swamp angel, not even a little brackish By Colette Chien

swamp angel, not even a little brackish

i am not a salted girl. pour on me gallons of fresh water / i’ll soak
heavy & shake like a fed dog. i let my skin hang loose most times.

i do things everybody does but alkaline. imagine being ready to
swallow pitcher plants & avoiding saline sponges overrun, while

texting mom. i am what your dry mouth thinks of in the morning.
bitter, sweet / the patches of shimmer on any lake wished they’d

float as easy as me / the egret call wakes them when the sky turns
from grey to a white, she sounds like she’s crying when she belts

her morning bleats, keeps ‘em tired & sinking deep. i try to live
without a vein of toxicity / you know / all i need is electrolytes

from quenched thirst (& a light belief in karma), to keep on.
i move like sand turning to glass or relentless wind in a flat place,

in a place with no buildings & no trees. the only time acidity ever
fixed me was after ingesting botched pasta sauce. i don’t need that

element. i am stained enough without it. i don’t need to heat up,
break down, tear apart for a pastime activity. from what i hear

that leaves you hollow. i want to be full of blossom & bud, carefully
hand-fed from my spotless liver & revived from a midday wake.

By Colette Chien

Biography:

My name is Colette Chien. I am a senior at Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in poetry and wildlife ecology. My previous published work includes my chapbook, “the poison in our houses” in Silent Actions Magazine, the poem, “i was born into this place a bit of fire & a cancer” into Love and Squalor magazine, and the poem, “visceral fears & ampersands have nothing to do with this” in The Sarah Lawrence College Literary Review.

Monsoon’s Yellow Soup By Tara Tulshyan

Monsoon’s Yellow Soup

I never understood these hills in La-Carlota
that drift into sleep, wailing as we are rinsed
by the rain. Their faces corrugate like
ours, as our tongues cut through scalding
breakfast soup that yellows our skins.
The rain spits on the hill, clogging
our roof. We could ground this hill,
sprinkle its shards into our coffee. Our stomachs
churn like the tractor, Lola tells us
to wait, for March – when the sunlight runs
down to the Maragandang river, green
skirts blanketing the foot of the hill, brining
under the orange pulp above us.
The Turneras, arching, away from the leaves
tainted by the last typhoon, cradled
in it’s buds, kernels of rice, blooming
filling our plates as we wait for the showers to disappear.

Previously published by the Trouvaille Review

By Tara Tulshyan

Biography:

Tara Tulshyan is a sophomore living in the Philippines. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Heritage Review, The Resigned Arts Collective, and K’in Literary Journal.

DOGGED by AMERICA By Jinko Gotoh

DOGGED by AMERICA

Mama gave money to the sea gods
to protect us from turbulent seas
Awajishima tradition for the newborn

We feasted on the fruits of the sea:
abalone, squid, and oysters,
and fragrant matsutake
freshly picked
from the matsu forest of Awajishima
island birthed by deities and forefathers of Japan

Yet Papa yearned for America

Picket white fences, golden grand canyon, spaghetti and meatballs
“Lady and the Tramp”
My first movie
at Hibiya theatre in Tokyo
I still see the deep purple-red curtains
feel the soft velvet seats on the backs of my legs

I wanted a dog

Poco a prized Scottish Terrier
My fifth birthday present
from Papa’s brother
He was rich unlike us
But Poco was not so smart
and would wander out
Local police find him
and bring him back
One day he left
for good

Mama said he was stolen
because he was so valuable

Oba-chan and Toto came to live with us
because Papa was in California
She said Toto was just like the dog
from “Wizard of Oz”
Movie I did not know

Oba-chan used to work for the missionaries
she told us many stories
My favorite was
Toto would go to the butcher
carry home
a bag of deep fried croquettes
wrapped around his neck
A smart dog unlike Poco

Next time I saw America was on the TV screen
Motorcade, hazy desert, and loud gun shot
Scary
not at all like my first movie

John F Kennedy is dead

Papa said we are all moving to America
I assumed he meant Toto too.
But then Oba-chan and Mama took Toto out on errand
when they returned Toto nowhere in sight
They said that Toto was too old
and could not move to America

Toto was put to sleep
just like JFK

Lay in peace

Once so bright, surreal and magical
America felt like a sacrifice
dark, harsh and lonely

By Jinko Gotoh

Biography:

Jinko Gotoh is an award-winning producer and consultant. Her strengths and passion include discovering new voices, nurturing creative talent, and charting new technologies and creative processes. Her producing screen credits include: 2020 BAFTA winner and Oscar-nominated Klaus, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The Little Prince, Oscar-nominated The Illusionist, 9, and Oscar-winning Finding Nemo. Jinko serves as the vice president for Women in Animation, an advocacy organization to advance women and all under-represented people in the industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math and MFA in Film from Columbia University. Jinko is a published poet and rescuer of many, many dogs on the side.

