reservation for the moon By Vanessa Maki

reservation for the moon

one night she got her large suitcase
out from under her bed
then went onto her laptop
she looked into a one-way ticket
for the next new moon & booked the trip
her flight wasn’t for another few days
so she took that time to say her goodbyes
to the world that she wouldn’t miss
she wondered what it would be like up there
would other black women join her?
so they could recollect on what it was like
to lose their innocence so early
due to society hypersexualizing black girls
we don’t get ‘handle with care’ labels
we get viewed as women before we are adults

By Vanessa Maki

Biography:

Vanessa Maki is a writer (& other things) who is queer & full of black girl magic. She’s been published in Enclave, Faded Out, Rag Queen Periodical, Occulum, Five:2:One Magazine, SYS, horny poetry review, sublet press, Entropy, Susan/The Journal & is forthcoming in Sorority Mansion among others. She is founder/editor of yell/shout/scream & rose quartz journal. Twitter: ahumantornado.

After Eid By Ayesha Usman

After Eid

After Eid, dad
piled us all into one car
headed North with
nothing but three
backpacks on the roof
and a knack for reckless
un-planning

Sar kiye yeh pahar
we are stuck in 13-hour
traffic jams, and there’s only
so many times I can listen
to despacito in one
sitting and beat my
siblings in uno on
my makeshift-table
legs

Daryaon Ki Gehraiyon mein,
they will find the rocks
we threw in one by one
like tamed secrets,
and the broken
whiskey bottle my
brother tossed
when he thought no
one was looking

Tujhay Dhoonda Hai,
in these winding roads
leading somewhere,
the riverside motels
open for the summer,
the local children
as sweet as the
honey boxes lining
their street

By Ayesha Usman

*urdu lyrics written by a Pakistani band named Strings as first lines of each stanza.

Translation:

‘In the mountains high
In the depths of the rivers so deep
‘Been searching for you’.

Biography:

Ayesha Usman is a twenty-one year old med student from a Pakistani town nestled between dusty, orange mountains. She believes in the magic of words and sends good vibes to anyone who happens to stumble upon her work.

 The women in our lives By Ayesha Usman

The women in our lives

After Cairo Mathebula

The women in our lives
invent lightening in their basements,
burn things they cannot keep,
slow-dance to Frank Sinatra
on Monday mornings,
to milk frothing over pots and
dirty dishes in the kitchen
sink

The engineers of vulnerability
Our providers of secret strength and
our fortresses of hope

The women in our lives
tell us not to go out unless we need to,
to always keep our heads down,
loud locked away, hands wide open
ready for the giving
They speak in consequences,
take their turn to scold us
for our misgivings, practicing
speeches as old as century,
words woven into every female genome

The well-wishers of our society
Our ‘I-told-you-so’s’ and ‘what will people say’
Our noor in dark corners and our
witches of moon-magic

They are seen in
parking lots,
Sunday bazaars,
offices in high apartment
buildings,
in our homes
arranging dinners and
in our aerobic classes
the women in our lives

By Ayesha Usman

Biography:

Ayesha Usman is a twenty-one year old med student from a Pakistani town nestled between dusty, orange mountains. She believes in the magic of words and sends good vibes to anyone who happens to stumble upon her work.

Growing Pains By Elise Ofilada

Growing Pains

for Kian Lloyd Delos Santos

Baby’s first political scandal summons a man who is named in reverse;
On local TV, there is every noise. Plunder rhymes with sense
of wonder
. My mother takes my hand. Joseph Estrada steps down.
Slowly. As all babies do, I learn to walk.

VHS tapes start to die. I kick my brother, make him cry, but it is Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo who is saying I’m sorry, eyes dead, center on the camera
where my mother is so angry. She is going to teach me a lesson: ABC
is to ZTE, is to Hello, Garci.

