f(x) By Sarah Wang

f(x)

inspired by f(x)’s 4 Walls music video

Last spring I shattered my family’s porcelain teacup,
stepped over its exposed white shards,
watched as my bloodflood soaked into stolen soil.

They say the body will only stay in the air
when the canopy of the forest unfurls itself, and the mind
finds a slant of yellow daylight to claim its own.

There’s a k-pop girl group called f(x),
who exhale the empowered femininity of Pegasus.
With them, I found my sunray in the ultraviolet forests of Jeju.

f(x). Function. It computes everything & nothing.
A versatility that disrupts, one that dissembles the window
as a portal to beauty and replaces it with a mirror.

Still, there are those who fringe our forest with axes.
They label our language a malign venom,
sleep on our synchronized dances as a trained roboticism,
slander our eyes for burying thread after calling us chinks.

But even if they invade our forest, slash down every last branch,
we will rebuild like we always do — this time in the water,
our bodies surrounded by fallen peony petals coalescing into a flower path.

This year when spring rains down,
I catch the porcelain cup before it drops,
preserve the warmth of pu’er tea with wrapped palms.

By Sarah Wang

Biography:

Sarah Wang is a Chinese-American high school senior living in New York. Her writing has been recognized on the regional and national level by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she has attended workshops by The Kenyon Review and The Winter Tangerine. She serves as editor of her school’s newspaper and literary magazine. When she is not writing, she enjoys finding new music and going on food adventures.

Bones Uncovered in the Dirt Saquina Karla C. Guiam

Bones Uncovered in the Dirt

A daughter I’ll never have
lies buried in the garden.

During siestas, she holds my hands,
asking me to open my eyes.

But I am terrified of seeing her face—
what if I see my father in the tilt of her head,

my mother in the sigh
of her lungs?

What if I see an old family history
scribbled on her skin

with a black sharpie,
but she’ll never claim that inheritance?

This poem was previously published by Public Pool

By Saquina Karla C. Guiam

Biography:

Saquina Karla C. Guiam is a writer from General Santos City, Philippines. Her work has appeared on Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Djed Press, Outlook Springs, The Maine Review, and others. She is the Roots nonfiction editor of Rambutan Literary and the Social Media Manager of Umbel & Panicle, a new literary magazine about all things botanical.

Howl for the half By S.A. Khanum

Howl for the half

A field, eventually blends to blue.
Not bruise, just stain, I meant forever.

The wind, a ribbon, gliding west to east,
my fingers never quite reaching, how I try.

A crown of petals, it was: you sail, you settle.
It is never as easy as this.

Remember how your mother wove her palms
through your hair, but your ends still split.

How there was never a choice, you had to choose.

Dirt to your memories.
And dirt to your questions.
And dirt to your thoughts.

You were told to bury them long ago.

There is a spring that has laid claim to your flesh,
splays roots through your bones, so deep,
flowers grow under-ground here.

You, with thumbtack thorns on your knuckles,
a rose, blooming, dying, in your lungs.

Bottle this, name this perfume: ‘battle lost’.
How I come home everyday reeking of it.

And where is your tongue, your real tongue, when they ask:
And what are you: founded or unfounded?

A girl is the whole sky—

No.

No moon. No stars. I meant alone.

By S.A. Khanum

Biography:

S.A. Khanum is a writer from the UK.

The Commandment By Akpa Arinzechukwu

The Commandment

Everything goes –
A government bent on achieving

Kill everyone who is not like you
& I am not like you

My shoelaces the colour of the sky
My semen the colour of the rainbow

A bowtie to match &
God in prison –

Really not a type to fit in –
A noose around my neck &

Everything goes –
A body not mine & a deity locked away from
My reach –

To be used against me – to be my
Kind is to be cursed bruised rejected & killed

By Akpa Arinzechukwu

Biography:

Akpa Arinzechukwu is a Nigerian photographer and poet. His work has appeared on Litro, Sou’wester, New Contrast, Kalahari Review, Packingtown Review, ITCH, Eastlit, and elsewhere. He is a joint winner of 2017 inaugural Sophiamay Poetry Prize.

