Boxing Gloves By Audrey Lee

Boxing Gloves

Six years after Time Magazine’s “The Protester”

In the shadow of a low-lying sun
is foul matter: dignity more important
than bread, milk poured into eyes much like
into a breakfast glass

waging with pepper spray, lachrymatory.
In six years, I am taller than I ever have been before;
whittled, carved down with a chainsaw into
calves, collarbones, a waist.

A faucet that leaks petroleum. A town with no tap water,
all I am is a coat hanger for men to bite their teeth into:
orthodontics in between incisors. Prepubescent retainers.
A fire set to their conjecture.

I skirmish with earthquakes and euthanasia
in the face of a blighted ovum.
The sun has never seen the night but
God, it will now,

as I barricade the sun from setting,
and stand on a deserted soapbox.
A moon’s laughter is illuminated in telescope lenses;
for the tides have drowned the incitation of dissent.

By Audrey Lee

Biography:

Audrey Lee will be attending Franklin and Marshall College this coming fall. She is the winner of the 2016 DeSales University Poetry Contest and her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Columbia College of Chicago. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Teen Vogue, Rookie Magazine, The Ellis Review, and Paper Swans Press. Her chapbook Unknown Futures is forthcoming from Red Paint Hill Publishing in 2018.

Friday, April 7; 12:11 AM By Lydia Havens

Friday, April 7; 12:11 AM

The author listens to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” nearly one year after writing a poem about the original Nine Inch Nails version as a means to talk about being sexually abused // The author doesn’t feel anything but she can picture things // like the blur of a city she does not know after 2AM // or her fingers covered in smeared  chalky eyeliner and all the worst grime still under her nails // The author still prefers the original version of this song // despite not being able to listen to it anymore // without becoming that ring of fire Johnny was always talking about // The author does not wear a crown of shit // or thorns // The author’s just trying to make wearing her head feel ok for once // The author was diagnosed with PTSD right after writing that poem // and ever since her name has been a song she doesn’t feel comfortable knowing the words to // The author’s flashbacks are mostly just about skin that was not hers // and chairs clattering against linoleum floors // The author hears a man make a joke about the pizza parlor in DC being the headquarters of an international political child pornography ring // while in front of a pizza parlor in downtown Boise // “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails is blasting through the open door and across the patio // and she wonders if this is what God cutting you down is supposed to feel like

This poem is related to “Backstage at the Dance Show”, which was published in Survive Like the Water

By Lydia Havens

Biography:

Lydia Havens is a poet and editor currently living in Boise, Idaho. Her work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Black Napkin Press, among others. Videos of her spoken word performances have been published on YouTube channels such as Button Poetry and Write About Now. Her first full-length collection, Survive Like the Water, was published in early 2017 by Rising Phoenix Press. Lydia currently works for Big Tree Arts Inc., and is a member of Boise’s 2017 National Poetry Slam team. She really likes exclamation points and lizards.

Black Man Poetry By David M. Taylor

Black Man Poetry

I used to write black man poems
about being black and a man.
But my words were discarded
in digital trashcans by white editors
wanting more—
a reason to demonstrate they understood
injustice and poverty,
food stamps and a dream deferred.

So I wrote about dreadlocks and marijuana,
stories about drunken fists shattering
my twelve-year-old bones
by my father who struggled
against the shackles of history,
the rage of being less than.

I said my brother was high,
got shot for being black
while walking across the street
to our barren apartment.

But then that didn’t matter–
I was simply a black man writing
black man poetry.

Luckily Ferguson became hip
and white people paid better
when I talked about how black lives matter,
commercialized history chained
black men to textbooks,
whitewashed oppression and apartheid.

And I wrote about black fists penetrating
swollen skies and teargas raped
broken neighborhoods
while school children hid under
their beds until morning came.

But I finally ran out of John Singleton plotlines
and talked about how the Cosby Show
made me believe in the power of education,
the audacity to want more than
twenty minutes in an afterschool special.

I said my parents were both doctors,
that I never grew up wanting—
my story was as simple as childhood.

And then Bill Cosby turned out to be a rapist.

This poem was originally published in Trailer Park Quarterly 

By David M. Taylor

Biography:

I teach at a community college is St. Louis, MO. My work has appeared in various magazines including Trailer Park Quarterly, The Harrow, and Anthology, as well as upcoming in Misfit Magazine. I also have three poetry chapbooks—M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.

Landing By Riley Zahn

Landing

The first time a person has sex after being assaulted
is a bit like jumping out of an airplane
when you may or may not have a parachute.
The harsh air rushing past you, the ground growing more urgent
and until you pull the cord
you have no idea if you made a huge mistake.

For me, this was the first time we had sex, I’ll never forget it.
Not for the orgasms, or the screams of pleasure
although they were memorable,
but the way you wrapped yourself around me
like the warmest fuzziest blanket
In the coldest, winteriest, Minnesota night.

