To the boy I first loved (an ode to my lover) By JB Favour

To the boy I first loved (an ode to my lover)

when I see two souls attached to each other
and love that gives all of itself

when I see trust in a stranger’s eyes
and sincerity among friends

when I hear stories of passion
and people talk about loved ones

as I sit and listen to their tales
mistakes and adventures

lessons and losses
regrets and experiences

my heart wanders home
to the boy I first loved.

when I see broken people
and those who love have scarred

when they talk about how damaged
loving the wrong one made them

and I hear terrible things done in the name of love
how shallow and temporary people can be

when I see them throw away loyalty
and others mock commitment

when I read letters of people who wish for soul mates
and those who have never known true love

my heart wanders home
to the boy I first loved

and reminds me how badly I should treasure
what he and I still share.

some get it right after a few tries
and others never do

but the boy I first loved and I
we are each other’s first love

and that is a million times
the hardest thing to find.

By JB Favour

Biography

JB Favour is a ghostwriter, poet, brand consultant, and creative director. She has helped several authors ghostwrite their memoirs/autobiographies, fiction, and nonfiction books with some of her works being produced into film. Her Anthology – Once Upon A Virus, a survival poetry collection of the Covid pandemic that rocked the world is available on Amazon and other book stores globally. Her other works have appeared in The Newcastle Review UK, Brittle Paper, Lion & Lilac UK, Intellectual Ink Magazine USA, and I Am Magazine Belgium. She is also the Founder and Creative Director of a Digital Content Creation, Branding & Marketing Agency, FAVES_PEN and hosts a book show for authors called BOOKTERVIEWS Show

On the train home By Desiree Nestor

On the train home

The fluorescent lights
will drown everything and every
body on this trip.

No, not like that.
This isn’t a ship.

Yes we sway, but we are not reefs
at the bottom of the West Indies sea.

That passage already known,
A theft from which we grow.

On the other side,
there is a woman, tired, a man running
late, and someone
alive in a dream.

Its 5:32 and we’re
not yet home. But this
time we have a way back.

A body and map. Lines
to live by. To get
by. Do you remember
what was before the sea?

It’s ten to six. The sea
is a carriage, and this is
a carousel. A four train to Crown

By Desiree Nestor

Biography:

Desiree Nestor currently lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, and currently works as a literacy/writing tutor with middle school and high school students. She loves soccer, listening to music, and learning French.

When I say I want to go home By Melissa Ferrer (&)

When I say I want to go home

I want to go home like
picking berries off the bush
and hearing the ocean in my mouth
hearing the planting of gardens
in the crease of my hands
hearing the shade of the tree
on my sundrunk skin

I want to go home like
running in fields with no shoes
like drinking coconut from the gourd
and eating mango off the tree
And the fiyah
oh da fiyah burns a path
through the mystery in our chests

I want to go home like no locks
on doors, no door bells,
maybe no doors at all We sing
as we approach any home
to prepare them for our arrival
and are welcomed with drink and food and games
where there are no borders in our spirit
just the flow of life in our names

Home, where no one SAYS i love you,
because it is never a question
to be answered
And our chests are mountains and rivers
instead of hollowed out caves

Home, where life is where the family is
where there are no separate buildings that fragment the being
into proper and professional
where we are eternally
as we are in any moment whether planting or hunting
or loafin in the field or the river

Home, where our hair
and the leaves
and the grass
and the antennae are one
where the feet root deep into the soil
to drink from the water below

where the hands hold ALL
where the senses are awake within

Home, where the mighty laugh
of the newborn graces the ear of the elder
as she leaves her encasing behind
to rejoin the river and tree of life
that courses through our veins and the wind races
sharing
in their joy and release

Leaves pumping through
the wild hair of children
as they chase their brethren
lions and lambs
Goat and gallo
butterfly and moth
The wind the river
the sand the sea

Everything runs and swims
as if it is flying

in our veins in our step

Even the blood
in our veins
Even the pep
In our step
Even the grins
above our chins

All free flowing

All flowing

All free

All all
that they
can be

you know
home.

By Melissa Ferrer (&)

Biography

Melissa Ferrer (&) (she/ they/ the artist formerly known as prince symbol) is a poet/writer, performer, musician, educator, motivational speaker, organizer and philarchist living in Kansas City, MO. They live in expansion and contraction. Their work can be found in Zin Daily, Fahmidan Journal, and Food for Thought Anthology– among other places. Their debut chapbook “Birthing Pains” was published by Turnsol Editions in 2020. And they are a Poetry MFA Candidate at Randolph College. Find out more about them at http://www.melissaferrerand.com.

