by B. J. Buckley
a torn and dirty winding sheet,
a shroud for stars.
is what the world is:
to stay alive: wasp
fox and vole,
the aging lynx in one last leap
to the back of a panicked
for its neck, for red,
for warm, the beautiful simplicity
beyond which nothing
has any meaning,
bear chewing through flesh
and sinew to free itself
from a trap.
There’s always a knife
at the throat
some desperate hunger,
devouring its heart to save
B. J. Buckley is a Montana poet and writer who has worked in Arts-in-Schools and Communities programs throughout the West and Midwest for more than four decades. Her recent work appears in Grub Street, Hole in the Head Review, About Place Journal, Dogwood, and Calyx.
The City That Never Sleeps
by Willow Kang
for Ishita Pandey
On Coney Island listen,
to the unquiet of the night
rabbits turning nocturnal & wintery,
China dolls hopping off their prairies
Yet the carnival rides never stop rolling,
nor the restless tides,
pulled by a moonlit chariot
Tonight is fit for space station escapades,
stay watchful. May caffeinated owls
concoct for you an insomniac’s poison
in the silk worm’s nest
What shenanigans loom around the alleyways,
giggles atop the street lamps,
skyscrapers like monuments to fireflies
Scurry between midnight parties on High Street
& peek into the shimmering rooflights, on this
night filled with cratered, puzzling belongings
Willow is a writer from Singapore. After school, you can find her reading thick history textbooks, aimlessly writing poems, and solving frustrating math problems, in a futile attempt to conquer boredom. Just make sure that her coffee bowl stays full.
by Jas Saunders
Sometimes when I’m anxious
I’ll write poems on the plateaus
of my palms, blue waves
of ink flowing within their gradients and ridges
When I want to hide those feelings
from the rest of the world like a hermit crab
tucked inside itself, I’ll share
an empty fist, displaying new
and delicate fingernails like bleached white
seashells washed ashore
learning to grow in real time
with the rest of me.
Published in UWA’s Pelican and Peafowl magazines, as well as Perth’s youth magazine Pulch, Jas Saunders is an Honours (Creative Writing) student at UWA, with an undergrad in English Lit and Public Health. Her writing focuses on liminal spaces, nostalgia, or memory, with representation her younger self would have desired.
by Yuan Changming
for Qi Hong
Taking a walk
around the neighborhood at sunset
as if they are crows flapping by
In the twilight sky, the moon
What if it vanished
into an unknown space
as the clouds exchange
their feelings in a hurry?
Seeing a passer-by come my way,
I derail my body & thoughts alike
What if the planet really comes to a pause
during the pandemic?
What if social distancing becomes
the order of the day forever?
What if the season, in other words, lasts
between rain and snow?
Seeing two teenagers approach,
I jump aside and hop on the curb
like a lousy dancer as they run along
What if the doors of my homeland
remain closed until I am too old
or too weak to move, to see
and kiss my first and last love?
What if my family cannot afford to immigrate
to Mars from this burning
or frozen planet?
What if another huge meteorite
hits earth hard enough?
What if what I know
is neither true nor false?
Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include 12 Pushcart nominations & chapbooks (most recently LIMERENCE) besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), Poetry Daily & BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1929 others. Yuan both served on the jury and was nominated for Canada's National Magazine (poetry category).
by Sienna Taggart
paperbag bush, prickly poppies,
blue phacelia bitter root
—the desert’s offspring sewn together,
rustling whispering their brisk secrets
up the mountain.
I taste them on my tongue when
rain beckons and calls
feel them on my palm,
their gummy milky sap
drying on my fingertips I walk
climbing higher to the Yucca
with her sugary
waxed cream flowers sheathed in sharp points,
roots swelling with sudsy pulp;
I stand before her threadlike neck
concealed behind a bladed fan
cup my hands
as wind pulls velvet tears
from her cheeks.
Sienna Taggart (she/her) is a Creative Writing and English student. Her work has appeared in Dundee University Review of the Arts and The Ekphrastic Review. Sienna lives in El Paso, Texas, with her family and spirited pup, Ronin. She can be found on Instagram @siennaraine_
by Tom Brami
When in poverty, your altitude becomes familiar,
and you realize the difference between being short
and being short of thrift. You fly and think of falling
into the spiral of earth without obligation of forming belief,
like a peach prone to bruising. We are all air bound,
arranged in failure and moving. Observe
her husband below. Right now, he’s changing
by walking the feet to an invisible line.
He is a kind of glass she held to the sun,
an emergent quality present in ways or degrees.
In the future, you will recognize your face
as a groper probing a fisherman’s hand.
You’re a boy crawling into a crevice to sleep.
Anemones stain the sea; birds are lost in migrating sand.
