imogen xtian smith is a poet, performer, & sometimes curator living in Lenapehoking/ NYC. Their debut collection, STEMMY THINGS, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2022.
Feeling extra technical O most lyrical,
Almost an extra-terrestrial terra-forming fanatical,
Caltech engineers cannot calculate
Tactically weaponized nuking of my rate
When it’s so freaking fast I’ve already passed
What predetermined fate cannot emancipate,
All according to the procedure similar
To illegal contra-banding of brands and pedicures,
And the ecumenical dogma of an animated corpse
Anticipated in the walk-up to the final boss is
The territorial nature of a brood mother in her cage.
So, this sentiment sanctifies
(Don’t wait!) all the ecclesiastical particulars
Of proclamations barked out and sentimentalizes
Each piece a collateral collective bargaining
Memorandum of acts thrown off verandas,
The ghost of post-it notes, my Miranda.
Word-orgy scoured of pathology
A thousand-time fold of bad iron can’t fix.
My Jawbone Looks Like
This mandible of manatee in cryotherapy—
Theoretical donkey jaw perhaps a Samsonite,
A carry-on for sky-scorching jet-fuels,
Israelite with superhuman God-given strength—
Are the bags made of minerals that some son ate?
Silver manganese antimony sulfides
In steel-black monoclinic prismatic crystals.
O good chemist! With all this hard science
Can we cook pure amphetamines,
Anti-memes of aging mnemonic devices?
The mathematics required are already breathless.
A mouth falls off reciting hyped-up charges,
The iced jawbone melting down its DNA.
Without rest can it make a speech?
This new crystal skull of prolonged absence
Euthanized by the blind,
Who got his mojo back with Rockstar hair
Pushing the pillars and Delilah dead—
Dust rarely settles on his destroyed arena.
A heavy trunk holding two bodies,
Loving your barber is a dear price to pay.
Orion’s Song I
Snarl, Artemis. Let’s play net-less tennis.
Miss me with that harlequin, this hot list
Is for you, O queen! I’m putting on a mask
To win prizes and get a rise out of my huntress.
Bob my head if my game’s lame: I’m a shameless
Hairless body in your palace’s airless lobby.
The moonbeam is your finger reaching me
Even without the sonata. So Imma make
A hot bread with my stale baking soda,
And bet that an oven mitt is good enough
To disguise a maimed hand—
Same as the golden goose though it laid no egg.
See, my Santa sock is filled with black coal,
A couple of million years old since it was gold.
The Moon was buttery smooth once, too,
Like the Sun, as if it had tried hard to be one.
Yes, I’ve hunted all the animals—
This is how our ballistic tale ends,
My belt’s lights going out one by one.
Orion’s Song II
Are you hissing at me, Artemis? Come here
And kiss me if you are going to bury me.
Hell of a thing to ask your daddy to do
After all that has happened between you two,
Making stars out of me to consecrate.
Let’s look at the astrolabe together, baby.
The strobe lights will not stop until the dance ends.
It’s ended? Give me my lance and shield,
Sancho, and my horse! This dutiful errant-knight
Isn’t going to sleep after all his errs
But labor like an ant still working on his colony.
O baloney, Christi Corpus sanctimony!
What is illness to my destroyed body?
Each time I fall I will go to sleep!
Don’t let me wake up as a heavenly body just yet
Or with an arrow in my back. Be gone, Cupid!
It wasn’t your shot that killed me,
But every act is arguably a cause of another.
Dear lover, I am still getting over it.
JACK JUNG is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books.
MIKE CORRAO is the author of three novels, MAN, OH MAN (Orson’s Publishing); GUT TEXT (11:11 Press) and RITUALS PERFORMED IN THE ABSENCE OF GANYMEDE (11:11 Press); one book of poetry, TWO NOVELS (Orson’s Publishing); two plays, SMUT-MAKER (Inside the Castle) and ANDROMEDUSA (Forthcoming – Plays Inverse); and three chapbooks, AVIAN FUNERAL MARCH (Self-Fuck); MATERIAL CATALOGUE (Alienist) and SPELUNKER (Schism – Neuronics). Along with earning multiple Best of the Net nominations, Mike’s work has been featured in publications such as 3:AM, Collagist, Always Crashing, and Denver Quarterly. He lives in Minneapolis.
