On the childhood as a wild tree of figs By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

On the childhood as a wild tree of figs

As the grass grew
and leaves feathered the trees
Over the hardened spring ground
God slid away in his cape
and I followed him
Everywhere he went.
In the fields once immense
That I could now fit in the palm of my hand
wondrous eyes of acacia trees
cried their heavenly smells
on my fondling gaze.
Into the sky,
Reciting so clearly the psalms of clouds,
Broken up to neat rows
I buried my sight, and I slid away,
I followed you, God.
My mind hazed by the beauty around
I sought not to know
A friend or a foe
beat with the cold mountain winds
of thyme and snow
I was a wild tree of figs
leaned over the void
(how very lonely it was
and how wonderful):
An island from all of the world
I followed you, god
Wherever you’d go.

Through the crowds of borrowers and lenders
you saw me
and burnt my eyes to dust
the story of me coming to light:
That’s how it was.

By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

Biography:

Ovsanna Gevorgyan is an Armenian film director and screenwriter, a graduate of the MFA program in Film Directing from Columbia University. Author to several short films, and with her first feature film currently in the works, Ovsanna has been writing poetry since she was 9-years old.

Bird Prey By Elissa Calamia

Bird Prey

I turn off my dating app,
and watch as all the boys start to
slowly disappear, dwindling
text messages fall off slowly,
like letters off a cliff,
and I’m up against this
blank space, the bulletproof chest
of my heart, and I want to cry

for my grandfather,
because Italian families don’t speak
their eyes
go dead
in the millisecond
blunt of a knife,
cutting cake
on grandmom’s birthday

or you think you go dead but really,
love and not-love sit in the socket swabs of your bleeding eyes,
and eat away at your brown paper burning edges

So what do you do? You
become a scarecrow, stuffed with old newspaper
choked all the way up to your throat

All I can say is,
I’m sorry. It took too long to get there and I’ve got too far to go.
Let me sew on my arm doll limbs dangling
at the joints,
crooked knees bent and
hanging over a counter,
sitting at the edge,
eyes plucked out in crooked,
piercing-black,
like the mating gangs of grackles,
screaming in empty parking lots

By Elissa Calamia

Biography:

Elissa Calamia currently lives and works in Austin, TX with her boyfriend and Dalmation. She is grateful of the cities in which she has called home, which continue to shape the lens of her world.

LIVIN’ IT By Erik Wilbur

LIVIN’ IT

In the year between high school & city
college, I spent most nights writing
now-unlistenable folk songs and most days
wire-wheeling gunk off radiator tanks
in my father’s truck shop, where I knew men
who could each tell the funniest joke you ever heard
and a moment later say something he didn’t seem to
realize would make you want to cry for him
until all you had left were the words fuck that shit
and an aimless determination to grind
something down to brushed metal. Later, I would
spend a whole semester in a state school library
just to live an hour in the mind of Lacan,
but these men lived their entire lives in the span of a day.
Born every morning with grease in the ruts of their knuckles,
they diagnosed themselves with terminal illnesses
just after lunch, for which the only medications
were oxys, meth, beer, weed, and a pack of smokes.
And each evening, after quitting time, they must’ve gone
home and died. How else could they have stilled themselves
enough to fall into another morning? In winter especially,
when the bone-cold would slap us into the world, they became
men too quickly all over again. We punched our timecards. And,
in the few seconds it takes to cough up a yellow nickel of phlegm,
they went from looking ass-slapped in the arms of their blue
coveralls to pulling the chains on the roll-up doors.

By Erik Wilbur

Biography:

Erik Wilbur teaches writing at Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He is also the program director of Real Toads Poetry Society, a literary organization that provides opportunities for residents of rural Arizona communities to learn about, experience, and share works of literary art. His work has recently appeared in The Southampton Review, New Ohio Review Online, and Aquifer. Also, his forthcoming chapbook, What I Can Do, won the 2020 Chestnut Review Chapbook Prize.

One Haiku By Tom Ukinski

One Haiku

The ambulance stopped
wailing, its passenger too
soon a mannequin.

By Tom Ukinski

Biography:

Tom Ukinski has been a dishwasher, doorman, mailman, chimney sweep, copywriter, and factory worker. He did street mime in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City, and stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Chicago, Boston, and LA. In the 1980s, he was convicted of being a lawyer and subsequently served 25 years in state government. He’s written novels, antipoetry, short stories, comedy sketches, musicals, and importunate advertising. His stories run from six words to 290,000. He is old enough to have lived through the betrayed rebellion of the late sixties and early seventies. His path has always demanded sacrifice. His writing and beliefs reflect mystical sensibility and perpetual protest.

On the curse of womanhood By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

On the curse of womanhood

Oh nameless saints
On the back walls of this altar
Worshiped
To death –
I weep for you!
Never seen
To your very soul
By another one of your kind
But merely glanced at by crowds of men,
Who approached you so cautiously
Only to look away
When they reached your sight.
And when asked what they had seen
The black-eyed men said you had black eyes
And the green-eyed men said you had green eyes.
To fall victim
To your own image
(Snatched from you
To live a life of its own)
Behind which you are
Trapped in the unending
Walk of loneliness.
Nameless ones –
I take your pain
I grieve for you.

