For Each Soul Unmade, A New Sky Beams By Iheoma Uzomba

For Each Soul Unmade, A New Sky Beams

1.)

Beneath a sun-cracked sky
a town thins into worship
for a god that caves
& hides in chests for temples.
A man stretches
between two walls, signaling
the length of time
it takes to commune with a god
too ugly to be seen.

2.)

Ahead of myopic dysfunction
mother snatches the light
in our eyes, buries them in her palm
beneath rows of talisman
just in case god forgets
that we– pilgrims without foot,
fishers trading boats, drained
of thirst half way through
a neap tide– are crouched still,
knees unearthing silt
in awaitance of a new sky.

3.)

This town, seamlessly drawn,
wears the heads of several men
hung out on poles like waist beads;
a contortion of likeness, image of god.
An overcharge of neon light
cleanses the night alongside
bees smacking through tents.
Knives cleave on the trot
& a man steps out to demystify
god; engineer a new sky.

4.)

Pulses hold, breaths seize
except ours– of course–
ours is a collection of petals
aligned in such linearity they pass
for pairs of teeth whitened
from tree barks.
We are honed into a circle,
the man’s feet, firm on a ladder.
We watch him weave the sky
into patterns for us
& we agree henceforth
to name him god.

By Iheoma Uzomba

Biography:

Iheoma Uzomba currently studies English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her works appear on Kissing Dynamite, the Dreich Magazine, Fact-Simile editions and elsewhere.

how much does it cost to set a house of joy on fire? By Njoku Nonso

how much does it cost to set a house of joy on fire?

how much does it cost to set a house of joy on fire,
to pledge allegiance to what’s breasted to its forge

of ash, a child’s laughter buried in sand like a curse?
by god, even the child trapped in the mirror’s bleakest

gaze knows the miracle of hunger the way a flower bud
whimpering in the desert wind knows what kind of

death will befall it, the way a horse begging for water
knows there is no healing left inside the rima oris of

silence. how memory crawls out of the night’s darkest
belly to own the city & the child begging the midnight

moon to sit long in the sky, to sing the monsters breathing
under his pillow to sleep. but, some things, even the most

tenderest, the body cannot forgive. somewhere a road splits
open like a dream: in the garden, the wind a messenger

of ruination, the child’s mother picks red peppers for lunch,
while the child watches like a dumbbell—this, also, is

the beginning of terror, the sad monologue of ghosts.
when something we love calls our names & disappear,

do we search for it or give it a new name? outside, a gallery
of white-winged bats rise from trees & startle the sleeping

child awake. there’s yet no cure for the heart that suffers grief,
but we know, also, by god, some things are meant to kill us,

to teach us how the world is a mouthful of wet dreams.
standing by the window, the child, first, builds a new temple

on his palms, out of the salt of his grief, all of it, & then asks
the moon in prayers: how much does it cost to set a house of joy

on fire? why does every house inhabit a ghost, an inextinguishable
fire? if you must know: the mouth of prayer is the mouth of hunger.

If you must know: the child knows what even god does not
know: what shines through after the moon disappears.

By Njoku Nonso

Biography:

Njoku Nonso is a Nigerian Igbo-born fiction writer, poet, essayist, and medical student, who lives and writes in/from Ojoto as a tribute to the spirit of Christopher Okigbo. His works are featured or is forthcoming in Bodega, The Shore, Brittle Paper, Animal Heart Press, Palette, Kissing Dynamite, Praxis and elsewhere. He’s currently working on his first poetry chapbook.

Migrant By Ozota Gerald Obinna

Migrant

Do you still remember home? migrant!
Do you still remember the steep road to your father’s house?

You have lost your voice ___ soon your tongue
and your pastures aren’t getting greener.

Your soul will be will be manure to these lands,
which your children hold no legitimacy.

It is not too late to return home
and repair the leaking roof in your poor village.

You are a king in your father’s land
and everything else you are a slave.

This journey was not yours to embark.
You lost course when you sailed away from home.

By Ozota Gerald Obinna

Biography:

Ozota Gerald Obinna writes from Nigeria. He studies at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, He writes to stay happy. His poem Walls was Long-listed in The Nigeria Student Poetry Prize 2020 and his works have appeared in Praxis magazine,Kalahari Review and several anthologies.

Dear Pine By Yash Seyedbagheri

Dear Pine

you lean, baring charred arms
against the paleness of sky
arms once covered by verdant garments
now black against cerulean waves

yet your arms entwine with precision
reaching to the shimmering sky
charred, but firm
while others slumber

still in verdant garments
without thought
to fungi, fires, floods, profit motives
human hands and history

dear pine, you lean
but never fall

By Yash Seyedbagheri

Biography:

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Going Home By Yash Seyedbagheri

Going Home

streetlamps call butter-colored
from rainswept autumn streets
ripples mingling with graying shadows
go home, they call,

while people take flight from bars
you trudge apart from crowds,
the moon darting through silver-gray
fleeting glow a jacket

over tears, a beautiful white
not like sterile walls
silhouettes move through warm windows
where speakers thump

and the blue of screens flicker
with laugh tracks
the homes stretch
you want them to stretch out more

the streetlamps fade
butter-colored ripples sink into gray

By Yash Seyedbagheri

Biography:

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Almost Phantom By Adriana Carter

Almost Phantom

In elementary school I clung to ghosts to try to prove I
wasn’t afraid of them. I found them everywhere I looked.

