Issue 5 Poetry


a boy I know teaches me how to noodle for catfish

I tell him that his face is an octopus, 
just like the one nursing my ankle, except like hell
he would ever find someone to make out with.
Not even an ankle would want to get near a face like his

except to kick it. This is the seventeenth time I’ve told him so,
one for every year he’s been alive. I have no regrets.
I think I love this boy, and when you love someone 
the best thing to do is fake hate them 
until they almost believe you.

The finger he flips me is a squawk of an insult
jumping off the crest of a breeze and so practiced
it’s perfect. Maybe he also loves me just as much
as I love him and this will remain unsaid forever

even if we drown here today in six inches of water
even if they find our bodies in the split lip of the river
with his hand in mine. It would be so embarrassing 
but at least we’d be dead.

If we died here today, where would they bury us? 
I point to a hole in the sand. In here?
Catfish lay eggs in those holes, he tells me
and they sleep in there too. So no. 
He chews on the sticky licorice of a pause.
Stupid, he finally says. 

On the count of three we burrow our arms elbow-deep
into the mud and the sky opens underfoot, a flurry of catfish,
sand and sea smacking us around until we are two soaked through
with God’s wrath. I know He’s screaming I’m sick of you two.

Behind us the sun winks down, 
sugaring the trees with grapefruit light 
and the half-baked rind of a moon.


Melissa Anne currently lives in the DC metro area. Her poetry and fiction have been recognized by several publications and organizations, including Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, FreezeRay Poetry, Yuzu Press, The Adroit Journal, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Issue 5 Poetry


A Cranberry Pops In Central Wisconsin

In Kentucky, I hold my wrist with one hand
and my rifle in the other. It’s a short walk

to wherever I’m going but I never know
when I’m there. The sun points downward

and beats me to a pulp-less version of selfhood.
A bird sings because it wants to sing, no, because

it can sing so it does, it does indeed.
Branches break into smaller branches,

mimic the cells that grew them in the first place
like babies growing up to be bad parents

after their own mothers and fathers. Rifle in hand,
I worry I’ll be a bad father, too. It’s sunrise

and the sun knows I’m waiting for it this time.
I’ll hunt and I’ll walk but I’ll never take aim,

not this time, not after the doe walks the fawn
across the road (I forget the punchline) and

no cars send them packing early. It’s too easy
to see motherly love and know God is a she.

It’s too easy to watch sunlight dance between leaves
as it glides across morning blueness and think:

all of this is worth the seconds between the nows.
A version of me is bamboozled by the revelations

of a walk through the woods, rifle in hand, when told
to kill or never come home (jokes on them, I couldn’t

find home if it was an open door, a warm meal).
It is confused and hurts itself in confusion. It is concerned

and holds itself tight with concern. A woodswalk bibliography
could say a few things about Emerson or red cardinals or

dandelions transitioning to daisies or squirrels twirling
around the upper reaches of trees or how lonely it can be

to be alive or how lonely it is to walk, rifle in hand,
in the woods without bloodlust in the heart. It can be

so lonely, so full of wishes it may pop, like a cranberry
in Wisconsin, way back at the start, before it meant anything

to end up the dad who spent mornings alone in the woods,
rifle in hand, working out ways to love a child who wants love

more than the sweet breath of early air, plus a dozen Christmases,
times the days a version of the child couldn’t love itself, not one bit.


Noah Powers is a high school English teacher in Kentucky, where he was born and raised. He writes poetry and creative nonfiction, with poetry published in Rejection Letters and creative nonfiction published in Blue Marble Review and forthcoming in Autofocus. While a student at Western Kentucky University, he won an interdepartmental poetry contest judged by writer Erin Slaughter and finished runner-up in the same contest a year later, that time judged by poet Mackenzie Berry. In his free time, he plays disc golf and cherishes his partner whom he plans to marry.

