RUNNER-UP: inheritance

ACROSS: 2. shorn hair /one less thing to hold

I love how formally ambitious this poem is. I love that it insists on its own mystery and possibility (for the answers are not really answers but whole realms of possibility). What the poet does include as text moved me deeply. I left with the desire to read more, to keep reading toward the feelings the poem nurtured inside me.

—Billy-Ray Belcourt


2. shorn hair /one less thing to hold
3. losing my stomach when hushed
8. i make the active choice that i am real


1. azaleas bloom / i think of leaving
4. i mourn someone i fear, i fear someone i am becoming
5. where does disease end and i begin
6. i am not too ugly for this world
7. we live and we name things / i can't name this

About the author

Nikki Ummel is a queer artist, 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 has been nominated for Pushcart, Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and the CLMP Firecracker Awards. She is the 2022 recipient of the Leslie McGrath Poetry Prize. A reader for Peauxdunque Review and editor for Bear Review, Nikki is 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