Languishing | Eli Whittington

Image: Josh Hoehne


How we languished!
How we laid, and sat, and crouched
In shady buildings
As the sun burned above
How we scrolled, eyes rolled
How we tucked fingers into familiar patterns
Familiar shapes greeted us
How we giggled inanely at short silly videos
How we condemned
Strangers from afar
How we fretted!
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing
And never slept.

How we languished!
In the shade we laid
And sat and crouched
On porch steps and stoops
As the sun burned
Freckles into polaroids of summer memories
How we rolled cigarettes
And plucked strings
Into familiar patterns
How we condemned politicians from afar
And fretted
About garden pests and
Polluted rivers.
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing.

And O!
How we languished!
Grins splitting like ripe fruit as we
Sat and crouched
On leaf-littered ground and
Moss-covered tree-limbs
We laid in the shade of fruit-bearing trees
As the sun simmered above
How our eyes glazed in the dappled shade of the canopy
How we tucked fingers into familiar fur
Nibbled our neighbors lice
Giggled inanely
At our children’s antics
How we napped!
How we fought
Strangers from afar and
How we fretted
When the storms
And the big cats came
How we exhausted ourselves
Doing nothing
And slept
Like the dead.

Eli Whittington published a book entitled “Treat Me Like You Treat the Earth” in 2019 through Suspect Press. Eli is a queer, bi-polar Colorado-raised and Denver-abiding poet.  They are a parent, a singer/songwriter, gardener, carpenter, tiler, biker, and hiker.  Despite these character flaws, they do not enjoy IPAs.  Their love of folk-punk remains unexplained, as they are not an addict, are well over 20, and have functioning eardrums.

Hear Me Out | Sam Moe

Image: Gauravdeep Singh

Hear Me Out

  1. I am pretending to be a god in the bathroom mirror.
    Dim blue Christmas lights blend with a single pale
    yellow bulb, the same dangling light from the stories.
    Atop my head is a puddle of green. I used to have
    better words. You’d give me your hearts and I’d say,
    fire lamb, my love. But that was before, and I’m not
    supposed to adore you.
  1. I want dessert for dinner. I sit on my hands to keep
    my reach from your wrist. Watch out the corner of
    my eye as you slice into a filet whose center is bright
    and fiery as an ember, you can change your heart’s
    shape and I’m lost in daydreams of summers gathering
    seasoning, mint leaves with aphids, I had a thing for
    toffee, held my breath as we walked side-by-side
    through the radish patches.
  1. In the dictionary of flowers, I doodle your initials. You
    haunt the way I hold my pen; you tell me to stop but I
    can’t help myself, I’m not as into the weather as I could
    be, would you save me, or should we toss liking into fire?
  1. Moon tattoo on your thumb, the day in which I pay the
    price, how you care more for jaws and violet roses, you give
    up on my alphabet, there is apple blossom and ash, trumpet
    flower fit for a mouth, bells then shells, I’m doing that thing
    you hate where I offer catchfly snare as answer.
  1. I could try a little more truth if you wanted me to. Corn straw
    cress, the crown imperial, and your father’s fir. Then it’s days,
    flowering reed, iris and sprig, the juniper in jars, Larkspur then
    lavender are you still going to love me when I’m moss?
  1. Know your breathing. I’d sacrifice birds, too. It’s time to ask
    the father how to build the altar. Oranges, split lip from a fall
    off the pew, broke a cherub statue’s arm, I’m forgetting how
    to explain myself, just saying I have a crush because of robes
    and the bucket of ashes, do you think the priest knows our lungs
    do you think he sings when he drives the thin edge of dusk.

Sam Moe is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her first chapbook, “Heart Weeds,” is out from Alien Buddha Press and her second chapbook, “Grief Birds,” is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @SamAnneMoe.

Call to Action | Stop the Killing of Wolves in Colorado

Image: Thomas Bonometti

A Letter From Ecopoet Kathleen Willard

Dear Ecopoets, Poets, Environmentalists, the Lovers of Nature and Potential Defenders of the Future Wolves in Colorado,

Many thanks for coming out tonight to learn more about the process of reintroducing the grey wolf into Colorado. 

