top of page

Unbroken #40: The Hope Museum Is Now Open

Anchor 1

Em Townsend

long-distance love poem with shitty wifi

when i wake up, you’re in a town whose name i can’t pronounce, coastlines licking at you when i’d beg for just a touch of your hand. on the phone, the pixelated version of you glitches, afterimages frozen in laughter even as i listen to you cry, your words never quite matching up with how i hear them. it’s so hard, it’s so hard to be here by myself you whisper into the phone, a sentiment true enough in any time zone. i murmur in agreement, our solemn nods perfectly in sync, even on two continents. what did you say? miles & miles & miles away lives that day from last spring, your arm resting on my knee, the wind warm, our jeans eternally grass-stained. when the space between my room & yours was the only distance worth crying over. gardens of grief bloom in both of us now, as we count down the days. it’s not so much longer now. the connection is lost again: your face fizzles into a blur beneath the warning sign of no signal. when you wake up, i’ve strategically scheduled half a dozen declarations of love, messages flooding your phone while i’m wading through bad dreams. i promise to call as soon as my day begins. evergreen, this love-bliss: long-since etched into me, like our names carved into the maples, one hundred autumns ago. in each & every season, the closeness of us was its own form of magic, the oldest trick in the book. when i wake up, we pounce on our shared time, savoring the seconds we can talk. i choose you: across, around, in spite of every ocean. it’s really not so much longer now.



Em Townsend (they/she) is a queer nonbinary writer, published in Rough Cut Press, Fish Barrel Review, The Purposeful Mayo, Blue Marble Review, Club Plum Literary Journal, and HIKA, and forthcoming in West Trade Review. Their chapbook is growing forwards / growing backwards (Bottlecap Press, 2023).

Anchor 2

Jose Hernandez Diaz

The Surrealist Lectures


A man in a “Salvador Dali for President” shirt couldn’t sleep. He had violent nightmares. One time the man in a “Salvador Dali for President” shirt had a nightmare where he fell off a sailboat in the middle of the sea. He woke up waving his arms, gasping for breath. The man in a “Salvador Dali for President” shirt tried to avoid sleeping as much as he could. He drank a lot of coffee. He stayed up reading fairy tales. Anything to escape. But then eventually in the middle of the night he would nod off. And the nightmares would return. Last night, it happened. It was the end of the world. He woke up reaching for his necklace of La Virgen de Guadalupe.


* * *




A man in a “Kafka for President” shirt fell from the rooftop of a nondescript government building. It was autumn. He had been at the government building in search of his birth name. He never knew it. There were rumors he had been named after a president. But which one? Which country? Was it Theodore? Maximiliano? Cuauhtémoc? But Cuauhtémoc was more of an emperor? Did that count? Was that essentially the same thing? Isn’t all power the same? Aren’t we powerless by comparison? The way the man in a “Kafka for President” shirt fell from the tall building that autumn day. Nameless. Without definitive classification. He looked at his “Kafka for President” shirt. It would have to do for now. For now, he would be the man in a “Kafka for President” shirt. It had worked all these years. It was more than enough. Something to be proud of, even.



Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020), Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024), and The Parachutist (Sundress Publications, 2025). He teaches generative workshops for Hugo House, Lighthouse Writers Workshops, The Writer's Center, and elsewhere. Additionally, he serves as a Poetry Mentor in The Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program.

Anchor 3

Christine H. Chen

Dance of the Dragons

We were told dragons don't exist: they’re characters in tales to make children wince and chase bad men in our dreams, they're fantasy actors, magical inventions from overzealous writers, mythical fragments of displaced imagination, never real, they're a hoax the TV anchor claimed, they’re fabricated in China, said a former President, to show off in lunar festivities, they’re rice-paper toys, so we refuse to believe that dragons are mountains and earth and thunder and water. Cavemen danced the wolf dance, the serpent dance, the dragon dance because dragons were once gentle creatures, we tickled their noses with pitchforks until a blubbery mess poured out, we ate their eggs and gave thanks until our hunger swelled and spread, we cut their forests of tendrils to build boats, cabins, towers, terraced mansions, tore their gold scales to decorate our skin, our hair, our arms, ripped their eyes off for their glow to mark our lands and warm our egos, gutted their bowels for fuel to shoot for the moon. Now dragons have awakened, their angered throats, corridors of unsung griefs for their kins' deaths, they blast tornadoes of fire in reddened skies, they torch grass, crops, roofs, cars, roads, they growl and the ground cracks, shakes, breaks, lakes dry with abandoned corpses, poisoned water leaks, drains our thirst, their claws rip power lines, homes, annihilate cities and islands, our lives gyrate to the rhythm of their furious hunt, our past, present, future shredding in their tempest, yet we do nothing to calm, cajole, compensate, repair, and we still doubt if they're real?



