Issue 4.1

Pantoum for Altar Call

On a Saturday afternoon, bury me at the altar,
as an offering to your god. Let it be
a bargaining for burdens under salted earth.
Leave my ashes scattered and watch them turn into a tree.

As an offering to your god, let it be
heard, the loudness of change on bare
leaves. My ashes scatter, watch them turn into a tree,
their roots gnarled and unruly. Your prayer

heard the loudness of change on bare
back, twisted and deeply immovable,
they’re rooted, gnarled and unruly. Your prayer
to hang my bones from the rafters and call them beautiful.

Back then you were twisted and deeply immovable,
a bird perched on purple pulpit. Watching your daughter
hang her bones from the rafters, do you call them beautiful,
on a Saturday afternoon, or bury her at the altar

A. Benét is an emerging poet from California. She is a lover of literature with a weakness for coffee and the color of burnt clay. Her work is featured in The Origami Review, Onwords Press, and forthcoming in The Acorn Review. You can, sometimes, find her on Twitter @benetthewriter.

Opportunity Cost

for example tear all the paper money into confetti

give me gold bars & pearls & ordinary rocks w/ flecked quartz to swindle the unsuspecting

give me knife & a sensitive scale to the thousandth of a gram

(b/c I can’t rewrite all the world’s rules)

(b/c pizza hut takes turquoise but not refunds)

& a calloused thumb with woodgrained print to reject the knife’s initial advances

& soon thereafter my palm is a reliquary of riches

& soon thereafter I cannot make exact change unless tendering soap or salt

a traveler asks whether it’s easier to slice a ruby or blood

a small fist tattoos the inside of my ribcage

skin as vitrine for veins

& with that my ledger of precious things rendered incomplete

The Pastor’s Prayer

bless me with the wayward deacon     his handkerchief damp w/ sweat     other sins     his eyes that dart when he hears     rods of gold          lord you are more costly than gold     soft twin gazelles     give me his undershirt worth more     lord you are more precious than silver     than all the paper checks     piled plate high     give me pews bereft     of blue-haired saints      trade me for     overalls and aprons     hot breath that demands reciprocity     o bless me with a tongue     fluent in folk psalms     coated in ash     lord you are more beautiful than coal diamonds     o get thee behind me     lily-handed bride stealer     ye who finds city sanctuary     bless me with a man     who has rough grip     treat me like jacob o lord     drag me     wrestle me     lord your love is deep as the sea     hold me under     let the creek empty itself against me     backwoods Pentecost of one     pull me up     bless me with a voice     like a trumpet        prepare me for the coming wedding day     capable of announcing     more than a timid rapture                      

The Economy Shares Advice: Guide to Grief

let the coffee burn a minute longer

purchase all the porcelain creamer cows in town

shatter all but one against the driveway

congratulations          fresh pockmarks dig for tar

congratulations          confetti that scratches for blood

congratulations          antiques roadshow will seek out what remains

to smash to destroy to explode to implode to undo          to annihilate

to replace one ritual with commodity

to imagine a heart could crack            & not hemorrhage

to retain in spite of

once you gulped so ravenously your mouth dropped its membrane robe

you can’t replace convection-warmed hands          with entropy

no cup is so white you keen on reflex

Jason Fraley is a native West Virginian who lives and works in Columbus, OH. Prior and forthcoming publications include Quarter After Eight, DIAGRAM, Jet Fuel Review, I-70 Review, Copper Nickel, West Trade Review, and Forklift OH. 


and the joints crack beneath
the weight of their broken promises

I can’t lobby for his love
mother [you have made me

a summer of brine] what’s worse
they know twice as much as we

who cry and jaunt under aurora
because the hazy lily sings

for the shipwrecked wilderness
of holding on to time

I want to say you are
responsible for everything in me

even when the tears hurt
I could lock him under the floorboards

and tell him to wait for me
until I get home from work

tethered to the handiwork
the house made him its slave

when the plane flies too low
he ducks his head

and I want to tell him
how thick the floors are


Keep me funky,
follow me to the hole
whether the weather
be holy or whole
for you, be near,
                           my little cucumber,  
                                          my megalomaniacal jujube.

Carted off in a zipped
black bag through the
lobby’s front door, my baba’s
body began its journey.

“When I die it’ll go to your
aunt and father fifty-fifty.”
I pretend I do not see it.

The routine is cratering
the center of my brain,
lasting forever in the language
of matchboxes and paperweights
or the furthest thing from the truth,
my little koala.


thrust to completion
years of burgeoning gristle
between us
because I spoiled

as in you thought
I deserved violence
like someone for whom
the fear of god had never
taken root

but there is no god
in this family

Asher Baumrin (he/him) was raised on Lenape and Wappinger land, now Manhattan, and has poems published in Epigraph Magazine, S/WORD, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, Words & Whispers, and The Write Launch, among other places. He studied philosophy and law and now works as a public defender in The Bronx while raising two cats, Lola and Flynn, with his partner.


      [After Van Gogh]

This still life, thrilling, speaks to me.
This vase reflects my life,
though not so long left for me, perhaps.

Poppies and daisies;
up-rush of stalks and blooms
and in the midst, as always, I perceive

a pretty face, kissable lips,
several eyes,
oh, so many eyes

and at the side, spilling low,
the advanced weeds, precocious,
running out of time,
they seed and flop in contrast, dying,
kept as truthful sacrifice;
their wilted trash.

And though the master is long gone,
his picture is not still:
vibrating dabs

the canvas.
This, the bulging frame trembles to contain;

red brush marks painted rudely;
flowers, wounded, their mouths
stippled entrances to voids.

Clive Donovan is the author of two poetry collections, The Taste of Glass [Cinnamon Press] and Wound Up With Love [Lapwing] and is published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Prole, Sentinel and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, UK. He is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee for 2022’s best individual poems. 

Water Come Back to Me

I once read that at the end
of the world there would be birdsong.

I see the end in silence, a scene from my past:
standing on a jetty in rural Taiwan

I was young and running
away or towards, this was before

my bones started to break
because once in motion, I couldn’t stop.

Then, I went past heads bent over crops
when by 4 am the sun was already blazing

and I felt the heat surge behind me with every step
until halted by the jetty’s jagged finger raised to sea

as if the ocean could be hushed. And though I place this point
in past, I don’t know what happens after.

There is an edge to my memory that blurs
into the haze of that same watery horizon.

How many places would I travel
in beauty surrounded, but thinking

of whatever ahead I couldn’t see,
finding in the eternity of sky a void,

venturing to the opposite side
of the world only to stare distantly back at myself.

I took you on this journey
which is now neither end nor beginning

because even in the jetty of poem I can’t rest
in any moment, just observe how

to run and run to the cusp of wanting
is to trace by eye a single bird as it sails through clouds,
to watch it falter, soar, and then, when close enough to touch,
burst into voiceless flock.

Jenny Boyar is a medical writer and holds a PhD in English from the University of Rochester. A Fulbright recipient, she has published poetry with Choefpleirn Press and her academic work has appeared in a variety of journals; she has also served as a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. She lives in St Petersburg, Florida.