Cleanse By S.A. Khanum


But I go all knees.
Fold like an ironing board.

Become the corner.
Room myself empty of you.

Jut mountains from my side.
& gather clouds in my mouth.

All feels of charcoal & flint.
All feels of wanting to spark.

But here I am
ship-wrecked, water-logged.

Still the river winding through me.
Still the mountain dweller,


Down the rocks,
at the centre of me

where the women be beating
their linens,

the dye of their veils
bleeding the water—

I say thirst & they say a well.
I say quenched & they say carry on.

I say holy & they say water.
I say why & there is no answer.

By S.A. Khanum


S.A. Khanum is a writer from the UK.



Imagine: We, gangrel of seventeen, have watched
the culling. Born of mirth, of myth, of void,

like Binondo-husked television sets – static overrun
or gorged out in flesh testimonies under broad daylight.

Reminisce your childhood hearth. Recollect all those
that you had once sown. Relive the names of your

forefathers, a withered daughter of mausoleum-turned
sins. We will dive, headlong, steadfast, into strife the

older had set up. This preamble wrung for us to
learn the value of our false degrees, broken industry,

incorrect skin. The world you loathe is led by white
men a thousand miles away. Torment grows a stranger

in the pickings of your skin, so be it that your mother
wonders why you hold your language second-hand.

Paradigm of distrust is my southbound severance,
letting go is easy. Rite runs from the narcos-smoked

world that had been forced on me. Rite runs from
Imus-donned wry, fun and nuanced with the way

it rolls off my tongue, estranged and intermittent of
my own depravities disavowed by diction. Or religion.

Or belief. Or lovers. Seventeen shall march towards
insolence, cutthroat hell laid as we dare to be again.

Seventeen holds the Rite of Genesis, untrusted sons
and malevolent daughters accosted of dead horizon,

evergreen to cheap brown or dollar culture. Though,
perhaps, we are the open for a reason. Anyway, all

my story is afterthought to your political agenda,
anecdotal brief to digress again. Pronounce rite for

once, my hearth filled me whole.

By Chia Amisola


Chia Amisola is seventeen year-old senior, a lover of language be it in the form of poetry or code, hailing from the scorch of Metro Manila.



after Lydia Havens

my body confesses itself to me
through blood. on the sullied cloth
it hisses, “both the moon
and your emptiness tells me
it is time for you to hurt.”

if we are all indeed half of our fathers,
this is the half that mine gave me:
the half that bleeds, the red tantrum
bellowing for a child.

i hate the term birth control.
i call mine everything control,
holding the blood back on a leash
and watching it strain against rope,
white-eyed and rabid.

my body calls it,
everything aches when i don’t get what i want,
and i want something to cradle
that isn’t your gender-melancholy for once.
give me something warm and smiling.
a new heartbeat. i’m bored with yours.
a baby would have a heart as small as a cherry
and yours is so – so big, so loud,
it takes up the whole room
before that mouth of yours
even has a chance.

my body calls it,
i know everything you’re afraid of.
every poem you write, there’s a baby
hiding under the page calling you mama.

there’s your father loving you again,
his praises one big i-told-you-so,

there’s me, your own body,
my praises one big i-told-you-so,

there’s you carrying something
that needs love
more than you do.

By Harper Russet


Harper Russet (she/her or they/them pronouns, interchangeable) is a 24-year-old butch lesbian poet and novelist from Utah. Every poem she writes is an argument with gender, the country, and so many gods. Videos of her work can be found on Write About Now. You can also find Harper on Twitter and Patreon.

Old Times By Deonte Osayande

Old Times

Why did I begin
to like cheese is
a question that is too
easy for me to answer.

