The Building with The Scaffolding By Lydia Flores

The Building with The Scaffolding

Look at me I am September 11th
and every person I’ve ever loved
is jumping from my dainty arms
saving themselves (for a better love or dying)
I am a subway of loneliness, homelessness
screeching F train at York street
rumbling with violins and voices.

I have it, but my poems are metro cards
I swipe for a ride, hoping to get back to Harlem—
a Renaissance, my bones protruding, I’m
a monster, or metamorphosing.

I am Penn station and people are leaving or coming
I can’t tell. everyone’s march sounds the same.
am I forty-second street? awed with lights
or am I staircases in Taft projects?
dark, cold and littered. a used body.

I don’t know if I will make my rent payment
because I don’t know if I can afford to love myself
when I pay my confidence in food stamps.
I go home to your shelter at night where you, anxiety
forcefully touch my heart, stealing its calm thump
leaving me like gunshots or fireworks. but
in Brooklyn they don’t know the difference.

So, I must heal on my own.
I’m too weak to stand on the well-fare line
I want to get better, back to love but
I’m on the welfare line begging for
someone else’s honest eyes and gentle hands.

too small to be the empire state building
I am central park and you walk through me
to get to someone else’s grand central.
I am the twin towers after I let you kiss me.
crashed into my honesty and now
my innocence is a memory.
But I am New York, still, from someone’s window.
A skyline & One day they will be ready to call me home.

By Lydia Flores 


Lydia Flores is a writer and photographer from Harlem, New York.
Her work has been featured in Deaf Poets Society, Downtown Brooklyn, Visceral Brooklyn, Crab Fat Magazine, and several others. Find her at or @_fearlessocity



after Tiana Clark’s “Equilibrium”

After thirty years                                          I finally managed
to figure out                                                   what home means
to a refugee. Plume                                       the flickering ash
around the reality                                         of waking up at dawn
to a new statute                                             asking me to name
every line on                                                  my thickening palms.
The landlord is                                                             the god I see
at night. I pray                                                to him for permission
to call his house home.                                       When he touches
my daughter where no man                                          should touch
her, I pull the nonplussed girl                                          by the ear
and warn her to use                                                          the kitchen
door henceforth. Cutting                                                cantaloupes,
the sight of policemen                                                             coming
towards my door                                                     makes the fruit bleed
my dark blood,                                                      but they have not come
to ask why I cut                                                     myself, they have come
to ask if I wasn’t                                                              a terrorist to bomb
innocent neighbors                                               in no distant future.
I would tend to                                                       my bloody finger later,
asking where                                                           my appetite has gone.
I know home was                                                   where death ambushed
my destiny,                                                                I know it should be
where the sun rills in                                              with a smile,
not climbs arrogantly                                             upon my vertebrae,
not make rent the tears                                           that must not
dry up before                                                            the next election.
My weakened muscles                                            purr at the veins
delivering gas to                                                       my heart that
would not stop                                                          pounding. Each time
someone tries to                                                       extinguish the fire
of political bigotry,                                                   the rotten air
runnels through,                                                       feeding oil
to the rampaging                                                       flame. I look out
through the                                                                 basement window,
my eyes                                                                        traversing oceans
and mountains                                                           calling home, waiting
for something                                                             beautifully naked
to crawl up ashore                                                     and say stay here.

First Published by published by Rattle. 

By Bola Opaleke


is a Nigerian-Canadian poet residing in Winnipeg, MB. His poems have appeared or forthcoming in a few poetry magazines like Rattle, Cleaver, One, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, The Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, Dissident Voice, Poetry Quarterly, The Indianapolis Review, Miracle E-Zine, Poetry Pacific, Drunk Monkeys, League of Canadian Poets (Poetry Month 2013), St. Peters College(University of Saskatchewan) Anthology (Society 2013 Vol. 10), Pastiche Magazine, and others. He holds a degree in City Planning.

