Maia is a Creative Writing graduate from Colorado State University. She spends her time traveling internationally for work and writing for peace of mind. She enjoys writing poetry about the complexity of our relationships with ourselves and others. She intends to go to Graduate school wherever they will take her so she can continue to hone her craft.
i wanted to run the knife through sugar. with dried figs in my pockets, i coaxed spiders from their bitterness. taught the fox to waltz. in the graveyard, using a tomb stone as a coffee table we read the news & decided the world wasn’t the world anymore. watched as an airplane crashed into a jello mold. witnessed the death of the final birds. each turned into feathered tortes. what does it mean to truly swallow? in my chest i felt the insects as they rebelled against destiny. some bugs had rosary beads. some were rosary beads. god tastes like smoke & oranges. a pile of rind. candied scorpions fresh from between the floor boards. removing the stinger with two fingers. a jar of venom. a jar of poison. the scorpions, eaten whole, awake inside my ankles. whispering their sugars. trying to gasp. i want to consume everything that could kill me. press car rides between my ribs. swim with rocks. ask the bear for a spare coin. the bus route is a spaghetti zoo. no telling what street will be the next ice berg. one more bite & then we can head out. teeth to the moon. cutting out lips on the rims of soda cans. the dream is carbonated. i am never full.
By Robin Gow
Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author from rural Pennsylvania. They are the author of Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook Honeysuckle (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A Million Quiet Revolutions is forthcoming March 2022 with FSG Books for Young Readers. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, Southampton Review, and Yemassee. Gow received their MFA from Adelphi University where they were also an adjunct instructor. Gow is a managing editor at The Nasiona, a poetry editor at MAYDAY, and the assistant editor at large at Doubleback Books. They live in Allentown Pennsylvania and work as a community educator on Domestic and Intimate Partner violence.
with rage. I pop pills, walk to last night’s chair
where you sat murdered in your blue pathani.
Last night, you bowed your head— never to sing
again, not in the reyaz of our house,
where we laced Ghazals. Last night you bowed
your head, an accordion strap over your shoulder.
Sometimes, I conjure the faces of your
murderers. It begins with your fingers
tapping on the harmonium, tak tak tak tak
until an echo of revenge vibrates
on my fingertips. My eyes can’t make you
into clay, can’t make a body a body,
again, a heart, a nose, like yours. Your story
didn’t flash across the evening news, didn’t find
eternity in a Youtube clip. I am six
and feel your shirt against my cheek. I am curling
your hair between my thumb and forefinger,
combing it over your face, laughing.
The palmetto tree in my rear-view mirror
looks nothing like your shadow.
By Huma Sheikh
Huma Sheikh is a doctoral fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Callaloo, William Joiner Institute (UMass Boston), University of Massachusetts at Amherst, East-West Center, Hawaii, she has studied literary nonfiction with Christina Thompson at Harvard, and worked as a journalist in India, China, and the United States. She was the Assistant Online Editor for the Southeast Review, Fiction Screener for Orison Books, Stringer and Reporter for Plain Talk weekly and Ka Leo newspapers in South Dakota and Hawaii. The winner of the Adam M. Johnson Fellowship, Charles Gordone Award, and the Dean’s award for Outstanding Academic Performance and the award for Excellence in English at Long Island University, Huma is currently at work on her memoir and poetry book. Her work has appeared and forthcoming in Consequence Magazine, Arrowsmith Journal, The Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, and others.
It is August 26, 2019: I rush through Naha Airport to board my plane to Narita, then to Houston…
Never was a… Never was a…
Semifluid coagulation, concealed by an orange rind. My hips pocket my pulp fiction, revolutionized.
What gaudy contents!
Desiccated raisin of a torso;
My shoulder, a coat rack, balances the duffel—
barely secured on that waxing crescent moon.
It is I, bolstering the single ton,
all on my own.
Hush now, fellow passengers: a baptism is in session.
Let this be the lesson:
The TSA agents hack at my dermis with their x-ray gaze. Performing an exorcism, the deepest cleansing.
Bleach the layers of my cake, clean-cut. Annihilate my enamel, corner up the blanket till you expose my nail beds.
