Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot | Monica Fuglei

Image: Brandon Holmes

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.

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.

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 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.

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.  

Two Poems | Robert Beveridge

Image: Noelle Vandenbroucke

The Inhabitants Are Like a Collection of Water*

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.

Two Poems | Leor Feldman

Image: Jelena Ardila Vetrovec


pink bubbles circulate her
purple knees

–gather in my pubic hair.
Pockets burst within dark scruff

criss-crossed, my legs besiege the tub
severing our ocean in two parts

my form conquering space–
an iceberg against a buoy.

Fur sprouts with the height of puberty.

She gathers white fluff in her palms, lathering soap in dirty-blonde locks
massaging higher and higher until she forms a tin hat–

fairytales we spew as a connection to our God.

Mom thinks I’m too old to bathe with friends now–
whispered against my bed sheets before “Goodnight” rests beside me.

I refuse to be without Clementine’s soapy mane. The rest of her is still
smooth and slight–

cementing our divide.

Nightmares of spiky legs, tangled leaves–
branches spit out across my jagged edges equating adulthood or–

even an end to our songs,
our fragile world
–built on an island of hot water quickly dying without steam.

Always Alone in Grocery Stores

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.

her to my own | Devin Welch

Image: Doruk Yemenici

to my

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. 

The Nuthatches | Tricia Knoll

Image: Nikita Nikitenko

The Nuthatches

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

Twitter: @triciaknollwind

The Stars | Zack Kopp

Image: Zoltan Tasi

The Stars

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.