On the childhood as a wild tree of figs By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

On the childhood as a wild tree of figs

As the grass grew
and leaves feathered the trees
Over the hardened spring ground
God slid away in his cape
and I followed him
Everywhere he went.
In the fields once immense
That I could now fit in the palm of my hand
wondrous eyes of acacia trees
cried their heavenly smells
on my fondling gaze.
Into the sky,
Reciting so clearly the psalms of clouds,
Broken up to neat rows
I buried my sight, and I slid away,
I followed you, God.
My mind hazed by the beauty around
I sought not to know
A friend or a foe
beat with the cold mountain winds
of thyme and snow
I was a wild tree of figs
leaned over the void
(how very lonely it was
and how wonderful):
An island from all of the world
I followed you, god
Wherever you’d go.

Through the crowds of borrowers and lenders
you saw me
and burnt my eyes to dust
the story of me coming to light:
That’s how it was.

By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

Biography:

Ovsanna Gevorgyan is an Armenian film director and screenwriter, a graduate of the MFA program in Film Directing from Columbia University. Author to several short films, and with her first feature film currently in the works, Ovsanna has been writing poetry since she was 9-years old.

On the curse of womanhood By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

On the curse of womanhood

Oh nameless saints
On the back walls of this altar
Worshiped
To death –
I weep for you!
Never seen
To your very soul
By another one of your kind
But merely glanced at by crowds of men,
Who approached you so cautiously
Only to look away
When they reached your sight.
And when asked what they had seen
The black-eyed men said you had black eyes
And the green-eyed men said you had green eyes.
To fall victim
To your own image
(Snatched from you
To live a life of its own)
Behind which you are
Trapped in the unending
Walk of loneliness.
Nameless ones –
I take your pain
I grieve for you.

By Ovsanna Gevorgyan

Biography:

Ovsanna Gevorgyan is an Armenian film director and screenwriter, a graduate of the MFA program in Film Directing from Columbia University. Author to several short films, and with her first feature film currently in the works, Ovsanna has been writing poetry since she was 9-years old.

frustration with birds By Emily Ng

frustration with birds

weightless
is         my
body —
pair of          teeth
sink             into
fatigued
nightfall

the splinters of
bone
leak               stale
spirit
soak           in tender
blue
wring of
reverie

and          them —
thorn-tongued
faille-feathered
hum
bitter         fable
before
the sun
stirs

By Emily Ng

Biography:

Emily Ng is a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, NY. She is a second reader for Polyphony Lit and a poetry and prose editor for Kalopsia Lit. Emily has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

It’s All Happening at the Zoo By Sean Bates

It’s All Happening at the Zoo

I befriended a peacock
free to roam
through the people parts of the zoo.
Even had to chase one
as it eyed M&Ms
spilling from the gift shop doorway.
Me in my fullbrim outback hat,
badgeless khaki
boyscout shirt and shorts.

I worked
in the Dippin’ Dots space-cold ice cream hut,
in the giraffe safari stuffed animal hut,
outdoor airbrush tattoo parlor hut.

Places people wanted three day animal themed tattoos:
forearm, bicep,
lower back giraffe, calf calf,
deep cleavage paw prints with glitter
I was required to provide.

I ran register tape in the Giddyup Grill.
I slung things breaded into checkered baskets.
The cook with the teardrop tattoo
called through the heat lamp,
Fries down.
Once, he told me might have to run,
back to Cape Verde. Said he’d dressed up
like a cop and robbed a few dealers.
My register ran out of pennies.

Late that summer, men came for him.
Who? I said.

By Sean Bates

Biography:

Sean Bates is a poet who grew up in various restaurants across Upstate New York. Sean attended Oberlin College for his BA, and University of Massachusetts Amherst for his MFA. His poetry was recently anthologized in ‘What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump’ edited by Martin Espada. He lives in Western MA with his spouse Elizabeth and their cat Smudge.

Heather By Yuna Kang

Heather

The glow of heather is not, as Yeats said,
Purple, that which mimics a childhood noon.
It sits not idly by painted cottages or ripening corn,
nor does it ramble by pleasant creeks.

heather now is a featherless peacock,
Shorn of her crown, habitat, and glory.
She sits mutely on tame suburban porches,
Or obliterated, shivering in the remains of scorched forests.

I yearn to see heather as a purple glow,
To be able to reach back, and breathe
in the possibility of memory, and hope.

but the air carries only the scent of ash-
and our noons are a blotted orange.
The world is on fire,
and childhoods are no more.

By Yuna Kang

Biography:

Yuna Kang is a queer, Korean-American writer based in Northern California who writes both poetry and short stories. She is pronoun indifferent, with her most popular pronouns being from the she and they series. When she is not writing, she is probably reading and trying out different kinds of tea. She lives in Berkeley, California, where she attends school at UC Berkeley.

I’m warning you By Kea Heard

I’m warning you

There’s an open bottle of witch hazel waiting to drown you
so think twice before you spit the bullets between your teeth

and how dare you?

