The Night Diana Died – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


Was sticky in the streets & I wanted to linger

in the theater with the girls on the screen:

girls called girls for a reason: soft, tragic, funny,

swimming in sweaters that could last a lifetime,

like Diana’s black sheep knit the year she flirted with the horse guy.

But it was midnight. Time to blast our bodies

through the tunnel. That night I wanted to walk for hours

instead, not because the subway was hot

or crowded and certainly not unsafe, but because

it was one of those nights when the outside air

belongs inside and the inside, outside, and it appears

all our structures, even our cells, had failed their most basic function,

to keep the insides, inside, and the outside, out;

The way our rooms fail us now, a two-inch band of ants

appearing next to our air-conditioner; they’ve taken wings,

in hope and preparation for a colony. It’s a poor choice.

Pushing them outside an act of mercy.

Many will not make it.


& so, the night Diana died I walked twenty scorched blocks

until my shoes gave out, like in the blues songs &

I was somewhere strange & it was two

before I made it up the flight of my little breadbox, turned

on the radio and heard how Diana had gone

into another tunnel and not come out. Just

that day I’d been arguing with a friend about the royals &

their worthlessness & now there she went and was gone.

The words ended but the voice went on,

top of the hour, announcing the weather &

that her dying would go on & on &

I listened for hours, open-mouthed. Come morning I still

had no one to meet and nowhere

to be. I used to think the worst fate was this,

to be a being with no people. I now know this

to be true, and yet, that night

did not last, it was not the only night that has tilted

into vision & there have been thousands of tunnels

in the years since that night & not one of them

has swallowed me whole.

Laura Tanenbaum writes, “‘The Night Diana Died’ is part of a chapbook entitled Dear Mother which weaves together meditations on private and public and forgotten griefs. Poems from this chapbook and other of my poems have appeared in Rattle, Catamaran, Aji, Trampoline, and other venues. I have also published essays, book reviews and short fiction in publications including The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, Entropy, and Cleaver Magazine. I teach creative writing, composition, and literature at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York.”

In the Wake of Heat – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


The summer keeps on swallowing

My loved ones

Whole and crushing

Their bones.


I did not get to bury my brother.

The flowers are all gone       all gone.

The world won’t stop

Spitting my people out.


My city is burning and there is no

Trace of a memorial beyond the parade of black.


Where does life go, in the


A mother’s baby is devoured

And the sun is still hungry for someone

Else’s heart to eat.


The steam wave carries the names

I cannot hold.


The ashes are singing on,

In what a body can join and what

The ground longs to cradle.


We burning up down here,

Where it keeps turning out bullets for

Sons and daughters.


The city keeps eating and,

And the sun keeps shooting,

and the summer keeps smiling as it feasts.


It is hungry out here.

Mikhayla Robinson writes, “I am currently studying English at the University of Georgia, in Athens. I released my first chapbook, Dichotomy, in May of 2020 (Nightingale and Sparrow Press). My work has also been featured in War Crimes Against the Uterus, a reproductive rights anthology, and the Toho Journal.”

Ars Poetica Caught in Eternal Recurrence – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


You use the gas burner to set dreams on fire

while stirring beans. You’ve written your name on

10,000 lines yet have nothing beyond

these four walls. In between the job applications,

the taxes, the transmission on the car throwing itself

like an untamed horse, I fold laundry until the creased fabric

becomes my skin. Our 3 a.m. bodies buzz like fireflies

whose only electricity was trapped when the jar lid

twisted shut. You whisper, my life is a series of still images:

us at 20 with bloodshot eyes, hopeful and hungry, summer

sun flushing your face like embarrassment,

the first friend from college dead already.

And I assure you everyone has a God—

the woman next door waters her flowers with the words

of a forgotten prayer, the man at the bus stop makes a religion

of nicotine, gray rings are his angels. And me, I have this poem.

I write her with the same fingers that scroll through your hair

on nights when you can’t sleep. My love, know one day we’ll flip

through our photos and see a narrative, but

for now know that calculus sees infinity in loops.

Forever caught in the spiral of the coffee mug you fill

each morning, swiveling in the shape of my lips as I kiss

you good-bye and hello. Listen to the song. Watch,

the lines of time you see marching on are really the legs

of a ballerina, revolving in some endless pirouette.

Courtney DuChene (she/her) is a poet and journalist based out of Philadelphia, PA. Previous work has appeared in Furrow, The Blue Route and Glass Mountain. You can follow her on Twitter at @CourtneyDuChen2.

