Ode to Mantid By Alissa Nalewajko

Ode to Mantid

I must have swallowed
up your skull
seven or more times
now but again,
you mount. Again! You
headless horseman!
You same-sex lace
limbed mate!
You mate me writhing,
raptorial, cannibal.
You’ve watched me rip
hummingbirds apart
at their ruby
throats with such
quaint affection. Now,
you let me pluck away
your legs. O
my spindly thing! O
acephalous Anne!
Wanton Marie!
You know
they say I am three
times as fertile with brain
in my belly. You know
it is not nearly enough to
be eaten. Go on, my
dearest animal,
try again.

By Alissa Nalewajko

Biography:

Alissa Nalewajko is a student at Princeton University studying creative writing. She’s from Boise, Idaho and loves to explore themes of persona and surrealism through her work. She has been previously published in Zeniada magazine.

COVID-19 By Nicole Amador

COVID-19

in a hundred years
there will be
paintings and
prints
and sculptures of us
wearing masks
in our fear
in our sorrow
in our strength
and i hope
ascent from our current condition
they will be shown in the guggenheim
the louvre
the reina sofia
the tate modern
and the met
and all the places we pray it won’t penetrate
they will rewrite history books
ad speak of our sickness
as we have
of the bubonic plague or
cholera
one day my great great great
grandchildren will ride the
subway
and as the
train
emerges from the
tunnel
over the williamsburg bridge
they will see
doctors and nurses
and people who
look
like them
wearing masks
graffitied on the sides of buildings
the train moving so fast
the cables of the
bridge
will make
the pain of the people
appear as a flip book
that no one would think
to make
anymore

By Nicole Amador

Biography

Nicole Amador is a poet, artist, educator, and mother who is proud to be an Italian girl from Brooklyn. She currently works with the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI), on providing education and support for peers as well as their families. She loves yoga, rap music, and her calico cat Shelby. She can be found at www.nicoleamador.com and on Instagram @lightthroughashatteredwindow.

Ode to my Husband By Alissa Nalewajko

Ode to my Husband

My husband takes me to the
arboretum on Sundays. I squeeze
ethyl acetate onto a bed of plaster in
the bottom of a jar labeled “POISON”
and we spend the next three hours
chasing twin cobalt dragonflies. At
home, he pins the wings at the kitchen
table.

My husband scales limestone – a
spider-limbed daddy long leg on the
wall in demi plié. I get bored
watching, run miles down the hill and
hike them back. We drive to town for
lunch and sit by the water. He licks
the salt from my forehead with a wet
tongue.

My husband wears my bras to parties –
tobacco brown, bruise purple – and
lets the lace show on each shoulder
where his jacket slips. We smoke out
the car window. He takes me home
and fucks me – wraps mandible
around throat, burrows between each
toe.

My husband paints his nails, won’t let
me do it for him. Calls wearing my
clothing. Pierces his right nostril and
wears the dried blood. My husband,
the entomologist, teaches locusts and
wasps at the university. Fathers three
children and does it right: mountain
way, soil-up.

My husband jokes about
cannibalizing the teller at the bank.
Takes the vacuum cleaner apart and
puts it back together. Lets the yard
grow wild so the bees swarm in
summer. Sometimes, I lose him in the
tall grass. He has room in his jaw for
wisdom teeth. I shave his mole in the
shower, clip a skin tag.

My husband marries me after six
years of dating. He wears
mountaineer’s glasses to the
ceremony, turns his eyes into mirrors.
We marry. We honeymoon. He eats
near-raw steak each night of the trip
and skims me the cognac sauce. We
bite at one another. It’s funny: the day
we met, he ate a spider out of my
hand.

By Alissa Nalewajko

Biography:

Alissa Nalewajko is a student at Princeton University studying creative writing. She’s from Boise, Idaho and loves to explore themes of persona and surrealism through her work. She has been previously published in Zeniada magazine.

