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SEPT. 2023





Issue I, 2023 


Dear Reader, 


A secret blooming. Pointed and wild. Any fumbling, deep-structured roar. As I’ve followed the line on the surface of Hood of Bone, choosing guideposts, setting intentions, and then adjusting, James Dickey’s “The Strength of Fields” has kept this project steady. Truthfully, it has given me unshakeable, sometimes exasperatingly undogged company in a season where I wanted nothing more than to go at everything alone (a sterile pursuit, but an as often attractive one). What I found so irritating was that this poem was not going to let me forget about the veil that can be lifted from my world to its own. Or how easy that lifting really is, once I get over this flimsy and lonely idea of dignity. This journal, and the work that it is privileged to home, belongs to both of these worlds. 

In a narrower essence, if one is to be permitted, the work of Hood of Bone is the work of Dickey’s “tell me”— “Tell me, train-sound, / with all your long-lost grief, / what I can give.” “Tell me in a voice the sea / would have, if it had not a better one [...].” These pages remind us that a life is nothing if not intertwined, if reflection does not serve as witness, if we cannot point to what it is we are giving our tired and untired bodies to. Solace isn’t to be found in some dense thicket of solitude, but in communion with all else that is bound by instinct and necessity, bloodiness and time, and that inviolable tended strength. 


With gratitude and warmth, 

Grace Ezra 


Aaron Canipe, From Forks and Branches


By Holly Mitchell

Weeds & grass grow really, really well here.

Some whatever-buds knocked down, onions out,

blueberries alright, persimmons looking good,

figs, rutabagas, thirty hills of potatoes—

nineteen of them okay—may or may not make anything.

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Katie Prock, "Buried Threads"


By Annie Woodford


Cushy Cow bonny, let down your milk,
& I will give you a gown of silk,
A gown of silk & a silver tee,
If you'll let down your milk to me.—nursery rhyme 


All the winnowing world 

is rain-blind 

& blurred with mist.

Let it be said: 


the dead are missed. 

The neighbors sold 

their late father’s

herd last week, 

     a plan promised 

since spring. 

I did not have to hear 

the cattle cry.

     They were just gone 

on my last walk. 

My child & I 

have loved 

     their black shapes 

blending into dusk, 

their large heads 

slowly lifting 

     to observe us, 

a shifting 

of planes & deep 

eyes, a light thrown 

     back from the shadows, 

calves bedded down 

in the grass, 

one wild & leggy, 

     willing to lope 

right through the fence

& graze unbounded,

while the others tried 

     to call it back. 

Their blue vowels 

wove the tree-lines, 

the pasture-breast. 

     The lamed bull 

dragged his hoof.

Now only one 

mother & her calf 

     are left to watch 

for dogs & coyotes 

alone, a vigil 

of senses all night. 

     All the flies go to her now, 

her sides shivering 

with their welter. 

Otherwise she is smooth 

     & many shades & silvers 

of black, a massive heat 

radiating off her 

flanks, her gaze 

     taking us in 

as we approach 

the fence with melon rinds 

she will not take 

     from our hands,


to eat them 

off the ground, 

     her big flat teeth 

a patience of grinding, 

a sound like the way 

the earth will 

     one day take us in. 


By Sarah Blackman


The forbidden fruit has taken on so much,

(to sorrow in childbirth as punishment,

forever naked, a seed in her guts)


across cultures, time periods, myth cycles. 

(half red/half white, the single bite,

Alan Turing falls like Snow White

to the floor) 


The doctor mouths apple idioms. Something 

is amiss or smells foul. 

(obliged to shoot the child,

obliged again and again to take aim) 


One rotten apple–

the rotten apple 

(sowing discord,

who will marry the most beautiful woman 

in the world? who will be dragged 

around the city walls by his feet?) 


Differs from the French, differs 

from the Italian, differs from the Spanish. 

Quite uncommon to have such varied roots.

(long-term thorns, a wood of precious

trees, golden, guarded by peacocks)


Only after the adoption of Christianity

(of sons instead of daughter,

the requisite number of young men 

entranced as she runs)


was there a derivation to mean “apple,” 

(they crop up a lot in love spells)


but of a different nature. A word 

(odds are gravity only came

into being when the apple hit the ground)


referring to a sweet-smelling juicy fruit 

(never referred to as too bright,

thorny with intellect, prickly

with opinion)


high on the tree

(female beauty, female

divinity, female betrayal, female power,

the seeds in a star shape important

to witches, the star in a seed

shape important to time)


that nevertheless will be devoured.

