Body Must Remember By Rain Wright

Body Must Remember

sometimes i wonder on my mother’s desires—

      desires beyond mothering warm children in early morning

rumpled beds and what wants her mother body knew about

      need held in woven muscles and harboring eager bones and

those moving salt oceans and craving stones in the body

but my aging woman’s body often gazed upon by flicking

      occasional eyes that judge a curve and crease,

my body knows desires on those long days that bones who

      grew daughters speak about the way water talks

with body skin and sweat and my mother’s

desires that maybe lay on tongues like that

      warm mint and that melted honey tea she served to

guests in chipped teacups with brown bread

      flour covering her kneading hands

as mouths filled with that last pool of sweet conversation

      on the bottom of leaving warmed and empty cups

what did she ask her longing skin to get at her own desires,

      to call desire to her full and yearning body

 that grew hips and clavicle – women’s blood and

tissue and wants because we do want and

want and sometimes i wonder on my,

my body and desire but I can’t ask my

long-dead mother for only half memories

            about aging and my woman’s body

but i haven’t lost her mother voice talking about

      knowing an aging body and me as enough so

enough that each current of blood is

      sticky electric on skin

like some deep beating music on

      longer nights when wind is warm and

yes it’s sweet and hot desire is

      like finally breathing and i ask about all

desires and love on my own body and the word

      love is like wanting much too much and

i let water into all the spaces of my body but

      my body won’t forget taste and my body must cry

for its own salt and i wonder at the space of

      my skin and touch and the water in others and i

forget an ocean and forget crying on mornings  

that don’t fit right and we laugh that we cry in this

      family – carrying our mother’s bones and old stories

and i forget and remember to hear the desire in silences

      sitting alone with memories of my mother’s song

records on high and loud and i don’t cry much

 and my mother always said to get it all out

      break open the chests and break it open on

monthly blooding sheets but when the body misses

      and age creates new body when it skips and maybe beats

on a different note and then what does this body need

      because my body knows relief and patterns in rituals

and the waves speak as memories of certain mother knowledge

      and a friend says wind is relief and we must breathe into

it and hear and feel our own body and the wind pushes

      the windows on the east of that house on nights that

don’t sleep and i don’t know the water of my body anymore

      and i don’t know salt on my tongue that

must miss the path of water over my breast and down legs

because i always remember the anger of angry men

      who formed my tongue in twisting flooded mouths

but my body must remember more than this violence

      left as a lost breath – the desire of its own heat and

and what of kindness and generous languages of

      love and touches that come through exposed

ribcages that know how to undo and

      unbraid from body and talk about love and play love

and playing in love – love grows into bones strung together

      broken and whole in sheltering body connections

that know and carry body in relationships

with mother voices who formed new bones from

      ancestors and their sounds of calling all

desires to a body – to my body

By Rain Wright

Biography:

Rain Wright received her Ph.D. in English with a focus in creative writing from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She currently teaches writing at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa as a lecturer.

Brown By Daphne Hall

Brown

No, moons of honey—dusted with gold.
They sit comfortably behind the
curtain of eyelashes no
man is ever grateful
for.

The constellations across his face,
etch his back,
join at the shoulders,
trickle down his arms
to his finger
tips.

There is a lone star. It rests
on the top of his lip.
My gaze catches
his pull. We
unite.

They connect as if
our love is a telescope,
brushing up against the sky.
I am Galileo, he is
Venus.

Through phases of eccen-
tricity, we everlast.

By Daphne Hall

Biography:

I am an aspiring educator, partial to my cat Gwen, thrive in melodrama and am a recovering Baptist. I am currently attending University of North Florida for my bachelor’s degree in English with a dash of Creative Writing and Social Welfare.

BAR STORIES By Ginger Harris

BAR STORIES

Chatting away at a bar in the Badlands
you said that woman
was so beautiful, so nice,

scene set to snap your heart
into light-hearted fragments
of longing;

the map on the wall
boasting the wildness of the west,
the childishness of want

spelled out in times of pick-axed hope,
stale beer becoming
more—

a mystifying tryst with stillness.
A year later, lost,
you stopped at a saloon in Salina

when rumors of bed bugs
sent you high-tailing it
into darkness, some truck stop,

met me in the morning
at an Irish pub in Denver—two beers and a hell
of a story.

After you died I went back to Buffalo—

discovered you can still smoke
out the stress
at that old hole-in-the-wall
next to the Occidental Hotel
where we did years ago—

where booths set with bullet holes
were grandfathered-in
from boom-and-bust days,

and oratory fixations on
preserving blazing greatness

are evergreen
as Washington’s grimace, tall tales

tumbling from walls, open mouths
letting us in

an embrace—a glass
achingly full,

a place that has always wanted to keep you
where you want to be kept.

