The Last Cicada

Just west of eden’s garden I laid to rest
the cicada’s shell, listened to the hollow rattling

of wind through exoskeleton while vines strangled
the porcelain skin of my mother’s poppy

flowers after sicarios made her chest bloom
as those violent carnations do

when they fall from ends of cigarettes,
molten embers sinking deeper

into her skin as a meal for worms burrowed
beneath the right atrium of that sun-kissed

place caressed by pine trees and crushed
needles against smoothed bark

I wonder when the cicadas will return.

Kyra Ungerleider studied Neuroscience and Creative Writing at The Ohio State University. She is now living in the United Kingdom, where she attends the University of Cambridge for her PhD in Neuroscience.

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Self-Dissection

i wove you a blanket from my hair,
placed the nail I peeled from my ring finger
in the cracks of your palm.
you gave me some violet
polish to hide the scar and it chipped
in my mouth when i reached in for the wisdom
tooth you wanted to wear as a necklace.

you gave me toothpaste to cover
the smell of rot coating my words
when i asked you to love me. i opened
my gaping hole, told you take more
ivory trophies, peel the hangnail from my thumb
to my elbow, please use this ribbon
to adorn yourself.

like sunburnt flakes on my shoulder
i disintegrated without notice or pain.
unraveled all of me to let you taste
underneath, but you told me the heart lacks
piquancy and when i asked for warmth
to shield my skeletal exhibition, you offered
only eyelashes and air.

you’ll say there is no room
for the pieces of me you’ve collected.
you’d rather leave
them behind, no one cares about the bones of their old homes.

so i will try to glue back the nail to my bed, try
to restring my head while my tooth
and wisdom grow back roots.

I see you now, mouth full and body complete.
I have nothing of you to return.

Kyra Ungerleider studied Neuroscience and Creative Writing at The Ohio State University. She is now living in the United Kingdom, where she attends the University of Cambridge for her PhD in Neuroscience.

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Banquet

up there
in the evening sky,
from a vast distance,
a fiery ball
of amber warms
the ground
with watered-down
beams of light.

down there,
on the red, tepid earth,
a happy, little child
flies an obsidian kite
made from things
people no longer
find useful.

here I stand—
in between—
on a mossy hill,
feasting,
on the innocence
of them both:
a banquet of transition
and pure, blind
hope for the future.

Pat Ashinze is an Ibo-Yoruba hybrid. He trained as a medical doctor and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, where he won the Inaugural Students Union Poetry Prize in 2019 as an undergraduate. Pat writes prose, poetry and everything you can think of except journalistic articles. His works have appeared and are forthcoming in TERSE. Journal, Arts Lounge Magazine, Aayo Magazine, Chicago Lit, KAIROS Literary Magazine, Kalahari Review, vox poetica etc. He was a finalist for the 2021 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. He was also a finalist for the 2021 World NTD Day Storytelling Competition. He won the 2021 Wingless Dreamer Midnight Poetry Contest. Pat currently resides in Southwestern Nigeria.

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In my room

in my room, I sing to the pictures
of my dead father, who died from
a disease that came from his mind.
i tell him how far I’ve come.
i tell him how much he’s missed.
i tell him how colourful my dreams are.
some teardrops and a gulp of rum
lead the way as a bedraggled ritual
before the heathen song is sung.
once upon a time, it was sung by me—
and my mother who struggled to sound happy enough
for the song not to come from two sad hearts.
I look to the right side of the room,
there are cobwebs in the corner
and a bouquet of flowers I bought yesterday.
sometimes, even love comes for the forgotten.

Pat Ashinze is an Ibo-Yoruba hybrid. He trained as a medical doctor and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, where he won the Inaugural Students Union Poetry Prize in 2019 as an undergraduate. Pat writes prose, poetry and everything you can think of except journalistic articles. His works have appeared and are forthcoming in TERSE. Journal, Arts Lounge Magazine, Aayo Magazine, Chicago Lit, KAIROS Literary Magazine, Kalahari Review, vox poetica etc. He was a finalist for the 2021 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. He was also a finalist for the 2021 World NTD Day Storytelling Competition. He won the 2021 Wingless Dreamer Midnight Poetry Contest. Pat currently resides in Southwestern Nigeria.

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Revisiting the Closet

No, the crypt, I call it.

Dank & cavernous, so huge,
to try to touch the outer wall

would be to walk a thousand years
& never reach it.

The cracked bones
of all those who didn’t make it

line the walls & ceiling
like ornate armor.

Torchlit & stacked
together, a closeness

they never felt while they
were living.

I sift my hand through dirt in search
of words, of names, their longing,

some crystal of a whisper
but find nothing.

Only silence. More bones.
My luck reflected in their sorrow.

To honor them, I drink
their marrow,

hold them
like a second heart inside my body,

then take them with me
out

into the light.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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Another Kind of Commute

When I have lost my way
in the day’s anxious maze,

I stop,

lie down
on the crowd of grass

& wait

for silence,
for thousands

of little green hands
to lift me up.

The blue sky fades.
Graceful blade by graceful blade,

they carry my body
across

open fields, riverbanks,
wooded plots.

I surf the green sea until
I feel the hug

of our own
clipped lawn.

I rise to my feet.
You open the red door, smiling,

the cat curled in your arms
like a child.

The sun is gone.
The table is set.

We don’t feel alone.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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Meditation When Morale Is Low

The curtains refuse to open.
The ceiling fan spins itself
sick, vomits
on the carpet. The couch is on
drugs again. A black fog
fills the hall
& instead of running,
I walk into it,
deprive my eyes
until I have forgotten
what the bustling wallpaper
looks like.
When I return,
even the beige
& grays are sparkling, even
watching golf doesn’t seem
so boring. Look
how they walk on green water!
Look how they feed the clouds
little balls of cotton!

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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The Origins of Hope

While I sleep soundly on my side,
a family of yellow sac spiders

comes crawling
through the night

to gather            in a line
beside my ear.

One by one, they each toss
a tiny crumb down

into the dark abyss
of my ear canal,

into what they’ve deemed
a wishing well

that appears every night
just for them.

Satisfied, a little lighter,
they leave,

pitter-patter
down my cheek

until tomorrow.
I will try my whole life

to understand it,
but I will never come to know

that this
is where all my hope

springs from.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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Before I Knew I Was Gay, I Was Told I Was Catholic

I came to this stuffy,
overly-woody room

for one reason
& one reason only:

            Sunday candy,

the sweet & sour coke bottle
gummies

            & a cherry slurpee

to soothe
my eight-year-old throat.

The convenience store is on the way
home.

Its bright lights,
neon aisles

of neatly wrapped prayers,
peelable saints.

But first,            church.

But first,            this stale

bad breath-causing Eucharist
that I don’t

            want, that I don’t

                        understand,

& will later come to learn
doesn’t understand

            me either.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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The Struggling Poet Interviews for a Desk Job

I am proficient in trees, not identifying
their names, but deepest needs,
a fish scale’s glimmer, soft paws, toe
beans, the tiny, invisible heartbeats
of mice, their
cries.

I’ve never been in a fistfight, but that’s
a lie. I’ve done it twice & both times
I got my ass beat—which was humbling.

My strengths? Hiding. Being alone.
I am quite good at crying
in the deergrass
near the edge of a road.

My biggest weakness
is my inability to sleep
because of the small black hole
beneath my pillow. It goes nowhere, trust me
I’ve checked, plenty.

Oh.
You think I’m not the right fit.
I see.

(pulls gift from pocket)

Well. Here. I wanted you to have this.
It’s a miniature grand piano I made
from clam shells, wasp wings.
I planned to play a little song
if I got the job,

but that’s okay.
I’m sure I’ll write a poem about this
anyway & that’s enough
for me.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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Balding

The young man pulls the strands
of hair from the shower drain,

lays them out straight & orderly,
like a pack of cigarettes.

He counts the bodies,
lights ten candles

in the tiny, rock grotto
he built inside

the medicine cabinet, prays
to Rogaine, then closes it.

The hairs (because he has to prove
he doesn’t care) get flushed

down the toilet,
like a child’s goldfish.

He walks to work,
but on the way

gazes up at the cloud’s
curved surfaces,

smooth & immaculate,
a confidence

in how they seem to nod
in his direction.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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I Need You to Know I Regret This One the Most

Could you tell me, if I asked,
the worst thing you’ve ever said

or ever done?

I am ashamed to say
that on the great, wide map of my life,

I can pinpoint the exact place,
the exact time, the very instant I watched

my words turn
into great birds of prey.

