Shadows of the Real By Vijaya Sundaram

Shadows of the Real

Shadows chase shadows chasing shadows
And mirrors reflect mirrors reflecting mirrors.
And you stand to one side,
A shadow within a shadow,
Leaving behind no dent,
Causing no reflections,
Barely a whiff of air to prove you existed.
So easy to say, “What’s the point?”
As you watch squirrels chase each other
In pseudo-Spring in January.

So easy to feel nothing, nothing at all!
So easy to fold clothes endlessly,
Wash dishes, and see reflections
Bouncing off metal and glass.

So easy to get upset at news
And shrug silently, and watch
Dog settle with sigh upon couch
Knowing all reality is where one is
And yet, knowing that is not all–
Children wash ashore cold and dead,
And children from the cradle of the world
Lie hurt and fearful far away
In cold lands where they would
Rather not have been,
But for the hate and rage of adults.

Contradictions will kill us all
But we butter our toast
And drink our coffee
And read a book,
And wonder where Time went.

By Vijaya Sundaram


A native of India, Vijaya Sundaram has lived in the Boston, Massachusetts, area for the past 25 years. She is a singer-song-writer, guitarist, poet and writer who spent seventeen years as an 8th Grade English teacher at a local public school.  Only recently feeling the urge to publish, she’s been sending out her work to various literary magazines. Vijaya has been published in literary magazines Calliope and The Phoenix Rising Review. You can read more of Vijaya’s work on her blog, StrangeLander2015.

Easy By Rachana Hegde


I think I always knew it would come down to this:
who stays / who leaves / who is kicked in the ribs;

We fought for two decades but I still
remember that night two years ago,

I called a truce, fingers itching to pull out her hair,
saw her slip a pocket knife in her bra;

She taught me to bleed openly (only the weak
hide their wounds) & old habits die hard –

I cut myself on the kitchen knife tonight
and he says the food tastes good;

sleep always evades me until I climb onto the
rooftop, watch the moon gorge itself

on a sky swollen with hope, sometime between
today & tomorrow, my eyelids close;

I shudder awake when I feel her pulling
on my tongue, telling me I talk in my sleep;

Even now, five years later, she is as present as ever,
sprinkling ashes in my tea (everything lodges in my throat);

Lately I’ve started apologizing to the walls, I think maybe
she is listening, maybe this is why she haunts me,

(maybe I am crazy, he says) but I keep searching
for traces of her. once I kneel in the bathroom,

chant her name and I can feel her sliding against
my skin, imagine her watching me;

I whisper sorries at the mirror, head bowed, incense
smoking hot against my palm. I don’t know whether

she accepts my apology but for months after,
I don’t look for her in the shattered crockery;

Old habits die hard but I’ve stopped cracking myself
open to examine the pain.

I think some days are easier than others.

By Rachana Hegde


Rachana Hegde is a sixteen year old part-time poet from India who collects words & other oddities. You can usually find her reading on her kindle or daydreaming about characters from abandoned writing projects. Her poetry has been published by or is forthcoming in: Germ Magazine, Textploit, The Fem and Vagabond City. Read more of her work at



worlds fall apart in the end
that is the beginning, at least

maybe that’s why
we chose to vanish into the void

the ancient greeks, they
promised catharsis

we, we watched
named stars for flames

asked why io still strives to burst
taking universes with her

anger flames red
we wondered how fires
could coexist with ice

but then
we still beg the world for knowledge

still ask rivers
to teach us the meaning of kindness

By Rishika Aggarwal


Rishika Aggarwal is an aspiring poet from India, currently studying for her master’s degree in English Literature. She’s been reading for as long as she can remember, and dreaming of being a writer for about as long. She’s been lucky enough to have been published in the Rising Phoenix Review. You’ll be able to find her (and more of her work) at

To Caitlyn By Elisa Vita

To Caitlyn

A man, all rough hands and soft tones once told me
That wild things live back alley, late night, careless
The words were my aunt drowning
In the nearby lake and neighbourhood boys
Crying over the corpse
I said wild was softness
I choked out that you, Poet, are the softest best
I’ve ever read

Beast being girl with a caramel chest
The ledge, the moment between life and death
Where I could jump but love the world
Far too much
Because you love it too
Because I imagine you walking afraid but
“Damn right, I’m going to try”
And my thighs embarrass me but I pretend
We carry the sun in them and moving forward
Kills the Dark Age
I pretend we are electric women

Sometimes I am the aunt, the cat
My uncle put in a bag filled with rocks
And brought down to the sirens
Sometimes I cry for days
Laughter, my infant, hiding in the sobs
White walls call me manic so
I paint them purple
Your love and my love and the love of all
Loving for only love’s sake
Loving because we can take the draft
We are open window girls
We are rainstorm in the passenger seat,
Chocolate in bed, love notes in lockers,
We are vulnerable, Poet

This is wild.
This is hope.

