Poetry Archive

What scratches inside a thing?

Love is twofold. The burning taste of new,
and the slow, steady work of revision.

At the kitchen table, stitching back
former selves. The familiar gesture

of putting saliva on a ladder down
the pantyhose. Then, a drop of nail polish

to preserve the elusive. Your eyes
measuring the gesture, eager to dismiss.

Later, sewing the running hole, needle’s
eye too wide to contain the remains of the day.

Outside, the moon softly cuddling
behind clouds. Its breath, a lungful of summer.

Inside, the heart, a rhizomatic sponge,
flurrier particles going in and out.

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other is scheduled for publication in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the current Poetry Editor of The Blue Nib.

The Evening Begins Like This

The evening begins like this
like expired medication.
Curled in a laeotropic ball,
under the exhaustion of the blue comforter,
I struggle to take shape
and breathe like the golam –
press your lips against
the cold clay of my forehead.
I sweat in this dissonance.
I heave my weight into
the water of Lac St. Claire
and disperse into the toxin.
Coiled, at my side, is a stone;
a smoothed anodyne for my breaking.
I am only solid when
I remain still.


J.M. Brandt is mostly from Detroit, MI and Columbia, MO. Although an atheist/LGBT/socialist, she is generally underwhelming and would prefer to quietly knit in the corner. There’s a wife in the mix, too, and she’s terrific. Publications include Illya’s Honey, Barbaric Yawp, and Breadcrumb Scabs.

Body Parts

Interesting to have the tips
of my fingers numb all the time;
I check my toes on cold days
to see if they need a warm soak.
My lips tingle from time to time;
my message worries the Clinic staff
enough to call—they think a stroke,
but she says nothing is drooping.
Buttoning is different on some shirts,
and zipping up feels different.
Don’t stub a toe, I tell me.
The pain’s the same. But the touch
worries me, and kissing isn’t the same
I am sure for her as well. If the numbness
worsens, the Clinic will cut back on
the chemo, but do I want that?
Yes and no. Yes and no.



David Alexander McFarland has  completed a novel and has internationally published poetry, fiction and essays in such places as Stories, Southern Humanities Review, Coe Review,  and The Paumanok Review. He started treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2018, and primarily writes now about that experience. He lives alongside the Mississippi River where it flows east to west.


You trip into my tongue /

I want to keep you there forever /

Speak for me /

Fill me with your balladry /

Your saliva will grow fresh fruit /

Under my stuttering gum /


Anastasia Jill is a queer writer living in the South. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best Small Fiction Anthology and has been featured with Poets.org, Lunch Ticket, FIVE:2:ONE, apt, Anomaly Literary Journal, 2River, Gertrude Press, Minola Review, and more.


Jim’s hands shake
As he sits in his plastic chair,
His bald head speckled with white hairs,
His eyes big and blank.

I see him but I don’t see him often
He keeps relapsing, disappearing
I think about how it’s likely
No one will find his body.

He found out he has Parkinson’s,
And I could feel my heart break.

Then he said he’s told me before
But I’d forgotten.


Ellie Bozmarova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in phoebe, TIMBER, FlyPaper Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and is an editorial intern at McSweeney’s. Read more of her work at elliebozmarova.com.

re: deconstruction in D minor

we will start
with something obvious something
like why is love simply |||||||||||||||?
why can be an adverb
a noun an interjection
& probably other things
it’s shifty this one
why begs for a reason
re: Hachikō the Akita Inu who
waited every day
for ten years at the train station
for Hidesaburō the professor
after he had died
or re: the electrical socket’s look
of surprise or dismay
depending on where it is

is on the other hand is
a state of being of existence
a continuation
re: Hidesaburō could not
cup is in his palms
do you see the conflict
of interest here?
re: think how your eyes slide over
these words how your brain makes
sense of these words & wanders
how your bones feel settled
into your skin
think of how some draft
has brushed your face
now or at some other point
Hidesaburō is the opposite of is yet

love is both noun & verb
re: both my darling
& let’s fuck both a score of zero
& how you might feel about the beach
in Old English lufu & lufian
do you see how love changed
how it evolves?
re: Hachikō the Akita Inu who
waited at the train station
for Hidesaburō the professor
before he died

while simply is easy simply isn’t fickle
simply the adverb loves to adjust
& correct to make
too fine a point of things
simply is only & mere
re: your soul and its formation
re: how your soul will either blink
off one day or be chucked
into some other flesh
of the precarious
nature of doors
re: when he died
in front of his students
Hidesaburō the professor felt
himself loose and disappear

even though ||||||||||||||| implies synthesis
||||||||||||||| is a noun that is
both detour & silent promise
both indirect route & I’ll show
you ||||||||||||||| toes the line between
Big Sable Point & Eddystone Rocks
do you see how ||||||||||||||| folds onto itself?
re: the moment your mother puts you
down for the last time
re: Hachikō the Akita Inu waits

of course it ends with a ?
a ? marks an unknown puzzle
a ? lays the chain link code
between your hay-packed tongue
& your heavy hands
do you see how a ? is exactly impossible?
re: the secret fear you’ll turn
into a ? when you die
re: Hachikō the Akita Inu died of cancer
re: Hachikō the Akita Inu lives
with four bamboo barbeque
skewers in his stomach
because he is a dog
& the skewers
tasted like meat


Nicole Mason is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Western Michigan University and is the poetry editor at Third Coast Magazine. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Slipstream, Roanoke Review, Atticus Review, and others. She lives in Kalamazoo, MI with her husband and their three ungrateful dogs.