Hungry and wanting By Maia Brown-Jackson

Hungry and wanting

I’m so fucking hungry for love,
to have my skin peeled back
by someone with gentle hands
who will watch the darkness pooled in my veins
dissipate once touched by oxygen,
and not turn away.
I would devour the pomegranate whole
and promise myself to the god of death
eyes open, trapped beneath the earth,
crushed by dirt and unable to breathe
to fill that vacant spot that still haunts my soul.
I want what the poets write about,
I want what the artists sing about,
I want to feel whole in a way I haven’t in years,
safe and understood and accepted
for and despite everything I’ve done.
But I’m so cautious now
that your hands might bruise
that I don’t let them settle at my waist.
I’m so fucking hungry for love
and I’m still like a child,
clutching at its skirts,
watching wide-eyed and wondering
and wanting,
wanting,
wanting.

By Maia Brown-Jackson

Biography:

Maia Brown-Jackson is a queer Jewish idealist who tries to save people and butterflies and bumblebees. She has a degree in counter-terrorism and human rights and is currently recovering from covid-19 in D.C.

Letter to Monrovia’s Policemen By Edwin Olu Bestman

Letter to Monrovia’s Policemen

for peaceful protestors –

dear policemen/
last night grandmother’s big butt TV didn’t play me foul/
i saw how your guns penetrated peaceful protestors’ bodies/
your teargas killed our mothers and fathers like slaves

dear policemen/
last night became a half moon/ broken/
i saw how you ripped those beautiful placards apart/
it felt like the atmosphere had gone out of air/ their lives extremely lost to the earth

dear policemen/
i saw how you drove them from community to communities/
some bare footed running for their lives/
others stuck in the mud/ so you came/
knocked them beneath the ground

dear policemen/
you stripped their bodies naked/
how you ran felt like you were on a mission to strike when seen/
you left marks on them like a devourous beast

dear policemen/
i mean/ my country’s men/
i thought you were meant to protect lives and properties/
North/ south/ east / and west/
until then/ this letter is from a boy whose grandmother’s TV didn’t play him foul

By Edwin Olu Bestman

Biography:

Edwin Olu Bestman is a young multi award winning poet from Liberia. His works have been published in Nantygreens, Odd magazine, Spillwords and so forth.

Grandmother By Molly Zhu

Grandmother

There are no direct flights
from Beijing to
Wisconsin.
At first, a patchwork jaunt
brings my grandmother
to me.
And I wonder what she thought
America would be like, then.

A conduit like this,
has always been fissured,
between us, space and time
sometimes spanned
tongues and years
and it was always
her half-a-day that lived
ahead of mine.

But when she still lived with us
at home, my grandmother’s slippers
were padded percussion.
The CCTV reads
chopped announcements –
the only midday voices
in her mother language.

In the kitchen,
scallions sliced,
longevity noodles hand-pulled,
tea leaves soaking up hot water
until they are fat with flavor –
the mailman comes,
the mailman goes.
Is this what it means to live in America?

If so, let the manicured rhythms
of small-town suburbia
play on –
My grandmother concocts
the slurry of pork and chives,
tucks them into miniature purses,
lacing the seams shut.

I would watch her furrowed hands,
siphon and coax,
the pocket she made
was only big enough to fit
a chopstick’s dollop.

But instead,
I want to stretch apart
the skin of water and flour,
drag out our memories and wrench away
the time zones that sit stoically between us.
Some days, when I am alone,
I dream I am waltzing from my front door,
one Tuesday evening, and
driving down the street
to my grandmother’s house.

By Molly Zhu

Biography:

Molly is a new poet and writer. For her desk job, she is a corporate attorney in NYC. In her free time, she enjoys eating and thinking about words.