To sit proudly on the chair you swallowed my spine whole
and aim your lips at the gaps you left without my knowing
Was it my skin or your touch that deceived me?
because my home has been rearranged and
I’m certain I locked my doors

your gluttony is showing, love
return what’s not yours
place it on the table next to you and
screw the bottle shut while you’re standing

then leave the way you came

This house shows no signs of
forced entry but there are many
ways to erase footprints

By Kea Heard

Biography:

Kea Heard is a student focusing on computers and brains. When she’s not drowning in work, she spends her time writing blogs, poems, and prose.

Sergels Torg, Stockholm By Elissa Calamia

Sergels Torg, Stockholm

In the dark night rounding the corner
of Drottningatan,
the central town square lit up,

all of a sudden I look up and see
a man, walking a tight rope
between two buildings, me on my way home
walking

God that city, the way I walked the
narrow streets
like sparrows,
poking in and out

but it’s already below zero
and I watch the French man cross that tight rope in
half- moon slippers,
and other passers-by stop to watch too

All the people of Centralen:
groups of men
speaking Arabic, their
bird-flying hands and
white sneakers,
the alcoholics
with loud voices and
big red noses and
suburban kids,
with no place better to be in this

crystal glass night.
The hollow bell of the cold and the
thousand lost hearts,
under down coats and
fur-lined hoods,
in walking boots,
walking,
stopped,
for a moment,
looking up,
into this beaming night.

But the cold makes the night so thin your body slips right into it,
and all at once you are

the black silk night,
you are
the tinker-tin stars

your wide-eyed
moon- eye
illuminating

these people
of the dark,
this night below

By Elissa Calamia

Biography:

Elissa Calamia currently lives and works in Austin, TX with her boyfriend and Dalmation. She is grateful of the cities in which she has called home, which continue to shape the lens of her world.

THERE’S MORE PAST NOW THAN EVER By Erik Wilbur

THERE’S MORE PAST NOW THAN EVER

We’ve left Barstow on I-40.  The sun has fallen 
into the side-views. Shadows have begun climbing

purple spines above bajadas. Wind has broken
through cactus needles and flittered candy wrappers

caught in creosote vines. A freight train has paced us.
We’ve parked at a rest-stop. The train has moved east,

out of view. We’ve hopped the wire fence and walked
no trail past clusters of volcanic rock. At the track,

we’ve tried coaxing the conditional-perfect from ghosts of
railroad magnates, men who died long before discovering

the unsettled American past. Stars suddenly open
above us like bullet holes in a t-shirt. Down here too,

there’s more past now than ever. The railroad ghosts
tell us regret will always be un-American, but would-have

is a vehicle too, like their future-tense, and we can’t escape
our history anymore with credit cards or advances in locomotion.

We’ve thanked the railroad ghosts for space flight, told them
it’s no surprise to us that three Americans hold the record for

farthest distance from their mothers’ wombs. On the way
to that record, 200,000 miles from I-40, after losing

their main vessel, the crew of Apollo 13 radioed Earth,
where engineers would undo launch day with calculators

and scale models, chalkboards, the future-tense, and some help
from gravity. We remind the railroad ghosts of this bit of the story,

that this track they claim leads to space only u-turns the moon,
which means we can’t go forward anymore without going back.

By Erik Wilbur

Biography:

Erik Wilbur teaches writing at Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He is also the program director of Real Toads Poetry Society, a literary organization that provides opportunities for residents of rural Arizona communities to learn about, experience, and share works of literary art. His work has recently appeared in The Southampton Review, New Ohio Review Online, and Aquifer. Also, his forthcoming chapbook, What I Can Do, won the 2020 Chestnut Review Chapbook Prize. https://erikwilbur.com/

One Haiku By Tom Ukinski

Wheat stalks bend as one
in wind, as bearded pilgrims
before the Kaaba.

By Tom Ukinski

Biography:

Tom Ukinski has been a dishwasher, doorman, mailman, chimney sweep, copywriter, and factory worker. He did street mime in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City, and stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Chicago, Boston, and LA. In the 1980s, he was convicted of being a lawyer and subsequently served 25 years in state government. He’s written novels, antipoetry, short stories, comedy sketches, musicals, and importunate advertising. His stories run from six words to 290,000. He is old enough to have lived through the betrayed rebellion of the late sixties and early seventies. His path has always demanded sacrifice. His writing and beliefs reflect mystical sensibility and perpetual protest.

Aspire By Sean Bates

Aspire

When the fireflies are whiskey drunk,
hovering like dust in the sun

I will catch fifty,
fit for a proper lantern.
And in the blue dusk,
I will set my jar of light in the window and walk

Out past clotheslines,
into the tall grass,
into meadow.
Keeping my one window
in sight, I run.

In rain
my tree is a watchtower
and I race to dry
beneath its lording boughs.

Maybe this year I will be tall,
tall enough to reach the first branch.
Maybe I will climb to the highest place,
look down on our house
and shake its eye
in my hands.

Yet this year still,
I stand
tip-toed on roots,
wild palms
full of rain.

By Sean Bates

Biography:

Sean Bates is a poet who grew up in various restaurants across Upstate New York. Sean attended Oberlin College for his BA, and University of Massachusetts Amherst for his MFA. His poetry was recently anthologized in ‘What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump’ edited by Martin Espada. He lives in Western MA with his spouse Elizabeth and their cat Smudge.