The Pulse of the Bluegill in the Thawing Lake by Dana Delibovi

rippled water 
                        waits 
for 
frost 
             over blood 
                                  in the star-crusted 
                                                                darkness 

clear craters of the moon            muscle cells             green grassy banks
                          constrict
                                      release 
                                                   constrict                   stubborn 
                                                                                                  Being 

on unlit roads 
           acorns ping                  prodded 
                                    from oak branches 
                        by embryonic buds 

                                                  midnight spreads 
a tablecloth 
             with white cups 
                         of hot milk                 the miracle is 
                                                                      that anything ever dies

Dana Delibovi is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her work has recently appeared in After the Art, Apple Valley ReviewBluestemThe ConfluenceEzra TranslationsLinden Avenue, Noon, and Zingara Poetry Review. In 2020, Delibovi received a Pushcart Prize nomination. She is consulting poetry editor at Witty Partition.

Hatchling by Temme von Lackum Dedlow

The hen’s tidy pillow of warm down has gone to mess 
shell fragments and pin feathers and clumping shavings 
three chicks out and gone and a single, cold egg left: 
a failure, we call it, to hatch. 
I set down a lone tick mark in the grid. 

A soggy summer afternoon, we are damp 
in our mosquito sleeves; damp in the hum of the wetland 
too slowed and hot to flinch 
at the aluminum screech of the ladder folding.

He stands with the small grayish egg 
strutted between three work-thick fingers 
Have you ever opened one? he says, it’s kind of neat. 
We make a notch and pry 
the shell comes apart and beneath it 
a furled wet thing slumps into the new shape of its space 
sleek dark feathers in a web of red veining, it moves 

Oh! I say, trying to swallow my sudden distress. Oh, it looks like a heartbeat.
I don’t think so, he says, sounding uncertain, nah, it’s dead. 
I shudder and try to peer closer 
try to appear unaffected 
the creature still half cradled in its broken shell heaves again, 
he shrugs suddenly and 
pitches it away. 
The wetland gulps it back. 

We stand in a gray, slick silence. 
I don’t know if it was dead, I say at last, my voice is unsteady 
my heart is a wet heaving thing inside my ribcage. 
Nah, he says, they’re usually dead. I don’t know. They’re usually dead. I think it was dead. 

Who are we to feel so affected by this tiny thing, bleeding out 
a chick like that never leaves the egg. 
No perpetuity before it, less than even we 
are allowed, we who have emerged from our small casings. 

I think it was dead, he says again, 
and I shrug as if it doesn’t matter anyhow, and shoulder the ladder.

Temme von Lackum Dedlow is an aspiring writer and Bay Area native with a background in wildlife biology. She can be found at her happiest sitting on the ground with a pen and notebook, following the nearest patch of sun around the backyard like a cat. 

the small i by Saramanda Swigart

this is my country  

look 
i overturn the junk 
drawer of my 
white/middleclass 
life and take stock 
rifling 
i find i am not a capital letter anymore 
first person singular has shrunk 
wizened down 
to that apple core i found beneath the car seat last month
or that ivy there, brown and dead 
because i killed it 
the waxy leaf tree outside 
the front door 
(the city said we were its stewards 
in a single-page note 
in our mail 
box) my heart 
brimming then 
with the largesse of new motherhood 
i thought i could 
take on the health 
of every tree 
in california but 
over the course of six
years the ivy became a cloak around
its trunk
then an embrace
then a stranglehold
until tree leaves thinned
i spent a long time
tearing up the roots
of that ivy
now it browns––
saved the tree but
ivy clings
a flammable bolus around its midsection

and the small i––how to locate i when i
am both tree
and ivy?

Saramanda Swigart has a BA in postcolonial literature and an MFA in writing and literary translation from Columbia University. Her short work, essays, and poetry have appeared in Oxford MagazineSuperstition ReviewThe AlembicFogged ClarityGhost TownThe Saranac Review, and Euphony to name a few. She has been teaching literature, creative writing, and argumentative writing and critical thinking at City College of San Francisco since 2014.

An “epiphany” moment of my poetry writing by Xiao Tan

You said you like lingonberry juice, 

not for drinking 

but for a little color 

in glassware, glittering.  

I pour a drop of 

lingonberry concentrate 

into water, watching 

the little ruby diluting to reddish, to almost nothing. Nothing, just

an old moment with You, glittering.

Xiao Tan was a teacher and a writer in China who moved to San Francisco in December 2019. Since then they have stayed home for almost a whole year. City College is basically their main source of contact with the city :-). They love it!

Debt by Dana Delibovi

The slick road. The rain eating the courtyard,  
making gullies where grass has thinned.  

Scream of the blue jay, same sound 
as my grandmother’s clothesline. 

That day she pulled the sheets into her laundry shack in the rain. 
Knowing limits, knowing money running like rain. Gullies etched 

by gambling. Bookies crowbarring in, scattering birds in the courtyard. 
My marbles scattering. Knives in the hall, again the scream.  

Anger, then resignation. Stolen pearl earrings. Gold locket hiding two pictures, 
Mother, Father. The old crag in Reggio, the old cragged faces. 

