A Perfect Day by Michael Akuchie

Today there is not a lot that the sun is saying—the thick layer of clouds keep back the sun’s venomous beam. The windows of sky are ajar. The wind is what leaps from the fine decor of heaven. I am camped by the slender frame of a tree, wind sways toward the shoot of leaves. I love a weather without the charge of heat.


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Michael Akuchie is a poet and essayist residing in Nigeria. Wreck, Michael’s debut chapbook of poems was selected by José Olivarez to receive the 2019-2020 Hellebore Poetry Scholarship Award. He is continually inspired by mundane things.

One Good Thing by Claire Taylor

One good thing is a pile of steamed crabs on butcher paper. Last night I dreamed I knew how to put out fires. My arms were sprinklers. We ran through the spray laughing. Nobody said the apocalypse is coming. Nobody said we’re running out of time. It was already over and we couldn’t remember how it ended so we ate popsicles and danced to Queen, our lips and tongues as red as a blaze. To eat a crab, you hold a knife to its shell and bash it with a mallet. You dig your fingers into every crevice, pull out the meat. Someone on Twitter says it’s the worst first date food. Someone on Twitter says you can make your own currency. So I pick the petals off all the flowers and pile them up like coins. I roll them into a ball and we kick it around the yard. When our son scores a goal he falls to his knees in mock celebration. I let it in on purpose. I let it all in: the shadows and the street lamps, the sound of the highway thundering like a waterfall at the edge of the world.


CTaylor_PhotoClaire Taylor is a writer in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of two microchapbooks: A History of Rats (Ghost City Press, 2021) and, As Long As We Got Each Other (ELJ Editions, Ltd., 2022), as well as a children’s literature collection, Little Thoughts. Claire is the founder and editor in chief of Little Thoughts Press, a quarterly print magazine of writing for and by kids. You can find Claire online at clairemtaylor.com or Twitter @ClaireM_Taylor.

Urban Geography by Wendy BooydeGraaff

Our small-town high school urban geography class rode the yellow bus on the QEW to
Toronto to observe the gridded mecca of skyrises and underground malls. There on Queen
Street near Church, a man—a jovial man with three shirts and two jackets, a Santa beard and
a warm palm—said I was beautiful, the mirror image of Princess Di, she with the perpetually
bowed head, pearls and memorable black dress, now part of a wardrobe curated by art
museums. I tossed my long kinky hair and blushed—me, with the tight light jeans and slouch
socks, a baby pink t-shirt tucked in exposing empty belt loops, and my red school jacket with a near-invisible gold chain around my neck. You! my friend said, the one with pixie blonde hair, and upturned nose, disgust dripping in her eyes. He just wanted your money. Of
course, I said, and dug in my purse to find another loonie.

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Wendy BooydeGraaff’s fiction, poems, and essays have been included in Nymphs, MORIA, Splonk, NOON, and elsewhere. Originally from Ontario, Canada, she now
lives in Michigan, United States.

Instructions for Telling the Truth by Maggie Wolff

Lie. Don’t tell the doctor you don’t sleep more than a few hours a night, go days without eating, a week without showering. If you tell her the truth, the words you don’t want to hear will split you open again like a backache kick from inside the body.

Wait. Wait it out as long as you can. Hold on to fibers until they shred and slip, emptying your palms.

Speak. Tell the truth. But don’t tell it all. Tell the doctor just enough that she will say what you don’t want to hear, we need to increase your dosage, but not enough truth that she ups the meds too drastically. She says this can be temporary and we will see how you feel on the increased dosage. You tell her, I still want to feel, but you know even that is a lie somedays.

Take. Take the new pill added to the old pill to achieve the right dosage. You tell yourself, this doesn’t have to be hard, because the body knows how to swallow. Don’t beat yourself up for upped meds. The brain isn’t as well trained as the throat. You know this already. You know this by now.

Wait. It will take weeks for you to possibly feel better again. Wait and let it pass over you. Wait and sleep through it as the increase zombifies, nullifies, quiets the too loud parts of you and performs a brain drain. Wait and do what the body wants: sleep or stay awake all night, eat water for dinner or chewable food, wander from room to room like a ghost without the baggage or stay in bed ankle chained to the empty inside you. Wait and see, the doctor says. Wait.


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Maggie Wolff is a queer writer. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Lascaux Review, Saw Palm, and Qu Literary Magazine. She is working on her first poetry collection, which follows three generations of women as they navigate depression, addiction, and suicide. She is a poetry candidate in the MFA creative writing program at the University of Central Florida.

