Issue 1.39

milk tooth haibun

i am born with an empty stomach. my mother feeds me mouthfuls of salt and stories to claim my tongue. she retells the tale of the moon and how she cradles the night, her milky-white luminescence seeping into the sleeping world until the sun returns. how she steers the sea with the force of a thousand stars and drives the night across the dark sky.

but i am young—i do not understand. so instead my mother teaches me with teetering teeth, baby-bones in my mouth that are ripped out of memory like stars pulled out of a sky. i am young and i learn to lose a part of myself without crying; i am young and i learn that seas can dry like chapped lips, lapping at the shore for more, more. the ocean, a full-bowled belly begging for something to satisfy it but falling short.

i pull my baby teeth out and wait for the grown ones to replace them—empty mouth begging for more, more. my mother stops telling me stories after this, and soon my mouth runs dry, only the aftertaste of salt staining my throat and a starless sky embracing my body.

the moon migrates and
milk teeth become memory:
a childhood outgrown.

Iris Meyer is a teen writer and student from California. When she’s not writing, you can find her learning about all things art history related, listening to music, or discovering new recipes. She has work forthcoming in Poetically Mag and she tweets @irismwrites.

working into silence

Bending the attic ladder back up into
its quiet dark and knowing
for the first time
that it won’t be long
until I can’t climb
to where our dreams loiter
above us all day
with the suitcases
and dismantled bed frames.

But just this summer
we hiked seven days and nights
in the woods and learned
the best places to stay
through the dark.
Stumbling into
seven clearings near water
we heard and raw honey
we would never find.
Each with a circle of rocks
that all remember each of the fractures
endured in order to confine
our fire.

Flame is chained,
until the end, to its fuel.
It’s smoke that rises
all the way to heaven,
that spreads into our lungs.
Incense mingling with our blood
for a bit.

Once the stones cooled,
once our fire is gone,
spiders climbed back
up into their spaces
to tuck altars of silk and mica
between edges and to watch
with toxic eyes as wasps hover
to worship.

Lee Potts is an Orison Anthology nominated poet with work in several journals including Rust + Moth, Whale Road Review, UCity Review, Parentheses Journal, Riggwelter, and Sugar House Review. He is poetry editor at Barren Magazine. He lives just outside of Philadelphia and can be found on Twitter @LeePottsPoet.


the color of despondence is the same as fox fur
or the head of the woodpecker that flew
into my daughter’s bedroom window
the walk outside to find the body
had the quiet of a cemetery backbone
fresh death behaves like dark matter
pulling on everything observable
my daughter found the body because
like me she is someone whose drawer
is sewn to the bottom of the earth
i have said some of this out loud
but there is little to teach her
seldom is everything unaggrieved
even when we bury properly
that night she wakes me up so suddenly
i have no gender and no age
she pets the bird she knows isn’t there                

Steve Barichko is the Executive Vice Chairperson of the Sundance Film Festival and the inventor of the printing press. His work has most recently appeared in In Parentheses and Daily Drunk Magazine. He is a nominee for the 2020 Pushcart Prize in poetry. He is working on a chapbook of quarantine poetry. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @stevebarichko.