Rachel Allen

Eduardo Escalante

Again Google, Mo Gawdat lines on happiness

Lemons or magnet for us?
Rational smells with an old story:
What part of my glass I would drink?
Would I be a different actor?
On the edge,
Still I prefer: Step back step forward to growth
Probably some steps back — settling for good enough.
A few pause, breathe, reflect, and then the step
And wait for a sudden illumination, not an equation
Or remain happy eating my orange and should not
Invest in failing or loosing. I should

Lemons or magnets or smiles for us?
petals smell with an old story:
What part of my glass I would drink?
Would I flow like a different actor?
Plato still in a shadow
On the edge,
A few pause, breathe, reflect, and then a touch
Right left back forward up down
Probably some touches back — settling for good enough.
Wait for a sudden land, tree, wave, woman, not an equation
Or remain happy eating my orange and should not
Invest in failing or loosing or crumbling. I should not.

Ashleigh Allen

Les femmes frontale


The suicidologist fell into it on the pavement
Felt the rain fall and imagined the train jumps
Rumps and humps of sad sisters locked in their hearts
Management insists on us growing together
We’re other to each others mothers


I sat next to the elderly black women on public
Transit when I was a kid, a teenager, no matter
Where I was in the world and now I see her
Majestic colloseus in front of me like horizon
She was born with eyes wide, open and hawklike
She saw me move when I thought I was alone
She preserved herself because there was no body
Who would preserve her body and she had always known it
Thrown it down and slept near a holiday, Sunday cloth, moonlight


Crammed in the jam, Athena puked from the motion
The trick is to always hold the war inside you
Don’t reengineer the bridges or basements
Schizophrenia on the phone drone, jai guru deva om
Stakes of scandel, flip flop sandal, mandala out at sea
Climbed a mountain for pleasure, measured my love
Against the war and came out blood clotted, professional


Did you see my Nonna avoid being shot when they lined
Them up in ’39? She was there in the liquor shop
Immigration is everyones favourite murder, you said
There’d be a buffet, faggots, fuel to get out of here

A real aficionado of loud

Optimistic cream
An open letter to the indignants,
flagrant and idea-whipped.
How many moons have you
noted, sitting backstage?
Left us dirty dinner dishes
and all, ripped the dessert
out of the doorframe, ran past
Corinth pillar down the street
fighting a century of shakedowns,
urined bottom, hobo heat.
Masculinity making
tracks on the nipple,
the quickest route home.
Hilarity laughing in the hills,
dies underneath the dew of this.
Erotic moralities send flowers
to the funeral. There’s something
sexy about the way a tulip dies,
something about the skeleton of sex.
The female phallus returns to hurt
and the pubis pours over, friend
rises filled with helium.

Mes sœurs

Clowning with Camille while she
lies in bed makes me trust
in the faintness of perfection
The voids within the hand
that holds our two decades
Canada, France, America
We swim simultaneously
are territorial of our stains
We were rotted
fruit of the female ego
standing on the shoulders of
a destination vacation
Not today ma sœur
I'm sad about the buses I take
around town
not the distances but
the mood in transit
The women carry
dead bodies with them – the men
ignore the corpses and manifest
their dopey jokes and rape slang

Emma’s body resists
herpes and worry
Arizona my sharona et cetera
All but dissertation
biological anthropology trips
to Kenya years
in a village where the girls’
cheeks are horizontally cut
at puberty
No more
crying after that
The fiction
of the laws we have
There are banana peels
in our interactions, we slip
There’s a laugh track for anything

And I watch a movie that includes
average women against
the day concerned with weaving
war tanks

Our bodies must not be
defined by our experiences with men
There is an engine
that drives the pears of the past
We encourage our secrets
to dig themselves up
We are
the participants of style
the arithmetic of churches
big like brothel
with the stink of conflicting
astrological signs
Our sex organs are
baseball gloves, catcher's mitts
We wear rally caps to bed

Sure, self-examination

My own being, a female overflow of wit
Have a few contacts, New York City
Increase the sprawl of my body’s concept
Don’t do spring internal, dwell in December
Material, marital, martial, my sleeves
And knees reach the floor, jerk
Off to the internet, revolutionary lip
Moan, mustache goulash, cardsharp, my marbles
Windy boob tunnel, a funnel of fucks,
Self described as en vogue, au currant,
Sans enfants, qui vive comme ça ?
New Woman breeding spirit stink
The term witch, the nails fearless, feeble
Economy seals in the storm, the future retreats
In my dreams and complicates issues. I’m long
Woke now, prophecy coming out of slow hair
Woven scripture along the bedposts
We use as bats to keep the narratives at bay.
The end of the love novel predates our meeting
I vomit on the way home, admit this to you now.
Fine, there’s a score if you’re keeping track.

