INSTITUTION GIRLS DON’T CRY
instead of crying she
flapped her arms in mimicry of angels
and hoped to get to Heaven
instead of crying she
chewed away on her cornsilk hair
and baffled every health visitor
instead of crying she
projected Zoo Tycoon faces on the walls of the ward
and protested the birth of her sibling
instead of crying she
read tens and hundreds and thousands of words
and ignored familiar voices
instead of crying she
stuffed her pale head down the back of the settee
and insisted she saw lights there
By Emma-Louise Adams
Emma-Louise Adams is a multiply disabled lesbian writer who divides their time between the Sheffield and Cambridge areas of the UK. They were briefly institutionalized as a child and have been searching for freedom ever since. They find it in public parks, literary magazines, and as much advocacy as they can handle
catalog of bodies
Bodies wedged together, elegantly
piled up and floating on scarlet puddle.
Corpses dismembered and decapitated lie
among a dozen other carcasses. Chests were cut
open; rib cages, thrashed. Hearts were always missing.
The putrid stench is the only sign of lives
that once were. I planned to make this more organized,
turn this slaughterhouse into a morgue,
but cleansing is hardly a priority when
fresh corpses come in every other day.
I remember watching my mother weep, begging me
to bring back the daughter she once had.
I went back to the room and check my catalog
of bodies, shuffling through faces frayed and deformed.
Perhaps the girl she looks for is nothing
but frail bones now—I know that she was
the first body to be locked inside this room.
Yet I keep looking, searching for a face among these faces
that all look one and the same. What shame it is that after all
these crimes, I still see myself in their lifeless bodies.
By Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro is a writer, poet, and editor from Laguna, Philippines. She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Brown Orient and the Prose Editor of Rag Queen Periodical. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Hypertrophic Literary, The Poetry Annals, Jellyfish Review, and L’Ephemere Review, among other places, and has been profiled in Luna Luna Magazine and TERSE. Journal.
In A Land Full of Promises
All light rests on you like lovebirds
on an intricate arm of an apple tree.
Your mouth speaks a foreign language
that my mother tongue can’t decipher.
Small moles on your left cheek are
arranged into the cosmic sign of Virgo,
a blurry reminder of my homeland.
Trapped, in this endless vacuum of time.
Your glossy eyes embody the Atlantic sea
that drove me into depression. An estranged
pilot stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Drifting away with ocean currents. No boats
to drive me back to my homeland.
I can trace your blue veins
more easily than my lineage. I stand
alone in this world, resisting to be dragged
by the currents that once engulfed me
into an endless pit of darkness. When I reach
into the center of your body, your heartbeat
is a distant light for a wanderer in the sea.
So I decide to settle on you.
By Jimin Lee
Jimin Lee is a Korean-American writer living in Seoul, South Korea. As a published author on various platforms, her fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Crashtest Magazine, The Daphne Review, and The Rising Phoenix Review, among others. She is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Ideate Review, a literary magazine that recognizes works of creative writing and art relating to global issues and identity. In addition, she is an alumnus of the Juniper Institute for Young Writers. She enjoys learning about the world around her and writing about it.
