A Poem by Laura Washburn

The Gathering
     “There will be another eye, a strange one, beside
       our own: unspeaking under its stony lid." –Paul Celan

When the old man comes dragging his sack,
the children run away from the fire.
Sparks snap and glide, then fade. Whole worlds
whistle and break. Even under the perigee moon,
the woods are dark. Moonlight berries soothe
and lure. 	     Children run away from the fire!
The old man has come dragging his sack.

When he drops back into his crevice
and rock, he drags the deep sack behind him.
The gray stone of the third eye knows
in its slow blink every terror in our skulls.
   Hands reach up
to cup us as we gather. Hands reach up,
but dumb, we run away from the fires.

This poem will appear in our Editor-in-Chief’s new collection, The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark Books, 2023).

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor. The Book of Stolen Images is in the publisher’s hands today and can be purchased from Meadowlark Books.


Three Poems by Katherine D. Perry

Upon Watching Notre Dame Burn
I stood where Quasimodo rang his bells,
looked through painted glass like everyone else
for hundreds of years. We rode dinner boats
on the Seine to see the buttresses fly,
to wonder at Parisian medieval
Gothic architecture, ribbed vaulting, stone.
In the revolution, much was destroyed,
and now, as careless democracies fall,
again, a spark lights; the whole tinderbox
explodes, and structures collapse into ash.
It’s time for another change, but it is
devastating to watch history burn.
Astrophysical Singularity
“…the block of stone can't be is because it never can 
become was because it can't ever die or perish…”
                          –William Faulkner,  Absalom! Absalom!
I am.
What           	was
before          	what            	is?
Ocean: heart beats a rising tide, awareness perceives liquid glass surface, reflecting light.
Sky: atmosphere runs through hurricanes and windless nights;
Spark: energy creating.
Earth:  unfathomed particles fall, attract, force, push.
It is not only because we think.
It is not only because your atoms smash into mine.
We are also matter and energy that is a black hole:
question marks at the beginning and end,
a place before language that needs marking.
Maybe god is a placeholder, a __________
Remove the verb of being,
remove existence: dipping below the surface.
Without is,              	what?
Without golden light, without sapphire ocean,
without star strewn sky, how is poetry?
But something sparks from nothing.             
Some new universe begins to be.
Undistinguished Miraculous

Our star is middle-aged and yellow.
The Milky Way galaxy, spiral and midsized,
sits in the middle of the Local Group 

in the edge of the Virgo Supercluster, 
not the center of our universe, not special
or even interesting, by astronomical standards. 

Even if you are famous today,
what of the next thousand years? 
The next million?

The body turned creator pushes 
new life out into the universe. 
That baby is just as miraculous as every other baby, 
two hundred fifty-five born every minute, 
three hundred fifty-three thousand born every day. 
Our ordinariness is our bond. 

We were created, 
moving against entropy,
and we have only a flash of time

to make 
a life 
a light. 

Katherine D. Perry is a Professor of English at Perimeter College of Georgia State University. Her poetry is published in many journals, and her first volume, Long Alabama Summer, was released in December 2017. She also co-founded the GSU Prison Education Project, which teaches courses in prisons.

This selection was selected by editors Laura Lee Washburn and Morgan O.H. McCune.

Two Poems by Elizabeth A. Frank

Just Getting Started
We are rubbing our hands together
like sticks, we are pacing the room,
we are breathing in sputters, in gusts,
never sure if the words in our heart
will form sparks when we speak
or fall flat and mute to the floor.
We are summoning the boldness to stand
out loud, to leave our shelter
(there’s no risk of being extinguished
if you’ve never burned alight).

We are stumbling in the dark
proclaiming with each small step
we are worth this time and the courage
we clench in our fists.
We are fighting what is,
struggling toward what may be,
knowing we hold the power
to become a flame, our voices
strong and soft enough
to sing this glint into fire.

I am not your
hot-house orchid
pink, feathery, propped
on stakes. I am
no longer easy
to crush or ignore.
I am a thick oak
limbs sky-high, endless
roots buried deep.
I am the sky, streaked
with moods and shades
vast with blue. I am
all the birds
calling out forests
of anger and joy.
I can not be held
in your hand, shoved
in your stiff pocket.
I am no longer small
or still or soft
enough. I am no longer
your little girl.

Elizabeth A. Frank is a poet and artist drawn to the interplay of written and visual arts. Her poems have appeared in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing and This Present Former Glory: An Anthology of Honest Spiritual Literature. She posts on Instagram @glint_into_fire and lives near Boston.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor. She expects her next collection, The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark) to be out in a few months.

