seafoam and salvation By Kristen Corless

seafoam and salvation

Saltwater has filled my lungs before.
I have felt this storm run over my skin,
felt the cracks of thunder and lightning
as the water dragged me down.
I fell in love with the bruises and the burns,
the pruned fingers and the gasping for air,
but you,
you are the dry land I have ached for all these years,
warm and soft
I have felt oxygen with you for the first time
I have laid down on your sands and felt the sun on my skin for the first time.

I am no longer a corpse,
a bruised and bloodied mass of guilt.
I will stand on these two shaky legs,
and feel the oxygen in my lungs,
and remind myself that
I am enough.
You have shown me that I am enough,
Feeling the sand between my toes reminds me that, despite everything, I am alive.
And that is enough.

I got addicted to the feeling of drowning every day,
and sometimes the storm sucks me in like an old habit
but I know that one day I will leave this ocean behind
and you will be there on the other side to guide me home.
And that
will be enough.

By Kristen Corless

Biography:

Lilith is 22 and a recent graduate from Muhlenber College, where she studied English and Theatre. She had always loved to read, and did so ravenously, but at school that love blossomed into something she was proud to wear on her sleeve. Now, she is in her first year at Northeastern University’s English Masters program, where she is unapologetic and determined.

Coming Home By Yesenia M Coughlin

Coming Home

I swirl the rice with my hand
clouds of milky starch gather in the water
the oil fries the sofrito, the tomato, the sazon

My first steps were on the island, not
that I remember, but Mami tells me it’s so

I stare at the milky starch of my skin
Aceite, sofrito, tomate, sazón, arroz
A phantom limb, an ache of longing

If I take my next steps on the island
will she remember me?

Olives salt the tip of my tongue
a memory of words half translated
Ven a mi. Ven a mi. Ven
a casa comigo

Mami runs after piragueros
on the streets of San Juan
parcha, mango, coco, fresa
dancing between each one
her hips hear the sound of the island
and mine twitch in response

Her arms catch me, her brown skin
warm in the sun, and she spins me
around and around to the beat of
the wind making music with the trees

Bienvenida, bienvenida, bienvenida
a casa mi hija.

By Yesenia M Coughlin

Biography:

Yesenia M Coughlin is a junior creative writing major at the University of Central Florida.

Your Halo By A.C. Dobell

Your Halo

Your face is glowing
as you hover above us
closer to the overhead lights
a Madonna’s halo as you rub your belly
almost winking but not
eyes narrowing as you widen
with a matriarchal smile

My sisters and I are huddled around
your belly like a campfire
as you divulge your secret:
it’s a pizza baby

And now it’s our turn
eyes narrowing as we match
your closed-mouth smile: No Dad,
it’s a beer belly

It seems that even then we enjoyed
holding childlike judgment
over your sweet head

By A.C. Dobell

A.C. Dobell is a Filipina-American poet and visual artist living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her combination poetry and photography e-zine is published on Mercado Vicente. She is the co-director of Mused, an event that brings together artists of different mediums to inspire each other and connect over the creative process. She has work forthcoming in Eunoia Review. She works mainly in activism covering a broad range of environmental and social justice issues. She is related to the English poet, Sydney Thompson Dobell, a member of the Spasmodic school and friend of both Tennyson and Browning.

My West African Grandmother By Patti Ross

My West African Grandmother

I hope to go to Senegal
To see Lac Rose
A pink tarn of salt
Sun beaten and gummy.

Lingering shore side I watch
My guide Ahmed rub Shea butter
Over his full body, gliding into the sticky mere.
The everyday work of the poor.
Salt catchers!

I am reminded how grandma sifted
boiled dough into a small pot of butter
preparation for the salty bean broth.

I should go to Goree Island.
Visit the Maison des Esclaves and
See the white sand beaches, the palm trees
Contrasting the wails that must have been
From a door swinging solely one way.

I must go to Bargny and watch
Mother Fatou,
Smoke the fish in small concrete tombs
Filled with fire and ash daily,
The air heavy and grave on her lungs.

They are replacing the tombs now
Furnaces, modern not aged
No smoke, no ash.
Will the Thieboudienne taste the same?
Jollof rice and fish with no tang of smoke?

I want to meet my grandmother,
Who has aged and is dying?
Her salty bean broth
the smell of smoked fish
a family heirloom.
I hope to go to Senegal

By Patti Ross

Biography:

Patti Ross graduated from Washington, DC’s Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts and The American University. After graduation, she had a brief career in the arts and several of her journalist pieces were published in the Washington Times and the Rural America newspapers. Patti has rediscovered her love of writing and is sharing her voice as the spoken word artist “little pi.” Her debut chapbook, St. Paul Street Provocations, will be released in 2021 by Yellow Arrow Publishing. She currently serves on the Board for the Maryland Writers Association, as well as several other non-profit organizations in the Baltimore region. Patti lives in Ellicott City, MD. You can follow her blog at: https://littlepisuniverse.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/ecpoetryandprosemic

The Inner Voice of the 21st Century By Manasvini Ranganathan

The Inner Voice of the 21st Century

Lest there be billows of smoke in my city,
Don’t expect me to support environmental protection.
Lest there be unrest in my own neighborhood,
Don’t expect me to support crime prevention.
Lest there be no light in my building,
Don’t expect me to support energy conservation.
Lest my own partner be at risk of deportation,
Don’t expect me to support open borders.
Lest my own child be bullied at school,
Don’t expect me to support anti-discrimination.
Lest my own house be affected by the pandemic,
Don’t expect me to support affordable health care.
Because sometimes my world is so small,
The only thing in it is myself.

By Manasvini Ranganathan

Biography:

A law graduate who spends her free time baking and learning new languages.

A Note On Love By Emmanuel Ojeikhodion

A Note On Love

I’m in my 20’s & all I can say to the boy
in me is that he may never love/be loved.

I have stopped reminding myself that
I’ll one day stumble into the arms of love.

The reason is the mountain of loneliness
I have carried/still carry for these past months
& years.

Every night, I engage my shadow in a discussion —
of how I once strolled into a fountain of love & came
out drenched with rejection.

My next door neighbor is a boy & all I can say is that
he’s so fortunate with love.

During high school days, I wrote a love poem & kept it
to myself.

A girl read it & died with surprise.
After reading, she said, you need to be a little rich
to love.

My friends too tells me that the wall of my body is rigid
to welcome love.

& every morning when I stroll to the mirror stand,
I tell myself: love is distant from me.

By Emmanuel Ojeikhodion

Biography:

Emmanuel Ojeikhodion is a Nigerian-Edo emerging writer, poet & essayist. He writes to expunge his monstrous demons & documents the ripples from society. He has works published / forthcoming in Capsule Stories, The Lunch Bucket Brigade, Cons-cio Magazine, Chachalaca Review, Museum of Poetry, Déraciné Mag, Rigorous & elsewhere. He’s a finalist in the Best of Kindness Poetry contest 2020 from Origami Poems Project. He recently compiled his first Poetry chapbook & seeks a home for it. He’s a lover of Country & old Songs He tweets at @hermynuel.

A look is not bloodless By Amy Pollard

A look is not bloodless

Six feet apart
our bodies weave
through sidewalk

do you see me

the seams of my skin
unraveling, no longer
secure

somewhere my ashes
are already buried
on a hillside

do you see the folds
of my shadow—
preemptive

like cloth pulled
over the mouth
up to the eyes

By Amy Pollard

Biography:

Amy Pollard is a poet and writer based in Boston. Her work has been featured in an art & storytelling exhibit by Unbound Visual Arts. She is a Chinese American adoptee. You can follow her on Instagram @aaxprn and Twitter @amyannexu.

Roadkill By Davina E. Solomon

Roadkill

Shame rises like a fetid odour
around certain kinds of death,
The type that exposes
the innate nakedness
of a beating mammalian heart.
Would it matter less if it were amphibian
or a cold blooded other?
Plainly rhetorical musing …

I drive past mountains …
a casually heaped
blanket of green,
backdrop to concrete vistas
of human industry.
An anomaly…
yet, perfectly sheltering
such mortals habituated
to viridescent places, sparkling brooks
tannic creeks and dim undergrowth,
lofty disheveled trees …

And is it an idle curiosity
that makes them leave these nurturing spaces?
limiting spaces … limited spaces …
I wouldn’t know
Or would it matter to know?

For it lies there ,
that once robust heart
painted in unflattering hues
on sweltering tarmac …
Lost to the camouflage
of once salubrious woods
vainly appealing
to the insouciant gaze
of fleeting headlights.

Death and Goodyear
conspired to plot
across bitumen and asphalt
the two dimensional …
How does one graph consciousness?
I ask no one in particular …
it’s plainly rhetorical …
Like death

By Davina E. Solomon

Biography:

Davina E. Solomon is a Botanist, Educator and Poet. Having spent many years on the Arabian and then the Swahili Coast, she now thrives in a riparian habitat.

Peonies By Jacob Lee

Peonies

And as we walk along the bend,
for it is that time of year again,
the rich perfume worn by the air
shan’t hesitate to reminisce—

Those stars of white,
a church as old as time;
lights down the runway,
that led to forever.

Deepest of reds,
crown the flower ahead.
Come to seal life
only death could repeal.

And as we walk along the bend,
filling jars with stars again,
the God kissed air’s renewing vow,
I’ll stay with you between the flowers.

By Jacob Lee

Biography:

Jacob Lee is a 29 year old writer, based out of Columbus, Ohio. He finds poetry to be a reminder to slow down; a remedy to a world intent on burning itself out. He has been previously published by The Soapbox Press in Toronto, Ontario. He has a degree in music, and when not writing, is part of three multi-genre bands.

LIFE IN THE TIME OF __ By David Rosenthal

LIFE IN THE TIME OF __

The flags were at half-mast again
beneath the freeway-colored sky.
He’d half expected it, but then
could not remember why.

He made lane changes and left turns,
and finally reached the parking lot –
how strange the things a body learns
to do without a thought.

He parked, but let the engine buzz
a while, and sank into a stare –
he never wondered where he was,
just how he’d made it there.

The engine idled buzzingly,
the gray took hold of either eye;
he tried to think of it, but he
could not remember why.

By David Rosenthal

Biography:

David Rosenthal lives in Berkeley, California, and works as a teacher and instructional coach in the Oakland Unified School District. His poems and translations have appeared in Rattle, Teachers & Writers Magazine, Measure Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Raintown Review, Unsplendid, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, and many other print and online journals. He has been a Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award Finalist and a Pushcart Prize Nominee. His collection, “The Wild Geography of Misplaced Things,” was released by Kelsay Books in 2013.