i’ve got enough glory to go around the block three times
but i haven’t made it that far yet
drive the knife deeper into the muscle hot and quick
red wonder protects me from living too freely
watch the blood sing with the water in deep vibrato
weapons used by our fathers in the night
tearing at nectarine meat from the organic market
juice shining on my skin and my teeth like the sun
in a room full of poets our edges blurred into hairy legs
unraveled and iced coffee sweat
what we allowed ourselves to hold un-secret in time
bleeding out onto open blank pages
the last time i fell this hard face first into concrete
the doctor sutured me back into place
we spoke of summer ripe with yellowing bruises
so often we were fifteen and alive
By Cassidy Black
Cassidy Black is a small-town poet and op-ed article contributor for her local newspaper. She has attended Winter Tangerine’s summer writing workshop at Poets House, NYC. She collects postcards, glass bottles, and experiences she can write about. Find Cassidy on Tumblr at basementblues.tumblr.com
Message to the White House
You hate me, I know
You hate my people
You hate what we represent
My flesh is the night’s untold tale
My eyes are the dark tunnels Harriet Tubman marched into
My hair is nappy, my lips are full like bloated rose
petals swollen from rain drops
My hair, darker than the hearts of supremacists
and I carry the weight
of what it means to have skin like mine
from those long gone
You sit on a throne, white as the moon
Whiter than the nation you conquer
and craft a plan to melt the golden wings of my people
You don’t have the power to steal the waves underneath our ships
You are the ones who brought us here
and now this is our country too
On the news
somber tears float on unkind winds
Another one of my brothers has died at your whim
I bet you’re making a killing
from making us out to be killers
stuffing us into your for-profit prisons
Engraving us with lead, a new branding,
and yet you dare to speak on that podium as if
we begged the bullets to take refuge in our bodies
begged them to make a home in our decay
You’ve conducted a mental, perceptual genocide
systematically murdering our image
In the minds of the unsuspecting– even our own
But it haunts you doesn’t it, my black fingers
crawling up your pristine, cotton colored monuments
dragging my bullet riddled body slowly up your pedestal
up to where you stand with condescending eyes looking down
on our struggle. I bet it terrifies your sleepless nights
in your whitehouse, the symbol of smiling freedom and democracy
That same ivory castle that was built atop the scarred, ebony backs
of freedom-starved men. Ironic isn’t it.
By Sankara Olama-Yai
Poems by Sankara”Le Prince Héritier” Olama-Yai. Sankara is an LGBTQ+, African American student who currently studies at Penn State. They is a reader for Frontier poetry. Poems have previously been published by Weasel press, InSpiritry and Military Review, they have had work accepted by 805 lit won three Scholastic Art&Writing awards for his poetry. Sankara is in the process of publishing their first two poetry books with Vital Narrative Press.
Lover boy maps the night
I am up at this hour/Afraid/
& gathering your thoughts/
Into poems and things close to them/
my body shredding/ at the
hands of something like worry/
i mean that/ my lover’s silence
Sounds too much like a death
Sentence/ with flowers accompanying
Their conduct/ i bury them
Each time/ But they pirouette/ each
grown as daffodil in dreams/
To pluck sleep from my eyes/ your
Image is here/ stuck in my pupil/
As vestige/ feel the trace of
Your clamour in my voice/ painted
With Roses/ in anticipation of
Your return to the bay.
By Olúwapèlúmi Francis Sàlàkó
Olúwapèlúmi Francis Sàlàkó writes from North Central, Nigeria. His writings aim to interrogate the place of memory, loss & love, stereotype, culture, history, time and space.
The World Constantly Wants to Teach Me How to Be a Woman
Before I memorize the world they teach
me to be in accordance with their silence
somehow & I’d rather prefer a world full
of paper boats & violet lilacs & red tulips
but I’m taught what it is to be a woman
than learn or birth a trajectory & last time
I was in the mall I was told that X size
won’t fit me, not without a grin & that’s
the way of the world in which it hits you
by the elbow & grabs your neck while
your esophagus sends signals to your brain
as if an emergency calls forth—is what
goes on in my mind & there are swarms
of bees outside this mall that seem freer
than the shackles here & Woolf once
thought of being locked outside & knew
being locked in was worse & the narrative
clinks like light bulbs of a store saying—
this is what it means to be a woman
the first lesson usually involves the practice
of speaking less & smiling more—cut my
tongue, burn it, turn it to flakes of ashes
the second is you must stand behind a man
& the third is that if you are alone you are
vulnerable & I want to yield to this night
& its rhythm & stare into the emptiness
like a shipwreck that builds its way into
dawn before the world feeds me another
poisoned potion in a cup & I scream into
the emptiness as wildflowers at night
& cut through the barbaric with my teeth
& though the world wants to constantly
teach me how to be a woman I drown
its throttle into the emptiness of sky & sea.
By Sneha Subramanian Kanta
Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a GREAT scholarship awardee, and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. Her chapbook titled ‘Home is Hyperbole’ won the Boston Uncommon Chapbook Series (Boston Accent Lit). She is the author of Synecdoche (The Poetry Annals) and Prosopopoeia (Ghost City Press). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal. An old soul, she runs a patisserie.