Eucalyptus – ONLINE BONUS

Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest



In 1879 Presidente Garcia Moreno
brought silver dollar eucalyptus trees
from Australia

to dig their heels into these hills
to keep things from sliding    further.



In the foothills of the Andes,
in a hush of eucalyptus
gnarled and knuckled bark

beckons me—  lie down
on pillows of hojarasca.

Forest floor soaks up noise,
sponge of days.

Streaks of sunlight anoint
this stained-glass cathedral.

Here you can inhale deeper
than you’ve ever breathed.



My Abuelita, when her name was Deifilia
bundled eucalyptus branches on her way home,

hung their bouquets upside-down
until the cordillera rains would bring el resfrio.

In Guayaquil, when her name was Marianita,
when traditions were all she had left,

eucalyptus and manzanilla hung in her kitchen,
bought from las indias en el Mercado Sur.

Camouflaged in dark green leaves,
she shape-shifted into tropical hibiscus,

caged-bird-of-paradise pressed between
spiral bound pages. The crinkle of Scripture,

fragrance of Vicks VapoRub, her weekly rituals
the sacred aroma         that permeates everything.



The first time, I traveled there
in my father’s Volkswagen camper

the patina on the leaves
reminded me of greenbacks,
copper pennies, the Statue of Liberty.

I wanted to be a forest ranger,
so I could spend all day

in that temple, branches lifted in praise—
lifted to hold back the sky.



I too have been uprooted
brought thousands of miles, expected
to thrive in foreign soil.

Decades later, I learn
eucalyptus trees suck all the water
from Andean aquifers.

My conscience pangs.
My roots are still thirsting.



Now, I still get congested, return
to lush Andean forests, my grandmother’s home

release the trees into the air above my mug

Una aguita de eucalipto, mijita
Gracias, Abuelita

I sip in the now, and breathe—
my ribcage the open and closed lung
of a blessed forest’s unleaving.

Lupita Eyde-Tucker writes and translates poetry in English and Spanish. She’s the winner of the 2021 Unbound Emerging Poet Prize, and her poems have recently appeared in Women’s Voices for Change, Yemassee, Rattle, [PANK], and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon. Lupita is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Florida and was a Staff Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers Conferences this summer. She is a Poet in Residence at Miami-Dade Public Schools through O, Miami’s Sunroom program. Read more of her poems here:

Fiona Rice Does Not Talk to the Rabbits

Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


Dear Mr. Lorcan,


The last time I wrote to you the blueberries were here,

and Mom was showing me how to cut a tomato for the kill.

For one, the blueberry bush devoured my body whole

when I leaned in head first, hoping to find the perfect one for

you. A midnight pearl, musseled between two satiny leaves.

For two, you must use a serrated knife and saw, slowly. In

the kitchen beside the heap of pink seedy guts, Mom had said

garden gnomes do not make good friends. But you listen,

Mr. Lorcan, and you don’t tattle to the walls of the seventh grade

girls’ bathroom, telling them that Fiona Rice talks to the rabbits.

I talked to a rabbit. What was I supposed to do? Benny Wilks,

the eighth grade boy with the window-pane teeth and drawer-knob

elbows, snapped the baby white rabbit’s neck like a toothpick and

left her in a puddle of herself beside your ceramic shoes. She was

dead but she was also safe now—the honeysuckle vine that works its

way down the front fence and hooks around your ceramic pointed

hat was hooked around her, too, as if it were somehow you. When

Benny Wilks was gone, I scooped her soft, crumpled body into cupped

hands like a swallow of water. She needed a prayer or a poem. Leaning

in with my whole body, I said You were small and you were tender. It

made me miss being small and being tender. It made me want to cry,

but I didn’t. When mom saw the small ball of white musseled between

my two hands, she took it out to the dumpster and then scrubbed

my palms to the bone. Now use a serrated knife and saw, slowly, she

pointed to the three tomatoes waiting for their turn. I cut into each

one again, again, again until my hands were soggy with pink seedy guts.

How did you get to standing so still, Mr. Lorcan?


Sincerely, Fiona Rice

Mackenzie Kean is an English major and creative writing minor at Rutgers University. Her love for writing emerged from the poems, plays, songs, newsletters, unfinished novels, picture books, and online magazines she created and shared with her family throughout her childhood.

