Poetry Editorial 

Old Wives Tales on Which I was Raised 
by Jenny Xie

The number of rice grains left in your supper bowl
foretells how many pockmarks will appear on your lover’s face

Sleeping on your back will flatten your head’s shape
but sleep on your stomach and you’ll induce nightmares

Eating the fat inside the crab sharpens the mind
so too the roe extracted from the steamed fish

Never let your feet touch cold water from the bathtub or
the sea on days when you’re menstruating

Pinch the nose before age six when the cartilage is pliable
so the nasal bridge will grow narrow and high

Drift asleep with your hair wet
and you’ll suffer from decades of migraines

You’ll wreck your eyesight poring over pages in low light
but looking at all things green from a distance can coax it back

Phnom Penh Diptych: Dry Season
by Jenny Xie

Motorbikes darting. Nattering horns leave an aftertaste.

I mark the distance on a map: this city a wrist-width away from the last.

Come sunrise, street dogs will turn their thoughts to wet foods.

It’s not easy to measure your life in debts. ~

For years now, I’ve been using the wrong palette.
Each year with its itchy blue, as the bruise of solitude reaches its expiration date.

Planes and buses, guesthouse to guesthouse.

I’ve gotten to where I am by dint of my poor eyesight,
my overreactive motion sickness.

9 p.m., Hanoi’s Old Quarter: duck porridge and plum wine.

Voices outside the door come to a soft boil. ~

There goes the moon, hardening on a hot skillet.

All that is untouchable as far as the eye can reach. ~

I thought I owned my worries, but here I was only pulled along by the needle
of genetics, by my mother’s tendency to pry at openings in her life.

Calls made from a booth where one pays by the minute.

I fail to mention the bite of my mistakes,
furnish stories with movement
and no shades of despair.

No, I didn’t travel here for the lawlessness.

I developed an appetite for elsewhere

Dancing in the Desert
by Cassie Premo Steele
There is a kind of dance the desert makes

At sunset as the wind rakes through the sage

And stirs the soup for rabbits hopping home.

I stand still, not sure if the dance is something

I can do, but knowing I don’t want to be only

A spectator, lonely and watching.

So I lean into the cottonwood and let my hip

Hit the bark, not too hard, just soft like a lover

Who has not yet given a first kiss.

This is the dancing I know we can do

When we find ourselves in the desert

And decide to take a chance—

Because we are not alone,

Not ever alone,

When we waken from the trance.

Backyard Jam
by Miah Prescod

   I heard
we gon be outside this summer
and what better way to welcome
the blossoming of her presence
than a cookout —
an ode to the breeze and warmth
from her sun goddess gaze.
Let’s call it a tribute.
One phone call and
everybody coming home to
aunty’s hands in the kitchen working her magic.

But is it really a cookout if you don’t ask
who made the mac and cheese?
Cause everybody’s hands ain’t like aunty’s hands.

            Or my mother’s.
The grill is calling my uncle’s name
searching for chicken
hot dogs lined up waiting.
I like mine burnt.
That’s the only way to do it.
Mango chow straight from the islands.
If you can’t handle peppa this ain’t for you.

This is a backyard jam and
we bringing Trinidad across the sea
straight into Brooklyn.

Sighing Places
by Jacob Aupperlee

The days in Chicago, poorly drawn

and everywhere a preacher. Thick with dice

or loose with change, we buried clean yawns

in rumpled layers, stretching dark advice

through telephones. The gaps were paradise,

when breath ordained our minds and wept across

our tongues in muddy clouds; the imprecise

confrontation we braved when a coin toss

confessed fountain rings. Three times we lost

ourselves among the grids of glass, the bleak

cement trailheads. You sought northgrowing moss

on every corner, every chapel peak.

And when the fourth betrayal came, you sat,

undoing laces, fingers shaking quietly.

Pepper Soup
by Salam Adejoke

My knives shine in different sizes and forms,
I am the God of final chops!
Lay my fish down as I aim for its neck,
Heartbeat off in just a switch,
Simmering aroma on mild heat its final resting place,
Onions, pepper, uziza an accessory to your kingship end,
As garlic, crushed ginger swim along with you to rest.

From my nostrils down your presence is felt,
Swimming in hot pepper you send away chills,
Even though dead you still bring bliss,
My body sweat as my tongue burns at the pulse of your impact felt,
At the end I gulped down water to help you land,
Take a swim perhaps in my belly land,
I could feel the jubilation and merriment as they welcome you home.

©️ Casey Beifuss 2022