Betrayal of Husbands By zuyi zhao

Betrayal of Husbands

Medea walks home alone
for the nth time
on a Sunday afternoon,
& this time her lipstick
is two shades redder
than it usually is.


& Hera is up in Olympus
spilling champagne
on the tiled floor
because she can,
& it has nothing to do
with Medea.


& Medea walks home alone
in the wine / rain,
forgoing her umbrella
to wash away
her iron


& Hera keeps spilling
the champagne, &
only Zeus doesn’t know
she’s doing it on purpose,
& Medea has everything
to do with this, & Hera is having
the time of her life,
& Aphrodite is laughing
her ugly little laugh
where she covers her mouth,
& the girls of Olympus
laugh and spill


& Medea walks home alone
in the rain
& her makeup decides its time
to give up on her
her mascara turns
to Styx-River tears,
rolling down
rouged cheeks and red lips
as best as they can.
Media hasn’t cried since
she walked home alone
For the first time;
Medea hasn’t done
anything since; Medea
hasn’t know
anything since but religion
I mean


& Zeus is up in Olympus
screaming at Hera,
& Hera is screaming back
& Aphrodite is
getting out of there
& still laughing

& Hera tells it
to Zeus straight:
You disgusting, wanton pig!
& Zeus laughs in her face
because he knows
she is no better than he is
& he slaps her across the face
& he orders her
to get out of his sight
& she listens



& Medea never bothered
to tell it to Jason straight.


& Zeus does whatever
he wants to, & Hera
does whatever
she needs to, & Medea
does whatever
she has to.


& Medea takes her knife
to her own children
& makes new lipstick.
& Medea ruins Jason’s life
& gets away with it
because that’s what he deserves,
& Hera is up in Olympus
shrieking now because
how come
she is the only one who can’t have
love or love
or resolution.

By zuyi zhao


zuyi zhao is a 17 year old who lives in south florida, where she occasionally complains about the humidity. she has a tendency to wax poetic and often looks to mythology for inspiration. when she isn’t writing poetry, she can be found doing calculus problems. her work has been recognized by the scholastic art and writing awards, and appears in firefly.

Desert By Caitlyn Siehl


Cora kissed the mouth
of the desert because I asked her to.

The latest sandstorm carved
a back out of a rock, a tongue
out of a tree.
She put her lips on
that place
and came away
unchanged but begging
for water.

There was no rain that could
promise anything.
I couldn’t
promise anything.

She asked:
If you could just
take the drought out of my throat
so that the river can be a river once
I don’t want it to flood
I just don’t ever want to be
thirsty like that again.

By Caitlyn Siehl


Caitlyn Siehl is a poet from New Jersey. She is currently in the final semester of her two year graduate program, and is expected to graduate with her Masters in May, 2017. She has published two books of poetry, entitled “What We Buried” and “Crybaby,” and has co-edited two poetry collections entitled Literary Sexts Volume 1 and Literary Sexts Volume II, all through Words Dance Publishing. She enjoys spicy Jalapeno chips and being surrounded by dogs at all times.

REPORT OF INJURY By Yena Sharma Purmasir


What do you want to do with the leg,
asked the doctor to my mother. She says it was
the same day John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crashed.

There is no version of this for me. If I tell my story,
it sounds like her story. If I tell another story, it sounds
cruel, callous.

I am not cruel.
When my boyfriend told me
he was gay, I thanked him. He told me
this was evidence of my kindness,
which if it is, it isn’t.

The evidence of my father’s amputation
was the leg, that the doctor didn’t want.
That my mother didn’t want. That my father,
well, it was his leg. If he had it his way,
it would still be his leg.

If the doctor had asked my father,
he would have made a joke. If it was me,
I would have made a joke.

After we broke up,
I told someone that no one could ever say
I was homophobic.
I loved a gay man, I said.

The leg was burned, incinerated. For Hindus,
cremated. Except it happened without God.

I used to think it was the fire, but actually God is the most important part.

I used to think it was the sex, but actually who you love
is the most important part.

This is a good story. I almost cried at the thought of us
having sex and now I never have to.
Now I never have to.

Once he came out, I came out. I just needed the vocabulary,
to name a no-nothing. To say I’m asexual and
it’s not the absence of love,
or the absence of anything.

I’m real and right here.

It wasn’t the absence of the leg. It was real and right there.
It’s what we had to do with it. How it had to burn,
like a prophecy. Because my father died,
just like John F. Kennedy Jr. died,

except without the fanfare. No wreckage
or headlines. Did a doctor ask my mother
about the body? Miss, what do you want to do with the body?
Of course not. Everyone knows what to do with the body.

I never knew what to do with a body, which should have been
a sign of selfishness, or a sign of trauma.
It used to feel like a sign of hatred.
But I never hated any of them.
I loved them and I wanted them to get as close as possible.

We got as close as possible.

My father’s knee was as close as possible
to the stump, which if you know anything about
amputation, it’s a good thing. It meant he could walk
from the knee, which is how most of us walk.
It meant that if he was relearning,
it would be the kind of learning he already knew.