Colleen Louise Barry


On Christmas Day C and I drove past two people fucking against a chain link fence at around 12:05AM

I worried about my outfit being too revealing for C’s mom
But then she said to his dad, “You’ll get a woody!”
about a Budweiser ad on Facebook

I can be strangely conservative
I worry about my body

But then we live in a top floor apartment with a wall of bay windows
and I walk around naked with the light on before bed

I feel emboldened by my fear
Can’t fear it too much

If I’m just wild enough maybe I can keep whatever I have

C’s mom and many other women believe it is their duty to have children
Some women even think it is the duty of all women
I’ve been told my opinion matters less because I don’t have children
I’ve been told I’ll make a wonderful mom

A has her tubes tied because of a life-threatening illness
She underwent numerous psychiatric evaluations before the doctors would perform this procedure

My neighbors are very nice
Every time I see one I wonder if they have heard me having sex
Just this morning after walking the dog, I ran into apartment 607
He said, “Don’t get too wet!”

Of course he was talking about the rain
I had just passed a used condom that was filling up with run-off water from a drain

Tushar Jain

Mister Fish and the Cat

the strange
Mister Fish lives
in a library full of big
rotund jars, with soft,
round bellies that spill
to the floor, like
a ball of rye

in one of those
jars is a cat named
Haldi, with fur rough
as bramble, and a snout
greener than a pea, and
no one knows how the
gutsy little devil got there

every sunset, when
the sky scalds purple like
a bruise, the odd Mister Fish
unscrews the lid of Haldi’s
musky Bulgarian jar, and
throws in a mouse

Mister Fish keeps his
mice in tangerine-coloured
flasks and coats them on holidays

in sugar, egg yolk and cream;

so, it is not so much as mouse

as it is mousse

across the library,
there’s a maple tree, with
a cork trunk, a shrubbery bush,

sap, thick as jam, and magnolias
in full bloom, the size of turnips

in summers, its vines
sag low with blueberries
and blossoms, and the mice
perk their ears to the chirp of
finches burbling in its hollows,

but it is the cat in the jar who
gazes and gazes at it with
eyes as round as pennies,

moist with longing

one day, when
Mister Fish came in to
drop a mouse, marinated,
sautéed, and dipped in
marmalade, the cat leapt
and skittered out, and
never came back

after many years,

the jars stand empty,

whistling in the rains,

and the mice who remain

often see the cat, who now

lives amongst the blossoms

Imani Elizabeth Jackson

Human but also a parking structure
Not-girl but also a mixing bowl

Often mistaken for the starter light
   of a gas stove
and clicking, which is a sign
   of malfunction

“What’s in your blood?” is the
woman’s attempt at a compliment

“You are so beautiful;

surely there is something”

The appliance, which is also human-
   made landscape, says, “thank you,
   I’m Catholic”

Their vary is your halt and stagnant and  they like it like that   they like their self kink-edged and
refusing  to smooth  they like when they get real and edge-laid
  they, a tender-headed song-yearning and
unsnatchable  and I like that  how they do  and do and unbecome

                                  “the laying of edges”

You've been  out here
I've been leaning into you

and you look so good this side of light

I mean you look so good  in the dark
like Nina says
I get such a thrill

Compel me a workaround to vision
In the dark  the eyes get held
in the skin’s feeling

The dark  becomes you
I lean on in

The dark  becomes you
into my glistening


“We etched our belonging
into the fields
Braided escape into our hair
                                  ‘No niggers after sunset’
But we shot those signs to oblivion

Still in our backs are the markings
And now are we owning ourselves”

Mayfield’s diamonds and sunroofs

John’s riceland flips, surl, and scarred trunk
Mariah weeping in the rows
And up to Chicago  where some of us stay

I plan to stay                       a believer

This is the silo,                    beside the beautiful
rows, the sowing of seeds and hoeing,
the will towards opulent

  an optimism                   an optimism

Amy Lawless

Let Me Tell You about My Knife

I'm perfectly happy to tell you about my knife
Hell all I want to do
is sit at the head of this long table
tell you about my knife
then fall asleep

Last night
I dreamt about my knife
I was holding it in my bare hand
it shone in the light
that left a star
we call the sun
It blazed for a few seconds
in space then hit my knife
then my eye
I blinked

That made me want to hold my knife even tighter



I read Schuyler’s poem “A Stone Knife”
and in that poem he described this knife
that Kenward Elmslie gave him
I thought I want to describe my knife too
so I am

