Turn It Up                                                                                by Sarah E. Azizi

My kid reads me the gate code: 9636-hashtag. 
I punch it in, resist the urge to tell her irrelevant bits 
from back in my day, & wonder if I’ll ever shift 

from pound in my own lexicon, having just turned 44. 
Last birthday for 2 years—I’m skipping 45, the age 
at which my father died. I’m like a toddler pretending, 

twirling into a disappearing act with my next 
grand entrance all planned. Cute analogy, sure, but 
it’s not rhetorical, either, & is not the internal sense, 

that steady metronome, the most trustworthy 
logic of all? My daughter retrieves her friend, 
they slide in & slam the car doors. I’m striving 

to be unlike my own parents so I stifle 
the reprimand of not so hard. My kid’s eyes gleam 
when I let her pick the music, those mono-fold 

almonds shaped like my father’s. Hers hazel, 
his were dark as espresso beans, & I wonder 
what he’d think of the hashtags & names, 

or the way we live since Sept of oh-one. Slowly, 
the exit gate deigns to open, we turn onto the main road, 
& some narrative dalliances, I know, are better left 

undeveloped. Some curiosities can’t be fed. 
The kids bounce as I sing along to their nouveau 
pop songs, & though so often I’ve got something 

to say, I quiet my inner hum, let this present moment 
thrum, & tell my passengers: Turn it up. Little faces,
how they beam. The highway sprawls ahead. It’s easy,

today, to leave the rest unsaid.

Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, and activist. Previous and forthcoming publications include: $pread Magazine, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, red, The Tide Rises, HELD, Wrongdoing Magazine, the winnow, Superpresent, Nine Mile, and Free State Review. She lives in Albuquerque.

Guest Editor, Morgan O.H. McCune is a native Kansan and now lives in Topeka. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University (2002). She was a Cataloging Librarian/Professor at Pittsburg State University for 15 years before retiring in 2022.

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Stone Baby                                                                                 by Issa M. Lewis

You grew out voluptuous and inappropriate,
conjured from blood and breath
and landed on a strange shore.
And when you had filled your vessel,
licked every drop of sustenance from the walls,
you curled, let your blood grow sluggish and dark
and sighed yourself into a granite sleep.
Layer after layer settled and smoothed
your features clean.  On the outside,
your mother’s hand curved over roundness
that no longer had place, as if she could
polish your skin into golden pearl.



Issa M. Lewis is the author of Infinite Collisions (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and Anchor (Kelsay Books, 2022).  She received the 2013 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize.  Her poems have previously appeared in Rust + Moth, North American Review, and South Carolina Review, amongst others.  Her website is www.issalewis.com.

The Coop: A Poetry Cooperative’s EditorLaura Lee Washburn, has selected July’s poems around the site’s current theme “We’re Speaking” to capture voices pushing back against the current attacks in the U.S. on human rights and on democracy. Citizens of Kansas have an attack on their state constitution on the ballot August 2nd on which we hope they will vote no in order to preserve the Kansas legacy of being a free state in which all citizens have bodily autonomy. We stand in solidarity with all people affected by current rulings from the radicalized Supreme Court.

Be Afraid                                                                                   by Delma Thompson

A right to an abortion is a very little portion
of what "Red" legislatures have in mind.
They have time to waste now
and must cave to suit their base now
by overtaking lives of womankind.

Freedom's big on their agenda until practiced by defenders
who believe that freedom's meant for all.
And when they make decisions
that add unjust provisions
you'd better take a stand, I'm telling y'all.

So in case you missed the memo, your privacy's in danger
and you'd better be afraid
for Kansas-style Sharia's creeping in with new ideas
and the legislature's ready to invade:

who to love, how to pray, what to teach, what not to say;
next you know they'll hire bedroom police.
Their business now is running yours
of that fact please rest assured--
not much privacy is left for them to seize.

Conservatives on the right are digging in and plan to fight.
They want to rule your body and your soul,
so ladies find your backbone, use your vote to quickly dethrone
those who want what's left of your control.
So Be Afraid!  Be Very Afraid!

Delma Thompson is an 88 year old previously unpublished writer of poetry and prose. The subjects of human rights and politics make up the majority of her current work and provide much fodder for her creativity. She performs this poem at rallies, get out the vote events, and open mics in the Pittsburg, KS area, as well as singing a song called “Donny Boy” to the tune of “Danny Boy” about a certain former president eventually ending up in jail. The audience generally gives her a standing o for poem and song.

The Coop: A Poetry Cooperative’s Editor, Laura Lee Washburn, has selected July’s poems around the site’s current theme “We’re Speaking” to capture voices pushing back against the current attacks in the U.S. on human rights and on democracy. Citizens of Kansas have an attack on their state constitution on the ballot August 2nd on which they should vote no in order to preserve the Kansas legacy of being a free state in which all citizens have bodily autonomy. We stand in solidarity with all people affected by current rulings from the radicalized Supreme Court.

