Sarah Bitter

Excerpt from Survived By

*this piece is best experienced on desktop



Blue, 1982

A robin’s egg sky arches over my young father. He’s got one big change in him, but I can’t see it as I watch him bend to pull soil and roots from mower blades.

I don’t know yet
















The influence of John Berryman is everywhere in this piece. Also, Diana Khoi Nguyen’s Ghost Of inspired me to begin manipulating family photos, including blurring and cutting people out.




Sarah Bitter writes poetry and prose from the home she shares in Seattle with her partner, daughter, and dogs. Sarah has an MFA from the University of Washington. Her work has appeared in The Seventh Wave, River Mouth Review, and Slipstream.

Allyson Paty




Having woken from the dream of riding on a flat tire


Having carried the scrape and-a-one-two, scrape and-a, scrape scrape onto the train


Having surfaced in a heart of commerce, closed


Having taxed the muscles in a pack of women


Having paid to


Having creamed our faces in a crowded mirror


Having walked a mall-like stretch of a famous avenue


Having passed two men caked in dust, one


Having aimed a miniature leaf blower at his chest


Having turned it on his companion, who


Having swept his arms dramatically


Having pushed the tool gently away, both men


Having laughed, somewhat cleaner


Having caught my reflection in the windowed façade of a bank


Having admired the ranunculus in a garden box of a white-brick building one block long


Having held a low opinion of this architectural style, but that vision of modernity


Having become passé


Having come to a kind of charm in it


Having blushed at nostalgia’s dim revision


Having turned left at the park


Having been too early for students, their habitual swarm


Having drawn the emptiness across honeycomb pavement into suspense


Having been the site of a parade ground, a public grave, and farmland


Having, in a time of resistance, formed a border between New Amsterdam to the south and the Lenape to the North, the plots


Having been parceled out by the Dutch West India company to eleven men


Having been enslaved by the charter


Having petitioned for freedom and


Having attained a conditional version, the terms of which


Having not extended to any children living or future


Having required annual payments of grain and livestock and occasional service


Having included a lot on this acreage, which grew over centuries into an enclave of freemen despite


Having under British rule been stripped of their deeds to the land


Having been cleared from forest, a stream rich in trout


Having coursed and—polluted, used as a sewer, and finally buried—possibly coursing


Having nodded good morning to a woman’s request for a dollar like I don’t understand the ask


Having pulled the heavy institutional door


Having flashed ID to George


Having read yesterday’s memo


Having ridden the elevator to eight


Having forgotten already—one man’s shirt was neon orange, but was the leaf blower’s matching or green?


Having gone to the desk and turned on the Dell


Having eaten a yogurt purchased on the famous avenue for $1.79


Having gone to the kitchen to recycle the cup, despite


Having seen the bins emptied into a common dumpster


Having nodded to the assorted labors, human and bovine, past and to come


Having said internally bon voyage


Having read that plastics remain 450 to 1000 years intact


Having greeted a coworker Good morning, Good morning


Having typed 1569 into the browser’s search bar


Having wanted 450 years to feel real or specific


Having read Wikipedia’s list of deaths in that year, Pieter Bruegel the Elder


Having been among the names


Having turned to the tasks that constitute my employment, e.g.


Having volleyed a quantity of emails


Having projected into that near-future space where I hope this finds you well


Having chanted internally from Alice Notley, All day you have to in the lough


Having read the line on the morning train


Having said it alternately law and loff


Having consulted circa 1:00 p.m.


Having thought, But in a lake, I never feel that I “have to”


Having retrieved lunch from the fridge


Having emptied the container onto a plate


Having spoken with coworkers: media, food


Having listened partly while replaying internally the dust exchange


Having cast both shirts as orange


Having recalled in your orange shirt you look like / a better happier St. Sebastian despite


Having pictured that shirt not florescent like the tulips O’Hara goes on to mention but something more like sherbet, the men this morning


Having cleaned via pantomime of cleaning


Having slid tenderness inside a macho exchange


Having rendered the image of a rough touch via a light one


Having returned to my desk


Having typed wedding dance into the browser


Having encountered a field of photographs showing formally dressed white people on lustrous floors

Having realized my mistake


Having added bruegel


Having seen this painting at the DIA


Having been in town for a wedding


Having gravitated to the reds, the reveling peasants


Having been painted happy and plump, Antwerp


Having operated refineries for the quantities of sugarcane imported from the Americas, the city


Having become rich, Flemish merchants presumably


Having wanted to admire a cheerful image of their commoner countrymen, their carousing


Having been read as a celebration of local customs at a time of Spanish rule but


Having also been read as a moral statement against the underclasses, Flanders


Having been in the throes of the Reformation, on the brink of the Eighty Years’ War


Having typed an associative list:

Having rendered foremost a picture of an education, the present


Having ground a myopic lens


Having looked through or only at it


Having glanced to the corner of the screen: 1:37better get back, but


Having typed into the search bar 1019


Having recognized only names: Song Dynasty, Kyūshū, Manchuria, Kiev, its Wikipedia entry


Having been less than half the length than 1569’s—gross distance or the contributors’ skew toward a Europe (then “dark”)?