You are the colonizers ransacking the beniimo fields, hurling molotovs at Shuri Castle. A fifth time wasn’t good enough?
Underneath my rubble lies the hymns of Heaven. Hatch out of your egg, my blinding song! You moths follow the crumbs to my sticky light.
Christ has crossed my heart with His scarlet thumb. A message bleeds forth: Do not hope to die.
Another chance is your fundamental right.
So onward, girl!
Your neighborhood’s stowed safe
in your duffel bag, in the pocket
of your hips.
My shriveled-up Sequoia forests leap across tectonic plates. Away from this greenhouse mess.
A refugee who will not plead— a title that fits my fingertips! This feels illegal. This entrances me.
I shall gladly do time.
By Sammi Yamashiro
Sammi Yamashiro began her poetry journey in high school and has had multiple poems featured in several anthologies (Train River Publishing, Sunday Mornings at the River). She self-published her poetry collection “The Peach Pit Mask”, which reached #1 in New Releases in Asian American Poetry on Amazon Kindle. You can read her writing on Instagram (@sammiyamashiro) or visit her website (sammiyamashiro.com) to find more of her work.
I can remember when we kept vigil in Eden, your hands, blighted and vulpine, pressed me into violets, into baptism. Salvation, you Sinful soul; Water, you Wilting orchid. On the third of March, you describe me as a girl seeking her own undoing. I braid stem into a crown, a Holy thing, until you called it Divine. I’m willing to confess that the zinnias in my garden bed are overwatered. That you imprint foxglove & cornflower & nectar onto your body even after they decay. (What boon of the heavens would I have asked for if I had known?) Loneliness bore me a child of moss and ivy. Watch: you arrange them like lattice across my skin until they partition my flesh and all that seeps out is devotion. You see, I hid thistle in the confessional, licked dew off stained glass just so you could redeem me. (I would’ve asked for less cruelty.) I tried to carve myself into your likeness, into your image. Ritual felt like your lips blessing mine. Does fondness gleam or burn? I never found out if mine did. For years, you watched me sink my teeth into piety, into girlhood, into something I could never quite own. And when Death unveiled me, planted me in a coffin for secular longing, you told the blind, the mute, the lame, the leper that I was a martyr. They never saw you upend my body, call your hands on my neck penance, bury me in peat for renewal. I had once asked you if you would miss me if I died. No, you’d still always be here, you replied. Soil cordons root, allows all the water to soak into vein without filling its share; Of course I will, I say. I reach out and follow you into Sky. Of course I do.
By Alisha Wong
Alisha Wong is a Chinese-American writer from the midwest. Her writing has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Waldorf University, and St. Mary’s College among others. Her other works are published or forthcoming, including in The Heritage Review, Up North Lit, and The Phoenix. In her spare time, she enjoys calligraphy, fashion, and black coffee. She will graduate high school in 2022.
I sat shiva with blocks of faces on a screen. We were a poster presentation of sorrow, a rubbing-raw away from touch. None of us could say we’d been. The dead had been. We were a gallery.
No earth in our hands before the sitting, not-sitting, no shovels of earth pouring the comforter of earth upon the dead. No pebbles sing their song of here.
We said the names of the dead, as though we were a gridded sieve to catch the gleanings from a tel.
Our patchwork of faces and sorrow, faces together in rows like cards on a table without fortune or predictions, only face up, next face, next face, and words as the layering of soil, shovel after shovel, to lay a body down to rest. See my square, which is my own stone. Here.
By Devon Miller-Duggan
Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Margie, The Antioch Review, Gargoyle, Massachusetts Review, and Spillway. She teaches Poetry Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017), The Slow Salute, Lithic Press Chapbook Competition Winner, 2018). She also directs the Poets’ Corner Reading Series, a joint project of the English Dept. of UD and St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in which poets read (mostly) their favorite poems by other poets—a cross between Poetry Outreach and Story Hour for grown-ups
I am not able to press my lips to his temple, not yet.
