“Jacksonville” by Dia Sotiropoulou

The flies carved unadventurous ellipses in the air, and the humidity reached a point of unreasonable cruelty such that the angelfish occupying the cheap tank on the sideboard could’ve liberated them- selves and circulated the room without discomfort. At the kitchen table, Jorgen, 44 but looking 56, let out a thick belch and repositioned his girlfriend’s leg over his knee. A crushed pack of cigarettes lay in front of him; Loretta spun it with her fingernails, painted an anemic kind of blue that looked like stained White-Out. She spread her shredded shorts— her fly was undone revealing cheap lace underwear with stars.

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“Trace the lines of my veins with your fingertips (we really never should have started)” by Isabel Kim

Love is a violent slice sheathed in the silk-soft words,
the poems and stories that we might have told long ago,
sitting around a fire, they mingle with the dark ghosts
that lope around our ankles like footsteps.
Love is a ghost story and a myth,
a fairy tale that ends in separation from the sea, from the shore, ends with bubbling foam and whispers.
Ariel drowning.

They say if you stare across the wide expanse of the world
you’ll find someone staring back.
The abyss has a thousand eyes and maybe
you are a pair of them.

“Polysynthesis” by Erica Cervantes

Metabolism slows like the greying of angels
lining his doorstep. Painting wisdom in watercolored
therapy, the willows embrace his sullen sockets,
sunken to empath remnants and mistaken
mutterings. Parted lips and lilac kiss smear
their wiles about his chin. Doubly around his molten
halo, impressionistic veneers funnel
out to silence. The panes around him falter
with his hips, cold and dripping with lunar eclipse,
immune to the emblazoned twine interlocking
his forearms as he fades into the mattress.
Binding and non-binding alike, he contracts
to the tempo of headstones. Given a blade,
given a plot, given the lurid smirks of sunlight
mid-morning, he weaves melodies over Braille,
grating in time to batted bases.