Alyson Fisher, "A Time and a Place"


“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” — Toni Morrison.

By Teddy L. Friedline

To feel water, to know it is here, and 

be unable to see it. When the car

bubbles on the turnpike and I can see

the tops of trees for five heartbeats, I hope

the clotted grey of the storm front I am 

driving into will abate for salt green 

that goes on. I read once why these houses 

don’t have basements—water gets its way here

before earth goes far. I abandon mud.

Stumble in the dark, soft wrists pointed up.

Eyes useless toward the sky. Pull at dirt 

to open the door. Cry thick rain to eat 

a path back wide enough to cross. Pray that

salt and acid reduce on the way there.

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Mary Lekoshere, " Stripes in the Back"

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Mary Lekoshere, " Languid "


By Kelly Hoffer

old flame


I tell him what  

I want                 I want him 

to tell me   what I  

want     I want what I  

want to be           what he 

is          I want to  

be his wanting I am wont to  

want      he wouldn’t        he finds 

me wanting           I am 

his if he wants if he’s wanting                    I am 

always the wanton thing wanting            he won’t 

will to  


                            he hangs fire

old flame


I tell him what  

I want                 I want him 

to tell me   what I  

want     I want what I  

want to be           what he 

is          I want to  

be his wanting I am wont to  

want      he wouldn’t        he finds 

me wanting           I am 

his if he wants if he’s wanting                    I am 

always the wanton thing wanting            he won’t 

will to  


                            he hangs fire

old flame


I tell him what  

I want                 I want him 

to tell me   what I  

want     I want what I  

want to be           what he 

is          I want to  

be his wanting I am wont to  

want      he wouldn’t        he finds 

me wanting           I am 

his if he wants if he’s wanting                    I am 

always the wanton thing wanting            he won’t 

will to  


                            he hangs fire


                           — After Robert Lowell

By Katherine Gaffney


The hot night makes us keep our bedroom

windows open. Our magnolia blossoms

sing, We are your magnolia blossoms. 

Our magnolia blossoms bloom

hot, bloom open as if begging

for a drink, begging for you to kiss

them fat on their creamy lips.

The bedroom windows flash

our sleeping bodies to summer’s

nightlife—the raccoon fumbling

to open the jettisoned cat food

cans again like stubborn mussels,

the frogs crooning guttural beneath

the hostas, the gerbil resting easy

buried outside the elementary

school across the street

with a paper plate marker.


By Katherine Gaffney


I will eat olives at night, late
over amber wine. My love buys
me Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet,
aloe, & more pimento-stuffed
olives. We watch Scooby Doo, fuck
in the blizzard of sheets at a new
hotel each night, play dominoes.
We swim in a pool where brother
& sister chirp sweet dares to swim,
end to end, in one breath. The blue,
blue water glitters. Lamb, seams
of haricot verts, mint, strawberry
paw potatoes cut in egg-like halves
pock my plate. I read the letters
before a sedge of sandhill cranes
roosting on a freshwater lake’s
swampy island. The children’s mother
sleeps in the afternoon shade. I burn,
make the aloe useful. I will not tell him
somewhere in my stacks of books
is a slighter copy of Letters, no
introduction, just Rilke.


Aaron Canipe, From Forks and Branches


By Kacey Nicosia

I noticed that, for a while, 

we only spoke on Mondays.


What a wonderful consistency it was 

to have on such slowwww low-country 

days, when I’d sit on the porch and listen 

to the bug zapper go off in that spaghetti-

strapped, white-and-blue floral dress rolled 

down to my hips, and, in my head, you’d 

be next to me in that cushioned wicker 

chair like funnel cake in resin, you and your 

non-biodegradable sweetness, bumming 

those chemicals from the earth like cheap 

tobacco until we no longer felt like snails 

or more like galumphing seals, often hungover 

on fish, our movements inchmeal, still with

such conviction, and I keep thinking that if 

I put this many swipes of deodorant under 

my arm pits in the morning, and I eat this 

many sweet cherries, and leave one less pit 

wrapped in a ruby-red stained paper towel 

on the counter, that it’ll somehow summon 

you sometime soon, and I’ll get to see you, 

hear you, speak, yawp, sing, feel you tuckle

up yourself with me.