The Nests I Do Not Know By Rachel Evelyn Sucher

The Nests I Do Not Know

Birds with wider wings are not less beautiful. Why
then does my belly, which rounds and swells with flesh,
ferret between branches of a tree? There is no space

for nesting amongst the nymph leaves. Leaves, which curve
with lightly veined greenness. Even when dead
upon on the ground, they call people to gawk

at their splendor. I too tried to die upon the ground,
but could not find either death or the ground. I do not see myself
above sea level, where I tread shipwrecks with the kelp

and undiscovered octopi. There are no birds at sea level
I call mine. Only hands, blindly grasping rock and bone.
Bone, which juts through the surface of my hips, the hips I touch

lying naked on my back. Fingerprints are stamping the marred skin
I shed every seven years, parting swollen spaces weak like wrists.
This is how I claim the nests, the nests I do not know. They wait

within my cellulite spreading onto a chair —
each ring around my barked and rooted spine another hair
whose grey I do not hide, another leaf falling away before it is known to me.

By Rachel Evelyn Sucher


Rachel Evelyn Sucher is a queer-identified Vermont writer, activist, performer, horsewoman, and intersectional feminist. Rachel is the founder & Editor-in-Chief of COUNTERCLOCK literary & art journal. Her poems have been shortlisted for the International Literary Award (Rita Dove Award in Poetry) and the Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets, and longlisted for the Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize. A mentee in the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program and the Glass Kite Anthology Summer Writing Studio, she has also attended the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf and the Champlain College Young Writers’ Conference. Her work is forthcoming in Tinderbox. When she isn’t wrestling writer’s block or the patriarchy, Rachel can be found snuggling puppies, making music, and overthinking in her nerdy poet’s notebook.

Imagining Colonization By Jay Douglas

Imagining Colonization

Imagine the coldness
of a colony on Mars which only
rises above freezing
on the warmest of summer days

Imagine the way we would forge
bodies of metal
titanium skeletons to ward off the chill
fine red powder from the Martian dust storms
grinding in the gears of our once-sinew-strapped
now-polished joints

Imagine discovering
a water we no longer need
ancient wellspring old as our fragile-skinned
ancestors. Older.

Imagine trekking the polar caps,
smooth plains, descending into
the Valles Marineris

Imagine finding the remnants
of rovers, relics of another planet’s past
– a giant of light on a dark horizon –
an ancient story, a fairy tale half forgotten
lost in our circuits, whirring
beyond the reach of extinction.

By Jay Douglas


Jay Douglas is a recent graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with an undergraduate dual degree in English and Religious Studies. Jay enjoys cats, not going outside, collecting yo-yos, and being unapologetically queer.


One Poem By Eleanor Gray

O, Hesperides, there is so much we have
left behind – do you remember that old life?
over and over you are sighing amongst

the chestnut trees
the west wind rests on the lake, washing the
dusk with her silver
of dark riders

beneath the oaks we rest, lacking not song
nor lyre, nor lyrics sweet

what is it that fills me?
sovereign hands, blue seas, tender pine-eaves,
the intimacy of these dreams
which tyrannize me?

I see the ancient light on the golden brow
of my beloved

flower-lit cliffs where wildgrasses give
growth to everything

evening moss, flourishing springs,
fruit trees that hang heavy in the garden
of your longing

you name me by my animal name,
keeper of the river
where the moon does her pale lit
dance & soft waters hum their wealth
of earth’s gentlest soils

fear flutters like moths to light
where all is bright & blinding about
our tender hands

the limitless dark of your evening,

how free you keep me,
nobody’s daughter,
beloved by no one

we watch the black ships of my old kin leaving
our harbor behind

the mother of my old life spending her
days deep in the black throat of earth
a moon drowned in clover

now winter-sparrows churn from their dark sanctum,
frozen, invisible, dumb as hands – such is your will

heralding the simple, beseeching the cinder
of every heart

your skin the book of every twilight

lunar-mouthed, plum-boned, hands of ash &
cast of crows

how far we have come, how lush our bed,
how weighed with love

the ground mottled with birdwing
dark with past’s names & gone

how in your kingdom, you know all the
quiet things,
the moonlit dance of deathless faye

