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Abandon | Katherine Gekker



Katherine Gekker

Katherine Gekker is the author of In Search of Warm Breathing Things (Glass Lyre Press). She serves as Delmarva Review's Poetry Assistant Editor. Her poetry has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Broadkill Review, and elsewhere. Gekker was born in Washington, DC. In 1974, she founded a commercial printing company and sold it 31 years later. She lives with her wife in Arlington, Virginia, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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Invisible Man (Two Views) | MEH

Invisible Man (Two Views)


I am not a spook, nor ectoplasm.
I am flesh and bone. fiber and liquids.
a mind. I understand people see me
like bodiless heads in circus sideshows
surrounded by hard, distorting glass.
when they approach they see figments
of their imagination. my epidermis:
a peculiar disposition, a matter
of construction. a figure in a nightmare
the sleeper tries—with all his strength—
to destroy. let me confess, it's seldom


I am invisible. a spook who haunted
your Hollywood movie. invisible
because people refuse to see. they see
only my surroundings—everything,
anything except me. no invisibility
is an accident. invisibility occurs
because eyes look through. I am
not complaining, nor protesting.
it is advantageous to be unseen (though
it is wearing on the nerves to doubt
if you really exist, whether you are
a phantom). say—out of resentment—
you ache to convince yourself you do exist,
with fists make them recognize you. alas,
it's seldom successful.


An erasure poem from Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man by and Glenn Ligon’s painting Invisible Man (Two Views).


Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of six poetry collections. He is editor-in-chief of The Weight Journal and an associate poetry editor at Pidgeonholes. MEH’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Cola, The Florida Review, Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, Pangyrus, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, and The Worcester Review among others. MEH’s an educator who received his MFA yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. You can find him at writing about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground.

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Selfie | Jennifer Keith


The starlet’s facial features do the dance
demanded by the camera’s music: Snap.
A girl like that could do it in her sleep:
that look, immortalized in that romance,

the sculptor, carving up some pale ideal
and how he tried to make it love him back.
Miss Monroe’s blank and tired. You can see
she’s done with trying to make that smile look real.

Then Daltrey sang about his precious Lilly
completing the circuit: eyes to brain to hand,
a line a pixel, the billion points of light—
a limbic money shot of willy-nilly.

How many looks attempted, then discarded—
the duck, the hungry sparrow, baby fish,
a sucky little game face breaks the bank,
and stuffs itself with everything it’s started.

Like sugar—wet lips hungry, silent, so
they’re force-fed phalanxes of angry boy
until the psyche chokes. Are you done yet?
A million lonely housewives want to know.

Our man is walking, lonely on a beach,
without a hand in his, no candlelight
or quiet conversation, please, no games—
just eyeliner and implants, waves of bleach.

The truth is terrifying: In no way
is this what was at some point guaranteed—
by dint of dudeness: “Hooter’s type,” long legs,
some alien abduction, swiped away.

Now hand on gun, he’s hardened; resolute.
Be Seen, the billboard says. Be Seen. Be Loved.
The smile in that one photo was for him.
The dissonance enraging, playing cute,

while she is scanning all the sparkly racks
to amp up this and that, and try again.
The mental contact sheet of shots extends
to the atmosphere of Mars, which now attacks.

Consider the distraction: what it took
to blister reels of real life, snagged within
the teeth of the projector, motion stilled—
in hope that he would look, and look, and look.

Jennifer Keith

Jennifer Keith is a web content writer for Johns Hopkins Medicine and plays bass for the rock band Batworth Stone. Her poems have appeared in Sewanee Theological Review, The Nebraska Review, The Free State Review, Fledgling Rag, Unsplendid, Best American Poetry 2015, and elsewhere. Keith received the 2014 John Elsberg poetry prize and in 2021 her poem “Cooper’s Hawk” was a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry Prize from Smartish Pace. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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the immigrant dream | Ishanee Chanda

the immigrant dream

you and me, together, in a house
that is just small enough to hear us hold our breath.
two tails, eight legs, and a pair of wet noses
running around our knees - not a single child in sight.
two cars in the driveway. a christmas tree touching the ceiling,
always four months into the new year. your hand on my waist
when i am sleeping or cooking breakfast or dancing in the bathroom
before bedtime. my nuzzling your clothes every time you leave the house
for a jug of milk or a midnight snack. gold rings glinting
in the muted light of the moon. a fluttering that lives in our
skin for as long as the sun turns in the sky.

