Justin Cox

from Stock Pond



sands over
northern minnesota
jane fonda

blue tarp over
10,000 lakes
fane jonda

carp foam
seized at the gate
sick honda

fund the accumulant
chest protectors

multiflower rose
and catclaw, wait-a-minute
duck-cloth canvas fabric

craftin’ critters lists
a classical owl cup

line the driveway w






JUSTIN COX‘s writing has appeared in Annulet: A Journal of Poetics, The Canary, Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, jubilat, and elsewhere. Justin teaches at the University of Iowa and has been a fellow at the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand.

Lindsey Webb

from Perfumer’s Organ

I’ll send you some oakmoss absolute in the mail and it will arrive after the rains have turned to snow.
Posting on the leaves.
The monks are chanting in upstate New York and I am looking ahead to November, when maybe I’ll have time to perform the changing of the seasons.
In the light of the parking garage I am avoiding posting on the leaves, I am undoing grammar but keeping the sentence.
It hays wild yesterday, bench wanting, waiting one year.
I am using every tool at my disposal—the internet, perfumes, the English language—to induce a vision. Door slamming. In the background of the Te Deum the door slams and it sounds like someone has fallen on stone. Despite the emergency the Latin unrolls like a scroll.
I don’t know anything about conduits to God but I do know that linalool is a component of freshness—I am here trying to share this emergency with you.
A smell comes off my skin and hair. Everyone in this room with me—my dog, wooden chair, the spider behind the shelf—takes this into them, and in that way we have something to say to one another. It’s like being embalmed in time. Silent, distant from the concept of world as world.
Does it feel completely abstract, like a jasmine voice?
Streak of tanning fluid.
It’s not like I’m trying to become a bodiless voice, but certain people do go on chanting and it remains difficult to transmit smell across great distances.
(Though wind does it all the time.)

(Haying wild.)

In the light of the parking garage I wonder if you are indeed sending me a message all the way from Friday. As if you were putting on a show, posting on the leaves like that, reaching for my attention.
Cleansing myself, anointing myself, touching the tip of my index finger to my bottom lip.

I imagine building a perfume like a row of peonies stacked blossom to blossom up my trachea, to not be choking on a flower but transmuting air into flower, so that I die in the process.
(“I used to think when I died— I could see you— so I died as fast as I could—”)
And anyway, I was saying about the wool rug. I was saying that lanolin remains difficult to use as an antenna.
A dog who just remembered, leaping up, to lick the plates from dinner. Undoing grammar, but keeping the sentence.
When you’re in town next, will you come and see me? The chamber orchestra will open their curtain for us, and we will have a beautiful time wandering around the open-air mall. Go on, come. And because this is an opera buffa we will be strangers to any minor modes, transmuting air to flower, flower to flower, flower to air.

It’s like a two-headed horse approaching me from behind, silent, on fish feet, mouth full of jasmine sambac and fresh meat.
In this case the vision is punctuated by ads, poorly targeted for Los Angeles when I am several hundred miles north and east. And the violins would be a little quiet in the mix. Picking at wool rugs in the dark, conversing with their smell.
Did you know bagpipes can be heard ten miles away?
Collarbone to jaw in pearls and onycha. Its long fingernails, its fish feet, meat breath, undoing the recitative as if it were a set of stitches.
Every tool. When the two-headed angel visits me in the dark, will I be away from home? Will it knock at all my windows before turning away empty-handed?

I am trying to send you a message but I am conflicted on the issue of messianic abstraction—clean meat. God, please; my fresh sweat.

And then I didn’t think about myself all day. Sucking the ends of my hair.


Later I turned my head side to side in the car, from collarbone to collarbone, as if my shoulders smoked purple—as if I could go on nothing more than scent—as I am dealing with disappointment in my own way—by sailing to the center of the forest on a gust of dry wind.
Sex with plants; abstinence of the spirit. I might solve death if I can find the right process.
Smearing chalky orris butter on the wrist, it melts from the heat of the skin.

Go on, chant.

