SAM WILCOX is a multi-media poet from Virginia. They are a recent graduate of Columbia University where they studied English and anthropology, and served as a member of The Columbia Review. Sam is also a former DJ and spends their free time podcasting, discussing planetary motion, and designing shadow-box dioramas.
When you ask me what I am afraid of
I hold out my hands.
You see, I am a body of cut lines
and gravel burn,
twice-read birthday cards, deleted emails,
I am unfiltered blood,
a collection of half-healed wounds,
a slick bathroom floor,
the predictable slipping hazard.
This body is taking up space;
it is guilt,
an empty womb that prompts your mouth,
a refusal that breeds the backhand,
a metal baseball bat hidden beneath the bed.
She is primed to crack bone,
is designed to dismember joints,
forged to wound.
This body is a dragging limb,
a nervous stagger,
dramatic slipped footing,
a body of impulse.
I am the burn of tobacco against a jacket lapel,
the smell of lampblack
and crows’ nests,
the poem I never wrote you,
a heart line fading
from the skin.
JESSICA SABO is a poet and former ballerina whose work focuses on the intersection of eating disorders and trauma. Her poems have appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Rogue Agent Journal, and Coffin Bell Journal, among others. Jessica’s work has been anthologized with ChannelMarker Literary Journal and Adelaide Literary Magazine, and is forthcoming with Damaged Goods Press. In 2020, Jessica was named a finalist for the Adelaide Literary Award in Poetry and was a semi-finalist for a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship. She currently lives in Orlando with her wife and two senior rescue dogs.
—after ‘Canto XIV’ by Robert Rauschenberg
You can try to brush the fire away,
but it’s no use when your hands
are blood and the blood
is gasoline. You grew up
confident; it was only when
your eyes sprouted that you started
to stumble. You grew up unaware
of the desolate field,
littered with black forms like tissue paper,
although it’s surrounded you
all your life. Your blindness
was an accessory, kissed
by street parades and cinema love.
Once you glimpsed the field, you could not return
to those safer places without seeing
yellow stalks bursting up through
dancers’ sneakers, staining those tongues
with pinpricks of red. Or desire
like the burning
bush the grass is watered with,
or musculature waiting, like wheat,
to be blighted.
You grew up unaware
that you live in an inverted forest of headstones,
and once you learned, they became
permanently saturated. You grew up
thinking the worst river
you could cross was the one you
cross alone, but it is so much
worse to wade through
the body of boiling blood
with others by your side,
loving and wasting and melting into the current.
You will never stop seeing your companions
evaporating from bar corners
and wingback chairs,
you will never forget the field
and its growth
and the way it contaminates
every small thing.
You wonder how you could ignore
a space so substantial,
but you know that you grew up blind
because nobody could explain
the vastness of the field
or the way your heart would break
finding empty footprints
in the soil.
RYAN E MOORE is a poet and writer, as well as a student at the Davidson Academy in Reno, Nevada. When not writing, they enjoy trying new foods and spending time with their dog, Libby. Their work has previously appeared in the Body Without Organs journal.
I outline my mother’s flower garden
with fieldstones, though heat
shimmers around me and cicadas rattle
in nearby trees, scolding I am too late
for this year’s blooms. Undaunted,
I push another wheelbarrow load,
the weight welcome, rooting me
deeper into the sandy soil she nurtured.
Her departure before spring softened
the earth left promises and chores
suspended in air electric with her absence.
My hands inside her gloves, their
fingertips frayed from years of toil,
find stones shot through with mica and quartz.
Sheeted in silver and white veined,
they catch sunlight only to break it,
a thousand love letters cast to the sky.
PEGGY HAMMOND‘s poetry is featured or forthcoming in The Lyricist, Oberon Poetry, High Shelf Press, San Antonio Review, West Trade Review, Rogue Agent, and Ginosko Literary Journal. Her full-length stage play A Little Bit of Destiny was produced by OdysseyStage Theatre in Durham, North Carolina.
we are the turnip-head ghosts that haunt the cellar,
the onion-skinned ghosts that cry when we undress,
the damp makes us cold, miserable creatures
we hate crying when we undress
we have stomachs of pumpkins hollowed,
all the orange pulp strewn about like
silly string, and it’s silly when we get
all tangled up in it
we spend our days making mud pies
and carving love letters into molded
potatoes, playing cat’s cradle with
our pulped guts
it’d be nice to leave the cellar,
but our meekness reeks of old cabbage and tubers,
of something better thrown out
OLWEN DAISY is a poet from the Midwestern United States. She finds most of her inspiration in nature and myths. Using whimsical imagery and unique formatting, she strives to create poetry that reads like a dream remembered.
JAKE WEAVER is a language student and queer writer from the Midlands, UK, who has been writing and performing poetry since 2017. He has represented the University of Nottingham in the national competition, Unislam, and his poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype #7 and shortlisted for the Show Me Yours Prize.
What mother does not say
she folds over and over
to hand to a little girl
who keeps them.
In a drawer, clothes
carefully pressed. Letters
from grandmother. Rose
petals inside a prayer
book never opened.
What mother refuses
to say. Careful when folding
a little girl’s clothes. Keep them
in the drawer. Let no one
touch them. Letters still there
except grandmother. With a prayer,
mother remembers the book
where petals rest.
What a little girl never says
rests somewhere in her chest
heaving behind clothes which were
once folded. In the drawer,
keep prayers no one touches
except mother folding
a little girl’s hand into a rose.
JULIENNE MAUI CASTELO MANGAWANG is taking up her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines – Diliman. She has poems published in 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine (Hong Kong), ALPAS Online Journal (PH), and is forthcoming in The Rumpus. At the moment, she has interests in exploring Filipino households and how it affects or develops the individual.