Your input can change the current plan to reintroduce wolves in our state.

Two events happened in 2020, the worst year in human history that gave me hope, caused me joy and provided inspiration and they both had to do with wolves.  

In April 2020, Brice Maiurro and Shelsea Ochoa went to their front yard in Denver at 8PM and howled like wolves at the moon and their neighbors howled back. 

Soon, all of Colorado joined in. For many more days than I can count, I went outside at 8 PM and howled joining my neighbors and I didn’t feel alone. I felt like I belonged to a community and that Coloradoans cared about each other. I was powerful and healing. Howling like wolves in Colorado charmed the rest of the world and made the news worldwide.

In November 2020, we passed Proposition 114 to reintroduce an endangered species, the grey wolf, back into the Colorado wild. This process has also been watched around the world.

I was hopeful because Coloradoan passed that could rewrite the narrative of wolves in the New West and leave behind the Old West wolf history of extermination, demonization and blood lust for trophy hunting of wolves.

In addition, the passing of Proposition 114 was wonderful environmental news. We were swarming the news about climate change, the Sixth Extinction, and in our state battling climate-change fueled wildfire after wildfire. It was a relief to me that my state was going to welcome an endangered species and be on the cutting edge of new ways to think about the wild.

First, the new law mentioned the words endangered species, which meant no one could kill wolves. Second, this foundational sentence was written in this law: “Grey Wolf”  means nongame wildlife of the species  Canis Lupus. The law clearly states that there will be no hunting of wolves, and no killing of wolves in our state as the law passed included the words endangered species and non-game species.

Both of these events inspired me to begin research and write my next book of poems, The Wolf Dossier. One main part of this book is reporting on the process and was filled with hope that wolves would find 

Fast forward December 2023.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission ( CPW) released the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Draft Plan includes both delisting grey wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act and the killing of wolves. The CPW Draft Plan includes three methods to kill wolves in Colorado: recreational hunting, lethal control, and issuing permits for ranchers to kill conflict wolves.

How can recreational hunting be possible when the gray wolf is protected by the federal Endangered Species Act? There is a process the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can use to delist any animal from the Endangered Species Act. The process is called the 10j rule, which gives states the power to manage any endangered species including wolves as they see fit.  

That is why there are hunting wolf hunting seasons in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Wisconsin. These states decided on hunting as a wolf management tool. This past year Idaho passed a law to kill 90% of their wolves. Montana passed a law to kill 85% of their wolves. In Wisconsin, one third of their wolf population was killed in only 2 days of their first 2 week hunting season and they had to shut down their wolf hunting season early.

How can this be the future of wolves in our state?

CPW began the process to delist grey wolves in August 2022.

Proposition 114 defines wolves as a non-game species, which makes the hunting of wolves illegal.  the current draft of CPW draft plan encourages non-lethal methods to control wolves, but does not require non-lethal methods as a the first line of defense against conflict wolves.

Under the CPW draft plan, hunting wolves will be permitted after 150 wolves live in Colorado for two years, or if the population grows to 400 wolves., whichever comes first. The draft plan calls for the 50 wolves to be reintroduced into our state over the next 3 to 5 years.

CPW proposes that 150 wolves will constitute a sustainable Colorado wolf population. This number relies on an outdated environmental analysis from 1994. Current science reports Colorado’s sustainable wolf population should be 750 wolves.

Ranchers are concerned wolves will kill their livestock. According to USDA statistics, wolves kill 0.009 percent of the livestock in the United States annually. Coloradoans voted to compensate ranchers for all livestock losses due to wolves.  

Outfitters and hunters are worried wolves will cause a serious decline of the elk population. An eleven-year study in Montana of the elk in counties with wolf populations commissioned by the governor of Montana found no decline in the elk population. 

Proposition 114 requires the CPW to listen ideas proposed by voters at public meetings and make changes before the  plan to reintroduce wolves to Colorado is finalized.

Please note the word Draft. 

I talked with the director of the Colorado Wolf Project on Monday  Feb.13th. Many wolf advocates have been making public comment and he says the CPW is listening.

