wrist-01_edited.jpg
wrist-01_edited_edited.jpg
Grisel Acosta.jpg

Grisel Y. Acosta

Pronouns: She/Her/They/Them

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

Androgyny Time Machine: FuturePastNow

I played a mixed-race Black Latina

George Washington in the fifth grade

 

                                                       Grace Jones’ Jubilant Hula

                                                       Out-Queened the Queen’s Jubilee

 

Mami stared while I counted

my mosh pit bruises

she didn’t stop me

 

                           dresses that spun big were my favorite

                           I got one for every church banquet

                           I felt like I was in drag

 

             David Bowie loves

             Joey Arias

             and Iman

             and Iggy Pop

             and Angela Barnett

                                                       my partner is 42% gay

                                                       (according to an unscientific online quiz)

 

I am one point away from being

completely androgynous

(according to the unscientific Bem Sex Role Inventory).

 

                                         a boy in high school asked

                                         me during English class,

                                         “Why don’t you dress sexy?”

                                         I answered, “I do dress sexy,”

                                         offered no further explanation

 

a man from the high school

I used to go to, posted on my FB page,

“I remember boots,

there were definitely boots!”

I answered, “There still are.  ;)”

 

                           my father was very uncomfortable with me

                           when I spiked my hair up or stayed out all night

 

one of my former students’ told me

her mother said she would rather

she be pregnant than be a lesbian

 

                           Janelle Monae

                           wears a suit like Smokey Robinson

                           dances like James Brown

                           poses for pictures like Patti LaBelle

                           sings like an alien cyborg pixie

 

working muscles into sweat

and subsequent bubble baths

bring the same relieving joy

 

                                         I see men across the world

                                         carrying their babies

                                         holding hands with their babies

                                         laughing with their babies

 

men have always worn skirts

 

             according to Sandra Bem

             androgynous people are more flexible

             psychologically healthier than

             people who adhere to rigid gender roles

 

                                         true androgyny refers to personality

                                         traits, as opposed to physical appearance

 

at Midwestern Christian Academy

a new classmate told me I was a boy

I said, “No, I’m not a boy” 

she said, “Yes, you are.

You are wearing pants,

that means that you are a boy”

 

                                                   there are aggressive and passive people

                                                   within every gender identity group

 

                           integrity

                           wisdom

                           creativity

                           grace

                           are not

                           gender specific

Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta (she/her/they/them) is a full professor at the City University of New York-BCC. Her book, Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere (Get Fresh Books, 2021), was a 2020 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist. Select work is in Best American PoetryThe BafflerAcentos ReviewKweli Journal, and The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry. She is a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet, a Macondo Fellow, and Creative Writing Editor at Chicana/Latina Studies Journal.
 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Cynthia Atkins.jpg

Cynthia Atkins

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

Dolly In The Mirror

            

        “If you want a rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.”

         —Dolly Parton

 

Some days you feel like a wad of crumpled tissue, ready

to throw a giant spit-ball at the world.  Sometimes the words

are curled inside a song, and the pink quill pen fetches

a particular spell, the ample gospel chord

to awaken every flower in the junk yard.

Truth be rotten-honey told, I’ve worked hard

for my mistakes.  Every scar and ache,

I have mastered like a hunched over locksmith. 

I can count all the men that wanted to play

Here’s the church and here’s the steeple.

Human words can hurt or go numb.  Slack-jawed lackies

hellbent to cut me into a Southern Betty Boop—She and I

became all the wiser. A balding boss with a size complex

nursed his shiner with a T-bone steak.   

The vowels are sometimes flowers

and sometimes hearses—It’s all in the octave.

How many nights we wait in the bedlam of our own silence

for a phone call from our own heart? I am the wide mouth

 where sorrow puts down roots.   Inside are all the lonely people.

The church of my voice finding every sad combatant

sitting alone and rescinded to a leather booth.

Cynthia Atkins (she/her) is the author of Psyche’s WeathersIn The Event of Full DisclosureStill-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020).  Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including but not limited to Alaska Quarterly Review, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Diode, Florida Review, Rust + Moth, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. She was formerly the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America.  Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Brent Calderwood Book.jpg

Brent Calderwood

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

Evening Commute

 

All over town people are meeting cute

The tangled leashes     the spilled coffee    

They are stranded on islands waiting 

for the light     they are reaching for the same 

waxy apple and queuing at the movies

Tippi and Rod in the bird shop

Harold and Maude among the tombstones

Or you and me at the same concert
Dolly singing “Those Were the Days”

back when I lived in your city

They are returning from work     they are sharing 

a handrail     their thumbs almost touch 

they are tall like you     the doors slide open

and they are collected by their people 

The kiss     the quick linking of fingers 

the stack of mail     the bunch of violets

they are going home to their lives

Brent Calderwood (he/him) is the author of The God of Longing (Sibling Rivalry Press), an American Library Association LGBT poetry selection for 2014. His essays on film, music, and culture have appeared in Rolling StoneOut, the Chicago Sun-Times, and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide and Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poems from the Community of Writers.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Jill Crammond.JPG

Jill Crammond

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

Obituary for All that Scares Me

 

Rest in peace, monster under the bed

and the drinks we shared last night.