Ishanee Chanda

Ishanee Chanda is a prose writer and poet from Dallas, Texas. She is the author or two books of poetry titled Oh, these walls, they crumble and The Overflow. Additionally, she has been published in the Eckleberg Project, Stoked Words: A Queer Anthology, Z Publishing House’s Emerging Texas Writers, Flypaper Magazine, and Apricity Press. Ishanee currently resides in Washington, D.C. where she works full-time in the field of humanitarian aid and refugee response. You can find her loitering a farmer's market, chasing her cat, and cooking her girlfriend fresh pasta every Tuesday night.

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Alecto | Megan Alpert



I wanted the wolves to let me stay
where I was, to let me keep what I had.
If meat lay rotting in the yard, I’d step
around it. If mold grew in the gutters,
I’d breathe the spores. The house’s outer wood
was sad and grey, but inside it was new enough
for furniture. She brought sofas and her own
made table. We had a fireplace and a mantel
with a photograph. But the wolves sent grief
running through the storm drain. They sent rage
that made the housewood warp and bend.
They forced me out from there with nothing
on my back and no guide.      I listened:
voices in the leaves at first, then voices
of the dead and then, finally, voices of the living
ran up my veins like chlorophyll
thickening a stem. They took me
to mines and watersheds.
I breathed. I spread my arms.


I met two men: a half-girl I lost; and a second,
starving and heartsick. He sang me
to my knees, he heard, he loved
the voices in me. The scars on his chest
inked into morning glories and I held fast
to his listening ear at my sternum.
When he grew violent and frightened,
I dimmed their gnash and howl,
staved off the wolves that gathered
in the weak apartment light. The voices
cut out. My breath went out
like a windstruck candle. Rigid-mouthed,
sleepless under the helicopters; the wolves
sent heat, sent visions of my own arms
cut open into pools.      Only because
I’d repelled them. I walked into the woods alone,
the snow a balm to my throat:
spine-bent, following their tracks.
I want to be what I was.

Megan Alpert

Megan Alpert is the author of The Animal at Your Side, which won the Airlie Prize and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Julie Suk Award. Her poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, the Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Verse Daily, and many others. As a journalist, she reported for The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Guardian, and Foreign Policy.

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Contextualizing a Forest Fire Continually Burning | Jared Beloff

Contextualizing a Forest Fire Continually Burning

after Erika Meitner's "Outside the Frame"

Outside the frame a toppled tree, a burning telephone pole, our wish to call our father who is reading headlines drinking coffee, steam rising from the rim to his face, a pleasant heat. Outside the frame melting asphalt, a sea of tar, friction and tires, a bus sinks into the road’s dark bed before pushing off for the day’s commute. Outside the frame particulate matter helixed in a window’s light, a wheezing refrigerator in an apartment that won’t cool down, a son teaching his mother what wet bulb temperatures are before she changes the subject to describe a new mask for sleep apnea. Outside the frame troubled sleep and orange skies. Outside the frame, brunch across from the park where children are playing, the stacking of spoons, cream gyres in refilled cups of coffee. Outside the frame a television’s light flickers against our walls, tourists running toward waves, aerial views of refugees carpeting boat decks until we are floating above flames to a panorama of char and embers, a ragged orange line across the horizon and we rise to the smoke’s dim curtain, the white sun that burns behind it and we lift higher still, through the thermosphere, sunset-singed clouds, contrails drawing new borders into a map of loss as we catch the sun along the earth’s curve and we realize all this time we’ve been burning together.

Jared Beloff

Jared Beloff is the author of WHO WILL CRADLE YOUR HEAD (ELJ Editions, 2023). He is the editor of the Marvel inspired poetry anthology, Marvelous Verses (Daily Drunk, 2021) and has been a peer-reviewer for Whale Road Review since 2021. His work can be found at Night Heron Barks, Baltimore Review, River Mouth Review, The Shore, Contrary Magazine and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @Read_Instead and his website He is a teacher who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters.

