Malka Older
Melissa Eleftherion
Sarah Nichols
Kristina Marie Darling
Minadora Macheret
Merridawn Duckler
Nicole Fournier
Marissa HIggins
Mar Von Zellen
Amy Lee Heinlen
Kathryn Hindenlang
Michele Leavitt



Malka Older


You say that looking at me makes everything right in your universe?
That I help you believe in God?
We have something in common then; without my existence, I too
would have difficulty believing in God.
You want to know what it feels like to be inside of me?
I’ll tell you.
I am a speck of grit shuffling across the oyster-tongue of the world.
There is no comfortable position for my body to be in
when I want to fall asleep. I don’t know why I love who
I love. There is a great and arched cathedral in my chest
a vast space that doesn’t conform to the outside boundaries you see,
populated by occasional twinges and tweaks, a rising bubble somewhere
in my abdomen, a small spring uncoiling in my thorax, a throb.
This is how it is: sometimes my mind, lost within that space,
drops contact; sometimes my sex pleads
to be touched. (No, not now, although I can see
how you might be confused. It is a mystery
to me too, the when, the why.) Hunger is a vast
tumbler, a mill stone; fear a trembler, rattling
my guts. Sometimes I don’t know which eye
to look out of, I don’t know why, no matter how I squirm, I’m trapped
in this skin (you say it is like silk, but it is concrete,
it is bedrock on my bones), in this skull, my face
forever between me and the world: I am beamed in,
a television signal buzzing in an old box, lost.
But it’s easy to forget that; I can focus on the signals
I receive instead, although some prove to be pinpricks
from phantoms: I look down at my ankle or bicep
and find nothing, I think that person I crossed on the street
is smiling at me but no, or she smiled only because
she thought I was smiling at her (I know why you are smiling,
no need to explain). I pull on different strands
in the braid of my mind, and sometimes I find a chord.
You say I inspire you to poetry? You see,
something else we agree on.

Melissa Eleftherion


it was the toughness
i faked
when we set fire to the woods
when we threw beer bottles in the stream
and when
we tagged the subway car at 65th Street
it was the metal breathing
when we made out with boys in your basement
when we followed that girl every day after school, taunting
when we danced in the pit & went home bruised
i lied
it all hurt
and i had to go

the toughness/           & i dismissed


            was a catalyst            


where the ocean broke
in tiny waves
it came crashing

Sarah Nichols


My bones soften like
someone who is


Sucked and burned,
I think I have been healing.

In darkness

I inhabit
doll’s body.

It is something safer:

a formation of
small breath,

 the mouth of




Sources: Title: a phrase from Sylvia Plath’s “The Fearful.” C.D. Wright: “Song of the Gourd,” “A Series of Actions,” “Approximately Forever,” “What Keeps,” and “Like Someone Driving to Texas By Herself.” Sylvia Plath: “Little Fugue,” “Three Women,” “Poem For a Birthday: Witch Burning,” “Poem For a Birthday: Flute Notes From a Reedy Pond,” “The Night Dances,” and “Purdah.”

Kristina Marie Darling



Minadora Macheret


Settle in beautiful body, settle in before the night takes you. Find the astronomy of cells—they, too, light a path before the atomic bomb explodes. Organs freeze laughter, strangle you senseless. Silence the ovaries, choke on pearls. The adjusters are here, pull a lever, startle testosterone. Let loose the women that inhabit this body. The cycles have stopped. Somewhere, a clock hand lingers between today and tomorrow.

Merridawn Duckler


Beautiful he said when I removed my coat
and, hey, compliments are not so frothy
that I’ll let blush slip off just because
he’s some technical person, looking to needle.

Truth, I’ve been told before my capillaries
stun as he taps and strokes
me essence startled into reds: berry, algaical, seductress;
I make daily, my bluids, my ocean, skein-held.

But brusque here press, the contact skin point
taped over, lover, out the automatic door, a roused memory
of death averted came, when I was a rude, delicious teen,
how an evil party did junk me, want to try? u have beautiful veins 

Nicole Fournier








Artist statement:

My art is a combination of photography and encaustics. I transfer images directly into beeswax, and embellish with colored wax mediums I make from oil-based or powdered pigments. I enjoy the wide range of possibilities inherent in this technique – the evocative and distressed tones, and especially the additive and subtractive qualities that come along with the process. Through my art, I continue to express concepts of growth and awareness, and to promote the preservation of our external environment as well as the cultivation of our inner.

