put down that gravestone
you’ve been carrying. bury
the people who leave–
they are dead to you now.
ghosts are everywhere.
stop holding your heart out
to strangers like samplers,
hoping they’ll love the sun
under all that lonely. people
who love lonely people
are always trying to forget.
you know this, because you
are one of them. & that’s
okay. just breathe in deep.
like a firefighter pulling bodies
from the wreckage, only
you are the wreckage,
you are the fire &
you are also the firefighter
which is all to say that
you are trying to save yourself
from yourself. depression is just
an overstaying visitor
who forgets who actually owns
this body. it is whole without
anyone else in it. there is
no monster here,
only the shape of a falling star
where your heart should be.
northbound & reaching, a
hero telling her story. it starts
like this: once upon a time,
you rode the dragon
& saved your own life.

By Natalie Wee


Natalie Wee is the author of Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines (Words Dance Publishing, 2016). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, and more. She has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and two Pushcart Prizes.

A Sort of Poem By An Asexual By Salma Deera

A Sort of Poem By An Asexual

i can’t imagine wanting you to touch
me the way lovers discover each other’s bodies
at midnight.
my body caves in on itself at the thought of it,
my body becomes an unpeeled clementine running
around the bedroom trying to find its skin.
sex for me, is the chef who has stumbled into
my kitchen to make me a dish i never wanted,
peeling potatoes, peeling onions, and frying them
i can’t find the nerve to tell this chef that i hate
it when my food touches,
but i’ve been brought up to eat what is put in front of me
and not complain.
but this isn’t about food, this is about sex.
you see, sex, to me, is when your date orders your drink for you
and happens to pick the one that makes you gag.
sex is the cake with so much icing that i can’t even
remember what flavour the cake was supposed to be.
but love.
love is the un-iced cake i like that you buy for me on sundays.
love is the boiling sound of a kettle in the morning.
it is the book you read to me with my head on your lap
and your innocent eyes getting distracted when i laugh.
it is the body sleeping next to me that’s always
been perfectly fine being beside me instead of on top.
love is the gentle nod when I say, ‘can you hold me this way instead of that?’
love is the secret glances that don’t lead us to sex
but to each other over and over again,
it is the humdrum everydayness of having your own
someone that knows when you wake up and how
you like to brush your teeth half standing, half sitting.
when our friends ask us “well what about the silence
the absence of sex leaves behind?”
we ask them, “what silence?”
the only silence we’ve experienced is at midnight
when most people’s bedrooms are nothing but silent.
but us? we are peering at each other in our half dark room,
cocooned into this little piece of land under the stars where
we are touching the only way we can—
where nothing is really silent at all.

By Salma Deera


Salma Deera is a Kenyan born poet of Bavanese descent. She is based in London and is an English Literature graduate. Her first poetry collection, Letters from Medea, was published in October.

The Reprise of War By Alice van Duuren

The Reprise of War 

i find you there in them
in the warmth on my skin
and the smell of lilacs in the air
in the emptiness in my hands
and the taste of a smile on my lips

gods, you are everything
wise and sharp and bitter and kind
your wit knows mine
just as my sword knows yours

i wish i could capture it all
every trace
and instill it in my senses
in my mind, body, ears, tongue, nose, and eyes
because now, more than ever, i need it
i need you

i need you to wipe the blood from my hands
and fill them with your touch
i need you to chase away the carnage
so all i see is your eyes
and all i hear is your voice

gods, they’re not enough
not here in the chaos of all i am
where your absence is like a whole in my chest
and loving myself is impossible
yet instinctive
i am a god
i am a demon

make it all go away, wisdom
make it all go away

come back to me
fill these empty senses with you
with all of you
i just want to breathe again
and i can’t breathe without you

By Alice van Duuren


Alice van Duuren is a nonbinary writer who used to hate both reading and poetry. Admittedly they were 13 at the time and hated just about everything. Since then, they have studied English Literature, Tourism, and Screen Production and in 2016 will at last be studying Creative Writing. In their free time, Alice likes to daydream about dragons, cuddle with cats and dogs, and have ice cream for breakfast more than they probably should. Based in New Zealand, they are proud of say they live with both a cat and a dog. Whether the cat and dog are proud to be living with them is still up for discussion.



on that side of christmas,
december’s twinkling lights and powdery snow,
she wrapped perfect gifts with trembling fingers
for a man who only liked the lights
he knocked out of her.
red like bitten kisses, leaking veins,
green like the gleam in his eye
when his hand finds her throat.
her festive scarf does not make a fashion statement.
it whispers consolation to her tender skin,
lies brightly to the world.

christmas dinner:
smashed plate smashed door smashed lovesmashedheart.
and then the christmas miracle:
get out, get out,
i’m done.
i. am. done.

