When Nebuchadnezzar Ran Away

When Nebuchadnezzar ran away the earth neglected to spin,

the mockingbirds whispered elegies and the indigo clouds caved in


but then it was once again summer

(and summer came back just the same)

with pop songs and poolsides and popsicle sticks

and neighborhood baseball games,


yet we would all stand at the window,

watching the skyline burn,

wondering where on earth he’d gone

or if he would ever return.


They say that cats, in their wanderlust, have a constant yearn to roam

yet, in their hunt for food and warmth, eventually come back home


but maybe Nebuchadnezzar

tired of mindless pats,


maybe he was a beatnik beast:

a Vasco de Gama of cats,


maybe, beneath his wiry frame, there lived a secret romantic

who longed to nuzzle the Golden Gate Bridge or lick the rolling Atlantic.


Sadly, though, my family thinks that his life was all too brief

and he met his end on the razor edge of a young coyote’s teeth,

especially when a neighborhood mom

informed us that she had found

the flesh and whiskers of her very own cat

in pieces

on the



and it scared us to think of his gentle meow

muffled in frightened breath

as he glanced through the chasms of cold green eyes

in the moments before his death.


But Nebuchadnezzar never came back

from wherever he went that night,

though sometimes we would see his face

in the dusty midnight light,

or in the ink of a newspaper page

that one of us has sighted,

describing an owner and run-off cat

who, somehow, were reunited.


These happy reunions were tabloid myths

and our other cat was brought

to live for nothing but tuna and sleep

and the moles that he sometimes caught.


His flowing fur filled up with knots.


His stomach grew long and dense


and he hardly dreamed of bygone days,

scurrying by the fence.


On August mornings, he wouldn’t hunt,

but only look through the screen,

and wonder why there was empty space

where his feline friend should have been.




Though Nebuchadnezzar ran away the earth continued spin,

autumn fell in with a see-through splash, like ice in a glass of gin;

months continued to peel away, like strips on wooden chairs,

and I watched them disappear,

perched on concrete stairs,


searching for creatures beyond the grass,

creatures I thought could be


now returned

from a corporate hotel in a tree:


a suitcase of rabbits around his back,

a credit card in his paw,

the crooked grin of the Cheshire Cat in ridges around his jaw


but all of the other cats that passed

at night, when the lamps were dim,

were fat or thin or fierce or weak,

but not at all like him.



Once Nebuchadnezzar ran away

we never were the same,

our nights grew distant

our voices; soft

our wild hound dog; tame


and, all of us,

in our collective grief,

agreed that it was a shame,

to lose a cat with a blazing heart

and an incomparable name.



By Jonah Dratfield



To further comment on the way
your eyes dismantle me,
I sometimes feel my heart’s little beak
pecking at the inside of my ribs
like it wants to rip its way out
of its repetitive, dead end job.
Leave me hanging,
aorta sputtering
like a leaky garden hose.

Again, in regards to
strange behaviors of the cardiac variety,
it likes to burrow down deep
within my warm thrumming tummy
plucking holes in my gastro-tract
trying to find you from that time
a few weeks back when
I swallowed you whole—
I told you, I’m a snake.
I squeeze till you’re blue.
Unhinge my jaw and—
once I thought I was poisonous.
The kind that kills quickly, but
instead, it turns out I constrict.
I am slow death and cradling
I am lulling you to sleep and
forgetting you exist
and you, blue
I digest you for months.


By Daniel Godwin

Unforseen Problems with Large Cups

This morning I woke up to find Bobby Vinton
had moved into a studio apartment
in my head. He sang all day but only one song
about a girl I know. Ever since I met her
my poems have sounded like stories
that overuse the word become.

Mr. Vinton I understand
she wore blue velvet I was there.
I saw her lit by foreground lamps
over a smoky game of beer pong
at a party I mostly remember. Her smile
was resplendent. Made you consider
what it would feel like to miss her.
I dread the day I miss her.

Mr. Vinton I’m going
to file a complaint with the landlord
if you do not quiet down.
Many of the neighbors have thrown their windows open
to let the summer evening in and I’m afraid
because your singing brings them to
their windows—so starry eyed.
Please, Mr. Vinton—
I have not been able
to get my reading done I just
can’t think with you
singing about rapture
or whatever
and I’ve almost fallen out my own window
once or twice because
your voice has charmed me so.

Mr. Vinton you’re a menace—
crooning long into the night as in
the one that was bluer than velvet I know.
I know. She’s everywhere.


By Daniel Godwin


in pursuit of oblivion

I remember I remember you, I remember faces, I remember much too much. I remember like a trawl-net, I remember fathomless and clear.
I remember —though I’d rather forget.