For the way you asked if you could take off my shirt
And the icicles that hung from my memory melted
anxiety dripped down my legs and
formed a pool of serenity at the foot of your bed.
You dipped your fingers in that pool
and gently traced my scars.
The ones that were never on my body.
The ones left by that previous lover
who mistook my “no” for “try again later.”
The calmness coated my skin like warm wax, hot comfort
every time you checked in with a simple
“How are you doing?
“Do you want me to keep going?”
“Is this ok?”

You didn’t make those scars go away,
but you showed me that I’m not disfigured.

And I didn’t understand how you did it:
Navigated those scars so expertly,
Fingers Following every twist and turn like a car
hugging a winding, mountain road.
And I didn’t understand how you knew exactly what to say
to make me feel like everything was going to be ok
until I said “you make me feel safe”
And I could see it in your face:
You knew exactly what that meant.
You knew it all too well.

At the end of the night, I did not shut my eyes and pray that I would fall asleep
so I wouldn’t have to be awake for what you were going to do to me.

I kept my eyes open and prayed I would stay awake
so I could watch your chest rise and fall with each breath
just a little while longer,
but I fell asleep in your arms anyway.

And in my dreams, I pulled the cord,
The backpack opened,
and you jumped out
and expanded above me
and I
drifted
safely
to the ground.

By Riley Zahn

Biography:

Riley Zahn (she/her) is a trans woman, poet, educator and graduate student from Mankato, MN. She spends her time learning, unlearning, playing nerdy card games, and wondering if the people who work at the Chinese Buffet place are judging her for how often she eats there alone.

pharm life By Isabelle Jia

pharm life

girl you need to / want yourself
cover-up / in the night
a sweater / they say
something red / or / why don’t you just
like a match to skin please / light me up?

barnyard smoke / burnt scions
wraps me up like wires / behind yellow houses
‘round pointe shoes / dance with
grace / & / mama
i’m sorry i’m not / her

stay / sweet
pure / girl
for / your
your / youth
innocence / is / vibrant

By Isabelle Jia

Biography:

Isabelle Jia is a seventeen-year-old poet whose work has appeared, or is forthcoming in the Blueshift Journal, Polyphony HS, Track Four, and many more. Jia has attended the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio and the California State Summer School of Arts. She has also been recognized as a California Arts Scholar, by the Walt Whitman Poetry Foundation, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is an editorial intern and social media editor for Tinderbox Poetry as well as a poetry reader for Glass Kite. Jia currently resides in San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

learning what is central to narrative c.500 BCE onwards By Tanya Singh

learning what is central to narrative c.500 BCE onwards

after learning draupadi did not marry five men

i hear chariot bards composed the mahabharata,
a colossal epic. with over 100,000 verses.
about star crossed brothers?      yes, yes.
the frankish term fehu-ôd meant moveable  objects of value.
land was used as an excuse to be dogs?     no, listen.
think of mahabharata ‘feud over land’, or ‘feud over fehu-ôd’.
men were land, daughters were viewed
differently, i’m taught. under the framework. in marriage,
the daughter was object. kanyadana, or the gift of daughter,
was the religious duty of father, whose sons were important
for continuity of patrilineage. should they forget, his son
was born of another man’s kanyadana. draupadi married
five men.
no, she did not. what do you think she is? a fruit?
some things are lost in translation. like love letters, cocaine,
and god. some things never get lost in translation. like love
letters, cocaine, and god.
i hear chariot bards wrote well in verse metres. considering
how tough it can be composing when crawling battlefields,
i also hear ved vyasa drank copious amounts of coffee,
while it was not certain if he actually liked it.

By Tanya Singh

Biography:

Tanya Singh is interested in all things poetry, and philosophy. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Dear Damsels, among others. Tanya serves as the Blog Editor for Moledro Magazine. She is also a contributor to Iuventum’s quarterly newsletter. She lives in India. 

In Dreamland I Weep By Lexi Kennell

In Dreamland I Weep

In Dreamland I weep at mirages of
foliage: of oak leaf and aster, of maple
and birch and bee balm and pine, of
velvety skies ajar, untouched by

footprints of smokestacks, thick and
hazy and perilous and ready to tread
upon the earth if it ends in grossing
profit. In Dreamland I weep at mirages

of the Great Barrier Reef: of vibrant
rainbow hues of anemone and coral, of
snapper and mollusk and clown fish and
eel, of clear waters untouched by

plastic bags, bottles wringing sea turtles’
necks and oil oozing down at low tide, the reefs
bleaching white, becoming ghosts of
themselves. In Dreamland I weep at mirages

of the Amazonian Rainforest: of bonobo
and gibbon, of toucan and caiman and
iguana and sloth, of sweeps of serene
savannas and swamps, untouched by

slash and burn farming and the expulsion
of thousand-year-old trees to raise cattle
and to farm the food to feed the cattle, of
harvesting lumber and spices and coffee
and what have we done to make room for
ourselves? What have we done?

