Foxes & Hounds – ONLINE BONUS

Editor’s Choice: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


In my pocket, the shudder of a newborn marsupial.

Along my back, a stampede


of tiny mammoths stomping through snowdrifts,

plummeting down a precipice.


Between our legs, a convergence of ladybugs

seeking out aphids,


reappearing each Spring as if by magic, as if drawn

by the pointillists.  In my eyes,


two black holes born to feast on scattered light,

to render it absent.


My foraging fingers rifle through the typewriter,

are robins shedding feathers


to feed them into keys, ripping out the ribbon

with derricked beaks, nesting


in flocks of silence.  My skull glows from within,

is bioluminescent, cradles


this thinking prisoner of uncertainties accrued,

my embattled mind


a zigzagging chase, both a pack of stubborn hounds

& the foxes it pursues.

Jonathan Greenhause’s first poetry collection, Cupping Our Palms (Meadowlark Press, 2022), was the winner of the 2022 Birdy Poetry Prize, and his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Bayou, The Fish Anthology, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Permafrost.

It’s Not True What They Say About Thunder – ONLINE BONUS

Editor’s Choice: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


and lightning and how if you count the seconds

between the flash and the rumble, you can tell how close


the sky is to becoming a guillotine. I once saw lightning split

a tree trunk in half. Thunder didn’t follow for another ten


seconds. Sand can turn to glass. Did you know that? Each shard

settles at the base of my spine. What happens when they no longer


keep me fused together? If I stare out of a car window long enough

will my reflection disappear completely? Would you will it to happen?


Yesterday, they recorded upside-down lightning in a Kansas town

and it reminded me of a long-downed tree in the local cemetery—


how it looks like a hand getting ready to pluck the tombstone

straight from the ground. I can’t remember the etched name


in the stone but I remember thinking how I wished it was mine.

For the storm to make me an offering: Say, here I’m going to shelter you


for a while. It’s not true what they say about remembering. The lobes

could be ripped out electrical cords, cause a surge—unpower what


I should have forgotten: your birth year, how you smelled on a Tuesday

afternoon, the drawn-out agony. I was once told that thunder was just god


and the angels bowling. How I listened for the cheers after each strike

of a pin. I’m still counting the seconds between entering this world


and being taken out. What I mean to say is when the thunderclap

sends the windows singing, I want my end to be a white-hot echo.

Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer whose work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Button Poetry, Midway Journal, Kissing Dynamite, The Broadkill Review, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship, is a Best of the Net nominee, and volunteers for Button Poetry, Write or Die, and Variant Literature.

apparent death

Honorable Mention: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


  1. you wish you had a body


like most birds: strong, supple, sharp.

But you left your claws behind

when you crawled out of the forest



  1. so they thought you wanted to be soft,

which isn’t wrong, but—


  1. In primary three science you learned

that all living things need air, food, and water.


You need a fourth: a sheet of skin that doesn’t burn

when you touch it. You need something a fruit knife

couldn’t cut through.


  1. Christ, if you could fly


  1. in this economy. You’d dart right out of this city

like a bullet. Rip all the fat and muscle

from your bones. Go back

to the beginning and drag the right body

out of the forest—


  1. not red or yellow or even the purple

of grapes, of skin bruising under sunlight


but a fourth color. The color

of trees singing.

Liya Chang was born in Texas, grew up in Singapore, and returned to the United States for college. They study English, Dance, and Asian Studies at Swarthmore College. Poetry is one of their greatest joys and vices, through which they explore the wonders of being the third in everything: third culture kid, third gender, and third bird on the wire.

The Weight of Loss

Honorable Mention: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


I don’t hear the doctor at first

when she asks if I’ve been sleeping

better these nights, if I’ve cut back

on the raw fish, if the migraines

have subsided, because my mind

is gridlocked, caught between some weight

and height on the BMI chart

tacked on the wall of her office,

as if my body were hanging

there too.

