2 Poems | Lana Bella

2 Poems

by Lana Bella



Staining your fingers with

graphite, you wrecked until

the lake flicked its tails to

cerulean mosaics of silence

along the track of curfew.

Pooled the half-light between

lips, you watched a windfall

of fireflies brushed sideways

across the hum of water like

threads split at the tapestry,

more so in whispers of cloth,

wind strewn, filtering veins

of autumn petals. Phantom

hands reached in to touch,

picked amaryllis against red-

startled birds, held to a bare

bulb, winged indigo in your

shallow bow.




Sometimes a single boat turns

to hush, when the thundering sea

lurches from daring to dread,

like a lone muezzin’s contralto

intoning at solitary closed vowels.

Mnemonic, disembodied inside

the sky between foreground

and background, where miasma

would have sped sepia through,

the naked sun orbits silent in

the womb of shadows, pulls along

the propellers of earth’s plane,

conical licks brightened the nuclear

sanctum by mirrored stars.


A three-time Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net & Bettering American Poetry nominee, Lana Bella is an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 400 journals, Acentos Review, Comstock Review, Expound, Ilanot Review, Notre Dame Review, Waccamaw, Word/For Word, among others, and work to appear in Aeolian Harp Anthology, Volume 3. Lana resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps. 


Editor’s Note | Katelyn Dunne

Putting together this issue these last few weeks has left me feeling very sentimental. Three weeks from now marks the day that The Drowning Gull‘s astounding Founder and Chief Editor, Tiegan Dakin, accepted me to head the rag-tag group of staff as the Managing Editor. Since that day, my time here has truly been incredible.

Throughout this past year, I’ve seen staff members change (and be dearly missed), issue formats changing and growing, the birth of the Sea Salt series, and incredible relationships form between authors and staff.

Seeing these connections bloom has been my favorite part of this whole adventure. As a character says from Pretty Little Liars, “we’re all connected like a big bowl of linguine.” Each time a writer sent a piece into this journal, a connection was formed; each time I reached out to authors for Penned, a connection was formed; each time a reader picked up this humble lit mag, a connection was formed. Sometimes, it feels like, as writers, we are floating out into the world, incredibly alone and continually vulnerable. We feel like there’s no one to see us, no one to hear us. The incredible things taking place here prove otherwise.


I am honored to say that I’ll be stepping up to take over The Drowning Gull. Tiegan will be deeply missed and she will always remain the golden treasure for TDG. I am forever grateful to her; she made a dream come true for me. I look forward to honoring Tiegan’s creative vision while also continuing to move TDG in a forward direction. I can’t wait to be a part of the lives of more writers, editors, and artists. We are all part of the same dream. There is a lot of art out there yearning to be created and recognized, and that is what The Drowning Gull will continue to do.


I’d like to thank the contributors to this issue and everyone who submitted a piece that came of blood, sweat, and tears. To all the readers, thank you. We are doing this all for you; you make every second worth it. And, most of all, a big thank you to Tiegan for being TDG’s undying backbone and keeping this dream alive.

Thank you all for the most incredible year of my life. The Drowning Gull may be small, but we are all in this together, we are all on the same journey. Enjoy this issue, you’ve all deserved it!


“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

Blessings to all of you out there,

Katie Dunne

Managing Editor

Agnes Dei | Angele Ellis

Agnes Dei

by Angele Ellis


Agnes Dei

On our second date, he said he had a surprise for me. The maître d’ led us into an intimate dining room whose winking electric chandeliers made the cream damassin tablecloths almost too bright to bear.

A glass of white wine and an appetizer I recognized as a designer version of spanakopita, dusted with paprika and garnished with baby onions and rosemary, relaxed me into thinking that I belonged there. I forgot that my dress was striped cotton, my purse from a Mexican street stall, my necklace of variegated stone beads the handmade gift of a friend, and my flat sandals woven hemp and pleather.

Until the main course, set down by a tuxedoed waiter with a flourish: rack of lamb. A lamb—her poor thin ribs upended for display, each roasted bone wearing a papillote. So much like a human corpse, laid out in a ruffled blouse.

