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

Spring Comes By Ling Ge

Spring Comes

to the West Lake.
Cherry trees are
in full bloom.
Two magpies reunite.
When one lands
on a branch,
pink petals fly.
In the distance,
in the mist,
still water reflects
an arched bridge,
several trees,
and a pavilion
along a dike.
Faraway islands
where hermits reside
hide in clouds.

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.

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.

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.