In the weeks after the breakup, I wanted to find information
for people like me, who thought that life was going one way
until it wasn’t. Lost people. Sad people. People learning
a new language.

Do you know what the big difference is
between romance and friendship?
When other people pulled away, I felt it in me,
like a bone snapping.

This time, there was no snapping. One day,
I woke up to this unbelievable shift.
My body doesn’t do certain things anymore. My body
barely remembers.

We were always friends. We are still friends.
I have all my knees.

I know, I’m shameful for telling this story,
in my mother’s story. I can’t keep well enough alone.
God, what do you want to do with the leg?
What do I want to do with the leg? I used to rub that leg.

I remember faded brown scars on the shin, by the ankle.
I used to think I was helping.

What do you want to do with the leg?

It just feels like a waste — all that time, all that love.
Don’t you wish you could keep it? Don’t you wish
you could keep the best part?

By Yena Sharma Purmasir


Yena Sharma Purmasir is a poet author from New York City. She was the Queens Teen Poet Laureate for the 2010-2011 academic year. Her first book of poetry, Until I Learned What It Meant, was published by Where Are You Press in 2013. When I’m Not There, her second book of poetry, was published in 2016. Purmasir graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014 with a major in Psychology and minors in English Literature and Religion Studies. She was awarded the Chuck James Literary Prize from Swarthmore College’s Black Cultural Center. She believes in the power of hard work, second chances, and, above all, love.

Minding the Gap By Devon Balwit

Minding the Gap

We went to the same private schools, each year the cost of college,
yet sharing a classroom isn’t the same as sharing a class, stepping
off mass transit and walking half a block to the door not the same
as parking a sweet sixteen cherry red convertible, smashing it and
driving the identical one a day later, the burp of Tupperware not
the polite cough of a personal assistant sent to deliver the sushi you
ordered, the four day vacations at grandma’s beach house we thought
so spiffy not quite surfing in Rica or hanging in Biarritz, our brand
name clothing lifted from the school lost and found.  And then, when
the universities that accepted us covered “all but” thirty-thousand
a year, doors that opened for you slammed for us, the bottom line
being we can share a page in your yearbook, but we won’t work
together, won’t live in similar houses, won’t summer on the same
shore, won’t wear the same brands, eat the same food, drop the same
names.  What we studied wasn’t as important as what we knew
without being taught—that who we will become was decided before
we ever opened a book.   From our first wail, some of us were given
more space and cleaner air, flew more miles, left a bigger footprint.
Some of us would stumble, but never be allowed to hit the ground.
This is what I learned at our alma mater.  This is what I still know.

By Devon Balwit


Devon Balwit is a poet, parent, and educator from Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has found many homes, among them: 13 Myna Birds, drylandlit, Dying Dahlia Review, Emerge Literary Journal, MAW, Rat’s Ass Review, Rattle, The Basil O’Flaherty, The Fem, The NewVerse News, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and Wicked Banshee Press.

DISTANCE By Karese Burrows


is the way your absence
makes my bone marrow gnaw.

Like the fault line widening
in my back, the way it splits

to remind me that we are still
separate things.

Space is difficult. How about
a room that spends 5 years trying

to empty itself. Dust in your eyes.
Your hands opening everything

like fresh wounds. Distance. The
way we act like it never happened.

Like your savings on a ticket.
A plane ride to Chicago.

Your hands on a body.
Your hands on her body.

By Karese Burrows


Karese Burrows is a 23 year old poet and graphic designer from The Bahamas. She’s had works published by Words Dance Publishing, Rising Phoenix Review and was published in the inaugural issue of Penstrike Journal. She has upcoming publications in Issue 2 of L’Éphémère Review. You can visit her tumblr at



There was one Ohio
day that didn’t begin
until nearly ten

because Emily didn’t
want the always-love
to begin without her.

By Darren C. Demaree


I am the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing). I am the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.

Digital detox By Victoria Briggs

Digital detox

I want to switch off for a while
live in a cave
make wall art
build fires
wear pelts.
Lose the leads, the logins
the leg irons.
Connect instead to older friends
the stars
the birds
the fuzz-striped bees
the moonlight pull
on restless tides.
Ancient messengers
with patient voices
who whisper without words
of something
that’s been lost.

By Victoria Briggs


Victoria Briggs is a writer with recent work published in Litro, Structo, The Honest Ulsterman, The Offing, Short Fiction, Prole and Unthology. She once won the Asham Award for women writers and has previously been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in London and tweets @vicbriggs.

Elegy headline By M. Wright

Elegy headline

The gravity of it
inescapable and
I thought when I slept under
the roof of my childhood house this
weight would take its shoes off
at the door
hang up its coat and
excuse itself to the basement.

Even the construct of home
is pulled apart by this.
We weren’t meant to sleep
well tonight,
how many sleepless nights
waiting for paralysis to break
sleepless people counting
sheep until other voices come of age.

