Vincent Antonio Rendoni


I witnessed something beautiful, friends

One day,

on my father’s monthly visit
to give his father
some money


who kicked him out at sixteen
who didn’t believe in touch or mercy

caught his son limping

& put away the contempt fathers have for sons
& suspended the law of machismo reached for the rusted Texaco box
with the antiseptic, tweezers & gauze
slapped his knee
& called to his son’s feet,
& began working his way
through the skin & blood
of a used car salesman’s ingrown toenail

& never thought, not even once

as he cut through the keratin
cleaning & washing the lowest part
of working folk
that this is something
a man has to think about.


Boundary Waters

Donald Platt


Accessible primarily by canoe, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in northeast Minnesota . . . extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border, covering approximately 1,098,000 acres . . .
— Explore Minnesota


I want to go

to the Boundary Waters, canoe its one thousand lakes,

hundreds of miles


of rivers. So many places I’ve never been. I’d like to see sunset

reflected in Tuscarora

Lake, when it’s so still you cannot tell the difference


between sky on fire

and water on fire. Rosanne and I could paddle together

in our red canoe


to the very middle of the lake. Her hair would outshine sunset.

One loon would call

to another loon with its otherworldly wail from across


wide water.

That’s all I want to hear. But Rosanne, who has been to the Boundary

Waters and back,


tells me gently, firmly, matter-of-factly—in the voice

I love more

than any other woman’s voice—that no, I will never go as far


as Tuscarora

Lake. My body with its nerve pain, unable to walk anymore

without its rollator,


would not be able to do even one long portage.

She’s right, of course.

And even if I were to canoe that cold, aquifer-fed water


so clear I can see

twenty feet down to the rocky bottom, always another

waterway is waiting.


Night calls me with its unanswerable cry. Death’s loon

cries out

to me to come, come. Canoe to him alone across


dark, starlit water

where the moon now rises. Keep him company upon those other

boundaryless waters.


Weight of Water

Allison Field Bell


Yesterday at the kitchen sink, my lover told me again
how I can’t do it right—load the dishwasher, wash the cast iron.
No soap, no scrubbing. My hands submerged in water, scalding.


Today, I’d rather be a fish. Scales, gills, unblinking eyes. Curl
around the toxic tentacles of that blooming mass: the anemone.
Brilliant orange and white stripes against the rainbow of reef.


None of that anxiety that dwells in the stomach, hollows it out, drops
it to the knees. The way my lover yelled when I panicked—
shook and shimmied. Too much, too much.


Too much pressure from the weight of water above,
but not feeling the ear-popping ascent from the depths of
the sandy floor. Water crushing bones. A whole sea of it to live in.


I’d like to be a shark. A predator. Free in my own kingdom.
Beast so ancient, so full of its own history, so full of its
own instinct. So full. So unlike the way I am. Sitting on the edge


of the bed now, my lover beyond a slammed door. I wonder
what it is to escape something. Where it is I could go. Beyond
the twist of whitewater, the shallow sand shelf to the deep


underbelly of sea, cold dark infinite. Bliss, all that water, swimming.



Travis Mossotti


Here’s the orchard someone else will tend to.
And the crawl space beneath the porch
of the house where someone else’s barn cat
will slumber through the summer nights
dreaming of long-tailed mice in the high grass.
Over that field, the light dips and refracts
through the broken glass of the muck pond
where a catfish will take someone else’s bait
and hook—that it might meet the refined
heat of a skillet. The ghosts of a thousand
head of cattle walk through the woods at night
in someone else’s dream while the windows,
cracked slightly, let a mild breeze pass
through the empty rooms like an appraiser.
There is no death that cannot be undone
by simply turning the compost with a pitchfork
or by scattering scratch in the dirt for chickens
who sing each time they lay, but every repair
is only a gesture against the torment of slow
winds and steady rain and heavy sun. It will be
someone else who grows too old to climb
the ladder into the barn’s cool loft or the flight
of stairs that lead to and from their own bed.
It will be their hand weighing the mortgage.
It will be their face forgetting its smile. Listen,
if the well pump kicks to life at dawn, it will be
someone else drawing a bath for the last time—
joints relaxing as their form submerges, body
recovering and failing in the same held breath.



