COMBUSTION By Nidhi Agrawal


The three letters GOD symbolizes the basic causes of creation; generator, operator, and destroyer. Shiva/Sadashiv/Adiyogi is the third god in the Hindu triumvirate and his role is to destroy the universe to re-create it. He is the destroyer of illusions and imperfections of the world, paving the way for the beneficial change.

Rudra Mantra/ Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra (Incantation)
Verse of the Rigveda


Om Trayambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam |
Urvarukmiv Bandhanan Mrityormurchhiya Mamritaam ||


The incompleteness of desires
sits in the nest of snakes
Underneath my flesh.
I have chased the wild
Around the world
In the forest
On the ocean beds
In the realms of the tectonic plates
On the hilltop.
He could not be located.
I want him,
Without him, I can’t exist.


The consciousness deluge
Beyond time.
Am I in love?
Because I don’t care
What will transpire now!
Or is it lust?
I am shadowing the physiology,
Keeping my third eye latched.


Open the third eye
Consume the fuel of incompleteness
And give off the ashes
I am complete.
Who cares what will happen now?

By Nidhi Agrawal


Nidhi Agrawal is an Ex- Communication Designer with five years of extensive experience across media, entertainment and design space.

Nidhi believes that poetry is powerful and it defines the richness and diversity of mankind. Her works have been published in South Asian Today, Indian Periodical, Ariel Chart, Life In 10 Minutes Press, Spill Words Press and are scheduled to go live on Muse India and Setu Journal, her story has been accepted by Women for One and Women’s Web.

Her achievement in National Institute of Fashion Technology’s entrance 2013 has been recognised by The Telegraph, Jagran Media and Radio Mirchi. Along with, she was also bestowed with the prestigious title of Inspiring Alumni of the decade and Society’s pride in the education sector by her school in 2019.

She strongly believes that poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder; a tool that keeps her going in life and is driven by her intense physical and emotional trauma encountered through her medical condition.

Ohio By Grace Stalley


A green plot squared
off diamond shaped
island of mapped land
hit me like a home run
summer shakes hands
I solemnly swear
supper sings
in the cicadas
sameness lies on the windowsill
simple sounds
solid streets
the purring of pets
sitting pretty, positioned
like a potted plant
it was painstaking
to pull up roots
yet out across Lake Eerie
I see a suspicious shape
hopeful and haloed
a lighthouse hangs like home!

By Grace Stalley


Grace Stalley is a resident of Brooklyn, NY and works as a writer’s assistant in the television industry. She is fascinated by the divide of cultures represented by each region of the U.S. and how those cultures inform one’s perspective. At the age of two, Grace was adopted from China. She grew up in a small suburb outside of Tampa, FL where her family still resides, in addition to Ohio.

Ghost By Lauren Folk


The ghost
befriends the neighborhood dogs and
chatters at the fat squirrels
who forget where they buried
their fourth or eighteenth or forty-third acorn last fall.
Those lost acorns might grow eventually,
the broad greenery of their
upside-down skirts
into the sky.

The ghost is where she was,
where she used to be.

The neighbors grow their zucchini and yellow squash
and beans
and whisper when they think she’s gone.
She knows her lingering disturbs the rest of them—
the husbands and wives
and their children and their Golden Retrievers.
Their curiosity simmers and bubbles,
popping up like mushrooms behind her
on her daily walk in the shade of the black gum and the wych elm.
The murmured questions do not trouble her.
She cannot answer them anyway.

She is mostly happy.
As was her life before, so is her afterlife:
Each night, contentment slips into bed
next to her like a
peace and quiet pace her halls,
admitting no unrest, no indecision,
no unruly disappointment.

Often, instead of sleeping, she will visit the river.
Some children who are now grown
built a raft out of old wooden pallets and inner tubes.
It idles in the bend of a narrow channel.
Its makers are long ago and far away,
and now it belongs to her.
On warm summer evenings,
after sunset but before moonrise,
when the fireflies
blink their romance into the gloaming,
she pulls away the vines
that have crept over the wood
and sails the waters in her little bark,
one hand drifting in the current,
one hand raised to brush the leaves of the willow tree and the dogwood
as she passes silently below.

