Homeless By Gary Beck

Homeless

I served my country,
two years in Iraq,
four in Afghanistan.
Then I came home
to a foreign land
where I didn’t fit in.
I had lots of problems
from years of fear and tension
expecting ambushes,
roadside bombs,
allies turning on us.
Yes I was disturbed.
They glibly call it
post traumatic stress disorder.
That doesn’t make it better
to know it has a name.
I went to the V.A. Hospital.
They didn’t seem to care.
They gave me an appointment
to see a doctor in nine months.
I told them my headaches
were getting worse,
but the indifferent nurse
wouldn’t give me anything.
I can’t go home.
My family doesn’t want me.
I went to a shelter one night.
It was more dangerous
then sleeping on cardboard
on the sidewalk.
I don’t know what I’ll do.
Part of me just hopes
I won’t flip out
and hurt someone.

By Gary Beck

Biography:

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) and Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions and Acts of Defiance will be published by Dreaming Big Publications. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

Resistance By Noriko Nakada

Resistance

My resistance used to smack
you right in the face
demanding to be considered
demanding to be heard.
It won me few fans and even
fewer converts.

But now resistance
is more subversive
is sometimes silent
in the way I teach my classes to think
rather than to bubble
the correct multiple choice answer.

Instead of resisting by sitting
on a steaming street before a district high rise
it is the way we discuss literature
and ask questions that relate to
our current world and
our place within it.

My resistance is in the choices
I give my daughter
about the clothes she wears
or the books we read at night
and letting her be her own girl
because that is feminism.

It is in my decision to read
women and people of color
to boycott certain brands
to acknowledge all of my privilege
and attempt to do right
with my fresh water, education, and free time.

It is a poem written in clean clothes
in a home with electricity and central air
in the wealthiest of countries
in the language of power
about all the ways
I’m privileged to resist.

By Noriko Nakada

Biography:

Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles where she grinds out creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. She has two book length memoirs available and has been published in Specter Magazine, Hippocampus Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times.

Letter To The Mist By Archita Mittra

Letter To The Mist

Dear Gandhi,

Last summer,
on a sleepless feverish afternoon,
I read of a woman in Israel,
Black-robed and stone-faced
Hanged
For killing her rapist.

In winter,
I was studying for an exam
When somewhere in Pakistan
School children
Were shot by the Enemy
To spite the army.

That same winter,
I planted white roses
As chilled to the bone,
Paris bled
For her murdered magazine.

I stopped counting the death toll long ago.
I dream of red snow.

Gandhi,
If your blood is as red as ours,
Shall you come back, once again
To preach
The meaning of ahimsa,
Right now?

Or is our blood
Already too black and vile
For your white untainted heart?
(If we are finally the untouchables
Shall you not lead the way
To your humble ashram
And teach us to spin yarn
From our sins? )

When exactly,
Did the trials of Harishchandra end?

Meanwhile,
Tell me.
Do the roses in heaven still bloom,
Watered by your tears?

Yours truly,
A truth-seeker from the shadows
Chained to her fears

By Archita Mittra

This poem won the first prize in the “Inspired By Gandhi” international writing competition 2015 by Sampad and British Council and was published in a commemorative anthology.

Biography:

Archita Mittra is a wordsmith and visual artist with a love for all things vintage and darkly fantastical. She occasionally practices as a tarot card reader. Twitter: https://twitter.com/archita_mittra Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/camelot_queen1996/ Website: https://thepolyphonicphoenix.wordpress.com/

Aubade for mothers in America By Nicole Seah

Aubade for mothers in America

in the aftermath, a boy plays with a toy gun.
a mother houses and feeds the stray
black dogs that come running. large hands that fed
are closed around the neck of a water bottle and spill
its contents on a burning plaza. tapes are wrung
out and hung to dry.

boy unbuckles his holster like a belt tied too tight.
the walls are whiter than the air we breathe.
dark meat against china plate. a flower
soaks itself in its own blood. a mother
houses and feeds the stray black dogs that come running
from the steel plants, weaving through black metal.

