The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


I am driving a whale heart

In the dome of its body the blue 

whale has a heart large 

as a Honda Civic, its soft engine 

pumping throngs of blood 

in the equator deep. Whaleblood. Whaleheart.

These words open a little salt-rusted 

door in me. I want sometimes 

to sit by the wooden boy’s fire 

in the cave-belly and fold into a song 

and its forgetting. Like crawling 

into baritone sleep after the body 

exhausted from use. After 

the body I never knew 

was a mothering kind of creature. 

I have wanted to be inside the whale’s 

dream, the way the sugar ant wants 

to crawl inside my own heart and feast. 

I left home in a whale heart 

drove it through blizzards, 

off the side of the road, straight 

across the country trading coasts 

for no good reason than to change 

my life as much as I could. 

Largest heart, Deepest diver, 

your blood its own ten-ton sea,

traveling hundreds of miles a day 

in the ship of your body 

sounding your single horn 

to preserve your solitude. 

Chugging toward black rock, black hills 

and the carved-out drop of badlands, 

my offkey songs another dry slap 

against the windshield. 

Hydranths in the cloudhead, 

which current to follow in the rising dark? 

Windmills became mineral plains, 

whales floating above the salt flats. 

I ran to them but they disappeared 

in my arms. Driving my fish-heart 

into the yellow headlands’ tinderbox 

of dead grasses, the baited questions 

were already hooking my future. 

In the corner of a borrowed room, 

I dealt a haphazard astrology: 

If Perseids dripped from the eucalyptus 

If a film about tide pools was projected onto

the fog If the basin proved to be fertile 

then I’d stay in San Francisco. No memory 

anywhere in my wake. 

I think now it was not where I landed 

but the story of the leaving.

Before I knew how to be inside my life, 

rootstock in the daily, 

what I loved most was careening 

toward the idea of it, 

never the stark arrival, 

fumbling with knifed keys 

in the shadows, stepping 

over the gray pool 

of mail with its terrible small weight, 

but one foot in the swirl, 

those brief seconds of lift 

before the tide pulled me in. 

When you washed ashore, Largest

it took four men to pull the heart 

from your body, they wanted to see it 

hauled from the depths. 

It would take 640 male hearts to make yours. 

It would take the starry plough 

culled from the mountain 

to know anything about you at all. 

And then it’s ten years, twenty, 

and my body it’s been the good sea, 

though suddenly, never alone again 

so that when waiting 

in a doctor’s annual office 

I can be seized by the floodwaters— 

the canned triumph of a pop song, 

a plastic seashell in a decaying aquarium— 

the wire so easily tripped. 

When everyone is briefly accounted for

I plunge into epiphany, 

slipping out to fetch the godly bills, 

the dollar grocery papers, waxy catalogs 

that locate me across every migration 

and something in the way the domed sky 

shivers with its palpable fade 

or I am exhausted 

to the point of sheer openness, 

it returns me to the gasp 

of emerging from that car’s 

salt-rusted door at Land’s End 

shedding grain by grain 

in the surf. Cold bare feet 

on the cul-de-sac asphalt 

I crawl into my whale heart, 

pocked and peeling now, 

that place where love 

was sourced in loneliness, 

for a single breath, medicinal sip 

of beyond, licking salt 

from my fingers 

in my own private hum 

before returning 

to the buoyant voices 

the small hands reaching up 

toward their idea of mother. 

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Wildest

The hour of snacks and homework 

and we’re enlarging the world with adverbs

of scale. See how easily smooth becomes

smoother, 

how we can silk it farther to the sheen that

is most itself. You are taller, stronger, a

little farther from my center, but not

farthest 

(may we stop here in the horizon note of

farther) and you want to know how accretion

applies to wild. One field left longer, one

never entered 

by anything that sought to change it. 

Say wild and the honeysuckle curls round

the cedar and the cedar’s silence mats a

soft floor in winter whose most faithful

withholding buckles 

the cloudhead. Say wilder and it’s less 

bewildering, more why, 

the cloud funneling now, the animals

hurried into the barn, and we’re left 

staring at the floodwaters salting our

questions. Wilder rakes its impulsive

hand over us 

and we ride off the road in the night. 

And wildest, what sprung cosmos is that? 

I hope we never see it enough to know 

as here in this measured plot we keep

turning the hose on the fire ants and

they dutifully 

froth up. Somewhere lives expanses 

never perceived, deepest praise 

all the lost coasts, outbacks, untrodden 

tundras of this world, its earths too wild 

to survive us. My boy wants to know 

how wild it gets. As long as there is land 

that has never breathed in 

our borrowed must of oxygen, 

then the mandrakes quiver in their sacs; 

as you curl into sleep, the dryad 

is out there pressing her most unburdened head 

against evening’s northest altar. 

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Bat Milk

They do, they do— 

inside the living mountain 

where night is a constant— 

curl up like a god’s 

shuttered eye 

and wait as I waited 

body of my body 

we sing the same 

blood-warm song. 

Casements wrapped in ink 

they are to themselves 

the center of the earth 

by which all things 

distinguish 

though still they may ask 

as I have asked 

staring across 

the battered plain 

what monster what 

monster am I? 

Midwife of shadow 

the first milk breath 

hums in the mineral sky.

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

Project Bookshelf: Xuan Nguyen | FEYXUAN

I read voraciously. At maximum speeds, I can read for 10 hours straight for days in a row and devour up to 200,000 words in a day. Since becoming disabled, I spend a lot of time reading when I am too chronically ill or in pain to do anything else, which essentially happens every single day.

However, it would be a complete and utter lie to say I was reading anything but fanfiction. And honestly, it would be equally false to say that I have been regularly reading anything but fanfiction since I learned I was gay in middle school through my not-so-bizarre fascination with BL (Boys Love) manga. Once freshman year of high school hit and through the mysterious ways of now-dead Tumblr, I learned I was transgender and non-binary, and then it was basically the final nail in the coffin for any lingering aspirations of becoming a bookworm in the traditional sense.

It’s a matter of representation. It would be bad enough looking for representation by-and-for cisgender gay Southeast Asian-Americans, but it’s essentially impossible for a transgender one that doesn’t end with the involvement of a shovel and a six-foot grave. I also vastly prefer to read fantasy, and I have no tolerance for Eurocentricism in my fantasy or for non-Asians’ Orientalism.

But as a child, I was quite a happy bird when it came to books, and the books I read then still influence me now. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix and Tithe by Holly Black have been extremely formative for me for the type of fantasy I aspire to create. They were written decades ago, but still remain quite subversive in the modern Game of Thrones-dominated landscape of fantasy. Nix’s series features teenage girls using necromantic bells to raise the dead or lay them to rest in the process of saving the world. Black’s series is a keystone of urban fantasy since the modern setting is used as urban grit, and the otherworldly aspects remain brilliantly ethereal, with such majesty that gets lost in what most people think of as urban fantasy: the fantastical made mundane through such things as Paranormal Investigation Agencies and vampires going to high school.

I’ve kept tabs on what the big boys of publishing put out, and there’re some trailblazers for QTPOC in fantasy, namely TOR, but I can’t help but keep my reservations. The publishing world is a lot different now than it was 15 years ago, but is different enough? Is change happening fast enough? For some, it is. And I’m happy for them.

But if I had to have my say, I’ll stick to my childhood favorites and the wide and well-tagged world of fanfiction.


Xuan Nguyen | FEYXUAN is a disabled fey orchestral music composer, writer-poet, and illustrator-designer. Their recent projects have involved the solo development of aesthetic interactive fiction games exploring the nuances not exclusive to the following: power, trauma, madness, nonbinariness, divinity, and monstrosity. LIAR, LIONESS (Feb 2021) and the demo for OCHITSUBAKI【落ち椿】(March 2021) are out now. Their books include LUNG, CROWN, AND STAR (Dec 2020, Lazy Adventurer) and THE FAIRIES SING EACH TO EACH (Feb 2021, Flower Press). Xuan Nguyen is the Art Director of Lazy Adventurer Publishing, and they help Grimalkin Records as a Graphic Designer.

Sundress Reads: Review of Beyond the Ghetto Gates

In her stellar second novel Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, 2020), Michelle Cameron creates a rich, intricate world where her characters grapple with the rules and implications of living under the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French army, as well as societal and religious expectations pushed on men and women of the time. Cameron’s portrayals of the complex lives between Jews and Christians in the 1790s is rendered vividly on the page through alternating perspectives: the novel follows Mirelle, born into a Jewish family; Daniel, a Jewish soldier serving in Bonaparte’s army; Christophe, a Christian who falls for Mirelle; and Francesca, a devout Catholic whose allegiance to her religion is tested when her life intersects with Mirelle’s and Daniel’s. Each character harbors misgivings about the others until they begin to unite and understand that the effects of war and violence on their lives have given them bonds that cannot be broken.

Set in Ancona, Italy, the novel opens with Mirelle, a brilliant accountant who longs for a life beyond the gates of the Jewish ghetto she has been raised within: “her brother might feel caught within the enclosure of the gates, but she felt doubly trapped—as a Jew and as a woman.” As the plot progresses, she confronts societal and religious rules of her place in the world with a sharp tongue and a steady head. Her faith and obligation to her family is tested when she falls for a Christian soldier, and their clandestine romance pushes the boundaries and restrictions of each of their lives. Mirelle is a compelling protagonist who gracefully accepts each challenge thrown her way, while other characters orbit around her story to create an engaging narrative.           

