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.
You might not be struck blind by holy light, jinxed by an angel, implanted with surround sound of the heavens and told what you need to do. You might not find your
curled up fetal position, jumbling twisted pretzel, stressed out spaghetti monster— all pulled apart and straightened out to be like others as you wish. You might not be tormented with pleasurable fiery match (price tag says match made in heaven) or an arrow piercing your heart, soon giving all that hangs over a place to rest— At least not the same way.
But you will find yourself admiring lightning unafraid and loved so deeply that you cannot die. Your hell and torment in love already spent, passionately,
you’ll discover a bright
as earth trembles. You will feel a peace whirlwind you to dance, perhaps yet another thing others won’t understand, but your heart will reach your fingertips
and stretch out through all your ligaments, your soul the fire.
From here you can see the path to paradise is littered with celebration colored with pride as it was originally created And it won’t matter what they jeer how a hero should look, how a prince should lead as you link hands, always beloved, and spin right into His arms, finally free.
By Ellen Huang
The rumors are true. Ellen Huang does own a cape. And it feels so nice, especially when she twirls it like this. In other news, she’s an ace writer of speculative fiction with a huge emphasis on progressive faith and platonic love. She reads for Whale Road Review and has pieces published in Ghost City, They Call Us, miniskirt magazine, horse egg, Ice Lolly Review, Exhume Lit, and more. She lives in San Diego with her pan roommate, but her future home would probably be the eclectic mansion from Knives Out. Follow if you wanna: worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com.
as a child i did not fit my name marshmallow vowels beneath tongue rubble consonants generous crevasses carved into lip
as a child i did not want to fit my name because it was raw meat and barbed wire and radio static places with history but no name i have never met another with my name bitter possess small the mark of someone who does not know where she belongs it has never meant a good thing some things do not survive translation
i did not want to love my name because it showed facets that i wished to grind to sand it is a promise that my ancestors killed for greed my ancestors were killed for greed or— they fled one war only to end up in another shoved into black falcons rotting in ditches disappeared in death flights and secrets
a woman told me i was wrong, que mi nombre tiene otro origen hebreo, que significa la elegida the chosen i have realized my name was not too big for me that it was the mouths of others whose tongues lacked the desire and experience to appreciate its flavor to digest it
i have a secret name M o y o c o y o t z i n she who creates herself my flesh is colonized but i am mestiza to the bone.
By Mia T. Hamernik
Mia T. Hamernik is a California native pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. She likes to remind people she’s Latina by bemoaning the severe limitation of Mexican restaurants in St. Louis and listening to Bad Bunny on full blast at every opportunity. She has not suffered a foosball defeat in six years.
I arrived at your house after dinner, muscles aching from a long week at work. I almost didn’t want to come. My day off spent entirely in bed was a nagging wish I ignored as I knocked on your door and let myself in.
What are excuses? I was used to the darkness of your living room, used to the TV at top volume, but something about you that day was different. You taught me to make you coffee by shouting instructions over the TV into the kitchen. It was bitter and dark to realize all the things you could no longer do for fear of straining yourself or tangling in the tubing of your oxygen machine. I remember thinking how useful it will be if I could make coffee for you for all my future visits.
What is the irony of hindsight?
We talked for a while without much to say. I told you about work, putting a positive spin on the mundane days, either for your benefit or mine. You told me stories of your past, wild days, your college band, selling rare coins, and buying your house and it didn’t matter that I’d heard the stories before or that it took twice as long to tell them between your gasps for breath and raspy coughs. Finally, you put on the newest episode of jeopardy and I didn’t tell you I watched it at home before I came. I’ll take trying to be a good granddaughter for 1000 I only guessed the questions I knew the first time I watched it I didn’t want you to think I was some kind of genius. You got every geography question right and I got the ones about musicals and you said hey, we make a pretty good team. What is knowing the answer all along? You were tired and I was tired, but I didn’t want to leave, Didn’t want to call this for what it was, what it would become. What is a bad feeling in my stomach? I didn’t want to believe it, thought I was being pessimistic, thought it was anxiety trying to predict the future. But the next day, when we got the call, I cried before anyone told me you were gone
By Ally Blovits
Ally Blovits an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying creative writing and theatre. When not in East Lansing at MSU, Ally lives in Grandville, Michigan with her parents and her twin brother. Ally’s work has previously been published in Apiary Magazine, The Sheepshead Review, and LAMP poetry collection.
I can hear America trembling. Her frail fingers shake as she plays each pallid key. She sings songs of caducity, of resuscitated memory, of infirmities since made well; her voice declares victories, feathered caps hung from laureled limbs. But it quivers and throbs, straining where it used to spangle, the roar of insignificance catching in her goitered throat.
By Kristen Perillo
Kristen Perillo is a writer and high school English teacher in Buffalo, NY. Her former fitness blog was developed into a memoir, Following Fit, and her writing can be found at kristenperillo.com.
Lake Michigan is so large, she has her own tide, ocean sneaking through our hiking boots, she knows I know there is something bigger: the earth’s curved rocks
a sign of something uncontrollably queer, she is disruptor, cliff-etcher, in tonguing waves like ocean most natural unnatural
beast like an act of God, she swallows all that swims too deep in her body
I am holding oceans within myself, too We are A deepest sisterhood Of strangeness and danger defiant, crying
to hold ourselves so deeply
my sister tells me, she is bisexual she is married to a man, and she loves him, but she is drawn to lady hips, smooth in the palm of her hand
she knows already, she is beyond beautiful, she is phenomenon woman who dare love woman she does not tell anyone else this declaration, but me:
sister. I am praying to the tears that our mother’s hate might dissolve.
I am trying not to smile hard. closest now, together, in the silence we can wink our whispers of sameness, because
queer is quiet.
By Anna Šverclová
Anna Šverclová (they/them) is a totally queer sophomore director of Macalester College’s slam poetry team, MacSlams. They were born and raised in the Twin Cities suburbs and they cry whenever it snows. Over the years, they have become an expert in layering. Their secret? A journal compliments every outfit.
When I want a fresh start, I strip my bed and fold my naked comforter on a bare mattress, Destroying a nest that has gone too messy To feel like home. I pour thick soap into the small tray whose Sole purpose is to dispense and be refilled, And wait for sudsy water to reset my sheets from Two weeks’ worth of sleep, Anticipating the cold in me being undone by Warmth like paper fresh from the printer. Balled together, My sheets have tried to make themselves In the absence of a bed. I breathe in the smell of comfort only brought by laundromats And worth the metal clink of quarters. I dance my way from corner to corner of the mattress. Billowing out like sails, cotton and linen Fall slowly into place before getting folded between Bed frames and mattress edges, Forming crisp lines and tucking no one into bed. I wash myself next, Slipping between lightly-perfumed sheets with wet hair that Will dry as tangled as my sheets go overnight.
By Audrey McGuinness
Audrey McGuinness is from Oakland, California and is a first year at Macalester College. She has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to processing trauma, abuse, and assault, and balances these experiences by seeking beauty in mundanity. She writes when poems start writing themselves in her head.
is it suicide if it’s pretty? the dramatic downfall, the artwork i was 17 when i started taking antidepressants “are you worth it, though?” she asked but in the way that didn’t need speaking. i think it was day six of forgotten showers, toothbrush, and comb, when she realized i was choking on my own thought cud, climbing onto my roof to stare into the gravel below and reflect my body down to a bloody mural… rocks ingrown to my skin, checkered pieces wishing they had moved a bit faster, played a bit earlier. then i started spitting out my food halfway down my throat the gears would get stuck and i couldn’t move my mind whirring down, powering off like an old 2008 macbook, until it all stopped and life became tedious once again.
when i screw nails into my skin, my turquoise veins become clouded with clots and i’m not blue anymore. i’d like to bark at the moon and creep barefoot on the walls, stalking my shadow and the woman i see trapped in the mirror, her face dripping down her neck. if i set off the smoke alarm, i could be the only one in the building dancing in sprinklers and someone would have to get me, wouldn’t they? move your bikes over to the other sidewalk, kids, we’re trying to save a girl that can’t be saved.
maybe one day i’ll get funny enough to check myself in, and i’d scream and claw just for fun, so they have to wrap vines around my wrists to call me safe.
that’d be a wednesday, wouldn’t it?
but this is all too tangled up in my head for me to speak out loud, even two therapists can’t decode a girl who’s buried herself so deeply hidden in gnarled weeds whispering,
read me, please.
By Siri Greene
Siri Greene (she/her) is a first year at Macalester College. She grew up in rainy Seattle and loves expressing herself through poetry and music. She writes poems as a way to heal, and often explores mental illness, sexual assault, and queer identity in her work.
Paris, Sisters and brothers. I had missed the Explosion of tastes that comes with a cere, and The comfort of food eaten around the same bowl.
I rushed to printers and full metros between Porte Brancion and Concorde, Feeling the weight of my black hijab flowing on my young shoulders And the pressure of my blackness in the white crowds. As never before.
Saint Paul. A life of adventures in higher academia. Movie nights with salty abundant popcorn followed Study days roaring with nervousness in complex papers and numbers. The freedom to stretch my feet on the granite grows smaller Each day that goes by. Masks on. More indoor nights and introspections.
I can still hear the laughter of the reunions Smell the perfume of our friendly hugs Taste the smooth melody of warm meals we Shared on a rainy day in January 2020.
Vines, I recall the hikes between the dense green Norwegian trees , the salty sweat lingering on my Smiling face, stunned before the birds spreading its Wings over the soothing Fjord.
Flekke Friends. Chiquitas, we called each other. Dancing in the kitchen while cooking jollof rice, Taking pictures in our clothes smelling like a mix of garlic and pepper, Our faces, breathing sisterhood.
A year passed, but still one more had to come. Studying together from the early afternoon till the cooling Fjord mirrored the moon We cheered each other up, when grades made our moods dull.
Little did we know that the final year would be cut short. What about the dresses we needed to try before graduation day? What about jumping in the fjord after writing the last exam? What about the last dinner in the Flekke bubble?
We rushed to pack, muttered sobbing goodbyes, unexpected In one last breathtaking effort, we smiled at the diplomas , and watched each other fly for what Could be the last time.
The freedom to stretch my feet on the granite grows smaller Each day that goes by. Masks on. More indoor nights and introspections.
By Anna D Sene
Anna Diagne Sene was born and raised in Dakar. Anna started writing in English to get out of her comfort zone, and to reflect on her life as a Black Muslim woman. Outside school, she likes reading, meeting new people, drinking bubble tea, and eating cere, her favourite Senegalese meal.
I often cry alone in public bathrooms, in the stalls at the very end because no one thinks to look there first. Sometimes I’m too afraid to want thing; I yearn too much, down to the root, so much obsession wracking this asphalt body, it quickly resembles hunger. Tell me: what could be more tragic than the act of not getting thing you desire most? Craving it so badly that you run headfirst into anything that smells like an offering. Somedays existing is hard. Somedays I’d rather stay in bed and collapse beneath my sheets, think of all the ways one can hurt without even leaving a room. I am sometimes this girl underneath. Solemn. Semi-rotten. Squishy in certain places, almost fragile to the touch. Still; I want love to rock me violently. Stretch me to the point of snapping, like string.
By Karese Burrows
Karese Burrows is a poet and graphic designer from The Bahamas. Her poetry has previously been featured in The Rising Phoenix Review, Harpoon Review, L’Ephemere Review, Penstrike Journal and Words Dance Publishing. Her first chapbook This Is How We Lost Each Other was published by UK independent publisher Platypus Press in 2018 and can be purchased from Platypus Press, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. She can be found at kareseburrows.tumblr.com.