Evolution By Ebuka Prince Okoroafor

Evolution

(on trying to grasp the concept of black holes)

Say we are pliable things
submerged in bellies of want & too,
the guilt of surety, ineptitudes of reality &
the languid interpretations of dreams.

Say we are Kumbaya
becoming a cacophony binged with brackish ideas on
the origin & concepts behind imaginations.

Then suddenly God descends, the universe clasps shut like
an oyster shell & my grandmother wails, the world slips from her tongue
stars too, & everything.

or

Say the day we die, we fall into
black holes, climb out as mummies without feet
& gawk at the moon like Hawking was right,
like something happens down there in pockets of nothingness.

Ebuka Prince Okoroafor

Biography:

Ebuka Prince Okoroafor(E.P Okoroafor) is a 5th year Nigerian Medical Student. He writes Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction. His work has appeared on Praxis Magazine, Kalahari Review and African Writer. He was one of the winners of the Green Author Prize 2017

Sanctum By Ebuka Prince Okoroafor

Sanctum

miracles are small birds hidden in pockets of pleasure.
So, we begin this communion with a verse
dissolving on your tongue until
It no longer knows how to hold letters
until every word you speak becomes a river        breaking
into tiny molecules to form a condensation of gasps.

Have you ever imagined fingerlings stuck in your throat?

Sometimes your smile
drips
from the corners of your lips like a hooligan
after kissing the feet of God,
like your momma’s face before saying
you are too wrought in darkness, as though light
sloughs off your skin
like Lucifer

Other times you sulk instead, sketch Lucifer’s face and
paint his lips the color of rubies

Imagine Lucifer screaming
hallelujah.

By Ebuka Prince Okoroafor

Biography:

Ebuka Prince Okoroafor(E.P Okoroafor) is a 5th year Nigerian Medical Student. He writes Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction. His work has appeared on Praxis Magazine, Kalahari Review and African Writer. He was one of the winners of the Green Author Prize 2017

For gods and men By Samuel Nzebor

For gods and men

There’s a King who wears the clothes of a god,
And mask his face with the shadow of death.
His subjects cower at the whisper of his name,
And bury their fears in their meals.
Sweat and blood have nourished his crops,
Planted by hands that are swallowed by hate.
A king is no king
Without the blessings of his people.
Else, he is a brother to tear gas and the whip,
Drowning the voice of any that tries to speak up.
He has however forgotten who he is;
And like every tyrant, he’s final words
Will be drowned by the silence of the night
And echoed in Schools’ History.

By Samuel Nzebor

Biography:

Samuel Nzebor is a third year student of Law, University of Benin. His works have appeared on Kalahari, Praxis Magazine, Tuck Magazine amongst others. He hopes to connect to the world through poetry.

Everything is Perfect Except this City By Adaeze M. Nwadike

Everything is Perfect Except this City

We are seated under a cotton tree, our mat the
carpet of wool the wind has harvested, our bodies careless of the times we feigned tenderness

A night bird nesting above our heads sings of our bodies like we
were done with shame,

It is about to climax and your teeth spark fire. Between the flames,
you call me Sunflower,

tell me the Arabic word for diamond is almas, say the patches on our
bodies sing a certain lullaby,

Now and then your lips curve like banana, reminding me of the
things I stole from myself.
.
Everything is perfect except this city that puts a holy beast in the
heart of dwellers.

In a field around here, a man is burning. Another man enters the fire
with the remains of his God tied around his groin, we watch like
zombies thirsty for warmth,

Our bodies the shadows of dead men digging fresh graves, the empty
moans of fake orgasm.
..
Let us tonight call this city by other names:
Brooklyn
Chicago
Liverpool
Boston
Let us take it to Jordan for fresh baptism
Maybe the grains of our soil will be drained of the bitterness they
have collected
Maybe the salt of the water will spice the emptiness of our city
Maybe the mouth of our land will open and spit out the sins of
our fathers.

By Adaeze M. Nwadike

Biography:

Adaeze M. Nwadike is a Nigerian writer and teacher. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in many notable magazines in Nigeria and the diaspora. She is currently working on a collection of poems that explores the experiences of women migrating to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

Zodiac By Simran Kapoor

Zodiac

i was born on sunday, march 23 at 4:00 am.
the astrology app on my phone tells me
the sun stumbled as i left the womb.
i am either aries
or pisces.
it too, is confused by my existence.

some days,
i am raging inferno
all-consuming and assertive
i take and take.
other days,
i am freshwater
slowing down to offer life,
stopping completely so that you can make your way across.

most days,
i extinguish myself.
then, i am neither –
the empty space between
two juxtaposing words.

the astrology app on my phone tells me
we try to simplify the things we don’t understand
by giving them names.
like an combination of 26 letters could ever
explain our intricate existences.

what are we underneath our names?
where can we put them down?

