Winter 2017: The End of the World
Shelby Courtney

Shelby Courtney

Dearest readers,

This is a time to speak out, to protest, to stop being silent. This is not the time to give up. This is why we write, even if it feels like we are writing into a void. It is always worth shouting into what feels like a void, because there is always someone out there listening, even if they don't say they are, even if they don't realize they are. 

As the editor of YP, I cannot stress enough that publishers need to create spaces for diverse voices, to create a space where people feel comfortable sharing their words, and being able to be themselves in a time of turmoil and political conflict. We need to love each other, more and better.

Joanna C. Valente
Founding Editor

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first full-length book, Before Isadore, is forthcoming from Sundress Publications. She is an associate poetry editor for The Boiler Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the following: Salt Hill, Stirring, Versal, The Texas Observer, Devil's Lake, Four Way Review, among others. Hardwick also has chapbooks out with Thrush Press and Mouthfeel Press. She writes in the deserts of West Texas.

On Telling The Man I Still Love My Diagnoses

If a horse breaks its leg, there’s little hope
for recovery. I used to drink three fingers

of whiskey near the water
and miss Canada, then you,

hyper evangelical angel
who promised to be more than a moth.

Was it my fault. Was it my misreading
the tilt, the axis of emotion. I did try

but couldn’t speak so I drug a bag of nails
with no way to build a house. I will

never build a house as honest as this poem.
After you left, I thought I must be broken

for good, like the horse two stalls down
in my childhood, there one day,

then gone. I must have dreamed
the bag of nails a heart I could heal

into a house & then plant you there,
in the middle, in the kitchen near the sink

& the gardenia from our summer,
the one where you kept coming back

to mend, again & again the wound—unnamed
bruise—becoming, un-becoming, my brain.

Isis Brings Her Dead

All along the angels had made the home a mess
Of waiting until the door opened
In the kitchen to the child asleep with knives
Around her like a tarot of chaos and he left
To be with a woman hired for the night

All along the angels made a dress of widow
Who crawl in the night for touch their
Knees on swallows’ necks forgotten but
For the promise of song and somewhere
The line between decency and regret and the bottle

All along the premonition of a man in clothing
Coming home was never an option for who kneels
Their body before destruction for fun who
Takes the child out with the bathwater except
The mother held herself despite being

Torn apart for the prophesy despite being
Destroyed on the altar for the swallows died
All along no one noticed until blood written
Until the angels touched them in such a way
As to signal release.


Interview with Shannon & Editor Joanna C. Valente

JV: What is your ideal breakfast and morning? Describe a typical start to your day. 

SH: My ideal is usually not the norm. My ideal breakfast is one made by my partner--an omelet with veggies and coffee. Sometimes I chip in and make gluten-free banana pancakes and my daughter "helps" by stirring the mix. This is typically a weekend breakfast and every time it happens, I think of how lucky I am to have wonderful mornings like that, stretched out and gentle over two hours or so with two of my favorite people by my side.

How do you know when a poem is done?

I had a professor once paraphrase Robert Frost, saying: "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." I always loved this idea.  I especially like it when my own poem "lifts the top of my head off", paraphrasing Emily Dickinson.  When I'm lucky enough to have that happen, it's usually toward the end of the poem, and it's usually a good indication that the poem has spoken.  Often, I find beginnings to be the long, sometimes winding, runway as I find my way into what the poem wants to say.  I try really hard to listen to it, make out its body, how it wants to present itself, what it's actually trying to say, without judgment.  If I put too much of myself into it or try to bust in to its dance, it usually falls flat and I'm left trying to start over again, hopefully a better steward to the muse.  Jack Spicer talked about how he felt like he was simply a radio picking up different "stations" and transcribing what he heard.  This doesn't happen to me frequently, but I love it when it does happen!

What were you listening to and reading and watching while writing these? 

Hold on, I'll have to go check my notes and journals from that time...Isis Brings Her Dead was written back in July of 2013 as part of (what I called at the time) my "Baby Book" (now my first full-length manuscript, Before Isadore, forthcoming from Sundress Publications in summer 2017).  In fact, I wrote this poem, and many of those around it, in one sitting after not having written in a very long time.  It was part of a reflection on the year prior in which I met my ex-husband (then my fiancé), got pregnant and then got an abortion. 

At the time, I was still in denial about how deep the dysfunction surrounding these events but as usual, my work is the smarter part of my psyche speaking. I had just bought a house.  I was reading Louise Gluck. For "On Telling the Man I Still Love My Diagnoses" I was listening to Mariana's Trench's album, Astoria. I was reading James Dickey and re-reading Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. 

How do you know when to break a line?

I use the breath technique, depending on sound. I usually go back and edit each line by studying on its own--how does it read by itself, how is the poem taking shape, etc. 

