In the Wash By Michael DuBon

In the Wash

Arms deep, filth-clad, toilet toil: working at The Ski Tahoe Resort.
Scrubbing this mess of spiders, disposing the cast off suppositories,
the tracks of geriatric indulgence.

Work, where people don’t know how to talk to you.

Where the other housekeepers won’t trade Spanish with you
because you’re not Latino enough, too American. Where one day
you hear a voice from behind exclaim,

No clean!
and you turn around to a white man waving his arms, pleading,
No! No clean! We don’t need no clean.

Where you can’t speak Spanish, can’t speak English,
where all you can say is, Ok.

Work: where you throw up on the carpet after two turkey sandwiches,
so hungover you pass out again before vacuuming them up
then see them again in the sink, the toilet too,
you scrub up your mess alongside everyone else’s.

Where your fingers fall endlessly but never pick out
all the dirt. Your Guatemalan parents who got you this job
scold you for your failings as it might mean their jobs,
their names already sullied.

The job helps pay your parents’ rent first, then your own. They made you work
at so young an age, a childhood stained across carpets of empty suites.

You blamed them for wasting wasteful time
earmarked for young weekends. Proved them right. Smoked in the units.

Eight years drain like hard water.

My hands reappear from rubber gloves. I enter any room here and I’m already gone.

By Michael DuBon

Biography:

Michael DuBon is a first-generation Nevada native of Guatemalan descent. His poetry has appeared in The Meadow and his creative nonfiction has appeared in Heartwood and Brushfire. He holds an MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California, and he is currently working on his memoir: The DuBonicles. At his most natural, he is laughing and smiling. He hopes to share the smiles and laughter through his multilingual writing.

A Quarantined Mind By Olivia O’Donnell

A Quarantined Mind

I’m stuck in here, a purple-painted box,
Eyes locked on that illuminated grate,
except my mind is waiting by the docks.

Look skyward now, and you’ll soon see the hawks
There’s none? Oh maybe I’m not thinking straight
I’m stuck in here, a purple-painted box.

I hear the ticking of two silent clocks,
whose cadence fast becomes my steady gait
I see my mind there waiting by the docks.

Is it the day we see the crimson fox?
Alone inside I know I have to wait
I’m stuck in here, a purple-painted box.

A leash tied on for the infrequent walks
I pull and pull, with sunlight as my bait
I know my mind is waiting by the docks.

I run, but wait here comes the swollen flocks!
Let’s see how long I can support their weight.
I’m stuck in here, a purple-painted box,
except my mind is waiting by the docks.

By Olivia O’Donnell

Biography:

Olivia O’Donnell is a junior at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. She is an emerging poet.

Bringing Up By Annie Powell Stone

Bringing Up

My three-year-old always interrupts
but for the sweetest reasons.
His requests drip on my head and pool
in the blend of charm, annoyance, and deep knowing
that fills the well of a parent’s love.

He always wants to hear a story,
and I never would have thought I could draw up so many:

“Once there was a boy who could reach up and bite the moon…”

It is my honor to be the toy fixer in our house,
proof I can handle delicate things.
Pliers, super glue, toothpicks, and tape,
my workbench a tiny mechanic’s shop
like my dad’s was.

Now I am the bringer of bandaids and fixed toys.
Who is touching who?

“Here’s one about Myrtle the rummaging ghost…”

I’m putting my head down to write this
and look at it sideways while I work
like a grade school coloring page,
my arm between the cool smooth surface of the table
and the soft warmth of my own cheek.

And now it is my dry winter hands
almost snagging the silk of my child’s cheek:

“Mary Jane who liked to complain and had a name like a shoe…”

If you can’t find me I’ll be by the coat hooks, leaning into the mass,
smelling the wood smoke on my husband’s coat,
the toddler sweat on my son’s.
My own pockets full of talismans from maternity:
used tissues, a rock, a tiny dinosaur.

I used to love leaning against racks of clothing in stores as a kid,
Would slow fall through the hanging soft pillars:

“Did I ever tell you about the sleepy cookie…”

He says he wishes he could have known me when I was a little girl.
And he has hit upon it, like children so often do,
a truth: by definition parents can never be children with their children.
But we can dip a bucket in and surprise ourselves,
and we’re better today for it.

