In the basement of Goodwill By Julia Bonadies

In the basement of Goodwill

I find gently used hope
and pair of Barbie roller skates
next to a reprint of a reprint
of Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffelton’s Barbershop”
in a pile of broken window frames
and abandoned halos next to the rack
of homemade butterfly wings
and ruby slippers size 9
there is some leftover soul
in the vase tucked in with soccer cleats,
and a set of ceramic watermelon cups
that look like pairs of shark teeth
that snacked on the cover of “Madam Bovary”
resting atop a crushed velvet baby gown
in-between black stilettoes stuck
in the side of a rubber piggy bank
where some kid left a one-dollar bill
no one, not even Jackie with her
red acrylic nails can reach
for the thirteen-year old with a boyfriend
whom she loves, who asks
for the mood ring next to the belt buckle
of a man pissing on a Yankees symbol.

By Julia Bonadies

Biography:

Author_Photo_JuliaJulia Bonadies teaches English Language Arts at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle, and tutors in writing at Manchester Community College. In 2016, she was named Manchester Community College’s poet representative in the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Her poetry has appeared in the national undergraduate magazine, The Albion Review, local paper The Chronicle, and various online journals and local college literary arts magazines. She is a film and plant enthusiast who resides in Vernon, Connecticut.

Doubt By Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa

Doubt

There is a thing                 my shadow knows how to do
How      to        not                 stay          behind              me
It            makes     me      question     being      anywhere
Makes me fear the light
I am not used to all this                                                       alone
This                             silhouette of dreams          my shadow leaves me as
At night
I howl like a wolf at the moon
Ask her             where she took                                   my lover
Feel       the                    betrayal                                  grip my body
Like       my shadow                          is a real thing
Not just a shade I                                                       cast against the light
The day I learnt                                 confidence in this              big body as a weapon
I gave doubt its                                               coat-heavy shadow back

By Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa

Biography:

Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa_Author Photo

Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa is a Motswana writer and poet with works published on Jalada Africa, Praxis Online Magazine, Ake Review, Kalahari Review and elsewhere. She writes poetry and creative non-fiction between her day job and evening accounting studies.

Antihero By Mark Morgan Jr

Antihero 

I used to jump puddles
and pretend I was leaping across quicksand
or a canyon, beyond some clueless hooded villain’s clutch

one time the pale, crumbling street flooded. my feet grew cold
and wet, beaten boots sunken. thick, dark murk
bubbling from that sewer drain I dropped a dollar in once
while a sapsucker slammed its beak against the telephone pole

ephemeral blue flashes, exploding transformer
volatile whiffs of green breeze, wild scrambles for shelter
pitter-patter against back windows—
power outages always scared me

perhaps I read too many comic books
my greasy fingers strummed glossy chords of paper and bulging muscle
beneath my pocket flashlight’s flaccid beam for illusions
of a metropolis dotted with life, bleeding at every corner

sorry. I’m not some criminal mastermind with a weather machine
I just want to devour all these beautiful shades of ink
and fade into the white void beyond the panels

By Mark Morgan, Jr.

Biography:

Mark Morgan, Jr. is a Detroit native, ESL teacher, and poet. He enjoys meetings with the Poetry Workshop in Saint Clair Shores and the Creative Writers Workshop in Sterling Heights. His work is featured in the 2018 and 2019 editions of Sterling Script: A Local Author Collection, Angry Old Man Magazine, and The Rising Phoenix Review. Mark also won Landmark Books’ Fourth Annual Haiku Contest in 2018. When not teaching or writing, Mark may be found reading, practicing martial arts, or listening to jazz.

Her Name Was Tsunami By Sena Chang

Her Name Was Tsunami

i
these are the crashing waters, they tell me,
where sea battled men in an unrelenting fight;

where the piercing blueness of the ocean
covered one’s eyes before death choked them;

where man’s castles and kingdoms all washed away
by the pure brutality of a thousand blue horses.

i see death, hardship, and loss paint the waters
that run up to my toes.

drenching each particle of sand are the tears
that have stained a thousand mothers’ cheeks,

the following days’ downpour that soaked the ground,
satiating the thirsts of a shattered earth,

and the very waters that have rushed down the throats
of loved ones, drowning out their souls and silencing

their calling voices
for eternity.

ii.
it is this place that a mother lost her other half.
yet again she looks at the ocean,

the glittering shard-like water resembling the jewels
that once adorned her ring finger.

stark-white hospital beds in a 4×4 arrangement.
the monotonous beep of the heart monitor.

