


We laughed, way too loud for a cute little restaurant in Jersey City,

and then we were quiet, and she said


It’s been awhile since I laughed like that

and I didn’t even need to nod


Still asleep this morning, I made pancakes


They were pancakes, yes, but not in the traditional sense, being baked,

and being about the size of tables


I drizzled the pancakes with apple slices

(I bought some good apples at the market yesterday)


And I added the occasional banana slice and I ate them,

these pancakes, so curiously crispy as

pancakes can be sometimes

in a dream

Safia Jama was born to a Somali father and an Irish-American mother in Queens, New York. A Harvard graduate and a Cave Canem fellow, she has poetry appearing in Ploughshares, Boston Review, BOMB, Cagibi, and RHINO.

by Barbara Schwartz


Keep him in a crate;

             take him aboard as shipmate,

study his Lordship’s scrawl

             as he curmudgeons up the crate’s edge,

a quickened tight-rope tiptoe there,


one pincer aching agape as if to saw

             the sky in half – warning us slow seamen

of when a storm is due. If only

             there were such easy cues to skew


suffering's passage. Some harpooned moon

             or blood red leaf to tell when

terror grows in the skull, a friend's child will not

             know another fall, the child who might


have thrived within you cannot. What to do?

             Set oneself crawling? Grow nothing good?

Perhaps no all-knowing Crab can be caught –

             Though we may hear his presence


below deck


clawing our wayward breeches –


Barbara Schwartz is an educational consultant for the College of New Jersey and the author of the chapbook Any Thriving Root (dancing girl press, 2017). Her hybrid poetry manuscript What Survives is the Fire was performed as part of Boomerang Theater's 2018 First Flight New Play festival. 

by Abigail Wender

Time and Map

Where he’d leaned against pillows to laugh or weep,

there was only the smell of antiseptic.

The room was empty

of the breath of fire, breath of forgiveness,

the gods to whom we gave sacrifice,

the liver donor and A-negative blood;

gone was his wanting, and mine.

He was not returning.


In his room, I found a plastic bag

with his broken prison Timex,

but couldn’t stop the sycamore tree

from filling the windows of his apartment,

how its bark curled,

stained like an ancient map.

Abigail Wender’s poetry and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Asymptote, The Cortland Review, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Epiphany, Kenyon Review Online, New Orleans Review, SWWIM, Tupelo Quarterly, and other journals. Her translation of Iris Hanika’s award-winning novel, The Essential, is looking for a publisher.