Rope in a bag in the windswept rain,  
the sheets sopping, the birds fighting.

Dana Delibovi is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her work has recently appeared in After the Art, Apple Valley Review, Bluestem, The Confluence, Ezra Translations, Linden Avenue, Noon, and Zingara Poetry Review. In 2020, Delibovi received a Pushcart Prize nomination. She is consulting poetry editor at Witty Partition.

Between Dusk and Dawn by Priscilla Carrillo

 

Today the cat’s fur smells like the burning aroma of sandalwood
Just yesterday it held a fragrance of wet moss 
There are even days where it carries the faintest of dragon’s blood  
My beloved cat, what realms do you cross?

Priscilla Carrillo is a San Franciscan native. As a child, her aunt would read Edgar Allan Poe stories before bed. It was then where Priscilla began to admire literary works. She’s been writing for many years and has now built the courage to bring her literary art forward.

Hyperbole by Jason Szydlik

That girl is a lost doggie sniffing
the thunder-scented sidewalks.
Somebody said she is even sweeter
than the overripe mulberries   
we used to collect from them.
The storm is done barking 
at her now, but the moon  
won’t leave her alone.  

When he raved about champagne,
corn, mashed potatoes, he meant snow.
Everyone knew him   
In Steamboat. Snowmelt chundered
him every spring, and night always
came just as he got sleepy. 
It welcomed him into the dark.
He’ll do it all again. 

Look—some pages have started
Skid’s legs quaking. 
He’s reading Neige et Glace
He imagines  
The welcoming cold  
And looks up high. 

Fine. I confess. 
That girl is really just a girl, 
But she loves doggies. 
And no, Chunderboy won’t  
Do it all again,  
But he gets plenty of rest. 
I heard Skid lost  
His copy of Neige et Glace
Or maybe  
He gave it away. 
But those mulberries— 
The ones littering those sidewalks—
I swear they really were that sweet.

Jason Szydlik studied poetry at City College.

Thesis by Kelly Egan

The party is a disco ball atop deep gloom. I watch it heaving darkly with taboo above the rim of my pink paloma: our host buzzing from group to group, her husband making drinks, the party stretched between them as a thing that together they are holding up, that we all are, to the deities of subtext, offering. The patio is a quivering lair of acquaintance, loom of repartee. The stakes are low the stakes are high when I make a failed remark and go inside, soon to see our host collide with the sliding glass door and think, it is good. There is a thing the party strives to achieve, a thesis whose proximity with our tipsiness grows. It will in all safety elude us, though not go undiscerned, will carry in the shape of murmurings secret knowings to the child awake in an adjacent room, whose recourse to synesthesia I now invoke.

Kelly Egan’s poems have appeared in Colorado ReviewLaurel ReviewRHINODenver QuarterlyLuna LunaBlazeVOXWhite Stag, and elsewhere. Her manuscript was recently a finalist in the Midwest Chapbook Contest. She lives in San Francisco and has an MFA in Poetry from Saint Mary’s College of CA. She likes to think about outer space and visit small towns.

Cut-up Objects by Shannon Wolfe

“You have to know what you’re doing”, my sister says
And she’s been through a lot 
A flood and a fire,  
A box of butterflies, milk thistle 
Though I know 
She’s still never been to Seattle 
“I have to figure out what I want to sound like”
I reply, felling silly and cheaply made 
Because my tongue is lots of moved things
Green and brown and rare,  
A sip of Pinot Noir 
Almost like blood 
My name is written here so lightly 
Every time it fades I have to rewrite it 
And so 
She plays this game,  
She reminds me to be gentle 
But though I try, 
I feel as if I’m missing something or lost something
Perhaps an important moment,  
Transparent and sharp 
Weird and meaningful 
That symbolizes how quickly things can go bad

Shannon Wolfe is a long-time San Francisco resident who has contributed work to Forum MagazineSandy Magazine, and Scary Monsters.

memories of my mother. by Jackie Arrieta-Peixoto

sunday | july 26, 2020. 
9:27pm 

memories of my mother. 

a leftover seed from lunch turned into a tree 
it leaned upon the kitchen window 
first inside, then outside 
rolling fog and burning sun 
in days of healing and maturing 
an avocado tree grows in san francisco 

dinner simmers in a pot 
my mother’s fingers reminiscent of chopped garlic 
and vanilla lotion 
a productive hum comes from the kitchen 
where orchids glow in the setting sun above the sink 

sunny days arrive and coffee steeps in the filter 
a quietness comes through the window 
in cold mornings 
sleeping in on soft pillows and blankets 
and i knew love was always there 
it made magnolias grow and succulents stretch 

birds come chirping and forgiveness pours in like 
a summer breeze 
flowers bloom and die and the rain still brings life 
no matter how the plants choose to take in its water 

I miss you like steam misses the warm enclosure of a mug of hot tea and blossoms that fade away from spring into summer.

Jacqueline Arrieta-Peixoto, 24 years old, Filipinx-Brazilian nonbinary femme, born and raised in San Francisco, writes nostalgic poetry and personal prose, and operates an online art business specializing in custom visual artwork.