What part of you writes your poems? What are your obsessions? 

As I said above, I believe the smartest portion of my psyche writes my poems--the Higher Self that knows hard truths before "I" do.  I would say my obsessions are: childhood (mine, my daughter's, everyone's daughters), horses, magick, fairy tales, intimacy, the spirit,  the every day small-ness made into universal large-ness, and vice-versa.

Laurin DeChae is a MFA candidate for poetry at the University of New Orleans, where she acts as the associate editor for Bayou Magazine. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, burntdistrict, Rust + Moth, Crack the Spine, and elsewhere.

i/I, you/You


such vastness and maw.
i opposite I.

babble and coo
of her. foamy beginning

thrown over me.
soft. i smooth.

teeming tonguefish bouy i spreading starbed.
in a black just above a black.


in one world    was a girl         swam the spiraling pinwheel galaxy
in another        a mystic           illuminating over         was mixed pretty sliced          
swallow it        my me being laid up fine          for my you/You


my cinched skin, my perforation: they made my heart into some kind of beeping thing. or tweaked me while i slept in animate suspension, which had flooded me and flung over faster than i could glean. approaching earth without appetite, i felt my stomach crumpling, rupturing the seam between thinking and knowing thrust upon me as a child, and thought that when i landed, firehot, i could finally build me who i had wanted to.


eat me 

 “It’s the story of a phoenix fallen to Earth and I make her my girlfriend.”

—Kanye West

The image’s exterior dilemma is the poet’s ‘meshing’ of her meaty existence to the interior existence, blurring these among muted ‘experience’—much like the stretching of time, of feathers, of white space reeling, as if this is hunger for existence, though it may be.

            Cutting one’s meat-throbs with feathers (melodies).

            ‘The same tune rises,’ a mouth or bird might whistle just above the skyline as coming out of, emerging, coming out of, a void full of scrap and insignificance.

                                                white clothes—aren’t the white moon milking—are ‘humble’

                                    reminder? toast

                                                            “plenty” as wholesome—as macabre—make with

                                                            (sitting down to eat it wasn’t right)—without forks and knives


                                                            ‘plenty’ ‘plenty’ ‘might never re-place her’—she who re-

                                                            place me—there i recur


poem centered around the maker

it’s alright we told you what to dream, dream-making machine.

                        [the metaphysical lift—her forehead
                        an umbrella? her wrinkles a system of water catchers
                        and her dimples wombs?]

where the woman pulls away

                        [unzipped, open holes
                        rife with seepings
                        and how quick they are, how
                        quick they are for the snatching—
                        (mute) and beyond this,
                        the image
                        where the girl points
                        to herself]

as if her interpretation could speak here.


the last time i saw you

the last time i saw you i was sick.
i slathered strawberries on my wounds.
who says i don’t bleed red?

i listened to radiostatic for hours today,
just so i could remember what home felt like.

yes, the sun, it’s beautiful and my body
means your body is stitched to mine.

the doctor says i’m following through,
but the bed bugs, though, holler,
what makes you unmakes you!
i hear it in my head.

the last time i saw you
i had the common sense to grab myself
           by the back of the neck and force my nose
           to sniff the spot that i had wet.


a drop of water, made distillate,
implies that we are the universe in increments.
beginnings sifted like thick silicate,

a kinetic gesture, an audible moan.
remember when we first linked our fingers and jumped?
look at what our hands have done.

swallowing doses of poison awaiting transformation
a match haloes, begging me to see
every filament that vibrates with aftershock.


Interview with Laurin & Editor Joanna C. Valente

JV: What is your ideal breakfast and morning? Describe a typical start to your day. 

LD: Ideally, I wake up to fresh brewed coffee and whatever style of eggs I'm feeling that day. I write for several hours. My obligations are later in the day so I have time to start slow. This isn't usually how my mornings go. I wake up, probably on the couch having fallen asleep to late night television, in the same clothes I was wearing the day before. My cats, Rex and Sage, are laying near me or directly on top of me. Rex, seeing that I've woken up, will bite strands of my hair until I've gotten up to feed him, while Sage will just yell persistently from the kitchen. I pee, I feed my cats, I look into my bedroom to see my partner still asleep, the dog at her side. I try not to make obsessive lists of all the things I have to do, but inevitably that's what ends up happening and somehow I get most everything done. 

How do you know when a poem is done?

The endings of my poems are usually dramatic, calling for a full stop. I don't always intend to do so, but the poems usually come out that way and that's where I'll leave them for a while. I always come back to my poems as I encounter new material and the narrative I'm trying to create comes more into focus. 

What were you listening to and reading and watching while writing these?

I was definitely listening to Kanye as the poem "eat me" might suggest. I had been watching his short film "Runaway" a lot because the image of that phoenix at the intersection of American culture through the eyes of Kanye was really intriguing to me, and magical in its own way, but I was also doing a lot of research into Afrofuturism, which really felt like a home to me in a lot of ways. So I was listening to artists like Janelle Monae, Talib Kweli, Missy Elliot, Sun Ra, Parliament/Funkadelic, Kendrick Lamar, Shabazz Palaces, Robert Glasper, Prince, etc. I was likely reading disaster fiction for a course in my MFA like Delilo's White Noise, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, Du Bois' "The Comet", and Toni Morrison's Paradise, to name a few. This reading definitely directly resonates in my writing and I seek out these kinds of texts to inform the past/futures I attempt to invoke. 

How do you know when to break a line?

Again, for me this comes down to the drama and tension of the line or image. Sometimes I like to break a line to create a reversal of expectation, a surprise, but other times I break the line simply to parse the language. Revision plays a big part in this process. I think breaking lines is as much about play as it is formal construction.

What part of you writes your poems? What are your obsessions?

All parts of me and parts that aren't me, too. Those are the most important parts. My obsession right now is hybridity and considering how we mix with that which is "not us". Being a person of mixed race, I often struggle with the ways in which we create boundaries and boxes and resist fluidity. I'm obsessed with music, particularly the surge in people of color taking the stage to voice stories that reach beyond the glamor and puppetry of the media machine and commodification of the POC body. Lastly, I'm obsessed with how we tell stories, make stories, and revise stories from our past. This is what will carry us into the future. 

Zola Gonzalez-Macarambon is a writer from the Philippines now living in Australia. She has work in several print and online publications, some of which can be read in her website:

Las Palmas, the house of love

At the new address, the walls are thin.
I can hear the landlords not sleeping
together. She is young and brown
on the floor. In bed, he is old and bothered.
Every night, he gasps and howls like the night dogs
he grumbles about in mornings. He says they are fast
as flesh in dreams where his eyes are slow-
watching his own neck fold
like a flap one licks before mailing.

The landlord's dream dogs, recalled over coffee,
become the faces of sons, wives, and daughters.
They draw blood to Blondie singing
slim and sticky like the streets
in stories dead people tell. (When I dream die,
it will be to Zeppelin and Immigrant Song,
with real palms scratching at the blue.)
Old dogs from restless sleep, as old
as bell jar sleeves, so old
its grown fur, sufficient it's grown teeth, near-real
it hijacks nights in old beds under old roofs,
and new sheets, newer wives like her -

brown as the scab that scales
over open wounds. Where she's from, *bangungot,
without song and dance brings the lady of the night, **batibat,
she who fattens on resentment, would sit on a man's face
and grind on him breathless. 

There are thin walls at the Las Palmas,
and a near quiet, a tight muffling
like pipes braiding in the throat.
Almost morning and brown hands swim in the dark
dawn Pacific, beach as three sharp claps across a face
on the pillow. Sharp, panicked, steam breaths,
the only sound better than many love-cries stitched together.

*Bangungot is Filipino for sometimes death-inducing nightmares.

**Batibat is a demon woman who smothers men in sleep. In Philippine myth, she targets men who took something of hers.

Lunes on Home


sharp orange pylons
like carapace of crab lunches
Sundays back home


suburban summer trees
called by any Other names -
malunggay, acacia, mansanitas


In blue-sky winters
I lie on the grass
imagining up-side-down seas

Princes Highway

Every night, I stand on a corner at Cobain,
watching Princes undulate through trees
and change skins in traffic. Back home
in some unpaved backwater town called Koronadal,
a snake crawled out of a woman's womb.
It was black and gold with a fish head.

Stranger things have happened, here
below the earth's green belt.
Walls and streets have glass eyes,
steel sockets, elephant memory.
Wide suburban lawns are empty.
The flowers are bigger than my head.

Early evening and the roads
writhe for the foreigner
watching from a safe distance.

*Princes is a highway running through the Monash suburbs


Interview with Zola & Editor Joanna C. Valente

JV: What is your ideal breakfast and morning? Describe a typical start to your day.

ZM: I'm one of those who can't work around clutter, so that my mornings begin with housekeeping. I tidy up, load the laundry, make coffee, and get to work.

How do you know when a poem is done?

A poem is done when the laughter in my head (or at least muffled to a) stops . This occurs towards a submission deadline. Otherwise, I could not stop tinkering with itand nothing gets done.

What were you listening to and reading and watching while writing these?

I remember having 'You're Too Cool' by The Zolas on loop that day. These lines continue to resonate within:

"On the road I dream of home and when at home I dream of action
Our apartments are all haunted by the ghost of satisfaction"

The band also has a cool name. 

How do you know when to break a line?

It depends on the tone I'm trying to achieve to match the idea i want to convey. Typically, i listen to my breathing and make cuts where it hitches. Usually it happens on a word I want to emphasise, which works because the ends of lines are good places for leaving urgent words.

What part of you writes your poems? What are your obsessions

I imagine my writing selves as twins, one is creative, the other, a critic. They are joined at the hip. They stand in a narrow hallway and they want to play. 

I am obsessed with time travel via *sigbin, which is the subject of a novella I've been working on for over a year now. 

*creature from Visayan myth

Kailey Alyssa grew up in Las Vegas and is now residing in Longmont, Colorado. She is a current MFA student at the University of Colorado Boulder where she works on several projects including Timber Journal and Subito Press. She likes camping, craft beer, and coffee. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dreginald, Hobart Journal, and Juked.


to propagate a succulent, sharply tug outer leaves: 
no piece can be left behind, no toothbrush or camping tent;

place in direct sunlight to start healing. 
do not call or email. allow wound to callus. 

atop well-draining soil, place leaves. drink too much red wine at dinner. 
once roots are visible, bury just beneath the soil. try not to overwater.



a truck hums to pull wind and finger
cities at night.         do red lips mean
i’m consumed or savored?  
i stare at curves missing precipitation
to smoke backlit.       
knuckles tangle in hair.       i’d rather
gouge the coop,   sweeten mouthfeel
watch the ballerina turn.


Interview with Kailey & Editor Joanna C. Valente  

JV: What is your ideal breakfast and morning? Describe a typical start to your day. 

KA: An ideal morning is waking up sans alarm clock and lounging around in bed until I feel like getting up. Next is hot cup of coffee with a little cream and sugar and more lounging around in pajamas. Eventually, I'll have to change into real clothes to go out to eat breakfast. I love this little creole diner down the street from where I live-their homemade beignets and chicory coffee makes taking off thermal-lined flannel pajama bottoms in the Colorado winter an easy task.

Typically, however, my alarm goes off and I snooze it once before getting out of bed. I wash my face, put my make-up on, do my hair, etc. I quickly pick up the house and wash any leftover dishes from the night before. I water my plants, open the windows so they have sunshine, and check out my little succulent propagation trays. I generally have enough time to find all my stuff before realizing I should have left the house five minutes earlier.

 How do you know when a poem is done?

If a particular line isn't sitting right with me, whether it be thematically or musically, I'll carry it around with me for a while on a piece of paper and take it out when I have the time to look at it. Something about returning continually to the line helps me work out what's bothering me about it and how to fix it. When I stop feeling the urge to write parts of it down on little sheets of paper, I deem it (more or less) finished. Even still, I tend to revisit them all on occasion.

What were you listening to and reading and watching while writing these?

Last Spring, I taught an undergraduate creative writing course. I love to teach the poems and books that allowed me to fall in love with poetry, so I taught and read collections like Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Eduardo C. Corral's Slow Lightening, Richard Siken's Crush, and Zachary Schomburg's Fjords vol. 1. I was also introduced to Mg Robert's not so, sea, Carmen Gimenez Smith's Milk and Honey, and Julie Gard's Home Studies and spent a lot of time immersed in those collections.

In addition to being a poet, I'm also a binge-watcher (who isn't??) and these poems were smack in the middle of a 'Criminal Minds' and 'How to Make a Murderer' fix. I'm a sucker for crime dramas so if I've got free time to watch television, that's what I'm watching (unless there's a new season of'The Walking Dead'  RIPGLENN). 

I don't listen to music or television while I write. I tend to pick up the language in the background and forget what I was thinking about or start to type what I'm hearing instead. Though if l'm not writing, I generally listen to some iteration of '90s Country' or 'Meghan Trainor'  Pandora.

How do you know when to break a line? 

This process, for me, is done rather mechanically. I mentally start to break the line after each word and see how that breaks changes or impacts the poem. When I find the break that functions how I'd like it to, I'll move down to the next line in the poem. When I reach the bottom, I start checking to see how theline breaks are affecting one another and make adjustments as I go. After that, I try really hard to move on to something else and return to it the next day with a fresh pair of eyes. I have sat at my computer and moved line breaks for hours when I gave myself the permission to do so.

Whatpart of you writes yourpoems? Whatare your  obsessions?

I'm obsess with house plants, in particular succulents and cacti. I probably have over seventy-five little baby succulents growing in trays and small flats, and at least fifty more mature adult plants growing around the house. I love to walk around and water them-plus Colorado has such wonderful weather it seems to combatting my generally not-so-green thumb nicely.

And as far as the part of me that writes my poems.. .I'm not quite sure. I'll have to let you know when I find out.