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Nicole Oquendo
Laurin DeChae
Jennifer Met
McKenzie Lynn Tozan
Jen Karetnick
Bill Wolak
Christopher Stephen Soden
Travis Chi Wing Lau
Alessandra Bava
Donelle Dreese
Sarah NIchols



Nicole Oquendo



i agree i waited too long, that time boiled into a skin the way hot milk does
to fill the space you carved. what is he like i’m telling you this is what
i do, always /

am i the ash on your skin, or is that too bold, the remnants of something burning
from the outside in, flaking apart while you count the minutes between boiling and something else

/ or am i the chimera you’ve cleaved from parts unknown / or full snake with no arms to grab you with, but the ribs to hold you in / or the lion, hunting  

you grant wishes while i’m away / leave me wanting more, more, more

Laurin DeChae


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Jennifer Met


you say it’s OK
and drift asleep while I lie
awake beside you

these moments left alone
to thread-bare dark—uncoupled

in the street light’s glow
a golden aura—visible
saintly nimbus—

night flyers illuminate—
descend toward earth—I wonder

if the bugs exist
between round spotlights of gas
mixing—their churning

airborne like angels, ghosts and
other weightless things—undone

McKenzie Lynn Tozan




When I was young, I gazed at a tree
and knew if I didn’t start climbing, 

I’d never get another chance. My smaller body,
a red and black dress, white tights 

that snagged on the branches. By the time
the adults took notice, my feet

were above their heads, the reaching
fingers, a woman slipping through 

a pinhole—tomorrow when she wakes up,
the world is gone. Something will be missing.



In one of my dreams, a high school teacher
approaches me and says, here, write this down,

write this down, only so much wind can
arrive through a pinhole. A pause, and I say, right,

only so many birds can survive
in a young girl’s Sunday dress.

Jen Karetnick


The tattoo was framed by my wedding dress,
visual announcement of my new self.
I’d intended to hide it, I confess,
but had it placed too high up on the shelf

of my scapula. The rabbi nearly belched
the prayers as if he had lox for breakfast;
my mother attempted to ignore, herself,
the tattoo framed by my wedding dress.

I chose the vellum and pen to impress
the poetic muse to which I was delph.
I thought of it as a backward face,
visual announcement of my new self.

But this was years before girls would help
themselves to hummingbirds and butterflies,
and my ink of declaration was a slap.
I’d intended to hide it, I confess,

but failed. The vows turned private, furious,
and I found out only after he left
that I had no rank in my brother’s grace.
He had it placed too high up on the shelf.
The tattoo was framed.

Bill Wolak



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The Magnetic Pathway's Desperate Tingling.jpg


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In my collages, over and over again I am drawn back to the representation of the body in all of its manifold complexities and subtleties. It’s the same in my poetry. The juxtapositions in these collages find ways of playing with the theme of embodiment by using the imagery of flowers, sticks, bulbs, and skeletons. Wherever I look, I am reminded of the body and and its centrality to our experience and consciousness. In this set of collages, the perishability of embodiment is suggested by the various materials used to construct faces or bodies. Flowers, sticks, and bones remind us of the fleeting nature of body, but also of its beauty.  Such representations remind us that embodiment is a gift that cannot last, a gift that must be celebrated even as we are surrounded by death, disease, and suffering of every sort.  

Christopher Stephen Soden


it begins like any other
story from beyond
recollection blazing
yellow sunlight turning
grass impossibly green
inescapable rust
of rain and time
have tainted candy
stripes decorating slide
and swing an upset trike
lies on its side
wheel bravely spinning
crank and steam
of calliope      faint
yet distinct    increasing
like giddy fever
and you merely
five accidental hero
in a collusion you never
imagined or wished
for detect a deluge
of old spice a ragged
and silent gait

Travis Chi Wing Lau



Mooring shudders // beneath the // uneven balls // of my feet, // those that // seek the //
ground after // the freefall // between the // lightest of // hours (how // they grind // against //
the creaking // hands). // I turn // to face // the long // gravity // of a bed: // where the //
flashes pool, // where the // faces fan, // as the notches // become gothic // in between // the
march of // charred lines // (for one // can only // dance madly // out of // Piranesi’s //

Alessandra Bava



You are so adamant. You explore the viscera as an
augur seeking auspices. Your hands are too hungered
for omens. You are too selfish to even know what
to wish for. In the dark, I brood my hate, my pain
and the secret wishbone. 

Donelle Dreese


Here is a forest in my eye
a gnarled history not seeking
ashes or gardens or sex.

Here is a river in my mouth
with a tree branch for a tonsil
drinking from a fluid pink body.

Here is a thesaurus in my ear
translating words into orchids
germinating, opening, closing.

