of body, of person – beam

I already had the appetite
when my body rose in the oven
unleavened breasts garnering a
level of attention I hadn’t had before.

It seemed I could suddenly give rise
to anyone I possessed in a glance
but avoided the mirror.

Nothing could have prepared me for
the onslaught of attention a sixteen year old gets
when she arrives into school from summer
doubled in height, halved in weight
and holding the temporary golden ticket
of ‘the right kind’ of body.

Boys that would’ve viewed my previous self
as an unusable lunchtime football
fell over each other in asking my number
and claimed to have fingered me
before we’d ever met.

Sexual confidence –
I don’t know how I had it
Sometimes I wonder was it
being the child that ate all the chocolate

Being acceptable enough to fuck
was all the satisfaction I needed
for a very long time.

I am bearing witness to
how little it had to do
with me
how temporary
how far down the wrong rabbit hole
you can go when motivated by
not being
‘the wrong kind’

of body, of person.

beam is a 26 year old woman from Ireland, a new poet and a recent MA graduate in Vocal Performance. At the moment beam is working on her first collection after being published on Spilling Hot Cocoa Over Martin Amis. Recent work includes surviving the pandemic and several disappointing sourdough loaves. You can find more of her poetry @personalbeam on instagram.

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Sorry I Made A Cross Stitched Effigy Of You And Poked It With Needles – Sophia Murray

I couldn’t help myself, the threads stitched themselves. Automatic needlework. Needles work to seal your features on my lap and spools of green threads conjoined to form envious eyes that judge even in lifelessness. Less life passes in your face each day as the needles rise and fall of their own accord. The emerald cords skipping fabric instead into flesh lacking protection that felt the sharp incision of metal through skin and bone with surgical precision. A collision of strands travelling on re canals filling with grievous knots that thwart tenderness. Under the skin on my wrist aligned with my own blue ribbons, they stream together. Together in these symbiotic stitches we share our mutual afflictions.

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Aprons On Stilts – Paul Attwell

My ally gone. The day before my tenth birthday.
Now I am with the dark suits and dresses,
Amongst the orchestra of sobs, coughs, and creaking pews.

Great-aunts I’d only seen as words in mum’s tired address-book,
Their raining eyes turn to downpour
As The Lord is my Shepherd is sung or bawled.
Rainstorms on legs. Some sang with belief, others grief.

As his frame slides out towards flames, the heartbroken,
Some seeing a reflection of their own frailty,
Some still pouring into hankies converged on Mersea Island
where we were comforted by Shepherd’s pie

Served by aprons on stilts.
All in Arthur’s memory, his thanks for our compassion.
Remembered amongst Royal Copenhagen blue-white Tableware,
Shy behind a bespoke glass shield. And burning silver-cutlery.

Nothing was as old as the ancient chest
Which survived Nazis and was liberated from
A Danish castle, even older than the great-aunts.

Paul Attwell lives in Richmond with his partner Alis, and Pudsey the cat. Paul’s experiences of depression and ADHD shape his work. Blade is available from WrongRoosterPublishing at https://www.wrongroosterpublishing.com/ Early Doors will be available mid-May. Paul’s poems have been on IS&Tears, Runcible Spoon, One Hand Clapping and Amethyst.

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(Probably Not) The Last Poem I Ever Write About You – Elizabeth M Castillo

Moving on is 50 over the limit on a snow-covered
motorway, then
remembering I have children. It’s dyed hair,
and a tattoo, and poems
written in the dark. Or in the bathtub. Like
this one.

Moving on is dropping weight, getting surgery,
cutting out
sugar, running a 15K. It’s sitting an extra
five-minutes in the car park
to cry, before going home.

Moving on is a bustling twitter feed. A website,
a brand, too many
projects. Travel across France. It’s more
lovemaking, more bedtime
stories, more cuddles, more crafts.

Moving on is grieving, telling myself that
you are the worst kind of dead to me.
It’s knowing that you’re the kind of dead
that isn’t dead at all.

Elizabeth M Castillo is a British-Mauritian poet, writer and language teacher. She lives in Paris with her family and two cats. When not writing poetry, she can be found working on her podcast or webcomic, pottering about her garden, or writing a variety of different things under a variety of pen names. She has words in, or upcoming in Selcouth Station Press, Pollux Journal, Authylem Magazine, Fevers of the Mind Press, and Tuna Fish Journal, among others.

