the truth?

Kaie Kellough

copyright ©2019 by Kaie Kellough

the truth?
is the white cursive issued from a brick chimney
is a skeleton in brown gabardine
wandering the underground city, an accent
adrift in its second language
over a b-side version of empire
i speak french. i am a sovereign state drifter
winter hinterlander with a mortgage
and expired aeroplan points, a vacation blazing
on the credit line
unnecessary to my history, my culture extracurricular
creole vernacular stutterer, i ride the metro
underground with my fur
collar tickling my chatter, metro shuttle station to station,
but i don’t matter, carapace of white earbuds contains my rude –
redemption, i go to work in the heart of a conquered
devotion, a thin mist descends over me
a blown surrender,
snow falls through me. it is always snowing inside me.
my hand is a blue fleur-de-lys torched by autumn
my sap is slow, it hardens glistening in its circuit,
the sharpness of pine and spruce tingles
on the yellow edge of my breath
i find refuge from winter in the hudson’s bay
boxing day sale. born in a corporation, i can’t pretend,
i was not born on the equator,
i died in the upholstered ease of a sedan, and here is my after, city blistered
gray by salt and winter, work in a tower, a payment plan carrying anonymous
class aspirations, and this
is my squalor, an abstract longing to cruise the foothills in a lincoln continental
hearse, bleached teeth chattering nonsense as the zero of winter ascends

She is à la Mode

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

copyright ©2019 by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

A sheet cake soaked in milk & left suspended. She had no decorations, so she placed a sugar bowl on top. She placed her man at the head of the cake & told him to close his eyes & relax: Lean back, mi rey, you deserve comfort at the head of my cake. She wanted to capture the cake before it was consumed, so she called her brother-in-law & asked him to stand behind the cake for good balance. She jumped on top of the cake, folded her legs like Minnie Mouse & told everyone to be cool, this cake was going to be in a movie. She was going to call it À la Mode & this was to be the opening scene. But there’s no ice cream, her man said. No, my body is the ice cream, she said & pursed her lips for the camera until her mouth became a dark wound. Her man, who adored her again for a minute, said: You’re so dumb, clean up this kitchen already, da asco. She waited for the hot water to run & poured a cap full of bleach in the sink. She cried: All my movies are no movies. All my movies are not mine.

poem for your pocket

Doyali Islam

copyright ©2019 by Doyali Islam

what my pockets have kept over seasons:

coffee change. house keys. ttc tokens.

emptiness and silence and my ungloved

reticent hands. poems. thoughts of miklós

radnóti – he who hid in his pocket

a thin notebook on his forced march toward

death in some unallied forest.

beyond reason to one mass grave, one mass
silence. still, one silence his overcoat

pocket would not keep: eighteen months
passed before his wife unpacked that pocket

of earth – rifled through corpses, clothing – found
what remained. it was love. love rifled through

miklós’s silences – love gave his damp
last pages back to sunlight’s keep. oh yes

yes, it was love announcing in him, i
will find my way to you, i will come back.

When You Were First Visible

Sharon Olds

copyright ©2019 by Sharon Olds

When you were first visible to me,
you were upside down, not sound asleep but
before sleep, blue-gray,
tethered to the other world
which followed you out from inside me. Then you
opened your silent mouth, and the first
sound, a crackling of oxygen snapping
threads of mucus, broke the quiet,
and with that gasp you pulled your first
in, to your lungs which had been
waiting entirely compressed, the lining
touching itself all over, all inner – now each
lung became a working hollow, blown
partway full, then wholly full, the
birth day of your delicate bellows.
And then – first your face, small tragic
mask, then your slender body, flushed
a just-before-sunrise rose, and your folded,
crowded, apricot arms and legs
spring out,
in slow blossom.
And they washed you – her, you, her –
leaving the spring cheese vernix, and they wrapped her in a
clean, not new, blanket, a child of
New York City,
and the next morning, the milk came in,
it drove the fire yarn of its food through
passageways which had passed nothing
before, now lax, slack, gushing
when she sucked, or mewled. In a month’s time,
she was plump with butterfat, her wrists
invisible down somewhere inside
the richness of her flesh. My life as I had known it
had ended, my life was hers, now,
and I did not yet know her. And that was my new
life, to learn her, as much as I could,
each day, and slowly I have come to know her,
and thus myself, and all of us, and I will
not be done with my learning when I return to where she
       came from.

Find a place

Find a place you feel comfortable and do it.
Purse your lips together     teeth parted     tongue
holding the weight of the roof
of your mouth. Inhale


Find a place you feel comfortable with ghosts.


Rumor has it you might wake spirits
this way     this talking
how the dead talk     not in word

                                                         but sound.


Chantal Gibson

wide mouth masons, shard glass, steamed
cabbage, boiling water n beets, some days
her countertops wept and the white tile floor
was a blistering purple sea

let us remember the curved lines bracketing her
parenthetical smile

sometimes she missed the 401 exit to _____ Street
and followed the broken line to Guysborough bi-
secting her fists, not long before the beetles came
and the old pines laid down their weary branches

she surrendered to Science: a needle-punctured
landscape, pretending Prince George had a coast-
line, she traded the shit stank of pulp for the scent
of Atlantic sea salt

she was a card reader, a fortune teller, a knocked-
over stop sign that said, No one promised you a life
without corners

she taught her daughter how to make a fist, to un-
tuck the thumb, expose it just enough to take the
impact of a punch without breaking

she giggled when he called it croshit, after she took
to crocheting afghans and doilies, nothing prepared
him for a widower’s life of small cups of soup & half

she leaves behind a question mark, a flickering
light, and a northern village of bones, a peaceful scene
staged on a lake in the quiet corner of morning, as if

she has every intention
of coming back