Michael Chang


wanna sleep till i see u again
words u generally wanna hear
except when ur already at their haus
hey do u wanna get outta here
i like it when u talk abt cannes
so much
i like it so much
i’m a same-sex couple
a warehouse
nothing in me but a grand piano
stop staring
start tearing
if u’d changed u wouldn’t be here
did u see my present
the one i left
believing u could be deterred
i think i threw it out
as they used to say in hollywood
that movie sold popcorn
he asked to take me to the pound shop
but it was just a dollar tree
u go to the disco, panic
they want a better look at u
any acknowledgment of their infinitesimal existence
as mark twain’s old saw has it
the difference between a fire & a firefly
rain that looks like u, clean sheets
we luv to be intrusive
take an invasive procedure
make it more invasive
find it hard to leave relationships
luv being in luv w/ machines
money from a white-shoe firm
in fact a frozen-foods conglomerate
angel cakes bearing lines of credit
do not be afraid


I Woke Up Eating Donuts in the Rain

Jarrett Moseley


is the note I left for myself
on the introduction page
of a poetry book
three years ago.


I did not wake up eating donuts in the rain
except for once
when I was a kid
and even then I was dreaming.


I’m always dreaming
of an elsewhere
where the reams of grass
I tucked into a wicker basket
last July have not withered
and the grease of fast food
slides off my fingers like sunlight
and a child touches a mirror, feeling
unlike a severed power line.


I was not that child.
When I was nine, I wrote a song
about the black tongue of death
before I even knew what it looked like.


I don’t know what to make of that
or if everything is a river
though I keep having the persistent feeling
that everything is supposed to be a river
even bad things
like loneliness.


Three years ago, I was lonely
and writing sad notes to myself
like screaming into a shower head.


Since then
Mason died
and Savanah moved to New York
and Gracie left New York for L.A.
and Sarah gave birth
and I decided against writing summary poems
but here I am.


When I say I’m always dreaming
that’s not what I mean
but that there’s a place inside me called outwards
where each thing faces away
from the next thing.


The couch back pushed against another couch back
which is facing away from the mirror
which is facing away from the window
which is facing away from the outside lawn
which is facing away from the world’s
violent unbuckling.


You can just say a lot of things
and get away with it
and even without music
or a bicycle wreck set on a loop forever
or waving one’s arms in circles from a distance


but once love gets involved
the whole thing turns red-tinted and jutted.


The last person who touched me naked,
we didn’t even have sex
we didn’t even know each other
we just slept in the same bed
with our feet barely brushing,
which is more intimate than sex
then never spoke again.


I could write an entire symphony
on things more intimate than sex.


I slap the back of a friend,
a boy holds the book at just the right angle,
we watch the car skid out on the road.


The news blurs into the radio,
a stone reverses back through a window,
the ground is seared with footprints.


Remember you are a river—
maybe that’s what the note should have said,
to move inside the banks of my body
through absolute loneliness
to write not about the leaf stuck in my hair
but rather, the wind that put it there.


Three years ago I was not having sex,
no one was sleeping in my bed,
my shoulder was like a stick in the mud,
and I didn’t even dream.


But today,
on the 12th of March,
pollen scattered like yellow DNA
across the glass porch table
that points outwards


into the community courtyard
where a girl mounts her pink tricycle
as her father pushes behind,
into the 70-degree warmth
swarming the dogwood trees
and the cardinals they carry,
into the peace of learning
to love the cliché
of blooming hope,


I open a poetry book and read
the note I had forgotten about.


you don’t want to dream.
Sometimes you don’t want to think
about death
or loneliness
or even sex.


You want to wake up
eating donuts in the rain,
to feel the river rise,
and to float a letter
to yourself
from one world
hoping it finds you
happily in the next.


Dirty Moon Dog

Francine Witte


Tonight is the night
of the Dirty Moon,
where dust and scrub
show up thumbprint
on the lunar face.
Visible here on Earth
for only a speck,
showing itself quiet
in July or maybe
November. No one
talks about the Dirty
Moon the way no one
talks about the second
Love goes cold, maybe
one less phone call,
one less kiss, or
the way your parents
go see-through,
translucent on
their way to being
gone. But tonight,
right now, a dog
is howling it out.
He is alone
in a field, around
him the worry
of wheat, a shush,
a soft wind trying
to quiet him, his snout
full up, his mouth open
wide into the night.


