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Because I Said So: A Generational Curse & Soon and Very Soon: A Generational Curse | Quintin Collins

Because I Said So: A Generational Curse

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

–Job 38:4 NIV

Do as I say      not as I do       do as I say       not as I do       do
as I do             the opposite    do        because I said so
because I’m the parent                                   and you’re the child
because I scrub scum from tubs and toilets   do as I say
because I toss the Eggos in the toaster           do as I say       do
………as you do         because I do as I do because   I am
the parent                                you are            why      because
………………I work to pay the bills
………………I bought these toys for you
………because I said so         that’s   why     that’s why
………………my 5 a.m. alarm creases the sleep
you already interrupted six times                   I put my book down
to wipe your ass          why      because I said so         because
………I said so           because daddy forgets
………………you are three years old           your world is a mass
of mysteries                I must tidy      I must say so
………because you do as I do
………………when I lay these foundations
you orbit                     and watch        then say as I say
………when you giggle         ok Daddy time for you to go
to time out now
………………………because I do as I do    because I said so
because I’m your parent         why      ask me if I understand
………how because I said so                         bored my upbringing
and now I sow the saying       in the field of your inquiries
………………and you do as I say                 the obscurity
in your response to my inquisition     why     why     why     why
………did you pour water on the floor
………………did you leave the bathroom light on
………………………did you do as you do as you do as
I do not explain           just yell           do as I say       you yell
………………I thunder from the heavens
without wisdom          to gift you       my ibis            to teach you
………how to count clouds   from the ground
………………………Daddy’s sorry
Daddy’s sorry                         Daddy wagered faith
………he could be the best daddy who ever daddied
for you            I’m sorry         do as I say because
………daddy fails sometimes            when he does as he does

Soon and Very Soon: A Generational Curse

I am very hungry—am incomplete—

and can no longer dine upon your “Wait.”

                                                                        –Matthew E. Henry

Soon    and      very     soon    we’re   gonna  see
………...the King          soon    and      very     soon
we’re   gonna  see       the King          gonna  see
………...very soon        and      very soon
gonna  see       providence      and      prosperity
……………………….........trickle blessings         soon
and very soon                         the King’s       hands
full of the whole world           hurricanes and fires
………forests gnawed to ash             relief?
soon                and very soon             we’re
………...gonna see        hallelujahs flourish
soon    gonna see        hallelujahs cascade     soon
……………….....the King gonna see
fingers speartipped     over     PAST   DUE    bills
……………….....miracles          truant
but soon          but soon          but soon          but
……………………….........the King          soon?
the King soon                         soon    soon    soon
……… this sister doves the aisles and pews
in her first Sunday white        the King          soon
……… your dollar bills scrape the plate
we’re gonna see the King
……………….....we’re   gonna  see       the King
………...soon                like a proclamation
for a child’s when?                 when?  when?  soon
………...hallelujah        hallelujah
no more dying there                when? no
………...more dying there                    hallelujah
divine plan domes destruction
..............................................cloche for chaos
………...hallelujah                    we’re   gonna  see
we’re                           gonna              see
the King                                              gonna see
………………       gonna see soon
………...soon    soon    soon    no
……………….....more dying                  gonna see
………...grace  pickled for millennia spoils

Quintin Collins

Quintin Collins (he/him) is a writer, assistant director of the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program, and a poetry editor for Salamander. He is the author of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival and Claim Tickets for Stolen People, selected by Marcus Jackson as winner of The Journal's 2020 Charles B. Wheeler Prize. Quintin's other awards and accolades include a Pushcart Prize, a BCALA Literary Award honor, a Mass Cultural Council grant, the 2019 Atlantis Award from the Poet's Billow, and Best of the Net nominations.

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South Temple Pedestrian Underpass | Jamie L. Smith

South Temple Pedestrian Underpass

Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

-Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Some nights the south side access is open,
the north blocked,

so, I linger, half-trapped in the passage, wait
for traffic overhead

to rattle me back to subway platforms past.
By now

my kid could’ve been
older than the four boys scootering loops

and whooping
down the length of the tunnel—Hey, lady,

watch this! For a few minutes
I clap for them as they spin,

cringe when they skid along the concrete floor,
before I resurface

and they stay
howling underground.

