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Content Warning: blood, dark themes

Danny Leonard-Racoon Blood.jpg

Ankh Spice – It’s all set up to keep you down

The world takes its bites from you

every way it can. Whole rooms here

we 2am through, set up for sharp corners

to find the knee. Smelling blood & exhaustion,

the algorithms call in the sharks.

Confession: I sneak your phone each time

you think you’ve lost it. I click the heart

on a sunchoir of brave iris, a galaxy of starlings

whistling Mozart. A beetle suddening the metal

of its name—all caps—& every magic restless carpet

flown when someone shares the sea. Over & over

I am feeding the hum of human awe

to this maw of code that dares to fold us

small and tight, tacked to iron-dark. It shakes

like prey; quotes back all your history of liking

for its tastes. I tell it you learn fast. This is a trap

I’ve come to understand

& click & click until my finger is the bruise

& you, that heart, a little less.

Ankh Spice is an Aotearoa New Zealand poet, author of The Water Engine (Femme Salvé Books, 2021). His poetry is eight times nominated for Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net. He’s a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine and co-edits at IceFloe Press. Website:, Twitter: @SeaGoatScreamsPoetry, Facebook: @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetry.

Photograph: love is frozen congealed racoon blood clinging to a twig in the shape of a heart by Danny Leonard

Danny Leonard is a Boston-based writer, storyteller, and filmmaker. Danny’s short story Of Tides and Melons was runner-up in the Solstice Literary Journal’s 2022 annual contest. In August 2022, he was a selected participant at the renowned Stowe Story Labs where he worked on his feature-length script titled Fire and Thirst that deals with the human impact of climate change. He wrote and produced Demi's Panic, an award-winning animated short film. In 2020, Danny appeared on World Channel’s nationally televised program Stories from the Stage, a storytelling event filmed in front of a live audience. His story recounted showing up for his first date with his future wife with someone else’s blood on his hands. Danny has a BA in English literature and an MA in Japanese language and literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. When not writing, Danny spends time with his wife, two daughters, and a pesky rescue mutt named Blue. 

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