Show Us Your Papers, a Poetry Anthology


Show Us Your Papers

a Poetry Anthology edited by 

Wendy Scott Paff, Daniela Buccilli, & Cherise Pollard

ISBN: 978-1-59948-803-5, 200 pages, $18 (+ shipping)

Release Date: October 20, 2020

The Advance Sale Discount price expired September 2020.

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Main Street Rag
PO BOX 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227-7001


Daniela Buccilli‘s chapbook is What it Takes to Carry (Main Street Rag, 2019). Some of her poems can be found in Pennsylvania English, Coal River Review, Paterson Literary Review, Cimarron Review, and Italian Americana. Also, her work has been anthologized in two collections from Beautiful Cadaver. She holds degrees from Penn State (education), University of Pittsburgh (fiction), and Carlow University (poetry). Besides being a co-editor for Show Us Your Papers, she mentors at the Madwomen in the Attic workshops. She has taught for over 28 years in public high schools, including a high school gender studies course.

Cherise A. Pollard, Ph.D., is Professor of English at West Chester University of PA. where she teaches African American Literature, Creative Writing and Composition/Rhetoric. A Cave Canem and Calalloo Fellow, Pollard was awarded a grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Her work has appeared in several journals including 5 AM, Affilia: The Journal of Women in Social Work, African American Review, Connotations Press, The Healing Muse, The Mom Egg, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, PoemMemoirStory, and Rattle. Her poem, “Sugar Babe” was a Finalist for the 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, Outsiders, was chosen by C.M. Burroughs as the winner of the 2015 Susan K. Collins/Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center.

Wendy Scott‘s book of poetry, Soon I Will Build an Ark, was published by Main Street Rag in 2014. Her poems have appeared in New Letters, Green Mountains Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Harpur Palate, and many others. She is an editor of the Pittsburgh Poetry Journal and has an MFA and MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught writing at universities, elementary schools, and halfway houses. She has worked as a social worker, legal assistant, cashier, tutor, nanny, and waitress. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic writing groups at Carlow University.


Liz Ahl is the author of several chapbooks of poetry as well as the full-length collection, Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017). Her poetry has also appeared in numerous literary journals, including Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, Court Green, The Women’s Review of Books, Measure, and Nimrod. She has been awarded residencies at Playa, Jentel, Vermont Studio Center, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She lives in Holderness, New Hampshire.

Lauren Alleyne is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, among others. Her most recent honors include a 2020 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Poetry, and the longlist for the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University.

Cynthia Arrieu-King is associate professor of creative writing at Stockton University and a former Kundiman fellow. Her poetry books include People are Tiny in Paintings of China, Manifest, winner of the Gatewood Prize selected by Harryette Mullen, and Futureless Languages whose sequel Continuity is forthcoming in 2021. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, BOMB Magazine and the tiny. She edited the Asian-Anglophone edition of dusie and Hillary Gravendyk’s posthumous The Soluble Hour.

Valerie Bacharach is a pursuing her MFA at Carlow University. She is a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic. Her writing has appeared or will appear in publications including Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Voices from the Attic, The Tishman Review, Topology Magazine, Poetica, The Ekphrastic Review, Talking/Writing, and Vox Viola. Her chapbook, Fireweed, was published in August 2018 by Main Street Rag.

Les Bares lives in Richmond, Virginia and is married to the poet, Roselyn Elliott. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Cream City Review, The Evansville Review, Stand Magazine (published in the U.K.), Spillway, The Midwest Review, Southword (published in Ireland,) Slipstream, The Tishman Review, and many other journals and reviews. Les Bares won the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize, and he was the third place winner of the 2015 Streetlight Magazine poetry contest.

Madeleine Barnes is a poet, visual artist, and Doctoral Fellow in English Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her debut poetry collection, You Do Not Have To Be Good, was recently selected as the winner of Trio House Press’ open reading period. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Women’s Work, forthcoming from Tolsun Books in 2021, and Light Experiments (Porkbelly Press, 2019). She serves as Poetry Editor at Cordella Magazine, a publication that showcases the work of women and non-binary writers and artists. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU in 2016, and she teaches at Brooklyn College.

Joan E. Bauer is the author of The Almost Sound of Drowning (Main Street Rag, 2008). With Judith Robinson and Sankar Roy, she co-edited the international anthology, Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (Bayeux Arts and Rupa & Co, 2005). In 2007, she won the Earle Birney Poetry Prize from Prism International. In 2018, she was a finalist for the John Ciardi Poetry Prize from BkMk Press. For some years, she worked as a teacher and counselor and now divides her time between Venice, CA and Pittsburgh, PA where she co-hosts and curates the Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series with Kristofer Collins. Her new full-length collection, The Camera Artist, is forthcoming from Turning Point in February 2021.

Jan Beatty’s sixth book, The Body Wars (2020), is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her memoir, American Bastard, won the 2019 Red Hen Nonfiction Award. Books include Jackknife: New and Collected Poems (2018 Paterson Prize) named by Sandra Cisneros on LitHub as her favorite book of 2019. Awards include the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, Discovery/The Nation Prize finalist, Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, $10,000 Artists Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation, and a $15,000 Creative Achievement Award in Literature, Heinz Foundation. She directs creative writing and the Madwomen in the Attic Workshops at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is Distinguished Writer in Residence in the MFA program.

Herman Beavers is Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses in African American literature and Creative Writing. He is the author of two scholarly monographs: Wrestling Angels into Song: The Fictions of Ernest J. Gaines and James A. McPherson (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995) and Geography and the Political Imaginary in the Novels of Toni Morrison (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He is also the author of three poetry chapbooks, A Neighborhood of Feeling and Obsidian Blues (Agape Editions, 2017), and The Vernell Poems (Moonstone Press) which was published in June of 2018.