on this side of christmas,
she’s living on my couch,
drinking a lot of hot chocolate
taking a lot of aimless walks,
wandering in circles til she finds her way.
the snow is steely gray slush
freezing through her socks
and no one bothers with lights anymore,
waiting on spring to bring the sun back

but she’s got twinkling lights between her ribs,
evergreen in her lungs.
the dead of winter,
and her seedlings pop up
from the rock-hard ground,
sniffing for sustenance.

it’s new year,
a beginning.
not goodbye–

By Zaynab Quadri


Zaynab Quadri is a 22-year-old Northwestern graduate from the Chicagoland area who scribbles poems in a blue notebook during commutes to and from downtown. She enjoys Christmas lights, hot chocolate, and existential crises set to the dulcet tones of One Direction. (Zayn is still her favorite.) This bio took her far too long to write, because publishing for an audience wider than her Tumblr followers is a brand new adventure. She thanks you sincerely for your time.



My grandfather is a giant of a man, big bones, big voice, big heart.  Last December we sat under the pink sky and watched the stars come in. Nine years of absence coalesced into that minute, that second. He pointed to Orion in the night sky, soft voiced he told my sisters and I how our ancestors, the Maasai followed the stars to rainy seasons, followed the heavens to water.

We sat on the side of a tarmac road riddled with open holes and stared at the same vast existence that his father, and his father before had read with unerring precision, how they mapped out seasons according to stars and the open sky.

In that sliver of time, caught between full light and full dark my bones melted against my skin. To know that last century, last millennia, a small epoch in this corner of earth my grandfather (a hundred generations ago, and a hundred more) stood open face to the dark sky and followed the three spiked belt to water, to dry land, to blood, to earth,  followed Orion home.

By N.L. Shompole


N.L. Shompole was born in Kenya and currently lives, works and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area California. Her previous works have been featured in Maps for Teeth, Kinfolks Quarterly, Invitation Annual and most recently Words Dance Publishing as well as Vagabond City Literary Journal. She has authored four poetry collections including one chapbook Cassiopeia at Midnight and Anatomy of Surrender, a compilation of poems from a yearlong poetry project completed in December 2014. Her latest collection Spectre Specter Blue Ravine was released November 2015 to spectacular reviews.

She can be reached at

Or via

Goodreads //
Instagram// NLShompole
Twitter // Luciasolaris

The Life and Lies of an Addict By Alyssa Sammartino

The Life and Lies of an Addict

Look into these eyes, see how they glaze.

I’m sitting in this room yet not quite here.

Looking out at the world through a thick haze.

This trip is killing me I do fear.


Tie the thread, knot it good and tight.

With just a bit of scarlet in the vile,

Slowly you can see I am losing the fight.

What follows swiftly, the taste of bile.


Living a life full of lies and deceit.

Always hiding things, and secrets to keep.

The hold it has is too strong to defeat.

They all care so much, i can see them weep.


Isolating my family and friends,

Until this life comes to its bitter end.


By Alyssa Sammartino



this is not like the exorcisms
of the medieval christian past.
our candles smell like vanilla and pumpkin spice,
our soundtrack is “night changes.”
we don’t wear the ceremonial robes,
unless the sacred intimate comfort of
pink penguin pajama pants counts.

usually we are not in the same room.
we send poems to each other about the ghosts that
whisper poison into our bones.
the wind rattles the window panes,
but our voices remain firm.
the ghosts fall silent for the rituals,
tense but docile.
the silence, the relief, is more potent
than any drug we’ve ever tried.
we chase the high,
drunk on the purging.
somehow, all of that makes sense at night—
the witching hour,
the magic hour,
the vulnerable-after-a-long-day-of-pretending hour.

it takes time. more than we’d like.
sometimes our breath catches, like fabric on a branch—
a sob wrenched from somewhere deeper than logic.
the words burn on the way out.
“better out than in,” i mutter darkly
as i cough grief into the crook of my elbow—
and it is.
it is.

we bathe in twenty-first century holy water,
the cheap wine from the corner store we can afford,
believing not in the god who watched us suffer
but in the selves that emerged from the ashes.
our bodies are no longer populated
by extraneous hauntings.
we keep whispering the poems,
the new ones about healing,
to ward the ghosts away.

it started with the damned,
but it ended with us,
warm in pajamas and dancing
to a happier one direction song,
toasting the end of witching,
the start of a pink dawn.

By Zaynab Quadri


Zaynab Quadri is a 22-year-old Northwestern graduate from the Chicagoland area who scribbles poems in a blue notebook during commutes to and from downtown. She enjoys Christmas lights, hot chocolate, and existential crises set to the dulcet tones of One Direction. (Zayn is still her favorite.) This bio took her far too long to write, because publishing for an audience wider than her Tumblr followers is a brand new adventure. She thanks you sincerely for your time.