Call to Action: Stop the Killing of Wolves in Colorado

Public Comment ends Feb. 22nd
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is required to revise the Colorado wolf reintroduction plan based on public comment.
From the Office of Governor: Colorado Governor Jared Polis calls on the CPW to solicit and incorporate feedback from the public for the wolf reintroduction plan

“Governor Polis supports CPW’s ongoing work to develop a quality plan, including its extensive efforts to solicit and incorporate feedback from the public prior to finalizing that plan as long as it’s consistent with the law. Whenever the voters or the legislature enact a law, the Governor takes very seriously his responsibility to successfully implement it.”
—-Statement from the Office of Governor Jared Polis


Today until public comment ends on Feb.22nd. Make your opinion known on the CPW website.

Today until public comment ends on Feb. 22nd. Write the CPW Commissioners directly.

On Feb. 22, attend the last CPW public meeting in Denver to show your support for wolves.

​CPW Headquarters
Hunter Education Building
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO
8:30am – 3:00pm, (Subject to change)

Share this information with friends and family. Ask them to make public comment of the CPW website and to share what may happen to Colorado wolves with others.

Image: Milo Weiler

The CPW Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan is Available Here

“Others countered the (CPW appointed) advisory group was stacked with pro-ranching and pro-hunting members. They say that resulted in a plan that is tilted more toward allowing the killing of wolves instead of allowing the predator to establish its numbers in the state.”

Watch the CPW Commissioners Meetings on YouTube


Watch the CPW Meetings here:
Colorado Springs
Jan, 19th

Jan. 25th

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project

This organization has been working for years on behalf of the wolves. Their website is incredible with lots of information on wolves in the Rockies. They have been in the forefront on behalf of wolves in the Proposition 114 process. Check out their website.

Talking Points from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

Darlene Kobobel, founder of the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center and member of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Stakeholders Advisory Group, has detailed information about the CPW Draft Plan to reintroduce wolves to Colorado and alternate ways to reintroduce wolves in a safe and environmentally sound way.

This information can be found in the January 2023 newsletter The Wolf Pack which can be found on The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife website.

Talking Points for Public Comment and Letters from the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, Divide, Colorado

Dear Readers: It is the 11th hour for the draft plan that is now in the hands of the CPW commissioners. As some of you are aware, I was a member of the SAG (Stakeholders Advisory Group) and my job was to bring diverse viewpoints to the group. After a long 18 months of meetings, we finally finished on October 2022. Our group consisted of individuals ranging from ranchers, trappers, and hunters; which compiled as the majority and a few that were pro-wolf. The draft was constructed of phases in developing a plan for the gray wolf reintroduction. There were 3 phases that we could live with and a Phase #4 that we could not. We walked away satisfied that we came to no consensus on Phase #4. See link for the complete draft plan.
Phase #4 is on page iii.. Unfortunately, It is interesting that somehow Phase #4 was put into this draft even after the SAG had recommended that it be tabled until a future time. Below and on the following page is the language of Phase #4.

Phase 4 (Game species status): “Phase 4” refers to when the wolf may potentially be classified as a game species in the future. Phase 4 is not required under CRS 33-2-105.8. There is no population objective for wolves in this Plan. Long-term wolf management may include reclassification as a big game or furbearer species. Regulated public harvest of wolves by hunting during designated seasons is one tool that may help CPW manage wolf numbers and social acceptance of wolves upon delisting and reclassification as a game species.

