Memories of Kosovo By Trish Shields

Memories of Kosovo

she lies
quietly
in death’s embrace
head bobs as she’s undressed
with care

her life easily read
each crease speaks volumes
layers of clothing no surprise:
refugees plan carefully
clothes ward off cold
a rifle’s butt
insulating them against war

forms of self-preservation
aid in the aftermath of life
holding flesh to bone
entombing secrets of corruption:
metal casings hidden like jewels
exposed in the folds

partially skeletonized fingers
dance preponderately
her dignity still intact
as life’s touch is removed

later
in the dark
pondering life
my head lolls in death’s strict
echo

By Trish Shields

Biography:

Trish Shields was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, but grew up in Europe.  She has studied creative writing at the Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario.  ‘Soul Speak’, a book of poetry published by Troubadour Books, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2001.  Trish has two books of poetry published and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies.  Her poetry and short stories have been published internationally. Trish’s novel, ‘Inferno’ is published by Baycrest Books.  Her first chapbook, Coast Lines, is co-authored by Katherine L. Gordon, released in February 2007.  Trish was asked to edit M.E.Tudor’s book entitled The Perfect Proposal, which was published in 2015.

Homeless By Jenna Neece

Homeless

There was a time I pictured the homeless
As drug addicts, child molesters, and lazy people.
That’s what I was shown when people talked about them.
I thought a dollar given was a dollar wasted,
Imagined the dirty man walking into the liquor store to buy a pint,
Not him buying a hot meal to fill a growling stomach.
No, I believed what I saw, was told, and didn’t ask questions.
They never showed me the younger sister taking her big brother
Out in the country, so he could pitch a tent because she didn’t
Have the money to feed both of them,
So she gave food because he wanted to do it on his own,
Because he needed to do it on his own, so he could turn his life
Back into something worth fighting for.
They didn’t show me the sister crying in her bed that night,
because she couldn’t fix what’s wrong,
Because she couldn’t make it right that some people have to hit
Rock bottom so that they can have solid ground
To crawl back to their feet again.
The only thing they ever hit the bottom
Of is their $120 dollar bottle of wine they drank with dinner.
No, they never showed me a picture of someone
Like me, a little sister, letting her big brother do it the hard
Way because she has to, he has to overcome a felony record,
A past addiction he fought off, a lot of anger at life,
And the sensation of being alone in the world full of people.
He has to do it to become the man he wants to be,
That he can be. They don’t show anyone that.
They judge the less fortunate because they have never walked a mile
In somebody else’s shoes that were found in a dumpster
Behind the local grocery store and happen to be a half size too small
With a hole in the toe that lets the December wind scrape
Against their skin. They judge them from their life of luxury,
But someday, it will be their turn to be judged, maybe my turn.
Wouldn’t it feel righteous for them to see the smug look
On our face as the flames lick our Gucci loafers or stilettos?

By Jenna Neece

Biography:

Jenna Neece is an Oklahoma native. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and is working on her MFA in Poetry Writing at Oklahoma State University. She works as a GTA for Oklahoma State University English Department, is PR Coordinator for the OSU Writing Center, and in August she was a featured poet on featuredpoet.com with more work forthcoming.

Private Property By Lauren Kayes

Private Property

This land is my land, he snarls
In an oil-spill of dark ink:
God blessed this land for those like me.

He plans to catch us like mice, like rabbits,
Jaws snapping spines, rope tight ‘round ankles,
Hearts in ruddy hands beating blood-bright.

But we are trembling with the reckoning.
We patch each other with forest mud and fur and feathers
Rolling wheat and rustling grass,
A reclamation as we march
And march and march
Down that highway called freedom,
That highway carved in canyon walls
By all our salt and fluid
Squeezed drop for drop.

Our bones, bleached by desert sun
Our flesh, rotten beneath redwoods
Our open veins, widening rivers
Our atoms, scattered to the lifting fog—
Becoming more,
Becoming America.

Oh, false king, this land is ours:
In the golden valley
We wear crowns of stars.

By Lauren Kayes

Biography:

Lauren Kayes is a queer, disabled Jewish woman, and a writer of fiction and non-fiction. She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

 

The Silence that Speaks By Jillian Lopez

The Silence that Speaks

Be still and hear the silence speak.
It reverberates in the air of short breaths,
lives of purity and innocence falling back
under the rain of bullets and criminality.

Faces marked with dirt and blood,
dust and death caking the very tips
of a young man’s fingers.
His family mourns over the passing
of his soul, wrongfully accused
to be a dealer of drugs.

