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Unbroken #41: Goddesses Keeping the World Together

Nancy Huggett

It’s Early & the Goddesses Are Out

I am in Trader Joe’s squeezing a peach when Hestia sidles by, heading for the ambrosia apples to go with the pork loin she has in her basket no doubt. Hey girl, I wouldn’t, she advises. They’re not ripe yet. I pass them over & pack a paper bag with galas. It’s early & the goddesses are out. Hathor shakes a black-handled whisk as she ambles down the aisle, pushing the cart with her hips. She’s looking to stir things up. I don’t want to ask. At the condiment corner, Athena is handing out olives on little toothpick swords where Kwan Yin surprises me with her firm thumbs on my shoulders, prodding the knots like she knows where to find them. I’m still working on my list when Amaterasu holds up a bag of Meyer lemons to catch first light, marking check-out time. We’re home before anyone notices we’re gone. Our morning sun & sister salutations praxis in the produce aisles, just keeping the world together.



Nancy Huggett is a settler descendant who writes, lives, and caregives on the unceded Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation (Ottawa, Canada). Thanks to Firefly Creative, Merritt Writers, and not-the-rodeo poets, she has work published or forthcoming in Event, Gone Lawn, One Art, Pinhole, Rust & Moth, SWWIM, and The New Quarterly.

Angeline Schellenberg

Lean Back and Believe

When I was a kid, I didn’t believe in waiting. In slow traffic, I told my parents, Just lean back and believe hard enough, the front of our car will lift, and we’ll drive over the next car like it’s a hill. People in stories meet time travellers and aliens with disbelief, but I was ready. The only hills I ever climbed were snowdrifts. Oh, and our garden’s manure pile: my favourite playground until I learned what it was made of. But even still, it crumbled so softly in my hands. My high school driving instructor was terrified of bridges: someone she loved once flew over a railing and drowned. On mazelike, downtown one-ways, she’d laugh at my rising voice and jerky foot. But when we came to a bridge, we held our breath. I prayed she’d snap out of it in time to tell me how to get home. Of all careers, why did she choose to teach us how to drive? My dad wanted to be a bush pilot. His eyesight and hearing weren’t good enough. My mom never wanted to marry a farmer. Neither did I. But she spent her life delivering pails of food to farm equipment. Pulling men’s limbs out from between the blades. Watching the skies for rain.


Angeline Schellenberg is the author of Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick, 2016), Fields of Light and Stone (UAP, 2020), and Mondegreen Riffs (At Bay, 2024). A contemplative spiritual director, she also works as second shooter for Anthony Mark Photography and hosts Speaking Crow’s poetry open mic in Winnipeg. See more at

Alex Carrigan

Tree Home

My mom threw me and the cradle out the window, but I merely settled into the crook of a nearby branch. She eventually gave in and put a ladder against the tree’s trunk, but I was content to sleep among the robins and gray squirrels. They brought me bits of cloth and petrified sticks to build onto the cradle as I got older. My cradle became a race car bed by the time I started homeschool. My mom would use a rope and pulley to hoist a bucket full of peanut butter sandwiches and Fritos for me every night. In my teen years, the tree was hit by lightning, bending some of its branches to make four posts and a canopy of laced leaves for me. My mom would sometimes plead with me to come inside to watch my half-siblings while she ran errands, but she gave up when she realized the tree had grown taller after all these years, and her pleading could no longer reach me.


Alex Carrigan (he/him) is a Pushcart-nominated editor, poet, and critic from Alexandria, VA. He is the author of Now Let’s Get Brunch: A Collection of RuPaul’s Drag Race Twitter Poetry (Querencia Press, 2023) and May All Our Pain Be Champagne: A Collection of Real Housewives Twitter Poetry (Alien Buddha Press, 2022).

Jean Biegun

Bus Tour to Muir Woods

Trees can talk, began the naturalist, and the tourists from the rushed city raised their hands: why do they talk, how do they talk, what do they say, who do they talk to, are they loud, are they worth listening to, why don’t they talk to me, must I hug them, and you scientist, why do you listen to them, how much do you get paid, do my tax dollars go to support you, support the trees, are the trees dangerous, will I ever hear them, why do they burn, why are they so vulnerable like me, are they friendly, are they talking right now, can I open myself to hear their sound, what do they want?


