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By Heather Wheat 

The day before my daughter’s 

sixteenth birthday, I apply a

wax strip to her lip, make sure 

it’s even, and wait.


The night I was in labor with her,

I did not know what preparation 

meant. I was unprepared for

her, for life, for myself...

What the Forest Thinks of the Axe

By Brett Dionysius

the forest looks at the wooden-handled axe

as a victim, a scarecrow, even a collaborator.

as a victim, the macabre practice of flensing

heartwood from pulpy bones to create trench-

art; a lampshade, a cavern of angels crafted out

of human skeletons that becomes a souvenir...


By Robert Beveridge 

the moth

has lived

in my shower

two days now



I talk to it

Girl, 5, survives two days along river

By Monica Fuglei


Her grandfather once plucked berries from bushes, showed her

the differences between chokecherries, wild strawberries, baneberries.



He died in river accident at Whirlpool Bend.

Searchers found his body near the island.



The berry lesson: What to eat or avoid. Their hands spilling

with fresh plucked huckleberries, sumac, twisted stalk, elderberry...


By Leticia Chairez 

On "Prickly Pear and Fisticuffs" by Ada Limón


I'm sorry to the man who thought I was too loud.

And to the men who ask me why I’m so quiet.


My mom taught me about “la tuna”,

a bright-red fruit, poised atop the cactus.

The inside, full of seeds and flesh,

protected by its barbed layer...


By Susan Harman  

  1. Inhale


What else really matters

when emerald green vines drape

over 100-yr-old porch steps

when the sunflowers loom large

              sweet scent of Columbine and Lilac

or when you place your hand on my knee,

breath on my neck,

both of us quiet together

on your Mother’s porch swing?

Car Culture 

By Stephen Cloud 

In America, a car is always darting at you,

high beams taking out your vision,

your face distorted in the approaching chrome.


These cars they hop curbs they tear through bushes

they skid across lawns they plow into bus stops

plunge into stores and houses and schools.

Fences nor walls will hold them back:

A man in my hometown stood behind a picket fence

watering his roses and never saw the Dodge

that bounded off road and through fence

to bring him down like a dog happy

to see its master. The Daily Star said

tires left a perfect impression on his flesh...

Death is a High School 

By Brett Dionysius

the children aren’t driving, but they’re driving forward

with their agenda. the teens aren’t drinking either, but

they’re drunk with rage, tears for bubblers. the water

always tastes like metal, like a blood mouth from too

much push & shove. from face-planting off a swing...


By Jonathan Montgomery 

I recently applied for a full-time position teaching college English. It got me thinking again about BookMess...


every single one of my books

lying in total disorganization on the floor

while perfectly alright empty shelves look on


I step on BookMess unmercifully  

to get a workshirt off the hanger in the morning


covers smudged

pages folded into swans

words seeping out on the carpet

their origins mysterious in the pile...

Portland Streetcar Dance 

By Marilyn Moody

a tourist steps on and stands squarely
and stupidly in the middle of the aisle,
slide and glide, slide and glide, dance.

the hipster dude all gauges and beard,
I don’t look up, I know the moves, up and down,
twirl, twirl, twirl, here’s my chance.

Blanket Man is always Blanket Man and
is naked underneath his blanket today.
Blanket Man does not dance...


The Geography of Sleeping Alone Again 

By Monica Fuglei  

It is night and the flat plain of my bed

is Albuquerque without the Sandias,

the warm wind of your breath

does not fly over the city and crawl

through the crevices and furrows of the valley

to the mesa of my body standing alone...

St. Mark

By Ari Noble 

Above your head 

Two girls spoke.

Their faces were pink and young with girlhood, 

Their hair, glossy, sable, 

Reflected smooth restaurant 

Light, yellow and warm.

One of them was looking into a mirror

And the other leaned over a sink,

Also pink, 

Her hip was on the wall,

her lips were parted

And they were talking to each other in Spanish. 

You were saying something and I 

Couldn’t hear you over their conversation...

Traveling Highway 285

By Susan Harman 

Purple mermaid with the pop-out, black-star eyes.

nothing in Fairplay is as it seems,

antiques for sale

antiquated shop owners

half-dead, almost dying town, collection of Denver’s misfits.

A stroll down Front Street, feeling it,

something ancient, chink-chink of the gold-pan against rocks

a faint bally-hoo from the saloon—miner’s chapel...

Contact Death
Forest Book
Dance Alone
Girl 5
St Mark
Anchor 1
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