hole the size of candlestick By Karina Fantillo

hole the size of candlestick

driving 101 north razed field dirt gusts in my eyes
i still expect stadium to loom along bayshore lived off
next exit paul ave no one else came to visit this side
of san francisco gray candlestick welcomed the faithful

mr gabutero exchanged niners & giants scores for extra credit
brothers & i learned to be american from tv watching strikes
& first downs our new religion on sundays camouflaged in red
& gold orange & black like the other kids at epiphany

i danced barefoot on the field niner playoff game
mixing cultures san fran blend wafting honey
smoke bbq tailgate parking lot boombox blaring
whoot there it is under our bamboo pole fans limboed

giants first to leave haunted by world series rumbling
ground cracked stadium static pebbles pelting
tv screen i was next moved to east bay my brother
mark held on registered to vote a new sf niners home

last concert after paul mccartney fireworks
electrified the stick before demolition colors rose
& fell to glitter mirrored on the bay sizzling fogless
night i called my brothers to ask if they saw fireworks too

By Karina Fantillo

Biography

Karina immigrated with her family at the age of 9 to San Francisco, where she learned about Philippine and American culture through folk dancing. Karina writes poems in lower case and minimizes punctuation as a stand against the infrastructures that deprived her of learning her native language and history in an American colony.

Karina’s poems have appeared or is forthcoming in the San Francisco Public Library, The Racket, Eunoia Review, Night Music, where she was the featured writer for the issue. She was a poetry fellow before graduating with an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.

Those Moments When You Calculate Projected Lifespan By Artemisio Romero y Carver

Those Moments When You Calculate Projected Lifespan

catching Kansas fireflies
with my little cousin, with
the fireworks behind us, with
the combined effect of a
peripheral wave of tiny lights
a peripheral wall of state
police that followed us here
like younger siblings, with guns,
into this old spanish church

a rounded mud settlement
filled into a cathedral, made
to an art museum, now made,
and in a real way returned,
to a government building
an end result, among many,
is a mural celebrating colonization
the choir of conquistadors in iron
y behind a white cabinet secretary
lying about fracking1

we shout true things, which in turn
makes others shout similar things.
and the volume is flooding. as a ploy
they give a toddler a microphone
she is probably the same age as my cousin
she talks about trees, school and
extinction. the secretary is deaf
ingly earnest

By Artemisio Romero y Carver


1 an industrial process where freshwater is blasted at shale deposits in order to produce mostly radioactive waste, and a small amount of oil.

Biography

Artemisio Romero y Carver is a Chicana poet and activist. She is a YoungArts Merit Award Winner for Spoken Word and Santa Fe’s 2020 Youth Poet Laureate. Poems by Artemisio have appeared in publications that include Inlandia Literary Journal, Rigorous Literary Journal, Pasatiempo Magazine, and Magma Poetry. Her writing has appeared in the following anthologies: Dreams of Montezuma (Stalking Horse Press), Everything Feels Recent When Your Far Away (Axle Contemporary Press), and A Tiny Grain of Sand: The National Youth Poet Laureate Anthology 2021. She is currently pursuing degrees in sociology and studio arts at Washington University in Saint Louis. She also goes by Arte.

Rotten Fruit of Our Youth By Grecia Espinoza

Rotten Fruit of Our Youth

The memory of you exasperates me.
It always arrives uninvited and unannounced
like the news of your death.

After the funeral, I packed the life you knew
into boxes and moved away, just a town over.

When I arrived, the apartment was hot
and smelled of paint and mildew
It struck me then,
it’s never the house that’s haunted
but the people who bring their ghosts

I was still in a black dress when I vowed
never to furnish this place because life is brief,
and I had to be ready to run for it.

I’ve lived four springs in deafening silence.
I can’t unsee death in the blooming daffodils,
and my mattress still sleeps on the floor,

I have to get out of here, someday.
Florida is what’s left of what I’ve lost
and it’s lodged in my throat
like an unresolved heartbreak.
And the thickness of the moisture in the air
might kill me before I get the chance to.

But don’t you worry, I’m going to get better.
I’m going where the air is thin.

I’ll be in New York before the winter arrives,
and I’ll watch snow disappear into the soil
like a lowering casket. And by the end of the winter,
I’ll have found peace in knowing that I’ll never have it.

But for now, I’ll stomach this haunting,
eating it in tiny spoonfuls.

Someday, I’ll use the rotten fruit of our youth
to make jam, or to bake a sweet apple pie.

But for now, I draw the blinds, shut my eyes,
and look forward to a life of arbitrary hope.

By Grecia Espinoza

Biography

Grecia Espinoza is a Brooklyn based poet. She moved to New York to start her M.A. in English and American Literature at New York University. Her writing is inspired, almost paradoxically, by the language of confessional and Black Arts poetry both of which have been the center of her research. She’s currently working on a poetry collection that she hopes to finish by the end of the year.