Jean Biegun is retired in California after a lifetime in the Midwest. Her poems have appeared in many journals and proudly in Unbroken last year! Other recent publications are Third Wednesday, As It Ought To Be, and Amethyst Review. Her second book, Edge Effects, is forthcoming in 2024 (Kelsay Books).


Johanna Caton

House Hold

The family house was sold long ago, but today, memories compel me to sit, search the web and find an image of the house and its every room. I start outside and begin to hear things: the creaking hinge of the front gate, my parents inside, their word-weapons, their long war. This is the house that built me—a feverish house in the South. Summer heat preys on my memory. I smell new-mown grass. I click: here is the living-room, where a wraith of my child-self is using the piano for her ballet barre, all balance lost in the crush of Mother’s rage as she smashes my dancing against the wall like a crystal glass. I click on the upstairs bedroom: my four-year-old brother is on his knees beside the bed, keening. She has beaten him because he can’t remember the words of the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” My house stirs, time turns. A new moan floats through an open window. Red-brown leaves on the lawn pray through many falls. My brothers and I were keen to leave the house as soon as we could and my mother was keen to leave my father but stayed through a thirty-year deadlock and my father was keen to live in the house until he left the world and left the house to my brothers and they sold it—it and a superfluity of keening. Dreams fall and freeze in this house, burst like pipes—winter’s minefield. The house sees, shows me my father. With finest, self-taught craftsmanship he’s redrawing the interior, rebuilding nearly every room, even making an eloquent dining-room of the porch, with glossy pine walls the color of honey, and a redbrick fireplace with a raised hearth—a gleaming jewel, a sacred altar. I walk through the house, up and down stairs, breathe the fragrant softness of my mind’s field. The house recalls every season, day, hour, moment. Time tunes, tames. I wonder who lives there now? Do our memories stalk the halls at night? Do they suddenly open beneath the inmates like psychic sinkholes? Do my family’s sounds trounce the stillness, round the corners, thrum up and down stairs? Memory is a door; it breathes out and in, traps no one.


Johanna Caton, O.S.B, is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey, located in Kent, England. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in several publications, including Fare Forward, One Art, The Christian Century, Amethyst Review, and The Catholic Poetry Room. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Jefferson Navicky

House of Revision

The firefighters couldn’t determine if the fire started in the attic because of old wiring, or if it started just below in my grandfather’s study. And was my grandfather in his study when the fire started? My mother showed me a photo of the house filled with smoke. Grey wisps coming from the upper story as if sleep could be seen trying to escape. Since the fire never grew to flame, I wondered how much damage mere smoke could do. Wasn’t it flame that did the real damage? No one answered my questions. So I decided, twenty-five years later, to write a poem about the fire that burned down my grandparents’ house, the house I most loved in the world, the house whose smell I still remember, the house where my grandfather played Tchaikovsky records from his study as my brother and I fell asleep down the hall. The poem mainly confused my workshop. Who started the fire? How did the house burn down? What was the Tchaikovsky piece played on the record player? So many questions. They expected me to have the answers. But I had the same questions. So I decided to rewrite the poem, and rewrite, rewrite and | rewrite | rewrite | rewrite | rewrite until I did more than find answers. Until I rebuilt the house.


Jefferson Navicky is the author of four books, most recently Head of Island Beautification for the Rural Outlands (2023) as well as Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments on Short Prose (2021), which won the 2022 Maine Literary Award for Poetry. He works as the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection.

Rosemary Harp

Fot My Brother

Mountains never interested me much. I prefer the honesty of flatness. Glacier-razed land. Streets hewed from the dirt at right angles as straight and taut as cello strings. Cicadas droning their bass notes on a heat-still August afternoon. Our mother’s clothesline creaking its tension across the yard, burdened by the quilts we slept under. The stern whispered language of maples warning us of rain. Horizontal storm winds, the sky tornado green. And afterward, again, wide open sightlines. I visor my eyes with a steady hand and look across prairies for you, you who I’ve been trying to see since your birth.


