Two Kinds of Idolatry By Ashley Kim

Two Kinds of Idolatry

They crossed the border for an egg,
exodus over Red Sea frozen over
by night providence, chased by red sun
and ungodly idol, by fetter and fly
and famine, for
theirs is a coal
desert bearing the face of a hardened

heart, adulterous northern kingdom
of nuclear home and iron abode, death
camp wishbone hollow skin, caved in,
holding acidic emptiness―
but here,
they hear, is a place your ribs will not hurt

with every lent breath and here,
you do not meet your end cheated
by a man gorged on the world.
I am
sorry, brother, sister, that I have tried

to be like you: starving until summer
turns cold, bowing to false gods hungry
for offerings: your blood, your bones,
your womb and sinew and marrow and
mind
will never be enough. We are
not the same. We have both been starved

by society, both given the pits
of ourselves as insufficient sacrifices
to deities of death, but―
we are not the same.
I am my own fanatic, my own oppressor,
and you: dear brother, sister, 우리 가족:
you are eagle-winged wayfarers
walking a glass land bridge,
fleeing
your home for a perilous, invisible
promised land. There is freedom
on the other side, I promise you,
I promise me: freedom, like enjoying
an egg.

By Ashley Kim

Biography:

Ashley Kim is a 17-year-old high school senior from Southern California. Her work has been published in Overachiever and is forthcoming in The Bookends Review and Detester. She has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and Visions of Unity. Soli Deo gloria.

QASIDA FOR A VISION OF GRENADES THAT SHAKES LOOSE MY BODY By Huma Sheikh

QASIDA FOR A VISION OF GRENADES THAT SHAKES LOOSE MY BODY

Of gliding birds in the sky, words out of print.
Kashmir, you taught me to say yes ma’am, no sir,
thank you, even to the middle school teacher
who cut my bangs against my will. Kashmir, your hands,
stroked calm around my bangs. There. There. There.

Your voice like a bitten tongue. Like a misspent grenade.
I breathed through this latest assault.
Kashmir, your swinging Chinar leaves of my childhood,
embers of my hair, even in the summer.

Today, I haul my baggage, press into nearly
empty streets of Florida. The Waffle House
down the road shadowed by Spanish Moss.

The noise of a brown pelican in the sky.

By Huma Sheikh

Biography

Huma Sheikh is a doctoral fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Callaloo, William Joiner Institute (UMass Boston), University of Massachusetts at Amherst, East-West Center, Hawaii, she has studied literary nonfiction with Christina Thompson at Harvard, and worked as a journalist in India, China, and the United States. She was the Assistant Online Editor for the Southeast Review, Fiction Screener for Orison Books, Stringer and Reporter for Plain Talk weekly and Ka Leo newspapers in South Dakota and Hawaii. The winner of the Adam M. Johnson Fellowship, Charles Gordone Award, and the Dean’s award for Outstanding Academic Performance and the award for Excellence in English at Long Island University, Huma is currently at work on her memoir and poetry book. Her work has appeared and forthcoming in Consequence Magazine, Arrowsmith Journal, The Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, and others.

Stained Glass By Yenting Chen

Stained Glass

shrouded within a shrine of hazy vinyl curtains

a grown man
soul painfully transparent
eyes clear with gossamer hope

shatter like two panes of glass

into tears.

“I don’t want to be on a ventilator.”

I sit on a stool and gather the glass
within my own eyes.

“I share your wish.
Let’s be hopeful together.”

clocks chant
alarms ring
machines chime
the virus crescendos into a chorus.

our wishes are broken by a cold metal blade.

a clear plastic tube grows opaque
stained by the fog of breath.

still

within these windowless walls

shared hopes are held softly between strangers
silently beautiful with translucent fragility

like daybreak

piercing through a parable of passion
etched on panes of glass.

By Yenting Chen

Emergency Room Covid isolation room.

Biography

Dr. Yenting Chen is an emergency medicine physician in Oakland, California. His primary professional interest is working with medically underserved communities. Outside of the emergency room, his main creative drive is fostering empathy for the fragility of the human experience.