Having tried too the Met’s digital collection

Having saved a screenshot: Glaze Clump, 11th–12th century, no image available, not on view


Having felt a personal affinity


Having scrolled chronologically, the object dated closest to 1019, a single gold dinar (A.H. 419, A.D. 1028, made in Iran (modern Afghanistan), bequest of Joseph H. Durkee, New York, 1898), the coin


Having one smoothed and slightly cracked edge, the details


Having been effaced, perhaps


Having sat unevenly under heat or weight or water


Having felt the air in the office suddenly thick, the skies


Having opened, I was certain, despite


Having been nowhere near a window


Having thought the rage of the gods despite


Having not once considered divine emotion as


Having shaped the observable world


Having inherited instead a humanism in which there are natural forces and people who act and


Having felt that worldview scrape and-a scrape, metal rims


Having bent against road




Allyson Paty is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Five O’clock on the Shore (above/ground press, 2019). She is co-founding editor of Singing Saw Press, Associate Director of NYU Gallatin’s Writing Program, and a teacher in NYU’s Prison Education Program. Her poems appear in publications including BOMB, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Tin House, among others and are forthcoming in The Yale Review.

Amy Bobeda



Amy Bobeda








                  that which may be done without

                                            free to be used

                                                                 as the occasion my require 

                                                                                           to be available.


Designed to be discarded after one use.

                                                                        A desired surplus of income—

A pipe dream springs a

leak; a loss of water—







                       From disposen—

                                    Set in order, place in a particular order.

                                                               Arrange, control, regulate, disposer—




                                            Air—another oxygen monitor sings twilight. Goodnight to

                                            another moon who will not rise tomorrow.



Ponere, to put or place, haphazardly among the leaves, two by two in unmarked graves.


To incline the mind or heart of—







                     Like a daughter by marriage, of waste—our material matter—


“You do not make a billion dollars,” NY House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say,

“you take a billion dollars.”


In the 1620’s, dispose + al,

                       Power to make use of, right to dispose of or control.



You do not take a million lives, you neglect them.





“We hear you. We hear you. We know we’re wrecking the world, but we don’t know how to turn this around. The system as so much momentum now. What can we do? Can you help us?” – Humans respond to humans masked as plants and animals in the work of Joanna Macy




          Remove to a different place, put off usual place; remove from any position, office, or dignity.

The sugar maple becomes a legless climate refugee. One degree Celsius.


La Camp de La Lande: the memory of the Jungle tents, one small theater, library, St. Michel’s with a cross—demolished after a fire coincides with the Paris bombing.


                             What comes by chance—


                                                          The story is the story of the story we see on the four

                                                          cornered          screens          censored, the story is

                                                          never the body, whole.


                                                                                                                   We correlate; convenience

                                                                                                                   for a good story: product





In 1944, displaced person became refugee—

                                                             the atom bomb a viable idea.



A false face

        May never decay in our lifetimes’ memory—future archeologists ask why we grew to amass a land of plastic, so vast stone become indistinguishable from straw.



You do not take a place, you neglect it.



You do not take a place, you displace it.



The scene shifts, a different mask appears, and the ghost of the tormented dead person speaks, recounting the manner of his death and

describing the tortures of hell. – Carmen Blacker on Nō theater





How to Wear :

          Be sure to wash your hands before putting on, do NOT touch the mask while wearing.

          Not an accessory for necks, foreheads, chins, noses, dangling from a single ear.


How to Remove :

Untie, unclasp loops, handle only by strings, like a tampon—cleanse or dispose, wash hands again. 


How to Dispose :

Is not included in the CDC guidelines. Neither is how to dispose of our loved ones and land.



If the memory of an event is a “trace” in the land, the actions that took place long ago are “etched” there, but “long ago” may become tomorrow at any time! –Cecilia Vicuña

Often a man fails to differentiate between his essential identity and his persona, becoming only the mask.