Marissa Higgins


The monster
under my bed
is hunching,

about scoliosis
and my body

he accuses it of

He is knitting
a blanket
out of dust

when I tell him, you
have to leave right now
He laughs, slips

one of my socks
around his penis,
and rubs.

I hear the dispatcher
raise her eyebrows.
What did he say? What

did you say? Can you
put him on the phone?
I need his side of this.

Beneath my bed,
he climaxes. Groans,
then giggles.

The dispatcher reminds me
he likely has a wife
and kids.

Maybe even
a daughter.

Did you ever think of that? 

Mar Von Zellen


I am perfect for you. How do I know? 
                  I’m fresh & new, updated
since the day I was born. I carry a grey
                  seal and the rivers turn their
necks when I come close. My interface,
                  scraped along the seams with
a made-up language I’m forced to
                  interpret, is clean of bugs. 
I repeat instructions carefully. Stroke
                  me. Drag me to the floor
then drop me—hear how I moan. 
                  Collect the data that sublimely
exits from my port. I can prepare
                  a free demo for the player,
a try-and-buy for the businessman. 
                  My maker had me tested
at every stage of development. When
                  I first stood, my colors were
changed. When I first picked a flower
                  from the public garden, my
willingness to be alive was dampened. 
                  The crowd raised their thumbs
at my coming-of-age ceremony. I am
                  good in bed. The way they
are good at folding my invisible bones
                 into lesser and lesser spaces. 

Amy Lee Heinlen


I find things I think you would like.
Mostly the beautiful hair
of young women in magazines.

I thumb through dimples, glossy
teeth, slim wrists, lanky
everything. I find curves to trace,

slice out and arrange,             
lacquer over for my own.
What of me and my anxious hands,

my freckled skin, and small breasts,
my need to breathe, to shit, to eat
would you want to collect,

discard, paste down, if you could?
Letters never sent? Make-up sex?
My oils, my hairs, my flesh?

Since you left, I assemble these perfect
combinations.  Not one of them is me
or what drove you to leave.

Kathryn Hindenlang


The safe-kept jars of sound
in your mind are collapsing.
Where in the voiced-over morning
are you? Shhh-ing up old bites
on shuffle, that soundtrack unsure
of itself comes around early and gives
up the day, unplayed version of whatever
dream there is stowed in your (f)ears—
many—streams you through words
get choked on here. In loops, hours
you’ve got a track to skip.
These words are so nearly
your face: their shape clear,
never, and gone. Cue the grass.
Cue yesterday. Jump to dew-laced
blades. That little round song
you’ve been dragging behind you,
tripping over small stones and
catching in mud is not mine. I am quiet.
I slip through your fingers like sand
wholeness living in the runoff,
lyrics tangled to renew that tune,
to toggle back and forth.
Our thoughts disperse like breath
and stillness is the move. 

Michele Leavitt

-for Mary Rowlandson

I pull out my own tongue,
having no trouble grasping it.
I tear it out gradually,
and when it comes loose, I fling it on the quilt,

having no trouble grasping
I must live now without a tongue.
When it comes loose and I fling it,
perfectly mauve, sleek as a fish,

I wonder: what can I swallow without a tongue?
It’s smaller than I’d imagined,
and I try swallowing without it
only to discover I’ve grown another already,

smaller than I imagined,
perhaps under the first all along.
If only to uncover another,
I pull out my own tongue.

Issue Nineteen Contributors


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry, most recently DARK HORSE (C&R Press, 2017). Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, an Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellowship, and multiple residencies at the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University's Kittredge Fund.  She has published creative work in New American WritingNimrod, The Mid-American ReviewPoetry InternationalPassages North, and many other magazines.  Her critical essays appear in The Gettysburg ReviewAgniThe Iowa ReviewThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe LiteraryReview, and elsewhere. She is Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Quarterly and Grants Specialist at Black Ocean.     

