ISSUE 23 SNEAK PEEK
The Creation of the World
by Ros Seamark
Brushing my teeth in a South Station bathroom is the closest I come to being myself the morning. The buzzing florescents illuminating my body bent here over the sink, my hands flashing under the faucet is not a faithful copy of dawn like I am. I am so faithful. I am the sky’s dog. At 6:03 a.m. I look in the mirror and I see words scratched into the weather. I spit, and it’s clouds.
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flannery o’connor and i go bowling
by Maria Zoccola
a lane is also an aisle. a ball is also a weight.
i bought her a ninety-cent fountain drink
that in her hands morphed into a pitcher of light,
a pitcher made of light full up with light,
light inside of light, sharp pulsing brightness
of a birth or a blow. when she drank
a blaze ripped down her throat in one straight line,
and in her stomach i saw cells take the light
to all corners of skin, all specks of blood,
each small grain of bone. god hovered
in place above the pin machine, opening
and closing his mouth. i touched her palm
so i could hear him, the roar of his voice
sweeping down the boards, tumbling and crashing,
keeping careful score. wouldn’t it be best
if we were different people, i said,
but she told me the self comes back
like a sleeping bulb, like a bowling ball,
returned from tunnels under the earth,
delivered for us to throw away again.
by Samantha Samakande
a lake of a window
whited out by the finishing
December coming out the rear
of the worst blizzard to drop
by the east coast in years the yawning
door a snare of a mouth collecting
lookers like the white gunks
at the corners of lips becoming
spectacle in a paper gown
the gauzy shade of a dollar store
shower curtain so many priests
in white robes charging in to format
my sins chart them take my
confession with my temperature
Were you trying to hurt yourself?
Why were you trying to hurt yourself?
ritualized the thwack of a stethoscope
urgent against my rib cage and the throbbing
underneath systematized the chatty
machine and its long-winded
appendages see-through and skeletal
and plastic holding my hands and arms
at needlepoint the itch on the belly
side of my palms the tickle on the inside
of my elbow I am forbidden
to scratch or bend and the wail
of the machine when I do
the light and loose kind of faded
my mind is the brilliant anger
bringing me back to my own body
the aching unsoothable the pressing
hard on my chest to find it
smell it like you touch the back
of your ear and smell it
the filmy afterbirth of grief and I
right on the rim of dissolve
by M. Cynthia Cheung
Shards of bald cypress
wreck the sky. Each night’s
turmoil of feral hogs stiffens
in mud. Behind the metal
grate, the trapped boar
swells and surges, all
hackles and fever, tusks
bursting the leaf litter.
The game warden’s rifle draws
a line between his eye and ear.
This is how I imagine
ice splits granite,
or the way Newton’s
second law translates:
the sudden posture
of a force accelerating
into nothing but mass.
On the Drive Down
by Jeremy Rock
Behind the washed-out boards of a roadside
stand and those empty shacks with windows so thin
the glass becomes part of the room, lawn signs
remember lost elections, their letters uncollected
and warped with moisture. I’ve resolved never
to meet these houses away from the road for fear
they’d try to keep me, so I hold an even sixty-two
in a fifty-five and watch the pawn shops fade
to vulture feathers around pits of old rain. This trail
is seamed between homes, crosshatched the way
snow melts striated from a hood and I see, by the lights
lining the water, a bridge emerging as if it was just being
formed. I play the good moth and lope along, morning
wearing over me in dull blue streaks.
Things They Want After Fire
by Ibe Liebenberg
to the dog I found under a bed
to swollen body.
expires. The taste
of failure stains
the hole dug
beside a tree for you.
At the station,
in my room
I shovel through sleep.
Like a bad obituary,
plagiarize me better.
Love’s Thermal Services
by Owen McLeod
The most important things?
Grass long and weedy, wheels
of abandoned bicycles, Saturn’s rings,
fruits that can be washed and dried,
ears, lightning, singing, glass jars
filled with cut flowers, gold, green,
select industries, certain cars, pencils
and the scent of their shavings.
What’s the problem?
The destruction of air and earth
and of the summer camp where you hid
in the woods beautifully, beautiful, sinful—
your little heart foaming
like a cake of pink soap.