By Lauren Folk


Lauren Folk (she/her) is a freelance editor, writer, and photographer. She graduated from Smith College and is currently earning her MA in English from The University of Akron.

American Beauty By Ally Blovits

American Beauty

They’ll turn her gay. Those girls she hangs out with,
wearing suits to dances and cutting their hair short.

The room is dim, blinds closed as always,
something about a glare on the TV screen.
Papa is telling me about the girls who are
infecting my cousin in between bites of
fruit and cheese, neatly sliced on his plate.

She dresses like such a boy. I hate the way she
dresses. I hate the slit she cuts in her eyebrow. I
wouldn’t let her out of the house like that if she
was my daughter.

The TV blares on behind me, playing
reruns of old westerns. The cowboy
hero lifts the damsel onto his horse.
He rides off while she is still adjusting her
layered dress draped sidesaddle. Her hat
blows off in the wind. It lands in the dust. 
I take a bite of the plum Papa cut for me
and let the skin snap between my teeth.


We all thought she was so hot.

My date sits across from me at the round
cafe table, describing how he and the boys
drooled over the girl in his class. I cup
my hands around my hot chocolate mug
and stare at the mural on the wall
over his shoulder. The painted girl
is kneeling on the grass holding a daisy
between her thumb and forefinger
admiring it without tearing from the earth.

She kicked her legs on the chair in front of her
and- you wouldn’t believe it – her legs were as
hairy as mine! As soon as we saw that, we were
all like ew, nevermind.

He laughed, shaking his head, his hair
bouncing slightly under the layer of gel.
He got up to refill my water cup. The painted
girl’s painted hair is the same color as the wheat
field behind her, the same color as the sun.
She has a hint on a smile tilting on her lips.
I crossed my legs under the table and wondered
if the boy’s story was from before or after we started dating.


Hey sweetheart, you need help with that?

My coworker is leaning on the shelves in the back
of the store, where we keep the 500-gram fireworks.
He ignores the new truckload of boxes
but offers his calloused hand to me
as I carry a ladder to the front of the store.
The box next to his elbow is the firework “American
Beauty”. On the packaging is a woman in leather
laying on a black motorcycle, her skimpy
clothes barely more than undergarments,
her bedroom eyes staring blankly. I decline
his help and walk past him and the motorcycle girl.

Well, there’s no need to get huffy. I was just offerin’.

The stock boy two years younger than me passes by
straining under the weight of “Green Envy”
which displays an angry red-headed woman
with only leaves to cover her, and “Sexy”
which shows a woman in only lingerie
and feathered wings. The man yanks his baseball
cap further over his gray ponytail and leans back
against the shelf, nothing to offer the boy.
The glossy women on the fireworks boxes watch
me wipe gunpowder from my brow
and climb the ladder, unassisted.


My roommate sits cross-legged on her bed,
tapping her slender fingers against her cheekbone.
I look up at her, her paint-splattered freckles,
her dyed maroon hair tucked behind her ear.
She stares back at me, eyebrows knit together.

I don’t know. I can’t think of a time someone treated me
differently because I’m a girl.

By Ally Blovits


Ally Blovits is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying creative writing and theatre. When not in East Lansing at MSU, Ally lives in Grandville, Michigan with her parents and her twin brother. Ally’s work has previously been published in Apiary Magazine, The Sheepshead Review, and LAMP poetry collection.

Helen By Kristen Perillo


Your life was for the birds.
Three days after you’ve gone,
red-winged blackbirds
and sparrows still sit at your sill,
looking for seed.
In the window,
the cat sleeps,
dreaming of mourning doves and other manna
she’s never known.
In the field beyond your fence,
squirrels wait in trees for seeds from the feeder to fall,
deer wish for water to be poured in bird baths like wine,
and starlings watch the door for your resurrection,
hoping you’re about to burst forth
carrying bits of bread and crusts,
cupping victuals in your venerable hands,
communion for crows.

