a morning prayer
6am sun pressing down on my hand
we gather around the flag because the bible was blue red white
boys & girls separated to segregate sin some of us are sin chasms
we pray at the flag to the flag we pledge to the flag to the bible
i’m wearing a knee length skirt because legs are sinful dew on the grass is sinning
dew on the grass is innocent
i look up at the flag i look up at the prayers
exhalations of how we writhe for god
for red for blue for white, only for white
this is the last time i recite the pledge of allegiance
By Ashley Miranda
Ashley Miranda is a latinx poet from Chicago. Her work has been previously featured by the Denver Quarterly, Yes, Poetry, Ghost City Review, Lockjaw Magazine, and Glass Poetry Press. She tweets impulsive poetry and other musings @dustwhispers.
Joseph S. Pete is a photographer, an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in The Five-Two, Chicago Literati, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Pulp Modern, Zero Dark Thirty and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. True story, believe it or not.
This is the way we play at love:
gin pinwheeling our bodies together,
curves pinked with April want.
By play I mean this is not a game.
When we were eight
we whet our incisors on soft-lipped gutters,
tasting rust mixed in with salt.
Rust is another word for exposure,
a city undressing itself to reveal
the sky, folded, afraid.
May trickles out the window.
This city is a cauldron of
fluttering moths and backlit alleys.
(Too sanitized, too clean.)
On the train we shed eyelashes,
each one a parenthesis curving towards the light.
In the movies the girl is tied to the rails
and the whites of her eyes show
as she rechristens her kneecaps
and thinks, I am softer than I was before.
In the movies the dog chases after the girl,
fur blooming in the wind.
This is what it learns:
to love is to surrender.
Through the window, we see it running.
(Silverfish wriggle through your fur.)
Ropes twine around the girl,
binding her to the ground,
dirt pebbling against copper skin.
There aren’t enough looms in the world
to weave wings to her spine.
This I know.
I hold the threads
in my cold dead hands.
By Nandita Naik
Nandita Naik is a junior at Proof School in San Francisco. She enjoys writing, programming, and musicals. Her poems have been published or forthcoming in Canvas Lit Journal and Polyphony HS.
The Children Next Door, 1939
When my grandmother was young
in Poland, she lived beside
a ramshackle house with many mouths
and not much money. Skinny children
cried in the yard. Bubbe would climb
over the fence with rolls and butter.
Then the Nazis came to Poland
and the children next door
threw stones and slurs.
Recalling the broken glass
on her bedroom carpet,
Bubbe still doesn’t wonder why
she brought ungrateful neighbors bread—
only why they threw rocks in return.
Why so many homes became targets
and so few havens emerged.
Why so many mouths
turned hunger for bread
into thirst for blood.
By Jacqueline Jules
Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including The Broome Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com.
By Thomas Gillaspy
Thomas Gillaspy is a northern California photographer with an interest in urban minimalism. His photography has been featured in numerous magazines including the literary journals: Compose, Portland Review and Brooklyn Review. Further information and additional examples of his work are available at: http://www.thomasgillaspy.com
Struggles of a Migrant Job Seeker
With every waking moment, I hear that anything’s possible
But to them, my inequity seems plausible
The soil on which I was conceived appears to be a risk;
Appears to suggest a lesser value.
I stick to my five a day like it’s a spiritual doctrine;
Yet this time not of fruits but of job applications.
I sacrifice my mental and physical health for security
Yet, I’m reminded that foreign nationals are not functional
Day by day, I learn the hard way …
… that their national policies of inclusion are purely deceptional –
fictional and surely not operational.
Sitting in my room on Chancery Lane, I search for the upside
But this hustle is eating me alive
I love their nation but it is unrequited
The whispers remind me that I don’t belong here
Meanwhile, my inbox floods with rejection e-mails
The different shade of my passport suggests my human capital is not worthy
The ignorance is amazing; my rage rising
They consider immigration an abomination
As they sit on their thrones, carved with imperialist gold.
To fork out a living, all I need is decent work
Figuratively, they nod their heads ‘no’
But why? Is that too much to ask?
How come no one has faith in me?
Why do the lawmakers punish those who do?
With taxes and fines, name-shaming and levies,
Anyone who dares to care is burnt at the stake.
Why do I threaten them so much?
By Akachi Obijiaku
Akachi Obijiaku is an emerging poet residing in London. Originally from Nigeria, she is interested in international arts development and practice. Only three months after writing her first ever poem, one of her works has been accepted for publication in a 2018 issue of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly. She uses poetry as a platform to address social ills.