Entry/Exit By Megha Sood

Entry/Exit

Pain unable to hide between its own shadows, where the grief goes to hide.
Shuddering ripples cleaving the body in half like a painful carving.

Shreds of pain hiding like crumbs between the covers. Language chiseled like
the hunters’ knife on the naked skin of the wild oak donning a false sense of ownership.

Your breath on my skin spits and marks its boundaries. Your words carve out
the burnished wounds. The bourgeois display of pain splayed for the whole world.

To whom this body belongs? Suffering is nameless. Carved out of the tongues of those
who abused us. Misunderstood and mispronounced like a foreign language.

A penny tightly clutched in the soft palms leaves impressions.
An uprooted oak falls silently in the naked woods.

A lot has entered and exit through this body leaving behind the remnant of painful
memories carving its names. A litany of boisterous acclaim.

My scorched skin covered with suppurating welts and blisters.
Skin begging for sustenance. Sometimes, even the scorched earth goes green.

I wait patiently for the rain to come. Earth trowled over and remains fertile.
Nature teaches me resilience. The parched body craves the sustenance of the monsoon rains.

Sometimes body forgets its own memories, living and breathing through the pain.
Forgetting its own entry and exit. Succumbed to life living trapped shut. 

By Megha Sood

Biography:

Megha Sood is an Assistant Poetry Editor for the Literary Journal MookyChick and a Literary Partner with the “Life in Quarantine” Stanford University, USA. Her works are widely published in literary journals and anthologies including Better than Starbucks, Gothamist, Poetry Society of New York, Madras Courier, Borderless Journal, WNYC Studios, Kissing Dynamite, American Writers Review, FIVE:2: ONE, Quail Bell, Dime show review, etc. Three-time State-level Winner NAMI Dara Axelrod NJ Poetry Contest 2018/2019/2020 and First Place National Winner Spring Robinson Lit Prize 2020, Finalist in Pangolin Poetry Prize 2019, Adelaide Literary Award 2019 and Erbacce Prize 2020, Nominated for the iWomanGlobalAwrads 2020 and many more. Works selected numerous times by Jersey City Writers group and Department of Cultural Affairs for the Arts House Festival. Editor of ( “The Medusa Project, Mookychick) and ( “The Kali Project,” Indie Blu(e) Press). Chosen twice as the panelist for the Jersey City Theater Center Online Series “Voices Around the World”.She blogs at https://meghasworldsite.wordpress.com/ and tweets at @meghasood16.

Nostalgic Memories of Times I wish were Present By Yvonne Nezianya

Nostalgic Memories of Times I wish were Present

Just before I make peace with my dreams and call on angels to possess my body
at night, I summon memories my sleepy eyes crave to see and call on the portals

of my past to open so I may relive what I wish were my present. I see an excited me
in the four purple walls of her hostel room listening to carefree students sing Beyoncé

hymns, forgetting they aren’t twenty-four time grammy award winners. Although I feign
anger over the outrageous noise polluting my ears, a smile fights to win ownership of my

lips. Night falls and I see me walk the streets of UNN, calling pretty boys beautiful
and smiling that darkness masks my face from their curious eyes. When I’m done unearthing

memories I only found were beautiful when this disaster casted a shadow on us, I get a feel of
how peace tastes; like my past. This is my daily routine. Reliving days that are long gone and

hoping that present times decide to make its race a sprint, so it would all be over soon and
peace would cease to be the reward of nightly soul-searching.

Yvonne Nezianya is a Nigerian writer, (performance) poet and a final year student of Health Education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She writes to tell silenced stories of young girls and people facing mental health issues. Her short story, Wonders of Spirits, was shortlisted for the K and L Prize 2020. Her works have and will appear in the Micah Anthology by Poets in Nigeria, Black Skin No Mask Anthology, The African Writers Review, Afritondo, Green Black Tales and elsewhere. Connect with her on Instagram @yvonnenezy_writes and twitter @nezi_yvonne.

Captured, but Not Seen By Yvonne Nezianya

Captured, but Not Seen

Deep into my daily tradition of
reliving my past life through the
pictures crowding my camera roll,

an overly saturated picture steals the
focus of my eyes and urges my mind
to travel to the day when that moment

was captured with the lens of my Andriod
phone. My lips were stretched into a
momentary grin. A smile for the camera.

