the sparrow, devoured by John Sweet

the sparrow, devoured

hills a darker grey than the sky and no one
here and no one there and all of
the children lost in the woods

all of the priests as pale as vampires

all of the gods without money
without rides
taking back roads out of dying
factory towns

the kingdom of oblivion
in every direction

the drugs
which never do what they promise

turned to me
said she was happy until the
day she hung herself

said the walls would hold
but then the ceiling caved in

sky looked like rain and then it
started to snow


John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).

Three poems by Kari Ann Flickinger

Striking Room

Hammers don’t spark when they hit stone.

Sure, if the iron you decide to pound was cast in flame
then a spark might be produced.

But never misappropriate the attribution of the flame
to your pounding prowess.

Your arm is not mighty. Fire is

mighty—meldable. Creatures of fire
may produce sleight-of-hand to make you fill

with blaze through April—into May—you will
carry a torch for her. When summer scalds you

you’ll find she’s diaphanous—the scattered bits of coal

floating on the winds that beat at the metallic ends of
August. You burned for her too long.

How will you cross those winter-lands without her warmth?

The Dwelling Tree

Summer summers too long. The days pull on.

Their long skirts, their toes
hide, peek once
again, to flex, to interrogate this calm.

I dial to full air, breathe an orange
breath, wrap heat’s snaking
scarf about my thick wet body.

Out the window sliver, a besotted
breeze lovingly lifts each
branch of a grey little tree.

I wish for rain to fill my mouth. I live

in this summering tree where hope dives
for fine flesh in mycorrhizal symbiosis.

Hope captures a handful of elderberries

I keep tucked between stained digits.
But summer is generous

with the kind of heat one wishes
away. Her lingering

toil pulls the days, the silt on her
skirts, her dirty toes drift.

Summer is always a bit unkind

to tree-dwellers. The waxing
mood holds the twigs of my hair low.


Flashbulb love gathers in her smooth edges.
Onlookers march—en masse to winnow her
pungent procreation—to collect it for databases.

Once every three-to-five—to seven—then decade
followed by decade—this death-flower blooms.

I think of touching the Mimosa Pudica—how
she recoils—how Maladora
instead—in the slowest
possible increments—one appendage to the sky.

Pummeled by the press
who are—of course—armed with penis jokes
even serious spectacled scientists
chuckle when they call her amorphophallic.

3,564 creatures clean their glasses
65 re-appropriate their modal 66 gazes—they
snicker to themselves over sticky keyboards.
They cull her from their open tabs.

And sure—she slowly peels back into the void.

Unzips her seams—rolls
down her stockings unapologetically
juts—pumps—explores skyward.

Her propulsion flies in the face of their fogged screens.

Amidst this nymph’s sweet
expansion is a slow decay
of time—death is all

around her—in that cliché
you must fuck to feel alive after a funeral state of mind.

She casts her scent to pollinating carrion
who seek and intermingle
at the base of her stern tower.

They wallow—then expire in her brilliant folds.


Kari A. Flickinger was a 2019 nominee for the Rhysling Award, and a finalist in the IHLR 2018 Photo Finish. Her poetry has appeared in Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Riddled with Arrows, Door-Is-A-Jar, and Ghost City Review, among others. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley. When not writing, she plays guitar to her unreasonably large Highlander cat. Find her: @kariflickinger

Two poems by Gus Sanchez

Alma Solitaria

A thought,
riding shotgun, a blank
in the chamber, pointed at my heart:
That summer, when the rains never stopped, the rain
soundtracked our life so far, we all bathed
in the dull wash of mother’s milk
All I could do was worry
Someone else’s children, coming up for air, a tiny fist clutching
a wooden totem, una alma solitaria, it said
a hand-me down?
a curse to ward off good spirits?
I asked the priest to hear my confession
“Throw your pillow away” was his reply

Perimeter Patrol

On sweet and sticky summer
nights like this, the cat and I
patrol the perimeter of
our house