I’d told my date that I ate vegetarian—mostly—but I hadn’t stressed this habit. A first date seemed too soon for what was much more than politics or concern over the fate of the earth.

Now I was confronted by my earliest trauma.

My parents weren’t farmers, although we lived in a house on a few acres of land. We had a big garden bordered by berry bushes, and Mother made sauce and jam, and filled a locker freezer with vegetables we couldn’t eat in season. To be neighborly, to try to fit in, she would bring a basket with these things when there was a birth, an illness, or a death. She put flowered handwritten labels even on her white cardboard boxes of frozen goods.

I don’t remember which of the neighbors gave her Agnes.

Agnes, the sickly motherless black lamb my mother was too embarrassed to refuse. Agnes, who wouldn’t have survived if eight-year- old me hadn’t fed her with a bottle, cuddled her in a heated blanket, sung to her, brushed her soft curls. Agnes, who slept next to my bed, and then on a mattress in the old potting shed I cleaned out for her. Agnes—who would take grass and clover straight from my hands, but from no one else’s. She was more than my pet; she was my best friend.

Perhaps Mother would have let me keep Agnes if Daddy—who sold used cars—hadn’t had a few months of low commissions. (I pieced this together later, from arguments I overheard.) Daddy told me that he’d given Agnes to a petting zoo several towns away. She was getting too big for us, he said.

Daddy wasn’t thinking of Bobby Carney when he lied to me.

Bobby was the bully of my year, a fat boy perpetually growing out of his clothes, which were hand-me- downs and never clean. After I’d spoken in class about Agnes—I still have the lavishly crayoned picture I drew of us together—Bobby wouldn’t stop teasing me.

“Lambs ain’t pets, Susie. Even dogs ain’t pets.” He went on to tell me about watching his father shoot their hunting dog in the head “when Rex got too wore out to hunt or even to drag hisself around.”

I shiver when I think of the Carneys’ ramshackle farmhouse and barn, and the ragtag children who weren’t pets, either.

It was the day after Thanksgiving weekend when Bobby swaggered toward me, smacking his blubbery lips and boasting that instead of turkey, his family had eaten fresh roast lamb, as tender as anything you could get in this world.

“That lamb was damn sweet—as sweet as if it was raised by a girl, even a dumb girl who’d name it Agnes.”

The next thing I knew, I woke up in the nurse’s office. I’d fainted, sustaining two black eyes in the process.

I lied, too. I said that Bobby Carney had pushed me on the playground. Principals still paddled kids, then; I watched with satisfaction as Bobby got it good.

I never regretted that, never had any sympathy for Bobby and his ignorant family. There had been no merciful bullet for Agnes. I knew that they’d slit her throat, using her lifeblood to make puddings to suck into greedy mouths. I knew that the black lamb cuffs and collar that appeared on the droopy mud-brown coat Mrs. Carney wore to church were cut from the pelt I used to stroke, feeling Agnes’s heart beat faster with joy.

The damassin tablecloth looked like a shroud to my aching eyes. Across the table, my carnivore date was grinning at me. How greasy his lips were. Lips more blubbery than Bobby Carney’s. Lips that I’d planned to kiss.

For the second time in my life, I fainted.

There was no third date.


Angele Ellis is author of Under the Kaufmann’s Clock (Six Gallery Press), a hybrid illustrated collection of flash fiction and poetry inspired by her adopted city of Pittsburgh, Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook), and Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), whose poems won her an Individual Artist Fellowship from the PA Council on the Arts. Her poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in over 60 publications–including American Book Review, Grey Sparrow, Italian Americana, Mizna, Prime Number, Rogue Agent, and Yew. Two of the following three things are true: Angele committed civil disobedience seven times, seriously dated a man 20 years her junior, and parachuted from an airplane to celebrate the release of her first poetry collection.

