Harking from Trieste, Italy, Seattle, and Chicagoland, Alysa Levi-D’Ancona is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at UW Bothell. You can find her writing in The RavensPerch, UWB Crow, Clamor, and Stories That Need to Be Told 2021. Levi-D’Ancona weaves themes of liminality, culture, language, belonging, and magical realism into her writing, throwing in the occasional absurd joke. @alevidancona
– do my laundry & pretend to fold it
– heave a flannel over my broad shoulders
– burn incense from japan (or for japan)
– sit under a leaky air conditioner
– sweep my bathroom free of spider corpses
– gnaw an apple, ambrosial & infinite
– spit out soil from underneath my tongue
– wait for Christmas, thanksgiving, next october, a decade
– heave out tears heavy like oranges rolling
– eat up every word about sunlight
– tongue out a strange language, medieval and womanly
– tell my mother about my bitter tongue
– hide from migrating monarchs
– party with dark strangers
– sneeze with abandon
– lick up water frozen & gathered on live wires
– wrangle medusa’s head back and tip cider down
– ask what is art? what is a braid? what is whole?
– dress like the whore of Babylon
– make maya angelou proud
– keep going, going, gone fishing for a reason to breathe
– breathe breath of deep pine forest
– dream of elaine & monsters & some child’s toys
– hoist a picket sign, embarrassed
– grieve the death of not my father
– listen to 4 pm robins, scattering, scatting
– live like a furious and consecrated weasel
– stick my hand up the armpit of dusty books
– reduce sugar down to coat my mad woman-ness
– kill off the author of seasoned journals
– leave my scarf at my sister’s house
– speak to the sky about wild ferns
– scream at gathered starlings
– write about the char on my mother’s naan
– stand on the corner & relearn traffic lights
– leave it all whirring, warm, til next heron’s call
Lily Kesten is a senior at Asbury University looking forward to double-fisting two diplomas at graduation in English & Media Communications in May of 2023. She has progressed from simply a contributor to her campus litmag (The Asbury Review) to the publicist to the poetry editor to now, finally, the Editor-in-Chief. Lily never dots her ‘i’s in her handwriting, almost always orders a blackberry latte from the Hiccup Café & wishes she could return to the innocent age where The Magic Tree House Series was the pinnacle of fiction as she knew it.
Social media: @lilykes10
Julián David Bañuelos is a Chicano poet and translator from Lubbock, Tx. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Provost Fellow, a Stanley Award Fellow, and a 2022 Fulbright semi-finalist. His work can be read in Wine Cellar Press, Latino Book Review, The Bayou Review, Acentos Review, and Annulet Poetics Journal. He currently lives and teaches in Iowa City.
// JW Summerisle lives in the English East Midlands. Their poetry & artwork can be found in Resurrection Mag, Catatonic Daughters, The Madrigal, SAND, & Re-Side. They may sometimes be found on twitter @jw_Summerisle //
Jason Baltazar is a proud Salvadoran American currently finishing a PhD at the University of Kansas focused on speculative fiction and postcolonial studies. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Bourbon Penn, F(r)iction Magazine, and other venues. For more info, please check out his website: www.jasonbaltazar.com or find him on twitter/insta @jasonrbaltazar.
O, (you) SEE, Death is around the corner. Literally—possibly—like if my hands are at ten and two but my eyes are darting from the rearview to the side mirrors because did I just run someone over back there? You say, You’d know if you ran someone over. And You’d know if you had appendicitis. Or heat stroke, a yeast infection, some rare heart condition, cancer, pink eye, worms, cancer, diabetes, cancer, cancer, meningitis. But would I? Because the hands on the clock don’t even feel real. The girl in the mirror has a cute waist, and I want to reach out and touch my own reflection, because I think I’m bisexual, and humbly, I am my type, and maybe if we kiss she will slip out of my medicine cabinet and become a Real Girl. I wing my eyeliner and imagine it would feel good to identify with my hot girl haircut as a formerly frizzy “sorry my hamster sent that text” teenager. I let the city soak in my performed sense of self and don’t notice the cherry red blisters that bloom on my heels until I’m about to cover them with cotton. The internet says it’s cancer, but my schedule is a bit too busy for me to deal with that. Four weeks later, the nurse at the walk in clinic asks why I’m in, and I tell him that the internet thinks I could have cancer blisters, and he gives me the ole you can’t trust the internet!, until the doctor arrives and says if they aren’t gone in four weeks they could be cancer, but until then I should soak them. I should probably get on that.
