212 lede

Apollo, probably not lost. | Flume. | some go and some stay behind. | + Snatching an hour, between writing and more writing, to make poetry. by Miriam Calleja

We are the only two walking in the rain, Apollo and I. I’m wearing a mustard-yellow raincoat; he is not. I’m licking my wounds, some clearly visible, still breathless from the fight. He finds this all the more intriguing, picks up his pace as he heads towards me, a bounce in his step, almost a recognition. It is a kind face with its own scars, one that has fought and been defeated. As we interact, he circles me, his distance decreasing. I remember that time a Turkish man asked to take my picture as I wrote in a cafe. How he invaded me with his eyes. But this is different to that. I let out a breath that has stagnated in my lungs for days. This encourages him to breach the distance. We take a photo. I disappear in it.
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No. 212 20231224

Hot Take. | Grandfather. | + Brita. by Josephine Gawtry

Here’s my hot
take that isn’t
a hot take.
My mom

            Her phalanx
            of textbooks
            Her maelstrom
            of alpaca yarn

Her bevy of
perfume flew
Into my room
an unkindness

Deveron. | First Love. | + Mouth to Mouth. by Sean Burke

Can I still claim I do not know
what brought me to the river’s edge,
the silver ingot streaked with blood
and mucus slipping in my hands;

what made me kneel and sink its mouth
in the rush of water, a tang soaked
in the bone, distilled earth,
bass notes of stone and darkness?

The Candle Boy | Rrrrrrrrr | + The Liver and Heart of My Last Lady Love by Kim Silva (she, hers)

Candle Boy drips candle wax on his body. It dries in strings and lumps. His hair is light pink. It’s greasy and lies unevenly around his shoulders. His head is far too big for his body. He looks very mischievous. He is rude. He would say anything to anybody! But he knows a lot, more than anyone else.

Excerpt from Ghazals for 2023 by Sheila E. Murphy

A caramel sky breaches desire for
clear light splashed across our nicknamed day time.

Sentences have doilies in them plus raw
edges of breath unmatched to their wording.

Feigning Sleep. by Daniel P. Stokes

The mornings you get out of bed before me,
feigning sleep, I watch you dress
to gauge how you behave
when no one’s looking.
And as you waddle round the room
attacking drawers, I focus,
fascinated, on your fork,
your breasts, your buttocks
as if I’d never seen them.

Psalm. by Rue Huang (she, her)

after Debby Shi

That night I held the moon’s yellowed skin
       between my teeth, night’s breath     on my palms, 
              dove into lakewater. Surfaced        for
air only to find riverbed.         Punctuated my strokes
              with panic, minnows
opened my scars, daytime came pouring out. 

In a Living Cell. by Laura Hess (she, her)

the new gene variants went into the cell

you had a sustained vision of heaven

the two events were connected—
they had to be—otherwise,

you’d have to kneel all night

Tombstone. and Myrtle Creek. by Maya Stahler

I pitch it
and the egg cracks
against the cement of
a dead girlie’s name

I watch the bird ovum leak
into the curve of the name
I press the yellow into the grooves

Deep to Deep by Joann Yu

“You see, I tried to stay awake, but it is simply too hard for me. I cannot hold on to myself to stay here. Not even a moment,” I explain slowly to the shadow in front of the haloing light, trying to disguise my melancholy.

“The dream I had last night felt real to me.” I try to look at the shadow’s face but it is a blur buried in a hazy glow of radiance.

“So, what is it?” they said, also tempered.

12-Bar Sex by Justin Aylward

When his friend Steven asked him if he liked pornography, Thomas was immediately sorry that he answered yes.

‘Great, there’s a job for you, but it’s not what you might think.’ Steven said.

This was just the beginning of Thomas’ troubles, however. He was a devoted musician; music was the most important thing in his life, apart from his ex-girlfriend, Chloe.

Steven and Thomas became friends when they were in a band together called The Haircuts. The most memorable thing about The Haircuts was that none of the band members had any hair, either by nature or by razor.