I have held a word from birth, in my mouth
multisyllabic catastrophe, a haunting sound
I try to swallow in the middle of prayer
& song—a barbed word, thrashing my larynx.
I do not know how it got there
I only know the origins of the hurt & how
I have rechristened myself an offspring of silence
rearranged my ancestry with a quivering tongue.
This bloody mania will not let me be, all I know of salvation
is dangling: to dangle until the spirit stills in the bone
like garri at the bottom of a jug, to hold a pen
to the wound & incise deeper, searching
for a map out of the noise.
No Point Chasing
My last defense is the present tense.
Thich Nhat Hanh has taught me a little too
much mindfulness. I am so present I
count my dog’s blinks. The past disappearing faster
than floaters—no point chasing a moving train on foot.
Can’t remember what I had for breakfast, can’t
remember the year my virginity was hijacked, I
only want to count my dog’s blinks, the ants
parading my toes [when ants come
for your body, it is said to mean you were mistaken
for a dead roach] & these books stacked
on the table with so many words in them. I
want to pick each letter & toss into tomorrow,
rip the afternoon’s coat with my teeth
so it remembers me. We all want to be etched
somewhere permanently, it is why
the dead leave us epitaphs.
Pamilerin Jacob is a Nigerian poet whose poems have appeared in Barren Magazine, Agbowó, Poetry Potion, Ghost City Press, Elsieisy, Rattle & elsewhere. He was the second runner-up for Sevhage Poetry Prize 2019. Author of the chapbook, Gospels of Depression, he is a staunch believer in the powers of critical thinking, Khalil Gibran’s poetry & chocolate ice-cream. Reach him on Twitter @pamilerinjacob.
Mega-Romance: the Longest & Shortest Human Narrative
The couple became one
Then two, &
Yuan Changming grew up in rural China, and currently lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan at poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks (most recently East Idioms), the 2020 Jodi Stutz Award in Poetry & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1,689 others across 45 countries.
She pulls a tangerine from the tree in the center of the yard, not garden. Spiraled shells embedded in broken, spindly coral, hard packed into nearly flat stones, formed in the constant continental drift of the Pacific, half-buried in the red volcanic dirt, circle the tree, a path made by mom and dad in a fury. “No! Dig here! Here! And here!” Citrus sprays her face and fingers, orange pith and peels fall, as the earth shivers on her tongue.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee is a Native Hawaiian writer. She received her MFA in Fiction from UNLV. Her work has appeared in Booth: A Journal, The Notre Dame Review, Pleiades, The Citron Review, The SFWP Quarterly and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2018 New American Fiction Prize and the 2019 Brighthorse Prize. She likes to talk story at http://www.melissallanesbrownlee.com and retweet @lumchanmfa.
Layers of scar tissue unfold under the microscope.
It is here that I seek beauty,
In the darkness.
The images need magnifying
To bring out the truth.
We carry many truths within our bodies.
Animals naturally shake to release trauma.
Sometimes, we forget.
Our bodies remember
And our brains try to hold on.
Lesions in our white matter
Affect our perception of time.
The past becomes tomorrow.
A dead mother becomes a presence.
Diana Radovan PhD ELS is a multicultural, multigenre writer and teacher of writing living in Germany. Since 2004, she has been gradually publishing her work in numerous venues in English, German, and Romanian. Currently, she is working on her first book, a multigenerational hybrid memoir. Read more about her at www.dianaradovan.com.
Kate Mulvaney’s Last Breath
Before the moon can climb above
the tree line, she makes her way
to the edge of the clearing,
presses her back against the grass
one last time, and opens
her mouth. What she frees
is more air than song, but still
night birds circle its sound
and all the woods’ wild
draws up to see her spirit
ride the white stag out
of her chest, then back
into the swamp, not through the trees
but straight into them, and down.
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, Kissing Dynamite, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.