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Pain Constellation


The dazzling blue lights of Aquarius  

envelop me like gravity, a strength

otherworldly. Bruised skin, an alias

for submission, turns yellow in the length


of time it takes to let go; it’s less than

a light year. The water bearer transfers

weight of flask from left to right hand to man

planet that is my grief, which is not interred 


in this space, this now, but in a dead star

that shimmers in the icy telescope

of my mind: a bright supernova scar,

echoing God of War, which tightened rope


around my throat & signaled atomic

collapse. Now, my cloud returns achromic.

Emily Hoover.jpg

Emily Hoover

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems


Ode to the Deer on the Side of

     the Road as America

Death is So Everywhere and So



For the Woman Who Hugged Me in the Self-Checkout Line at the Grocery Store


She had her own damn cart,

wheeled it into the aisle.

But she didn’t have enough money,

so she sandwiched her body


in between the conveyor belt & the cart

as I imagine she’d done at home,

countless times, trying to close

the door in front of her as he wedged


his hand (or fist) in the crack,

a boundary he didn’t believe

existed between his body & hers.

He scoffed at the cart’s load,


waving his credit card in the air

like some kind of petite flag

you’d find at a parade for heroes—

his voice smashed dishes, her face


a punched hole in the wall. 

She stopped loading her Wonder

Bread, her cans of French-style

green beans (or creamed corn),


feeling the eyes on her: the pity

resting between our brows,

the anger stuck between our shoulder

blades. She gazed at the snaking


line around her, & joined

us, the ones who prefer to key

in our own produce codes, bag

our own groceries, curse


at the kiosks that gaslight us,

insisting we place items

in the bagging area though we’ve

already placed those items


in the bagging area. Every one

of us in line took a step back

to invite her to go ahead of us

even though her cart carried


more than fifteen items. We

ended up next to each other,

our kiosks chiming. Her

worry lines, nicotine-stained eyes,


crinkled dollars,  bird’s chest,

& shaking hands an echo

of me just months before.

I watched her put what she


couldn’t afford back into the cart,

grocery store employee hovering.

You know, it’s none of my business,

I said, but I left a man who yelled


at me like that, & sometimes it’s hard,

but most of the time, it’s the best

decision I’ve ever made.  The exchange

of words stood among us, protracted.


Soundlessly, her small body

softened into mine, & she sighed,

like sliding into a hot bath after

a long day of labor. We held


each other, & I imagined her

remembering this moment, days

from now, weeks from now, years

from now—the memory perhaps


giving her the muscle to close

the door for good. A woman

I met in a bar bathroom once warned

me, while reapplying her lipstick,


to stay away from men who hate

their mothers. Even though it was none

of her business. She eyed the dried tears

on my face. I wish I had listened then.

Emily Hoover (she/her) is a poet, fiction writer, and literary critic based in Las Vegas. Her fiction has most recently appeared in BULL and Gravel, and her poems have been featured in FIVE:2:ONE, Bending Genres, and others. Emily’s book reviews have been published by The Los Angeles Review, Necessary Fiction, Ploughshares blog, The Rupture, and others.

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