Issue 5 Poetry



Because it’s June and there’s nothing better to do,
we go to the strip mall at the edge of the city.
Someone’s mother drives us; it isn’t mine.
These girls—they’ve got hair blaring red
as a siren; no curfews, boyfriends and rumours
going all the way. I’m fourteen and buttoned in a
blue floral blouse, bespectacled, and a little shy.
Last summer, I tried to die. Which
makes me interesting.
We loiter in the moist heat of the parking lot, calling
lewd things to strangers across the anguished sea
of asphalt, laughing with our whole mouths.
Every part of us gleams: our licked fingers
from caramel Krispy Kreme,
lips glossed cheap cherry. We’re not
that old, but young enough for men—which to know,
is close. We bare our thighs in shorts
like secrets that have hurt us.
Sitting there, impatient, one girl might kiss another,
leaning against a brick wall, giggling, shadows pitting
in the parking lot.
And then there’s me, ever the apprentice
in tenderness and nerve. I’m fasting and picking
pepperoni off dollar pizza slices like skin blemishes
and trying not to complain.
Then, when a man, inevitably, approaches—
we rise like all birds do: flushed and feathered,
heaving against each other as if to escape a fate
we know to fear but can’t name.
& when the sun swells like a blushing bubble, we wander,
snapping Hubba Bubba as street lights pop above us,
offering toothy grins and gossip like they’re
makeshift stars.
The sky gloams. We wait for someone to
wonder where we are, find ourselves
waiting long in the sky’s anguished navy.
I think we like this better, the night falling onto
our shoulders like a warm sweater, the blonde
grasses whispering as we circle and circle
the unclaimed lot—know we’re forgotten and not.
And if we listen hard, before someone comes for us,
some nights our names are called between guitar riffs
on the classical rock station, blasting from rusted cars,
patio bars across the street, songs
we know by heart. Songs
our fathers once sang to our mothers
before they were ours
or anyone’s, ballads that made them believe
it was possible they could, a lifetime, love, be
loved, desperately, like that.


Morouje Sherif is an Egyptian-Canadian writer who adores apricots, verdancy, and temperate climates. Growing up in the Mediterranean, she has a vicarious thrill for feel-good compositions and the traverse of truth. Her work has appeared in the international Minds Shine Bright prize, published in the CONFIDENCE (2022) global anthology, The Poetry Society of UK, The Blue Marble Review, Reedsy Prompts, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. Asides from writing, she enjoys judging dubious architecture, the colour sage, and drinking herbal teas on the weekends.

Issue 5 Poetry


The Moment It All Went Wrong

When the name Adam meant person in Hebrew.
When I ate fruit from the Tree of Life and became mortal 
and knew I was not Adam
	to my family.
When the Fairness Doctrine was repealed. Long before the 80s.
When you hit your head.
When I lost the thread in the labyrinth. 
When the light was just the light and nothing more. 
When I forgot to say I’m sorry when I heard
	howling wounded children 
	and sent only prayers.
When my marrow failed the treatment.
When your airplane.
When hope became a four-letter word and war a sporting event.
When winter did not come.
When Sarajevo.
When the Northern Lights went south.
When the price of insulin went north.
When I was hungry and ate you.
When China ate Tibet.
When love did not evolve.
When Vietnam did not come home.
When the boy in the bubble went free.
When you lost your anchor and drifted on the Trade Winds 
	to God’s waiting room.
Cuando mi casa no es su casa.
When breathe when breathe when breathe.


Katherine Leonard grew up as a post-WWII Navy brat traveling to Massachusetts of John F Kennedy at the time of his assassination and the segregation of rural Texas at the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. She continued the pursuit of diverse outlooks with careers as a chemist, a geologist and an oncology nurse/nurse practitioner. She currently lives and writes in the Central New York area and is actively involved in the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center.

Her writing has been deeply influenced by time spent in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado for space and heat and Vermont and Maine for ice and clarity and by living in Washington, DC for lies and redemption.

Her work has been previously published in literary journals, including Sonora Review, Hole in the Head Review, Speckled Trout Review, FERAL, and Stone Canoe. Her work is upcoming, Allium and the Central Texas Writers Society Anthology

Issue 5 Poetry


for the friend who can’t unlatch the door yet

or: on the orange rotting in a trader joe’s tote bag

Annotate this:
	orange bleeding out against white fabric. she can’t bring herself
	to reach down, loosen its grip. unfist its bared smirk. for days,
	this fruit sulking, an unwise-tooth, an homage to denial. beneath
	light sources, always wadded-and-stuck abrasions—
	lockets overgrown with static, molding in earnest. the ugliest 
	wishbone, this browning orange, or maybe it’s a tangerine. 
        i don’t know. she wants to break into the word ghost & ask 
        for its number. she wants to say home without the earthquake 
        of sour milk ebbing up, night-nursing, evacuation routes. praying
        downwards, mourning a self-blessed wound. where did we go, 
        and not come back from, to be so beholden to metaphor,
	and rot? which route did we forget to study? which drop
	unsounded our capacities to escape? it’s starting to stink. 