By Annie Powell Stone

Biography:

Annie Powell Stone (she/her) has a BA in English from the University of Maryland and MS in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Remington Review and Second Chance Lit, and is scheduled to appear in Melted Butter Magazine and Doghouse Press. She lives on the ancestral land of the Piscataway people in Baltimore, MD with her husband and two kiddos. IG: @anniepowellstone

3:33am By Alice van Duuren

3:33am

can you feel them there, stirring
the water? all that blue ripples

with their hunger, a body made
of teeth. is it less terrifying knowing,

when the violence does come,
that it will be shark-quick? all your pain

cut off as you’re dragged beneath
the surface. tell me: will your blood

spread calmly or will it fight until
it’s last beating drop, refusing

the holy jaws it had been given?
tell me all, for i am that starving

mouth, circling ever closer. i will
listen to your screams without judgment.

By Alice van Duuren

Biography:

Alice van Duuren is a nonbinary writer from New Zealand, who used to hate both reading and poetry. Admittedly, they were 13 at the time and hated just about everything. Since then, they have studied English Literature, Tourism, Screen Production, and Applied Writing. In their free time, Alice likes to daydream about dragons, cuddle with their cat, and drink excessive amounts of tea. Social media Tumblr: lavenderfables.tumblr.com Twitter: @lavenderfables Carrd: thelavenderfables.carrd.co

After the Insurrection, You Make a Phone Call By Bethany Reid

After the Insurrection, You Make a Phone Call

The news likes blood, can’t see peace
in your future. But your grandson says,
“It will be okay, Grandma,
I have a cape,” and hope ignites,
a flicker of illumination in the dark.
You remember when his father was that small,
and smaller, a seed you hadn’t yet discerned,
already stretching, opening within you.
How is it that such small things
can give you heart: raindrops
on the bare branches of the dogwood,
the flute of the thrush’s song?

By Bethany Reid

Biography:

Bethany Reid’s Sparrow won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize. Her recent poetry books are Body My House (Goldfish Press, 2018), and The Thing with Feathers, which was published as part of Triple No. 10 by Ravenna Press (2020). Learn more at http://www.bethanyareid.com.

Beating the Odds By Hailey McMichael

Beating the Odds

What I didn’t know before
was how unlikely it is to be alive right now.
Mel Robbins says the odds we are born are one in four trillion.
Dr Ali Binazir says the odds we exist at all are basically zero.
I figure these odds
should come with some sort of gratitude
a celebration perhaps
I could say that we ought to be more thankful
to stop and smell the coffee and the roses and the four trillion other metaphors
we use to tell each other
to breathe.
But really
sometimes beating the odds
causes my heart to tremble in my chest
my feet are dirty and my toenails are cracked
the coffee burns my mouth
the roses die too quickly
asleep in their beds
the weight of the world is so much
I have to drag my breath in with aching fingers and a dry tongue.
So sometimes
I think beating the odds
looks like sitting in the dark
not to see the stars
or hope for the morning
or fulfill a Mark Frost prophecy
but to sit in the dark
and let myself
be.

By Hailey McMichael

Biography:

Hailey McMichael is a current senior at Muhlenberg College, studying English and Dance with a passion for creation through choreography and poetry. She hopes to continue to work in a creative field post-graduation, as well as moving into the field of education. Hailey has lived in many different states around the country, and continues to travel in search of truths… and she continually finds her heart searching for more stories to share. Her Instagram is @haileyj16

Oracle By Annie Freshwater

Oracle

Walk the river with me. Listen

for the cry of a night heron, mimicking
the muted wail of trains that did not pass
through here. If you see

Cassiopeia’s trembling reflection
on the water, you’ll meet your soul-

-mate at the street fair next Thursday, between

the stall that sells jewelry made
from tarnished spoons and the glassblowing
tent. The river demands

an offering: a memory from before

you knew how much you’d miss this city.