the hundred nights of my animal sleep,
the dark heart of fathomless waters

whisper, I wear soft colors, forsaken
by every life I have lived

beloved’s voice of leaves in the grass
of my wound,
bright as a sun

and perhaps, daughter of evening,
no matter what you take from me

that loss will always burn

By Eleanor Gray


Eleanor Gray is, well, the other co-founder of Figroot Press. She currently resides in California with her cat, PS4 and a very beloved collection of books. She graduated from Sacramento State University with a BA in English Literature and has been writing and reading religiously for as long as she can remember. It is hard to find an open and vibrant community of other writers; she wishes to attain and commit herself to a little world consisting of other passionate poets, artists, writers and readers. You can find her on Tumblr at: http://smakka–

Special Shapes By Genevieve DeGuzman

Special Shapes

That morning you found pieces
of glass in your hands, a souvenir
of the birthday party in the house the night before,
me, the birthday girl twirling
in a dazzle of lights.
You said I looked beautiful
and wiped my bloody cheek.
At breakfast we stayed quiet. Later you told me
that it was just a dream the way the boys
took their turns, my dress pulled up
over my head, a crown of flounce and furor.
You told me that sex was like that. Violent
and rough. Part of the fun, you said
when you threw parties in different neighborhoods.
Beforehand I made hors d’oeuvres and crudités
in special shapes, and you said
they looked beautiful
and asked me why I was crying
into the fingerlings of carrots. I told you cooking
was like that. It takes hours to prepare
all the pieces and then it’s all gone
with the hungry swarm.

By Genevieve DeGuzman


Genevieve DeGuzman’s fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in Indigo Lit, LONTAR, Liminality, and Asian Journal (now Tablet), among others. She is a winner of the Oregon Poetry Association’s New Poets Contest (2017, 2nd place) and has been a literary arts resident at Can Serrat in El Bruc, Spain. She is also the co-author of Working in the UnOffice, one of the first books to chronicle the global coworking movement. Currently living in Portland, Oregon, Genevieve is working on her first novel and on perfecting her hygge. Get updates at

For Women Who Are Difficult to Love By Khalypso

For Women Who Are Difficult to Love

After Warsan Shire

i never wanted to be a horse
but my mother taught me early

our mothers teach us all what womanhood
has in the palm of its hand
to crush

i saw my femininity there

i saw my delicate
my soft
feathers that shed before they even knew

when you are the color
of someone else’s promise land,
milk and honey come in forms
that clog the arteries
yet, have no sweetness to give
and burn going down—

our mothers
with fingers meant for kneading
tongues meant for cutting
feed us practical
black girl sensibilities

and we grow
sometimes sharp
obese with wit
to shed these piranha teeth sets
between our ribs,
under our breasts

our mothers taught us how to eat
and how to acquiesce
to any kind of rough that calls
itself love. that is all.      so

i could give birth to whatever you want
if you file me away
sand me down
dip me in all the bleach and honey
you need

if you can find a way to call me
black          gentle      beautiful

even if that means broodmare

i will be all you want
i will be satisfied

By Khalypso


Khalypso is an 18 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently residing in Elk Grove. She is the Social Media Manager of Black Napkin Press and Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine as well as Culaccino Magazine. Her work centers primarily around charting the complicated existence of being colored and woman and alive—a metaphysical dilemma she wishes she could conquer and whose defeat she would whisper the secrets of into Ntozake Shange’s ear. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Vending Machine Press, and Black Napkin Press. She will rep South Sac ’til her dying days and lives for black celebrities dragging the Kardashians for filth.

