And I ask in return,
have you ever cracked a walnut with your bare hands?
or found the almond hidden within a peach pit?

Have you ever felt the trail of a plum oozeing down your cheeks?
How a strawberry wedges seeds between your teeth?
In the way that a peeled orange fills the room with citrus,
I am licking her off of my fingers all day.

I tell him,
straight sex is a flight where you don’t even look out the windows.

Queer sex is a road trip for the sake of a road trip.
I can stop wherever I want to inhale the scenery.

The fruit of the neck, the peel of the thigh,
the blossom of the asshole, the tender skin crease beneath the buttcheek.
Cup the rind of the inner knee and elbow.

Shake down a fruit tree,
wedge your fingers into a fresh clementine.

Not because you are hungry.
Just for the taste.

By Anna Šverclová


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 Blemished Skin of America By Grace Stalley

The Blemished Skin of America

There is a birthmark scar
on my left backside cheek
like an ink-spilled punctuation.

My mother and I met as strangers,
she held out her arms to me
and I became an American.

I pledge allegiance to the scars of our country.
I don’t know if they can recollect
who wrote on them first either.

This America
breathes life through
your mouth and mine.

Its skin is split and draining out
to the largest organ we share,
a continuum of fleshy exchanges.

My skin whispers yellow and olive
the sun and earth having cradled it for too long
before my mother finally emerged to carry me home.

Our great blemished states are murmuring
a crescendo into the ear of its own spotty tissue,
take me home.

By Grace Stalley


Grace Stalley is a resident of Brooklyn, NY and works as a writer’s assistant in the television industry. She is fascinated by the divide of cultures represented by each region of the U.S. and how those cultures inform one’s perspective. At the age of two, Grace was adopted from China. She grew up in a small suburb outside of Tampa, FL where her family still resides, in addition to Ohio.

magnolia By Sarah Esmi


It wasn’t until the weeks before the birth
that she spirited herself onto the page
and blooming

her mind
a magnolia
from between
a few stones

The baby was born before the fall

so the water
lovingly diverted the ornament to
a long-lost stream that was less loud
but just as strong
brimming beneath
the flower’s underbelly

and wedged the soft star
inside another cluster
of earth,
patches of

where the petals
and consoled one another

For a time
she feared the waterfall
ultimate and roaring
would dry up

she listened every morning
for the thunder
of its plummet
to be sure it was still brilliant

it never ceased

And soon enough
the current unhinged the blossom from the quiet 
and propelled it back into the main rush of foam
where it spun like a saucer
into the flow of the froth
dancing and skipping
atop the music of the water
glistening and buoyant
until it reached the edge
of the great plunge

and happily dove
into the effervescence

and free

By Sarah Esmi


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., @sarah_______e

Almost By Liwen Xu


hozier plays in the back of our silverfish minivan,
soft and sweet. sunday mornings are this: breeze
over our toes from cracked windows,
laughter as we lay still. smoke sways
against the remnant of last night’s rhythm and blues,
and our singsong peaks and crescendos, alongside.

he’s here now, and sometimes i still see you in his
smile, rosy and coy. summers that end
in song and ghostly starlight, where tomorrow
is still a distant promise, haunt me.

they glisten like freshwater and sting with warmth.
and in their recession, all i see is you,
a first love, promises scattered like fields of falling leaves.

it’s autumn
and i can’t bring myself to say goodbye

By Liwen Xu


Liwen Xu is an Asian American writer based in the SF Bay Area. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as Waxwing, Sine Theta Magazine, bitter melon poetry, and Mangrove Journal, and she is a graduate of the Tin House Summer Workshop. In her free time, she’s frequently running park trails,
exploring new pockets of cities, and curating a haiku food Instagram @bon_appepoetry. You can find some of her work at or@liwendyxu on Twitter.

Gateway By Amy Liu


Everything of that culture, laid across a
fantasy gateway, imagined color amid

a sea of monochrome. Fog condenses
heavy in sorrow, saturating tracks laid

by missing fathers. Paper lanterns glow,
recalling dynamite that turned letters to

home into ash. Pacific mountain tombs,
photos of ribbon cuttings and half-truths,

poems carved into the Angel Island walls.
Everything of that culture — of the girls

whose bodies were bought and discarded,
of the paper sons who clambered out of

the smoking ruins of the city by the bay,
of the mourned. Of the perpetual foreigner

in quiescent resignation, of the quill that
etched into legislation the disfigurement

of heritage into hate, of the romanticized
gateway over which the blithe flag flies.

By Amy Liu


Amy Liu is a high school student and an aspiring writer. She has been awarded National Gold and Silver medals for poetry in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and serves as the news, science, and arts and entertainment editor of the Kaleidoscope newspaper.

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


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


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

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

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

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

Through phases of eccen-
tricity, we everlast.

By Daphne Hall


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


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

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


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


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


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?”


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.