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Issue 3.2

Summer 2023
3.2 Vanessa

Vanessa Couto Johnson

hyperosmotic | suppressant


Ale. Lantern toss

into the drink


to light a pleased

umbrella shared.


Lass, lad, lax

-ative loaded:


every expectorant

wants clear supposit


-ion. Ampliative

ocean need not be g


-ory. It is us who bring

the siren and hypernym


thereto blanket what

shivered into this neck


of modal verb and verdure.

Vanessa Couto Johnson (she/they) is the author of the full-length poetry books pH of Au (Parlor Press, Free Verse Editions Series 2022) and Pungent dins concentric (Tolsun Books, 2018), as well as three poetry chapbooks. Most recently, Vanessa's poems have appeared in The Shore, The Broken City, Vagabond City Lit, and Rough Cut, among others.

Vanessa's Book Recommendations

Two books that impacted the manuscript these poems are from would be Matthew A. Cronin's and Jeffrey Loewenstein's The Craft of Creativity and Andrew Elfenbein’s The Gist of Reading.


This poem is part of a sequence of poems that responds/thematically feeds off of parts of a quote from an organic chemistry book; in this case, the quote is “Considering the structural diversity of natural products, the structures of DNA and RNA are simple. All their components, called nucleotides, are polyfunctional, and it is one of the wonders of nature that evolution has eliminated all but a few specific combinations.” I was thinking of the pattern of the phrase “male pattern [hair]loss” when I wrote the first line, wanting to convey consumable substance. The Hollies’ “Bus Stop” asks “please share my umbrella”; I wanted to further from “Ale” to another alcoholic drink variety. I hope for “Lass, lad, lax” to feel like it includes a nonbinary version of these terms. I enjoy how an anagram of “hypernym” would be “nymph.” I hope for the final line to bring to mind “woulds” and “woods.”

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