You should call your mother; she has become more prayerful with age and your absence make her bones ache. You tell me how the sky is no different in America, still blue on some days, still grey on so many days and you say, “there is no snow in Los Angeles” as you tell me quietly how life has become too difficult. Your emails come scantily written and I read it slowly in the Internet café. I burn candles every night for your soul and spirit to remain intact, offering prayers to Chukwu as the candles burn softly, but you must call your mother. She needs to hear your voice, last week; I saw her kneeling alone in the church weeping.
The rain has come again, the road to her home is filled with potholes and water, the lines in the petrol station is long and everything is hard. Everyone around us is trying not to sink. You told me in your last email how you have had to scrap to send her money, every month, you send her enough to keep her body intact with her soul. You are a good child – she knows that.
I know America is difficult, I know you do not want to tell her how you sent me an email, telling me you cannot mourn the dead here, how your two jobs keep your rent paid; that school is almost over and you cannot wait to get your degree. I know I know you do not want to speak of these things to your mother. Still, she needs to hear your voice.
She needs to feel you’re alive in her bones.
Obiageli, I will tell her to expect your call.
Your father’s funeral went well.
By Ijeoma Umebinyuo
I am a writer and a recent author of my first collection of poems.
I was born and raised in Nigeria.
six bowls of tiger flakes
carton empty on its side
box top dream
of a baking soda submarine
three pennies to post it
unfold bubble gum fortunes
hear confessions through the milk box
for a friend
tastes like cardboard
a 37 cent stamp
mails out the bills
bazooka joe is stale and hard
bad pictures of lost kids
look to me
as i pour the milk
By Tommy Conley
Tommy Conley started writing at age 46. In the third week of his first workshop, the other writers were betting he would never write anything but he did: poetry—the form of writing he disliked most. Tommy thought his poems would be romantic and humorous. He has been thankfully writing “in the dark” ever since. When he’s not writing, he’s restoring British motorcycles.
a molotov cocktail and a moonlanding that never
really happened. we were never really there. it
was a trick / a stunt / an illusion. the us govt as
a magician and us too busy killing each other
to notice. a burning car and a body on fire.
we could play ludo in the fluorescent lights of
the city or get drunk in the gutter. you know
what i’d rather. NEVER HAVE I EVER as loss
of innocence. 7 minutes in heaven as the
closest we’ll ever get to god. spin the bottle
or throw it, your choice. a pack of matches and
millions of ancient bees. end your life by
crucifixion, make it matter. dark matter and
dust in your eyes. coathanger abortion in a
7-11 toilet and a hot chocolate on the way out.
esther liv is a 19 year old lesbian from denmark desperately in love with the moon. down with capitalism and capital letters, up with slam and ice cream. she has works forthcoming in words dance and transcending shadows review.
I was in great shape
but couldn’t keep up with Charlie
no one could
he chased after work
tackled it picked it up carried it
drove it kicked it cut it swept it drilled it
and fought it
and when he finished
work looked like Carmen Basilio
after Sugar Ray Robinson cut his eye
in Chicago 1958
just a bloody dirty mess—
the rest of us were nothing
the foundry ran because Charlie made it run
and Ford engines were made because Charlie made them
he was like a novel no one wants to read
because the effort to get there is so great
like chasing rats on a forklift
By John Stupp
John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in Drunk Monkeys, Cactus Heart, Vending Machine Press, Icarus Down, Weirderary, Wordrunner eChapbooks, SHARKPACK Poetry Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and on the radio show Prosody. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Harvesting Blackberries by the Bay
I saw him just two days before he died.
We waded out into Choctawhatchee Bay,
sifting the sand with butterfly nets.
We abandoned the blue crab we caught
for dock hopping, then ditched the docks
for wild blackberry picking.
I rode home on his handlebars, laughing,
sucking the last drops of sweetness
from the berries. Next year, I told myself,
I’d be in middle school, with him.
I heard about his death
in my reading class, details whispered
behind pages of Charlotte’s Web.
He had abandoned blackberry picking
for a dime bag of weed,
dropped the weed when the bat
met his skull, sifted for an escape plan
in the sand, gasped for air underwater
when the plan failed.
Some kids who grew up in barren winters,
never tasting the sweetness
of blackberries, beat him into to bay,
where he was found floating,
suspended like childhood
above the blue crabs, under the docks.
By Katie Rendon Kahn
Katie Rendon Kahn lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where she chases adventure and poetry prompts with her children. Kahn and her 11 year old daughter turned a poem about places they wanted to see into a children’s book series called “World Adventures. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to write about the grown up stuff.
from a bag stolen
from the circle K on the corner
pour out the black masses
and light them ablaze
to cook the red meat
to an appetizing brown
make them touch
through iron bars
cut and prod
and skewer and burn
crack ‘em open
pour out a little
lose it all
from lives to deaths
put faith into money
sink to new depths
as embers fade
keep memories close
like charred remains
don’t die forever
run it back
By Oscar Mancinas
My name is Oscar Mancinas. Attached are five poems of mine. I’m a young mestizo from around the way, just trying to survive and thrive. Read other work of mine in Blue Mesa Review, Contraposition Magazine, and latinosbelike.tumblr.com
I Witness Alice Break the Silence
Alice says her story is too personal to say out loud in a quiet place.
I tell her okay, then ask if I can hold her for a minute. She says yes.
(She lowers her arms after thirty seconds.)
Alice knows, intimately, how to embrace the quiet.
Alice spends her nights praying for words, for phrases,
for sentences that mean exactly what she needs them to mean,
but she comes up empty every time.
Silence is a function of perpetual growth , she tells me.
This is what her mother has taught so well.
I want to tell her: Your silence has no home here .
I want to tell her: Here your words are safe.
Alice whispers her heartache and I reach for her again.
She answers my thoughts.
Alice says: Silence has been my home for so long.
She is shouting now:
I WANT TO LIVE SOMEWHERE NEW.
By Samantha Brynn
Always too soft and always looking for a fight, Samantha Brynn is a sarcastic New Yorker who cares too much about people she thinks she knows. She likes pretending to be other people on stages and in general. She is not the monster under your bed. She is not a black cat at your door. She is not a ghost, but a person. Honestly.