Flower Beds By Chloe Williamson

Flower Beds

I dreamed all summer of lying beneath the wildflowers
Roots like fingertips reaching carefully towards me
I dreamed all summer of soft, cool earth
And the sound of rain running through it
I imagined un-existence abstractly
The way I used to dream of summer air in autumn
Death seemed too harsh a word
I dreamed a softer leaving
I craved a magnolia’s death —
Painless, beautiful, a fragrant falling

I dreamed death beautiful
The sweet smell of a rotting rose
The gentle rest of dew on petal
I dreamed the deep oblivion of old roots
I imagined myself Ophelia in the bathtub
Head resting heavy against the porcelain bottom
I imagined sprays of cherry blossoms at the surface
Branches trapping me there, underwater
Decadent, murderous blooms

I toyed all summer with these fantasies
Played Virginia Woolf dress up
Lined the pockets of my father’s too-big coat with stones
But found the river too fast, too cold
I pulled a leech from my ankle after wading in
It was softer, smaller than I expected
More defenseless, less frightening
I could not bear to kill it

I held the thin skin of a poppy petal between my fingers
Felt its velvet veins illuminate my pulse
I dreamed thunderclaps and hail stones
But woke only to the claustrophobic pounding of my heart
Inescapably, improbably committed to survival

By Chloe Williamson

Biography:

Chloe Williamson graduated from Wellesley College in May of 2016, where she completed an honors creative writing thesis exploring intersections of identity in rural Eastern New Mexico. Her work has previously appeared in The Wellesley Review, El Portal, and the Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal.

Refugee By Lorna Rose

Refugee

You flood your lungs with the ripe stench of fish and bodies and fuel.
The dinghy motor whines against the night.
Salt air grinds your skin ‘til it’s bloodied and threadbare.
You squat: no room to sit since leaving Sabratha.
Your body clenches tight to its bones
and shrill muscles shriek and weep and lock up.
You are trapped inside.
Damp t-shirt clings to goosebumped flesh under a tattered orange life jacket.
But what life?

Next to you a shaking woman holds her boney baby
and cries.
She has shit herself.
Behind you a leathery man mumbles and mumbles for water.
You turn to see his eyes roll hollow
and his mouth slack open.
With each breath your shoulders and chest brush someone else.
You smell the stink of desperation,
the gray rancid smell of rotting humanity.

You see the Italian coastline and your heart speeds up.
Your vision blurs as tears come.
Finish school.
Find work.
Do good.
Live.
Just live.
From somewhere behind there’s a jolt.
Motor goes silent.
From the dark there is yelling.
Then the floor tilts.
And the lights of Lampedusa go black.

By Lorna Rose

Biography:

Lorna Rose writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in A Quiet Courage, Red Fez, Mothers Always Write, Literary Mama, and others. Her current project is a memoir. Connect with her on Facebook at facebook.com/bigthings2 and on Twitter @LornaARose.

PTSD By Jack M. Freedman

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder
Prone to serious depression
Pain that seldom dwindles
Processing the same day
Plaguing the soul, drowning
Playing the sounds daily
Poor times seem definite
Pessimism that seems deadly
Perpetually torturous, strikingly demonic
Passion terminated, seemingly destitute
Pouring tears, streaming down
Perusing the sorrowful darkness
Photographic, the static dimension
Pass through Satan’s doorway
Pass the sour diesel
Prescribed thirty seven drugs
Pilsner, tequila, sangria, diazepam
Parched, taste sullied, dry
Pariah to society, derelict
Prone to steady decline
Praying that screams dissipate
Prone to suicide, damned
Primordial threats, safety diminished
Peace threatened, seeminigly dead
Passion tranquilized, sudden demise
Past the summit, dropping
Plummeting, the soul deadens
Praying that solitude dissolves

By Jack M. Freedman

Biography:

Jack M. Freedman is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. He is the author of Serotonin Seas, Never Lick the Spoon, Tobias, and Art Therapy 101. Publications in which his work can be found include Unquiet Desperation, Espresso Ink, Boston Literary Magazine, NYSAI Press, typoetic.us, AIPF di-verse-city, POSTblank, and Free Lit Magazine.