Doralee Brooks lives in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where she teaches at the Community College of Allegheny County and chairs the Developmental Studies Department. She is a fellow of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project (95) and Cave Canem (97 and 99). Doralee holds an MFA from Carlow University, writes with the Madwomen in the Attic Poetry Workshops, and is a proud founding member of the (sub) Verses Social Collective. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Paterson Literary Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and Dos Passos Review.

Milenko (Miles) Budimir is the author of two chapbooks; Departures (Burning River) and Rustbelt Romance (deep cleveland). His poems have appeared in a variety of publications including most recently Gasconade Review, Poetrybay, A Race Anthology, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Great Lakes Review, and The Toledo Free Press, among others. His freelance writing has appeared recently in Balkanist and in the collection Midwest Architecture Journeys (Belt Publishing). He works as a philosophy lecturer and technical writer and editor in the Cleveland area.

Margaret Chula has published ten collections of poetry including, most recently, Shadow Man. Her first book, Grinding my ink, received a Haiku Society of America Book Award. Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council have supported her work as well as fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and Playa. She has been a featured speaker and workshop leader at writers’ conferences throughout the United States, as well as in Poland, Canada, and Japan. Serving as president of the Tanka Society of America for five years, she was also Poet Laureate for Friends of Chamber Music. After living in Kyoto for twelve years, she now makes her home in Portland, Oregon.

Christopher Citro is the author of If We Had a Lemon We’d Throw It and Call That the Sun (Elixir Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Antivenom Poetry Award, and The Maintenance of the Shimmy-Shammy (Steel Toe Books, 2015). His poetry appears in Ploughshares, Iowa Review, the 2018 Pushcart Prize Anthology, Crazyhorse, Missouri Review, Best New Poets, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Denver Quarterly, Smartish Pace, and Alaska Quarterly Review. His creative nonfiction appears in Boulevard, Quarterly West, The Florida Review, Essay Daily, Passages North, Bellingham Review, and Colorado Review. He teaches creative writing at SUNY Oswego and lives in Syracuse, New York.

Patricia Clark is the author of The Canopy, her fifth book of poems, and three chapbooks, including Deadlifts, just out in 2018. She teaches in the Writing Department at Grand Valley State University in Michigan where she is also the university’s poet in residence. Find her recent (or forthcoming) work in Alaska Quarterly Review, Smartish Pace, Cave Wall, New Letters, North American Review, Barrow Street, upstreet, I-70 Review, Plume, and Blackbird.

Maryann Corbett spent 35 years working for the Minnesota Legislature. Now happily retired, she is the author of five books of poetry, most recently In Code (Able Muse Press, 2020), which includes her poems about that work. Her poems, essays, and translations appear widely in journals like The Dark Horse (UK), Ecotone and Rattle and in anthologies like The Best American Poetry 2018. She is a past winner of the Richard Wilbur Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize.

Craig Czury is the author of Fifteen Stones (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of prose poems from Italy, Chile, and the spaces between. Thumb Notes Almanac: Hitchhiking the Marcellus Shale (FootHills, 2016), is his collection of docu-poems from observations and interviews while hitchhiking around his home northeastern Pennsylvania ‘fracking’ region. His most recent book, Postcards & Ancient Texts (FootHills, 2020), is a forty year collection of napkin poems. A 2020 Fulbright Scholar to Chile, Czury continues his Old School School ~ Cyberia Campus life-writing workshops online and co-hosts, with Kimberly Crafton, Talking With Our Mouths Full, a bi-monthly online conversation through poems with poets from around the world:

Judith Dorian received her BA from Barnard College and her doctorate in musicology from the University of Pittsburgh. With Frederick Dorian, her late husband, she co-authored program notes for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Judith published several scholarly articles, book reviews, and program notes for other music organizations. Her poetry has appeared in several journals and online. In 2015 Judith wrote and illustrated A Tiny Little Door, a book of poetry for children. (Excerpts on youtube.) Accompanied by chamber ensemble, she has narrated poetry at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Institute and other Pittsburgh venues. She also has narrated with the Bedford Springs Orchestra and The Edgewood Symphony Orchestra.

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 18 books including Not All Saints, winner of the 2019 Bitter Oleander Library of Poetry Prize; and Alongside We Travel: Contemporary Poets on Autism (NYQ Books 2019)). His book The Second O of Sorrow (BOA Editions 2018) received both the Paterson Poetry Prize, and the Housatonic Book Award from Western Connecticut State University. He works as a care giver and Med Tech, and lives with the poet Lisa M. Dougherty and their two daughters in Erie, Pennsylvania. More info on Sean can be found at

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Her other titles include Blowout;Ka-Ching!, Two and Two, Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Kinky. She and Maureen Seaton have co-authored four collections, the most recent of which is CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New) (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). And she and Julie Marie Wade co-authored The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose (Noctuary Press, 2019). She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.

S. Preston Duncan is a death doula, BBQist, and denominational Southern River Rat in Richmond, Virginia. He is the author of The Sound in This Time of Being (BIG WRK, 2020), a limited run Riso print poetry collection, EP, and art object exploring grief as a vehicle for the shamanic experience. His work has most recently appeared in The New Southern Fugitives, Levee Magazine, Circle Show, Atlas + Alice, Unstamatic, and has been translated into Chinese by Poetry Lab Shanghai.

Lois Parker Edstrom, a retired nurse, is the author of four collections of poetry. Her poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, featured by Ted Kooser in American Life in Poetry, adapted to dance, and transcribed into Braille. Edstrom’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, such as Floating Bridge Review, Rock & Sling, Mobius, Clackamas Literary Review, and Poems in the Waiting Room, New Zealand. She lives, with her husband, on an island off the coast of Washington.