Christine H. Chen was born in Hong Kong and raised in Madagascar before settling in Boston. Her fiction has appeared in CRAFT, SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Wigleaf Top 50, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the 2022 Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship. Read more at

Anchor 4

Elisabeth Harrahy

Who Needs Them Anyway

Jenny and I were playing “Barbie and Ken Get Married” when we heard the phone slam downstairs and Jenny’s mom shout, “Lying bastard!” We knew we'd have to hold the ceremony later, which was too bad because Barbie really did look exquisite in her white satin gown, poised at one end of the red paper aisle, eyeing Ken in his little tuxedo at the other, but sure enough, “Girls! Get down here!” came next, so we left them to anticipate their big day lying on their sides, while we dashed down the steps out the front door and climbed into the back seat of the brown and green station wagon with the fake wood on the side. Jenny’s mom hopped into the driver’s seat wearing only the macramé bathing suit she’d been sunning herself in and her Pierre Cardin sunglasses, then started the car, threw it in reverse and without turning around stepped on the gas so hard we backed straight across the road and into Miss Nevers’ fence, sending the top wooden log of that section flying into Miss Nevers’ yard. Without hesitation, Jenny’s mom pulled forward then kept her foot on the brake just long enough for us girls to get out, lift the log into its place in the fence and hop back in. Jenny’s mom drew hard on her cigarette and with one hand on the wheel drove so fast through town I couldn’t catch what movie was playing at the drive-in. When we arrived at the latest mistress’s house, Jenny watched her mom run up the front steps and straight inside. We sat in silence, both of us tracing the piping along the edge of the brown vinyl seat with our fingertips. Shouts erupted from the house. A few minutes later, her mom emerged with mascara running down her cheeks, but she did not cry in the car and instead lit another cigarette. When we got back to their house, Jenny and I resumed playing and my mom and her mom had coffee and commiserated on their no-good sons-of-bitch husbands. Barbie and Ken’s wedding was wonderful. The honeymoon was even better. The newlyweds went on a trip to the ocean. While Barbie rested on her lounge chair, Ken and Lifeguard GI Joe chatted it up with a couple of Dawn dolls in bikinis before Ken decided to go for a swim in the mixing bowl filled with blue water. Jenny held Ken by the head and gently moved him like he was bobbing through waves until she brought up a rubber shark that seemed to come out of nowhere to ferociously attack him. I carefully adjusted Barbie’s sunglasses and put a tiny plastic martini glass in her hand. Lifeguard GI Joe was too busy with those Dawn dolls to notice the water splashing everywhere, the red food coloring diffusing as the shark took Ken’s legs off, one by one.



Elisabeth Harrahy’s work has appeared in Zone 3, Paterson Literary Review, Constellations, Passengers Journal, Ghost City Review, I-70 Review, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She is an associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Anchor 5

DJ Lee

Trail to Squires Lake

Today is the fourth month. I can’t see my father’s silvered brows or snaggletoothed grin as we climb. Only his rounded back, shoulder blades moving like a kid’s carnival ride, map-like tread of his new REI boots, hiking poles stabbing the earth. Squires is in your mother’s ancestry, he says. We don’t mention her last rattled breath. We flush a single goldfinch from the horsetail sedge. That’s a wild canary, is what that is. We say nothing about sitting with her silence through the night, how present she seemed. He hates the steep elevation of this trail but he wants to see the water. As we brush past thimble berry, holly, wild raspberry, willow, and cattail, we don’t discuss how the crematory men came through a snowstorm, wrapped her in white plastic, and gurneyed her out the door. He stops, wiping sweat from his brow. Are we going the right way? It seems we should be further west. I assure him we’re on the right path. But I know what it’s like to misperceive. We don’t converse about how her favorite cat climbed onto the indented pillow, eyes blazing, as if seeing through the mist rising from the bed. I still wake in the middle of the night and call her name, he says. Maybe it’s the shock of chartreuse lilies padding the shoreline, but I swear this lake is a portal to somewhere.



DJ Lee is a writer, scholar, artist, and regents professor of English at Washington State University. She has published over 50 essays and prose poems, the memoir Remote: Finding Home in the Bitterroots (Oregon State University Press, 2020), and eight scholarly books, including The Land Speaks (Oxford University Press, 2017).

bottom of page