READING [IN ISOLATION]
At night she folds herself into one, filmy,
shrinkwrapped and bound by things that
puncture the mind and sink under surface, dead-
bark and wood. At first the cover proves
unmalleable much like a globe but to press a
finger in and dig up pulls Algeria to Greenland,
oceans kneaded, nations overturned. At the
heart of it sidles up four walls on each side of her,
foreign, like the inner skin of ice when it tries to
flower. In the end only one clover remains
standing, its membrane of leaves threadbare, pushing
against light, the feeling of multiplying and rising
and fading all at once. At night she folds herelf in,
can never get out. Dreaming in different colors
like religions, bowing to a single word.
By Yejin Suh
Yejin Suh is an aspiring writer from New Jersey who appears or is forthcoming in Half Mystic, Juke Joint Mag, and Prometheus Dreaming, among others.
my palms are flowering with white cul-de-sacs
tied with crisp ribbons and dyed crimson at the tips,
they lure drooling blue and brown and hazel eyes
towards the glorious American Dream.
black eyes are not on this color spectrum.
black eyes possess a void—
a void that not even papier-mâché can fill.
I lick lilacs off my fingertips,
varnish my skin with sticky oils,
hoping to sweeten my blood for birds to peck at
maybe if the fat is gone, my eyes will have more space.
maybe then my eyes won’t be mistaken for
a slit of a button hole in my lint-eaten flannel.
I dream of a day where having folds
in the crest of my lid will open caverns to light
and my yellowing skin doesn’t stench
of the fat tofu I ate.
please spare me of this tyrant king’s reign,
quench the fires that gulp syllables like pulp.
I want to be nestled in the crook of your shoulder
I want to be lulled to sleep with a song about dried raisins
I want to breathe of candlewicks and dusty closets,
but for now, I’ll marinate under these stolen stars.
By Katherine Wei
Katherine is currently a sophomore attending BASIS Chandler in Arizona. She likes to skateboard, paint acrylic portraits, and play volleyball. Her writing has been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and been published by Risen Zine, Page and Spine, Life in 10, and many others.
From this height, this is womanhood.
Fleshy and blistered, razor against womb –
chrysalis into smoke or a wall or a plea. A
building weighs itself, windows too heavy to
carry itself; woman too light to carry herself,
too rented to carry a person. Of a man,
you find a woman; fortified tire tracks on road
crack unto roots. Mouths drool dirt.
From bedrock, this is humanity. Frozen
and clinical, seed into pill into bloodstream;
oxygen eviscerates till skinned human
bleeds plum blossom. Clavius looks too far
from here. Balance on bedrock –
mold into bedrock, bury ourselves.
By Sarah Street
Sarah Street is a junior and Writing Fellow at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, where she also writes for the school newspaper and edits the literary magazine. Her poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Aerie International, DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts, Just Poetry National Quarterly, The America Library of Poetry, and Live Poet’s Society among others. Sarah’s work has been recognized by the New York Times Student Poetry Contest, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest, and River of Words Poetry Project. Sarah’s writing frequently explores themes of children’s rights and social justice; she is passionate about promoting diversity, advocating for human rights, and inspiring unity through writing, music, and community service.
Unlearning the Principles of Displacement for a Body at Rest
I’m only a boy on the night my father returns from his former life ─
a country that offered him death for two bottles of cheap wine ─
hair, the colour of wet moss
and stranded between columns of woodsmoke and evening air,
a prayer book for exorcisms flipped open in his head.
He wades his way to shore, skin bleached by pale sunlight.
I want to say greetings but he offers charred teeth for smiles.
A bag of bones for gifts. Blood stained hands in lieu of an embrace.
I hurt myself with a fishhook, curious to discover
what remains of my tactile sense. I drill a hole
into the point where the tip of my thumb should be ─
a scavenger, digging for diamond in a deserted coal mine.
My father does not gather strands of my falling hair in his hands
nor does he start to ululate in thanksgiving
for (my) survival in his absence.
His eyes are never here nor there,
wanting love, wanting home again, wanting everything.
He says: ‘come home, boy. Home is an open door.’
I say: ‘my body is rainwater finding home after a thunderstorm.’
So I’ll stay until deep into sundown when the stars start
to fall and hit my feet in sparkles.
I’ll stay until I no longer see his face, heavy with liquor,
nor feel the painful evidence of his whip on my lower back
─ induced stretch marks.
Until I become unable to decipher sounds
nor answer to this river each time she calls ─ tender notes
rising, then dissolving into echoes, soft and thrumming
like sapphire tossed into her body, slicing out a neat arc in air
before sinking and causing ripples in concentric circles.
I’ll stay all night, until I’m washed clean again, by the dews at first light.
