Night Blooms

Dig down deep enough and you’ll find night blooms—

blue-dusked petals casting runes under forgotten


garden reaches, ink-black petals spooning clotted soil

into ever-shrouded stars, an ever-blackening sun


wheeling through dark spines and peat-stained teeth.

Lift dirt-caked, delicate slips.  Lift mold and root.


Their voices promise neither clarity nor opacity,

offer only a clearing aside of what’s given, what’s


taken away.  Their faces mirror each other and yet

are never themselves, never others buried further


down the road.  Dig them up and take them home.

Sit on moon-filled porch steps cradling ochre and


vermillion pooling on your skin, and they’ll bloom

the simple hierarchies of heaven—untouched


and unseen, tasteless and silent, back to the deepest

shadow under the loam, back to the first still breath.


John Robert Harvey

John Harvey’s poems have appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Ghost Ocean Magazine, Gulf Coast, The 2River Review, Weave Magazine, and others.  He received his doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston (UH) and taught in the UH English Department and Honors College. He lives near Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and son.

O The Leaving

I listen to U2

while the MRI machine clinks into action

and Bono croons

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,

his voice muffled by the hygienic sleeves

covering the headphones,

his words far away,

poltergeist from the past.


Eyes closed,

I see myself riding in the Mercury Sable,

traveling from Bakersfield to the Bay Area,

Santa Ana winds whipping

my hair into a frenzied halo,

the setting sun gilding

the hills on Pacheco Pass–

their curves round as sea lion heads–

the highway a gash,

the murky reservoir just one of many

promises that won’t be kept.


The road ahead winds serpentine

as we sing

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

out into the night,

my restlessness the persistent backbeat

pushing us away from here,

the only place

we’d ever really feel

was home.


I can tell you now

I’d never felt so free, so alive,

ignorant of all

I was leaving behind,

though the valley below flatlined,

and the Harris Ranch cows

lowed a mournful warning

I never fully understood until

much later:

don’t leave don’t leave     don’t leave


Jennifer Randall Hotz

Jennifer Randall Hotz is a poet currently living in Pennsylvania.  She holds an M.A. in English from San José State University.


You moved in that summer—

a trial period, small room with a bed,

window. Ribs of black steel

pins of twine pulled taut

your hammers poised to strike

stretched strings a wide field of grain

lid a mink coat laid flat, its prop

a carved brown totem, releasing sound.

I worked on you five, six

hours a day—scales, etudes, and

Rachmaninoff’s Elegie. My big-bosomed

Russian teacher pushed me to drill down

and extricate from you the purest wails

of sorrow and you let me. One day

looking out the window, I was drawn to

the tennis courts, where I met the tuba

player from the pit orchestra,

never looked back, no matter

how many times you called me Eurydice.


Mary Dean Lee

Mary Dean Lee’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Ploughshares, I-70 Review, LEON Literary Review, Broad River Review, Sepia Quarterly, Event, The Write Launch, as well as other journals.  Her manuscript, Tidal Bore, was recently a Finalist with Trail to Table Press and The Inlandia Institute’s 2022 Hillary Gravendyk Prize. She grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, studied theatre and literature at Duke University and Eckerd College, and received her PhD in organizational behavior at Yale. She lives in Montreal, Canada.

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