AUSTIN SEGREST A kind of hangar by the mall. / Propulsive dance hits / looped like the 80s never ended— / B-b-b-b-b-baby, I-I-I-I can’t wait… // A shimmering wall through which / the latest Nikes, Reeboks, and Adidas / parthenogenetically appeared, manifesting / some new sports need
GABRIEL CARLE It’s the last day of school, and I get home with butterflies in my stomach. My mouth already tastes like summer, like heat outside and air conditioning inside, like the darkness of my cave, like cloister and crypt. I turn on the television and change the channel, change the channel, one to the next.
MARCI CALABRETTA CANCIO-BELLO You tried so hard to be good, turning / the shower on when no one was home, / brushing your teeth so inaudibly / that even standing in the hall with an ear / pressed to wood, no one could hear you. / The sun could not freckle through you.
ELIZABETH METZGER Make the house leaves. Make the windows impenetrable. / I will climb from underground with my dry bark heart / still pulsing for you / the old rhythm of dead humans once painted / just as freshly not breathing as my first day / outside paradise.
KATHLEEN HEIL Then the woman from Spain said, No, I mean “soul”... and I said, “Geist,” and the woman from Seoul said, Isn’t the word in German “Seele,” and I said yes, then wondered why I said “Geist” and not “Seele,” what it was that compelled me to translate the word, as it were, “wrong.”
ANACAONA ROCIO MILAGRO I was in Egypt nine months before the towers fell. / The people spoke to me in Arabic Roh Rohi / but I spoke back in English so they called me “American” / I never called myself American. / America never called me American - not without a hyphen.
TOMMYE BLOUNT Inside the discourse, our course—the walk / in the tattle, the footwork goose stepped // by robed men winged in silk-lined capes. / A white hood is a whitehood, neighborhood // watch, citizens arrested by terror—a tremble / in the trees (as in from the root) of someone // off their route.
LAUREN HILGER I was once in a denim skirt and cowboy hat, spilling milk in a grocery store. / How many songs did I learn to sing I was the fool? / I am a fool. I know I have been a fool— / these are the early future concepts out of which I turned into myself. / I watched…
JOHN FREEMAN always she was leaning over the counter, head tipped toward / a tiny phone, / her husband turning the pages of a / Daily Mail like a man / whose suspicions of human nature were / being fed fresh evidence. / Stale fryer fat, ale, black and tans in the fridge. / They knew I’d be there.
AKWE AMOSU April’s cool Catskill forests are yet to leaf out / but the maple’s crimson flowers blush whole hillsides / deepening the dense green in the fields below. // No more bullshit, says a Trump 2020 banner we pass / on our way to the Seager trailhead.
DANIEL TOBIN It’s the boy / behind who’s turned to something out beyond / the glazing, at the leafless Common, / announcing to all the falcon’s sudden plummet / in the haunt outside, the squirrel pinned, / that beak going tenderly at neck and throat. / Will he fathom what the prey beholds?
MATT DONOVAN Perhaps you think you know where this is going. Perhaps this seems as predictable as any sloganeering phrase. Except this story refuses to be reduced to a single phrase. The guy kept his gun close, not knowing what else to do. When he felt its heft... maybe it seemed as if order could be restored.
TOM PAINE When I first became a bee I was just so nectar naïve. / I tumbled over petals waving my antennae frantically. Then, when I was living life as a flower and not a bee, / well, to back up: this is tragic: I didn’t identify as flower / when I was a flower or as bee when a bee.
TARA SKURTU You have to have the end in mind / when you read the poem, Lloyd once said, / and ours is in days; I knew it before I came, / but I believe in trying all probabilities / of a history, especially / those that aren’t likely—it wasn’t love / the woman smelled, that couldn’t keep / the…
TERRI WITEKI climb through mountain sons. They are finding how far blue takes them. They are learning the ropy muscles of a man (higher animus/ they r anonymous) becalmed in a cave mouth. His red hat and book, the little fire. / One son becomes tooth, one legbone. It’s easy for mountains.
SARA MUNJACK A boy / hiding in the desert for days surviving / on nopales y ardillas. Chon, before wading through the Rio Grande, / water-laden and buoyed by his own / lack of citizenship. He’s hiding in the sand, / fighting to stand up and shake off the crawling dots.