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The Oranges Of Autumn – Reed Venrick

Summer’s citrus groves and
orchards offered us kids little for
snacks, no ripe fruit, until finally
autumn, and then we relished that
after-school, georgic freedom,
scrambling like colts and calves after

another numbing four-walled
week of classroom duties, so
we sought out those first oranges
of autumn, those softening, pliable
skins, digging deep, our dirty finger-
nails, deep into sneezing rinds, piquant

and green, ripping off the too-tight
wrap-around skins, sinking our unbrushed
teeth deeper into the sweet yet acid
flesh. I recall a local farmer once
calling out—those were not oranges,
but greens, immature like us, yet

like us, changing fast, even as we
spoke, doing what citrus does best,
uniting its sugar brix with sour PH,
that sweet and sour taste mixing
October’ s foggy days with November’s
cooler mornings that opened increasingly

chilly and sweater-cold, when the oranges,
the grown ups called “hamlins,” expanded
suddenly from golf-ball size to baseballs,
even as we clutched them in sweaty hands.
Yes, a whole orchard contained, an inland
inland sea, with baubles and bubbles like

like tropical Christmas trees, filling up
with sweet juice. We kids just called them
“Earlies” but we loved that citrus mix
that satiated the paradoxical palates
of adolescents—country kids growing up
fast under a lengthy sun-burnt south,

where we learned from stuffy schoolbooks
that fruit trees up north were called
“Deciduous,” those apples, pears, peaches
and cherries, yet in the groves that circled
‘round a winter haven’s chain-of lakes,

we could not imagine nature’s world beyond
the evergreen leaves of mild winters,
nor could we see inside the mystic spin
of nature’s evolving shades and colors,
nor understand the classroom biology

that explained why the rind of an orange
stays green until Florida’s temperature
falls near 40 degrees; therefore when
we woke on those first chilly November
mornings, we saw how the ethereal frost
powdered the skins and rinds with concentric

circles and created for us—kids running
in bare feet and cut-off jeans—the contradiction
of the natural world of a sandy ridge that
centered our peninsula, yet it would follow
us down the winding rows and glancing
blows of our lives. Was it just the steamy

climate? Or some juxtaposition of the sweet
and sour of a sub-tropical fruit, something
sharply contrasting, some concentricity
of rainbows ‘round the rinds of expanding minds?
Something gleaned in the cold-front snaps
of Christmas? Something in December mornings

when the green circles of childhood spun full-
circle into the ripe oranges of adolescence.

Reed Venrick usually writes poems with themes of nature.

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Dream Logic – Sean Cho Ayres

Typical story: alone on an island. New twist: whatever you dream
will come to life. Wanting company or to dare even leave the stagnant sand,
you tell yourself to dream of something useful: and the next morning,
you wake to seven flares. For a week, you shoot flares into the air,
no one comes. But each morning, you wake to a new delight:
Monday a bed to sleep in, Tuesday green bananas, Friday a pillow.
By Saturday, already-ripe avocados welcome you to the day. As expected,
you are getting arrogant, lonely, and want home. God-like,

with that filthy pride, no crowd to applaud. You want to go home.
So tell yourself to dream of a sailboat and strong winds. Almost home!
You wake and there’s a horse mistaking your hair for alfalfa, mistaking
you for his owner, and you know nothing about horses.

So you dream that you’ve already read through the encyclopedia
labeled H and have learned horses don’t really like saddles, don’t really
need apple water-soaked bridles to keep them content. Instead
you dream of a water trough and fertile soil to replace the sand. The horse
sleeps open-eyed and standing up, but you already know this has something

to do with fear. New day, no water clinking into the tin. New day, and the
grass seeds stay seeds. He looks at you looking at him, and both of you know
this is no place for a horse. The next day, you wake and the horse is gone.

Assume your dreams were filled with horse-eating creatures. The kind with teeth
that can rip through strong thigh muscles. Maybe wolves, maybe furless tigers—it doesn’t matter.
He’s not coming back. Or you dreamed of a field with tall grass and wildflowers
in a place where it’s always April. You dreamed of other horses, then you dreamed him there.

