Therapeutic Melancholy By Sidney Muntean

Therapeutic Melancholy

Pry the past off your chest, draw in your breath
and undergo a great expansion, rename nostalgia
to something soft or sweet but completely unremarkable,
transfer its meaning with nothing, so when you say
you are nostalgic,you mean you are nothing.

Befriend a blind dog, tear out your rib and
let him lick your bones clean until
you are a skeleton, can you feel yourself
rattle, clutched in the persistent grasp of
a baby’s palm, glistening in salivated youth.

Wail and cry and sore your throat, relive
earlier times, rip out your tongue and wrap it
in the pages of your dictionary, become so
well-versed in the language of longing
that memory cowers in fear of being drawn out.

By Sidney Muntean

Biography:

Sidney Muntean is a high school student in the Creative Writing program at Orange County School of the Arts. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of a creative arts publication, The Junebug Journal. Her work has been recognized by various contests such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Kay Snow Writing Awards and most recently appears in Orca, Adonis Designs Press, and Sunspot Lit. Sidney also likes to dabble in performance poetry, as she won 3rd place with her team in the slam poetry competition OC RYSE.

Rich People Food is Probably Gross Anyway By Anna Leonard

Rich People Food is Probably Gross Anyway

ramen noodles, growing kids need food
ramen noodles with ground beef in it
for protein, yes, growing kids need protein
otherwise they’ll look all sickly and the kids
can’t go to school looking all sickly
otherwise the school will turn to Momma
and then we gotta pack things up in boxes
and i hate the sound of cardboard
so we eat ramen noodles with ground beef
in it for dinner for a month straight
because it’s easy and Momma works long hours
at the bar with all the pretty women and big spenders

hey, there are five of us, Tommy, save some
for little Bean Dip, don’t be selfish

Julie’s got rich friends, so she stays away
around 6pm so they give her salmon with sparagus
and Julie doesn’t even like salmon with sparagus
but Julie likes to say she ate salmon with sparagus
even though Momma’s face turns all red when she comes home
and talks of her salmon with sparagus

i don’t know why Momma doesn’t just grow sparagus
in the backyard, they taught us in school
about farmers in other countries, i think
she should just be a farmer in the backyard
and then we won’t have to spend all this time apart
she comes home late, smelling sweaty
so we can eat, but i wanna play
and i wanna try whatever sparagus is

By Anna Leonard

Biography:

Anna Leonard is an Atlanta-based 21-year-old graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and a concentration in Performance. She cultivated an interest in writing through dissecting plays and chose to adopt a minor in Creative Writing. She is an avid singer-songwriter with music out on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and aims to create pieces dedicated to sincerity.

Visiting Bennu By Linds Sanders

Visiting Bennu

Monday, you are 30 years old
and turn 43.

Our last Christmas you gifted me your favorite book.
It was the only time we hugged.

Tuesday, an 11-foot arm
touched an asteroid 200 million miles away.

I count the years I’ve read The Little Prince
and add them to your age.

NASA’S OSIRIS-REx revolved around the asteroid Bennu for two years
before landing in a crater the size of my apartment.

My family thinks I am grieving too long,
but I’m not meant to know this.

Wednesday, we pass through the dust and rock
remnants of Halley’s Comet.

“All men have the stars,” he answered,
“but they are not the same things for different people.”

Halley is the shape of a peanut shell. Ten miles long.
Its tail stretches out 13 million miles.

I wonder who, besides your mom and I,
are celebrating you.

At 1:50 p.m., OSIRIS-REx exited orbit
to execute the “Touch-and-Go” sequence. TAG.

The city outshines the black backdrop.
My rods and cones can’t see the rocks burn.

Volatile ices—carbon, ammonia, dioxide,
water—and dust. Halley is mostly dust.

“but all these stars are silent.
You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them–“

The Little Prince lived on Asteroid B-612.
Is B for Bennu?

I’m not creative enough to think of who you would be
at 43. Out of habit, I still try.

It is the only close-range comet
that can appear twice in a human lifetime.

TAG. You’re it.

OSIRIS-REx will spin with it’s arm out
to feel the weight of the dust.

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night.”

Halley will return in 2061.
You’ll be 84 years old. And still 30.

Did you get scooped up?

But it’s not too long.
Traveling these long distances takes time.

OSIRIS-REx returns in 2023.
I’ll have to wait

to see you again.

By Linds Sanders

The stanzas in italics are direct quotes from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Biography:

Linds Sanders habits in saying “yes” to things that scare her. She yessed herself into whitewater kayaking, working with preteens, and saving house spiders. She’s not frightened by teaching art classes, serving on boards of directors, or living in a 60-square-foot van with her husband. She repurposed her BA in Journalism into an equally underpaying pursuit in poetry and art.

Hand Sanitizer By Marina Harris

Hand Sanitizer

I never knew
That hand sanitizer
Would be a central feature
In my life.
That my existence
Would be made up of
Masks, screens,
And warding people
From getting too close.
Agonizing over decisions
To leave my house.
Stumbling over
The grief I feel.

A grief that walks behind me
Waiting
Barely noticeable
Until it floods me.
Grief for my friends
And family
Who are so close
Yet so far away.
A Grief for
In-person connection
That I miss so desperately.

I go through my new life
Looking through screens
At the people I love.
Breathing through a mask
That simultaneously protects
And suffocates.
Distracted, disorganized
Unsure of time and space
Such a distinct feeling
That we’ve named it “COVID time.”

I’m forced to accept
That we can’t be together
Without a cloth barrier.
The hugs that soothed
Are now gone.
And the fumes of hand sanitizer
Nauseate me.

I never knew
That eight months in,
My grief would still follow me
Like a shadow
In the wake of my old life.
And that I would be holding others’ sorrow
As well as my own.

And for now,
I will continue forward.
Not a new life,
But a modified one.
One that honors others’ safety
And my need for connection.

Although hand sanitizer cleans,
And surfaces are sterilized,
My grief remains, unconstrained.

But this sadness reminds me
Of my humanity
And the collective grief I share
With those I care about.
I will continue,
forward-moving,
in the face of my despair.

COVID cannot sanitize me.

By Marina Harris

Biography:

I am a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and aim to promote hope and healing in my writing. My writing has been published in several publications, including Better Humans and The Startup on Medium. I typically write science-backed, empathetic tutorials of psychological skills. As a therapist, I know that words can greatly impact how people feel and foster a sense of shared community. I wrote this poem in response to my own grief and hope it will offer others the experience of our shared humanity during this difficult time.

Hot summer sun By l.k. ode

Hot summer sun

blistering heat bleeds into night
and the moon is seared

sanguine into sky
the city sits like bricks at

the bottom of my stomach and
I lie awake for hours

tangled in sticky sheets,
smoldering

silent movie playback
to the sound of

distant sirens and
helicopters circling

over sunset and
kingsley

By l.k. ode

Biography:

l.k. ode is a cinematographer by day, poet by night— living and writing in Los Angeles, California. Born in San Diego, she was fascinated with visual expression and poetry at an early age. She is currently a freelance cinematographer, and she embeds her poetic instincts into each one of her projects.

Street Fair By l.k. ode

Street Fair

in the street fair
sun soaked air
settles
on two pairs of
hands:
one weathered, covered in
dry clay
and working at a
pottery wheel
and the other smaller, younger
sits in paint
splatter
and waits and
watches

By l.k. ode

Biography:

l.k. ode is a cinematographer by day, poet by night— living and writing in Los Angeles, California. Born in San Diego, she was fascinated with visual expression and poetry at an early age. She is currently a freelance cinematographer, and she embeds her poetic instincts into each one of her projects.

Frost Bite By Linds Sanders

Frost Bite

Migrating geese bob out of line
becoming braille against clouds.
I can’t reach far enough to feel what it says.

I texted dad asking if we could talk.
He replied let’s wait till next year.
One-Mississippi. Two-Mississippi. Three-Mississippi.

Damp October screams into my toes.
I continue to follow the sound of one
Pacific tree frog where they shouldn’t thrive.

Ten Octobers ago, I let snow into my shoes.
My mom picked at the thick shells covering
the pink forgiveness. I lost two in the indoor public pool.

Stillness killed by cracking keratin against
rock and decay and dirt; against keeping quiet and
staying polite and being good; against bark and wind and each other.

When I go backpacking old men on the trail
like to tell me how proud of me they are.
Four-Mississippi. Five-Mississippi. Six-Mississippi.

I can’t see the heard. It is enough to touch this sound
fully with my adrenaline and fear, calming now
knowing the owner of the suddenness.

Pointing my toes in the direction of a wood stove.
Can you know how close a gun is by the bullet’s echo?
Seven-Mississippi. Eight-Mississippi. Nine-Mississippi.

I know two women who hunt: One with sagebrush
on her spine, one teaches yoga.
But when I hear gunfire I think of men.

By Linds Sanders

Linds Sanders habits in saying “yes” to things that scare her. She yessed herself into whitewater kayaking, working with preteens, and saving house spiders. She’s not frightened by teaching art classes, serving on boards of directors, or living in a 60-square-foot van with her husband. She repurposed her BA in Journalism into an equally underpaying pursuit in poetry and art.

Uriel By Gabe Pry

Uriel

I.
He bestowed you your cinereous blade,
tore you from your friends, your life,
and said,
—Guard these gates. Let no man pass through.

for centuries,
millennia,
you did as He bid; you
fought any who sought entry,
defended the perfect place
that they were exiled from.

then someone came: another
regular man
but where the rest had come with
swords drawn, commands
and demands pouring from their lips,
he asked only
—can i come in?
and when you said,
—No.
he nodded, thanked you,
and left.

II.
he kept coming.
day after day, he walked
up to you, to ask only
—can i come in?
day after day, you said,
—No.
but still he came.

he introduced himself as gabriel.
—Like the angel?
you couldn’t help but ask.
—no,
he laughed,
—not like the angel

his visits grew longer.
he brought lunches.
—do you eat?
he asked as he unwrapped crisp sandwiches.
—Yes.
—what do you eat? do you eat from the garden?
—No. I guard it.
—what do you eat? do you want a sandwich?
and you didn’t know why, but the answer seemed obvious to you:
—Yes.
you didn’t know
how he wasn’t named after an angel.

he made you question. he made you
want to put down your sword.
you asked He who appointed you,
—Can i let him in?
—No.
—Why?
—Humans have sinned. They must pay the price.
you argued; it has been centuries,
millennia, since the sin; they’ve changed, grown, learned.
what’s the point of guarding an empty garden?
—No.

III.
the day came when you
decided you had had enough.
millennia of guarding a garden
full of fruit you couldn’t eat,
empty of anything worth protecting.

you laid down your sword in front of gabriel
as you said
—enter if you want. i’m done
—i don’t want to. not without you
that day, as he left, he left
with you at his side
an eternal guardian, not for a garden,
but for him.

the garden of eden stands undefended
and empty.
not because nobody is allowed in,
but because nobody wants to be.

By Gabe Pry

Write By Zahraa Farhat

Write

You seized the pencil in your aching
hand, slanting
it towards the open
notebook, drawing
a rose, a bird—
figures I’d only seen you embroider
on pillowcases.

You traced your wrinkles
into the petals
and feathers.

Blue eyes mesmerized.
A rooted bloom,
unfurling wings.

Pencil down.
You handed me the gift.

Wait,
I said.
Your name.

Ektebe,
you uttered.
Write it for me.

I wrote.

Teta, you tried to imitate,
your hold now unsteady
and broken.
You let the pencil fall

as the bird soared
and the rose blossomed
on the page.

By Zahraa Farhat

Biography:

Zahraa Farhat is a Lebanese American writer and former journalist for The Arab American News. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn and master’s degree in creative writing from Wayne State University. As a daughter of immigrants and a Muslim in America, her writing is preoccupied with themes of family, war, country, and identity.

a park in the middle of anywhere By Anna Leonard

a park in the middle of anywhere

a swing-set. dirty blonde pigtails sway
along the long legs of this girl, laughing

because the boy she cut in line to swing is crying, and she
finds her first victory over a man, crossing

finish lines that are meant to hold her back.
she ignores the ropes that keep her in the ring.

it tastes good, this teaspoon of premature revenge, giggles
tickling her tongue. i will not hold back, this girl

swings so high, her toes almost graze the glass.
she does not yet understand how small she will feel

when she sprouts breasts, grows curves and other items
up for grabs. she loves to be noticed now, but she won’t

forever: a big word. stuck forever in this body, in this
trophy case. we are shiny, we are sexy, we are

sorry for being born this way. i didn’t mean to be
a woman. is she still fighting? is she still swinging?

or is she still?

By Anna Leonard

Biography:

Anna Leonard is an Atlanta-based 21-year-old graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and a concentration in Performance. She cultivated an interest in writing through dissecting plays and chose to adopt a minor in Creative Writing. She is an avid singer-songwriter with music out on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and aims to create pieces dedicated to sincerity.