VINAIGRETTE

edited by Layla Maher

Sara Falkstad

Sara Falkstad (b 1982) is a poet, teacher and artist based in the West of Sweden. She has attended writing courses at the Mid Sweden University, Bona folkhögskola and Österlens folkhögskola, as well as the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Summer School at Queen’s University Belfast. Her poetry has been published in various Swedish journals and her book of poetry De enhjärtbladiga (“The Monocots”) was released in 2020. 

harvest season

of course I dreamed

of honeybees last night.

of how you finally

showed me your innermost.

 

we extracted the state of intoxication

in long hungry gulps

I leaned into the centrifugal force

and your inclination to try anything.

 

they think it’s because of a parasite,

this death. we have to do it all ourselves.

the pollination. the brushing.

 

during these hot summer mornings,

we uncap, extract, devour

that sickening sweet gold.

 

leaving us with sugar on our breaths

and the sticky lips smiles of queens.

Michelle Rochniak

Michelle Rochniak (she/they) is a Greek mythology-obsessed poet from Wallingford, CT (USA). She majors in professional writing and minors in women’s studies at Western Connecticut State University. They are also a 2022 CT Collegiate Poet with the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Current pubs include Gleam, Celestite Poetry, and Aothen Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @shell.songs and Twitter @shellroch!

you sure are daedalus’s daughter

1. the rose absorbed you when it latched its petals shut at sunset and i am the bee meant to

pull you out

2. how do i reach my little bee legs down to pull you out if the pollen will cover me in

thorns

a. what if the whole flower becomes thorns

b. what if you are thorns

3. she is the worm tucked in by her grandmother’s dirt and her slime catches your eye

before my fuzz reaches your peripherals the next dawn

4. i am but a little bee bombling along bazombling along

a. the worm undulates

b. everyone takes the worm seriously

5. the pollinatee rejects the pollinator and the pollinator wiggles its body in the sky like the

hideous pink cylinder in the ground in an attempt to discover who it could have been

6. i fly up to my hive two feet away and find the map of flowers in the garden and use my

little bee legs to stipple an X on your face

7. the queen hears about what i did and she demotes me from worker to beggar

a. she doesn’t like turning away valuable resources

b. she spat the nectar someone kissed into her mouth at my face

8. i am so crunchy i think as i leave the hive what if i fell on the ground right now and

someone stepped on me

9. would they include my death in their asmr video

a. would bees go viral on tiktok

b. would the end imprison their ears in bliss

10. i fly past you for the last time and your parasitic pollen floats on to my stripes and i know

you don’t mean it because you fastened your petals to your stigma when i emerged

11. the worm watches me fly towards the sun and my wings do not melt

a. i will travel many many many many times her length in a year

b. she will never leave the thermal squeeze of her family

12. the sun opens its mouth and tells me that i do not belong outside of the ozone

13. i wiggle waggle woggle in its face and let a scream out of my bee lips for the first time

14. now i can exist

a. now i can

 

b.

Jannah Yusuf Al-Jamil

Jannah Yusuf Al-Jamil has done a few interesting things: make some bad rice, write a few poems, and co-found antinarrative zine. Find their work in Fahmidan, Overheard, IMPOSTOR, Pollux Journal, and at jannahyusufaljamil.carrd.co.

my works: a garden, an oven, a crown

after Kaveh Akbar / after Percy Bysshe Shelley / after Ocean Vuong

today I’ve decided to be 

King of Kings, scampering around my garden of 

tomato vines and too-big zucchini, 

blooming yeast to trap into 

a gluten matrix. I am a creator! here are my works — 

half-baked poems and over-baked bread, 

hollow when you knock on it. hey, 

[knocks on skull], can 

you get me out of here? despair! I am tripping 

on the weeds I refused to pull because 

I wanted to prove that I could grow something, 

anything. blow the dandelion fluff 

for me; it is a witness. heaven is 

a garden — God knows his audience. when I was thirteen, 

I plead a prayer: let me be good. for my lesson today, 

I am learning to learn how 

to learn, to soak in sunshine like 

this cherry tomato which never 

turned red. the language of my parents’ parents 

is one that never got its own alphabet; instead it stole 

from Persian or Arabic. in that sense, 

I have always been a thief. it’s ironic that the one creation 

that I cannot forfeit as much as I hate it (it’s 

poetry, every poet hates poetry) is simply 

written words all in purposeful lines. ‘creation’ as a word comes from late Middle English, when it was attributed to 