By Annie Freshwater

Biography:

As a poet and novelist, Annie Freshwater explores the ways in which we populate our inner and outer landscapes with ghosts of our own making. She holds her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Redlands and her MA in English/MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University, where she was honored with the John Fowles Center for Creative Writing Award. She is a lover of mythology, philodendrons, and decaf coffee. www.anniefreshwater.com

A Judicial Procedure By Sevde Kaldiroglu

A Judicial Procedure

The mother holds the kid’s hand
The mother and the kid walk
into the courtroom

The father stands
across from the kid
and the mother
and the kid and the mother
listen

To the father
speak
and the judge listens
and the audience
and the mother
and the kid
with eyes widened

Stranger men stand
up and speak
about the father
about the mother
and the kid
the kid sits
quiet

and still
the judge speaks
everyone quiet
and still
the judge speaks
and silence

The mother holds the kid’s
hand the mother and the
kid walk into
the hallway the mother and
the kid walk into the street the
mother and the kid walk the mother
and the kid

still

By Sevde Kaldiroglu

Biography:

Sevde Kaldiroglu is a creative writer from Istanbul. At age 17, she was the youngest author of a memoir collection published in Turkey (Yitik Ulke Publishing, 2012). She’s received multiple national youth awards for her poetry and essays. She holds a BA in English, Creative Writing from Stanford University where she served as the editor-in-chief of Avicenna Journal for three years.

Iris Hollandica in a Tyrolean Botanical Garden By Hailey McMichael

Iris Hollandica in a Tyrolean Botanical Garden

I walk among the white flowers and I see myself in them.
I walk among the white flowers and see my
mothers nieces sisters in them.
out of the crack in the broken brick
a bud appears, iris hollandica
dripping with tears,
looking down on fallen figures littering the ground.
yet it blooms.
yet it blooms.

whispers of children pull me forward
toward a white wall in fertile coffee ground sprawling
iris hollandica, petals split three ways
moonlit womb exposed to the imposing
picking petals in pockets without question
yet it blooms.
yet it blooms.

built on the backs of iris hollandica returned to coffee ground
built on the backs of satin bedsheets and hollowed out bones
larkspur spines, stark against the sand
medicinal leaves heal viruses and sore irises
she smells like fresh mint and abstraction
the soft breeze paints her petals with attraction
but greedy fingers grab and grip, rip and the white is stained with soil and ants and time
yet it bloomed.
yet it bloomed.

By Hailey McMichael

Biography:

Hailey McMichael is a current senior at Muhlenberg College, studying English and Dance with a passion for creation through choreography and poetry. She hopes to continue to work in a creative field post-graduation, as well as moving into the field of education. Hailey has lived in many different states around the country, and continues to travel in search of truths… and she continually finds her heart searching for more stories to share. Her Instagram is @haileyj16

Erasure Collage, January 2021 By Katie Kemple

Erasure Collage, January 2021

My nine-year old would like to look
through the pile of New Yorkers
by my bedside to find items for her
school assignment: a vision board.
She gravitates toward the covers
depicting popsicles on a hot summer
day, pastel pink and purple trees.
To stay awake (it’s nearly 10pm),
I flip through issues next to her,
traveling back through time to 2019,
2018—cartoons of bustling desks,
people passing on streets unmasked,
an exterminator lifting a stranger’s
mattress. My daughter cuts out
a photo of rocks. “I like rocks,” she says.
Even though, it’s increasingly hard
to convince her to go outside to see
the real thing. People leave painted rocks
in our neighborhood now, “Be Kind”
one lectured me from the ground.
My daughter prefers to explore
imaginary worlds: Minecraft, Harry Potter,
and Sponge Bob. I’m kind: I let her.
She finds an illustration of a deck
of cards, an owl, cats, a toy car. Snip.
Snip, snip, snip. “Getting late,” I say.
We close each one, but now they each
flash gaping holes. The loss arresting.
I remind myself that the images have only
been shifted, and mean more popsicles,
trees, and rocks for my daughter’s
collage. But, something permanent
is gone. It doesn’t have a name.

By Katie Kemple

Biography:

Katie Kemple is a mostly vegan person raising two kids, an elder pug, and a carnival goldfish in San Diego. She’s married to the love of her life. Her poems can be found in The Elevation Review, The Collidescope, The Racket, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.