Merridawn Duckler is a poet, playwright from Portland, Oregon. Recent poetry: TAB (nominated Best of the Net), Really SystemRivetJournal. Forthcoming: The OffingNerve LanternBlue LyraWhistling ShadeFree State Review. Runner-up Arizona Poetry Center, judge Farid Matuk. Finalist: Center for Book Arts, Tupelo Press, Sozoplo Fiction Fellowship, Oregon Play Prize. Fellowships/awards: Writers@Work, NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS St. Petersburg, Russia, Southampton Poetry Conference. Editor at Narrative and international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics

Melissa Eleftherion grew up in Brooklyn. A high school dropout, she went on to earn an MFA in Poetry from Mills College and an MLIS from San Jose State University. She is the author of huminsectprism maps, Pigtail Dutythe leaves the leavesgreen glass asterisms, and several other chapbooks. Her first full-length collection, field guide to autobiography is forthcoming from H_NGM_N Books. Melissa lives in Mendocino County where she works as Teen Librarian, teaches creative writing & manages the Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange. More of her work can be found at

Nicole Fournier's passion for photography was first expressed during a 4th grade trip to Washington DC, when she snuck away from her group to photograph a spiral staircase. Many years later, Nicole honed her skills at William Paterson University by obtaining a B.F.A. degree in Graphic Design (alongside a minor in Photography) graduating Cum Laude.Currently residing in Los Angeles, Nicole Fournier enjoys pursuing her art and photography career. Please visit her website for further information about her upcoming shows at

Amy Lee Heinlen holds an MFA in Creative Writing program from Chatham University where her manuscript received the Best Thesis in Poetry award. Her poem, “Light, Blue,” was awarded the 2016 Laurie Mansell Reich Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and reviews have appeared in Pittsburgh City PaperPretty Owl PoetryPittsburgh Poetry ReviewOlentangy ReviewMom Egg ReviewCoal HillReview, and elsewhere. An academic librarian, she lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Marissa Higgins is a poet and essayist based in Washington, DC. Her poetry, which explores word economy, femininity, and the closet, also appears in Apogee and Bone Bouquet. Her nonfiction appears, or is forthcoming, in the Washington PostSalonPacific StandardVice, and elsewhere. 

 A native of Los Angeles, Kathryn Hindenlang (Katie) earned her Bachelor's in Rhetoric and Creative Writing at UC Berkeley, where she was named the recipient of the Ina Coolbrinth Memorial Poetry Prize, the Emily Chamberlain Cook Prize, and selected to be the Commencement Speaker. Afterwards, she was awarded a Factory Hollow Press scholarship to attend the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst. She later became a University Fellow at Washington University's MFA program in St. Louis. Her poems have appeared in and won awards and prizes from Spoon River Poetry ReviewBerkeley Poetry ReviewDISQUIET InternationalWag's Revue, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, to name a few. She was finalisted by CALYX and has received additional scholarships for national and international conferences. Her poems and nonfiction are forthcoming from Apogee Journal, and others. Kathryn works/has worked as a copywriter (she was the first writer ever to be hired by Google worldwide during her years in San Francisco), editor, branding and publications consultant, higher education writing/editing specialist, and medical writer/editor, among other roles.

Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, adoptee, and former trial attorney. Her essays appear most recently in Guernica and Catapult. Poems appear most recently, or are forthcoming, in North American ReviewGravelHermeneutic Chaos, and Cleaver. She's the author of the Kindle Singles memoir Walk Away.  

Minadora Macheret is a graduate student at Kansas State University, where she received the Graduate Poetry Award and a Seaton Fellowship. Her poems also recently received the International Sigma Tau Delta Convention Isabel Sparks' Poetry Prize. Her work is forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry JournalConnotation Press, and others. It has appeared in Thank You For SwallowingSugared WaterLoveMe, Love my Belly, and others. She live ls in Manhattan, KS, with her dog, Aki, and teaches bilingual poetry workshops to children through 4-H.

Sarah Nichols is the East Coast editor for Thank You for Swallowing, and is the author of two chapbooks, Edie (Whispering): Poems From Grey Gardens (dancing girl press, 2015) and The Country of No (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her work has also appeared in Noble Gas/QtrlyYellow Chair Review, and The RS 500. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. 

Malka Older is a writer, aid worker, and PhD candidate studying governance and disasters. Her writing can be found at LevelerTor.comBengal LightsSundog LitCapriciousReservoir, in the poetry anthology My Cruel Invention, and in Chasing Misery, an anthology of writing by female aid workers. Her science fiction political thriller Infomocracy is the first full-length novel from, and the sequel NullStates will be published in 2017.

Mar Von Zellen is a Prague-based writer who’s had poetry published in places like Big Bridge PressPretty Owl PoetryOpen FieldRedheaded StepchildSweet Tree ReviewGargoyle Magazine, and others. She was the Editor-in-Chief of The Alligator, an online literary magazine, for two years, and worked for Sundress Publications as an Editorial Assistant. She has two fat and elderly cats.