sisters by Mia Nelson

so much left unsaid about 

the woman who washed our hair 

 

in the river and the tv that peeled itself lemon 

static and our limbs buzzed and we were 

 

animals not afraid of being animals 

and we tore acidity from the apartment windows

 

and our walls cried blue and watercolor and the only thing 

left was the shrine we made to the crack in our mother’s

 

head from which we were born, pulled like sea foam and fake california

sun– the color of your hair, a discarded hand from the yellowy clouds

 

aren’t you tired of living this way, aren’t you too old to 

be sucking thumbs and playing the wind like a six string guitar. 

 

your tongue walks penny circles around me 

and the phone loses its purple mind and i am 

 

ashamed of the flickering light on your face and how 

people have always thought you were younger than you are.

 

sister, pray to the god of our broken carburetor and the black hair 

we found in the sink you spit skin and yellow blood into

 

pray to the god of my broken lip and the boy who shattered your knee 

before state and the highway we ran away to: kneel to its fluorescent lights

 

and the dark, empty night that pooled at us and

the navy color of your mouth when you told me you

 

were so lost, a bulimic deer in headlights, 

that you were getting closer to angels and further from yourself. 

 

Lilly, like the flower, like a thousand, golden unpicked hands, 

I looked up to you like a moth sees heaven and your hair was 

 

the shade mine almost was and my greatest

shame is that mother liked me best.

 

 Lilly, sister, hand. hand that gave mine its softness, 

 I know I am not as strong as you, I know you grew up

 

in a closed mouth sun, that you were too much for too much 

but I don’t know if you miss me, or if even that would be enough. 

 

the last time I saw you, purple lipstick made me cry. you looked too cold to be

the pavement I had grown up burning my feet on, you looked too cold for the interstate, 

 

for the intersection. you were my god. and worse, you

were my sister. now I pray to the half of the grapefruit I promise

 

myself I’ll eat tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow like tomorrow

is the knife you put in my hands. if I saw you only once, 

 

it was the back of your car: a cloud of hot, 

cicada yellow exhaust when i learned that

 

there is only God and everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing by Lawdenmarc Decamora


You are a candy sweeter
than a molecule of flower dust,
spasm of sound among the spires
—oh apricot weeks!—sharpened
memories on a prowl yet painted
peaches to a murmuring waterfall.
A breath lesioned core.
Loveliness—tafetta skies
in your mouth, of yore I waited
till you twanged cerulean harpsichords
down a rivulet of toothsome repose.
 

A clock a blab—the sun
is a masquerade ball
rolling over the shoulders
of corseted tradition.
Forgive me for what
I have whispered
to your snow-capped silence;
for I am head of quills
disillusioned by the parted sea,
marshalled by gulls,
your time I fain endeared,
with sauces built upon chances
that hummed you near.
 

Flutists against the friendship of fire,
they play and sing their pipes out
for a scholarship of sands in El Nido[1]
Your feet, speaking of blonde oceans, shove
away the caries lounging upon my coral
enamel, whitening the leaden shores,
blossoming, even purging out sinister crablets
from a prestigious crucifixion of the clowns.
But you epitomizing love pageantry
are the pillow hugging my tummy:
caresses that shiver the cold in its brine.
 

And your patience cling like ivy,
wife of loyalty from the snorkeling esophagus;
take me with your fingering asparagus
and we’ll unfurl the tasseled tongue
of silence into wings of love.
 
 
 
 
 


[1] A breath-taking island destination and beach haven in the province of Palawan in the Philippines.

Pilot by Christopher McCarthy


Clip wings
claw wind
wind a fjord
where sea once flooded.

Track shadow
shift fog beneath
painted snow
stony mouths.

Tail birds
measure clouds
by their beaks
scale the mountain.

See no angler
do no fishing
birds over water
dive in the sky.

Black chert face
wax eyelids shut
say Christ
a ladder to heaven.

