Two Poems | Julie Oldbury

Image: Payson Wick


If I am going to be a poet
I had better stop chatting with
the homeless fellow
at the Shell station on the
I had better pour my coffee
into the most insulated of all the metal
with the most securely sealed lid
engineered, credentialed
so that
I don’t spill any coffee in the car and
I had better not dream
too big before I
decide to move on and
forget myself
I had better not scream
about it and wake myself up


The bus will take you to a place
where you have been before
but cannot seem to find.
Where the leaves are starting to turn
and the cool breeze herself
tumbles down the mountain
wearing a yellow turtleneck.
Dancing across the road,
she approaches to give you
the most amazing gift:
the color orange.
Twist it between your fingers
turn it red, against your heart
like when you were a kid
hands flung out the window
cold air rushing between each finger
soft fleece on your skin.
When you become a tree,
how tall will you be?
She asks, gently
swirling beneath the canopy
admiring the blue sky.
When you become a tree,
what will you teach me?
Smiling, she bends her arms
back in time, fluttering
at the edge of the sun
curling up into a memory
dotted with warm light.

Julie Oldbury is a writer, musician, and corporate boss bitch living in Denver, Colorado. She studied English and Creative Writing (Non-fiction and Poetry) and Visual Art at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. While an undergrad, Julie’s literary thesis explored connections between modernism, abstraction, and gender across the works of Virginia Woolf and Pablo Picasso. She was an editor of the student publication, Medium Weight Forks and a promotions employee of the NWMSU Visiting Writers Series. She earned a graduate degree in business from the University of Houston and currently works in the data insights and security software industry as a part of the Denver and Boulder tech community. Upon moving to Colorado in 2018, Julie rediscovered her excitement and passion for writing poetry. Inspired by her surroundings, her growing relationships, and the global landscape, Julie is in the process of compiling her first body of poetry and is actively seeking to publish her work in independent and avante-garde journals.

Editor Interviews | Josh Gaydos

Josh Gaydos (he/him/his) is a self-taught poet that currently resides in Colorado. He has been published in Barren Magazine, Door Is A Jar Magazine, The Lettered Olive and The City Quill. For 2023, he is releasing a poem a week on his free substack at Instagram Twitter

Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.

Pablo Neruda

What does this quote mean to you?

Trite but true with some flowers is this Neruda quote to me. It’s stuck around since I read it and though I am finding that finding of self a great deal less static than this quote implies, it keeps me aware that I could wake up in a decade’s time and find what I’d been running for or running from had made me into something I despised. Sorry for rhyming so much.

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

Too many so I’ll pull the first five that come to mind. East of Eden by John Steinbeck, captures human nature and our interconnectedness, the fact he addressed it to his young sons and was saying “here it is, everything” and delivers. frank: sonnets by Diane Suess, for the “isness”, not answering the Sirens call on a happy feeling or ending, the ability to paint a landscape as big as a coast and also write a poem about the grout around a brick (I’m being figurative here). What Work Is by Phillip Levine, for laying out that blue-collar / American working condition with romanticism and disdain, to put himself in it, distance himself from it, and paint individuals like they were in the room with you. Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, the ‘other poems’  in that just drop you somewhere and you’re immersed, it could be India and you feel the dense downpour with a herd of water buffalo walking by or New Orleans, or Compton. Robin puts you there in a way I haven’t been transported before or since. Another big one for me is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. My mom had given me that when I really went headfirst into this writing thing. That book helped me to make a point to find art and make space for art wherever I was. Watch a movie, read a book, spin some vinyl and pull feeling or a scene from everything.  

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

Sanity. Gelling and coming to terms with the cracks.

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

I wouldn’t be here without it, and I don’t just mean serving a guest editing stint for this press. I’d be dead, or fishing with my hands and a line in the Gulf, or possibly I’d be a merchant marine. Most likely dead though.

What is something that matters to you?


April | Mickey Thompson

Image: Mick Haupt


Barefoot and listening to Fiona Apple,
feeling as eternal at 33 as I did at 9 years old,
at 12,
just as likely for every emotion I have ever had
to destroy me or vitalize me,
just like every feeling is a Grand Canyon,
barefoot on the gravel that is every stripe of red
that music has ever made me relive,
invincible and vulnerable at the edge
of realizing that a chasm is beautiful
because of what it exposes.

Mickey Thompson (she/they) is a poet, biologist, and teacher who grew up in Arizona and has now found her heart home in Northern Colorado. Their work has appeared in “Multiverse: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry of Superhuman Proportions” from Write Bloody Publishing, and one self-published chapbook that was stapled together on the arm of a couch in Tucson.

2am Dances With My Father | Cid Galicia

Image: Jeswin Thomas

2am Dances With My Father

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate by what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
-Theodore Roethke

Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.
Always stirring in the early am hours –for prayer, for stamps, or for chess.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Ironic now, how my father and The Middle East have made amends.
The 2am World Cup Futbol games that the continent of Qatar sends.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.

