Welcome in. Stay awhile.
Settle in with your most comforting sweater. At the end of the day, we hope you tell it like it is, and that love and tenderness find a way to nestle into that truth.
m & co
cover by Melissa Knopp
four poems by Heidi Miranda
Rice Pudding at High Altitude by j. archer avary
three poems by Shannon Cuthbert
three poems by Fran Westwood
three poems by Kristen Roach
How to Bake Bread by Courtney LeBlanc
a soldier slipped two messages into a ginger beer bottle by Kate LaDew
100 Ways to Grow
Stargazing and the Rumors are True
What do you do when the
birds stop chirping and all
that’s left is the hum of
a radiator and the sound of
is a Mexican poet working towards her B.A. in English. She has published poems in both online and in-print journals and is active on Instagram (@weepingblueberry) where she can be found posting landscape photography and quoting from her favorite poets.
one symptom of
could be euphoria
that feeling when
young lovers kiss
and flee on skateboards
the ancient city a theatre
infinite storylines unfolding
as the fingers turn blue
what sticks with me most
is the vendor’s weathered face
a ladle of warm rice pudding
those styrofoam bowls
my blue-blooded heart palpitates
when does that feeling
of lightheaded clarity
become the default?
so much of modern life
depends on repetition
it almost resembles death
crouched like a puma
J. Archer Avary
(he/him) came of age in the American midwest. He rode the magic carpet of television journalism across the US and to the Caribbean where he became a champion lionfish hunter. He quit TV in 2019 and moved to Guernsey with his wife. His poetry/prose has appeared in Bright Flash Literary Review, The Beatnik Cowboy, Ariel Chart, The Daily Drunk, and Rye Whiskey Review.
Certainty in all things
The boy who gave you comics
Folded under his sweater
In the courtyard where his chessboard
Gleamed with its pieces
Stolen from surrealism,
His face blurs but you think
It looked like the average taken
Of all other features,
Mathematically perfect in this.
You are bouncing a rubber ball
You spent a quarter on from a machine.
You do this and simultaneously
Chew five pieces of gum to reset your jaw
Whenever you feel
Some movement too big to contain.
After this your dad will ask you
To hold the board straight as he saws it
For a treehouse he’ll never finish.
You keep jarring the board an inch out of whack,
And he keeps pretending
He doesn’t know why.
A year later you’ll stand in the courtyard
Smoking something low and sweet
That keeps you from moving
As long as you need to.
Only in the woods he wears
His butterfly-winged purple peacoat.
Daubs of eyeliner he’s drawn on
Floating up at the ends
Like blades of grass
That mama always said pointed straight
To heaven, standing at attention.
Birches in the hollow whisper his name
And pluck at his arms and skin.
He has nailed here
Secret shards of mirror,
A thing that to be broken will grind you
To its own dust first.
And the collars have come on all the trees.
Their stone eyes laugh with his own
As he stretches, pliés,
Winnows himself the width of ribbon
Tied on a branch.
Disappearing with you
Has never been easier than it is today,
While the wind makes bones
Of our summer bulbs,
While the blades of me stretch taut
As wire you use to climb across,
Passing between two buildings of glass.
This is not the day we were promised
To construct out of needle
And counterpoint, those years ago
Across which I stare out
Like seeing a lake behind your eyes.
We were promised
There would be fruit and fire,
A long tail of smoke to snuff out this night,
This waver of which you seem
Unaware, leaving me dancing here
Stuck between worlds,
Thin and breakable as a word.
is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcarts, and have appeared in Plum Tree Tavern, Bangor Literary Review, and The Oddville Press, among others. Her work is forthcoming in The Metaworker, Big Windows Review, and EcoTheo Review, among others.
is a self-taught amateur photographer living in Washington state. She is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at La Sierra University. Melissa spends her free time drinking coffee, lying in, and photographing whatever catches her eye.
I hunt & find a creased note. Open, an olive leaf unfurls.
On a cream envelope I write your name. I say, I know
it’s been hard: the apartment silence. I tell you any small thing
I can think of. The plant living next to the one dying
on my shelf, my neighbors. I ask you, no answers needed.
