Hello! Thank you for taking a peek at Issue 5. I hope you linger for a while and enjoy the words and images that have been curated here for your pleasure and pondering.
It has been an honor to serve as guest editor for this week's issue and to publish writers and artists that I am virtually "meeting" for the first time as well some dear friends who are currently far distances away from me.
This week's publication is a beautiful example of growth and change. It features some DY regulars, including York Chen, dh croasdill, Collin Knopp-Schwinn, Rachel Tanner, and Richard LeDue, as well as some new contributors, including Mariah Ghant, Joe Nasta, Maria Picone, and Dan Varley. Issue 5 is the first international edition of Distance Yearning, featuring works from Niamh Hennessy, who is currently in Ireland, and Jess Schwed, who is currently in Jerusalem.
& now for this week's theme:
"Static movement. Becoming conscious of the ways in which we are still growing without proper nutrients and sunlight. Of how we are changing while everything around us remains the same / how we remain the same as everything around us is changing. And you may tell yourself, This is not my beautiful house! And you may tell yourself This is not my beautiful wife!"
Stay safe, stay healthy, and STAY HOME! But don't stop yearning.
York Chen: "i think some science nerds say"
i think some science nerds say
energy can’t be created or destroyed. the sum
total of energy has somehow remained the same,
tiny wells to dip into, quietly filled by springs and rain
since time has meant, well, anything.
at 5, or 6, the dawn slowly inched in
to limn our rough hands in a deft spline.
my palm sweat slowed and steadied, a shrine
to divinations of poet nerds and songs they sing
about hearts battered, pet names, faithfulness in effigy.
there was everywhere i wanted to go, everywhen i wanted to be.
i had thought the only time to travel was one
second per second; but for one t infinitesimal
i forgot to remember and learned to live
York Chen (he/him) is learning medicine and also how to do other good and meaningful things, because quarantine or not what we have to have is each other.
dh croasill: "th nw languag", "illicit activities during a quarantine"
th nw languag
a lipogram aftr lizabth Robinson
Assuming a skin of an oak, what if fall falling births a bowl? Wordful thing turning softly offal; a dirt down has no room for roots but longs for your most kind mouthing. & this bowl has hands of its own. Hands that claim flavor by flavor wanting to you to say it (again) & ghosts of a fruit can strain my sight in milk & in rind. Any oakly would graciously shoot you lip.
& assuming tumbling talk among a month or four, mouths don’t follow. A turning thing turns up on a basis of what’s for rain. A fruit lost sight of why it was mad; an isolation that turns torn fibrous. It’s a body’s limits pushing on any oakly, all right now & loud.
In its mouth, it’s Michigan. & only this basin could show how a sum throws out its shot & fruit falls all around & a body obligating to do with cunning & without torn skin, again form of its bowl rounding.
Its small, its branch, its arc of its arm. Say its now, its awkward mist of law. & dirt & skin got confusing. You can’t know what was said. & blossoms spill from an organ of a mouth, but you can’t know. & its youth of it says obscuring by your orchard. & its small is too usually hurting. Birth’s nothing to a good list.
What could marry your word to a plum pit’s body? This wraps any fair aim & fall falls & falls.
illicit activities during a quarantine
she doesn't believe
tomato skin bruises easily
& you let her see
worrying how the
tongue tastes how the tongue tastes seems
so much less pressing
the last dozen miles
in a tank of gasoline
are so much longer
to show all my time
doing & being done to
i've only one joke
"have some dignity?"
dh croasdill has been waiting all her life for avoidance to save the world. her bedside plants couldn't be happier about her constant availability.
Lori Fagerholm: three collages
Lori Fagerholm is a graphic designer and writer currently obsessed with the U.C. Berkeley's peregrine falcon cam. She was previously unaware that falcon chicks were this fluffy.
Mariah Ghant: “Standing Outside Your Door Four Years Ago”, “Apocalyptic Fortune Cookie”
Standing Outside Your Door Four Years Ago
Maybe the way my fingertips graze the small of your back
Can convey all that I have to say.
That my lips pursed and whispering on your neck
May speak a multitude— far more than whatever mess
My tongue forming syllables in my mouth could ever do.
That my belly button, weighed down with
Stretch marks and uncertainty can paint
New stories on your bare stomach;
Could possibly break the tension pulling between us.
That my touch could lead you to forgive me
For kissing another, for taking shelter in their bed,
For running when it all got too difficult,
For expecting you to still be there when I’d return.
// a loss of breath as we launch forward through time //
While you and I slept in beds on other sides of the country
I always felt that we were still tied to one another. No matter the
Shifting in our hearts our bodies our brains our way with words;
We would still find each other at the end of the river we had been split by.
But maybe that’s why we kept these magnets in our pockets.
