Cynthia Atkins and Josh Fernandez || Monday, July 31 @ 7:30 || SPC, 1719 25th St

Cynthia Atkins is the author of Psyche’s Weathers and InThe Event of Full Disclosure, and the forthcoming chapbook, Still-Life With God (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Apogee Journal, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Del Sol Review, Florida Review, Green Mountains Review, Harpur Palate, Hermeneutic Chaos, Le Zaporogue, North American Review, Sweet, Tampa Review, Tinderbox, Thrush, Valparaiso Review and Verse Daily. She is formerly the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America, and has taught English and Creative Writing, most recently at Blue Ridge Community College, where she curates a quarterly Reading Series, Lit-Salon. Atkins earned her MFA from Columbia University and has earned fellowships and prizes from Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, The Writer’s Voice, and Writers@Work. She lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family. More work and info at:

Imaginary Friends

With some reservation, you can swear off the clutch of voices, but remember
to look both ways before crossing each soirée of memory—

like the hotel soap you lifted sans the prayer book, a tawdry bird’s nest
with costumed ghosts in a clammy sad room. For your sake, they keep up

the pretenses—they pour coffee, ply your insides with a street-lined parade
of citizens—Cradling, rocking, breaking, mistaking you for the one who brings

her own chair and umbrella to the paradox of fireworks. This is the ploy.
This is the pain. This is what remains after the ache of rain.

Don’t hold your breath for the covered dishes and wagons, the poorest excuses
for Billy Goats on the greenest acres of your imaginings. Even sorrow and grief will suit up

and riff on your behalf. Sequins worn to the grand estates, serving up peonies
or selfie grenades. No, not alone. Get on with it, the daily knotted headache,

saucy arguments and botched plans of honeycomb and hive-mind. Because you needed
to belong—You sought the debutantes who flaunted their flexed prom dates.

See how they build their houses with bricks of silence. Frocks and all, they took you
and your shadow, door to door with a harmonica heart bleating for mercy.

Forging their signatures, paying their rent, doing any tangible thing to forget
that we are all just a limited edition. Let the census takers be damned.

Count the cups, see their lip stains. They talk behind your back,
derailing trains, with so many pennies from their invisible chasm of hands.


J O S H   F E R N A N D E Z

the hard times | spin magazine | submerge
sacramento news & review
san antonio current | hartford advocate
boulder weekly | new haven advocatefull-length collection of poems Spare Parts & Dismemberment

                                                         R.L. Crow Publications
Order on Amazon

When Josh Fernandez isn’t writing, he is teaching English at Folsom Lake College, toppling racist institutions, throwing fire at buildings, and smacking racist people with sticks.

flower mantis

they surrounded me, a gang of pasty
faces and chapped lips, singing
faggot faggot faggot
like a chorus of locusts
a fist cocked and split
my bottom lip
and they kicked and pounded
until the school bell rang and i wheezed
through my closed throat
—i’m not a faggot, i cried
but i didn’t even know
what it meant
faggot is a crowd of lost tourists
                  a purple bruise that never goes away
                  a secret island in a fantasy book
                  a place I could hide forever
at home i took off
my clothes and ran
my fingers across the braille
of welts and bruises
and i undressed
and found my mother’s turquoise
and wrapped it around myself
and stayed like that forever.



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