Point of the Sun By Ashley Kim

Point of the Sun

When we met, I said I loved
raspberries the most, so you brought me
tender handfuls in open palms, crimson
running along river-creases in
your skin, dripping down channels
on your wrists. You offered me
home cupped in woven fingers, and
I could almost see it:
a meadow of
cotton lilac and blue-green grass,
peach trees in a grove only we know
how to find, sun-splattered freckles
because I refuse to wear a hat, because
I refuse to hide―
but I have lied
about other things, too, like loving
the sea, or being able to whistle, or
knowing the names of constellations.

If I string the truth from this reluctant
pit of emetophobic stomach I could still lie
again and confess I love city streets in
rust-colored snow and aching cold exhaust
but I am trying to be honest, so I will give
you this alone:
I am searching for
the center of eternity. Sometimes,
I think it is burning you from the inside
of your ribcage,
molten and heavy and
staining like cigarette smoke or red wine, skin
feverish―sweating blood like a crown
of pomegranate sap as you tell me about
paradise, as you board a barge going
someplace far away.

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.

Prodigal By Joshua Effiong

Prodigal

your head is a house of broken glasses// mirrored
thoughts take turns to smirk at themselves//
they be like i see your nakedness// i see how your
tardy hands handle the rusted hope you inherited

the day you discovered// that the body you’ve found
yourself isn’t what you wish for// that in this universe
freedom is only felt when you pour yourself into a poem//
you say// come watch me set aflame the things that lounge

beneath my skin// blunt desires paint your breath rainbow//
every night the stars in your sky collide// forming the
un-towelled ocean I see in your eyes// how do you feel
when you begin to fight against the belief that molded you// how do

you tell yourself that this new you is a nightmare to mother//
every night you unwrap this part of yourself from your
wardrobe// you savor the taste of being prodigal// you say if
tonight becomes your last// let me die in this skin

By Joshua Effiong

Biography

Joshua Effiong [He] is a Nigerian writer and a lover of literature. His works has appeared in Eboquills, Kalahari Review & Shallow Tales Review. He is an author of a poetry chapbook Autopsy of Things Left Unnamed. When he is not writing, he is reading, watching movies and listening to music. An undergraduate of Science Laboratory Technology. He lives in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. And here he writes from. You can find him on Instagram @josh.effiong and twitter @JoshEffiong

Freddie By Deaundra Jackson

Freddie
As his voice gained its growl, he wished for a couch,
clambering for clout, because as a child,
Freddie ate reluctantly, cereal with powdered milk,
praying it into peppered eggs,
sizzling bacon, hotcakes with heated syrup,
stones of resentment lined his shoes and gave his walk an unsteady sway,

For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat

Gold grilled OG supreme,
pandered the respect that eludes, the respect he needs,
In lieu of loyalty to beating the block,
With a heart of hesitation, with eyes cast down,
the latest pair of Jordan’s gleamed on OG supreme,
he remembered his mom stumbling through the door,
asking who the food was for,
as she whispered, “it’s just enough for me”,

For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat

Clasping the leashes of his bookbag,
A glimmering gold chain glistening before him,
His manhood at stake, his father absent,
His inconsolable conscience riled,
He smiles, he daps his new leader,
He will eat tonight.

For the love of money
People can’t even walk the street
Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat

By Deaundra Jackson

Biography

Atlanta is the phoenix that lives in her. She is uncompromising about living a life that advocates for a greater quality of life for those who’ve been systemically abandoned. She worked for three years at the Georgia State Capitol determined to understand political underpinnings. Her hometown of Atlanta is number one in income inequality in America and she refuses to turn a blind eye to the disparities in social mobility. Writing was always her avocation, but while in The Politics of Black Poetry class, she was reassured that she wasn’t limited to becoming a public servant by running for office, she could illuminate the trauma of her community by cultivating her gift of writing.


To Be An Octopus By Jane Elizabeth Yarnell

To Be An Octopus

Octopi have three hearts
A cardiac cacophony, syncopated with a rhythm
unlike our own.
A circulatory system interdependent on three different ways to love.

Some days, I think the only way to survive in the world
with all its sharp corners and its betrayals — round and slippery
as marbles and as treacherous in the dark —
is to become an octopus.

