Web Edition

Leonore Hildebrandt



Li Wenliang, 12 October 1986 – 7 February 2020. Chinese Internet users have left more than 870,000 comments under Li's last post on social website Sina Weibo since his passing. (Wikipedia, 25 April 2020)



Today sky and water are of the same gray. I wish you could see the waves rippling.

They are tireless. They don’t care one bit.


Dr. Li, you warned us. Have you arrived yet in the lightness of heaven?


Your posts are so kind. They have not been deleted. And your city is stirring

again––families pick up the ashes for burial.


Your patient’s tears were deadly. Now our tears keep welling up, unstoppable by



Last night a bird kept fluttering against the window, exhausting itself, so we turned

off the light in the house. Then we stumbled in the dark, breaking glass. Still, we

were trying—


Dear Dr. Li, I miss you.


In streets and markets, as we come upon the body’s fluids, we wonder about



Have you ever seen how a young pangolin sleeps on its mother’s tail? As if draped

over a log. They are born with scales—soft, immaculate.


Dr. Li, my scales have hardened.


The moon does not mourn our losses. Unclaimed bodies are buried in mass

graves. They were claiming too much space in the trucks.


The authorities want us to forget, but we display pictures of your face—young,



Do you like cherry blossoms? By the ocean, spring arrives late. Still, the buds are

swelling on the pear tree, the maples have the reddish tint of early bloom.


Dr. Li, I like saying Dr. Li.


Your face helps me to focus, to adapt to the prevailing level of light. With smog

easing, some people now see an apparition of mountain ridges in blue space.


Is there something to fear more than death, Dr. Li? What is it you wish for? You still

engage with us, gently—


Thank you, Dr. Li. My earth will be your earth.


Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of the poetry collections Where You Happen to Be, The Work at Hand, and The Next Unknown. Her poems and translations have appeared in the Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, Harpur Palate, Poetry Daily, Rhino, and the Sugar House Review, among other journals. She was nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine.


Jozie Konczal

When I Play “All Too Well” in the Car in Autumn, I Can Pretend You Are Alive


even I must forfeit every new note

written since the rain brought the spring

petals to their knees, even


if it means never ending autumn, forever

watching as the leaves outside our classroom

window carry their own caskets


to their graves. If I’m quick enough to start

it over, shoot the arrow back to the incomplete

C chord before the action falls, I can save myself


the trouble of building a bridge over

the bathtub I dreamt you into and can’t swim

my way out of. I can tread water for those


five shared minutes. Inside “All Too Well” you

and I watch trees turn their pages as though

from a great distance in the safe arms


of denial. We are both sick with nostalgia

for a time we thought we hated: stretched

afternoons, the long retired train tracks that


broke their promise to deliver us. In those

minutes I pretend you opened the seven years

of letters I keep sending about all the ways


the sun has found to kiss the skyline

and seal the day away. Without interrupting,

perhaps you admire how I roll the joints


now, or we talk about quitting.

The road speeds by and we remain

inside. The trees let go and I don’t


resent them for it. The sun can sleep

free from fear, by which I mean,

it wakes again tomorrow.


Jozie Konczal reads and writes from Alexandria, Virginia. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University. Besides poetry, she feels passionate about music, nature, and the protection of the world and its people. Jozie works as a freelance writer and as a staff member for Cleaver, a literary magazine based in Philadelphia. She considers herself to be an amateur yogi and an experienced napper. You can find her on Twitter @joziekonczal, and Instagram @yunganxietyoffical. To read more of her work, visit her website at joziekonczal.squarespace.com/publications.

Savannah Slone

evergreen / estrogen


stuck on time lapse

wreckage suffocation, time



my baby’s first home

a cut out biohazard

the walking wilted

our body, a peony

sterile lining

tampon string stark

against tan inner




our spare cosmos

mouth prayers an insignificance

salt crash

cleansed clean

undressing the sea


tongue to tongue


vertebrae urgency

marrying reactivity to

the naked dismal

an ivy virus, fingers

around my throat


& what is medicine

to a riptide


this preemptive womblessness

a bell jara red light


Savannah Slone is a queer, bipolar, and disabled writer, editor, and English professor who currently dwells in the Pacific Northwest. She is the editor-in-chief of Homology Lit, as well as the author of An Exhalation of Dead Things (CLASH Books, 2021), Hearing the Underwater (Finishing Line Press, 2019), and This Body is My Own (Ghost City Press, 2019). Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. She enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and discussing intersectional feminism. You can read more of her work at www.savannahslonewriter.com.


Luisa Muradyan



You are floating in space

and not in that Sandra Bullock

and George Clooney looking

galactically sexy way

but in that my grandmother

disappeared when I was a child

and I pretended she was

abducted by aliens way


Imagine that science experiment

you did in seventh grade

when the teacher kept adding

pennies into a glass of water

and no matter how much grief

you poured into your body

the surface wouldn’t break.


Imagine your grandmother waits for you

in the field of the dead.

You are wearing your purple

dress, she is wearing her purple dress,

the field is wearing its lavender dress.


Imagine being sad only some of the time.

In the spaceship when they took her

they did not call her Jew,

only human

and that fantasy brings you comfort.


Luisa Muradyan is originally from the Ukraine and received her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. She is the author of American Radiance (University of Nebraska Press), which won the 2017 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. She was the editor-in-chief of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts from 2016-2018 and the recipient of the 2016 Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry. She is a member of the Cheburashka Collective, a group of women and nonbinary authors from the former Soviet Union. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Missouri Review, Poetry International, the Threepenny Review, Pleiades, and Jewish Currents, among others.

Grace H. Zhou

The Canyon Is Not a Metaphor



who are we

of rim rock

that nature carves

yes there are dams

like dull scabs


we will beg this landscape

we will unearth the geology

like strata

and coils of ossified mollusk

we will learn

to be unbroken

pinned to this lip

we ponder the ways

through her own wounds

roads cities

for though our people tilled

some humid river basin far away

name us anew

our comings and our goings

of sandstone and shale

lifted through time

one does not need

to be whole


Grace H. Zhou is a poet and cultural anthropologist. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, Ninth Letter, Cosmonauts Avenue, Longleaf Review, AAWW’s The Margins, Kweli, The Hellebore, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD from Stanford University and is a President’s Postdoctoral Scholar at the Ohio State University. She is an alumna of Tin House Workshops and Kearny Street Workshop’s Interdisciplinary Writers Lab, and a reader at Tinderbox Poetry.


  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.