Sean Cho A. is the author of “American Home” (Autumn House 2021) winner of the Autumn House Publishing chapbook contest. His work can be future found or ignored in Copper Nickel, Pleiades, The Penn Review, The Massachusetts Review, Nashville Review, among others. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of California Irvine and the Associate Editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal. Find him @phlat_soda

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360° Review – Nicole Lee

I’d hate to leave
any uncertainty regarding our position:
yet if you still have
any questions in that department,
I’ll take them offline, as well as
your contemplative stare,
that pins me through with
something like love.

Something like love
that pins me through, with
your contemplative stare:
I’ll take them offline, as well as
any questions in that department…
Yet, if you still have
any uncertainty regarding our position,
I’d hate to leave.

Nicole Lee was born in Kuala Lumpur and educated at Malvern and Oxford. She has worked as a banker in Hong Kong and London and now lives in Wandsworth, works in Kew and writes poetry. She has been published in various online journals and long-listed in the National Poetry Competition.

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Tangled In Scaled Tails – Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Last night, I dreamt of rats, rats white and grey:
some tiny, some as large as domestic cats.
Locked in my home, frozen in candlelight,
no sooner had one pair scurried off

than another entered – dropped down
with its pregnant mate –

from gnawed-through ceiling plaster,
narrowly missing my petrified head.
Incisors flashed: sharp and ivory-white.
Intelligent ‘we know you’ eyes
stared me out, pierced
my sanity.

I woke up sweat-soaked, heart pumping –
flung open my bedroom casement,
and bathed in ice-cold air.

Relieved, and strangely aroused, my hand soothed my body –

until I heard
rodent feet scratching
behind the skirting board,
skirmishing in my attic.

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon, [MA Creative Writing, Newcastle 2017] lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She is a Pushcart (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

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Identity Deconstructed – Elena Pitsilidou

The double glass sent back my first reflection;
unrecognisable, a lack with eyes
I’ve searched for answers on my mother’s breast,
a Hera with her spurting milk creating chaos
I’ve searched for meaning through shuttered words,
anthologies and lexicons, but none of it was found
I’ve searched for polis within myself,
because the Alexandrian poet said so, but still,
its iron gates were in-and-out locked down
I’ve searched for sun rays in Bible texts,
but darkness looms in doubtless quests,
the candle light again, violently, put out
I’ve searched for laughter on mountain peaks,
the Muses and the Titans refused to laugh out loud
I’ve searched for caves, the black abyss,
I swam in oceans I could drown;
“Behold!”
the great philosopher commands,
“Let’s start to go down!”

Elena Pitsilidou is based in Cyprus. Her poetry has won the 7th Undergraduate Poetry Competition 2020 of the University of Cyprus. Her writing has also appeared in print and online publications in the UK and the US, such as The Psychologist, Reader’s Digest, and We Said Go Travel.

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Einstein And Joyce In Ireland – Bill Fay

in your mind Einstein’s walking
with the attributes of thought
in your heart Joyce’s talking
existential tension taut

pencil broken paperwork
sleepy Einstein’s bending time
howling of an introvert
brave Ulysses skipping rhyme

these two met where borders blend
where hearts and minds still can meet
pub pints quenched by older men
words and numbers still compete

You can write a universe
in an ordinary day,
tell me how the moons traverse,
or this tab you’ll surely pay.

Joyce responds with scolding brands –
Make our universe sublime,
do the math for holding-hands
in my heart and in your mind.

Bill Fay has been published by Puget Sound Poetry Connection, Creative Colloquy, and the Virginia V Foundation, among others. Bill lives with his beautiful wife and their bodacious cats, Tucker and Annie, on Fox Island in Puget Sound, near Seattle. Favorite quote: “When the quill is sharp, the mind is never dull”.

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Duende – John T Leonard

Loose shingles,
gutter dust washed out
like government issued
grass seed. What now?
The president, China,
Tim Allen. Making lists as healthcare.

Remember when the wind said,
“Hold Me”
and it wasn’t a whisper?
We both heard it,
louder than a train whistle,
clearer than the leaded glass
of your father’s liquor cabinet.
In broad daylight, we ran like dogs
being pelted by steel bolts.

Around the fire now,
the stalking glow of ember, as it was
thousands of years ago when the first
story was told—but it’s not the only light
that can pull me away,
a flash from the forest,
an echo.

