by Natalie Rose Richardson



I wander the shoreline
to where palm leaves clutter
the beach’s edge, the morning’s
fishing boats tethered like spent animals
to the dock. A ring of men
surround a trunk, coax coconuts
from the tree’s aerial womb
with the rusted blades of machetes,
slice each fruit’s meridian
to sell the milk. When I have returned
to the cool dark of my room
I think of that afternoon
in my childhood friend’s home,
after we’d force-fed her gerbils and
dug worm holes in the mud-streaked yard,
when her elder brother came
to me with a butcher’s knife,
forced me to sit on his lap
while he held the sharp edge
glittering to my throat, laughed
as I screamed. Perhaps he did not
want anything other than to
hold another body close—to feel
a beating alongside his own beating—
or perhaps he was just a boy learning
to coax a man’s power from the blade
where we are taught it rests.
I sat there through it all, on his knee,
above his groin,
as if on a turbulent boat
or balanced on the wave itself—
In the kitchen there was a smell of yeast.
The dog lay peaceful in her collar.
The trees on the quiet street released
their seeds. The ocean took
only what the shoreline gave.



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Natalie Rose Richardson is a graduate of the University of Chicago and a current MA+MFA candidate at the Litowitz Creative Writing Program. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Chicago Magazine, and Arts & Letters, along with several anthologies, including The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks.

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by Jordan Ranft

The Poet Finds Himself Quieted Suddenly

a custard-coloured bird sleeps inside the skull

downy, fat, and warm

& my hands do not move unless

I ask them to move.

The body belongs in the room & I belong in the body

& nothing demands I explain my belonging.

Sparrows spilling through a window,

sights and thoughts arrive & I look at them.

A flotilla of sunlight. A laughter of leaves.

In the quiet, a place becomes real.

objects grow into themselves like bodies

filling a shirt & I notice myself for the first time.

Oh, but the hereness leaves as I push into it.

I love it & think that means it belongs to me.

I won’t chase it down today. I will not ring its neck

& break its slender body across my tongue.

I have demanded so much I am not owed.

I’ll have lunch instead

Drink the tea & make real the moments

it falls into my mouth until they dissolve like air.

I will leave all my windows open!

It is such a beautiful day

The sunlight, so warm and heavy

This, as good a place to wait as any.

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Jordan Ranft was a finalist in the Pamela Maus Poetry contest at the University of California, Davis. He took third place at the National Poetry Slam in 2015 on the Berkeley Slam Team. He has had poems published in Rust+Moth, Midway, and Bayou.

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by Joshua Garcia

creation lesson

our science teacher was the pastor’s son / a star of our little baptist school / handsome like elvis / he could dunk a basketball and / used scripture / to teach us about the creation of our world / how in the beginning there were battles of darkness / and light / and with a voice that engendered everything / light won / sometimes / the girls and i would laugh at him when he’d bend over at a student’s desk to listen / to a question / and at the core of my laughter / shame / because after i started coming / to church on wednesday nights / he bought me a milkshake but also because / through his dress slacks / the line of his briefs shaped worlds i did not know existed / at night a voice kept me awake / from the knot in infinity’s rings / so much energy / galaxies / flowers / and the most dangerous thought / that all of it came from nothing / last night / a man asked me if i believe in science / and then kissed me under a large oak / whatsoever things are pure / whatsoever things are lovely / i am older now than my teacher when he taught us / how the waters unleashed to destroy the world / carved out the grand canyon / but i am still learning / i am still learning how void begets beauty / i am still learning how to answer when called

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Joshua Garcia lives and writes in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the College of Charleston and is an editorial assistant at Crazyhorse. He was a finalist for the 2019 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in ImageRuminate MagazineMy Loves: A Digital Anthology, and elsewhere.

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by Jamie Townsend

I Muffle Your Inner Choir

“I’m like Icarus whose wings melted before he could fuck the sun”

I try to tie a cherry stem with my tongue

I pull the skin across my teeth and spit out two stones

With two mouths, two lives abnegated, full of so much juice

I look up and worship the moon because it’s a shield against my guilt

Most things move on their own

I’m trying to be careful of my xo, my predilection to draw close to everyone

When I look in the mirror I don’t see us, though I know we’re in there

A naked doll as smooth as a dolphin

The drug I’m looking for doesn’t really exist

Or would be a devolution

I extend my hands, they seem as alien as wings

I cruise across the microscopic surface of a strawberry

I need to find a place to rest my eyes for a minute

I fret about the sins of the father stretching back, this line

a restlessness, this lack of attention

I suck in my stomach and pull up our skirt

The only time I pray is when I’m wasting your time

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Jamie Townsend is a poet and editor living in Oakland. They are half-responsible for Elderly, a publishing experiment and hub of ebullience and disgust. They are the author of several chapbooks including, most recently, “Pyramid Song” (above/ground press, 2018), as well as the full-length collection Shade (Elis Press, 2015). An essay on the history and influence of the literary magazine Soup was published in The Bigness of Things: New Narrative and Visual Culture (Wolfman Books, 2017). They are the editor of 'Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader' (Nightboat, 2019) and 'Libertines in the Ante-Room of Love: Poets on Punk' (Jet Tone, 2019).

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by Tim Duffy


There is a word for the rabbit

that darts from the clover to the edge of the field,

it’s the same word your great grandfather

whispered to himself when the last bagpipe trill

buried his youngest son. There is a world of loss

that is always at the edge of the field. It is a superstitious

altar, the homes, the doors, the small lock boxes against the thieves,

the rainy day funds.

The lawn lumps up with coffee cans. When my grandfather’s mind

went left, he buried them. Thousands of dollars, saved from pensions,

the checks we have forgotten for ourselves. He buried them and drank

milky discount tea for meals, watched as the grass formed over the mounds.

When at Christmas he would open a can of cashews, he told me that his greatest joy

was a bit of sweetness every winter, a fifty-cent book whose ending he had verified for happiness,

the grief he buried to never talk about, and the dollar bills he left to winter

when his own body would find its ground.

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Tim Duffy is a poet and teacher working in Connecticut. His poems have appeared in Pleiades, The Hawai'i Review, Rabid Oak, Softblow, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. He is also the EIC and founder of 8 Poems journal.

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