What the living do                                                                     by Nicole Tallman

          after Marie Howe’s title of the same name

I.	The night you died, the microwave died right along with you. But I didn’t. I had to keep doing all the things the living do after the dead are gone. I had to go to the store with Dad to get a new microwave the next morning so he could continue to heat up his oatmeal the way he was used to.

II.	Every morning thereafter, we had to build a to-do list a mile long. I had to find things to keep us busy. We had to go to the funeral home to arrange your cremation. We had to pick out urns to put your ashes in. I had to portion you out. I had to write your obituary. I had to decide on no funeral.

III.	I had to go to the jeweler with Dad to get the rings you left me resized. Dad had to put all of your palliative medication in a box to return to Hospice. I had to pack up your wigs and give them to the ladies dying of cancer there. I had to have a teddy bear made out of a pair of your favorite pajamas.

IV.	We had to make phone calls to tell people you were dead. I had to keep my voice steady while many people cried at the news. Dad had to call the insurance company and social security to let them know you were gone. I had to sort through your cabinets and your closets.

V.	Dad had to wash the clothes you died in. I had to clean the hair out of your last hairbrush. I had to throw away your toothbrush. We had to decide what to do with all of your things. I had to decide which I could bear to look at, to predict which I would miss most. I had to take a pill to keep calm.

VI.	We had to keep it together. We had to eat in front of people so they wouldn’t worry. I had to say I would be fine when I felt like I wouldn’t be. We had to be presentable for the world—comb our hair, take showers, look like we were still alive.

VII.	I had to bear my first heartbreak without you. I had to see your face in mine when I looked in the mirror. I had to sleep on the couch because I couldn’t sleep in my bed that was so close to the room that housed the bed you died in. I had to console the cat who kept crying at your death room door.

VIII.	After a few days, I had to step on a plane and return to work almost like nothing happened. I had to “people.” I had to talk. I had to stop crying. I had to breathe. I had to do the things the living are required to do too soon after death. I had to get a new life. I had to keep living after you were gone.

Nicole Tallman is the Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County and Poetry and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred (The Southern Collective Experience Press), and her next two books, FERSACE and POEMS FOR THE PEOPLE, are forthcoming from Redacted Books and Really Serious Literature, respectively. She is also the editor of STAY GOLDEN, a Golden Girls-inspired special zine published by The Daily Drunk, and co-editor with Maureen Seaton of We Who Rise from Saltwater, Let’s Sing!, a collaborative Heroic Sonnet Crown for the Mayor and residents of Miami-Dade County. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and at nicoletallman.com.

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.


The red tide signals we                                                     are ground zero for so many things                                                                    by Nicole Tallman

On my morning walk, I pass by houses on stilts, sweat in a summer sun hotter than I can remember. I pick up piles of plastic, bury belly-up fish released by the ocean in high sighs. I pray for the strength of the cordoned squares safeguarding a sea turtle’s nest and the wooden crutches propping up a dying palm. I praise the salted air I can still breathe in and out freely. I praise this planet that keeps giving despite our abuse. I close my eyes and say to no one in particular: Let us cherish Mother Earth while there’s still time—before it’s too late to undo the damage we’ve done to her.

Nicole Tallman is the Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County, Associate Editor for South Florida Poetry Journal, and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred (The Southern Collective Experience Press). Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and at nicoletallman.com.

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.

City of Hope                                                                              by Nicole Tallman

This city seeps hope—
a stitched wound that heals after each rainy season.
In the neon pink sky and the electric blue of the ocean,
each day gives rise, ebb and flow
to the hustle for more and more.
But what is more?

If it’s traffic, noise, pollution
it’s less.
We want less.
And in the moments we grow tired of chasing excess
we summon the mourning doves that call
at night, in the starry heat, beckoning the slowdown.

In these moments, we too take our time,
tend to those who struggle,
those with lives grown too heavy.
We carry someone else’s bag of groceries.
We hold the door open.
We gift fruit from our backyards.

Nicole Tallman is the Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County, an Associate Editor for South Florida Poetry Journal, and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred (The Southern Collective Experience Press), co-editor with Maureen Seaton of We Who Rise from Saltwater, Let’s Sing!, and her debut full-length collection is forthcoming in the summer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and at nicoletallman.com.

Guest Editor, Joan Kwon Glass (she/her) is the biracial, Korean American author of NIGHT SWIM, winner of the 2021 Diode Editions Book Contest, & is author of three chapbooks. Joan is the Editor in Chief of Harbor Review, a Brooklyn Poets mentor, poet laureate of Milford, CT, a Connecticut Office of the Arts Artists Respond grantee & poetry co-editor of West Trestle Review. A proud Smith College graduate, she has been a public school educator for 20 years. Her poems have appeared in Diode, Rattle, South Florida Poetry Journal, & many others. She grew up in Michigan & South Korea & lives in Connecticut with her family.