"my name / appears like an angel: / speaking in distorted / & lost hymns, too loud to truly hear."
"I’d filmed a western once in the desert, and I see plant after plant I recognize but don’t know the name of."
"naked and tentative, a bridge across the lake. / I submerged down into the water. / until I was floating just above the bottom."
"I wonder which image you would have liked more: a peaceful canopy of ash leaves under the skin, or the marks of a dozen spears."
"No one will tell my cousin Lena how her father died."
"In Too Bright Light"; "What Can You Say"; "Learn to Speak"
"Let the soil and grit dissolve into the saltwater, clouds of milky brown mud dissipating into each swell of the sea."
"I am old enough now to have seen it happen again, / to know we are always dying / little deaths:"
"People were crying more than they used to, but they still needed to go about their lives for the sake of the economy."
"I / soul-search into corners / that cannot do the / possible ask."
"But there is something particularly adorable about senior dogs. They look sad and tired yet tinged with delight, much like how I feel, tinged with how I always wish I felt."
"have you ever felt this heavy? like last night was a shore. and you’re seaweed."
"You doused your noodles in chili sauce to clear your clogged sinuses, and your ankle was hanging over the edge of the bed, careless and gentle, the tendons relaxed, the soft hollow of skin like stone smoothed out."
"the first news report reports the government’s apathy. the second just says 'citizen.'”
"Prey would be smarter than this. When has a predator ever been dissuaded by a turned back?"
"I was alone I can’t / tell you [ ] / made me feel I can’t tell you"
"I closed my eyes and caught a whiff of Aiko’s Dove anti-dandruff shampoo. For a second, the idea that my absence hurt her too filled me with a bestial joy, then faded to pain at the idea of her pain."
"nothing but teardrop comets; tell her i taste her sticky rice, tell her i remember: / her silken-sleeve ribbons, her bamboo biscuits"
"This is what also delights: the stripe on the bottom of the pool, the stripes on the side of my suit, the snap of the rubber cap, my spine snapping into the turn, my feet snapping at the wall."
"With that, the video ends, breaking the spell before I can taste the sugar on my tongue, before I can take a scorching sip of tea."
"On the desk pencils are scattered. A laptop rests half open, the current tab on the internet opened to a WikiHow article about resurrection ceremonies. An unopened envelope lays on the desk, addressed to you."
"So I try / mimicking what my mother did. Endure. Never say / never, I learn."
I wish I could tell you exactly when they’ll appear. They used to come with the sunrise every morning, shouting their flourish into the skies, a salute like something you’d hear at an Olympic opening ceremony:
I (my whole body) am stepping out from behind cracked glasses and welcoming the big box of wheels rolling over the road
Mahogany board by swelling board sits still on a hill between yellow birch. The dogs down the road sing to each other, while a dead calf
If I took all of them and placed them in a sifter, and shook, then tapped the sides to separate the smallest sources of pain from the largest, I don’t know what would fall and what would remain.
He flung the hibachi spatula in the air, twirling it, catching it behind his back. Tossed a shrimp tail into my t-shirt pocket. Poor shrimp.
And when I walked by / the chicken coop, reader, / the chickens walked me home. / One got loose with her three chicks
A wineglassful of martyrdom was duty but wandering, wild, and fiery, was nice cold water,
Beneath translucent lids, its eyes were purple hull peas. Directly above, the nearest branches were much too high to reach, so we filled the shoebox with grass and twigs.
And you love the sound / a fresh pad makes when you peel / off the wax paper, unwrap it / like a birthday present, the one / you asked for.
Testosterone Cypionate Injection, USP name [an image here of the testosterone cypionate molecule] available in two, each
The fire, then: orange-red, orange-yellow, orange-blue, just blue. Colors like threadbare sheets pinned to a line, and blowing.
She understands now. How appealing it is to blow up your life.
I thought I was born blue / the way my hands looked / pressed against the inside / of a blue-glass jar.
The people that wore the hats didn’t see the birds when they lived. They didn’t know that their bodies never bent that way.
i am lost in the daze of my grandfather’s friday fish and whipped cream on dessert. i’m not sure he recognizes me most days, but still he clutches my hand and tells me he loves me.
She hasn’t kissed anyone for seven years, and though with Diane she doesn’t feel the same electric desire coursing through her body that she had felt for the men she’d been with romantically in years past, she feels something. Something she didn’t know she could feel. Something she still hasn’t named.
A playlist to accompany our winter 2022 Joy issue, crafted and curated by issue contributors and Longleaf Review staff.
isn’t it queer being queer / queer in that you search to find one’s / self
that this is how / the dead come back / to have a chat
It’s funny how history repeats itself, right? That feels almost cosmic.