In These Nights We Heal Just a Little Bit By Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

In These Nights We Heal Just a Little Bit

as we stare into each other’s eyes, sunlight morphs
into moonlight, into another night of gentle touches

on soft skin and releasing secrets into an air only
we breathe. our bodies, barely clothed, fit together

like we were made to be one, like all of the gods
conspired to conceive this connection between

two mere mortals, who may never have met
had sadness settled in our bones and never shifted

but here we are,

lying in warm arms, fingertips tracing old scars,
discussing our past—the last place we want to be

too open, too soon, but it feels so natural,
going against the defences we built before,

before us. before nights that last decades and
glances worth a million stars

our humour, a unique antiphony unfamiliar to others
our conversations, not even sleep can interrupt

we smile in awe at how strong feelings develop with
the right person, how blessed we are to have this

we have so much in common, like the phrase
‘I didn’t want to’ in our sexual history

we have so much more to learn, like how in a few days
life will remind us love isn’t easy for girls like us

I tell her I have never had this as she strokes my face
she uses the word ‘raped’ like it is her middle name

so used to sexual assault that instead of flinching
in horror, we nod,

knowingly

I hold her closer than I have ever held anyone,
protection from something already passed

I tell her I want to rewrite our stories so we meet
sooner, so the bad things didn’t happen, so

evil hadn’t crawled onto our bodies and left behind
fragile shells of who we used to be, who we’ll never know

but she tells me everything happens for a reason
—I’m not so sure but it sounds nice in her voice

my name sounds nice in her voice

we press our palms to feel our still-beating hearts
grateful that we made it this far, that our bodies

belong to ourselves and we can give them to whomever
we choose, whenever we choose, however we choose

and tonight we choose each other

a gentle gaze sets ablaze as our bodies yearn,
we want this, our fingers curl, we want this

moans and whimpers escape our mouths
without our brains reminding us to fill the silence

we touch each other in ways we weren’t told to, with
a liberty too many women cannot imagine

after, we stare into each other’s eyes, moonlight morphs
into sunlight, not knowing that we will sleep the morning

away and wake to say goodbye to the nights
that changed our lives

previously published in How Will I Sound When My Voice Returns? (self-published 2019 under a pseudonym, republished 2020 as Lauren Elizabeth Taylor)

By Lauren Elizabeth Taylor

Author_Photo_Lauren_Elizabeth_Taylor_Circle

Biography:

Lauren Elizabeth Taylor is a queer writer from Derbyshire, England. She is the author of Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? and How Will I Sound When My Voice Returns?

weapon in translation By Sandhya Ganesan

weapon in translation

language carves my mouth into
the barrel of some misshapen gun.
words like to think they’re bullets
but they’re really shrapnel: all accidental
trajectories, edges that can’t decide
if they want to draw blood or not. usually
they settle for bruises. i hold language
with the wrong hand and my finger never
leaves the trigger. i melt down the name
my mother gave me for ammunition and
its syllables beg for mercy. language
as burning city. language as my hands
trembling as i jam the cartridge
between my teeth. i can’t pronounce
my name the way scripture has it
so i take it to the range until i recognize
the blood. language as firing squad.
mother tongue as ruin. language as a gun
i can’t fire without flinching.

By: Sandhya Ganesan

Biography:

Sandhya Ganesan is a high school junior from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and she serves as a poetry reader for the Aurora Review. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching coding and drinking jasmine tea.

A GIRL LEARNS TO EAT HER HEART OUT By Monericka Semeran

A GIRL LEARNS TO EAT HER HEART OUT

in church. with her mother sitting two seats over.
with her fingers flipping through hymn books.
like they too know hunger is what you feel when you are desperately
trying to mean something/
in her room. with the lights off. where she wants to feel big.
and important. so she invents a tragedy. so she pushes her fingers
as deep inside as they will go. hoping they can touch something
that brings back answers. touch is a hand that hangs at her throat. is a tongue
pressing on the rooftop of her mouth. waiting for her body to do
something interesting/
in her lover’s hand. thinking he will love her
now that she has been touched. surely he will miss
every vestigial limb once she is gone. maybe something
holy might crawl out of his mouth this time. maybe she’ll find
god even if it means boy/
in the supermarket. with florescent lights illuminating
every hurt she has tried to bury. onlookers rummaging
inside her body for what has finally soured. looking at the strawberries.
at the oranges. at the trembling girl. looking for something
to eat with their hands/
in the rain/ in a parking lot/ in a car going too fast/
in a body lying at her mouth’s edge/ in between another
girl’s thighs/ between the spaces in her teeth. and the notches
in her tongue. without her mother knowing. without leaving a mess. without feeling a thing.

