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Angie Vorhies

after Carol Ann Duffy’s “Prayer”   Dear Audubon Society: I would like to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count, your annual citizen-science project that tracks the migra- tion and population of native species. I have a few questions: Why only in February? Do dead birds count? What about caged birds? Should I look beyond […]

L. Lamar Wilson

I smile at a cop for the first time in years—her skin Of caramel & whey, kissed the way French kiss to say Bonjour, not Je te veux, by a pale woman who, like her, Dons wolves’ flesh, the darkest blue, which should quicken My gait, exacerbate the arrhythmia that’s my birthright. I want you, […]

Syreeta McFadden

The songs of birds are call and response. Woodpecker rhythmically answers a hummingbird’s song. Kindness is dropping a leaf onto an earthworm’s back to shield it from sunlight. Quiet is as loud as a bird’s call. Adrienne Rich was haunted by a line in an Elizabeth Bishop poem: “Love should be put into action!” Tonight […]

Ama Codjoe

I know tongues of fire as tall as men, autumn sap, red panties, a stack of sparklers lit, riotous laughter, a field of poppies, circus acts. I know mistakes: how fire tastes. I keep a scarlet dress for when day skirts the hill with its hem and ladybugs cover the bedroom ceiling. Tomatoes split like […]

Sara Ryan

here. at the dumb stroke of midnight. in the glass dome of roses. the woods at the end of the lake. I was taught where to wait patiently. to fold my hands on my lap like two sorry doves. to tie my shoes in knots too tight to unravel. it’s incredible how the oceans meet […]

Beth Bachmann

don’t call me goddess peace is armed like any man if the ocean is burning oil close your eyes when you come up to breathe lungs float the heart does not the ship is under quarantine often in life there are two choices die or come clean the people do not want an ocean they […]

Beth Bachmann

I laid down at your door a white bowl of milkweed houndstongue lupins cape tulips & juniper a garland big enough to kill a thirsty horse I like my peace like flower or fire wild you can bring a horse to water you can force it to swim but you can’t trust what comes after […]

Sasha LaPointe

–an excerpt from her memoir, Little Boats Six years after my name was gifted to me, my parents moved us to the Swinomish Reservation. There was tribal land in the family and my parents saw an opportunity for an easier life. I saw a dark forest and a lack of ocean. I thought I’d be […]

Carl Phillips

The long fever of summer looks like broken at last, there’s a coolness that the hours, more and more, leave behind them as they tumbleweed their way to wherever it is finished hours go to. Here, finished isn’t the same as lost, at all, is this true where you are? When I lie down in […]

Sayantani Dasgupta

1. My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. If we remember the date, we might splurge on chocolates or a nice meal at a restaurant (usually, breakfast or lunch because dinner reservations for that night must be made five months in advance, which neither of us remembers to do, plus it costs as […]

Stephanie Rogers

Heather—his youngest daughter, my sister, his baby, the one who always gave in when he needed money for rent or drugs—left me with her three girls outside McDonald’s, while she drove Dad for a carton of cigs and a Playboy. The girls forced me to play freeze tag. I picked at my fingernails, ripping off […]

Lydia Conklin

Sabrina took a shortcut to the party through the field between the Manor House and the Gehry building. The field was supposed to have ticks but no one at Bard cared. People were scoring crack on trips to Brooklyn, sporting fluorescent sores at parties. If you whined about ticks, people would call you a pussy […]

Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti

There is a crush of Storm Troopers, Men of Steel, and Optimus Primes milling around the cavernous confines of the Javits Center. Surrounded by freaks and geeks, Astrid Atangana wonders how she and her friends—the self-styled Nyanga Girlz—come across to the Comic Con crowd. Mbola, rocking grills and street gear, calling herself “Fly Girl: Superman’s […]

Caroll Sun Yang

There’s a Korean word, Han. I looked it up. There is no literal English translation; it’s a state of mind; of soul, really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet still, there’s hope. — Josiah Bartlet, “The West Wing”     Profile: DOB 1974/USA/Female/Korean Developed Disorders: Generalized Anxiety, Bipolar, Panic, […]

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

My spine is strung together by a string of shattered stars. Neck wrung, I’m a dead swan floating in a moat—an amusement park ride, the fairgrounds abandoned. A stork stands in her nest atop the Ferris wheel, the emerald cascade of kudzu like a shawl for the steel skeleton, I stood at the stove in […]

José Angel Araguz

I must run: walking won’t get me there. Miles must take the place of arms; distance, embrace. I must run, until I become air. * Conditioning is a whisper on the eyelash of an eye that doesn’t blink, afraid of missing seconds pass. * Conditioning is the day spent hinting: a bee working his wings […]

Tyler Friend

Weird Trans Kid’s bladder is the size of a squirrel— not a squirrel’s bladder, but an actual squirrel, a chubby gray one. Weird Trans Kid doesn’t know which restroom to use. Is tired of all mainstream trans politics revolving around restrooms. Thinks restrooms are improperly named. Wants to rename them anxietyrooms. Wants to rename them […]

Lara Ehrlich

My father sits at the kitchen table with his shoulders hunched, staring at a feather cupped in his rough carpenter’s hands. Its barbs are clean and white. The table is bare except for the wooden box still encrusted with dirt. It has no latch, no key. My mother had to bash it open. The kitchen […]

R. Cassandra Bruner

A man doused in roebuck piss says I saw it as I skinned its thighs & laughs. Your death always a joke, the shock of womb, a punchline. Darting through the underbrush, even your hooves resounded like cackling children. This velvet crown was not always a betrayal— In rutting season, the tongues of stags & […]

Shelly Oria

One thing about fear is that it’s stronger than the average human body. Another thing about fear is that it spreads quickly in large crowds. The Director wants his viewers to keep these facts in mind when watching his film. He realizes, of course, that this isn’t about what he wants; he was commissioned to […]

Anna Dunn

In this garden a draft of summer plays across the prayer flags. A handful of slugs marched into the Worcestershire sauce and drowned themselves last night. The red dog is tired and smells like dirt and air. In this graveyard you ask her again to tell you how the moon moves. In another you are […]

Amy Rose Capetta

One day Megi asked me how the third faerie war started, and I worried that if I gave the wrong answer, she would devour me. A lot of our friendship was like that. We were sitting on a picnic table near the park, our butts on the tabletop, our feet on the bench. Everywhere my […]

Alexander Weinstein

Teczotchicin Vine The vine’s voraciousness dwarfs even the kudzu of the Southern United States, whose growth of one foot per day is a snail’s pace compared to the Teczotchicin’s rate of up to twenty-five meters. It’s one of the rare plants one can watch growing beneath one’s feet, birthing folktales of murderous qualities. Indeed, the […]

Tom Sleigh

1 Everything that’s happening isn’t me doing it, it’s what the cold’s doing, the music’s doing, it’s what gravity’s doing to the guy and if I can’t imagine what it’s like how much less can someone outside the whole situation see it straight on when what somebody else is doing might be worse than what […]

Destiny O. Birdsong

“And the difference was all the difference there was.” ~ Toni Morrison I’m hard pressed to say America without sounding like a terrorist. I’m a guest here. I arrived with a few syllables lashed to my back. One of them is bitch. I wear it like a white dress made for your funeral. Here lies. […]

Hallie Goodman

The Crazy Lady groaned up against the bad side of I-35. It wasn’t much from the outside—a squatty, stucco lump of a strip club, perched perilously close to the interstate edge, its façade ground smooth by relentless traffic grit. This was where Austin girls went when they’d been fired from the clubs with valet parking […]

Myronn Hardy

Green awnings have rusted. Time unstill     you are unstill walking on a street stilled.   Your mind holds the no longer market. You want to show me the market. You have crawled prison floors.   Your son has done the same. You are the same     the ceaselessness. Your mother served green […]

Robin MacArthur

“You want to jump in the creek?” my mother asks. It’s a Tuesday night in late July and we’re on the porch drinking Myers’s rum doused with lemonade. She’s wearing cut-off cargo pants and a Grateful Dead T-shirt full of holes; her cracked toenails are the chartreuse of limes.

