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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Mumbai. formerly Bombay,
the city of a breathing sea
third world fellow countrymen
of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
first world slavery
gaps of lines
between the sea
in close cloisters
five year old selling chai
eighty year old, agarbattis
the Haji Ali and Mahalakshmi
the gods are not intolerant
strings of yellow streetlights
lurking in the cold
beneath its warmth.
By Sneha Subramanian Kanta
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
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
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.
Sandy Hook, Fourth Anniversary
In that split second
before the bullet finds its mark,
time is suspended
in all its innocence,
patty cake patty cake
never make it to first grade,
sliding and jumping
into this double dutch life,
one too many ropes in play
one too many damaged souls
for their young minds to comprehend.
Our old minds make no sense
of any of it. We still buy guns,
beat our breasts about the right to bear arms;
their right to bare arms to swing
on monkey bars in summer sunshine—
stolen in that split second.
By Mary O’Keefe Brady
Mary O’Keefe Brady lives and writes in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. She is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center and the Poetry Society of South Carolina. As a member of the Poetry Caravan, an outreach effort, she brings poetry to nursing homes and other venues in Westchester County, New York. She is the 2014 recipient of the Wildacres Writers Workshop Poetry Scholarship. Her chapbook, Time Out, was published by Finishing Line Press (2015). Her work has appeared in the 2015 Global Poetry Anthology of the Montreal International Poetry Prize, The Westchester Review, Storyteller, and the anthology Let the Poets Speak.
Blue Cut Blues
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
In these drought-parched parts
firefighters call the vegetation “fuel.”
It might as well be kerosene,
carried on salamander trucks,
to ignite, then feed, the fire.
When wind & dry heat meet,
tinder & sparks conspire to burn,
driving forward in a whirling storm
through alphabets of subdivided streets.
Along the always-gridlocked route
to Vegas from L.A., the evacuees
stand still & silent: experiencing
the sear of ravenous flames.
Their salamander suits protect them
from the truth—that they are climate
refugees, drowning in a rain of ash,
choking on smoke & their own denial.
By Ellen Girardeau Kempler
My poems have been published in Spectrum, Orbis (UK), Arrow and a number of other small presses. They have also been shortlisted for the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Prize and Ireland’s Fish Poetry Prize (judged by Billy Collins) and have won three first place awards in the annual Laguna Beach Library Poetry Contest. This year one of my poems won the Blackwater International Poetry Prize, an award that comes with a all-expenses paid trip to Cork, Ireland, to read at the 2017 Blackwater Poetry Festival.
My essays, opinion pieces and feature articles have appeared in The Atlantic, L.A. Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and numerous other publications.
CATCH AND RELEASE
As the nurse draws blood, your veins roll and collapse. She tries again, looking carefully for a fat squirm of blue, calling it fishing. She reties the tourniquet, and your body becomes a catfish that is not fooled by the lures, putting up a fight with the sharpness of a hook tugging at its skin.
By Adrienne Novy
Adrienne Novy is a poet and teaching artist from the Chicago suburbs studying Creative Writing and Education in Saint Paul, MN. Her work can be found in FreezeRay Poetry, Voicemail Poems, and on Button Poetry. She loves dogs, a good blended chai, and writing in coffee shops. She is a strong believer in that it’s possible to be both cute and powerful at the same time.
In The Foothills of Sorrow
There is a woman I know in West Virginia
suffering through a whole mess of heartbreak.
She is the mountains’ dark fury
all forest and tears and teeth.
She raises meat rabbits through the slow months of grief
wraps her body in jewelweed
pulls the fog and moonlight down low on her hips.
“The great hot misery of it all,” she spits
“and I didn’t even know his last name.”
She tells me about his dirty fingernails,
the way his mouth hummed like a field of locusts
How she buried him on a hillside
next to an empty ammunition shell
fired from a gun that was almost as loud as her anger.
He has been dead for sixty-two days
and tonight we are having rabbit stew.
By Ashley Loper
A fan of dark fruits, dark chocolate, and dark, rainy days, Ashley Loper started birthing poetry like gentle rabbits out of her body at a young age. Her poems draw inspiration from the natural world, the human condition, and all the equal measures of brutality and softness that exist in between. What she lacks in logic, she often makes up for in parable. You can find her literary best friends at http://goodreads.com/feralocity.
Finding Love in All the Wrong Wagons
And I first learned the Lord’s prayer
Our father and all
Sitting in a cold room lined
with long mismatched folding tables
all with at least one chip in its cheap laminate
uncomfortable steel folding chairs stamped
with an acronym I never needed to learn and
with a revolving number of strange adults
clutching their cigarettes in one hand and a Styrofoam cup
of day old coffee, powdered creamer, and sweetener
in the other
I never had the cigarettes, but I had coffee altered
beyond recognition just trying to fit in
there were regulars
people that called to my dad
“hey, Faze, (pronounced like the Muppet Fozzie)
you hanging in there?” but
he was only there for the chicks
for the faux-friendships for the satisfaction
of the court. He counted his sobriety
in mandated meetings remaining
a countdown to blast off
a countdown until plastering
Give us this day, our daily bread,
I never heard my dad chant in time
never heard him admit he had a problem
his gums too dry to speak, and a thirst
in need of quenching
never heard him ask for daily bread
when I first learned the Lord’s Prayer
forgive us our sin as we forgive others
I learned that of the spiraling cast of characters
about the 93% would soon break free
of the wagon’s weight
and that my dad has been trailing
behind, feet first, for years
By Peter Faziani
Peter Faziani is a 3rd year PhD Candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Editor-in-Chief for Red Flag Poetry. His work has appeared in journals such as Words Dance, Silver Birch Press, The Sandy River Review, The Tau, Images, and other journals. He is a Michigander living in Pennsylvania with his wife, two daughters, and two corgis.
Growing up I was a taboo.
Tall woman. Proud woman.
Woman who owned herself.
Woman who owned her abuse.
Should I have been
When I was fifteen I was published
in a magazine for survivors
of sexual assault. I didn’t question
whether such a magazine should exist.
I questioned my word choice.
Did I “forgive my offender”
or did I “move past the offense”?
My therapist used to say that forgiveness
was not the same as forgetfulness.
She may have been the first feminist
I ever met.
By Lili Leader-Williams
Lili Leader-Williams lives in Washington State with her husband and two cats. She has been published previously in Cahoodaloodaling, Slim Volume: This Body I Live In from Pankhearst, and Alliterati Magazine. Her dearest ambition is to make sure you don’t feel alone.