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.
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.
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
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
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.