 

Condolences

for all the love songs I have butchered

for my funeral and my second marriage

for the traumas that have and have not happened,

the fistful of arguments I avoided by leaping

into as many swamps.

 

Not one lover asked

what I want said at my funeral,

but I’ll eulogize anyway.

 

I want you to read the obituary

to all that scared me.

 

You know who you are,

all you princes and dirty knights

whose hearts I have broken.

 

If I haven’t broken your ribs

in a clumsy straddle,

halleluiah.

Climb in the casket beside me,

kiss me like my lips aren’t cold.

Jill Cramond - How to Be a Bully.png

Jill Crammond’s (she/her) poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry, Pidgeonholes, Unbroken Journal, Mother Mary Come to Me Anthology, Fiolet & Wing: An Anthology of Domestic Fabulist Poetry, and others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook, Handbook for Unwell Mothers, was a finalist for the 2021 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, judged by Victoria Chang. She lives and teaches art and preschool at a forest school in upstate NY.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Sean Hanrahan.jpg

Sean Hanrahan

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

Stephen’s Wish

I want to fuck Buck Mulligan
the loutish type
sacrilegious and jocular
the man us Uranians
would do anything for—
give Him the keys
to our platonic castles,
lend Him money,
lick His stubble
shine His boots,
lick those, too.
Bent over,
subservient, the way
He likes us to be,
eye level with
His brawny chode.
We let Him break
our hearts,
dissect the myths
of our being,
cleave us in two
with His masculine unconcern.
He takes our father’s place.
Taunts us over our grief
for our dead-to-us mothers.
We absolve Him,
this new Sadistic Christ,
whip in hand
our bare backs
throb with imagined welts.
We love Him
until our nellies pop off,
our size 8
Cinderella loafers
left on the stair.
Yet, we shroud our lust
in a catechism
of rationalizations
while living in
an actual phallus
circumference girthed to measure.

We ejaculate into
His shaving cream
in that cracked, striated bowl
where the razor cross gleams,
each blade containing
a clumped relic
of reddish-brown hair.
Oscillating between hate
and veneration,
we choose the sacramental in-between.   

Sean Hanrahan (he/him) is a gay Philadelphia poet originally hailing from Dale City, Virginia. He is the author of Hardened Eyes on the Scan, Safer Behind Popcorn, and Gay Cake. He has taught classes on chapbook creation and ekphrastic poetry and has hosted various poetry events, including a quarterly series for Moonstone.

BenKlineHeadshot1.jpg

Ben Kline

Pronouns: He/Him

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 
Screen Shot 2022-01-31 at 1.16.59 PM.png

*"Sort & Filter" was previously published in (b)OINK.

Ben Kline (he/him) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks SAGITTARIUS A* and DEAD UNCLES, Ben was the 2021 recipient of Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry. His work is forthcoming or can be found in POETRY, Rejection Letters, Southeast Review, THRUSH, CutBank, fourteen poems, Hobart and many other publications.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Courtney LeBlanc.jpeg

Courtney LeBlanc

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

If There is a God

 

She’s pissed. Hair-pulling, spit-flying,

curse-screaming pissed. She looks

down on her creation and wonders

where she went wrong. She gave us

everything – art and science, rainforests

and medicine, grasslands and goats,

narwhals and math and poetry.

And we continue to fuck it up.

She thinks about the rapture, something

she never considered or promised,

thinks, maybe I should… But then

COVID appears and she decides to wait.

When doctors and scientists create

the vaccine she exclaims, Praise me!

They are not a lost cause! But then she sees

the antivaxxers, the ones who won’t

wear masks, she hears the protests

about body autonomy and rolls

her eyes because women – the beings

she created after her own image –

have so little autonomy in the world

she made in six days. She contemplates

wiping everything away and starting

again – another flood perhaps?

Instead she changes into her pajamas,

the buttery soft material gliding across

her perfect skin. She crawls into bed

and turns out the light. Prays

to herself that tomorrow will be better.

Small

            But even if the world is half bad, it remains / half good.

            ~ from To the Tender by Kristen Tracy

 

At 2am my dog paws the side of the bed, telling

me she needs to go out. Blurry-eyed we walk

the quiet streets so she can find the perfect spot –

the world is her toilet, but she has her preferences.

