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Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Writer's Site

Karo Ska

my mother says everyone
has to learn how to swim

but i can’t float. i fear the water

won’t hold me. no one else has.

i fear risks, except when i’m

intoxicated. then i’m impulsive

in re-living my trauma, kissing

strange boys, pressing them

up against walls, riding their

cocks with my crotch, until

they’re gasping for breath.

i lost my first kiss to a man

in his 60s. his tongue teaching

me lessons i wasn’t ready

to learn. i kissed a boy

my own age when i was thirteen,

his mouth tasted the same,

like day-old cigarettes & cheap

cologne. i drowned in his mouth,

remembering my inability

to float. if i were to define

my own desire, i’d have to

confront memories i can’t

recall. their fuzzy imprint

leaves me gasping

in the middle of the pool,

arms floundering to keep

me above the water, my mouth

like a fish’s when it jumps

out of its bowl. trauma is

an ocean i can’t swim in

without losing my will

to breathe, an ocean

where i don’t have limbs

that can carry me across

the rip currents of life.

in my mind, i close a door,

so i forget & can sometimes

feel normal. what is normal

when you’re drowning

in a grave of your own bones?

my mother says i have to learn

how to swim, but she never

taught me how to float.

i can’t love like a wild animal

after unbodied by billy-ray belcourt

i love like a lion prowling

savannahs, seeking prey

because what is love

if not teeth piercing

skin, digging into flesh,

slurping up blood. this

is love & i am gazelle.

he says i want you

to be predictable, i

want you to make

sense. as if sense

is an oasis & i’m

a desert without

a beginning,


or end. i love

like a starving seal,

swimming under

melting ice. please

accept me, scars

& thin skin. i tire

of bodies, their

molecules of sweat

as they fall

from slopes

of his brows

& onto my chest. i tire

of loving like a turtle

without a shell. i can’t

love in moans or areolas, i

can’t love like a wild animal,

not anymore. i crave

burrowed connections

& a hole in the ground

i can call my own.

womb song

i enter my womb, it is dark,

wet & warm. my womb

welcomes me, feeds me

pistils, pollen, nectar—

i am her honey

bee, while she prepares

for the egg, wears her red

tuxedo with a taffeta of nutritious

tissue. her fingers flit down

my neck, spine, tail

bone. i arch my back, head

angled towards the sky, greeting

the double moons of my fallopian

tubes. inside each moon,

a chance of renewal, a lotus

flower floating toward its uterine

pond—petals opening, growing,

before leaving my womb, traveling

through my body to the crown

of my head, where it unfolds,

receiving the moon’s maroon glow.

i am home, i ache, i am home, the pain

reminding me of my body’s presence. i

enter my home, i enter my womb. echoes

of breath massage its walls. i am here

in the moment, i am here, breathing

& for this i am grateful—each oxygen

molecule a gift from the universe, each

blood cell a reminder from my body—

i am your sacred vessel: treat me right.

Karo Ska (she/they) is a South Asian & Eastern European non-binary femme, migrant poet, living on occupied Tongva Land (aka Los Angeles) with their black cat muse. Anti-capitalist & anti-authoritarian, they find joy where they can. Their first chapbook, gathering grandmothers’ bones was released on February 29th, 2020. For updates, follow them on instagram
@karoo_skaa or check out their website

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