Nico Vassilakis



NICO VASSILAKIS writes and draws language. Many of his results can be found online and on his website, Staring Poetics. Recent books include Alphabet Noir and In The Breast Pocket Of A Fine Overcast Day. He co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology (Fantagraphics Books, 2012). He lives in the Bronx with his wife.

Ellen Boyette


To flail again, within the call, to face
behind the awl and laud no meeker
skirmish. I heard you glib-running
a glimmer through thread and asked whether

or not potholder making was still the fashion.
A red heron, a rescue boat– some trinkets
spitting blood into piss, paint
into dark and plot across the day, a marker

to the face– take the planets, break
a year, give a year a ship and call
the year a spade. Pedal is to
petal is to: the analogy I’m making,

if possible almost likened eternities
gets you going— driving away
crowds of loved ones in slow motion
reveals only the image of a power drill

making love to a rubber nipple, I’m sorry
I just meant to but couldn’t channel
the surfable dialectic and now
lo, the stiff breeze teases this

proprioceptive undercurrent like wrung
hunger guts: prepositionless, x-rayless,
having not spoken for days less equivalent
to breadcrumbs and still days to come—

often a hmm to oneself reviles, no?
Brackens the inhabitable isles of air
where migraines unlubricate inner tender
private drift, sends one humping

against murmur dregs til chafed. Pitter
til close is a way out of income and income
is on its way out, drought patterns
dispelling mythologies of ancient grasses

fit for un-chain salad options we might
skim decidedly against as against we might
parades, as against we might a vapid
field of swordplayers on a Wednesday—

it’s too much sometimes, all the shit
doggie-paddling won’t suffice to distance,
won’t calamine the rampant itching
you’d forbid me scratch an arm off to.

Grandparents love those many-birded clocks
great-horning owls into REM cycles,
a who into duvet laden breath realm,
ordering lesser hours into aquiverous chime…

If I could mean something nefarious
by a belt buckle in a bathtub, I’d rather
I couldn’t, you know? Tupperware
wearing down of anecdote, a millstone– blue

carrion elbowing into my, no–
goblet of what you’re having, I’ll– no,
choreographed conviction over dull
twinges of others’ ailings like a coffin were

descending, sails winding, moving, could you,
no, you really could– perform me, a marionette,
I’m asking, the lingering petunias
billowing in the drift of how-our- days-were?

Unblemished though in want of surface, bluely
I haywired a grave crop, caught a hangnail
mid-penance. Dropped it. Drilled further, railed
beneath the mound dumbly with a mouthharp
for a saw, and saw the mound unfurling.

Not feverish so much as fervent, the dirt
forbade me wed it back to sleep, whether
granular air commits to grandiose or feathered
gavel-banging, I nonetheless pitted it pat.
Look– we’ve all felt zero interest in zoos,

one need not exhume extraneous limbs
to articulate the headachey gloss of artifacts
oohed and ahhed over, moussed verbally
til flattened—take from a pressed coin a coiled
rattlesnake and out of it ragtime a thimble’s

worth of venom. That’s a vindictive ruse
I could incubate, inculcated as I am by
the surface of even lime, lithe in the rim
of what seems questionable—a quotient of drink
undowned ‘cross mahogany watermarks, unthink

-able in even xeroxed treaties for xenophobic
killjoys whose kink is kinkshaming. I’d tear
a jewel into the moon if it made me seem judicious.
How? Yardstick and yarn. It’s a young man’s game,
tensing index to icon and omitting the touch.


Indifference or resignation to disease
directs the ventilation of my speech, deifying

less distinct figures under indigo lit
and candied waiting tanks, a plastic dentist’s

chair, surgeons indistinguishable from
diptych renderings of cardinal benediction.

Idiocy, like the sun, dilutes the cornea

and the tomb, though dim light never did
a diligent man make. Sterile with light

like Iditarod dogs, I grow dizzy in distorted
air, disjointed with breeding. Diphtheria

should be of no disturbance, though I’d
deem the Adirondack trail devisor hallowed

who survives it, braiding daffodils into rope,
hammering obsidian into sundial– same

difference– whimpering inventions distract
the diagnosed poorly, make failed disciples.

The fruitless fields have bored you
with the medium of air, noon mode

through which there is no ratio
of argument to document. Materials

subject to vision, but the day’s at least maroon
as a toothache, a foot-hole catching

sunset where a hare sleeps harder
not knowing the mechanical yearnings affixed

to reaping. Don’t let me keep you
tying factory line knots with laces just

for show. A libretto of clouds part to reveal
the HTML of your desire but what did you expect?