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to the US in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American Studies at NYU. She is the award-winning author of over thirty books for young readers. Her poetry has been published in New Daughters of Africa, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, the Cave Canem anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her first collection of poetry, Say Her Name, was published in January by Little, Brown.

Angele Ellis’s haiku appeared on a theater marquee, after winning Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ G-20 haiku contest. Her poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews also have appeared in seventy publications and fifteen anthologies. She is author of Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), whose poems won a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook), and Under the Kaufmann’s Clock (Six Gallery), a fiction/poetry hybrid inspired by her adopted city of Pittsburgh, with photographs by Rebecca Clever. She is a contributing editor to Al Jadid Magazine.

Alan Elyshevitz is the author of a collection of stories, The Widows and Orphans Fund (SFA Press), and three poetry chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Planet (Cervena Barva). His poems have appeared in River Styx, Nimrod International Journal, and Water ̴ Stone Review, among many others. Winner of the James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review, he is also a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Susan J. Erickson’s collection of poems in women’s voices, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, won the Brick Road Poetry Prize. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest. Her poems appear in Rattle, Crab Creek Review, Verse Daily, Sliver of Stone, The Fourth River and Terrain. Susan comes from a family of letter writers and paper savers. An archived letter written over fifty years ago was recently returned to Susan from her sister and included the poem: “Linda, Linda, in your red cape/How will your garden grow?/With peas in a row for you to hoe,/At least you won’t need a scarecrow.”

Patricia Frolander, Wyoming Poet Laureate Emeritus, tries to balance family, ranching, and writing and has a passion for each of them. She owns her recently-deceased husband’s family ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Still actively ranching, you may find her on a tractor or horse. Frolander has written poetry books, Grassland Genealogy, Married Into It, and Between the West Pasture and Home. Her fourth book, Second Wind, will be published this spring by High Plains Press. Widely published, her writing has garnered the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s coveted Wrangler Award, the Willa Cather Award by Women Writing the West, and has been named Best Woman Writer by High Plains Book Awards.

Gail Ghai‘s poetry has appeared in literary journals in the US, Canada and Britain including The Malahat Review, Jama, the Yearbook of American Poetry and The Delhi-London Quarterly. Awards include a Pushcart Prize nomination and a Henry C. Frick scholarship for creative teaching. Ghai is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Surfaces of the Map,“Women Above the Water and Dividing by Stones as well as an art/writing poster entitled, “Painted Words.” Currently she is an ESL instructor for the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, FL and also serves as the moderator of the Ringling Poets in Sarasota, FL

Brian Gilmore is a native of Washington DC, poet, writer, public interest lawyer, and author of four collections of poetry, including the latest, ‘come see about me, marvin,’ (Wayne State Press), a 2020 Michigan Notable Books recipient. He has written for The Crisis Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Jazz Times, and is a long-time columnist with the Progressive Media Project. He has also been an NAACP Image Award nominee, a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award nominee, and runner up for the Larry Neal Writers Award. He is a Kimbilio Fellow and a Cave Canem Fellow and currently teaches social justice law at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

Kathie Giorgio is the author of five novels, two story collections, a collection of essays, and two poetry chapbooks. A full-length poetry collection, No Matter Which Way You Look, There Is More To See, will be released in 2020. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and poetry and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Silver Pen Award for Literary Excellence, and the Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence.

Melanie Henderson, Washington, DC native poet, editor, photographer and publisher, is the author of Elegies for New York Avenue, winner of the 2011 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. An alumnus of Howard and Trinity Universities, she studied poetry at Howard University and at the Voices Summer Writing Workshops (VONA) in San Francisco, CA prior to earning an MFA from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her poems have appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Drumvoices Revue, jubilat, Torch, Tuesday; An Art Project, Valley Voices, and The Washington Informer among others. She is a recipient of the 2009 Larry Neal Writers Award and received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Orison Awards. She is a Founding Editor of Tidal Basin Review.

MEH is Matthew E. Henry, a multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net nominated poet and short story writer. His works are appearing or forthcoming in various publications, including Bryant Literary Review, Kweli Journal, Longleaf Review, Poetry East, The Radical Teacher, Rhino, Rise Up Review, Rigorous, Spillway, Tahoma Literary Review and 3Elements Literary Review. The author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag, 2020), MEH is an educator who received his MFA from Seattle Pacific University, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. His work can be found on

George Higgins is an author, actor and improviser. He has published a book of poems, There, There. His work has appeared or will in Best American Poetry, Pleiades, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Slab and other journals. He earned an MFA in poetry at Warren Wilson College where he was a Holden fellow. Currently, he’s at work on a Young Adult verse novel, and is a member of the Writer’s Grotto in San Francisco where he co-produces a podcast.

AT Hincapie was awarded the Margaret Reid Prize for Formal Verse with Winning Writers and was a finalist for the Knightville Poetry Prize with New Guard Review. His writing has also been featured with The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine. He is an editor with Palette Poetry and teaches in Colorado, where he lives with his wife and their registered service pit bull.

Don Hogle‘s poetry has appeared recently in Apalachee Review, Atlanta Review, Carolina Quarterly, Chautauqua, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Westchester Review, as well as A3 Review and Shooter in the U.K. Among other awards, he received Honorable Mention for the 2018 E. E. Cummings Prize from the New England Poetry Club. A chapbook, Madagascar, will be published by Sevens Kitchens Press in spring 2020. He lives in Manhattan. You can find out more about his work at

Paul Hostovsky is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently, Late for the Gratitude Meeting (Kelsay Books, 2019). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and five poetry chapbook contests. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and the Writer’s Almanac. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter and Braille instructor. Website:

Ann Howells, of Dallas, Texas, edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her books are: Under a Lone Star (Village Books, 2016), a D/FW anthology she edited, Cattlemen & Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community, 2016), and So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019). Of her five chapbooks, Black Crow in Flight, was published as Editor’s Choice through Main Street Rag’s chapbook competition (2007) and another chapbook, Softly Beating Wings, was published as winner of the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Competition (Blackbead, 2017). Her work appears in I-70 Review, San Pedro River Review, Spillway, Little Patuxent Review, and The Langdon Review among other small press and university journals here and abroad. She has received seven Pushcart nominations.