The last few months in Los Angeles, I worked the graveyard shift 10pm to 10am.
Six months later I put in my two weeks and moved home at my parents request.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Now home drinking coffee and wine. I call it Roethke’s Wake to Sleep Blend
2am I walk to the bathroom, occupied by him. Later the kitchen again in his possess.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.

As ghosts we haunt these halls each night, of my old home to no end.
Conversing with our demons and angels , some damned and some
blessed. No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Old blood never sleeps well– doesn’t now, didn’t then.
Much unforgiven in our chests, walking hearts without rest.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Cid Galicia is a Mexican American poet who taught in New Orleans for over the past decade. He is in the final year of his MFA, through The University of Nebraska Omaha. He is a poetry editor for The Good Life Review, a reader for The Kitchen Table Quarterly, and this year’s FIRECRACKER Poetry Manuscript Awards. He was the recipient of the Richard Duggin Fellowship—granted for demonstrated excellence in writing, runner-up for the Academy of American Poets Helen W. Kenefick Poetry Prize, and most recently nominated for the Helen Hansen Outstanding Graduate Student Award. He is currently living in Los Angeles as an Intern to The Editor for The Red Hen Press. His work has appeared in The Watershed Review, the National Poetry Month Issue of The Elevation Review, Trestle Ties Issue 5, and the upcoming spring issue of Trampoline.  

Naked | Abhishek Todmal

Image: Steve Johnson


I finally stood, happy at disrobement
Brought about by some principalities
Some fundamental truths not escaped
Alone, free, tied to each being
Nakedness in the forming.
I tried to put a stop to it
Afraid once, though only once
Allowing layer upon layer to melt
Slither away into better forms –
Serve better suited seekers
And quickly I latched on to the fact of my emblazoned bare
Such a funny patch; so many distinct markings – though all in all a large converging pink Naked, as naked as one may be.

Abhishek Todmal is a writer based in Pune, India. He is currently working on his first novel – a piece of comedic fiction.  His poetry has most recently been featured in an issue of DASH Literary Journal. Amongst other things, he enjoys keeping active and loitering aimlessly under the sun.

A poem which may be mistaken for the thank you letter I read out loud to the funders of the prestigious fellowship I won last summer, a fellowship which did absolutely fuck all to save my Autistic Black Muslim Body from being interrogated by those CBP/TSA terrorists at the airport | Said Shaiye

Image: Steve Johnson

A poem which may be mistaken for the thank you letter I read out loud to the funders of the prestigious fellowship I won last summer, a fellowship which did absolutely fuck all to save my Autistic Black Muslim Body from being interrogated by those CBP/TSA terrorists at the airport

  • It strikes me as odd that this school, this fellowship, has no protocols in place for students that are forcibly interrogated at the border. I guess I shouldn’t expect much from an institution, and I guess I should bite my tongue and do the polite thing, talk about how amazing my trip was. But my trip was not amazing. It was fraught, painful, nerve-wracking. I was sick from the moment I got there to the moment I left. I walked into all types of bureaucratic walls—people not believing I was actually there to do research, and so forth. Worst of all, when I needed medical help, I had to pay out of pocket because the insurance was a formality. Oh sure, they reimbursed me for the expenses, but only partially. The idea of a medical evacuation was dangled before me, but I quickly lost hope in that. I was sick to my stomach the day I boarded my return flight, cutting my trip a full month short. Besides pain, all I had on my mind was TSA/CBP. Would they harass me? Where is home for someone like me? I am an Autistic Somali Man traveling from Kenya—that’s a perfect terrorist profile I fit. 20 Some hours later, I arrived in the states. They ask me pedantic questions about my research and MN Nice me with “good for you.” They do all this as they shuffle me into a tertiary screening line, confronted by lazy feds with mustard stains on their plaid shirts. I know what questions they want to ask me, because I’ve seen this movie before. But I refuse to answer their questions. I watch the older Somali man – the only other person asked to go to this special line before we can leave the airport – duck his head and smile and comply with their hellacious line of questioning. I stand my ground like a Zimmerman defense. But I am also weak. I can barely stand. They threaten to go through my luggage down to the underwear. To confiscate my devices and see who I’ve been talking to. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, they tell me. I can feel my heartbeat racing every time I recall this memory. There are no words to describe how livid I was when I finally got home—after answering their stupid questions, knowing I had no choice, feeling like a failure for acquiescing. I emailed my contacts at the university, both in my department and at the fellowship. There were a bunch of emails back and forth, a lot of concern and apologizing, but I knew nothing would come of it. I knew I would not see justice, just as I knew I was labeled a terrorist from a piece of shit country the moment I was born. I reached out to CAIR, the ACLU, filed formal complaints with CBP. Nothing nothing nothing came of any of it. All of this reinforced the idea that my life is worthless. Absolutely meaningless. And that is why I do the work I do, write the way I do, and live the way I do. I have no choice. I wish I could say I’ll be applying for this fellowship again. I have no reason to. And if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have applied in the first place. Thanks for your time.