I remember until I am consumed. I remember with tenacity, remember regardless of resistance, I remember in spite of it. I remember tight teeth. I remember why
I remember.


By Sxm Wxng



[This page is under construction.]

I’m trying acrylic on particles restless with transferable skills.
I’m drying acrylic on articles of stress and conferrable bills.

Stumble: shy from a spotlight. Flood lights. Motion
sensitive and twitchy.
The focus of this, why this patch of grass over the other?
And I’m beveled and ashy. Brilliant angles, plays — culture
Leveled. Scumbled. Glazed.

What is silhouetted starkly is
kind of hard to see with my astigmatism. And my glasses slipping down.
It’s any after, night and predilection
Give me every right direction for contrast.
Finances, and keeping the lights on
Even in a dark room. And I’m kind of out —
Little eggs, streetlights, little currents boiling that presciently predict the tick rhyme my stomach roiling. From lack of
But I don’t gotta be in service of the bigger picture.

As a rule I’ll love magnetic fear, the pull before the snap, the hup
before the heart-droppingly short stop and the new line behind the
enter, except when I don’t.
Can’t. Cues and lines to remember, fill out, snake in
or out clutching my papers. It’s a lot of work trying to be discrete.
I pretend to hate smooth transitions.
And I don’t feel comfortable with smooth transitions, like

What’s at stake? Slow drips on duckwing tips,
Straight up living and coming to grips.
A solid dissolution I’m reflecting on here is lack,
slack for ropes that might be important and may be too far away to consider.
Thinking of what’s said about knots and fraying and ties on purpose — I’m just nervous about feeling too loose to adhere to the whatever the hell connects and look
Polarization? I’m graduating, and
I’m done with introspection, I say to myself and the world.


By Ria Geguera



slashed across concrete
graffiti on the overpass or
sharp looks in lunchrooms,

twenty now and I still
wilt with shame
when men in cars shout
“hey baby those jeans
would look better on my floor!”

I will have flowers, I will have vines, and they will pour down the walls in riotous green and purple and even blue fuck it, I will have painted pots, I will have twine and wire, enough to tightrope from here to the sun, glowing universe dust, golden magnificent goddess tits, and I will shower the Male Gaze with orchids. I will drown the Gaze in blossoms, bitch,

I will write
across the sky.

I will write
with all the beautiful things that belong to me.

I will raise daughters and teach them to be gardens.


By Brooke Durkan


The Sixth Extinction

the beginning of the end.

i sat down one evening
and began to write a list-

a list i hoped would be short
and simple and quick
a list of a few names
and a few places
and no more,
no more-

but the list went on and on
and the more i searched,
the lengthier the list was,
and the more frantic i became
as reality came crashing through the door
and made itself home
in the crevices of my thoughts

i wrote and i wrote
as the pen ran out of ink
and the paper bled with tears

i wrote
until i could write no more,
no more.

it was list veiled in black
and echoing with silent screams

it was a list of the dying.
and its length was long.

most people write bucket lists
of things they want to do,
places they want to see,
memories they want to make
before they die.

i wrote a list of beings
i want to see before they vanish.

it’s different, you see.

in this list,
they are the ones that are dying,
not i.
one. lonely.

we all feel alone sometimes
some more than others

and sometimes
we renounce our ecological nature-
the sequence in our genetic code
that writ us to be social beings-

and we make ourselves
islands in a sea of
seven billion

but do we know the meaning
of true loneliness?

maybe we should have
asked Lonesome George,
the Pinta island tortoise

maybe we should ask
the /Achatinella apexfulva/ snail or
the Panamanian golden frogs


what do we know of being an
the last individual on the records
before your kind is marked with
a big, red x-

we know nothing
of the true
meaning of

two. it takes two.

we have this concept of love
as something that cannot be defined

love, ah love, we say,
it is a hug, it is a smile, it is a
whisper in your ear, and a yell of joy,
it’s sunshine, it’s rain,
it’s everything, it’s a rush,
it’s nothing, it’s subtle

but what is it really?
other than a chain of
biochemical and neural
pathways in your brain
and your hormones.

our romantic sensibilities
prevent us from
reducing love into
an artificial context

but when the species
we have decimated to
the extent
that there are

only two

we have no choice
and gone are our
romantic notions
of love and natural mating

replaced with the cold
artificial reproduction
and the warm hopes
and prayers
of those who care.

three. three’s a crowd?

it keeps me up at night
the thought
of three
gentle behemoths
wrinkled skin and a
doe-eyed composure

the last of the northern white rhinos

surrounded by 24 hour
constant vigilance and an
armed guard
who work to keep
these animals
from joining the lists
too many species
have been added to

and it strikes to me
as a tragic dichotomy,
the thought of these
protected by the species
that had caused them the
greatest harms

and what terrible
roles we play in
the natural world

the sinners and the saviors

four. jaws.

