Sideways glances at others who are doing it better: crisp black ties, polish on their shoes, the right moves.


Nothing / about my grandfather was soft, // though he planted fruit trees / in improbable climates.

Deer Lord / Dear Lord

The boys have never seen him, don’t believe he’s real, but the girls all whisper about the latest boogeyman, the Deer Lord they see outside their bedroom windows at night; the deer who wears a human skull over his own face.

Forbidden Birth

I found you bitty in a snap pea, plucked you out and swallowed you whole, / rivered your body through my insides and grew it quietly. What bad men? we say.


My favorite iteration of God is 12-year-old GirlGod — God of watermelon bubblegum and Dr. Pepper LipSmackers. Of hologram stickers and locked diaries. GirlGod of 1994.

you won’t come back

to that creek with the sluggish / brown water that swells up each / spring and recedes as if sipped / from old bags of toilet wine God / won't find you in the cornfields

Stand Her Ground

his gun // memory of steel bars // the plea // his gun // her self-defense // his reaction // her end // his gun // any being cornered will fight back // & her teeth already dull from repeated use

Two Poems by Tomas Moniz

the world works in broken & imperfect circles like arms hugging a baby’s toothless smile the way a dog spins around & around before sleeping the word moon sung by nick drake the soft & rounded edges of the adobe home

The Wet Body

Returning the whale was soso still It did not complain when I crawled inside with my one can and my no candle The mouth the humid mouth was like a tunnel of warm sponge I thought A whale is smaller from the inside I thought This is what my heart would look like from the middle

Subject to Dust

After our discussion of childhood traumas, once / we’ve revisited a town in this valley named / Yettem (Armenian for Eden), you press your back against my chest.

Aurora Borealis

In life, we are playing with dangerous games: you, the witness of the visiting vatnajökull now blushing pink in the atom sky with the bright comedy of Frigg fooling the ashes of the colour, and I, making a cryogenic favour to the moonless nights


In December of 2015, a giant squid swam into Toyama Bay in Japan. A local dive shop owner guided the squid back out to the ocean. The squid clung to the diver’s body using its legs' suckers. Later, the diver said the squid was “unexpectedly beautiful, its body glowing red.”

Still the Thorns, I’m Not Running

After midnight I see it coming: a finale marked in gravel and salt. I / come down for sinner’s stripes, wear these clothes like queens do, / take the stairs slowly, out of the flood and into blue. This is what / the sun is for; still in the night I collect stars and I collect bees and I / keep them in mason jars, like little yellow dreams, my magic.

No Joke

It’s aflame with corpses. We live in the past. / Every dead star still burning in our eyes.


Before the hurricane, we had a rosebush. An avocado tree. Limes. The backyard, where we hid plastic Easter eggs, buried the bones of small pets.

Two Poems by Hannah VanderHart

A diving bird, the pink duck returns for its things. What things? Whatever we took that made it dip its pink head under the waters, not to reappear. Its iridescent beetles, split-wings lifting in the air; its patch of jade grass; its water lilies; its tufted body, without the bullet’s path and tear.

Lancing the Toe & Unbreakable

In the middle of surviving you, I sat on the sidewalk outside the bookshop that paid me too little, sterilized a safety pin with the flame of a lighter and stabbed it through my right big toe.

Then and There

Then and There A rook snags a branch in the sycamore outside my bedroom window. That’s not what…