–Nancy Qualls-Corbe






We tied our masks in strings of many colors.

Blue the flavor of water,

Red the season of blood, inextricably braided,

                                                              purple beyond our imagined borders,

                                                                                                    the time of now, cut

through remnants of liquidity.




Wounded water, agüita herida,

Water of the deep aquifer, subterranean water of dreams, hear our song. – Cecilia Vicuña


“Our lives are the enactment of our dreams; our case histories are from the very beginning, archetypally, dramas; we are masks (personae) through which the gods sound (personare).” – James Hillman







On the day after the 2020 US Presidential Election, colors masked the country’s official leave of the Paris Agreement—the little spoken of five-year anniversary of a global initiative towards sustaining life on planet Earth. Amidst the largest surge in COVID-19 cases since the virus introduced itself as our newest cohabitant, Americans watched the news, protested, counted ballots, waited for answers, remaining people of America––the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world.







“I blame the cows,” Katie Holmes’ character says in a movie about a tropical storm in Louisiana that blows a tree through her roof.


“It will only get worse with global warming,” her mother-in-law says.







1976: Mikhail Budyko says, “a global warming up has started.”


1983: The modern “human induced” climate change enters discourse.


2006: An Inconvenient Truth is released, six years after Gore loses to Bush in the Florida recount for President.


2019: Canadian Cree, Shawn Wilson says something along the lines of, “if scientists could communicate to the public climate crisis, we would have done something by now,” in a lecture on Youtube.


2019: The Guardian changes its climate phrasing to global heating, and climate emergency.


2019: Swedish teen Greta Thunberg says, “It’s 2019. Can we all now call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?”

2020: COVID-19 circulates the globe, calling for rapid change in public health policy, including recommendation and demand for reusable or disposable facial masks worn in public. 55,000 tons of disposable face masks are produced within 3 months of the pandemic’s onset.


2020: 1.25 million people die from COVID-19 by early November. Face makes become a US point of political contention, rather than a public safety measure.


2470: The proposed year microplastics from 2020’s face masks will decompose.




Inconvenience: from the 1400’s meant harm, damage; danger; misfortune. From Latin inconvenientia, lack of consistency, incongrucency. An improper act of utterance.







Amy Bobeda holds and MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics where she founded Wisdom Body Collective, an artist collective rooted in the sacred feminine. Her work can be read in Humble Pie, Vol 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. @AmyBobeda on Twitter.

Benjamin Zellmer Bellas




Benjamin Zellmer Bellas’ work has been published in The Pinch, Cadillac Cicatrix, and Drain Magazine. His combination of writing and visual art has been exhibited internationally at venues including Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 1a space, Hong Kong, and the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki among others. He is the recipient of a Franklin Furnace Award, and his work has been written about in Sculpture Magazine, FRIEZE, New City Chicago, and Washington Post. Zellmer Bellas holds MFAs from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Bennington Writing Seminars.

Olivia Muenz


my graine


my graine ii


Olivia Muenz is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Louisiana State University. She received her BA from NYU and is currently the Nonfiction Editor for New Delta Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt Hill Journal, Anomaly, The Boiler, Pidgeonholes, Heavy Feather Review, Timber Journal, Peach Magazine, Stone of Madness Press, and ctrl+v.

Madison McCartha


Drone Render_08


“Drone Render_08” includes text excerpts from McCartha’s THE CRYPTODRONE SEQUENCE that have previously appeared in The Spectacle.


Madison McCartha is a black poet and multimedia artist whose work appears in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, Tarpaulin Sky and elsewhere. Their debut book of poetry, FREAKOPHONE WORLD, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle in 2021; their second book, THE CRYPTODRONE SEQUENCE, is forthcoming from Black Ocean.

Sarah Minor


A Most Certain, Strange and True

Discovery of a VVitch


Seen on the Wing


Sarah Minor is the author of Slim Confessions: The Universe as a Spider or Spit (Noemi Press 2021), Bright Archive (Rescue Press 2020) and the digital chapbook The Persistence of The Bonyleg: Annotated (Essay Press 2016). She is the video editor at TriQuarterly Review, Assistant Director of the Cleveland Drafts Literary Festival, and teaches creative writing to artists and designers at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Lucy Zhang




Lucy Zhang writes, codes, and watches anime. Her work has appeared in Third Point Press, SOFTBLOW, Atticus Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Heavy Feather Review and assistant fiction editor for Pithead Chapel. Find her at or on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.