By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

Biography:

Ovsanna Gevorgyan is an Armenian film director and screenwriter, a graduate of the MFA program in Film Directing from Columbia University. Author to several short films, and with her first feature film currently in the works, Ovsanna has been writing poetry since she was 9-years old.

frustration with birds By Emily Ng

frustration with birds

weightless
is         my
body —
pair of          teeth
sink             into
fatigued
nightfall

the splinters of
bone
leak               stale
spirit
soak           in tender
blue
wring of
reverie

and          them —
thorn-tongued
faille-feathered
hum
bitter         fable
before
the sun
stirs

By Emily Ng

Biography:

Emily Ng is a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, NY. She is a second reader for Polyphony Lit and a poetry and prose editor for Kalopsia Lit. Emily has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

It’s All Happening at the Zoo By Sean Bates

It’s All Happening at the Zoo

I befriended a peacock
free to roam
through the people parts of the zoo.
Even had to chase one
as it eyed M&Ms
spilling from the gift shop doorway.
Me in my fullbrim outback hat,
badgeless khaki
boyscout shirt and shorts.

I worked
in the Dippin’ Dots space-cold ice cream hut,
in the giraffe safari stuffed animal hut,
outdoor airbrush tattoo parlor hut.

Places people wanted three day animal themed tattoos:
forearm, bicep,
lower back giraffe, calf calf,
deep cleavage paw prints with glitter
I was required to provide.

I ran register tape in the Giddyup Grill.
I slung things breaded into checkered baskets.
The cook with the teardrop tattoo
called through the heat lamp,
Fries down.
Once, he told me might have to run,
back to Cape Verde. Said he’d dressed up
like a cop and robbed a few dealers.
My register ran out of pennies.

Late that summer, men came for him.
Who? I said.

By Sean Bates

Biography:

Sean Bates is a poet who grew up in various restaurants across Upstate New York. Sean attended Oberlin College for his BA, and University of Massachusetts Amherst for his MFA. His poetry was recently anthologized in ‘What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump’ edited by Martin Espada. He lives in Western MA with his spouse Elizabeth and their cat Smudge.

Heather By Yuna Kang

Heather

The glow of heather is not, as Yeats said,
Purple, that which mimics a childhood noon.
It sits not idly by painted cottages or ripening corn,
nor does it ramble by pleasant creeks.

heather now is a featherless peacock,
Shorn of her crown, habitat, and glory.
She sits mutely on tame suburban porches,
Or obliterated, shivering in the remains of scorched forests.

I yearn to see heather as a purple glow,
To be able to reach back, and breathe
in the possibility of memory, and hope.

but the air carries only the scent of ash-
and our noons are a blotted orange.
The world is on fire,
and childhoods are no more.

By Yuna Kang

Biography:

Yuna Kang is a queer, Korean-American writer based in Northern California who writes both poetry and short stories. She is pronoun indifferent, with her most popular pronouns being from the she and they series. When she is not writing, she is probably reading and trying out different kinds of tea. She lives in Berkeley, California, where she attends school at UC Berkeley.

Cartography By Nicole Fang

Cartography

The body is a frontier of survival: a map of history laid bare.
My palm: grooved like the currents of the Mekong,
where the silver-scaled array of gaping fish carcasses,
almond-eyed and glazed over, marinated for weeks
in the blood of my ancestors its intestines sewn into calluses,
each crease a creation myth untold—
Let the jade-glistening light kiss its fragile folds to paralysis.
My heel: kissed by earth’s sweet breath, soaked with the mist
of rice paddies dotting Lǎo Lǎo’s village, where she
and her late brother would roam barefoot under mauve dusk,
matchstick teeth spitting out stars like sunflower seeds. And
my tongue: burning at the stake in this linguistic witch hunt,
my Chinese the martyr to an American purging. I butchered
my own throat and tossed out the mangled organs
of my own language to baptize my tongue clean. The scars
of an abandoned homeland line my bosom like barbed wire,
and the discards of my native tongue, these slack-jawed vowels
rising from my throat, rot in an open casket. My body emerges
newly christened, shed of its yellowness like a snake-skin.
The map of my body turns apocalypse, yet I do not see the blood.
I do not hear the screams. The apocalypse started when Columbus
charted the seas and raised a white flag in God’s honor. It started
when certain people thought other people exportable, plantations blooming like wounds across the globe. It started when history was rewritten
with the Western world as protagonist, everything else as barbarian.
Slowly, the apocalypse drifts through the trees,
settling in the air all around me,
so loud I stop hearing it.

By Nicole Fang

Biography:

Nicole Fang is a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. Her work has been previously published four times in the New York Times, recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review. She thinks that you’re wonderful.

beneath the floorboards By Olivia Lee

beneath the floorboards

of five years old and
fully grown, standing in the shadows
of a diary : here
a monolith of diving boards, and here
we have the maze of half-erected houses, all
in siding-board without their ceilings : everyone
an indoor sky. cling to me
confess to me your dirty paws, the gloves we lost
the sock without its twin : if only there were two of us,
if only there was
crayon dust and purple fingernails
the smell
of little soft eternities which
slip between the days, like sugar and
cicada wings : the body of
the kitten laid to rest
beneath
the floorboards.

By Olivia Lee

First published in Heritage Review.

Biography:


Olivia Lee is a senior at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley. Her art and writing has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Princeton University, and the California Coastal Commission. She has work published, or forthcoming in Canvas Literary Journal, Polyphony Lit, Body Without Organs, Tab, The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, Blue Marble Review, and Apprentice Writer among others. In her spare time, she enjoys watching stationery hauls on Youtube and way too much anime on Crunchyroll.