God Tier By Michelle Queen

God Tier

The boy in the pew in front flipped his eyelids inside out
and turned to show me his new face. We were so tiny, but I already

carried the weight of infatuation. Diet diffidence. Skipped over communion
wafers. I cracked my eyes and pretended to sleep.

When the pastor reached the crescendo of the sermon,
sweaty cheeked, cymbals striking, and preaching chords giving him more,

the woman across from us waved her arms, Yes Lord
crooning from her wine-red lips, and I hoped she wouldn’t.

She shuffled through the aisles, bouncing, head tilted to God as she clutched
her breasts. Hallelujah. Convulsing in kept laughter, I pretended to murmur

a prayer of restraint. The pastor called the children to fill the alter for a blessing,
and I still tried to pretend but was nudged awake from unholy comfort, and held

the clammy hand of flipped eyelid boy. I bowed and saw myself
reflected pink in his shoes and remembered I was cute for the day.

Back home, I chomped on egg shaped candy with a blue forked tongue
until mom yelled that I’d wreck my dress, and I had to change.

And outside, I wondered who I’d sacrifice for an imaginary friend,
to have a secret treehouse and rule the world, while collecting

caterpillars undulating on sidewalks and bending blades
of grass. The bottom of the bucket a caterpillar carpet. I wanted a city.

An empire. They’d mistake temper tantrums for wrath and raise
their eyeless faces for penance, and I’d grant it. Fuzzy fools. I’d feed

them leaves until their bodies were cherubic, cocooning new histories
into butterflies, gospels by my bedroom window as a Thank You,

and maybe I’d start over. Dreamt of derechos dripping from flipped
eyelid boy’s swollen pink folds. The next morning the bucket was filled

with russet water.
Maybe I’d start over.

By Michelle Queen

Michelle Queen is a customer service supervisor by day and writer by off hours. She received her Bachelor of Science in English from Frostburg State University. You can find her latest publication on Harness Magazine. She’s on Instragram too @gutterslugz

Regression By Mai Ly Hagan


Let us return, in times of need…
In grief, in pain, in pity.
Let us return not to words but to feeling:
To a paper scraping pulp
Like a finger on a temple.

Grief, as I see, is a honey wrapped stake—
Dearest, take off the sullen drape,
And soak in the lavender and salt.
Lavender, to remind you of days past,
Laughing in fields, living, light against your back.
Salt, for the wound, for it to caress.
The pain siphons out the infection,

Let us return,
To grief.
For grief is nothing more than a thing,
Or a place. Or lack thereof.
The emptiness you carry deep like a
Pit without a seed.
Regress, regress. For the only way to heal,
Is to face what sticks.
To remember what was lost.

So I regress to the flower field,
Rolling leaves into books,
Caress, caress, until the pulp
Becomes memory.
Licked in a salty envelope.
Tossed to the sniveling sea.

By Mai Ly Hagan


Mai Ly Hagan is a high school junior from Hanoi, Vietnam. Growing up, she had a love for fantasy novels, which developed into an interest in creative writing. Mai Ly hopes to study English literature in university.

Even Knives Have Skins Too By Dzikamayi Chando

Even Knives Have Skins Too

Poverty wields a mighty hammer & watches the sunset
western suburbs trap the stench of factories and moral rot
in the cracks of their colonial walls
through which darkness of the black-eyed sky slithers
& sets into an anvil on which red hot hearts
are forged into sharp-edged bodies that go out
to lurk in alleys like famished crocodiles in swamps

At dawn poverty’s blistered hands push men into the factory
smoke mixed with slivered wholeness of the neighbourhood
the guise of gloom’s replaced by the deceit of smiles
& as a corpse is found in its blood someone whispers
a sick statistic it’s the third one this week
the frightened cup their chins and breathe in shock
the perpetrators have hearts in their pockets beating the heat
out of their skins they also cup their chins and look frightened

By Dzikamayi Chando


Dzikamayi Chando writes from Gweru, Zimbabwe. He vacillates between the meaninglessness of life and the purpose of life- reading and sometimes writing inbetween. You can connect with him on Twitter @dzikamayic.

Legends of the Women of Duvergé By Michelle Garcia Fresco

Legends of the Women of Duvergé

My great grandmother Tata

is not remembered for her kindness
just for the way she left
knives in legs of men
who owed her

The men in my family never live long
enough to be remembered
as anything other than

It is said the women of Duvergé are brujas
who bury their husbands
in the ashes of their

That the women of my family
cast spells in silence
as they serenade their children`s spirits

My eyes are as dirty as the water,
sit on the edge of a sea
of brown that are
my ancestors

Are muddled in centuries
of cries that can conjure a

By Michelle Garcia Fresco

Michelle Garcia Fresco is an Afro-Latinx poet and Spoken Word artist based in Boston. She is currently a Senior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Double majoring in Creative Writing and Sociology. Believing in the power of poetry as a medium for social justice. Garcia`s writing is often inspired by the women in her family, social and racial injustices in America, coping with loss and mental health, as well as her Dominican roots.