That’s when I remember

some random bit of trivia,

how the first body mass index

was based on the weights of corpses,

and I laugh at the irony,

how all these years I’ve been striving

to be as fit as a dead man,

controlling portions, passing on

seconds or dessert, forgetting

how much I loved my wife’s brownies,

when she would dump an extra cup

of walnuts into the batter

because she knew I loved the crunch,

when we’d clear dishes together,

clean up our kitchen messes, those

memories so near, I try to

close my eyes around them, savor

my daily allowance of loss

as I try to get back those years

before that disappearing trick,

before I became a walking


I’m snapped back into

reality when the doctor

presses the stethoscope against

my skin, tells me to breathe, as though

I haven’t been. She asks again

if I’ve been sleeping more soundly

as she slides the cold drum across

the smooth map of my heart, tells me

to breathe deep, and again, and now

to just breathe normally, as if

that request were simple, as if

I have been overthinking it

these last few years, as if my lungs

hadn’t been at work all the while,

toiling against their master’s will.

Robert Fillman is the author of House Bird (Terrapin, 2022) and November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). Individual poems have appeared in such venues as The Hollins Critic, Ninth Letter, Philadelphia Stories, Salamander, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and Verse Daily. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and teaches at Kutztown University in eastern Pennsylvania.


Honorable Mention: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest



all the way back to when i was shrieking and my sister was too

pointing at juicy rhododendron

in the immigrant yard    ie the Big Opportunity bouquet


now move    i am consciously yearning

to get back to the hilarious of a near unknown    a toddler mind

of anticipation



motherboards    school districts  everything tightens

around revisionist history

its not mumbai or bombay  but new world

though what to un name

an implied no-name fate like urban boundary line


can we upend the field and the sea. no question

this this is not that different    yet another project of long violence

worshipped thru lead paint siding     plastic milk cups of petrichor

that seep out of the earth in the early morning

froglets that leap from feet falling on a sodden lawn

its not silicon valley but silicon forest

so sudden and devoid

inside this holding of white reserve and tact     please say only one thing

it is pastoral through its gnosis, no         it is a 90s network imaginary  no


it is a test site for arranged marriage casteist progeny

ibid assimilationist light skinned success story    ibid neoliberal

 imperial  generational  deep well



now we have no birth order

or gender adjustment for falsified belonging          we ruined it, gladly

no debt arrangement for time lost           for years never mine to begin with

now i move consciously into a chaos magic of yearning

its a hot to the touch jaggery scented transmission           here are my friends

that ive made   and some space to sit in the garden

Leena Joshi is an artist, educator, and child of immigrants living in Oakland, California. Leena’s written works can be found in SFMoMA’s Open Space, the Berkeley Poetry Review, the Felt, Monday: the Jacob Lawrence Gallery Journal, TAGVVERK, La Norda Specialo, Poor Claudia, and bluestockings magazine, among others. They hold an MFA from the University of California, Berkeley’s department of Art Practice and a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, Seattle.

as a river

Honorable Mention: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


some people see gender as a line

but I see it as a river


yes the river may travel from one point to another

but little streams and creeks

tributaries and estuaries branch off here and there and wherever

trickling down hills and mountains until the summer melts snow into a showering waterfall

feeding into lakes and oceans

or creating new rivers of their own when it rains and floods


maybe the terrain at the mouth differs from that of the tail

and maybe from the sky there is little difference at all


a deer may hold no preference along the entire length of the river banks

but a dragonfly may live solely in one pocket of reeds

and neither is more precious or damned for it


some may find themselves lodged firmly in place

others mistaken for a rock when they are indeed a tree root


perhaps a stone once thought immovable

erodes to reveal sparkling sediment present the entire time


you may consider me like the deer

leisurely traipsing along the water

stopping the longest in the middle where the grass is most ambiguous


or maybe you think me a duck

paddling along with the current

dabbling in the mud and pebbles and preening my feathers wherever I please

until I grow tired of wetness and fly


but me, I think I am the silt itself

mineral deposits from stars outside

fallen from the clouds and swirling with the water

shimmering my way into every last fingernail and dendrite of the river

blown across the dry prairies and carried by the wind

settling into the seas and swept up by hurricanes until I rejoin the cirrus

and gently dance back down as snowflakes on a mountaintop

waiting for the sun

Corinne is a comic artist and watercolorist currently pursuing a Comics MFA at the California College of the Arts. You can view their work on instagram @corinneiskorean. This is their first published poem.

Learn to Tell Time!

Runner Up: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest


To navigate the tenacity of the dark

do I wave an ochre pistil?


Smuggle some fertile beauty

recklessly into my terror?