We’re having a warm spell and though I know

I should hate climate change I love a 68* day

in December. Scientists say the summer ice

in the Arctic Ocean will disappear by 2035

and this will be detrimental to the animals

that depend on it but in this hour I am only

grateful to not be trudging through the darkness

and cold. When my dog stops suddenly and stares

behind us, a low growl rumbling past her teeth,

my overreactive imagination thinks, Serial

killer! That creepy clown! The blood-soaked twins

at the end of the hallway! Instead, I see a fox

standing in the street, a rabbit clutched

in its jaws. I tug my dog and we keep

moving as the fox watches us, its flame-

colored fur bright under the streetlights.

I forget sometimes how small foxes are.

I forget sometimes how small we all are.

Courtney LeBlanc (she/her) is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Carolyn Oliver.jpg

Carolyn Oliver

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

The Builder

 

In another life I am a small boy crouched

in a playground patch of marigolds, eating

their red-hearted petals while a distant siren wilts

and my much-older brother lifts his script again. 

 

I like the translucent yellow flags sticking out

from the white pages, I like how they make

a funny ladder, I’d like to turn their crooked

straight, make them reach up to his face half

 

hidden, then hook the words that keep swaying

overhead, settling someplace I can’t see,

as if swung by silent mighty cranes concealed

behind my brother’s shape. I can’t help the days

 

a recollected phrase will light on me like blown

debris—when I am much older, when he is dead

and I am a builder, a sensible man sought after

for my orderly sites, my thoughtful touches:

 

towel warmers in the master suite, an atrium

fountain, walls of river pebble and frosted sand.

Roofs shapely sharp and square, skylight studded.

Weatherproof, I speak in shiplap. I walk alone

 

at night through my placid neighborhood, rehearsing

one of those lines rough as an unplaned board,

wreck of a half-heard conversation. I tell myself

it’s accident carried me here, a pattern beyond

 

me, though I know better. I think of the marigolds,

how it was like eating a busted taillight’s red,

how nothing has ever tasted so good, except

your gratitude when I do the Sunday dishes.

Carolyn Oliver (she/her) is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, forthcoming 2022) selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize, as well as two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Massachusetts ReviewIndiana ReviewCincinnati ReviewBeloit Poetry JournalShenandoah32 PoemsSixth FinchSouthern Indiana ReviewCherry Tree, and elsewhere. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family, where she is the editor of The Worcester Review.

  • Twitter
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png
Yvonne Zipter.jpg

Yvonne Zipter

Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

ArrowLW3_edited.png
 

A Brief History of the War on Women

 

A door, the screen baggy with age, and a girl,

legs skinny as the tape-wrapped stem

of a baseball bat. Faded shorts, sleeveless

shirt, her pipe-cleaner arms bend across

her prairie-flat chest. A ringer-washer,

with its barrel of a belly, stands sentry

just behind her. Through the paint-

clogged grid of the door, bedsheets,

pillowcases, kitchen towels—a dozen

squared moons reflecting summer sun,

flapping like signals of surrender she ignores.

She is banishing some child like a supplicant

spurned, inhabiting her tiny body like a queen.

She is six and knows exactly who she is,

dares to be daring in a new decade still clinging

to the old. Only later will she learn to fear

her own body, to crawl inside a book

like a bomb shelter to save herself

from the burning of her happy childhood.

It would take decades to open the heavy

hatchway separating her from herself,

the light blinding, the air no longer

acrid with the odor of shame.

 

The Romance of It

 

There was a time when I was in love

with the tragic. My God, Sylvia and Anne,

how you fed that flame of the sad girl poet

too fragile for this planet. I studied your poems

 

like guidebooks to the world of the living

for the would-be dying. The gas oven

in my studio apartment wooed me,

while the Murphy bed, that latched purse

 

of penury, leaked other peoples’ misery.

There was a time when your illness fed me,

filled me with the romance of dying.

I baptized myself in your beautiful images

 

of torment. But somehow there came a curious

shift. I began to notice less the anguish

and more the beauty, learned to turn away

from death and toward artistry. Sylvia without

 

the suffering, Anne without the anxiety. Your dying

emboldened me to thrive. I’ve been rowing home

to myself ever since, your gorgeous words dormant

now on my shelf, your legend a little juju in my soul.

Yvonne Zipter (she/her) is the author of the full-length poetry collections Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound and The Patience of Metal, the chapbook Like Some Bookie God, the nonfiction books Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet, and the Russian historical novel Infraction. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including PoetrySouthern Humanities ReviewCalyxCrab Orchard Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She is a retired University of Chicago Press senior manuscript editor.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Screen Shot 2020-10-03 at 2.34.42 PM.png