a sister kisses boys with the back of her teeth, long hair
bursting through the back of her braid.
in a hotel room somewhere a daughter says a word
like fruit ripped off a tree. somewhere, a mother
relinquishes god and lights candles at her grave.

the coffee cup snaps against the ground like hands
clapping. the black dogs are running. the sky is white.
the passengers brace themselves in the planes.
a boy unbuckles his belt like it is too tight
against his skin. the crunch of knuckles.

the ice cracked a long time ago. the spoon hit against skin
made a loud thump. the rabbit bitten piece by piece by wolf,
a mouth filled with blood. somewhere, a mother cups
her hand around her son’s, gently calls his name when he
wakes up. He sees the city burning, red city. The dogs
search for food in the bones.

By Nicole Seah

Biography:

Nicole Seah is a student residing in Singapore. Her work has been featured in JUNOESQ, Glass Kite Anthology and Eunoia Review amongst others. She is a senior managing editor for a youth magazine, Parallel Ink, and participated in the Adroit summer mentorship program 2016. She won national commended young poet for the National Singapore Poetry Competition with her poem “Stage Fright.”

Machinery By Demi Richardson

Machinery

my sister got her arm eaten up by
a chain link fence and i was
trying to get you on the phone,
trying to call you up,
get you to talk to me, but
no go.

now Bowie is dead and
Rickman is dead and
Prince is dead, and
i keep thinking
my mother’s going to die,
my father’s going to die,
maybe i’m going to die
without ever seeing you
again.

in fact, i’ve been feeling this so much i
had a dream
you were riding shotgun in my car,

i was driving through the night and we
didn’t talk much.

we just
sort of
prayed

together.

but when you did talk
we were sitting on rocks in the
painted desert and
my head was in your lap and

you said,
“this thing is gonna kill you,”
with your hands in my hair you
kissed me and said it
over
and over
again.

By Demi Richardson

Biography:

Demi Richardson studies writing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as Editor in Chief of the New Growth Arts Review.  She digs long words, and is an expert at losing all of her Monopoly money.

At the Intersection By Hazel Kight Witham

At the Intersection

the day after Philando, which was the day after Alton

At the intersection of Crenshaw
and MLK Blvds
I am oblivious until
I steer into the left turn lane
and look up to see
the crowded corner
the signs, the shouting.

The car I pilot has no horn,
and so I am mute
when I wish to be blaring
sounding into the horror
of it all.

The woman shouting on the corner
with raised fist
sees me
see her.

I raise my hand,
peace fingers V-ed
trying to say
I see you, I hear you, I’m with you
but I wonder if she thinks
I am saying,
Hush, Relax, Calm Yourself,
and I don’t know,
I just don’t know—
what my raised fist
in response to hers
would mean.

I think maybe she nods
and I lower my arm,
poised at the intersection
of where one struggle
meets another—
Black Lives Mattering
on every side of me
and me,
lost in unnavigable privilege

wondering how to
be a part of something
that scares me
and moves me
and that I feel so far from—

able to roll up the windows,
and when the light turns green for me
as it always does,
roll on through the intersection.

By Hazel Kight Witham

Biography:

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and two young sons. During the school year I am inspired by the stories of young people in the giant public high school where I teach English Language Arts. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and my work has been published in Bellevue Literary Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, and California English.

 

A Country Doctor By Charles Kell

A Country Doctor

Father lay silent
in the hospital bed,
new slit on his belly

where the hernia started
to wrap around his stomach.
Doctor cut a hole

and blood was pumped
into a small cylinder on
the wall. I walk in holding

a book set to read
but instead just
stare at the wall, think

about the nail he drove
into his hand thirty years
ago. Shocked, wondering

how he could smile. Glass
eyes, mother wrapping a wet
rag around his hand.

Stare at the crack on
the wall. Watch water
drip down the metal door.

I clip his toenails. See a rusty
strip float. Scratch a notch
in the iron bedframe. Close

your eyes and look:
outside rain kills the windowsill.
Inside our cell fills with sand.

By Charles Kell

Biography:

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, floor_plan_journal, The Manhattanville Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.