Julie Marie Wade

As a child in confirmation class, I am instructed in the holy math. “Seven is the number of completion,” our pastor says. “It took seven days for God to make the world, so seven days became the length of our earthly week.” He speaks to us as a single mass, the cloud and not the snowflakes, separate and unique.

Rav Grewal-Kök

Rodrigo took Rosa’s clothes out of his closet and laid them on the bed beside her toothbrush, face cream, and paperbacks. He called to say she could come for her things while he was at work. It was almost nine. He was shaved, scented, and ready to leave. “Trust me,” he said, “there’s nothing I […]

Lily Hoang

Recently, men have asked me to be their slut. And during the sex act, they say, almost universally, “You’re just a slut, aren’t you?” The mere idea of my promiscuity stiffens them. To them, it is hot and sexy.

Matthew Dickman

Anton is marching with his new friends, their shaved heads like tongues of fire floating along 82nd Avenue, the cars at night honking at them like they were vets just home from the war. He is marching with an old lie in his mouth, a lie like a rotten acorn, the acid taste of it […]

Patricia Smith

Mammy Two Shoes, a fictional character in MGM’s Tom and Jerry cartoons, was a corpulent, achingly stereotypical black woman, seen only from the knees down. I am double negative charm, carrying the syrupy burden of your love in my yawning breaches of body. When I laugh, the sound is a knotted oil on each breath […]

Major Jackson

We enter without tears and huddle in the sidehills. The children’s cries are like spears in our chests, so we trade our silence for hammers. In our sleep, behemoths descend upon us which we cannot shake even when first light flames over the eastern crests. We eat flesh of the great furred beasts and wolf […]

Brenda Peynado

Once, my dad tried to give me the jacket the Army awarded him for serving in Korea. It looked like a varsity jacket, soft blue felt, pale arms. On the back it said, I know I’m going to heaven because I’ve been to hell. I was fifteen, and I thought a lot of my dad, […]

Howard Frank Mosher

“The Knights need a teetotaler driver tomorrow, Jimbo,” Harlan Kittredge said. “Be you a teetotaler?” It was the evening of June 20. Tomorrow the White Knights of Temperance, formerly the Kingdom County Outlaws, were headed to Boston to catch the twin bill between the Sox and the Yankees. They’d gotten together tonight at the Common […]

Alexa Hudson

Mama put a hand to her wide hip, plucked the cigarette from her mouth, and took a long look at Cliff. Pulled her eyeglasses halfway down her nose and said, “No you didn’t.” “Mama, be nice,” I said. It had taken five years and three days for me to build the courage to bring him […]

Brian Evenson

On their first date, a so-called blind one, Megan took Gregory by the hand and he let her. She led him into a space afflicted with mood lighting and for a moment he though it must be a bar, a remarkably empty one, but no, it was not a bar but an art gallery.

Rosebud Ben-Oni

After a funeral, something wrestles from the wind, Flutters haphazardly close to your aching chest. Most likely it will fall to the cracked sidewalk. Stop walking. Consider it. You won’t understand What you are looking at, this sort of green would-be Katydid with dragonfly wings and limbs like a praying Mantis. It’s incapable of anything […]

His outsider art graces the album cover of Little Creatures
by the Talking Heads, and a vision of his dead
sister climbing down from Heaven

Katherine Hollander

These creatures with breathing blue
necks. Arch and bristle. Forelock and star.

Noelle Catharine Allen

I had killed the engine, filed my nails, organized my wallet, and done a sketch of my left hand.

Sara Schaff

Our house was too big. It dwarfed me and my mother, who cried every year when we received the first winter heating bill.

April Kelly

Considering the number of dog owners in America, it is safe to speculate that on any given day a small percentage of the population wakes to find an unpleasant mess on the floor, as did Dylan Carter one Thursday in March. The difference between him and the others who made such a discovery that morning is Dylan did not own a dog.

Gregory Orr

We came to visit, though You’d died that spring; Came to see, one more time, Your famous, dense garden In all its summer glory. Came to sit under the cedar That shadows the path And read your poems aloud And recall all the times We’d heard you intone them— Pale figure in a Greek Fisherman’s […]