Standing on the steps of the precinct in 2016
listening and shaking my neck
vigorously as if
the movement of my head in
rhythm with this crowd could
somehow dedicate my breath
to the decades of this institutional

Where was this matter
yesterday? It’s here now
standing on the steps of the city
snatching echoes from Ferguson
from Selma and Chicago
from decades from centuries
of voices charred by fires and
bleeding out.
Surrounded by idle bystanders
these voices howl power.

By M. Wright


M. Wright is a writer and full-time graduate student. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and is the winner of Weisman Art Museum’s Poetry ArtWords 2015 contest. His poems have recently been published in Ivory Tower, Pilcrow & Dagger, and the Saint Paul Almanac. In 2017 he will be one of the 24 featured poets in the Saint Paul Almanac’s “Impressions Project” series.

THE RETELLING By Yena Sharma Purmasir


first there was a fire test; Rama was not an unreasonable man
but he was a king
Sita had been away for so long and it made sense

he told her, it just made sense

when I was younger, I didn’t know the word for rape,
just the scary bits in movies, of women saying no
and men looming closer, closer

what happened then, no one knew

there is a big point in this story: Ravana never touched Sita.

there is a big point in this story: Rama knows Ravana never touched Sita.

Esmeralda is a not a Disney princess
in a movie for children and she is called, over and over again,
by a slur

Frollo wants the Romani people to die and pleads with God for it,
a white God
a God who has heard these pleas before

Rama is an incarnate of Vishnu
and he is supposed to be good

when Valmiki tells this story, he tries hard, so hard
to keep Rama good

in their origin story, the Romani people say India
the Romani people can say any truth they want

no one is listening

Frollo doesn’t want Esmeralda to dance
because he doesn’t want her to stop

Sita walked through the fire and survived,
turning flames to flowers

which should have been the first lesson
but the magic seemed safe

Rama thought he was finally safe
but it doesn’t end like this, Esmeralda on the stake
in a white dress

it is important that the girl is always in a white dress

Frollo saying she will burn in hell for this sin
or the next
Esmeralda’s body has never burned for anything
when I was a child, I wanted to be her, dark skin

and long skirts
the way my mother dresses for temple
at temple, if your waist peeks out from the folds of your sari

there is a lady who will pinch you

in God’s house there are rules,
she says
Esmeralda doesn’t have a fire test,

she has a near death experience
and then there is one man saving her
throwing her over to someone else
how come Esmeralda has to find love?

why can’t she just take her hooped earrings and dance

away from France?
Sita passed the fire test, so I never understand this part
Rama loved her, so I never understand this part

but there was another test and this time
she got angry

have you ever seen a goddess get angry?
this whole time, did you forget she was a goddess?
we’re not dealing with a capitalist retelling here,

Sita called her mother
have you ever seen a daughter call her mother,
ever heard her say

can you come get me? I want to go home

ever watched a goddess slip back inside the earth
ever seen a god-man sorry
does it matter that Rama was sorry

that he had a golden Sita statue by his side

that Valmiki promised, imagine a storyteller promising,
that there would be other lives
in another life, Sita doesn’t get hurt
in another life, Esmeralda can get married and stop

dancing on the street
but Esmeralda loves dancing on the street,

tells everyone she can’t stay anywhere for long,
tells everyone she wants to be out
but who cares, she’s in a white dress,
always put the girl in a white dress,

always wipe off her makeup and tell her that love can save her
have you ever seen love save a woman?
why are the credits rolling? I want to see

what happens when Esmeralda marries a soldier

I want to see what happens when they go home

do you think Rama ever hit Sita?
am I the only girl who ever wondered that?
right, Ravana never touched Sita,

Ravana never touched Sita

but Rama? Rama her husband
Rama is a god, right
God doesn’t listen to those pleas, right
look, no one is supposed to think that

Sita and Esmeralda are the same
not all brown people are the same
just because it looks like the same Halloween costume

doesn’t mean it is the same Halloween costume

anyway, the monsters have come out of hiding
and we’re praying to them
anyway, there is a word for rape

and a word for a fire test

and a word that cuts down a people dispersed
having a language has made us unreasonable,
none of these things should make sense

but everyone knows,
you know what I’m talking about

By Yena Sharma Purmasir


Yena Sharma Purmasir is a poet author from New York City. She was the Queens Teen Poet Laureate for the 2010-2011 academic year. Her first book of poetry, Until I Learned What It Meant, was published by Where Are You Press in 2013. When I’m Not There, her second book of poetry, was published in 2016. Purmasir graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014 with a major in Psychology and minors in English Literature and Religion Studies. She was awarded the Chuck James Literary Prize from Swarthmore College’s Black Cultural Center. She believes in the power of hard work, second chances, and, above all, love.


To the Man Who Shouted “What does your pussy taste like?!” As I Ran By

It tastes briny,
like the ocean.
It surges, waves pounding
the surf, punishing
the sand simply for always
being there, for always
being present, for never
leaving well enough alone.

I keep running,
ready to drown him
in a sea of my pounding

By Courtney LeBlanc


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of chapbooks Siamese Sisters and All in the Family (published by Bottlecap Press). Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Connections, Welter, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, District Lines, Slab, Wicked Banshee, The Door is a Jar, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at, follow her on twitter:, or find her on facebook: