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Featured Poet: Janelle Cordero

janelle.jpgJanelle (Rainer) Cordero is a poet, painter and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest. Her subjects, both literary are visual, are often disjointed and unfinished, missing a neck or a limb or a torso, which emphasizes the disconnected nature of the human condition. Her artwork has been featured in galleries from Washington to West Virginia, and her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Her debut poetry collection, Two Cups of Tomatoes, was released in October 2015. Janelle’s artistic priority is to collaborate with other creatives to push for social and political change. Stay connected with Janelle’s work at

All Things

The cold comes and we feel the change
within ourselves. Someone we know
is always dying—it’s the time for it.
We move towards them and stand
around their beds and reach for
whatever life they have left. We
touch their hands and their faces
and we come close to death
through them and we say
none of the things we imagined
we would say on the drive over.
Only our hands keep moving—
from their bodies to our own,
a kind of current between us,
all things moving in the same
direction. All things
growing colder
as winter comes on.

Nothing is Named

I’m trying to name it, this feeling
of not knowing whether my life
makes any sense or any difference.
I do the things I love but
what is that worth? I am kind
to strangers and I never forget
to put the trash cans on the curb
even when it’s raining.
I believe in a lot of things but
I don’t know if I believe in
anything beyond what we
have here. I live in the same
neighborhood as Alfonso’s
Upholstery and Bob’s
Seamless Gutters and
Hai’s Bargain Market
but nothing is named after
me, except me.
Whenever someone says
my name I pretend I didn’t
hear just so they will
say it again.


Sirens remind me of parades instead of tragedies. The small town I grew up in is to thank for that, with its perfectly gridded streets and its thirty-seven churches and its local soda fountain.

In the summer months, we had parades every few weeks. Maybe not, but that’s what it felt like as a kid. And there were always fire trucks and cop cars in the parades, along with massive horses that took massive shits in the street and some old guys with retro cars. People would wave to us from those cars, important people, like the mayor, maybe. There was candy, fistfuls of it thrown to all the children lining the streets of our three-block downtown. The plastic-wrapped treats skittered across the asphalt to our open hands and mouths.

I’m far from that town now, and far from those parades, but the town hangs from me like a necklace that’s too tight to take off. My skin has just grown around it. I hear sirens in this new place, this big place, and I can taste a hint of jolly rancher. Blue raspberry. Fire trucks honk at cars on busy roads to get the hell out of the way, but the honks sound so welcoming to me, so celebratory. Even though I don’t want to, I wave. I wave every time.


The woman stands still
in her living room for
a long while without anyone
noticing. Something chimes
far away and another hour
passes. She’s not alone
but it feels that way
because no one has taken
an honest look at her
all day. She feels a sad,
desperate thing inside
and she wants to kill it.
Tears could come anytime
and she hates herself for that.
Every light in the house
is on and they’re shining
on the worst parts of her.

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