By  Katherine Gaffney


Two of the neighborhood cats fuck

across the street—our dogs tell us

as they bellow at the feline activity

as if to say, It’s not decent. Go behind

a bush, beneath a car—our Aussie mix,

has always been a bit puritan, we say

to one another. The culprits: A white 

and black tomcat and a ginger, a ginger

…I look up the name for a female—

a Molly. File away advice to never name

a being that. The Aussie has always

barked at us as we dance in the kitchen,

nipped our heels as if we’d morphed

into unruly sheep or milk cows. Queen,

is another term I learn, which I quite

like—though the ginger looks less

than stately as the tomcat straddles her

again and again along the footpath dividing

my neighbor’s front yard. Reserved

for cats who become pregnant or have

had a litter, the name derives

from queening, the process of giving

birth. Or, so an article on

tells me. The final name delivered

is a Dam, rare for day-to-day chat, used

mostly for purebreds, mostly in breeding

circles. Thought to derive from dame. 

Our Russian Blue looks on from the porch

between blades of aloe, curious, but cautious.

Jack Sorokin " Untitled (from the series The Hog Killing)"


By Alyson Fisher 

The thought of a knife

if is enough to kill you.

The heat of the clouds should,

enough to burn it down

but it’ll be easy and light.

Like my white dog 

ruins fabric. 

Sinks can and expel 

if you allow the push to.

Sink songs through metal will,

allow men on little ships

but it’ll be calm and quiet.

Like my black cat 

licks water.


By Kristi Stout

          skimmed off the top. unbraiding all the meals my mother ever cooked. 
          the bus driver motions for me to sit down. i will, but only after you admit 
           the bud is set to barrel toward the calling of its name, and by name i don’t 
          mean letter letter letter, i mean something else, i mean nest death sun sun 
          sun hum death burst. death hinges on the burst. that’s what i needed to hear 
          the preacher say. instead the deliberate heft of the church door. bowing
          everyone lets the pregnant person sit. imagining the voice of a fruit tree after 
          mothering. i am the jackal in the ruins of what i once knew. are the sirens 


By Holly Mitchell

We got the U.S.S. Constitution after your Great Uncle Jesse died. Jesse was a big guy, fat & bald yet you’ve never seen a man women liked more.

First time I saw him grown up, he was riding through town with three babes in his car. Next time, I saw him with two different women, & your Mamoo says, “That’s my brother Jesse!”

Once I watched Mamoo’s father wade through the floodlands to the bus stop, carrying her atop his shoulders. I saw her, Jesse, & Mildred waiting for the school bus in the rain without raincoats.

Once upon a time, that inner tube rental was a fishing hole. We picnicked there with your mother & your aunts Patsy & Theresa.

When the water is high, it follows us. There’s whole houses consumed.

That ship is a spindly thing. It looks more like a storm than the ships I remember.

Katie Prock, “The Thing that You Are”

Katie Prock, "Internal Maladies”


By Loisa Fenichell 


The world is small. Riddles betray me. Jokes I don’t much

care about. I want just not to marvel at the dead pigeons


in the dead of the gutter. In dreams, women come to me.

There is no logic only that their legs are thin, their hair


bright as bolts of lightning. I admit it – my jealousy really does

turn me green as nausea, as the slice of lime at the bottom


of the Modelo I drink at the bar because it’s cheap. I am cheap.

Once, I was told that betrayal lends itself to caring for oneself.


Did I believe it? I was smarter than this therapist was, even while doubting

the reality of the thickly buttered blades of my back, my arms curved


like the sun. The sun weaves the sky, makes the sky that feeling

we all feel on a bright day when we wish we knew more facts – fact


is, I am constantly listening to seventies folk music to evoke in me

deeper emotion. Fact is sparrows are unfaithful. I read, today,


that the universe expands 14.8 km each minute and that Shakespeare

came up with the name Jessica. As I write this, none of my friends


are named Jessica. If you are reading this, if your name is Jessica,

please do reach out. I could use – what, with precision, could I use?


A call. A friend. There’s this you should know – I am a selfish friend.

Selfish as fried food. Even while talking with you, I will be wanting


to play hopscotch underneath the sun, which should belong only

to the wilderness, not to any city, because it is so wild with joy.


At night, I practice, pretending that the earth is forever soaked

in yellow light. The secret is I can never sleep, so I migrate from my bed


to the bathtub. It is in the bathtub that I believe in snakes. It is at night

that my body trembles, trembles with a fear so loathsome, so great


that I believe in some life or another, I was a porcupine, a turtle’s head

hiding in its shell – an animal with a shell. A great, big shell. 