Two Poems

Rebecca Foust

Ocean Beach

I am not quite thirty again
on a beach under a three-quarter moon
slung low in the sky, stars pricking
darkness & so cold where the tide
rushes in, swirling ankles then knees
& you swooping me up in your arms
like any fantasy of rescue & I’m ravished
in John Donne’s sense of the word
& pretty much every sense
of the word, licked up & down my spine
by freezing flame, slicked wet
like a dog in the rain, every nerve
buzzing bees in a beauty bush June—
it happens every time I return
to memory’s long, low curve of cold sand,
the swallowed surge of a wave,
held breath knocked out & away
into liquefaction & release,
an icicle held in your warm, bare hand.



In a myth from the southern sea
a woman loved a god
in the guise of a bull, or maybe
it was the sea, or maybe
it was a bull made of waves
that came from behind
all muscle & surge
to her knees, waist, chest,
throat, mouth & eyes, then left
with the morning tide.


They say she near died, burned
by sorrow & salt & sun
before she thought to build
a bull of wood she could live
within. For she was also a god
who could drain all she filled
& fill all she drained
like us, who daily dwell
in a world that swallows us whole,
while we take it, holy, inside.



Nicole Santalucia


for Lesley, Patty, Kathy, and Eileen


I woke up in a zoo feeding penguins
that looked like grandmothers I would’ve
knocked down to get a cigarette,
but I quit smoking two years ago
when I came face to face with
a skunk in my backyard. Monday
is garbage night—this I know.
There was a time when I didn’t
know I had a drug problem then
there was a time when I did. The knowing
trapped and released me. We fenced
in the backyard last spring to keep out
little critters, and now I have land sickness.
Anne gave us Jack-in-the-pulpits that have been
in the family for generations. I never thought
this scarlet, orange fruit would blossom again and
again and again—that I’d take responsibility without
taking blame. Taking has nothing to do with Mondays
and Tuesdays. I take the weekend to grow tomatoes.
I always take more and the devil’s ear listens
to my spiritual disease. So does Mr. and Mrs. Brown,
and Mrs. Jones down the street wants to put the house
in her name. If the loan doesn’t go through, she might
get drunk and I might get struck by lightning.
I thought it was just me, but it’s also the landscape.
Here at the river of denial, I refuse the weather,
and people who drank like me have been hiding
in the bushes this whole time. The people who
drank like Kathy just sent her a nice check from
a bar she invested in years ago. And my inner
Eileen says we won’t get struck drunk. She hated
zoos and every penguin in town knew it. She
also had pulmonary emphysema and was rescued
by inhaling and exhaling. She taught us not to think
about thinking and how to die without dying.
We are at war with the skunks. This inner protest
and hot head of cauliflower are part of the ritual.
I place my palm on the source of heat and prepare
to listen with my whole body. I begin with tubers
and work my way to the leafy greens then open
myself up to the rage and wild onions climbing
over the fence to choke out the tree-of-heaven.


8 Facts about the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab

Bex Hainsworth


1.) They are not actually crabs, but faux-crustaceans,

aquatic scorpions; arthropods with arachnid-kin.


2.) Triassic reverberations, they are their own ancestors,

unchanged fossils, 230 million years in the making.


3.) Called Limulus Polyphemus, after the Odyssean cyclops,

but unborn embryos have nine eyes and a sense of irony.


4.) Liminal in existence, they live in the gaps between land

and sea: the brackish, the shallows, the world’s edges.


5.) Their distinctive carapace – armour, disguise, barnacled

island – is regularly moulted, left behind like pottery.


6.) Females are larger than males, often scarred from mating,

when suitors cling to the rafts of their bodies for months.


7.) Each spring, they are spades, digging nests in the same sand

where they were spawned; 64,000 eggs shine like blue pearls.


8.) Their blood is used in medical research. We claim catch and

release, hands slick, harvesting the sea in search of immortality.