And you, God? Can’t you see I’m a solid body passing through a vapor?
Despite myself I am an organ of one kind or another, and I pass.
I wear my longing suspended in oil and alcohol, and though I hope to encounter my double in the world by happy accident and so merge with everything else into the alchemical sunrise—I do not really believe in the chain of metaphor that leads to God. I am simply a gosh, who has long lost her ability to read “the unmistakable sign of an encounter.”
Green sacra dangerously close to the brain.
A young man interprets, looks sweetly, touches my shoulder.
Whether one sends messages, or something that rumbles and filters beneath—by
language or scent, music, giant pictorial gestures, digital messages, even fucking, I no longer
It is the basic characteristic of the snake that he goes on bruising my heel and I go on crushing his head into a really interesting essence that, once it is mixed with coumarin and a little impure ethylvanillin, one could almost think the universe would, upon encounter, shear its hair in recognition.



LINDSEY WEBB is the author of a chapbook, ‘House’ (Ghost Proposal, 2020). Her writings have appeared in Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, and Lana Turner, among others. She was named a 2021 National Poetry Series finalist and received a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She lives in Salt Lake City, where she is poetry editor for Quarterly West and a Steffensen Cannon fellow in the PhD program in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah.

Stella Wong

dramatic monologue as Laurie Spiegel

sure it sounds like a dog in a prairie
but not the prairie dogs that say steve

but little prairie synths. they’re
synthing through the tall synth grass,

the color you see when you press on
your closed eyelids. it’s the sound of sewing

together synth rags into a quilted synth
and shaping whatever speaker you want. pretty

much the sound of cold synth boiled
over a synth bonfire. powerlessness doesn’t sound

like this. now who’s interposing is this country
being born, and if synth

versus analog tug of war will win.
modular systems are just like log cabins. random

access is taking the first bite
off a dish in the kitchen and getting away

or even better, cooking up your own
technician. eating the synth scraps,

what they call a chef’s treat. when
you don’t have a nested hierarchy,

truly synthetic, then the synth is person-personal,
the synth is built. the self wanders in and out.


dramatic monologue as Delia Derbyshire

in my best nightmare, I’m not a lizard
brain anymore. it’s not an antediluvian flood 

while I bob for basement windows.
no scaly godzilla tracking me through the maze.

the best is when I’m a red-handed
hatchet. I’m not scared of gunmen

or men. it doesn’t matter how slowly I walk
or what I wore to the office. I’m smashing

the exit sign. extinguisher boxes. breaking
for breaking’s sake.

I hesitate to sacrifice abrahamically and a fellow secret
agent gets it, closes the elevator door

on herself and two children, sending them to the ground
floor where there’s a fire I started.

my therapist asks why my expression
is so violent. she asks what happens to the children. I don’t know

and I don’t care. I don’t judge
in the dream. I have goals and I’m checking

boxes. she says I am 
the children. I am not. I’m me. she says 

I am the other woman,
I am the two children, this is the manifestation

of my psyche. it is all me. I am the burning 
building. like a good program, no one’s 

coming after me.


dramatic monologue as Mira Calix

you know when you’re one of them they used
to work the pilot light or the sax at the blade

runner clubs when you glitch in neoprene
and reject the capitol, capitalism

and neon tube all caps. really. what’s in a right
click? glowing ball-joints or peeping

potato eyes. the stubby sacks don’t know what externality’s going
to come up. are notoriously bad at concertina

and guessing. don’t remember the contropposto,
the negative space. the dappled beats.



STELLA WONG is the author of SPOOKS, winner of the Saturnalia Books Editors Prize, and AMERICAN ZERO, selected for the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize by Danez Smith. A graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Wong’s poems have appeared in POETRY, Colorado Review, Lana Turner, Bennington Review, the LA Review of Books, and more.

Paloma Yannakakis


At the far end of your story,
just like that, an albatross
on trussed-up turf decanting
the ephemeral into
dust. Unfettered
handiwork. I waded in
to watch the strips of wall coming down.
Singed bits collapsing, flying.
Afterwards, it cost little to gaze
up at the black earth and imagine
it was once surrounded
by a velvet night.
Someone tacks sideways with painted rags.
We overturn the chairs one by one
tilted to the side of the wall, casting
no image. Only a triangle finds its way
into the steep light, growing larger.
Pluck one muscle, then the other,
the one at the center surrounding a lake.
It’s low and moves at a thousand paces per hour,
speech piling like straw on water.



Bisected the foothold
in small movements

scooping the earth
while automated shadows disperse across the concrete

a sideshow feast, the last tenants over which the night sky hung

of the things done there is no more
lapping left

having drained the aggregate half-lives
of their luster, the temperature of dusk denuded,
wrought-iron stations plied from the master’s desk

walk the deadwalk of loneliness or hunger

there is no witness for I/we as we recede in the frame, thrown against the corners,
comb through the dwindling reeds and their dried-over leaves matted at first blush

roughly asleep
light humming in the distance

– Is that a helicopter or a human?

next to the deafening performance of power
my occupation is to inhabit the clearing, unwind the wind,
its throbbing teeth detuned around

the abbreviated history of a future, shadowplay for the ages

as radiated tips of live wire burn
a hole in the ground: zone of transition, the sole remarkable source
scattering the unresigned, the undersigned

but the form dissolves before it can be grasped,
images on strike before an explosion

the memory of a piano’s broken music floats through a summer night
and oh, we crept before we walked



PALOMA YANNAKAKIS is a poet and teacher. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Lana Turner, Washington Square, Bodega, Green Mountains Review, Afternoon Visitor, and Denver Quarterly.

Kelly Hoffer


n. a dart, shaft, or arrow. Obs.

my mother’s ring in its box,
on a shelf, in a room
what a box, velvet-lined, what
a ring, a racket to cut
its glimmer comes for me on my
singlet shade
and you dress me in crystal
my ears pierced with sound


n. the plumage or feathers of a bird,
esp. the downy plumage; the downy part of a feather.

not the steering vane. the softer
plume for warmth. apparition favors breaking.
eggs. ochre sap. wax seal on a plum. stem. polly’s pocket.
champagne flute. crown. tension hitting a bank.
fray to fiber. promise? pattern. necks. news.
down. downing. downy chick.
covenant. chicka dee dee dee


n. the raised surface or nap on a fabric

quiet clutter quiet clutter
gently purple moss
velvet has loops has plied thread

achieving lush a line
and then another linelush
brought above the surface and cut
spreading fiber to fruit

have fruit do you have lush
how deep can you press
into the skin
running my hand
in one direction marking

a scape requires
more than one
color of thread put a strand of
tinsel in your nest, a strand
tensile in your proof

drive my bundles
to the junkyard, bring
kerosene for a
lusher flame


n. a heap, stack, or mass.

fustian therefore smoke wherefore fustian loop fustian
fustian here for heretofore loop softness fustian fustian
shimmer a lusher fustian texture fustian tumor a looser
forthwith thread fustian have I my fustian location fustian
mass quadrant have I fustian found my fussy loop to cut


v. trans. to fasten with nails. obs.
to fix or drive (a stake, etc.) in the ground. rare.

my mother planted things
sank them into
earth. round forms.
bulbs. a supplementary
warp makes the ground
softer. velvet. she wasn’t planted
preferred to be burned and cut
open. scattering over root,
dirt caught in a dead drift.


The Claude Glass [a convex tinted mirror]


catalog. art. 1

box of cherry, inlaid with a thin band of lemon
horn frame, pleasing and useful for viewing
eclipses, clouds, landscapes, &c.


catalog. art. 2

“Objects are not presented with that depth, that gradation, that rotundity of distance, if I may so speak, which nature exhibits; but are evidently affected by the two surfaces of the mirror, which give them a flatness, something like the scenes of a play-house, retiring behind each other. The convex-mirror also dim-inishes distances beyond nature, for which the painter should always make proper allowance. Or, to speak perhaps more properly, it inlarges foregrounds beyond their proportion. Thus, if you look at your face in a speculum of this kind, you will see your nose magnified. The retiring parts of your face will appear of course diminished.”

—William Gilpin, Remarks on Forest
Scenery and Other Woodland Views,


catalog. art. 3

ankles in gray water fingers in gray
water the self water a non-portrait
a lake in the palm
features retiring, of course tiring
the clamshell holding its own
split in my pocket pearl-less


catalog. art. 4

varieties of -mancy [“divination by”]

catoptromancy [“mirrors”]
tainomancy [“the foil backing of mirrors”]
palmomancy [“thick ink in the hollow of the hand”]
perspiromancy [“salt trails”]
cartomancy [“cards”]
hydromancy [“water”]
nephomancy [“clouds”]
cucharomancy [“curve of the spoon, speculum of this kind”]
botanomancy [“leaves, herbs, and tree branches”]
retinomancy [“the reflective film of the eyes”]
respiromancy [“intake of breath”]
sophiomancy [“loving, left”]
photomancy [“death masks”]


