This month we offer frost’s kiss, an empty shudder, golden threads of love.
Next month we work with:
Submission guidelines can be found here.
I can pilot my own heart
In Conversation with Alok Vaid-Menon
ALOK VAID-MENON (they/them/theirs) is an internationally acclaimed writer, performer, and public speaker. As a mixed-media artist their work explores themes of trauma, belonging, and the human condition. They are the author of Femme in Public (2017), Beyond the Gender Binary (2020), and Your Wound/My Garden (2021). They are the creator of #DeGenderFashion: a movement to degender fashion and beauty industries and have been honored as one of HuffPo’s Culture Shifters, NBC’s Pride 50, and Business Insider’s Doers. Over the past decade they have presented at more than 600 venues in 40 countries.
An empty shudder clutters the house
we live in and our pleasure and sequential
reasons. Unless the stars switch out,
we are here to gather the feathers
the black cat left by the door.
Old trumpet vines weight
in full cups of fire. Nearby, hollyhocks
that went horizontal when the rabbits ate
the new things. The day has become
a backtrack. Everything
in the brung sun
but him. Never let me lose another
heartbeat. Coyotes drone
and inexplicable raptors billow
their wings. Distance stretches
to intervals we study
as furrows. By dusk, I cannot petition
the details. Only another bough without him.
Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press). Honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award and New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. www.laurencamp.com
Aubade Between Seasons
Suddenly the hummingbirds battling
over a scarlet blossom disappear,
replaced by goldfinch swaying
on bent necks of sunflowers.
Ravished seed heads spear through
mist, dawn drags its feet, sun
retreats to its far corner, scent
of earth and rot, green tomatoes
that lost their bid to ripen. One
last morning glory opens, one
bloody leaf splays the fading lawn.
Raucous jays set off alarms, wind
chimes in counterpoint. Orange
and yellow marigold jewels, still
unfrozen, will drape ofrendas
on Dia de Muertos. Skin, hair,
lips and teeth of long-gone lovers
call out, desire, a low flame
simmers before first frost’s kiss.
Gail Thomas’ books are Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have been published in more than 50 journals and anthologies including CALYX, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, Cumberland River Review, and Mom Egg Review. Among her awards are the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press for Odd Mercy selected by Ellen Bass, the Narrative Poetry Prize from Naugatuck River Review, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s “Must Read” for Waving Back. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross, and several poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Thomas teaches poetry for the Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshops, speaks at conferences and poetry festivals, and reads her work widely in community and academic settings.
Whispers Of A Broken Boy
by the broken teeth of the day,
a boy breaks into words like shrapnels
from his body’s husk. And we try to
tie our feelings into a notes of a violin,
a strum, a bare-footed rhythm that absences
the gods from this poem, but the strings broke,
broke into pieces we gather to name our-
selves after. And at any chance we get
to write history off our heads, like
an onion writes off dryness out our eye
glands —& replace them with filthy things
you call tears. Say, there are ways to
commit suicide without your heart being
the one asleep —ask me how, later
for I shall not tell that it’s by knitting
yourself into golden threads of love
—tender love, glaring beats for heart.
& like that, you become the child that
survives with stale crust of thingy bread
for lips, & your hand is a pathway that
stretches you into loneliness. Say?
or you might become the lifeless
thing cropped into a plank as lady
crops a guy with bumpy boils off the portrait.
today, I lose myself to the zephyr that blows
east. & when I return, words-filled, word-
less, confused tongue, deafened ears, &
dry lips. The dew does not sail here
to wet my defect off my skin. But humans
are sand, & every time I try to pour water
over these hills, only a thing happen—
I wash soil, & soil & soil,
till all that empties off me is the little
crevice joy has as a home. & what shall fill
it apart from more sand, formless element,
foggy clouds & a stream that wets itself.
Sunday T. Saheed is a 17yr-old Nigerian writer and a Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation member. He was the 1st runner-up for the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors, 2021. His works have appeared or are forthcoming on Rough Cut Press, Arts Lounge, Rigorous mag, Kissing Dynamite, Beatnik Cowboy, Trouvaille Review, Augment Review, Spirited Muse Press, Gyroscope, Giallo Lit, Open Skies Quarterly, Kalahari, Cajun Mutt, Open Leaf Press Review, Re Side, de Curated and others. He was a finalist for the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, 2018.