Disease By Ryan Garesio

Disease

The migrant mother

The leftover bread
stale and turquoise in
the corner of the room
with no air conditioning

The pocket change for a one-way
bus ride

The desperate manager counting the ways
in which more customers can buy cigarettes

The sweat

The dread of going back home
to where the air is wet and tastes of
senseless murder

The cracked steps in the concrete
to the nineteenth floor

The door with no name
just a number: 19D

The child inside
waiting for a chance to explain

The panic that sets in after
the realization that the succulent
in the corner of the room
has rotted away

And is broken

By Ryan Garesio

Biography:

Ryan Garesio is a middle school English teacher in Meriden, CT. When he’s not trying to get adolescents to understand Thoreau, he’s at home with his wife and two boys, trying to get toddlers to understand Seuss.

tethered By Robin Gow

tethered

when the atoms speak to each other
they talk in mileage. holding hands
they whisper a story about stolen acorns
& the recluse sugar we wanted to eat.
i am touched by a long stick from the yard.
bamboo grows in my living room like television.
once an ad told me “i guarantee” & i thought
“i have never been so certain.”
seeing the atom like a ripe cherry
i tried to bite down hard. my tongue
is an ugly worm of need. my father’s atoms
are drunk & floating in amber. looking up
at an old over-used sky. i take mine
down to the laundry mat to clear them up.
fresh smell of “alright alright.” watching
the little spheres tumble in a machine.
i take my composition to the playground later
to research childhood. did i have one?
is it too late? sipping a pine tree.
sticky cones for dolls. the atoms are saying
“nevermind” & they are letting go.
i am troubled deeply by this. i take everything
as an omen because it is. a dead bird is always
a sign of a car crash or a broken heart.
you were the one who told me that sometimes
atoms link up together. hold tight.
talk & talk for hours. for every scientist
there is a lover painted on a shower curtain.
i tell my atoms to kiss again.
spend all night at the cutting board
trying to slice on in half. i don’t want
destruction i just want to see inside.
but maybe inspection is a form of destruction.
my atoms are all pink. well, not all.
one is lavender & one is bruise-blue.
here let me show you them. no microscope needed.
plug your ears & your eyes.
yes, there they are.

By Robin Gow

Biography

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming March 2022 with FSG Books for Young Readers. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Yemassee. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona, a poetry editor at MAYDAY, and the assistant editor at large at Doubleback Books. They live in Allentown Pennsylvania and work as a community educator on Domestic and Intimate Partner violence.

7th & Shatto By Pablo Robles

7th & Shatto

Homeless man on meth
Makes a stage out of a
Thrown-out -blue mattress
He starts to speak in tongues
As rats scurry from underneath
Running toward a tree
The tree where a Gangbanger sits for shade
His face tattoo still peeling
The sun is relentless
Shining directly on our wounds
And reflecting off the windshield of
An unmarked police car
circling the block over and over
Unsure of who to arrest first
Then fracturing silence with a siren
Burst and startling the man
Who replaced water with whiskey
Speaking between gurgles
His golden tin beer can is crushed
Then kicked under a car
Where a young girl is seated
Lighting a joint, above the smoke
Two girls on a second floor
Fire escape are scanning the street
Looking for their mother
And waiting to be fed

By Pablo Robles

Biography

Pablo Robles first found interest in poetry as an escape from gang violence. Early in his highschool career he focused more on street smarts than academia. He recounts, “as a first generation Latino our parents came from survival mode, meaning they had to escape the ghetto. So street life seemed familiar to my identity.” Luckily a poetry teacher exposed Pablo to Spoken Word poetry as another form of expression and being. From this mentor Pablo found direction. Now he has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCSB and is begining Graduate school for an M.A. in English.

Daddy Fell By Tayana T. Martin

Daddy Fell

My daddy’s feet were—
Silver horseshoes
Brass buckles
Ivory tusks in Africa,

where the Buffalo watches. And waits,
wearing
thick horns like a crown on
his upturned head.

Ever watching, waiting, my daddy stopped—and then—fell proud onto

the pavement, prickled like the gooseflesh of
his great-grandmother, bent over the bed, as some worthless dollar of a man

crowned her with his shame.
She is

my daddy as he falls
into the hell after this one where
none of it hurts any more
than anything else hurts.

They bend and watch his carcass, which has been his carcass now for eight whole minutes—
and they prod his shell—his hard-honed ivory shell—
and say, “he’s gone,” and “no pulse,” and “Fuck!”

The fire in his back was like

the stiff palm of her master after
a difficult day or

the quiet tock of an empty house—
nothing to eat and
a mother who lived in a dream. Not this one where

my daddy’s in a coffin but
it’s closed because
we cannot bear to see
the gooseflesh on his horns
or the blood on his crown;
the master with whips for hands,
counting down the licks until
some other place swallows this one.