Proposition #114 C.R.S. 33-2-105.8 precludes wolves as a non-game species. Recreational killing of wolves must not be considered in any future management scenario. hopefully be to show support by attending the upcoming meetings that will be held this month and next. I do know that thousands of support letters have been sent to the commissioners, however that may not be enough. I attended and spoke at the first public meeting on the January 19th meeting in Colorado Springs at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. I closed the Center down that day to have my entire staff attend, speak and show support for our wolves. I will be closing the Center again for the final meeting in Denver on February 22nd, 2023 so we can make another stand for what we believe in and for fairness to be amended in this final plan.
There are many things in this plan that are not wolf friendly if you glance though this draft, but our main concern is Phase #4. Most of this draft lays heavy on compensation for ranchers and lethal take of wolves with very little about conflict management and non-lethal tools. There are no incentives or any language stronger than it is “encouraged”. In addition to this is the small number of wolves that are projected to be reintroduced. We feel that there is not much consideration for things that could occur such as poaching, wolves getting hit by cars, hunting mortalities, mange and more.
Lastly, Phases 1 and 2 have these limited protections. In Phases 1 and 2, a limited duration permit for lethal take may be issued to a livestock owner or agent of the livestock owner on private or public land. A permit is required under state law (CRS 33-2-106.4). Non-lethal conflict mitigation measures will be considered prior to issuance of any lethal take permit. In Phase 3, the same permitting requirements exist. Further coordination with Colorado Department of Agriculture will be required as well per Colo. Rev. Stat. § 35-40-101(4).
I am reaching out because we worked so hard to have this historic event for the return of the Gray wolf to be upon Colorado’s landscape after over 80 years of being absent due to being exterminated and now we feel that we have to fight again just to keep them safe. I am asking for anyone who cares about wolves to help me help the wolves. Below is information where you can speak up for wolves. There are opportunities for people who live in Colorado and people who are out of state. For people who want to speak at the meetings and for people who can just show up and stand in solidarity. After February 22nd, we are done and it is out of our hands. The commissioners are the decision makers and the more people who can voice their thoughts in support, shows strength from the people. Just close your eyes and think of why you have a love in your heart for wolves. That is why you need to help protect them.

Darlene Kobobel
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center


Gray wolves can bring about immensely positive ecological, economic and social opportunities for Coloradans. But these positive effects only occur when wolf family groups are intact and not disrupted by trophy hunting or lethal management.

  • No trophy hunting and no trapping or snaring, ever. Proposition 114 (statue 33-2-105.8) directs that wolves remain classified as a non-game species in Colorado, meaning no recreational trophy hunting, trapping or snaring. Respect the vote of the people.
  • Wolves need a minimum population of 750 individuals distributed across at least 10 of 13 wolf pack recovery zones on Colorado’s West Slope. A self-sustaining wolf population requires a minimum of 750 wolves. CPW’s plan for wolves to lose protected status when there are only 150- 200 anywhere in Colorado is a plan for failure – these numbers rely on outdated environmental analysis from the Northern Rockies in 1994. Without protected status, wolves are more likely to be killed and their populations decline.
  • Coexistence strategies that prevent and reduce conflict between livestock and wolves should be required on public lands. Non-lethal livestock-wolf coexistence strategies are both more effective and ethical than lethal strategies.
  • Compensation for livestock loss should not incentivize killing wolves and implementation of non- lethal coexistence measures should be a prerequisite for compensation for livestock loss. But CPW’s plan does not include any requirement for livestock owners to implement coexistence measures to be eligible for compensation for lost animals.
  • Wolves should be safe on public lands and not subject to being killed. Public lands provide the last refuge for biodiversity – as biodiversity crashes across the world, those lands and species, especially keystone carnivores such as wolves which enhance biodiversity, must be protected.
  • A wolf-killing loophole needs to be closed. Currently CPW’s plan states that “Any employee or agent of CPW or USFWS or appropriate state or federal or tribal agency, who is designated in writing, when acting in the course of official duties may take a wolf from the wild if such actions [are]…to avoid conflict with human activities.” This language opens wolf killing to any reason and undermines any wolf protections.
Image: Eva Blue

A Wakeup Poem | John Grey

Image: Krisztian Tabori

A Wakeup Poem

With great effort,
I crank open my leaden eyelids.
I open my mouth
at great expense to my jaw muscles.
I yawn,
threaten my upper arms with muscle tear
as I suck in my ration of air.
I lift myself,
first, at the waist,
then I swing my legs around,
cranky and creaking,
like a rusted weathervane.
I haul myself up
to the vertical state,
as wobbly
as some Olympic games wrestler
going for the record.
My knees tremble
but they hold.
Blood picks up speed.
Oxygen fights it way to my brain.
The hardest part of the day
is over.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert”Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

Ayuda | Michael Borth

Image: Milind Kaduskar


I watch their lives.
I ask the dreamer to help.
But it remains the wrong city.
Pursued by cold border.
In the day of Amara.
In the night of Ayuda.
The voice of the criminal.
Heavy run of the escape.
The next night a whistling
weak and thin below
the holes in the white shutter.