The soft creak of a loose floorboard, the hinge of a door opening,
photographs of people who soon forgot my name, the sudden chill

slipping through my body in the middle of swollen July. I still
remember that summer my body was haunted by fever. My veins

threaded by smoldering smoke, my body an apparition stuck
between a whisper and a scream. That summer, contusions bloomed

across my skin in place of inked mandalas and friendship bracelets.
I dreamed of warmth that wasn’t empty. I dreamed of Before,

but After left me pulling at the edges of the night sky, trying
to paint myself blue to cover the transparencies. Listen,

if I press my hand up to the sun I can still see right through
its gossamer threads. Press my body against the mirror and

I disappear. Listen, I said I wasn’t afraid of ghosts but
I must admit I’m afraid to look at my reflection.

By Adriana Carter

Biography:

Adriana Carter is a sophomore at Stanford University. Her poetry and prose have been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and the UK Poetry Society. Adriana is also currently the co-prose editor for the Leland Quarterly, a literary journal based at Stanford.

Late Stroll Down Nanjing By Sophia Zhao

Late Stroll Down Nanjing

Submerged in sunlight, the air unclothes
itself and fine bands of black powder trap our
faces. Your lips, thinned into gunmetal bite,
are unmoving; sucking on dry plum—
swearing that we are still sacred. On
streetside, the elderly clutch at their talismans,
rings of bleached jade, copper coins
scorched into glass beer bottles. We don’t touch,
don’t breach what the ebony-crusted fields
stand for; your pine wrists are thickening as
leather drags, limp. The young play
jianzi, punting crooked bullets to decrepit
rooftops— metal trickling down
slope, terracotta brittle following its
steed. Your fists shoot bronze shield
dreaming about a child and her
green tea porcelain, her cotton feet tucked and
plated with lotus. Near the hall is a lake,
their totem stooped over the moon. And in its
reflection, a pair of flooded figures:
one soldier, bodiless and vying sweetness
by the second— beside him,
a bouquet of pale silk ripped open,
cremated to the bone.

By Sophia Zhao

Biography:

Sophia Zhao is an eighteen-year-old from Newark, Delaware currently studying at Yale University. Her work currently navigates themes of cultural identity and grief. She enjoys painting, poetry, and jasmine tea.

reminiscing on home: circa April 2020 By Tukur Loba Ridwan

reminiscing on home: circa April 2020

six feet apart   like the length of my grandfather’s departure—
the distance between the earth’s body 
and the mortals in the grave  no hugs
no handshakes  faint pleasantries laced 
with caveats    to be wary  is to be safe  
and would you rather  be sorry when 
you could be safe?  they took
the sun away  from us— we sought light from
the eyes of our bulbs  taking a moment and
relishing the beauty  of our chandelier
the makings of humans radiated our skin
we may perish for what  we know not 
we have mixed safety with lethargy
in the same bottle of sticky ethanol and
the sharp stench intoxicated me  
fear knows no liberty   peace was
in the mouth  of a gun barrel in our cities—
uneasy  were the streets of tyranny 
it was a warzone  in and out of our bodies 
touch anywhere  on your skin   except
your own face  you cannot afford
your own beauty  with your own hands 
we have always been viruses  to ourselves  
perhaps we never saw  this network 
has brought us this far  if only my lover knew
the panacea  for longing  in our voices 
she would pick my calls  when we could not
find our way  to meet with our graved bodies
across a border  I knew she longed for my hands 
like I craved her fingers in my mouth   our minds
were constipated with urges  I kept sleeping

By Tukur Loba Ridwan

Biography:

Tukur writes from a coastal axis in Lagos Island. His poems have been published in Libretto Magazine, Erogospel, Art Of Peace Anthology, Z Publishing (Best Emerging Poets 2019), Best New African Poets Anthology 2019, Nigiga Review, BBPC Anthology and elsewhere. He won the Brigitte Piorson Monthly Poetry Contest (March 2018) and shortlisted in few others.

First Position By Josh Aaron Siegel

First Position

you’ll never know what it took
to get these shoes
from the window in vienna.

the ones that glittered from the kerosene street lamps
when i crossed their path and
stole for the first time

from the baker on rennweg
who didn’t even notice, Mama when
two silver flats like bolshoi slippers sitting

in the corner of the display with a
tag higher than all the slips we had for food
were gone for good.

it’s silly but i used to
sit on the ledge of
the department store and imagine

rubbing the window with my rags
until the chemicals melted away the mirror between
them and me

even after we left Mama
i thought about those ballet shoes
on my feet in moments

when i didn’t want to draw
another line of blood

when you couldn’t stand
in the courtyard without leaning
on my shoulder

we never spoke of them
but let the streaks of light
hum in my mind until

vienna let me in again,
a tourist this time
and led me to the window with

flats like bolshoi slippers
still waiting in the window
for me to take them home

By Josh Aaron Siegel

Postmortem for a Finger withered out By Iheoma Uzomba

Postmortem for a Finger withered out

& how would it be so nicely told
that a finger departs from its palm

to wring a meal all by itself: god’s
mouth is sore and what more

can be said: there is little satisfaction
in wholeness: a man flees from home–

elopes, if you choose to say it– to find
the ungathered portions of himself: &

on his way, he finds one whole self
in a woman’s bulging stomach: for

he must retrieve what part he owns:
a repatriation of being: what is more

than punching open a belly to find yourself
there, gaunt: and what is more than waking

from a nebula of voices in your head, you,
completely unwhole, only remembering

what last words parted your fore finger
half lit with cancer: to earth, love

& unwholeness, this is all a finger seeks.

By Iheoma Uzomba

Biography:

Iheoma Uzomba_Author Photo

 

Iheoma Uzomba currently studies English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her works appear on Kissing Dynamite, the Dreich Magazine, Fact-Simile editions and elsewhere.