Glory Days By Albert Zhang

Glory Days

Do you remember those days we spent,
Windows rolled down
Driving long hours
Blasting to Britney
In the blistering Georgian heat

To the giant, looming mountains
Of Tennessee
Passing through open prairies
While counting cows
And green highway signs

Then, vaporizing under the
Cool, ghostly fog
Of Smoky Mountain
And coming out
Into hot Houston, where

We played
A ping pong tournament where
You won gold,
Leaving me silver,

And afterwards you offered
Your burly shoulders
For my lonely teardrops
As we slurped noodle soup
In that rusty, old Vietnamese pho restaurant
Across from the new convention center where

There stood a homeless man
His cardboard printed,
In bold black sharpie,
“Down on luck,
Spare a buck?”
And we dropped exactly

A buck, and
Two generous dimes
The coins clunking
Onto the silver,
Corroding metal

And when we finally drove home,
Do you remember,
Teaching me how to play dòu dizhǔ
Red cards sprawled over the backseat
Giggles vibrating through the night?

By Albert Zhang


Albert Zhang is Head Editor for The Westminster Schools Bi-Line, the school newspaper and oversees as Sports Section Editor as well. He is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of Evolutions Magazine, The Westminster Schools’s annual creative writing magazine. Albert attended The Kenyon Review workshop, was a SCAD Silver Scholar, and has been published in Celebrating Art Magazine and exhibited at Atlanta’s High Museum, Capitol Building, and National Fair.



when they threw
me from the building
the world warped
and stretched like toffee

when they threw
me from the building
I fell like Alice
wind in my skirts

to land in wonder
when they threw
me from the building
I grew wings

when they threw
me from the building
the air in my ears roared
deafening angelic harmonies
to perfection

when they threw me
from the building
it wasn’t nearly so
high as I thought
little more than a kerbstone

all depth is a trick of perspective
I concluded cheerfully and picked
myself up and walked away

when they threw
me from the building
I landed on my feet
I caught the bus
got caught in the rain but
made it to the party

my eye betrayed me and
I did not pluck it out
my hand betrayed me and
I did not strike it off

when they threw me
from the building
it was all of me
that landed

when they threw
me from the building

I was freer
than they were

when they threw
me from the building
my first cry and my last
was Love

By James M’Kay


James M’Kay has been involved in the UK spoken word scene for nearly 20 years, since before it was even really a thing. He started semi-legendary DIY cabaret night Home Cooking in Newcastle, and went on to be a key team member at Utter! Spoken Word during its pioneering London seasons and Edinburgh Fringe shows from 2009-2012. His solo poetry show The Boy with the Moomin Tattoo debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 and is set to return next year; Very Friendly Weapon, his second collection of poems, will be published by Burning Eye Books also in 2018. Welcomes Twitter contact (@quietcircus).

Fear By Bola Opaleke


the word was dead
when it landed on my sweaty nose,
they say it wasn’t meant for my ears.

my landlord has a bad habit
of taking what should never be taken

from me. the Torturer’s whip curl around
his wrist, curl around my neck
because his hands looked like mine

looked like the torn net of a blind fisherman.
His words were spoken through the barrel of the gun.

on our walls photos of many old masters
that cannot be removed but only graffitied.
like a rough lover left to his uncraft

making a road where that was none
I built dreams around the buckets

used to collect my mother’s Rhino eggs
preparing her every glimmer of hope
for a sudden explosion that’s sure to come.

and when I’m completely spent
standing clueless before the locked doors,

beside the windows where the girls and the women
in my life stood, so cold no fire in the world
could warm them one after the other

I took the dead words from my sweaty nose
used them to plead with the landlord,

the keys (to my language) dangling between his fingers.
the women say they can make the word alive again
but the other words are frozen in their mouth too.

By Bola Opaleke


Bola is a Nigerian-Canadian poet residing in Winnipeg, MB. His poems have appeared or forthcoming in a few poetry magazines like Rattle, Cleaver, One, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, The Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, Dissident Voice, Poetry Quarterly, The Indianapolis Review, Miracle E-Zine, Poetry Pacific, Drunk Monkeys, League of Canadian Poets (Poetry Month 2013), St. Peters College(University of Saskatchewan) Anthology (Society 2013 Vol. 10), Pastiche Magazine, and others. He holds a degree in City Planning.