Portrait of my brother with his habit
by Kiyoko Reidy
after Nick Flynn
Though the internet claims
it takes twenty-one days
to form a new habit, I am here
to tell you it takes only a single
moment of choice, then a lifetime
falling up through a slip
of sunlight into his nose or a loose
handful of pills, dead white
bugs in his palm; without sense
of where his body began or how
it could end he bent
the world to his will: like a cartoon
he traced his wants onto air
and they solidified, he drew windows
on his arms and they filled in with stars,
black holes the size of a needle’s
point, tiny mouths with
their unremitting hungers, and all
the while I went on assuming
the worst, though what I imagined
was the worst was not, and even
once he told me I couldn’t really
imagine—a body of doors swinging
loosely on their hinges, the twenty-one
days coming and coming again, an army
of days that were all the day
he was going to quit, the day he’d
rewind, walking backward
through every opening he’d made until
he stood at the entrance
to himself, the first door
of this life I couldn’t imagine,
and finally he’d slam it shut,
all the other doors behind it
falling like dominoes.
Clarissa Adkins' poems appear in The Pinch, Whurk Magazine, River City Poets’ anthology: Lingering in the Margins, Passengers Journal, and more. She earned a Best of the Net nomination from Parentheses International Literary Arts Journal in 2018 and was a finalist for the 17th Annual Erskine J. Poetry Prize. Lily Poetry Review Books published her first full-length poetry collection, Building Alexandria, in April of 2021. Clarissa loves being a reader for Sugar House Review.
Matthew Ivan Bennett is a resident of Plan-B Theatre, where he’s premiered several plays, including “Eric(a),” which won Best Drama at the United Solo Festival in New York. He’s written nearly a dozen radio plays in collaboration with KUER’s RadioWest. His poetry has appeared in Mixer, Western Humanities Review, and Utah Life.
Lisa Bickmore's work has appeared or will soon appear in Psaltery & Lyre, Blossom as the Cliff Rose, Quarterly West, Tar River Poetry, Caketrain, Split Rock Review, Menagerie, Terrain.org, Hunger Mountain Review, Southword, The Moth, Timberline Review, and elsewhere. Her second book, flicker (2016), won the 2014 Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press, and she won the 2015 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize for the poem “Eidolon.” Her third collection, Ephemerist, was published in 2017 by Red Mountain Press. She is the founder and publisher of the new nonprofit Lightscatter Press (LightscatterPress.org). She lives and teaches writing in Salt Lake City.
Michelle Bitting was short-listed for the 2020 Montreal International Poetry Prize; won the 2018 Fischer Poetry Prize and Quarter After Eight’s 2018 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest; and her fourth collection of poetry, Broken Kingdom, won the 2018 Catamaran Prize and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2018. She has poems published in The American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Los Angeles Review, Vinyl Poetry, The Paris-American, Love’s Executive Order, The Raleigh Review, Green Mountains Review, Plume, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. Recently, she was a finalist in the 2020 Reed Magazine Edwin Markham Prize, as well as the 2019 Sonora Review and New Millennium Flash Prose contests. Michelle is a lecturer in poetry and creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and film studies at University of Arizona. MichelleBitting.com
John Blair has published six books, most recently Playful Song Called Beautiful (University of Iowa Press, 2016). His seventh book, The Art of Forgetting, is forthcoming this winter from Measure Press.
Gaylord Brewer is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where he founded and for 20+ years edited the journal Poems & Plays. The most recent of his 16 books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and cookery are two collections of poems, The Feral Condition (Negative Capability, 2018) and Worship the Pig (Red Hen, 2020).
Claudia Buckholts received creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the Grolier Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Indiana Review, Minnesota Review, New American Writing, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Tar River Poetry, and others; and in two books, Bitterwater and Traveling Through the Body.
Samuel Cheney is the winner of a 2021 Pushcart Prize. His poems have recently appeared in Copper Nickel, The Literary Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. He has been awarded scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received the 2018 Erskine J. Poetry Prize from Smartish Pace. He is from Centerville, UT and lives in Baltimore, MD, where he is at work on his debut collection.