my favorite movie
is jaws-
the story of a monstrous
shark on a killing spree by
a coastal New England town-

oh god

i refused to go to the beach
that summer, i would play
safely in the grass by the

a few years ago,
i came across a pair of dead
baby sharks
swept ashore
tiny little creatures
alone and unmoving,
cradled by the soft lapping
of the tide,
and suddenly
all i felt was a sudden rush
of pity and compassion

that night
i watched jaws again
with this newfound love
and went to bed dreaming
of fins gliding across
the surface of waves

and yesterday i learnt that

1/4 of all sharks and rays
are currently threatened
with death and extinction

you see, the real villains of the
cinema of reality
is what you see when
you look in the mirror

no, not you, per se
but us and the fish market
we rely on to feed our
insatiable hunger
because we are draining
our oceans one apathetic trawl
at a time and we are ruining our
waters with our waste and pollution

and yet we still have the audacity to
see the sharks as the
monsters of the seas

five. the past.

sometimes i lay on the
ground outside
and think of everything
the world
beneath my fingertips
has gone through

the survival of the microbes
to the colonization
of land
and ancient jellyfish
and ancestral chordata
and insects and dinosaurs
and tiny small mammals

each distinct era marked
with death and
a fundamental shift
in the natural order
of things-
a time of
ruination and

a mother’s chastise
that even the giants
will fall
a mother’s love
for the smaller lives
who deserve a chance

i think about all of these things
and i stretch my fingertips
across the planet
and i sink my body
into the ground
and seek
the depth of struggle
the strength of survival
of those long dead

the end of the beginning.

weariness takes ahold
in the creaks of my bones
and the vibrations of my voice
and the word “tired” flows with my blood
and weighs down in my heart.

i cannot go on.

but i must.

i must write, i must read,
i must listen, i must speak.

for the flora, the fauna,
their future and ours.

i must

and so i will.


By Deepti Kamma




my mother would tell me,
“child, put on your shoes,
and close the door behind you,”
as if her biggest fear
was being left alone in dark spaces
in her socks.

checking the door
once, twice, and once more
(just in case)
became child’s play,
even if i were inept at being young.
but i cannot check
in the way a pawn does a king,
because i am terrified
of trapping myself in an endgame
i cannot win.

my mother calls me still,
even though i’m far from one,
far from the days of bruising sidewalks —
because now,
i tread ever so carefully.


we stuck our bare thumbs into my dad’s beer
at seven and giggled at the sensation,
our fingers skinny dipping in something
forbidden at the time. i felt
lightheaded and giddy and confused
all at once, and
sucking my thumb was new to me.
i can almost hear the beer sing,
sweet in thought,
but bitter toxin in reality.

and when the storms come for me,
i’d like to say that i am strong enough,
that i am the tempests themselves.
but instead i hide with you —
you, who cannot be bothered to
be intricate in a universe that sings
of suicide and ecstasy.
you, who decided to be simple
in the face of the wounded.

you never drank with me.


i begin to dream of shiva in smoky skies,
during nights away from home.
and he speaks to me:
“child, fortify your spirit,
even if your ribs creak and
your lungs heave. child,
dream of brighter heavens
for those you love. child, be
tenacious and witty in this world that favors
the wicked.”

“but child, do not open doors
that bring about closings
for that role is mine. to you, i am shiva,
harbinger of finality.”


the last time you smile to me is the end
of many things, some of them mine.
this wreckage is cruel in ways previously
unknown to me, and i was not careful

and yet these misplaced deities smile
on us, even as you tear me apart.
their hands are cold to the touch.


these days,
my hands are ever so restless.
i find i recall the world
opening its third eye to me
in my vulnerable times, but i have never felt
so alive.

but i remember last night.
i remember the sounds.
“my child, you are loved.
my child, you are strong.”
the last time shiva spoke,
it was in my mother’s voice.

i grow older now, but i still check the door.
once, twice, and once more.
(just in case.)



By Parawat Chang


Those Horrible Monsters


The box jellyfish
a cnidarian

medusozoa, class

its venom can kill from
10 feet away

and it will feel nothing.



Ginger lemon green
tea steams—


from early
agricultural endeavors.



It costs
one dollar

fifty cents
and four

make that eight
flights of stairs

to buy gummy fruit snacks

to which I ask

is that fucked up
or what?



By Daniel Godwin



I am searching for perfection in the form of a peach.

It is a fruitless effort.

Their skins are thin,
their fuzz too soft,
their nectar too sweet.

They are too vulnerable.


By Sarah Phou