lottery :: hafizah geter

“It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head.
–Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”

if the birds were not black
crickets upon
further inspection,

I would wake for the scent
of pine trees.
if the choice were not
always between mercy
or forgiveness,

laundry would dry
completely. if the body was
more than wood jarred
in brine,

the moon would stay
isosceles. if I could diagram
the grammar of a motive,

I could empty
this shoebox. if geometry
were no longer
in the arc but the meter,

i would pray to this round shape
i’ve locked
in my hands.
if the lilies were not
bearing their stamens

like wolves,
is this the only way to be
happy?

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consider the hands that write this letter :: aracelis girmay

after Marina Wilson

Consider the hands
that write this letter.

Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart,

in peace or reverence to the sea,
some beautiful thing

I saw once, felt once: snow falling
like rice flung from the giants’ wedding,

or strangest of strange birds. & consider, then,
the right hand, & how it is a fist,

within which a sharpened utensil,
similar to the way I’ve held a spade,

the horse’s reins, loping, the very fists
I’ve seen from roads through Limay & Estelí.

For years, I have come to sit this way:
one hand open, one hand closed,

like a farmer who puts down seeds & gathers up;
food will come from that farming.

Or, yes, it is like the way I’ve danced
with my left hand opened around a shoulder,

my right hand closed inside
of another hand. & how I pray,

I pray for this to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body’s position to its paper:

left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:

one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.

let light shine out of darkness :: daniel borzutzky

I live in a body that does not have enough light in it

For years, I did not know that I needed to have more light

Once I walked around my city on a dying morning and a decomposing
body approached me and asked me why I had no light

I knew this decomposing body

All that remained of it were teeth, bits of bone, a hand

It came to me and said: There is no light that comes out of your body

I did not know at the time that there should have been light in my body

It’s not that I am dead

It’s not that I am translucent

It’s that you cannot know you need something if you do not know it
is missing

Which is not to say that for years I did not ask for this light

Once, I even said to the body I live with: I think I need more light in
my body, but I really did not take this seriously as a need, as something I
deserved to have

I said: I think I need for something blue or green to shine from my rib cage

Other times when I am talking about lightness I am talking about breath
and space and movement

For it is hard to move in a body so congested with images of mutilation

Did you hear the one about the illegal immigrant who electrocuted his
employee’s genitals? Did you hear the one about the boy in Chicago whose
ear was bitten off when he crossed a border he did not know existed?

I want to give you more room to move so I am trying to carve a space, with
light, for you to walk a bit more freely

This goes against my instincts, which are to tie you down, to tie you to
me, to bind us by the wrist the belly the neck and to look directly into
your mouth, to make you open your mouth and speak the vocabulary of
obliteration right into your tongue your veins your blood

I stop on a bridge over the train tracks and consider the history of the
chemical-melting of my skin

Once, when I poured a certain type of acid on my arm I swore I saw a
bright yellow gas seep out of my body

Once, my teeth glowed sick from the diseased snow they had shoved into
my mouth when they wanted me to taste for myself to bring into my
body the sorrows of the rotten carcass economy

Once, I dreamwrote that I found my own remains in a desert that was
partially in Chile and partially in Arizona

Was I a disappeared body, tossed out of an airplane by a bureaucrat-
soldier-compatriot or was I a migrant body who died from dehydration
while crossing the invisible line between one civilization and another

I was part of a team of explorers we were searching for our own bodies

In the desert I found my feet and I put them in a plastic bag and
photographed them, cataloged them, weighed and measured them and
when I was finished with the bureaucratization of my remains I lay down
in the sand and asked one of my colleagues to jam a knife into my belly

She obliged

But when the blade entered my skin it was as if my belly were a water balloon

Water shot into the air

My skin ripped into hundreds of pieces and I watched as the water covered
the feet of my colleagues who were here to document their disappearances
and decomposition

It was at this moment that I saw light in my body not sun over the sand
but a drip of soft blue on a piece of skin that had fallen off my body and
dissolved into its own resistance

moved by the beauty of trees :: ishion hutchinson

The beauty of the trees stills her;
she is stillness staring at the leaves,

still and green and keeping up the sky;
their beauty stills her and she is quiet

in her stare, her eyes’ long lashes curve
and keep, her little mouth opens

and keeps still with its quiet for the beauty
of the trees, their leaves, the sky

and its blue quiet, very still and quiet;
her looking eyes wide, deep, silent

hard on the trees and the beauty
of the sky, the green of the leaves.

sci-fi :: tracy k. smith

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.

History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,

Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.

Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,

Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.

For kicks, we’ll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.

The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned

To a Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.

And yes, we’ll live to be much older, thanks
To popular consensus. Weightless, unhinged,

Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once

And for all, scrutable and safe.

eagle poem :: joy harjo

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.