Halsey Hyer is an associate editor for the Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, volunteer at The Big Idea Bookstore, intern for the Laser Cat Reading Series, member of the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops, and co-founder of Goat Farm Poetry Society. They earned their undergraduate degree in creative writing and psychology at Carlow University where they were honored the Award for Excellence in Creative Writing, the Sister Rita Flaherty Award for Academic Excellence in Psychology, and The Critical Point Critical Writing Award. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming in The Critical Point, Voices From the Attic XXV, and The Blue Nib.

Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist creating in both poetry, fiction writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Woman’s Season (Main Street Rag) and A Gathering of Mother Tongues, published by White Pine Press and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in About Place Journal, Callaloo and Renaissance Noir. She is a Cave Canem fellow and BEI fellow 2018-2021. Works in progress include: This America (poetry), The Privilege of Memory (novel) and How to Stop a Hurricane (short stories). She is a graduate of New York University and the City University of New York. A native of Philadelphia, PA, she resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Jen Karetnick is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, spring 2023) and The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, August 2020). She is also the author of five poetry chapbooks, including The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, the Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, and two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, among others, and have appeared in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick.

Sabina Khan-Ibarra is a writer and Muslim “Feminist” (she is still working on a definition of Feminist that fits her ideology) who advocates and demands equal rights and space for Muslim women in all scopes. The lack of Muslim women visible was why she founded Muslimah Montage, a platform for Muslim women to tell their own stories. Sabina is a writer and editor with work published on BlogHer, Huffington Post, InCulture Magazine, AltMuslimah, Love Inshallah, MuslimGirl Magazine, Brown Girl Magazines, and other outlets. Sabina is an MFA creative nonfiction candidate at SFSU. She is the first place winner of the 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing Fellowship. Sabina lives in Half Moon Bay with her husband and children.

Rosamond S. King is a creative and critical writer and performer whose work is deeply informed by her cultures and communities, by history, and by a sense of play. Poetry publications include the Lambda Award-winning collection Rock | Salt | Stone, the forthcoming All the Rage, and poems in more than three dozen journals, blogs, and anthologies, such as The Feminist Wire, Drunken Boat, Harriet, The Caribbean Writer and the award-winning Kindergarde: Experimental Writing for Children. Her scholarship appears in Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination, named “best book” by the Caribbean Studies Association. King is Creative Editor of sx salon and Associate Professor at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York.

Janet R. Kirchheimer, author of How to Spot One of Us, is currently producing AFTER, a cinematic documentary in which contemporary poets explore what it means to live and write after the Holocaust, including Edward Hirsch, Alicia Ostriker, Cornelius Eady, and more. Her poems appear in numerous print and on-line journals, including Atlanta Review, Limestone, Connecticut Review, Natural Bridge, and String Poet. Janet’s multi-media exhibit about daughters of Holocaust survivors, with photographer Aliza Augustine, showed at the Kean University Human Rights Institute Gallery. Her chapter, “At the Water’s Edge: Poetry and the Holocaust,” appears in The Psychoanalytic Textbook of Holocaust Studies (Routledge, 2020). A Pushcart Prize nominee, Janet received a Drisha Institute for Jewish Education Arts Fellowship.

Nancy Krygowski is the author of The Woman in the Corner (University of Pittsburgh Press) which was named one of the top 100 (or so) books of poetry for 2020 by Library Journal. Her first book, Velocity, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Nancy teaches English to refugees and immigrants in addition to leading poetry workshops at Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing program.

Lori Lamothe is the author of three poetry collections, Trace Elements (2014), Happily (2015) and Kirlian Effect (2017), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Ouija in Suburbia (dancing girl press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Cream City Review, Del Sol Review, DMQ Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, The Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Seattle Review, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times.

Sandra Marchetti is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from Sundress Publications (2015). She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays, including Sight Lines (Speaking of Marvels Press, 2016), Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016), A Detail in the Landscape (Eating Dog Press, 2014), and The Canopy (MWC Press, 2012). Sandra’s poetry appears widely in Poet Lore, Blackbird, Ecotone, Southwest Review, River Styx, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Whiskey Island, Mid-American Review, Barrelhouse, Pleiades, and other venues. Sandy earned an MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry from George Mason University and now serves as the Coordinator of Tutoring Services at the College of DuPage in the Chicagoland area.

Tony Medina is author/editor of 21 books for adults and young readers, including My Old Man Was Always on the Lam (Paterson Poetry Prize finalist) and Broke Baroque (Julie Suk Book Award finalist). He has received the Langston Hughes Society Award, the African Voices Literary Award, Pushcart Prize nominations for “Broke Baroque” and “From the Crushed Voice Box of Freddie Gray” and twice received the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. Professor of Creative Writing at Howard University, Medina’s work appears in over 100 anthologies and journals. His most recent works are I Am Alfonso Jones and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy (Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award honor). Death, with Occasional Smiling (Indolent Books) is forthcoming.

Amy Miller’s full-length poetry collection The Trouble with New England Girls won the Louis Award from Concrete Wolf Press, and her chapbooks include I Am on a River and Cannot Answer (BOAAT Press) and Rough House (White Knuckle Press). Her writing has appeared in Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Rattle, Tupelo Quarterly, Willow Springs, and ZYZZYVA. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, where she works as a print production manager and serves as the poetry editor for NPR’s regional members’ guide, Jefferson Journal.

