Marilyn Annucci, poet.jpg


Selected by Marilyn Annucci, author of The Arrows That Choose Us, winner of the 2018 Press 53 Award for Poetry (A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection)

"Elegy with Orion" by Sheila Black

"When I Couldn't Sleep" by Matthew Morrison

"Nibble" by Travis Stephens

"Moving Day" by Emma Wynn

Sheila Black.jpg

Sheila Black

Followed by Author Bio

Elegy with Orion


I don’t believe in the stars exactly or the man
who told me my palm was cut in two
by “love troubles,” but I spot Orion every time I
tilt my head to look up this time of year—
days shortening, the promise of pure winter,
brother, hunter, rapist, victim of something like a lynching,
murdered by Artemis for his unspeakable crime.
Who placed him in the sky?  I can’t remember,
but there he is eternally chasing the stag that he
will never catch, eternally glimmering with his quiver
of arrows, or a story of him, which is no more
real than the notion that the stars can tell our fate.
Here, they are tonight, such pretty fairy lights,
but close up no more than maws of fire, swallowing
whatever would breathe beside them.  How close
can any two people get without one of them
wanting to escape?  I have loved you best in glimmers,
glimpses like sips of water on a dry hot day.
I don’t know what I would do with you if I had you.
I don’t know what it is to have another person,
closer, closer like a tangent veering off into deepest
space; yet still shadowing, as Orion shadows me,
a kind of imago which spells out the ancient grief
of how bad a person can be and still be
beloved by someone. The Greeks were smarter
than we are about such things; they knew
a story’s purpose is to reconcile uncomfortable truths,
like the way longing makes you cruel or what
you love best can also destroy you. They don’t
seem compelled as we do to choose. I remember
one night with you in a bar and the stories we
traded—childhood favorites—The Snow Queen,
her splinter that enters the boy’s eye and the girl
who travels to find him; only her tears can make
the world beautiful again. I loved that story once,
but now I think it as troubling as Orion, the hunter,
the good brother, terrible guest who pillages
where he can, and see how even now, he struggles
to find a way home.

~ ~ ~

Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017). She is a co-editor of Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in PoetryThe Spectacle, The Nation (forthcoming), The New York Times, and other places. She currently divides her time between San Antonio, Texas, and Washington, D.C., where she works at AWP.

Matthew Morrison.jpeg

Matthew Morrison

Followed by Author Bio

When I Couldn’t Sleep,


I’d leave Bernal Heights,
and walk
down Valencia,
uphill to Noe Valley, 

crossing the towering row
of palm trees lining
Dolores St.,
to 24-Hour Donuts. 

A glazed for 50 cents.
Alive, recuperating
with the trolley
tracks down Church St.

The coolness outside
and nobody but me
and the man
who made the donuts.  

I didn’t mind
that my friends
went to parties,
to concerts. 

I was a writer,
alone in Noe Valley,
eating a donut at 3:30 a.m.,

I was going to be
exactly who I wanted
to be, for the rest
of this young life. 

~ ~ ~

Matthew Morrison teaches at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he graduated with his MFA in Creative Writing in 2015. He has worked as a journalist at The Hull Times and as an instructor through Ivy International at Concord Academy. He earned his BA in English and History at Colby College in 2006, and received a Masters in Education through UMass Boston in 2012. His work has appeared in Write on the Dot and is forthcoming in Constellations.

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Travis Stephens

Followed by Author Bio


Where Pacific Coast Highway has
six lanes north of FREEWAY ENDS
cars slow, jostle, worry. I’ve got
my windows down, coasting to
play with the MPG numbers.
To my right, proud on a bit
of shoulder is a young rabbit.
Three feet from rabbit is this
span of cars, left of that expensive
homes then expansive sand.
Past that the salty edge of the world.
Beach bunnies.
To the right that rise of cliff
to Santa Monica. ROCKSLIDE AREA.
Dirt thatched with mustard, yucca & coyote brush.
The rabbit nibbles unworried.
Cool kitten. A Coney Island.
High above there is a park where
people like to sit & watch the sea,
like to throw bottles & shopping
carts & bicycles in a jangle hop.
How many rabbits are hiding?
In the cruel mathematics of nature
how many sisters & brothers
to this stalwart, were lost in the
litter, the gravel & open skies?
Bury the past.
A group of rabbits can be
a warren, down, trace.
I am in a river of cars, also
known as a jam, commute
or everyday disaster. If there
were a shoulder beyond
this sharp toothed curb
I’d like to pull over. Sit
in the dirt & chew a stem of grass.
Buck wild & not
move a thing.

~ ~ ~

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. A graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include Gyroscope Review, 2River, Sheila-Na-Gig, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Raw Art Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Gravitas and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

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Emma Wynn

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Moving Day


We’re taking what we use—
the cows we’ve bred placid gargantuans,
woods that grow fast and straight—
the good workers, pine and bamboo,
and cartons of shiny strawberries, swollen polyploidy.
Shucked from the limestone as we chunk it loose,
the cry violets drift and pale. 

We’ll leave the woolly-stalked begonia that wandered in the hardwood shade,
the bluebuck, its ringed horns as long as an arm.
As a kind of packing song, try a few names:
Mount Glorious day frog, Xerces blue,
laughing owl, pocket gopher, or dusky seaside sparrow.
Roan Mountain false goat’s beard,
xysmalobium baurii.
The quagga.
The Ascension crake, which could not fly. 

We’ve stripped the beds, both flower and sea,
emptied every larder back to bones.
In the room that was the living,
melancholy touches us like the shadow of a bird.
Then only the slabs of sunlight suspend the dust.
On the stoop, we join the meats and oils—
barreled, boxed,
and bound for no other home.

~ ~ ~

Emma Wynn received her masters degree from Harvard Divinity School and teaches Philosophy & Religion at a boarding school in rural Connecticut, where she lives with her partner and two children. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Coffin Bell JournalSky Island Journal, and West Trade Review.