When through a marrow-streaked window

a wren digs her grave in the breast of another wren


what wound do I alleviate?

Who do I elevate?


What crown do I forego?

An astonishment


of ordinary animal.

Every animal


a letter

to every other animal.



time watches from the doorframe time removes her rings one by one before sliding between satin sheets time a mosaic of discarded catbones and splinters the body has absorbed time with her breast out forehead on the cold counter shudders haloes into our chest cavities: an astronomy



Consider the simultaneous:

inheritance a cluster


of stunned ghosts



from vow to vow.

Confused detectives.


Wet edamame pinched out

from skin pockets


clutching survivors

how rubble clenches


the neckskin

of collateral damage



and bewildered at the breach.



Consider the simultaneous:

giddy infant


farting in her father’s arms,

laughter’s unruly persuasion.


And behind a gas station the knuckle

bone of an adolescent girl


rots till it sprouts milk



No slight surge of moths no cartoon lunchbox

no breeze.


There is no leaving

the body.



Animal what crown?

Animal what red?


What hand

where even conquest


in its wreath

spills onto its pink back?



The ebony mountain is a heart.

The bird, propelled, a heart.

We measure the heart with a fist.

Astonished I studied my fist

eight years old

awed by the legibility

of my secrets.

Shabnam Piryaei is a poet, filmmaker and artist. She is the founder and curator of the online art and interview journal MUSEUM. You can read more about her work at

That Vonnegut Thing

Runner Up: 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

To read “That Vonnegut Thing,” by Partridge Boswell, click HERE.

Partridge Boswell’s poems appear in the forthcoming Saguaro Poetry Prize-winning collection Not Yet a Jedi and in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Southword, The Moth, & Co-founder of Bookstock Literary Festival, he teaches at Vallum Society for Education in Arts & Letters in Montreal and troubadours widely with the poetry/music group Los Lorcas, whose debut release Last Night in America is available on Thunder Ridge Records. He lives with his family in Vermont.

Aphorism 31: The Immortality Box

Winner of the 2023 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest

. . .all night I am laying/ poems away in a long box./

It is my immortality box. . .

Anne Sexton, “The Ambition Bird”


It’s said that many of our diseases

are phenotypic consequences of adaptation

compromises made so that we don’t die

too quickly to pass our afflictions along because

of course diseases are about needs whether ours

or theirs a body just flesh inside of flesh just a box

ready-to-be-filled ready-to-be-emptied caskets

made of more caskets germs inside of seeds

inside of husks inside of days inside of all

the climbing hours all the up and out and walking

away the ripples of heat the spontaneous loam

where what we are and were arises like faces

breaking through a surface coppered with the sound

of distant bells with the sound of poems laid

like votives like shabti inside of boxes inside

of skin to wait like the afflictions they are

current to ground static to signal the words

we say even when we don’t: this is my blood

and this is my body broken for you.

John Blair has published six books, most recently Playful Song Called Beautiful (University of Iowa Press, 2016) as well as poems with magazines including Poetry, The Sewanee Review, The Georgia Review, The Colorado Review, and others. His new collection of poems about the beginning of the atomic age, The Shape of Things to Come, will be published this fall by Gival Press.

The Size and Shape of Comfort


You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

             –Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”


Cooper, the doomed beagle,

leaves his owner’s side and

nuzzles my hand for attention.

When he opens his mouth to yawn,

the air fills with sickly breath,

fetid from the liver failure

he doesn’t know he has.

We have to make a decision soon,

Cooper’s owner tells me

as I stroke the dog’s grateful head,

my hand the size and shape of comfort.


I’ve been reading Marcus Aurelius–

the ones who reached old age

have no advantage over the untimely dead–

when my doctor says I have a choice:

stop drinking or die. Aurelius: Ask yourself:

Am I afraid of death because

I won’t be able to do this anymore?


My hand shakes from all of the above

and a soft sound escapes from me

which is not my own voice.

I steady my hand and wonder

how or where Cooper is today.

Good dog, I say, and stroke a handful of air.

R.G. Evans’s books include Overtipping the Ferryman, The Holy Both, and Imagine Sisyphus Happy. His albums of original songs, Sweet Old Life and Kid Yesterday Calling Tomorrow Man, are available for download on most streaming platforms. Evans teaches creative writing at Rowan University in New Jersey. Website: