thaumaturgy By a a khaliq

thaumaturgy

—sometimes translated as wonderworking.

i wonder how it all works inside those ribs,
i imagine them made of a polished gold.
and that heart of yours, inlaid in your chest,
a gem i would keep in my mouth, as the pearl
in a dragon’s jaws. i wonder how it tastes.

in awe i stare at these hands, the palms
that cup water for ablution, the bony fingers
tapering. the wonders begin here, tremors
working down each knob. shining golden
when i touch your chest. blinding. burning—

yes. it is a wonder when i touch you,
the trembling bass under my palms.
the weight of you, the scent.
i close my eyes to ensure this is no vision.
this is miracle. i work the wonder from you.
you work the wonder from me. the room glows—

or we do. pearls scatter. light bounces, photons
like diamond sparks. one ritual left, before
i turn the wonder over and over in my mind.
wrap you back in your velvet. press my mouth
to the spine. the thaumaturge must depart—

but that red-gold remains behind blinking eyes.

By a a khaliq

Biography

a a khaliq is a medical student from the midwest. She writes, in the tradition of Kafka, to close her eyes.

Not about a country By Izaskun Diaz

Not about a country

In my life, things are
only real when
the sun is mean, and
the strings are nylon

And grandpa’s angry
that it took too long
for ‘one’ country to
be two again

Or maybe more, or maybe none,
while he grew into an old man
dancing, singing, laughing
to piss them off

¡Libertad, libertad, libertad!

And when we’re clapping as
we speak, and then as we sing
clap clapclap
clap clapclap
Takatakataka takatakataka

Ta, And rhythm isn’t
discussed, like
air, like I’m hard to tell apart from
some tall girl on the street

The buildings are real
And the houses with the people
And the food, and any money
that is left un-spent

And a breakfast bar roars
at 7am in Estación Sur, and
nothing has to fall into place
for it to matter

By Izaskun Diaz

Biography:

Izaskun Diaz is a young Spanish girl living in an old German neighborhood. She was born in Madrid and went to school there until she finished first grade. She thinks, dreams, and writes in English because she grew up outside of Spain. She has recently graduated from an international school in Hamburg, she is 18 years old, and she plans to study English literature at university. Her passions are music, literature, and people.

Hungry Woman By Sharmila P K

Hungry Woman

A stranger walks by
with a gunpowder smile
in a coffee-house, of all places.
I felt her eyes on me,
I swear: the weight of them
just sliding around on my skin.

“How do you do it?
Don’t you ever get hungry?”

I said,
My hunger is a siren-song,
It calls to me all night.
From this sinking ship, this convulsive sea –
the tender promise of safety.

My hunger is a scarlet wound,
the sweet child of self-violence.
I’m always licking it, as though
It’s been inflicted by someone else.

My hunger is a garment.
I slide it off of me like a dress.
Fold it up then, I’d rather be bare
The rest is just junk for the attic.

Actually, I wanted to say,
I do get hungry.
I get hungrier
than anyone I know.
It’s something of an ache
which sits against my ribs,
flooding every crevice,
pooling inside of me,
like blood from a hemorrhage.

By Sharmila P K

Biography

Sharmila P K is a 24 year old student in Virginia. In her free time, she also runs a personal book review blog on literaryambrosia.com.

Post-Roe By Ava Chen

Post-Roe

Elephant in the room, Canadian border
jokes aside; wrench your ruddy Justice-
spittle out of 170 million bodies. We leave
our one home to surge the downtown
intersection, buffeted by hive theory but
rooted by ideology gathered visceral.
Maelstrom, cacophony of generated
countenances whirl by. Zoetrope stitched
sparse: peace signs and somersaulting
birds and twisty lips gummy with
dollar store chapstick. Mutual nods,
manufactured ignorance. Gilead was spun,
but so was everything we’ve known in this
backwards place. Last week, a Brazilian
senior unwove powdery ropes we’ve
acquiesced for 2.5 centuries, peeling
our glycerin masks to the jaundiced
legitimacy of the Constitution. I held a
beating fish heart in my hands once.
Eulogy, euthanasia, euphemization of a
barely-nascent bundle of cells: worth more
than a 10-year-old child, warm future
guttering ahead. A struggling mother barely
sustaining 4 children. A rape victim ripped
gruesome on their way home from work.
A scarlet ectopic pregnancy. We plant
our bare feet in loam, raze construction
paper onto windshields, inked synesthetic
by raw flame. We hold breath at knifepoint
until the fraying yarn netting public to
government fully cleave, or pull Hughes
out of his grave and reverse festering entropy
towards the people. Towards what Puritans
screamed for in the dead of the Atlantic.
Towards the iron links grafting our sweaty
hearts thumping the same anguish;
broken as a record, broken as an American.

By Ava Chen

Biography:

Ava Chen is a 16-year-old poet based in Massachusetts. Her work is forthcoming in Scapegoat Review and The Daphne Review. When not writing, she can usually be found taking long walks or rewatching Christopher Nolan movies.

Last of the Year By Priyanka Shrestha

Last of the Year

i still remember,
the last of December.

milky ribbons of snow glistening on the trees still,
like powdered sugar sifted atop the backyard hill.
where footprints traced the path of young explorers,
snow angels and snow people frozen into one,
sleds and baby shovels strewn in the corner, forgotten
for the warmth of the foyer.

paper snowflakes lined,
every window, every room, and danced their way
to where the Christmas tree shined.
took the shape of sugar cookies smothered in frosting, crumbs
in the in betweens of little fingers—in reds, greens, yellows, purples,
but never the blues.

the radio tuned to perennial melodies,
waltzed through the rooms in holiday serenity.
laughter scurried up the cupboards, squeezed under the cracks and
in the wallpapers. seeped through the carpet and bounced off the mirrors,
wrapped around me and you and us.

the last breath of a dying year slips through a sleeping suburb,
and we are here once again. woven
within this house we’ve made home.

this time there’s green on the lawn,
there’s dust on the sleds, and the cookies come labeled
two for the price of one.
the carpet gets heavier, and time it drips on.

and in these walls it rolls down,
the radio keeps singing. the mirrors beam back
still lopsided grown grins. the carpet and i,
we will always recall, the little feet that ran through us—
the dancing, the laughing, how we caught all their falls. we’ll reminisce
with a smile, all sticky-stuck together.

each year the wind changes,
a different exhale than before,

but i’ll always remember,
the last of December.

By Priyanka Shrestha

Biography

Priyanka Shrestha (she/her) is a junior at Stanford University studying computer science and creative writing. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Columbia College Chicago, and the Anthony Quinn Foundation, and is forthcoming in The Oakland Arts Review. When she is not writing or coding, she can be found skateboarding downhill with her airpods in or trying to take pretty pictures of the sky.

in twilight town By Caroline Chou

in twilight town

the sky sighs in sepia hues
shadows stretch long across the boulevards
an ageless man sweeps the street
of an autumn that never began.

humidity hangs low over a stilted horizon
in filtered violet dust.
a woman leaves a beige cafe
tea in hand, headache in her heart.
she stands at the curb and waits for the bus
as she always does.
and she’ll wait for a lifetime.

the day’s dying rays stretch over the roofs
of identical houses and neighborhoods
whose windows and doors never close
whose garages hang open to choke
on silence and the heavy stillness
of an infinite summer twilight.

the sun never manages its goodbyes
the stars hold a breath they will never exhale
the moon never shows its face.
the cars are idling in the streets
waiting forever for the light to turn green.

everyone was a dreamer and a believer
until hope ran its course and left nothing
but ghosts behind.

By Caroline Chou

Biography:

Caroline Chou (she/her) is a young writer from Maryland with a love for leitmotifs and magical realism. Her work has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Writers and published in The Aurora Journal, among others. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading fantasy, playing golf, or marveling at the way time passes when she procrastinates. She’s occasionally on Instagram @clswriting.

When God Lived in New Jersey By Louisa Muniz

When God Lived in New Jersey

As a child I believed God lived in New Jersey.

When he grew tired of living with the homeless
he moved under our hickory tree.

The cardinal flanked in tree sap
let me know he always was near.

Today, where I’m from, rain hammers the earth.

Noxious weeds—yellow dock, baneberry,
hemlock—gnaw at my sleep.

I plant marigolds to repel earwigs feeding in the night.
Where I’m from, it would be too clichéd to build a wall.

Words implode, tiny firecrackers
under my skin—

Climate Change Gun Control
Coronavirus Border Wall

I’m tempted to become a Venus flytrap
to hold in grief.

In dreams I dodge-ball shadows
after watching the news.

That’s a good question indicates
the speaker has no idea how
to answer said question.

That’s a good question has the moon
spinning stone, the sea spitting foam.