A sooty Grecian icon?
Another bright breakfast option?

Sliver of sky like the fate
from an eight ball: It is decidedly so.  

Either take the sterile scape to see flightless
birds emerging from your nest egg

or recall the barebreasted women milling mash
from trees. It was in a video. It was through

Visine, the caustic laughter of horses awaiting
hide-lessness for someone’s future

back pocket wallet. Beyond that,
wall-to- wall ether. There’s a dialogue

of vastness to further back-and- forth.
Sky re-configures. Says count the sequins

of the slow drop of a priceless watch.
Of the dewed apple falling.

Says watch the ants in vinegar dance
across the sill like a barrage of striking typos.


ELLEN BOYETTE is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she is an editorial assistant for The Iowa Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming at Leveler,, The Iowa Review blog, and Flag + Void.

Sophie Jennis


As pleasurable as milk pouring out of the moan of a mouth
Sticking a knife into the center of an apple
A drop of blood falls down the side
The worm escapes





I drive until the fog covers my windshield
I keep driving after that

Seeps through the closed window
Creeps up the center of my neck like a snake
I keep going after that





I lay my socks down one by one outside of the shower as an offering
I bring the bird into the shower and let her sing
I cup the water in my hands and pour it over my head
It slides down my back like an oyster



SOPHIE JENNIS (b. 1996) is a curator and writer residing in the Hudson Valley. You can find more of her work at

Michael McKee Green

from Idaho


‘s first book of poems, Fugue Figure (the Kent State University Press), was selected by Khaled Mattawa as the winner of the 2017 Stan and Tom Wick Prize. A recipient of awards and grants from the Academy of American Poets and The Cabin Literary Center, Green is a 2018 artist in residence at the Boise Public Library at Bown Crossing.

Zack Anderson


a quartet of blasted trees
slouch at the edge of the pond
and throw their jointed image in

one trunk warped by a burl
rope of root curled in a socket
an embolus crawling up a vessel

I have seen my death

the fingers dredge up silt
a body taken apart under the sea
assembles itself on the tidal machine

playing lazily among the squid beaks
a hand waves ballasted with a ring
flecks of alien gold glinting under the nail



You might think me frigid
to hone this blade in the bristles

once I rooted in humus
among the rusts and smuts

rutted in a cluster of wood ear
in a crown of spores

in the glen I ran with a tusk
erupting from my jaw

I ran into a circle of graces
and held the tusk to my pig organ

this is a stickup a razorback
a dull scraping of hooves

a casing to hold the sausage in
I feed myself to the passel

the graces paint their cheeks
to defend against the angels of the lord



I murdered the dauphin for his oxblood raiment.
For his fabulous rubbery skin. I made myself
intouchable in his mammal jacket. Pearlescent stole.
Strike up the danse, flense, and pas de bourrée.
Carry on, everyone’s carrion, it’s the new couture.
The ballerina sloshes a glass of neutron yellow
you can drink like anything else if it’s cold. Santé.
Let the roast dauphin jaw an apple. Let us dine
in the reactor core, the artificial womb, the storm
drain. We float down the watershed in a plastic château
and skin dive the trireme in actual skin. Lift the scuttled
wine cup and look through the drunk god’s painted eyes
with the vision of a marble satyr staring at his helical penis.
Swan boats pole around the lawn by the light of a bad planet
while a water spirit chases his horses out of the fountain.
The ballerina dumps the dauphin in the imperial boudoir.
We sparkle in a royal dose among the creatures of the pool.



Dream death is a dog nail
lodged in the skin overnight

red skein unraveling its bolero
a euthanized bison bleed

garnish where the bone should be
blood-shouldered horse at a dead

gallop spilling a warp of weeds
from a rip in the meadow’s hide

It was clear sun and prismatic drops
the house was going down like a ship

the horse was filling up with sand
it collected in the bucket’s crease

I was eating chopped dates
rolled in flour

the dog’s eye came open
it was utterly white


ZACK ANDERSON holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, where he worked for Action Books, and an MA from the University of Wyoming. He teaches English in Denver and writes for American Microreviews and Interviews.

Rami Karim

There needs to be a different word

I don’t know why the song is on repeat. If we
gave it another shot the apartment would
have exploded. We could’ve been sued. In
the brink of it I felt like spending every day
watching grass curl, just by looking at it. By
January I wanted a new body. Our faucet is
still leaking.