Ilene K. Millman is a speech/language therapist with more than 40 years’ experience teaching literacy skills to children who learn differently. She lives in New Jersey and currently serves as tutor, tutor trainer, and assessor for her county Literacy Volunteers program. Her poems have been published in Connecticut River Review, The Sow’s Ear, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Adanna, Third Wednesday, and other print publications. Millman’s first poetry collection, Adjust Speed to Weather, was published in 2018.

Derek Mong is a poet, essayist, and translator whose books include Other Romes (2011), The Identity Thief (2018), The Ego and the Empiricist (2017), and The Joyous Science: Selected Poems of Maxim Amelin (with his wife, Anne O. Fisher, 2018). The Byron K. Trippet Assistant Professor of English at Wabash College, he holds degrees from Denison University, the University of Michigan, and Stanford. His work appears widely: the Kenyon Review, Blackbird, Pleiades, At Length, Two Lines, and in the recent anthology, Writers Resist: Hoosier Writers Unite. He blogs at the Kenyon Review Online, lives in Indiana, and can be reached at or @derek_mong.

Berta Morgan lives and writes on the Oregon coast where she lives with her partner and a stray cat who is thinking about moving in. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories about the secrets most of us hope will never be revealed. Poetry is the constant thread in her writing life. Her work has been published in Persimmon Tree, Cauldron Anthology, Dialogues in Social Justice, The Qualitative Review, and Dead Mule School of Southern Literature among others.

Charlie Neer is a queer writer from the Bay Area. They like to write poems exploring trans identity, mental illness, and gay cowboys. They have a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a MA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. They currently work as an assistant poetry editor for Foglifter Press and worked as Editor-In-Chief at MARY: A Journal of New Writing.

Liane Ellison Norman was born in Montana on a day her mother had planned to ski. The oldest of four sisters, she was raised in Utah, earned her B.A. degree at Grinnell College and her M.A. and Ph.D degrees at Brandeis University. She has lived in Montana, Utah, Canberra, Australia; Washington, DC; Kathmandu, Nepal; Kanpur, India. She now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. A passionate writer since childhood, she enjoys membership in Pittsburgh’s lively Madwomen in the Attic poetry writing group at Carlow University. She has written and published a number of books, both poetry and prose.

Molly O’Dell was born and raised in southwest Virginia where she practices medicine, writes and spends as much time outdoors as each day allows. She received an MD from the Medical College of Virginia and an MFA from the University of Nebraska. Her poems and essays have appeared in her favorite medical and literary journals and her chapbook, Off the Chart, was published in 2015 and Care is A Four Letter Verb is forthcoming in 2021.

Nina Padolf, EdD. co-edited: Nasty Women and Bad Hombres Poetry Anthology (Lascaux Editions, 2017), Is It Hot In Here Or Is it Just Me?: Women Over Forty Write on Aging (Social Justice Anthologies, Amazon, 2019), Chiron’s Review (St. John Kansas, Summer, 2019): Artificial Orchids, Duane’s Poe Tree, Love Is Not As Clean As A Hospital Room, The Ekphrastic Review: Fire Pit Belly, To Lilith: Adam’s First Wife That Got Away, Pittsburgh City Paper, Aftershock.

Anthony Palma’s work attempts to bridge the gap between poetry and other forms while addressing issues of social justice. His performances blend poetry with elements of music. His work has appeared in Rue Scribe, Oddball Magazine, and Whirlwind Magazine, and has work accepted at Sincerely Magazine. Recently, Anthony has taken on an administrative role at The Mad Poets Society, a non-profit dedicated to helping give poets a voice. He teaches writing in the Greater Philadelphia area, and resides in West Chester, PA with his wife and family.

Nancy K. Pearson’s second book, The Whole by Contemplation of a Single Bone, won The Poets Out Loud Prize, (Fordham University Press, Spring 2016). Her book of poems, Two Minutes of Light, won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award (Perugia Press, 2008) and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have garnered two seven-month fellowships at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and other awards. She holds a MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The University of Houston and a MFA in Poetry from George Mason University. She currently teaches at West Chester University, PA.

Christine Potter is a poet and a writer from the lower Hudson River Valley in New York. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Rattle Poets Respond, Fugue, Eclectica, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her poems have also been featured on ABC Radio News. Her most recent collection of poetry titled Unforgetting has been published by Kelsay Books, and her time-traveling young adult novels, The Bean Books, are on Evernight Teen.

Marjorie Power’s newest poetry collections are Refuses to Suffocate (Blue Lyra Press, 2019) and Oncoming Halos (Kelsay Books, 2018). Another full-length collection, Sufficient Emptiness (working title) is forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions. Publications which have taken her work recently include Southern Poetry Review, Mudfish, Commonweal, Artemis Journal, The Comstock Review, and Slant. She and her husband have recently moved to Rochester, New York, to live near grandchildren, after five years in Colorado and many years in the Northwest.

Bruce Pratt is an award-winning short story writer, poet, and playwright. He is the author of the novel The Serpents of Blissfull from Mountain State Press, the poetry collection Boreal from Antrim House Books, The Trash Detail: Stories from New Rivers Press, and the poetry chapbook Forms and Shades from Clare Songbirds Publishing. His fiction, poetry, drama, and essays have appeared in more than forty magazines, reviews, and journals across the United States, and in Canada, Ireland, and Wales. He is the editor of American Fiction.

Steve Ramirez hosts the weekly reading series, Two Idiots Peddling Poetry. A former member of the Laguna Beach Slam Team, he’s also a former organizer of the Orange County Poetry Festival and former member of the Five Penny Poets in Huntington Beach. Publication credits include Pearl, The Comstock Review, Crate, Aim for the Head (a zombie anthology) and & MultiVerse (a superhero anthology). He spends far too little time on hiking trails throughout Southern California, and far too much time stuck in traffic on his way to them.

