(Villanelle) For My Planet By Marjorie Moorhead 

(Villanelle) For My Planet

Treat your home with love; it will sustain you.
Unattended, webbing can tear.
A net’s weave is strong when its connections are true.

Our actions have changed things more than we knew.
We haven’t treated our surroundings with care.
Treat your home with love; it will sustain you.

Stories are told using many a hue;
facts about deeds not always laid bare.
A net’s weave is strong only when its connections are true.

The lies we were told by greedy oligarchs grew.
Their practice of depletion and pillage for profit, not fair.
Treat our home with love; it will sustain you.

Let us rip open the veil and see through.
We need all be invested in our habitat’s fare.
A net’s weave is strong when its connections are true.

Time has come for action that’s new.
Create stewardship in which we all have a share.
Treat Home with love; it will sustain you.
A net’s weave’s as strong as it’s connections are true.

By Marjorie Moorhead 


Marjorie Moorhead writes from the NH/VT border. Her work has been featured in 2017’s A Change of Climate, benefitting the Environmental Justice Foundation. She has had poem of the day at Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast, and HIV Here & Now series, and Rising Phoenix Review (1/6/18). Marjorie’s poems will appear in forthcoming collections from Blueline Press, and Hobblebush Press.

Braiding By Jessica C. Mehta


The morning of my mother’s death
call, I couldn’t plait my hair—a weaving,
daily habit I thought branded into cerebellum
had left me quick as her. It’s fragile,
memory encoding. Ripe for damage.
Even consolidation isn’t a given.
We imagine: we could eat

in the dark if we had to, the slopes
and secrets of our favorite lover. I cried
silent in the bathroom, thin strands
laced crooked through shaking fingers
at the impossibility of it all. It had been decades
since I’d sat cross-legged between her knees
buried in shag carpet. Patient, quiet
while she wound cornrows like crop circles
along my scalp. The smell of Pert shampoo,
the snap of red rubber bands, everything
came whooshing back. But not the braiding,

the fast fingers. Makes sense. Remember:
the heart is a muscle, too. Its memories
vulnerable to paralysis like every other run
down part of us. Still, only in stillness,
can the dead pass through, clean
the kitchen and leave us
to mop the floors of drying curls.

Jessica C. Mehta


Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a poet and novelist, and member of the Cherokee Nation. Jessica is the author of ten books including the forthcoming Savagery, the forthcoming Drag Me Through the Mess, and the forthcoming Drag Me Through the Mess. Previous books include Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo and The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at www.jessicatynermehta.com.

Alaska By Wanda Deglane


He says, I hear Alaska’s nice this time of year.
His fingers trace absent-minded circles around and around the flesh under my skirt.

He says, I’m going to marry you someday, watch,
as he looks at me hungrily, dark-lit coals for eyes.

He says, Weakness is what kills you, sweetie.
Kindness, honesty, caring, having those morals and shit. All weaknesses.

He eyes me carefully from the balcony. Says,
I didn’t mean to grab your throat, and let my fingers curl around it. You wouldn’t call me a liar,

Would you?

He says, If you look at another guy again,
I’ll rip your throat out.

I learn to use makeup at nearly fifteen, the morning after. Covering up the night before.
Drawing thick black lines across my eyelids to look as if I hadn’t been punched in the face.

He says, If there were more of you, I’d take that, too.
He says, Your weakness feeds me.

And I’m still hungry.

He says, I am the sun.
You’ll never see anything else.

He says, We’re going to be high school sweethearts,
Don’t you just love that?

He says, How would you like to go with me to Alaska?

Originally published on Spider Mirror in December of 2017

By Wanda Deglane


Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her poetry has been published on Spider Mirror, and is forthcoming from Veronica, Porridge Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.

Pride By John LaPine


Today I am gay unabashedly
but once I was not.

Tried on “bisexual,” asked women
on dates and feigned sorrow
over rejection. When my cousin

asked Who are you interested in,
I told him I prefer brunettes to blondes.

Not a lie: precise word choice.
Designed to hide. Today I imagine my husband’s
hair black incarnate, corporeal night,

a beard of ravens punctuated
by grey feathers. Once,

during truth or dare I said dare
and was dared to kiss a sophomore
on the lips. She did

most of the work, buzzed friends bore
witness. The imprint of her throbbing

in my mouth all night,
her lips branding irons
I soothed with cold glass

bottle. The first time I got drunk,
I was stood up, then took whiskey

swigs, became Bushmills shots straight,
let amber slugs crawl through my ears.

Wanting to feel worse artificially. This is not
confession—I do not consider these things sin.

My mother says my father had a bottle
habit, found medicine in liquor cabinets,

found doctors in cabarets, church in bars.
I have to take her word.

She says she remembers
he once told her he had a secret,

her cream ears soaking in the plum brandy
of his wet lips, the night a pickled tongue.

She said she would love him no matter what he said,
before he left without spilling, then passed.

She wonders if he found men, made them cancer
cells in his numb black mouth,
if he let them turn his lungs to velvet smoke,

if my sisters are his way of hiding,
if my mother and I are his lie. He lived

until he didn’t, lost his words to a stroke.
This is not confession, because he never did.

Never could smile after that, I hear. Never could
make his mouth less a fallen scythe.

By John LaPine


John LaPine has an MA in Creative Writing & Pedagogy from Northern Michigan University (NMU), and volunteered as Associate Editor of creative nonfiction & poetry at Passages North, NMU’s literary journal, for three years. His work has appeared in the Foliate Oak Literary Journal & Hot Metal Bridge, and is forthcoming in Glint Literary Journal, Apofenie, & Midwestern Gothic.


Snowflake By Eija Sumner


You say it, with a bitter taste
in your mouth—a chip on your shoulder
as if you’ve never held an infant in your arms
and watched the blood pulsate through
the top of the skull, still forming.
As if you’ve never peeled the eyelid
up of a friend and seen blackness
where there once was light.

You say it, smirking as if it’s an insult
to melt and melt again
when the words, “We’re losing him,”
scroll across the phone;
when tears flow unbidden
armed with plastic bags
in a room that will no longer be slept in.

You say it, as if you’ve never
woken to wonder outside your door,
believed in magic, angels
carved into coldness,
or opened your mouth
waiting for ice to melt
on your warm, pink tongue.

By Eija Sumner

Bettering American Poetry Nominations 2017

We want to take this opportunity to celebrate a group of poets who inspires us with the boldness of their work. When we need a light to help us traverse the dark night of the American soul, this is the kind of poetry we turn towards. With this in mind, we are honored to announce these poets as our Bettering American Poetry Nominees for 2017.

For Women Who Are Difficult to Love By Khalypso


Prism By Sarah Wang