Issue 3.1

On Forgiveness

The body is worked with or against. I have
walked ceilings for others in spite of gravity

long enough to know mentality makes it
happen. There is growth, and there is pain,

and there is the thing I do. Toe stepping
and breaking hearts and not in that order.

So much I told you so I forget I am not petty.
I long to understand resentment as anything

but the prime of loyalty. Virtue, there is
reaching and there is success. I have grown

painfully; I have discovered I am normal. Since
the price of peace went up to letting go, I fight

stubborn observation; my natural gift for telling truth
in my mother’s tongue; suppression is not my birthright.

My saccharine impresses kids and now I breed
addicted personalities and our violent comedown.

There is more inheritance here than I accounted
for. Our survival always depended on ears to doors.

I read my mother’s diary to find what she was hiding.
Concrete self-compassion means admittance.

There was nothing more important than me. My forgiveness,
a quiet victory. My narrative, a participation trophy I polish.

This has always been the easy part, but outcomes matter.
The tender blaze of footsteps beat on my hands

again. I may always be too curious to leave bad enough
alone. I always want to know which of us is worse.

DEVIANT (they/them) is a writer on the move. Their work reflects upon their experiences regarding madness, grief, and faith. Their work has found homes with Delicate Friends, Poetry Online, and others.

the dock

in the end there’s enough to fill your life
i went home and it was extensive
from ancestors from humors
tongues’ gentle dirge

and fell ourselves
felt the furrows of our
in the period of living
i / the i / the father (of) / the grandfather (of)
a son who has been a son

in my mind
a face i cannot read
a picture of a face i cannot read

i want to give in to
the history of my family
the crowd
of waterfowl in a cold fog
near a dock
in a tiny Northern Michigan harbor
clamoring for cracked corn

with little to say to each other
we escape farther north
to lands that do not desire
people that do not desire
mess and shudder

bronze age collapse

/ to fall through the door / land boiled from skin / curvature held mist over / one and one after / strange hands / biosteam / the shore did suffer

believe the water / or belie of it / massive weight of you upon you / the other night verbless / the wheels of carts / gears / gyres / blur of passing stoneleaf / children are what / they do not understand / creature subject / anthologized water

say water please say water / i drained of / i into another / bored forever / say shelter and sink in sign and sphere / say eat of the human sect fitting joints to limber and encumber / voice box or vessel or gossamer sinew / softly say why in wait / say wind and of it say nothing

or hope for / everything in the void / unfold / seabed and guts / of many creatures / correlate smallnesses to actual beauty / was growth / was still / untraveled / called to some thing like other / no other / they gather / omnivore carnivore bipedal sponge nothing / that nothing is

people at a distance / fill the space / in these times / anyone can / poured into land and loom and lyre / anyone mold / carapace and feed / and feed / a sky apart

possession / the silo and recoil / bioshard / fairest fear / breed without / a major character in / the things you feel / reflex or growth / sediment / shallows / outcrop / algorithm

far farther farthest / no more reverence for / things as they are / no aesthetic myth states / parents / homes / sea in myself / sea in hunger / my shallow conversation / you have too / to live / to be sorry / to be more sorry / to melt like real fear

mourning / will i not under state / will i / no more beginning / no more internal lives / no more drains built into form / no more belonging / determine and i / detriment / interstice and invasion / want / in more want / faces excessively / named

Ian Schoultz’s poems have appeared in Dream Pop, Landlocked, Always Crashing, Burning House, and the tiny. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Louisiana State University. He lives, walks his dog, and occasionally teaches writing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Everything changes, even stone

After the phlebotomist draws my blood
she folds my arm shut to hold tight the swab
of cotton that’s soaking up the small stain
of my blood that she’s captured in glass vials
and marked with my name so that some stranger
can check to see if what’s left is enough.
I wonder how many T-cells I need
for my immune system to remember
the code for measles, mumps, and rubella.
She says that’s not how she thinks it works
and lifts a vial to the light: a jeweler
peering into a carnelian stone
to find the flaw inside the thing that makes
it precious but also means it’s broken.

These Rooms

It’s the sky I see now the trees have dropped
some of their leaves letting in more butter

light bouncing off the orange and red strewn ground;
the whole place smolders with late afternoon

low hanging sun like the roof’s been ripped off
and we can all see the bones of the house

bare — once I found a bird in our bathroom
frantic wings and darting starts; a bigger

thing, with the walls and low ceiling around
its panicked despairing to just get

out, a morse code in feathers — both of us
willing the walls away wishing once more

for the wide sky context to swallow up
this small thing made too big, ready to rise.

Noah Stetzer is the author of Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016).  His poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Waxwing, HOBART, New England Review, & other journals. Noah is a former fellow of the Lambda Literary Retreat & a work-study scholar at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Follow him on Twitter @DCNoah and on Instagram @nstetzer.