Tag Archives: digital writing

Kelli Russell Agodon

Overcrowded With Ghosts

My nights are packed with mourning—barn swallow in the closet, fishhook attached to its beak.

I once had a sister named Hazard, we daydreamed about orchids, I washed the blood out of her hair.

My nights are packed with panic—thunderstorm in the west of my brain, earthquake beneath my ribs, someone I know is dying, had died, is holding the gate open for death, but death is sleeping on the porch.

Is this the moth my sister longed for? Moth becomes mother becomes a suicide
in the flowers. Orchid. Greenhouse.

When my sister died it wasn’t because she was brokenhearted, instead it was a cancer
that wouldn’t let her swallow. It wasn’t because she grew up without a mother, but because her body grew too much. Like blossoms. Like tumors.

My nights are packed with lightning. Ghost storms of the past, someone whispering, Who’s next? The room is dark with worry. My phone blinks on the nightstand, my sister blinking in the stars.

Fairytale in Fractures

Sometimes through the darkness you can see the bioluminescence in the waves, an ocean of constellations, someone moving a magic wand through the seawater. There was no light streaming through the castle window, but the moat glistened. Everything that shouldn’t glow was glowing, everything that didn’t want to be touched was being touched, and when you disturb the plankton it shines for a moment.

I leave out the part when I was sixteen and my friend took me into the back bedroom of his castle. And instead, I tell you how later that night I walked two miles down railroad tracks carrying a puppy I‘d found, guessing he’d been abused or tossed from a car. I leave out the part where I was hurting and instead focus on the moonlight shadowing Puget Sound, how I knew another train was coming by the ripples in water, how the bioluminescence stayed by my side all night. I leave out the part where he pushed me down on his sister’s twin bed and instead focus on walking to the only vet still open after midnight.

Sometimes in the darkness you can’t see the darkness, like when a friend is no longer a friend, but then, we didn’t have a name for it, like someone moving a wand through the seawater—everything that shouldn’t be known is known, and if you injure the plankton that part of it will die.

I leave out the part where I left the castle, because there never really is a castle and instead tell you the easiest way to stop suffering is to find something more hurt than you are and carry it near your heart for many miles. I won’t describe to you the villains, who are probably not villains in other people’s lives. I won’t go into the details of days/weeks/years after, how long it took to trust again, but will say—I set the puppy in a towel on the receptionist’s lap then washed the blood off of mine. Sometimes we have to walk home alone on railroad tracks. Sometimes we have to do our best to fight off a prince. But because the world hopes for happy endings, I will tell you—the dog and I both survived.


Kelli Russell Agodon is a poet, writer, and editor from the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of six books, most recently, Hourglass Museum (Finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry & the Julie Suk Poetry Prize) & The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. Her work has appeared in magazines such as The Atlantic, New England Review and O, The Oprah Magazine. Kelli is also the Co-Director of the Poets on the Coast writing retreat as well as an avid paddleboarder, mountain biker, and hiker. She lives in a sleepy seaside town a floating bridge & a ferry ride away from Seattle. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com


Matthew Minicucci


It’s raining again, you say. Near flow and no-slip. Car on the curvature of space and time and boxed wine. Here: the clear empty well of a disappointed glance. New glacier. Gravitation and some brief disturbance of co-habitation. Volume as a function of change in pressure and stress. What a fucking mess.

By which I mean these voices long-graveled. By which I mean a singular sort of silence caught in the distribution of moments: steel fixed joint; live load at an adjacent point. All of it indeed a moving, variable weight.

Factor this, solve for that. Say for any cardinal along the road, Z is true. Z might be number of beats possible by each wing divided by miles not migrated. Or how it’s always a sad, sad distance to one special, sharp-crested mate; that tiny brown sweater she always likes to wear in winter.
Matthew Minicucci is the author of two collections of poetry: Translation (Kent State University Press, 2015), chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the 2014 Wick Poetry Prize, and Small Gods, forthcoming from New Issues Press in 2017. He is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Wick Poetry Center, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his MFA. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2014, Blackbird, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review, among others.


Amelia Martens

Some Day We Will be Scientists, or Farmers


We have begun the experiments. Peek-a- Boo Birdhouse, with two-way mirror so the
girls can spy on chirpy hatchlings, watch cartoons, and cry. Next comes the Roots-
Vue Farm Kit, dirt pellets fluffed to life by fork and seven cups warm water. The Egg
Carton Garden, with optimistic beans. Our refrigerator monitors a series of magnetic
hypotheses, obscured by coupons and photos of babies who no longer exist. All the
while our house spins slowly through space; the dog in the yard is in his eighth
rotation between ball and treat, between fence and oblivion. From the moon, Earth
is aglow in blue flame. We are observed by satellites of dead stars, as if, by
prediction, we will rise up and be absolved.


Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There
To Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), a book of prose poems selected
for the 2014 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature. She met her
husband in the IU MFA program; their collaborative projects include a
reading series, a literary journal, and two daughters.

Siel Ju

What He Meant

The coffee spill added a familiar sentiment to an otherwise simple postcard.

A Clarification

It is true, I was desperate. But I wanted to impress upon him that I was not quite as
desperate as I first appeared.

How Mother Asks If I’m Dating Anyone

After I catch her up on my life, she’ll say, So. Do you have any good news?


Every time I blowdry you say: Your hair’s gotten so long!


She couldn’t tell if they were jealous of her promotion or if they simply found her


Despite her sharp haircut, she was partial to phrases like “cool beans.”

The Good Day

I braced hard but what I feared did not happen.
For that I am grateful.


I lied. I do have more to say. Second letter to follow under separate cover.


Siel Ju’s novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is the winner of the 2015 Red Hen Press Fiction Manuscript Award and will be published in Spring 2017. Siel is also the author of two poetry chapbooks and the recipient of residencies from The Anderson Center and Vermont Studio Center. Her stories and poems appear in ZYZZYVA, The Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), The Los Angeles ReviewDenver Quarterly, and other places.  More of her work can be found at sielju.com

Kathleen Nalley

Holiday Inn

After the bruised body recovered, after being shoved
into a car, after the knot in the temple subsided after
a platter of fried chicken smashed into her head, her
mamma took her girls to the Holiday Inn and hid. She
didn’t know what her next move would be; she just
knew she had to move.

Her grandfather brought donut holes and milk for the girls.
Every few minutes, her mamma reminded them not to go
near the window, not to peek out from the curtain, to be
sure the panels were pulled tight. Even the air was taut,
snapped shut. Shut up. She hoped the hotel’s star and
arrow didn’t beckon him, didn’t point out their location.
In the 1970s, the hotel’s slogan changed from “the
nation’s innkeeper” to “the best surprise is no surprise.”

This is her happiest memory: no surprises. Dunkin Donuts
and her grandfather’s khaki jacket, wet from the rain. The
newness of the old hotel room (a room not her own; a
room where she, alone, was not hiding). The coldness of
the milk on her lips. The warmth of the vent under the
curtained window. The green and yellow incandescents
twinkling like stars just above their room.


Kathleen Nalley is the author of the
chapbooks Nesting Doll (winner of the S.C.
Poetry Initiative Prize) and American Sycamore
(Finishing Line Press). Her poetry is forthcoming
or has appeared in Slipstream, Rivet, storySouth,
Night Block, The Bitter Southerner, and Night
Owl, among others. She holds an MFA from
Converse College, teaches literature and writing
at Clemson University, and finds books their
forever homes at M. Judson Booksellers and