Editorial Notes | Emma Ginader

Image: Joanna Kosinska
It doesn’t take too much 
to forget: 

Leave the Bramble Cay Melomys 
out of the next dictionary. 

Those rats are already dead,
homes wiped out by rising tides. 
Not many know their name,

same as the Kittlitz’s Murrelet. 
No kid dreams of seeing 
the Murrelet’s mottled body blending 
into the sea spotted with sunlight. 

It’s safe to delete
them too. 

If the name’s not
in textbooks, postcards, or magazines, 
no one will know to search. 

Move the erasures 
more and more inland,
low tide dragging away
wolf spiders and honeycreepers, 
Sierra Nevada Blues and golden toads. 

Readers won’t learn
how far the damage’s gone—
just keep erasing. 

Afterall, people forgot
they once could be singular.
Victorians hid that 
under grammatical change 

so keep erasing
until nothing remains but
a white sea. 


Emma Ginader is a bisexual poet and editor from northeastern Pennsylvania. She recently graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in writing. Her poetry has appeared in The Moth Magazine, Vox Viola, december, The Rational Creature, and FU Review [Berlin]. She has work forthcoming in Mantis, Lavender Review, great weather for MEDIA, and They Call Us. Ginader previously worked as the online poetry editor for the Columbia Journal and as the social media editor & business reporter for The Daily Item newspaper in central Pennsylvania. Find her Twitter account, @EmmaGinader.

Two Poems | Cheryl Aguirre

Image: Will Turner
Vision

If a giant squid
Were to breach the waves
To observe the night sky,
Her eyes unaided
Could see past Neptune
To the dwarf, Pluto.
Not a corpse,
She is neither
Crushed, maimed, or compressed.
Her delicate skin
A shimmering silver, intact,
Flashes when she undulates. 
Her eyes, dinner plate big,
Her three hearts, beating
Slowly, restfully.
A winking silver coin, 
She drifts below,
Sauntering to the deep,
To the black water,
No different than space.


Mountain

I write you shorter.
I write you smaller
I write you fetal
I write you shivering
I write you intimidated
I write you alone
I write you into the background
I write you silent
I write you stunned
I write you fat
I write you tall
I write you muscular
I write you thin
I write you quiet
I write you stoic
I write you extroverted
I write you self-conscious
I write you at peace.

Cheryl Aguirre is a queer biracial poet based in Austin, Texas. You can find their previously published work in Ghost City Press, decomp journal, and The Whorticulturalist. You can follow them at @drowsy_orchid on Instagram and @Wheat_Mistress on Twitter. 

Not Human Hearted | Brian Rihlmann

Image: Glen Rushton
often, in the wilderness 
I recall the words—
not human hearted

a hungry mountain cat
stalks a lost child
vultures await the scraps

the horror of these
less-than-human hearts—
yet what of those?

unearthed shattered skulls and
the pages of history tell their story
even the good book drips

and before that, nothing—
a silence into which, like mothers,
we scream an Eden to life

Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest poetry collection, “Night At My Throat,” (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.

Now March Melts | Cassie Hottenstein

A close-up of sage green grass and amber leaves glistening with frost.
Image: Herr Bohn

emerge from winter cocoon
into daffodil spring,
the cracking of bones & ice
and the slush slipping from pine—
the yawns & shhs emerge—
duckling dawn
earth cleans her scars this way:
lifting & washing under the folds,
fresh cotton flapping like a surrender
to the restarted zodiac,
to the irrational golden fleece of Aries
unshaven despite the warmth—
how the tides deliver a new salt to upper lips,
an emerging, a dusting out
of all coughs cooped by winter;
the pages aren’t clean, the pages aren’t even pages,
they’re still trees,
still grand along the yet-unbroken sky !
the pinnacle of her year
exists in cool mountain runoff
the blue dunk & minnows
along curious toes after a long creek-side stroll,
the relief of the stretch
and the new dogwood petals that ferry their way
to a better tomorrow,
to a brighter ocean shore.


Cassie Hottenstein is currently between Denver and Jacksonville, mountain and ocean. Her poetry and stories have been featured in magazines such as Boulder Weekly, the Talon Review, Every Pigeon, and the Tampa Review Online. When she’s not writing poetry, she’s probably playing Animal Crossing or doing someone’s taxes in exchange for money and tasty peanuts.

Three Poems | Michael Rerick

A brick wall with boarded up windows. On one of the boards, someone has written "KEEP GOING" with an arrow and an image of a raven perched above the words.
Image: Ricky Singh

History Storm | XI

Our east coast minister-philosopher leaves god at the railroad station in a brown satchel. Pandemic hikes are recommended, with caution, then canceled. The national state of emergency boards up restaurant, book store, strip club, theater, and bar amusement. The three sisters mountain peaks legend stands. We keep busy online, with books, at the liquor store, and in laundry rooms. Our gender flows like freshwater tumbling from moss.


