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Issue 4.2

Summer 2024

Cole W. Williams 


I wrote poems inside the book Frank by Diane Suess while traveling in Portugal at a time when Roe v Wade was being overturned in America. I pushed myself to travel, still damaged by residual pandemic fears. The airlines were a mess, but I was determined to leave my house. It felt strange to be an ocean away from America. America felt loud and chaotic. Portugal seemed to have a respectful and sensical grasp on how to handle public health recommendations. They seemed to be practical, calm. I found myself loathing to return, and I am happy to have had Suess's book with me to remind me I can't escape who I am and where I am from, but there are outlets in the arts to deal with our narratives. Frank is raw and tender, but at times the confrontation was difficult, because I recognized some of those threads as mother, as prior punk rocker, felt the pain. I hope for others to interact with this poem in the spirit of our harsh realities, when we move two steps back, and in the American spirit of brash feminism. 

Naked, Unafraid


Vitamin D3, I found, when I moved her fridge from the wall.

To sweep: roach, worm, dust, all the residua life produce

from the farmhouse floorboards.


Why would you need Vitamin D here, a place where sun is the main currency

and all else rests upon the ends of its rays, a place where dreams really do

exists (for better or for worse). It is never the end of a rainbow, it is always

to the ends of the sun…maybe a stowaway from Vermont and left here forever

or until I arrived.


I’ve been sweeping your doorway for a week now and sometimes I see myself

in you and sometimes I don’t. I’m wrapping this side of your life up, I told your son

I would, no I didn’t know you, but I am starting to. When cleaning up your live-

lihood while moving mine in, I can’t help but wonder if all of it, mine and yours

shouldn’t all go together to the same place…if I shouldn’t scrape away the excesses

now and head to the water naked and unafraid: my tap shoes, your conceal and carry

cert, my strange collection of mini flipbooks, your pig with wings, I have one chopstick,

you had one small stroke, then the big one slowly being stripped of your most sacred

possession in life: your independence, or one free hand to feed yourself with when

you wanted, how you wanted, and the Haitian rum I just found for those special nights

when the sun set just right for


Cole W. Williams is a poet, essayist, and hybrid writer. Forthcoming and recent works are featured with Florida Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Ran Off with the Star Bassoon, Water Stone Review, Eastern Iowa Review, Xinachtli Journal, and other journals. Williams attended the 2022 Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference within the poetry cohort.  

Cole's Book Recommendations

The Solace Is Not the Lullaby by Jill Osier

This American Ghost by Michael Wasson

Ghost Fargo by Paula Cisewski

13th Balloon by Mark Gibbons

Dothead by Amit Majmudar

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