The Nightmare of the Waking World

“The woman was a catastrophe,” Carlos told me at the time. “But she was as honest as my face is ugly.”


my father holds
his favorite drink

Sadness is a Sin

If my life was the size of my arm, I would stretch it out for you.


I create images that are narrative, featuring visual schematics, relying on juxtaposition for contrast or disjuncture.

The Body is a Sin

The sin is existing.

Getting Postcards From a Piano Showroom

The two of us toast to a man we both love, to whatever degree, clink our glasses and laugh…

In Rare Cases…

You’re joking, I say, interrupting the steady bumping of the doctor’s bushy white mustache.


Ma wrings
a wet world
of colors


To be encased, Clint had always thought, was foolishness. Why allow yourself to be open to such sorrow?

Making Israeli Salad

Now that the Israeli has left, it falls
on me to make the salad.

Going Broke

Winter sat like a wolf
on the horizon.

love poem with dead leaves & color

I would always rather be happy than
dignified. Rather held than held
in awe.

The love of my life moved from portland to new england

He has stories that I am not in
anymore. It’s healed this way.


If America is Babylon / and you are an exile / newly arrived among pagans / Catholic, ‘Ngolan, Black, woman / you already know how to pray

Drowning in sky

I have observed, the theorist
I am

The Perfect Love

She said I would find my perfect love when on the brink of death.

Me and Other Bodily Accessories

I am not a guide
for every traveler
of loss.


Through the dusty window in my parent’s bedroom, I watched the neighbor’s cattle graze.

Big Sur Impossible

How do you even know when you’re there—at the epicenter?


She turns her back for me to fasten the rows of metal hooks. Why isn’t our small, tender freedom enough?

You and Jane

You’ve been dreading this day since the moment you found out you were pregnant—perhaps even before.

I waited

Shadows and psychological metaphors are favored photographic subjects for me.


Jenna says that he typically goes for redheads, so I run to Target and buy a box of hair dye.

The Sweetness

I’m dancing with my best friend’s husband, under the influence of his jaws and thighs.

An Interview with Brian S. Ellis

The poetry of Brian S. Ellis unravels, inverts, investigates, and complicates. His poems are radical koans and invitations to forego common narratives.

Good Driver

Lights on the dashboard spell out
“You still can’t kiss me”

Trauma Feast


things they won’t tell you but should:

love is a soggy tea stain on a grocery receipt

An Interview with Dylan Krieger

Dylan Krieger’s poetry is unflinching, grotesque, and beautiful. Her work tackles trauma, wrestles authority, and is a decadent sonic feast.

The Shiksa Choice

The hamantaschen have followed us from apartment to apartment, all of the kitchens dark, cramped, cluttered.

Athena, the Octopus, Solves a Puzzle

The new octopus at the children’s aquarium was named Athena, and as we waited for her to emerge, I thought of the almost-too-faint second line on the pregnancy test three days before.

Damn Good Listener

I know you shouldn’t keep wild animals as pets, but I’ve had the same spider in my bathroom sink for over two weeks.

Here in East Greenwich

He used to hold my hand on Commonwealth. I wonder sometimes if he ever still thinks about my mouth.

A History of Love In the Void

It was an engagement of secrets in sunlit spaces.

Pit Stop in Kansas

we drove on through
the blue seal of morning as the turbines
turned and winked out their hearts


Live the rest of your life
from one worst case to another.

Caricature of B. Lovely

I point my camera towards B. Lovely and she is sitting on the curb.

The River

I myself should never have been born

First Boyfriend

I run with a pack of older boys from our neighborhood, the only girl.

Landscape with Ash

You are strange, my mother said, dwelling on the past.

if detritus is all i’m made up of

my love is a glass shard, a knife made of madness and moonlight,
and there are already way too many fragments in this house

The Runaways

Taking photographs of my hometown has given me a chance to reflect on people whom I have not valued.

Little Cow

A man with a fistful of showbags said, “That cow sounds like a person trying to sound like a cow.”

The Man

the man is stayed bent over the canvas
of my sofa. the man is me the man is him
self and I bring down the whip…

A note on the artwork in this issue: Other than any works published as “visual art” by specific artists and the cover, all of the images in Issue #4 of Abandon Journal were created by Phillip Scott Mandel using DALL-E 2. The cover is “Kiss” by Amanda Yskamp.