Your fried chicken tasted
of ninety six, good times,
gym shorts and Sega Genesis,

my shoes all drawn on and my mom
in the kitchen. It takes me back

to a simpler time, mac & cheese, chicken
and greens, not a care in the world, I was
carefree. No zealots or bigots. No terrorists
or 9/11 or fear, just a young boy, his dinner

getting cold and sonic the hedgehog. Gotta
go faster was his catchphrase but I wish
I could have taken it and rushed back

to these peaceful moments of the past.
Asking me why I’m so fond of these

times, I try to tell myself
he’s a good guy. Growing
up together, played on the same

basketball courts with one another
but I can’t shake the badge, the uniform,
the betrayal, how someday I might just be
another black life to him on the other side

of the gun and he might remember
reasons to punish you. What happens
when that becomes him? When the gun

is pointed at him and he doesn’t have
enough time to pull out his badge
or show his ID. I wonder if black lives

will matter to him then, calling them
rowdy kids looking for something
to protest. Nobody notices how

protesters don’t riot when murderers die,
but when an innocent man is killed instead.

By Deonte Osayande


Deonte Osayande is a former track and field sprinter turned writer from Detroit, Mi. He writes nonfiction essays and his poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, a Pushcart Prize and published in numerous publications. He has represented Detroit at multiple National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College, and teaching youth through the Inside Out Detroit Literary Arts Program. His first full collection of poems entitled Class, is now out with Urban Farmhouse Press.

f(x) By Sarah Wang


inspired by f(x)’s 4 Walls music video

Last spring I shattered my family’s porcelain teacup,
stepped over its exposed white shards,
watched as my bloodflood soaked into stolen soil.

They say the body will only stay in the air
when the canopy of the forest unfurls itself, and the mind
finds a slant of yellow daylight to claim its own.

There’s a k-pop girl group called f(x),
who exhale the empowered femininity of Pegasus.
With them, I found my sunray in the ultraviolet forests of Jeju.

f(x). Function. It computes everything & nothing.
A versatility that disrupts, one that dissembles the window
as a portal to beauty and replaces it with a mirror.

Still, there are those who fringe our forest with axes.
They label our language a malign venom,
sleep on our synchronized dances as a trained roboticism,
slander our eyes for burying thread after calling us chinks.

But even if they invade our forest, slash down every last branch,
we will rebuild like we always do — this time in the water,
our bodies surrounded by fallen peony petals coalescing into a flower path.

This year when spring rains down,
I catch the porcelain cup before it drops,
preserve the warmth of pu’er tea with wrapped palms.

By Sarah Wang


Sarah Wang is a Chinese-American high school senior living in New York. Her writing has been recognized on the regional and national level by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she has attended workshops by The Kenyon Review and The Winter Tangerine. She serves as editor of her school’s newspaper and literary magazine. When she is not writing, she enjoys finding new music and going on food adventures.

Bones Uncovered in the Dirt Saquina Karla C. Guiam

Bones Uncovered in the Dirt

A daughter I’ll never have
lies buried in the garden.

During siestas, she holds my hands,
asking me to open my eyes.

But I am terrified of seeing her face—
what if I see my father in the tilt of her head,

my mother in the sigh
of her lungs?

What if I see an old family history
scribbled on her skin

with a black sharpie,
but she’ll never claim that inheritance?

This poem was previously published by Public Pool

By Saquina Karla C. Guiam


Saquina Karla C. Guiam is a writer from General Santos City, Philippines. Her work has appeared on Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Djed Press, Outlook Springs, The Maine Review, and others. She is the Roots nonfiction editor of Rambutan Literary and the Social Media Manager of Umbel & Panicle, a new literary magazine about all things botanical.

Howl for the half By S.A. Khanum

Howl for the half

A field, eventually blends to blue.
Not bruise, just stain, I meant forever.

The wind, a ribbon, gliding west to east,
my fingers never quite reaching, how I try.

A crown of petals, it was: you sail, you settle.
It is never as easy as this.

Remember how your mother wove her palms
through your hair, but your ends still split.

How there was never a choice, you had to choose.

Dirt to your memories.
And dirt to your questions.
And dirt to your thoughts.

You were told to bury them long ago.

There is a spring that has laid claim to your flesh,
splays roots through your bones, so deep,
flowers grow under-ground here.