Cameron leans into the historical elements of the story, rendering events with such strong imagery that the events seem to take place in the current era rather than the 1700s. For example, when Bonaparte is first introduced the troops do not think much of the new general: “The General stood before the men, legs spread wide. He wore a simple jacket, only distinguished by the gold leaf embroidery reserved for generals. He’d left his collar open. Disappointment twisted Daniel’s stomach. Someone in Paris must think the Italian campaign a joke.” Cameron’s descriptions allow real-life historical figures to inhabit their own space in her fictional retelling of true events.

This is a gripping read that is impossible to put down, weaving a story of beauty, heartbreak, romance, and familial bonds that link generations together. Cameron’s characters challenge societal and religious expectations while learning to see past their division to find new common ground in the end—though not before much blood is shed do they realize the implications of the clash between the stereotypes, violence, and religious beliefs they each hold as truth must change if peace is to ever be found. The novel is most successful when it pushes back against the boundaries each character must learn to traverse to truly understand the humanity of their fellow man and woman, and Cameron’s writing is universal in its capacity to bridge the gap between Christian and Jew, Italian and French. Through these empathetic characters and the portrait of their lives, readers will be left satisfied and wanting more.

Beyond the Ghetto Gates is available at She Writes Press


Nikki Lyssy (@blindnikkii) is an MFA candidate studying creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida. Her essays have appeared in Hobart, Sweet, and Essay Daily. When she is not working, she can be found in a coffee shop.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Communion

Lose yourself in kindness.


Trust the soft oval of clasped hands
blurred circles of knees on stone
the simple shapes of star, cross, steeple


Streaming sunlight, glowing window panes,
aisle seats battered by drink carts


Skin gilded in galactic rays, recycled air.


Checkerboard farms, variable vector mountains
nations discrete, invisible


Light candles.
Hope to Belief to Faith to


The simple equation
of self plus love
patience


From above, everything is geometry.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Secret Garden

We found you
strangely scented
of coconuts and fertilizer
in an old Wellington.


Miriam planted you
there secretly,
fed you sunscreen
and crayon wrappers.


You grew in the dark rubber,
white-green shoots
searching for sunlight
bulb soft and fat.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


You Are My Calendar

The smell of Sundays when you shave
Bone-handled brush sweeping over cheekbones, chin
Face smooth under my lips, fingers
I could recognize you by your skin.


Days pass, and your stubble sands my face as we kiss
Accentuate your movements, explore me
Mark days by growth, delicious rough caress
Moving to Friday’s softness again.


By Saturday the scent of wood-shavings
and sweets is submerged in your skin
Surrounds me, stains the pillows and sheets.
I breathe you in.


I mark my days by you.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Constellation of Freckles by Keri Withington


Secret City

House, kids, dogs: I’m settled now. Situated
though I’ve moved so many times I can’t remember addresses,
phone numbers, roommate names. Cosmic rays bathed my airplanes;
starlight saturated my dented water bottle.


My grandmother kept her house in Atlanta ‘til she was ninety.
She attributed her health to an apply a day, her fear of doctors,
the Diet Coke and frosting tub she kept in her walker’s basket. She stayed
active bird-watching, gossiping, eating Varsity hot dogs.


School district, fenced yard, hardwood floors: we bought
our house for the family friendly area, affordable price tag, the right
number of bedrooms. The radioactive materials in our town are among the
most concentrated in the world. The labs world-known.


We swim in our own radioactive waste.
The lakes have No Fishing signs; the fish have three eyes
or none at all. The algae spreads too quickly, chokes wildlife and boat
motors. Plants trap spilt mercury, grow toxic.


Swing-sets, greenways, imported sand: we take
Our kids to the lake, enjoy the city’s parks. My kitchen still
has a microwave, we still screw in fluorescent
light bulb. But we avoid GMOs, eat organic.


The same birds my grandmother fed every morning
migrate up the Appalachians, flock at the lakeshore, peck seeds
from my porch. My kids find their abandoned nests, unhatched eggs, collect
them with crystal shale, misshapen acorns.

This selection comes from Constellation of Freckles, available from Dancing Girl Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Keri Withington is an Appalachian based poet and educator. Her work has previously appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.Her first chapbook is Constellation of Freckles from Dancing Girl Press. Her second chapbook, Beckoning From the Waves, is forthcoming from Plan B Press. As well as writing, Withington is an assistant professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College. Her writing explores themes of feminism, family, and nature.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer and teacher, living in Louisiana. She is currently a joint MA-MFA candidate in Poetry at McNeese State University. She is the Non-Fiction Editor of The McNeese Review, and Social Media Intern for Sundress Publications. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in The Forge and Great Weather for Media, among others. You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

Sundress Reads: Review of when the signals come home

More eclectic mixtape than book, this richly imagined collection of poems is glittering and bold. when the signals come home (Switchback Books, 2021) by Jordan E. Franklin reverberates with the restless, dynamic energy of Brooklyn, a prismatic world through which love and identity are first realized. Franklin gives us a memorable soundtrack infused with complex songs of familial love, a transformation of Black girlhood into womanhood, the eroding effects of racism and gentrification, the pain of illness and grief, and the abundance of song. when the signals come home is a thundering debut that will make you feel painfully alive.