I was standing on the driveway
with my brother. Young,

but not so young I could forget,
or try to shift the blame on adolescence.

The neighbor boys, who lived across the street
with their grandparents,

who were the same age as us,
who always played with us, were storming off—

some sort of unimportant,
immature argument had taken off

& we were tossing insults like rocks
across the asphalt.

Each one getting sharper,
harder.

They kept making fun of me for being girly,
for the way I talked.

& suddenly my darkest parts
took over.

Out it flew:

                        At least I have a mother.

& the air forever shattered. & the argument was over.
& the poor boys who’ve carried tragedy

around their whole lives like a scarlet letter
walked away,

leaving me in silence
with the last, terrible word.

We never spoke of it again. I never apologized
& instead, pretended like it never happened,

afraid to admit that I am capable of something
so wrong & wretched.

I’ve thought a lot about shame
since then—its weight, how it feels, the way

it flutters, like two frightened doves
caged inside the heart, inside the brain,

waiting
for the day they’ll be set free.

My friends,
I’m ready.

I wrote this poem for you,
to say:

                        I’m sorry.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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The Tiny Funeral

When I wake to a sharp pain
in the middle of the night,
I find the room has flooded
with moon, the fraying quilt
has gotten up & crawled away
to sleep alone
on the floor.

Shirtless & lying in my bed,
I look down
to see a tiny man digging
on my chest,
rushing to finish,
as a tiny funeral procession
starts driving up my leg.

Each toy car parks
& the mourners dressed
in black,
holding lanterns in their hands,
get out & gather.

Stone-still, I listen
to small strangers
sing soft hymns
while the tiny casket
lowers.

I close my eyes—
moved by the sight,
their mice-like
cries,
& wonder

whether or not this happens
every night,
if this is just the first time
I’ve woken up
to see it.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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To Fall Asleep

The boy was not a boy
but a sheep
                        in wolf’s clothing,

too afraid to show
the soft & fluffy edges
of his fleece.

He thought
in claws,
                        sharpened teeth,

taught himself
to only speak
with gruff & gravel,

to scream
at the moon
even though
                        it sparkled,

to never listen
to his instincts,

never travel
too far
from the pack,

never leap
or bounce,
                        field-frolic,

to pretend
it never happened—

those long & lonely nights
he’d accidentally start
counting

boys
to fall asleep.

Grant Chemidlin is a queer writer and poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of two collections of poetry, He Felt Unwell (So He Wrote This) and Things We Lost In The Swamp. He’s been a finalist for the Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award, the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and is currently pursuing an MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles. You can find more of his work on Instagram: @grantcpoetry.

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Bearing a Sunday Alone

This Sunday sky is Bermuda harbor blue,
sailing fat clouds close enough to touch.
The heat is smothering. Nothing would
come out from under a rock today. Sun
has bleached the grass and burned ground
to a hardness you can’t push a stick into.
I stretch the hose to keep hydrangeas looking
like large jewels, and the cold water shoots
out of the nozzle like millions of transparent
stars. The thing about Sunday is that
everything feels finished, whether it is or not.
After watering, I sit on the front porch,
the rocking chair monotonous as a
clock’s pendulum. In a cornfield at the end
of my road crows cry out in discordant
voices, and birds slip in and out of
surrounding trees. I watch the dance of robins
on the lawn picking futilely at dry ground.
Crumbling bread out of my hand looks like
summer snow. In feeding them there is
unexplainable satisfaction
as if their hunger were my own.

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, named him the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books. Critics and judges called his first book, Cafes of Childhood, a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,” and “a single unified whole.” Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and 2022. He was nominated for the Best of the Net award in 2021. More than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including Chiron Review, Concho River Review, The Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.