By Lexi Kennell

Biography:

Lexi Kennell is an American author and is a fourth year English writing student at the University of Pittsburgh. Although Kennell made her debut in poetry, she has since found a passion for short stories as well as nonfiction essays. Her inspiration for the style of fiction writing stems from modern Japanese fiction and 1970s American literature, however, the inspiration behind her stories’ content has ranged from dystopian America, 1960s France, and the economic, social and cultural issues of modern society.

Prayer in Taino War Paint By Juniper Cruz

Prayer in Taino War Paint

A sestina

Tainos are pomegranates.
Brown in rotting,
they call me inverted apple.
A bowl of bija for my skin
Woman says it restores all of the red
fucked out of this island.

This island
once faced the sky like a pomegranate
cut in half, clusters of red.
If it weren’t for your rotting,
she said, if it weren’t for your skin,
your red parts wouldn’t be an apple.

You bruise like an apple,
Too. You are not like the body of this island.
The wet muscle. There are parts of your skin
bija cannot restore. The parts that aren’t pomegranates
and all its arteries. The brown parts. The rotting
that is so brown it’s black. She paints my body red.

The red
comes to my skin like an open wound. Apple
of Eden. I am rotting
golden in the throat of this island,
golden in the husk of the pomegranate
golden in the bruised skin.

Upon this island of unbruised skin,
the white man wishes to hang us red.
God, they want to hang me on a pomegranate
tree and gut me like an apple.
Make me forbidden on my own island
and all of its rotting.

Here, branches hold onto forgotten fruit. Dear rotting
God, forgive me for coming to you in this dyed skin,
But I have returned my limbs to this island.
Asked the woman with bija to dyed them red.
God of gospel, I ask you to swallow me like a golden apple,
or strange hanging pomegranate.

So that then, maybe you will ripen: the pomegranates, the rotting
body of apples caught in a white country’s teeth, and the peeling skin
of the red, the slow beating muscle of this forgotten island.

By Juniper Cruz

Biography:

Juniper Cruz is a Queer Afro-Latinx Muslim poet from Hartford, Connecticut. They are currently an undergraduate student at Kenyon College. Their work has been published in The Atlantic, Lambda Literary, and Puerto Del Sol.

Funeral By David M. Taylor

Funeral

I attended my grandfather’s funeral
in a half-forgotten Baptist church
housed between exposed buildings
where segregation lingered like addiction.

My colleagues gave me a card and condolences,
but I only knew him from childhood
and that he was a black man who served in the Navy,
stationed in the South Pacific during WW II.

He also had a dead daughter I never met
that we weren’t allowed to talk about.

She was mentioned briefly at the service
as my family compared resumes
passing them off as his legacy.

But they didn’t say that she felt too much
humanity to remain sane
or that chaos consumed her body
long before the drugs.

This type of honesty doesn’t read well
in a family picture where everyone smiles.

I heard she once held the strength of the universe
but fell into her mind a year after I was born,
that her thoughts crippled her body
and held on like gravity.

We buried my grandfather that day,
next to his wife and daughter,
where the weeds had overgrown
their broken tombstones.

By David M. Taylor

Biography:

I teach at a community college is St. Louis, MO. My work has appeared in various magazines including Trailer Park Quarterly, The Harrow, and Anthology, as well as upcoming in Misfit Magazine. I also have three poetry chapbooks—M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.

Human Remains By Miriam Kramer

Human Remains

It is an inarguable truth that
in death, someone always finds the
body. The remains
that once contained the living
parts of a loved one.

On the bottom
bunk of my first college
dorm room, I traced the faded
apologies scrawled
into my arm, while across 300
miles of telephone wire, I listened
to my mother’s voice. She said
the pain of missing me was a newly
permanent part of her.
Like someone had cut
off one of her limbs, and it wouldn’t stop
bleeding.
14 years later this phantom
pain remains with her,
I see it in the pallor of her
lips, lack of color blending
in to tanned skin.
She cannot afford to lose any more
appendages.
I remember this when my throat
is full of bile flavored
“sorry”s,
The guilt a regenerating pit
rooted in my trachea.
This remorse laden asphyxiation
is all
I would bequeath
to her.

If I died today,
my father would find my body, standing
over me. I would leave him
with shoulders slumped.
We have the same posture, curvature of spine.
Neither of us
would ever
stand upright
again.

By Miriam Kramer

Biography:

Miriam Kramer studied Creative Writing at Pacific University, and works at a local bookstore. She lives in Bound Brook, NJ, with her faucet obsessed cat, Ernie. She is overly sentimental, and has been known to rescue items from other peoples’ garbage.