By Monericka Semeran

Biography:

Monericka is a young, emerging poet in the New England area. She is in undergrad studying International relations and History, hoping to one day change the world. She can be found listening to Mitski at midnight, reading, writing, or considering radical notions of girlhood and blackness in her spare time.

when the rain comes By Yong-Yu Huang

when the rain comes

i detest the heaviness in my limbs that
settles bone-deep when the droplets find
their way down the glass, tracing the paths that
their calcified forefathers took.
i don’t know the ones my ancestors
took, barely know the ones my parents took,
so i suppose my existence is just the accumulation
of generations of being lost. cursed
before conception and so will my children
be unless i can glean secrets from the
morse-code taps and whispers at my window.
maybe the rain whispers the secrets of my
family and the story that will be mine.
so i press my ear against the glass,
feel the coldness on cartilage, let
the steady beat of their descents travel
into my eardrums and pulse, barely discernible
from the sounds of the blood rush. maybe
i will learn to cup my hands and
let the wetness dribble through
the cracks, shape the water into stories
with fingers worn smooth.

i am jealous of the rain in that way,
as much as one can be jealous
of recycled water that has
seen the intestines of sewage systems and
the gaps between cracked teeth.
but no matter how many exhales and
expulsions from rusted pipes they go through,
the paths they take always lead
home.

but I suppose that they are heaven’s tears
trickling from cloud-sieves; they are but
a glimpse of the feelings that heaven has to offer:
dancing while soaked to the bone, pressing
together shoulder-to-shoulder under a spoke-bared umbrella,
star-gazing after a night shower.
i (dust with a heartbeat,
something earthly
thrumming in my blood) cannot compete
with that—with the dampness soaking into
my lungs and wrinkling my skin, with the hollow
being carved in my back.
rain is a steady force and i am not,
so hide. hide under stuffy covers and muffle the sound of
heaven’s rumbling laughter, ignore the pitying peals of it
as the leaves float in the gutter, belly-up.

By Yong-Yu Huang

Biography:

Yong-Yu Huang is a Taiwanese teenager based in Malaysia. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Heritage Review, Parallax Literary Journal, and Eunoia Review. In her spare time, she can be found playing the flute or binge-watching Doctor Who.

Burial Customs By Yvanna “Ivy” Tica

Burial Customs

I don’t understand how easily
you slip on a scry smile, your eyes a downcast
foreshadow of the things other girls have told you
so long ago. I don’t understand this:
why your mouth rings steadily in the fields, shelter
of wild things fallen in prayer. Yes, help me understand
all the names they’ve marked vaporlike on your rooted back,
all the names you erased in the heavy flow
of a waxing moon—yes, how you understand
why my body expels so much weight every month, can tell me
to stick something between my teeth but still run point-blank
whenever I whisper any of their names,
those angels driven into flowering crosses
lining the road to your farmhouse.

By Yvanna “Ivy” Tica

Biography:

Yvanna “Ivy” Tica is a sophomore at Faith Academy Manila where she serves as Editor-in-Chief for the Faith Review. A previous mentee of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, her works have been regionally and nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. She was also a finalist for the Patricia Grodd Poetry Contest. Her works have been featured in the Filipino-American Chicago newspaper MEGAScene and the Interlochen Review. Being a Filipino TCK Christian, she is an alien on Earth in more ways than one

retrograde / excuses for war By Jasmine Kapadia

retrograde / excuses for war

chapped lips and it is night, and already
i have hit the gas-station ground with bruised knees.
call it a replay
trick of the universe, planet gone missing, ama stumbles somewhere
and fades into ghost in rice-paddy

how quickly mercury can ruin things. except the murmur
of fervent dialect and tongues
pierced through corners of mouths, prayer to mother, buddha / shàng dì / an
unknown god / they said demonic / us or our rituals?
conseiller mystérieux qui accompagne partout le pretendant / do we worship
/ pregnant with sobs
to heaven or to earth and which / can save us?
no room in mouths of rice for jesus, though still half-full

in this low- / lantern / -light, you can be forgiven for mistaking
duck yolk on upper lip as blood, or bodies thrown off train as
beautiful. ama is curled
into the warm embrace of dead people and marsh plants,
holding hands with a Kuomintang fighter plane

or a Kuomintang himself, who really knows the difference

i want to go home and it seems childish under fallen
bodies and incense. we worship ancestors like they can save us /
because they can? / prayer / to nobody in particular / to
wipe us clean. there are no sins in the act of war

except for surviving,
watching burning temples and burning cropland and valuing
one over the other-
the first man to open the door is always
white devil, lǎo wài / and textbooks washed clean with rice-wine

dust air

tropical air / plane lands and i am awake again
lying flat on gas-station ground, blinking the porridge out of
my system like it is a crime / to be full / retrograde.