Hollows by Monique Quintana

California reads like an old school map with monsters on the periphery. Teeth turn to tiny white crosses as grave markers, spitting out holy water from basins lodged in a wall of adobe and stone. Those monsters are my cousins a thousand times removed, telling burnished hands to work, searing their heads out of the soil to bark orders, moist soil, dry soil, beach sand as dark as my sister’s hair. My sister sleeps in her bed again, and her hair is growing. I send her apps with whale sounds to drown our mother’s scolding, even though it’s good for us. I’ve heckled mornings running and swallowing the bugs and the dry heat of my town. My rental was built in 1927 and the closet only has room for two party dresses. Down the road, fruit grows, plucking my father’s fingers as a boy. The mist burrows in the scales of fish swam from Michoacán, making them whistle tales about fake clouds and giants sleeping under grass to make mountains to protect us from fault lines. My sister sleeps in her bed again, and her hair is growing.


Quintana_Headshot_SP21Monique Quintana is a Xicana from Fresno, CA, and the author of the novella Cenote City (Clash Books, 2019). Her work has appeared in Pank, Wildness, The Acentos Review, and Winter Tangerine, among other publications. She has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart Prize, and has been awarded artist residencies to Yaddo, The Mineral School, and Sundress Academy of the Arts. She has received support from the Community of Writers, the Open Mouth Poetry Retreat, and she was the inaugural winner of Amplify’s Megaphone Fellowship for a Writer of Color. You can find her @quintanagothic and moniquequintana.com.

Beer Breath and Hauntings by Ashley Logan

My dad has called again, and this time there is a voicemail. This time, he says I haven’t heard from you in a while and I love you. He says, I want to know whether you’re okay, but it has been over a year and I am not sure that I am. The last communication between he and one of us was when he drunkenly told my sister that she was dead to him, so if that is the case, why does he think it is okay, now, to call me as though I am not her ally, as though it has ever not been the two of us against everyone else? As though the fight between them didn’t start when he said I was a disappointment. As though I have not heard all the things he has called me and accused me of. If that is the kind of love he has to offer, and I know full well by now that every kernel of love comes with a rope, then I do not want it. It is not safe here where there is no accountability,
and it has taken me thirty-three years to validate my pain. And yet, he also instilled guilt within me, so every time I hear his slurred voice, I am made a child again, haunted by ghosts of what could have been. Haunted, you see, first by his words and then by his absence. Haunted by everything I had yet to lose. So when he says I love you, he means, I need to hurt you. When he says, I want to know whether you are okay, he means, how dare you live outside of my reach? And I have dared to live, long ago deciding that I want to survive his love, not die from it. I will be his ghost. I will be his haunt, a forever reminder that his blurry breath no longer determines my fear.


xqN64w_T_400x400Ashley Logan (she/her) resides in Columbia, South Carolina, with her dog Barkley. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of South Carolina in 2010, and her work has previously appeared in Indie Chick, Variant Lit, Emerge Literary Journal, Common Ground Review, and elsewhere. Ashley has written two poetry collections: Wild Becomes You and Silence Is A Ballad. She can be found on Twitter @loganashes, Instagram @logan.ashes. Website: https://linktr.ee/loganashes.

This Splenda Packet Advises Me, “BE THE ENERGY YOU WANT TO ATTRACT” by Carolyn Oliver

Lately I have been the energy of the kitefin shark, enormous-eyed, fatty-livered slow cruiser of the mesopelagic depths, hunting the sweet edge of daylight and everdark, belly glowing secret blue. Given this bit of encouragement, though, I’m considering attracting a new kind of energy: the energy of a petrified tree sixty feet tall and twenty million years old, the one paleobotanists just uncovered and lovingly extricated from highway dirt on Lesbos. Yes, I am now the energy of this tree that fell, whole, all its tree organs still attached, this tree making the best of a volcanic eruption. I am the energy of slow hardening, of lying in wait for the right eyes. That Miocene kind of patience.


Carolyn_Oliver_color_photo_by_Benjamin_OliverCarolyn Oliver’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Tin House Online, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, 32 Poems, SmokeLong Quarterly, Terrain.org, The South Carolina Review, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net in both fiction and poetry, Carolyn is the winner of the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review, where she now serves as co-editor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family. Learn more about her work at carolynoliver.net.