By Ginger Harris

Biography:

Ginger Harris is an emerging writer who lives in Denver. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she also studied creative writing. You can find more of her work on Instagram @ayla.poetry

Mom By Luiza Louback

Mom

Sweaty fingertips color my skin
mixture cafunés in my hair,

drag affection through my fiber threads.
My stare reflects in my mother’s gaze,

eye-to-eye I see myself in her. I look at the
years gaping mountains carving through her face.

Glimpsing the mangled spinal cord of ancestry,
I crawl in my mother’s back. Reviving the

sugared tangerine taste of childhood
I hug tightly the body that gave me life,

eggshell white lines through her living home.
Our hands clasp with the bond beyond this realm

I baptize my flesh with her scent, touch the
silent trace of my identity in yellowed smile,

vibrant red lips, and flowered dress.
Folded for too long, the crumples are still

visible in the delicate paths around her eyes.
With the surface of my nails, I unearth lost stories,

an immortal past I kiss with dry lips.
The hummingbird in her chest refuses to die,

even after her face became hardened with tropical sun,
my mother still possesses a furious racing heart

that speaks with mason jar honey voice,
holds me up to the sticky sun

letting me taste the dawning of the universe
and the bittersweet coated air.

By Luiza Louback

Biography

Luiza Louback is a Latin-American, Brazilian emerging writer, and high schooler. Her work has appeared in national anthologies and has been recognized by the NY Times Summer Academy. When she is not writing, she teaches English to low-income students and advocates for literary accessibility in Latin America.

letter to a first & cleanest love By Nicole Knorr

letter to a first & cleanest love

reaching for your wrist
bird feather, still

every grain of roof
felt; we wanted to

how exciting it was
the warm of you

day & limitless day
scent of summer
so something
i know—
__

oh mango thrown!
ripe, first smile
chased down drive-
ways, helmet free,
spun sugar ice
held us

raptured water
saw us break
stillness; fill it
with our
sunniest shine

time adorned in
laughter, eternal
girls in their world

of trampoline
springs spent
letters sent to love
we thought missing.

purple’s hue brings
me closer to you

sing green, my oldest
friend; see a leaf—

see a leaf, see a sun
mark its way through;
its prettiest hue results
in me and you

wonder is a god
admired, learned
from your church

dress a ladybug
landed on—you
almost sent her away.
i don’t know that
she wanted to stay,
but i said:
keep her,
a moment,
a day,
in a box
so purple

& we learned a first love
is not your love to keep

our last nights
spent in the back
of a mother’s car

we walked
in light, glow
something so
close. tastable

coming home to you: my
neighbor my sister i loved
to pull your hair and braid it

oldest longing, felt

in my throat where
the word why exists
see it dip down
reaching still—

still, my bare feet on your porch knocking
knocking knocking wanting to come inside
so badly & see my beautiful friend.

By Nicole Knorr

title borrowed from a line in Danez Smith’s poem “how many of us have them?”

Biography:

I am a composer, pianist, and vocalist based in Jacksonville, Florida. As a composer, I specialize in vocal music and setting poetry. Currently, I’m working towards undergraduate degrees in both Piano and Vocal Performance at the University of North Florida. My affection for poetry runs deep; poetry has become synonymous with music itself, in my eyes.

cancún By Leila Jackson

cancún

there was a cough and of course he reeks of death

his name a painted curse         in my mouth

i used to sit here          watch the water           as the sun met itself

a boy i thought i knew            spun me in his oversized jacket

and whispered in my ear

                                                one day, i promise

we used to dream we’d leave this wretched place

go somewhere where birds painted    lotuses into the sky

somewhere ours

i convinced myself there was no end             between his fingers and my spine

there was a cough       or maybe it was a cry

and of course the air reeks of sunsets             of promises not kept

easy to brush it off      my back against the wooden floor of the boat

his mouth spinning the curve of my vertebrae

easy to think this is what you want

when an oversize varsity jacket          seems to fill a hole you didn’t think you had

when empty whispers             seem to swell

                                                                        and take flight

By Leila Jackson

Biography

Leila Jackson is a junior at Georgetown Day high school in DC. She has received several regional awards for her work. In her free time, she enjoys poetry and boba tea.

Did You Bring the Backpack? By Anna Šverclová

DID YOU BRING THE BACKPACK?

The rules go: whoever brings the backpack
does the fucking.

Learn               back.

Learn               pack.

Learn               strap.

Learn armpit hair. Learn tongue ring.
Learn nail file. Learn bullet vibrator.
Learn nipple ring.

Learn labia majora/minora/clit/hood/taint/asshole.

Learn a haircut. Button-downs in every color.
Learn how to poke your own belt holes
wire-wrap a rock earring.

Learn               direction.
top,
bottom,
switch.

Learn softer.
Learn eye contact.
Learn 2, 3, 4 fingers.

