Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

Sext to absalom



Finalist for the 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program
Previously appeared in Sixth Finch

In an attempt to look regal I lopped
off the head of a black snake

The small tissues in my chest tore
& patterned more beautifully

The sparkle of my boyhood
rose, in my throat, & sang

When asked why I will say someone
told me I am an ugly bag of bones

I will say yes, I split the snake
against the promise of my own becoming

Let me explain: somewhere a boy
swallows his own monstrous tongue

Somewhere a boy shatters another boy
then kisses his knuckles, one by one

He is named the most beautiful boy
in the whole goddamn country

He is more beautiful than the snake
unwound in black on crabgrass

More beautiful than me: sweat
& scales blessing my skin, Father

More beautiful than a thing
that starts & ends broken

Look, I am jealous
because you had a life

& I had two bodies, neither
of which I knew how to use



Bildungsroman with Distant Nation


Finalist for the 2018 Gregory Djanikian Scholars Program
Previously appeared in BOAAT

After Cathy Linh Che

In summer, my father spoke German with Ms. Elka.
I learned the word for dream, traume,

slept clumsy in my white bed before the mirror.
& the word for love: Elka’s son

with his tongue in my mouth. Perfect blonde boy
from the city, skin flashlit with all his summers.

When Ms. Elka visited, I poured her water
& brought her cookies on a plastic tray.

I greeted her in what little I knew,
mouth searching for the wounding language.

I didn’t know how to say that I took her son
into my mouth like a river, or that I held

a small lightbox in my chest that flashed
when he touched my hairy inner thigh.

All I knew was escape: to sleep facedown,
dream in a language I could not speak:

a land with no homes, no fathers or women:
a lush swath of forest, its wrens nesting like wrens.


Aidan Forster is a high school senior in the creative writing program at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina. His work has been honored by the National YoungArts Foundation, the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, the Poetry Society of America, and the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, among others. His work appears in or is forthcoming from Best New Poets 2017BOAATColumbia Poetry Review, Indiana Review, Pleiades, and Tin House, among others. His debut chapbook of poems, Exit Pastoral, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019.

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