Sofia (Sof) Sears (they/them) is a writer from Los Angeles. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming in publications such as Diagram, Sonora Review, the LA Times, and others. They’re currently majoring in English and Gender Studies at UPenn. You can find their work at

Issue 4 Poetry


Yin Yang Pond

My aunt once knew all the Latin names for flowers
Rosa Rugosa, Helleborus, Alchemilla.

Built a garden out of love with a Yin Yang pond
till she overfed the fish and they floated.

First the nouns went became that thing, this thing
laughed it off as old age.

As the walls came in
the words went out.

The music stayed and played inside her head
held my hands to dance in silence.

Last word she said, as she cupped my chin in her hands
was, ‘beautiful’.


Tracey Foster started off in a long career as an Art teacher in the middle of England and wanted to refocus her creative energies into writing poetry and prose. After helping others find inspiration in the world around us, she took an MA course in Creative Writing at Leicester University and has not looked back. She finds inspiration in the past and the events that shape us. Previous work has been published by CommaPress, Ayaskala, Bus Poetry Magazine and The Arts Council and writes regularly for the Everyone’s Reviewing website.

Issue 4 Poetry



The moon watches me undress
and I pretend she is you—
pretend the light coming softly
through my curtained window

is the path of your vision
on this muggy nearly autumn night
and if I hold my breath
and ignore God’s creatures making music in the dark

I can hear your voice.
Hear it lifting through the empty yard between
the last steps you took.

Sometimes, in my dreams, a
rose garden grows in place of you
and a golden bell rings out over and over,

“I love you—I love you.”


When a pivotal moment in B.A. O’Connell‘s youth caused them to turn to poetry with serious intent it changed their life. Today, they often pen four to eight poems a day. B.A’s poetry and their blog ( focuses on poems and art centring around trauma, recovery, and mental health. B.A also touches on themes of abusive, obsessive, and unhealthy relationships and the pain of moving on from them. Find out more on their twitter @OnceIateataco.

Issue 4 Poetry


Immigrants Are Like

View this document on Scribd

Inventing my Mother Self

When I gave
            birth, I felt like I had been
gifted a civilization
in progress. Slowly

the disquisitions came and were
eventually handed
over to the preschool.   Then,
A Series

of Firsts:         Every kindergartener needed
                       an enemy.

                       We needed
                       a tooth
                       fairy, so she had
                                  to be
                       invented too.

                       Your faith
                       in passion, coming

                       The five

                       The first
                       time you got fired.

                       The unclear
                       hallway where you had
                       either fallen
                       in love the day
                       before or Loana had broken
                       your heart.

                       When you began to “lose”
                       library books, happily
                       paying the library if it meant
                       the removal
                       of offending

the island materializing out

of the long, white

                       When you hit
                       bottom because you lacked

the island
metastasized, or perhaps merely
revealed itself, now that the clouds had
given way.

And now, shredding
my values like a molting
bird so that I can better
parent you, the island is so

real I realize
that I have been lying
on the shore this entire time.


Courtney Hilden’s recent work has been featured in Voice of Eve, More of Us, Panning for Poems, and Coffin Bell: An Anthology of Dark Literature.

You can tip Courtney on Paypal:

Issue 4 Poetry


The Tyrant Whispers to His Victim

silence / don’t / say thank you / finally / get your girl home / too suspicious/ with your big sad eyes / too innocent / you’re viral / you have potential / the change isn’t instant / ya know / to slither / into a body / tag and colonize / listen for your name on the radio / it’s not my fault

This is a found poem. Text taken from: Grant, Mira. Symbiont. New York. Orbit, 2014. Print. Pages 107-108. In a symbiotic relationship: sometimes one species benefits at the other’s expense, and in other cases neither species benefits.


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens (she/her) went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she is landlocked. Her fifth, full length poetry collection, “Pool Parties” is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2023. She is also the author of fifteen chapbooks and enjoys exploring how to blend creativity with nurturing the earth. Recent work appears in The Westchester Review, Cleaver, Dream Pop, and Grist. She is the director of the monthly reading series Today You are Perfect, sponsored by the non-profit Iowa City Poetry. Find more of her work at

You can tip Jennifer on Venmo: @jennifermacbain-stephens

Issue 4 Poetry


Newsfeed Update

Another species 
of Chinese river dolphin
that we always hear 
are going extinct 
went extinct again.


Simon Nagel is a writer from California that now finds himself in the United Kingdom. His work has appeared in HAD, Hoot Review and Taco Bell Quarterly, among others. He recently finished his debut novel “Gates to Nowhere.”

You can tip Simon on PayPal: