Paternity Test

His hair has grown the shock of sunflowers after rain.

The smell of those threshed stalks, nosegay against variant ills—

he also loves the man-fox after musty plum tomatoes

which, having brazened wooden stakes, now devolve seed-ward.

How his mother swells uneasily with every moon,

how she trails stale chocolate wrappers, coffee dregs

luring whatever’s hungry and curiously about.

Mornings she sweeps red golds from the stoop as he crouches in desire

his fox will reappear. These nocturnal dreams are an open door,

white ruff soaking up detritus cast by meteorites and stars.

Too young to stay awake all night, he’s been promised she will fetch him

at a pale quarter to five, bring him a basket of boiled eggs

light sepia in craquelure. Then the recognition scene:

sharp teeth will seize his wrist leaving a faint mark

that can never truly fade. He, the fiercest boy

on the bleak suburban road, child unrehearsed in loss,

can watch the animal devour yolk and shell. It is already and done.

A pewter sky rings harshly before the fall deluge

while the fox that threads its way beyond the fences

does what wild creatures do. Leaves a hint, a question

small puffs of incandescent fur, narrow footprints in the mud.


Carol Alexander

Carol Alexander is the author of Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press), Environments (Dos Madres), and Habitat Lost (CMP). Her work appears in About Place Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, The Common, Denver Quarterly, Mudlark, RHINO, Southern Humanities Review, The Summerset Review, Third Wednesday, Verdad, and elsewhere. With Stephen Massimilla, Alexander co-edited the award-winning anthology Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022). A new collection of Alexander’s poetry is forthcoming in 2024 from Glass Lyre Press.

We Can’t Own These Bodies

That evening you drove us out on the bruised southern beach

we lost the hope we’d find the words to match

the gold slant of sunlight’s sail across Gulf Coast swells and sand.

We stood in the empty lobby, luggage in tow full of secrets,

two people, houseless together, and the wind—don’t you remember? —

shoved us off the courtyard and boardwalk and shore

onto broken bits of orange shell and seaglass the foam white sand

absolved of its every edge. When we look back

through photos on the shiny screen of a phone,

we’ve slipped away from those patient guides, the pelicans

on updrafts off breakers where the sun never goes down,

and stepped into a groaning wind and chill light, two people

on earth, itself a straggler in a flight of planets touring the sun.


Apalachicola, February 2023


Michael Daley

Michael Daley, born and raised in Massachusetts, has published sixteen books, three of which came out in 2022: Reinhabited: New & Selected Poems (Dos Madres, Loveland, OH), Telemachus, a novel (Pleasure Boat Studio, Seattle, WA), and True Heresies, poems (Cervena Barva, Somerville, MA). He is managing editor of The Madrona Project anthology series. A retired teacher, he lives in Anacortes, Washington


There’s only so much you can change about yourself.

Like this morning, I dreamt I dropped a baby down the stairs and trumpets started playing

As it stared through me with my own eyes like I’d just suicided.

Flavors of trauma come with malleable parts.

Today, I ate an entire bag of chips and painted a watercolor octopus. I thought I had cancer.

I took my blood pressure three times. I told everyone of my fear… to practice saying cancer.

In public places, my neck strains like a dried sunflower curling down, looking for the stairs.

The brass.

Hell is a dream full of music.


Brandyce Ingram is a writer, tutor, and jazz-head in Seattle, WA. Her work has appeared in High Shelf Press, Willowdown Books, Sand Hills Lit Mag, Wildroof Journal, An Evening with Emily Dickinson (via Wingless Dreamer), and elsewhere. Her latest search history includes “20th-century lunatic asylums women” and “how to use a crap ton of fresh mint pesto chimichurri sauces or soju cocktails.”

The Empath

It’s always the rot stench of the wound

that draws me in—the beetle to the Corpse Flower.

You were eager to unfurl your bruised blooms:

you told me about the poverty, the prison, your abusive,

alcoholic father. You winced to mention him. A palpable

stab. I ached to smell more of your festering, to share how it feels

to be birthed of betrayal. I wanted to open myself up

to you like a trench coat, show you the ax to my gut—

my mother. My vanished leg—my father. Now,

I wonder if the stalking, the drugging, the rape

was your wound reveal: This is the ghost 

of my dead inner child. I’m here to show you

what can happen to children and how bad it can get.

The blood and feces in my sheets said, This bad. 

Anne Champion

Anne Champion is the author of She Saints & Holy Profanities (Quarterly West, 2019), The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Book of Levitations (Trembling Pillow Press, 2019), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her work appears in Verse Daily, diode, Tupelo Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Salamander, New South, Redivider, PANK Magazine, and elsewhere.  She was a 2009 Academy of American Poets Prize recipient, a 2016 Best of the Net winner, and a Barbara Deming Memorial Grant recipient.

Outside their Circle

They finished each other’s sentences about the differences

between ’56 and ’57 Chevies, how they rebuilt transmissions,

how the Hurst shifters needed a hole drilled in the floorboard,

as I sat in the back seat hearing tales of another country.


Their dads knew how to build houses and get the right tools,

took their boys to the seances of men huddled in a circle

who spit as they called forth the spirits of wrenches and vises,

while I slept each night on the living room couch overhearing


Mom and Sis whispering in their beds about curlers and creams.

I learned about how to bounce drops of water on the heated pan

telling what size flame would make the pancake batter not stick,

and to speak about love and hurt, and not bolt it down inside.


The soft voices of poets and writers speaking sadness and joy

let me wander in places far away from that sofa in the night,

and I liked myself knowing the things that other boys didn’t

as they lay under cars with friends finding power in engines.


No dad, I sank lower in the back seat hearing how men loved

mastering gears, electrodes, filters, valves, and carburetors

like there was a way of friendship with the tribe of machines

always scary to me, who hissed I was not one of them.


Glen A. Mazis

Glen A. Mazis taught philosophy for decades at Penn State Harrisburg, retiring in 2020. He has more than 90 poems in literary journals, including Rosebud, The North American Review, Sou’wester, Spoon River Poetry Review, Willow Review, Atlanta Review, Reed Magazine and Asheville Poetry Review, and the collection, The River Bends in Time (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012), a chapbook, The Body Is a Dancing Star (Orchard Street Press, 2020), and Bodies of Space and Time (Kelsay Books, 2022). He is the 2019 winner of the Malovrh-Fenlon Poetry Prize (Orchard Street national contest).

Seeing Stars

A house built on sand makes itself felt when a mother

hides glasses of whiskey in the drawers of her vanity table.

That our family was special and blessed was the wishful

fiction read to us children at bedtime. Asteroid and disaster

are linguistic siblings; the Milky Way is a road of milk, a spill

of cream in a black-coffee heaven; and stars, though regarded

as gods by the Greeks, are merely dense balls of gas that spewed

their chemical guts into the galaxy. “Let the stars sit where they will,”

Coyote cries in the Navajo myth, flinging up handfuls of glittering

mica that stick to the sky helter-skelter. My flame-haired mother

saw shades of gray that my father was blind to, yet she projected

her own tortured colors on each of us in turn, her afternoon empathy

sucking me in to be spat upon later. Etymologies tell more truth

about life than the words do themselves, as in the Greek prefix sark

linking “sarcasm” to sarcophagus, literal eater of flesh. Like my mother,

a star in its red giant phase, devouring her innermost planets, the milk

of her human kindness curdled by accusations that ripped me apart

like hyenas tearing the flesh from my bones. A star-crossed ancestral

curse hounded my Janus-faced mother, who winked out at last

like a star.

Sharon Whitehill

 Sharon Whitehill, a retired English professor from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, is currently enjoying her retirement in Port Charlotte, Florida. After years of hard work and dedication, she has achieved her dream of having her poems published in various literary magazines. She has authored two chapbooks titled “The Umbilical Universe” and “Inside Out to the World,” as well as a full collection called “A Dream of Wide Water.” In spring 2024, she will release her third chapbook titled “This Sad and Tender Time.”

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