No comfort these days.
Without you now. Still waiting
for the day when the wind
comes for me again.

John T. Leonard is an award-winning writer, English teacher, and poetry editor for Twyckenham Notes. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, december, Chiron Review, North Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, Punt Volat, High Shelf Press, Rappahannock Review, Jelly Bucket, Mud Season Review, The Blue Mountain Review, Genre: Urban Arts, Stonecoast Review, and Trailer Park Quarterly. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs. You can follow him on Twitter at @jotyleon and @TwyckenhamNotes.

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The Dream – Jane Langan

Flocks of seagull’s dive with mighty beaks
Yawing open, tongues whipping.
I run, only finding corridors of empty doors
And faceless people
With tears where eyes
Should
Be.
I look down at the blood where if cascades
Down my legs,
With clots, chunks of liver.
A baby is screaming in my arms
Its mouth open
But filled
With
Hot tar
Melting its face away.
Until the child is just molten wax
Dripping down me,
Hardening onto a sea of blood.
I walk away with Daddy Longlegs.
His taps singing, a knife on crystal.
So, we toast the admiral
In his tricorn
Hat.
Who looks at me like I’m nothing?
I feel the sweat burn my brow
And slip between my breasts.
A bald man sucks my nipple
I swat him away
And keep
Walking.
Naked.

Jane Langan’s poems were published in the anthology, Footprints and Echoes, shortlisted in the Lockdown Haiku competition with Fish Publishing, and had a special mention from The Welsh Poetry Competition. She was longlisted in the Mairtin Crawford Awards. Jane just completed an MA in Creative Writing. Jane’s Blog: http://howilikemycoffee.blogspot.com/

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Poem During A Pandemic – Courtney LeBlanc

A girl forgets she has a body
she can feel, that she exists
outside this bubble she’s created.
Once she would choose escape, run
away to a place with warm skies
and salty air. Now she stays grounded
or at least tries. She nods to the other
runners she sees, fewer each day. No
words are exchanged, a mute nod
of encouragement, sometimes
a wave. This world looks so
different from what she imagined.
She sometimes wishes to go back
to when the anxiety that raced
through her blood was due to the lover
whose name she rarely breathed
into existence. Now she stares
out windows, the world trudging
forward in a strangely silent way—
like a movie without sound, her
motions exaggerated. But if there’s no
one to witness it does it matter
if she cooks in her underwear? Does
it matter if she dances to 80s hits
at midnight? She bakes brownies,
licks the spatula, pulls the pan
out early so the brownies are so gooey
she needs a spoon to eat them. She does
this, cross-legged on the couch, her dog
curled up beside her, the world slowly
turning outside, death creeping
a little closer each day.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press). She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: http://www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

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Condensation – Patrick Chapman

A month gone
since you spoke to anyone
not a checkout robot.

Unexpected item
in the living area –
you put the kettle on.

Indeed,
it gives you pause
to mark yourself unmissed,

alone with your operas
Farscape, Galactica, Blake
and no idea what happened.

When did everyone disperse?
Was it after that new father
passed out in his car?

You assume that the breeders
paired off and the bailout
shut their silos.

Or was it that
you blacked out once
too often? No one said it

to your face. They left you
with the spectres you detect
from time to time,

the white-smoke silhouettes
losing definition in the mist
of your malignant shame.

Now, the kettle starts to
cough, and you remember her –
the woman in that dream.

Skeleton found
in her tower-block flat.
Debits collected direct.

Until money ran out
and a bill went unmet,
no one called.

You scald the pot
and light the first
of many cigarettes.

It’s time for tea
and Christmas cake
on Terminal with Servalan.

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Skewed – A R Salandy

Societal progression is diminished
When discourse is quelled
And consumed by bias fervor,

Where to believe is to be severed,
Struck down for thoughts contrary
To a mass collective,

Merely a manipulated flock
Stricken with agendas
Solely not their own,

And derived from sweet tears
Of ancestors long gone
And ashen,

But there is no growth is systemic hatred,
Nor no power in moral judgements
Subjective, and ever contradictory,

No, there is no power in oppression,
No matter ideology,
No, no matter collective assumptions

Driven by skewed discourse contrived.