Whatever that means. In the third grade, all we studied
were the words to Taylor Swift’s Fearless and I don’t know, she sings.
How does it get better than this? My teacher asks me
to join the school paper. In Maguindanao,

Thirty-four journalists are murdered.
There is radio silence. There are no songs about massacre.
My mother changes the station, but all they are playing
is Many Villar’s jingle on infinite loop, asking kung nakaligo na ba ako

sa dagat ng basura? No. All I’ve done is fold my fingers
in the shape of my mother’s; in the shape of her mother’s; in the shape
of an accusation that my classmates think is funny
to put up on their foreheads. But, come election day, the letter

Is not a symbol for loser. It only means we’ve elected too many ghosts.
It only means my classmates and I do not go to high school
because PNoy says it doesn’t exist, anymore
than the forty-four, whose Exodus goes unaccounted

for, like the time my best friend transferred schools to Antipolo.
I took their hands and kissed them. This, too, is political. The PNP give
a boy a gun, tell him to go run. When my mother asks me, what I want to be
after Senior High, I must hesitate, before I say: I want to be alive.

I turn eighteen to the sounds of thousands being shot
every time Digong opens his mouth. This is the last juxtaposition.
He says my god I hate everyone, while wiping blood off his hands
with the viral headlines the media churn out, until they are clean.

But the bodies are still swaddled in garbage bags, too dark
for this time of day, I think, these poor people. The cardboard is still screaming.
This corpse is an example of our progress; our justice, without justification.
Tell me, Digong. What’s it like, on the losing side of the war?

If you can call this a war. If it’s not just that no one’s
getting any older. There is no growing up in a country
that has yet to do the same.

If my inheritance is babies crying
because the government killed their fathers,
you raise angry children who believe
there is little left

to lose.

By Elise Ofilada

Biography:

Elise Ofilada is an incoming freshman at Ateneo de Manila University. Her work can be found in SOFTBLOW, Rambutan Literary, and The Ekphrastic Review, among other places. She lives in Quezon City, Philippines.

THEY CAN’T KILL US By Elise Ofilada

THEY CAN’T KILL US

what are you afraid of?
ghosts?
the dead that don’t know
how to die?

why? are they
coming for you?
what more
could they possibly

want?
to possess you?
to reincarnate
into the whites

of your knuckled
fists? wouldn’t
that hurt them?
wouldn’t
you think

it’s a pain
to live joint
in someone else’s
violence?

look behind you.

is anyone there?
is anything dying
to see
the light?

where are you going?
where have they gone?
aren’t you, now,
standing in their place?

By Elise Ofilada

Biography:

Elise Ofilada is an incoming freshman at Ateneo de Manila University. Her work can be found in SOFTBLOW, Rambutan Literary, and The Ekphrastic Review, among other places. She lives in Quezon City, Philippines.

sisyphus reinvented By Luisana Cortez

sisyphus reinvented

i climb towards the summit of my voice
with lungs clogged, ether circling back to its beetle-eyed maker.
under the gagging mist, memorabilia smothers larvae.
prayer cards and such.
baby teeth growing like buds, infesting further the infested.
dumped furniture waiting for the strain of the occupier —
not unlike the vacancy of my cocoon throat.
each step is a leap out of my body into a carcass pronounced girl,
pronounced shrill and honeyed in self-infliction,
pronounced too steep to hold other than itself.
i tread towards the summit of my voice as it crouches
deeper into embodiment. as it kneels away from the mist.
no fear can exist in a voice pupating with neck bruises.

By Luisana Cortez

Biography:

Luisana Cortez is a Mexican-American person that plans to study English at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been previously published or is forthcoming in The Harpoon Review, Ghost City Review, A Velvet Giant, and more. This poem is titled “sisyphus reinvented.”

What I Told Instead By Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

What I Told Instead

I am watching a bird being pulled by the wind,
It reminds of how words flew out of mother’s mouth…
I am sure you want to know more of this.
But you know that all things are not just told.
So I will tell another thing instead.
Something in this way:
A boy understands grief and names it with the
Parts of the body. Head is a canned bean of loneliness.
Legs are wheels of strange and muffled laughter.
Hand and stomach are paintings of unnamed memories.
And somewhere, not in his chest, is his heart full of broken love.

By Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Biography:

He (@ChinuaEzenwa) is from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and a lover of literature. He has won the Association Of Nigerian Author’s Literary Award for Mazariyya Ana Teen Poetry Prize, 2009; Speak to the Heart Inc. Poetry Competition, 2016; and recently, Castello di Duino poetry prize, 2018. He became a runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash fiction, 2014 with I Saved My Marriage. And some of his works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Kalahari Review, Praxismagazine and Raffish Magazine.