Her mother told me a story about something
that had happened that summer. Swerving
down the road, a fireman pulled her over.
When he looked through her belongings,
there were needles in her purse. I’m a diabetic,
she told him. He allowed her mother to come
pick her up and take her home, but maybe
he shouldn’t have. Maybe he should have called
for backup, for a cop to take her in and book her,
keep her there overnight. It would’ve been messy,
but maybe that’s what it would’ve taken. One can’t
be blamed for wondering. The fireman gave her
a chance, maybe when she didn’t deserve it.
I have to remember it’s not his empathy
that killed her
Danielle Shorr (she/her) is a professor of disability rhetoric and creative writing at Chapman University. Her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Driftwood Press, The Florida Review, The New Orleans Review and others. @danielleshorr
A Queerly Platonic Child
As gay a schoolboy as I was within myself
aware and interested in men—oh! the Yankees
locker room on TV after they won the pennant
half and sometimes even fully naked showered
in champagne—I never fell in love or crush
with my best friends: Not Joey in whose basement
round the corner from me we played storekeeper
amidst piles of canned foods his father collected.
Sure, we dropped our pants and showed off
our little dicks. I liked it. And so did Joey though
I never thought he was queer. We were kids—
showing, not telling, giggling. Simon, Grade 6 bestie
and I spent hours on the phone after days at school,
but without a glimmer of eroticism. He’s a famous
shrink now. I might consult with him about how
I should have fallen head over heels with Jeffy: we
were inseparable through middle and high school—
in school, after school, summer, fall, winter, spring
out of school. I stared at many locker room baskets
in those years, but I never looked to Jeffy that way.
Small then, now Jeffrey is a big-time concert pianist.
Crushes came later. And so did sex. And so did love.
Came. And went. Over and over. But now that I write
this, I want to go back to those early lines and find
Joey. I have no idea where he is or what he does. I just
want to find him and grow up. I want to love him again.
James Penha (he/him) lives in Indonesia. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. He is the editor of The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha
Conversation with the World
Lisa C. Taylor
Intricately shaded, oblivious to wind,
a summit flaunts silver tips.
Sun grenades the peak.
The sea’s thunder
before it is visible.
Avalanches marshal mountains,
with death crouching in crags.
Tsunamis begin as a receding,
tide pulling back like a fist
before a strike.
Behind an outcropping, a cougar waits,
and a sandbar shark burrows in seaweed.
The sheer wings and furred torso of a bee
pummel a window and a rose-breasted titmouse
flies headlong into a glass slider.
Breath fixes time and place,
leaving the world an oblivious gray
of rushing water and stoic peaks.
What to do about the damage?
Nothing, says the world.
And the unraveling?
Lisa C. Taylor has three published poetry collections, most recently Interrogation of Morning, and two short story collections. She formerly taught poetry and fiction and is co-director of the Mesa Verde Writers Conference. http://www.lisactaylor.com
Could a Locked Door Save a Marriage?
Susan (Deepam) Wadds
The duty in your moans, I hear it now.
The patter of his small feet,
the creak of bedroom door.
Why had we not purchased a simple lock?
Our uncoupling in the shock of his sleep-pressed face.
The speed at which you rolled from me.
Him, at four, saying, “Never do that again.”
That final drip of intimacy
dried by a child’s command.
Susan Wadds has work in various literary journals, including The Blood Pudding, Room, and carte blanche. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a certified Amherst Writers and Artists writing workshop facilitator. Regal House will publish her debut novel, What the Living Do in March 2024. @Deepamwadds