By Elisa Vita


Elisa Vita is a 17 year old art student and writer from Quebec, Canada. She speaks to the plants and trees that she paints (Italian to the flowers, French to the pines, English to the rest). She dreams of writing books, days spent making art, and one day having a greenhouse in her very own backyard. Her room is full of loose papers and napkins, covered with verse.

The Killing Field By Athena Dixon

The Killing Field

for Samira and Tamir Rice

How then do you to expect her to live
next to this fertile ground? This red clay, blood
crimson, nourished earth with her son grown
as root and weed and blossom still tender and green?

Now rotting.

So instead she removes herself. Ends the planting
season which saw her planted in grief/in place/in stasis/
a star exploding unto itself until a black hole is all that’s left. She
is a constellation. Then connect the dots between

child and suspect
man and boy.

Mere seconds before eternity.
Until the blood spilled in the field.
Until she could see nothing of snow.
Nothing but white
noise and scream and tackle and blood and cuffs
and white and snow and cold and home and fear
and black and star and then


By Athena Dixon


Athena Dixon is Founder and Editor in Chief of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. Her poetry and creative non-fiction has appeared in Compose, Pluck!, This!, Blackberry: A Magazine, and For Harriet among others.

She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.

To An INS Officer By Nina Judith Katz

To An INS Officer

For L.

You blather gall at ghastly decibel
to call
honesty false and decency deceit.

How dare you decide
why others seek these shores?
How dare you assume the reasons are trivial,

mere economics
not survival
or love?

You fashion versions of us
more like yourself
to fit the foul and fetid notions

of your fearful mind,
by its own fictions.

Would your world end
if you showed respect?
Would your world end

if a few more
lived next door?

Our honesty is native
while yours
petitions yet
for naturalization.

By Nina Judith Katz


I have been writing poetry for about three decades, but publish only occasionally. The current attacks on immigration led me to go looking through my files for the poem I wrote after the interview my husband and I had with an INS officer. I couldn’t find it, so reconstructed what I could from memory, and then worked on revisions.

The night before, we had memorized our bathroom, because usually the INS separates the members of a couple to ask about what shampoos, soaps, tampons, shaving products, and other bathroom articles you use. Our officer didn’t ask about this, but instead jumped up and down yelling at us, accused my husband of trying to deceive the US government because he hadn’t mentioned that he might get married when applying for his visa to come visit me, and accused me of acting like a tricky lawyer when I pointed out that 1) he hadn’t yet known we might get married, and 2) the application didn’t ask. My husband finally had enough and got up, ready to give up on the possibility of remaining in this country rather than submit to any more of the insults this man was mouthing, and I pulled him back down, because I really didn’t feel like moving to Russia. At that point, the INS officer got up, grabbed my husband’s papers, and marched off. He came back in a moment with a stamp, pounded it onto one of the papers, and handed it to my husband. We were sure it would show an extradition date, but instead, it approved him for temporary permanent residence. The whole scene had been a psychological game.

I haven’t shared this story publicly before, but in the current context, it feels important to name the disrespect

Sweetwater By Sonny Schader


sometimes the only way to survive is by playing dead,
which is to say, playing straight. killing the queer
inside of you before somebody kills you for it.

that town was too small so we made it smaller,
until it was just us – you and me and the thing
that rose between us like an alligator rising out

of swamp water. i don’t know who baited
the monster but it was ours, we raised it as our own.
tenderly. so quiet we never spoke its name.

but i wanted to be clumsy with you. i have heard wild
animals only attack people when they are starving,
and i knew you were so hungry. you have been hungry

for so long. your hunger a river hunger,
swallowing everything, floodwaters rising fast,
and my love knee-deep in it, neck-deep

in it. my catfish heart wriggling in the shallows.
my love wet and heavy as the heat of summer,
two girls dipping their hands in the creek water.

i wanted your fingers in my mouth like your fingers
splitting the fish from the gills down:
pulling the bones out of me so cleanly.

i wanted to give it all to you, my tongue
in your river mouth. you were so good
with that knife. and what of the taste of it?

salt sores on the roof on my mouth,
gnawing the watermelon from heart
to rind. your hands watermelon-sticky,

palming the patch of pinkened skin
on my knee from where your knee
was pressing, the weight of our bodies

dirtying up the current. it was summer, we were young,
you know the story. we were two girls in a small town,
and we knew that story too. that one always ends

bad, somebody gets done wrong,
somebody gets hurt. so we played possum.
kept our hands to ourselves, kept our hearts.

it was summer, we stayed alive.
i am not grateful. we fed our love to the river
and never even got to say its name.