Jamie L. Smith

Jamie L. Smith is the author of "The Flightless Years", forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (November 2024). Her chapbook "Mythology Lessons" was winner of the Tusculum Review's 2020 Nonfiction Prize and is listed as notable in Best American Essays 2021. Her poetry, nonfiction, and hybrid works appear in publications including Southern Humanities Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Red Noise Collective, and anthologies by Indi(e) Blue, Allegory Ridge, and Beyond Queer Words. Please visit for more information.

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After the reception & The Tranquility of Tin Openers | Christian Ward

After the Reception

After the reception, everything
was a Mylar balloon. You could pop
the trees and watch them whizz
around the sky like unleashed kites.
Or send a mean neighbour
to Mongolia. The houses bounced
with their hidden joy. Everyone
content with their antigravity.
I could've let go to follow the currents.
Hang with peace signs of migrating
geese. I rooted myself in you, instead.
How things have changed,
tethering us away from
what grounded us to begin with.

The Tranquility of Tin Openers

You sleep warming
the right month on your skin.

The bath is a hot spring,
you gargle with milk from a forgiving moon.

You mukbang photo dumps of spring,
ravenously feast on autumnal screensavers.

Balanced books make the houseplants
sigh in contentment. You starve unpaid bills.

Your phone is always
as calm as a Buddha.

Colleagues think of you
as a wound that always heals quickly.

Every Christmas is an ice-cream cake
of happiness,

people gather grins like snow.
You are content to let them melt.

You always get cards folded
into swan eggs. They always remember you.

Once, you buried a tin opener
in the garden to see what might fly.

Christian Ward

Longlisted for the 2023 National Poetry Competition, Christian Ward's poetry has recently appeared in Acumen, Dream Catcher, Free the Verse, Loch Raven Review, The Shore and The Westchester Review. He was shortlisted for the 2024 Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize and won the 2023 Cathalbui Poetry Competition.

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The Folly of a Thoughtful Amnesiac & Hear Me Roar | Chelsea Logan

The Folly of a Thoughtful Amnesiac

Pete and Repeat were on a boat. Pete fell off. Who was left?


I woke up with new memories
in my fingertips, a need
to Good Will Hunting this problem
again. I draw the sharpness
of your jaw to solve
for each nerve ending that won’t
forget. There’s a scientist

in me that wants an empty room
save two metal chairs
and some ceiling tiles, to sit
across from you asking
the same question on a loop
until it catches. Tell me
what it’ll be like. Are you looking
inside me or did you sew
those sparkles in your eyes? I’m buckling

before the white board.
I’ve got flowers in my hair.
I’ve had different DNA
since that night our feet
touched in the pool, but
can you speak
into this recording device?
A good scientist must have good tools.
You say you’ve already answered
but I can’t
or won’t remember.

Hear Me Roar

We know what we want:
bang for our buck,
melt in our mouths
and so on. The fingers
fumble for the pill case.
They have eyes. Modern
women are puzzles
made from the shapes.
When they go low, we go
high, burning up our fuse
out there alone. And so on.
The fingers find the smallest
one, but size doesn’t always
matter. Nothing matters
when time can stop
and start like this. It’s late
but there’s always tomorrow.
The fingers remember tomorrow,
the elephant never forgets -
that’s what the big one’s for.
All halcyon days, yada yada
until the regret
steals in.

Chelsea Logan

Chelsea Logan lives in Nashville, TN. Her work has most recently appeared in The Paper Dragon, PIF Magazine, The Dead Mule School, MockingHeart review, and several anthologies.

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The Wholeness of Broken Things & What Hungers Do We Shed? | Nwodo Divine

The Wholeness of Broken Things

This debris catches the afternoon sun,
cleft rainbows stitching the air with
a montage of violence redeemed.
We built our castle not out of forgetting,
but from the thresholds
of what we can’t erase.
The battlements, the drawbridge,
precarious over a moat of memory,
always opalescent,
always a hair’s breadth from shattering.

Is this resilience,
or a morbid fascination with the scars?
A child cradled by broken glass,
lulled by the wind whistling
through its fractured concerto.
We are not unbroken,
that much is clear.
But in the cracks,
our light finds purchase,
determined to rise from the wreckage.

They say time heals all wounds.
We scoff. Time rearranges the furniture,
pushes the debris to the corners,
but the floorboards still groan
with the weight of what happened.
And perhaps this is the new strength,
not the absence of scars,
but the way they refract the light.
We are a medley
of what has broken us,
each piece a facet
catching a different glint of the sun.
We are not whole, but we are whole enough.

And at night, when the moon
flows through the smashed panes,
we hear not shattering,
but a song both mournful and hopeful,
sung in the language of broken glass.