catalog. art. 5

sharkskin, not marble but obsidian
rounded, shaped as the arc
of a billowing circle, not a sheet
not the film that drapes flat
by table-casting the secret
of applying quicksilver and tin
a tain
of another color a particular stone


catalog. art. 6

a ghost
of the place over my
shoulder. my my what color
are the bands of amaranth pendulous. the showy
hollyhocks brighten their own
faces. a pesky picture always jutting
flits just out of frame the foliage
still growing the trees frighten
as they move giving
the threat of a branch
splayed over a body a shadow
across a face, eyes closed
a body of water
in hand



KELLY HOFFER earned an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her book manuscript ‘Undershore’ was a finalist for the 2020 National Poetry Series and her manuscript ‘Fire Series’ was a finalist for the 2021 National Poetry Series. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Prelude online, The Bennington Review, and Second Factory from ugly duckling presse, among others. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Literatures in English at Cornell University. Learn more at: www.kellyrosehoffer.com.

Caleb Jordan

1 Rodriguez-Iturbe, P. D’Odorico, A. Poporato, and L. Ridolfi. “On the spatial and temporal links between vegetation, climate, and soil moisture.” Water Resources Research, vol. 35, no. 12, 1999, pp. 3709-3722.


CALEB JORDAN is an autistic poet from Oklahoma.

Emmalea Russo


In the beginning
It was unseasonably warm
I felt alarmingly well

The light ripped
two marshmallow snowballs

Fell like lightning Satan 
an angel at the beginning
beginning in the unseasonably warm

Well alarmingly I felt
ripped light 

Calorie dance
this year is getting zipped

Zodiac’s majestic office
of sanitation



Keep keying the backward ocean.
Famous edge
Burn it.

Keep keying the forward ocean.
Burn it.

Keep keying the open ocean.
Burn it.

Keep keying the sparkling ocean.
Deliver us to night
Velour and sin.



We hear only the sound
of what moves us through it,
tempest and sea. A field 
on carnival repeat. Instant
onyx heat. Find something
to weld. Simple soul. Pink
fringe, ocean catalog. Else
where, heavenly helix. The red
lipstick on afterimage wall. Matte
emergency. Patch of blue drug.
Lucifer, a specific color field 
from here, far-near, pink ocean
goes fast and spills and spills 
and becomes a wheel.



The raw meat revolving
is also light. No mediator
and more camera. A chamber 
for finding divine decay. Shutter, 

flicker, frame. Shutter, flicker, frame. 
The meat spins. We are reaching together 

the end like at the festival when I passed
over a madness, dirt-drugged light as

meat spun sun.



Zorns Lemma (Hollis Frampton, 1970)



I can’t believe this is happening.
A face split in half. One side speaking

the other side speaking differently. This
is autobiography. Hands peel oranges, cut cookies,

get run over by water. Single tree in bright white snow.
Stripe of ocean light. Come quick! I can’t believe

this is happening. Released suddenly from 
burden of counting. Matter cannot be emptied

of form. But light. But light. But light. Day spreads.
I’m still in bed. Light writes this text.



13th cen. experimentum
some matter is opaquer than
other matter mysterium
tremendum i miss your
light passes through
accordingly coupling
with matter i miss you
tremendously while some
matter is opaquer than other
you are the opaquest yet
at the beginning was a light
form without matter maybe
some matter is opaquer than
other matter mysterium tremendum
i miss you 13th century 21st century

The light is leaking.

You show me the eye
at the center of which
light twitches as your
hand moves out of frame
sliver of ornament
hardwood insect burnt leaf
excrement eternity of glass
fleck and scratched screen.

The light is leaking.

Sudden lover in clear vision
of absence. Dirt, again, deranged
highway falling fast out of frame.
See what I mean? Planer still
are I MISS YOU those words. Near-
far becomes neither-nor. Streaming
device I cannot see. Dog drenched
a sun liquider. Animal star. But still

The light is leaking.

Celestial hierarchy reads us ancient
account of invisible creatures. In the dark
room and in the recorder. In the mylar
strip and in the antechamber. In the pupil
and in the ovum. In the frame and suddenly
again gone. Hand to wrist to mylar strip. Burnt
plastic. I am trying to reach you. Eternity is an
eye out of frame. It means everything put
to music, synthesized to tea. There is a place
farther from here. First person mirror shot. Simplest
soul yet. Intoxicant and shit. This frame and maybe
though probably not the next frame the next frame where

The light is leaking.


EMMALEA RUSSO lives at the Jersey shore and edits Asphalte Magazine. Currently, she’s working on a series of projects on film and medieval mysticism. Her website is https://emmalearusso.com/.

Samuel Nathan Breslin

I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, what with fires burning a perimeter around the edges of the city and smoke drifting in. And I’m in my own movie. Sometimes my movie is POV of my hands preparing things against the smoke that drifts in from the edges to my home in the center, and sometimes it’s a medium shot of me stuffing socks in the cracks of my Victorian windows against the smoke blowing in from the burning edges. It turns out that an apocalypse film can also be a realist slice of life and it turns out that some realist slices of life are apocalyptic.

I’m in the movie again. I’m benignly narcissistic. My movie is both POV close-up and 3rd person medium shot. Doug Fir shims I press through grey socks into the unsealed crack where the top and bottom window overlap, wooden knife cuts into cotton birthday cake and then extracted, here’s a slice, and now there’s a space between slices, but what happened to the cake-matter that is now a gap between; some of it is residue on the knife, and some of it is, actually there wasn’t anything removed, it was a pure cleaving, it’s not a table saw, it’s a kitchen knife, it’s an evergreen shim and it’s a sock, and I do it calmly and, not exactly slowly, but as a movie it feels very deliberate, and this is the effect of my life as durational cinema. Normal actions feel deliberate, so it makes me feel very in control when I’m both the movie and the audience, the victim of smoke inhalation and the protector of my home, wedger of socks into rickety wooden windows and when I pause briefly, small break in the action to smell and realize that some of these socks are a little dirty, though my facial expression indicates that this is normal and ok, but it gets tossed into the laundry basket, this is a major event in the scene, an action break in the action, a departure from the normal, which was hands at window height wedging socks into cracks, then turn around sock toss into laundry basket gets your heart pumping and you’re glad when I turn back to the window to use my wooden wedge tool again, evergreen triangle sharp and pressing. Evergreen triangle wielded as tool, siblings of which burn at the edges, causing smoke, historic wind event blows smoke inward, will industry be affected, will residents lose power, will this be a hit film.


I have too many pairs of glasses because of the clarity that I seek. I once had clarity with one pair but I lost them, and so got another and saw clearly again. But then I wanted a different look so I got another, because what good is clarity through a pair of glasses when the world looking back at me gets an unclear vision of who I am because I have glasses that don’t look quite right. Through this pair I both saw clearly and felt clearly seen as the attractive glasses-wearing person I felt myself to be. Then I started getting headaches while driving and looked at things in the distance wondering if I saw clearly, questioning if the thing itself were clearly seeable, especially lit signage on storefronts whose edges always seemed blurred. And then one day I could not see clearly a cactus in my house and I thought, well some cactuses cannot be seen clearly, this cactus is obviously out of focus. But objects in the world cannot be out of focus. Non-screen visions of things are always in focus, you are projecting your own inability to see clearly onto the things around you. Blaming the goddamn cactus for being out of focus. Through certain old windows the world warps and becomes unclear. Smog softens the edges of buildings downtown and the cruise ship emergency docked off the port is so large that it makes my head shake a bit and I have to turn away, because three thousand people on one boat is tough to imagine clearly, where are they all, I can’t picture them spread throughout the entire ship, speckled into rooms and in bathing suits on lounge chairs and lined up holding plates for the buffet, I can only picture them all together near the top deck pool facing me and looking up for a portrait, yes, this I can see very clearly.


I might start setting the physical scene of my anxiety California Sunshine. Blue sky, six percent cloud dapple, white long thin cloud like punctuation gone tired so lies down in the grass, pastoral comma nap time, this might get sexual, this might get sheep-herd roaming nearby and my dress rides above my knee because I just lay down and it’s an outdoor picture so there’s no one around but me and my herd, you know?