Lucia Gallipoli is an undergraduate student concentrating in sexuality, love, and art. She is probably lost somewhere in the cycle of worshipping Mitski and Kate Bush via Spotify and forgetting that they exist for a few weeks. Her book reviews can be found on Instagram @TenderPages.
As I passively descend the levels of hell, a voice rings out.
“Did you want a receipt?”
No! Don’t tell me what I’ve spent or how much of that is wasted. I must go forth.
Time loops onward. I fall in love, I get black out drunk. I say things I regret. I feel fulfilled and it always falls apart. I move, I settle in but not down.
I move again, a voice rings out.
“Did you want a baby?”
I love my job, but I miss my time.
I quit my job, I miss my money.
I get a job, I visit home but never stay.
I want to die until I realize that death isn’t the saddest thing.
Living is the saddest thing, other than having a baby. No, no, I can’t do that.
I slow fade from people’s lives, I fade into others, a voice rings out.
“Did you want fries with that?”
No, if I gave up on being skinny, I wouldn’t be able to misquote these lyrics. I wash my face, the dog barks. I eat pickles straight from the jar, I water dying plants. I try to live ethically, I give up and buy fast fashion, a voice rings out.
“Did you really want to replay these moments for the rest of your life?”
No, not really.
I just don’t know what else to do.
Carmen E Brady writes, draws, and teaches in the rural southwestern US. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Vagabond City Lit, JMWW, and elsewhere online and in print. Twitter: @therealcbrad
As stories go, I took you for a fool, stagefright in the nuit blanche, come quick blame the fire, unless it be my old story, my distant father splotched by the effect of war, whose white lineless breasts were never beyond the arc of the ghost, I sink a hold upon your language so far up in the face of the sky that my eyes flush copper, my cup overflows like a self-love that has always been a dry pit, the taste of piss itself just like the birds that wash up on the livid sands, blame god, quick, get shittier watching the ocean evaporate my tears for tomorrow I hold on, the setting so complex & nimble from afar beyond focus yet here a star, hear the potential & idealitude blustering, look upon my design, show my morning
drowsing nodules of
read in the floating marbles of my
our tearful witness of each other…
may feel I belong
n’t you drop something for a flower? you said
Strafing through heather and heath fields and placidities of
heathnesses away, like heathen sun goddesses clad in
swimming clothing of llama colors, naked but barefoot
camelheather call-in nausea it creams flowers bright
tears for tender jessica blue, tears of japonicum, sister of
soft violet septice and slate blue jessicite was that you
my sunshine? You shook my petals.
Wilt not that the folds of the great oval morning follow me down that sheeplike drop, one on which thousands of my dreams gather. Bride my tulip bathed in bitter tears of sass and ferocity in wild rage your lanky hand-drawn shields my fabric shield in deluge of holy blush to shoulder the fire flush your hot cheek in love that purple morning the purple aspens shiver.
Highboy he wakes up bruised in the salt gloaming if not yours call in graveyards it’s okay this time we’ll lay to rest this time we’ll say namaste,
it’s My Bride through Tarantulas, shoulders wade bare in the sea your seaworthiness scattered on the lapping waves drawing comfort from the burning shape of the sun in my skull from deep inside then only then it’s
my Tarantula Bride it’s byzantine waves taunting full of salty mercy, fire beneath my skin is still there and I am broken, young, and bruise-coloured.
Smearing walls in quiet crypts, the peacock takes my meat
with a frown
with a frown my lips should be there
what for the king of wounds, my bleeding heart
what for the king of wounds, why won’t you come and bite me
in that nurse’s hands who took my arm and said I can’t say it
if I could I would say it, I’d say it, why won’t you bite me,
these mirrors flaunting me, through roofs of mascara to
of slow shifts in
slow funerals, endless, a basic war varietal, cirrus me our underground, purpura-ciel, only an eyelash missing, deeper than the abysses you shall find me, resting, on embers of snow-flower lay below envalleyed the skin a gesture I gather for the fire, heed the broken shall I drift arrest my wound shall open the valley, in unspoken promises and speech shall I kneel in the mud, in spoken words the veil lifts that sunlight can read in its vast shadow must I go within that too, incisus flume, my brassiere smoking with incontinence I’m glad the sheeplike velvet has come full course, my my, my blushing beauty is void, my self there’s nothing to it, only the grail of tessellated perfection
My gown of the sun the fire will eat
a dance for divinity
as I wait to be loved to say we broke through, but never
did we break.