M. Cynthia Cheung is an internist who trained at the University of California, Los Angeles, and currently practices hospital medicine in Texas. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Zócalo Public Square, Hawaii Pacific Review, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others. She was previously a finalist for the Michael E. Debakey Poetry Contest, and is on the judging panel for 2021.
Lisa Compo has a BA in creative writing from Salisbury University and is a poetry reader for Quarterly West. She has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as Rhino, Puerto del Sol, Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She was a semifinalist for the 2019 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.
Todd Copeland’s poems have appeared in The Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, California Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, Christianity & Literature, and Columbia Poetry Review. His essays have been published in Literary Imagination, JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory, and Media, War & Conflict, among other publications. He holds degrees in English from Baylor University (BA), The University of Georgia (MA), and Texas A&M University (PhD). A native of Ohio, he lives in Waco, TX.
Nicole Cox is a creative writing undergraduate at Utah State University, spending her summers at home in Sandy, UT. She enjoys playing piano and guitar in the middle of the night, and loves reading so much that her family holds interventions.
Sarah-Jane Crowson's poetry and visual poetry can be found in a variety of online and print journals, and has been shortlisted for various awards. She is interested in exploring the space between the real and imagined in a gently subversive way. Inspired by fairytales, nature, psychogeography, and surrealism, Sarah-Jane uses bricolage to investigate the unusual and surprising using words. You can find her on Twitter @Sarahjfc.
Jessica Drake-Thomas is a poet, fiction writer, and book reviewer. She is the author of Burials, a gothic horror poetry collection. She's a poetry editor at Coffin Bell Journal.
Lynne Ellis writes in pen. Her words appear in WA 129, What Rough Beast, PageBoy, and others. Lynne was a mentee in AWP’s Writer-to-Writer program and won the Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize. Her book In these failing times I can forget, a collection of city poems, is available through Papeachu Press. See her current collaboration with Felicia Rice—a growing collection of digital broadsides—online at Moving Parts Press. LynneEllis.com
Chelsea N. Fabian is a PhD student and graduate instructor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her research focuses on intersections of female queerness, trauma, and visibility in contemporary anglophone literature. She has poems featured or forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, Atlanta Review, and Coal Hill Review.
Jen Stewart Fueston is the author of Madonna, Complex (Cascade Books 2020); Latch (River Glass Books 2019); and Visitations (Finishing Line Press 2015). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in AGNI, Thrush, Western Humanities Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A native of Colorado, she has taught writing at the University of Colorado-Boulder, as well as internationally in Hungary, Turkey, and Lithuania.
Amelia Harrington’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Warm Milk, Sporazine, and elsewhere. In 2020, Amelia graduated with the inaugural class of Randolph College's MFA program. Now they are circulation manager for South Dakota Review, a PhD student in the English Department at the University of South Dakota, and a coordinator in the university's writing center.
An award-winning poet, Ken Holland just received his second and third nominations for the Pushcart Prize. He’s had work widely published in such journals as Rattle, Tulane Review, Southwest Review, The Cortland Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Chariton Review, and The American Journal of Poetry. His poems have also been included in a number of anthologies. He was awarded first place in the 2019 Stephen DiBiase contest, and third place in the 2020 Naugatuck River Review competition. He has book and chapbook manuscripts out on submission, an effort that eluded him until he found his way to retirement.
Justin Hunt grew up in rural Kansas and lives in Charlotte, NC. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Five Points, Michigan Quarterly Review, New Ohio Review, Robinson Jeffers Tor House, Bellingham Review, The Florida Review, Cider Press Review, Southword (Ireland), The Bridport Prize Anthology (UK), Arts & Letters, and The Atlanta Review, among other publications. He is currently working on a debut collection.
Stefan Karlsson received his MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine. His work has appeared in Forklift Ohio, Tar River Poetry, and Spillway.
Deborah Keenan is the author of ten collections of poetry, and a book of writing ideas, from tiger to prayer. With Roseann Lloyd she edited Looking for Home: Women Writing About Exile, which received the American Book Award. Recipient of the Minnesota Book Award for Willow Room, Green Door: New and Selected Poems, she recently retired from thirty years as professor in the creative writing programs at Hamline University. She continues teaching at The Loft, a center for writers in Minneapolis, and privately.