2 Poems | Michael Prihoda

2 Poems

by Michael Prihoda



play at being

more whole


than a fully

stocked aisle.


play at being

more full


than factory-

coded picture


frames. you

ingest so


much gristle

it’s wonder


how you

shave away


all but





and we

or you

or i

or us

or them

are supposed

to like it this way

and we do

for a time

until we see

the way it is actually

and forget to breathe

until we breathe

for finding some air, some brush,

some time to make this right again.


Michael Prihoda is a writer, editor, and teacher from Indianapolis, IN. He is the editor of the literary magazine and small press After the Pause. Publications of poetry, flash fiction, and art have appeared in Potluck, Rasasvada, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Spelk Fiction, among other locales. He is also the author of two chapbooks and five poetry collections, the most recent of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016).

Fall From Grace | Margaret Fieland

Fall From Grace

by Margaret Fieland


Fall From Grace

Devil in black and white

smiles down


on tan teak curves

of dining room table:


spoonfuls of clear cerise

Consomme Madrilene,


garlicky bites of lamb

garnished with mint jelly,


lemon-cloud mouthfuls

of Mom’s chiffon pie,


while Satan seduces Eve

with a pale outline of apple


Margaret Fieland has lived in the Boston area since 1978. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. In spite of earning her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to put up the first version of her website, a clear indication of the computer generation gap. Thanks to her father’s relentless hounding, she can still recite the rules for pronoun agreement in both English and French. She can also write backwards and wiggle her ears. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Melusine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is the author of four science fiction novels and a collection of science fiction persona poems.

2 Poems | Shelby Dale DeWeese

2 Poems

by Shelby Dale DeWeese



   of grapevines &

                                   umbilical cords

              bloody knots in bassinets

man swings across the creek, baby on his back



           the knowledge of salty haybales

     smothering             an aging border collie

flannel buttonups, red paisley handkerchiefs

                            the word don’t

               and cigarette butts, limp frog bodies in the gravel

collecting them is our game.




I keep punching

an approximation of your body

into the memory foam, dumping

your soap into the hole.

The neighbors could always

hear us through the vents,

we knew it because we could

hear them, because they would

stop talking whenever we fought.

Now I play old voicemails from you

and talk back and wonder

if they are still listening.


Shelby Dale DeWeese grew up on a farm in the southeast United States, but currently lives and writes in California. She is an MFA candidate at the University of San Francisco, and her poems have appeared in such publications as Rust+Moth, Quaint Magazine, and Marathon Literary Review. When she’s not writing her own poetry, she and a former pirate captain encourage elementary school students to write original creative stories at 826 Valencia. Visit her online at shelbydaledeweese.com.

2 Poems | Sarah Cooper

2 Poems

by Sarah Cooper


We Thought About It

That’s a lie: I thought about it.

You had cut short on rehab, again,


shown up knuckles freshly scabbed

hands clenched for Dad, again, lost your job,


again. We could smell addiction

on your clothes: sweat, salt,


stale beer. We couldn’t

bandage you or let you slice us.


You slept in the room next time mine.

That’s a lie: you passed out. You had been awake


for four days: roaming town for

oxy, for yourself & finding sobriety,


hating yourself for the reintroduction.

You snored hard, slept for twenty hours.


I thought about killing you once,

that’s a lie. I walked into your room,


held a pillow inches from your mouth,

saw Gunny Bear under your arm


and left a tear on your cheek instead.

That’s a lie: I lay beside you


and whispered: Don’t ever come back,

don’t even think about it.



Always, my mother said,

we bought new shoes

for the kids in spring – their bodies blooming

against ball field backdrops and grass stained knees;

the earth rubbing itself into their skin. Never

did I know those shoes would carry my son so swiftly,


how could I know my husband, daughter and I

would choose cremation for Hank?

That the three of us would sit

at an oval table and sign

forms for his body to burn at 1400 degrees for 180 minutes.


I watched my husband hand the funeral director

a Belks bag and say

“This was a sweatshirt I bought him for Christmas”

and I felt the bag rest on the table underneath my palms

saw the tears crest over my daughters’ lower lashes

heard the papers rustle

in a folder and



Sarah Cooper is a native of South Carolina.  She earned her MA from Purdue University and MFA from Converse College where she was mentored by Denise Duhamel.  Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including  Sun Star Review, Sling Magazine and Cahaba Literary Review.  Currently, she teaches at Clemson University, lives with an orange cat and writes poems on front porches.