Here is a moment's fragment
a slice of cloud brought low.
I tap it for rain and turtles fall out.

I live in a house of grass
and this outstretched hair
is all I will give a hard wind.  

Sarah Nichols

a found poem

There’s no way to
turn off memory.

I try, as if
pretending stops 

my body from

those last
small moments.

I want a different story.

Let someone else
lose their name.

their body.

I’ve mourned mine
for too long.



Source: Ellroy, James. The Black Dahlia. New York: Mysterious Press, 1987. Print.

Issue 23 Contributors


Alessandra Bava is a poet and a translator. Her poems and translations have appeared in journals such as GargoyleArsenic LobsterPlath ProfilesThrush Poetry Journal and Waxwing. Two of her chapbooks, They Talk About Death and Diagnosis, have been published in the States. A third chapbook, Love and Other Demons will be published later this year. She is currently writing the biography of a contemporary American poet.

Laurin DeChae is a Ph.D. candidate in Composition & Rhetoric at SUNY Albany, where she acts as the poetry editor for Barzakh. She received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur PalateburntdistrictRust + MothCrack the Spine, and elsewhere.

Danielle Dreese teaches English at Northern Kentucky University. She has authored three collections of poetry, Sophrosyne (Aldrich Press), A Wild Turn (Finishing Line) and Looking for A Sunday Afternoon (Pudding House). Dreese is the author of the novella Dragonflies inthe Cowburbs (Anaphora Literary), the ecofiction novel Deep River Burning (WiDo Publishing), and Cave Walker (Moon Willow Press). Her work has appeared in many literary journals including Blue Lyra ReviewRoanoke Review, and Louisville Review

Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length poetry collections, including American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publications, 2016), which is about the body and chronic, invisible illness, as well as four poetry chapbooks. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in TheAtlantic.comThe Evansville ReviewGuernicaNegative CapabilityOnePainted Bride QuarterlySpillway and Verse Daily. She works as the Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School and as a freelance lifestyle journalist and dining critic. 

Travis. Chi Wing Lau is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania English Department.. His research interests include long eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, disability studies, body studies, and gender and sexuality studies. His work has been published in the Journal of Homosexuality (forthcoming) and Romantic Circles (forthcoming). His creative writing has appeared in WestwindThistleSpiresFeminine InquiryWordgathering, Synaesthesia, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015).

Jennifer Met lives in North Idaho with her husband and children. She has work appearing/forthcoming in Gulf StreamZone 3, KestrelHarpur PalateNimrod, Tinderbox Poetry JournalJukedSleet MagazineWeirderythe Lake, and elsewhere.  Her first chapbook is forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press in 2017.  Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a finalist for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and winner of the Jovanovich Award, she serves as Poetry Editor for the Indianola Review

Sarah Nichols lives and writes in Connecticut. She is the author of three chapbooks, including She May Be a Saint (Hermeneutic Chaos Press) and Edie (Whispering): Poems from Grey Gardens (dancing girl press, 2015). Her work has also appeared in Emerge LiteraryJournalThe Ekphrastic Review, and The RS 500.

Nicole Oquendo is a nonbinary, Latinx writer living in Orlando. Her essays and poetry have appeared in the chapbooks someprophetsself is wolfwringing gendered we, and Space Baby, and the hybrid memoir Telomeres. Her visual poetry collection we, animals is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2017. She is currently serving as an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications, and as the Nonfiction Editor of the Best of the Net anthology and The Florida Review.

Christopher Stephen Soden's poetry collection, Closer was released by Rebel Satori Press on June 14th, 2011. He received a Full Fellowship to Lambda Literary's Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. His performance piece: Queer Anarchy received The Dallas Voice's Award for Best Stage Performance. Christopher received his MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January of 2005. He teaches craft, theory, genre and literature. He writes poetry, plays, literary, film and theatre critique.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose. Her poems have appeared in Encore MagazineSleetMagazineThank You for SwallowingBirds Piled LooselyJames Franco ReviewNew Mexico ReviewWhale Road ReviewThe Spooklet, and Analecta, among others. For more, please visit her at

Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist.  He has just published his twelfth book of poetry entitled Love Opens the Handswith Nirala Press. His most recent translation with Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Love Me More Than the Others: Selected Poetry of Iraj Mirza,was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2014.  His collages have been published in over a hundred magazines including: The AnnualPeculiar MormyridDanse MacabreDirty ChaiHermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Lost Coast ReviewMad SwirlOtis Nebula, and Horror Sleaze Trash. In 2016, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania; Europa in Versi, Lake Como, Italy; The Pesaro International Poetry Festival, Pesaro, Italy, and The Xichang-Qionghai Silk Road International Poetry Week, Xichang, China.  Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in New Jersey.