Alan King is a Caribbean-American poet whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1970s. He’s the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Point Blank (Silver Birch Press, 2016) and Drift (Aquarius Press, 2012). Plan B Press published his recent chapbook, Crooked Smiling Light. US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo said, “Alan King is one of my favorite up-and-coming poets of his generation. His poems are not pop and flash, rather more like a slow dance with someone you’re going to love forever.” King is also a videographer and motion graphics artist. The video he produced for his poem “Gluttony” was an Official Selection of the 2021 International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece. A Cave Canem fellow, King is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He lives with his wife, children, and mother-in-law in Bowie, MD.
Jeremy Knapp has ventured onto many crumbling paths throughout his journey through reality until finally finding the solid road beneath his feet, or at least a two-dimensional version of one, which is a start. He dabbled in the culinary arts, business, management, retail, banking, and finance, but has always loved writing. Although he still works a 9-5 in the financial industry, he earned his BFA in creative writing from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and is a current MFA student at Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN. He previously had poetry published in 13th Floor Magazine from the University of Nebraska, Omaha Writer’s Workshop, where he also served at a later time as editor-in-chief.
Ibe Liebenberg lives in Chico, CA and works as a firefighter and a lecturer at Chico State University. He is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has been published in The Journal of Chickasaw History and Culture, Chico State University's Multicultural Echoes, and The Threepenny Review.
Anthony Thomas Lombardi is a Pushcart-nominated poet, organizer, and educator. He was named a finalist in Autumn House Press’ 2020 Chapbook Contest, the Mississippi Review 2021 Prize in Poetry, the 9th Annual Gigantic Sequins Poetry Contest, and was longlisted for the 2020 Palette Poetry Emerging Poet Prize. He previously served as assistant director for Polyphony Lit’s Summer Scholars Program, and currently runs Word is Bond, a reading series that benefits bail funds and mutual aid organizations, in conjunction with The Adroit Journal, where he also serves as a poetry reader and interviews fellow poets. His work has appeared or will soon in Guernica, wildness, North American Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, THRUSH, Passages North, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Dilla.
Holly Mason received her MFA in poetry from George Mason University. Her poetry, interviews, and reviews have been published in The Adroit Journal, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, The Northern Virginia Review, Foothill Poetry Journal, University of Arizona Poetry Center Blog, Entropy, CALYX, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She has been a panelist for OutWrite (a Celebration of LGBTQ+ Literature) and DC’s Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here events and RAWIFest as a Kurdish-American poet. Holly is currently on the staff of Poetry Daily and lives in northern Virginia.
Owen McLeod teaches philosophy at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. He has this recurring anxiety dream in which he is alive.
Rebecca Morton's work appears in RHINO, TriQuarterly, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She serves as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal, and holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Rebecca lives in Chicago with her wife and children.
Christopher Munde is the author of the poetry collection Slippage (Tebot Bach 2019), which won the Patricia Bibby Award, and his poems have previously appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Bombay Gin, The Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, Third Coast, West Branch Wired, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the University of Houston’s MFA program and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. Presently, he lives in western NY, and teaches at Jamestown Community College.
Twila Newey received her MFA in writing and poetics from Naropa. She was a finalist for the 2019 Coniston Prize at Radar Poetry and won honorable mention in the 2019 JuxtaProse Poetry Contest. Her poems also appear in various journals including Green Mountains Review, Summerset Review, and Ruminate. Twila is a poetry editor for Psaltery & Lyre. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Derek Otsuji is a writer from Hawaii and the author of The Kitchen of Small Hours, winner of the Crab Orchard Review Poetry Series Open Competition. His work can be found or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Rattle, Pleiades, The Southern Review, and Beloit Poetry Journal.
Terra Peranteaux has been previously published in Stillpoint Literary Magazine and Sink Hollow Literary Magazine. She lives in Logan, UT and enjoys traveling and playing the flute.
A. Prevett is the author of the chapbook Still, No Grace (Madhouse Press, 2021). Their poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Sixth Finch, DIAGRAM, West Branch, and others. They are pursuing an MFA in poetry from Georgia State University, where they edit the journal New South. You can find them online at APrevett.com or on Twitter under the handle @a_prevett.
