by Meggie Royer
In a past life my great-aunt
believed she was a monk,
resplendent in marigold robes,
offerings cloaking her doorstep like a shroud.
There was a heron against the water
in her dreams,
so pale it shone like hair.
In the life before that
she was a boy in a cave,
younger than I could ever picture her,
hiding coins in the dirt.
It was a privilege, to end one life
and wake in another,
to falter in the way love falters,
to see her likeness
moving around the corner like a cloud.
When I knew her, I knew myself.
I saw her; I saw what she buried,
I saw that some of us spend our whole lives
moving away from what moves toward us.
Meggie Royer (she/her) is a Midwestern writer and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Persephone’s Daughters, a journal for abuse survivors. She has won numerous awards and has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She thinks there is nothing better in this world than a finished poem. Her work can be found at https://meggieroyer.com.
by D.W. Baker
pantoum collage after Martha Lundin
To be a witch is to love the natural world more than the things human hands have made.
We name women who spend too much time with nature Witch,
but the line between goddess and witch is thin--
I was always sure of my identity: I was part of her.
We name women who spend too much time with nature Witch.
(We name things we want to control after women.)
I was always sure of my identity: I was part of her--
In this one body, there is no need for names.
We name things we want to control after women,
but the line between goddess and witch is thin:
In this one body, there is no need for names--
To be a witch is to love the natural world more than the things human hands have made.
D.W. Baker is a submerging poet from St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, who writes about place, bodies, belonging, and the end of the world. His work appears in Green Ink Poetry, Snowflake Magazine, Feral Poetry, and elsewhere. He is a poetry reader for Hearth & Coffin. See more at linktr.ee/dwbaker
by Patrick Wright
you post pictures of funny-walking seagulls
and crumb-loving pigeons. from a distance
I imagine a mother and child, clambering
over rocks, eating crêpes, paddling waist-high.
as lifeguards supervise, your message arrives
on ‘the uncanniness of arcade machines,
a run-down town, a rag-and-bone tumbleweed
place, a bustle of back streets, antique shops …’
meanwhile, my device is streaming blue skies,
terns perched on promenade lights, a laughing
sailor: come laugh with Jolly Jack. I reply:
‘I hope to never meet him under moonlight.’
you heart this line. you’re far, while I’m at a
loose end. you text as you trudge up the steps,
put the fun in the funicular, sign-off with emojis
and gifs, nothing but a screen of hieroglyphics.
Patrick Wright has a poetry collection, Full Sight of Her (Black Spring), which was nominated for the John Pollard Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The North, Southword, Poetry Salzburg, Agenda, Wasafiri, and London Magazine.
by Alana Kelsall
we arrived as couples
at the rebirthing centre mats lined up
like rafts his arm around
my shoulder I dropped
to a crouch
angled my huge belly into line
wondered who would succumb first
to the tug of sleep draw up
the flood of their birth?
our best friend trumpeted his snores
in no time roped back sheepish
into the shadowy room
whale music probing the walls
feeling like a cabbage adrift in a field
I slipped towards a dark watery eye
was it a fish?
how human is it to breathe?
the Denisovans once roamed across
vast mountain ranges leaping
from crag to outcrop
without losing their breath
a gene they bequeathed to the Tibetans
where did they come from those climbers
how did they die out?
were they somewhere between a fish and a bird
able to lean into storms
with breath and bone?
how did my body erase my
fearful mind during labour
with each surge
to the end?
will our children’s children have to breathe
through water learn how to float
to higher ground?
Alana Kelsall is an award-winning writer of poetry and prose who lives on unceded Wurundjeri land. She recently won second prize in the June Shenfield Award, and was longlisted for the Liquid Amber Poetry Prize. Her poetry is forthcoming in the Australian Poetry Anthology.
by Steph Amir
Blue ink exploded
onto unidentified viscera,
or perhaps it’s four
huddled in a grisly lump,
with a jellyfish wobble yet
not jellyfish at all.
Steph Amir’s poems have been published in Australian Poetry Journal, Foam:e, Plumwood Mountain, Rabbit, StylusLit, TEXT, and others. In 2021, she was a Writer’s Victoria Writeability Fellow and in 2022 was shortlisted for the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Writing Awards for poetry. She recently published her debut collection, “Pieces That Fit."
by Frank William Finney
Meat cutting class.