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A Chronic Condition

On this particular Sunday, a screaming crow flew across my path. I had a pilfered loaf of bread under my coat to help feed the starving millions or to melt down into bullets. The pope declared from his window in St. Peter’s Square, “Don’t be afraid of tattoos.” Who was he trying to kid? I knew from personal experience what it was like to live with a chronic condition and be made to endure its cruel and arbitrary edicts and then watch in mounting terror the horizon burn from one end to the other.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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All Good Stories End in Death, Hemingway Said

I didn’t even know you were sick until I saw what your oldest posted on your Facebook page – that you had fallen into a coma during cancer treatment and were very near death. For an awful moment, I wrestled with whether I should “Like” the post as an expression of support. It was the sort of dilemma that once would have had you sadly shaking your head at me in mock despair. And now? The symphony that took all these years to compose has proved to take only about 17 minutes to perform.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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Unsolved Mysteries #1

Detectives in their trademark brown derbies peered in the window. They saw a youngish man standing by a Victrola. He had a handsome but somber face, as if the music on the turntable might be stirring up dark memories and emotions. Behind him to his right, a woman was stretched out naked on a couch. Blood from the gaping wound in her throat had leaked through the cushions and pooled on the floor. The detectives didn’t see the body or the blood. Their view was blocked by a half wall. When the man started to crank the Victrola, the detectives had seen enough. One by one, they confidently strode off into the coming night.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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Sleeping in Class

I have heard it’s bad luck to wake a student who’s sleeping in class, so I don’t, even though now the student may never know that Salvador Dali sat up on his deathbed and, weak as he was, cursed the priest who had come to shrive him. Goddamnit! When did I start to resemble a viciously defaced photo of my younger self? My thesaurus lists more than 140 words related to darkness, including dark, gloom, dimness, obscurity, blackness, night. The night is long, long, and in the morning, the children have to walk by the slaughterhouse on their way to school.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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Apocalyptically Yours

As if at a secret signal, the streets filled with dancing grannies. The future seemed tragic to me regardless. Squat men with brutal faces lurked in doorways, under lampposts, behind trees. This was before Magritte introduced the notion that charm and menace combined can reinforce each other. I had arrived on a ship built in the same shipyard as the Titanic. Fifteen billion trees a year were being felled to make toilet paper. Then three members of my own family got cancer. So far as I can remember, the piano was already burning on the white sand beach when I sat down to play.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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Wintry Mix

I’m out of seed for the birds, and Jameson’s and firewood for us, and now it’s only a matter of time before I start to let words choose my meaning. Nothing can be repaired or retrieved, nothing, not by tomorrow, maybe not ever. It’s all to strange purpose, a dirty white van with caged dogs destined for gassing whimpering in the back. And if afterwards TV news crews stick their cameras and microphones in my face and ask for a comment, I would say what I think winter trees twisted up in pain would want to say.

Howie Good is the author of Failed Haiku, a poetry collection that is the co-winner of the 2021 Grey Book Press Chapbook Contest, scheduled for publication in summer 2022.

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Blue

The playmat is in the grass and I cannot
   stop looking

at the most unnerving shade of blue

My baby plays his tambourine so maybe
the whole thing
   is nothing

But like leeches to the toes I cannot
   suck it dry

This blue

That makes me see words in the shape
   of a wishbone

So now, when I cut into dead flesh
behind my lower lip,
   I find the minute I lost last month

So now, when I see the beetle in the grass
   I believe I can kill it with a look and leave

the magnifying glass around my lamp
   because it was such a precious gift

Home is blue

and blue is my bed when the night puts
   rocks in my pillow

Before I can even count the bruises
I’ll be exchanging notes with
   the respiratory therapist

The hall will smell like Pine-Sol
   Albuterol will give her energy

And when I wake up I’ll be standing
   bedside

Looking down at my body like it
could maybe pour love into memory
   and make it real

Looking for answers in a sea of nothing
   because I have nowhere else to go

before I see nothing

before I see blue

And blue is red now because blue cannot be
   beautiful anymore

even though for so long
   blue meant she was looking at me

I lost count of the questions I tallied

with the cuts behind my lower lip
   because they didn’t feel important anymore

after blue claimed hate and red
   softened

After red became my talisman
   and I couldn’t carry much else

Red replaced the baby I carried
   like a loose leaf

and took more from me than I gave
   to it

And takes everything still, but now in bits
   and pieces

The worst thing about it is
   I will never see blue like I used to

Laura Faith blends traditional forms of poetry in the modern voice and style of performance poetry and writes on the topics of identity formation, trauma, compounded grief, new motherhood, and spirituality. She is the author of the YA novel, Amanda Phake: The First Phake ID, published in September 2010, and the poetry collection, A Convergence, So to Speak, published in September 2019. Her poem, “Cure All,” appeared in Z Publishing House’s California’s Best Emerging Poets 2020 anthology, and her poem, “If Holden Caulfield Were a Mother,” was accepted for forthcoming publication in Narrative Magazine. She received a BA in French and Francophone Studies from UCLA, as well as a Single Subject Credential in English and a Master’s in Teaching from UC Irvine. Laura lives in Redondo Beach, CA, with her husband, Matthew, and son, Sly, and teaches English, French, and Creative Writing to K-12 and college students year-round. You can follow her poetry on Instagram and Facebook at @poems_by_laura.