LOGAN LANE She was a child still, curious and borderless, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that she was sewn from the stolen thoughts of the dead. Instead, I told her I wove her out of dreams. I said that when people wake in the morning, their dreams drift out of their bodies and into the sky.
TOMMYE BLOUNT lit by her fire, I was the scorched / tree Clare West found // direction by; a swiftly drawn arrow / became a drawn hood; an era gone / Hollywood. She must have known / of the impression we’d leave // in parchment her handprints / left here. And here is where // she held the page / in place
AHMED NAJI It all began when the new state security officer in town, acting on a tip from a butcher, called Antar in for questioning. Antar declined the invitation. “I go to no one. He who wants me shall seek me out,” he said to the policeman. The security officer responded with a police wagon.
SINDYA BHANOO As the parakeet-green municipal bus pulled into Cuddalore, Sai held his sign up as high as he could, his forehead burning from the morning sun. He did not want the reporter to miss him. The sign was flimsy, made of two pieces of printer paper taped together, but it was sufficient.
DAVID MILLS From my row house mailbox, I fished / an envelope: no address, just “David.” / scrawled. In my room, I read: e-mails // bounced back, calls orphaned. If you’re / alive and don’t want to talk I get it. / Though six hours across the Atlantic / is much farther than six along it. If / need be, I will kneel
DARIUS SIMPSON you, thrust open leather vest glisten chest in the desert / you, both knee beggin in silver pants plus rain / you, break a lover wide to see what lyrics may flow / chorus basically a moan stretched out the measure / of a messy long distance relationship run its course
ROBIN LEE CARLSON I’ve stepped off the trail to peer at a gaping hole where a tree once stood. Nearby there are charred tree trunks, hollowed out by fire, but they are still standing, pointing blackened fingers into the fierce blue above. This tree is completely gone, vaporized—leaves, branches, trunk...
ALEXIS M. WRIGHT Two Black women, two White cops. The cops have come to collect the details for the report, but I’m doing most of the talking. Grammy bears witness. Alpha Cop asks, “How did she get your Social Security number?” I indignantly answer, “She’s my mother..."
GERARDO SÁMANO CÓRDOVA We called him Ísjaki. Few knew his real name. I certainly didn’t when I was charged with being his caretaker during his first visit to New York. Ísjaki meant “iceberg” in Iceland, where this man came from. I wrote Ísjaki on a blank sheet of paper—careful to include the accent.
JOSEPH O. LEGASPI As a boy I loved pink, the insides of my cheeks where I stored laughter. My tonsil was a bell, churchly. Chimed pinkly every hour. Pink was the Paschal moon, closest to earth on Easter weekend. Jesus hatched from a pastel egg as a bunny with a burning heart, pinker than a flamboyance.
ROSSELLA MILONE It must have been hard for him. She’d always been a bit quirky and old age had only intensified her eccentricities. The desire to be alone. To dance the Charleston. To forget the names of people and things. She called everyone by her deceased husband’s name.
ROBERT FANNING Whirling axis, spine of a spinning top. Love / between us all maybe and blush. Night we press / against us, secret we caress, word we write in steam we breathe on glass. What we let fly from our fingers, / love between us. String we find to weave a world.
ALEXANDRA TEAGUE My mother and I are on a chlorinated river that’s simultaneously the Amazon, Congo, and Nile, floating languidly so we don’t run into the boat in front of us and “don’t scare the wildlife”: the kind of joke the Disney guide, in his safari hat, keeps making.
HUSSAIN AHMED Where do the birds hide when it snowed? / I have many questions, but I can only ask my reflection / From the mirror, anytime I wash my face / Before another salaat. / Each time, this is what it means to be in khalwa. / You whisper names you know Allah bears.
MEERA NAIR I imagine the tree’s hanging roots and its giant trunk as conduits, which, along with its rising sap and the susurration of its leaves, convey the deepest longings and the secret stories of its devotees, all that clamorous human need, up to the silent gods hoping they are out there.
TOMMYE BLOUNT Look up here, the air is Aryan. The moon, / our white hood. Our life must loom large / above that which is darkened in our shadow. / A fate loomed long ago, ours // in the weft and warp of hems, / a lowered white curtain on this / re-coonstructed show