Maybe She's Born with It Have you heard of that girl who graffitis in Kabul? They say she’s Afghanistan’s only female graffiti artist. She’s not there? he asks. You mean she lives here, where the paint in her can is no threat, where the pigments can’t haunt bearded men who peer between the cells of pork, paintings, and pigeons as pets and shout It Is Forbidden. Here, where girls can fly kites, take orders at drive- thru windows, or prosecute ex- football players. They can study the musculature of a hand, which can cup the tender nub of the clitoris or strike the cheek, can set a broken finger or sketch its knuckle lines and nail beds, embedded veins that give life to picture and person. And anyway, yes, this girl, this woman, Shamsia Hassani, (say it right), still lives there, where they kill the pet pigeons. She still gifts her faceless models with thick lines of eyelash, that feminine flutter. She still risks makeup, music, and the hope of the snowy, winged pappus.
This Was My Alarm This Morning song lyric from “Bowl of Oranges,” Bright Eyes I had to hold hands with a stranger on a flight cause they were too scared to land, the radioman crows from his pink and snarling mouth of loam. Like he’s so great for deigning to hold a stranger’s hand with all its wrinkles, germs, hangnails, hidden pins of poison in the fold. I’d rather be like Conor and his bowl of oranges and his doctor. Just hold my hand. I think that that would help. Handholding can’t cure ugliness or illness, but my heart might sigh at the press of palm to palm, the income of your skin to the surface of my exhalation or kingdom.
Jaclyn Youhana Garver is a freelance writer and editor from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the communications specialist for a national marketing organization. She won a trio of honorable mentions in the Writer’s Digest’s Annual Writing Competition in non-rhyming poetry in 2021 and 2022. Her poetry chapbook, The Men I Never:, is scheduled to be published by dancing girl press in 2023, and her contemporary fiction is represented by Savannah Brooks of KT Literary. Her story “The Butterfly Catcher” will appear in This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories About Bugs, out this May.
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 Review. Harbor 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.