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homewards

most poems draw on childhood
but you only have one, so be careful
not to exhaust it

you can try writing poems
from someone else’s perspective
– the woman you stood behind
in the queue at the Pizza Hut,
or the protagonist of the novel
you picked up at random
from the shelves of that unfamiliar library –
but trust me, they always end up
being about you

my childhood appears in memory
to have been mostly cold buffeted beaches and
Pohutukawa trees, but in reality
that can’t have been its whole content
and Pohutukawa trees are not very useful
material for imagery now that I’m
on the other side of the world writing poetry
for people who have never seen one

I want to advise you
to stop reading poetry forthwith
and instead go to New Zealand to witness
the Pohutukawa trees trailing their
snakeskin fingers into the ocean
dropping red flowers into the foaming waves

but the borders are closed, the world
is hunching in upon itself and besides
the trees that I remember are trapped
inside my past under skies that
for some reason are always iron grey
so the truth is there’s no way
you can possibly see them now

Emily Adlam’s poetry has been published in collections including The Mays XIX, New Zealand Poetry Society annual collections, Re-Draft and the Oxford University Poetry Society anthology. Her debut novel was recently bought by HarperCollins Italia.

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shopping online for chaise lounges

I’ve always had a hankering to own a chaise lounge;
ideally velvet in the colour of blue
known as robin’s egg, with a
single arm rest and long rows
of dimples, yes I’ll admit
that I’ve envisioned all of this
in some detail

I’m not typically extravagant and I
don’t have visitors so this chaise lounge
won’t be there to impress anyone
I just like the idea of lounging
poetically, draping myself limply
over the arm rest, alighting softly
like one of Freud’s maidens
this being one of the few instances
where the word alighting is completely appropriate

I picture it sometimes, a glimmer
of ludicrous crushed-velvet luxury
in the midst of a room otherwise utilitarian
and aesthetically confused, as if to say
how very silly luxury is and yet
how fanciful, how compelling

it turns out that people really do sell
chaise lounges, you can literally
just go online and buy them
but of course I don’t buy one, I just
scroll wistfully through the pictures
feeling somehow that it must be a trick
I’m not really allowed to spend my money
on chaise lounges, and if I try
Greta Thunberg will emerge
from the pores of the plasterboard and ask me
how dare I be so wasteful

Emily Adlam’s poetry has been published in collections including The Mays XIX, New Zealand Poetry Society annual collections, Re-Draft and the Oxford University Poetry Society anthology. Her debut novel was recently bought by HarperCollins Italia.

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Relocation

there’s no sunset in this town
the sky just grows dark
unobtrusively as if the day
can’t bring itself to believe
its departure merits fanfare
and I am not a person any more
just a name in everyone’s contact list
sitting here as the night bashfully
suffuses every room and forgetting
to switch on the light

sometimes I think I’ve lived in too many places
people always say they’d like to travel the world
but they’re assuming they’d get to choose
where they go, whereas I’m just continually
pitching up in some new location
with no idea what’s there just hoping
there will be a place that sells
my favourite kind of ice cream

when I wake up I get visions
of a place that I’ve been without
being able to remember where it is: a carpark
empty of cars and rimmed by a pinewood balcony
beneath which you’d find a tiny Korean
restaurant selling potatoes fried in brown sugar
this place definitely wasn’t in Korea
but it could be in any one of the homes
I’ve left behind

yesterday I almost bought you a card
with a message about how we’re
both still under the same sky
but actually I think we’re both
peering out at exactly opposite sides
of the universe and the reality is
you’re probably not even looking at the sky

technically everything I used to love
still exists, but all I can tell you is
this feels an awful lot like loss

Emily Adlam’s poetry has been published in collections including The Mays XIX, New Zealand Poetry Society annual collections, Re-Draft and the Oxford University Poetry Society anthology. Her debut novel was recently bought by HarperCollins Italia.

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