History Storm | XII

The White House garden buds red and green peppers from Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) language debris. Yellow Post-its dedicate classic innovation to you. Dialectic court calls the whale out to the sacrificial field. The online devil agreement signature line is chosen. We have eaten Emily Dickenson’s grave squash flower. Death shrugs from a Hyundai.


Illuminati

Nearly a century of global economics, two world wars, a cold war, site specific global economic wars, and pandemics and there are still no masterminds, only groups of fumbling narcissists with resources.


Michael Rerick currently lives and teaches in Portland, OR. Their work recently appeared or is forthcoming at Clade Song, COAST|noCOAST, Epigraph Magazine, Graviton, Mannequin Haus, Marsh Hawk Review, and Parentheses. They are also the author of In Ways Impossible to Fold, morefrom, The Kingdom of Blizzards, The Switch Yards, and X-Ray.

To Fly Away From Iowa Springs | Carson Schulte

Image: Adam Przeniewski

I remember being seven years old and still loving Iowa spring, believing it to be all cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting. But as I grew I learned that to be a child in promised Iowa spring is to feel sentimental and uneasy. We would return to patterns marking the nurturing rhythm of time familiar: full brush piles, vinca vines blooming, cicada choruses at sundown, lilac bushes spilling over. And with these easy April lullabies came those subliminal spring hints, trailing towards adolescence, hidden in the blossoming, the ripening. Spring pushed childhood forward; we all became wiser when the monarchs returned north. When the soil thawed from months of winter frost, I would kneel in my garden, rusted trowel in hand, knees muddening while I ripped through roots, sent worms wriggling. Trying to dig a hole deep enough where I could hide from spring and remain a child forever.

One day while I was digging I spotted through the soggy loam a flash of moonwhite, smooth and still. It was a perfect stone of life, a bird’s egg whole and glowing. The egg remained cupped in my care for over a week, placed in an old shoebox under the lightbulb of a table lamp. Every day I checked on my dear April lullaby, waiting for it to hatch, and I announced to everyone the news of my beautiful egg, my baby bird-to-be. When I told my elementary school teacher, she invited me to bring my treasure to share with the class. I knew my classmates would be so envious of the springtime life I carried, and I so packed my little egg to bring to school with me the next day.

I wish I had known how fragile those little stones of life tend to be. It seemed that all the resilience of my bird-to-be was spent fully on its fall from the nest. Certainly not enough left to survive a ziploc bag inside a child’s backpack. When I went to my cubby to get my egg, I slowly unearthed a sickly yellow mess. I held my ziploc high to examine the moonwhite shards, jagged and crumbled, yolk lumping thick in between. I shoved it away and went to the bathroom to cry. To mourn. I had killed my April lullaby, my cheap gingham and wild onions sprouting.

Seasons don’t slow for a shattered bird’s egg. Iowa spring kept passing through; each year the monarchs would return north, and I would cry at their beloved homecoming because I didn’t want to get any wiser. Yet my body grew too big to fit inside any dug up garden holes. I could not stop the blossoming, the ripening; springtime would come to welcome my first training bra, my first kiss. The uneasiness of Iowa spring paired cruelly with the sweet smells of chopped lilac in the kitchen vase, a vision of childhood sentiment. And in the thick of that tiptoe towards adolescence I would think back to my precious egg, imagining a world where it had hatched. I dreamt of my bird growing radiant and strong, big enough to carry me away, so that we may leave spring behind and fly forever towards Iowa winter, chasing those months of still and freeze where life remains unchanging.


Carson Schulte is a senior at Luther College studying social work and Spanish. She grew up in Iowa and recently moved to Denver to complete her social work practicum. On days off from her internship at a child residential treatment center, Carson enjoys knitting, baking, and snuggling with her cat. She is an emerging writer in the field of creative nonfiction, with work forthcoming in the Oneota Review. 

Dreaming in the Kingdom of the Ants | Jason Ryberg

Image: Peter F. Folk
It would seem to me

             that in the vast
                            underground kingdom

              of the anthill, along
                                          with burrowing and
                       tunneling, heaving and
hoisting, fending off
                            outside invasions down
                      to the very last ant and

conquering rival kingdoms
                                    with no mercy (and all
         the various other assigned

   	     tasks and roles from the
       home office / H.Q. of
                                   the collective hive-mind),

   surely dreaming must,
                                     also, be an 

                      essential

                              civic duty.

Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is The Ghosts of Our Words Will Be Heroes in Hell (co-authored with Damian Rucci, John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2020). He lives part-time in Salina, KS with a rooster named Little Red  and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

They Tap Me on the Shoulder and Say They are Going to Ensure My Poverty Will Erase My Last Name and My Homeland Forever (But the Smiths and the Jones Will Live On) | Ron Riekki

Image: Moren Hsu

When I was in the military, we marched over the purple coneflower and milkweed and powderpuff and canna lily until they were dead from the war of our feet and later when they haze-crucified me I aspirated on my own vomit and saw death marching through the undergrass and he was a he and he was not as seismic as I’d come to expect and

when I was on the football team, they installed debt in my chest and they drove their trucks on the swamp conifers and carved encyclopedias into the pines and our homecoming king took a knife to his abdomen to spell the words MINING TOWN.

When I worked in the prison, they concreted everything so that the yard wasn’t, and the smell was of feces and lives frozen as poison and

when I worked in security, they put me in an isolated guard shack where there was no heat and no one else around for miles and I’d listen to the wolves and would wonder if they were coming from inside me.

When I worked on the ambulance, my partner would make fun of the patients as soon as the patients weren’t our patients and he would reenact their pain by holding his body in the distorted positions in which we found them and I’d go home and warn my parents that if they are ever on an ambulance to record everything because God can see everywhere but not inside the walls of piss and pus, and

when I was in middle school, they’d put us in lockers and light little pieces of paper, throwing them through the hole, telling us that we were going to experience what it’s like to be the sun and afterwards I’d go outside and stare up at it in the hope that I’d go blind forever and it didn’t happen because I could never take the pain and instead would go home and swim in the neighbor’s empty pool, me and a buddy, just moving our arms and walking in that big useless pit.

When I was in PTSD counseling, my counselor fell asleep so I decided to go to sleep too except I could see the helicopters on fire when I closed my eyes and so I just sat there, staring at him, watching him age so slowly, seeing the grandfather and the great-grandfather and the grand-corpse just begging to come out and

when I was in high school, we cheered the violence and admired the violence and encircled the violence and awarded the violence and moved back for the violence and watched the violence and the violence did its thing.

When I was dead, I realized that the earth was everything, that all there is is the earth, that the people on it are just dots, dips, dark, that we are spiders, that our arms are air, replaced so quickly.

But the earth.

But the earth.


Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press).  Riekki co-edited Undocumented (Michigan State University Press) and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited The Many Lives of It (McFarland), And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book).  Right now, he’s listening to Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky.”

Natchez Steamboat Found in 2007, Honey Island | Heather Dobbins

Image: Justin Wilkens

The remains were raised by the Mississippi—an old song in shards.
Was it burned by accident? Or captured when New Orleans was,

run up to Yazoo River to escape Union hands, ashore in a bend?
Lincoln so wanted to roll unvexed to the sea.

Muted pitches in an old steamboat, its firebox is a gaping mouth
for coal. The river has the last say.

Each Natchez meant more bales, more boilers. There was no music
like the Natchez’s whistle. Heard was the length of the open

valve, vibration in steam—not air but rising steam rarefying in the bell.
But music doesn’t give out any answers.

The steam’s been gone. No one’s bragging on the Race of the Giants
or Captain Leathers anymore. The floating palace, wood rot come up

for air. The river is the last say.


Heather Dobbins is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She is the author of two poetry collections, In the Low Houses (2014) and River Mouth (2017), both from Kelsay Press. She graduated from the College Scholars program at the University of Tennessee and earned her M.F.A. from Bennington College. Her poems and poetry reviews have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fjords, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. For twenty years, she has worked as an educator (Kindergarten through college) in Oakland, California; Memphis, Tennessee; and currently, Fort Smith, Arkansas. Please see heatherdobbins.net for more. 

Editor Interviews | Emylee Amber

Emylee Amber is an observer of the stars and an architect of art built on a foundation of words. She is passionate about music and helps her partner construct poetry to the sky with his band, Saeva. While observing the stars, Emylee runs her own Instagram based on the movements of the planets and other astrology-based information @eclipselunairee. Emylee is wandering about the Centennial State. Searching for things and those that peak her curiosity, while finding comfort in the embrace of the mountains and magic surrounding her. She contributed to Thought For Food (South Broadway Press, 2020) by editing the anthology and publishing her poem, Speak to Me.

Remember this place- we watched the skies turn dark and the leaves start their journey away.

The golden hour lasted forever and I couldn’t imagine calling any other place home.

It feels like we were dreaming the whole time- it was as though that quiet would last forever.

Unknown – Found on the bathroom wall at RitualCravt’s old location

What does this quote mean to you?

This quote found me when I was in the midst of an identity crisis. I had been wandering around for what felt decades in a vessel I hardly knew. It was the spring of 2018, after a brutal breakup that left me without many friends — in a city that I was from, but hadn’t grown up in. So everyone, including myself, was a stranger. Anonymous. I desperately wanted to embrace a feeling that felt like home, where I could recognize and understand myself. I was at an Astrology workshop at RitualCravt attempting to use the stars to lead me to this lingering desire. This quote was hanging above the light switch in the bathroom of RitualCravt’s old location. 