Learn backpack. Learn how we never call it
bookbag or sex bag.

Learn to go back home.

Learn conservative Sunday clothes.

Learn 1 Corinthians 6:9

John 3:16

Leviticus 18:2

Learn normal.

Relearn normal.

Relearn shaved armpits stiletto fingernails JCPenny’s salerack

modest lip colors like beige and champagne

acoustic guitar Bob Dylan Luke Bryan Toby Keith Tim Mcgraw

Learn hair tie.
French-braid.
Fresh shave.

Learn bookbag.
Relearn normal.
Fake normal.
Real fake normal.
Real, fake dyke normal.

By Anna Šverclová

Biography

Anna Šverclová (they/them) is a totally queer sophomore director of Macalester College’s slam poetry team, MacSlams. They were born and raised in the Twin Cities suburbs and they cry whenever it snows. Over the years, they have become an expert in layering. Their secret? A journal compliments every outfit.

the wild(ish) side By Rachel Whitesell

the wild(ish) side

jackie’s still there with red cotton candy hair
ripped stockings and glitter lipstick
she can pen plays that deserve a fare
but she can’t avoid the other needle’s trick

candy’s here too, waltzin through corners
foolin men into thinkin she’s theirs
blonde and pale, the best kind of foreigner
always remembers to feed foolish stares

joes round here tend to come and go
since they aren’t seen as chicks with dicks
yet their commendable hustle is paid with snow
and men still feel they’re crossin the river styx

we can’t skip holly, the original pioneer
the first person to say cunt in cinema
lookin for hot meals was the start of her career
now all her accolades could fit in a Woodlawn basilica

and the missing posters go
doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo

Can you hear it?

By Rachel Whitesell

Biography:

I am a cartoon lover, coffee enthusiast, and mother to my “fluffy” cat, Baby Kitty. I am an English major at the University of North Florida, working towards my bachelor’s degree. I am also a writing tutor at the University of North Florida’s Writing Center. So, my days are usually spent looking at my writing or someone else’s. My poem “Guanyin” was awarded runner-up in poetry for the Amy Wainwright Award for Creative Writing in 2021.

Winter Mornings Like These By Sarah Esmi

Winter Mornings Like These

winter mornings like these
in the Bushwick duplex

I have a hard time distinguishing
the howl of the raw wind
that rattles the apartment door
and coos underneath the slats

from my husband’s humming
low and meticulous
as he scrambles our eggs
and empties the dishwasher

the music of these
moaning and sacred spirits

stirs me from sleep
so that I may start my days
with the simple, vital art
of listening mindfully

as I descend the stairs
to meet the early bustling of the world
and to gently unravel
in the warm voice of my beloved

By Sarah Esmi

Biography

Sarah Esmi is an artist of Iranian descent focusing primarily on experimental and absurdist theatre, collage, movement, and poetry. Sarah began her career as an experimentalist during a Fulbright fellowship in Spain. She has been published in Calyx and the Dime Show Review. She is also the co-founder of counterclaim, a Brooklyn-based production company. By day, Sarah is a practicing attorney, representing the underrepresented in New York courtrooms. www.sarah-e.com, @sarah_______e


To a butterfly in my DM By Olabisi Akinwale

To a butterfly in my DM

there are many reasons
our love thrives in the dark.
there’s nowhere safe to tame the
smoke on a lover’s skin without a hand
forgetting music in your throat.
I mean, to say the word love,
look over your shoulder for salvation
or throw a whisper in water & bend towards
its ripple to lodge your touch in a bone.
there are only a few things the world knows
about love, but know enough to call
a boy living in another boy’s heart a taboo,
something unethical like the dark side of God’s art.
so, when you said you love me & your words
slips off your mouth like a prayer
seeking room to breathe bubbles,
I do not want to bite dust or imagine
the fate of a tale lying still in the dark,
because our love is a bird restricted from daylight
like a sin hidden from sun rays to be sane.
I’m sorry, I do not want to die.
I do not want to hold your hand
& be mobbed to a memory in pool of blood.
even with fetters you can never stop the world
from screwing her rage to our veins
because she does not know how to embrace
the beauty of a butterfly unhidden in a hue.

By Olabisi Akinwale

Biography

Olabisi Abiodun Akinwale is a Nigerian Poet & Writer, an explorer of grief, silence, beauty, loss & everything artful that meets the eye. A Best of the net Nominee, Best Student Poet- Federal University Lafia 2017, first runner up- Poets in Nigeria (PIN) poetically written prose contest 2020 among others. His works have appeared and forthcoming on Rising Phoenix, Split Lip Magazine, Kalahari Review, Agbowo, Praxis Magazine, Tuck Magazine, Lunaris Review, ACEworld, Nigerian NewsDirect and elsewhere.