3 Poems | Andrea Blythe & Laura Madeline Wiseman

3 Poems

by Andrea Blythe & Laura Madeline Wiseman


Lighting the Ghost Lamps

The luminescent moonlight lilts with hope

as we climb your lamp-lit drive. Please, open your door,

lead us inside the hall, and greet us with dusty kisses.

Our bones are cold. We’re forgetting to bleed. Upstairs

one summer you taught us the ache of want,

the ease of forget in heat. Your porch lamp ghosts,


barely brightens our own whispering ghosts—

our hands tattooed in interstellar swirls, comet tails. We hope

you accept transparency, unveiling space. We want

offerings—guttering candles, creaky chains and doors,

dark shadows, mists—all the artistry of hauntings in upstairs

rooms where curtains skirt the floors to fall like kisses.


Each chilling draft here is more than a draft, a kiss

returned, some years, some centuries late. We ghost,

half-lost, half-wandering in the labyrinth of upstairs

rooms of storage space, beds draped in sheets. We hope

you illuminate the silver key in your heart and find the door.

You are made of bones and air, we of stars. We want


to fall into you, meteor bright and burning. We want

flesh, the electric pulse of hushed, corporeal kisses,

your body pressing us against the frame of the door.

Table-turning in the stage of your room, will our ghosts

flicker like lamps, waiver with the memory of past hope?

Or will you hold us in that glowing space upstairs,


where we once circled you like moons, upstairs

where a telescope waits to see the planets—Venus’ want,

Mars’ fury, Mercury’s need to wander? We never hoped

for eclipse, for the shadowy erasure of your kiss,

for the full moon haunt of lonely hours. We want

to swell into existence, to give up being ghostly,

be what we couldn’t on that blue night. Open your door,


pass through this long hallway of more doors,

and find us gazing upon the moonlight dust among stairs

that lead to galaxy swirls, nebula ghosting

through noctilucent skies. Find our wantings

among your bone-cold embrace, your deathly kiss.

Such travelers as us are encumbered by hopes.


Every door closes upon unclaimed wants,

while upstairs we feign presence, fake kisses,

ghost touch, discover the celestial weight of hope.



The Path of Coding Eternal

Long after their last breath, the faces of the dead still smile from carefully filtered selfies, the duck faces, days at the beach, nights out with vibrantly colored martinis. Their unself still laughs to a joke long forgotten. Their exes still clutch the necks of bottles, their slim waists, the car keys they should never have held. You think it’s weird, the wall-pages of the dead, the tags, pokes, and likes. You think you knew her, even though I didn’t know you then. You were still a dishwasher, while I still kneaded dough for the ovens. I swear I met her at some party, you insist, scrolling through your tags as if you could place yourself there on the night the jungle juice was spiked with more than what could be found in the liquor cabinets. My sister was dead before we started dating, I say as you shake your head. After the party, she whore-walked through the morning, mind twisting with what couldn’t have happened, but did. When she got home, she shut the cats in the bedroom, then arranged the stack of handwritten notes. She blew out the pilot light, then knelt before the oven’s open maw, unsure how else to explain what she carried inside. The timer was set to twenty minutes on the day the woman who came around each week to clean was scheduled to arrive. Did she know that this would be the day the woman would get a flat tire? Before the party, she had tried to erase herself, burning her yearbooks, her photos, her files of taxes and accounting, her memory itself. She couldn’t have known how she would linger, still caught in the friends-of- friends feeds, her history filtering through. Bits and bites of coding call up birthday announcements, anniversary wishes, or party invites—programming still sending love to the lost. Her myspace, the vestibule of a much younger persona, long since forgotten, twitches with life. Her old yahoo email ghosts the group pages. But it’s the video of that night, the way it appears, then disappears from sites, that offers fragmented proof of what she must’ve endured—the twists of flesh, the blood, the sound of them. Why was it never enough? Her last inhale fell to rest, but we read her words that continue clattering through forums and message boards. Here’s another post, you say. I copy it, as if everything can be saved—the parts of herself she hated or the post-party slurs. I watch for whispers of her each night long after you’ve gone to sleep. I would have listened, I say. I would have been the one to hold you. Afraid they’ll vanish like her last breath, I copy and paste what I find together.