Upon reading it, I immediately felt seen. Heard. Understood. I knew of this place and it had felt like a “home”. I was saying goodbye to it, over and over again. Yet, at the same time, this reminded me that “this place” has yet to come. I will have another moment of quiet within the golden hour, and again, it will feel but only of a dream that was to last forever; and that’s the beauty of it.

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

Outside of my collection of art, occult, and poetry books — the most important impact I’ve had with stories wasn’t in a book at all. When I was a little monster, I had the hardest time falling asleep. My mother would lay with me in order for me to knock out. Most nights I couldn’t wind down, so eventually my mom started telling me bed-time stories. My favorite one, in particular, was about a little grey mouse who lived in a little grey house. She and I created a whole family for Little Grey, including his best friend Byron Brown. I can still picture the town I imagined in my head for him; I can see his favorite ice cream shop and the baseball fields Little Grey and his older brother, Fred, would practice at. The way my mom went into detail and came up with adventures meant the world to me. It helped me foster my imagination and showed me the importance of words. 

At a certain point in my childhood, I had drawn a map of Little Grey’s town. I came up with a story web on how each person in the town was related. I even started to draw pictures of Little Grey and his family. Unfortunately, the drafting of those stories into physical form never came to fruition since I could never fully remember them after a night of sleep. Yet, I will hold those memories dear in my heart. Maybe one day Little Grey’s adventures will be written again but until then I will remember to play in my imagination, use my words to tell stories or open up important conversations and remember sometimes the best stories can’t always be retold.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

Priceless. Art has and will always be priceless, no matter the media. It tells a story. It’s a piece of history, of not only your life, but the world that once was and will be. It’s an escape, yet it is also a connection. It’s a song. It’s a smile. It’s that weird meme you came across on the internet that hits a little too close to home. Art is in everything that we do, that we speak, feel, touch, see, dream, and heck, even all of us are pieces of art too. 

This moment in history we are living in is the best time to remind society of the recognition art deserves. Let’s put pressure on those that do not recognize the impact of art and remind them that without art, they wouldn’t even be here; yes, corporations and the United States government — I am looking at you. Now is the time to use all of the medians we have at our disposal to break down those barriers, mark our history, and make our voices heard. Make our beliefs seen. Make the world remember that art is in you and me. Art is priceless.

How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

To be frank, I wouldn’t still be on this planet without writing and art. As a child, I was constantly living in my imagination. I sang from the time I knew how to make noise, started drawing as soon as my parent’s felt comfortable with me to use a writing utensil, and eventually fell in love with writing and storytelling. In middle school, we did a poetry course and I was enamored by the concept of expressing oneself in word play, exaggerated sentence structures, and without even addressing the topic. Eventually, it was the only way I could cope with my mental health and I found a lot of solace in this space I had cultivated for myself. Writing had been such a private avenue for me. I only shared my pieces to those I felt like would be the most connected to the matter. 

When I moved back to Colorado after graduating high school in Illinois, poetry led me to many friendships and opportunities within the Denver community. A professor-turned-friend, Tara Shea Burke, would seek out poetry readings at Mercury Café and Book Bar while encouraging me to not only tag along for the adventure, but to also share my pieces to a live audience. It was exhilarating. Those moments are what led me to having this opportunity to be an Editor with South Broadway Press, while also having the confidence to work on my own art within my astrology work and musical collaborations with my partner. (P.S. You need to check out Tara’s work — it is phenomenal!)

What is something that matters to you?

I’ll be honest, this is the last question I answered in this interview. There are a plethora of aspects within our society and life that matter to me, yet they all result back to people. So, I would say people matter to me. People’s behaviors, stories, opinions, and truths — what makes them so incredibly human; I can’t get enough of how important all of those little tidbits are. To how they will see the world around them and with those perspectives how it will impact their actions, shape their world and mine. 

I could spend hours observing people and trying to learn their story, while taking several days speaking with them to understand the shape they hold within this universe. I want to know what has taught them to grow and what they are still healing from. I want to know what they believe in and see if their beliefs are something that could hold truth in my world. 

It’s also a pastime of mine to try and figure out people’s planet placements within their natal chart by interacting with them. Since it helps me with understanding one of my passions but it also shows me that people aren’t black and white. As stated before, they are frickin’ art and they matter even if there are obstacles in our world showing them differently.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

You can find me slingin’ cards virtually or in a small gathering of friends almost weekly to play Magic: The Gathering. I almost picked my favorite flavor text, “Your life will set with the sun”, as my quote for this interview. If I’m not casting spells, I can be found listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode while wallowing in my teenage-angst by still being 110% obsessed with My Chemical Romance. Yes, I’m crying because I miss concerts.