*Author’s Note: All of this really happened, from the events in the poem, to my reading this to the people who partially funded my trip. I was supposed to be more grateful, I guess? Funny, I’ve never felt good about thanking white people for anything, least of all a few measly dollars. Sometimes poems are all we have to cuss people out with. And if they wanna cuss back, well, I guess they’ll have to learn how to write poetry first. That’s a joke. Laugh./

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.

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Lately Done, Lately Love | Josh Gaydos

Image: Andrew Seaman

Lately Done, Lately Love

lately done, lately love
‘neath garlands
neatly trimmed
nearly featureless, without
tethers or hands fastening
to a pledge of allegiance
they cannot keep,
to a creator who spun the trees like
screws before the sign off scene,
like polished high heel shoes

lately done, lately love
with timid approach to cuckoo
clocks dipping beaks in sanded
hours, our end left with a note
that will oil from skin with us,
vinyl and wood, needle and mud
could forget the impression made
without the guesswork
of carbon dating

lately done, lately love
no fruit will fall
from the mail ordered
apartment gardens,
boxed up dirt and seed
seen indirectly like one
another, decomposition
composed alone to
conjoin and disintegrate,
barren, bearing

Josh Gaydos (he/him/his) is a self-taught poet that currently resides in Colorado. He has been published in Barren Magazine, Door Is A Jar Magazine, The Lettered Olive and The City Quill. IG: @jgwrites22

The Last Night Before I Bleed | Marissa Forbes

Image: Mks Mkss

The Last Night Before I Bleed

Disappearing wings made from the milky
way while rose buds bloom under my shirt.

Sleepy sweet tears streak into
snot freezing in my wind-blown

& I’ll forget
the drawer full of clean underwear.

Cradled between dolls & boys will be
boys skinned knees—all the same.

A body still void of stories.
In the morning, blood on the
sheets like a war without warning.

Sunbeams cascade through
clouds. With my belly on a boat
& head in the bathroom—

whispering in the mirror:
Don’t be scared of motherhood
or the absence of fathers.

Marissa Forbes (she/her) is a writer of all genres. She is an art and writing teacher for creative nonprofits in Colorado, a poetry Instructor for Community Literature Initiative, and the Managing Editor of Twenty Bellows. She was awarded an Author Fellowship from MVICW in 2021 and since 2020 has published numerous short stories and poems in literary journals internationally, which are found on Her full length collection, Bridging the Gap: Poems & Ethos for Emily Warren Roebling is slated for publication in October 2023 from Finishing Line Press. Forbes lives a colorful life in Denver, Colorado with her two children, dog, and cat. Follow her on Instagram: @word_nerd_ris.

Untitled | Miriam Sagan

Image: Fr. Daniel Ciucci


it’s no longer the Elysian Fields, this
barrio, but the shrine of the sinner is
still decorated in the pocket park
across from the elementary school
and the bakery

El Tiradito may be crumbling
but notes from the heartbroken still
decorate the grave of the unknown
some say a man
killed in a knife fight
over a woman
buried on unconsecrated ground
as doves wheel from the

wishes on slips of paper
pushed between adobe bricks
a panhandler asked for
money but I refused
walking away from the great altar
of the Virgin of Guadalupe

I’m neither wholly good nor
bad I don’t even try anymore
to be myself
because I don’t know
who that is
although I did buy a slice
of jelly roll and two
doughnuts at Estrella’s

and all that is left
at the bottom of the paper
bag is crumbs
but whether for birds
or wind—
you tell me—
I can’t decide

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement.

Leather Gloves | Paul Ilechko

Image: Jack B

Leather Gloves

It’s a curious flavor of darkness 
in the woods     the kind you might expect 
to find in the smoky heart of a dying fire 

a car is moving slowly under the arcing
branches of old oaks and hickories     as if
the driver is watching for something

he is quiet     his body seemingly awkward
in its posture    an unusual stiffness
is rippling from his shoulders  

he drank a cup of Lapsang Souchong
before leaving home     and the smoke
from his breath still baffles his eyes

there used to be CDs on the passenger 
seat     even though he never listens to music
he always fills the gas tank once it’s half empty

in his memory     there were passages beneath
his childhood home     where his mother 
used to rendezvous with a man in leather gloves

they always reappeared after an hour or two
always dressed for rain     always running down 
the springs on an imaginary clock

he imagines the man as his passenger     buckled 
tightly in     as they approach a tunnel     on both
sides     the steep walls of his mother’s thighs

he remembers his father sleeping quietly  
on a bare mattress on the kitchen floor 
in the days before their house burned down. 

Paul Ilechko is a Pushcart nominated poet who lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Tampa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Sleet Magazine, and The Inflectionist Review. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.