I’m not getting what I want so you’re a bad
person. I didn’t want to go on a date but
thought you’d think I was a slut if I offered to
hang in my room again, even though I just
wanted to smoke and talk and listen to the
new Black Moth.

Our parents are both brown so we’ll get
along, right? It’s a question of how to enjoy
trash media and still be a good person. Teach
me how to be gay. I never want to go
clubbing again ever.

Faggot is a generous word because I can use
it to reclaim myself or be rude depending on
my needs. My mom wanted me to keep
getting diplomas, it didn’t matter what kind.
She’s trying to set me up with her neighbor’s
daughter. I just want to be friends, really. I
want to help her choose a hairstyle and give
dating advice. My mom doesn’t know we’ve
already agreed to fake-date.

You post a hot pic and it makes me jealous so
I post one too and now it looks like we’re
planning a threesome because we’re
monogamous after all, and it’s not that we
fear the other leaving for those liking our
posts the day after a fight, even though we
said we were good and had sex after. 

The first time I heard a bomb it was actually
the sound barrier breaking. It was louder than
a bomb. If I say it one more time I become a

It takes more energy to hate than to ignore. I
still want to learn how to draw and decide no,
but also I don’t hate you and it’s ok that you
moved to LA. I would have been down but I
grew up there is all.

I know what you want me to say, but I’m just
saying there are plutocrats in brown countries
complaining about white people. Rich brown
people who won’t admit the context makes
them analogous to the white people they drag
on bad days. Maybe they do know.

Pretending not to be in love is turning out to
be hard. I preempted this by saying I was
busy and wanted nothing serious. I
preempted feeling anything on the ride home
when I tripped and pretended not to check if
you saw.

Can’t tell if I want to adopt a cat because I
love cats or I’m just sad. Can’t tell if I’m sad
or if we ran out of milk and I wanted cereal.

I exclusively fall for the sons of immigrant
mothers they at some point fell in love with.
Mine taught me love and attachment were
kind of the same. Now when she calls it’s
always “What did you eat?” and “How is
your health?” Sometimes twice in a day.

Institutions are bad but one of them gave us a
room to basically trash for a month. I didn’t
come over because it was late and I had work
the next morning. I want to be in love but not
publicly, if that makes sense?

What’s the word for empathizing with your
mom so much that you start to cry at the
same things? I should learn how to end
something. It shouldn’t be your fault that I’m
not getting what I want, so please stop me
from being wistful. If you play No Doubt,
we’ll never leave.

There is something about distance that makes
Fontana feel like a neon fantasyland. It is a
holiday at an immigrant church and not the
second generation’s fault they perform
nostalgia. Christians from Beirut say they are
French because of archways in the mall they
built there. I am interested in Sufism as a
stoner alternative.

I get to your room with the wrong snacks but
it’s cool because I have the next Kardashians
episode and we are past pretending our
watching it is anthropological. Is anyone else
coming? I believe it when you say it’s not
that serious. After, you scroll through Tumblr
porn while I call home on your fire escape.

There needs to be another way of saying no
to hanging or “I don’t smoke.” You said it
would have been better if I actually wanted to
help. I told you about when having ideals felt
more like narcissism than helping people,
which actually involves giving something up.



is a writer and artist based in Brooklyn. Their work has appeared in Apogee, The Brooklyn Review, The Invisible Bear, and Peregrine, and their chapbook is Smile & Nod (Wendy’s Subway, 2018).

Travis Sharp

Left Kidney:

I confess I know little of infection I mean inflection I mean reflection I mean deflection I mean affection I mean affliction I mean benediction I’m no saint no pastor not ordained not online though I took a quiz on Buzzfeed just the once that confirmed I’m a narcissist my parents oh what to tell them when I tell them that I love you Right Kidney I found a connection you & I covered in glitter & bleeding fame & making birthday wishes for being recognized not in the party of the year in a stretched sonnet taking place in the Victorian era oh those ankles I mean stretched sinner I mean etched innard I mean the mirror stage is fantastic yes but I mean is it you or is it me I mean is it you or is it you I mean it’s like when the urologist told us it was not cancer & that was a stressful moment but at least I got some attention out of it just this once O