Rosemary Harp lives in Chicago but roots for Detroit sports teams. Her work has appeared in publications big and small. She can be found at

Christina Gay

My Brother Eats the Air

I visited you in the hospital 2 times a week for 3 weeks while the doctors learned that antipsychotics made you quite psychotic, actually. You were restrained with cloth ties at your wrists, your torso pinned to the bed in a soft harness. Ironically, you looked drunk. I hesitated to see you so vulnerable, so upside down. I thought, surely, he does not want his little sister to see him in a hospital gown and grippy socks. His little sister, who called the rehabs until she got one to confirm his existence after he went missing for three days. His little sister who paid $24.99 for an internet background check to understand the tiniest speck of dirt, to know anything. The nurse at your bedside smiled at me, and told me how much you enjoyed applesauce. I know that you’re allergic to peaches and you are past due on your excise taxes. I parsed your life from faxed records and loosely translated notes. I dumped piles of dirt into a cheap plastic sieve. I sifted for hours, without pride, hoping that a piece of something would remain. Something I could hold up to the light. Something I could polish and shine. Anything to explain the absence, cruelty, and frustration. That day, you were eating the air. You cut the air on the invisible plate with the invisible knife in your left hand, the invisible fork in your right, and took an invisible bite. I asked, “What are you eating?” You looked at me as though I had just descended out of the sky from another universe entirely, and that upon my arrival, I was also the dumbest person to have ever existed and that it would probably be better if I wasn’t there at all. “Steak, obviously,” you replied. “Is it good?” You– my brother, the great mystery– rolled your eyes and said, “It’s delicious.”


Christina Gay lives in Western Massachusetts. She is currently finishing her MSW from Boston University and received a BA in English from UMass, Amherst a very long time ago. Christina likes bagels, dogs, and tattoos, in that order.


Jason Davidson


When my son was thirteen the doctors found a birdhouse in his lungs. I was not his father then, so I stayed put in the back garden, malingering with the sea grapes and musing on failure. I was patient. On the day my fatherhood package arrived, the stars were tired and dropped from the sky, while I was filled with excitement. I immediately began attending support groups for other afflicted parents. One had a daughter with icebergs in her spleen. Another, twins: one whose spine was a spiral staircase, the other, a balcony. I thought: caution tape. The facilitator who was not a facilitator thought this was fantastic: bless your little hearts! My hand rested at my sullen chest, but I had forgotten the sound. Since I was fortunate enough to be selected for fatherhood, I thought it important to remain diligent. My son did not always remember my role, but I was full of suggestions. One night I telephoned to remind him of the field guides and he asked: who is calling, please? This forgetting one another is all a part of the process. When I was eighteen (and undiagnosed) I remained curled up in my crib and called for my parents. Old ashes poured through their tongues, pooling their mouths with a sad sort of dust. They never came. Never. Forgetting is as natural as needing. I did not tell my newer son about this on the afternoon that he remembered and called for comfort. A broken-down heart is tricky, but necessary. Later that night he had a coughing fit and the birdhouse is on his patio now, when the weather is good. The jacksnipes are friendly and I am very proud. Send birdseed.


Jason Davidson's poetry and drama have appeared in various journals and anthologies. He has worked as an educator, coach, performer, and theatre-maker and lives on California's Central Coast with his husband and small brood of four-legged children. He can be reached at

Angela Mckean

Life Sentence

Come and look at this with me, it’s your out of body experience, but be careful as you rise not to bang your head on the ceiling in case it makes you dizzy, and you wouldn't be able to focus on the doctor and nurses with all their bits of equipment and their quiet urgency, bending over you, then standing back as they make your body jerk like a marionette, and watching how pale you’ve gone, which isn’t surprising really as that particular machine you’re staring at, the one that records your heart’s responses, or in your case, lack of them, is showing a fine black line, like a long closing chord at the end of a symphony before the audience bursts into applause, except that now it’s developed a little wiggle and the nurses are calling cheerily to each other as it becomes a regular rise and fall, like tedious keyboard scales, which is a pity because I know what you want and I’m totally on your side but I can’t do anything for you as I’m just a piece of paper which dropped out of your notes and drifted onto the floor under the trolley, the one with your clear, written, signed and witnessed instruction, Do Not Resuscitate.


Angela Mckean started writing when she was six. Currently she is writing short and flash fiction, which she edits ferociously in an attempt to make every word count. She has lived in England, Australia and France, and has had poems and stories published in various regional and national magazines.

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