Madeline McDonald

Piñata Accident

I couldn’t see the way you lingered at my side
and crinkled your eyes
when you smiled at me.
I didn’t hear the softness
in your voice you reserved, lonely for me
or notice any tingle in my fingers
when you passed me the bat
and our hands touched
that first and only time.
I was only doing what I was supposed to do.

But I did notice a difference.
A thick heaviness like ripe melon,
a gasp from the crowd that went a little too deep.
Maybe I knew.
Poor thing, bloody on the floor.
You lay so still,
bloody, battered, bruised.
Why stay so close? Why linger at my side?
All I wanted was a game.

Sean Beld

Front Line

With a first line from Adam Zagajewski

We live in the abyss. In dark waters. In brightness.
We live in communion with the forgiveness of our

Dark. Infinite. Superreal. We live
in the glittering suburbs of Atlantis.

Like unburnt fuel
in the basements of our minds, life

is sublime – its statues, its portraits, its millions
upon millions of poems read

and unread by billions of eyes. We are
snow. We are rain. We are uncertain – icicles

descending night’s cleavage. We live in the abyss.
towns and sleepless cities. We live

what we have built, each
and every beauty, systolic

and diastolic, one by one, each
horror, the prisons and paradises,

the gargoyles and princesses.
We cast our lots side by side,

Dusk till Dawn
in the cities of our dreams.

Glimpse of a Bat at Dusk in the Cemetery


Through the open door of the mausoleum
the mountain is broken,
sliced in two
by the wings of a bat. Suddenly
I am afraid to move, afraid the earth might fall apart
beneath me. I am dust-filled.
As in a dream,
my whole world gone flat, waiting.


We line up under the white dot of moon
in our black shoes,
our steps trickling
across the marble floor.

Notice the rusty veins and the impurities

and the names
and the brass plates where names will be,
15 feet up the mausoleum walls.
Must use a pole to get those flowers down.

We had forgotten holding hands in church,
touching the skin of girls’ hands,
Hallowed be Thy name,

how the dead need not fear hell,
and how beauty always surrenders in the end.


As I breathe I fill with dust

this place I call my heart.

Someone, someone I’m sure is not me
can’t help but weep
as the violinist’s bow scratches,
begins its journey from heel to tip
and back, the old notes echoing off the marble walls,
meeting the new, becoming dissonant

and my heart is not contained,

and finally lost.


Her father leans against her mother.
He can barely speak.

He thanks us for being here,
For making the trip.

We just cannot know
How much it means.


Everyone seems to know what they didn’t do.
The stars are disappearing
and we are coming to see
there’s no one looking in –

No Zeus, No Hera. No Mountaintop
looking down. Just the common quicksand,
the dead leaves and the marble –

one silence against another,
one memory after another, coerced
like tears, like a melody.

Thomas C. Burgess


An amphetamine rush sends the infant’s toes tapping.
You would have thought Broadway had been refined
into a nursery’s cubic forest.
It takes a sweet and certain pill to herd a baby’s hope
into a common form of interest.

However, this is what a bank equates as kindness.
It causes nature’s quiet remorse to lose effect at adaptation.
This forced emptiness is dismissed as the virus’s cost to work.

Once taught to be ever careful of affection,
the host becomes a dormitory of sorts
as guided rewards become a siren
preventing hibernated desires from manifesting on their own.
This golden dishonesty cures the mind of the soul’s impulse to strive
and gain the satisfaction
of sorting carefully through important cosmic questions.

Let us open up the hive!
We must eradicate the Queen!
Review every sound she taught us
and mark them as a victory over possession.

Only then will it be possible to awake
with open, careless minds
without the conjured sound of supposed to be
echoing off into the distance.

Life's Uncertain Socket

Someone stick their face inside my heart
and tell me what it lacks in order for it
to become a perfect plaque
inscribed in such a way
that it’s words tear both of us apart

plying up our bones like a platform deemed unstable
bringing both of us discomfort like the dream I had last night
where I set the world on fire, laying waste
to every person, forest and sea.

Once the blaze engaged,
I took a step back and looked on
reflecting on the centuries of distractions
that now burned bright
like candle light in a child’s mirrored eyes.

I want to manipulate the templates that describe this place
and rearrange it’s molecules so that
I can imbibe the whole mess and process it as poison.

Sarah A. Foote


Fluorescent skullfaced
names I can’t figure, faces made
up of blurring vacuoles, cell-
like hazed and dizzying outlines,
with peach and golden-red bubbles for skin.

A frantic hurricane
bubbles up behind my eyelids,
consistently rolling images of what
should be people up, up and around,
in thermal coloration. Coldly, they evaporate
into the graying mass identity,
though each floats around me,
screaming and laughing,
addressing me in miniature, ghastly voices.

I think I hear, Open your eyes!
I think I shake my head.
I am. It’s all the same.

Doesn’t matter if my eyes are closed
or not. I swirl, unseeing,
unhearing, how many times?
Funnels of minute soundwaves crowd
in my ears, slowing by the second.
In the increasing blackness,
they are decrescendos of comprehension.

I cannot speak well, but feel
my lips tremble and buzz.
I know someone’s trying to help,
but I am aware of only my blood-and-bone legs,
purely skeletal, with red sinews and fragile
tendons pulsing painlessly. They are mine,
but I don’t feel them. They disappoint me:
they are lifting feebly from the ground
in a weak right angle, unable to walk
towards the door.


Your hair is like angry vines,
or a den of snakes hissing
through an unpleasant cloud of cologne.

Your raisin eyes scrutinize.
Hello honey.
You clench me in a hug, but
wrap me in impermanent goodbyes.

We disentangle from the mandatory embrace
as your yellow hair meets mine, pink
as your bothered face.

You look like a rooster,
you inform me in your best
complimentary fashion,

and I smile: People say
I look more like you every day,

Nazifa Islam

In the Ballroom

I’m going to have to be kind
tonight. I’m going to have
to be someone else tonight
when an impish Cheshire
moon rises and the stars start
singing their siren song and
the sky with its dusting of
blood begins tearing at its
rain-warped stitches and
people will insist on talking
to me when I have nothing
even boring to share. I’d
rather sit and be silent and
be wilted and be hated but
I live in this world with its
large stained teeth and it’s
proven impossible to pry my
left ankle out from beneath
those too vast yellow molars.

Three Sheets Front and Back

I wrote my biography down on paper made copies
passed them out to all the people I’ve ever known.
I went inside afterwards shut the door behind me
locked it. I brewed a cup of hemlock tea but couldn’t
bring my body to drink it. I rose the next morning
and slinked out the door to face these people who
have always been right to hate me. They stared and
they smiled and they shook my shaking hand before
very kindly asking for my middle name.

For Typewriters

There’s something cheap
about documents you
need to delete by left click
or dragging, that can be
wiped out by a virus
or pure accident. I want
a match to be lit, I want
ashes when I’ve destined
something anything that
was once of me to be
forever forgotten. Didn’t
that piece of shit poem
still deserve ashes?