You use them as half buried pillows.
Outside you, a ship is casting a frost
that freezes the ocean. The snow is calm
and reddish, prone to bruising.
Wreathing clouds are suspended on a sphere.
Tom Brami is an Australian writer and filmmaker working on a PhD in Madison, Wisconsin. His poetry can be found in Of/with, otoliths, Futures Trading, Southerly, and Foam:e.
by Emily Bartlett
We navigate familiar rocks
as if scattered by a hatted chef
with careless, exquisite precision.
Driftwood charred and bloated,
washed up, and our silence is sliced
open by the cries of seabirds.
And other pieces of whole float stiff;
crab shell, cicada wing, twig,
cast adrift, sucked into cavernous
spaces, spat into currents laced
with torpid, yellowing foam. How long
to roam before our final resting place?
You really have to wonder.
Never before has this ocean
made me afraid, except
on such days, when churning
water blurs; seclusion hoped for
but not promised beyond the waves.
Emily ‘Emmy’ Bartlett (nee Walsh) is an Australian writer, artist and Pleiadian starseed living between Sydney and Coffs Harbour, NSW. She runs a creative agency and is writing her debut novel, Ozora. Emily is the assistant editor of Plumwood Mountain Journal and loves etymology, singing and the feeling of being underwater.
by Julian Palacios
tonight i taste like warm, wet nothing.
like an excess of self pushed into the crevasses, and
loneliness. it tastes like lemon
and looks like a boy pretending to be the girl of your dreams
staring out the window,
elbow deep in bubbles, and calling upon
some primal part of herself that waits
to do something stupid and make
one glorious, defining mistake.
apron on, children running amok
a fervent heartbeat on hardwood floors;
the idea born no sooner than it is dying.
waiting for you to come home so that she can begin again.
her animation, your imagination, me
holding my breath,
mouthing the words i want her to say but
trying to be quiet.
Julian (he/they) is a writer, cat dad, psychology student and aspiring vampire. He writes poems and gets his hands dirty with good-old fashioned glue-stick and paint making mixed-media collage - all about gender and sexuality, love, obsession and dreams. You can find his work on Instagram @patroclus.incarnate.
by Scott-Patrick Mitchell
Two Black Cats
Night does not know where her shore ends and
their fur begins. In the dark, one cat could
easily stand in for the other. Street light pours
invented sun into pavement. Bushes brim with
wing and insect purr. One cat calls to the other
as if a bird is caught in its throat: affectionate
shorthand. A nest of rubbing. Kerb crests the
edge of street as if a dune. Shard of broken
taillight, a sea rose. The other cat answers with
a long stretch: night envies feline’s starless
arch, how it will never dissolve into day. A
walker-by can feel the touch of four green
moons watching them. The cold regards
everything. Movement bells as if Christmas,
coming early. They make a playground out of
dark, chase each other until the sun colours the
Ecologies & Eulogies
Elsewhere, other ecologies are collapsing. A koala clings
to the top of a burnt blue-gum, searching for leaf and kin,
her paws pink, blistering. In the artery of the Murray-
Darling, cod and carp bloat as the current chokes for
oxygen. Across two hot days, flying foxes amass grave. In
an outcrop, a black-flanked rock wallaby gathers her
offspring near: wind whimpers scent of surveyor.
Serenade for end days: my mother’s fever rambles from
her throat. She tells me how every wrinkle across her body
is a lineage, endangered or extinct. How, as a child, she
wanted to make the world into an Ark. But the only wood
she could craft was a coffin she called a home. Afloat on
elegy, she struggles for breath. Elsewhere, other eulogies
are being carved into earth and bone.
Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a non-binary poet who lives as a guest on Whadjuk Noongar Land. In 2019, they won MPU’s Martin Downey Urban Realist Poetry Award. SPM was recently shortlisted for the 2020 and 2021 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. SPM’s debut collection, Clean, will be released early 2022.
Siren Fires for August
by Dani Netherclift
The moon hangs low
a bottom-heavy boat
gravid with ballast
slipping snail trails, lighting
for more night,
this cycle of terrible sorrows
of griefs, imagine
a susurration, dead leaves
gathered, faded things
like the left scales
at the ends of their lives
all joy leached out,
and today, today
blew in so many wrongs
that might never
be righted, and the mild-faced moon
will not care, will never dim
the silver shine of the spill –
those bodies, drifting, their eyes
wide, mouths like funnels, and
no matter how you call
and call, they will not hear,
cannot look your way.
Dani Netherclift lives surrounded by mountains in the Victoria high country. She was the 2020 winner of the AAWP/The Slow Canoe Creative Nonfiction Prize, and has recent work in Plumwood Mountain Journal, Rabbit, Stilts, Mascara and Meniscus.
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