Conversation with the Sea Adaeze M. Nwadike

Conversation with the Sea

Since the beginning of 2014, 19,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Untallied others disappear without a trace

I sit in this boat, rehearsing a new anthem,
Clutching my mother’s promise to sail behind, should the sea get turbulent
The farewell songs from yesterday echo behind like dirges.
And every distance covered by this boat distills the imagery of my death.
But I have spent half my life at the immigration center,
Carried my passport for so long it became a body part.

You only ditch the airport for the sea, when you wear many problems
you weigh so much to fly.
And this country;
To survive in this country is like
That Jesus’ metaphor of a carmel passing through a needle’s eye.

The sailor said I won’t be needing papers,
And I cut off the passport like an arm, fling it overboard
And the sea turns an ombré of water and blood.
It is better to enter the kingdom of God deformed than be whole in hell.

The sea is a melancholy,
and
The bodies of drowned men and ferries plunge their ways to shore.
A dove drops from the sky and begins to sink, and sail—like us,
To another country, that will open and swallow it

“The ferries will dance tonight”
A boy said to his mother, his voice vibrating like he swallowed a guitar.
I open myself to the crescendo of his voice and to the anthem in my mouth,
And I say,
I am a citizen left behind,
The land isn’t safe anymore,
Hide me.
Hide me.

Adaeze M. Nwadike

Biography:

Author_Photo_Adaeze_Nwadike

 

Adaeze M. Nwadike is a Nigerian writer and teacher. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in many notable magazines in Nigeria and the diaspora. She is currently working on a collection of poems that explores the experiences of women migrating to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

The Belly of the Whale By Simran Kapoor

the belly of the whale

we have been swallowed whole.
months of our lives –
chewed up,
ripped apart,
digested.

the city has disappeared.
it’s quiet,
save for the sound of a television
humming in the background.
there’s a new channel,
unfamiliar words and graphs on top of a world map.
i swear
the numbers change each time i blink.

i like going for walks now.
the belly of the whale
was lonely at first
but my shadow
has begun following me.
she’s always
the recommended six feet away.

my calendar is full of zoom calls
but the connection is
poor in the ocean.
i talk to the voicemail lady –
she asks if i’d like to change
the way i receive messages.

i say yes.

i peel an orange –
thirteen pieces.
i eat six
throw seven out of the blowhole.
i hope it makes its way

across the ocean
to other whales.

socially distant
but emotionally connected
by seven pieces of an orange.

By Simran Kapoor

Biography:

Author_Photo_Simran_Kapoor

 

Simran Kapoor is a student at Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. Expected to graduate in 2021, she strives to make the most of every moment by documenting her favourite times in writing. Simran hopes to continue to develop as a writer as she pursues the craft further.

Behind the Trees By Amy Liu

Behind the Trees

Where does placid passion reside? Behind the trees?
For in the rolling red clay you hide behind the trees.

Necks craned bodies carved—we seal the broken sky,
as gilded-feathered birds of whiskey glide behind the trees.

“Our Nǚwā molded us from honey” / “Can you hear us?
Ma!” / Prophets peons serfs abide behind the trees.

Missed the boat / Knot untangled / Do I live undone?
Dried dock defied / Cunning ravens collide behind the trees.

Sipping from suspended orange blossoms, I hear
demise of azure / Adam chides behind the trees.

Crystal lionesses prod & pirouette on pearl,
pinning vivid opera chimes on hair of Naugahyde behind the trees.

Are these bones of soot mine, Nǚwā?
You forged me from ropes of snide, behind the trees?

How your teardrops look like trinkets in the rain!
To your ode even desert clairvoyants replied behind the trees.

Home is mine under scorching, crashing tides of pretense—
nimble owls pray to Rigel from inside behind the trees.

Is that petaled face of amethyst yours, mother?
Alas, love, such you cannot decide behind the trees.

By Amy Liu

Biography:

Author_Photo_Amy_Liu

 

Amy Liu is a woman of color and 16-year-old poet based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is passionate about leading intersectional activism via poetry and literature. Her poetry is featured in National Braille Press, Neshaminy Journal, Her Culture, and more.

the day my father exorcised obstinacy By Ajise Vincent

 the day my father exorcised obstinacy

to exorcise our obstinacy, every
morning our father reels
out verses of the scriptures on our heads.
at dusk he finds solace with a stick,
searching for one who would rupture
God’s will with unholy mannerisms. just one.
every one detested him except
his dog and panasonic tv,
which often utters soft songs
& obituaries of men who died
in war with an anonymous virus.

attitude is like smoke. it can’t be hidden,
he would say. can’t strip
the anatomy of dust, yet the rain tries.
today, we his sons, an eloquence of lawyers
lay his remains in a casket
filled with an orchestra of goodwill.
& like any good son, we lift his essence
above the earth’s horizon to God’s bare face,
for the graffiti of our present
was painted by his actions of yore.