EMILY BARTON ALTMAN is the author of two chapbooks, “Bathymetry” (Present Tense Pamphlets, 2016) and “Alice Hangs Her Map” (dancing girl press, 2019). Recent poems are forthcoming or appear in La Vague, Bone Bouquet, Dreginald, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Poets & Writers Amy Award and received her MFA from New York University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver.
ARISTILDE KIRBY is a being constellation of given human category [poet]. She has published this [Daisy & Catherine (Belladonna*)], that [Sonnet Infinitesimal / Material Girl (Black Warrior Review & Best American Experimental Writing 2020)], & the third [Daisy & Catherine². (Auric Press, Summer 2021)].
More contemporary affairs include this², [Mairead Connect Radio Club: Point A, a radio play for Montez Press Radio], that², [The Envoyelle: Notes on A Conditional Form, an essay on poetic form for Montez Press] & the third² [Crush Blossom / Crash Blossom, an essay about the global cut flower trade during the pandemic for Illiberal Arts, a group exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, curated by Kerstin Stakemeier & Anselm Franke.] She has a master’s degree from the Milton Avery Graduate School of The Arts, Bard College.
Upon the earth
I make orderly
Shapes. I miss the
Attempt to clean
The weather is
Fucked. For years
I hate the wind. I
Follow suit, I suit
You best. I fear the
Too closely. On weekends
Sift the sea
For hard plastics
Of various density, and
Of holding them
A shared leisure.
The sight of
An eye for the
The sun slotted
A curtain quilts
A good friend takes a
A good friend becomes
I am not
The air does not
Today is wrong for
The sign I
It is so wet
I have not seen
That is a
My face is
In the light my
We sit beneath
We go outside
Out here there is
I do miss
I guess we have
I assume we are
The sun slights
The outdoors is
My lit mouth
Sasha says some plants
I understand what
He has a thing
Only his name
The curtains for
The administrator detects
I typed it without
I turn want
We go outside to
When allowed it
Is this science
Common items in the common plot.
A meadow is some grass in place of water.
I resist the urge to google.
Nature is well organized.
You shouldn’t say that here.
I’m taught that common means to share.
It can also mean to burgle.
The water is still evident.
The ground harbors some sound.
By ground I meant earth.
I lie less in photographs.
The expression of my chest beneath wool.
A genuinely deranged landscape is the front yard.
It was so dark and they told me I was wet.
I don’t know how they knew.
They know everything, though.
Though in this case they were wrong.
It doesn’t matter I couldn’t prove it.
I don’t fuck them anymore.
Collection day comes and I have a basket now.
I’ve lived here long enough.
Trusting Isabel with my binding.
She carries my basket sometimes too.
She shows me the block function of some buttons.
I wrap everything now.
Why wouldn’t I.
How slight it all becomes.
How reduced in expression.
Isabel has inappropriate shoes for the wet earth.
She refracts my vocabulary.
The stupid moon is too bright.
The full neighborhood hardly cares.
The streets are patterned offensively.
Isabel takes my picture discreetly.
She knows the angle I prefer.
My hands are most visible.
Sorrel and strawberries where a shoulder was.
Basil treated to the wool of my chest.
She refers to me with this image only.
Thumbing the ground/earth and bound up.
Here as near
Become so bare.
It is not
Of will. Evilness
Moon. What’s left
At least. The
Sky. I keep
In terms of
Two. The day
Manner. I am
For the first
By an urge
To swim. I find
The introduction of a
Supervising order. Ceramic
Flower arrangement in
The vase. Real objects
Patrol the outdoors. I
Learn of shapes in the
Else. The floor precedes
The wall projects
A roof upward three
Men constitute a
Set of people who go
Together. My insecure
Method rejects touch by
Way of demand. Where
It happened to my neck
A circle. My arm
A ring. That is they
Instruct what is.
SCOUT KATHERINE TURKEL lives in Berkeley. Scout’s writing can be found in ZYZZYVA, The Spectacle, BAEST: a journal of queer forms & affects, and elsewhere.
The first page of the giant Snow Novel (roast)
(for Roberto Bolaño)
(The shapes of the letters… of your poem. I haven’t read it yet. I just rewrote it. The letters in your handwriting. Your hand shaking and speaking-acting on the world. I just re-wrote it.) Hello, prairies of tiger-grass, hello. The sky-of-your-prairiness is spreading over me, as I bathe. The softly purple light-of-that-sky, is singing me to there, as I bathe. If we disappeared, language would bring us back. Your poems would bring us back, all fuzzy like tiger-ghost-prairies that we don’t know how to spell. It’s ok. Just use the letters that will lose enough light. Just enough. Just enough for us to write the Snow Novel… which I think is reaching towards prayer-as-naming. Whenever you write is time-without-writing, like wings braiding themselves into the bookshelf, the bed, the postcards-stuck-to-the-ceiling, the geometry of the walls, the old blankets from Beijing. Can’t you feel itall calling out to fly? And it does, it flies, it snows, until the postcards flip away your heart. The Snow Novel grows wheels but there’s no door. It drives itself through my bathroom likea ghost in love with bathwater, with being-unforgivably-changed. Remember those shapes? They were letters as well. You could have read it twice. You could have stopped time to look at me, eating the string lights like they’re all absolutely one. Shapes-of-letters, letters, form, the perfect immaterial. The myth ofactuality, riding alongside me through miles of pine trees, laughing as the sun rises right fucking before our eyes…
Ending, longing, ending again, roasting (roast)
Confrontation, at the end. Being saved, at the end.
A wide, open field, mustard green. Us… writing poetry
in it? Us, writing cold water. Writing halos
on our own bodies. It doesn’t have to be us.
If anyone wrote this poem we would fly through
their room. Their tiles, sticky with orange
blossom honey, all poemed up…. Their white
ropes (hold this) tying them to the Soft Materials. Rain,
warm snow, huge (hold this) praying hands. It’s like we
took the life-dreams of all the crooning ducks on that
lake, theory-of-colors-ed them into all these (hold these) life-dream-feathers,
and wore them like crowns. What happened to the
honey? Oh. The bottle fell from my hands so I could
hold the rope, hold the praying hands. Now,
honey is all over my legs, all over the floor. If
I fell asleep who would turn off the lights and then
turn off the dark. There’s honey in every
self-knot on the rope. I didn’t lose
it all. I only lost my gaze-unto-terror of it all. I only
lost my driving-like-the-first-maverick-of-daisies of
it all. I want to reach out, just reach out, into the
light-yellow breath of routine and pull you out of it. Your
wide open arms (like the field), your simultaneity-with-me,
your belly full of images, like a panther. There’s a
way I know I can do it, I just need the spirit of calling-
out to call out. I just need the spirit of flying to fly:
Well, if flying doesn’t change the ground, I will.
Well if spirit doesn’t rearrange the soul, its columns, I will.
“Well, if knowing the future doesn’t change
the past, I’ll just have to forget both.”
Riding away… roast…
Five shimmering canyons? Now there’s only six.
It feels like the world is growing out of
the world. I really… have never rode away. I’ve been
there. I’ve been there, singing. I’ve been there, reading
your poetry. And then the dream where I forget
how to read, one word at a time. Oh. I’m in
my bedroom & the sheets are gone. The bed is swaying.
It’s like… someone rode through here to leave little
persimmons behind. I’m throwing… you off the
balcony, as we write the third poem. Turns out,
we’ll never have to finish it, but we do. That’s
why I’m throwing you… why you’re flying… why
the poem flies after me to catch you. Who
will pick us up? I’m hiding in the freezer
while you turn into light, into everything you
want except it’s seen from the perspective
of light (& the curtains are white, so white
it’s summer again.)
The bridge… we’re dropping tea leaves off the bridge
and laughing. Why are we here? Like, here here I mean.
It has something to do with the pure
wings of a story, ya know? It would make the
water fold us back into selves we never were, hair
so wet we don’t know which of us is underwater and which
will live forever. Like… really forever, ya know? I hid
everything — the old pears, the mirrors, the sound so
that now you can hear me. You can hear me empty the world for you.
YONGYU CHEN is a PhD student in Film and Visual Studies at Harvard and JES SMITH will be a physics PhD at NYU’s Courant Institute next fall. They met as undergrads at Cornell, which is where they started writing the snow novel. Their collaborative work has also appeared in New Delta Review, Eachother Journal, and Cornell’s Marginalia Review.
PASIPHAË LIVES INSIDE THE MOON FOR TWENTY YEARS
The moon won’t look Ariadne in the eyes. Pasiphaë, meaning wide shining. She tells no one, not even her daughter, she’s immortal. But still the twenty years pass slowly. She watches guilt arrive like an angel to some below, but everyone is good at sending it away. Saying there is only so much we could’ve done. The angel of guilt lives on Crete all its brief life. Sometimes it flies to the moon when the moon is full. And on those nights, Pasiphaë cries well like she’s been waiting to and it feels good, like emptying, but the moon floods with an inch or two of salt water. It does not convince her to return to earth. Twenty years. On the worst nights, she can still feel the god’s spell. Everywhere, like it is her skin, her name. On the worst nights, she thinks there was no spell at all. And she tosses, turns, rolls the light of the moon to a thin silver hair, to nothing. The tide folds back on itself. She watches a man on Earth grow tired of being a father again. She watches a father want solitude more than anything. The angel has its brief stints in the labyrinth, in the palace, like a mirage on the sea bed, but it doesn’t leave Ariadne alone. It is a charm that hangs on her bed frame. It is an inexplicable pain in her legs. It is a kitchen knife in her hands. It is silence below sound, aching. She thinks the labyrinth was built for her, but really, it is a cellar for war debts and dissidents, really, it is an engine. She keeps busy. She doesn’t think about it. She sits at the spinning wheel and makes an escape ladder that never ends. It reaches and reaches. Pasiphaë sleeps with her eyes open, facing away from Earth, curled on her side, knowing her daughter is standing below, staring at her back.
ARIADNE WEAVES HERSELF A COCOON WITH WHAT IS LEFT
She sews herself a closet, a room only as large as her body, she sews herself a new body. She makes herself into a boy. A beautiful boy, the ideal of boy, a saint, the son of the century, something her mother deserves. She’s an artist, a silkworm, a red wolf spider. She is going to kill her brother. She is going to let her brother be killed. She’s the assassin’s promise, she kisses the angel of guilt and bandages his hands. She sews without stopping to eat. She curls inside the half-cast nest and becomes an arrow in its bed, a den of foxes, a hen who lays no eggs, a calf stillborn inside the womb, rain caught shining on the web. She’s a thousand insect eggs who hatch and eat the whole leaf. A fiancée forced to work the loom until she transforms to a crane on her wedding day and finally flees. An opera singer’s song circling the glass until it cracks. A doe surrounded by its own antlers. A woman sleeping inside the sun. She sews herself into a cave. There are echoes and wind. She is full of hibernation. She imagines herself stepping out of the crystalis just slightly and plenty new. Not a woman, but what a woman is supposed to be. Healed as if there were nothing to heal, holy as if nothing could quite touch the body. Skin thick as Caeneus’. She ties the end of the red string to the rafters in her bedroom and makes the shape of a cocoon. It is only natural the body inverts itself into a refuge. She is looking forward to liquifying. She wonders if she’ll dream and if it’ll be a good dream. She sleeps for three days and three nights. She wakes the same.
FOX RINNE is a poet and prison abolitionist based in New York City. They have facilitated poetry workshops through the Queer Detainee Empowerment Program and the Right-to-Write program at the Westchester County Jail. Their most recent work can be found in Baest, Jacobin, and Silent Auctions.