the divine. ‘despair’ comes from Latin, 

a combination of ‘down from’ (de) and ‘to hope’ (sperare). in that sense I reject royalty and nobility; crown a new King of Kings, 

I am looking to tear my creation from my work 

and to hope. the zucchini and the tomatoes will make 

 

a fine meal with the freshly baked bread, even though its crust is burnt — in my peasanthood I will finally savor my magnum opus, not sell it.

Indigo Carter

Indigo Carter is a queer poet and anti-imperialist whose work aims to combine the haunting with the beautiful. When not obsessing over Babel: An Arcane History and hot guys in fiction, he can be found enjoying several slices of luscious cheesecake and lemon biscuits. Poems of theirs appear/forthcoming in VIBE, Moon Cola Zine, the aurora journal, celestite poetry and others. Find a complete list of his poetry at wingedhermes.carrd.co

pastel-painted letter that smelled of honey

hello. i’m thinking of you on this slanted rooftop right now, breathing in mint

and imagining it’s your lipstick kisses — a splash of coral pink drowning in

vanilla and the scent of lilacs blossoming in the light.

 

it’s you. your reflection bleeding from the city skylights. i can see your

 

irises. i think i want to be what the light refracts from the reflection. we’ll feed

 

each other sugar and let it coat our throats. we’ll drink powder blue baja blasts

we’ll drink the moon up afterwards

 

and smack chapsticks on our lips (peach-scented like the saturated peach skies

we would kiss under) [side note: remember spring of 2021, drunk on cola and kissing

 

behind your bleached locker on the chemistry block???]

 

we’ll reenact that lesbian photo and smudge dark surma over

 

our eyes. does it not hurt?

 

to not be bathing in the scent of sumac spices and swallowing chai when morning bled into

night? to not be in a gas station under fluorescent green filling up our gas tanks with fuel, but

filling our stomachs with hot burning fuel for love?

 

my body is like an abandoned haunted house. frigid, ghosts of a hazy past wandering

 

the floors.

 

now i wear your honey-coated sweater to keep myself

warm.

 

to keep your ghost at bay.

John Reed

John Reed is the author of three novels, one book of poetry, two non-fiction illustrated projects, one project of poetry/theater, and one book of history/narrative non-fiction; published in (selected) Artforum, Art in America, the Believer, the PEN Poetry Series, Gawker, Slate, the Paris Review, the Times Literary Supplement, Vice, The New York Times, Harpers; anthologized in (selected) Best American Essays; Director of The New School University MFA in Creative Writing. More at: easyreeder.com

Party Tricks

You really had all the best party tricks.

Like that time you pulled me into a hat.

Nevermind the delight when I climbed out.

And what a fantabulous cabinet

of curiosities. That one display.

Not only the prince pauper, rag and bone,

but a perfect twin in the pauper prince,

shoes and watch and a better bicyclette,

and just as broken and shining a trophy.

You, with your baton and ringmaster tails,

standing at the top of the stairs, Pinot

Noir and another walk-up sublet,

and candy bowls filled with wooden matches.

Layla Maher is a writer from Georgia. Her creative writing is in Mizna, VIBE, Hobart Pulp, and elsewhere. In her free time, Layla likes to read, hike, and seek the silver linings. You can find Layla on IG @sarsoura_isdoingherbest or at her site, bintmaher.weebly.com.