Body I’m desperate I’m writing love marginalia love poems marginalia poems

Body in a constant
state of not quite
& this uncertainty is our
vulture or was it a crow
pecking at organs that
refuse to decrement
& returning each
day like a lover
the vulture the crow
bits of
skin on the ground
that take root &
grow upward
into a lattice
disheveled but
pulsing slightly
a haphazard structure
becoming less understandable
the closer you look
but inviting you
all the


I have a lot of feelings I need a whole hand to count them

I’ve tried list
ening body but
with endless
your tick tock
your metronome rhy
me body a clock
with optical allusions
you undulate
you pulse & sing
& I hear I see
a body on
display the
clack of heels
the sigh of
made-up with
body feels
a sligh
test thud
a noticable
motive in
chest a
me is
what I’ve
given you
& what
is your return
I hear a
return within
thirty days
what to
return with
but there
is no
don’t leave
proof of
I didn’t hear
a choice
what are
options body
do you work
for them
with it you’re
a worker b
ody is that
why I can’t
won’t hear
with all this noise


TRAVIS SHARP is a queer writer, artist, and teacher living in Buffalo. He’s the writer of Sinister Queer Agenda, a chapbook forthcoming from above/ground press, and is an editor at Essay Press and at the journal small po[r]tions.

Grey Vild

The pill is the objectivity of the mouth

A miracle of modern medicine, we pull ourselves up by our teeth, cherish the red. Tug, quiet & callous, at the dream that sleeps in the sin of despair. A great act of sorrow, having finally won the attendance you finally failed. That will leave us breathless. I make a blue crease, untangle the braids that fray in my hands. A war like a miracle, when they cut me open they found a stone for every one of you. One last, an addiction to losing more than justice.


The pills speak

in your living voice. The one that laughs in my arms, buoyant tendril, glancing fissure, dormant prognosis. Metastasize the animal mind where fused— like a joyful trembling against the chest could last, like you could stay alive. Bouncing around the room like we could let ourselves a future other than this, ossified hate, thrown like light from the most unlikely surfaces. Like everything is at once a reflection & illusion of you now that you’re dead now that you’re a pill that croons only in blue now that you belong to a world we can approximate only in song.


The blue of the pill is sweeter than the pill itself

Lozenged incisor, wreck the milk of. The woman with your mouth, does she look like you does she know the violet tuning that upends the forest? Forked like a wish, cradled abandon of her arms. She feels you there, shuddered inside her. You are the sweet of the pill that swallows men whole. The clutch of abdomen where once becomes a storm of nevers. Shiver the frost from her breath, a first Christmas. A knife carved of bone is all the hand can hold. Is the hand a bladed fistful bloom?


The truth is you ain’t never comin’ back

Because everybody knows the blue of the pill is sweeter than the pill itself. Because you should remember telling me to say yes to life. Because the morning spills across our arms like a battleground. Because how long did you say? Because we are felled. Because you are prone to cirrus now. Say again. Wring the prayer from the strings’ burgeoning fingers until the teeth bloom blood. Sweet when it burns. Because I was a musicless holler, a mountain without cry. A fallow flesh, a formless— no minuet, no gavotte, no smallest blister. Because no barren-throated threat spools night from night to crown you. Because no splintering bramble, caught on loss & dashed against a people nearly bewildered as their days. Say collapse. Because of days I wished I’d cut the chord myself. Because the pill still writes the song that refuses to release you. Because its blue was not enough. Because night will dream where stars are only fissures. Because we plead so far into devastation. Because we find your wreckage in the open mouth of the river, its endless tongues.



GREY VILD is a Queer Art Mentorship & Brooklyn Poets fellow & a MFA candidate in poetry at Rutgers University. His work can be found at Them, Vetch, Harriet: The Blog and elsewhere.

Adrienne Herr


ADRIENNE HERR (b. 1991, Texas) is a poet and performer. She curates Alignment, a performance and poetry reading series happening at American Medium Gallery. Adrienne has recently performed for Poetry 99 (NYC), Motto Books (Berlin), and Poetic Research Bureau (Los Angeles). She maintains multiple websites where she posts poetry, audio clips, and screenshots:

Maggie Woodward





MAGGIE WOODWARD lives in Los Angeles, where she’s pursuing a PhD in Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of the chapbook FOUND FOOTAGE (Porkbelly Press, 2017) & earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlas Review, Devil’s Lake, New South Review, Scum Magazine, & elsewhere. Previously, she served as Senior Editor of the Yalobusha Review & curated the Trobar Ric Reading Series in Oxford, MS. You can find her online at