So, let me tell you about my knife

A poem can be anything

I know you don't know what my knife looks like yet
but you have a good sense of it already, don't you?
The way the light hits tells you
something about its sharpness
what it means to me
maybe you'll begin to understand what it would be like
if I lost it
how much that would hurt
how deep that wound would go
like flexing my kegel muscles on a gravestone
like staring at a lover while they sleep

But you know other things, don't you?
What about the porcelain handle?
What about the little floral inlay on the bolster?
What about the rivets that look at you like a reptile’s Jesus eyes
that follow you along the room?
Like eyes that give you shivers so you leave?
That haunt you like a haunted mansion?
Do you lay crushed garlic upon its steel spine?
When you grasp the scales, do you think of me?

I want to burst all over

You know, my knife is under my expensive cooling massage pillow

You know, I like its potential for opening letters
I think about opening letters when I look at you
I turn it over and over in my hand with only the moonlight
jabbing a waxing curse across my temple through the blinds

A pearl spins on the table
A man in a top hat serenades me
Let me tell you about my knife
A dove throws dice across a lighted mirror

My gloved hand holds an unopened oyster
The other hand holds
my knife

An oyster drops a pearl onto the edge of the blade
A soft interior begs for mignonette

My first boyfriend gave me a Swiss Army knife on my birthday
after we made out in the Family Bathroom at the Prudential Center
We were teens

First love

I’d take it out of my jewelry box every night to play with it

I brought it to college
Now he is a professor in California…

and I'm in bed writing and thinking about my knife
a different knife

Tough love

My Nana had an electric knife that carved roast beef
I thought of it more like a saw
Its hacking cut through holiday caroling
its motor louder than any laughter
I was never allowed near that knife

My Mama has a knife she treats like a celebrity that no one can stand
No one trusts this knife in a room alone
And no one has been seen in the same room as her knife
I've never seen her sharpen it but I know its name
Big Billy, same as her brother's

Schuyler’s knife opened letters
And that's something I never do

I cut bread into slices for you
I stab perfectly good shirts into rags
I turn it over and over
protecting my bank account
wearing an elegant costume
unfurling myself open into bedtime
I turn it over and over in my hands
Sometimes I fall asleep with my knife in my hand
but usually I store it between my mattress and box spring
this keeps me alert

Sometimes I pass the knife from hand to hand
this keeps me safe from all the bother of the world
—all the men
who spiral open before me like plated ham —

Allen, Escalante, Allen, Barry, Jain, Jackson, Lawless

Rachel Allen is a writer and artist in New York. She has work forthcoming/in The Fanzine, Full Stop, Shabby Doll House, and Best American Experimental Writing (2018). She has also written for Guernica, of which she is an editor.

Eduardo Escalante is a writer and researcher who was born in Antofagasta, Chile, in 1942. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous places, including: Espacio_Luke, Ariadna​, OtroLunes, Nagari, Sur Revista de Literatura, Revista Ómnibus, ​ Resonancias, ​Writer Resits, Spillwords, Slamchop,​ among others.

Ashleigh Allen's poems have appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, Indolent Books, Tethered by Letters, The Literary Review, and Bort Quarterly. Via New York City, Allen teaches a variety of creative and critical writing courses at colleges and community centers in Toronto, Canada.

Colleen Louise Barry is a writer and artist. She runs the publishing project and shop Mount Analogue in Seattle, WA. @colleenlouisebarry

Tushar Jain is an Indian poet, playwright, and author. He was the winner of the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, 2012 and a winner of the Poetry with Prakriti Prize, 2013. Subsequently, he won the RL Poetry Award, 2014. He was a winner of the DWL Short Story Contest 2014 for his short story "A humiliating day for [Dr.] Balachander". He won the Toto Funds the Arts Award for Creative Writing, 2016. His work has been published in myriad international journals such as Antiserious, The Nervous Breakdown, RaedLeafPoetry, Papercuts, Into the Void Magazine, Edify, and others.

Imani Elizabeth Jackson is a writer and arts worker from Chicago whose work has appeared in Cold Cube 002 and The Teal Ceramic. @iejxn @literalhuman

Amy Lawless is the author of two books of poems including My Dead (Octopus Books). Her third poetry collection Broadax is forthcoming from Octopus Books. A chapbook A Woman Alone is out from Sixth Finch Books. With Chris Cheney she is the author of the hybrid book I Cry: The Desire to Be Rejected from Pioneer Works Press' Groundworks Series (2016). Poems appear widely in print and online and have been recently anthologized in Best American Poetry 2013, Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion, and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (Brooklyn Arts Press). She received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2011. She lives in Brooklyn.


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