This month we offer infinitesimal beings, pollen, creases, cracked clothes.

In June we stay with:

     dust

Submission guidelines can be found here.

love,
 amanda lezra 
Editor-in-Chief

Toward the Infinitesimal

In Conversation with Kai Coggin, Part 2

Kai Coggin is the author of MINING FOR STARDUST (FlowerSong Press 2021), INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press 2019), WINGSPAN (Golden Dragonfly Press 2016), and PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants Publications 2014), as well as a spoken word album SILHOUETTE (2017). She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black Lives Matter, a teaching artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, and the host of the longest-running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. Recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Arts Award and named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, her fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated four times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016, 2018, 2021– awarded in 2022. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Cultural Weekly, SOLSTICE, Bellevue Literary Review, Entropy, SWWIM, Split This Rock, Sinister Wisdom, Lavender Review, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Tupelo Press, West Trestle Review, and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Her most recent collection, MINING FOR STARDUST, is available here.

Website | Instagram @skailight | Facebook @kaicoggin

Read Our Full Interview with Kai Coggin

⌘ Only the Infinitesimal

It seems I can’t get my head
out of the magnified
graces of infinitesimal beings
swirling all around me
in this season of burning,
this season of heatwaves, wildfires,
and cataclysmic destructions,
this apotheosis of climate warnings
and global temperatures steadily warming,
polar icecaps and glaciers melting into memory,
into oceans and flooding, China had a year’s worth
of rain in a matter of hours, and I can’t get my face
out of the flowers, can’t stop watching
the honeybee
bouncing from the bright petals of the giant zinnias,
coral, violet, red, back to coral,
the velcro of her body
pollinating all the colors, playing bee footsie
with the tiny yellow star stigmas open and waiting,
on her hind legs golden saddlebags
stuffed swollen with nectar-sticky pollen,
a honeybee can hold a million grains of pollen
in each of those saddlebags,
and she is just here, in our garden,
doing her undaunted bidding with the planet,
here with her other honey and bumble friends,
spreading gametes to ovules, propagating flower
sex and hope for some semblance of tomorrow,
she works, dances, dives face first into colors,
as do the tiny tongues of hummingbirds,
the minute feet of beetles,
and the iridescent wings of butterflies,
all pollinators, so that later, there may still be
life.

I watched a milkweed pod crack open in the summer heat
and reveal dozens of sleeping seeds inside
all lined up like soldiers about to jump from a plane,
the war against humans perhaps, the battle of time,
so glorious is their perfect milkweed seed design,
as they loosened in the wind, I saw each brown wonder
was equipped with its own ethereal feathery white parachute,
ready to rise into a drift of air and land in some willing soil
to bury and grow and sprout and feed again
some Monarch, some unappreciated royalty—

these things are happening
while the world is burning, friends,
and maybe if I name them,
if I lend them my pointed attention,
and signal in keys my undivided gratitude,
that vibration will pound its own subtle harmonies
into all of the breaking around us,
if we are, in fact, all connected as matter evolving
to Spirit, perhaps if I genuflect my poems
to the holiness of only the infinitesimal,
something will bloom that is infinite,
perhaps if I just focus
the whole of my cosmic heart
on these small mundane miracles,
I am helping somehow to build a new world,
heavy with my golden saddlebags
and ethereal feathery parachute
pollinating the thoughts
that energy can
follow
into manifestation.

Kai Coggin is featured in this month’s artists TALK (bio and links above).

Pollen

Pollen is magical realism.
Micro, floating, too-low clouds
reach for the ground like feathers
once flying and land. One on your shoulder.

Or is it apocalypse— that everything is shedding.
Trees reveal their half-life leaves and us
on the other side born out of dust.

Somewhere left of middle.