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by FutureCycle Press. An e-chapbook has also recently been published online Time Is on My Side (yes it is). Another chapbook, Mortal Coil, is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books

Lauren Russell is the author of What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017) and Descent (Tarpaulin Sky Press, June 2020). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, among others. She is a research assistant professor in English and is assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nicholas Samaras is from Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and, at the time of the political Greek Junta (“Coup of the Generals”) was brought in exile to be raised further in America. He has lived in Greece, Asia Minor, England, Wales, Brussels, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, thirteen states in America, and he writes from a place of permanent exile. He is the author of Hands of the Saddlemaker (Yale University Press) and American Psalm, World Psalm (Ashland Poetry Press). He is a new faculty member of the Kahini Writers Group ( with week-long workshops in Hawaii.

Christopher Carter Sanderson‘s latest book is the prose-poetry novel The Too-Brief Chronicle of Judah Lowe from Sagging Meniscus Press. His poetry and translation/adaptations appear in Gravitas Poetry, Griffel, Screen Door Review, Lunch Ticket, Poetry City, Poets Choice, and others. BFA NYU, MFA Yale, and Fulbright alumnus. Published and produced playwright and librettist. Dramatists Guild member. Award-winning screenwriter. Founding artistic and producing director, Gorilla Rep NYC theater company since 1992. US Navy vet. ASCAP. He currently teaches at the Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse, NY.

Margaret R. Sáraco’s poetry and short stories have appeared in anthologies, newsletters and journals including the Paterson Literary Review, Peregrine Journal, The Poeming Pigeon’s Love Poems and Sports, Write Like Your Alive 2018 and 2019, Shalom Jewish Peace Newsletter, The Montclair Write Group Sampler 2018, Ovunque Siamo, Italian Americans and the Arts & Culture, and Poets Online. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading her poetry and short stories aloud at various venues. Upcoming publications include Lips, Exit 13 and The Path Magazine. Visit her site at

Kayla Sargeson is the author of the full-length collection First Red (Main Street Rag, 2016) and the chapbooks BLAZE (Main Street Rag, 2015) and Mini Love Gun (Main Street Rag, 2013). In July 2020, her poem “Heartbeat Line” will appear as part of City of Asylum’s All Pittsburgers Are Poets project. With Lisa Alexander, she co-curates the Laser Cat reading series. Sargeson lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University and the Community College of Allegheny County.

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, full-time banker, and part-time rocker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her photographs and writing have appeared in numerous publications. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of both Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh and Social Justice Anthologies. She is an MFA student in Creative Writing at Chatham University. Her forthcoming collection, Something Here Will Grow, will be released by Main Street Rag in 2020.

Noel Sloboda is the author of the poetry collections Our Rarer Monsters (2013) and Shell Games (2008) as well as half a dozen chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Midwest Quarterly, Rattle, Salamander, and many other venues. Sloboda has also published a book about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein along with several essays about Shakespeare. He has served as a dramaturg on more than a dozen professional theatre productions, and he is a former Director for the Literature/Film Association. Sloboda teaches at Penn State York, where he is an Associate Professor of English.

Ellen McGrath Smith teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the Carlow University Madwomen in the Attic program. Her poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Talking Writing, Los Angeles Review, and other journals. Books include Scatter, Feed (Seven Kitchens 2014) and Nobody’s Jackknife (West End Press 2015). Smith’s work has been awarded Orlando, Rainmaker, and Academy of American Poets awards, as well as a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship. She has also received five Pushcart nominations, and her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Haymarket, 2020), Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015), and Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos, 2012)

Lisa López Smith is a shepherd and mother making her home in central Mexico. When not wrangling kids or rescue dogs or goats, you can probably find her seeking the wild spaces of Jalisco. In 2017 she walked across the Sonoran desert from Mexico to Tucson with The Migrant Trail to remember those who have died crossing. Recent and forthcoming publications include: Helen Literary Magazine, Jabberwock, Mom Egg Review, TJ Eckleburg Review, Mothers Always Write, and Tiferet.

Maxine Susman grew up in Mt. Vernon, NY, and lives in Kingston, NJ. After a career as an English professor teaching writing and critical thinking to mostly first-generation college students, she currently teaches poetry to older adults at the Osher Institute of Rutgers University. She writes about nature, art, history, and shifting states of body and mind, with poems in Paterson Literary Review, Fourth River, Slant, Presence, Earth’s Daughters, and elsewhere. My Mother’s Medicine (2019), her seventh book, tells the story of a young Jewish girl from Brooklyn who graduated during the Great Depression from the only all-women’s medical school in the country.

Judith Turner-Yamamoto’s awards include Ohio Arts Council and Virginia Arts Fellowships, Bridgport Story Prize and Seán Ó Faoláin Prize: Short Lists; Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, and Virginia Governor’s Screenwriting Award. Finalists’ awards include Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. Journals: StorySOUTH, The Mississippi Review, American Literary Review, Verdad, The Village Rambler, Parting Gifts, Potomac Review, Dash, and Snake Nation Review. Anthologies: Neighbors, Walking the Edge, 2016 Fish Anthology, Gravity Dancers, and Best New Poets. Teaching: Chautauqua Institution, Danville Writer’s Conference, and Writers’ Center, Bethesda, Maryland. An art historian, she writes for Travel & Leisure, Elle, Art & Antiques, Interiors, Traditional Home, The Boston Globe, The Washington Times, and The LA Times, among others. Interviews are on “Around Cincinnati” on NPR station WVXU.

Julie Marie Wade is the author of eleven collections of poetry and prose, including the recently released Just an Ordinary Woman Breathing (The Ohio State University Press, 2020) and Same-Sexy Marriage: A Novella in Poems (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2018). A recipient of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir and grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for Lambda Literary Review and The Rumpus. She is married to Angie Griffin and lives on Hollywood Beach.