By Jasmine Kapadia

Biography:

Jasmine Kapadia is a poet and high schooler. She is a JUST POETRY!!! topical winner, has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and is regularly featured in Write the World’s monthly highlights (@Jasmine_K). When not writing, she can be found blasting Beyonce in her room or watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. Find her on Instagram @jazzymoons

Silence is Another Name of my Mother’s Body By Jeremy T. Karn

Silence is Another Name of my Mother’s Body

if you look closely you’ll see it, / it looks
so much like my mother…

the way her body loses / every screws that hold it,
how silence makes / it a sacred thing

it exists within me too, / like the sight of fire eating her eyes,
& the picture in my father’s wallet / she refused to smile on

at 44, my mother’s body / is still germinating a voice / for itself

my father sometimes thinks she’s deaf,

my mother is / overcrowded with silence
that sits in her / throat like sore

lately my mother has been learning / how to choke her throat
with a voice; drawing up maps
to retrace the words her mouth yearns / to say to my father

By Jeremy T. Karn

Biography:

Jeremy T. Karn is a poet from somewhere in Liberia. He was born between 1995 and 1997 but not in 1997. He writes from his room he barely leaves. His poems have been published by African Writer Magazine, Praxis Magazine, Kalahari Review, Nanty Greens, Odd Magazine, Eboquill and elsewhere.

motion sickness By vanessa maki

motion sickness

from my upcoming Bone & Ink chapbook “sweet like limes”

1. from my perspective
i’ve got reasons too
they are gripping aggressively to my psyche
& tapping against my selfishness

2. you say you hate me
then turn around to say you don’t
you see me as a ghost
then want me corporeal to touch me

3. & all this confusions stems from what i’ve done
all this ripping shit apart
& ripping your heart out
trying to shove it back into your chest
wiping the blood on my hands away
to spare myself

4. i thought we’d begun to mend things
but haven’t really

it’s still strange to look you in the eyes
things bubble up too much
& you’ve got emotional motion sickness
whether you admit it or not

& i hardly feel but still i get it too

5. can you drown me out all the way?
hold the deep gut desire underwater
until it’s begging for air
struggling under your grip
it’s all too much, huh?

By vanessa maki

Biography:

vanessa maki is a queer writer, visual artist & blk feminist whose work has appeared or will appear in various places. She has self-published chapbooks & has several chapbooks forthcoming or out this year: the chosen one (Animal Heart Press), sweet like limes (Bone & Ink Press) & another final girl (Roaring Junior Press).

DISTANCE AS A METAPHOR By Temidayo Jacob

DISTANCE AS A METAPHOR

bodies are dropping to the ground like rain

i do not understand
what that means, but
i do know that these days,
the world is obsessed with news of sneezing,
of breath, of               death.

you get too close to people
and
you become a body inviting your own doom…

bodies are dropping,
and i am here in my room
staring into the television,
watching the newscaster help me count them
while i think of
distance as a metaphor for survival.

my neighbour who said
he can’t keep a long distance relationship
is now loving from afar
because his life means so much to him.

also,
there is a boy out there, distancing himself
from his creator,                   from his purpose.

i want to go out there
to touch the helm of my lover’s cloth just once,
but i am afraid,
this longing might damage my lung.

even if the messiah was on earth as at now,
he wouldn’t let the woman with the issue of blood

touch him.

By Temidayo Jacob

Biography:

Temidayo Jacob is a Sociologist who writes from the North Central part of Nigeria. He is passionate about espousing the conflict between the individual and the society, especially through identity, sexuality and conformity. He is the CEO of foenix press. He is also the author of Beauty Of Ashes. Temidayo’s work has appeared and is forthcoming on Rattle, Outcast Magazine, Lucent Dreaming, The Temz Review, Peeking Cat Poetry, Kissing Dynamite, and others. You can reach him on Twitter @BoyUntouched.

whiskey baby By Amanda Kay

whiskey baby

is born from whiskey father, together they
dance under moonshine moon. light me on

fire, picture of burnt flesh—a firefighter’s nightmare
in cognac flames. this smoke rises in cold

air, not the one for the summertime heat. let’s
sip beer from soft lips, we are the shattered glass

that litters these beaches. sinner’s feet get cut on
sharp edges, melt back into our birthplace. whiskey

baby burns burns burns towards the heavens, no baby
doll smiles for paid lovers. not when my lineage tasted

the salt of this country as it dug into our bandaged
feet, no more than a spot of blood among a sea of denial.

whiskey baby cries tears of liquor, watch it pour down
our foreign throats, no home no home no home. drifters

of drained seas, take this salt and spread it onto unwilling
tongues, all dried up without a drop to drink. sinner in the

summertime, we are no aliens but just addicts searching for love.

 

By Amanda Kay

Biography:

Amanda is a current sophomore at Santa Clara High School. She enjoys swimming, reading, and drinking a good cup of tea.