His father is a shithead far away not a partner nor a husband,
not of much consequence. His mouth can not breathe
into the walkie-talkie of my bellybutton blow kisses to his son’s temple
whisper to him in Spanish read him The Little Prince,
sing Mazzy Star, play guitar like he promised.
My son will have to wait to be outside,
break out of me before he can feel his father’s love.
Children aren’t always conceived in love even if they are loved.
I can’t press my lips to his temple, not yet.
At least the dog can rest her head on the temple beneath my skin.
Two heartbeats she hears and doesn’t question why.
By Bernadette McComish
Born in a blizzard in NY with the gifts of premonition and manifestation, Bernadette McComish is an educator and fortuneteller. She earned an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. in TESOL from Hunter College. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, For Women Who Roar, Slipstream, Flypaper Magazine, Peregrine, and a finalist for the New Millennium Writers 41st poetry prize. Her chapbook— The Book of Johns was published in 2018 by Dancing Girls Press, and her second chapbook is forthcoming from Lily Poetry Review in September 2021. She teaches High School in LA, and performs poetry, and produces shows with The Poetry Society of New York making poetry accessible to everyone.
She sits there before me cross-legged in our tree-house sanctuary, away from the prying eyes of our conservative, born-again Christian parents. A girl’s place well-known in these restricting confines of our known society. Nearing thirteen but not quite there, she looks at me, a miniature Aphrodite, her blond hair shimmering from where the sun hits it. Blue eyes peering into my own hazel green. Me, a female Ares unkempt bright auburn hair, bangs I brush away from my face with my hand. She looks at me slightly trembling If I was a man, I’d kiss you. We stare at each other not moving, silent, unsure of what to do next. The staring contest continues and we both break eye contact. Do girls kiss girls? I put down a Pokémon card and make the next move in our game. Our sapphic moment forever in the back of my mind.
By Erin Miller
Erin Miller is an artist and a poet. She has an MFA degree from Arcadia University in Creative Writing and has had her art exhibited in numerous galleries such as but not limited to Phoenix Arts Gallery, New York Art Connection, and the Pahrump Valley Museum. Currently, she works as a teacher in the state of Nevada. Her past publishing credits include Daily Star, Lesbian Connection, Poetry and Covid, and Ovenque Siamo.
It wasn’t until the weeks before the birth that she spirited herself onto the page whole and blooming
her mind a magnolia dislodged from between a few stones flowing downstream towards a great cascade
The baby was born before the fall
so the water lovingly diverted the ornament to a long-lost stream that was less loud but just as strong brimming beneath the flower’s underbelly
and wedged the soft star inside another cluster of earth, inside patches of moss
where the petals unfurled and consoled one another
For a time she feared the waterfall ultimate and roaring would dry up
she listened every morning for the thunder of its plummet to be sure it was still brilliant
it never ceased
And soon enough the current unhinged the blossom from the quiet and propelled it back into the main rush of foam where it spun like a saucer into the flow of the froth dancing and skipping atop the music of the water glistening and buoyant until it reached the edge of the great plunge
and happily dove into the effervescence
ephemeral and free
By Sarah Esmi
Sarah Esmi is an artist of Iranian descent focusing primarily on experimental and absurdist theatre, collage, movement, and poetry. Sarah began her career as an experimentalist during a Fulbright fellowship in Spain. She has been published in Calyx and the Dime Show Review. She is also the co-founder of counterclaim, a Brooklyn-based production company. By day, Sarah is a practicing attorney, representing the underrepresented in New York courtrooms. www.sarah-e.com, @sarah_______e
No, moons of honey—dusted with gold. They sit comfortably behind the curtain of eyelashes no man is ever grateful for.
The constellations across his face, etch his back, join at the shoulders, trickle down his arms to his finger tips.
There is a lone star. It rests on the top of his lip. My gaze catches his pull. We unite.
They connect as if our love is a telescope, brushing up against the sky. I am Galileo, he is Venus.
Through phases of eccen- tricity, we everlast.
By Daphne Hall
I am an aspiring educator, partial to my cat Gwen, thrive in melodrama and am a recovering Baptist. I am currently attending University of North Florida for my bachelor’s degree in English with a dash of Creative Writing and Social Welfare.