reminiscing on home: circa April 2020 By Tukur Loba Ridwan

reminiscing on home: circa April 2020

six feet apart   like the length of my grandfather’s departure—
the distance between the earth’s body 
and the mortals in the grave  no hugs
no handshakes  faint pleasantries laced 
with caveats    to be wary  is to be safe  
and would you rather  be sorry when 
you could be safe?  they took
the sun away  from us— we sought light from
the eyes of our bulbs  taking a moment and
relishing the beauty  of our chandelier
the makings of humans radiated our skin
we may perish for what  we know not 
we have mixed safety with lethargy
in the same bottle of sticky ethanol and
the sharp stench intoxicated me  
fear knows no liberty   peace was
in the mouth  of a gun barrel in our cities—
uneasy  were the streets of tyranny 
it was a warzone  in and out of our bodies 
touch anywhere  on your skin   except
your own face  you cannot afford
your own beauty  with your own hands 
we have always been viruses  to ourselves  
perhaps we never saw  this network 
has brought us this far  if only my lover knew
the panacea  for longing  in our voices 
she would pick my calls  when we could not
find our way  to meet with our graved bodies
across a border  I knew she longed for my hands 
like I craved her fingers in my mouth   our minds
were constipated with urges  I kept sleeping

By Tukur Loba Ridwan

Biography:

Tukur writes from a coastal axis in Lagos Island. His poems have been published in Libretto Magazine, Erogospel, Art Of Peace Anthology, Z Publishing (Best Emerging Poets 2019), Best New African Poets Anthology 2019, Nigiga Review, BBPC Anthology and elsewhere. He won the Brigitte Piorson Monthly Poetry Contest (March 2018) and shortlisted in few others.

Elegy for the Humanities By Lauren Liu

Elegy for the Humanities

The man with the blue guitar is aflame,
throat stung by 19,000,000,000,000 bees, & what
blossoms above his bald, poemless head but
the singed rose petals of an atom bomb?
Look at him: sentenceless, chordless, struck dumb
by Science, by the very thing that spot-
welded the cosmos to the cosmonaut
tethered umbilically to Spaceship Womb.
That said, ignore not the vile stinging bees,
the stung strings, the atom’s lickety-split,
the poet’s throat’s a grim balloon of ash.
The man-with-the-blue-guitar’s lobo bays
at a blue moon from an atoll: ill-lit,
ill-tempered, ill-conceived atomic splash.

By Lauren Liu

Biography:

Lauren Liu is a freshman at the Harker School, where she writes for her school publication. She isn’t comfortable writing in third person about her accomplishments, so she has made the executive decision to leave those out. In her free time when she’s not writing, she enjoys prancing around the garden with her dogs, initiating cat fights with her cats, art, reading classical novels, and exploring the convoluted realm of Latin.

First Position By Josh Aaron Siegel

First Position

you’ll never know what it took
to get these shoes
from the window in vienna.

the ones that glittered from the kerosene street lamps
when i crossed their path and
stole for the first time

from the baker on rennweg
who didn’t even notice, Mama when
two silver flats like bolshoi slippers sitting

in the corner of the display with a
tag higher than all the slips we had for food
were gone for good.

it’s silly but i used to
sit on the ledge of
the department store and imagine

rubbing the window with my rags
until the chemicals melted away the mirror between
them and me

even after we left Mama
i thought about those ballet shoes
on my feet in moments

when i didn’t want to draw
another line of blood

when you couldn’t stand
in the courtyard without leaning
on my shoulder

we never spoke of them
but let the streaks of light
hum in my mind until

vienna let me in again,
a tourist this time
and led me to the window with

flats like bolshoi slippers
still waiting in the window
for me to take them home

By Josh Aaron Siegel

Postmortem for a Finger withered out By Iheoma Uzomba

Postmortem for a Finger withered out

& how would it be so nicely told
that a finger departs from its palm

to wring a meal all by itself: god’s
mouth is sore and what more

can be said: there is little satisfaction
in wholeness: a man flees from home–

elopes, if you choose to say it– to find
the ungathered portions of himself: &

on his way, he finds one whole self
in a woman’s bulging stomach: for

he must retrieve what part he owns:
a repatriation of being: what is more

than punching open a belly to find yourself
there, gaunt: and what is more than waking

from a nebula of voices in your head, you,
completely unwhole, only remembering

what last words parted your fore finger
half lit with cancer: to earth, love

& unwholeness, this is all a finger seeks.