Portrait of a mother in America By Kashiana Singh

Portrait of a mother in America

You are an unstoppable maverick
you have authorship to the fossils we shall be
You are restless as you lie awake
your forgiveness is now a lung emptied of death
You are monastic as you listen to the bells ring
your joy transient in yet another uncounted night
You are a widow wailing at the steps of a lake
a practiced palanquin bearer of skinned surrender
You are unflailing and rise above freedom
you claim perspective for those who are still captive
You are pole star and mercury
shifting the epicenter of your axis for those you birth
You are a witch with long arms
they embrace bodies showered from dilating skies
You are songwriter, fact narrator
watchwords are written in your inherited ink
You are chameleon, your smile is irreverent
it hides an incoherent truth underneath your teeth
You are your own church, your own god
your own microscope, staring at name & shame
You are blood, your rivulets gurgle
into veins of strife, wounds guard your empty streets
You are awake, you awaken, teasing
your dreadlocks into witness stands, for the dead
You are yesterday’s battles and tomorrow’s cries
you beat in ballads, and rehearse poems to throbbing drums
You are the rumbling beneath glaciers
you bury uncertain screams inside headstones
You are a sculpture in sand, drawing yourself
again, as your shores are erased, by waves of putrid lies
You are louder with each breath
penetrate a deafening normal, inside and outside
You are repetition, you sketch a scrawl
that leaves scars on a country’s cardboard map
You are hunger, your sharp tongue bites into cornbread
ready again for another funeral pageantry
You are a village common; you bear resilience
in hallways that echo of ruptured protests
You are unabashed, you offer your breast
to beating chests, shadows of heaving loss
You are ricocheted through our mistakes
your prayer is a pause inside vacant throats
You are promise of a rotting tattoo
your artwork stares into their reasonless gaze
You are conversation to our silence
you pour questions into our coagulated eyes
You are sure of your journey
your pilgrimage is to places where multitudes died
You are sister, you are queen
you dance in compassion, it holds your head high
You are your ancestors, you are healer
you make garment of their velvet flagellated skins
You are language, farmer of roots
you nourish the irreverence of all marching youth
You are baptized, you are ostracized
you drink from the fountain of wakeful lives
You are in your own image, not his, not hers
not theirs, you stand holding a mirror to eclipsed light
You are time, of all times
you rudder the sea to the sky, you swallow meteorites
You are inadequate in your koans
you ache in psalms that sing into life and afterlife
You are relentless, a stitcher of quilts
you fill it with absence, thread it with sinew of your barren wombs

By Kashiana Singh

Biography:

Kashiana Singh lives in Chicago and embodies her TEDx talk theme of Work as Worship into her everyday. Her poetry collection, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words presents her voice as a participant and an observer. Her chapbook Crushed Anthills is a journey through 10 cities – a complex maze of remembrances to unravel. Her poems have been published on various platforms including Poets Reading the News, Visual Verse, Oddball Magazine, Café Dissensus, TurnPike Magazine, Inverse Journal. She serves as an Assistant Poetry Editor for Poets Reading the News. Kashiana carries her various geographical homes within her poetry.

I’ve Seen You Be Vertical (a Reminder) By A.C. Dobell

I’ve Seen You Be Vertical (a Reminder)
For my sister

You are throwing up
but what if it was just alcohol
and you are just hungover?

I could rub your back
and promise you’ll feel better
once you get it all out

Trust me
you will feel better

What if instead of lying backside
your back was just to me?

I could watch as you hunch over the toilet
to grab its rim for a crutch
and stack your bones up on top of the other

First your winged shoulders
stack on a lifting spine
which stacks on legs
Don’t you remember how?

as you arise to walk out of here
by yourself

so strong simply by virtue
of being vertical

I’ve seen you be vertical

What if instead of limp silence
you could speak?

Once standing
you could wipe your mouth
to crack the usual hangover joke

about how you’ll never let it get that bad again
I could look you in the eyes and nod

You’ll never get that bad again

By A.C. Dobell

Biography:

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.

CALIFORNIA FIRES EVERYWHERE By Abby Caplin

CALIFORNIA FIRES EVERYWHERE

I know morning only by cell phone
held up to the dark beyond the window,
where daylight’s been canceled,
school too. Across the street, kids eat breakfast
Cheerios and milk in soured lighting. I gape,
thinking of bedtime at lunchtime, how cars wear
the gray of old underwear no amount of bleach
can undo. Even the green of the garden
is gray, where hummingbirds are stunned,
and confused bats tire, unsure of when to return
to their roosts. My husband drives to the beach,
his car’s headlights seeking a nonexistent horizon
as the bloody eye of the sun hunts for its betrayers.
He texts me a video of a landmark diner’s electric
sign, its neon red pulsing in the throat
of a furious god that we bed down with
every night, as it whispers us to sleep.

By Abby Caplin

Biography:


Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in AGNI, Catamaran, Love’s Executive Order, Manhattanville Review, Midwest Quarterly, Salt Hill, TSR: The Southampton Review, Tikkun, and elsewhere. Among her awards, she has been a finalist for the Rash Award in Poetry, semi-finalist for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award, finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award, and a winner of the San Francisco Poets Eleven. She is a physician and practices mind-body medicine in San Francisco. http://abbycaplin.com

A twister came By Joe Shetina

A twister came

A twister came and tore
the roofs clean off our
dizzy heads. The twister
came at midnight and
tucked us in our beds. It
broke the walls and cracked
our skulls and spilled out
all our brains. It opened
up our stuffy homes; let
light in with the rain. Up
with the sun, our bodies done,
they stayed right where
they laid, but we took us
a walk to see just what the
morning made. Through
battered walls and errant
holes, a dioramic view.
We gazed upon our
neighbors’ lives, and swept
our shame aside—for
now we knew how
truly dull were the
things we tried to hide.

By Joe Shetina

Biography:

Joe Shetina (they/he) is a writer based in Chicago. Their writing has failed in some of the industry’s finest competitions, having been cited in the top 15% for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship and given semi-finalist status at the 2019 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. They hold a BA in sociology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage from Northwestern University, where they also taught Foundations of Screenwriting courses as a graduate assistant.