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HONORABLE MENTION: Mad Libs Sonnet: Portrait of my Father | Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat

Mad Libs Sonnet: Portrait of My Father

Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat

Tanya Sangpun Thamkruphat is a Thai-Vietnamese American poet and essayist. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Em(body)ment of Wonder (Raine Publishing, 2021) and It Wasn’t a Dream (Fahmidan Publishing & Co., 2022). Her poetry appears in Button Poetry, Honey Literary, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She's a 2023 Kenyon Review alum. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @madamewritelyso.

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THIRD PLACE: The Trees in Dealey Plaza Seemed Distressed | Sarah Carey

The Trees in Dealey Plaza Seemed Distressed

so county arborists trim live oaks on the knoll
where footsteps of a thousand tourists
over half a century compress soil

like buried memory. I was six, in first grade
curling cursive when Kennedy died
and my father arrived at the schoolyard

in our good used Ford, and said,
oh honey, shook his head.
I wish I could say I never looked back

but violence always cuts me down to size.
Some trees remember droughts, conserve
what water comes, a process of abscission,

building reservoir, a stand against
our misremembered dead.
Meanwhile, the arborists aim to reclaim

points of view, with each lopped limb,
strategic prune. Some retrace trajectory of bullet,
as if we could map regeneration, make old new.

Sarah Carey

Sarah Carey is a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Five Points, Sugar House Review, Florida Review, Zone 3, Redivider, River Heron Review, Split Rock Review, Atlanta Review and elsewhere. Her book reviews have appeared recently in Salamander, EcoTheo Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and the Los Angeles Review.

Sarah's poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Orison Anthology. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, including Accommodations (2019), winner of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Award. Her debut full-length collection was a finalist for the 2023 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and the 2023 Barry Spacks Prize sponsored by Gunpowder Press. Visit her at, Instagram @skcarey1 or on Twitter @SayCarey1.

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SECOND PLACE: Emerald Echocardiogram | Adrian Dallas Frandle

Emerald Echocardiogram

If the chance comes I’ll take one fewer vice in life.

Lungs smoked in relief & screen-splayed
heart ghastly white
beating interdimensional
if seen through cardiologist eyes. A house

built along the border of two weathers.
I might have wished to straddle that seam:
........................brick stitchline
sewn purple.

My joyous wraith would haunt this hill
long after any home could contain it.

No one even bothered to
ask the body if it had needs
of its own. No one thought to: the tissue
at hand is now handled outside

my skin. Around the back side of rain
I try to listen but please don’t speak

unless I am in miniature
doll form. There I embed
a coin in the garden & wait
for an opening. The sky is still

a paywall. My heart still
grows green with debt.

Adrian Dallas Frandle

Adrian Dallas Frandle (they/he) is a queer fish who writes poems to the world about its future. They are Poetry Acquisitions Editor for Variant Press & Associate Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes. “Book of Extraction: Poems with Teeth” is out now with Kith Books. Find work online at

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FIRST PLACE: anticlea [ante-clee-ah] n. queen of ithaca and mother to odysseus | Michele Evans

anticlea [ante-clee-ah] n. queen of ithaca and mother to odysseus

i told him too much of anything is almost always a bad thing,
just because there are too many fish in the sea doesn't mean
you should catch one for every day of the week, except sunday,
because one day, six heads will scoop you up and eat you alive.

this is not the moment i have been waiting for - hades is a mother's
hospital waiting room, a dreadful place where restless soles pace,
where twenty minutes feels like twenty years waiting for my son’s
return from bird watching, jogging, wandering, while i sit waiting.

why don't you pick on someone your own size, i moaned, trapped
inside one cave's soundproof walls. bet this lawless monster swears
nobody did this. contradicting eye phone witness and millions
who heard my baby boy cry, choking out, "mama, i can't breathe."

Michele Evans

Michele Evans, a fifth-generation Washingtonian (D.C.), is a writer, high school English teacher, and adviser for her school's literary magazine, Unbound. Despite always wearing the color black, she exhibits a certain fondness for blueberries, blue hydrangeas, blues musicians, and Blue Mountain coffee. Named a semifinalist for the 2023 Airlie Prize from Airlie Press, Michele has been published in Artemis Journal, Tangled Locks, The Write Launch, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry chapbook, purl, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2024. You can find her at or @awordsmithie on Instagram.

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