Dear Moonjung By Tianyi Shen

Dear Moonjung

Open this when you need me the most,
like a jar of caramel when you crave

sugar high at midnight. We are taught
to tear through our open wounds like new-year presents

Our own knees painted, feet wide-apart, in front of sisters
we cannot console. Was it a tragedy that we were born

The same night someone else took our niche?
It does not matter. Tonight, I am only here

To hold your tears & wake you
To remembrance. Remember the time when they shattered you

To flee another country,
Remember the flash of light searing through your limbs

Like meteor, burning you to a wick.
& maybe someday I’ll even lower the veil of your obsidian eyes

Just to tell you that you are treasured.
That one day you will unwrap those scars buried deep in your marrow

& find them, because they belong to you, because they are
Gold.

By Tianyi Shen

Biography:

Tianyi is a Chinese-born, boston-based poet who explores familial conflicts and generational heritage through the medium of a second language. She has been recognized by the Scholastics Arts and Writing Awards, The Kenyon Young Writers Anthology and her school’s literary publication, the Spire. In her free time, she can be found cuddling her cat

how to speak: miami at TWILIGHT By Stella Santamaría

how to speak: miami at TWILIGHT

language of
songbirds saints

cuban sing fall
teleport

dilapidated dade pine front porch
albion sunflowers hayward roses
mar pacifico hibiscus gold

catholic coals in seas after the rains
doused latinate

la virgen de la caridad in scarlet red
san lanzaro in purple robes
display upfront
agradecida

&
little havana neighborhood blow torch

cuban sing fall teleport
catholic coals in seas after the rains doused latinate

coral walls laid flat

walkways

decibels linger


dade pine albion sunflowers hayward roses
mar pacifico hibiscus gold

offerings

agradecida

reactions

timbales
conga

millimeters language pure
what are we measuring tonight?

{ :


By Stella Santamaría

Biography

Santamaría was born in Los Angeles, daughter of a Cuban father and Guatemalan mother. Stella holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Saint Mary’s College of California, recipient of the School of Liberal Arts Dean’s Award. Her poetry has been recently published in The Acentos Review, Nine Mile Magazine, The Rumpus, Courtship of Winds, Juked and The Brooklyn Review, among others. She is The Sandra Cisneros Fellow at Under the Volcano 2021 and an alumna of the Community of Writers. Currently Stella lives in Miami.

Language is a Song the Body Sings By Sharmila PK

Language is a Song the Body Sings

Listen, on the inside I am all static and sound.
Scraped knees, capillaries, eyelids the color of a bruise.
See? How language unfurls on the tongue,
Slipping in like wine, soft and sensuous?
We can make anything beautiful, with the right words.

Take my flesh, for instance.
Once it billowed over my body,
Folding and curving, pure endlessness.
Now: nothing.
Now: just empty space where I used to be.
But I can make myself sound beautiful, watch –

Here.
Take away the word emaciated, replace it.
Now I am laden with light, now I am willow-thin.
A fever-flash, a diorama, of silhouette and form.
That sounds prettier, doesn’t it?

Pale skin, cold as stars.
Where does it go with nothing left to hold onto?
Answer: it repositions itself over its frame.
Bones can be lovely if you look at them long enough.
They’re the body’s secret, hidden within,
At least until you starve them up the surface.

Grotesque? No.
I prefer the word delicate.
It only becomes a sickness when you call it one.

By Sharmila PK

Biography

My name is Sharmila and I am a 24 year old student in Virginia. I am submitting a short collection of four themes, centered around the theme of eating disorders. They are titled as follows: Precious, Language is a Song the Body Sings, Hungry Woman, and Eat. In my free time I also run a personal book review blog on literaryambrosia.com. Thank you for your kind consideration!

All the ways I could have died before and the ways I still might By Priyanka Shrestha

All the ways I could have died before and the ways I still might

i.
The time I let the night
flip me upside down
hold me by the legs and drop
me on my head so
hard that just a few inches
further down would have been
a diagnosis much more lethal
than a simply concussed mind.

ii.
The time I stared at the ceiling
longer than before
imagined the way the rope would
leave small fissures on my
moisturized palms and
walked through the ghost of me
hanging in the air to climb into bed.

iii.
The time I’ll disappear
my bones seasoning for
the dust on a
stomach so empty I will
fold unto myself.

iv.
The time I cried
from the heart of
my infant lungs begging to be
free of the pain in my throat
that was only caught by a student’s intuition
(exactly the type of thing they taught
you in medical school)
which is to say had I been born a beggar’s daughter,
I would have died begging.

By Priyanka Shrestha

Biography

Priyanka Shrestha (she/her) is a junior at Stanford University studying computer science and creative writing. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Columbia College Chicago, and the Anthony Quinn Foundation, and is forthcoming in The Oakland Arts Review. When she is not writing or coding, she can be found skateboarding downhill with her airpods in or trying to take pretty pictures of the sky.