life is more than indigestion and electric bills bad news and broken radiators another year alone
it’s Joni Mitchell’s voice on Friday night golden lamplight and chamomile tea
and I am more than the measure of an awful week at the office days of fluorescent glare uncomfortable shoes and fear, every moment fear
collapsed in bed in blue-flowered pajamas with just the one small lamp and the light which, as I said, is golden and gentle I laugh for no particular reason
Joni tells me I can fly and I can almost see her voice curling like warm tendrils of steam toward the ceiling
By Grier Martin
Grier Martin is a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop (BWW), based in Burlington, Vermont. She led the BWW Poetry Discussion Group from 2019 to 2020. She also served in various editorial roles from 2017 to 2021 with Mud Season Review, an online literary magazine affiliated with BWW.
In the car I fell silent again as tears hid between the corners of my brown eyes Yelled at once again for having a second thought a second opinion a second meaning to my existence. Maa says God created me only in relation to the man. So I must obey and not care and not step out of the circle drawn by the man. I am at fault because they are men they are god they are never at fault. I am no victim I am to blame yes Maa I understand, yes maa I will cover up Yes Maa– but what if they trip me and strip me of my dignity? I am a computer I am programmed by my mother coded to exist and only so. My talents do not matter if I cannot cook my opinions are useless when my shirt is too short I am told again I must listen to the man but I am unable to speak. as I was taught to listen. I am taught to tiptoe He is taught to run. I am taught to read He is taught to write. That is life and If I don’t comply my faith is questioned and I’ll be locked up. Baa no longer calls and the last thing he said to me was “Change out of that skirt” I am a computer Programmed by my mother Coded to exist and only so yet I am breaking.
By Tamia Hassan
Tamia Hassan is a fifteen-year-old writer and journalist from Minneapolis. In her free time, she writes poetry, short stories, and articles. Apart from writing, Tamia likes to read and crochet in her free time.
In the morning void after years since my father died
“…CD said human consciousness shows up in the record as symbolic behavior toward the dead…” -Consciousness by Robert Hass
Opening my eyes, the moment seems a slit of air between sliding glass doors into the backyard patio, a blear of red marigolds and eucalyptus. I could sense her refulgent mood, then my vision apprehends the tall window covered in fine mesh to redirect her ultraviolet radiation, a pinky orange jewel exuding a deepening breath of fire, day breaking as if time were nothing.
As I rest my eyes, close them behind warm translucent skin, my mind leaps forward in search of the dreamy joy that has darted away. It is daughterhood I think of, playing hide and seek under leaves of verdant hostas. Such dreams must thrive in partial sun — akin to the daughterhood of Cordelia? Both my hands pull and pluck at her back, grab a piece of her empire-cut gown, but she evaporates into whiteness and her snapping flicker of poetry eludes me. She hides, still alive, not dead, somewhere where I can no longer retrieve particulars, only an empty sense of rupture. I begin to wake, imagining white noise absorbed by the white alabaster walls and the sheets. The dragon tree on the dresser stands stoic, unwilling to complain of the environment, next to the tv, a dark polaroid, coated in dust with no aspect to develop, still and present in its situated darkness.
I sit up and watch the plane ascending, shearing open invisible streams of wind. A circle of seagulls keeps its distance, Cordelia rushes past their ears, before subsumed, slipping into the stratosphere. Looking over the brightening horizon, I remember the politics of the waste processing plant on Deer Island. Little remains of its nature. Strange, nothing is yet burning.
By Georgia San Li
Georgia San Li is at work on a novel, poetry and other writings. Her poetry and writing appears or is forthcoming in the Antigonish, Atlanta Review, Confluence (UK), The Glacier, La Piccioletta Barca, Ravensperch and other journals. She is the author of “Wandering,” which was a Minerva Rising finalist and selected for publication by Finishing Line Press (January 2024). Her poetry was included on the short list for the 2023 Oxford Poetry prize. She has been supported by the Community of Writers and the Kenyon Review Novel Workshop.
on my worst days, you could fill a black hole with the ashes that are no longer alive. i mean that, on my worst days, i spit out my prayers and ask them to eat me alive.
i want to feel something tactile, and i don’t care what it is. chase the shot with another. whiskey then a .38 hollow point, both straight down the throat, both burning me alive.