You, with thumbtack thorns on your knuckles,
a rose, blooming, dying, in your lungs.

Bottle this, name this perfume: ‘battle lost’.
How I come home everyday reeking of it.

And where is your tongue, your real tongue, when they ask:
And what are you: founded or unfounded?

A girl is the whole sky—


No moon. No stars. I meant alone.

By S.A. Khanum


S.A. Khanum is a writer from the UK.

The Commandment By Akpa Arinzechukwu

The Commandment

Everything goes –
A government bent on achieving

Kill everyone who is not like you
& I am not like you

My shoelaces the colour of the sky
My semen the colour of the rainbow

A bowtie to match &
God in prison –

Really not a type to fit in –
A noose around my neck &

Everything goes –
A body not mine & a deity locked away from
My reach –

To be used against me – to be my
Kind is to be cursed bruised rejected & killed

By Akpa Arinzechukwu


Akpa Arinzechukwu is a Nigerian photographer and poet. His work has appeared on Litro, Sou’wester, New Contrast, Kalahari Review, Packingtown Review, ITCH, Eastlit, and elsewhere. He is a joint winner of 2017 inaugural Sophiamay Poetry Prize.

Flower Beds By Chloe Williamson

Flower Beds

I dreamed all summer of lying beneath the wildflowers
Roots like fingertips reaching carefully towards me
I dreamed all summer of soft, cool earth
And the sound of rain running through it
I imagined un-existence abstractly
The way I used to dream of summer air in autumn
Death seemed too harsh a word
I dreamed a softer leaving
I craved a magnolia’s death —
Painless, beautiful, a fragrant falling

I dreamed death beautiful
The sweet smell of a rotting rose
The gentle rest of dew on petal
I dreamed the deep oblivion of old roots
I imagined myself Ophelia in the bathtub
Head resting heavy against the porcelain bottom
I imagined sprays of cherry blossoms at the surface
Branches trapping me there, underwater
Decadent, murderous blooms

I toyed all summer with these fantasies
Played Virginia Woolf dress up
Lined the pockets of my father’s too-big coat with stones
But found the river too fast, too cold
I pulled a leech from my ankle after wading in
It was softer, smaller than I expected
More defenseless, less frightening
I could not bear to kill it

I held the thin skin of a poppy petal between my fingers
Felt its velvet veins illuminate my pulse
I dreamed thunderclaps and hail stones
But woke only to the claustrophobic pounding of my heart
Inescapably, improbably committed to survival

By Chloe Williamson


Chloe Williamson graduated from Wellesley College in May of 2016, where she completed an honors creative writing thesis exploring intersections of identity in rural Eastern New Mexico. Her work has previously appeared in The Wellesley Review, El Portal, and the Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal.

Refugee By Lorna Rose


You flood your lungs with the ripe stench of fish and bodies and fuel.
The dinghy motor whines against the night.
Salt air grinds your skin ‘til it’s bloodied and threadbare.
You squat: no room to sit since leaving Sabratha.
Your body clenches tight to its bones
and shrill muscles shriek and weep and lock up.
You are trapped inside.
Damp t-shirt clings to goosebumped flesh under a tattered orange life jacket.
But what life?

Next to you a shaking woman holds her boney baby
and cries.
She has shit herself.
Behind you a leathery man mumbles and mumbles for water.
You turn to see his eyes roll hollow
and his mouth slack open.
With each breath your shoulders and chest brush someone else.
You smell the stink of desperation,
the gray rancid smell of rotting humanity.

You see the Italian coastline and your heart speeds up.
Your vision blurs as tears come.
Finish school.
Find work.
Do good.
Just live.
From somewhere behind there’s a jolt.
Motor goes silent.
From the dark there is yelling.
Then the floor tilts.
And the lights of Lampedusa go black.

By Lorna Rose


Lorna Rose writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in A Quiet Courage, Red Fez, Mothers Always Write, Literary Mama, and others. Her current project is a memoir. Connect with her on Facebook at and on Twitter @LornaARose.