book announcement / Sarah Sarai ~ That Strapless Bra in Heaven ~ (Kelsay Books)

Please check out former contributor Sarah Sarai’s new collection That Strapless Bra in Heaven:

That Strapless Bra in Heaven


“If it is to be of any value / a story will be misunderstood” – that’s Sarah Sarai in The Strapless Bra in Heaven. A visionary who can’t quite keep a straight face, a prophet quicker to laughter than judgment, Sarai is a virtuoso of the one-liner – “too much is as it seems” – but she works with a vast cultural canvas, and sorrow and a thirst for the real underlie, the scintillating eloquence. Dante’s journey is a dream, Stalin’s famine never ends, Dido weeps in the city she built, humans wander through a world of staggering beauty never quite knowing how to love each other: “What do monkeys worry about? / Our imaginations grown dim?” The Strapless Bra in Heaven is a roller coaster, but it’s grounded in what we once called wisdom. Sarai’s new book is a thrilling read.

D. Nurkse, author of Love in the Last Days: After Tristan and Iseult


Sarah Sarai is the author of the poetry collections The Future Is Happy (BlazeVOX[books]) and Geographies of Soul and Taffeta (Indolent Books). An independent editor in New York, she holds an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.


Sarah Sarai, work in {isacoustic*}:

person Lorhenz Lacsa, two poems

Lorhenz Lacsa is writer from the Philippines whose works mostly revolve around identity, struggle, gender, and the revolution. As an activist, he believes that all works of art should be driven by a purpose. He’s a cat person.



tender was the skin that reached
these hands that mid-September,
and with his manner of insistence,
i willingly ceded – feyly, slightly

dirtied, ordained. he braced my ribs
for a sting held with every stroke,
fondling these, an exorcism for the
sinner I would finally become.

but while i quivered and while he knew,
the road to nowhere stiffened,
so he bid adieu, and then nothing.

that winded up, winds up no more
now, mid-August, when the untrained
still try but fall delicately wet. hanging
on the balance when we started to choose,

and the thread of destiny rolls.
the hell we are but who
    we love
and who we fight,
      and who we follow
far far behind.



Common is to love as to be an object
Prized and to be shelved, and equal
The value of those hands that hold—
The lover, whatever form they take.

And as imperative as consumption,
We exhaust little by little as mounts
To stones, until no more can be said
About love but reception, a cigarette

Smoke, only that the cigarette butt
Is puffed again by another mouth.

And you should know by now that
These hands are animals longing
For a herd, folding and opening as
Slowly as the sun silences the stars

Come dawn. And as sunbursts sweep
The ground, and as unsolved hearts
Cause somatic pain with its bends.
Lead me here to where it all ends.

Somehow it’s an act still forgivable
By pain and the insisting feelings
Still not named. And tonight we’re not
Stoking the fire, no one will burn.

Tonight, I will remember
That somewhere, I used to     belong.


person Paulie Lipman, one poem

Paulie Lipman (he/him/his) is a former bartender/bouncer/record store employee/Renaissance Fair worker/two time National Poetry Slam finalist and a current loud Jewish/Queer/ poet/writer/performer. His work has appeared in Button Poetry, Write About Now, The Emerson Review, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, Voicemail Poems, pressure gauge, Protimluv (Czech Republic) and Prisma: Zeitblatt Fur Text & Sprache (Germany). Their poetry collections from below/denied the light and sad bastard soundtrack are available from Swimming With Elephants Publications.


Blood Don’t Wash Off

not without taking
some skin with it

my two rapists
still run free in
my veins/spinal cord
choke chained
When subconscious
jabs electric, memory
spasms feral, rips
taut the leash hissing
rikki tikki across
savage expanse

First instinct is
panic forgiveness
of this violent pornography
forced amnesty
for its perpetrators
in exchange for release
but there is never
no one moment
that this ends, no
great glory howl
or hallelujah
just a deity
camouflaged in
small reliance
a war paint education
chasing reclamation
of tomorrow self

I don’t know
the vocabulary
of this place yet
Couldn’t give you
lay of the land
cannot map the
wildwood they
still infest,but
I refuse to
colonize this into ash
I don’t need to
burn it down to
know my way out
It’s through
the blood


person James Miller, four poems

James Miller is a native of Houston, Texas. Recent publications include Cold Mountain Review, The Maine Review, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Main Street Rag, Verdad and Juked. Upcoming publications include 2 Bridges, The Write Launch, Menacing Hedge, Thin Air, The Shore, Plainsongs and The Atlanta Review.



Having newly married, though
late in life, we drive for two days
to New Mexico, slept what once
we called dreamless. Next morning,
we visited the Tent Rocks just north
of Santa Fe, ancient pumice deposits
carved tower-wise by millennia of heave,
flood, August rain. Two women
half our age had just finished
their hike, glowed with sweat
out of California. One glanced
at our shoes, frowned. You should
be wearing boots for the trail.
The way is narrow, good treads
will carry you over. We made
excuses and passed between dry
slot canyon walls, pale rust
welts framing sliced sky.

An hour later, we stood beside
a thumb of stone, perched above
the valley’s scrub slope to mountains
on the horizon. Behind us, an absent
hand had carved out a hollow deep
enough to shelter two, or three
travelers. The lower lip rested
just about twice our height—
to climb up, you would need
a rope ladder, or strong arms
of a friend already home.

It seemed that this place
would tell us something needful,
if we could rest a while in that
patient palm, stand sentry over
the decline, so that we would know
early when visited approached,
specks threading between clumps
of plume and sage, hands not yet
raised in greeting, or to question
our right to wait for them, caved
and shadowed from rippled heat.

Later, when we had taken our photos
and left, the gloaming would bring
down a coolness sweet to grey hares
in the valley, who would stir
and listen for footstep, poorwills’
rustle, swoop of hawk, sudden
clawscrape that hopes to carry
away dust and meat for helpless



At Meeting we met to discuss the state of our
selves, fearing to say souls, shivered with queries
abstract and unsatisfying as wheat-sheaf cereals
sopped in crisp milk, and we were asked in fellowship
to remember times of waiting or struggle, but winter
sat squat outside and windows stared blearing onto
the crunching sidewalks and every few minutes
bundled singles trudged home after a late Sunday
breakfast at the local local, so I told of my visit
last year to Oakland where I wandered, watched
a greyblack bird bathing in a shallow fountain
askirt the Jack London park, and supposedly
his house (or a replica of same) squatted nearby,
but I understood that the bird was trying to come
clean, to wash out mites and bits of our human skin
that dried his feathers to brush, to brushfire we would
burn quick and bright if we wished, if our wishes
came true for once, and my discussion partner
saw the bird’s cleanliness, held it in both hands
like an acceptance letter, the very one he hoped
to hold in May when the doctorate came and he must
leave Chicago forever to converse with pulsars
at the Very Large Array, where suns shrivel
to the size and consistency of currants, swimming
in the broth of the last tagine we (he) would ever need,
spent engines whose self-betrayal teaches those who can
take it down: weight is all, all we know, all there is.


The Game

In 5th grade we were forced
to play softball. In those days I didn’t know

about my blind spot. Assumed
along with both teams I was a damn fool

who couldn’t get that ball in the air
where it belonged. Outfield for me, way and way

out, on the edge of the galaxy where
a wire-mesh fence held back an ominous ivied

hedge, though there were modest gates
along that line—each without a lock, through which

one could pass, crossing into back
yards without dogs or toolsheds. Every day,

Paul and I crept closer to the gate
that swung into his home green, until one

Thursday we crossed over and collapsed
on his living room floor to play Atari Asteroids

and Pitfall. We talked about never going
back. We agreed that this interlude was more real

than measles. As we locked up the house
to slink again onto our defense positions, I tried

to fix in my mind Paul flipping through
his box of games, looking for the oldest one,

the first one, the one that came with
the console, the one you tried once and never played

a second time.


Why I Will Not Watch the World Series

1) Because the game names place but will not recognize its shape. Every curve of streetlamp, potbelly pothole, city council promise to reform recycling policy, missing teenager last seen near the woods behind her apartment complex: when each is named in its requisite inning, it whistles and winks out.

2) Because the volume is always slightly higher than last year. I’m trying to explain to my wife, over chips and queso and the rumble of the anthem before the game, refracted thrice in screens over the bar, why I chose not to gas myself in the garage. It was the cleaning service gave me the idea. Twelve days ago, I came home after their wiping walkthrough, and drowsed in air brimful of love from the newly installed kitchen stove—the ladies let one burner hang alone with its mouth slightly open, half a hissing day.

3) Because the winners will be celebrated for only one season. When revelers recognize one of that lucky number, stopped at a red light in his hulking black unmonstrous truck, they crowd round and pound his roof with hoots and hollers. The people touch the hem of his garment and feel their rashes have been healed.

4) Because I nurse jealous rages against the people so assembled—lean-to, makeshift, borrowful. Every morning I stop in the turn lane beside the homeless man whose sign reads “the almost starving artizt.” He crouches in thin pajamas among a half-dozen scraps of sheetrock, head shaved liceless, shoulders steady, hands caked in spraypaint residue and cheap HobbyLobby brushstrokes. Our artizt leans against the steel powerbox that fuels the stoplight: it is covered in grey and green drippings, like the gifts of exotic and imaginary birds.

5) Because I have known what it feels like to stand there, inches off the field, eye-level. The choir had left me behind, had assembled on the impossible green to sing the unlikely drinking song. From that angle you can see that this holy of holies is not grass and growing but a placid pool, algaed and inviting—if you’re a frog stuffed with fertilized eggs. Somehow the sopranos and mezzos (et al) know the trick of balancing on the line between air and underneath, like a crowd of water-spiders ready to bolt for the rushes when I toss in my first stone.

6) Because my father’s heart wasn’t (isn’t) in it. In the 70s you rarely survived transplants, and even the luckiest couldn’t last long. Mother sat with him on the plane to California, where presumably they got him off the tarmac and into an ambulance, elevator, private room. Breathtaking the insurance this game must have required. How little there must have been to talk about, when all had been said.



new book publication, poet Adeeba Shahid Talukder

former contributor Adeeba Shahid Talukder has a new book from Tupelo Press available for pre-order, as such:



Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved


poems at {isacoustic*} by Adeeba Shahid Talukder:


a reflection on What Is Not Beautiful by Adeeba Shahid Talukder:

person Josslyn Turner, two poems

Josslyn Turner is a trans queer poet, writer, and abstract artist. She’s studying English Literature at Modesto Junior College. She’s working toward a BA in English and an MFA in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Journal Nine, Oyster River Pages, Voice of Eve, and elsewhere. She lives in Waterford, California where she co-parents two awesome boys.


On Getting My First Massage in the Loft of the Tri-Chromatic Gallery

Electric fan
blows like baby’s

I inhale       the silence.

Masseuse’s hands
meld muscle & skin
& Cannabis oil.

Constant thoughts
of dying—
from car crash
to gunshot
to hanging from rope—
are gone
in this moment.

Underneath her hands,
my skin tingles
like tiny diamonds
in my calm



Her tinted glasses and black jacket match her cool persona.
She raises a tiny hand to give a high-five, says,

“How ya doin’?” in her best Brooklyn impression.
“I’m good,” I say and ask her the same.
“Awesome,” she says with two thumbs up.

She looks down to speak to someone who is not there.

“I just met a new friend,” she says, shaking my hand.
“He’s a cool guy.”

She doesn’t remember last spring
when she asked if I were a boy or a girl.

Girl was my answer. Awesome was hers.
I held my chest to keep my heart from spilling out.

“I’m a girl, remember,” I tell her now.
“Yeah,” she says. “You’re a girl.”

She looks away in the distance of the schoolyard.
I don’t follow her gaze because the sunlight

touches her brown face for a Pulitzer Prize shot,
and I don’t have a camera.


person Amy Baskin, two poems

Amy Baskin is a poet whose work examines women’s autonomy, misogyny, objectification, power, femininity, and shaming. Work as such is currently featured in Bear Review, River Heron Review, and is forthcoming in Pirene’s Fountain. Baskin is a 2019 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, a 2019 Oregon Literary Arts Fellow, and a 2019 Oregon Poetry Association prize winner. When not writing, Baskin matches international students at Lewis & Clark College with local residents to help them feel welcome and at home during their time in Oregon.

The below are taken from a collection in progress about Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who knew she was not his lesser.



Sad little sister
betrothed bone
gristle bride
overbred retriever
strained genetics
one rib
no coupling
no wonder
childbirth is painful
for you
you are a child.



Connect me like a tree
with knowledge like a tree
underground and with surety
with surety of years feeling like
a heartbeat’s worth of time
leaching out to each other
with offerings of water, energy
nutrition, chlorophyll
like a giving tree
this is my body it will be
given up for you
interbeing starts with connection from
the roots at a cellular level
we grow out of nurse logs, giving trees
nothing grows from nothing
can I see god in a nurse tree—yes
can I see god in the nursling who saps the
energy from the nurse tree —yes
can I see god in the leaders who can’t
see god in themselves
sad leaves they worship
sad leaves