Heatwave

By Laura Linart

Featured Art by Mallory Stowe

In the deep end of August, the sun oozes
over Jackie Onassis Reservoir.
The air is dense, crickets set to simmer.
The sidewalk steams.

Over Jackie Onassis Reservoir,
a chemical rainbow rises.
The sidewalk steams.
Cockroaches fly in the streets.

A chemical rainbow rises.
Taxis shimmer. Shirts cling to breastbones.
Cockroaches fly in the streets.
From three long blocks away, I can smell the city pool.

Taxis shimmer. Shirts cling to breastbones.
The sun tattoos a cipher across silver rooftops—
from three long blocks away, I can smell the city pool.
The rich people vanish. The heat sticks.

The sun tattoos a cipher across silver rooftops:
One down: suffuse desire; Across: quiver boombox.
The rich people vanish. The heat sticks.
In the distance, the grid is viscous.

One down: suffuse desire; Across: quiver boombox.
We chase our shadows down the avenue.
In the distance, the grid is viscous
—borders fading, partitions coming undone—

we chase our shadows down the avenue
speeding toward the promise of night
—borders fade, partitions come undone—
the city exhales, releasing its secrets.

Speeding toward the promise of night,
in the deep end of August
the city exhales, releasing its secrets
and I am falling in love with everyone.


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Dollhouse

By Aneeqa Mazhar Wattoo

Walking around in Central London
I find myself even browner than I remember
feeling when I lived there three years ago
before returning to Lahore

                                                            [and her kind shisham trees
                                                            and the unkind eyes of strangers
                                                            that make my eyes heavy with the second
                                                            pair of eyelashes that grow over the first as I
                                                            navigate her narrow sidewalks]

but London looks exactly the same—
everyone seems hurried, busy
rushing to someplace else, someplace better
where suddenly, violently
like snakes shedding off their skins
they will blossom into
finer versions
of themselves.

Now at a roadside café
I try to gather my
self but I cannot
feel anything.

Instead, I watch myself from a distance—an object clad in
red pants, practical blue Toms, and wristwatch
with a cluster of crystals around the dial

and I wonder
how the faint London sunshine
manages to erase me
so efficiently, so completely
every time

until one of those absurd motorbike rickshaws targeting tourists
races by and the notes of a loud Bollywood song slash the air
and I feel sudden, improbable delight, recognizing in the sound
something I cannot name, but which turns me briefly into
some
body

and it slides into me
the way a ray of sunshine slides perfectly, angularly
into the dark patch on a windowpane

that all of London is a dollhouse
and I am a doll in the dollhouse—
a tiny object in the gloved hands
of a woman in a factory, hunched over an assembly line

                                                            [now she wipes away the sweat on her forehead,
                                                            now she imperceptibly stretches, the muscle in
                                                            her back relaxes by a tiny degree
                                                            and the ache recedes for a bit]

she glues me to one of the
miniature sidewalks
and I sit there
forever afterward
            my wristwatch gleaming
            my new Nikes shining
            sipping a cup of tea
            with petite,
            manicured hands.


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How Do You Name a Hurricane?

By Amy Lee Scott

First, watch the storm gathering. On the map there is a bustle of white, so much like a twirling petticoat that spins faster and faster. When it gets big enough, the astronauts post photos. News outlets flash warnings. People clear supermarket shelves, hammer up boards, track down batteries. Outside, the wind thrashes.

***

Arthur. Bertha. Cristobal. And Dolly.

Use old names, like our grandparents’. Names that stick. That is why we began to name them: the old labels—just numbers—were not enough. We needed names to contain such catastrophes.

Why would anyone even live there? someone said after looking at photos of decimated islands. They are destroyed year after year.

We weren’t noticing the hurricanes. Here, we were scrolling and scrolling past black squares. Past Black faces:

George. Breonna. Ahmaud. The list went on.

***

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Before Poetry Can Save the Planet, It Needs to Shift Our Souls

By Marcia LeBeau

Every Tuesday morning, I throw a portable white board and some books into my car and drive up the hill to our local nature reserve. There within the 2,000 acres, I squint through the bare tree branches to spot little dots of pink, green, blue, and yellow jumping and climbing—the kindergarteners. When they see me, they start yelling, “Poetry time!” Most are excited; one makes it a point to tell me that he still hates poetry. He’s my favorite.

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