Pollen Szn By Hanah Shields

Pollen Szn

go outside, look at that mountain laurel
she’d smell like honey and a bare midriff

we’re all suffocating indoors
and the sun’s at max volume

so maybe, I think, maybe it’s time to tiptoe
back out to the garden, but I think better of it

because it’s march.
and I know I’m not supposed to hate, but right now

the sticky-hot fingers of spring
in san antonio are almost enough

to make me grateful for the wretched thing
keeping me inside today

I take one step out the door
and two steps back

the air outside is a thick dead weight
a wet wool blanket and a piece of rotting fruit

now “suffocating” doesn’t really cover it
for all texas weather is a trickster worse than puck

so now I am made to choose:
the flat, stale quality of stagnant breaths

corked in a bottle made of four walls?
or the sun-dappled nectar of beaded sweat

yellow with botanical lust, a fine
dust coating on the world?

By Hanah Shields

Hanah Shields is a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studies English Literature with a Creative Writing concentration and Classics. She currently serves as the literary editor for Spires Intercollegiate Arts & Literary Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @hanahjs or on Instagram @hanah.j.s.

The Last Rehersal By Kimber Rudo

The Last Rehersal

The day before they closed the world we danced
The blues across the sunset into night
Because when darkness falls, you take your chance

Amongst the stars, to slide and look askance
At folding dreams and yesterday’s delights.
The day before they closed the world, we danced

To scratchy 45’s, the closed hold stance
Of ninety years ago discharged aright,
Because, when darkness falls, you take your chance

With recreated steps and circumstance,
To say as other generations might,
“The day before they closed the world, we danced,”

And fix yourself amidst astral expanse
Of other “days before” in other nights.
But know, once darkness lifts, you take your chance

That lesser dawns bring lesser happenstance.
We knew but didn’t know. We tripped the light.
We folded dreams. We closed the world. We danced.
We followed as the darkness fell to chance.

By Kimber Rudo

Biography:

Kimber Rudo lives in California, where she writes, photographs, and, until a few months ago, recreated historic social dances with Bay Area ensemble The Academy of Danse Libre, of which she is the artistic director.

Debtors By Lucy Gunderson Klonsky

Debtors

It is an itching feeling that my grandfather hands to me
Through a photo album, through the window of his cab
Three coats on and an angry smile
One that sits under your skin, and constricts like wool
Hot in the face, like my mother, thin from waiting tables,
And printing newspapers, and making phone calls for bail
Hands pushed against the counter like my grandmother
A cigarette, a pen, and a union card,
The bitter taste of silence in your mouth when you know people are listening
Pacing, like my father, phone in the microwave, the radio wailing,
The smell of petrol in a bottle
My inheritance all ink stains and megaphones
Arrest records to be proud of, an outrage that has been building for generations,
My great grandfathers gun, the way we say the old party,
Changed names, bugs in the walls, singing the color red until you cry,
A drunken promise, The earth shall rise on new foundations,
Feet that don’t bleed anymore, a church that isn’t God but his people,
It is a crawling, screeching feeling, fed to me in childhood,
A chorus and a meal and the heave of lungs, that tell you
Revolution is an act of love, but also memory
Move fast, keep quiet,
They are debtors even if they don’t know it yet

By Lucy Gunderson Klonsky

Biography:

Lucy Gunderson Klonsky is a 17 year old poet, writer, and high school student at the NYC iSchool, living in Brooklyn, New York. She has previously had her poetry published in City College’s Annual Spring Poetry Festival: Poetry in Performance 46, having received first prize in the city wide competition of the same name.

Reclining in Chair By Shirley Wang

Reclining in Chair

When it comes to God, for me,
it’s all up in the air. I mean,
not saying there is one,
or that I believe,
(but if there was,
and I did,)
mine is an overzealous orthodontist asking
about my day over twangs of late-2000s
country radio only to yank my
mouth into neat rows
when I try to speak.
You know how to shut up, He says
and it’s a compliment. And I’m minty alright
just a pound of fresh flesh, a leaf plucked
right off the bush. My breath makes frost.
I sit prim as a rosebud
opening and closing for Him hoping
for travel-sized toothpaste or
a sugar-free lollipop.
He lets me rinse the blood out of my little cemetery.
He gives me floss
says He can’t scrub out
all the grime
says it takes hard work
to keep being clean.

By Shirley Wang

Biography:

Shirley Wang is eighteen years old and a graduated high school senior located in Northern California. She is a 2019 YoungArts winner in Short Story and her work has been featured in Vagabond City and Peach Mag. She believes in being unabashed in learning, creating, and caring.

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.