By Iheoma Uzomba

Biography:

Iheoma Uzomba_Author Photo

 

Iheoma Uzomba currently studies English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her works appear on Kissing Dynamite, the Dreich Magazine, Fact-Simile editions and elsewhere.

In the basement of Goodwill By Julia Bonadies

In the basement of Goodwill

I find gently used hope
and pair of Barbie roller skates
next to a reprint of a reprint
of Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffelton’s Barbershop”
in a pile of broken window frames
and abandoned halos next to the rack
of homemade butterfly wings
and ruby slippers size 9
there is some leftover soul
in the vase tucked in with soccer cleats,
and a set of ceramic watermelon cups
that look like pairs of shark teeth
that snacked on the cover of “Madam Bovary”
resting atop a crushed velvet baby gown
in-between black stilettoes stuck
in the side of a rubber piggy bank
where some kid left a one-dollar bill
no one, not even Jackie with her
red acrylic nails can reach
for the thirteen-year old with a boyfriend
whom she loves, who asks
for the mood ring next to the belt buckle
of a man pissing on a Yankees symbol.

By Julia Bonadies

Biography:

Author_Photo_JuliaJulia Bonadies teaches English Language Arts at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Middle, and tutors in writing at Manchester Community College. In 2016, she was named Manchester Community College’s poet representative in the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Her poetry has appeared in the national undergraduate magazine, The Albion Review, local paper The Chronicle, and various online journals and local college literary arts magazines. She is a film and plant enthusiast who resides in Vernon, Connecticut.

Doubt By Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa

Doubt

There is a thing                 my shadow knows how to do
How      to        not                 stay          behind              me
It            makes     me      question     being      anywhere
Makes me fear the light
I am not used to all this                                                       alone
This                             silhouette of dreams          my shadow leaves me as
At night
I howl like a wolf at the moon
Ask her             where she took                                   my lover
Feel       the                    betrayal                                  grip my body
Like       my shadow                          is a real thing
Not just a shade I                                                       cast against the light
The day I learnt                                 confidence in this              big body as a weapon
I gave doubt its                                               coat-heavy shadow back

By Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa

Biography:

Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa_Author Photo

Busamoya Phodiso Modirwa is a Motswana writer and poet with works published on Jalada Africa, Praxis Online Magazine, Ake Review, Kalahari Review and elsewhere. She writes poetry and creative non-fiction between her day job and evening accounting studies.

Antihero By Mark Morgan Jr

Antihero 

I used to jump puddles
and pretend I was leaping across quicksand
or a canyon, beyond some clueless hooded villain’s clutch

one time the pale, crumbling street flooded. my feet grew cold
and wet, beaten boots sunken. thick, dark murk
bubbling from that sewer drain I dropped a dollar in once
while a sapsucker slammed its beak against the telephone pole

ephemeral blue flashes, exploding transformer
volatile whiffs of green breeze, wild scrambles for shelter
pitter-patter against back windows—
power outages always scared me

perhaps I read too many comic books
my greasy fingers strummed glossy chords of paper and bulging muscle
beneath my pocket flashlight’s flaccid beam for illusions
of a metropolis dotted with life, bleeding at every corner

sorry. I’m not some criminal mastermind with a weather machine
I just want to devour all these beautiful shades of ink
and fade into the white void beyond the panels

By Mark Morgan, Jr.

Biography:

Mark Morgan, Jr. is a Detroit native, ESL teacher, and poet. He enjoys meetings with the Poetry Workshop in Saint Clair Shores and the Creative Writers Workshop in Sterling Heights. His work is featured in the 2018 and 2019 editions of Sterling Script: A Local Author Collection, Angry Old Man Magazine, and The Rising Phoenix Review. Mark also won Landmark Books’ Fourth Annual Haiku Contest in 2018. When not teaching or writing, Mark may be found reading, practicing martial arts, or listening to jazz.

