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.