A weak attempt at trying to keep us together when all they did
Was repel us from one another. Stick us to different refrigerator doors
Where we watch our disfigured reflections grow older each day.
Apocalyptic Fortune Cookie
Let the earth last
Till she grows great rings around her
Less like simmering Saturn and
More like a solid cedar
So when she is swallowed whole by Yahweh
Coughed up overnight
And pressed pristinely back into her orbit
Like a marble stolen from the ground game
We may then peel her bark back
To just this monolithic moment.
Mariah Ghant (she/hers) is an artist based out of Philly, but she is currently practicing social distancing in her hometown outside of Chicago with her mom. Mariah loves to interact with art through many different mediums particularly poetry writing, acting, dancing, teaching, and of course, perfecting the perfect breakfast meal.
Niamh Hennessy: "Transitions" + a photo
The world has changed.
It is suffice to say
That things are not
As they were yesterday
I feel unsafe
And stand up tall
For who else
Can protect others from a fall?
The ever changing landscape
Painted red with fear
May transition into lightness
If we spread compassion and a little bit of cheer.
Some time to stop
And wonder what’s strapped to our backs
Is it non essentials…
In slightly bulging packs?
I’ve never had to wonder
How quickly life could change
And now my silent musings
Have taken a different range
For what’s the use in sunlight
If I always shut it out
And what’s the point in freedom
If someone’s left locked out?
Niamh straddles the line between right and left brained; a medical device engineer by day and an aspiring poet, yogi and dancer at all other times. She's planning to hug and kiss her friends when they meet in person again but in the meantime she's reconnecting with her family in the Irish countryside.
Collin Knopp-Schwyn: “I’m not like the other owls”
Others were not like me and I was not like others; something in me was broken, that awakened me at morning’s light when they slept and put me to rest when they stirred each evening.
There existed no competition to catch what my nestmates caught since they left me to fend for myself when the sun was high, thus I ate and hunted different prey than I knew they did.
A hot pool in a place I did not know well served as a roost for a force I cannot understand and I was made to fly past this place and glimpse the form of this force, which I recognized suddenly as wrong and terrible.
All at once, the punishment for laying my eyes upon what I should not have became clear to me and I sensed my bones and feathers crumbling to silt beneath me, though I felt no pain.
The force left my body with nothing but its eyes, which it plunged far into the ground, beneath where earthen creatures burrowed, to a place where dark stone encased me absolutely.
Without the passage of the sun into night and the moon into day, and without the rhythm of a heartbeat in the chest I no longer had, my sense of sleep and awakening and hunger and urge toppled.
The evaporation of the fluids in my eyes, or the dissolution of my lenses did not come to pass as I expected they would and I came to know that I would remain in this state ceaselessly for seeing what I should not have.
Though I laid blame upon my brokenness for this, I did not punish myself for that same brokenness because I could not know its source and could not feel shame for being made how I was.
The force had left me with no ears so I could not hear the rumblings I imagined coming from storms and beasts above me, or other forces somewhere below.
The silence was total; I was without sensation; I could not smell; heat did not abuse me; pressure had no effect; I had no mouth with which to taste; and though my eyes remained, and though they remained as strong as ever, there could be no sight without the smallest feather of sun.
Thus I came to question what I even might call myself, so separated as I was from all the things that made me the thing I was before, and I determined that I no longer shared commonalities with that previous thing.
Next I asked what I could be instead and the answer was clear to me immediately.
There was no difference between the rock which now held me and the me that I imagined the rock holding, for neither of us felt nor tasted nor smelled nor sensed nor saw, and even if the rock could perceive, it had no way of making that known just as I had no way of making my own considerations felt.
The undifferentiated stone around me and I were at first nestmates until I decided that that distinction, of being one body and another, was meaningless.
The stone’s body, now mine as well, extended to the shattered cliffs abutting the cool oceans on all sides, to the low, silent slab in our center, to the craggy peaks where ice permeated our crevices and cleaved us apart.
I imagined the diving and pecking, the little winds generated by the wings of the things that part of me once was, somewhere on my moonbrushed surface.
As never before, the moon and I are nestmates, and we are alike in our broken and pockmarked and reconfigured edges, melded and pushed together and turned and recombined and made whole once again.
Collin Knopp-Schwyn has been a pescetarian since sixth grade, but not for the right reasons.
Richard LeDue: “After Five Weeks of Looking Out The Same Window”
Snowflakes no longer dance,
but drop blindly
like a prisoner after the firing squad
extinguishes his last cigarette,
and I worry who'll fall upon the blades
of grass next. Bird's song turned
into a lullaby, sleep darker
than a burned out match,
Richard LeDue was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, but currently lives in Norway House, Manitoba with his wife and son. His poems have appeared in various publications throughout 2019, and more work is forthcoming throughout 2020, including a chapbook from Kelsey Books.