There are Horses in North Philadelphia! There are Figs in My Stomach!

Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

To read “There are Horses in North Philadelphia! There are Figs in My Stomach!” by Ike Pickett, click HERE.

Ike Pickett is a queer writer and musician. They currently live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where they work in early literacy and urban greening at Historic Fair Hill. In 2021, they made the longlist for Frontier Poetry’s Award for New Poets. Their work is forthcoming in Five South.

How to Act

Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


Pretend you are waiting for a bus.

It is best to practice this

while waiting for the bus.

It’s called Method.

While waiting for the bus,

check your wrist as if

you had a watch on.

Gaze fixedly at a spot

several blocks away as if

expecting a bus to round

the corner. Gaze as if

conjuring the bus like a rabbit

from a hat. Now look away.

Tap your foot to indicate

impatience. Pretend

not to be listening to the couple

arguing on the bench.

yes it is no it isn’t you always do this

no I don’t yes you do GODDAMN IT

It’s OK to wince when he punches

the bus stop. No one’s looking

at you in that moment.

OK, beat. And—take out a cigarette.

This is your motivation

to move off—out of the wind

so you can light it. Otherwise,

it looks as if you’re reacting

to the argument you weren’t

listening to. No—you are a poet,

preoccupied with subtler things.

Smoke implacably—world-weary as if

waiting on the 53 Godot line.

Consider the pigeons pecking

at the rice from a discarded burrito

on the ground. Pretend to think

about their lives. How long

has that burrito been there?

How do they not get salmonella

or botulism—whatever it is

you get from eating a burrito

off the sidewalk? OK.

Shake it out. Focus. Now, say

your mobile rings and it’s your mother.

Pretend you are receiving

a phone call from your mother.

“Sad news.” You know what it is

before she says, but must act

surprised, dismayed. Your godmother

has died, whom you didn’t really know

but who showed up in your mother’s stead

at your first big reading, exactly as if she

were your godmother. What is appropriate

for this level of connection?

Decide how you will feel about it

and commit to that. Don’t oversell it.

While this is happening, imagine

it is really happening to you.

What would the person playing you

in the movie of your life say?

Console your mother. Wait

for the mood to even out. Hang up.

You are so far beyond

the squabbling couple and the pigeons

now; they have no idea the depth

of your emotion as you stare

at a shred of plastic snagged

in a filthy municipal tree. Pretend

not to hear the diesel motor

lumbering up the street, your reverie

broken only by the pneumatic sigh

of the bus doors opening beside you.

Brave face, chin up; stride ponderously

onto the bus as if departing your home

forever; find a window seat.

Pretend to be looking through

your reflection, instead of at it.

Cleveland Wall is a poet, teaching artist, and librarian in Bethlehem, PA. She performs with poetry improv troupe No River Twice and with musical combo The Starry Eyes. She is the author of Let X=X (Kelsay Books, 2019) and many small, handmade chapbooks.

Her Too

Honorable Mention: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

Ledor Vador


This, which is and is not for my mother.

This, which is and is not for the island of

Puerto Rico, which is America, which is, yes,


America which is not understood by too many Americans

To be America, paper towels flung at the heads of the bereft

Near drowned, after the hurricane passed through.


This, which is and is not about my mother

About an island crimson with bougainvillea,

Pale blue and breathless after storm, where


Once, long before paper towels were lobbed

Across a room of citizens by not-their- president-

Not-my-president, my mother nearly bled to


Death for no reason she would blame on

Puerto Rico.  Blame America, she once told me,

And I do.



At the aquarium in Camden, my small granddaughters are mesmerized by the dance and drift of tentacled jellyfish, kites floating through a watery sky blue, through fluid air as if on one perfect day of enough.  Enough wind to raise the kites above the beach.  Enough stillness to keep them there.  Enough for me to watch my granddaughters’ rapt believing faces, reflections in the round window of the jellyfish tank, to guide their small hands into cold waters toward smooth-backed sting rays, surprisingly lumpy cold limbs of rust-tinged sea stars in the touching tank.  In this, I am become my mother.



This is about and not about Puerto Rico,

Not about and about my young, pregnant

Mother. This is about my friend Gerard,

Desperate to reach his mother, cell signals

Dead in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria

Alive and furious.  This is about

Gerard, how he apologized to our collage


Class for his distraction, while we, a group of

Mothers, tried to reassure him, listened to

Dead air on his phone, tore and cut and glued.

Coral of stewed tomatoes, ripped bits of mountain,

A few fish swimming through calm green waters.

I made my landscape under sea, serene: teal, yellow.

No screaming reds of bougainvillea.



She never learned to swim, my mother,

but she loved to walk along sand.


Transplant to salt-spray and waves,

she spent summer days picking up


beached creatures, running fingers

over smooth shells, bumpy dried skins,


teaching us to name the life by the husk:

razor clam, devil’s purse, whelk.   Once,


horseshoe crabs washed up, stranded;

on earth long before us, she instructed.


Once a storm blew starfish hoards to shore.

We carried plastic pails to the beach, could not


bail fast enough, next dawn, mourned

the hundreds left to dry.



Then one summer, she disappeared for at least a week from our island.  When she returned, she remained far away, pale, stayed out of the sun all day.   I picture her now, alone in the shuttered, cool house, how she must have replayed the way the air felt when she deplaned the small prop in Puerto Rico. I picture her hesitation before she entered, on a back street, a clinic where no one spoke English, the only language she had in which to ask for what she needed. Gray, dark, colorless in the memory she finally confessed to us so many years later. Outside, the moist hot air.  The unforgettable slashes of red bougainvillea,


I almost died.  So many years of silence before we finally heard the confusion—shame/fury—heard of the doctor, stateside, who refused to treat the ceaseless bleeding because of what I’d done.



Blame America, she said.

And I do.

Liz Abrams-Morley’s most recent collection, Beholder, was published by Word Poetry in April, 2018. Inventory, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014 and Necessary Turns was published by Word Poetry in 2010 and won an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Small Press Publishing that year. In 2020 she was named the Passager Poet in Passager Journal’s annual contest. Liz’s poems and short stories have been published in a variety of nationally distributed anthologies, journals and ezines, and have been read on NPR. A sometimes faculty member in the Rosemont College MFA program, Liz is co-founder of Around the Block Writers’ Collaborative ( Any given Tuesday at noontime (when not sheltering in) you can find her at the corner of 2nd and Chestnut directing her resistance toward the walls behind which her phantom Senator Pat Toomey may or may not be hiding from his constituents. A poet, professor, gramma and activist, Liz wades knee deep in the flow of everyday life from which she draws inspiration and, occasionally, exasperation. Please visit her on the web at

You can’t say ‘Oriental’

Runner Up: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


because it’s offensive.” My blue-eyed friend

sneers, smiles at superiority in knowledge,

fairness, and freckles. My mother says

her hair is mousy.


My mother is not a rug. She has used

this word for forty years, feels its reclaimed

East-Asian kinship. This word is hers; it is

mine. She taught me to


I.     “find/establish/feel one’s bearings/location/way, get the lie of the land”

as other, as not-them, unbelong

at the lunchbox cracked open.

Fourth-grade culture-day potluck

leaves yakitori untouched. I throw

it out of blue tupperware into the bushes;

local wildlife doesn’t discriminate, and relay

its evaporation with delight “they loved it.”


II.     “adapt, accommodate, acclimatize, attune”

I learn to accommodate questions until

I’m thirty. I acclimatize to exotic. Attune

to scrutiny. I do mind you asking; I do

not exist to satiate curiosity. This unease

others you; I sniff it in like sweet gasoline.

I will respond with fire. Like her, I am crowned

with midnight river hair so long it tucks into our jeans.

We belong everywhere.


III.     “aim, steer, design, intend”

towards mysterious as a hand I hold

to chest. Or a ship adrift, I outmaneuver

and drop into the conversation my Auntie,

the camps, Godzilla, what’s of my people.

Use chopsticks for popcorn, cheese crackers,

anything oily. Scoff at weight-control advice:

“they’ll help you eat slower!” unless you’ve

always used them. She still keeps

my pink plastic baby ones with birds,

little finger loops for a toddler.


IV.     “align, place, position, set”

My mother as direction, I fix my sight

where the sun rises, eastward. She

warms me face-first.

Alison Lubar (they/she) teaches high school English by day and yoga by night. They are a queer, nonbinary femme of color whose life work (aside from wordsmithing) has evolved into bringing mindfulness practices, and sometimes even poetry, to young people. Most recently, their work has been published by or is forthcoming with Moonstone Press, New York Quarterly, and Sinister Wisdom; you can find most published work at and heavily-edited selfies at @theoriginalison on IG.