A kingdom fled the crown.
To worship a deity in the drawer.
And if I can look just like them
I can walk into the solar shield.
Where the image is an icon
beholden to melancholic light
rounding the commercial portal.
To stand as I have always stood
among the domestic windows
admiring the quiet placement
of shadow thrown memorabilia
touching the handles of the cars.

Michael Borth is a writer from The Hudson Valley. His work has appeared in Otoliths, Fence, New World Writing, Prelude, Keith LLC, Forever Magazine, Ballast Journal, ergot and elsewhere.

Three Poems | Kate MacAlister

Image: Quinton Coetzee

divine rites

don’t open your eyes yet
the want is ravaged and set alight
I will call your pain to me
name your beasts to do my bidding

call me back

to worship with wanton knees and eyes
nail my collarbones to the bedroom door
and drink from my bruised lips
a dream like this demands a hungered sacrifice

call me back

to your kingdom on this starless night
the rain so reckless in the shadows
let me dream of your trembling spine
and pry open your butterfly ribs

call me back

to plant moonflowers in your blood
they only bloom carefree in the dark
let me honour you with what remains
beyond skin and crushed days

call me back

to your bed, your voice drowns
out the world. Was it even real?
I just want to feel you – here and here.
all I touch is glass

still / again

christmas morning constellations traced on your skin / undressed / spilled / beneath
the quiver ing lashes and breathless light /enfolded below the midwinter dawn / so
stolen between  

the call of the day and the coffee /(do you want to go and see the worst of me?) /heaped
clothes on the  creaking floor / a tangible whisper in the curtains / the red farewell /stars
sighing in your image/  

and the resurrection of today/ sheltered twilight /can’t hide the embers mined in / the
dead of  night /still on my lips / I am still starving /my heart half eaten / still obsessed/with
what remains  

of the distant bedrock / the thunderwounds of yesterday / (do I not burn when
I bleed?)  I hold your hand/ through these hurting dreams to support their
weight/ still /again/  

we summoned and witnessed / an unspeakable trinity  
come / here / tonight /  

& the small Death  

(prayer is whatever you say on your knees) and if you can’t forgive what lurks
below the skin /  remember / I am fire-tongued and anointed by your touch
/deciphering the holy infliction  

of having been wild and perfect for a moment / (thirst to thirst) / surrender
now /  (your fingers in my hair / my mouth / covered in my blood) / hold
me / in this space  

we are rebuilding the universe / my words are the bare bones /  
painted with the colours  

you have  
shown me  

/ l o v e /  

this is how we retaliate / desecrate the decaying temple /with solemn lunar
devotions  feral laments / spellbound in the marked sheets / the unmade bed  

(I think we’d survive in the wild) 

all hallowed
to be read in case of emergency

we crossed this ocean /I lost the ground / the moon
drew me/in /my crimson tides /beckoning your hands
in red /on the mirroring surface / the light of early dawn

celestial bodies of water / on the fine shoreline before sleep
betroth my hands / to your breath/your elfin throat
vowing /gasping / on half of the dead stars
to be strange / to be beautiful / to be wild / to be/
open water

crashing on broken shells / blessed October sand
a litany / a siren song / an unchanging state of affairs
I am not going to hurt you /cannot resist the call of
continued disturbance and fractures on the wind

a tear bled / into black ink stains/blossoms / into a word
echoes into a constant dream yet untold /let’s send a postcard

some things are better on paper /some things are better
signed and sealed / in blood

When we share our stories, we realize that we are not alone with it. We begin to see the system that behind violence, injustice and exploitation. Telling our story is the connecting moment to take action and to initiate change.” Kate MacAlister (she/her) is an author, feminist activist and founder of the multilingual community arts and literature project Stimmen der Rebellion/Dengê Berxwedane/Voices of Rebellion. Her works have been published in journals and anthologies all over the world. Kate’s debut chapbook “songs of the blood” is filled with poetry that speaks of human connection and the dreams of revolution. Coffee, her cat Bella and, naturally, her activist friends are particularly important for her creative process. Find Kate on Instagram at @kissed.by_fire.