Gold by Michele Popadich

zhito / I never knew what it was made of / this wheat berries dish / boiled / ground down & mixed with nuts / sugar & packed into a crystal bowl / for special occasions like  holy days & in mourning on the morning of Nana’s funeral / Baba hands me a box of raisins / gold & dark ones stacked together to draw on top of the zhito / a cross & I feel as if the task is too holy for me / this placing of pieces in place of piecing us back together / “Ona je otišla” / She is gone / Baba tells me / the orchestrator of grief / with her hands on the neckline of my black dress / I  pinch it an inch higher / in church light pours in like fire / stained glass stamps a kaleidoscope of color / I am having a very hard time putting a hand on Nana’s hand but Baba collapses into her casket / she calls out to her / with a name too holy to write on this page & I cannot look away from this wholesome embrace / Baba a slanted black silhouette / bun flattened at the base of her head & I feel bad that it was so hard for me to put a hand on her hand & that the only coat I had was purple & not black but I never knew what grief was made of / in English — she is gone is state of being / a happening to you / in Serbian — “ona je otišla” is agent she went / left / departed / when I cross the sweet zhito with raisins / the pieces are coming together / Baba tells me to pluck away the dark ones for her departure / only the gold ones for / Nana


PotraitMichele Popadich is an MFA student in creative nonfiction at Northwestern University. Her essays have appeared in Hippocampus Magazine, Talking Writing, and Driftless. Her poems have appeared in Heavy Feather Review and LOCUS. You can also hear her tell stories in various live lit venues around Chicago. Follow Michele on Twitter @miche1ewith1L and check out her past work on michele with one l (www.miche1e.com).

The Editorial Says College Girls Should Just Stop Getting Drunk by Emily Banks

And when I peed on the floor at Pi Lam, I assured my friends it was fine because it was the study
room and no one goes in there. That’s what Sam said. He’d gone to find a condom and I’d already
undressed. At least I was being responsible—with the condom, I mean. I thought Sam looked like Rahm Emmanuel, who was Obama’s Chief of Staff then and made headlines for accosting Eric Massa naked in the congressional gym’s locker room to pass the universal health care bill. In a New York Times profile, he bragged his office was bigger than Joe Biden’s.

I’d met Sam during my brief stint as a reporter for the campus newspaper. He was the campaign manager for a Student Body President candidate doomed to lose. The candidate was hot so I primarily watched him at the debate I was supposed to cover and said yes when he offered me a ride back to my dorm, though it was only a five minute walk. Then Sam was talking from the passenger seat, fast and direct, hyped up on political adrenaline. His mother was from Brooklyn like me and he sang “Brooklyn Girls” by Charles Hamilton to me and I asked for his number under the pretense of future journalistic inquiry. My ethics were questionable, certainly.

That night I was out with a boy I loved who had a French girlfriend and his friend who looked like a bird of prey when I texted Sam, calling him Rahm, to offer him the newspaper’s endorsement in exchange for a good time though in reality I had no say over the endorsement. On a couch in the Pi Lam basement he asked why I was wearing a sweatshirt to a party so I took it off, revealing a v-neck tee, and he slid closer to me. I peed on carpet so it soaked up quickly. I don’t remember what the sex felt like. Mostly I remember walking out into the night, leaving the house aglow with its red cups, its lingering odor of sweat and Everclear, behind me as I tripped dancingly down West Cameron, proud the way a dog might be after peeing on a grand old tree. Here’s what I want: for all girls to be free.


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Emily Banks is the author of Mother Water (Lynx House Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Heavy Feather Review, Bear Review, The Cortland Review, Superstition Review, and other journals. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Atlanta, where she is a doctoral candidate at Emory University.

the revivals we cleave, we endure by Vic Nogay

when she came to me at dawn / i was already spinning in the water up to my ankles with my long cotton cardigan pulling wet and winding up around my knees / body nude but glitter-sparking in the summer sun / there were mothers and sons and grandmas with their dogs and husbands walking by and looking without looking / and some even looked / like really looked / but i couldn’t be moved by any force but my own / my arms open wide while the world renamed me Beautiful because i was alive / and coming alive again.

when i came home near noon / light and heavy and sparkling new / i shed golden champagne skin of the morning around carelessly in the garden and on the sun-kissed heads of my children so they would grow roots and grow strong and grow real and irrefutable / i left some in our bed and painted it on my reflection in the mirror so i could see it when i didn’t believe / i sent some through the air vents and down drains so it would travel far and maybe come back to me too / someday / when i might need it.

when you woke at dusk some nights later / you thundered / unhinged the sky into your orbit / in the rain / you opened your mouth to let the water soothe the blackouts stuck to your teeth / cavities or carbon or the colossal crack of gunfire // you choked / forked a single speck of glitter from under your tongue / and spit it out at your feet.


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Vic Nogay writes to explore her traumas, misremembrances, and Ohio, where she is from. She is an animal cruelty investigator and a mother. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal, perhappened, Free Flash Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, and others. She tweets @vicnogay. Read more: linktr.ee/vicnogay.