Look around you and see:
he is just one of them.
Virtuous, pure, and ultimately
as innocuous as the people who sit across
from each other in the coffee shop
nearby. He is a man like all others:
loving, hurting, feeling. But he is
a “shadow of doubt,” they say.

Even though he was not.

Wisps and shadows of life come to life,
but his form remains on the ground to be
part of the earthen crust,
as loud and as blaring
as the silence that speaks.

Here is where the poor is kept shut
from the impasse of thoughts
of presumed justice that thrives
amidst the softest, the loudest
of the silence that cries:
I have had enough.

By Jillian Lopez

Biography:

Jillian Lopez is a 16-year-old student from Manila, Philippines. Currently, she specializes in the Humanities and Social Sciences as a junior in senior high school, where she is pursuing her love for law and literature. She is a correspondent for her high school publication entitled Facets, and she has been publishing news and features articles, as well as editorials, for nearly two years. Jillian may be found at her book blog http://jilliansbooks.blogspot.com.

Alternative Facts By Athena Dixon

Alternative Facts

In another timeline
Tamir is hurtling towards
prom season, standing
in a stiff tuxedo, hands
clasped across the golden
waist of a girl smiling
into the camera. In this
timeline, he is hurtling
towards dust, clad in
a stiff suit, in a stiff box
in the undertow of Ohio
dirt.

In our timeline, he is
a flash bang, a cherry
bomb that splattered
the snow temporarily
red. He is a scream
echoed across an empty
park and a body held six
months in stasis before
being pulled into an end-
less state of mourning.

This alternative is not
fact nor fable nor myth.
It is a denial of the bloodied
boy buoyed between the rose
colored glasses of racism. It
is the surf of his body across
the crowd of ancestors
and protesters, lifting
his body like a bale
of the softest cotton. It
is the spinning into the
fabric of this country,
the patchwork of violence
and the dying and fading
of the stitches that hold black
folks together while the seams
continue to burst. Until the grief
pours out like rice. Until it swells
and fills our belly. Until we
are strong enough to continue
this fight.

In an alternative timeline,
Tamir is hurtling towards
the back forty acres of Cleveland,
the sun against his spine,
the lake beneath his feet.
He is walking between the seconds,
walking between the moments, walking
between the heartbeats it took to turn
truth to lie.

By Athena Dixon

Biography:

Athena Dixon is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. Her poetry and creative non-fiction has appeared in various journals online and in print. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has been a presenter at both AWP and HippoCamp. She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.

Lines By Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Lines

Mumbai. formerly Bombay,
2017 A.D.
the city of a breathing sea
divided invisibly
mutilated river
drying dead
third world fellow countrymen
smoking beedis
walking subways
of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
constant dystopia
first world slavery
new bridges
link roads
gaps of lines
between the sea
poverty cries
in close cloisters
slum dwellings
five year old selling chai
eighty year old, agarbattis
the Haji Ali and Mahalakshmi
lay aligned
the gods are not intolerant
dusty dusk
scatterings shadow
strings of yellow streetlights
unseen stars
lurking in the cold
beneath its warmth.

By Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Biography:

Poetry editor for her university magazine INK and a GREAT scholarship awardee, Sneha Subramanian Kanta is pursuing her second postgraduate degree in the United Kingdom. Her work has appeared or is to appear in 7×20 mag, The Rain, Party & Disaster Society, Epigraph Magazine, Thumb Print Magazine and in poetry anthologies such as Dance of the Peacock (Hidden Brook Press, Canada), Suvarnarekha (The Poetry Society of India, India) and elsewhere.

To never go back / to never have left By Rhys Feeney

To never go back / to never have left

The door I walked through
has shut behind me.
Through the letterbox I peer
watching the bolt slide firm,

one long imperial finger
points and says
son of Albion,
you are but a new wave
a seed
you cannot dissociate
yourself from me.

I lie awake at night
for having traded one
rainy isle for another
I know I can’t go back
but never quite left.

The drawing of lines around
lands and peoples
makes me want to rip open borders
and kick down doors
but I am no marine. I can’t fight
this withdrawal into selves.

You speak funny
you’re not from here are you

and, I don’t know if I am anymore.

By Rhys Feeney

Rhys Feeney is a British-born poet living, working and studying in Wellington, New Zealand. Between studying English Literature and Film at Victoria University, working part time at a cinema and worrying a lot, he tries to write poems to confront his anxiety and sense of dislocation. Rhys’ poetry has previously been included in Blackmail Press 41 and he writes regularly for the music blog, Daydream Nation.