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Dion O'Reilly

Pronouns: She/Her

Glitter Bomb Award

2022 Winner

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LW #7, Part 1: 7/11/22

I found "The Value of Tears" to be utterly taboo, transgressive, and thoroughly human.  The speaker, as a young, "sick" child,  recasts an early (possibly terrifying) experience with a mother in a transformative way.  The spare couplets (mother, child/pleasure, pain/illness, relief) give way to a final one-line stanza, which is as good a definition of poetry as any other--tears falling into "(my) singing mouth. 

- Denise Duhamel, 2022 Glitter Bomb Award Final Judge

The Value of Tears

 

Sometimes I glimpse it:

compassion

 

for my mother

who placed me

 

on my hands and knees

 

in a cold empty tub,

who entered me

 

from behind

with her enemas,

 

her waxy plugs,

who forced the pleasure

 

of my release

and the gut

 

nausea that came

before.

 

Yes, yes. Sometimes

I see it:

 

a deep

early love

 

for her, lost

in the chestnut swirl

 

that flowed from me. Yes,

 

that’s where I see it, mixed

with sick,

 

lost lost

down the black

 

of the drain

 

and also falling

from my eyes, into

 

my singing mouth.

Dion O'Reilly's (she/her) debut book, Ghost Dogs, has been shortlisted for a number of prizes including the Catamaran Poetry Prize and The Eric Hoffer Award. Her work appears in Rattle, The Sun, Cincinnati Review, and The Slowdown. Her second book Sadness of the Apex Predator was chosen for the Portage Poetry Series from University of Wisconsin's Cornerstone Press and will be published in 2024. She frequently hosts The Hive Poetry Collective podcast and facilitates ongoing poetry workshops via Zoom

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Chad Frame

Pronouns: He/Him

Glitter Bomb Award

2022 Honorable Mention

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Harvest

 

We shared a few months in the summer dark

of your parents’ farm, whispering Simpsons

 

quotes, laughing softly like night wind rustling

fields of green corn, sticky-lipped from snow cones

 

and exploring one another’s bodies.

Twenty and twenty-four. A field of years

 

sown between us. I, the wise one—been there,

done that. You, the one figuring things out.

 

Weeks later, your parents found you in bed,

wilted like a failed crop. Haven’t been here,

 

I thought. Haven’t done this. Now, I’m lying

in new grass the length of your life later.

 

Now, I’m staring at the moon like we did

sometimes, resting in between being there

 

and doing that—I still can’t figure out

how this can possibly be the same moon,

 

same earth, same body, how I can eat corn

and taste you lying there, bursting and sweet.

Chad Frame (he/his) is the author of Little Black Book (2022, Finishing Line Press), the Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program, a Poet Laureate Emeritus of Montgomery County, PA, the Poetry Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing, a founding member of the No River Twice poetry/improv performance troupe, and founder of the Caesura Poetry Festival and Retreat. His work has appeared in Rattle, Pedestal, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth, and elsewhere, as well as on iTunes from the Library of Congress.

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Alexa Doran

Pronouns: She/Her

Glitter Bomb Award

2022 Honorable Mention

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In Memoriam of the Narcissist

When I told my son you no longer loved me Strictly

Ballroom had frozen Fran’s gown so it wouldn’t sash

the ground and I thought about using the thigh swirl

/skirt twirl to explain how sometimes gravity is our

enemy, another policy we only escape with money,

vicious in its lust for our bodies. Before we go back

to stamping with Fran, I need him to understand

how you used sky as stitch to keep me from planets

for which you had no language, how even now cloud

and needle suture my mouth so that I can’t tell slit

from kiss. I try to say I am confused and desperate with

out saying I am confused and desperate because he’s six

and there’s only so much romance he knows exists.

I spent three years saying this is a lover: angle of end

less lips, a laugh which makes mommy want to cave

forever in its hover, hours and states and hotels just

to see a man uncover, call me close, call it quits.

Alexa Doran (she/her) recently completed her PhD in Poetry at Florida State University. Her full-length collection DM Me, Mother Darling won the 2020 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize and was published in April 2021 (Bauhan). She is also the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019). You can look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of Pleiades, Literary Mama, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Salt Hill Journal, and Gigantic Sequins, among others.

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Emily Lake Hansen

Pronouns: She/Her

Glitter Bomb Award

2022 Honorable Mention

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Concerning the results of your ACE screening

                       

after any event

            memory scatters,

                        birdshot worming

 

into the crevices

            of the brain, bits

                        hidden behind cloud walls,

 

mingled with the sensory

            until any boom is the boom

                        you heard that day.