Kodak Black Man Reads Poetry | Said Shaiye

Image: Ben Kolde

Kodak Black Man Reads Poetry

St. Paul 2021 

You double tap hold your Airpods. Noise canceling activated. You have your sunglasses 

You are indoors, in a book shop, somewhere in St. Paul, Minnesota. You are waiting for 
your turn to read. All these people are here to watch you read. Not just you, though. It’s 
never just you.  

Your mentor is on stage reading an essay. He is animated. He can spit like a muhfucka.  

You realize what essay he’s reading, and how traumatic it is for you to listen to. It 
reminds you of the Summer of Floyd, when everything burned around you. When you 
were afraid of racists from Wisconsin, who drove through these streets, laying cans of 
gas in alleyways. Shooting up Black homes. Coming back later that night to set them on 

You ask yourself how on God’s green earth you ended up in a place as racist as America.

You realize you never had a choice. Much like being a writer, you never had a choice. 

Your family left Africa for this shit.  

On your first night in America, it was a drive-by on your block in Atlanta.

You’ve always told that story and repeated that catchphrase: we left Africa for this shit? 

You’re in the thick of it now. That essay is starting to crescendo. You can see the impact 
it’s having on your mentor. He is getting more animated in his delivery. 

Damn, that nigga can spit. 

Also: he is feeling it. You are feeling it, too. Pacing the corners of the room, nervous. You 
turn on Kodak Black. Kodak raps about murder, but it calms you down. Kodak raps 
about the things which he was born into, which he had no choice but to survive. Kodak 
raps about the struggle cuz it made him a man. You know about the struggle, but this 
audience of white faces won’t understand. 

Your mentor is done reading now. It’s almost your turn to go on stage. You instinctively 
start walking towards him. You meet him just outside the audience’s expectant eyes. 
White people are always expecting something from us, aren’t they?  

You embrace your mentor, now. He is shaking. You see the tears in his eyes. Not quite 
tears, but more like… a swelling, of moisture, just shy, of teardrops.

You hug him now. You stand there hugging. It is a shared struggle, these Black male 
bodies, in this country built on the understanding that all your bodies are worth 
is the price of strange fruit. 

Poplar trees, nigga. Emasculation. Manhood stuffed inside of mouth. Tarred
and feathered. 

This the country where niggas like you come up missing. Whether you rap about murder 
like Kodak, or you stand in front of white audiences like a poet professor. You could come up missing, young nigga. No matter how old you are, you will always be a boy to  them. 

And you know this. Not even deep down, you know this consciously. 

That’s why you don’t care about their praise, about their critique, about their putdowns.

You don’t care about their fear of your manhood. About their fetishes surrounding it.

You don’t care about their cuckold fascination.  

White wives, Black dick. You don’t care about it. 

You only care about your words, about your honor, dignity, life.  

You go on stage to spit these bars, but you don’t even care about them half the time. 

You only care about this moment, this shared embrace. Two Black men, acknowledging 
each other’s existence. Holding each other in ways that the world is incapable of.  

You only care about the now.  

And now… you go on stage.  

Dim the lights.  

Turn off that Kodak. 

Fade to Black Man.

Said Shaiye is an Autistic Somali Writer & Photographer. His debut book, Are You Borg Now? was a 2022 Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. He has contributed essays to the anthologies Muslim American Writers at Home, The Texas Review’s All-Poetry Issue, and We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World. He has published poetry & prose in Obsidian, Brittle Paper, Pithead Chapel, 580 Split, Entropy, Diagram, Rigorous, Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where he was a Graduate Instructor of Creative Writing, as well as a Judd International Research Fellow. He teaches writing to Autistic kids through Unrestricted Interest, as well as in the English Departments of several colleges in the Twin Cities.

