Step Zero Is To See Walls
I count crossing three continental divides since home,
numbered highways I could plan for and nameless rivers I couldn’t.
The pixel of your car now trickles south somewhere.
Castled I quake with cornfield jealousy.
I’ve spent too long appreciating rhododendrons but never
long enough to be at peace. Peonies have come
and gone and come again. City stalled, only moving fronts can bring
me soybean news on their electric knuckles, beating roses drowsy.
Only storms can shake the oak leaves right.
Words are how I get now to memories advertised
broadside of that map under its primary color lines. I
wonder at the Great Basin. Nowhere to pin nostalgia there. Once
every map could be a hand – facing flipped
or orienteered, making these
divides the fragile handback bones.
Each a place to crack, I shrink. But
each a scaffold thread.
Luella Allen-Waller is a marine biology PhD candidate in Philadelphia. She likes to play with sea anemones and big microscopes, and writes poetry while procrastinating on data analysis. This is her second published work, scientific or poetic, though she would like to note that the two practices are more similar than they seem. You can connect with her on Twitter for sporadic coral biology and conservation thoughts and on Instagram for incurable lake lust and a little more interiority.
I’m out for dinner
on a Friday night
the adjacent table graced
with two young women
and I’m suddenly reminded how
as a child
I was never blessed with
a best friend / sidekick / partner in crime
of a perfect duo
fish and chips / bangers and mash / bacon and egg
always the obscure
the optional extra
mushy peas / tenderstem broccoli / baked beans
was I too reserved
to be able to recognise
my corresponding other?
unreceptive to the wavelength
that we both should be on?
a train track ploughing
through concrete wilderness
with only one rail
I may have found someone with whom
a pair of golden rings
but what good is that
when there are still two halves
of a jigsaw necklace
in the aging dresser
mourned for my unfound twin
does he / she / they
drift in the same breeze
as I do?
they say you only miss something
once it’s gone
but this is a deficiency
I’ve had all along
maybe I should just accept
that I’m better off
on my own
a glorious dish
best served hot / cold / alone
I think that’s what I’ll do
who needs a sidekick anyway?
I return to my meal
lasagne / olives / tiramisu
Laura Owens currently lives, writes and animates videogame characters from her bedroom in Oxford, UK. She has poems published/forthcoming in Briefly Write Webzine, perhappened mag, Re-side zine, Versification, and Detritus. Say hi on Twitter/Instagram @laurabethowens
There’s a mirror
in my bedroom corner.
[framed with almost gold paint]
I can’t bring myself to hang it.
It’s too heavy.
I might place it
on an iron easel.
My face is a portrait too
— dusty mirrors are kind.
Soft lighting holds
my bronzed face and
golden, grapefruit neck.
Blemishes are well-placed.
Home is a black bra floor.
There’s mint gelato
in my crowded freezer.
*flecked with chocolate chunks*
I can’t bring myself to save it.
It’s too good.
I might finish it
tonight for dinner.
I don’t always cook
— two rooms for one.
My sofa says I’m doing fine.
I hope my TV says the same;
she’s the quiet type. Maybe
I will fix dinner this time.
Home is a microwaved minute.
Jasmine Flowers is a well-watered poet from Birmingham, AL. She received her BA in English from the University of Alabama. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Cypress: A Poetry Journal, River Mouth Review, Versification, perhappened mag, and Mineral Lit Mag. She often wonders if jasmines are her favorite flowers. Follow her on Twitter: @jas_flow
*Trigger Warning: the next poem mentions child sexual abuse*
I woke myself one night shouting a single word. My voice
clear as a cone of light, I sat straight up in bed as I said it.
My brother, the one who begged for sexual favors when I was
eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen-
had given me a bed made of pine.
A sturdy frame with short posts at the foot to drape
a shirt or robe or holster. It was in this bed that I woke myself,
shouting, and not in a broken voice but in one that sounded
In the dream, something baleful spoke through the body of my son.
Months before, same thing: I am dreaming when I wake, or think
I wake, to see a specter in my kitchen. I don’t know why these exist
any more than you do, unless to prepare us to bolt from our sleep
and shout the right words.
Stay with me. I am telling you a story.
This specter had brobdingnagian shoulders that avalanched into
nothingness and a tiny head like a low wattage bulb within the hood
of a black cape. Don’t all demons wear black capes? This one did,
and I woke from the same bed to look and look again as it leaned
on the highchair in the kitchen of our mobile home to face me.
And I swear I tried to speak. I raised my arms and clawed the air
and went to speak, but
What would you have done?
It turned away, toward the open cupboard shelves with flamboyant
Fiesta coffee cups and plates, but it was dark and what happened
happened in the dark of a bedroom and it kept turning
until it vanished.
My shout ricocheted through the small bedroom like a hollow bullet,
bounced off the pine footboard of the troubled bed and came back
to sit beside me. I sat still while my dream
and I don’t know what you would have done
but I shouted NO and went back to sleep.
Jackie McManus is the author of The Earthmover's Daughter and two forthcoming chapbooks,
Related to Loon and Curses & Delights. She has been published in Cathexis Northwest, Barstow & Grand, Thimble Literary Magazine, Sky Island Journal, VoiceCatcher, among others. She divides
her time between Washington and Wisconsin.