there must be some lidocaine in my veins, and i could carve it out myself, just like the way those train tracks under the bridge used to shake nerves alive.
but i flushed those blades and pills and cigs, and i don’t skate much anymore. i found an unholy hymn that all my lovers learn so they can sing me back alive.
when i reach for skin and breath, my hands find a headful of golden hair instead. he knows how to hurt me in the ways i like, and tonight, i need to feel alive.
that the testaments to my personhood are shrouded in dust, in dead skin and smoke. you could fill a bible or two with the shit i’ve done just to feel like i’m alive.
consequences don’t come easy to me, and the few that do become ghosts, sighing cries. you can’t just tell me that you want it; you have to show me, prove that i’m alive.
By Ash Chen
Ash Chen is a first generation Asian-American student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she majors in English with a minor in Music and another in Science, Medicine, & Literature. When she is not managing her campus responsibilities, she enjoys reading and writing queer literature/poetry, playing the electric bass, and sustaining injuries in mosh pits.
“Born into this Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes“ -Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We
I woke up in grandma’s bonnet it’s 1957 & Ghana is metamorphosing
from an imperial cocoon onto a stalk of a promising dawn
I saw indigenes seriously accusing the Whiteman for his sluggishness
I walked out to join the parade in the Military foyer we matched out with enthusiasm
that our people bearing our color will treat us right how, fatheaded we were
67 years down the drain men, chosen from our collective madness
have hauled us back to that pothole that killed 52 passengers at Adenta, that we too may follow suit
Mr. President, I did not mention your name I know you will come after my life too
like those journalists who condemned your bad policies I’m only saying, this melanin of yours is cancerous
because I too, have the same skin that cannot feel this hell you’ve brought us in
I cannot but applaud you for the miracles, new Jesus you turned our waterbodies into tea
and our maternity homes into morgues with plausible plans to make Ghanaian funerals a stool for tourism
Mr. President, I salute you for chasing out the special prosecutor what need will corruption in our dictionary be if it doesn’t exist I love you so much for taking us back to where our forefathers ended things in this melanin suit of ours, on this chlorophyll land
with your brisk arrogance and all-die-be-die genotype that only our countrymen can sequence
Sir, don’t call the Whiteman, evil & ask him for no reparations
because you have done worse to your people, to your lands and your gods
whom you’ve promised a cathedral
By Sylvester Kwakye
Sylvester Kwakye is a Ghanaian medical student, and author of “Flying From Nectar To Hive”, a full-length poetry collection. His poems have been published or accepted for publication in Writing Woman Anthology Vol 3, New Note Poetry, Metachrosis Literary Magazine, Cool Beans Lit & Passionfruit Review.
The Art of Quilting or The Making of the Black American after Bisa Butler’s Black American Portraits exhibition
Stripped of home & Forced to a stolen land Covered in snow
The Fulani, The Mandinka, The Jola, The Bamileke, The Asante, The Edo The Wolof, The Temne, The Yoruba, The Mende, The Igbo, The Fante
Stitched their names into a quilt & survived the long winter, as One: the blacks.
By Taylor Lauren Davis
Taylor Lauren Davis is a black American poet, attorney, and retired nurse from Memphis, TN. She is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Her works have appeared in Poet Lore, Button Poetry, Rust + Moth, Torch Literary Arts, and elsewhere.
she’s 15 or 16 but says she’s 22—she says that 5-year-old girl is her daughter but it’s her sister—it makes the begging more effective
she wears an oversize sweater that reads ‘mexico’ in green, white and red letters but her accent reveals Dickie’s sweat shops gold mines and the rich coffee plantations where the poor of nicaragua work, part of the wave of central and south americans coming over, straight into the homeless shelters that, in turn, send them wandering the streets from morning until night—when they let them back in, when the cots and hot plates are cold and ready
she says she needs work but there is no work, only stale oatmeal, fruit that’s too soft, men that are too nice, social workers indistinguishable form sociopaths
but still people help her out by giving her small jobs like loading plywood into pick up trucks, ‘pa’ la comida,’ she says
but weren’t there supposed to be houses to clean, and roses, too—she doesn’t say it but there were supposed to be a lot of things: amber waves of grain to be harvested, spacious skies and mountains somehow purple, overlooking fruited plains, overseeing a shining wilderness owned by alabaster politicians and CEOs cities covered in human excrement but still gleaming, built beam by beam, block by block, by men and women, like her, with dreams modest enough to fit inside small pockets and lying and rumbling bellies
By Facundo Rompehuevos
Facundo Rompehuevos is an activist, writer, husband, father and recovering alcoholic and drug addict born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in independent literary and poetry journals, such as Unlikely Stories, Rusty Truck, A Thin Slice of Anxiety and the political zine Red’s Not White. He has two books of poetry: Irreconcilable Contradictions (2017) and Grabbing the Stars from the Sky (2021), both published by Fourth Sword Publications. His books have been sold at Stories Books & Cafe, the Last Bookstore and Skylight Books. He is currently working on his debut novel.