By Kristen Perillo


Kristen Perillo is a writer and high school English teacher in Buffalo, NY. Her former fitness blog was developed into a memoir, Following Fit, and her writing can be found at

Big Girl Things By Karese Burrows

Big Girl Things

I thought I wanted you teach me big girl things,
where I’d forget what was childish or juvenile.
So I fell into you, because I thought you’d catch
me before I hit the ground, small, jagged pieces
of me scattered everywhere, big ones too. Maybe
you were terrified. Maybe I changed, became
something too heavy and you moved your hand
away. I’ve never heard a heart beat as fast as I have
than in that car with you, on those nights, driving
down quiet, empty highways, where I learned big
girl things, mistook dream for reality, let you take,
and go on taking because I thought you’d keep me
safe. But maybe that car was really a cage, and your
hands were just big, beautiful lies, inlayed and blinding,
sharp like blades, trying not to scratch but still leaving
a wound. Either way, what did you teach me? What
did I learn from you? That maybe love is really just a
mirage, some unsolvable thing that leaves us twisted,
possibly mad. That maybe kisses are just small, violent
agonies and big girl things are as unbearable as they
seem. What else? I don’t really know. The only thing
left to say it this: you are the impossible thing I am
trying to forget, and yet, still keep remembering.

By Karese Burrows


Karese Burrows is a poet and graphic designer from The Bahamas. Her poetry has previously been featured in The Rising Phoenix Review, Harpoon Review, L’Ephemere Review, Penstrike Journal and Words Dance Publishing. Her first chapbook This Is How We Lost Each Other was published by UK independent publisher Platypus Press in 2018 and can be purchased from Platypus Press, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. She can be found at

Midnight in the Forgotten Country By Marissa Michel

Midnight in the Forgotten Country

ki kote yon lagè kòmanse?
Where does a war begin?

In the pits of dream-starved children?
The ones hungry to capture the promise of a ripe sunrise

in their longing mouths
and hold on to the taste of freedom for a while longer?

Yesterday we were all children
We split the earth with the force of our footsteps

We were baptized in the cool shadows beneath palm trees
and devoured fleshy mangos in celebration

Èske yon lagè kòmanse an silans?
Does a war begin in silence?

Silence like my grandmother in the first breaths of a new day,
as she wraps the coils of her hair into fake silks and plasters on a weathered smile?

Yon po chofe anvan li klou – A pot heats before it boils
she tells me. Beneath her clay surface is something like pain.

Oswa èske lagè etensèl nan BOOM nan yon peta?
Or does war spark in the BOOM of a firecracker?

In my sleep I hear the wailing of my forefathers
Despair has a voice louder than God’s

I imagine the revolutions woven into the tapestry of my lineage
My father drenches each syllable of our family name in pride

Pride. It runs deep and long, a river in my blood
We come alive to the beat of cow-skin drums

and sweat onto the hot pavement
We glisten gold in the midday sun

Lè yon lagè fini?
When does a war end?

My grandfather exhales the dust of rubble and gun powder and

our prayers mimic battle cries and we lean on each other like soldiers
We bring dlo nan je, tears, to the altar

I wonder ki jan nou konnen ki moun ki te genyen?
How do we know who has won?

We adapt to discomfort, honor sacrifice. Life is a bittersweet melody.
We are a chorus, singing anthems to the rhythm of our heart beats

Mothers give passed down lessons as peace offerings
They say

Timoun, pa kite evaris kraze gratitid.
Child, do not let greed overpower gratitude.

