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Issue 2.3

Fall 2022
Josh. Fall 22

Josh Nicolaisen

On the Fear of Raising My Hand

I have seen saplings hatching from sieves
in boulders     or snaking their spindly 
trunks up through layers of talus

last week I saw a grass tuft sprung
out of a brick wall      and four
stories up       and I wondered

how some thrive on hard nothingness
when you are a seed you have no choices
and what more is a word than a seed?

some plants are invasive and 
terrible     everyday I hear something
that clubs my bloody heart

too often I’ve watched others eat
my dreams     so I quit 
praying out loud   I swallowed

so many thoughts     they fucked 
and multiplied      do you know the feeling 
of cracking    the bones 

of someone you love with your 
stony words?      a raindrop becomes 
a teardrop     or an ocean      or a salty drop


of sweat or skin or fruit or the juice 
of an orange     once I blew fire 
from my throat and burning

bushes sprouted up all around
an invasive maze enveloped me
square stems birthed     unholy blistery


branches which reached for my cheeks
from the soil roots uncoiled like rope 
but none of them spoke

Josh Nicolaisen taught English for twelve years and is currently an MFA candidate at Randolph College and the owner of Old Man Gardening LLC. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Grace and Azalea.  He is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has recently appeared in Colorado Review, So It Goes, Northern New England Review, Backlash, East by Northeast Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Find him at

Josh's Book Recommendations

William Fargason's Love Song to the Demon-Possessd Pigs of Gadara

Ross Gay’s Bringing the Shovel Down

Ángel Garcia’s Teeth Never Sleep

Chet'la Sebree's Mistress

Paige Lewis's Space Struck. 


Many of my poems stem from trying to return to childhood memories and thread the perspective of adulthood through them. Many are explorations of my own mental health; sonic searches for understanding, love, and, oftentimes, forgiveness. Boyhood, masculinity, anxiety/depression, and the relationships between fathers and sons are topics I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of exploring.

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