I ask you every small thing I can think of. The orange sunrise
placemats you ordered. What you saw on your walk.
Any yellow chalk hands, footprints in soil. The drop off
in the lobby, your first face-to-face conversation in six weeks.
The seasons turning, we don't know what toward.
I want a part of me to arrive at your door. To find you--
I need to know I have not forgotten how
Self Portrait As Tent & Pot
Tent shoulders wake, damp with dawn dew. The birds
have been calling for hours. I drove twelve hours yesterday
through backroad graffiti & church marquees, through Virginia
forests cupping barns & family dollar stores. Under a hover
of silent feathers, drew up shelter. Splashed water, nearly ice
on my face, beer can empty on the bathroom sink.
This morning’s fire boiling water for tea, I tend oats
& apples. Auburn trees a half-cover, fabric skins
shaking in wind. Steam pictures in the cool air. The leaves
beginning to fall & fading grass spindles
a last drink. Crouching by the heat, I grasp a metal spoon
& stir the shallow dish. My body may travel miles
but hosts my same mind—the ever-gnaw of mind. Bone
& breath so slow to loosen. I am skilled, am I not brilliant
to match every land to my ache & stories? I wake the same
human, even in far countries, the scrape &wings.
You sit at the edge of a season. At the table nephew hands
& yours work together. A thousand puzzle pieces pile.
Through the window grey tomato stems crumple
under old snow weight. Vision toward tightens you
with the soap of a rubric gaze. You scrub yourself dry.
Possible tomorrows press you onward, thin & specific.
Tacked behind you on a cork board, seven plots
on a notepad leaf dotted with coffee slosh.
A small red door of hunger shakes as you fit a border piece,
you glimpse easily everything that is yellowed dusk
& done. Tiny fingers fumble. Flipped over cardboard
curves meet. A muddle of images form. See how
though not nearly finished, he raises his eyes,
races outside toward green & blue.
poetry was shortlisted for the Room 2020 poetry prize, and has been published or is forthcoming in various journals including Contemporary Verse 2, The Hopper, Channel, Prairie Fire, The Night Heron Barks, Inanna's Canadian Women Studies Journal, Recenter Press and Sunlight Press. Fran writes, grows vegetables and works at a mental health and addictions agency in Toronto, Canada. You can find her and more poems online at @fran.westwood (instagram)
Sharon Olds, come,
pin down words
like wet clothes on a worn line in the sun:
slow, deliberate, and tender,
stark whites and jeans with knees faded.
nestle here in my hands
with a dewy bottle of white
and cut lemons. Move me slowly
with the island waves of your sonnet mouth.
Mary Oliver, walk me out back
palms up, late summer,
to the sleeping black bear Adirondacks,
and home to the porch swing,
broom whispering, Maurice Manning
folding himself with boots there
& rubbing the Kentucky dirt of his fingers
magic and dry over the hardwood.
Anne Sexton, sit by me
after daylight has come and gone,
& cross an anxious knee
below your cigarette
and your skirt,
sharing a laugh, your thin wrists flying
like startled birds out of a darkness.
Let it be reading time.
Do not disappoint me
under this New England window.
I am waiting for you, Emily,
to fold your parchment sheets
into tiny bells
& lower them
knot by knot
on some old brown twine,
fraying over the sill
to my waiting luck.
Not forced into the eaves
of the upstairs room
with slanted drywall and
a lone window
Not worrying awake at night
how many sheets to tie together
to escape in case of fire
or the mean-mouthed dog
or the dark
Not piling armloads of used-up
clothes on the cracked linoleum
plucking bled-out colors
from dead whites
Not hanging seaweed
sleeves on the outside line
of anemone fingers
snapped raw by clothespins
Only with Heidi would I walk
up the hoof-rutted mountain road
holding a milk goat by the horn
in fields swooning
with cloud-and-star flowers
Only the day her grandfather’s eyes
shone for us, would I laugh
his gruffness packed and vanished
like a beard shaved clean
Only with Laura
calicos wrapping at our knees
in the sun, would I run barefoot
screeching into the snow melt creek
with sparks of it flying up in delight
Only at the hearthside
with the thread Ma drew through her muslin
over and over whispering
would I sleep.
Maiden, M̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶, Crone
the spell’s worn off the hornbook
she is finished with fig-burning
the runes have been cast aside
no more seeing shapes in smoke
seeking touch reading palms &
shadow cards of cups and coin
Tarot knights no longer
plant their swords
in the highlands of her heather
the scrolled prows of Viking ships
push past the end of earth
leaving the map of her sea bare
vast and abandoned
her watered-down blue winds
trading with nowhere
~ 1 packet yeast, dissolved in warm water
~ 3 cups flour, sifted until it floats down like an airy dream
~ 2 cups mother’s judgement
~ 4 eggs
~ 1 unanswered phone call, 3 ignored texts
~ a dollop of honey, not as sweet as the honey from your family farm but it will have to do
~ 1 warm afternoon, the sun illuminating the kitchen
a soldier slipped two messages into a ginger beer bottle,
sealed it with a rubber stopper and dropped it into the english channel
85 years later, a fisherman, off the coast of essex,
dredges up the ginger beer bottle, pulls the rubber stopper out,
and retrieves the two messages, one thin and coiled like a nautilus shell,
the other an envelope folded over itself
the first message asks whomever finds the note
to pass the sealed letter onto the soldier's wife
so the fisherman tries, and finds the daughter of the soldier
still living at the same address as the soldier had 85 years before.
when the fisherman slips the envelope into the soldier's daughter's hand,
she looks at it a very long time before breaking the seal
reading it once to herself, slowly, then again, out loud, to the fisherman.
her father asked her mother to write the date and hour she opened the letter,
and sign her name in the right hand corner, keeping it safe on the mantle
behind their wedding photo, so that if she ever got sad,
she could see his words peeking out from behind his face,
like a child playing hide and seek and know, soon, he would come back to her,
and they would both read the letter together, and laugh.
the fisherman looks just past the soldier's daughter,
the daughter now 60 years older than the soldier ever got to be,
on the mantle, the wedding photo balances, unmoved
there's a smudge in the right hand corner of the frame,
the ghost of a fingerprint just touching the edge of the veil haloing
a young woman's face, her smile a little tremulous,
the one you wear when your clothes are brand new,
when you're young and happy and all filled up with life
and someone asks you to stand still and it's almost impossible
because the one you love the most is right next to you
and nobody knows what the two of you do, not for a second,
and it's all you can manage not to throw your arms around him right there,
in front of everyone and his hand finds yours, squeezes,
and joy flares in your eyes just as the camera bulb pops and it's there, forever,
no matter what happens next, whether you live a thousand years
with your husband right next to you
or if somebody decides to start a war in a place a long way away from the two of you
and snatches up the one you love, as if they had any claim to him,
presses a gun into his palm, still warm from your hand,
buttons him into a uniform you wear to kill people
and on the morning he leaves for the front, he thinks of you
and your little daughter, a year old, and, on a whim, borrows an envelope
and scraps of paper and writes a message to you, folds his words over themselves,
slips them into a ginger beer bottle and, doing his best cy young,
pitches it into the channel, two days later, in a field in some french town
whose name he can't pronounce,
he feels the searing heat of a bullet sever the carotid artery and jugular vein
providing the blood and oxygen for his brain, and dies, bleeding out
next to thousands of boys, just off a train, boots so new they squeak when they fall
and you live sixty years without your soldier, watching the photograph
of the scariest and happiest day of your life,
never knowing a letter is meant to live behind it.
the soldier's daughter looks at the fisherman
who's still looking at the boy and girl in the image from 85 years ago.
there's an old, old feeling at the base of her heart that almost floats to the surface
it smells like salt and decay and unfairness and the arbitrary caprices of life,
but she takes her hand with the letter inside it, presses it against the beating,
and love rises up instead.
is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. She resides in Graham, NC with her cats Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.