We forget to care
We fill our hearts with fantasies instead

Nighttime is for hoping. For making wishes to shooting stars
and dreaming of the impossible

The coming of a new day brings fresh battles,
fresh wounds, fresh victories

For now we hold ourselves in the milky moonlight
and offer the air a silent declaration

Nou toujou isit la
We are still here

By Marissa Michel


Marissa Michel is a second generation American of Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage. She served as the 2020 Prince George’s County Youth Poet Laureate. In 2020 she received multiple national gold medals for poetry in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, and an American Voice nomination. She was also the recipient of the 2020 Diaz-Mattison Poetry Prize. Her newest works can be found in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Online Gallery, Love Letters To the Mothers and Fathers of the African Diaspora, and the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. More information about her can be found on

Tarantulas By Fatima Sausan Masoud


In Palestine, my brother built
a makeshift zoo and began to

charge admission: half a shekel
for a full day’s pass.

He caught the tarantulas
every morning with a bucket and

an olive branch. Placed them in
thick plastic bags, hanging on the

garden wall. The tarantulas gnawed
the sides of their homes, pawing

at the sky, chewing their way
toward the domed hills. One

night, a tarantula escaped.
She crawled into my grandmother’s

bathroom. We awoke to the
screams. Grandmother beating

at the tiled floor. The tarantula
running toward the open door.

Grandmother kept hitting, even
when the tarantula was just a spot

staining the blue tile. My brother
stood in the doorway, crying.

The next morning, he took down
the zoo, plucked the bags off the wall,

and returned the tarantulas to
the hills. They marched across

the sand. We watched them run
back to their homes, their bodies

dotting the desert, staining the
landscape like spots on the sun.

By Fatima Sausan Masoud


A Palestinian-American born in the southwest, Fatima Sausan Masoud (she/her) holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives in El Paso and teaches First Year Composition and Elementary Arabic at the same university. She finds time to write in the in-between spaces when her kids are asleep. Find her on Instagram (@applewhiskey).

Immigrant warrior By Wayne Myers-Taylor

Immigrant warrior

Mother on my mind.
I find her face, her words
In an old jewelry box, filled with her scent.
I saved her perfumes;
Poison, and Escape.

Here in the box are her records;
Her campaign to lay siege to New York.
Her correspondence with governments —
Pleas for sanctuary, proof of work,
Statements of funds, testimony of friends
To her solvency, and her resolve.

The certificate says she’s naturalized
But her photo says otherwise;
Jamaican queen in tiger stripes
Sharply focused in black and white,
Untamed, and ready for war.

Brooklyn, unsteady and unready
For the heat she was bringing;
Hard island woman, coming out swinging.

By Wayne Myers-Taylor


Wayne Myers-Taylor divides his time between writing poetry and short fiction, teaching yoga, and updating websites. Previously, he was a journalist at Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and other media outlets. He lives in Northern California, but Brooklyn is his home.

Ancestor Song By Kristina Sargent

Ancestor Song

Thick wool sweaters often covered the
crooked trail of her left collar bone.
The one that never healed straight.
It sang her story anyway,
the way the Appalachian winds,
rains and rivers do.

It sang the story of a yellow field
consecrated in end-of-day, golden light.
The field she was dragged through by her golden hair.
It told the story of the back of a rifle
That was turned on her, when he realized
the chamber wasn’t loaded.

He smelled of whiskey,
and claimed to not remember doing it.
Claimed to never have noticed the
crooked road of her collar bone
that shouted at him
with winding, sing-songy curses,
the way the Appalachian winds, rains and rivers did.
Until the day the curving roads swallowed him up.

And my great-grandmother,
8 months pregnant at the time,
packed her bags of scarves and wool sweaters,
and left.

By Kristina Sargent



Kristina Marcelli Sargent works as a mental health therapist is the rural town of Leadville, Colorado. She writes and paints in her free time as well as spending time in the mountains. She has an undergraduate degree in fine arts and an associates degree in creative writing from Thomas More University in Kentucky. She obtained her Master of Social Work degree in Cincinnati, Ohio.