A R Salandy is a mixed-race poet & writer whose work tends to focus on social inequality throughout late-modern society. Anthony travels frequently and has spent most of his life in Kuwait jostling between the UK & America. Anthony’s work has been published 130 times. Anthony has 1 published chapbook titled ‘The Great Northern Journey’.
Twitter/Instagram: @anthony64120 https://arsalandywriter.com/ Anthony is the Co-Eic of Fahmidan Journal.

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Harmattan – Caitlin M S Buxbaum

for Rotimi

It must’ve been the Harmattan, this time;
I know, I know — this is Alaska, not Africa,
but my Nigerian friend said it’s a “pesky” wind
that bears this name, and I have to believe
the suddenness with which the latest gale blew in —
all its rage and paradoxical warmth
tearing through town in a few hours —
makes it such a force, built under pressure,
kicking that sand-like dirt in our faces (as if
we were characters in a billboard Queen song)
leaving us with nothing but the bitter,
below-zero chill, slippery roads,
and an irritatingly low level of snow
that would otherwise brighten
these black winter nights.

I believe our good friend H,
as we’ll call him, was on vacation
from West Africa, but got lost
on his way to Florida or California,
pulled along by the current of another wind,
which erred in its assumption
of his desired destination,
thus moving him to air his grievances
with us, as if we were to blame
for his unfortunate detour.

So goodbye, H — I know your
true nature now, and pray
we never meet again.

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer and teacher born and raised in Alaska. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Japanese Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @caitbuxbaum

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Artemis Waits – Kyle Brandon Lee

Once was the dream of seeking space
to cross an ocean of ether to the lunar seas beyond,
complacent now, that course
for us fades, forgotten.

Numbers of man do not believe
we walked aside the pale huntress and man may stop believing
we walked between here and
her domain among stars.

Absent is our future vision
as man only believes what is presented before his eyes
but how can he see stars
in a night choked by light.

Past mother’s blue, Artemis waits
her sisters and brothers anticipating those dreamers new
who close their eyes and dream,
undeterred, unafraid.

For R.G.N.

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Mother Calling On Big Bird’s Phone – Michelle Moloney King

Carrots done. We await your orders.
Until this deer fence went up less than 10 years ago,
bees trucked in for pollination.
The purple land behind was no different from the burning foreground,
HERE the sheep are. No planting: all of the
trees naturally self-seeded a green desert full of poems
for dessert.
As they start in the praying room, oh very exciting. Clutching bottle.
Coats still on, lead us in.
Oh ye of little fate, may the best team win at the morning
charity event. I’m looking at my watch now and I don’t know,
about 15?

Michelle Moloney King is an experimental poet with an undergrad in computer science from University of Limerick post-grad in education from Hibernia College. Her interest in string theory along with her qualification in Hypnotherapy aid in her experimental poetry. She works as a primary school teacher in Co. Tipperary, is a member of Golden Vale Writers Group Her site is http://www.MichelleMoloneyKing.wordpress.com

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My Bad Choices – Holly Day

I was knuckle-deep in the governor
when the phone call came, something about a pardon
some random fluttermoth that needed to be cut free
of its cocoon. The governor muttered something
about straight razors and handkerchiefs
blood evidence and popular opinion
finished with a parable about woodchucks.
I felt the tremors begin in my hands, come up
through the floor. It was too early to give name to forgiveness.

Later that night, I dreamed
I was sleeping with the governor of the state of Indiana
and my mother had been arrested for shoplifting.
In my dream, she brought her knitting bag to her electrocution
covered her lap with a blanket and curled her feet beneath her
as if preparing to watch a nature special on TV:
something about skyscrapers and whistlepigs
two of three things that still grow in Texas.

Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest full-length poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

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One Year On – Sherri Turner

It isn’t the missing, as such,
(although it is that),
not the physical,
the hands,
the four o’clock silences,
(although it is.)
It isn’t the being unanchored,
uncertain,
unsheltered,
head of the queue now.
(Is it?)
It isn’t the day’s fragments
saved up to tell,
the absent reassurance,
the unshared celebration.

It is the never,
the always,
the gone,
the where,
the what the hell.

The gone.

The always.

Sherri Turner has had numerous short stories published in magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories in competitions including the Bristol Prize, the Wells Literary Festival and the Bridport Prize. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies. She tweets at @STurner4077.

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