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.

On Purpose By Deaundra Jackson

On Purpose

I want to forgive America
And escape the rage that Antebellum brings,
Then I envision the fear in the eyes of those chained
In tight spaces inhaling putrid fragrances seasick
Numbing numbing numbing
from racing thoughts of never returning

then with dropped jaw I watch men scale capitol walls
and remember how our insurrections ended

heads severed and unblinking on wooden posts
along the road a morbid example made
or with feet hopelessly kicking until they can’t

I want to forgive America
And elude the assimilated shame
Of mispronounced names but
They pronounce our names as questions
On purpose.

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.

When A Body Disobeys The Law Of Elasticity By Joshua Effiong

When A Body Disobeys The Law Of Elasticity

It becomes one that chooses its’ texture.
On some days, it’s cells, and tissues, and organs

Liquefies into a river, to be awash from dolour.
I allow a scapula kiss my breath

& watch as this warehouse of memories
Split into a thousand pieces, unveiling the

Genesis of pain. & strain—this outpouring
Stains my chest. In the beginning, the creator

Gave life to clay. Does it mean that I’d being
Indoctrinated with the gospel of crumbling,

Even before I took my first breath? In this poem,
Everything is synonymous to distortion.

Come, watch how a black boy morphs into a house of cards,
Sufficient with the history of days when the proof of

Existence is just the air in his lungs
& nights when he practiced exorcism on himself.
Look, I understand the theory of disintegration
And how it undresses the pride of a man.

Rendering him asthenic. The rate of decay is
Directly proportional to extinction.

This is a poem in which a body
Disobeys the law of elasticity

Still, it refuses to be the past tense
Told in present, & renames itself an antonym to death.

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

Self-Portrait in the Morning By Kaitlin Kan

Self-Portrait in the Morning

Spattered with freckles,
I cannot escape the sun
while hidden in my lair.
Lips bloodied in hatred,
frosted in apologies.
Remnants of nightmares
in the watercolor bruises
cradling my blushing eyes, hair
braiding and unbraiding itself
in tendrils, still sleeping.
Have I always looked like chaos?
looking back at me
with years of regret
and a birthmark so often
glittering in the tracks of tears.
The lights went out
with the kiss of electrodes,
dousing the embers in my cheeks
with the curse of tomorrows.
I am a beautiful corpse indeed.
I wipe the toothpaste from my mouth
with the back of my hand;
morning is always
a ritual of lamentation.

By Kaitlin Kan

Biography:

Kaitlin Kan is a product of a multicultural upbringing, New England boarding school, and Yale University, where she is currently studying English and psychology. She has been published in Ponder Review, New Plains Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sincerely Magazine, Hektoen International, and Sky Island Journal. When she is not writing, she is spending time with her dogs and playing piano.

The city goes first By Taylor Bereiter

The city goes first

as the light leaves, washing over marbled buildings, drawn away like a tablecloth
as god whispers a dark quiet into the world because he is eternity’s disc jockey

and small lights flicker on like distant candles
as people, lazy in their beds, annihilate the good air by shutting off their lamps
and we all sit with our thoughts as gravity keeps its consistent aging pull
as the stars peer down at us as listless angels
as the night dares all the animals into silence and we follow eyelids first into slumber
as shivering rats
crawl up subway pipes like god is at the other end
with a handful of cheese, laughing until the world grows moldy with indifference
and small children break apart

crackers in their dreams, their dreams small and brittle in the mouths
of their parents, taller children with bigger dreams that crumbled faster than they could grow
and maybe growing up isn’t something that happens to you, but something that follows you until you turn
around
and greet it with a few slumped shoulders
and shrug
into your life like
good enough
is
good enough today
but tomorrow
is today
on repeat
and god is a sticky fingered disc jockey at a house party
that everybody wants to leave.

We live life like a city unto ourselves
dark entirely inside, until the smallest parts of us wake up before the sun does
and we turn the lamps back on despite gravity’s protest
because somewhere out the door is a leaking pipe that smells of cheese
because we’re shivering rats and listless angels and children too dumb to stay young
and we’re shaking off sleep as tomorrow finds us
in the daytime, growing older one more moment, cut down by an edge of light
as the tablecloth folds over once more, drawn back into position by a turntable
and god sticks his finger onto a cracking disc and begs us, “one more, please—
I think we’ve just about got this living thing figured out.”

By Taylor Bereiter

Biography:

Taylor began writing poetry in college and has since competed in multiple national poetry slams before flying off to Taiwan to teach English literature abroad. She writes because language is too damn fun to quit and because, as a trans woman, she has found poetry to be an excellent way to be heard.

Dear Reader, By Ling Ge

Dear Reader,

thank you for reading this poem.
Thousands of miles lie between us.
I cannot meet you in person
or invite you to visit my garden.
I ask summer’s breeze to travel
and forward my regards to you
with the fragrance of my lilacs.
In the first ray of sunshine,
my peach blossoms drift in a stream,
flow thousands of miles, melt into water,
and send you sweet rain.
When night falls, my waterlilies sleep
on the reflection of the moon.
Please open your window,
gaze at the same moon,
and feel their dreams.
Two lines from here,
you will notice a period
wishing you the start of infinity.

By Ling Ge

Biography

Ling Ge is a Pushcart nominee who studies creative writing and works as a statistician in Toronto, Canada. In her literary work, she uses a combination of Eastern and Western styles. Her work has appeared in the Spadina Literary Review. Her tanka will appear in Ribbons.

Messiah By Flourish Joshua

Messiah

By this time tomorrow, I will
Messiah my angst.

Grief, too, is a gift—what is
light without darkness?

Where there is grief,
look. It is to magnify

joy. Not all things that obey grief
grow arms to press the color

of darkness into our chest.
I count my blessings,

grief does the subtraction.
See—I have given my body

to endurance so long it sees pain
& calls it a beautiful thing.

& when you say goodbye,
do you mean to donate me

to the gods of the earth,
or to see me a second time?

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

Mirrored Sentiment By Goodnews Mememugh Karibo

Mirrored Sentiment

l have been notified that my sorrow
has been accepted elsewhere,
my mother heard it in the news and

slammed the door. between a live wire
and a blue tapestry, l think of a time when
wishes would come in handy.

stories of grief are hard to handle.
l am a single boy lost in the time outside of

a hummingbird’s nest. because everything
is a crayoned skin when you look
at them with a bat-savvy
eye.

I have trained my brown, broken bones to
hold on
or let go of a future dipped in turpentine.
they say what defies coloration
is the excreta of a near-indigo sky.
it is hard to
not understand the red earth and its edges.

By Goodnews Mememugh Karibo

Biography

Goodnews Mememugh Karibo is a woke poet who writes from the heart of Port Harcourt. His poems have been published by Brittle Paper, African Writer, ShortSharpShot, and whatnot. He spends every day imbibing words.