ANIMALS LIVES IN PLANT
(it’s unconscious to make telepathy) in me looks at me)
(i’m what telepathic occurences say to each other in their
on green yarn
yairn falls and floats up in
(plant’s called pothos) never flowers) almost never)
propagates from cuttings)
plant on table in front of books
in twowo clusters of leaves gathering up
twu upclusters of leefeafing
w their yellow streaks to me
next to me, to
(same as what it’s cut from) repeats) clones)
(cloning) yet it grows and different twists and its stems
tangle like nonce) nude shades)
(have to find new word for aware)
(meaning’s in text) aware as animals)
is two squirrels is squarrels
in skull bone
splittitting n strengthingening
plalalant eating scaling noting
(text makes clone from me) text has clone in it) me in
water) grows having life)
(any word has to misused if to make point) more’s alive)
life’s not right word) animal) misuse that one)
eels from dirt go up greenly swimming, stilly
stems eels up
leaves on their necks
head on yarn neck
(easy to see my own telepathy) write it down) make
cutting clip stem) ease in water)
(each place that’s a here is telepathy) locality) also living)
(endure is animal) response animal) take) touch)
innerness) is here) here) here)
eel swims up out
out of flitter
out of filter feeders
of food like stars in qwtrkghmv
(animal’s a bouquet of animals) assembled genetically)
being together) saying i here) wanting to survive)
(looks with field of vision that’s commons) that’s
collection of telepathies)
(am stalks gathering) kneels)
(to lower telepathies towards what i see)
(bunching of here) here) bunching of heres says i)
bookspines are white slat forest behind plant
in tall verticles facing away
spyines on outerside
are faces, straight
are flashed planes
faces plant, faces windoawe,
(animal’s everywhere) now it’s word flapping in each
place) every here) is)
(am full of animals) look to smallest places and that’s
animals seeing) pebbles and soil) packed rooting together)
(animal aware) conscious) plant)
plant’s bigger than last looked,
just now loocking
holding plant under
cold fauceting water eel lengthinning
every two weeks
(animal replaces word for everything)
(stalks under water)
plant grows two thckckcknesses of stems
over rim of pot
youplant in stalks,
reread at me brooking yarning forward
talk up and ribs spells a lettrwave
(text’s not me) but at edge) it’s me kneeling) with content
but not identical to it) peels through)
(text held under cold water pouring) stream through text)
clipt from main stem roots
into water vase
from phvase in cleer water to soil
plant is animeels crawling
up, over, very
eddies in the space you swim in
making you heare
(does plant read) does plant read text for it to work)
does text have plant in it reading it)
(text) textus) woven tissue of) physical tissue of)
meaning’s tissue of) telepathy’s tissue of)
(has skin) is skin) has skin)
plant on table
in frontof books scoops up with leaves
scoops the rair the air and an eel
in white wall
eel a long green flag
through books it flags forward in long grayeen
straining motes in sea sky
in caption in nutrienst, bemeanth
part of you you
hearfeelseenthesizing you as plant
(instead of text) a commons) then go past that) tele-
(a common limb) nerves i don’t live in) but i sense them)
(a limb) face) skin)
(a not me)
(an awake on other side)
into jar of
growwing, spreads out
a cutting, plant reruns through it
skin comes betweneen
stems that waswere one
now tw, twowo, severall
stem’s now spbinding,
transparent streek on leaf
(text wakes animals that grow in me) telepathy because
not me) but i receive them)
(if i write text i give telepathy to myself) but i write it
anyone could have written it) could plant have)
(let’s have plant in here) says plant)
saw how this was waeaeaving
over to me
like face of unconscious as typelathy
eel swims forward ahs face
flows over to me like sheet front
from wheare it’s at a distance, stays
plant’s leaves up on yarn green and floating
(let plant in here being still)
(let no more water yet for plant) leaves stay with sun)
(out of soil let plant have stems) open spines like plant’s
leaves) with sun on them)
BRANDAN GRIFFIN lives in Queens. His first book IMPASTORAL will be published by Omnidawn in 2022.
JACK FELICE is a graduate of Florida State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and a minor in Art History. He currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida. His artwork has appeared in The Florida Review, 14 Hills, Northridge Review, Five2One, Meridian, and The Weird Show.