White Caterpillar By Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang

White Caterpillar

Are you happy?

Your message floats
in my mind like ice
in cherry and vodka. Images
of you disperse into background

noise at the bar. I trace
the coaster and pen down
my thoughts on tissues before
rolling them into white

caterpillars. They huddle
beside my glass growing
with moisture. When the time comes
they will veil themselves

in a make-shift chrysalis of trash
bags for years to burst
out the memory of burning
love now dead. It is

a butterfly with punctures
on its wings fluttering
about my head before
dying by my hand. I smile

throughout the night, asking
for more tissues, wasting
ink to re-
member you.

By Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang


Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang finished BA Asian Studies at the University of Santo Tomas. She is taking up her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines — Diliman. Her poems are published in 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, ALPAS Journal, Inklette Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Rumpus. Her interests include esoteric practices, Japanese studies, and Jungian archetypes. She likes sleeping but sleeping doesn’t like her. At the moment, she is tending to a garden in Makati, Philippines — anticipating vegetables to be harvested soon and for the hydrangea to be, once again, in full bloom.

Ghazal: Moonless, We Strut By Katie Kemple

Ghazal: Moonless, We Strut

A flock of teens above us on the school roof tonight—
we glance quickly, walk faster in the moonless night.

Our school mascot’s legs are too short to walk right,
he’s a predator that hunts moths, a hawk of night.

Do you wonder why a woman walks her girls without
a man, without a moon, in the ink of a ruthless night?

My daughters aren’t afraid of the barn owl’s cry,
the coyote’s howl, or teen boys on a roofless night.

We replenish the calcium of our skeletons, hips tilt
a tick-tock walk down the planet’s boneless night.

A girl with long hair, shifts her legs, her weight,
and skates down the center of our street tonight.

Wheels that steal across the landscape of dark:
you can’t catch what’s quick in the fearless night.

I used to walk zombie-style, my arms out straight,
to stop webs from threading my face in fright.

A spider’s too clever to cast a net of my height,
she graphs moths into mummies. Oh, starry night!

The crackers of concrete have yet to be bitten
by the roots of young oaks, in the hungry night.

Our shoes smack pavement, we laugh hard, out right—
our voices burst sparklers into “Ah!” tonight.

By Katie Kemple


Katie Kemple is a mostly vegan person raising two kids, an elder pug, and a carnival goldfish in San Diego. She’s married to the love of her life. Her poems can be found in The Elevation Review, The Collidescope, The Racket, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.

Elegy For My Father By Stefani Heather

Elegy For My Father

Were you in the room when air first filled my lungs?
Did you smile and say, “look at her tiny fingers?”
There in the dim hospital light, my mother,
exhausted and too young for this,
Did you lift me into your arms, flannel wrapped bird bones,
and whisper, “I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”?

Do you remember the last time you saw me?
Did you hug me and tell me to be brave?
Did you promise that you’d find me one day?
One day, when you could love who you loved,
and love me too?
Did you button my coat, hold my head in both of your hands, and say
“Be a good girl. Do what they tell you.”?

Sometimes, when you were walking in the woods,
When you noticed the way the light made rivulets
On the forest floor,
The vultures sliding in slow circles above the trees
The brown cardinal calling for her mate
Did you wonder where I was, who I had become?
Did you think, “I hope she knows the names of the birds.”?
Did you think, “I hope she knows that I loved her too”?

Sometimes, on a country road,
Eyes squinting in the too bright sun, that song on the radio,
the one that makes you remember,
Did you look at your two hands on the wheel and think
“Does she have these hands?”
“Does she know this song?”
“Does she think of me?”

I did.

I do.

Was I in the room when the air left your lungs?
Did you cry and say, “I wish I had told her”?
There in a thin hospital gown, my father
Exhausted and too young for this,
Did you close your eyes, unfurl your fists
and whisper, “I never meant to hurt you.”?

By Stefani Heather


Stefani Heather is an educator, writer, and poet. She lives in Georgetown, Texas with her wife, Emily, two small dogs, and roughly 300,000 bees, give or take.

fever dreams By Katie Park

fever dreams

we meet on a beautiful summer day
far from perfect, but i could not know
the brightness of your gaze outshining even
the dazzling brilliance of that pitiless sun
stunned, i am blinded by the light
the heat and energy from your spotless form
and i begin to melt
your laugh is like music to my ears
and i find myself laughing along
to the voice that becomes so familiar so soon

perhaps too soon
my unintended serenade to a stranger
and though my days are blissful
i remember that you’ll never know
that i would give you my everything
and ice envelops me once more

despite everything,
the haze never lifts from my twisted eyes
your every word is changed, manipulated
to something more lovely and serene
i want you so badly to melt
the chains of frost that hold me

but i cannot find the words i need
those words that would free me
my cowardly heart is too scared
to sprint and leap where others have fallen
and that selfishness whispers in my ear
so i remain silent

even when my blindness consumes me

even when we say goodbye
for the final time

during the long, cruel nights
my warped mind conjures visions
of your smiling face, your warm hand
reaching out and grasping mine
melting the years of pain from my heart
the loneliness of the night fading away
into wisps of a forgotten memory
as my hopeful eyes rise to meet yours
the blank, dreaminess of their gaze

my empty heart, despite everything
continues to beat
like an abandoned machine;
dead, useless scraps of metal

and when the nights are coldest
i gaze into the void and think about how
just once i’d like to feel
the touch of your flesh on mine

we are like the stars in the sky,
regretfully shining until the end of our days
but while your warmth brings life and joy
it cannot fix my delusional love
and soon, ice begins to wrap around me
choking, paralyzing, destroying

for a moment, my lungs stop
and i think i can see your face
“why are you crying?” you ask,
your fading hand caressing my face
and my worthless tongue
begins to crumble

By Katie Park


Katie Park is a first-year Computer Science student at New York University. In her spare time, she enjoys recording music, reading historical biographies, and writing depressing poetry.

Cielo By Zizheng William Liu


As a lion to prey you followed me,
Your smile as if it were trying
Not to grin,

Not to wear your patience thin
Or excite itself towards a conclusion.

It must have scared you straight to love,
Knowing what it could mean to be so full and blissful,
So quiet you could stop inside for a moment.

You’d spent your whole life
Moving place to place,

Dashing islands and futures,
Adjusting yourself each time

To live a hundred lives an hour,
Each hurting the way a promise hurts a future.

They were simply never there,
Never trying to be there,

Existing in some parallel of the mind
That you always fought against,

Slashing some enemy that might
Have been your own eyes,
The shakes of the brain in remembrance.

The aftershock of names
And lies they fed you like clothing.

The cuffs fit you loose and wild,
A sky child,

Thunder and rain
But a sun so bright I simply shiver.

The night falls and I think of you,
Missing the blue hues of your clarities

That feed my pens.
Their dull fatigues
Lobbing against me

To write something that just might work,
Might bring you home to me.

There’s the first month
And then there’s three.

It was always in you to fight,
The way you had been fighting love.

Fighting the idea of being loved,
And then fighting to love another
As if in two trenches at once.

So it must fare quite clear
With an arm to the chest

And the safety releasing itself
To those loud fires that would drive me wild.

It is in those opposites we live,
Speaking from the place I write,

The place I merely stumbled into you,
A bubbling fool drunk for a muse.

And there it become a battle,
Another trophy for you to lift.

A life you could live to completion

By Zizheng William Liu


Zizheng William Liu (he/him/his) is a student from Houston, Texas who loves to write fiction and poetry. When he’s not writing, he also enjoys snapping the ever-changing world around him with his Canon Rebel camera.

The Hindi Word for Prayer By Shreya Khullar

The Hindi Word for Prayer

There are no temples where I live so
we rent out a rec center for worship.
I call it “Indian Church” to my white
friends in second grade, while we are
segregated based on who has a peanut
allergy and who doesn’t. A lump of sweet
butter lodges in my throat when they laugh at
my turmeric stained teeth. I try to remember
that a transgender man came to bless my birth.
A hermaphrodite like the Hindu God, Shiva, a
half-man, half-woman, whole-god. My
mother kneads incense into sticky rice balls
shaped like milk-cake clouds. The kind
served in Diwali dinners with stumbly dancing
and hymn. My name is a Sanskrit word for
auspicious, and I can bless the rain we
wash our vegetables with. I can entice
worship with just three ingredients. Half
marigold used to decorate gold pleated idols, half
question asked by an inquisitive second grader
Is this who taught you to appreciate real food?
half poem by a girl devoted to the cavity of religion.
A blessing calculated as one hundred and fifty percent.
The tax of carrying my culture on my skin like a
tattoo tightens my lips when I speak in foreign tongues.
In this life, the cost of sweet creams and sour curries comes
at around half a second grade soul, half a heart of a mother
whose child no longer enjoys the food of her ancestors, and
half a plate of julienned marigolds for my country’s idolatry.
So when they question how my mother can taste the hum
of pulsing earth and drink the sky, I tell them
Yes, this is who taught me to appreciate real food.

By Shreya Khullar


Shreya Khullar is a junior in high school from Iowa City, Iowa. She was born in India and has been learning classical dance since she was three feet tall. Shreya is usually curled up with a book in her bed, and when she’s not reading, she can be found watching romcoms on Netflix or crying over her physics homework. Her work has previously been published in Hypernova Lit and recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.