Old Women Take to the Road

by Jude Marr

when siren-wail, not whale song, calls them to that shore where worlds
will end, shrink-wrapped in plastic—

braless in hazmat suits, scooping bullshit into zippered bags, they drag
their carbon-datable outrage toward the coast, pilloried
underpaid, temper-tossed—

their heads inclined, they spit on footprints made by crusted patriarchs
who, dripping brine from salted mouths, shedding
scales, shitting thunderbolts, still stampede
ahead as they’ve been taught—

at ocean’s edge, the women curse while fish-men pucker
panting, airless, beached among the trash
that humans leave—

women, just
catching waves in buckets, bowls and cups.


Jude Marr is the author of Breakfast for the Birds (Finishing Line, 2017). Her work has appeared in many publications, including Panoply and Cherry Tree. She is a PhD student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and also poetry editor for r.kv.ry. More on Jude’s work at www.judemarr.com or follow her on twitter @JudeMarr1 
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Phone Calls from Wyoming

by Meaghan Loraas

Say you remember, tell your father: camped out in the treehouse, eyes out
for wolves, dead chickens, bears, red
feathers when you wake up. Say you felt like a detective.

Then when you’re alone with her, in the BB gun aisle
at Walmart, look at her bare coastline clavicle and tell her how you felt
when Pa shot Travis, the neighbor man’s dog. Say you remember.

Say you love the farm, its gated garden and Pa’s whittled little men
made to look like your father and your future husband and your brother,
lost overseas until he wasn’t. Say you miss them all.

Then when you’re in her bed, tell her how Pa lost most of his hand
and she’ll tell you how her pa lost his. What are the odds? What is the lure
of Indian corn stuck in a combine? Say you love life’s bright splinters.

Say you love the farm, its water in rivers, and splintered wood you split for Pa
because he just can’t do it anymore, not in this health and he’s right.
Say to yourself: you won’t mind if she never, ever knows him.

Then when you’re home, out but river-bordered—forget she exists for a while.
Look for yourself in your father’s eyes instead of rambling landlines.
Say you love the farm.


Meaghan Loraas is a writer from Auburn, Alabama. Meaghan is a current second year MFA student in the Creative Writing Program (Fiction) at Texas State University San Marcos and is the PR Manager for Front Porch Journal.

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Apology

by Timothy Dailey-Valdés

I’m sorry
that I did whatever I did
to mislead you
into thinking
I was
fragile.

I’m sorry if
wolfhowling
startles you
and if you can’t understand
necessity.

I’m sorry
if you’re caught
in the ruins
of a crumbling edifice
that has no permit to stand.

I’m sorry you couldn’t hear my voice
before. I’m sorry

you thought I was fragile.


Timothy Dailey-Valdés lives and writes in Central Texas. His work has appeared in North American ReviewAssaracusThe St. Sebastian Review, and other journals. He has worked on the editorial staffs of Bay LaurelSouthwestern American Literature, and, most recently, Front Porch Journal, where he served as Poetry Editor. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University in 2016. In his spare time, he mostly alternates between daydreaming and battling neurosis. For the morbidly curious, more information is available at timothydaileyvaldes.com

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Yes, I Am

by Brittani Rable

changing,
gloriously
morphing like
basalt melted
down red,
2000 degrees
and dripping
as if from
a wound,
cauterizing
open flesh,
cooling around
pockets of air–
the words
that I will not
let myself waste
my breath on.
I am not sorry.


Brittani Rable is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minor in Creative Writing. She has previously been published in Mosaic Magazine and Us for President. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she works in marketing and freelance writing.

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Post-Election Song of Myself

by Cynthia Dewi Oka
Appears in Issue 6 of The Blueshift Journal (theblueshiftjournal.com).

Time walked across the street called midnight.

It left us standing in a forest of pundits and their fluorescent fruit.

Still, it was dim. As water in the bowels of the city, as the impression that I had been here before,

looking over this fear in the shape of a red pudding, trembling at the fork’s slightest gesture.

What good is the fork when hunger is gone?

There is no secret to resurrection buried under the wood. I know I am forcing the opposite of

song to sing.

Does it ever miss us – time, I mean? As it strides into the fire-worked night, the crowds pale with

clenching their fists.

A predator has been elected president.

Strangely, his orange hue reminds me of hope. In the sense that as a child I used to swallow

orange seeds to transform my body into a tree.

Because in place of roots, a displaced people have nerves sparkling with rings far too small for

our fingers.

Binders of laminated identity, and mothballs to seduce time into staying a little while longer.

Does it ever miss us – hung here like lanterns over the monstrous body of love?

I was seven when I tried to pee standing up without a penis. The piss ran hot down my legs, and I knew I had failed.

The latch was rusted shut. In the ditch under the toilet seat, mosquitos bred their empire.

I banged on the door, screaming, “Papa! Papa!” though I knew he would beat me afterward for

trying to escape my body.

This is how I think about race in America. That banging,

because we do not want to die.

A white supremacist has been elected president, and I keep

thinking about the bullets hugged by my friends’ brains, and my father, skin smooth as teeth,

under a thin hospital blanket.

How he drew that last breath and everything behind it:

the buses stained with chicken shit, the ghosts in the rafters who stole his hair
and the combs for his remaining hair,
my mother’s feet black with dried blood,
and everything he was willing to kill in himself

to be here, and hated

in a new way. How that breath raged

inside him, and how I stood at the closed door of his life, with no hammer, no key.

I never did grow leaves, and roots to me sound like Questlove saying, “Time will tell…Time

never stops telling,” which is another way of saying time will not come back to save us,

the body is not a thing to escape.

Here is mine. It is soft and hard at once. It pees sitting down. Sometimes it can exhale a poem

out of the most poisoned air.

It would eat the rusted latch before it gives in.


Cynthia Dewi Oka is a poet, mother, and author of Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket, 2016). A two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, her poems have appeared online and in print, including in Guernica, Black Renaissance Noire, Painted Bride Quarterly, Dusie, The Wide Shore, The Collapsar, Apogee, Kweli, As Us Journal, Obsidian, and Terrain.org. She is also a contributor to the anthologies Read Women (Locked Horn Press, 2014), Dismantle (Thread Makes Blanket, 2014), and Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (PM Press, 2016). Cynthia has been awarded the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry, scholarships from the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Writing Workshop and Vermont Studio Center, and the Art and Change Grant from Leeway Foundation. An immigrant from Bali, Indonesia, she is based in South Jersey/Philly. Her second book of poems is forthcoming in 2017 from Northwestern University Press.

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Hands On

by Amanda Stovicek

Having her hands on the attacker’s face

it became impossible to hurt

 

the supple bending of skin baby-soft

or lamb’s ear cotton in her palms.

 

Not to tear or maim but to feel the pulse

underneath his body’s covering. Not to run

 

even as the attacker tore safety away like a river

tearing its bank. Her body as that crumbling,

 

finally noticing the river, closer than before.

The attacker wanting to drown in the river

 

to become a prism for her body. Always the river

was a part of her body, grabbing more dirt and flesh.

 

She rubbed it from the corners of her mouth

and held no shape. The attacker grew gills and swam away.

 

By morning she transformed into a small deer

who anyone could put their hands on.


Amanda Stovicek is a writer and teaching artist from Northeast Ohio.  She works to bring poetry to various public audiences, including local hospitals, schools, and detention centers.  She is the co-founder and editor of Voices of Dan Street, an online journal that showcases the work of students at the Summit County Juvenile Detention Center. Amanda is finishing her MFA in Poetry in the NEOMFA Program. Her work has appeared in Rubbertop ReviewThe New Old StockJenny Magazine, and Calliope.

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The Fourth of July

by Sarah Duncan

I told you I wanted to know
what our flag is and you said it was
all hero, a kind of soft night
light in the hallway
so you can make it
to the bathroom without falling,
you said it was a quilt, wrapped
around mountains and snow drifts,
sleeving the arms of trees,
like purple, like mountain, like majesty,
you said it’s a taut man
in green with a barrel in his
hands the shape of freedom,
you said it’s our name, child,
your hands, your feet, and you
told me to touch it
so I gathered in my fingers
a piece of cloth, red-wet,
blood-dry, heavy with the sound
of last words from brown mouths


Sarah Duncan currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming, where she’s getting her MFA in creative writing. She is a queer multidisciplinary writer, performer, educator, troublemaker, and community organizer with SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Wyoming and Laramie for Black Lives. Her poetry has been published by Pelorus Press, Ghost House Review, nin poetry Journal, Souvenir Lit Journal and the anthology States of the Union (forthcoming); her plays have been produced by Sanguine Theatre Company in NYC.

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