Boat Paradox—Portia Yu

In the storm, there are two boats. Each is alone. Each exists as the sole survivor of the storm. Each is tossed by the waves while deepness swells all around. In one boat, the Lantern Child huddles, her glass hands shaking. She protects the flame that burns in her chest and keeps her warm. In the other boat, is her counterpart, the other side of the equation: Great Lady Afterimage in all her furs and finery. How did she get here — this great lady worshipped all over the world? She is history and glory and regret, and she is holding on for dear life in this storm. Thunder funnels through a gap of cloud. Rain falls down and down. One boat dips below, the other rises above. As always, only one exists. The wind is blowing. Great Lady Afterimage cries out. She calls to the Lantern Child, but there is no response. She does not exist. The Lantern Child shouts and shouts. There is no one. She is the only one who exists. Within her, the flame glimmers, it burns. 

Now zoom out. Look over the storm as it begins to lose its strength. It huffs. The wind sighs. The great eye remains, not yet closed. Within the eye only one thing exists, only one thing survives: the light, the image, and the image of the light. 

Portia Yu lives in Hong Kong where she writes poems about dreams, memories, and unstable realities. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Worm Moon Archive and celestite poetry

photo by Ray Bilcliff (via pexels)

Oberon’s Court of Distress: A Poem on OCD—Olivia Elle

The fairy walks,
humming a simple tune.
The sun shines through the leaves
to trace patterns along roots,
glittering on stems of grass.

And yet, the fairy halts
every now and then
to glance into the shadows
lurking by the side.
There are monsters there, she knows—

she’s encountered them before.
Tall, with gleaming eyes
and broad teeth, and large hands
to sprinkle salt
over the fairy path—

salt that is pure, salt that is clean,
that the fairy must count every grain
or never take
another step.

The monsters are clumsy, breaking
every branch in their way and
crunching leaves underfoot,
but they outpace her every time. Down

come the hands, sprinkling their grains of salt,
and the fairy stops. One, two, three,
she counts, and the monster laughs
till that is the only sound echoing,

echoing in the fairy’s head.
One, two, three, she counts again,
and the monster’s footsteps
sound like thunder as they wander away.

But the salt remains, and the silence
echoes more than their laughter did.
One, two, three, the fairy counts,
more forceful than before.
Four, five, six

a branch cracks
farther down the path, and the fairy
looks up, then back down—
and she’s lost track again.

One, two, three, she counts.
Till there are no more grains
left to count.

Olivia Elle graduated from Emerson College in 2020, and from Johns Hopkins University’s Master’s program in 2022. A writer of both fiction and poetry, her work has been published in Generic, ArLiJoDodging the RainTupelo Quarterly, and Crow & Cross Keys. Her poem “The Gay Experience: F for Faith, F for—” was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Gival Press Oscar Wilde Award. Olivia herself can be found on most social media sites @OliviaElle98.

photo by Castorly Stock (via pexels)

The Ballad of Éeya Point—Reyzl Grace

There was a light upon the rock
where the tower stands empty now
and faeries nest in the hollow lens,
farrowing like sows.

There was a light and ’twas well kept
by the man who marked the lee,
bright as the moon on a cloudless night
slung low above the sea.

Many the man it kept from the cliffs
and sent home safe to the docks
while the young of the merfolk, will-o’-the-whisped,
were dashed against the rocks.

All through the night, where the great house stood,
the grieving mothers wept
for the little ones who chased the moon
straight into the sun of death.

But the brokenness of a woman’s heart
is a sweet song to a man—
a red stain in the water spreading
up to where he stands.

Some say he fell from the balcony,
but in truth he took the stairs
to where wringing hands in a moonless night
caught him unaware.

They found him there when the oil ran out,
and another man was sent,
but thus it was with every one,
and so it always went.

And now in darkness lies the rock;
still sits the reflector dish.
And on moonless nights, the moon escapes
on the backs of the silver fish.

Reyzl Grace is a transfemme Ashkenazi poet, essayist, and librarian working in both English and Yiddish. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in Rust & MothSo to SpeakMaenadLimp Wrist, and elsewhere. She can be found in the mastheads of Cordella Magazine and Psaltery & Lyre, as well as at and on Twitter @reyzlgrace.

photo by Todd Trapani (via unsplash)

Wildmen, Wisewomen, Witch Bottles—Louise Longson

(“There are no witches, only women.” Female protester, outside the Witch Museum, Zugarramurdi, Spain, 24 March 2019)

wild men 
wear coats

of hair 
under a shirt 
and tie 

a uniform 
or just something
casual from


have always thought
her evil

must be


impaled on pins


Louise Longson started writing poetry in her late 50s, during isolation in lockdown 2020. She is widely published in print and online, and author of the chapbooks Hanging Fire (Dreich Publications, 2021) and Songs from the Witch Bottle: cytoplasmic variations (Alien Buddha Press, 2022).  A qualified psychotherapist, she works remotely from her home in a small village for a charity that offers a listening service to people whose physical and emotional distress is caused by loneliness and historic trauma. Her poems are inspired by a bringing together of her personal and work experiences, myth and legend, and the natural environment.

Twitter: @LouisePoetical

photo by PNW Production (via pexels)

All the Bells Under the Sea—Sarah Jackson

One day
all the bells under the sea 
began to ring. 
In Ys and Lyonesse, 
in Dunwich, at Monkey Point,
and Termoli. 
was at last located. 

I stood on the shore at Boscastle
with a hundred others and heard 
their lost bell
chiming over the waves 
in luminous, unfolding rings. 
A fisherman said 
he’d gone out to find it, to look down 
and see the great shape swinging
in the shifting blue dark.
But the din drove him back,
as if cowered in a steeple
that shining sound 
shaking him to pieces.

Lakes, lochs, reservoirs, rivers
joined the chorus.
Bala, Bled, Neagh, Kitezh, 
Valverde, Tryweryn, Curon.

Sunken villages called to us
with sweet iron voices 
on silt beaches, bridges, broken jettys 
watching slate waters glitter, 
searching their rolling song
for a drowned meaning.

The peals paused, their changes 
dissolving in the salt sky
and for a moment 
the ocean whispered
before a single strike 
rose like a cry 
from all the bells under the water. 
Ceased, and tolled again, 
halted and called.

The same awful note shook
our piers and sea walls, 
stilled ports and bristling harbours
until the sun set, 
and the knell – as we came to call it – 
fell silent.

Sarah Jackson writes gently unsettling stories and poems. Her short fiction has been published by Ghost Orchid Press, Wyldblood Magazine, and Tales From Between. She’s a member of SFWA and Codex, and co-editor of The Fantastic Other magazine. She lives in east London UK and has a green tricycle called Ivy. Her website is and you can find her on Mastodon as

photo by Andres Lamartine and Marcos Paulo Prado (via unsplash)

O My Heart, Curled Like a Fist Around Ropes of Blood— TJ Price

the seafarer’s wife

she keeps a bird
that only sings
when it rains,
to muffle the sound
of the world outside
being systematically drowned—

the ceiling leaks,
dripping over the
left side of the bed
where she sleeps.

by 3 AM
we are floating
in our own bedrooms,
laying stiffly
beneath the sheets.

she accuses me through grit teeth
of leaving the window open.
& I, of course,
deny everything.

when the water reaches
the level of our mouths,
we swallow reflexively
until the room is dry.

the outlets drip
with sparks,
snarling like angry dogs
at our waterlogged silence,

& when we sleep,
we wash up on a monochrome shore,
islands away from each other,
in dream—


and the blank-eyed men
are out again,
pious saints of discord
with melted-wax faces
& grasping fingers,
absently adjusting
the ties at their throats
& cracking their necks
from side to side—

they slip sideways between us,
nimble dancers with
poised, gleaming scissors,
snatches of songs 
culled from other lovers
they’ve dissevered—

we never see them
though they live
in our house, share
our bed,
sit in the empty
chairs at suppertime, gorging
themselves on our silence—
while in the dark,
under the table,
the dog whirs & whines 
with alarm

sleep becomes a five-second shudder
between one & two in the morning
and we wake at the same time
afraid to look at one another

and outside, 
the wind shears leaves 
from their branches,
the rain is pounding on the roof
like a thousand tiny fists,
and the sea goes in and out 
of the harbor
like a murderer’s knife—

we hold hands,
watching as the lightning
blotches the sky
like an incandescent rash,
our teeth 
glued together
inside our mouths

when the electricity finally fails
we are plunged into a
bristling, barren black

and when you say
that you love me

all I hear is scissors—


the wallpaper peels.
beneath it,
pulpy fruit she planted
the night of their marriage.
she buried it
with a sly smile
beneath the baseboard,
she crouched,
whispering lovingly to it
after the wring of a summer day
& with sweat
leaking from her brow—

he puts his hand to it
& it comes back to him
sticky, wet—
it has a heartbeat.
he is afraid it will explode,
or rot.

years have passed
since they split in the middle,
since they,
for the first time,
squeezed one another
& writhed in the juices.
he is,
inside himself,
withering, wrinkling—
can feel his organs
dying on the vine

the day will come,
he realizes,
sitting cross-legged on the bed
in the humid dark,
when he will desperately
eat at the walls,
and then, still not sated,
suck out the wine
of his own heart—

TJ Price’s corporeal being is currently located in Raleigh, NC, with his handsome partner of many years, but his ghosts live in north-eastern Connecticut, southern Maine, and North Brooklyn. His work has been published in Coffin Bell Journal, The Bear Creek Gazette and in Pidgeonholes; he also has a novelette (The Disappearance of Tom Nero) forthcoming from Spooky House Press in May 2023. He can be found at or invoked on the blue bird @eerieyore.

photo by Matt Artz and Noita Digital (via unsplash)

At the Edge of Sleep—Reyzl Grace

At the edge of sleep,
the angel rocks my shoulder.
Her hand is warm and familiar,
sinking toward my spine.
Maybe, just maybe,
she’ll pull the cord this time
and open my skin like a parachute.

No such luck.
Just gentle, pressing fingers
on my back like leading
around panes of glass stained
by some commonplace inclusion. She moves,
and I grow stiller; she reaches
deeper, and I flatten out.
Maybe, just maybe,
this time she’ll scrive her poem
on the parchment of my shallow breath
and go.

Her head passes through
mine like a collision of planets
around a distant star,
a smothering, too-natural silence.
Maybe, just maybe,
this time she’ll toss the parts
of my body from the garret window
lightly into a thousand-year orbit,
seldom to return to the place
of their desolation.

The angel heaves
through with weightless hips,
slots her wings under
my scapulae like subducted plates,
as though maybe, just maybe,
this time I’ll erupt and fly
in Uranian exaltation, sunlit
through melting air and drown
in the wax of the sacred, stillblessed
and dripping.

The angel’s wings
pull through me, her drying feathers
sopping up the air inside
glassy-eyed lungs,
as though maybe, just maybe,
I might still collapse
in perfect wholeness, freed
of empty space. But I don’t.
And her limbs come away uncleanly
in long, sticky strands
of dawn.

Reyzl Grace is a transfemme Ashkenazi poet, essayist, and librarian working in both English and Yiddish. Her writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and appears in Rust & MothSo to SpeakMaenadLimp Wrist, and elsewhere. She can be found in the mastheads of Cordella Magazine and Psaltery & Lyre, as well as at and on Twitter @reyzlgrace.

photo by Lens Of Pritam (via pexels)

Fairy Tale for Backwaters & Hesitant Mothers—Taylor Hamann Los

A woman walked into the forest 
and never came out. In this wood, 
there are eyes rimmed with pine 
and brush and hunger so deep 
it could bend bones. They say 
she wanted a child, but her body 
curled away from blood 
and so she was swallowed
whole, her organs evanescing 
one by one like mist on the creek’s 
stagnant waters. They say the trees 
breathed her in, siphoning her life
because their own children perished 
in the fire. Flames had cast their skeletal 
remains to the forest floor—
this graveyard for squirrels and saplings.
And all that remains of the woman
is the timbre of leaves scratching against
their boughs. They say you can hear 
rustling in the stillest of winters. 
See, even the bark is weeping.

Taylor Hamann Los is an MFA student at Lindenwood University. Her poetry has appeared in Parentheses JournalAnti-Heroin ChicSplit Rock Review, and Rust + Moth, among others. She lives with her husband and two cats in Wisconsin. You can find her on Twitter (@taylorhamannlos) and Instagram (taylorhlos_poetry) or at

photo by Sonny Sixteen (via pexels)

Keys and Other Gifts for Bone—Vera Hadzic

Bring soft-metalled things to the lost city. There is sorrow
in coming unburdened. Take, in your pockets and saddlebags,
silver rings which have coppered under the oils and dirt
of one same finger. Silver rings which were given as gifts,
which are carried as memories. Take, in pouches, coins
rusted to rotten peach brown, worn down and moulded,
under the weights of palms. Take knives which are not
for throat-slitting, which have known the skulls of gourds,
the neck-bones of firm cheeses, the cut of tomato vines
and the warm brown of ship-rope. Take pendants,
chains melted on clavicles, shields embossed
with hearth, home. Best of all are keys. Iron, bronze,
mineral keys, old keys worn down by years and use
and hands which need them no longer. In the lost city,
travellers rattle with the clink and tang of ancient keys
as though it is the noise of their own bones. Listen,
listen to the music of knuckle-sized metal things, hear
how the travellers ring, toll like bells or jingling purses,
how the city opens itself up to receive them. See gables 
and cracked beams swallowed by tongues of lichen,
pale white root-wood teeth digesting fallen gates. See little
fountains gutted and gagged with cords of green plant-life,
leaves sinking to solitary music. Go find
a plot of bare ground. Find a strip of grass, plump earth,
and bury your metal treasures. If you come back, after
a year, you may see mushrooms growing. They grow,
in shades of orange and stomach-white, pale, groping
stalks and hoods like kneecaps. Smelling of earth, copper,
and calcium. Or you might see weeds, purls of chewy,
transient green. Flowers which grow in crescent moon
fingernails. Listen to me, traveller. Turn your ear,
turn it to the ground. Their roots go deep. They are white
snakes in cathedrals of the dead. They live under roofs, high,
lightless, which are the vaulting sternums of fallen warriors
or they curl through fountains of water, filtering, singing,
into beds of skeletal hands. You must understand. Gifts
of soft metal keep the souls strong. It is like they are,
once again, feeling the rush and spice of blood in their
veins. It is like they are tasting life again, the grime of
human flesh—the soiled, metallic parts of spit
and skin and veinous tissue. Leave the gifts of rings and keys 
and the memory of the doorways which they opened. Give,
and go on. When you encounter antlered deer, bone-taloned
crows or snails with marble shells, you’ll know. Know your
message of life reached the interred—the remembered dead.

Vera Hadzic (she/her) is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario, currently studying English and history at the University of Ottawa. Recently, her work has appeared in flo., Minola Review, Idle Ink, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter @HadzicVera or through her website,

photo by Bi yasemin (via pexels)

How to Call the Dead—Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta

For Aya Quayson’s spirit

Always pound the fufu with salt
It lasts longer that way
Our family has always tethered our souls to food

Wash your face with water from the mortar,
The water with bits of pounded plantain and cassava drifting in it
That’s how your eyes will be able to gaze into the realm of the dead
Our ancestors float above the simmering pots in the kitchen
Ginger, garlic and chilis sautéed in a pan
Our founding mothers are in the kitchen shaking their heads at the food we adopted

Always pound the fufu with salt when you call one of our departed
Our family needs to relearn how to tether our souls
We need to call on the dead
Our history is turning into a collective hallucination
Aya was a witch. Don’t distance yourself from these facts. It wasn’t a malevolent thing then.

To call Aya you will need ripe plantains
Mash them into a pulp
This meal you are making is ofam. Do we still make it?
Rice flour is Aya’s essence
If you use any other flour she won’t show up in your kitchen.
When she does, she should be in orange wax print. If she is not, throw sugar in her face
Your ofam probably didn’t bake through properly

Open your ears 
Shine your eyes
You won’t have much time when Aya hauls herself onto your counter
Ask your questions with care. She is prone to riddles

When she leaves eat the ofam,
All of it before you call our next ancestor
Or you will sever their connection to our family

For Baaba Quayason’s spirit 
Fante Fante

Nana Afadua Ofori-Atta is a Ghanaian writer and poet. Her writing has appeared in Lolwe, Fantasy Magazine, oranges journal, AFREADA and elsewhere. Nana Afadua can be found on Twitter @afaduawrites. 

photo by Overly Olu (via pexels)