by Alexander Eliasen









My Night Sky

Each night, day surrenders to a golden dusk

And you begin looking after me from above

You are my night sky

Face like midnight, shining star-like eyes

Your smile inspires the moon’s return

Constellations form your body

The trees and I reach to try grasping you

I miss experiencing the black night together

Led Astray

by Matthew McGovern

I stepped down from the rattling bus into a foot of slush. From there, I hopped the brown snow embankment onto the lumpy, icy sidewalk, where I trudged along.

After about forty paces, I sensed some figures following me from a short distance, close enough that I could hear their chatter. As I brushed snow from my shoulder, I looked back to see who they were: jackals in leather jackets, whom I had seen on the bus in the back row, snickering. I had observed them eyeing me back there, hungry and sleep-deprived. 

I was a big piece of prey, too slow to outrun them. I resorted to other means of getting the jackals off my trail, I veered from the sidewalk into a field of thick snow. After a few long strides, I was well away from the icy path. I turned back to see them hesitate, and paw at the ground nervously in their tattered, low-top shoes. 

To my surprise and delight, they started leaping in the imprints my boots had left, with a grace unbecoming of predators like them. On the pads of their feet they leaped, and I decided to lead them in a dance through the white, unblemished snow. 

Something in these hyenas’ movements made me forget my fear and revel in the chase. I accented my steps with curving arcs and swings. A long bound, ten rapid steps (which called for light feet,) interspersed with one-foot hopping, then a twirl. But as I looped all the way back to the sidewalk, I realized they had strayed from the steps I had been leading them in. 

Underneath a leafless tree, one jackal produced a crisp, moving tune for the other two, who pranced and pirouetted in tandem, ignoring my imprints in the deep snow. One of them hoisted the other onto his shoulders, like figure skaters, and held the position as the song subsided.

On the hard sidewalk, I clomped the snow from my boots and observed my former pursuants, engrossed. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t contain my applause. The three heads snapped towards me, self-conscious and irate at having been led on. They began inching towards me, with hunger in their eyes, so I turned and bolted away on the uneven sidewalk.


by Paula Gil-Ordoñez Gomez

Toes tapping to the rhythm

Of thunder shouting 

Pushing neighboring trees  

To crack and crumble

Sometimes I understand 

Those branches laying 

Defeated on my doorstep

Fractured and fragile 

Snapped into twigs

Crushed under careless feet

But tonight

I feel whole

Like the trunk two doors down

Refusing the wind’s shoves

An Ode to my Body Hair

by Anonymous

Zach started wearing shorts

Fabric cutting off nine inches below the waist

Matted rivers of glistening soldiers

Stood erect on his ankles, shins, and thighs

Bent knees traversed my forests of envy

Desire overtook my fingers and they crept

Closer towards his displays of masculinity

With realization comes clambering to the bathroom

My thick traitorous fingers poking

At the mass of naked flesh covering my vital organs

I sat hairless, defeated, yet empowered 

Plans forming with revolutions of hope and the end of PE

Walking home, I prodded the protruding lump 

Which resided above my hips

Its smoothness recalled the pure power held 

By Zach’s happy trail of fur

Outside my house I kindled a fire

Teeming with jealousy and follicle fascination

Crossing myself, I prayed for growth

She arrived, smirking, agreeable, auspicious

Floating, her eyes bulging with instability

“What is your desire?”

A hairy demeanor or a flash of Zach’s abdomen

How can one choose whether

A body of thick layering masculinity

Fairs better than the brief glimpse 

At an apologetically full manhood

Sitting here with hair contaminating my vision

Spilling over my brow bone, I begin to rethink my decision

The hair I’m covered in replaces the man I’ll never be

Learning to Love an Accident of a Hometown

by Juliette Wu

Modern Shenzhen, modern in a post-Deng,

Post-technological boom sense, is only a

Few years my elder. Growing up, I watched

The evisceration of a “fishing village” and its

Infantile self-sufficiency a Transcendentalist

Would think bucolic or picturesque, you know,

Despite the detritus of wars and wrongs and all that

And I watched not a snake shed its skin but 

A caterpillar deliquesce in its rancid cocoon

(Death as a prerequisite for rebirth.)

Perhaps the butterfly that emerged was iridescent

But these are violent foreign colors, haphazardly

Treated with the corporate-cosmopolitan odors 

And that globalist aesthetic of a concessioned Canton.

But the self-assured westernized snob in me objects,

Why eulogize? What does it matter? You misguided

Faux-nationalist, you’ve reaped your benefits, spoken

The kind of accentless (allow me to be anti-descriptivist)

Lingua franca English of the international pastiche,

When otherwise you’d have been a myopic rustic girl

Taxidermied, stuck performing for the ogling orientalist…

Now subsume this grotesque tableau—this Adidas bike 

Propped against steamed bun stall, this large glowing

Transnational fast food sign, this local toddler nudging

Mother asking about that gweilo and the ensuing offense

Of the man who overhears, this Asian-faced customer base

For this Western shopping mall, these great dilapidated

Amalgamated throngs of part-Cantonese | part-American

Part-Hakka | Part-British | part-Communist | All Chinese

City of a fumbling postmodern accident.


by Mathew Mcgovern

I see a deep forest

in the evergreen futon

whose wrinkles are brimming

with landscapes, little hills

written through wavering folds

shapes resembling eyes just closed

a brow arching in and a large crooked nose

indiscript visages won’t deign to define themselves

Perhaps these fissures ressemble glaciers

stacked, full and monumental

or veins and patches of flesh splayed out

on this awe-inspiring canvas,

laudable yet floppy futon

content in the corner of the room

the sag of whose own weight

makes a low wide smile.

Portrait of butterflies in bloom

by Isabella Urdahl

“Tous les amoureux ont-ils l’impression d’inventer quelque chose?”

                Portrait de la jeune fille en feu

In my chest there bloom butterflies with flower petal wings.

They need air so I give them the memory of the breath leaving my lungs, 

         quand tes lèvres

        turned up at the corners, une intrigue

        a soft lighthouse from across the room.

They take all my oxygen and I surrender

         it like the body surrenders

         to a song, to the touch of tes

         doigts qui jouent on my skin. 

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t need more oxygen, 

       but you leave me so breathless my body might have just found itself again –  

       Je voudrais courir et fling my watercolor limbs 

       off this cliff and plummet. Wingless, 

        bouleversée, and wanton.

Who knew le coup de foudre could make you feel so electric.

Take it all and breathe it back 

         into me with your tongue, 

         which is ta question et 

         ma réponse in one. 

Take these butterflies. 

         My ribcage a mere canvas house 

         for their explosion of hues and 


that your eyes painted into me like a rayon de lune 

          pirouetting off glass and into a room that was waiting for le soleil.

I knew nothing of music until your color-bathed fingers

        traveled the trembling paper of my chest.

        Flower petal wings string a symphony in my stomach, 

        orchestrated by the brushstrokes your lips coat onto mine.

Would Camus think me in love? 

          “. . . tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour”

Perhaps, although 

         I think Madame Desbordes-Valmore’s powdered nose would turn 

         at the way 

je laisse tes paroles danser dans mes artères.

         And your words honey-stick to me but I’d make a welcome sign for bee stings.

         And I’d carry all les crèves-coeur,

         for one mouthful of your syllables ambering my vision.

I think Balzac knew what he was saying when he named Love — poetry of the senses.

Que tu es belle.

           The shape of your laugh is my favorite line break.

           The life raft of your smile hidden behind your hand, la syllabe qui interrompt mon mètre.

The curve where ta joue rencontre ton cou, a liaison more imaginative

           than tout ce que la langue française pourrait rêver.

And I a — ,

          en train de prier,

          pour tu, que tu complètes la phrase, la peinture

          that you began in my body.

discount silky conditioning lotion for oily skin

by Nasrin Lin 

*TW: contains queer slurs

golden immigrant child

watches the Sunday football game

plays pong with his friends

in letters and track pants

drops a “faggot” at each plop

a prepackaged narrative arc

golden immigrant child

lands jobs at fancy acronyms

a bona fide entrepreneur seeks

a bitch that cooks and free

reign on the n-word

using the friend card that doubles

as business card coded handshake

golden immigrant child

aims for that penthouse

with three pools and immigrant maids

collectively known as the ah-yis

because one saves too little face

and two is just the Congratulations

paper cutout on the cake

three is the cake you stick your dick into

after everybody leaves        


golden immigrant child

gets a wedding invitation

from his disowned sister

the estranged daughter  

that dirty dyke   cancerous

rot in this great family name 

golden immigrant child

pure golden bred reminiscing

on brighter days

yellow news

by Elli Sol Strich

When she called the sky was a yellow-cold

static spewing over the line 

hollow voice cracking

I held my breath and

traced thin wavering pavement cracks

slender summer rain that started slowly

was now thunder crying 

a heaving silence- 

I tried listening to her sliver voice

words plunging into my ear, 

nestling into crevasses, throbbing, itching 

Tried explaining to the worms writhing past

the too-clean-sky morning, her once bursting laugh 

that marinated words in saffron-

no longer listening now only watching.

empty shadows on sun-stained cement, 

frail dandelions wilting; 

their heads bowing, bowing as if praying, 

that metallic after-taste of sour yellow,

swallowing the bitterness.