Break granite wings
tuck stones
under tongue
drop.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Company Car by Alana Dunlop

 
there you are
in your company car
eyes as wide as
my legs were.
you tell me i’m why you’ve
quit smoking and
you tell me you’re afraid
of being boring and
my mouth knows
you like a
loose tooth
(I’m just not used to you).
 
i’ve never met your friends
and you left them for
that night on the hill,
with my shirt off and on the ground
and the stars
just witnesses to it all.
and god,
i’m always so afraid i’m doing it
wrong.
 
but
you’ll always break up with
everyone else the way someone
first broke up with you.
and i’m trying to get rid of you
but make it seamless
and i’m balancing between
rip it off
or take it slow.
 
but
no one ever prepares me
for the faces
that you make,
the scrunched up sad ones.
and no one ever prepares me
for wanting your kisses somewhere else,
somewhere farther down
even though you wanna look in my eyes.
i don’t even care about your horoscope,
that must be a sign.
 
you say we have nothing in common like
it’s mild indigestion.
i’m standing there, feeling it
all rising in my throat and wondering:
when do i stop? when do i really stop?

because staying with someone is
like watching people from
inside your house and
wanting to be them but
never coming close.
you and me, we’re a crowd
but three’s always company.
 
i don’t want to hurt you
but i’m going to.
i think you’ve come from far,
scratched up company car,
i’m ready to say the words if you are. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Murder of Craas by John Dingwall

Took a walk to the craa wid.

Pillaring pines, bare at the waste, shabby at the heid.

The grun is fern and autumn’s auburn waste.

The wid belongs to the throaty wail of the craas

that nest upon the pine tops in their hunners.

As dawn nears, the vivid pinkish sky grows noir with their carrion dance.

The craas wedding it’s caad.

And as the rooks and hoodies and carrions descent on treetop beds, the wid itself turns black,

some pines with ten to a brunch.

A restless noir spectre.

 

Wandering to the wid,

to the first trees abeen the dry steen dyke,

I feel dark een upon me; hunners, thoosands.

 

I see brunches twitch.

 

Hans feel the cardboard texture of tree bark.

 

The sticky kiss of an aal cobweb.

 

I step deeper into the wid.

A craa caas at me something callous.

Another joins in, this time a waar cry,

and a retched symphony begins.

A chorus of pain and agony.

A thoosand beaks yell “awa”.

 

Heid tilted back,

I violently clash the palms of my hans the gither.

The momentum leaves a sting.

 

The soond of a cyclone,

of wings skelping wings,

brunches battering brunches.

A spectral black veil crams the evening sky

as a feather nae bigger than my index finger tumbles from the tree tops,

spinning top to bottom.

It lands on my reid palms.

I feel its plastic stem, where the black melts to grey,

so licht to the touch.

In its wake comes a hunner more,

a blin-drift of sable sna.

 

All licht is extinguished.

 

I breathe in a moofae of faain feathers.

 

And choke on my grief,

as a murder of craas kills the sun

and gives birth to the necht.

 



Glossary

Craa – crow, brunch – branch, licht – light, necht – night, hunner – a hundred, thoosands – thousands, sna – snow, moofae – mouthful, faain – falling, reid – red, caa – call, grun – ground, wid – wood, heid – head, awa – away, een – eyes, hans – hands, the gither – together, abeen – beyond/above, Steen – stone, aal – old, blin-drift – heavy shower of snow.



 


 














[You] by Emily Willis

[You] are visiting sitting on the bed I’ve rented forecast is for hail and possible bombing it hits me tidal how on the walk today the sea was too obviously brutal how it makes a different sound from that other one I remember how I pulled your face out of the water and later we lined up the bottles of wine and broke them with laughter how you sat with me the day he put his foot in the door I was by the radiator to mark it for later—I have been piss happy with you talking about the darkest things gave them body to seem less real it feels wrong and wonderful for you to be in this space and all of the other beds we sat on at 11 or 12 or 1 am frothing up in the gin animating the gaps belong to then belong to this

 





















Unholy Spines by Olivia Hu

Unholy Spines

It’s true I suppose / the body becomes easier to peel / after kept out for
too long / The expiry date is not in red / nor are your palms / I’m swallowing
grapefruit i’m / spitting spit / bleeding blood / I suppose I sleep with
another set of eyes / back always against walls / lodging myself in crabgrass
tongues / Do you align your breath with / the inhales of small animals?
Or with / the lapping of water? / In glass bottles I mean / What happens
when / a body mimics dawn / opening & splitting all at once / Tell me
something less holy / Rather / a body swinging as fence / or breastbones
blackening / or a spine sprouting & / opening itself with handles & teeth