JP Seabright (she/they) is a queer writer living in London. They have three pamphlets published: Fragments from Before the Fall: An Anthology in Post-Anthropocene Poetry by Beir Bua Press; the erotic memoir NO HOLDS BARRED by Lupercalia Press, and GenderFux, a collaborative poetry pamphlet, by Nine Pens Press.
dig deep for us
wipe them clean
live another year
HUNGER [how to cultivate a body in the forest]
damp skin touching in the sleeping bag at night,
a lone finger reaching for the cavity in my
we learn to cultivate our bodies during
harvest season, fill each exit wound with
nourishment: like lovers, we shall be each others food,
let our breathing mirror because after all –
we’ll sing to each other of how flowers bloom
in between // our // fingertips // and
when honeyed dawn arrives
i still want you to be holding me. please.
let’s knit our hands together like the threads
on your sweater
i don’t want to wake up holding wool yarn
trying to knit up the slits in my stomach
pondweed reeking from our lips; algae melting
on ripe cheeks and you’re plucking my fractured pieces
of an inherited past. i’ll let you heal me and trace your
finger down my ruptured spine
and then wipe the blood off on the moss
blackberry brambles wet with juice, leaking and festering
in our stomachs. i’ll spit violet ink out and it’ll
spell a new story, a new history.
i’ll eat pomegranate and rice and swallow the little rubies.
it’ll keep my heart warm. i like the way the warmth
stings my lungs but at least i’ll have your lips
as a breathing mechanism.
and i will whisper to you
‘hunger is a blessing’
and you’ll tell me
‘i promise i’ll never
let you be hungry’
Annalisa Hansford (they/them) is an infp, libra, and freshman at Emerson College. Their work appears in Emerge Literary Journal, The Hearth Magazine, and Eunoia Review. They read for The Emerson Review and Concrete Literary Magazine. In their free time, they enjoy listening to Gracie Abrams and drinking vanilla matcha lattes.
sunflower seeds and splinters
the girl who locks eyes with me in my lit studies class
picks splinters out of my skin and plants sunflower
seeds in my palms. we laugh at the way our lives
unravel like loose threads of childhood sweaters
collecting dust on the shelves of our hometown.
she speaks sentences but i hear melodies. we swap
spit like it’s honey, share secrets like verses from
our favorite poems. after class, she asks me to paint
her nails the shade of autumn. we graze fingers under
the fairy lights in my dorm room. my pillow molds to
the shape of her head and her breathing slows to the
rhythm of the moon’s orbit.
Olumide Manuel is a Pushcart-nominated poet, an environmentalist, and a biology teacher from Nigeria. His poetry has been published/forthcoming in Twyckenham Notes, Feral Poetry, Uncanny Magazine, Agbowó Magazine, Magma Poetry, Sandstorm Journal, Sublunary Review, Ice Floe Press, Club Plum Literary Journal, ARTmosterrific Journal, Gigantic Sequins, Isele Magazine, Muse Pie Press, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. He tweets @Olu_midemanuel
butter me pink,
you sandwich of porcelain skin.
I know of rose and of lavender,
of the brilliance of turmeric, &
the timelessness of thymes, but
in you, all the scents converged
into a jollof. a plate of your love
is like a streak of shades slanting
your cheeks in their half-smiling
pose; like a perfectly fried dodo;
the grease of sweat when you roll
into me & I suck in the flavour
of your neck.
Clarice Lima is a young bilingual writer and Literature undergraduate from Brazil. With a lifelong love for stories and all things warm, they mostly want to be kind. Her words can be found published or forthcoming on VIBE, small leaf press, The Augment Review and elsewhere. Find them on Twitter @candiedcowboy.
last summer before away
fruit filling your belly button the aftermath of red in my tongue
we spend summer glued by watermelon spit and edging anxiety
wishing nothing more than ice love dissolving pink on our gums
but then again also a banquet of approval and rows of white teeth
for things won’t bend to our will unless we make it ours we bite
countless tasteless dreams simply to have something to chew on
that not from our homes we sprawl our knees bitter on the sharp
ends of grass we grow more teeth than tongue we make the sun
the lollipop of our own we bleed mosquito bites on kitchen tiles
bellyful and swift footed and ever loving the youth we maintain
savory shivering on our wide wounds so it won’t evil escape us
we do so knowing that it will we cry in heated tongue spices so
we don’t shame our pride on the last starry night you call me and
i can tell by the glint of your name you are already far and away
i pick it either way your voice oozes sweet you tell me you cannot
be all over me again or for any other season i fall in love with you
i beg autumn to come quickly knowing that you won’t
it is told that love enters through the stomach
it is known that it is the stomach to sieve the mistakes
there is a hint of uncertainty in all we give
as if unaware of the size of our liking
or the other’s hatred
we believe what
we hope it is
all the time
you would never
give me your hands for nourishment
and that your house is already plenty
for me to be a significant addition
the heart is the liver
and all that ever poisons me
will be what takes me out of this earth
i don’t think you care
for whatever ancient literature has to say
how can time dictate a life
is your everlasting question
i am the answer to
i don’t think
eggs will ever make me any good
because i threw them up when five
i will never be fully forgiven
for all the meat stored in my gullet
i am the animal to prove you wrong
all the times
i don’t know how you feel
you open the cabinets of your kitchen
you bake me cake
you don’t pray before we eat
you make not a mistake
the entire meal
my belly does not growl for the eggs
you are the one to forgive my faults
Avery Yoder-Wells (they/them) is a trans, queer poet studying creative writing. They own two cats and their favorite fruit is mango, preferably in squares. They lurk on Twitter at @averyotherwise.
