Swapped stories of stings and bites over beers last night. He opened with cottonmouth and black widow, and I followed with scorpion and tarantula hawk. She finished with a regarde le ciel tattoo that didn’t hurt nearly as much as she feared. I remember limping on a swollen foot and staring at my index finger, but I don’t remember at what I was pointing. Perhaps at these sixteen authors as they were dreaming of the lines that would come spilling from their mouths and hands in the summer of 2022. We can’t promise that these poems and stories won’t nibble or pierce, but pain is just an electrical signal in the brain, and what’s the worst a few words could do? Change your life?


Artwork from Mario Loprete‘s series In Cemento Veritas.


John-Michael Bloomquist: “Elliptical Hymn to the Moon, the Midwife,” “Elliptical Hymn to Neptune, the Oceanographer,” and “Elliptical Hymn for Pluto, the Demigod”

Jeff Burt: “The Large Swales in the Road” and “Pinch”

Livio Farallo: “Red Sky”

Ryan Greene: “Unblankening Braid,” “THUNDERHEAD (or crying at 3ft),” and “after →  ← gone”

James Croal Jackson: “Sixty-Hour Workweek” and “O”

Nicole F. Kimball: “Coitus Interruptus,” “The Deja Vu of Ms. Parrot,” and “Nocturne 22”

Craig Kittner: “Enshrined by the Roadside” and “Heading Upstream in Springtime”

Andrea Lawler: “Wherever You Go, I Hope You Think of that Time,” “The Summer I Cried in the Target Parking Lot,” and “Love Is a Lot Like a Hot Air Balloon”

Jack Petersen: “An Update from Wishing Times” and “Personals Ad”

Louhi Pohjola: “Visiting the Cadaver Lab with My High School Seniors” and “Mother Longing: Duplex Poem”

Jeremy Radin: “Ode” and “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”

Briar Ripley Page: “Celestial Event, December 2020”

Reni Roxas: “The Galien Missionary Church”

Gina Stratos: “Call Me”

Ryan Tan: “Last Parade”

Umar Yogiza, Jr.: “Handwriting” and “Hallowed Gallows”