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When he says we’re platonic

Poem by Nikki Ummel

I collect them all:

the left hand on my lower back

meant to guide me, not unkindly.

The abrupt kiss five minutes

before the wedding ceremony.

A third and fourth: flesh patted,

held in palms as if weighing worth.

All friends. All love. Except the sink

of stomach and churn of discomfort,

who would know? The place where

feeling lives: deep abdomen fills

with the crackle of crow wings.

The crows beat themselves bloody

but they do not get out. They do not get out.

About the author

Nikki Ummel is a queer writer, editor, and educator in New Orleans. Nikki has been published or has work forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, The Adroit Journal, The Georgia Review, and others. She is the 2022 winner of the Leslie McGrath Poetry Prize. She is a reader for Peauxdunque Review and editor for Bear Review, as well as the co-founder of lmnl lit, an arts organization focused on readings, workshops, and residencies. She has a poetry chapbook, Hush (Belle Point Press, 2022) and a hybrid chapbook, Bayou Sonata (NOLA DNA, 2023). You can find her on the web at

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