He, for rodents and other prey
too stupid to hide from
predators; Me, for flowers
that bloom after midnight in
a garden I once planted and
forgot to water

I make plans to meet friends
for brunch, but I’d rather do brunch
alone, just the Sunday paper
and a Bloody Mary that’s the
perfect cure for a hangover, no
avocado toast, no gentrification-
hungry hipsters

The cat leaves a present for me
on the back porch, the
thrill of the hunt evident in the
way he field-dresses whatever it was

We’ll make plans to move out
west, the cat and I, her forwarding
address committed to memory, though
I doubt she still lives there


Gus Sanchez has been writing poetry, short stories, and experimental non-fiction for the better part of two decades. His poems have been published in various literary magazines and journals, including Tilde, Thirty West Publishing, Indie Affair, Last Chapter Journal, and Uno Kudo Press. Born in New York City, he currently resides in Charlotte, NC, with his wife, daughter, and one stoic beagle.

So Moist by ML

so moist

so moist
this cake of rose cream
and pistachio
when we meet
to share vanilla lattès
on wobbly stools

for a moment
she wears a frothy moustache
and we laugh
and talk of diets
and glass ceilings
and low-hanging fruit

I lick the soft-sweet icing
from my fingers
and lose myself
staring into the space
between her lips
for just a moment


ML lives in the UK and writes short poetry, medium poetry and prose (all lengths). ML has had work published in the excellent journals Black Bough, Twist in Time, and Bleached Butterfly.

Two poems by Susan Richardson

Shards of Cherry Blossoms

I fortify the foundation of my mind,
shellac the cracks to keep
the ghosts out,
but I will always be breakable.
I paint my eyes with shards of cherry blossoms,
pull the ache of memory from my bones
to make myself hollow,
but the weight of grief stains my hands.
I hide the burdens of sorrow behind my teeth,
sew the taste of loss into my tongue,
longing for a feeling of fullness,
but I will always be empty inside.

The Writer

Light flits off an empty screen
taunting me,
throwing doubt into my eyes.
Why must I always break through the waves,
only to find my mouth full of ash.
My feet are less steady each time I stand,
heart hollow from the effort.
I try and shake the brittle ink from the pen,
but the emptiness is piercing,
painful to the touch.
My words become frail in the heat,
all sense of myself siphoned into the sun.


Susan Richardson lives and writes in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Rust + Moth, Amaryllis, Riggwelter, The Writing Disorder, Dodging the Rain, Chantarelle’s Notebook, and Toasted Cheese, among others. She was awarded the Sheila – Na – Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and her poem “Letches” was chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poem of the Month. Her poetry has also been nominated for Best of the Net. You can read more of her work on her website.

A Play-by-Play of Queer Seduction by Marisa Crane

A Play-by-Play of Queer Seduction

The sweet silk of after
noon coils around your thighs.
Sun droplets scatter.
Day moon stirs.
Tongue songbirds,
enters your mouth.
I come
away with pieces of you
stuck to me. These winged
desires. Do you know
what you do? Do you know
that your body bests
all other bodies?
Our hungers harmonize.
The echo bites back.
Isn’t it nice
to love someone so much?


Marisa Crane is a queer writer whose work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Jellyfish Review, Wigleaf Top 50, and elsewhere. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Our Debatable Bodies (Animal Heart Press, 2019). Originally from Allentown, PA, she currently lives in San Diego with her wife.

I breathe you in by Janna Grace

I breathe you in

like someone else’s flowers,
like boat gasoline…
like I know I shouldn’t.

You’ll be the death of me
leaning over a subway platform or
in summer
when the sun is high and we only skim
the surface of yesterday’s waves.


Janna Grace lives in a half-glass barn and her work has appeared in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Plastik Magazine, and Red Eft Review, among others. She has pieces forthcoming in Otoliths and Horla and she teaches writing at Rutgers University. Janna is the editor of Lamplit Underground and her debut novel will be published through Quill Press in 2019.