Joe Nasta: “Lemons”, “Tendering”
on the sill. The open window
chafes my skin to dust and stings
until they dried.
Where we lunged
the birds flap unnerved
between Spanish moss.
It was not our grass to lay
upon. The ground dug our bare
backs while the sun hit your face
unflatteringly. The silence after heat
pulsed mutates light into a grimace.
The basement glass slit sealed shut
The front door wide open.
The master bedroom juliet balcony
The attic’s ratholes gnawed.
The front door wide open:
Do not enter me.
The attic’s ratholes gnawed
Where were you?
Do not enter me
Until your fangs grow in.
Where were you
When blood matted fur?
Your fangs grow in
The master bedroom juliet balcony.
When blood matted fur
The basement glass slit sealed shut.
Joe Nasta (he/they) is a queer writer and mariner who splits their time between New York, Seattle, and the Ocean. They co-curate a zine of unconventional art and writing at stonepacificzine.com and serve as prose reader for The Adroit Journal.
Maria Picone: “So Be It”
not plea, not prayer, not volition
rather mantra, recitation, litany
white lace skirts of a lady gathered
blanched clouds come to spectate the sun
casting a spell upon us
ask us to freeze
our schools in a world of ice
our vegetables and fruits for devouring
our prayers and plans
putting our marriages, vacations, education
on ice. Stasis becomes cold comfort
to those who cannot make pearls from grit.
yet accepting this, sparkling
starry windows eking out a night
indoors, bleary eyes saturated with
Zoom calls, sparkling with tears
at the number ever-rising -
it can wash over us. we
shine and become fixed, the prayers
of a firework escaping the ground,
we might still hope and dazzle
in this wide ocean of the night,
burning our sorrow where all can see.
As a freelancer, Maria S. Picone has been dealing with cat meetings, un/muted mics, and self-scheduling for longer than most. She is a writer and artist. You can find out more on mariaspicone.com.
Jessica Schwed: "Magic Moment" + two photos
The Friday sun sets on the rows of dead
Tombs glitter in the last rays
Stones placed upon stones
But its not their dead
Voices harmonize across the land
Calling people together
The atmosphere is electric
Giving breath and life to the people
The spirit fills the air
A spirit of hope
Reminding the people they are not alone
Reminding them of their history
Their past is present
And their history is now
They have been shackled but they will not be held down
They have been beaten but they will not be broken
They continue to rise
The ancient city calls
One day it will be free
You can feel the bustle of the past
The ancient pushcarts and donkeys
Bartering over bread
The smell of spices ever present
Feet wearing the stones smooth
The heart of the city survives
Beating, waiting, whispering
The sun has set on many civilizations
And like the sun
Many have risen
The people now
The people before
The people after
Together in a moment of magic
Jessica Schwed is currently waiting out quarantine in Jerusalem where she is trying (and mostly failing) to teach herself the ukulele. She cannot wait to be able to go to the beach and enjoy the great outdoors.
Rachel Tanner: “You Tell Me It’s Raining & I Tell You I Know”
I have always lived in this body, in this city. I have never known
a day without rain. There’s a tornado siren down the street
that sounds nearly every night in spring, but I have come to hear it
as a comfort. So
maybe I am prone to hyperbole & maybe the comfort
is all in my head. But when I was four-years-old
there came a storm so mighty that it lifted
the neighbor’s house off its foundation & I just
slept right through it. Mama says
there was a big storm on the day I was born, & I
have always liked the idea of my life being
full of noise from my beginning. There’s no record
of rain that day but I choose to
believe that this body, in this city, helped usher in
such godless winds & roaring thunder that
not even records could contain them. Not even
records could contain me.
I keep the weather channel on in the background
most days, just in case the sun decides to show.
It never does. It never will. But I am at home
in the dreary; I am happy in this rain.
Rachel Tanner tweets @rickit.
Dan Varley: “Ode to an Afternoon”, “Gym”
Ode to an Afternoon
Consumed like a three minute
pop song, the memory comes
back to me, an island I visit only
on holiday. We watched Dazed
and Confused that day, a coming
of age about wasted kids in a wasted
afternoon. And while I've broken
my flesh and torn my heart
in twenty ways since then I can't
untether how music and affection
coupled for the first time.
Thank you. I've stolen from you
like some gleeful bandit, hopping
the fence to your blueberry patch,
picking you dry. You give and give
as I synch my lips to the music
played on celestial radio. I'm tuned
in now, receiving your words, running
my fingertips along your prayer
wheel, lighting an eternal fire.
Men like pistons at the squat
rack. Vastus lateralis contract,
lactic acid howl: eighth rep,
three plates, squat superset.
Mouths open in soundless cry.
Facing off in the mirror carrying
the weight of two humans
splayed across their backs.
Dan Varley lives in Brooklyn