Jess L Parker is a poet and strategist originally from Upper Michigan. Jess lives in Fitchburg, WI with her husband, 18-month-old son, and Pitbull, “Poe”. Her debut poetry collection, Star Things, is the winner of the 2020 Dynamo Verlag Book Prize. Jess’ poems have appeared in Bramble, Kosmos Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, and elsewhere. Jess holds a B.A. of English and Spanish from Northern Michigan University, an M.A. in Spanish Literature from UW-Madison, and an MBA.

Dust within your creases

I learn over
let my fingers
glide over your side of the bed.

The creases you left are still there.
Like you’ve just awoken to go to the bathroom,
you’ll be back soon.

There’s a slight warmth
still trapped within
the wrinkles of the sheets.

I can still smell the notes of apple
shampoo on your pillow.

Your half-eaten tub of vanilla ice-cream
-alongside my almost empty tub
of chocolate ice-cream.

There is still some lasagne left in an
obscure corner of the fridge.

I heat it up.

I can still taste your fingers
-your skilled, elegant fingers
entangled in every layer.

The imprint of your coffee cup
-on the side-table.
Your laughing face;

foggy glasses lost
amidst the coffee steam.

The same mug
– the same brand of coffee-
-the same amount of milk-
no sugar though.

I brush my teeth in the bathroom basin.

My green toothbrush
leans
against your blue one.

I use yours instead.

I taste your musty, sweet
breath
-the bristles glide
over the teeth in an empty
hole
– barren wound-
that I call my
mouth.

Your name tumbles around
– hitting against the harsh walls-
until I spit it out

– spit you out-
along with the toothpaste.

I get into bed again.

Lean over.
Let my fingers glide
over your side of the bed.

I lean over and
let my fingers glide over
your side of the bed.

Again.

Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures, but mostly to avoid working on her master’s degree. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her writing has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Brittle PaperDaily Drunk MagazineDoor is a jar, and Epoch Press amongst others. She is the Pushcart nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021) She rambles at Twitter: @ShikshaWrites. You can find (or ignore her) at https://shikshadheda.wixsite.com/writing.

This month we offer infinitesimal beings, pollen, creases, cracked clothes.

In June we stay with:

     dust

Submission guidelines can be found here.

love,
 amanda lezra 
Editor-in-Chief

Toward the Infinitesimal

In Conversation with Kai Coggin, Part 2

Kai Coggin is the author of MINING FOR STARDUST (FlowerSong Press 2021), INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press 2019), WINGSPAN (Golden Dragonfly Press 2016), and PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants Publications 2014), as well as a spoken word album SILHOUETTE (2017). She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black Lives Matter, a teaching artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, and the host of the longest-running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. Recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Arts Award and named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, her fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated four times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016, 2018, 2021– awarded in 2022. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Cultural Weekly, SOLSTICE, Bellevue Literary Review, Entropy, SWWIM, Split This Rock, Sinister Wisdom, Lavender Review, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Tupelo Press, West Trestle Review, and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Her most recent collection, MINING FOR STARDUST, is available here.

Website | Instagram @skailight | Facebook @kaicoggin

Read Our Full Interview with Kai Coggin

⌘ Only the Infinitesimal

It seems I can’t get my head
out of the magnified
graces of infinitesimal beings
swirling all around me
in this season of burning,
this season of heatwaves, wildfires,
and cataclysmic destructions,
this apotheosis of climate warnings
and global temperatures steadily warming,
polar icecaps and glaciers melting into memory,
into oceans and flooding, China had a year’s worth
of rain in a matter of hours, and I can’t get my face
out of the flowers, can’t stop watching
the honeybee
bouncing from the bright petals of the giant zinnias,
coral, violet, red, back to coral,
the velcro of her body
pollinating all the colors, playing bee footsie
with the tiny yellow star stigmas open and waiting,
on her hind legs golden saddlebags
stuffed swollen with nectar-sticky pollen,
a honeybee can hold a million grains of pollen
in each of those saddlebags,
and she is just here, in our garden,
doing her undaunted bidding with the planet,
here with her other honey and bumble friends,
spreading gametes to ovules, propagating flower
sex and hope for some semblance of tomorrow,
she works, dances, dives face first into colors,
as do the tiny tongues of hummingbirds,
the minute feet of beetles,
and the iridescent wings of butterflies,
all pollinators, so that later, there may still be
life.