Two of my girls held their frames and let
loose of their tongues as they hung outside
their mouths. They wore happiness fearlessly

like it was moisturizer for their skin while I
stood to their side, with the need for approval
overshadowing my glow. I was struggling to be

captured with a set of people who didn’t care
if I stood by them, knowing very well that I would
still be cropped out when it was time for me to be seen.

By Yvonne Nezianya

Biography:

Yvonne Nezianya is a Nigerian writer, (performance) poet and a final year student of Health Education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She writes to tell silenced stories of young girls and people facing mental health issues. Her short story, Wonders of Spirits, was shortlisted for the K and L Prize 2020. Her works have and will appear in the Micah Anthology by Poets in Nigeria, Black Skin No Mask Anthology, The African Writers Review, Afritondo, Green Black Tales and elsewhere. Connect with her on Instagram @yvonnenezy_writes and twitter @nezi_yvonne.

of chastity and arranged marriages By Niharika Manda

of chastity and arranged marriages

are amma & nanna
pressuring you
to get married yet?
are the neighborhood
aunties gladly
reminding you,
that your clock is ticking,
and your career is nothing but a threat
to your future husband?

are you being set up
on blind dates
with indian men,
who secretly hope
you’re a chast virtue of goodness,
an untouched,
unopened book
of recipes and self-restraint?

do you feel the world telling you
that your womanhood
has a shelf life
that no number of diplomas
can preserve?

you most likely are.

but i’m here now.

i’m here to remind you,
that you are bold.
you can write, and sing,
and teach computers
to do extraordinary things.

i’m here to never let you forget
that it’s the year 2025,
and in an age where
you can be anything,
i will not let you
be coaxed into an
arranged marriage.

By Niharika Manda

Biography:

Niharika Manda recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a dual degree in Computer Science & Linguistics. She is a software developer at Amazon by day, and a poet by night. She is from San Jose, California but spent her high school years in Bangalore, India. She is passionate about the use of technology in creative arts, mental health, and bridging the gender gap in STEM. In her free time she likes to sing, drink lots of tea, and watch Indian movies. You can find her on instagram @niharika_manda.

itsy-bitsy spider By E. M. Roy

itsy-bitsy spider

birth of venus

water: from whence we came
let us go back to that moment before
we learned our mouths had other uses
sweet air on our tongues, gills flat and impotent
trapped in the ocean’s filmy membrane

down came the rain

foul furred creature damp and furious
tangle of legs in jumbled crawl
she swam, he curled up and sank
(why carry an hour-glass
when your time has run out?)
up the water-spout again, then
eight eyes only mean more tears to cry

bone dry

the widow watches the teacup’s lake
through milk-cloudy water to the leaves below
still surface, is she still ill?
she cannot bring herself to drink
and the warmth of the tea soon drains into her hands

abandoned lands

a lagoon; sometime in the future
where the waters lie silent and peacock blue
strange. leave, and barely a ripple remains
but fall in and it shatters

By E. M. Roy

Biography:

E. M. Roy is a British-Indian poet currently living between Singapore and Pennsylvania. Her work centres around loss, colonisation and third-culture identity. She can be found on Instagram at @emroypoet.”

Dad’s Dad By A.C. Dobell

Dad’s Dad

The same picture again
me on the old man’s lap
He’s smiling I’m probably two
probably smiling

You’re the only one he got to meet
There’s pride there—
in the way that you delivered a granddaughter
and sorrow— like how the only one
you almost named after him
(if we were not all girls)— never got the chance

You had sons later but maybe
it wasn’t as fresh then

I am imagining you with your camera
1996 in a hospital with your dying father
Plopping a child on his limp body
I wonder if you knew as you hit the shutter
just how many times you would look at the photo
Sometimes I do whenever I take a photo

I tell you I don’t remember
and you don’t hear me

holding the photo but gazing beyond it
using eyes to hear you better
He got to meet you

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.

Peeled Pomelo By Molly Zhu

Peeled Pomelo

The fruit of my father’s first home,
is a pulpy heart of citrus,
a full moon, with beads of juice
that drip down my chin.

Bring to the table,
a mouth
that is never wiped clean,
because there is no time

when my father, standing at the island
made of Formica,
endlessly sculpts and carves
the rind from a jewel.

Though it is the Sichuan peppercorn
that flares in the limelight and numbs the bellies
of our ancestors,
it was the crisp of the dewdrops
bursting in my mouth,
the tart of the pomelo,
that I instead loved best.

I wonder
if you’ve ever smelled the skin
of the fruit –
coiled, at this point,
spongey and cushioned,
in your hands,
a pastiche of the fancy potpourris
and lavender oils sold at the corner store.

Except this citrus,
its shell a cradle for ruby navel,
is both: perfume and delicacy,
bitter pith and candied juice,
memories of my father and I,

in the kitchen on a still evening,
and he unwraps the gemstone
and I sit and wait as patiently as I can.

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. Find her on Instagram @Mlz316

The Soft Power of Tentacles and Waves By Brynn Cook

The Soft Power of Tentacles and Waves

The ocean will never give you
What you ask. Not cerulean
treasures or secrets
from your love, not even
glass, star-shaped, for your throat.

Barnacles crop white-stemmed
as mushrooms, curve like the molar
of some prehistoric mammal, singly
in my pocket, twined in seaweed
draped in motion. Unmooring gifts

crooked in elbows, shaped by
amniotic fluid, by the sway
of moonlight, by the law
of mouths and greater mouths

that gape, as beached placenta
involuntary ambassadors
on our doorstep. Thank you, thank you
retracting, orb and stalk
under our salted fingers. Fringed
patina that suck our bones
gently, until we come apart
become sand, become glass, become
the dreams we hang

in our windows. Chin in palm
I gaze up through coca-cola
glaciers. Trace spider strands,
dew weighted, constellations
that web us here together: Venus droplets
terracotta Mars. I dream
in watery dreams, searching
up and down the shoreline
for life, beyond our own.

By Brynn Cook

Biography:

Brynn Cook was born and raised in Southern California, leaving to spend six years pursuing her PhD at the University of Virginia. Brynn has now returned to her home state, and currently lives with her husband and twin sister in the best possible shelter-in-place scenario. Brynn has been published in Chaparral poetry, and writes poetry with the hope of one day distilling the strange call of warm October winds.

Nuclear shadow By Maia Brown-Jackson

Nuclear shadow

I think my soul might be an
abandoned war zone.

Have you seen the pictures of Hiroshima,
of Nagasaki?
The negative spaces are all that’s left
of the people that used to live there,
the people that died in a flash,
the shadows where they burned.

Have you seen the satellite imaging of
the terrain near Mosul?
Trampled, burned, fallow.

Soldiersterroristsmenwithguns
purposefully destroyed the land on which they tread
so nothing good could come,
and imperialistscolonialistssoldiers
unconcernedly followed in their wake,
ignoringmisunderstanding
the flattened earth around them.

It’s a beautiful metaphor, don’t you think?

The cradle of life, devastated, with the best of intentions.
The graveyard of empires.

The places I met women who understood me,
and held me,
and gave me more than they had to give.

That classic, archetypal analogy is horrible
to live through. It’s horrible to write.

It’s narcissistic, it’s dismissive, and yet,
I still feel burned and hollowed inside.

It’s the nuclear shadow of knowing we are all stardust;
we are all ruin, we are all war, we are all death.
We are only stardust because the stars burned themselves out.

(Though if I must be balanced,
we are only beautiful because in the darkness
we can still be kind.

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.

Mother’s body tasted the civil crisis By Edwin Olu Bestman

Mother’s body tasted the civil crisis

I. my mother’s body was a mirror/
where father pictured himself /
as children, we saw how those roots in her body grew/
her eyes lighted our presence like Christmas trees

II. mother’s body lost its essence during the civil crisis/
her legs stripped naked/ a stray bullet fell in love with her arms/
her roots were broken, short-lived and abandoned

III. mother’s body became a graveyard/
so silent/ no one could hear her whispered/ her beautiful face couldn’t grow young again/
those days became a symbol of golden darkness

IV. mother’s body couldn’t read the description of her husband/ sad and/
her husband eyes made tears like angry birds/
her body instruments lost its melodius tone

V. mother breathed/
but it seemed like oxygen had disappeared from the atmosphere/
it felt like the tube connected to her nostril had broken air/
and father pictures were blurred/ cause mother’s body became a victim of the civil crisis

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.