What Hungers Do We Shed?

First, there was this green hunger,
a slow scratch against leaf skin.
I watched it inch across the rosebush,
leaving behind a glistening trail.

It wasn't beauty, but an urgent,
focused kind of consumption.
Every day, a little thicker, a little wider.
It built itself a prison, a silken shroud spun
in the crook of a thorny branch.

For weeks, it was nothing
but a suspended knot,
a question mark dangling in the breeze.
Then, silence.
No rustle, no green pulse against the web.
I almost forgot about it,
about that single-minded hunger.

But then a split, a tear in the silk,
and out crawled something tentative,
something with wings the colour of bruised fruit.
It clung to the empty chrysalis,
testing its new legs,
its new ability to rise.
It pumped its wings, hesitant at first,
then with increasing urgency.

And then, it lifted,
and for a moment, it hung suspended,
wobbling, unsure. But then,
it caught a current, a breath of wind,
and it was gone.

I don't know where it went,
this thing that used to be a relentless green hunger.
Maybe to the hibiscus bush by the fence,
maybe high above the rooftops where the hawks circle.
All I know is that it left behind an empty shell
and a question:
what hungers do we shed, what wings do we take flight with?

Nwodo Divine

Nwodo Divine is a Nigerian writer, researcher, and teacher. His works have appeared in Akpata Magazine, Poetry column, and a host of others. He tweets @chukwudivine_

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The Last Leaf & Postpartum | Bethany Jarmul

The Last Leaf

I’m hiding
from my kids, searching
for solitude. Outside,
a single sepia leaf hangs
on an oak tree limb,

swaying back-and-forth,
back-and-forth in the wind,
like a park swing dismount.
This leaf survived
gales that downed power lines.

It survived snow—enough
for the neighbor kids to build
a seven-foot snowman.
This month, the new leaf-buds
have been birthed on branches,

yet the leaf hangs,
like the last baby tooth rotting
in a lipstick-adorned mouth.
Will I want to hang on,
when my life’s stem grows

weak? Surely, I’d like to sway
with the breeze, feel
the rain on my wrinkled skin,
listen to silence punctuated
by the crickets and creek.

Now, a school bus, heavy
with children, rushes past.
The leaf, torn from its lifeline,
wafts to the ground and lands

on the cracked concrete.


After a rain,
droplets hang
from every branch,

round bellies
pregnant with
energy, purple

with possibility.
Gravity is a sage
midwife, offering

massages and chants,
warm rags and prayers.
Finally, the mothers

splatter into dozens
of fluid offspring—

no longer

as themselves.

Bethany Jarmul

Bethany Jarmul is an Appalachian writer and poet. She’s the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection. Her work has been published in many magazines including Rattle, Brevity, Salamander, and One Art. Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023 and Best Small Fictions 2024, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and Wigleaf Top 50. Connect with her at or on social media: @BethanyJarmul.

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I’d Be the Fish & Living the Dream | John Hennessy

I'd Be the Fish

What would satisfy, he asks, and I can hardly say.
Her story, I’m the fish swimming through it
from line to line. But the terrain’s too dry, no way
to brook this drought. City-planner, then, she drew it

near floodplains, I’m irrigation from the Nile,
canals that fill Venice’s green lagoon.
Let her be bank and island, from marble tile
to god’s-eye atrium. I’ll flow and drone,

a constant murmur.  Nah, you’re a racket, horn
and whistle, thorn and thistle. Fish? A shark
at best, three sets of teeth, and nothing born
above or below survives your ocean’s dark—

better admit it now. Expect nothing, accept
less. Swim uncertainty, dorsal fixed, tail flexed.

He sounds so sure. Socratic? Delphic. Stark.

Living the Dream

I reminded myself early in the day,
Don’t forget your passport. So of course
I’m at the airport without my passport.

Less than two hours until the flight left
and it was international, so I was already
an hour late. Luckily, my son

was dropping me off. He could help me
with my phone, which was frozen, stuck on
an app, an image of a red album cover. Spotify.

I was deep into trying to call my father,
good in a crisis, someone I could rely on
to bring my passport. They’d get me out of this

red album cover anxiety, this disaster. The plane
would leave without me. But no, they’d help. I gave
my son the phone, practiced my father’s instructions.

But nothing would work. I couldn’t even connect
the phone call to my father. A voice came over
my own intercom. Voice interrupting. Asking me

what would happen if I missed this plane. What
would happen? I would have to stay, or find another
flight. And what luck to be both father and son.

