it is not for everybody By Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

it is not for everybody

I do not want to know the patterns of forgetting
For my teacher would look me in the face
To trace bent names she painted already in my heart.
The things written in books she gives my class
Have turned me into fogs. In my sleep, the letters
Say that I am the 27th alphabet with no name; the numbers
Say that I cannot solve its equations or find x or find y.
There is verbal reasoning. There is quantitative reasoning.
Two spaces filled in the belly of my backpacks.
But the butterfly in my arm draws itself in landscapes.
And there I go and spread myself in canvasses of my paintings.

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.

Gardens By Gina Marie Bernard

Gardens

matter matters, after all.

class sizes beget body count—
a certain sewing of bone meal.

sentence or bullet fragments?

riddle given two trajectories;
magazine, coupled connotations.

run-on or run away—approximation

as fragile as pre-frost transfers;
a timeline history books struggle to chronicle.

Meanwhile, division fails—

perpetual anniversaries
multiplied by subtraction.

a geometry of desiccation,
blood bouquets cast,

back spattered along an X-axis.

the learning curve seemingly too steep

to overcome, our children are left to don
formal wear for both prom and yet another

perennial funeral.

By Gina Marie Bernard

Biography:

Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own her heart. Her chapbook Naked, Getting Nuder was a 2018-2019 Glass Chapbook series finalist, and has been accepted for publication by Clare Songbirds Press. Her work has recently appeared in The Hunger and Waccamaw Journal, and is forthcoming in Anomaly, Lavender Review, Riggwelter, Spider Mirror, and The Real Story.

Where Are We From? By Adedayo Ademokoya

WHERE ARE WE FROM?

In the lake of nowhere, I was submerged
Memories put time under restraint
The incredible jargon of life seem clueless
As I cleave to my earth to cultivate
The rebellion of my heart’s Sahara
Let me find solace in the Dunes
Sing to my deaf ears, hamerkop
Lemur, make me comprehend
The defiance of the baobab
Lost in the eye of Africa
The nostalgia of our unsung heroes

I sailed the Red Sea, jumped over the Kano wall
Rode on the meticulous giraffe and flew on the vulturine guinea fowl
What do I search for?
The Golden Fleece or the diamond sheep?
Jinx me on the Turkana Lake
Let the finfoot serenade me with remembrance
I just want to return to my source of hope
Let the colourful mandrill drill me with the threats of home
Djmaa el Fna, bring succor of the precious times
Crown the grey crowned crane as king of flight
I just want to go home!

By Adedayo Ademokoya

Biography:

Adedayo Ademokoya is a writer and poet who is crazily in love with infusing passion to bring life out of words to express himself. He sometimes writes with the pseudonym ‘Fantasticdee’. Some of his works have appeared on BravesArts Africa, Praxis Magazine, Parousia Magazine, Indian Periodical, African Writer, Thought Catalog and elsewhere.

An Incomplete History of Us By Emily Yin

An Incomplete History of Us 

how you lifted up the box lid with boyish
trepidation, untried magician’s sleight

of hand—showed off a pair of oxfords,
copper-toned and napped, unvarnished

like you—how we sat in the mute station bereft
of trains, straining to hear some 80s hit:

more than this, you know there is nothing
more than this. you stooped to pick up a pen,

the forgettable sort—bic, or maybe pentel,
scrubbed off the dirt later that night

at my bathroom sink, hard-bitten nails
roving carefully over the slim body—

how those same unhurried hands
traversed my arms, my back, a pianist’s breathless

glissando, tuned me to breaking point—my head
against your thudding chest, my phone

still clutched in stubborn palm,
a painless pain, my knuckles blanched

whiter, even, than bone—

By Emily Yin

Biography:

Emily Yin is a freshman studying applied math at Princeton University. Her writing has been recognized by the UK Poetry Society and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. Read her work in Indiana Review Online, Track Four Journal, and Rust + Moth, among others.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf By Maggie Damken

THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF

The longer a person watches sheep
the closer they are to becoming one.
Can we really blame the boy for his boredom,
for crying wolf? He’s not looking to hurt anyone.
He’s looking for the thrill of being believed.
There’s power in an entire village
rushing to your aid because you shouted wolf.

The townsfolk believed me too,
once.

But there was no reason for the pain.
Two ultrasounds came back clear.
After a while complaints of pain
without cause for pain
draw ire instead of sympathy.
How dare you ask them to believe
in something that cannot be seen—
Only God can get away with that.

When at last the boy tells the truth
no one comes running to fend off the wolf.
I never lied, not even once.
Does it matter now?
In the end he & I are both surrounded by the bodies of sheep.

Look at this lamb split open down the belly,
everything inside her spilling out
over the ruined ground.
She died the way my childhood died:
when she knew no one would come to help.

By Maggie Damken

Biography:

Maggie Damken is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College whose writing has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, Ghost Proposal, and the Sarah Lawrence Review. She thanks you for taking the time to read her work

At Home with Dog By Taylor Graham

At Home with Dog

An oft-told story. He came back
from the war, his old place at the taco-works
was gone. He needs a job. A homeless
dog took him in. He calls her Cordy.
Ask him, he’ll tell you, where the dog’s bowl
is, that’s home. Pounding city pavement,
it was like he fell down a manhole
into storm-drain – Alice’s rabbit hole
to a parallel, surreal world
where fresh-chopped cilantro transforms
to thistle along the berm, and a rented room
becomes a camo tarp you can’t see
from the highway, invisible among cedars.
Praise the Lord, his dog came
with him. The shelter won’t take dogs.
Evenings, he reads by a caver’s headlamp
he found at thrift. Sometimes
he recites Shakespeare to Cordy who
cocks her ears to any rustle in the brush.
Mornings they walk downtown where he shops
for jobs. Crumpled want-ads in the gutter.
He gets his insight, call it his hope,
rubbing the silky hair behind her ears.
Cordy is home.

By Taylor Graham

Biography:

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and serves as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). The places she searches and trains her dogs are often where the homeless camp or were recently evicted. Her poems are included in Homeless Issues (newsletter of the local Job’s Shelter of the Sierra) as well as the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest books are What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013) and Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).

To Freeze Is Better Than Death By Ifunanya Angelique

To Freeze Is Better Than Death

We now raise our hands
in surrender
startling our innocence
because we cannot risk you
thinking
we are reaching for guns
when we only want our cellphones.

By Ifunanya Angelique

Biography:

Ifunanya Angelique was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is a writer and poet. Ifunanya hopes to use her writing to ‘break chains’, especially the chains which have for a long time, bound people who look like her. Some of her poems have been released in her University magazine as well as some reputable blogs.