Mother tells me of a time when she was young: 1996 ESL class, Webster’s Dictionary faded and yellowed with time, musty like the moss- green suitcase tucked away in a laundry room in Oakland. Her tongue, once coated in turmeric and pan-fried with curry leaves, dipped in oregano-green chutney, and sour like thick yogurt left on the deck too long, now tumbles over itself: overgrown roots, slippery with moss and mossy with age and aged with the smoke pulling at the hairs at the back of her neck, smoky thin like her voice warbling as it travels through the plaster walls of our kingdom, meekly authoritative, bending to the will of washed out voices.
Mother tells me of a time when I was young: 2005 trip to India, my sharp tongue laden with language, experienced with the sharp honks of the rickshaws during the torrential days of monsoon season, guided by the high-pitched hum of Grandfather’s oxygen tank running through the night. Her words are wistful; she tells me I have lost the mother tongue, my mother’s tongue. Now it is just a joke, an irony, as my tongue navigates the twists and angles, each accent misplaced, every nuance a battle I cannot conquer.
We are all just pawns in a game of speed. The victors are the fastest at locking their past in the overhead compartment before disembarking, the fastest at abandoning their mother in the dust as they chase their dreams. I have won, and my mother tongue has escaped me, but it was warm, and it licked my mistakes when I was young.
By Shaam Beed
Shaam is a student at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey. His favorite subjects include American history and Chinese, and he finds himself often writing about his family, culture, and random subjects. He has not founded any foundations or published any books, but someday he hopes to become an adult.
Skinny, you wreak havoc on the world. I have seen your haunting work And felt your icy fingers Inch over my skin, And shivered under your piercing gaze. The sound of you makes my body tense up. Skinny, the evils you have inflicted upon so many are Unspeakable. You leave a trail of mass destruction. Millions of people plagued by you. Millions of people left emaciated in your wake. Millions of people starving, grasping, all dying, Most dead. More kills than a murderer On the loose. Skinny, why do you not spare the children? Sometimes you fool those who are not yet old enough to understand. Surely you must realize they have only had 10 years of life. Happy lives They will no longer remember. Can you not wait a while longer before you strike? Mercy is all we ask. But you show none Regardless of age or gender. You are monstrous, Lurking in the shadows of the night, Disguised as “health” and “happiness”. You lie As you extend a friendly hand,
Encouraging to take it With a sly grin. The people don’t stand a chance. You give them options, But that makes it worse. So many different ways, you tell them. So many different ways to get to the place You’re going to take them. A beautiful place You promise them. You make it seem like they are choosing This vile fate for themselves. Skinny, When I hear your name I feel my skin tighten. When I feel your chilled breath on my tired, worn face, I feel my bones protruding through. Spinal cord down my back, collar bones reaching out For help. Help, Please Help. You aim to KILL And stop at nothing To get what you want. When is it enough? When all that’s left is a Skeleton, Are you happy? Why, then, do you not release your grip? What will satisfy your appetite? Is the soul-crushing cry of your victims Not enough? Not enough. Not enough…
By Maggi M.
Maggi is a college senior who is pursuing a double major in Communications and International Studies. She writes to share her experiences with others to help them feel just a little less alone in this world. Aside from writing, she enjoys to hike, play hockey, and walk her dog.
9: I am precautionarily disheartened by the voluptuous form that I am genetically likely to inherit (though secretly, I’ve enjoyed the attention)
14: When boys look at me I look away so that they look longer
18: My body is a soup kitchen for the lonely; my heart is a poorly trained dog that sheds all over strange blankets and startles the passersby
23: Artless ennui for siren song, I am tastefully barbed to draw transient samples of resuscitated avowal from every set of hands I gnarl
28: Inhalation in amber; I convert breathable air into languid intimation of the unfulfilled audacity that my current internment forgives
By Cierra Lowe
Cierra Lowe is a poet and half-assed artist living in St. Louis, Missouri. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Webster University, and is currently pursuing her BSN at University of Missouri – St. Louis. She self-published her first full-length collection—The Horse and the Water—in 2016, and is currently working on her second. When she isn’t trying to poison her husband with undercooked meats, Cierra enjoys compulsively organizing her belongings, changing lanes in intersections, and monitoring planetary motions. She is currently working on a series of letters to female sex symbols who have tragic ends, and well as an uncomfortable collection of interviews. She looks forward to even-numbered years, and her work has previously appeared in Bad Jacket.
There is something fucking awesome about Billy Joel
You once said this, and meant it at the time— But I was wrecked by it Seeing those words while the Detroit Cobras devastated my ear drums so loud they blurred but not enough to make me ignore the similarity to “Teenager in Love” Diner, simmering on the stove High Life coursing through my heart.
I needed to go to you to embrace you to kiss you; Call you my brother because Brother: there is something fucking awesome about Billy Joel— Not his voice or the melodies that break skin; Not because his canon is crammed with bar-room songs we croon; But because my mother loved him & None of his songs were featured in her funeral montage; & Because I haven’t been able to hear him since But— you listened & felt the same way
AJ Schmitz is a writer and teacher who has moved far too many times. Originally from Los Angeles, he has traipsed back and forth across the country with his wife and two cats, earning a Doctorate in PA, collecting tattoos in Fort Worth, and settling in South Bend, IN., all while teaching high schoolers and college kids about literature and life. He has several poems published in and around the internet and a chapbook available through Red Flag Poetry.
Dawn rises hot, casting morning so bright it sparks sharp across the sand dunes, each an excavation of passing night, cut with the long belly-lines of snakes hunting the dark. Under a mesquite tree, kangaroo-rat tracks meet a serpent-curve in a thrash of displaced erosion. Only the snake-line slices away from the tree’s fine-boned shadow. Out here, heat is rattlesnake-hungry, biting against shade and satiation, eating sky and sand until they’re just as wanting. In 1931, a movie crew found a miner’s corpse near here, halfway between town and water, compassed toward a spring he never reached. Over the hill, that dead town is time-eaten to a train station and heaps of half-flat tin cans taking on rust. A façade is all that’s left of the newspaper building, blue hurting behind empty windows. Next-door sleeps the graveyard, where ghosts of plaster and chicken wire curve over absent bodies. One holds the skeleton of a bicycle, head bent, its paper mâché hollowness only another kind of weight.
By Emily L. Pate
Emily L. Pate is a writer, avid traveler, and collector/over-sharer of bizarre facts. Born and raised in California, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her poetry and travel writing have appeared in Funicular Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and The Northwest Passage, and Blending Magazine. She can be found at emilylpate.com.
we agree it is the mind that wants to die, not the body in search of peace,
my friend jumped into a river & his body wrestled him out of the water
he testifies to me life is a farce death, a bigger farce
unlike a moth, i am not born with the luxury instinct to die
dying is performative i am incompetent at everything
each time i hold a knife the metal mirrors my mother’s face
do you understand? i am not alive
for myself i still breathe to prove my mother did not birth an ellipsis
that her three sons are not dots wading through a poem
By Samuel A. Adeyemi
Samuel A. Adeyemi is a young writer from Nigeria. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, 580 Split, Leavings Lit Mag, The Shore, African Writer, The African Writers Review, Jalada, and elsewhere. When he is not writing, he enjoys watching anime and listening to a variety of music. You may reach him on Twitter and Instagram @samuelpoetry
imagine— hers is a whole world and all body kind of love, alive no matter what the world does. taking up space despite what the world wants. unafraid, authentic: undaunted by judgment.
after death. beyond this atmosphere, this raw and decaying earth, you are with her. she is tinted in you like a soul stain by sheer force of will and want. you must interrupt the still air and speak these love truths now and then, form each sentence from broken breath, and teach your lips to breathe and speak the same language.
soon, even the worst night dreams will vanish to cut the night open, spilling out old stars our hemisphere blocked. these constellations ordain our fate in pinpricks, spelling new horoscopes in elegant prose untouched by this earth and the people in it. more lifetimes than most to make up for lost time. still not enough. not nearly enough. still you must
believe— hers is a whole world and all body kind of love. at night when you trace the smooth curve of her hips, when you say you love her, even mad, and mean it, you will not be a lone person. more than one. a soul-bond. timeless.
By Sara Boyd
Sara Boyd (she/her) is a budding poet interested in exploring the relationship between the material body and the living earth. Her life is split between two polar regions of Appalachia: Tennessee and Pennsylvania. She hopes to understand the nerve-endings of Southern Appalachian identity in her work while finishing the final year of her undergraduate degree at Lehigh University.
I’ve turned being awake into a practice, hear the rain’s soft approach and feel called, God throwing pebbles at the window.
My wife stirs as I pat the dark to find yesterday’s jeans, yesterday’s socks, a sweater branded with yesterday’s job.
The rain is loud on the sunroom’s metal roof. I stand back from the tall windows like a man trying to appreciate an abstract painting,
the lower thirds Rothko’d with leafy black, the sky’s translucent darkness layered above and Pollack’d with wires and a gap of stars.
The Metro sounds lonely as a freight train. I remember being inside those bright rectangles, speeding west, heads bowed as if in prayer.
By Charles Duffie
Charles Duffie is a writer working in the Los Angeles area. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review of Books, So It Goes (The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library), Anastamos, Bacopa Literary Review, Prime Number Magazine, Exposition Review, Mojave River Press, Meat for Tea, Heavy Feather Review, FlashBack Fiction, Riggwelter, and American Fiction by New Rivers Press.