 

To heal, an excavation:

            dig out each unwanted

                        timber, lay it under light,

 

run your palms

            across its surface,

                        your hands tools enough

 

to smooth it. You do not

            need an ax — though

                        you may wish for one,    

 

something to smash

            to pieces the parts of you

                        formed from your survival.   

 

They’ll wave in parade

            when you find them,

                        brilliant and slow.

 

They’ll hum a tune

            to send you on your way.       

                        This too is work —    

 

to celebrate how far

            you’ve come, how much

                        of you is still              

left

Emily Lake Hansen (she/her) is a bisexual poet and the author of the collection Home and Other Duty Stations (Kelsay Books) and the chapbook The Way the Body Had to Travel (dancing girl press). Her poetry has appeared in 32 Poems, Hobart, Atticus Review, Rust + Moth, and Up the Staircase Quarterly among others. The recipient of the 2022 Longleaf Poetry Fellowship, she is a PHD student at Georgia State University and an instructor of English at Agnes Scott College.

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Ann Hagerty

Pronouns: She/They

1 Poem

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self portrait: fortress


A wilderness of swans, necks
anticipating, as ships’ masts, the wind.

Leaf-raft skates swift estuary.

Purseful of lips, tongues
longing to taste salt sweat.

Clock, hourglass, minutely
seashelled sand.
Two a.m.’s ink. Heart,
hopeful. Heart, afraid,
sorrowing over someday.

Waves throw themselves at hard
packed sand to soothe, to rage,
to drag purpled tellin shells,
blue-stained razor clams, dusk-deep
shards of sea-trumpets, music
not quite washed from them, back to this
crooning chest. Sometimes to taste
the memory of wind-in-hair, teeth
thick with thrill and luck, hands
crying out, o heart, keep time.

Ann W. Hagerty (she/they) is a poet, editor, translator, and devotee of fresh bread. She has hand-published three chapbooks, and her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Divine Feminist, Entropy, The Stillwater Review, Digging through the Fat, and others. Ann earned an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and is now pursuing her Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, having witnessed how writing can save lives.

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C. Eliot Mullins

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

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Self/Injury

I quit my job / today / animal control picked up Lila / off the sidewalk / I watched / went back

inside / sometimes lighter / is preferable / to razor / my mother / taught me how / to cry without

tears / does she / not see / it as a knife / this (un)intentional distancing / thank you / mama /

online relationship / quiz / unemployment / compensation / what if what you want / matters /

what if therapists ask questions / that make me want to die / what if there is someone else / out

there who wants / matching sweaters / whatifIhavemadeahorriblemistake / Stephanie’s phone

always goes to voicemail / call anytime / I like hearing your voice

C. Eliot Mullins (she/her) is an adjunct instructor, mental health therapist, friend of cats, lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, extreme introvert, and an increasingly fearless lesbian poet. She was recently published in Lavender Review (Dec. 2021) and is a poetry student in the creative writing program at the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University.

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Charles K. Carter

Pronouns: He/His

2 Poems

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Survival of the Fittest

 

Tardigrades can handle

decades in arctic ice

but I can’t seem to handle

seeing his name on his un-forwarded mail.

 

Tardigrades can endure

an active volcano’s red lava

but I can’t seem to endure

his face showing up on Tinder.

 

Tardigrades can manage

floating in outer space

but I can’t seem to manage

washing the sheets—

they still smell like him.

 

Baptism

 

Freedom

is running

naked

into the cool California waters

hand-in-hand

with the one you love.

Charles K. Carter (he/his) is a queer poet and educator from Iowa. He shares his home with his artist husband and his spoiled pets. He enjoys film, yoga, and live music. Melissa Etheridge is his ultimate obsession. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. His poems have appeared in several literary journals. He is the author of Chasing Sunshine (Lazy Adventurer Publishing), Splinters (Kelsay Books), Safety-Pinned Hearts (Alien Buddha Press), and Salem Revisited (WordTech Editions). 

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Mat Wenzel

Pronouns: He/His

1 Poem

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An Uber Run With Dolly Parton

        inspired by the world of Cloudpunk

We cruise Nivalis together,

& the city glows lavender

eucalyptus, the purple of

light-returning, & the streets

look like plexiglass. We

measure daylight & nightlight

in equal parts, the activity

below like dogs fighting
over a bite of turkey sandwich:

one licks gravy from

the mouth of an other. A call

comes in on the radio for pickup

on the other side of town. We

have to take it, Dolly & I,

because there is rent due.