The Women of Straw and Branches

Tied to a tree, the jug of mead is beyond the reach of my bound hands.

My maidens lie in wait for a man’s unknotting, to sip from my bloody hands.


How he rippled pride as his savage sword cut the rope in rescue,

unknowingly accepting my draught-laced death from a maiden’s hands.


Some standing as farmers with broken sandals, ploughing land,

eating from iron tables, were kings in disguise, asking for hands.


The plough churned black earth and a princess churned fate,

shaping passion into prophecy for a poor man’s hand.


Bitter Marzanna who plunged the world into a darkness of frost

at a husband’s betrayal. She cupped a season in her withered hand.


Girls enact death and life, drowning the straw figure of Marzanna

in the icy swirl of river, calling for spring with their innocent hands.


Skirts swirl in a sea of red and white in the Beseda dance,

while watchers eat the kolaches in their sticky hands.


We dance and dance, they say of Czech Days, girls

who stand as three, holding leashed beasts in hand.


As small girls dervish old memories in the opera house of hands,

wise men play blythely in a big brass band by breath and hands.


Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman’s collaborative poetry has appeared in Quail Bell Magazine, Faerie Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, Strange Horizons, Rose Red Review, and the anthologies The World Retold (The Writers’ Guild of Iowa State University, 2016) and Red Sky: poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books, 2016).

UnWelcomed, UnAskedFor | Lisa Marie Brodsky

UnWelcomed, UnAskedFor 

by Lisa Marie Brodsky


UnWelcomed, UnAskedFor

Part One: Owls

(after “Threshold” by Olena Kalytiak Davis)


UnWelcomed & UnExpected, you say he stepped into your house

Past a litany of items on your fridge:

             photos of summer vacations, your “well-appointed LIFE”


My mother’s unWelcomed men walked the fork

that led one way to my room, the other to hers


I believe

at the age of three

I heard. Something. Because I awoke

with a yawp


I think I heard (both?) men and now at thirty-eight

I can’t un-

hear them


Part Two: Egg Skins

(after Davis’ “I Had a Ski-Masked Rapist in My House”)


              It’s crazy (I’m not kidding) how many women have the

snood and wattle hang over them in middle-nights

              It’s wild (I’m not kidding) how many don’t tell, don’t whisper

or vomit it into the bathroom toilet, don’t write it down


They take the wrestling

the big yolk-wide eyes, sheet stripped off

like egg whites, themselves


Mother’s red heat boiled just beneath her skin

as the knife pressed into

the soft, chewy dewlap of throat


             Tears leak through women’s thin scrim

             screams and obscenities many don’t consider

                                         Pr(H)im proper appROP(E)riate


Once (un)handel(ed), once the discordant cacophony is over (confused) (finalized)

I think we’d agree the toilet is the best place to toss


the underwear— peeled orange rinds torn into shrapnel,

(violent/violated/violet) bruises blooming on neck, arms, wrists— a sick souvenir


Best to spit out their words of deserving/wanting/asking for it


Flush the It right down.


Lisa Marie Brodsky is the author of “We Nod Our Dark Heads” (Parallel Press, 2008) and “Motherlung” (Salmon Poetry, 2014). Her poetry has been published in “The North American Review,” “Mom Egg Review,” “Diode Poetry Journal,” and is forthcoming in “Linden Avenue Literary Journal,” “Indicia,” among others. Lisa is at work on her third collection of poetry,departing from her usual style of work. She risks sounding insane with every submission, but takes delight in discovering new creative avenues to explore and new genres to twist. Lisa works as a Job Coach for adults with disabilities and also moonlights as a Creativity Advocate for writers in need of a cheerleader. More info can be found at www.lisamariebrodsky.blogspot.com