A chrysalis like a pale jade pendant knocked down by some errant bird or wind caught the light and glimmered where I reached to work among the weeds and waft of geosmin but instead I tied the chrysalis back to its stem with floss by my hands lightly holding the wonder with a murmured prayer that it will open with a monarch’s soft click of wings already calling for a mate.
A mockingbird’s perfect egg mottled blue as if painted for hiding among dark grass and sky fell unbroken on soft ground smelling of damp loam in front of where I almost stepped but placed back in its nest by my hands lightly holding the wonder with a murmured prayer that it might hatch into a songster mimic who will entice a mate with his rich repertoire.
In my pride I praise myself for lifting up these small rescues by my hands lightly holding the wonder of live blessings as if I were their savior but long after the dark has robbed the evening of any gleam of egg or chrysalis I understand the wonder of each is a prayer for me to bear witness that these small lives are our saviors.
By Claire Hamner Matturro
Claire Hamner Matturro has been a journalist, lawyer, organic blueberry farmer, and college writing instructor. She is the author of eight novels, including a series published by HarperCollins. She’s an associate editor at Southern Literary Review. Her poetry appears in various publications including Slant and forthcoming in Glassworks.
i wrote the first draft on the hood of your car, legs searing hot as you propped me up above the engine— our reckless lips burning feverishly, your tongue the only soothing balm.
yes, you wanted to revise me, but you didn’t know i was editing myself; falling in step now, us two. back then, it was only hallways & your hand slipping under my shirt that kept me alive.
feral animals prowling in the dark; fingernails craving blood from your back. exhausting ourselves from childish passion, infinite iterations. laying entwined on the filthy mattress; my sanity scattered in a heap on the floor.
slowly, i am noticing smudges in your penciled-in perfection; how your jaw looks unhinged as you step a little closer, leaving scars of shame on my neck, cavernous holes in my soul. i lean back, but not far enough; & yet, i slip over the edge.
here you are next to me, eyes opening to acknowledge dawn, a gaping hole of onyx & fallen stars— dark as the story we began to write that summer, one with you as my hero & me as your princess, coping with burns from our fire.
By Hazel Thekkekara
Hazel Thekkekara is a high school junior from Atlanta, Georgia. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Polyphony Lit, Eunoia Review, and Cathartic Literary Magazine, among others. When she’s not writing, Hazel can be found rewatching David Suchet’s Poirot, baking triple-chocolate brownies, or taking her dog on long walks around the neighborhood.
Rain in mountains brings nostalgia A yearning for all the buried emotions
I miss you, like my home, Before becoming a migrant
It changed, a little, after every visit back home I kept revisiting to find my place a new
I wondered, what could have happened? I pondered, what should have happened?
With a right word, with a right translation
Similarly, I visit you on every rain, I revisit all the fights and words
To find a moment I could have saved it all.
It makes me smile and live memories of heart Maybe, yours and not yours, cycle of life, like this
Rain brings nostalgia, it questions moving on? Can you actually leave something at one time in life?
Not carry it beyond that…
Or maybe you move forward? Carrying it, living with it, but beyond it
Rainy days are inquisitive and nostalgic You somehow always live in them
Like a home of a migrant!
By Nimra Tariq
The poet is from a small semi- autonomous state Azad Jammu and Kashmir, administered by Pakistan. She writes on themes of grief, politics, conflict, gender, loss, and love. Her work is deeply influenced influenced by her family and friends. She wants her work to have a positive impact on reader’s life.