John Hennessy

John Hennessy is the author of three collections, Coney Island PilgrimsBridge and Tunnel, and Exit Garden State (forthcoming from Lost Horse Press). With Ostap Kin he is the translator of A New Orthography (Lost Horse Press), selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021, and the anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond  (Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature). Set Change, Yuri Andrukhovych’s selected poems, is forthcoming (NYRB/Poets Series).

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Black Annis | Bex Hainsworth

Black Annis

Not a witch, but a woman, just like your mothers.
The world was too loud, too bright, with the stench

of muck and mutton. My senses turned inward
like wheel spokes. I crept to the cave for silence,

for safety. It was my ark, whale belly. In the dark,
my skin shone like a salamander, veins branching

beneath lids and wrists: the blue face was always a myth.
The oak, however, did stand sentry, roots curving

into a portal. It sieved the wind from my sanctuary
and spun the rain into lace. At midnight, I would climb

the boughs, comforted by the creek, the soft bellowing
of stags, and my reflection mooning the sky.

Later, village children threw rocks at my walls,
chanting unfamiliar names. I shrunk to cave-tail,

rubbing at my conker-heart hair with stubby nails.
They started hanging sage above their doors, building

their windows small. I became hag-seed, warning,
bedtime story. Their nightmares kept the world away.

I lived quiet years, then died moss-swaddled beneath a bat-
draped canopy: they were always dressed for mourning.

Returning myself to the earth, I fed flies and foxes,
left behind enough legend, enough terror,

that no one dares disturb my immortal bones.

Bex Hainsworth

Bex Hainsworth is a poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, Sonora Review, and Nimrod. Walrussey, her debut pamphlet of ecopoetry, is published by The Black Cat Poetry Press.

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Morning Attire & Suffering and Echo | Todd Dillard

Mourning Attire

I clamp the helmet to my suit's collar.
My breath draws a white curtain
across the helmet's glass.
My fingers wriggle into rubber gloves—
everything is impossible now
to pick up: my children's toys,
my ringing phone.
I stamp my feet into thick
boots meant to be air
tight for the moonscape
of the ocean floor.
The oxygen tank is full,
the weight of it all
something some say
will go away
if I let myself sink.
It's a sunny day on my front porch.
Tulips bob and still like fish
in a poisoned aquarium.
The mailman gives me my mail,
and I press my palms onto condolences
like prayer. Night falls
the way depths rise
to greet you. I keep trying
the line, tugging it, letting you know
it’s time to pull me up.
Why won’t you pull me up.

Suffering and Echo

After, there was marvel attached to the sadness,
like a child who rolls the perfect cigarette
or the catfish sliced open tail to gill
and in its entrails a sapphire amulet—

I knew her suffering had, finally, ended.
But the shape of her suffering remained
pressed into me. A little hollow.
The hours pooled there, blue like a blue

mountain, something to fill the empty rooms.
I took walks. Bought records. Buried birds
who struck the windows,
certain there would be more air.

There would always be more air.
And even if her suffering had become my suffering,
didn’t that mean I could sing into it
and what sound returned—didn’t it mean

she was calling me? She was
calling me. She was calling
me. She was calling me.
She was calling

Todd Dillard

Todd Dillard's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. His debut collection Ways We Vanish (Okay Donkey Press) was a finalist for the 2021 Balcones Poetry Award. His chapbook Ragnorak at the Father-Daughter Dance is forthcoming from Variant Literature. He's a Poetry Editor at the Boiler.

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Half abecedarian for an ESOL class | Sayantani Roy

Half abecedarian for an ESOL class

So what if I were to decide to speak with a cat in the throat?
-Caroline Bergvall

Afghani is a currency, and injera a type of bread
before you teach them, learn their words
curl them in your tongue to feel the
desperate tangle—only naked force will
expel the cat in the throat—a struggle as
futile as snow battling warm asphalt.
Gato makes his place in the sacred grotto—
hellion or a fierce protector, nursing
idioms you try to bury under stale
jargon & kitsch—wants to hide the last
mementos from the language of no return.

Sayantani Roy

Sayantani Roy grew up in small-town India and writes from the Seattle area. She has placed work in Contemporary Haibun Online, Ekphrastic Review, Gone Lawn, Heavy Feather Review, Panoplyzine, TIMBER, and elsewhere. This season, she is participating as a mentee in the AWP mentorship program. Say hello on Instagram @sayan_tani_r.

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