Two Poems                                                                             by Lannie Stabile

Arguing the Etymology of "OK" with Someone 
Who's Always Been Fine
I tell her it started when I was six years old: the fear of spark, 
the fear of smoke,  the fear of burning  down with the house. 
I am:  the walls  containing a  kitchen fire, soup on the stove, 
Mom   forgetting   to   turn  off  the  burner.   The  ham  bone 
crisping.  The   navy  beans   shriveling. A girl, crawling on an 
empty belly, pressing her hand against every door, searching 
for safety. Waiting to be engulfed.
She says   I’ve   experienced  trauma. That my amygdala still 
thinks I am six and trapped and inhaling darkness. 
I tell her   Ronald  McDonald came  to  my elementary school 
and  taught me  how to  fight fires.  And by  fight, I  mean run 
away.  When  I  told my mother  Ronald singed  a bible just to 
show  how  flammable everything  truly can  be,  she  did not 
believe me.  My mother  never  believed me where men were 
She says I must be misremembering the part about the bible. 
I tell her I have never been safe. Before the house fire. Before 
my  amygdala  developed. Before  Carl  and James and Chris 
and  Brian  and  Benny and  Michael and  David  and Paul and 
Ron  and  Abdul  and  Merle and Andrew and Timmy and Billy 
and all the other men who scorched everything I’ve ever held 
faith in.  How can I be  when even this conversation is tinder?
She says we’ve made good progress and she will see me next 
I tell her her clothes smell like smoke.

Self Portrait with Cremains
Google   tells   me   cremation     takes  4  to 15 
business   days.  So,  when  the   funeral  home 
asks   me   if   I  want   to  be   present   for   the 
I  imagine  a spare cot  in the crematorium. The 
pillow hard. The blanket thin. 
I    imagine     breakfast,    lunch,    and    dinner. 
Blackened  toast   three  times  a  day for  three 
weeks. Because   pot  roast  just  doesn’t seem 
appropriate when  your mother  is  carbonizing.
I  imagine  a  thick  word   search  for  company. 
Circling        terms       like      aftercare,        urn, 
columbarium, furnace.
I  imagine   waking    up  in  the   middle  of  the 
night,  bladder  full,   the glow  of  the chamber 
lighting my steps to the bathroom.
I imagine  calling off work.   Sorry. I won’t be in 
again today. They’re pulverizing the chunks of 
bone that didn’t burn.

Lannie Stabile (she/her), a queer Detroiter, is the winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Competition in Poetry and a back-to-back semifinalist for the Button Poetry Chapbook Contest. Lannie was also named a 2020 Best of the Net finalist. Her debut poetry collection, Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus, was published in 2021 by Cephalopress. Her fiction debut, Something Dead in Everything, is now out with ELJ Editions. Find Lannie Stabile on Twitter @LannieStabile or @NotALitMag, where she throws random writing contests and open mics.

Guest Editor Latorial Faison is the author of Mother to Son, the trilogy collection, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History, and other titles. A graduate of UVA and VA TECH, she recently, completed doctoral studies at Virginia State University and published The Missed Education of the Negro: An Examination of the Black Segregated Education Experience in Southampton County. This Furious Flower Poetry Center fellow, Pushcart nominee, and Tom Howard Poetry Prize winner has been published in Artemis Journal, West Trestle Review, Obsidian: Literature and Art in the African Diaspora, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, and elsewhere. Forthcoming work, Mama Was a Negro Spiritual, was a semi-finalist for The CAVE CANEM POETRY PRIZE. Faison is married, has three sons, and teaches at Virginia State University.

2 Poems from Tommy Archuleta’s My Travel Dream Dictionary

F [ire]

Twice I call out your name 

And twice the river stops flowing

Two men wearing long coats are standing where the road ends

One of them has a snake ready to strike embroidered on his back the 
    other a willow tree  

Touch either one and you’ll feel sick for a whole century     

Everyone knows that

Even so I want to soothe the snake  

Want to commune with each patiently sewn leaf 

I want to thank them on and all 

Feed them Christmas candy 

Both men take off their coats thereby exposing their wings 

As I burn with envy a picture of you stealing apples comes to me

You the hot yoga instructor who always forgets my name

Not you the distance between moon and meaning  

The phone rings     it’s the river     can I come over to console her 

Now I’m moving like Jim Morison 

Not the Jim having just shot one gram of heroin 

Rather the Jim on stage at the Hollywood Bowl circa 1968 

As if matters already aren’t tense enough 

O [uterspace]

Hating and loving people both goes the radio can happen to anyone

I’m driving slowly along a dirt road

At the foot of every dead tree rests a basket of daises   

Why won’t my headlights make the eyes of black dogs glow 

I stop get out and write your name in the snow 

Tired of feeling lonely everywhere you go 

I want to use my tongue but don’t  

Act now and receive this handsome knife set free 

Maybe nothing I do will bring you back to me

There’s a man standing knee deep in the river 

He thinks too much about outerspace I say to myself  

He says O you mean loneliness 

No      I mean outerspace I go 

No he says You mean loneliness     the god to so many down here 

Don’t you think loneliness is deadly up there too I say    

O yes he says most definitely     

More deadly even than fire 

Tommy Archuleta’s work has appeared recently in The New England Review, Laurel Review, Lily Poetry Review, The Courtland Review, and Guesthouse. His debut collection, Susto, is slated for release March 2023 through the Center for Literary Publishing as a Mountain/West Poetry Series title. He lives on the Cochiti Reservation.

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 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.