I’m Gonna be a Country Girl Again, by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

Summer has comein waves of pollenand exhaust heart-cut rhinestonesin the eyesof velvet fawnshidden in the shadeof wood geraniumand mandrake snapping turtlewith her razor beakbroodingin the sandbox behind the houseyour father built. I remember her children emerging, palm-sized and ancientfrom torn leather shells and nests of garter snakes by the woodpileerupting into grassthat grazed our skinned …

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Gorgon. Chemotherapy. Party Time., by David Arroyo

After “Here I Am” by Martin Espada She slides into the Hammerstein Ballroom,             gorgon at a monster’s bash, styling and profiling.Brass hands like Isotoner gloves             clawed with brass tacks.The vamps vaping vixen necks             ease off, mad scientistsmathing at stray ears ease off, the organ             stops grinding the way faithdies in a Catholic church when the …

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My dead aunt visits me in the dream. But, my phone autocorrects Dead Aunt as Dear Ant, by Chinedu Gospel

for Aunt N— My dear ant comes          to me in dreams. Because she’s so  small, she can make                                        a tiny hole in my cerebrum. My dear ant offers me a glass of water.            She thinks I need to be softer than bones to  breathe. My dear ant               is learning to exhale—it is this close to surrender. My dear ant asks me              to sing …

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Life After, by Felicia Martinez

When you dieregret becomes permanentso imagine my surprise when Isaw the stallions thererunning as if forever were made of switchgrassand cloveras if eternity were grounded in the quartz and silica of hoof-marked sandsdestined to dance with sweat-sweetened necks and nudging noses endlesslyI toss soft reins across my own bare armsand suddenly my limbs areneither ash nor wind-bound (as I had planned)but powerfululnaradiuscarpus …

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Unharbored Elsewhere, by Rayji de Guia

You wash ashore,    cheeks sun-bleached,half-obscured              by a burst    of barnacles                 as brine rushes in           the gash             of your neck, and out. Unbodiedmust feel like living anew. If I pry                 the shells open, is there anythingbeneath the undulations           on your eye? But there is nothingto worry about; ugliness    is not a fault—to exist,            undesired,                 unbothered. Within,         let go of your needto squelch            through folds among folds        for the algae bloom.How many nights       have you longed for a body              of land never claimed, oncethe wasting flesh of the old had drowned?                                       Was it ever            a dream that youwould be                                    a muse,sprawled over a beach towel;                                    a beloved,bikini untied in the heat of summer;                                    an image,couched between horizon and shore.You would have been        unharbored elsewhere.   Of course, let us     be honest, you are regurgitatedby the ocean herself,         a skull of what remainsof a siren’s call. Here       you are, and here I am, lured                   by how appalling you are.   Rayji de Guia is a fictionist, poet, and illustrator. Her work can be found in Asian Cha, harana poetry, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She was a poet resident at Sangam House in 2019 and a fellow for fiction in the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2021. Later this year, she will be a …

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Time Skip, by Alyza Taguilaso

Let X be a gash in the fabricof time that splits to showthings sixty-six million yearspast. Let Y be the sea, risingand dipping, sloshing sedimentand skeleton alike into chalk.Let the chalk scry a spell of protectioninto stone, surpassing all elixirs concoctedby modern man. Let Z be the asteroid slippinginto sleeve of space – dark tunneltowards …

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