Amtrak as a Red Wheelbarrow

The average blink lasts one-tenth of a second, as fast as we lapse past each tunnel light. In the train car we’re in, zipping through New Jersey, I’m reading William Carlos Williams and falling in love with some boy’s eyes like molé sitting beside me, the same savory-sweetness you could dip your finger in. “So much depends / upon…” Finish the poem: A rattling pull-down food tray. A Jansport bag on the floor, ever-so-slightly sliding. A glance, the smiling squint eyes make, sleep still in them. I’m not allowed to say more on this. We blink about 15-20 times per minute; more when we’re talking to someone, less when we read, and mine almost glaze over, dryness growing like some furry creature resideson my cornea. For once, I’m not thinking of where we’re headed. Only eyes: how in space, an astronaut can’t cry. Tears build in balls and sting the eyes; they never fall.How at birth, babies see only in black, white, and gray; color comes later. How my owneyes, when rubbed, black out and create fireworks of color,itchiness fading to numb fluorescence. And you, now eyeing my book when I’m not looking, about to ask as soon as I open them, if I’d ever read Paterson.


Thalia Geiger is a poet and fiction writer with a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of the Arts. She is an editorial assistant at American Poetry Review and her work has been published in Pamplemousse, as well as recognized by the Hurston/Wright Foundation. She lives in Philadelphia where she happily burns too many candles and impulsively buys more books than she can fit on her shelves.

Hypothetical Zombie Vacuum Salesman

What if the dead came back in the tune
of your favorite song? What if they turned
up on your doorstep selling vacuums
and matchboxes that looked like bibles,
their bodies shaped like your mouth
when it presses against my skin?
(Is that still considered praying?)

What if the dead – whatever, undead –
had an appetite for lymphatic fluid
you couldn’t satiate without a bargain?
Now: how many vacuums do you think
you would purchase from dead men?
How many matchboxes would you open
expecting salvation, only to find splinters?


Riley Hart is an emerging poet and creative writing student living in California. So far her work has only appeared in The Colorado Crossing, her previous college’s student publication, after winning their annual poetry contest. 


I whistle out into the night & it comes to me. a creature that already knows my intentions. its feet fit nicely into the divot made by my collarbones. it is like me: accustomed to dim light & hiding its talons. I am teaching it to speak. juniper, I tell it. calamity. it is ravenous & I am responsible for feeding it. it eats small mechanical parts. sudden laughter. soft hair from the napes of men’s necks. it grows restless indoors so I show it wild blackberries. bury it in a pile of leaves. it stores breezes of all different weights in its lungs. I drive it to the coast for a taste of fog. take it on a run so it can savor the crunch of a winter morning. one day it nosedives from a hemlock & I stitch its wing up with embroidery thread. it alights on my finger when I call. it has started to hum at dusk. nightmare, I pronounce for it slowly. femur femur femur, it murmurs back. it has two sets of eyelids. it knows to hold prolonged eye contact only with me.


Karah Kemmerly grew up in Northern California but currently lives in Corvallis, where she is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spectrum Literary Journal, The Tulane Review, and the Plath Poetry Project.

Powdered Water

Dream a quenched love,
gambit akin to chess,
poured into a narrow hallway
from some tall glass—a gauntlet,
say. Not gantlet, two lines,
men with sticks beating cuckolds,
lechers, liars running by. Also,
gimlet nearby—tool to glide
inside a pretty package, bore
the hole deep as gimlet eyes
stare back, fuel lust with a luring,
penetrating look. No need really
for lime-laced drink, gimlet,
nothing powdered in it. Yes, gimbal,
keep everything on course,
even, level. Inspire gamut,
a range of thirst so complete
no gauntlet, or any rapid-gulp dare,
makes the thirsty beauty weak,
lethargic, miss why granules
can lure a doe to the damp edge,
inspire thirst—strong desire
to lie back, dream a liquid gift,
wetness not powdered stirred in.

Timothy Pilgrim, Bellingham, Washington, a Pushcart Prize nominee and poet with several hundred acceptances by journals such as Seattle Review, Cirque, San Pedro River Review, Toasted Cheese, Windsor Review, Hobart, Sleet Magazine and Third Wednesday, is author of “Mapping water” (Flying Trout Press, 2016). See www.timothypilgrim.org for all his poetry.

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