By Chisom Okafor
Chisom Okafor is a Nigerian poet and Nutritionist, who was shortlisted for the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2019. He edited 20:35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and presently works as Chapbook editor for Libretto Magazine.
te quiero con limón y sal
crab legs steamed in garlic
fish tacos and hornitos
on the coast of california
queer with my lover, we’re
the only gays in this bar
and we don’t give a fuck
I’m in love with a smoky
mid-summer day, a honeyed
shot of sol where nothing
seems sweeter, this type
of amor I heard about from
my tía: a chavela grito
on the hottest night of
the year my heart
breaks en borrachero
over seafood, tequila gold
mi queridx es un alacrán
the scorpion from an old
folktale about a brujx that
hexes men into dry deserts
in this version of the story
they are marimacha, charmer
of lesbianas across bramble
and bush, in each prickled spine
my lover is a heart biter
centuries old, they sting
more lips and hips than don juan
smoother than a casket cabrón
By Antonia Silva
Antonia Silva is a queer Mexican-American poet from Santa Ana, California who currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Antonia’s work is published in Tinderbox Poetry Journal.
peroxide sun wheel the milky sky
my garments frothy gaze slanted shy
time flakes off in twelves the week yawns
halo of gnats ragged face brushed soft
a raw scrape fluid bones paper cut
monkey wrench coffee cake dumb stump
I eat my eggs I walk home I tell lies
dazed by the sun & its wasteful suicide
the moon usurps scornful a slim rib
growing fat on a gorgeous brute’s whims
I want to die I want no mother or prophet
I choke on god’s gigantic silence
By Maham K
Maham K is a poet, artist & medical student from Karachi, Pakistan. She has been published by Indige Zine, Berry Magazine, Soliloquie Magazine, and Luna Rio Zine.
the both of us animal-soft in
a derelict parking lot. 5:14am & the
radio spits static. coming down at the end of
the night, it’s an afterparty, a
sickening sort of voyeurism. it’s all
the scenes from those coming-of-age
movies where the camera pans
out & afterwards you understand everything
but now it’s just us & the smallest god
we know—nothing to see here, move
along. move along.
the world spins on its lithium-colored
axis. the storytellers all agree,
everything is the same story once
you get to the rotten core, the apple
-sliced desire of it. & in the afterglow,
history forgives many things. swallow the city
open-mouthed, dear. the fact of the
matter is, any one of us can be unraveled
noisemake. we search for light.
all we are asking for is to uncover the
truth, to leave a handprint on the
wall that matters, to say, i exist
i exist i exist
before the camera catches
up to us.
By Eunice Kim
Eunice Kim is a Korean-American writer living in Seoul. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Polyphony, The Heritage Review, Vagabond City Lit, and more. She currently works as a staff reader for The Adroit Journal and a volunteer writer for Her Culture.
Sonnet in Infinitives
To be a matter when there’s no question
Or not to be a question when nothing really matters
To sing with a frog squatting straight
On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake near Jingzhou
To recollect all the pasts, and mix them
Together like a glass of cocktail
To build a nest of meaning
Between two broken branches on Ygdrasil
To strive for deity
To come on and off line every other while
To compress consciousness into a file, and upload it
Onto a nanochip. To be daying, to die
By Yuan Changming
Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include 10 Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.
If you do end up travelling to find home,
try to take an album with you.
Play it from the beginning
and let the shuttle windows perform the tunes of a land
that your ears have lost. Forgive the aproned eyes
that follow you like paintings.
The first songs are the singer’s breadwinners. Their allegro. Their deliverance
into the public eye–their birthplace. You will be tempted to jump to these,
but they are only your first loves, the strangers we all fall for
and you are no acrobat. Wait your turn to be found; there are more
like them. Everyone came from somewhere, but only some are lucky
enough to marry their first songs, their hometowns,
to hold them and to be held by them each night, to see them without
the superstar bling, the opera masks, the trappings for tourists,
grubbing at the old dives and driving the kids through shortcuts. Only the luckiest
watch the same face on the pillow change morning by morning,
instead of by years, decades, casually, while scrolling, or over coffee
like the rest of us– Diaspora: something sent you into exile
and you leave tracks of yourself everywhere. Find them in the second song.
By Meimei Xu
Meimei Xu is a junior at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA. She is a recipient of a 2018 National Gold Medal for Journalism from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and her nonfiction and poetry will move onto national judging this year. Her work has also been recognized by the Library of Congress. She currently works as a content writer for the Adroit Journal and has attended the 2018 Kenyon Review Young Writer’s Workshop.
This is the almost
Hotel in our hometown,
the horizon burns as dusk
approaches. This is before I stop
wanting a thousand sleeps
with you across the world.
We talk about a place in the heart
of the French Quarter during Jazz fest.
Take me to tarot readers on sidewalks, as
the moon glows above us, let’s find ghosts
in the misty alleyways at dawn. I want
the heat burned into our skin and memories.
We start listing other destinations,
where we can hide in plain sight from
the world and our worries. I hold these
hopes in my hands that your promises are not empty
This is before the erosion of faith in you.
It is never a good time to explain how you wound,
how indulging those who bulldoze you—to achieve
their own desires—doesn’t crush just you.
How you slip stones down my throat
so everything is garbled—I am weighted
down with words you don’t want to hear.
I know how you have diminished me to others
with your lies, when it counted most.
By Marisa Silva-Dunbar
Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in 24 Neon Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Cabinet of Heed, and Marias At Sampaguitas. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic. Her work is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Sybil Journal, and The Charles River Journal. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris