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Natalie Louise Tombasco

S is for storytelling, for singsongs, soundscapes. S is for speaking slant as snake venom. S is for spindle and sage, for the sea witches who steal voices and lock them away in a shrine for safekeeping. See the submarine’s periscope in the San Francisco Bay. S could be for the secret keeper whose stories are sky-blue and slither out like silk bandanas. See Scheherazade, sleepless and sliding into the DMs of unsavory kings. S is for spondees and stormclouds and how ocean walls are soundproof. S is for silence, struggle. For skinny-dipping in a stream of synth, for Sally sells seashells under the floorboards. If S is for safety, it’s also for a stick of dynamite. S is for slighted stepmothers, where sixteenth birthdays turn to Stockholm syndrome. For a girl feeling sympatico with a room filled with stalagmites, solar systems, and feminine stink. See Sisyphus, that shmuck who shrunk to a small stone, sad shoulders slouching. See how the solstice can seldom become the sadist. S is for spells and walking into a good summer sleep. For stay the hell awake. S is the slow open of a screen door like a mouth told often to keep shut.

Natalie Louise Tombasco was selected by Kaveh Akbar for the Best New Poets anthology 2021, Copper Nickel's Editor's Prize, and as a published finalist for Cutbank Books chapbook contest with her manuscript titled Collective Inventions (2021). She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and serves as the Interviews Editor of the Southeast Review. Her work can be found in Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, Plume, Hobart Pulp, Fairy Tale Review, Peach Mag, The Rupture, Puerto del Sol, among others. Find out more at

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