The Dao of Collage

after Joy Harjo


Clear a space for yourself.  This includes time.

No thinking, no ideas, no answers, no logic, no reasons.

Stand against productivity.

Don’t be afraid to put the needs of others out of your mind.

The light, predawn or evening, works its private magic.  This counts.

Collect materials.  Watch sidewalks for doll parts or rusted washers.
Go to flea markets.  Buy dusty, moldy, chipped, beaten, time-worn pieces.

All junk has potential.

Don’t forget the odd family scraps; you don’t even know how you ended up with them.  (A banknote from Venezuela for Dos Mil Bolivares or a moldy photograph with “Turku, Finland” penned on the back?)   Let their hidden stories prance on without you.

Indulge in setting up.  Admire your tools: Scissors. Paper. Water. Glue.

You can love simple things here.

Do not tamp down your excitement.

Your paint brushes are a group, a chorus. All different heights and haircuts, they applaud you.

Here there is no shame.  You do not have to know anything.

Your hands and eyes know everything.


When you don’t have a plan, the options are infinite and equal.
Glinda’s sparkling wand or Lana Turner’s head?  Make your choice.

Glue it down. Bam!

You have created a point in the universe.

As you peruse your materials looking for that pterodactyl, you will often find something else. The perfect blue circle. Let it in.

There are no mistakes. Things just turn out different.

You are free to crack yourself up.

Respect the messiness: the gluey edges, the crooked cut.

Become lost. Nothing matches.


Kim Farrar is a writer and collagist. Her poetry collection, The Impossible Physics of the Hummingbird, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2025. Her chapbooks, The Familiar and The Brief Clear are available from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, New Ohio Review, and other literary journals. Her essays and creative non-fiction have been published in Midwest Review, Illness & Grace, Voices of Autism, and Reflections. She was a semi-finalist in the Grayson Books Poetry Contest in 2022 and 2021. Her chapbook of poems and collages was a semi-finalist in the 2022 New Women’s Voices contest. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.


Kim Farrar

Omphalos; or, Inside the Circuit Board

Humming like a subterranean network sized computer is a fear

that if I ever meet my creator, They will not resemble me –


only appear as an abstract painting, less resolution than myself

and I will look at Them, and They, unthinkingly will stare through me


and, I will find myself to be the one more alive. Our virtual creations

won’t make me question if their bytes are analogous to my experiences.


Those perfect, idealized pixels will remain dead. Then,

I will have to keep living, having extravagant celebrations,


quadruple tiered wedding cakes, bouquets of tulips,

chocolate rabbits. Which is all to say, great tragedies can be a moment.


Elias Diakolios holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University where he served as Poetry Editor for Columbia Journal 59. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in New Notes Poetry, Pidgeonholes, Epiphany Magazine, Bookends Review, Juked, and others. Currently, he teaches in the Writing Department at Montclair State University and works on linocuts in his spare time.


Elias Diakolios

Red Ink

You’ll never guess what I just found. Ann steps over the pile of boxes blocking the doorway, a small black object in her hand. Haven’t seen one of these in years.

She hands it over. An old floppy disc.

Bloody hell, me neither. Where was it?

Found it unpacking a box of your old college stuff. Any idea what’s on it?

Not sure. He turns it over. There’s a crack in one corner, and an illegible red scribble on the label. Chloe Hide’s handwriting. Oh.

The class was paired into teams. He and Chloe were put together. For the whole afternoon she sat beside him, shoulders bare in the muggy heat, red ponytail down her back. When she stretched her arms over her head, he craned forwards to peek at her breasts, turning away as she relaxed, afraid she’d catch him staring. They talked and he made her laugh. At the end of the lesson, they saved their work on a disc and he promised to look after it. Outside, the wind tossed her hair over her shoulder, the clear sky glinted in her eyes. Ask if she wants to go get a cup of tea, or something to eat maybe. Just ask her.

OK, great. See you tomorrow. Her smile showed her braces.

He watched her turn the corner, then ran the other way for the bus. Chloe walked home alone. The police recovered her two weeks later.

He strokes his thumb across the red ink. It doesn’t smudge. It dried decades ago.

It’s nothing. Just some old college junk.

I’ll throw it out then if you want. Can’t use it for anything. Ann holds out her hand.

No. It’s fine.

Ann shrugs and goes back upstairs. He sits down, and slides the disc into his pocket.


Sam comes from East Yorkshire but now resides in Lancashire. He recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Lancaster University, and has had two books published, one in 2020 by Alban Lake, and the other in 2018 after it won 1st Prize in the National Association of Writers’ Group’s 2017 novella competition. When not writing, he likes cooking, hiking, and spending time with his fiancé and his cat.


Sam Graham

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