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Shelby Graham

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Farnaz Fatemi

Looking at Bryophytes

I bend towards the glistening patch of olive
pasted on the rocks. Fall into the trance
of moss and liverwort,
as if tiny labyrinths of cell chambers
could let me disappear inside
the connective tissue of ancestral bodies,
gaze out from the thalloid form
when it chooses which direction
to clone itself again.

Here in the tangled branchlets of rootless moss
I could tend our wounds.
I could bring everything
to the rain-reconstituted colonies
on this steep embankment:
the futures we conjured when we were young,
acceptance letters, divorce,
tender kisses, broken bones.

Deposit it in this time capsule,
bury it for a needful forager to find:
the one who arrives when we are gone—
and every last
person who knew us once.


In the fourth drought year, fleeting drops are waterfalls. Flick of palmful catches sunlight and I remember the days we were drenched: rickety rain gauge surrendered, our hillside squeezed out puddles into the street days after the end of the storm. Now the air is brittle and the dusty pipes of our appetite are disintegrating. I am possessed by my fishtail weeder and pitchfork. My mania ruptures the main. A breach, and every patch of my skin is soaked. Flood during the drought of a lifetime.

Port in my chest opens
Veins fill with water, I drink
what there is of hope.

                                   Summer Lake, Oregon

The wind makes you steel yourself.
Lean against it, feel it desiccate
your fingernails, your skin.

Tree swallows cling
to their roosts. All their hours

                    You learn
how to sleep with your head
at the rattling windows.

You want to sleep
in a tent in the bluster.
Your skin is scaly

and your is hair flat.
You begin not to notice
when the storm quiets

in the deepest part of night.
What remains after
the wind has pummeled the hillside

is ore, mined from your life.
Something else inside you
is humid, growing

like a cottonwood or lilac bud.
Open the front door and the back door
of your home and let the gusts

push through.
See what doesn’t blow away,
what remains to paper the rooms.

We Were Never the Same

                                                  for Prince

The world will always have sour plums
and I will always want them.
Love is a surprise party in another country.

He arrived to be the king of desire, of naming
the thing you want and then changing
its name. Prince of promise—

of getting the hell out of dodge.
We were never the same. Plum-colored universe,
spring sizzle of bees, cherry moon

of attention. Human hand. Bodies
scrubbed clean to match the rooms
behind our eyes we’ll fill with bliss.

Farnaz Fatemi is a writer, editor and teacher whose recent poetry and lyric essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Comstock Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Delaware Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and more. She has just completed her first book of poetry, What Kind of Woman. She is the Second Place Poetry Winner of the 2016 Litquake Writing Contest, a Pushcart Nominee, a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and she was a finalist for Best of the Net, Nonfiction, 2015. She adores the literary communities of her home in Santa Cruz. More at

Farnaz Fatemi
Frances Hatfield
Danusha Lameris
Ingrid Lariviere
Lisa Allen Ortiz

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Shelby Graham


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