Then, silence.

iii.
my hand is grasped tightly, and two watery eyes meet mine.
“Tsunami.” she named me that day. Tsunami.

internalized are the children’s laughs that were part
of the ocean’s silent breeze that fateful day, and

the screams that quickly replaced it. stitched together
by pain, happiness, and all things in between, the fabric

of my life is near-transparent, its threads worn out
by years of hardship and tribulation.

yet my name tells me to stand as tall as a castle,
to impact like an army of a million.

I am Tsunami: scarred, broken, and fragmented.
yet my tides will never fail to rise.

By Sena Chang

Biography:

Sena Chang is currently a student living in Tokyo, Japan, and her favorite authors include Haruki Murakami and George Orwell. Her most recent work can be found in the 2020 Anthology of Youth Writing on Human Rights & Social Justice.

Ghost Letters By Sean Catino

Ghost Letters

One day I’ll leave and I won’t tell anyone where I’m going.
I’ll take my body with me,
But I’ll throw my photo albums out the window as I drive away.
I’ll leave a crime scene of all my memories smeared down the road.
Pictures and pictures puked across sun baked pavement like fresh deer guts–
A carcass no one cares about until their car crashes into it.

I’ll send you letters.
I’ll lie to you.
I’ll tell you all of the fantastic lives I could be living—
A different letter for each different person in my life.

My sister will say I live in Las Vegas now.
I had a bad coke problem, but things turned around.
I met my highschool bully in rehab, and we fell in love.
He didn’t know he could love boys as much as he loved the burn of clean white destruction in his nostrils.
We own a pawn shop downtown, and we’re thinking about kids in a few years.

My best friend will say I’m a nomadic therapist who drives up and down the West coast.
I leave my calling cards on gravestones and bar fronts.
Like bootleg DVDs, I run therapy sessions 24/7 from the trunk of my car.
I teach the brokenhearted how great it feels to kill yourself and come back again.

My ex lover will say I’m a millionaire who lives in Miami.
I flip houses and eat diamonds for breakfast.
I have a reality TV show in the works.
I forgot how to cry, and I feel naked without a camera on me.
Life is a never ending sunset.

My mom will say I’m a cancer survivor in Santa Fe.
After all the chemo, I never let my hair grow back.
I keep it shaved, and I work at a church in a greenhouse.
I teach recovering drug addicts and high school dropouts that we can grow fruits from worm infested dirt.
Growth is a game we can play. Sometimes we win, even though we all have to lose.

But don’t ask me for the real story.
Don’t you dare try to find me.
I’ll never go back to the life that you barely knew me in.
I want to stay a ghost— a puff of smoke that almost looks like a person.

By Sean Catino

Sean_Photo

Reparations By Sophia Zhao

Reparations

It’s springtime, and I witness grandfather
peeled open in hyacinthia-tinted croaks:
hollow socket, false hand, he clenches a
lioness’s brittle ball between the stiff
bite of his teeth— now bound by some
edifice built top down in cacophony.
The bedroom slopes into pallid
unguarantee, what spit looks like
when parched up by the garden’s birdbath,
clean only to the swells of his throat;
he says life tastes of an unattainable
nectar, and I think of honeybees drowning
under their own ambrosia, resortless.
I choose to believe grandfather’s limbs
are of a deity’s spruce-lined mantle,
his shoulders held by weightless thread,
even when he coughs up stained spineless.
I choose to gather the blanket on bedstead,
scrunch it into plastic flimsy lotus flower:
a proofless talisman laid resting near the pyre.

By Sophia Zhao

Biography:

Sophia Zhao is an eighteen-year-old from Newark, Delaware currently studying at Yale University. Her work currently navigates themes of cultural identity and grief. She enjoys painting, poetry, and jasmine tea.