By Louisa Muniz

Biography

Louisa Muniz lives in Sayreville, N.J. She holds a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean University. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Journal, Palette Poetry, Menacing Hedge, Poetry Quarterly, PANK Magazine, Jabberwock Review and elsewhere. She won the Sheila-Na-Gig 2019 Spring Contest for her poem Stone Turned Sand. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Her debut chapbook, After Heavy Rains by Finishing Line Press was released in December, 2020

Watch Me Dance By Kechi Mbah

Watch Me Dance

~to afrobeat and the way it lets us all

The night rolls thick
its black heavy on my skin
as a static twist begins from the stereo:

a drum
a shake
the woven shells bounce
Fela Kuti’s peppered shouting.

Zombie o Zombie
Zombie o Zombie
a joro, jara, joro

The wind convulses
the air twists back

Zombie o Zombie
Zombie o Zombie

and soon arrives this quick hush feeling of falling
the stillness divorcing from my body
its sharp unfastening of hips.

Zombie no go go, unless you tell ‘em to go

Strikes a tremble across my shoulder
feet aflame against wood
a numb fire with the floor,
smoking.

Zombie no go stop, unless you tell ‘em to stop

Through slides of clung fat
has my belly wave resistance
fingers caught kissing tomorrow’s sun.

Zombie no go turn, unless you tell ‘em to turn

But I am, spinning
within the felt flash
there’s a speed pressed upon these limbs

and it has me held
in the way a mango holds its seed
never an escaping of this music
just a stalled becoming.

Zombie o Zombie
Zombie o Zombie
a joro, jara, joro

A shift stomping inside the chest
my braids swimming through the soft slick heat

and here, watch
my body go carry with it.

Zombie o Zombie
Zombie o Zombie

The air convulses
the wind twists back.

*contains excerpts from the song “Zombie” by Fela Kuti.

By Kechi Mbah

Biography

Kechi Mbah is a first-year at the University of Notre Dame. She first found a love for poetry when she stumbled upon a YouTube video of a Brave New Voices slam competition in the fall of 2019 and has been performing and writing poetry ever since. Her poetry explores many avenues from making the known strange to chronicling her experiences as a Nigerian-American and the histories of her people. She served as a 2021-22 National Student Poet and her work can be found in Blue Marble Review, The Incandescent Review, elementia, and elsewhere.

Relapse By Mina Hassan

Relapse

Bright pink rings appeared on my body
when I learnt there had been another–
that for a brief moment you let someone into that space
shaped like me and I wonder if she fit better,
beautiful with all the ideas I haven’t had.
And I know it was fleeting, as fragile
and translucent as the scales
peeling and flaking at the center of
each burning mark on my skin, each one as easily
removed as it appeared, rubbed away by a month of smooth
balm, which means days for just the two of us,
applied religiously, in my name.

How strange that they were rings?
That age-old symbol of fidelity,
reminding me with an unforgiving itch
that it is dangerous to call anything your own,

even the skin you have lived in
even a touch of love,
which after the rawness
has healed reminds me
of those parasitic pools
that even when they have left,
threaten to come right back and take the parts of me
I will never give up without a fight.

By Mina Hassan

Biography

Mina Hassan was born in Chicago and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. She is a Master’s student at the University of Oxford and a co-creator of the South Asian literary magazine DHOOP Journal (www.dhoopjournal.com ). Her chapbook Flying South: a Collection of Winter Ghazals was recently published by Bottlecap Press.

List of Confessions By Jasiah Hasan

List of Confessions

I confess I squeeze rosemary extract
into my coconut oil before
massaging my scalp each morning.

I confess I wear my grandmother’s
solid yellow gold on my ears and
Etsy gold plated something in my nose.

I confess I suck on dry cloves
after gulping down Throat Coat
when a cold tickles my chest.

I confess my thick lashes
and black eyes and cardamom skin
were not designed for this land.
I confess I don’t know peace
until I know my mother’s mind.
But my mother doesn’t live in my land.
She lives where lashes droop under
their own weight and eyes are
bottomless wells and skin is Darjeeling
mixed with milk and honey,
where her curls move like
green river eddies and smell
like the hour before rainfall.

I confess I mix turmeric
into my CVS clay mask
everytime I see a pimple.

I confess I am contradiction
Eastern body / Western mind
endless partition / perpetual joining
perpetually undone
endlessly in search of my mother
who is already at my side.

By Jasiah Hasan

Biography

Jasiah Hasan is a 22-year-old poet and writer from Portland, Oregon. She studied poetry at the University of Virginia. In her free time, she loves hiking, cooking, and oil painting.