When I am grown, and nonetheless in love,
I will brush the sensitive bend of your wrist
and learn which foods to make you.
Lunch is a tango I’m already mastering—
I only choked the kitchen cabinets with smoke
the first time. Grilled cheese rewards practice,
and any ambrosial feast should not fill you
on beginner’s luck. You should gasp, just a little,
wonder how better you could kiss this temple
tomorrow. So lunch is a work and a rapture
in progress, and dinner is irrelevant.
We’ll share takeout and foreign recipes,
map the dip of your shoulder through anatomy
textbooks, or recite bad poetry that stuck burrs
to our legs and palms, or recite better poetry,
or search up how kissing happens.
Is tongue involved? Could we substitute
that ingredient for cumin, or cheese?
So dinner is collaborative, an exercise
in ancestral suggestions. Therefore I plan
to make you breakfast. Scrambled eggs,
the only dish you didn’t teach me,
flecked with cheese and morning sun.
And arepas, so I am taught even more—
both, breakfast, where I can bundle you
sleep-sappy into the kitchen, and thank you
on my knees and my ribs. And if lunch
is the sprawling evolution of a sutra,
while dinner is anecdotes chicken-scratched
under psalms, then breakfast is silence.
Just eggs and meditation. I break the shells
over your fists, and we reap each peapod,
our mouths coaxing the warmth from the pulse.
ghazal on stealing fruits from your grandmother’s fridge
strip the sour gauze / red from the plum. hold,
dig bright bruises into / a tremulous thumb hold.
dishes cup asterisks / spread in the sweetgrass
birds dipping soup springs / that fresh rains come hold.
the living room cabinet / bristling with fabric
pleated skirts, bonnets / in china’s numb hold.
glowing mezzo-soprano / melding berry diacritics
strained understanding in every / bright hum. hold,
the mess of dilation / safe harbor, night counters.
i drink milk and green grapes, / and deep sweet plum, hold.
Salonee Verma is a Jharkhandi-American writer and the co-founder of antinarrative, a collaborative zine. Her work is published or is forthcoming in Backslash Lit, Pollux Journal, zindabad zine, Dishsoap Quarterly and more. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find her online at salonee verma.card.co.
DEAR MUMMY, WITH LOVE FROM UNI
Mummy I am writing to you because I am trying
to make thekua for someone I love & I don’t
know how I’m going to manage deep-frying in a dorm room.
Here’s the plan: I’m going to find
a patron of the arts by which I mean hopefully
someone in my first period is rich & owns an
apartment & misses fried food enough to let me
shape coconut & flour into rounds big
enough to fit an entire palm in.
(Once you told
me they call it heart of palm
because the most important
part of a life can fit in your
Mummy, then I will fry
thekua for my partner who
you already have fed once,
long ago when I didn’t know how
to cut garlic for those I love.
The problem is that I don’t know
the recipe & I can’t figure out
how to trap sunlight through
a kitchen window & Mukesh
through your radio & the curry
leaf plant C.P. looking up up up—
how to catch it like Pokémon
into deep-fried dough.
NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS WHO ARE BASICALLY LOVERS
Do you remember, I said. Do you remember
when we went out to dinner, all ten of us, and
you gave me the olives off your plate with
pinched brown fingers? I picked out all the peas
& put them in your bowl. Together we finished
an entire meal. I ate the squishy steamed things
you hated like they were birthday gifts. Neither
of us was born on the anniversary of thick noodles
stretched out & slurped down & making a home
on the paper napkin in your lap. Family reunions,
except it’s meeting family for the first time over,
are best created at restaurants. You know how
greenhouses concentrate the hot air & magnify
it to let the plants grow up? If a restaurant doesn’t
incubate love like those chicks we brought to
life in second grade, then there’s not much
point in giving up the time we could be spending
kneading garlic into bread together. But this
is different. This is our friends making noise
music across the table. This is a promise to
meet again next month for hot pot. This is
pulling out dripping rusk from chai & stuffing
it in open mouths. This is fighting violently
over the right to pay the check like our fathers
and fathers before that used to. Do you remember,
I said. Do you remember something that has
yet to happen but is sure to? Mark your calendar
for the 26th. Send a text to the WhatsApp group
chat. We’re going out to love & eat good food
and maybe in the end, that’s the same thing.
Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer & artist. She edited for The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq 4.5 Writing Showcase (2020) and has participated in workshops including RAWI Wet Hot Arab-American Summer (2019) and Tin House Winter Workshop (2022). Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and appears in Sycamore Review, Vagabond City Lit, Kissing Dynamite, Mizna, & elsewhere. Find her on twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.