BJ Ward’s most recent book of poetry, Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems 1990-2013, received the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. His poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, The New York Times, The Normal School, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Sun, among others, and have been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, NJTV’s State of the Arts, and the website Poetry Daily. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, he co-founded the creative writing degree program at Warren County Community College.

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, was a Finalist in the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman First Book Award contest. She is widely published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including New Ohio Review, North American Review, The Bellingham Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, Miramar, Spillway, The Main Street Rag and elsewhere.

Sarah Williams-Devereux’s poetry has appeared in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, Sampsonia Way Magazine, and Pittsburgh City Paper; in the anthologies Is it Hot in Here or is it Just Me? Women Over Forty Write on Aging, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres, and Pittsburgh Love Stories; and on WESA-FM’s Prosody. She teaches poetry for the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University and is the managing editor for Voices from the Attic, the annual Madwomen anthology. Certified in writing group leadership from Amherst Writers & Artists and in TLA foundations from the Transformative Language Arts Network, she is pursuing an MA in teaching writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Cathy Wittmeyer is not the poet-mother-engineer-lawyer-conservationist living in the Alps; she is the one experiencing life through the pen, hands, eyes, ears and heart of that body living on this speck of a planet. She is from Western New York and now lives in the Alps where she works as a corporate sustainability expert. Her poems have appeared in Noble Gas Quarterly, Ithaca Literary Journal, the Esthetic Apostle, and the anthology Our Poetica. Her poem “Possession,” received an honorable mention in the 2018 Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize. Cathy will complete her MFA in poetry at Carlow University in June 2020.

Warren Woessner received JD and PhD degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he co-founded Abraxas magazine and WORT-FM. He poetry has been published widely, including in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, the Nation, 5 AM and Iconoclast. He has received fellowships in poetry from the NEA, the McKnight Foundation and the Wisconsin Arts Board and won the Minnesota Voices competition. Six full-length collections of his poetry have been published, most recently, Exit ~ Sky (Holy Cow! Press, 2019). Warren works as a biotechnology patent attorney in Minneapolis.






Show Us Your Papers speaks to a crisis of identity and belonging, to an increasing sense of vulnerability amid rapid changes in the USA. While corporations wait to assign us a number, here are 81 poets who demand full identities, richer than those allowed by documents of every sort. Here are poems of immigration and concentration camps, of refugees and wills, marriage and divorce, of lost correspondence and found parents, of identity theft and medical charts. In an era where the databases multiply, where politicians and tech companies sort us into endless categories, identifying documents serve as thumbtacks. They freeze the dancing, lurching, rising and falling experience of our lives. The disconnect between our documents and our identities is inherent, reductive, frustrating, and, too often, dangerous. Yet we cannot live without them. In this anthology 81 poets offer a richer sense of our lives and histories—richer than any “official paper” allows. These lyric and narrative forms demand that readers recognize our full identities: personal, familial, national, and historical.

Documents are fault lines where power and racism inscribe otherness, where governments inflame and enact anxiety about whiteness and “otherness.” They denote belonging, and exclusion. We trust in the safety they promise, only to discover the same authorities that issue them can rescind them, deny us, refuse to look at them. Identifiers such as driver’s licenses have never reflected the lived experience of black and brown men and women when they encounter police. No paper trail. No court cases. No opportunity for justice. A new form of documentation was necessary to make cultural change possible. Only when citizens began using their cell phones to document transgressions by police was evidence of police violence created. Without video evidence, state-sanctioned documents would offer the general public no trace and no justice.

Like driver’s licenses ignored by police, what good was a green card on January 27, 2017 for those in the air when the first Muslim ban was signed? That week, and too often, entry into the USA depended less on one’s papers and more on which airport a plane landed. Wendy was on vacation that day in Sedona, Arizona, like most of the American southwest, largely empty. Houses barely cluster. Lack of space is not the barrier to US immigration. That night she watched videos of people massed in airports. That week marked the beginning of years of an administration rescinding, ignoring, and changing the rules for its own documents. Rules which too often weaponize documents to exclude, especially brown and black people. Our contributors wrote of struggles to prove that they and their families belonged, both past and present: on the southern border, at Auschwitz, in Vietnam, Colombia, Israel.

Daniela recalls how she paused when an official at the Immigration Service required her to substitute allegiance to one country for another. Hoping her naturalization papers would grant her passage un-harassed, would allow her voting rights, she agreed. But a few years later, the oath was void, and dual citizenship was permitted. When a DNA report named a stranger across the country as a relative, she speculated on narratives that may have separated them. None of those documents provide a full reality, yet they can emboss a believable one. Or they can deny a lived experience. For example, Daniela filed for divorce as a young wife, then reconciled with her first husband. When she later called the lawyer to resume the process, he informed her she had been divorced for two years. The papers had been filed and not contested, and those papers outweighed her lived experience. Our poets wrote of similar experiences, when documents mock the reality of our lives.

Wendy’s father died of melanoma, following months of symptom progression. He lived in El Paso. She lives in Pennsylvania. He did not tell anyone he was ill. He got up every day and went to work until they sent him home. His best friend, another naturalized citizen, encouraged him to go to the hospital, which contacted his children, allowing them to say goodbye. For Wendy, the trauma of his death is linked, as it is for many, with executing his will. For two years she wrote letters, sent emails and faxes, blanketed Texas and Pennsylvania with a blizzard of death certificates, EINs, birth and divorce certificates, and with each, she felt she was losing a piece of his full, three-dimensional identity. Many of our poets wrote of this disconnect between a loved one’s identity on paper and the lived reality of that person.