Rich Friend

Runner Up: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


Hello sounded like a new language

from her mouth. Intergalactic sparkle

of passionfruit lip gloss. Stuck her finger

through the threads where my thighs

rubbing together, wore away my jeans.

      New clothes much? she smirked. Her mother looked me up

and down in the doorway, worried. I was mesmerized

by the kitchen pantry. Gleam of hardwood.

In framed photographs: Gwen in black velvet riding helmet.

Gwen at art camp. Gwen on stage with other porcelain doll

children, tip-toe in pale tulle. Moon lowered

behind her on its rope. There was a time I would’ve been jealous

but, seventeen now, all I wanted was to obliterate

the parentless house of my body, glow white

under blacklights, blast my hair straight

on the highway, pierce any flesh I could pinch. To meet crushes

late night at the gate of her cul-de-sac. Gwen, in neon makeup

and Bjorkian rags, denim that was purposefully and expensively

ripped or frayed or bleached. I learned

glamorous damage, felt royal

in her clothes.             And she gave generously—

purple bomber jacket with fox fur hood,

white corduroy bellbottoms, rainbow holographic

wallet with the silver unicorn zipper.

Even once, an antique locket, her grandparents’

portraits inside, frowning at me, a stranger.

Odd that she gave it away. Odd that I wore it.

We read how Yoko won Lennon’s heart & we began

writing yes all over the walls. Across the dashboard, in the bathroom stalls

at school. Yes, yes. Our chant. I’d see one of her yes’s carved

into a desk when we were classes apart

and burn with our girlish devotion.

Yes to the tongue-ringed music video skater

rolling a blunt in slow-motion, yes all over Johnny’s face

in her Cry-Baby poster, yes on repeat to the song that still transports me.

To the indulgently foamed push-up bras, ordering $80 of food

on Mother’s stolen credit card and throwing it all up—

what we once called fun. To the roof where we sat

`                                  to watch night collapse over everything.

We were a spectacle

in her father’s convertible, trading

seats so she could ride shotgun and pack the bowl.

Her chair tilted all the way back as I drove,

sound system vibrating the leather.


Gwen, I see you clearer now: her fascination with boys

she called troubled, who were banned from the mall,

who her father called shitheads, whose fathers punched

or burned them with cigarettes. The romancing of terrible wounds.

Gwen thought the work boots I duct taped together

when I was kicked out in the rain

were charming.

I still remember the mesh canopy of her princess bed,

like the room a willow makes inside.

Our den of hoarded cigarettes, bottles her parents

didn’t notice disappear, hard candy, gel pens,

Adderall, packs of gum. On vacation with her family

in Bermuda, we tore pages out of the hotel bible

& burned them on the beach, dared God to curse us.

Set off fireworks and ran hand-in-hand

when the cops came. Our LSD eyes engorged

on the Grand Canyon: so willfully red

beneath the rawhide sun. Or Colorado, us half asleep in hot springs

in the snow. I just wanted to go everywhere with her

and she wanted to bring me, like a treasured stuffed animal

or a groupie, so easily-amazed  How did her parents see me—

a parasite teen coaching their daughter toward risk?

Or a mangy stray their big-hearted only-child

brought home—De-flea me, make me presentable!

One night I asked, lying on the floor beside her bed,

both of us spun out on her mother’s benzos,

Which of us do you think will die first?

                                                                     Definity you, she said.

Definitely. I agreed

and we fell asleep laughing.

Aimee Seu is the author of Velvet Hounds (forthcoming from Akron University Press, 2022), winner of the Akron University Poetry Prize. She graduated from the University of Virginia Creative Writing MFA Poetry Program in 2020 as a Poe/Faulkner Fellow where she was recipient of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. Other awards she’s received include the 2020 Los Angeles Review Poetry Award, the 2020 Henfield Prize for Fiction, the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize at Temple University, the Temple University 2016 William Van Wert Award, and the Mills College Undergraduate Poetry Award. She was a finalist for the 2020 Black Warrior Poetry Prize judged by Paul Tran and a semifinalist in the 2019 New Guard Vol. IX Knightville Poetry Contest judged by Richard Blanco. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared or have forthcoming publications in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Los Angeles Review, BOAAT, Redivider, Raleigh Review, Diode, Minnesota Review, Blacklist, Adroit, Harpur Palate and Runestone Magazine. She currently lives in Tallahassee, FL where she attends the FSU Poetry PhD program.