By Ajise Vincent

Biography:

Ajise Vincent is an Economist based in Lagos, Nigeria. His works have appeared in Jalada, Chiron Review, Asian Signature, Ann Arbor Review, Yellow Chair Review, Bombay Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, The Cadaverine, Saraba, Brittle Paper, Sentinel Quarterly, and Elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Eriata Oribhabor poetry prize 2015. He loves coffee, blondes and turtles.

fruit By Tyler King

fruit

cultural consignment, New Mexico heat,
Albuquerque splayed and burned across
the South. it gives the distinct impression
that she does not belong among the sand,
the city would rather have her exiled
outside the limits, pushed to her own kind,
and take the long road in, commute an hour,
but be removed—yes, be removed again.

the shell of a watermelon is striped,
the jagged lines of dark and light unfurl
to show the red flesh underneath. she digs
into it with a spoon, the ritual
of Saturday evening, desert-laced night.
if the night was spun with chrysanthemum,
blossoming over the shallow rock pools,
her hands would pull back rough and reddened skin,
pick out the dark-as-night center, and eat
the pure-white, sweetened flesh of the lychee.

in our refrigerator we keep a
jar of icy lychee jelly. It was
first brought to my attention when my
Chinese teacher brought our class a jarful.
a remnant of the childhood she had.

i’m sure there were lychees in the Southwest
when my mother lived there after moving
from China, and in Indiana too.
In Houston, I know they’re in Chinatown,
and in my grandmother’s small stone backyard,
nestled between kumquat and green onion.
but they are not the same. they never are.

By Tyler King

Biography:

Tyler King (b. 2003) is a writer, songwriter, and composer. His work in poetry and prose has been recognized multiple times by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In addition to writing poetry and fiction reflecting mainly on his Asian-American heritage and the impacts of contemporary masculinity on youth, Tyler co-directs Imagination, his school’s literary journal. There, he focuses on curating new content and helping student-writers develop their unique styles and voices. Tyler attends St. John’s School and resides in Houston, TX.

All the Worlds We Left Behind By Amy Zhou

All the Worlds We Left Behind

I’ve entered and I’m going
again.
I was born with a spine
tucked into my chest, fingers wide
with gaps
and
crescents              tucked into my fingernails.
I was made to hold water
but let it leave— born with
a set of gills
instead of teeth.

I’ve entered and I’m going again.
I heard them singing last night—
Mouths
open                   and arms wide,
chests tilting                 into the sky.

It was the first time I heard something,
anything, for a long time.
They stood in their small bodies,
rain
flattening their foreheads,
carrying away their song
until it was just
ozone
and drip.

I’ve entered and I’m going again.
I asked her if she was
cold.
Our backs are bruised, our knees
soiled.
It is time for
the sky to change.

I started seeing
shadows under
her eyes and there was a
river-like
quality to her oscillating movements.
I wonder if she still
hears me.

I’ve entered and I’m going again.
Everything has started
dripping
grey. The stripes melt
off my shirts
and the flag            and my skin
and I think something big must be happening.

A shivering cold is surging now
under the crust of the earth,
and soil starts swallowing
rivers and the last
remnants
of olive and rain, cavities
blooming under rusting mud.
Smoke whirs through red skies and we wonder
where everything has gone.

I have long dreamt of hunger but never wake satiated.

The sun remains scalloped inside the
clouds
and even he        has started wilting
in this desert
heat. So we stay here,           orbiting,

73 degrees per minute, and soon
we will see:
the callouses in our shaking palms, reaching
for our cold, wavering dreams.

By Amy Zhou

Biography:

Author_Photo_Amy_ZhouAmy Zhou is an aspiring high school writer from The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. She has been recognized for her poetry and short fiction by The New York Times, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Frontier Poetry, and Hollins University. She has been featured in various literary journals and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for her school’s newspaper, The Radar, literary publication, The Steele, and art magazine, ArtsMag.

 

The Queer Girl Creation Story By Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

The Queer Girl Creation Story

In the beginning, the body knew nothing
of desire. Submerged in a darkness it clung to for fear
of witnessing itself. Untouched but by a wave
it did not understand. God whispered into the waters: let me show you.

(i)
By ethereal light, She announced the body no longer
cloaked in shame.

They will say it took one day, don’t
listen. Not all is easy.

