The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Fog by Dakotah Jennifer


Verdant

A thin, bumpy sheet of ice covers the asphalt.
Grind my heels in and see the ice pebbles make sloped mountains.
I can see the small white footprint peaks behind me.
This is how I imagine myself
Walking along, leaving mountains in my path
Cracking ice and leaving marks where I have been
Making my way safely to the landing.


As I walk the ice slowly gets thinner
And finally disappears. Only the concrete is left.
This is how I imagine myself
Slowly thinning until only the bare minimum is left.


Sometimes ice is a good thing
The Earth’s rotation tilts and suddenly, the trees shed their shields,
A sky sends down bullets of frozen oceans,
A whole new coat of fur for every weather-defying creature.
The weak die and only the wise grow back.
This is how I imagine myself
Somehow too wise to stop but too weak to grow a thicker coat.
Not strong enough to resist the weather’s impulses
But somehow not capable of dying off.


All of life is white and cold and stifling.
Ice crackles and falls from the roof
Forming a melting lump on the frozen mulch.
The sun, heating the harsh surface of the all-too-fragile ice sheets.

This is how I always imagine myself.
All I want is one new day
Where birds sing
Nothing is stuck
There is no more cold
And everything is lush and full and not hungry anymore.
verdant.

This selection comes from Fog, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Dakotah Jennifer is a twenty-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing poetry at eight and has loved it ever since. Jennifer has been published in Across the Margin, HerStry, Popsugar, The Pinch Journal, Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Grief Diaries, The Confessionalist Zine, Oral Rinse Zine, and Ripple Zine. She was accepted into the Juniper Writing Workshop at Amherst and the Writing Workshops Paris with Carve Magazine for the 2021 year. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, is published with Bloof Books, and her second chapbook/zine, Safe Passage, was recently released with Radical Paper Press.

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: Fog by Dakotah Jennifer


Fog

Fog rolls like dice sometimes.
Fog does not do the killing, but somehow, dead bodies show up
where fog has been.
Fog does not choke, but may suffocate.
Fog has no color,
But sometimes
From far away
Looks white.
Fog is the killer that doesn’t fit the gloves
Has no gloves.
Leaves its mark on everything.

She is fog
I am the bodies.
In every circumstance
I am the bodies.

This selection comes from Fog, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Dakotah Jennifer is a twenty-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing poetry at eight and has loved it ever since. Jennifer has been published in Across the Margin, HerStry, Popsugar, The Pinch Journal, Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Grief Diaries, The Confessionalist Zine, Oral Rinse Zine, and Ripple Zine. She was accepted into the Juniper Writing Workshop at Amherst and the Writing Workshops Paris with Carve Magazine for the 2021 year. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, is published with Bloof Books, and her second chapbook/zine, Safe Passage, was recently released with Radical Paper Press.

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: Fog by Dakotah Jennifer


Proof

You want to know why they ask you for proof,
For evidence in the case,
You know they’ll never indict a man they see themselves in
But you try anyway.
You want to know why you don’t cry when the boys are dead
but when they are alive.
Why you mourn the country and not the fallen.
You count stars as if they are not already dead.
You tell oblivious boys you love them and then run away with it.
You know only what you have been told about the struggle,
But also what you trek through every day.
You don’t believe the reports until you see the footage.
You cringe at the gunshot before you realize they did too.
You write poems about boys that aren’t dead or dying,
You make them immortal when they already are.
You write down black and it turns to dust.
You hope to exist but disappear in the mirror.
You research hate crimes to give them the numbers.


They don’t believe you.

This selection comes from Fog, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Dakotah Jennifer is a twenty-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing poetry at eight and has loved it ever since. Jennifer has been published in Across the Margin, HerStry, Popsugar, The Pinch Journal, Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Grief Diaries, The Confessionalist Zine, Oral Rinse Zine, and Ripple Zine. She was accepted into the Juniper Writing Workshop at Amherst and the Writing Workshops Paris with Carve Magazine for the 2021 year. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, is published with Bloof Books, and her second chapbook/zine, Safe Passage, was recently released with Radical Paper Press.

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: Fog by Dakotah Jennifer


Silence

At first the silence was so small,
I could always hear it but never could stop it from breaking.
Then the silence was so loud,
I almost couldn’t talk over it.
it would smother my voice until it was only affirmation.
And then came a haunting silence, that only I could hear, a monster,
dressed as something gruesome, that turned out to be me.
After that the silence was small again but, not in the same way.
It was small in the way a bomb is before it explodes.
Then, a silence unexpected,
A polite silence, that filled the room with questions and
uncomfortable tension.
This is when the silence changed into something else all together.
The silence was not only mine,
It was every woman’s, every black and brown child’s, the oppressed
with the oppressor’s hand sealed over their mouth and nose.
Then a silence for only me,
A silence that I was born into,
A bloody, birth of a silence,
It stumbled out of my mother’s womb and planted itself in my
favorite blanket.
And finally, at last,
A noise,
A sound
Louder than the loudest silences
Finally,
Me,
Laughing as loud as I could
And no one saying a
word.

This selection comes from Fog, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Dakotah Jennifer is a twenty-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing poetry at eight and has loved it ever since. Jennifer has been published in Across the Margin, HerStry, Popsugar, The Pinch Journal, Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Grief Diaries, The Confessionalist Zine, Oral Rinse Zine, and Ripple Zine. She was accepted into the Juniper Writing Workshop at Amherst and the Writing Workshops Paris with Carve Magazine for the 2021 year. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, is published with Bloof Books, and her second chapbook/zine, Safe Passage, was recently released with Radical Paper Press.

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: Fog by Dakotah Jennifer


Ode to Sitting With My Legs Uncrossed

after Ross Gay

And sure,
It is not the way to
Be a woman or
Polite
But I do often sit
With my legs free of each other
Just to feel my skin breathe.
Or so that the blood keeps rushing to
Every limb and does not
Discriminate. Like maybe
I sit this way so that
When they find
Me,
I’m already on my way to standing
With my hands kissing
The sky.
My legs stay free
Just in case my body cannot. For
If metal sears through meat
In anything but a kitchen in Baltimore
Where my mother still wants her child kicking
Rivers will redden under
My touch. From god
I get only the wish to keep both feet on the floor
in fear of
not running and
It’s almost a reason to
smile
when I don’t strangle my legs and still call
It womanhood.

This selection comes from Fog, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Shannon Wolf.

Dakotah Jennifer is a twenty-year-old black writer currently attending Washington University in St. Louis. She started writing poetry at eight and has loved it ever since. Jennifer has been published in Across the Margin, HerStry, Popsugar, The Pinch Journal, Protean Mag, Apartment Poetry, Paintbucket.page, The Grief Diaries, The Confessionalist Zine, Oral Rinse Zine, and Ripple Zine. She was accepted into the Juniper Writing Workshop at Amherst and the Writing Workshops Paris with Carve Magazine for the 2021 year. She won Washington University’s Harriet Schwenk Kluver award for the 2018-2019 year. Her first chapbook, Fog, is published with Bloof Books, and her second chapbook/zine, Safe Passage, was recently released with Radical Paper Press.

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: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


PLAY

I feel a sudden poem coming on,
new lines that dance their way across this page
to show all other poems how it’s done,
familiar yet so comfortably strange,

so new. This poem wants to skip and run,
to act unruly, truant, underage,
skipping school to lie out in the sun,
avoiding me because I’m prone to rage

at it. But all this poem wants is fun,
and nothing I can do will keep it caged—
no threat will keep this poem quiet, stunned
by my demands. It won’t live off the stage,

not cowed, not scared, not satisfied to stay
unrecognized. Without me, it still plays.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


Spoon

When I think of its silver shape, its arch and curve,
its shiny belly eager for my soup, I cannot help
but be excited, knowing the promise of nourishment

to come. I love its metal cold against a mound
of vanilla covered in an avalanche of chocolate syrup,
or hot with broth so laden with noodles

it’s more noodle than soup, each curvy twist
better than the last. I cannot love a plastic one.
My spoon must have permanence—surviving

and outlasting bad radio songs and difficult
skirt lengths, must be the right fit for my hand,
elegant—not too tiny, not too immense. It must

take what I want to shovel in my mouth
without being a shovel, must be more like a star,
my pleasure its only purpose. It must wait

patiently among spiky forks and treacherous
knives, knowing I will come for it once, twice,
three times a day. It must stir everything I want

and never complain. I hang it off my tongue, let
it slide down until I catch it, make it blend
what’s separate into a whole only I’ll consume.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


After Learning that Stanza Means “Room” in Italian

Outfit a poem as you would a home:
move in what’s difficult, what’s more serene
to rooms you wander through to make your own.

Seek words as wild as textures—chintz to chrome,
from plush velvet to slickest gabardine.
Outfit a poem as you would a home.

Lay down your remnants, hang up what you have sewn,
a cloth of words as crisp as crinoline
in rooms you wander through to make your own.

Take all your boxes, all that you’ve outgrown,
and carry those in too, those old routines.
Outfit a poem as you would a home.

Then sort through what you have, all you have known,
and fill the apt spaces, all those gaps between
those rooms you wander through to make your own.

There’s nothing in your life you must disown;
equip this house with everything you’ve seen.
Outfit a poem as you would your home—
loved rooms you wander through, then make your own.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Last Human Heart by Allison Joseph


Aquaphobia

In my dreams I am always drowning,
always that scared girl, toes curled over
the edge of a public pool, suit straps
sliding off my shoulders, fearful

all the boys will see her flat chest,
ruffled two-piece suit soggy, sweaty.
Always the water churns an ugly
blue, chlorine gagging my breathing,

making me turn my head and cough
like at the doctor’s, except no kindly
nurse hands me a sucker here.
Instead, I’m the sucker—so afraid

of sinking that I’m ripe for any
troublemaking boy to trip and push
me into that city pool where the signs
above say NO RUNNING

NO HORSEPLAY NO SPITTING
Swim At Your Own Risk
And before I can say no,
I’m a sunken stone, heavy

but flailing, a skinny bag
of bones, terribly uncute.
Is it any wonder now, adult,
I cannot even float,

that the swim instructor, baffled,
wonders aloud how can you run
and bike but not swim?
I laugh, tell her I don’t trust water,

and really, I don’t—it lies about
how deep it is, comes crashing
uninvited into basements,
aids and abets hurricanes.

No one should trust anything
that beautiful that causes
that much damage, anything

capable of bloating you up,
soaking you dead, leaving
you wasted on the shore.

This selection comes from The Last Human Heart, available from Diode Editions. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Leah Silvieus.


Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where is she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, she is the widow of the poet and editor Jon Tribble, to whom THE LAST HUMAN HEART is dedicated.

Leah Silvieus was born in South Korea and adopted to the U.S. at three-months old. She grew up in small towns in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and western Colorado. She is the author of Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press), Season of Dares (Bull City Press), Arabilis (Sundress Publications) and co-editor with Lee Herrick of the poetry anthology, The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit (Orison Books). She is a recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman, The Academy of American Poets, and Fulbright and serves as a mentor on The Brooklyn Poets Bridge. A 2019-2020 National Book Critics Circle Emerging Fellow, Leah serves as a senior books editor at Hyphen magazine and an associate editor at Marginalia Review of Books. Her reviews and criticism have appeared in the Harvard Review OnlineThe Believer, and elsewhere.  
She holds a BA from Whitworth University, an MFA from the University of Miami, and is currently an MAR candidate in Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music. Prior to Yale, she spent several years traveling between New York and Florida as a yacht chief stewardess.

 

Sundress Reads: Review of Future Sarcasm

In Future Sarcasm (Tolsun Books, 2020) through a series of short, connected poems, Michael Buckius prophesizes a future where all is bleak and desolate. The speaker acts as a tour guide to this reality, guiding the reader through a dystopic new normal, where donuts at a conference table are a nostalgia of the past, and body cryogenics is a favored hobby. Each scene is mimicked or depicted in some way through Doug Bale’s explosive art, line-drawn figures, and faces that are made strange by floods of color and oddities like clouds within heads or tree trunks as skeletons. Most of these interlinked, title-less poems are anaphoric, including the book’s refrain “in the future.” All of the poems—or perhaps it’s one poem cutting in and out like an old static radio—are fairly prosaic in their language and simple in their forms: short stanzas with conventional line breaks. The title of the collection plays prominently across the poems, sarcasm dripping heavily through the scenes Buckius depicts. In one, he writes:

Before the world ends
consider investing
in a suit of glass
It isn’t very comfortable
but damn, it looks good
Sometimes you have to suffer
for fashion (35)

Though the imagery is unrelenting and ominous, there is a dark wit that makes the sharpness of this future feel bearable or navigable. It’s as if the new landscape is an amalgam of George Orwell’s 1984 and Mitchell and Webb’s Peep Show; yes, “The future is a rat race” (3) but those who remain still have humor in their grasp: “Check out the / end of the world! / Bummer” (21). Much of Buckius’ future world is unidentifiable and foreign to people today:

In the future we will have four brains
a regular one
the government one
the one attached to your hand
and the heart-brain (13)

This strange concept is accompanied by its own illustration from Bale of a colorfully-headed person with a brain full of easter egg shapes, picked out in all the shades of a child’s paint pot, with additional faces and brains spilling forth, line-drawn in black and white. Indeed, every short poem by Buckius is preceded by an image from Bale in some vibrant hue, blasting back against the mundanity of the proposed future, as if the images have pilfered the color right from the words. But that is not to say that Buckius’ poems are bland or completely bleak.  A personal favorite is one of the only poems that points back to the America we know and love to critique, centering on New York City. Buckius declares: 

New York City is a great place to live
if you have a cool hat
That’s true now
and especially in the future (7)

This time the preceding image is not of Manhattan’s skyline—as one might expect—but a male figure fading into a desert heatwave, upending the reader’s understanding of how this text operates. America has been reimagined into a climate change wasteland, and these figures are barely existing in it.  There is a charm to this mundane new way of living, though many of the images are haunting or horrifying or both. The everyday has been turned on its head: the public pool has become “a suicide chamber” (19), implants “turn / multiple personalities / into multiple people,” (17) and “physical intimacy” is just a link back to the familiarity of the womb, easily replaced by computers (29). But there is still an impulse of humanity here, a sense of belonging or wanting to belong to something bigger, among this society’s chaos and collapse. 

Yes, these poems capture the memetic, pseudo-destructive energy that seems to have become the fight song of the Millenial generation. Towards the close, Buckius decrees:

It also shows your indifference
to the end of the world
Like, whatever dude
right? (33)

Buckius has a brilliant ability to build a world by using language sparingly, and Bale somehow pulls the seeds of these scenes into vibrant and vivid depictions that satiate even as they surprise. Buckius is a writer and filmmaker from Pennsylvania, who earned his MFA at Northern Arizona University, while Bale is a multimedia artist who illustrates, paints, and murals in his local Phoenix community. The poems in this peculiar and eclectic collection will tickle you and fill you with dread and delusion all at once. Welcome to the future.

Future Sarcasm is available at Tolsun Books


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.