Eden By Anne Lester

Eden 

They say that devils cannot simply enter a human spirit. Possession must be given permission

but Satan did not ask permission when he entered me. When the Bible says the serpent spoke unto the woman,

it does not mention that her name

was Eden.

Call it the world’s first rape. Leaves tremble at the slightest movement, as I trembled upon his touch,

but their shuddering is silent. I had not yet learned to quake loudly enough to wake nations,

nor even to raise a warning voice to Eve. The poison in his words so easily disguised itself as bliss brought on by

anything but ignorance. The drug of temptation that left her

under his spell and victim to his plot. The fatal bite that would cause generation after generation to label her

“The mother of sin.”

They forget that the fruit came from the tree that burst forth from my chest. The knowledge

of good and evil that I could not contain under my surface. A burden too great to shoulder alone. Did Eve know

when he approached her? Did she tremble as his fingers brushed hers when he handed her the fruit,

the way I shook when he plucked that fruit from the centerpiece of my paradise? Could she feel

the weight of perfection? If we didn’t support each other, who else would?

Eve is the mother of all living, saints and sinners alike. And Eden is delight, both good and evil.

One bite, and Satan believed himself a conqueror. But we bite back. You see,

when he handed Eve the fruit, he handed me an ally, he handed her the key to

doors behind which laid every book on war-winning strategies. Eve went on to be the mother of women who are still hungry,

who will not keep their mouths shut, who demand the knowledge earned by their foremother. And while I may

have been left, I was not desolate. The seeds of all my forbidden fruits still thrive. They nourish the daughters of Eve,

allowing them to ask their questions, to voice their pride, to continue to study the battle

strategies their mother memorized. Eve and I made a pact, the day Satan penetrated the garden walls, that although

he may have deceived a woman, history would always call it

The Fall of Man.

By Anne Lester

Biography:

Anne has been writing and performing poetry for two years. Her poems explore the ways she has seen mental illness, prejudice, and religion affect herself and those around her.

LESSONS ON INERTIA By Chia Amisola

LESSONS ON INERTIA

Constantine, I dream of you pinpricked –
faint at the intersection. Unscarred loss at
what name to take again. Some rummage,

feel the bust and iron; how temporary must
we all be. They say the flicker matches the
count of the dead, so we took to bearing home

their carcasses. We surprise ourselves half-odd,
whispers of rosebud in conception of what
we may call for ourselves. Sunday, I am adorned

with the sound of church bells three blocks
away. They say their prayers: one unspoken
for the man found, knuckles locked, finger spun

in a rubber band holding his week’s earnings.
Like copper and gore, they say the wad of cash
was signatory impermanence; another was said

half-hearted, for two girls burned of fabric, sticky
muck, ninety-nine peso lipstick mugged on the
car window. First, their names – deprived of sound,

dancing on mockery, widows of steam pacing
and wax gorging at the mirage of white-tent street
parades. Second, how impossible it was to realize

a love is a love, pursing their names onto their
names. If only death could be a beautiful thing,
half-tank, curled fingers and all its picturesque

dainty pixie-fight – idyllic again, white-washed
of the hair they stoned. Another nod goes unfussed:
towards a man with mystic brew down his spines,

the taste of it ebbing in trite taglines. Here, he
becomes corrugated, plastered black ink on his
head split, life taken for lotto ticket dimes. We

offer solemnity to nothingness, a means for divinity
to fool the alive; our fates are self-fulfilling, with
cocked guns we say that it could be any one of us.

We do not close down gutters in the dead of the night,
8PM alms towards nowhere – nor is our name but
porcelain forgiveness, cheap flower and political

By Chia Amisola

Biography:

Chia Amisola is seventeen year-old senior, a lover of language be it in the form of poetry or code, hailing from the scorch of Metro Manila.

SPILLED MILK By Harper Russet

SPILLED MILK

we hear the man shouting before we hear
the prelude, and then a scuffle of guitar
against the sidewalk. downtown denver at 1am
is a sky-wide holler made of men who hurt
women on corners carrying their music-makers
in boxes. he screams,

YOU WANNA GO BACK
YOU WANNA GO BACK HUH
YOU WANNA GO

and then,

KILL YOURSELF JUST
KILL YOURSELF

and then
we see the woman gathering her guitar
back into her box, strapping it to her back
so that her spine carries every string.
she makes herself a hearse where music
goes to rest, and then be reborn.

too many women are turned coffin to carry
all the saddest sounds in the world, but she smiles
when dorothy buys her a milkshake and gifts it to her
like a grail, an offering, a secret between hurt women
who have been stripped of sound by men’s fingers
only to make more noise when you give them a proper
vessel. or carrier. and are we all not made to be carried?
how callused are her gracious hands? how many songs
live inside that box on her back? how deeply she drinks
from the styrofoam cup as she crosses the sidewalk
in search of napkins and company. milk has spilled
onto her guitar case, drips in white sugar rivers down
to her tennis shoes. a number is called from the window
of the burger joint, and dorothy becomes carrier of warmth
in a paper bag passed to the woman’s (gracious/callused/carrying) hands.
she laughs and says,

“thank you / thank you /
shit got so wild back there /
i left him / i left him after

three months / been single
years before he came / he
tried to steal my guitar”

i call her hon . a word that denotes sweetness.
you okay out here, hon? like sugar on the air.
she tells us,

