Two Poems

i want to tell her dead girls don’t get into harvard

sometimes i feel like every door in the world could be locked and i wouldn’t know the difference. like how many sides does a window really have. why are there so many tree trunks in my front yard. / mom, did we buy a hatchet? a liar is always a mouth but a mouth is not always a boy.

actually, i’m sitting in a bathtub and and some woman is getting paid to tell me water doesn’t exist.

teenage girls love to say hometown like we didn’t watch it burn. your guidance counselor loves to say suspension like you started the fire. sometimes, all it takes is an afterparty. the balloons deflate and you are on a boat in the middle of his basement. administration tucks you in her file cabinet. someone will “look into it”. the men flip our stories like an hourglass.

how many of us will leave screaming before the door slams?

somewhere in a small town, there is a girl who can’t say her own name. in july she will say what she should’ve said in january.

i want to tell her graduation and a house in the city

what is left here but a nickname you wish they’d stop calling you. a prom you never attended but remember so well. there is a summer break hung in each of our closets.

sometimes, all you have to lose is your own hands.


things the kids [didn’t know]

when it snows in nevada [when grandmas body has begun to freeze]

she crosses the stateline with a hammer in her bag. [she doesn’t carry a knife anymore, lost it somewhere in her last marriage]

when she shows up at our door, the oven is buzzing and the dogs are barking and my mom is yelling about the pipes and [my grandfather is telling my mother that we will only ever be women] and the news is reminding us that a body is [temporary], i never know how much i will miss this noise. until i do.

when it snows in nevada, grandma writes her [will] in front of our fireplace “it’s really just that pair of earrings and my bible” and “i hope rod will give the knife back so that you girls can [protect yourself] when im gone”. she chuckles as the hospice nurse changes her dressing. i want this to be a metaphor. but grandma is gone, a year this spring. she asked me to build her a house. and now, i write her into every story i tell. look how honestly we can live [beneath my fingertips].

when it snows in nevada, when grandma [and her care team] are moved into my room, we begin hanging her life from the walls. old scrapbook pages and [clothes she grew out of and then back into]. she wants to say goodbye but she doesn’t want a funeral.

[when the pain started spilling from under the welcome mat. when her stomach was filled with fists. when none of us left the house. the women gather around her like we are a pack of sorry animals. in our living room, my mother speaks with certainty. it is the first time in months that the birds leave her chest. my grandfather still doesn’t know].

i am only a child for as long as i can hold my breath. i only know what is whispered into my door-hinge. i only know what the police report says. i only know-

[loss like this].


MYA RIGOLI is an eighteen year old poet. She loves iced coffee, reading with her dogs, and true crime. Her work has been featured by Button Poetry, the California Endowment, and Get Lit Words Ignite. She has competed in the international youth slam Brave New Voices, as well as winning the Classic Slam. She is pursuing a veterinary degree.

Caesura

Within this ellipse

recall that it’s a process.

A glimmer of hummingbirds

circles the feeder, peacock, rust.

Beaking nectar, they hum back

to the rain-wet maple, still

bare-limbed, no leaves,

just buds waiting to open,

seed pods falling

in the yard below.

Inside, my piles grow—

today I’ll fold the clothes

that comprise the bedroom

desk-pile. The weight

of all my coats

hovers somewhere

between heft

and feathers.

Right now these coats

are my boulder:

a godsend.


CALEB NICHOLS is a writer and musician from California. His poems have appeared in Unstamatic: A Micro Lit Mag, and his music has been featured on Paste and Out. He records music along with his husband as one half of the indie pop duo Soft People.

self-portrait as erasure

It was summer in Iowa & our time together

brief: I swallow moonbeams & cola

& love sonnets until I bleed. Bled blue out on

the patio, barefoot & dancing in the rainstorm.

How long will it take to bury me, then uncover

my bones? Someday, I will only exist in memory,

in upside gritty Polaroids, floral perfume stained

on the sleeves of a silk blouse. I untangle myself

from dollar store linens, reach for a cherry cola

at midnight. My mother, the fortune teller, makes

rosaries out of dried baby’s breaths. Taught me

magic tricks, acts of erasure—tonight I sit in a

cold shower and sob, the soap bar skidding down

the drain. I eat glass shards and mounds of

sugar until my tonsils and stomach are bleeding,

rotting, combusting. She burns flowers at dawn in

a rented motel room in Louisiana, tells me don’t trust

men with biblical names. I make ransom letters

out of newspaper obituaries, naked and smoking,

creating fairy tales out of ashes. Ma, you wouldn’t

believe me if I set this place on fire tonight,

threw that cigarette at the velvet curtains, blew

the ashes all over the baroque ashtray, just wait—


ASHLEY HAJIMIRSADEGHI’s work has appeared in Into the Void Magazine and Corvid Queen, among others. She is a poetry reader at Mud Season Review, attended the International Writing Program’s Summer Institute, and was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow. She can be found at http://ashleyhajimirsadeghi.squarespace.com/

Mother Mirror, Mother Tongue

blue script loops & whirls 

this star-sparked

breath, an umbilicus

holding me to you, to her 

& her, back & back 

I remember myself

 

in an archway skip-counting 

for you, looking for the pattern

for the words that could call you

to me, the words entangled, what is 

from gdobri, good. yo ya me I & but—

 

m, mother, mat’, mater, madre you are always 

first, a bilabial hum before the burst

of air, the stop, the fractures, the infinitive 

of forbidden splits that come so easily 

to this language, in silence 

 

we trace the severed with two

fingers, what saint is this? what holiness?

and apart from us, in front of us, above us

with position and preparation, someone asks

with a borrowed voice, what 

man has come with good news?  

it is a gospel of sequence, binding us to 

in his name, whether we consent 

or not; even unseen pray

we, in the dark, our breath the only blue—

 

to Mary of the resurrection, 

to Katherine of the moon, each of us 

a goddess of her tongue: wordless, headless – found

millennia later, thick stone

bodies in the dirt

separate &

alone &

insistent


SHERRE VERNON is an educator, a seeker of a mystical grammar, and a 2019 recipient of the Parent-Writer Fellowship at MVICW. She has two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (prose) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Readers describe Sherre’s work as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. To read more of her work visit www.sherrevernon.com/publications

a bird alone

after psalm one hundred and two

a tawny owl hops

over rubble: man

made crumblings.

bones burning coal.

dead grass a nest not

enough to call home.

eats ashes and shadows

grow long. shut eyes. wither

in desert winds.

blind stones pity

the still unheard

but the day hears.

this too shall

open.

the east sky yawns

and mornings. perish waits

another day. rumblings

as the temple rebuilds

secret place quenched

in golden. owl’s

wing quivers, heartbeats: flight

a gift received.

to dwell in tremors

of a coming:

not safe, but good.

temple gates soften

ancient door roarings:

an open mouth

full of glory


CASSANDRA HSIAO is an undergraduate at Yale University, majoring in Theater Studies and Ethnicity, Race & Migration. Her poetry, fiction and memoirs have been recognized by Storyscape, Arts by the People, Rambutan, Animal, Claremont Review, and Jet Fuel. Her plays have been selected as finalists for national playwriting competitions held by The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, Princeton University, Durango Arts Center, California Playwrights Project and YouthPLAYS. She was also recognized for her journalism work as a Voices fellow by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).

The Great Divide

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PAUL ILECHKO is the author of the chapbooks Bartok in Winter (Flutter Press, 2018) and Graph of Life (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville ReviewWest Trade ReviewCathexis Northwest PressOtoliths and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.