I BEAR WITNESS By James M’Kay

I BEAR WITNESS

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

Biography:

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

FEAR

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

Biography:

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.

Our Crooked Teeth By Lydia Flores

Our Crooked Teeth

Freedom molds itself to molars
but we are made gargle & spit.
born an under bite

brackets, brace, retainer
her teeth in the mouth of
disunited states.

Colgate white the enamel
of a cavity being. I am
mouth against dark

take me, mold me in your dentistry
What of my X-ray? I am here today.

Yellow of survival
floss culture through
swish away the plaque
of what we are.

Root canal your secrets. now
smile, show them your teeth

Dissipate stains of our war
let no one know what you ate

By Lydia Flores

Biography:

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 inlightofmysoul.com or @_fearlessocity

2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees

The True North strong and free! (1)

We are elated to announce our nominees for the 2017 Pushcart Prize Anthology! Congratulations to all of these phenomenal poets for the work they are doing and the light they are bringing to the world. Their words are good medicine and they helped heal us during this past year. We hope they did the same for you as well. Read the full text of their poems by following the links below.

A Kind of Ritual By Jasmine Cui

A LEPER BEGS THE SON OF GOD By Brianna Albers

Prayer in Taino War Paint By Juniper Cruz

Oil Painting By Nikita Gill 

Alternative Facts By Athena Dixon 

MEDUSA WRITES FOR TEEN VOGUE By Dorothy McGinnis

Little Ship By Jay Douglas

Little Ship

On our final voyage
passing Saturn
the human race will pause
its flight, engines on standby, to admire
the celestial rings
one last time

From the vast expanse
of windows in our departing ship
we will see the particulate rings
the many-as-one
and we will think of earth
of armies, nations, riots, mobs,
protests, stadiums full
of cheering crowds,
of plagues, of flocks and herds
of long-extinct livestock
and the many-as-one that is
what is left of us on our exodus

And we will realize we are
as we have always been
a microcosm, an ecosystem, whole
worlds inside us
and at the same time we are the worlds themselves
floating away in our little ship
afraid and brave, destitute and beautiful,
pinballing across the universe
the same as everything else

By Jay Douglas

Biography:

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

to wolftime pastures the winter horses go
like winds between the wheat fields
steering into moonlessness
tender their vows, that yet dance into darkness,
worn with earth’s ware weighing

will they journey those white fields, winged eros?

a body is missing
bending and bending over the wildgrasses
for a voice that is not their own

o, body, this relic cannot be cradled
as it travels through all that once was

within such sorrows, assorted gleams
cocoon of mist, high pasture, bony
and vivid

the hunter passes from notice, the pale mares
claim victory on the lake of cranes

devotion pours from the ignorant mouth
like light over a familiar face

too many animals for the soul to hold on to

and so the heart is beneath night’s final chamber,
thirsty, black clouds stretch the heavens
remembering their old love of the river

– gone from them

exile, in spirit, lightless leaves, pitiless flame
set upon the heart of the darkest waters

a woman’s body bound in ash, bathing
in a lightless horizon:
windweaver shadowwalker thistlewolf rivermask
and the winter horses, like prayers tow their heavy tongues,
escaping into loneliness

into what is, what was, will be

a world where all is patient and ever-waiting,
a world where one drinks air and the heart hatches
summer-blooms and the sea-taste of sincerity

kneel, beloved, all is here still

By Eleanor Gray

Biography:

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–bagms.tumblr.com/