The July War, 2006 By Majda Gama

The July War, 2006   

The blistering air in this season of drought
should fetter me to the cool metal
of my student bed, the concrete
embrace of a shady ground floor room
won’t do this afternoon. This afternoon
I am not a daughter of Abraham
whose life can be rendered into black & white
headlines or Biblical parables. I can escape
past Parliament square, where protestors surge
and words like “Save Beirut” are written on placards
that cannot yet emerge from my throat. The rote
words of condolence won’t do:
in the rubble of Saida there is a body in a white shroud;
the wife of a ’48 refugee. Her grandchildren
flee Israeli fighter planes on the road to Damascus
the path behind them erased.

It won’t do to go to Edgeware Road;
smoke nargila, let the Arabic pop music in the cafe
ease the ache of displacement. I wore the Shia sword
there, didn’t ponder Ali’s martyrdom (peace be upon him)
know that a charm worn over my heart
would stop a man in his tracks to ask
if I was Shia, nor know how to answer
as I fumbled at my throat to flip away the sword
that concealed ayat al-kursi, the verse of the chair
that I wear for protection. I swore to him
on my heart
(crossed it, hoped to die) that I am Sunni.

By Majda Gama

Biography:

Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.

Summer Job By John Stupp

Summer Job 

Engine blocks
came off production lines
all summer
in 1970
like nothing was wrong
even with Vietnam
and all that was happening
if a line went down
there was hell to pay
I filled in
where I could do the most damage
a foreman told me
I was like a bad blade on a lawn mower
no matter how many times I crossed
the grass it wouldn’t be right
you have a gift
he said—
afterwards
I wanted to thank him
and the millwrights and electricians
who worked nonstop
forgetting me
but I wrote this poem instead

By John Stupp

Biography:

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. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

One-Sided Conversations Between a Black Girl and God By Madelyn McZeal

One-Sided Conversations Between a Black Girl and God

Dear God,
I have begun picturing
my entrance to Your kingdom
with my hands up
What does it mean
when I pray
until my palms are streaked with ash
Moses never mentioned
the aftermath of seeing God, burning,
turned to cinder
Lord, What does it mean
to be saved?

Dear God,
I pray that You teach me
how to bleed with mercy
I am slow of speech and
tongue but my hands are willing,
open

Dear God,
I toss the word
Surrender
around my mouth,
my tongue burdened
by the weight of parting
this sea, keeping a dry path
for grief across my teeth
Why do You ask us
for such heavy a thing?

Dear God,
Postcard, burning bush, bullet,
send me a sign, Lord
I’ll be waiting with
my hands up

By Madelyn McZeal

Madelyn McZeal is a queer 17 year old African American girl from Houston, Texas. She enjoys old books, rainy days, and unfinished poems. She is an editor of Zig Zag Zine, a small publication for women, PoC, and members of the lgbt+ community. More information about the zine can be found at zigzagzine.co.vu and her own poetry can be found at blood-to-ink.tumblr.com.

To India At The 2016 Summer Olympics By Rishika Aggarwal

To India At The 2016 Summer Olympics

Girl starts / light-speed footsteps / girl meets
infinity
Girl starts / fingers reaching out / touches
for a moment
Girl runs / arms reach wide / girl holds
the universe

Girl leaps
and forgets to land

Girl stares / into a billion eyes / girl braces
immovable
Girl reaches / holding on tight / girl falls,
gets up again
Girl breaks / pieces herself together / girl breathes,
stands again

Girl looks at world
and pushes it down

Girl walks / a country length / girl walks
all over again
Girl reaches out / makes challenge for challenge / girl holds
continues to fight
Girl fails / succeeds / girl teaches a billion
meanings of fight

Girl climbs
and refuses to stop

Girl sees destruction / dances on top
Girl sees quiet / screams her lungs out
Girl sees hatred / closes her eyes / learns to ignore

Girl fights country
wins
Girl fights for country
wins

By Rishika Aggarwal

Biography:

Rishika Aggarwal is a 22 year old 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. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Rising Phoenix Review, Vagabond City Literary Journal, Pankhearst’s Deranged, and Sapphic Swan. You’ll be able to find her (and more of her work) at rishwrites.tumblr.com. Her new chapbook is #FDD017 (Golden), and you can find it here (https://gumroad.com/l/oQWA).

evolution By Nooshin Ghanbari

evolution

in loving memory of Chug Siu

I.
a little boy with jet black hair
has already seen too much
the last name Yang sticks out against
ground the color of rotting meat
he doesn’t hear his mother’s cries
her whispers of we must save him
he doesn’t hear the violence
he doesn’t know what to listen for.

II.
the young man with jet black hair
doesn’t want his new name
Chang is only two letters off
but saves him from war-torn China
Chang leaves behind his mother and father
and everything he ever knew.

III.
the young man can’t write
or rather, the soldier can’t read
Chang on a forged passport becomes Chug
and the young man with jet black hair
sits in a boat with his back to the wind
the further from Yang, the better.

IV.
the old man trades jet black hair for streaks of silver
and hands Chug to his daughter in a box with a doll
and a yellow silk dress
the name falls from her to me
but Chug sounds funny on private school playgrounds
mixed with middle names like Elizabeth and John
little boys and girls spit out a laugh and point
chewed fingers saying she’s different she’s weird.

V.
a young woman
(her hair not quite as black)
fidgets in her seat as she fills out the forms before her
what is your middle name? they ask.

she leaves the question blank.

By Nooshin Ghanbari

Biography:

Nooshin Ghanbari is a third-year English major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2016 Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing. She currently serves as the assistant poetry editor of The Nocturnal Literary Review, the official journal of the university’s Plan II Honors program. Her poetry has previously appeared in Skylark Review.

What Does It Mean to Be Love? By Rivka Yeker

What Does It Mean to Be Love?

You don’t feel your face drenched in
droplets of cold water,
until you step inside of your apartment soaking
in the sky’s sadness.
It isn’t until your face is overheating
and you’ve scratched your scalp enough
for it to burn like your cheeks amidst
anxiety attack. You can’t tell that your
body is panicking until it is screaming
at you.
You can’t tell that most things are happening
until the damage embraces your neck,
like someone strangling you or shaking you,
or yelling at you, pinching you.
You don’t feel yourself
falling for someone
until they are exiting
through the back door
leaving you with
nothing.

By Rivka Yeker

Biography:

Rivka Yeker lives in Chicago and is a student at DePaul University studying Media & Cinema Studies, Public Relations/Advertising, and Creative Writing and is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Hooligan Mag. While she’s not running Hooligan, slinging coffee and books, and going to school, she’s forming new theories on human connection, absorbing and critically assessing media, reading comics, and yelling poetry in front of strangers.