Medical diagnosis and treatment are fraught with barriers created by papers. Cherise struggled for decades with symptoms that indicated a rare autoimmune disease that eluded proper diagnosis and treatment. Her symptoms suggested Behçet’s, a rare autoimmune disease defined as affecting people with Middle Eastern and/or Asian ethnicities. As an African American woman, Cherise did not fit the profile. It took a rheumatologist familiar with Behçet’s to look past documentation, listen to Cherise and provide accurate diagnosis and treatment. Even when doctors do not make errors of diagnosis, the reality of chronic illness cannot be captured by fat medical charts and insurance claims. Show Us Your Papers gives voice to patients and families who have been silenced, marginalized, overwhelmed by that disconnect.

Here are 81 poets and 3 editors who refuse to fear one another, to be divided by an administration that seeks to foment and benefits from hate. We refuse to be reduced to the categories “our papers” indicate. While difference exists among us, in cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and experiences, we give no one, least of all governments, corporations and institutions, the power to reduce, divide, or estrange us. These poems are bridges across a two-dimensional landscape of numbers, indicators, and limited categories. Come join us in crossing them. Let’s meet in a space where documents do not define us.

Editors: Daniela Buccilli, Wendy Scott Paff, Cherise Pollard

Liz Ahl

At the Laundromat


The drums inside the huge dryers
roll everybody’s unmentionables
in continuous hot somersaults,
for however many sixteen-minute segments
we’ve got quarters for.

Everything we need is here:
cans of soda and snacks,
other people to talk to or not talk to,
tiny single-serving boxes of Tide or Cheer
that always remind me
of the tiny single-serving boxes
of Frosted Flakes or Cheerios
my brother and I would tear carefully open,
along the oddly placed perforations,
on road-trip rest stops, in motel rooms,
to be filled—the boxes themselves!—
with milk mom would produce
from the red Coleman cooler.

Here, there are magazines, chairs,
folding tables, wifi, laundry baskets on wheels,
even a seamstress, set like an anchoress
in her alcove next to the cashier’s office.

There is even a pen, a blue one,
which I use to circle a few words
on the photocopy draft
of my Last Will and Testament,
which I am finally getting around to—
but there are no major errors, just a typo
and a couple of dumb questions I want to ask,
mostly to feel like what I’ve paid this lawyer
is worth it for my simple, childless estate.

Now that I read it through,
I wonder about the “Testament” part—
is there something I could or should say
in these functional boilerplate pages,
beyond who gets what?
Some epitaphic pronouncement,
some pithy postscript or greetings
from beyond?

But the dryer has stopped hurling
my heavy blanket into itself,
has taken all the quarters I had to give it,
and I get up and pull the blanket out,
and it’s warm and dry enough,
and so I never get around
to adding any wisdom to the dutiful pages.

Just that one circled comma splice
and the faint, warm scent of dryer sheet,
an invisible page slipped in,
my small testament.



Angele Ellis

In Lebanon, 2000 June


It was the summer the Israelis withdrew, leaving behind
a landmined no-man’s-land of phosphorus orange groves,
blighted with white like the kingdom of the Snow Queen.
We shuddered with each jolt of the road, despite our driver’s
ancestral insouciance: This route has been cleared.
We stopped and showed our papers at every checkpoint,

Lebanese Army, Syrian Army, Hezbollah…
The closer we came to the border with Israel, the more
I closed the valves of my attention. I envisioned
the Crusader castle at Sidon—its riot of orange
daylilies—becoming flaming spirits of the dead,
silently screaming in the village wreckage of Qana.

The UN soldiers at the cinderblock outpost were kind.
We showed our papers, and exchanged chipper smiles
as we approached the barbed wire of Palestine. Daddy
pitched his scooped bit of rubble through the chain links—
as Edward Said had done—but I kept mine clenched
inside my palm until it broke the slippery skin.

A shard lodged in the privilege of my American passport.
Another pierced my damaged heart—surging
in cardiac panic at the helplessness of history.



Alan Elyshevitz

The Card


is required for transport to all points beyond
a radius. It is speckled with biometric data:
inseam, girth, dosage of melanin. How many
flecks of green in predominantly blue eyes.
The tips of the cardholder’s fingers, those divine
snowflakes. Follicles losing integrity, at what rate.
Voice print: the cardholder’s peculiar dialect,
the sloppy vowels of local geography. The card
measures REM, when the cardholder falls
asleep at the wheel, and records all DUI’s,
as well as the cardholder’s chronic passions
for minor league baseball and Byzantine art.
The card is the cardholder’s anti-ephemeral
manifesto. Though nearly two dimensional,
it embraces generations of dispirited ancestors
and temporarily innocent offspring. In this way
its lamination is as deep as a pool of DNA.
If the card has a soul, it has absorbed it from you.



Tony Medina

Song Without a Flag


I am undocumented
I have no docks to lament

My tears make the sea level rise
High water marks on my chin

This is my disguise
I move by moonlight

Stars map out my flight
At daybreak I wade through

Water, sift through sand
That choir you hear

The wind at my back
Somehow whistling Dixie

Through my rib



Anthony Palma



My great grandfather used to check
on government forms.

He wasn’t from Kenya, India, or The Philippines,
but he didn’t consider himself white either.
Whites were the ones
who owned the companies he worked for.
They owned the machines
that broke his body and mind.
They chased him to the bottle Friday,
only to drag him out on Monday.
At night they snuck into his room,
took his money and pride,
and left.

On the line provided, he wrote Italian.

He was right, but not in the way he intended.
We are a country of others,
our identities denied.

When I saw his death certificate, I laughed.
Then cried.
I imagined a doctor, pen in hand.
She saw his records, saw his rebellion,
written in that tight elegant script,
smiled slightly, thoughtfully,
and on the document checked white.