I’m still awake you spread out in my audition field not a poet deeper who is humble without your hand in mine I would stumble, I had to stumble, & not a time dreaming there a sneeze of velvet in violet feather, my wings so delicate a boy becomes a man to fly with, echolalia only howling am I, howling for you
my nostrils and my lips a muffle of hay and saliva, dreaming there of cities cut to ribbons out there side-loomed vacuums until you’re holding me still, slowly wept tears and bitten
then now remember who you are, who the martyr I have always been: a bride scum boy, I stand up like a knight all tattooed erasure the future of the world is written on our bodies not the other way round and can you see it I know you can see it, the torment, the power, the resolve
Christ, this world has no love, no love, the bow is useless, standing here crying, Christ
slowly I undress.
My silence still mumbling quilted under the eyes
of the grey queen and the stars we fuck to revive our moths black as the calm of noon, long as the shadow of dawn.
I’m still awake. The theater’s in ruins. The gardens are on fire. Each arteriole is hot and burning with the capacitance of my disappointment. I am too shy, too excruciatingly shy, I would cry for a flower if you had one to give me, I would beg for a word if you had one to say, without saying a word I kiss the penis of a dead president and hope that no one notices. A crepuscular bird.
I kiss. Frost on hogweed. Your breath and your light, ringed in dream punctures the skin of flaming heather, we already taste the tears that fall upon the wind of this revelation, aurora-green or champagne brushstrokes against your cheek might spell surrender if the world weren’t so numbly indifferent to the defenselessness of our oppression.
Beauty is only beauty if you possess the duty to recognize it.
A vast, open rectangle of purple slowly rotates in my mind. Perhaps this is how some fish navigate the ocean’s surface, an archangel who is obliged to go into the sea to inspect the corpses of so many stars. Duty to recognize beauty is its own limit, I am too shy.
As matched in the bittern ‘s maternity and due to therese my cold, one must love. Gather, gather, exhale our usufruct in the excurrent breath, bury racemes sobbing after theresaic vu in the night-sea, take the eye to the bloom’s ground where the pearl whorl like a clown’s bead stanched our palm’s tear in the backstitch, in the milky flou, ulcers cool the joys of sweetness on wings the sessile stormstorm flight of petals out-to-sea, the crust of chrysanthemum seas my skull sang all the histories of the body invisible to the eye split your daily sacred dove tears run like candles dripping from the cottage door windows, even candles spatter no fire my eye the fire behind your sight for now my woman scum man, this constant flickering hunger, born of femininity and Sumerian night, my love is an ontogenetic pure fury, a bonjour from a sailor of whose drift I choke on the endless entendre of his snuffling hair. I like to present to you my philosophy, in a velvety bodice, buried by the froth of annatto.
You and I are consanguinamorous, O Ancora d’Europa, I know you understand! I’ll get the astrolabe from the Victorian scientist, I’ll build a compass to measure the degrees of my planet’s axial tilt, I’ll bring its tilt back to where it belonged in the days of your generation, I’ll place it on my belly and measure it from below the veil of the mother, O Bambino Deus, and from the top of my genitals. And then I’ll calculate the fault lines of the contour, and I’ll fit each fault to its livelihood, and show you a land created of ruined angles.
What I want to know is what is at the source of the source, would
n’t you? Silence
be thy primary settler, boom-boom, single possession buy my land there is nothing here for you can’t I just marry the locust body rent my acreage aspire backwards inwardly to restfulness obliterate boundaries hoard alone, deface, die blow till all within me is lost coldly behind my shield of fear, puritans sweating in the blue shade, fear puritanic our romance it’s been azurely planned, stop believing in the heteroglossia of stagnation, all that we have to do is shed the pink sward we have to say it’s not you, love it’s me stand among the fools then I must sail away without any of their money cry to the mast of this great emigrant, Oh variegato mare, wail into the foam, your tide is calling our message on a pale thunder wearing the wings of a butterfly, a hermaphrodite exile torn from its sisters now that there are so few of us left to bear witness to our creation, Oh bloom-bloom, Oh, c’est impossible—Ours is no age.
History can be made by listing things in sequence, by making straight lists of ordered combinations and combinatorial descriptions of discrete objects.
Make a rectangle. Use the scale of the ruler to draw a fixed proportion of its two sides. Keep going until you are making a square.
How many times does the square look like a square? Write down what you think the answer is, and then draw a straight line from one point of the square to another. Leave imperfect improvisations on the graph paper against specious color patterns set against the white with the white set against the black.
White is night but only its opposite.
The color of history, the beautiful disgust of guileless wrath, for its Face I gazeth upon
a moist spectra of golden tears in the crannies of sunlit mosses and leaves, the still of summer their bliss and the dark of winter their ethereal torpor, leaves in rippling gulps of autumn’s wind our waters defy gravity, golden veils of feathers in flight these cloud-like folds of the vivid banners our unbending comfort’s human endeavor, from here we watch in silent
prolonged infantile wonder.
Colours are weapons.
Colours in Leith, counterpoised English birds, colours in monasteries, feigning absence, the colors of our conception of love, we shall care little for each other there is no passion, the sky was emptied so we could walk upon its surface sail safely to Greece, our exile has begun back here is fear.
We put indigo in the blood of still water.
The sun is a very old weapon, the sun in
that if you lit up this
I would find
drawings of you
scratched across my black
a diamond drill
I imagine we’d look
like a parody of fascism.
Colour is the object of cognition
cogitate until one thinks one sees color everywhere.
Have you noticed that the difference between the history of one person and the history of the world is that the history of one person is contained within the history of the world?
Et tu Pompeii,
you make me feel so small.
My apophantic love is like a function of simple worst-case absolutes, the thing is the thing is the thing is the thing is the thing, make a rectifier of what it is, make a diagram of it, make a new history, blow my mind.
Not a trace of a past that other men have not revealed in me. No trace of the water that peals forth from a black iris in the azure of a blue sea, of a colonized bay, of a virgin land with no trace of people, how I pray to be the face of your dreams, or better, to be the voice of your nightmares! In that ecstasy let us forget the inherited language of the pain that makes us objects to be moved and willed over; now you look at the sight of my act as it truly is: where the contours of action are hidden within the space of the moment. How is it? How do you feel?… My opposite, whose ilexes are patinated by the humidity of blood. I think of how one, like me, fashions the curtain in the image of this filth, this secret, from which I will one day emerge,
I am eating a piece of corn. Fucking petrels dip their mouths in the garbage. A joke of Zeus throwing up clouds. The three beautiful words that decide our fate, the three wonderful questions that have brought us together, the three spoken syllables that formulate our identity! I love you. My ass is urinating.
I go to the latrine.
I go to the Library of Congress.
I go to the theater.
It’s the night of the donkey mouth the night of the cuckoo the night of the war
What am I
Receive me, accept me, will you not? You don’t know the way I love you,
I listen to the accents of our city while simultaneously affixing to my face some kind of mask of identity that won’t reveal me. I participate in the general consensus and enjoy its seemingly mum cacology—becoming an almost invisible man.
Yet here I am. And this is what I’m doing: trying to make clear, here and there, the means of my communication. My language.
Gather the satin embroidery in the depths of my pelvis, to you I reveal the tissues that supply the ego and its pleasures, uniting them here I direct the least clear vision that you will not would never just couldn’t turn away from. I love you.
What good is a revolution if not for the incorrigible numbness that follows?
Or does the Revolution go on too long?
Maybe there’s no time
to feel by sawing the moon from night into midday, maybe
the sun’s not risen again to shine in its eyeteeth
the apathy of gears
I hold it at a distance, in a chamber, there is no square, there is no city to be erased, there is no point to be acknowledged, and in the end I am compelled only to gaze at a child’s drawing of a tower
in this room of impossible beginnings there is a future without significance, or there is one without the other, et tu, manque de proxy as a panting sigh under the brownly milk blisters of a stillboy, feel my trembling hands on your throat, coquelicot is the loveliest of words, it comes in waves, I say out loud: coquelicot waves, I hear the rustling curtain.
As stories go, I took you for a fool, just blame our age, true & colorful, the kingdom of science runs too fast, O Ecce Homo you stopped running centuries past, what kind of clown does not know how to bury his own heart? I will be the void of the scene that makes you and not the scene that makes me. Where are you, voyeur, in these uncomprehending and unimaginative restorations of a history whose facts and fictions were destroyed so long ago? Where are you, frozen as a carousel whose sole
rider is an automaton, knowing that at no time will you know the thing that I do, that your eyes will be unable to understand the action I show you, to say: The solace of thought dissolved by the influx of love is a fantasy not even you could sustain. Our love was already eternal.
