Water                                                                                       by Jen Karetnick

is a fluid I never drink, liquid that I don’t believe my camelid girth requires—not in any
existential sense, but the physical one. For H2O to drizzle on my tongue, I just don’t thirst.
Coffee me, Diet Coke me, wine me. Nestle Quik me. In the end, they dry me. Fissure me
into sponge. Desert bones. My skinny extremities reject me. But I thrive. Zoologic wonder me,
buzzing like bees from queen-less hives, jumpy, programmed for loss. How I absorb and absorb,
cull drops from air. Epidermis me. Osmosis me. Need is a loyal orchid, a blossom expressed.
To fix my ills, though! Vivacity is what I should aim for, right? I can’t look only to aqua
Miami bays to justify tranquility, whiz through shallows and pools for my tonics. And so:
Vivify me. Quantify me. Count the dozens of ounces going in, the jaundiced pee—Pantone
flax— nozzling out. Balloon me. Weight me. Bounce me back to society’s idea of ability.

Jen Karetnick’s fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020), a CIPA EVVY winner, an Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Finalist, and a Kops Fetherling Honorable Mention. She is also the author of Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023). Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has had work recently or forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cutthroat, DIAGRAM, Jet Fuel Review, Notre Dame Review, The Penn Review, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. 

Guest Editor Allison Blevins is a queer disabled writer.  She is the author of the collections Handbook for the Newly Disabled, A Lyric Memoir (BlazeVox, 2022) and Slowly/Suddenly (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021).  Cataloguing Pain (YesYes Books, 2023), a finalist for the Pamet River Prize, is forthcoming. She is also the author of the chapbooks Chorus for the Kill (Seven Kitchens Press, 2022), Susurration (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019), and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), part of the Robin Becker Series. Her chapbook fiery poppies bruising their own throats (Glass Lyre Press) is forthcoming.  Allison is the Founder and Director of Small Harbor Publishing and the Executive Editor at the museum of americana. She lives in Missouri with her partner and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series.  For more information visit allisonblevins.com.


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