In this future, she tells me

she’s a copy of a copy
of the original Dolly, &

I say consciousness can exist

outside the body.

The candle of a streetlight

throws a half halo. I tell her

how I sat at her wave pool

all day wearing the tiniest

bathing suit I could find,

reading Frank O’Hara. She

was 20 when he died. Frank

was 40. I’m 41. I tell Dolly
I’m sick of living. She just says,

“Hush.”

The billboards light the night,

too, come & go like stars
in a bottle, the kind of snowglobe

you might make when you’re ten.

I tell Dolly I’m a copy of a copy

of a copy. She says there’s a little

original left. I say consciousness

can exist outside the body. She

says the billboards are stars

to light our way.

I say we will always be stuck
in Nivalis. She says she’s happy

to be in this ride-along, just
to have time to talk a little. I stop

to get us some hot tea.

Dolly says our vapor trail is golden

carp. The rain tapping the windscreen

makes a rhythm for her. The parking

ticket makes a songsheet. The map

turns midnight blue.

The towers out here are all

apartments. The blonde light
of their windows winks at us.
I think about the hard-working

people inside, like us, I want to say,

but in the quiet, we both just look

at each other. “Tell me about
the gr—-“ “That’s an old story,”

she interrupts. “I want to talk

to you about right now.”

The weather has made
a sanctuary of our cabin, &

my head wants to bow.
I think Dolly still loves Jesus,

& I might love Dolly

almost like I loved him. I should

ponder her words, like Mary

pondered, should carefully

copy them from poem to home.

It’s so quiet she can probably

hear me breathing. A pressure

resets itself inside my sinuses.

Dolly says you have to try.

The rain looks like watercolor

& the metropolis lit by gels,

& a wash of night alone comes

over me. I grip the controls like

a wet frog. In this future we

look just like we do now—

ageless, in multiple senses

of the word. “We’re getting

knocked around a little,”

Dolly says. Light breaks

where the sun might; going

over this part of the city

feels like freefall. Dolly is

unconcerned. I tell her how

much I love lichen. She says,

“O K,”

the O long & low.

I tell her how lichen is a city,

not a plant. It’s algae & cyno-

bacteria feeding fungus &

fungus providing shelter &

moisture.

They have a hard time growing

it in a lab because it needs
each other, but we aren’t sure

what that each other is. You

mean it’s a community, she says.

The HOVA drives like graphite,

Ticonderoga. We pull up to
the gate of an enormous

complex, a name with the word

plantation in it. Why do they

have to call it that? she asks.
Our ID’s get checked & the guard

says, “Hey aren’t you___” "a copy

of a copy,” we both say.
The blue hour’s almost over

so we don’t say much else.

We drop the kid off at the end

of a long driveway. I want a

snack. I wonder if Dolly likes

kebabs. I stop in Old Town

& buy two. Back in the vehicle

Dolly smiles & takes a bite

like a star. “You’re a star, too,”

she says. “Am I?” I grin. Our

eyes flash some new light &

we don’t say anything, so that

this interchange becomes
the bits & bobs we’ve collected

between us on this shift.

The notifications turn peach.

Mat Wenzel (he/his) has 37 stamps in his National Parks Passport, collects squished pennies, and writes comics and poetry. He currently teaches at TCU in Fort Worth, TX.

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Kathy Kremins

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

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A Canyon in My Throat

 

In my chest, there is a hole

as wide as a canyon in my throat.

 

Climb through windows of ribs and see

a river flowing, red and blue sparkles,

igniting a fire blazing in swell of heart and lungs,

unvirginal devotion to the Blessed Mary.

 

Put your ear to belly and hear

a jangle of bracelets, wind chimes catching

the words of breeze, sending an alphabet of gurgles

into intricate weavings of veins.

 

Press mouth to palm and taste

a finch feeding your lifeline, sustaining our young.

Kathy Kremins (she/her) is a retired public school teacher and coach. Her chapbook Undressing the World is forthcoming (Finishing Line Press, 2022). Kathy’s work appears in Soup Can Magazine, The Night Heron Barks, Lavender Review, The Stillwater Review, Divine Feminist: An Anthology of Poetry & Art by Womxn & Non-Binary Folx, Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State, and other publications.

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