So I say I love you, say I re-extricated myself
from this coalescence of closed flowers
by the blackwater
rosecrest’s feathersheath growing into the sign of the human fish of death
violent lysis, pale canescent hoar, flag of rage, it is not love that is buried beneath the stage,
it’s a horse.
Godspeed. Art is the sun which never sets. History on the other hand, has become the god that never even horizoned.
Evan Isoline is a writer and artist living on the Oregon coast. He is the author of PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY (forthcoming from 11:11 Press) and the founder/editor of a literary project called SELFFUCK. Recent writing has been published or is forthcoming at 3:AM Magazine, Full-Stop, Always Crashing, Witchcraft Mag, Territory and more. Find him @evan_isoline.
Sacred Festival Drama 1
Every day I
greet my ex’s shrink
shocked to find me in human form
My own therapist
subsists on crumbs – I’ve let
him down so
The monster who clogs through
has turned from grey to blue
If only I could bump into
a bar or symbol fresh enough
to feed any of them
To pull open the secret door
and let out a devil fruit
that’s switched sides
A ripe thing at least
to come through or go off
Stink bomb, fame salve,
gush logic triumph font, or
every rind-worthy thought
necessary joy check
already bitten the map host
and chewed the root cure
she’s pressed out from lost hoist
in failure to thrive lure
all eau d’eviction notice and levis cut-off tears
behind chest plate heart wait/ and weighted
the girl image called wordy gerty gets her due
industrial, she directed everything sturdy, on cue
literally steering the mother of all things around for donkey’s years
1:short kick for right
2:palm over palm for hard left
3:this mother never missed as inside girl direct fist toward
4:unlucky completion valve and a lot of grass-eating wholeness
(Grass-fed would sound better years later and meat plant copy edits bankrolled her descendants for time at least)
Estelle Anderson is a writer and teacher from Toronto,Canada.
Pick at your ugly skin, curl your toes around the wire. Balance as a pulse of memory beats into your brain. The melody had crept upon the breeze and under steel mesh, a song just for you, music that wormed into your little red heart, and you had followed the song and found her, your fawn-feathered mate. What had happened?
Cock your head. Work at the recollection.
You remember dancing beak-to-beak on a rough branch, cracking seeds and tipping them down her throat late into cicada-buzzing dusk. But what—
Pain. In dim early morning, your veins strung taut from the smell of morning dew and song of mourning doves—a sudden, blinding sting. She had plucked a single feather from your skin.
And not just any feather: she ripped away the finest crimson plume arching from your crest. You covered a shriek with a nervous chirp. Her black eyes blinked slow. The red feather floated to the ground, forgotten.
It had happened again, the pluck. You both worked hard to find the right twigs and leaves, stuff of a good, stable nest. It wasn’t quite complete, but sniffing rain in the air, she plucked another of your feathers, again bright red, and wedged it in the nest. She closed her eyes and settled down to lay her eggs.
Over the seasons, she never hesitated to pluck, righteous and unapologetic in this act to protect the chicks, and you watched, curious, as your feathers lining the nest faded, disintegrated . . . the nest, the nest . . . it festers, your skin, these raw patches.
You balance and reflect. Warm, fleshy fingers jab through mesh to scatter seeds . . .
Seeds. They had been scattered straight to you, always, the striking scarlet. Your mate, she of feathers all hues of olive and brown, faded into the walls of the nest, or branch, or the ground, more of earth than you would ever be, always sensing the next wind or rain, and her moods!—angry or content, nestled close in winter, bored in the summer sun . . . it was sunflower seeds you wanted, that bright day of bursting flowers, when a scream stopped the pat-pat of your heart, and you flew and found a bird of prey had seized her, broken and thrown her to the ground, her black eyes now unblinking, her belly bloated with last eggs.
You pick at your ugly skin. You twitch your head and stare side-eyed at the hole in the steel mesh. Then you hear it—a melody, skipping along the breeze, a song just for you, creeping into your little red heart.
Marilee is originally from the Midwest and currently lives in Washington, DC. Her other stories have appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Cleaver, decomp, Metaphorosis, Molotov Cocktail, Orca and elsewhere.