I LAMENT ON BATTERSEA BRIDGE By Evalyn Lee

I LAMENT ON BATTERSEA BRIDGE

in memory of the residents and carers
of Meadbank Nursing Home, Battersea

the room empty of you
except for a black plastic mattress
wrinkled by the weight of a body

wind on the skin of the water

plastic dolls with crocheted dresses
slippers socks T-shirts toothbrushes
and the books so many books all burned

the river is dusk dark

Charlotte says do not forget
the room is their home
the window their world

a murmuration a vortex of wings

nineteen men on one floor died
more than forty-five residents died
including two carers

a lung of loss suspended moves

do not say what is one more death
or it is to be expected or
they were going to die anyway

see the lone bird among the flock

years of crossing this bridge to collect
the communion box punch the keypad codes
the wheelchairs the bewilderment

hypnotizing the sky holds up a pattern

we massacred hymns lifted the chalice
broke wafers in half said a blessing
watched the staff hold up the dying

starlings want to be warm at night

when we can come back to serve when
we are allowed to know each name we will
write them in the book of the parish dead

come home to the bridge dear starlings come

By Evalyn Lee

Biography:

Evalyn Lee is a former CBS News producer currently living in London with her husband and two children. Over the years, she has produced television segments for 60 Minutes in New York and the BBC in London. Lee’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts, ed. Martha Hughes; Hawai’i Pacific Review; War, Literature, and the Arts Journal; Broad River Review 2016; After the Pause; Amarillo Bay; Delmarva Review; Plainsongs Poetry Magazine; Potomac Review; Red Savina Review; Saint Ann’s Review; Sheila-Na-Gig; Stickman Review; Streetlight Magazine, Typishly; Wax Paper; Whistling Shade; and Willow Review.

Butuan City in August By Adriana Carter

Butuan City in August

during wet season / I fold my body / into the back of a jeepney / observe the cumulonimbi / collecting in bushels / above / my head / here / you can feel / the rain before / the humid sky cracks / open its jaws / empty / or full or / empty / or full or / empty / or full / like the womb of the woman / sitting across from me / her eyes drifting over her own body / a wounded sunrise / she speaks of a man who / used to sleep with / a beer bottle under his pillow / and her next to it / a man who / followed the equator / halfway around the world / and left her with / fifty pesos / and a child /

I wonder how / it’s possible / for a woman to carry / her hollowness inside her / disguise it as / a fetus / let it bloom / swell / fester / until her skin breaks / open with the earth / after a typhoon / I want to ask her / if she still remembers the taste / of ripe mangoes / sticky and sweet against / her skin / or if they remind her too much of his / burning lips / of the vacancy in her body / I watch as she gives pesos to the jeepney driver / walks down a stretch of dirt highway / barefoot and splintering / until all I can see / is her faint silhouette / in the downpour

By Adriana Carter

Yesterday I saw God By Julia Bonadies

Yesterday I saw God

taking his smoke break
at the edge of the Firestone garage
on Hartford Turnpike.
Black Champion sweatshirt
framing the yellowed neckline
of a wife beater tank.
Black joggers and weathered
matte black Nike Air Force 1’s.
Fresh buzz cut brandished in the sun.
A blue N95 mask resting on his chest
and half a Newport between his lips—
The light turns green, he exhales.
Flicks ash to the ground,
and looks for my eyes.

By Julia Bonadies

Biography:

Author_Photo_JuliaJulia Bonadies teaches English Language Arts at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle, and tutors in writing at Manchester Community College. In 2016, she was named Manchester Community College’s poet representative in the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Her poetry has appeared in the national undergraduate magazine, The Albion Review, local paper The Chronicle, and various online journals and local college literary arts magazines. She is a film and plant enthusiast who resides in Vernon, Connecticut.

Crossing Street By Onyedikachi Chinedu

Crossing Street

my death speaks a thousand languages;
nights.tongues we know by too many nights.encounters.
someday, they find the body in the trench,
by the corner store—where my fav deodorant sells for a cheap price—
or the hospital’s front lawn; or far away from where language holds in my diaphragm;
or below the creek’s womb; or in the still luxuriant woods, for speaking.
nonetheless, it will be found
nights.decaying and prospering the air with love.
here, we speak in signs and megaphones.
nights.my native tongue submerges
nights.in water willingly. have I saved us by escaping
the pistol’s spittle and chains and the captain’s ship?
nights.we die fresh and bent over in this country.
nights.fresh and bent over, we die in this country.
this country erring to claim us as its own.
home is the whale’s wooden teeth.
nights.slam! there’s death behind the firm teeth,
nights.& we are fat from quietness.
again & again, my hands clutch the gate
nights.will my speaking counts as Salau
nights.in six years?
will I matter without names
or skipped and omitted like absence?
nights.simply, I’m scared of dying, the white kid,
nights.next door, blossom in a hoodie.
at the front door, in my hoodie, one she gave to my body in nineteen,
I get shot five times for crossing the street;
for sharing a body with the man in the cell.

By Onyedikachi Chinedu

Biography:

Onyedikachi Chinedu is a queerish poet living in Nigeria.