I will not look at his calloused hands,
or dry the tears from his white-whiskered cheeks.

I will meet him: somewhere worse than here.

By Tayana T. Martin

Biography:

Tayana Martin lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is a political organizer and advocate for racial justice. She believes in the power of people of color and the stories they carry with them.

Two Poem By Nichol Ronée Bourdeaux

Curfew

Where were you during the lockdown
When the black bird’s wings were broken
Your sisters and brothers were there
But you said race wasn’t spoken

Ghosts

Are you still here?

Protecting me in the night
Holding me as you did in your arms
Cradling my head
Breathing your dream of love, adventure
and freedom into my soul.

Are you still here?

As I fall to my knees begging God
for the fantasy of a man of your dreams
A warrior to save me from the hopelessness
of black chains, the world on my shoulders
A woman to mind all the pain of her children,
their children and no one to mind hers.

Are you still here?

When I rock myself to sleep,
hoping to never wake.
to the monotony of achievement
Pride of a beautiful child, successful career
Impeccable house in the appropriate zip code
Suitable car and designer dog.

Are you still here?

Watching the world collapse
around your dreams
Oh sprit, my guardian,
guide me to my purpose, my dream
Show me the way to unequivocal love.

By Nichol Ronée Bourdeaux


Biography

Nichol Ronée Bourdeaux is inspired by the use of words to express emotional experiences. Recently, she has used creative writing to process traumatic life events. Nichol’s love of singer-songwriter music appears in the construction of her poems. Her use of simple word structure and play is meant to be read aloud to experience the melodic expression and tone of her poems. She is hopeful that her writing opens an accessible doorway that welcomes a broader audience to other women of color writers. Nichol Bourdeaux currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She holds a BA in Communications and an MPA from the University of Utah.

to the ten-year-old teddy bear living rent-free in my bedroom, By Katie Tian

to the ten-year-old teddy bear living rent-free in my bedroom,

you’ve made a home in the space behind
my vinyl headboard, loose limbs fitted

against its quiet curvature. your jaundiced fur
thinning around the belly, a memento

of the hurricanes, late nights grasping
for comfort. look how simply

you were made, age tugging a current
against ivory stitches. we were sisters

once, mapping red skies & playing
hide-and-seek in the expanding space

of my bedroom. we were young,
sheltered, doe-eyed innocent: unprepared

for the unending night, for plucking
shrapnel shards from our tired bodies.

now your fur has thickened from years
of disuse & i have stories to tell

you of five cities melding into one. sing me
your elegy tonight—we were only kids

searching for home—the cicadas’ evening song
smothers you. the half-written elegy bleeds,

asphyxiates, on the jeweled rust in your larynx.
i’ve never been good at goodbyes so

i’ll ask you to whittle yours into vinyl
for—when the sky blisters,

then quits—i will syncopate your once-steady
heartbeat to mine. i can no longer fit

my hands around a city’s throat and give
it my back, so i’ll leave a shrine

of honeyed memories & sell you like
a fossil to the highest bidder

for every dollar or two of your worth.
look how simply we forget.

By Katie Tian

Biography:

Katie Tian is a 15-year-old writer from New York. She is a Scholastic National Medalist, and her work has been published in Blue Marble Review, The Incandescent Review, and elsewhere. She likes clever metaphors, oatmeal raisin cookies, and sharing her poetry with the world.

Arthroscopy By Meghan Kemp-Gee

Arthroscopy

I wonder what it’s like to make the first
cut. And I wonder what it’s like to make
a list: anterior cruciate, out-of-
pocket maximum, co-pay, patella,
tibial plateau, how everything they
send you with your address printed on it
makes you out shameless and unready,

makes you remember how the latest bill
from Cedars Sinai before insurance
adjustments talks real dirty, says to you
twenty-two thousand, four hundred eighty-two dollars
and fifty cents, everything they send you
or put inside you says you should be dead
already or you will be whole again.

By Meghan Kemp-Gee

Biography

Meghan Kemp-Gee lives somewhere between Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Fredericton NB. She writes poetry, comics, and scripts of all kinds. She won the Poetry Society of America 2014 Lyric Poetry Award. Her work has also appeared in Copper Nickel, Helen: A Literary Magazine, The Rush, Switchback, Tincture, Stone of Madness, Altadena Poetry Review, Anomaly, Autostraddle, and Skyd Magazine. She teaches written inquiry and composition at Chapman University. You can find her on Twitter @MadMollGreen.