Session One Anthology
MENTOR: JENNIFER GIVHAN
existing is an act of revolution
bloated, the grass burps mud.
work-worn RedWing boots
bruise the sodden ground.
his fog reeks of rotting snow. it is
Sunday morning, 9 am.
invisible but not silent, a crow argues with itself.
it is hard to breathe, with
damp memories of construction rumblings and farm fences,
with past lives
twisting in my nose.
unseasonably warm, January clings like
spring. like rebirth, renewal, a seventh chance, shedding the
decomposing flesh of
yesterday. or was it years?
General Issue dog tags chill
my 98.2° meatbag,
grounding today's bones in
brings us home.
I have been here a hundred times.
Beginnings smell like rotting snow.
Landon Marchant is a veteran of the United States Air Force, former plumbers apprentice, LGBT advocate, and first year at Williams College.
there's a dying girl in the sand
a man watches her body turn—
sea salt and kelp scraps.
he took her body to the butcher,
licked his lips for ground meat.
the butcher packed her into styrofoam money—
just her teeth, kneecaps, breasts.
i found her saran-wrapped in a meat market.
she told me she was on his grocery list
but she was number twenty-six.
it was strange how her body wept.
no eyes no fears no sound.
silenced by the familiarity of being
small. she let the funeral home take
what they could salvage
from the grinder, and she was packed
into another child’s coffin—
no one else could stomach the stench
Isabelle Jia is a sixteen-year old poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Blueshift Journal, Polyphony HS, Glass Kite Anthology, Phosphene, Track Four, and Sooth Swarm. Jia has attended the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio and the California State Summer School of Arts. She has also been recognized as a California Arts Scholar, by the Walt Whitman Poetry Foundation, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is a poetry editor for the Glass Kite Anthology and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
for we shall be torn from each other
i step into a home & can hear only
bricks falling out. clothes on
a line are sopping & heavy
with rain. brass cuts through
the sound of hammers striking
strings. we are the voice
of a lone trumpet on ice.
the floor is an alternative
to heaven. forgive me. i was given
this one life & spent it divining
signs at the bottom of a cup.
your hands cradle my face—
i am prepared to disappoint you.
i am sorry the past comes so quickly.
a blue deeper than your eyes rubbed
into my skin. swear to me
the rain makes every window
we look out ours.
Alfredo Aguilar is the son of Mexican immigrants. His work has appeared in Winter Tangerine, Vinyl, Drunk in Midnight Choir, & elsewhere. He lives in North County San Diego.
It Begins, January 20th
after Safia Elhillo
I jump and land on Demi’s feet
but she says there is no room
for apologies at this party. We ransack all
the oxygen the dance floor has, pledge allegiance
to who we are and will become, it is day one
and tonight I wanted to become my bed
but showed up anyway. I am pushed and land
with my knees bent, arm bracing the ground
and make it look intentional, grind my hips
into the quaking floorboards and rise again
when I am ready. This house party
is a sovereign nation and the law says
raise hell. It’s ours now. There is no martial authority
but mosh pit, when you are shoved you shove back,
when someone falls you lift them up and bless
the dust off their body. If we make this house crumble
we will admit fault and build another. We worship no flag
but shaking canvas on walls, billowing glory
of mic cords, stars this smoke is rising
toward. Swear me into the party
of the people by the people for the people
who push me in the name of grace, I fall again
and do no one the favor
of staying there.
Levi Todd is a poet from Chicago always trying to make his way back. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Reacting Out Loud, an independent organization devoted to uplifting poetry and affirming community in Muncie, Indiana. He has also served as Executive Editor at Polyphony HS and Poetry Editor at The Broken Plate. His work has been published in or is forthcoming from The Indianola Review, In Transit, and Thread.
sunsets at the amtrak train station
What is it,
sun that looks me right in the eyes? Coward sun,
ablaze with indifference,
what is it?
What is it, sun that hits me right on the eyes,
are you sending signals for faraway waves to beat at the beach?
I was once held and caressed by you, kindred spirit,
but it seems you are dissatisfied with me.
Are you upset with the methodology that I use to approach life:
how I recoil at the struggle
yet unflinch and insist upon it.
Are you upset with my passive throat,
that imbibes the sweet water of regret?
What is it,
sun that rides with me on the train to nowhere?
Why is it, that when you set, you have to
condemn me to lackluster?
Looking out the window,
I see you and everything is hazy-
everything is clarified butter
Please, sun that looks me right in the eyes,
let your sunset be mediocre.
I did not lose my virginity while drunk on whites.
But your judgement of contempt is still
reflected upon the triangular patch of daffodil
-like clouds, so fragile, so easily given to the pressure of
And burn with a sting,
burn with a sting,
Sun that looks me right in the eyes.
I am excellent at nothing
except at letting my eyes see you. Darkness is still too bright.
Minwei Cao is a senior in college and is constantly thinking about new recipes in her head. Aside from writing poetry, she also dabbles in scientific research and professional sleeping. She was raised in rural Iowa and now lives in rural Massachusetts. She has attended the Belin Blanks Young Writers Program at the University of Iowa, taken several poetry workshops at her college, and writes regularly to maintain a certain level of emotional aptitude. Having lunch with Sonia Sanchez made her year. She’s really crazy about starting a foodstagram right now, and if you meet her, she’ll probably force you to follow her.
Spellwork (for protecting those I love)
Into the dark body I went into
wells gurgling the way syrup in a wound
& gauze someone tender
o syringe o bloodletting
no I insist it was necessary
sadness sparkling as river rocks
tiny pebbles jamming the skin
finding homes for holes
Is there a monster inside you too the children
ask everyone in the water
the children ask me what I cannot
accept not yet not hours I fight
O Lord you know what children need
many arms reach (a village a whole seed for planting)
we climb from the river
mosquitos plucked from calves slit of silver jangle
at my own throat I pulled the cards
& lay them on the sheets black candle lit
between my thighs
& prayed & prayed & prayed
Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of the full-length collections Landscape with Headless Mama, which won the 2015 Pleiades Editors' Prize, and Protection Spell, winner of U. of Arkansas Press's 2016 Miller Williams Series Prize, and two poetry chapbooks, Curanderisma (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2016) and The Daughter's Curse (ELJ, forthcoming 2017). Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net 2015, Best New Poets 2013, AGNI, TriQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, and Southern Humanities Review (where she was a finalist for the 2015 Auburn Witness Prize). She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and teaches online workshops at The Poetry Barn.