Kiyoko Reidy is an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University, where she also serves as the editor in chief for the Nashville Review. Her poems and nonfiction can be found in the Chestnut Review, Red Rock Literary Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Trampset, Driftwood Press, America's Best Emerging Poets, and elsewhere.
Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of two collections, Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press). Her poetry and hybrid work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Mom Egg Review, Colorado Review, West Trestle, Indianapolis Review, Heavy Feather Review, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.
Jeremy Rock is from Frederick, MD, and is a graduate of Salisbury University. He has work published in Ninth Letter, Waccamaw, The Shore, Stonecoast Review, Cider Press Review, The New Mexico Review, and elsewhere.
Samantha Samakande is a Zimbabwean poet currently based out of Bloomfield, NJ, where she resides with her husband. She is a graduate of Allegheny College and is a junior editor for F(r)iction. It is her lived experience as an immigrant that made her a poet, an observer, and a daughter of many tongues and in-betweens. Her work has appeared in Pif Magazine, Hobart, and Gordon Square Review. In 2020, she was the second-place winner of Frontier Poetry’s Award for New Poets.
Adam Scheffler's first book of poems, A Dog’s Life, was the winner of the 2016 Jacar Press Book Contest. His poems have appeared in Narrative, The Yale Review, The Common, The American Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, and many other venues. He teaches in the Harvard College Writing Program.
Ros Seamark is a queer poet and translator from Central California.
Poet, essayist, yoga and meditation teacher, Michael David Sowder writes about wilderness, fatherhood, yoga, and spirituality. He is a professor of English at Utah State University. His books include The Empty Boat (winner of the T.S. Eliot Award), House Under the Moon, and Whitman's Ecstatic Union. You can find his poems and essays in such venues as American Life in Poetry, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, Sufi Journal, New Poets of the American West, Pilgrimage, The New York Times Online, Shambhala Sun, Poetry Kanto, and elsewhere.
Marisa Celina Tirado is a Latinx-Indigenous poet from Chicago and New Mexico. She is an MFA student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has received fellowships from Image Journal and Kenyon Review. Marisa can be read in Colorado Review, Triquarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, Nowhere Magazine, and Southern Humanities Review. She recently founded an international collective of BIPOC activist poets called Protest Through Poetry.
Millie Tullis is a poet and folklorist from northern Utah. She received an MFA from George Mason University in 2021 and is currently studying folklore at Utah State University. Her work has been published in Rock & Sling, Cimarron Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. She serves as the assistant editor for Best of the Net. You can find her on twitter @millie_tullis.
Constant Laval Williams is a Los Angeles-born poet and former resident of Paris, France, where his writing first came of age. He studied creative writing at the University of Southern California where he received the Beau J. Boudreaux Poetry Award, judged by Nick Flynn. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, december magazine, Hotel Amerika, Otoliths, Paris Lit Up, and others.
John Sibley Williams is the author of six collections, including The Drowning House (Elixir Press Poetry Award), As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press), and Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize). A twenty-six-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and founder of the Caesura Poetry Workshop series. Previous publishing credits include Best American Poetry, Yale Review, Verse Daily, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and TriQuarterly.
Nicholas Yingling's work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, Pleiades, Colorado Review, Nimrod, and others. He was a finalist for the Sunken Garden Chapbook Contest, longlisted for the Frontier Chapbook Contest, and an honorable mention in the Chad Walsh Chapbook Series.
Maria Zoccola is a queer Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has writing degrees from Emory University and Falmouth University. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, 32 Poems, The Massachusetts Review, Colorado Review, Southern Indiana Review, Salamander, and elsewhere.
Holli Zollinger is a self-taught artist who has made a career of her talents: drawing, painting, and surface design. She is continually inspired by her surroundings living in the desert town of Moab, UT. She is highly motivated by the art of creativity and incorporates the color, texture, and pattern she sees in the world around her. Holli’s work has been published and featured worldwide. HolliZollinger.com
A native of Utah, Shari Zollinger divides her time between her work as a professional astrologer and independent bookseller. She has been known to write a poetic verse or two with published work in Sugar House Review and Redactions: Poetry & Poetics. She recently published Carrying Her Stone, a collection of poems based on the work of Auguste Rodin. ShariZollinger.com