4 billion people on astrology apps
3 billion people looking at the sky
trying to find themselves.
we all come from
the same set of stars.
shouldn’t that be enough?

perhaps,
the days when i am
neither aries
or pisces,
i am most myself.

By Simran Kapoor

Biography:

Simran Kapoor is a student at Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. Expected to graduate in 2021, she strives to make the most of every moment by documenting her favourite times in writing. Simran hopes to continue to develop as a writer as she pursues the craft further.

How To Burn [A Heart Of] Water By Kolawole Samuel Adebayo

How To Burn [A Heart Of] Water

you say water
douses fire
until a kettle arrives

& you make water leave the sea,
the well, the jug, or wherever
to find a home in the belly of the kettle;

then you set the kettle on fire.
at first, the water is unaware;
it lays there still,
thinking maybe the sun is up again
& then it begins to sweat.
it begins to writhe.

it begins to sing a song
of agony with a scream—a sound
like the coming of war.

when you hear this, you know
you are burning the water now.
but be careful how you taunt the water
because water begins to burn skins
when it is taunted.

& isn’t this what happens
when a man is pushed to the walls
& hell enters into his body?

Previously published by Freedom Magazine

By Kolawole Samuel Adebayo

Biography:

Kolawole Samuel Adebayo is an old soul in a young Nigerian body whose poems seek to awaken the human consciousness. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming on Glass Poetry, Button Poetry, Burning House Press, Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, Tuck Magazine, Black Pride Magazine, PAROUSIA magazine, WRR, BPPC anthology, and elsewhere. He likes to connect with his friends via his Twitter handle, @samofthevoice.

An Ode To Fast Food By Alison Zheng

An Ode To Fast Food

My yee-paw led the great Cheng diaspora from zung gwok to
yee fow. She and yee-gong bought their American Dream

in the form of a 7/11 where my grandma worked. There, she learned
her first English words: hot dog, nacho cheese.

Mom worked in a garment factory. She would bring
home scraps of fabric, sewing

rhinestone studded Bebe shirts long into the
night. In the morning, she’d make hot water

for breakfast and walk me to my bus. One time, a man
stopped us. Sweaty and red,

he leered at her. She looked away, but he leaned in closer.
When he realized she spoke no English,

he smirked and yelled, “Leng lui! Leng lui!” I clutched her
closer and he laughed at us.

Dad worked in restaurants. His prized possession was a
Buick with baby blue velvet seats

and an unreliable engine. The best thing about that
car was that he’d drive us to McDonald’s where

we’d help ourselves to fat stacks of napkins, and they’d tease
me for the way I ate French fries.

I savored the sweetness of the ketchup

savored how good it felt to mix Sprite and Coke
together. Dad joked it was our special family recipe. My favorite

was the Big Mac. I’d devour it layer by layer — and in that
moment nothing mattered except

three buns, the three of us, and thousand island dressing.

Afterwards, I threw up in the Buick. Dad cleaned and mom
yelled and then,

they both cleaned

but those baby blues were never the same. He missed his shift, and
the restaurant told him not to come back.

By Alison Zheng

Biography:

Alison Zheng graduated from UC Davis w/ an English degree a million years ago. She’s a Scorpio Sun/Pisces Moon. She thinks writing is tight.

americana By Tyler King

americana

my mother’s grocery stores were wrapped in red,
white and blue fish under the open sky,
sky filled with ash and dust and cotton fiber,
sky like sticky syrup,
but still sky.
my supermarkets are wholly-enclosed,
Chernobyl’s sarcophagus. American consumerism
is radioactive, seeping under the skin
implanting deep in dark blood, thick blood,
dragging and stopping,
coagulating. it drives her now,
my mother,
drives her downtown and out-of-town,
to the suburban edges of the city,
not to an open-air market,
nor the Chinese fishmonger on Second Street,
but to the H-Mart. the sign
by the entrance: a white H in a red square,
is splayed against the blue sky.

my anatomy teacher buys pig hearts from
99 Ranch, and I am proud
because my half-Chinese friend buys her
pork jerky from there, not Whole Foods.
whenever we do a dissection, I ask
if she went to that store,
not because I care for the procurement,
but because I want to know if I can claim
the blue-and-red stained kidneys
like I claim a cloudy Chinatown connection:
watered-down inheritance.
they’re from Carolina Medical,
she says,
injected with latex and formaldehyde.
in class, the chemicals exhume in the air,
dragging across my lungs,
viscous stuff.

my mother’s asthma went away when she came
to America.
she tells me in the H-mart as she shops, green
onions and kale, tomatoes and garlic,
scallion pancake and kimchi and vermicelli.
I want the open-air markets of her childhood,
memories before she moved here,
China and my great-grandfather
who died before I ever went (I still haven’t).
that was the first time I saw her cry—
when he died,
soul ripped upwards through a soupy sky
leaving a smoky trail I can barely grasp.
I talked to him once over the phone,
but he didn’t speak English and I can’t
in Chinese.
that is my greatest failing,
my worst betrayal.
smearing mascara. sixteen-year-old fear.
she couldn’t go to China for the funeral.
flights were full. we were in school.
it was quarter-end and
in America,
stock prices must stay high.

By Tyler King

Biography:

Tyler King (b. 2003) is a writer, songwriter, and composer. His work in poetry and prose has been recognized multiple times by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In addition to writing poetry and fiction reflecting mainly on his Asian-American heritage and the impacts of contemporary masculinity on youth, Tyler co-directs Imagination, his school’s literary journal. There, he focuses on curating new content and helping student-writers develop their unique styles and voices. Tyler attends St. John’s School and resides in Houston, TX.

three cups (三杯鸡*) By Corine Huang

three cups (三杯鸡*)

you toast with a soupspoon
and a fist raised to moonlight,
a poet’s lonely breath through you
and wind in their willows–
like chorus of solitude
harmonized sweet,
and tart, fermented
crushed rice under your teeth–
the taste of sharp ale,
bitter spittle.
irons out your nose, says
prudence ill-fits your wrinkles,
breaks putrid congeal
and a lean pig’s cry
at sputtering fat. you try
to inhale like her worked hands
wafting over silken sheets;
treat it like boon, a preserve–
nonessential, non-exhausted
non-compromised gift.
you learn to pour soy
by quivering bottleneck–
tilt back, until
some pulse in the chest
seizes your wrist,
spasms it straight
til bronze meets xanthic
and fades to amber glisten.
but you do not do
and you do not
do, because ancestry screeched,
halted by your doorstep
made prissy nose and graceless tongue
stutter against path to ambrosial
and jittered hands flit to excess and ruin.
laolao pearled chicken onto rice
and you choked on a bone.

*a traditional Chinese dish pronounced “san bei ji,” meaning “three-cup chicken”

By Corine Huang

Biography:

Corine Huang is a high school writer from Hong Kong. She spends her time searching for astonishment. When she’s not writing, she enjoys listening to Japanese city pop and watching arthouse films. She hopes that you’re having a wonderful day!

Carp Belly Soup By Amy Zhou

Carp Belly Soup

They say it was earth’s breast who split
too soon, spilling yellow currents into
rivers and mud. Even sky’s spine cracked
and out of his folded back tumbled carp
and whipping eels. In their sleep, they gulp
river weeds and feed on children’s toys
leaping downstream.

But it isn’t long before we gut the river empty.
Wade thigh-deep in riverbed, slippery carp writhing
in our knuckled fists, clutch grain-filled gills with soil-
caked nails and brittle blistered fingers. Only our naked
feet swim cold, trembling under blankets of mud—
the rest of our raw bodies only know hunger.

Open mouths sputter salt and silt as
whiskers fall onto drought-soaked floors.
Carp, clean-shaven, roil in salted heat,
thick backs fleck into blistering oil and fins flap
closed— we have long lost
our wings. Dreams boil thin into clotted froth,
and we coat our war-cracked
lips with fat and grease, slice into underbelly
with chopsticks slick with spit,
eat the carp whole, bones and all.

Our tongues are not used to the taste
of food. We chewed on bark for days,
licked rust off palms spread open
for coins, prayed doglike

with spines twisted into roots.
Foreheads are long used
to kissing the ground clean.

Listen, my father sings:
of good men who become blind deities,
steeped in trenches and splashing
in phosgene streams. Terror-shivers
wash over yellow-eyed boys
wearing mulch and iron bullets,
small fingers stretching to reach the too-big
triggers placed into their shaking palms.

This is where sin blooms—
eastern, cardinal red, streets bathing
in beggars.

By Amy Zhou

Biography:

Author_Photo_Amy_ZhouAmy Zhou is an aspiring high school writer from The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. She has been recognized for her poetry and short fiction by The New York Times, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Frontier Poetry, and Hollins University. She has been featured in various literary journals and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for her school’s newspaper, The Radar, literary publication, The Steele, and art magazine, ArtsMag.