Issue #22

Step Zero Is To See Walls

Luella Allen-Waller

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.


Laura Owens

I’m out for dinner

on a Friday night

the adjacent table graced

with two young women

catching up

and I’m suddenly reminded how

as a child

I was never blessed with 

a best friend / sidekick / partner in crime

never part 

of a perfect duo

fish and chips / bangers and mash / bacon and egg

always the obscure 

third wheel

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?

the result 

a train track ploughing

through concrete wilderness

with only one rail

I may have found someone with whom 

to share

a pair of golden rings

but what good is that

when there are still two halves 

of a jigsaw necklace

boxed away

in the aging dresser

back home

I’ve grieved

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

3rd Floor

Jasmine Flowers

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*


Jackie McManus

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-

that one,

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.