snatched book


On the Train, A Man Snatches My Book
Paige Lewis

On the train, a man snatches my book, reads
the last line, and says I completely get you,

you’re not that complex. He could be right–lately
all my what ifs are about breath: what if

a glass-blower inhales at the wrong
moment? What if I’m drifting on a sailboat

and the wind stops? If he’d ask me how I’m
feeling, I’d give him the long version–I feel

as if I’m on the moon listening to the air hiss
out of my spacesuit, and I can’t find the rip. I’m

the vice president of panic and the president is
missing. Most nights, I calm myself by listing

animals still on the least concern end of the
extinction spectrum: aardvarks and blackbirds

are fine. Minnows thrive–though this brings
me no relief–they can swim through sludge

if they have to. I don’t think I’ve ever written
the word doom, but nothing else fits.

Every experience seems both urgent and
unnatural–like right now, this train

is approaching the station where my lover
is waiting to take me to the orchard so we can

pay for the memory of having once, at dusk,
​plucked real apples from real trees.


Postscript to mania


Ode to Lithium #18 – Postscript to Mania
Shira Erlichman

It’s not easy dying every second
for the sake of some mission.
What-the-Fuck-ologist, leading me
by the softest whim toward the blade.
Chicken wire undulated behind my lids
& the sky looked beat to death.
I’ve been going through my files. Who
was that? At what precise moment
did my brain tattle on itself? Everything
was a wick. Even God was worn down
by my false sirening. It’s not easy dying
without dying. Before I ever took the pills
I took so much. So much was taken. I’m
done. I’m here. A fish thrown back
to the river can’t help but swallow fistfuls
of self.

dissent as cheer


Grace Paley

My dissent is cheer
a thankless disposition
first as the morning star
my ambition: good luck

and why not a flight
over the wide dilemma
and then good night to
sad forever

desire field


From the Desire Field
Natalie Diaz

I don’t call it sleep anymore.
             I’ll risk losing something new instead—

like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.

But sometimes when I get my horns in a thing—
a wonder, a grief or a line of her—it is a sticky and ruined
             fruit to unfasten from,

despite my trembling.

Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.

Maybe this is what Lorca meant
             when he said, verde que te quiero verde—

because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.

My mind in the dark is una bestia, unfocused,
             hot. And if not yoked to exhaustion

beneath the hip and plow of my lover,
then I am another night wandering the desire field—

bewildered in its low green glow,

belling the meadow between midnight and morning.
Insomnia is like Spring that way—surprising
             and many petaled,

the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow.

I am struck in the witched hours of want—

I want her green life. Her inside me
in a green hour I can’t stop.
             Green vein in her throat green wing in my mouth

green thorn in my eye. I want her like a river goes, bending.
Green moving green, moving.

Fast as that, this is how it happens—
             soy una sonámbula.

And even though you said today you felt better,
and it is so late in this poem, is it okay to be clear,
             to say, I don’t feel good,

to ask you to tell me a story
about the sweet grass you planted—and tell it again
             or again—

until I can smell its sweet smoke,
             leave this thrashed field, and be smooth.

Photo by Runze Shi on Unsplash

negative return


Negative Return
Karen Wild Díaz


grant me an afternoon sadness
turn, tiny wheel of ardor, turn!


the lost look of sadness
synecdoche of a love returning


torrid fist straight to the chest
when it arrived in the stomach
opened itself into ten fleshy petals
and held me back


i had a watery prairie
modest pool
of calming dark rings, rain-damp hair
moving slowly
to doze aware
of the tornado


fierce warmth enormous eyes
pure expressive faces
all mortgaged realism
concentration of thought
assimilated to swarm
…wander into familiar


nothing as predictable today as the body:
with warm compresses, with gentle caresses
my breasts draw near the fire
test the embrace in the silence
of this stiff ruggedness you will make defoliate me
I return: dressed
by your fingers


all was revealed that evening
an order never existed
swirling like a sea
feigned a drowning
suddenly stopped on the surface
we saw at last the bodies
but we were going:
profile, back, end of the album.

stiff sparrows pile up on the balcony
and i will not place them in a crate
to carry them away



negativo del regreso


dame tristeza a la tarde
gira, diminuta rueda de ardor, gira!


la mirada perdida de la tristeza
sinécdoque del amor que vuelve


puño tórrido en la boca al pecho
cuando llegó al estómago
se abrió en diez carnosos pétalos
y me contuvo


tuve llanura acuosa
modesto estanque
de serena ojera, cabello llovido
movimiento lento
donde dormitar consciente
del tornado


tibieza feroz ojos enormes
rostros de expresivo puro
todo realismo hipotecado
concentración de pensamiento
asimilado a enjambre
..deambulé contra paredes


nada tan predecible hoy como el cuerpo:
con tibias compresas, con caricias dóciles
acerca mi pecho a la lumbre
prueba abrazar en silencio
de esta rígida rugosidad harás que me deshoje
regreso: desde tus dedos


todo se supo a la tarde
nunca existió consigna
arremolinado como un mar
se simuló un ahogo
de pronto detenido en superficie
vimos al fin los cadáveres
pero nos estábamos yendo:
perfil, espalda, fin del álbum.

se apilan en el balcón gorriones tiesos
y no quiero meterlos al cajón
llevarlos fuera



An Echo of an Echo
Nancy Morejón

Nothing more than a marimba,
a joke, a bass drum
and the splinter of a scream
to put the sky
at the level of my feet.
A tremor rises
at the root itself
of my ancestor.


Un eco de un eco

Nada más que una marimba,
un guasá, un bombo
y la astilla de un grito
para poner el cielo
al nivel de mis pies.
Sube un temblor
en la raíz misma
de mi ancestro.