Blue skies against November. It’s been raining so we feel like we deserve it. Blue skies and lying down outdoor sexual punctuation clouds as mentioned, telephone poles also present, lots of them, all over town they stand tall and straight and this is what I don’t want to talk about first thing in the morning, over coffee one tries not to notice only the most dick-like things on sidewalks. But telecommunication has changed and our connectivity is no longer exclusively draped over the outstretched arms of vertical PPs towering over, but power runs along them and there’s no changing it, even though when winds blow heavy the lines break and spark, igniting things below and causing smoke (if what below not already hot with the embers that burn inside of us, which usually not because here we all cool down that feeling when we watch tv at night). What if we put eyesore wires underground as a non-phallic alternative to big dick arms outstretched forever holding power lines.

-Why do you see the city only through sexual metaphors?

-I don’t know. I’d rather not.

-Rather not what? Rather not see it that way or rather not talk about why?

Rather not see it that way so as not to have to talk about why. Also, not all metaphors, also see the city through sexual facts. Sometimes walk around and it’s all people with genitals covered by clothing. In the locker room it’s people with genitals covered in towels, or, if sitting with me in bubbling hot water, people with genitals covered by bubbling hot water, or when walking up the steps holding the stainless handrail (which is nasty, soap scum spotted chlorine speckled fogged up for the heat), when walking up the hot tub steps out the jet bubbled waters they’re people without their genitals covered and I’ll look. I’ll look the same way I look when they are covered, and if they look back at me like, over the shoulder look back at the harsh chem waters from whence you came, big butt shoulder looking slip your flip flops back on, I look away before you catch my gaze, nice try, I will not be caught, I’ve got too much at stake.

The city is a sexy place, but maybe not a place for sexual encounters, I’m not really sure. I might be more content just to look at people’s clothing and know that deep down, underneath all that clothing are their parts, are all of our parts. The rest of our bodies, mediated by hip hugging layers of fabric. Welcome to California where your body will be protected by denim, wool, linen, cotton, leather, nylon, silk, but also, glass and plastic on your glasses, steel and rubber and upholstered foam sit comfortably in traffic, stainless railings steady your light-headed hot tub soaked big butt, and stainless encasements of lithium ion batteries and mother boards and HD retina screens through which we see the world, and glass outlined with wood, holes in the house, windows; windows to the outside world from the safety of our homes, literal windows to the outside world, in which there are blue skies and telephone poles, but mostly I look into other people’s windows.

Carmen’s cooking pasta across the breezeway. Paul’s cleaning dishes in his underpants, I witness crotch scratch. Frosted glass turns yellow means there’s someone in there. I take my shirt off facing the street but shut the blinds for the rest of it. Hairy person holding laptop plops down on couch. Smooth skin person with long hair sits on bed and opens laptop. Wool sweater person sits at table typing on laptop.


If I am a two-inch memory foam mattress topper then you are a quilted waterproof mattress cover filled with down-alternative and we both get mixed reviews online especially about cooling properties. Some reviewers think we cool properly as advertised but still others say night sweats continue, or even have started for the first time, but one reviewer isn’t sure because of recent onset of menopause so who knows where this heat comes from. Maybe airflow blockage via this new surface on top of my mattress, though there are holes in the foam, though patterned quilting separates the down into squares and allows valleys of air flow through, but sometimes these things just don’t work, or they just don’t work for certain people, or certain people make specific body heats that get trapped in some materials and not in others, which is why our reviews are so mixed. Because some people will airflow right through my foam holes and some people will airflow right through your quilted valleys and others will get hot and be angry with us. When we’re both in mattress form we’re nothing to each other. Mattresses don’t need other mattresses except for flat stack pillow top to pillow top rectangle extrusion via pile on the mattresses for princess. Or for compare and review. So we either have to trade off being mattresses so the other as a person can lay down on it and see how the air flow is and if night sweats stop or start, and if soft enough or too soft or not soft enough. I expect that though I have strong cooling needs—because I am hot boiling bile inside—I do not have strong cooling properties. Or we can try both being people at the same time. Go through the same test process like, do we sleep well together, do we make each other hot when wanted, can we cool each other down when wanted, is contact supportive, can I let your hip sink deep enough so you are comfortable. Mattresses are covered in cotton sheets and skin is leather.


