Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot
We smoked first, remember? I thought
the tacos would cover our breath,
rolled the windows of the Mustang down,
opened the moon roof to look at the stars.
We were so young, then – summer before
your junior year. I’d just bought my first Docs,
wore baby doll dresses. Looking at the sky, I
wondered if this was sisterhood, if we finally
melted our lives together, if I had a shred
of what you had with your blood sister–if the
Marlboros, the tacos, the sky, the way we passed
our cigarette back and forth–if this was sisters
but no, it wasn’t the smoking, it was the drive-thru
fight when I forgot the mild sauce, when I backed up
the car, when I nearly hit the car behind us,
the way you yelled and laughed,
it was later when you rocked my daughter through the night
while I slept nearby, exhausted, it was later still
when you packed up your life to move home
after we learned our father was dying,
it was in the ICU when we shared earbuds
the night before we said goodbye to him,
the way our heads came together, tethered,
hospital curtains open, the way the stars
Monica Fuglei (she/her) currently teaches in the Department of Composition, Creative Writing and Journalism at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has recently appeared in Mason Street Review, a thin slice of anxiety, and The Hidden Peak Review. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s usually knitting or tweeting on #AcademicTwitter.
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.
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
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 hair.
& 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 www.marissforbes.com. 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.
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.
When I heard that sound that can only be interpreted one way, we shot up off the couch, arranged our clothes, and answered the door. There, just as expected, the platoon of black cherry gallons headed up by Harold the Conqueror, Lord of the Realm of Berea, West Virginia. We did know we had to plan for the Battle of Otterslide Creek, but we also knew we had at least nine more days before the sloth army arrived. Harold pressed the issue; he was concerned his troops would melt. We bivouacked them in the chest freezer, fed Harold frozen enchiladas, and got back down to business.
* the title of this poem is a line from the trailer of the movie Church Money.
They burst in and say this is a stickup but they’re all holding turkey sausage. You turn back to the teller, continue your deposit of half a sheep and a peck of bananas.
Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Stickman Review, Nebo, and Redheaded Stepchild, among others.
Leor Feldman (they/them/she/her) is a writer based in Denver, Colorado. They often write of their body as a roadmap to illustrate how they’ve grown through chronic illness, while also exploring their relationship with their Jewish culture and queer identity. With a BA in Writing & Literature from California College of the Arts, Leor is currently working towards a Masters in International & Intercultural Communication at the University of Denver. They have poetry published in Humble Pie Literary Journal, as well as articles in Hey Alma and The Colorado Sun. Find them on Instagram.
saw a girl. she looked like you with someone who looked like me, but taller with more weight. there were moments in the chais, rather than this alarmed street with gum under my shoe and a ringing ear and folks who don’t want me. the pubs with warm beer, I miss bars. you’re a mother now. and the younger we age, two years equity and sixty thousand exchanges they still looked like us. her less beautiful.
in the revolving barber’s chair i’m asked about my hair, but I can’t see in the passing mirrors of the market where the drawn doors and portraits of those who’ve never been here sleep behind the streetlamps. back to the cheap tabs and bad company where i can’t tell love from brixton’s best. i thank god i’m not wet ‘cause i’ve floated that lido and i’m sick of english words. i miss temperament, but can’t return to buoy in grandlake and not course downstream. which i guess wouldn’t be so bad, not if I could stay on my back.
Originally from the front range, Devin Welch currently lives and works in London, UK where he recently finished his MFA at the University of London, Birkbeck. His prose, reviews, poetry, and films have been featured in publications across North America and Europe.
I pretend the red-breasted nuthatches know what you might have said beneath the plum tree last spring before your cell phone rang and you took the call that said your mother had only hours left to live so you ran to your Subaru and took off for Boston and left me holding the thread of a message that might have been only connection and which I wanted to be love, the kind of love that makes swallows dive and nuthatches hang upside down.
Now these little birds flit about in winter’s snow, back and forth above where we sat on a blue fleece blanket, and they tweet what you haven’t, that you miss me and will get back as soon as you can. You have had the estate to manage for your wayward sister and her addictions which you feel responsible for now that neither of you have a parent, no one in the old house to hold things together.
Your family tree snapped. Your sister floated off like letters let go into the wind. Invoices you never intend to pay. The sketch you made of me with my blouse hanging off my shoulder when the sun’s warmth gave me hope that you felt the same correspondence I do; we are meant to be together. And my breast was warm, wanting to be touched; breast cancer took her. Maybe your genes are faulty.
Those little birds continue our talk in the crotch of the trees. Bluejays push them away from the feeder, but they return all flibbertigibbet, so here I’ve drawn a nuthatch on a postcard and colored the breast pink to say spring will come again and I am still here for you, hearing nuthatches tuck away what they need for later.
Tricia Knoll is an aging poet living alone in the woods in Vermont on the unceded land of the Abenaki. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her recent collection Checkered Mates (Kelsay Books) focuses on relationships that work and those that don’t. Website: triciaknoll.com
The cold stars clicking their claws together like crabs in a tank. History changes and runs off the page like butter. The world has been dragged through me, and I’ve been dragged through the world. We’re even. Stars twirl over stinking trenches, beginning a subtle magnetic resurrection that will take all time and never end. The mind is a machine to move matter. The scenes are super modern. The earth has us, and we multiply. Founded in an impulse of wild lonely need, not serious planning. The stars dissolve in my mouth not my hand. Let this life not be a torment. Let the stars stop shaking. Please, God. I will turn my greatest tricks for you.
Zack Kopp is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, graphic artist, and literary agent currently living in Denver, Colorado. His informal history of the Beat Generation’s connections with Denver was published by The History Press in 2015. Kopp’s books are available at Amazon, and you can find his blog at the website for his indie hybrid press at www.campelasticity.com featuring interviews and articles and links to other websites. His improvised novel, Public Hair, was described by one critic as “simultaneously the best and worst book ever.” The latest chapter of Kopp’s “fantastic biography” (Cf. Billy Childish), Henry Crank’s History of Wonders is expected in 2022.