reasons for raisins | Jeffrey Spahr-Summers

Image: Andreas Haslinger

reasons for raisins (6)

tell me you know something
of the love lost on grapes
of skin peeled away
very carefully
and while eating the grapes
skinned and exposed
for what they really are
think of those of us who crave them
who want only to eat them
and again
and again
who want only to hold them
to save them for another day
to do the very human
thing and change them
into raisins or wine

reasons for raisins (7)

call it age if you like
or experience or maturity
just as wine matures with age
or call it a step in the cycle
through which all living
things must pass
in order to survive as
humans we believe
in the pleasures of life
this is why we eat grapes
or drink wine
or plant such seeds
and as humans we ultimately
mature so as to provide for
ourselves and the ones we love
this is why we must grow old
so it is also with grapes

reasons for raisins (13)

here are the ones
that got away the ones
so cocksure and cool the ones
who ran so electric
as they slipped under the
stove the refrigerator and the sink
how sad they all seem now
cloistered in the corner dust

Jeffrey Spahr-Summers is a poet, writer, photographer, and publisher. He is the publisher and editor of Jasper’s Folly Poetry Journal.

El Miembro Marchito | Amy Wray Irish

Image: The Two Fridas, by Frida Kahlo

El Miembro Marchito

   after Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas, 1939

Separated, yet inseparable.
Invented, yet genuine as pain.
Perhaps all women do this—split

Ourselves, brutally cutting the pulsing wood
of our psyches, dividing
into two branches of self.

One—the withered limb, desiccated
by the outer blow. The other—still bright
with possibility, the ‘might have been.’

The before, the after. The killing stroke
that always comes.  Ironic that ‘growing up’
halts growth, strips all our weakness bare.

Perhaps inevitable—that we are no longer alive
with possibility. But once shattered,
we are still fed by childhood.

Strength still trickles in. Our other half still pumps
blood into the damaged core, those uprooted
roots. Believes that miracles still exist.

Perhaps all women do this—we replant
in our own fallow bodies, over and over,
gestating our own rebirth.  Perhaps we separate

So there is still someone to offer succor,
still someone to love that withered limb,
still someone to hold onto to hope.

Perhaps all women do this—we survive.

Amy Wray Irish was raised on regular visits to The Chicago Art Museum, where she developed her passion for writing about art and history. Her 2020 chapbook, Breathing Fire, received the Fledge Award from Middle Creek Publishing. Her forthcoming chapbook, Down to the Bone: Poetry for a Post-Roe World, was the winner of Poetry Mesa’s 2022 chapbook contest. To read more of her work, go to

Pressing Leaves | Lyndsie Conklin

Image: René Vincit

Pressing Leaves

I took three ginkgo leaves
from two trees transplanted
in the heart of our metropolis.
How odd the ancient arbors
seem hidden in the aspens
and junipers, which outgrow
the non-native bushel
in the quantity of limbs,
leaves, and outstretched height.
But I wouldn’t dare pluck
the conical cliche of yellows,
nor could I keep the needles
of evergreen foliage.
Instead, I wanted these green,
bifurcating, fan shapes
to be a small reminder
of a beautiful morning
on a city park walk with caffeine
and donuts, hand in hand
intimacy, late in September
as all the other leaves
began their cycle of death.
Once home, pettily distant
from the innocent memory,
I grabbed my notebook
and store-brand scotch tape
and began to catalog
all the symbolism of the day.
I considered how long the leaves
could remain pressed
in the unlined, coil-bound book
but not if the tape
would hold steady
and the cylinder seam
began to dry and die.
But somehow, those three leaves
remain in their place,
bookmarking our morning
and the difference between
native and ancient trees.

Lyndsie Conklin (she/her) is a Montanan transplanted to Colorado, living with her husband and cat, Beans. She enjoys getting outside, being a cat mom, breakfast foods, Diet Coke, oversharing Type 1 Diabetic memes, and writing poetry and erotica. Lyndsie attempts to find romance, beauty, and darkness hidden within the little things while highlighting these little, gross beauties within complex, current topics, such as mental health and LGBTQ+ and women’s issues. Lyndsie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Colorado University and a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration from Post University. Some of her work has been featured in Soupcan Magazine, The Sleeve Magazine, Pile Press, and Dreamer by Night Magazine.