Where Do People Go When They Die? | Kevin Ridgeway

Image: Pawel Czerwinski

his lips were purple
and his breath was gone
after I tried to blow it back inside of him
but it blew my hair up over my crying eyes
as I listened for his heart and checked
for his pulse, a man so full of life
the night before, but a heart attack woke him
long enough to reach over to my bed
to wake me up so I could save his life.
I remained asleep as we both fell out
onto the floor in between our beds
his dead body pinning me into a rug burn
that did not heal for weeks after his life force
passed through mine and left me standing there,
gazing at him there in the middle of the floor–
done and over with and never again–until
I realized his life force found refuge in mine
when I heard him laughing inside of me.


Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and nine chapbooks of poetry including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press, UK). His work can recently be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

Erasure | Caleb Ferganchick

Image: Dylan Nolte

Caleb’s poem has very specific formatting to it. Please click the link below to view their poem, “Erasure”.


Caleb Ferganchick is a rural queer, slam poet activist, and author of Poetry Heels (2018). His work has been featured and published by the South Broadway Ghost Society (2020), Slam Ur Ex ((the podcast)) (2020), and the Colorado Mesa University Literary Review. He organizes the annual Slamming Bricks poetry slam competition in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and coaches high school speech and debate. An aspiring professional SUP surfer, he also dreams of establishing a queer commune with a river otter rescue and falconry. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Website | Instagram | Twitter

28 | Matt Clifford

Image: Pawel Czerwiński

We had language and we had water, they wouldn’t let us have both. We knew what the water was capable of. We said yes to it and our reflections. They closed the park at midnight. We spit at the sky and talked it into the ground with masks on we spoke from our heart. Those with the least to empty talked loudly with mouths wide open. The hate was too infectious to be prevented. They hated that which did not concern them. They were unconcerned with the hatred. They said that’s what it is as if it had always been because they said it because they said it that’s what it is. I didn’t say anything when nobody asked. I just walked into the water on a mission. It held me as water does. I became to become again. I floated away for dry land. 

How little time the relatives have and how stuck they are in it. The ones who are determined to make love happen live as though it’s about to. At all times their hearts are breaking and while the city spins so fast that they are used to it each one is a quake in heaven. There are ghosts who would bleed to stop it, angels who mourn eternally for all the hurt that has already been absorbed and can’t ever be reversed. They have so much compassion and nowhere to go with it. The things they understand wouldn’t make sense in a vision. You can’t just be told it as ecstatic divine revelation. It has to be discovered by sitting in the dirt longer and writing every word down and walking the letter across town. I waited until I learned how to recognize the instruction and then followed it with a diligence fit for bricks that want to bring out the best from behind the sun. I only tried to tell you about it. When I couldn’t it was enough to kill. That was when I returned to the water. There were so many people walking out of it. I couldn’t look them in the eyes. They didn’t stop me. 


The Matt Clifford (right) did so see his shadow thus marking four more weeks of Tax Season.
(www.blackmarkettranslation.com)

Shoshanah | Sarah LaRue

Image: Max Kleinman
My grandmother is the ocean now
                                       roaring always somewhere
                                                     even when quiet here and now
             her smooth surface breaks into waves

She resists and yields at once
                             in magnitudinal power tides
                                           pulled heavy from the moon
               in consort with the sun and
                             of service to the earth

I know her without seeing her
                            hear legends of her raging depth
              feeling her live in each coastal drop

She swells around my ankles
                             to let me feel my roots
                                          when instinct crashes over me
It is her—urging moments into eternity

Sarah (she/her) is a health advocate, activist, and poet who loves sunshine, storms, and quiet nights. She is a queer Jewish reiki-practicing witch, and poetry is how she understands and misunderstands Life . Sarah has been published in Stain’d Arts and South Broadway Ghost Society publications, and her work has been featured by the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center. Her two self-published books, I’ll just hide until it’s perfect and Tend, are available now by contacting sarahdlarue@gmail.com.

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.

Alienor | LindaAnn Lo Schiavo

Image: LindaAnn LoSchiavo

To unobservant eyes they seem like plants.

Long, limber stalks with out-sized bulbous heads
Could be confused with other specimens,
Especially to folks who’ve never seen
Exotics rooted in a foreign pod.

By night they leave protected flowerpots.

Exhaling oxygen, these beings fly,
Determined to reverse what climate change
Eroded by offsetting greenhouse gas
With purifying breaths, restoring trees,
And tackling global warming, ice-shelf melt.

I won’t reveal this methodology.

My job is to provide fresh nutrients ― ―
Ingredients from our rare biosphere.

Then curious balloon contraptions sail
These pods to sites that need repair and care.

Disguised as gladiator allium,
Purple florets compressed inside a round,
Attractive head, the team disperses from
Each stem ― ― a green antenna ― ― gets to work. 

Earthlings don’t know extraterrestrials

Are wise, solution oriented, pained
By man’s destruction, astral gifts blood-stained.


Night winds blow golden over what’s reclaimed
And what’s unfinished. Damaged nature won’t
Regenerate except through tender tips
Renewing fruited plains, life’s green wealth,
’til Earth rejoices in its own undeath.


Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo, recently Poetry SuperHighway’s Poet of the Week, is a member of SFPA and The Dramatists Guild. Her poetry collections “Conflicted Excitement” [Red Wolf Editions, 2018], “Concupiscent Consumption” [Red Ferret Press, 2020], and Elgin Award nominee “A Route Obscure and Lonely”‘ [Wapshott Press, 2019] along with a contribution in “Anti-Italianism: Essays on a Prejudice”  [Macmillan in the USA, Aracne Editions in Italy]  are her latest titles.

This piece is part of South Broadway Press’ March 2021 issue, The Language of the Earth.

Word Counts | Samantha Steiner

Image: Simon Pelegrini

Fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, and guess what? Fuck origin. That’s right, fuck origin, and fuck memory. Do you know what fuck means? A girl told me back in middle school: Fornication Under Consent of the King. She said the word was posted on the front door of every reputable home, and that it meant yes, we got the okay from our royal leader to mate, copulate, dance the horizontal polka, put the thing in the other thing. We’re sinners with a lifetime indulgence we bought in advance. We fraternize with the devil, but only according to protocol, baby.

So I say fuck word counts, and fuck regret, and fuck enjoyment, because that’s what fuck is. Fuck is enjoyment. Fuck is regret. The Fuck Word Counts. Fuck is the apology before the infraction, the permission before the play. And who is fuck for? Fuck is for the people who look like Matt Damon and Marilyn Monroe, for bodies concealed just well enough to display. Fuck is for paleness and paler-than-paleness, a certain shape of eye, a certain girth of waist, a certain functionality of limb, a certain history of genitalia. And I say fuck that.

I say fuck origin, and fuck memory, and fuck death, because fuck is a gift, and Fornication Under Consent of the King is Matt Damon in a red velvet hat and a red velvet cape, a walking blood-filled penis with a golden wand, pretending to give out fucks when in reality, he doesn’t give a fuck. I say fuck origin because fuck is origin, because before you and I were you and I, we were twinkles in the eyes of people, maybe lusty, maybe frightened, maybe willing, maybe not. I say fuck memory because fuck is memory, because no one was watching when you or I morphed from a twinkle in those eyes to a glob of cells, as the glob of cells halved and doubled into the tube that formed a mouth and an asshole, two instruments of fucking, consent of the king or not.

Fuck is one person. Fuck is two. Fuck is three. Fuck is more. Fuck is rapid addition. Fuck is no gender. Fuck is all genders. Fuck is silent. Fuck is loud. Fuck is ordinary. Fuck is occasion. Fuck is insult. Fuck is compliment. Fuck is monetized. Fuck is freely given. Fuck is hot. Fuck is cold. Fuck is chafed skin, hidden liquid, violation, ceremony. The Fuck Word counts.


Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.

Ripe Apples – Jessica Rigney

Photo: Oxa Roxa

You make of me a magician—
a laborer supplicant and servant
as I bring the corners of the cloth

together and know you see—
know of your marveling at my hands and
how they come together. It is I

who fashions a new heart each morning
awake to ripe apples which appear
inside the curve of my arm as though

I’d gathered them in my sleep.
Reveries write themselves upon the day
I say. Prefiguring every kindness falling

at my feet. By night they are siphon
for the sorrow tonguing my boots.
You make of me a witness—

stalwart bearer of deprivations
of sleep as I peel carrots at midnight
and know your eyes follow the line

of my shoulder to elbow to wrist and
how they work together still. It is you
who with your arms unloosening

‘round the waste of me lost beyond
these endless unnamed days—you
who magics the seasons back from before

the stay.
Name not I, but the it which is this.
I say.


Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. She is poetjess on Instagram.

This poem is from the Thought For Food anthology,
a poetry collection benefiting Denver Food Rescue.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.

Thought For Food Promotional 1

The Kind of Diner – Samantha Steiner

Image: Ricky Singh

The kind of diner where the benches are turquoise vinyl, where the tables are edged in steel and there’s a tin full of half-used crayons by the register. Maybe there’s a jukebox. Maybe the jukebox actually works. Maybe it swallows your nickel.

The kind of bagel shop where half the walls are exposed brick and the other half are glass, where all the furniture was bought at an estate sale. Orders are handwritten on a notepad with a ballpoint pen and strung on the laundry line that spans the counter. There is no bathroom. Even the employees have to duck into the office building across the street on their lunch breaks.

The kind of bakery where the ceiling tiles can be poked out of place with a broom handle, where the chairs and tables are white wire. Help yourself to a pair of tongs, a serving tray. A cashier will give you more napkins than you could possibly need, and you will surprise yourself when you use them all.

The kind of cafe where there’s a corkboard. Someone needs a babysitter. Someone teaches guitar. Someone is selling a used croquet set. Each flyer ends in a fringe of phone numbers. You reach for that fringe and your wallet tumbles from your pocket. Someone picks it up and hands it back to you.

The kind of New York where you still live, though you don’t eat out much anymore.


Samantha Steiner is a Fulbright Scholar and two-time Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2, and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.