"My voice is part cottonmouth; the other part, lark."

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Issue 11: The Necessary Eye

Issue 10: Out on a Limb

Issue 9: The Missing Body

Issue 8: The Lily

Issue 7: Passages

Issue 6: No More Tears

A quick list to poets featured in this issue:

Melissa Ahart

Sommer Browning

Sarah Busse

devin wayne davis

Karen D'Amato

Yaakov Fichman

Donna Johnson

Vera Kroms

Li Bo

Li Qingzhao

Ander Monson

Christopher Mulrooney


Todd Samuelson

Maria Terrone

Mihai Ursachi

Sophie Wadsworth

G.C. Waldrep

Martha Zweig

Donna Johnson

Branwen 1

Her willpower was a wren,
and when she beckoned, thirty-thousand
serfs appeared in wigs and silks.

But she walked from the crowd,
and crouched at a kindling fire,
fried leeks and a waxwing's egg.

A few edged near to glimpse her face,
to see what could drive a man to maim
a kingship of horses with his blade.

Once at Aberffraw, the men tapped the casks,
passed them round, until the cardinal came
and pronounced them almandine.

She always abstained, and so, held
her palm out in a flat “no,”went back
to knitting the bones of swallows
into a coat of mail for her first husband.

When the last sun flared, the sand
beneath her feet turned fearsome gold.
A herd of curious goats came,
bells knocking, snatching
blue feathers from her skirts.

She'd passed out from the wine,
coming to when the cardinal shouted
“dogs and heretics!” and threw
his losing flush upon the ground.

Only then did she take flight,
feathers raining bluely down
on the sorghum and stone bundings
that marked the hills, and since
I did not want to drown, I hit her
square with a stone, rowed
my iron ragboat safely to shore.

1 Branwen, daughter of Llyr, is a figure in the medieval Welsh tales,
“The Mabinogeon.” This poem is loosely based on her story.


Portrait of the Artist as a Twelve Year Old

I'm a slick of feeling, half eel, half child,
a muslin invalid with a pinup girl's smile.
A dust bowl of sulk in my every wake,
I'm a name-caller, door-slammer,
skidder from grace. What I touch,
I neither fix, nor break.

I squirrel ribbons and buttons, paper backs
with yellowed pages bent back
at the wrong places. Always a mess
trailing from my velvet satchels.
When the neighbor boy catches
a whiff of me, he follows.

Mama's at a loss. Hews petticoats
from shrimp net and lace, sews bells in them,
so I can't get away. But my secrets
go unwashed—knees rough as hickory bark.
My voice is part cottonmouth; the other part, lark.

When I can't abide the stale blue of my walls,
I run back into the woods, skirt
the shale of the creek's dry summer bed,

where lone, and out of earshot
of Daddy's lead oaths, I prick my thumb,
pluck berries from a wolfwillow.

I make a black tea to quarter the moon,
keep me new as a quail's egg, feral and smooth.
But I turn wasp-waisted, bud scarlet and plagued,
my tongue, a clamp, my heart's heart, vague.