Jessica Poli: It Was Someone’s Birthday & We Were Having a Picnic, The Dreamer Reads His Love Letters, & Bottle Up and Explode!

It Was Someone’s Birthday &
We Were Having a Picnic

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Suddenly the sky full of jellyfish.
The ocean has turned upside down and now
we need to swim to the bottom.
Before it happened, you were telling me about
the time you met Madonna. I’ve never met Madonna
and I think about that as I swim down. Up?
It’s sad though, the swimming.
All that’s left behind.

The Dreamer Reads
His Love Letters

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I love mint on you.
You’re like Montana.
I want to be as small
as an almond and sleep
inside your mouth.
You’re always
neon in my dreams.
Loving you is like
trying to tie water
with string.
I would love you
up to the very edge
of the sun’s wind.
I would love you until
the ends of our hair
became knives.

Bottle Up and Explode!

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Everything is so new and loud—Rain like needle pricks and the sun gaining impossible light. We’re drawing up plans to fold the universe on top of itself to escape, but that’s not for a few millennia. In the meantime, I should get an oil change. I should get a kitten. I should buy a bird cage but not a bird. I should have kids. I should tuck the kids into bed and tell them how the universe is made of gold and toothpicks—An incredible cathedral! How the sky arches in every direction and could have been wax for all we knew, had we not flung metal towards it to test its ceilingness. Now they tell us we’ve reached the end of the solar system, flung ourselves past the wind, landed in some terrifying cavern of silence where we imagine our dreams unfurling like wildflowers hurled into space. Imagine that place: stars splitting, a familiar feeling of implosion, of sighing, kissing underneath a staircase, flying out of a church and into unafraid arms.


ART: Zachary Tate Porter, Jeannie Vanasco

FICTION: Katya Apekina, John Henry Fleming, Lacy Arnett, Claire Harlan Orsi, Chantel Tattoli

NONFICTION: Emily Carr, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Johanna Stoberock, Steve Wasserman

POETRY: Janelle Adsit, Ryan Bender-Murphy, Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni, Dan Chelotti, Lisa Ciccarello, Christopher DeWeese, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Tyler Gobble, Fanny Howe, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Nick Lantz, Matthew Lippman, Aditi Machado, Alice Miller, Marc Paltrineri, Christopher Rey Pérez, Allan Peterson, Jessica Poli, Lynne Potts, Dan Rosenberg, M. C. Rush, Ed Skoog, Cindy St. John, Russel Swensen, Emily Toder, Laurie Saurborn Young

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