To learn to love in many different ways,
loves as tangled as mangrove roots and loves as straight and true as redwoods,
loves that are small and full of the future as seedlings.

Loves that are an a vein to yesterday, loves that are
an artery to tomorrow, loves that are a fleeting heartbeat in time,

gone in the next rush of blood and yet the deepest core of life.

The only way to live, I know now, is
to learn to accept and relish the climbing vine of my heart —

To cease detangling every creeper and every capillary and instead
water the flowers that are so ready to grow

By Jane Elizabeth Yarnell

Biography

Jane Yarnell is in her third year of a degree studying Sustainability and Biology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She has previously been published in Acumen, the Eunoia Review, and a few other places around the internet.

Upon Seeing Floating Dust at Golden Hour By Ashley Kim

Upon Seeing Floating Dust at Golden Hour

When she said there is nothing
left ― I am gone like a father,
false like a specter ― maybe
you cannot help but wonder if
she was even here, ― or if
you built her out of Jenga block
bones buried in a meadow of
lavender and carnation that does
not exist. But look at the grocery list
taped to the fridge, and dig through
the rubbish bin if you must ―
there is her name in the address line
of The New Yorker, and in crossword
puzzles of shredded signatures.
Do you remember the bookstore
(the one with overpriced coffee,
you know the one) and how
she tested every marker color
by writing her name? ― leaving
traces of something a little less
than fingerprints. Or the back of
your senior yearbook, from which
she whispers ― I was here (and
she still is, on the paper, at least,
but dust is dead skin and
you haven’t got the willpower
to sweep). Now these scraps
are precious to us, bits
of a lover I said goodbye to
long before you did. She did.
These ― wrinkled receipts, nails
in the wall, eraser shavings, socks
without partners, calculator
histories, a dog that keeps barking,
an orchid on the windowsill
I am not used to watering,
the brightness of the sun on the wall
facing the fire escape window ―
the one she used to sit by to watch
every setting sun.

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.

El Roi By Flourish Joshua

El Roi

these days, I am hearing my soul
louder than

it is screaming, plucking stars
from the sky &

naming them by the virtues
that elude me—

El Roi, where have you hidden
your eyes?

In this poem, I lament
in reverse, &

pray in body languages:
O Lord, why do you watch beautiful things

levitate into chaos?
Why do you place so much power

in the hands of grief?
& what is it with your mercy

that Samsons the sons of men,
yet endureth forever?

By Flourish Joshua

Biography

Flourish Joshua is a (performance) poet from Nigeria, a NaiWA poetry scholar, 2nd place winner of the 7th Ngozi Agbo Prize for Essay, finalist of the 2021 NO CONTACT Poetry Prize, Managing Editor at NRB, Interviews Editor at Eremite Poetry, Poetry Editor at LERIMS, Associate Poetry Editor at miniskirt magazine & Poetry Reader at Bluebird Review. He is published (or forthcoming) on London Grip Poetry, miniskirt magazine, East French Press, Olongo Africa, Ghost City Review, Brittle Paper, Blue Marble Review, Bluebird Review, No Contact, and elsewhere. Instagram: @therealflourishjoshua | Twitter: @fjspeaks

Irises By Sara Doan

Irises

You can paint flowers
in the asylum
unfurling through irises
your first full day all indigo
and impulse.

Easy to paint
when they bring your meals
and change your sheets
and keep you from eating
your own colors of lead and wonder.

A painting every two days
to out-create the redness
wavering through the night cafe
or the lines of Baby Marcelle crumbling
beneath your promises to the postman.

Despite the dark
your nights carry
wheat fields on the wind
swirling against the starry night
as you memorize the stars’ courses
on nights too full for sleep.

Your endless sunflowers dried up,
you’ll embrace that village below
in browns and taupes and pinks
once you’re well enough
to taste the almond blossoms.

By Sara Doan

Biography

Sara C. Doan (she/her) is a writing professor and emerging poet located near Atlanta, Georgia. When she’s not teaching and researching design strategies for equity in health communication, she enjoys wandering through art museums, baking too many scones, and sewing her own clothing in large floral prints and jewel tones.