(ii)
Complexity birthed confusion.
She separated love from lust
but they still touched on the horizon.

(iii)
The waters were gathered, but still teased the land.
Delicate petals unfurled to the promise of dew. Vines snaked
from holy ground, reaching for the heavens. The earth could breathe,
but it did not want to without its lover lapping in gentle waves.

(iv)
Half-reigned by a sphere of fire, transferring desire until the setting
and the settling in the body. A core of swallowed flames. On edge of eruption.

Half-reigned by a body unlike its own. She planted stars as reminders
not to lose oneself under the floodlight of a distant gaze.

(v)
There is vulnerability in the becoming. Wings snapped in the body,
beating against breaking ribs until birdsong soared from ruins.
The seas stirred and from devastation came revelation. The body
looked upon itself, apologised in trembling sincerity, and called its
nature to thrive.

(vi)
In palm, She witnessed flourishing and the heavens quivered.
The body was done. She whispered to the woman: now, nurture
those who turn to the ground and weep. Say: let me show you.

(vii)
Draping over her heaving chest,
God sighed. The word: pride.

By Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

Biography:

Author_Photo_Lauren_Elizabeth_Taylor_Circle

 

Lauren Elizabeth Taylor is a queer writer from Derbyshire, England. She is the author of Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? and How Will I Sound When My Voice Returns?

Dear Khione By Amanda Kay

Dear Khione

o’ mistress of winter
rest your heart here on the
cold apartment floor, not
a penny left for a space heater

self-induced hypothermia as
you pray for salvation

no legacy in your father’s cold eyes

o’ ingenue of frost
may you not let limbs thaw but
grow stone cold

no youth for sinners
sinners
cheats

we don’t have no god

we don’t want no god

we want salvation

sinners
cheats
let unclean hands purge
winter from our hearts
not when we’ve become ice
in self-preservation

year after year
winter is unyielding

isn’t it cruel?

leaving your youth for dead in a
hotel bathroom

spilling icy tears in a
back alley

frozen heart in
honeymoon dreams

icicles form in the crevasses of your broken heart

femininity

isn’t it cruel?

By Amanda Kay

Biography:

Amanda is a current sophomore at Santa Clara High School. She enjoys swimming, reading, and drinking a good cup of tea.

Sentences From a Scrapped Letter to Cis People By Dmitri Derodel

Sentences From a Scrapped Letter to Cis People

I hate that I’ve ever hated myself for you.
I cannot embody what you think my body should be.
There is no one universal transgender experience.
There is no one universal anything.
We are as diverse as wildlife and as complex as love.
Understanding isn’t necessary for you to treat us like people.

One does not need to uncover the mysterious ways
in which God works to trust her,
and we can enjoy a good slice of pizza
without knowing exactly how it was made
and why its maker decided
on that particular amount of pepperoni.
I’ll explain myself to you over some pizza
so long as I get to eat all the slices.

Your mind is not as mighty as you believe it to be.
Remember, I’m still a person.
We’ll never understand what it’s like to be each other.

I must admit, sometimes I want to be very kind to you.
I will not beg. I call you by the name
you tell me to, without an argument,
without so much as a question.
You should return the favor.
I am more than a name. You are more than a name.
We should be more than documentation.

Trans people are not impersonators.
We are not “almost” who we say we are.
We are everywhere.
We have always been here.
We are everyone else.

I know myself better than you ever will.

By Dmitri Derodel

Biography:

Dmitri Derodel is a poet, songwriter, essayist, aspiring music artist, and 2020 Scholastic Gold Medalist. He’s been writing creatively since elementary school and continues to dedicate most of his free time to honing his craft.

 

The Book Thief and His Librarian Candlestick By Edis Rune

The Book Thief and His Librarian Candlestick

With every step
The book thief
Takes, his sleeves
swing from side to
side like a saw
Moving through water.

The way he held the
Candlestick was like a
Cup of water—he did not
Want to spill a single drop.
The darkness could not
Touch the fire.

The candlelight’s interests
Grow when in close contact
With the library’s books.
The pathway is clear with
Visibility.
The Victorian literature

To the industrial revolution,
The books felt warm and
Began to melt like iron,
As the thief reaches for one.
The book thief’s candlestick
Fumbled, fell on his sleeves,

Burning him alive.
The morning after the librarian
Reclaimed his candlestick,
White, and charred black with
Ash and flesh.
The books untouched with a new

Fingerprint aromatic scent.

By Edis Rune

Biography:

Currently living in New York, Edis Rune was born in Kosovo and is of Montenegrin descent. He is a poet, novelist, short-story writer, and more.