“oh yeah / oh yeah he’s just hurt but /
he’ll have a bed to sleep in tonight / and
lemme tell ya / being crazy now isn’t
as / fun / as it was at twenty-five”

dorothy tells her no man is worth a lick of pain,
and the woman nods and nods, blond curls
bobbing beneath a baseball cap.
her laugh is a car crash in her chest,
her mouth two thin tracks of railroad – she is made
of things that carry and carry and carry.
she says,

“i’m gonna make this milkshake spill /
a motif on my guitar case / some kind
of artsy thing”

and she whirls her fingers round and round
until i imagine paint springing from beneath
her fingerprints and marking the case with bold lettering of:

THIS IS MINE / THIS IS MINE AND IT IS NOT YOURS
O ENVIOUS LOVER WHO SHRIEKS TO THE MOON
SHE WILL NOT HEAR YOU / FOR SHE IS MINE / TOO
SHE WILL NOT HURT ME / FOR I AM HERS / TOO

By Harper Russet

Biography:

Harper Russet (she/her or they/them pronouns, interchangeable) is a 24-year-old butch lesbian poet and novelist from Utah. Every poem she writes is an argument with gender, the country, and so many gods. Videos of her work can be found on Write About Now. You can also find Harper on Twitter and Patreon.

folding, falling, fading By Sandra Chen

folding, falling, fading

dinner tonight and every night / chopsticks clenched in tight
fists / knuckles white like raw jasmine rice / wooden ends
scraping china bowls / mouths tied with zongzi strings

her mother swallows words like kuding tea / each
question on her tongue claws back down her
throat / the unsaid ricochets like bullets

the war leads her back to bed / she
pulls out the glass pane / prays
in nothing but leaden bones

cruel dashes stain eyes
like ink / her body
folds and falls

a crumpled
origami
girl

By Sandra Chen

Biography:

I am a rising junior in high school from California. My work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and can be found in the Eunoia Review and Moledro Magazine, among others. I have also attended the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Quartz Young Writer’s Workshop.

Bystander By Jeni Prater

Bystander

She couldn’t walk a straight
line stone-cold sober, always tracing
with bright eyes salt-marbled swirls
pressed into sidewalks. And now, strungout
and stringing together lines
in her head, she was
uninterruptible.

The still nights were the most
worrisome. Her evidence rose
above her in streaks — telling,
morphing into
clouds, conspicuous,
untaken.

To let herself be seen, she said,
was to say something.

To hold her was to hold glossy cortisol
sweat; to know where her mind goes
when she reaches for skin
was to watch her slip
through fingers, unreluctantly—
to watch smoke sink into lungs and
beg for a witness to write
it all down.

By Jeni Prater

Biography:

Jeni is a queer sexual violence and disability activist and works at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center on the intersection of these. While she prefers to collect books and elephant trinkets, she has been published in “Of/When,” “Spark,” “Zetetic” and was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at Wellesley College, her alma mater.

Cleanse By S.A. Khanum

Cleanse

But I go all knees.
Fold like an ironing board.

Become the corner.
Room myself empty of you.

Jut mountains from my side.
& gather clouds in my mouth.

All feels of charcoal & flint.
All feels of wanting to spark.

But here I am
ship-wrecked, water-logged.

Still the river winding through me.
Still the mountain dweller,

climbing.

Down the rocks,
at the centre of me

where the women be beating
their linens,

the dye of their veils
bleeding the water—

I say thirst & they say a well.
I say quenched & they say carry on.

I say holy & they say water.
I say why & there is no answer.

By S.A. Khanum

Biography:

S.A. Khanum is a writer from the UK.

A SONG FOR OUR FATHERS By Chia Amisola

A SONG FOR OUR FATHERS

Imagine: We, gangrel of seventeen, have watched
the culling. Born of mirth, of myth, of void,

like Binondo-husked television sets – static overrun
or gorged out in flesh testimonies under broad daylight.

Reminisce your childhood hearth. Recollect all those
that you had once sown. Relive the names of your

forefathers, a withered daughter of mausoleum-turned
sins. We will dive, headlong, steadfast, into strife the

older had set up. This preamble wrung for us to
learn the value of our false degrees, broken industry,

incorrect skin. The world you loathe is led by white
men a thousand miles away. Torment grows a stranger

in the pickings of your skin, so be it that your mother
wonders why you hold your language second-hand.

Paradigm of distrust is my southbound severance,
letting go is easy. Rite runs from the narcos-smoked

world that had been forced on me. Rite runs from
Imus-donned wry, fun and nuanced with the way

it rolls off my tongue, estranged and intermittent of
my own depravities disavowed by diction. Or religion.

Or belief. Or lovers. Seventeen shall march towards
insolence, cutthroat hell laid as we dare to be again.

Seventeen holds the Rite of Genesis, untrusted sons
and malevolent daughters accosted of dead horizon,

evergreen to cheap brown or dollar culture. Though,
perhaps, we are the open for a reason. Anyway, all

my story is afterthought to your political agenda,
anecdotal brief to digress again. Pronounce rite for

once, my hearth filled me whole.

By Chia Amisola

Biography:

Chia Amisola is seventeen year-old senior, a lover of language be it in the form of poetry or code, hailing from the scorch of Metro Manila.