By Sonny Schader

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made By Danielle J. Alexander

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I stood there speechless
Floundering for words
of truth and redemption

Your offering of small white parchment
(Salvation in your eyes
And weapon in mine)
Burned the word in my mind
Over and over.

I tried to speak up (I swear I did)
I told you that I knew Jesus;
I believed the gospel’s message of love
As my savior died on a cross for me.

Suspicion glinted cold in your eyes
And you quickly retreated
But the words I should have said
Are still stuck in my throat
Choking me now
As my fear had then.

I am queer
And while you see me as dirty
My God sees me with love
Glad to see me smile
For finally being
Who He made me to be

I AM queer
And I know love
Far greater than you can imagine
More powerful than all the hate
That you wield so readily
In a weapon disguised as faith

And I grow less fearful to say these words

With each passing day
As I learn that
No words from you
Could ever hurt me

As much as my own silence

By Danielle J. Alexander


Danielle J. Alexander is currently attending college in Asheville, North Carolina where she studies humanity through the lenses of political science and sociology. She recently stumbled onto poetry and is attempting to write her way out of the abyss that is emotion. You can find her on Tumblr under the url alexander-the-poet.

Broca’s area (a case study) By Heleen De Boever

Broca’s area (a case study)

We are in the hospital, and

the diagonal cut of moonlight highlights the clinical context
of our everyday catastrophe. chrome and rounded corners, a fence,
an extra blanket. the aesthetics of safety smell like rubber.

i listen to the gasps, the gurgles, the tongue swallowing itself
in an attempt to be loved. my boyfriend once dreamt up a serenade.
now everything he says is a column of sound, ruptured at the edges.

“a tragedy,” the doctor explains, and “cerebral damage.” clean-cut
words to be tucked away in a file. “oops” is another word i like.
this is what i imagine the vein must have said when it slipped open.

my boyfriend is learning how to use his hands now his speech
sounds like strangling. we play a game of reversed roles: his gaze
one of complete comprehension, mine wild and wicked, asking why.

look, this happens. you know. you sign risk clauses. but it feels
unfair to say ‘surgeons are only human’ when they are capable
of reducing someone to much less than that.

By Heleen De Boever


Heleen De Boever is the co-founder of werkloos mag. With an MSc in Theatre & Performance Studies, her creative and academic work infuse each other as themes of physicality, corporeal identity and sensory confusion continue to inspire her writing. She hopes to grow, always, upwards.

An Open Letter #1 By Saquina Karla C. Guiam

An Open Letter #1

I think I’ve lived with silence for too long.
So I spit it out, reach into my own throat
and pull out the murk that told me
to mind my own business.

Here’s the thing: it took me a quarter of a
century to ground myself into the land,
because I unwillingly swallowed darkness and silence
that taught me I was a skeleton with muscle and flesh.

I am more than that: my heritage split me in half,
turned me into a sea and a storm and a mountain range;
Bakunawa gave me jaws and teeth and sharpness,
the moon and the stars gave me a path to follow.

My silence does not mean my consent,
the silence of my people does not mean we offer ourselves
like sacrifices to your minotaur in the labyrinth.

Our silence and our deafness
is the result of the poison
to which the white man has fed you
from almost four centuries ago.

And in this postmodern world
crafted by the hands of bloody money and
bloody fingernails, that same poison turns its eyes
on your own people, your own country.

I give up giving metaphors and dresses
to the slaughter of innocence for the sake
of a political chess game;
what more can be said to a house that claims
to represent the common people
only to turn a blind eye to the wasteland
they have made
as if that was enough
to cleanse every piece of sin on their bodies.

By Saquina Karla C. Guiam


Saquina Karla C. Guiam (who goes by her nickname, Saki) is 26 years old and is studying for her MA in Davao City, Philippines. When not studying her assigned readings and writing papers, she makes time to write about many things that interest and fascinate her. She is frequently found on tumblr (@dimasilang) and posts her poetry at her writing blog (@recorder). She is a proud member of Flood Journal, an art and writing collective of People of Color.