I watched a milkweed pod crack open in the summer heat
and reveal dozens of sleeping seeds inside
all lined up like soldiers about to jump from a plane,
the war against humans perhaps, the battle of time,
so glorious is their perfect milkweed seed design,
as they loosened in the wind, I saw each brown wonder
was equipped with its own ethereal feathery white parachute,
ready to rise into a drift of air and land in some willing soil
to bury and grow and sprout and feed again
some Monarch, some unappreciated royalty—

these things are happening
while the world is burning, friends,
and maybe if I name them,
if I lend them my pointed attention,
and signal in keys my undivided gratitude,
that vibration will pound its own subtle harmonies
into all of the breaking around us,
if we are, in fact, all connected as matter evolving
to Spirit, perhaps if I genuflect my poems
to the holiness of only the infinitesimal,
something will bloom that is infinite,
perhaps if I just focus
the whole of my cosmic heart
on these small mundane miracles,
I am helping somehow to build a new world,
heavy with my golden saddlebags
and ethereal feathery parachute
pollinating the thoughts
that energy can
follow
into manifestation.

Kai Coggin is featured in this month’s artists TALK (bio and links above).

Pollen

Pollen is magical realism.
Micro, floating, too-low clouds
reach for the ground like feathers
once flying and land. One on your shoulder.

Or is it apocalypse— that everything is shedding.
Trees reveal their half-life leaves and us
on the other side born out of dust.

Somewhere left of middle.

Jess L Parker is a poet and strategist originally from Upper Michigan. Jess lives in Fitchburg, WI with her husband, 18-month-old son, and Pitbull, “Poe”. Her debut poetry collection, Star Things, is the winner of the 2020 Dynamo Verlag Book Prize. Jess’ poems have appeared in Bramble, Kosmos Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, and elsewhere. Jess holds a B.A. of English and Spanish from Northern Michigan University, an M.A. in Spanish Literature from UW-Madison, and an MBA.

Dust within your creases

I learn over
let my fingers
glide over your side of the bed.

The creases you left are still there.
Like you’ve just awoken to go to the bathroom,
you’ll be back soon.

There’s a slight warmth
still trapped within
the wrinkles of the sheets.

I can still smell the notes of apple
shampoo on your pillow.

Your half-eaten tub of vanilla ice-cream
-alongside my almost empty tub
of chocolate ice-cream.

There is still some lasagne left in an
obscure corner of the fridge.

I heat it up.

I can still taste your fingers
-your skilled, elegant fingers
entangled in every layer.

The imprint of your coffee cup
-on the side-table.
Your laughing face;

foggy glasses lost
amidst the coffee steam.

The same mug
– the same brand of coffee-
-the same amount of milk-
no sugar though.

I brush my teeth in the bathroom basin.

My green toothbrush
leans
against your blue one.

I use yours instead.

I taste your musty, sweet
breath
-the bristles glide
over the teeth in an empty
hole
– barren wound-
that I call my
mouth.

Your name tumbles around
– hitting against the harsh walls-
until I spit it out

– spit you out-
along with the toothpaste.

I get into bed again.

Lean over.
Let my fingers glide
over your side of the bed.

I lean over and
let my fingers glide over
your side of the bed.

Again.

Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures, but mostly to avoid working on her master’s degree. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her writing has been featured (on/forthcoming) in Brittle PaperDaily Drunk MagazineDoor is a jar, and Epoch Press amongst others. She is the Pushcart nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021) She rambles at Twitter: @ShikshaWrites. You can find (or ignore her) at https://shikshadheda.wixsite.com/writing.

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