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Sarah J. Sloat - 3 visual poems; “Vessel”, “Age”, and “Henceforth”

Mary Lekoshere, "Float "

Mary Lekoshere, "Summer Quilt "


By Holly Mitchell


An alley, all muddled
with the vase & pillage
of fallen mulberries.
The trees sandwiched
between backyards—
a yelping chained dog
& our friends’ swings.
Mom remembers
the ruined fruit kindly.
We pulled down berries
from the low boughs,
passing over the green
underripe catkins &
etched latex of leaves.
Maybe we picked up
clean-looking morsels
right from the tarmac.
I was a messy kid.
The instinct to wash
& organize came late.
Unchanged, untamed,
the wine-like berry
lives sour & musty,
violating the senses
for hundreds of years.
Mom missed the mountains’
perfumed valances.
But I was raised
a little plainer. I hated
the stink of mulberry,
how it overpowered
& how much was wasted:
a red, purpled spillage
stamped into the road.

Alyson Fisher, "I'm Taking You With Me"


By Sarah Blackman


Nap catches me.

Everything is far away.

My children calling,
the possibility of my death.
Spiders have built intricacies
spanning the corners of the house.
Without them we would only have
the generalized gesture, the open mouth
with a tongue just hanging out.

Neon morning glories attract yellow butterflies.

All this is too close to my eye to see.
My eye is shut.

In the dark I mistake your head 
for a round bristle brush.

What will I clean with this? I wonder.
What will I soothe?
What will I untangle?

The children call and call 
already far away from their babyhood
as if they were spinning down a black river
with acorn caps on their heads.

Goodbye, morning glory.

Goodbye, spiders.

I can sleep in the October sun 
content that no one will walk 
around the corner of the house
to murder me.

Who among us can say all this?

It hasn’t happened yet.
That’s all.

Not yet.

Aaron Canipe, From Forks and Branches


Editor in Chief: Grace Ezra is originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She was a finalist for Frontier Poetry's 2023 Hurt and Healing prize. Their work has been previously published or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Salt Hill Journal, Raleigh Review, and elsewhere.

Assistant Editor: Andrew Hutto's work has been featured in Thrush Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, Twyckenham Notes, Driftwood Press, and elsewhere. Currently, he teaches at Newberry College and lives 20 minutes from Prosperity. 

Sarah Blackman is a poet, fiction and creative non-fiction author originally from the Washington D.C. area. Her poetry and prose has been published in a number of journals and magazines, including The Georgia Review, Denver Quarterly, Crazyhorse, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Conjunctions, Oxford American Magazine and The Missouri Review among others. She has been featured on the Poetry Daily website and anthologized in the Poets Against the War Anthology, Best New American Voices, 2006, Metawritings; Toward a Theory of Nonfiction, and xoOrpheus: Fifty New Myths


Teddy L. Friedline (they/he) is a queer writer. They serve as co-EIC of FAIRY
PIECE MAG, a literary magazine about made-up rules and chess. His work has appeared in Yes
Poetry, Pigeon Review, streetcake, DEAR Poetry Journal
, and elsewhere. Starting this fall they
will be an MFA candidate at Chatham University. You can find him on Instagram and on Twitter,
both @jadeitebttrdish.

Loisa Fenichell’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, and has been featured or is forthcoming in Guernica Magazine, Narrative Magazine, Poetry Northwest, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, “all these urban fields,” was published by nothing to say press and her collection, “Wandering in all directions of this earth,” is the winner of the 2022 Ghost Peach Press Prize, selected by Eduardo C. Corral and forthcoming from Ghost Peach Press in 2023. She is the winner of the 2021 Bat City Review Editors' Prize, has been a finalist for Narrative Magazine’s 2021 30 Below contest, a runner-up for Tupelo Quarterly's Tupelo Poetry Prize, and a finalist for the Dorianne Laux / Joe Millar prize. She has been the recipient of an award from Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, will be graduating from Columbia University’s MFA program come August of 2023, and will be a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at University of Denver come Fall of 2023.

Holly Mitchell is a poet from Kentucky, now based in New York. Sarabande Books published Holly’s debut collection, Mare’s Nest, in Spring 2023.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Author's note: "The Model Ship" and "Self-Acceptance" are both persona poems in the voice of my grandfather.

