by Stephen Mead

The paper cuts,
the finger bleeds,
but a clot comes, &
will the pages stain?

Try different parchment,
re-do or remake
a pattern of the red.

Has the hand been through a lawnmower?
Are razors seen in sheets?

Faithless but for masochism,
no deep trust but for the overboard
& loving the taste for danger,
the sudden sharpness,
the bloody risk licked...

What are you pursuing?
Did you seek the dream,
volunteer, or was it incidental
as the color of eyes, & you,
only a face?

Feel it with a bitter laugh,
the strange, the beautiful,
the brutal truth of betrayal,
the war-torn, the underneath of:

Why aren't you a woman?
& half the world starving
& you have two feet,
maybe lack potassium
in your diet.

Fortify. Substitute. Guffaw.
I can feel a change coming,
the fluid world, the borderless,
the snapped strings, the possession
jettisoned, & what is there to own
but this simple flow,
you who complicate,
swaddled in cuts & paper?
A wise man once asked me.


by Janelle Cordero

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall.

Janelle Cordero is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Spokane, WA. Her writing has been published in dozens of literary journals, including Harpur Palate, Hobart and North Dakota Quarterly, while her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Janelle is the author of four books of poetry: Impossible Years (V.A. Press, 2022), Many Types of Wildflowers (V.A. Press, 2020), Woke to Birds (V.A. Press, 2019) and Two Cups of Tomatoes (P.W.P. Press, 2015). Stay connected with Janelle’s work at and follow her on Instagram @janelle_v_cordero.

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