Hot Things to Me Are Not Dark                                         by Jennifer Martelli

—Nurse Wolf, Dominatrix
 

I saw her on Donahue in the ’90s, began my slow transformation

into a blotched cow, learned to line dance on the molecular level: this is how

I recovered from self-injury, from being a girl-child among girl-children.


When I had my daughter, my fears were lonely: I unzippered them

as if they were cattails by the pond where the snakes go. Unzippered their whole

velvet torsos, their tight girdles, let loose fear fear fear into the warm autumn sky.


Tonight, the gray moths stay stone still as angel hearts all night on my screen door,

gush dumb tragedy from their arterial wings. The moths are collective: come

as one thought to their deaths at the porch light.

Jennifer Martelli is the author of The Queen of Queens and My Tarantella, named a “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her work has appeared in Poetry and elsewhere. Jennifer Martelli has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review.

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.

doing my t shot in front of strangers on the internet by quinton chinwe

i can’t get the words out
of my head. what is it
about living that—. i am
not who i thought i was. i am
still ending. but then what.
and then what. how will i
fill the evenings. death
is just another thing
to do tonight. there is no you
i die and wipe the shit on my shirt
who will tell me not to.
i mean the big death
what will you take me for.
i promise you a body
but how much is my word worth
beneath your tongue
i want the green and small
of it, who will you be
when i become beautiful,
the devil’s chagrin,
a new thing with wings
and blood and eyes
and all this selfish life
blooming from my fresh
wounds. this is about me.
there is no you.
i could be cruel with this ending
body. instead i will bury you
beneath my navel until until until

quinton chinwe is a black trans poet from north carolina, where they study english & comparative literature at the university of north carolina at chapel hill.

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.

Within Us After                                                                         by Carole Symer

A hard no in the look of a hard blue sky, a jet’s long whisper
before the languishing set in
 
like a prehistoric crane, its cold red eyes flaring on final descent,
ripped through us like thickening black clouds   	caught
in the tops of trees
 
along the edges of a narrow clearing        	amidst mud & rocks
 
I dreamed my gray dream body: a breakfast of oats & water,
a garden out back, utterly sodden. Still
a lot is quietly happening
out there in the rain: Potted azaleas, the new crab apple,
sticks covered with a mass of tight buds.               
 
It has taken me years to figure out the something romantic in rain
about to turn snow. To count the minutes until the gray branches of plum
trees become hidden & a single trail of fox prints come up to the back door

Carole Symer is a psychologist and teaches at New York University. Symer’s poems have appeared in Across the Margin, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Dunes Review, Sky Island Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, Wild Roof Journal, and elsewhere. She won the Oomen-Schultz Interlochen Writers Award in 2020 and authored Glint (Small Harbor Publishing, 2021).

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.

Last Night                                                                                by Maya Williams

I had a dream
another trans friend
died. It’s
his birthday today.
Thankfully
he is still breathing.
What a blessing
to wake up to softness
after a rough night
of sleep.

Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a Black Multiracial suicide survivor who is currently Portland, Maine’s seventh poet laureate.

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.

Delta                                                                                         by Kristiane Weeks-Rogers

When the sun lasts long enough to fade color out of objects, all I want to do is lay still but I squirm through the ashen sky. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish I didn’t have a body. That is all to say I think it’s a good idea to be a part of a glacial crevasse or maybe loam along the river delta. 

When I was fourteen, there was nothing I wanted more than hands on skin, and skin and skin and there was one night with those wanted hands around my throat but I didn’t know that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be in my body and feel it squeezed. Without a body, there is no need for reflection. But I recall how both my hands embrace the cold sweat of a dark Yuengling bottle while I sit facing the sun’s long going, wanting to become faded color as well. 

Kristiane Weeks-Rogers (she/her/hers) is a Poet-Writer among other titles such as copy editor. She’s the author of the poetry collection, Self-Anointment with Lemons (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and 2nd place winner of Casa Cultural de las Americas’ inaugural Poetic Bridges contest.

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.

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.

Everything and Everyone                                                       by James Diaz

I was only just beginning
I was only just
 
I took off my layers
my shame my skin
I said "if I know you I know you"
and everything we need to be good
and settled is just a small breath away
 
I took it lower
my whole face
against the parking lot pavement
some are born this way
I've seen it happen
 
enough gets taken and a person becomes gone inside
 
I'm done with cruelty
with small hands mouths minds
let them have it
whatever this is
 
when they ask you what you love
tell them: everything
 
everything
and everyone
 
and I am only just beginning.

James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) as well as the founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, Corporeal, Rust + Moth, and Cleaver Magazine. They reside in upstate New York.

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.