Heads tilt back Towards skies that move in healing silence From blue to pink and back to blue again.
The world is speaking now, Through hoards of swallows, In a kind of unison that makes rough wind—soft.
Holy in it’s absence, Life exists beyond the living As if it never came to be, but has always been.
Shrouded in antiquity, Joshua trees reign like teased out crosses: Sepulchers in God’s ashtray-
Marking a Harshness that lies Beneath the sanctity Of Divine Light.
Perhaps it is a one-eyed dog gnawing on a Jesus chachskie; A new mailbox with nothing inside; A carcass of metal machinery; forgotten.
Propped by 4 runners speeding down highways, Dust hangs pendulous As if to conceal the half-living:
Prostrate on their backs, Waiting for some semblance of salvation Till the finality of a days end draws near,
And light coalesces into tiny miracles that sit, Like a celestial frame, Around a thumbprint of Opal light.
Perhaps this is Deliverance, come at last, To remediate the feeble cries of the fallen… Can it be?
Or is it the wind: Contentious; Undying; Turning on the motion sensor.
By Carmen Flood
Carmen Flood is an actress/poet/artist based in Topanga Canyon, California. She grew up with a single father in the mountains who fostered her appreciation for the arts at an early age. She loves writing poetry as a of comprehending the of the world around her, and as a way to store/transmit the full body, breadth and soul of an experience. She is an alumni of Carnegie Mellon University’s school of Drama where she studied acting.
This is the dawning of the age of panic and barrel-roasted coffee beans. When the student has surpassed the master before the bell vibrates the rafters.
“We live in very interesting political times” you say as you sip a mug of muddy dandelions, and wipe the crease from your brow.
How many pennies do I have to swallow to make America great again? How many nights should I sleep on the ground before I sweat out the Republic?
Let me fuck you until you see stars and stripes. Let me tease you with words like “ephemeral.”
Mama told me once about holy numbers. 7 may get you to heaven, but 11 gets you nowhere.
Do you remember when you were 11, swearing in blood brothers under solemn bedsheets? Do you remember every oath you swore under the sheets?
Dig this riff while you dig your hole. Don’t question the bullets in the horn because this cat has got to blow.
So throw out the baby, but seal the bathwater in a mason jar.
So coat your beard in glitter before you take up arms.
By Raphaela Wade
I received my MA in Poetry from the University of Chicago, and have since split my time between working in higher ed and travelling, primarily in Latin America. I was raised in a hyper-religious family in a small town in the bible belt, and coming away from that has influenced the way that I view the political landscape and the intersection of cultures. That unique viewpoint is often centered in my work.
Jeepney smoke seeps through the iron rail to keep him bloodshot. He burrows in the neck of his shirt, already coughing. A black sauna air begins to funnel from the roaring exhaust. He feels
a soft burn as Jeepney smoke flows into his lungs. Turning into a viscous tar that cakes the walls of his neck. Yet, it all smells too familiar. Throughout all these years, the Pasig River-scented smoke remains true.
True to all of its people. It is the calming scent of nickel coins at the dive bars or tire swings near lola’s house. He no longer sits in the Jeepney. He is home, rummaging through lola’s bag, thumbing her rosario
and dipping his hands into a pool of crumpled snowbear wrappers. He opens his eyes to a musing glaucoma. This is home, where he woke up for the last seventeen years to the humid rays of the morning sun,
people storming the divisoria streets, the Banaba chickens cuckooing atop their roosts. This is home, where he sees children splashing in puddles across slums. Street cats walking on rooftops, tricycles bouncing on rugged sidewalks.
The Jeepney stops in the flurry of traffic. He steps off and palms the gray ocher, trickling it through his fingers. He now sees it all. The iron rail, the dangling banners of sari-sari treats, the morning sun blending with Jeepney smoke.
This is home.
By Chris Lim
Chris Lim is a high school junior attending the British School Manila. He has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards with a National Medal. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in K’in Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, Cathartic Literary Magazine, What Rough Beast, Heritage Review, ZO Magazine, and elsewhere. He is also the co-founder of Celestal Review – an online literary magazine that publishes quarterly. Aside from creative writing, he frequently enjoys attending MUN conferences and swimming on hot days.
I travel to space in search/ of my mother/ & gravity is a law my body repels/ because all my life/ ain’t been in the centre/ of the earth/ but/ a warm corner/beneath/ heating with grief/
For my body is too crumbly/ to fall from the sky/ & not smash into fragments/ tiny as cocci/ but here I am/ in perfect shape/ wearing a space blanket/ that unweights/ the heft of sorrow/ in my body/
And we know/ that what we call the glowing moon/ is a big blind bulb/ being loved by the sun/ this is a fancy way to say that/ not all that gleams is gold/ it’s another way to say/ I reflect my mother’s colour/ that sets & hides behind God/ Call me an astronaut/ separating dark clouds from the rain/
Astronomy is enough to conclude/ that I will always be opaque/ & lunar eclipsed/ because the earth stands/ between my mother/ & I/
By Chinedu Gospel
Chinedu Gospel is a Nigerian poet and script writer. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in nantygreens magazine, pallette poetry, praxis magazine and elsewhere. You can also reach him on Facebook @ de unique gospel
The father gave up alcohol on the cusp of her recall — sometime after she turns three. Before then life is mosaicked, rustic absent most its tiles, glass mysteries transparent at most inconvenient hours, of pretty parks, passionflowers, the same shade as her scoured cheeks. Taught her to devour raw oysters weeks later to mother’s dismay. Says of it later “you would have swallowed anything then to please him” — hot sauce, alcohol scented sweat on skin, hollowed by the age of ten when liquid mirth was lost to him, the cost of his cleanliness again. For decades, Dirty Mary’s taste of him.
By Kristin Garth
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal). She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com
So are drinks two through six He makes his way home Stumbles through the door Pulls out the vodka Ashes on the porch Cigar smoke in the air The next one is lit with a blowtorch His shirt covered in holes You would never know he’s a wealthy businessman With a white Picket wife Or a child With two large dogs in tow They live on a little plot of farmland Where nothing ever grows The drugs seep into the soil The smoke clogs the air Daughter bleeds among the wildflowers Her dad’s addictions Are chemical warfare Her lungs Black, Brooding Consistency of wet charcoal A rainbow child Barely still breathing; Never to be whole
By C.G. Myth
I am a partner to my girlfriend, Eliana, and a parent to my odd, anxious dog, Sammy. I am the social media director at the Talon Review. I’ll earn a BA from the University of North Florida in spring 2021, and begin my pursuit of an MFA from Stetson University in summer 2021. My poetry and short stories won the Sullivan Writing Scholarship.
“Otherwise Fallin in Love” Song by Les Rallizes Dénudés
summer air catches people outside hugs them in humidity and gnats: spring in florida
a guy i used to make out with— stare at his ceiling and movie posters when he choked me my head light on his couch pillow— sends me a song
a towel tied tight over my hair i fall back on my bed look through the ceiling dream of his record player and the hard pasta he made me “it’s al dente,” he said
stuff away the memory of longing for someone else when wrapped in his bedsheets crying (and drunk) calling my dad to pick me up walking to the car with records i’d brought
i run my tongue over my teeth to know they are still there to feel them smooth and bite my tongue at its tip then push it to the insides of my cheeks
until i am with him in chicago trudging through snow and slow drums the killer guitar solo bleeding all through the eight minutes
By Hadley Hendrix
I am the Fiction Editor at Talon Review and am currently studying Psychology of Fiction at the University of North Florida. I intend to become a book editor, literary agent, or something else in the world of publishing I may fall in love with along the way. I strive to write stories and poems that eat at life and leave readers with its seeds, the pulp sticking to the sides of an empty glass. Before joining the staff, my work has previously been published in Talon Review, alongside other publications, including Élan International Literary Magazine and Scholastic.
in mama’s language matti means soil blessed cow shit brewed with matti to make clay because how else to reassure nana and nani and that long ass extended family
pink american baby is brown and hindu
the white man shifts away as asphalt fingers reach for cheerios at trader joes the chinese woman asks me if chicken kebab samosas are good hindus dont eat animals we use every part of the banana the virgin green for aloo masala because god forbids potato on prime dates we didnt have the mature honeyed banana that youtuber puts in purple smoothies mama severed burnt ones
let them rot it cows milk ripe bananas flamed in oil not sweet like the ones at trader joes but smothered with cumin garam masala
pepper matti indians never waste banana peels tempered chutney
that looks like a bead of doughy matti
one she’s been kneading for days bangles on
seeping into my soul with every bite the wronged wreaths of moist matti forge wedding rings over my nail beds
seventeen years later still covered in grime and matti
a squishy coral like stomping in soft matti gossamer crap fondling my flesh in camouflage like that pink american baby
before they besmeared matti
licking the mulched chutney wrapping its bodice to find dulcet chords sweeter than those cheerios and banana chips
yes it looked like crap
but anyone at trader joes would love a bite of matti
By Palak Parikh
Palak Parikh is an emerging Indian-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is intrigued with writing as a means to foster female empowerment and connect with first generation Americans. She often explores topics like feminism, race, and cultural mongrelization. She has been recognized by the California State PTA and Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. When she is not writing, Palak enjoys drinking coffee and trying new exotic foods!
Behind a curtain of hanging lichen, the breeze sways the lattice of branches in a living mosaic of gold and green. From out their cover the sparrows fly, over a dappled carpet of scarlet leaves, the sun’s brute music touching them with fire. The campfire stones still stand guard around a circle of cracked shells.
Daffodil buds lift up their gilded blossoms, peeking between tufts of lambswool grass. As bees flock to the clover and the butterflies dance, a beetle rests on the nettle leaf in bottle-green and crushed acorns scatter the meadow, trails to places that no longer exist and perhaps never did.
Sunlight runs along the back hills, painting the field gold far as the eye can see. A songbird trills its mournful tune, while the wind bears fading echoes of laughter from four little girls beneath an endless sky, a reminder of what was and what might have been.
By Mira Jiang
Mira Jiang lives and attends school in a suburb near Dallas. Apart from a brief stint in China, she was born and raised in Texas. Her work has been recognized in contests from Hollins University, the Poetry Matters Project, and the Geek Partnership Society.
There’s something freeing about showing my bare walls my beauty– my windows shut, my towel round my head, no skirt or corset to hide the lumpy silhouette where my hips meet the air. Something about dancing the waltz at night, after learning it in grade six opposite a boy with sweaty hands who laughed at my lopsided face for three years and singing, loudly, off-key to my only beautiful audience. She stares back at me, thighs rubbing together, dimpled and stretched and scarred and all her own, and smiles and claps and weeps.
By Leila Jackson
Leila Jackson is a junior at Georgetown Day high school in DC. She has received several regional awards for her work. In her free time, she enjoys poetry and boba tea.