I feel bad in the following ways: I am hungry, I have a stomach ache, and I am absent minded because I stopped drinking coffee in order to soften the edges of my mind and body, the edges of my body being a rectangle sadness that is: top edge across my chest, two sides down the rims of my lungs, bottom edge span hip to hip like a belt on a paper doll 2D person. I will fuckin flip out at any moment. But you won’t be able to tell because bile boils on the inside and you can’t feel the heat until I start talking about it, and then I might start crying in bed and you’ll be like, Damn babe where did all this heat come from and do you like it? Do you like all this heat? And I’ll be like I don’t know do you like it? Do you like that the hot fire bile boils inside of me? Do you like that I am a paper-person? Is everyone 3D but me and are their rectangle sadnesses actually prisms that go back depthwise into their cavities? No I am 3D too but while you make your prisms in the manner of extruding your front facing rectangle back into your bodies, the rectangle on my chest is one side of a triangular prism that comes to a point behind my spine. One triangle sits below my throat and another sort of encompasses my bladder and when the sun shines through me it makes rainbows. So I stand with my back to the southfacing california windows and because of blue skies again, rainbows shine onto the white walls around my bed. My studio apartment is also a prism and one of its faces is carpeted, which, I know, you’re like, too bad, it would be great if it were hardwood, but to me the carpet makes it really quiet, which is why I prefer this room to the kitchen.


Today I woke up and everything from yesterday was still true, and nothing new was true, meaning nothing happened while I was sleeping that changed everything. Meaning nobody texted me in the night. So everything, based on the evidences I have accessible to me, is the same.

External Evidence of Non-Change: white walls bedroom, wooden windows through which blue skies again, black wires across which power the grid still.

Internal Evidence of Change: I was sobbing in my dream because the child I was taking care of who never knew her mother bought a hot-dog for another motherless girl and I felt so proud of her and just heartbroken that my girl, my troubled teen baby girl has had it so hard motherless childhood but knows how to care for another troubled kid, her friend. My daughter is thoughtful despite her sadness of having only me: attentive caretaker yes, doing the best I can and feeling increasingly responsible like, though I know I’ll never be the mother she needs I can put her near what other mothers I know to serve as surrogate, if not a whole Kentucky of them then all the ones I can think of and this, maybe, is the first actual selfless thing yet in my lifetime, to divert mothers’ attention away from myself and to this child, to deflect mothers’ attention down to the helpless babe in my arms. Or maybe it’s not selfless and it’s just what being a parent is, and actually has its own neo-being-cared for like, all these people who love my child and surrogate (verb) motherhood are also caring for me, because though it is she my taken-on baby who gets all the care I also get the attention because when they come over to help they all hug me first and ask how I am and then we care for the child together.


If you don’t want to read then watch tv. I don’t want to read. I want to watch tv because it’s like hanging out with people who can’t see or hear me and who are flat, and who fit inside a rectangle with a thirteen-inch diagonal. It’s like watching a romance occur without having to strangely glance in a restaurant at an engaging couple. I mean an engaged couple. I mean a couple so engaged and laughing and speaking with good timing that the sun sets on fish dinner. Night Falls on summer bay. String lights come on and oncome sexy. I look at them over the shoulder of my restaurant friend and think in my head back to the time they first met, then look down at my own fish dinner, upon which the sun has also set, and look up over the shoulder of my friend, and then look forward into time when tonight they kiss. Cut to a shot of their butts in underwear middles about to touch, maybe hand grab cotton round. Cut to mid-winder argument and they fight honestly so you know they’ll make it, they let their anger out so it doesn’t stay wrapped up and turn into something else, cut back to my own fish dinner, spiced carcass pointing right to left on the white circle like its 3:45 on the fish plate clock, did I just eat a whole fish, plus grains and a salad. Pan up past the salt and wine center table, friend’s chest behind rosé. Pull focus pink wine yielding to patterned blouse, skin V point between her breasts gold necklace, Diane is across from me at a nice restaurant again, Diane got the fish too and picks at it still, clicking her fork and knife separating super small pieces so a bone couldn’t hide in them. Cut to Diane-Vision looking down at fork and knife inside the white circle, on Diane’s plate-clock the fish is just a background image and her hands wielding tools mark time, knife comes in from the lower right and fork comes in from the lower left, on Diane’s fish it’s 4:40.



SAMUEL NATHAN BRESLIN is the author of two self-published chapbooks, Parts of the Passion (2014) and Poems about Poland for Americans (2010). He is a co-founder and curator of Light Field, an experimental film festival held annually in San Francisco, and recently received an MFA from The Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. He is now living in Queens, New York, working on a currently untitled book-length manuscript of fiction, from which these pieces are excerpted.