The “album” is divided into four sections, each featuring its very own soundtrack. With songs by Prince, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and Fleetwood Mac, Franklin’s taste in music is as brilliant as her poetry. Her language is piercing and full of strong, bombastic beats that pull you in and won’t let go. The first poem, “Inheritance,” opens with lines so steady and rhythmic they become lyrical: “To raconteur tongue, / solar flare temper, / Mom’s cheekbones, / Pop’s weak eyes, / to knuckle-busted hands, / arachnid fingers, / Bible names, / terracotta curves, / to plantations taken, / vows broken, / a potential future.” One of the many triumphs of this collection is Franklin’s capacity to evoke fierce emotion from her precise, rhapsodic verse.

These poems stretch across time and space, from the speaker’s childhood in Brooklyn spent in the botanical gardens and their brownstone full of family recipes and good music, to getting her MFA in Southampton, to sterile hospital rooms and nursing homes. Franklin charts these movements with music, as particular songs become entwined with certain geographies and memories. Here, hands, spines, and mouths are entangled into an intimate awareness of the body—bodies that are gentle and cruel, strong and withering, dancing and singing. Music constructs the very sinews of this phenomenal collection, holding all of its fluid elements together.

A long family history is unearthed within these poems, as passed down stories are told from a multitude of voices. The polyvocal verse contained here rumbles with the dissonant notes of violence, despair, and love. The stories that Franklin tells are thorny, cacophonous things, but they are always compelling, always necessary: “I promised to stop / telling these tales / but they gather like thorns / in my throat. When my mouth opens, they cut its roof / as I sing.” In this collection, music and stories are the speaker’s inheritance. “Maybe I’m just like my Father,” croons Prince in the background of these poems, and at the heart of when the signals come home is the speaker’s complicated relationship with her sick father. She inhabits the difficult role of her father’s caregiver, which is undercut by their strained dynamic. They need each other in ways that are elusive, resemble each other in ways that are painful, and communicate in ways that resemble a wail. Together, “they harmonize a heavy fatigue.”

Franklin channels Emily Dickinson in her poem, “When I Wake up to More Grief”: “Hope is the thing with feathers that I clip / and leave in a jar— / I don’t bother to kill it— / I want it nowhere near me—.” Like Dickinson, Franklin’s poetry is suffused with the spectral presences of death, grief, and hope. In a poem titled “how to read my poems/,” the speaker tells us: “don’t say spider/ / say someone sews / in the trees…instead of grief/ / say someone rebuilt / your heart wrong.” These poems traverse a fragmented emotional landscape, unravelling into a new language to express ourselves with.

when the signals come home feels like a love letter to Brooklyn, even as it decries the encroaching forces of gentrification. Franklin gives her dynamic city a voice, a song, capturing its grandiosity and fierce character: “The bridge, green-lit / and dressed to the nines / in stars, straddles / the horizon.” Like a Bowie song, these poems are teeming with vibrant, starlit worlds. There is a tenuous balance within these poems between absence and presence. For example, the speaker tells her experiences of the stultifying, alienating effects of racism in white spaces: “A bar in Southampton / I didn’t question how / the only Black things / for miles were me, / the sky and the patches / on the dartboard.”                                                                

This weighty collection is not without its notes of sweet clarity. In “The Nikola Tesla of Compulsion,” Franklin weaves a repeating refrain about raspberries, reminding us of Prince’s raspberry beret and honeyed things on our tongue. She hides her own painful feelings behind the fruit’s delicate sweetness: “Some days, you eat raspberries to keep the / taste of these words off your tongue.” In this collection, Franklin’s mellifluous and mournful poetics is an exceptional feat.

when the signals come home plays with form and the white space of the page, most notably in the striking poem, “Black Girl’s Rondo.” Franklin echoes earlier lines, repeats themes, and bridges images like a song that won’t quite leave your mind. This collection crescendos into something so beautiful and moving that it can only be captured in the evocative language of music. In a bittersweet ending, the speaker finds a way to reach acceptance, though it is conditional and incomplete: “You are not the one / to let him go.” With a musician’s ear and a poet’s voice, Franklin has created a collection of poems you will want to sing aloud.

when the signals come home is available at Switchback Books


Abigail Renner is a junior at George Washington University studying English and American Studies. She is currently a writing consultant in her university writing center, where she loves unearthing writers’ voices and reading across a myriad of genres. She dreams of living on a farm, filling her shelves with romance novels, and laughing with friends over cups of peppermint tea.