Her Name Was Tsunami By Sena Chang

Her Name Was Tsunami

i
these are the crashing waters, they tell me,
where sea battled men in an unrelenting fight;

where the piercing blueness of the ocean
covered one’s eyes before death choked them;

where man’s castles and kingdoms all washed away
by the pure brutality of a thousand blue horses.

i see death, hardship, and loss paint the waters
that run up to my toes.

drenching each particle of sand are the tears
that have stained a thousand mothers’ cheeks,

the following days’ downpour that soaked the ground,
satiating the thirsts of a shattered earth,

and the very waters that have rushed down the throats
of loved ones, drowning out their souls and silencing

their calling voices
for eternity.

ii.
it is this place that a mother lost her other half.
yet again she looks at the ocean,

the glittering shard-like water resembling the jewels
that once adorned her ring finger.

stark-white hospital beds in a 4×4 arrangement.
the monotonous beep of the heart monitor.

Then, silence.

iii.
my hand is grasped tightly, and two watery eyes meet mine.
“Tsunami.” she named me that day. Tsunami.

internalized are the children’s laughs that were part
of the ocean’s silent breeze that fateful day, and

the screams that quickly replaced it. stitched together
by pain, happiness, and all things in between, the fabric

of my life is near-transparent, its threads worn out
by years of hardship and tribulation.

yet my name tells me to stand as tall as a castle,
to impact like an army of a million.

I am Tsunami: scarred, broken, and fragmented.
yet my tides will never fail to rise.

By Sena Chang

Biography:

Sena Chang is currently a student living in Tokyo, Japan, and her favorite authors include Haruki Murakami and George Orwell. Her most recent work can be found in the 2020 Anthology of Youth Writing on Human Rights & Social Justice.

Ghost Letters By Sean Catino

Ghost Letters

One day I’ll leave and I won’t tell anyone where I’m going.
I’ll take my body with me,
But I’ll throw my photo albums out the window as I drive away.
I’ll leave a crime scene of all my memories smeared down the road.
Pictures and pictures puked across sun baked pavement like fresh deer guts–
A carcass no one cares about until their car crashes into it.

I’ll send you letters.
I’ll lie to you.
I’ll tell you all of the fantastic lives I could be living—
A different letter for each different person in my life.

My sister will say I live in Las Vegas now.
I had a bad coke problem, but things turned around.
I met my highschool bully in rehab, and we fell in love.
He didn’t know he could love boys as much as he loved the burn of clean white destruction in his nostrils.
We own a pawn shop downtown, and we’re thinking about kids in a few years.

My best friend will say I’m a nomadic therapist who drives up and down the West coast.
I leave my calling cards on gravestones and bar fronts.
Like bootleg DVDs, I run therapy sessions 24/7 from the trunk of my car.
I teach the brokenhearted how great it feels to kill yourself and come back again.

My ex lover will say I’m a millionaire who lives in Miami.
I flip houses and eat diamonds for breakfast.
I have a reality TV show in the works.
I forgot how to cry, and I feel naked without a camera on me.
Life is a never ending sunset.

My mom will say I’m a cancer survivor in Santa Fe.
After all the chemo, I never let my hair grow back.
I keep it shaved, and I work at a church in a greenhouse.
I teach recovering drug addicts and high school dropouts that we can grow fruits from worm infested dirt.
Growth is a game we can play. Sometimes we win, even though we all have to lose.

But don’t ask me for the real story.
Don’t you dare try to find me.
I’ll never go back to the life that you barely knew me in.
I want to stay a ghost— a puff of smoke that almost looks like a person.

By Sean Catino

Sean_Photo

Reparations By Sophia Zhao

Reparations

It’s springtime, and I witness grandfather
peeled open in hyacinthia-tinted croaks:
hollow socket, false hand, he clenches a
lioness’s brittle ball between the stiff
bite of his teeth— now bound by some
edifice built top down in cacophony.
The bedroom slopes into pallid
unguarantee, what spit looks like
when parched up by the garden’s birdbath,
clean only to the swells of his throat;
he says life tastes of an unattainable
nectar, and I think of honeybees drowning
under their own ambrosia, resortless.
I choose to believe grandfather’s limbs
are of a deity’s spruce-lined mantle,
his shoulders held by weightless thread,
even when he coughs up stained spineless.
I choose to gather the blanket on bedstead,
scrunch it into plastic flimsy lotus flower:
a proofless talisman laid resting near the pyre.

By Sophia Zhao

Biography:

Sophia Zhao is an eighteen-year-old from Newark, Delaware currently studying at Yale University. Her work currently navigates themes of cultural identity and grief. She enjoys painting, poetry, and jasmine tea.