love is most astonishing when it persists after learning where we come from

Art by Kristina Closs

My partner wants me to write them a poem about Sheryl Crow

By Kayleb Rae Candrilli

but all I want to do is marry them on a beach

that refuses to take itself too seriously.

So much of our lives has been serious.

Over time, I’ve learned that love is most astonishing

when it persists after learning where we come from.

When I bring my partner to my childhood home

it is all bullets and needles and trash bags held

at arm’s length. It is my estranged father’s damp

bed of cardboard and cigar boxes filled

with gauze and tarnished spoons. It is hard

to clean a home, but it is harder to clean

the memory of it. When I was young, my

father would light lavender candles and shoot

up. Now, my partner and I light a fire that will

burn all traces of the family that lived here.

Black plastic smoke curdles up, and loose bullets

discharge in the flames. My partner holds

my hand as gunfire rings through

the birch trees. Though this is almost

beautiful, it is not. And while I’m being honest,

my partner and I spend most of our time

on Earth feeding one another citrus fruits

and enough strength to go on. Every morning

I pack them half a grapefruit and some sugar.

And they tell me it’s just sweet enough.

from Water I Won’t Touch


Last night I dreamed grief was an unlit room that I had to clean.

illustration of the bottom of a shopping cart with 2 rutabagas on top and half a pack of opened lifesavers
Art by Kristina Closs

No Rush

by Todd Dillard

There’s a man down the block screaming


It’s a great twilight for confessing:

air heavy as hands on shoulders,

clouds dark as a lover’s sleeping

head on a spill of white sheets.

Sometimes I imagine you in your death

the way I imagine my old New York roommates

shopping at grocery stores in other states.

You add rutabagas to your cart

as if you have nothing to lose.

You rip open a bag of Life

Savers as you wait in the check out line,

popping one in your mouth before you pay

because who cares? You only have this one

death. The flavor you pick is FIRST THANKSGIVING

AWAY FROM HOME and the sweet of cabernet

and tryptophan and char prickles your tongue

like the salt in tears. Last night I dreamed

grief was an unlit room that I had to clean.

Just as I figured out how to navigate its darkness

I put something away and had to learn all over.

You were there. You were saying why bother

when the room was only going to get messy again

and I told you if you weren’t going to help

at least get out of the way. It’s quiet now,

the storm splits open like sacramental bread,

and I love you I love you. Can you hear me?

Write me back when you have time. No rush.

and we forgot to eat them

an illustration of strawberries spilling out of a carton with a gray road like background behind it
Art by Kristina Closs

Ode to Hunger

by Zeina Hashem Beck

How I crave the strawberries
we bought on a road
in Cyprus the day we got married.
Their scent was divine & we forgot

to eat them.

from O