Lesson of the day:
How to cut a veal flank steak.
took it all in stride:
the glassy eyes,
the hindlegs bound,
the sheet of blood
beneath the calf’s head,
flies on the walls,
and drunk in the air.
Blood on the blades
of the ceiling fan.
Outside the room,
the fields smelt green.
in the afternoon sun.
Frank William Finney is the author of The Folding of the Wings (Finishing Line Press, 2022). His poems have appeared in Flora Fiction, Freshwater Literary Journal, Metachrosis Literary, and other places. He lives and writes in Massachusetts.
by Polly Grant Butler
inside an ad there is an ad
and it is saying eat me
I tell myself even mary would have
gagged on cock, after all was said and done
a laptop on a bed
brings the devil into focus
it says the ring of fire is a
burger and a
the breast is the bottle and its
absence is a presence
to fuck is to eat and
sliding down my hands I want
it fat and wet
like a morning shit like I’m
doing it quick
the taste of butter
curdling in my spine
I sip the day like a cheap
book film or play
how your milky taste
belies the body
but this is a body, a stuffed
fisting into fullness.
the news has a sponsor with
a finger down its throat
I bargain with delivery drivers
to see the world up close
I want you like
I am a baby and you are the nipple
on the screen they say I’m loving it,
the eternal sauce I’m loving it,
to be hungry is to be unspecific
and I refuse anything not vague
mustard licked hands
fluorescent screaming light
Polly Grant Butler lives in Adelaide, where she works for independent publishing house Wakefield Press. She writes poetry and short stories.
by Liam Wallace
A boy drowned some years ago
On a beach with a name that I forget.
No one saw him enter the water
So nothing can be said for his intention
His purpose undetermined
His face a blank canvas marked by
Only a smattering of freckles
A surfer noticed the boy
Swept up by a rip, unable/unwilling to untangle
Himself from the pull and tug
Of increasingly harsh
The surfer called out
Before he paddled towards the boy,
Thrusting his old waxen board underneath
A succession of waves
Unsure of whether he was more than
A speck viewed from the shoreline
The boy sunk further out and further down,
Only hands flailing above unforgiving
I do not know
When the surfer returned to shore. Only that
The boy did not.
Liam Wallace (they/them) is a recent graduate from the University of Wollongong in environmental humanities, history and sustainable development. They love reading and are also a keen runner. Liam tutors primary school students and enjoys getting to share ideas about writing with them.
by Nikita Kostaschuk
my housemate tells me
I am a chore
to live with, says I am always
coming home in chaos,
says the mess and jumble
of it is too much for him.
doesn't he know about the bumble
of bees in my head?
I swear he did.
I swore he could hear them
through the walls
in his room when I am trying to sleep.
all they do is dance
their paths to the pollen stuck
to everything I say.
they only want to make honey.
lyrical, build hexagons
in my head to contain it all.
all the mess and jumble of the world
is too much for me
to contain alone.
I thought he could taste the sweetness
from my every word
but he just leaves the world hollow.
he doesn't understand
that I am the swarm,
the secateurs, the flower,
that within me lies
an eternal Spring.
Nikita Kostaschuk (ink.eyta) is a spoken wordsmith hailing from meanjin/brisbane. a background in English Literature interplays in their work with their lived experience of autism, gender, trauma, humanity and brokenness. a facilitator of spoken spaces, ink.eyta organizes SpeakEasy Poetry Open Mic.
by Audrey T. Carroll
We know nothing about gender
& even less outside our species
There are categories of hummingbirds
we have named along a spectrum:
male-like males female-like males male-like females female-like females
& even this we only glean
from an exterior, the observable:
plumage brightness & bill length & tail length
It is quite possibly impossible to know
anything beyond this, anything about their
gender roles gender expression
without imposing foreign concepts
Gender is a complex web, something
known but unknown
inside of us but beyond us
named but individual
the us to whom we speak in the dark
Our own gender is a cosmos
& we are children with plastic telescopes
hoping to catch a glimpse of Venus or Mars
or something in between & mostly what we see
are a million stars we cannot name,
a million stars we can barely even describe
Audrey T. Carroll is the author of What Blooms in the Dark (ELJ Editions, 2024) and Parts of Speech: A Disabled Dictionary (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). She is a bi/queer and disabled/chronically ill writer. She can be found at http://AudreyTCarrollWrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter/Instagram.
Seeking words with sizzle, poetry that wraps us in burning ribbons and won't let go. Send us your best!