Ace Boggess
Lauren Gordon
Alicia Elkort
Alyse Bensel
Jessica W. Lawrence
Ernest Williamson
Lisa M. Cole
Jennifer Hanks
David Hornibrook
Tiah Lindner Raphael
Andrew Koch


Ace Boggess

Z-M Productions, 1953

Three-quarters day moon rides up like an extra mountain:
. pale & creviced, mysterious.

women wear black
so their slender bodies
shape the narrative

I feel as though I could drive under or climb up,
a wanderer not an astronaut, to plant my artificial flag.

women are smarter
women can't control us
women learn our flaws
before we do

I wonder why we stopped going there,
more so when I watch the old films
with their naïve awe at what we know is absence

women may steer
but never be told
the mechanics of the craft
women can't be trusted
with the auto pilot

I don't want ancient ruins. I don't want three-
foot spiders dangling from the ceiling of a lunar cave.
I don't want slender arms
to appease my imagination with their fruit.

women murder men with knives &

Just to go there,


just to see


the Earth like a day moon at my near horizon

without women
there is no story
only the moon
which isn't enough

like a bubble of air I could swallow &
learn to breathe.

Lauren Gordon


When morning mass is a lit candle on
an opaque tumbler, words disappear. 
A razor on the strop lives to de-bone, flay the wrenching
of the night before.  Short laud for someone else's
blood in a bag binding your cells to my cells to my
father’s cells.  Who wore the white wings best? In this
recovery I craft a valentine from scraps, ease it
into my breast pocket.  It’s a loose fit, but I have
always been too big to fill the right spaces.  Hospital
clean, new body, you just might be the morning prayer
drifting from the television, fresh hole in the boat.

Alicia Elkort


A young woman sits beside me on the couch,
jeans falling off her hips, brown socks.
We close our eyes, guided in meditation.

A forest of clear-sap trees
upended twigs
thickets of wild huckleberry—

a woman moving closer
taking shape through fog-laced skin
her step, careful as a doe.

As she moves toward me,
I recognize her black hair,
a flutter of white birds

flying from her chest.

I ask if she would like to know
what I have seen with my eyes closed.

It's all good, she says.

I convey the vision, warmth
at my neck and face, curious
if what I have seen holds meaning
or if they are, simply, my birds.

She says she’s been seeing a shaman to heal
end-stage breast cancer.  Chemo has failed. 
The shaman has asked her to imagine the cancer as white birds,
then let them fly away.

How does one walk through falling leaves
and still praise the soft green of them?

Dust flecks illuminate an arc of tree
above my gray and white cat
whose hazel eyes shine
like diamonds. 

I was invited to Heather’s memorial today. 
She is everywhere in my mind.

How will we ever reconcile the damp
dark grit of who we now are—
the twilight bush and rose-ravaged
tendril, turning …toward what we are

becoming, a carapace that breaks
releasing a glory of white birds rising, finally
returned to sky.

Alyse Bensel


I bend and rise
with the grace
of a wide-hipped
tulip. I distill
lavender, smash
cloves, repeat a kitchen
experiment to boil
dye that can bear
the cruelty of soap
and hard water.
I’m spent on the oven
coals, radiant heat.
I find myself
in throes of pin
and needle, buckled
patterns. I know soft
fabric for its
translucence. I cannot
peer through my own skin
into its veined architecture,
how my body breathes.
But a magnifying glass
will let me learn
everything concealed
within my own flesh,
trembling to erupt. 

Jessica W. Lawrence


Make me a stone set in gold, gleaming
with secrets, sharp as a cat’s
eyes, marquis-black, sunrises behind
them, lined with veins and apertures.

Make me one year, then twenty. Make
me a hill worn down from the mountain
I was, before the avalanche, the rockslide
of my face, fragmented,
fast-downward into dust
with the whole world watching.
Make me that.

Or make me a river- a stream pulled like a train
of white silk over tough, cut grass sharp enough
to lacerate. Make me a lavender scar on your knee
with stitch-marks, forever. Make me the grass.

Make me a fragment in the blue dark.
Make me a slip of light, a star.
Make me words, scribbled, a note
tucked into a book, nearly thrown away
at least twice a year for a decade,
held back for a moment
and with your eyes closed, holding me –

put me in the black back of a drawer
with the powdery moth you’ll never notice –
with the crumpled, faded receipt from a gas station –
with the things you don’t need to know are there.

I’d spend eternity as anything— 
beautiful, grotesque, ordinary— 
I’d wait in perpetuity, as your holy trash,
waiting in darkness to see your face—
if you made me.

Ernest Williamson






Artist statement:

The works submitted in this series explore the dissonance and continuity of beauty and tension; of comprehension and confusion; of process and stagnation. The artist is constantly creating and destroying notions, ideas, concepts, and conventions for the sake of spiritual survival and artistic revival.

Lisa M. Cole


Too early, I am lunged into the long earth’s snow,
still heated, stiff & pink, readied for the bloodletting.

Even now, I do not stray
from the syntax of maladies.

Even now, I rest in the blue paper gown of forgetting,
in the wires of forced repose.

I stay the recluse.
I am privy to the sounds of sickness.

My body’s sea is as round
as the face of an owl

under this yellow sheet.
I will see the keloids of memory whiten.

I will stay loyal to red bottles;
to these tellings; to the archives of the ruined.

to the anomaly of the splay—to the haunt
of the body’s divide. 

Jennifer Hanks


Mary comes to me while I'm in his bed. Her tongue black as a slug crawling down from the
ceiling. I believe, she says, I believe in my own knife-sharpening.

He rolls and cushions me with his body, his hands reaching between my thighs. The sea falls
from my robes. 
He licks my skin.

I am the sea, she says.  Her voice sounds clipped like a preacher before he gets to the
suffering, a circular saw cutting through the roof of her mouth.

He licks my skin. He kisses my temples, shutting her out, she hovers over the bed in robes
drenched with deep water, tube worms waving from her shoulders, her eyes liquid. Her
hands clench as if she wants them to bleed.

He kisses my temple, shutting her out, water he can't feel falling onto my face.

David Hornibrook


Quiet layers of snow at the bottom
of the sea. Someone pulls a trash can

to the curb. Barely a hum & all down the street
the lights blink on. Inside, we prepare to leave

for the city – clothes on, shoes tied, backpack full
of medicine.  When the time comes, the moths

brush against the door their ghostly
wings & we walk outside

together. We get into the car.

You’ve come to conjure the same dream
again, a neural trench worn into your nights

& the bright buildings of the city rise
as we near them like terrible stones dredged

from beneath the snow of that dream.

The boat goes dark
under wave. A cold cup filled

with rain. You aren’t thirsty but still
drink the glass empty & somehow

the empty glass drinks us both.

Tiah Lindner Raphael


The man on the other side of the crosswalk
mirrors your body language, a wind-blown

paper shapes itself into a boat, and five short
blocks away your long-lost sister begins to sing

the blues. There’s poetry everywhere, threading
down the rebar ribcage of the bridge, a liquid

pulse coming up through the overpass and into
your thighs in the twilight’s swelling night.

A plant of unnamed origin grows to greet you,
but you can’t see these things—you’ve just survived

the day. Still the world goes on talking, a one-sided
conversation of persistence that begs you drink

deeply, brings you nectar and songs written
in the green of your own name. 

Andrew Koch


Salmon mothers in wild rivers
thrash against the bottom
until a certain shade of pink
means you have to carve
your family out of earth.
To the ground
the body is just a boat,
always coming and going.

When I said we should be something
I meant our own color,
some point on the spectrum of light
only we can shatter.
I meant something some call
a miracle, so small
we occupy all its space.
I meant a nest, a muscle, an animal.

Not everything is a map of itself
though we expect the body to be
and sometimes it is.
Follow my fingers
to my arm,
my arm to any future,
all the red of us
churning on and on.

Issue Nine Contributors

Alyse Bensel is the author of the poetry chapbooks Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press, 2014) and Shift (Plan B Press, 2012). Her poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Menacing HedgeHeron Tree, and burntdistrict, among others. She serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review and Managing Editor of Beecher’s.

 Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish WasNot Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003).  He is an ex-con, ex-husband, ex-reporter and completely exhausted by all the things he isn't anymore.  His writing has appeared in Harvard ReviewMid-American ReviewNorth Dakota QuarterlyRATTLERiver StyxSouthernHumanities Review and many other journals.  He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Lisa M. Cole is the author of Dreams of the Living and Heart Full of Tinders, both released by ELJ Publications. Lisa has also written a variety of chapbooks, most recently, The Love Machine from Yellow Flag Press, and Living in a Lonely House from Dancing Girl Press. You can find a full list of her publications at her website:

Alicia Elkort is an emerging American poet living and writing in California.  She has worked in the film industry for over 18 years and is currently producing a documentary on Prayer.  She edited and contributed to the chapbook Creekside, published under the auspices of the Berkeley Poetry Review, where she also served as an editor.  Her poetry was featured in the Ishaan Literary Review, Elsewhere Lit and is soon to appear in Glint Literary Journal and Menacing Hedge. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in literature from UC Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in Consciousness, Health, and Healing.  Her poems often capture solitary moments of joy and sorrow, as well as reflect the immense beauty inherent in the journey within, a mystical journey of healing and transcendence.

Lauren Gordon is the author of four chapbooks, Keen (Horse Less Press, 2014), Meaningful Fingers (Finishing Line Press, 2014), Generalizations about Spines (Yellow Flag Press, 2015) and Fiddle Is Flood (Blood Pudding Press, 2015).  She is also a Contributing Editor to Radius Lit and a Reviews Editor for Damfino Press.

Jennifer Hanks is the author of the forthcoming chapbooks Prophet Fever (Hyacinth Girl Press) and gar child (Tree Light Books). She is also collaborating with illustrator Julie Herndon on a poetry comic, The Unsteady Planet, that will be released by Instar Books in late 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as ArcadiaBone BouquetMenacing Hedge, and The Boiler. She is an associate editor for Sundress Publications. 

David Hornibrook's work has appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXVIIIPANKThe Baltimore ReviewFive QuarterlyThe Columbia ReviewFlyway and elsewhere. David holds an M.F.A. from the Helen Zell Writer's Program at the University of Michigan.

Andrew Koch is currently a resident of Spokane, Washington, where he is an MFA candidate at Eastern Washington University and serves as managing editor of Stirring: A Literary Collection. He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Brick-Woman (Hermeneutic Chaos, 2016) and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in GargoyleThe Hollins CriticMenacing HedgeBodega, and others.

Jessica W. Lawrence grew up on a working farm in rural central Virginia, then studied creative writing at Longwood University. You can find her recent work upcoming or published in StoneboatOriginsAcumenCease Cows, and The Feminine Divine's upcoming Anthology of Female Voices, along with many others. Her poetry has earned two Best of the Net nominations in 2015. 

Tiah Lindner Raphael is a writer and obsessive gardener living in Portland, Oregon where she also serves as managing editor for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions. Her work has appeared in CutBank and Paper Nautilus among others and is forthcoming from Rust + Moth and The Timberline Review

Dr. Ernest Williamson has published creative workin over 600 periodicals. His work has appeared in journals such as The OklahomaReviewThe Copperfield ReviewThe Columbia Review, and The Tulane Review. Dr. Williamson is an Assistant Professor of English at Allen University.