Katie Naughton

debt ritual: vector

I bleed in the direction of something
(what would it mean to take this literally)
or: my blood moves in the direction of something
(what thing?)
my blood is a vector
(motion and direction)
my breath is a vector
(motion and direction)
a conveyance
of pathos meaning disease
a production of suffering
a path through the city
all night a practice
of listening: the foot step
the distant highway wet from snow
overlaid: the church bells
their own echoes and self-
simultaneity and what I
whistle I think I hear
also distant I will miss
church buildings when they are
gone a roof falls in
the wind they’re made of
money of course but also
something some people gathered
and remain a place
made of money you can
go into without money
some kind of light
you can wrap yourself in
and call it yours
this time of year every
one wraps themselves in lights
its easier and more difficult
to see whose house is whose
when someone lives upstairs
and someone else down
when they light their houses differently
my blood moves my breath
in which direction?


debt ritual: savings bank

the building on the corner of 96th and Amsterdam
a temple in the Greek idiom
pillars set down directly
on the sidewalk
with presidents (Jefferson):
Save and teach all you are
to save: thus pave
the way for moral and material
Teach economy. That is
one of the first and highest
virtues. It begins with saving
The 1920s took
down two tenements to
put it there. Now it’s
a CVS and a private
preschool. I could say
some obvious things
about tenements preschool
tuition and who might save
what. I could say something
about the instructional
ambitions of bank walls
American presidents
and the Grecian ideals
of political and economic
American architecture
like was this place doomed
to be an expensive preschool
by the tone of the inscriptions
over its doors.
I guess the advice is
basically sound to keep
carefully what you don’t
need today and let
it grow. I could add
the bank was the first
to welcome women,
immigrants, that it served
wealth then maybe
against wealth that it was
done in by high interest
rates by bad investments
by the 1970s. I could say
something obvious
about what the wall doesn’t know
about 21st century interest rates
or about need and excess
about precarity or that
my life-long poverty-line
grandmother’s advice was
if you have it use it
for what you are
interested in

and instantly feel
I need to defend her
nevertheless near-
complete and necessary
frugality. The insistence
on virtue not accidental
the poem’s already there
in the words on the corner
in the lobby now full
of light medical equipment
and snack food
a place we might have
walked to bought
some small un-
necessary thing.


debt ritual: originary objects

Running in the cold the ritual
of what remains essential:
the body and its care the
necessary conditions of making
sound my footfalls and hard
breath-vector cars of course
when it’s cold like this sound
travels differently and scent
it’s quiet and more pronounced
the sound the smell the city makes
meat searing and the particularly
upwardly mobile lower middle class
1990s scent of one kind of laundry
detergent an expensive version
at a regular supermarket. I’m thinking
about originary objects the already-
retro orange madras beach towel
I thought would always be what
a beach towel was the weave
of silence and echo the steep valley
made of the lake in June.


debt ritual: drift
(owing a debt to Roland Barthes The Pleasure of the Text and Lisa Robertson “Time in the Codex”)

an idea passes over the city
the lake wanting to be with us
the cloud shade of desire
the void blush accumulating
on time and its architecture
like other ideas I memorize
or which make themselves in me
and in which I choose of necessity
to live an idea makes good
neighbors a good storm a good
way out for someone I am way
in with someone hearing
their teeth and breathing
hearing the orthographic noises
of their thinking I am way in
with the city the way it isn’t going
I am not going with it
something layered on
the surface something stupid
and intractable about me
a text a building someone else
some other time was here
of this same hasty ritual
and its drift what gives
and what is given back



KATIE NAUGHTON is the author of the chapbook Study (Above/Ground Press, 2021). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Jubilat, and elsewhere. She is at work on two collections of poems, “Debt Ritual” and “the real ethereal,” which was a finalist for the 2021 Nightboat Poetry Prize and the 2021 Autumn House Press Book Prize under the title “Hour Song.” She is the publicity editor for Essay Press, editor and project manager at the HOW(ever) and How2 Digital Archive Project (launching in 2022), and founder of Etcetera, a web journal of reading recommendations from poets. She lives in Buffalo, NY, where she is a doctoral candidate in the Poetics program at SUNY – Buffalo.