Aaron Canipe is a photographer and designer living in Mebane, North Carolina. He
earned his MFA in Experimental & Documentary Arts from Duke University in 2015.
Canipe’s work revolves around what it means to struggle with a loss of innocence and
beauty in the South today. His photographs and books have been exhibited
throughout the region.

Annie Woodford is from a mill town in the Virginia Piedmont and now lives in Deep Gap, North Carolina. She is the author of Bootleg (Groundhog Poetry Press, 2019). Her second book, Where You Come from Is Gone (2022), is the winner of Mercer University’s 2020 Adrienne Bond Prize and the 2022 Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. She was awarded the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in 2019.

Katie Prock is a photographic artist and book maker. Prock earned her MFA in Studio Art at Florida Atlantic University, where she now works as an instructor. Her practice utilizes alternative printing techniques and incorporates handcrafted processes which emphasize chance occurrence and imperfections. Her work and research focus on topics such as identity, gender, family history, and girlhood. In addition to being exhibited across the United States, including Biblio 2020 at Art Palm Beach, Prock’s work has been featured abroad in the Body + Memory + City Photo Festival in Alicante, Spain. 

Alyson Fisher’s work is a tribute to recollections, keepsakes, and happenings. Her process is agile and repetitive, similar to habits and memories. She embraces what feels “homemade”, capturing an unconventional tenderness of materials. Alyson Fisher currently resides in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where she teaches AP Art, Art History, and Psychology. She received her BFA in Printmaking with a minor in Art History from University of South Carolina.

Mary Lekoshere lives and paints in her native town of Greenville, SC. Her studio is a breakfast nook off the kitchen, where she paints around parenting her four children, and feeding her husband. She fell in love with oil painting at the age of 14 at an art camp, and went on to study painting, drawing and printmaking in college. She has a life long passion for illustration and story, as is reflected in the narrative nature of her paintings. She pursues the “Ache of Beauty” in her work, and is delighted when her images evoke an emotional response in her viewers. 

Jack Sorokin began his career in the arts at the age of 15, assisting documentary filmmakers and celebrity portrait photographers in NYC. Early recognition from The National Endowment for the Arts YoungArts program in 2011 further propelled his career, leading to a BFA in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2015 Jack's unique visual narratives have since been sought after by a range of esteemed commercial and editorial clients including American Express, ProPublica, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Jack's work invites the viewer into a thoughtful contemplation of the intricacies of the human experience and the duality of tenderness and crudeness inherent in all of us. His goal is to humanize the experiences of communities that are often stereotyped, offering an immersive experience that amplifies the voices and stories of these individuals. Through his work,  Jack illuminates the crucial aspects of vulnerability, community, and intimacy in the human experience. His work not only captures moments but also sparks conversation and understanding, bringing much-needed light to the stories and experiences often overlooked.

Sarah J. Sloat is the author of Hotel Almighty, a collection a visual poetry from Sarabande Books. Sarah is originally from New Jersey but has lived for many years in Europe, where she works in news. Her poems, prose and collage have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Diagram and elsewhere. You can keep up with her at and on Instagram at @sjane30.


Kristi Stout is a writer splitting time between Virginia and North Carolina. Some of her previous
work can be found at The Rumpus and Blue Arrangements.

Kacey Nicosia is an emerging writer from Huntersville, NC. She attends school at Clemson
University where she studies Environmental and Natural Resources and Creative Writing. She
lives in Central, SC near a train track with thoughts about adopting a cat.

Kelly Hoffer is a poet and book artist. Her debut collection of poetry, UNDERSHORE (2023), was selected by Diana Khoi Nguyen as the winner of the Lightscatter Press Prize. The manuscript of her second collection, "Fire Series," was a finalist for the 2021 National Poetry Series and the Georgia Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, TAGVVERK, American Chordata, Denver Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Prelude, and Second Factory among others. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD in Literatures in English from Cornell University. She currently teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan as the Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Poetry. Learn more at

Katherine Gaffney completed her MFA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is
currently working on her PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her work has previously
appeared in jubilat, Harpur Palate, Mississippi Review, Meridian, and elsewhere. She has attended the
Tin House Summer Writing Workshop, the SAFTA Residency, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference as a scholar. Her first chapbook, Once Read as Ruin, was published at Finishing Line Press. Her first full-length collection, Fool in a Blue House, won the 2022 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry.


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