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 www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.

RAIN By Caitlyn Siehl


To pull the rain out of
someone’s back.
To do it in the daylight. On a
park bench. At the movies.
In the middle of Times Square.

To touch the drenched
spine. To kiss the river
in front of every taxi, every
yellow car in the city.
To drain it until you find
gold in them hills.

A new, gentle earth
nestled in the tail bone.
A wild, water love.

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.

Changes By Saskia Layden


I would change the way you look at me.
The way your eyes remove every article of my clothing,
piece by piece.
The way your gaze follows me down the street,
stripping me of my privacy,
my fearlessness,
and my humanity.

I would change the violence in your eyes.
Your will to overpower
and dominate.
Your exacerbated masculinity
that wants to shame me,
submit me,
and put me in a box of
perfected feminine docility.

If I could change the world today,
I would make the streets safe
not just from petty crime, rape, and murder
but from the eyes of all the men
who have made me to feel
less than what I really am.

The men who have reduced me
to two arms and two legs,
blonde hair, blue eyes,
tits and ass.

I would make the streets a place
where bare legs, arms, and cleavage
are free to breathe
and absorb the sunlight
in New York,
Abu Dhabi,
Cape Town,
and Istanbul.

I would liberate the men of these cities
and of every city and town.
I would free them from the chains
of their socially prescribed masculinity
and finally give them
the universally accepted permission
to soften,
to feel,
and to rest their hard and tired bodies.

Lay your head here,
feel my heartbeat.

Feel my human heartbeat.

By Saskia Layden


Saskia Layden is a poet, writer and yoga instructor from New York. She is currently without a home address and can most often be found following nomadic callings to the countries that have stolen her heart, namely Turkey and Brazil. She sustains her lifestyle by exchanging her skills in yoga instruction, creative writing, and foreign languages for food, shelter, and healthy companionship. She is working on her first novel and a poetry collection and uses the inspiration she receives from her travels and human interactions around the world to communicate the complexities of living as a woman, alone and on the road.

after the sickness By j. p. berame

after the sickness

countless warm baths
a single cold shower
today i learned
when the body gets sick
the heart gets sicker
and at times
the heart is a dead weight
pulling me under
making a proud descent
into the bottom of my loneliest lake
after a few days
it will rise to the surface
floating happy just to be in the ether
staring at cave ceilings
reaching out trying
to clutch the heavens
before sinking down again

all this cyclical lovely wonderful madness
i tread on
by God
i tread on

i refuse to stay under
no matter how magical
or how seductive
to stay away far far
from the familiar shore

i refuse to be enthralled
staring at the lights
all filtered into a beautiful
dancing turquoise

i refuse to lie and rest
with my back crushed
with the weight of my world
against this sedimentary floor

i refuse to continue to kiss
the ghostly luminiscence
the dark bright essence
at the bottom of the water

i do not know how to swim
but i refuse to be

i refuse to be the graveyard girl
i refuse to be the black and purple girl
i refuse to be the unlaughing girl

watch me undress
my sickness into
all the ethereal
all the light
all the beautiful

i am not my pain

i am possible.

By j. p. berame


j. p. berame is a 20-something poet/photographer/producer based in Manila, Philippines. Visit her at existential-celestial.tumblr.com.

5 Haiku By BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow

ripples through clouds
water stills
Basho’s sky returns


glaciers retreating  —
moss covered crops of round stones
grow in the fields


naked branches
wild pigs
bobbing for apples


a weed-strewn garden
how quickly the embers died
wet charcoal remains


stubborn leaves
rattling colors
scare the geese northward

By BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow


BanWynn (Suta) Oakshadow has been a writer, photographer and artist since 1978. He grew up in rural Ohio, lived in the American Southwest and now resides in Sweden. His photography and flash fiction attempt to capture growing up as a farm boy or American Indian & Viking history. He frequently writes about Child abuse, Mental Illness and Spirituality; and finds rest in haiku as he walks through the forest grown over the remains of a Viking village gone more than a thousand years.