Carp Belly Soup By Amy Zhou

Carp Belly Soup

They say it was earth’s breast who split
too soon, spilling yellow currents into
rivers and mud. Even sky’s spine cracked
and out of his folded back tumbled carp
and whipping eels. In their sleep, they gulp
river weeds and feed on children’s toys
leaping downstream.

But it isn’t long before we gut the river empty.
Wade thigh-deep in riverbed, slippery carp writhing
in our knuckled fists, clutch grain-filled gills with soil-
caked nails and brittle blistered fingers. Only our naked
feet swim cold, trembling under blankets of mud—
the rest of our raw bodies only know hunger.

Open mouths sputter salt and silt as
whiskers fall onto drought-soaked floors.
Carp, clean-shaven, roil in salted heat,
thick backs fleck into blistering oil and fins flap
closed— we have long lost
our wings. Dreams boil thin into clotted froth,
and we coat our war-cracked
lips with fat and grease, slice into underbelly
with chopsticks slick with spit,
eat the carp whole, bones and all.

Our tongues are not used to the taste
of food. We chewed on bark for days,
licked rust off palms spread open
for coins, prayed doglike

with spines twisted into roots.
Foreheads are long used
to kissing the ground clean.

Listen, my father sings:
of good men who become blind deities,
steeped in trenches and splashing
in phosgene streams. Terror-shivers
wash over yellow-eyed boys
wearing mulch and iron bullets,
small fingers stretching to reach the too-big
triggers placed into their shaking palms.

This is where sin blooms—
eastern, cardinal red, streets bathing
in beggars.

By Amy Zhou

Biography:

Author_Photo_Amy_ZhouAmy Zhou is an aspiring high school writer from The College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. She has been recognized for her poetry and short fiction by The New York Times, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Frontier Poetry, and Hollins University. She has been featured in various literary journals and serves as the Editor-in-Chief for her school’s newspaper, The Radar, literary publication, The Steele, and art magazine, ArtsMag.

ATM explosions they’re calling them By Parker Sera

ATM explosions they’re calling them

The summer the national guard played the sound of bomb blasts
Exactly 18 minutes apart
For hours once it got dark

And every so often we would ask if maybe they were only fireworks

The summer the people rose
Like shimmering heat from the asphalt

That summer I stared into the jungle of my backyard
Drinking with my skin and hair and gazing

at the patch of light;
The bright, polluted sky glancing through the trees

My body shook
An animal shakes to release tension and stress

I heaved
The whole house heard it

I looked around for some place that wasn’t on fire

In the damp yard millions of little bugs

My body shook
The whole house felt it

By Parker Sera

Biography:

Parker Sera is a queer, midwestern horse girl, poet, actor, and theatre-maker from Minneapolis, MN. Her work has appeared in Knack Magazine and the 11/9 Anthology. She lives in Philadelphia, where she’s working on her MFA in Acting at Temple University.

This Rotten Trumpet is Our Leader By Juliet Cook & Martin Willitts Jr

This Rotten Trumpet is Our Leader

1.

The portals erode.
The industrial debris became the new leader
and plans to cauterize the serpent tongues.

The escape hatch is gone
because he removed it
without permission or approval.

No one will be the same after the spray.
Already, I cannot speak of what has happened.
My silence is uncomfortable.

But if we talk, our words will slime out
because our yellow, reptilian skin
is not covered with enough rust.

He made us all have the same yellow-orange
skin tone as him because he is the evil leader.

2.

Alcohol used to be venomous;
now it’s everyone’s milk
in order to tone us down.

Breast milk is where the poison begins
to turn the babies into snakes
or snake charmers.

Milk: it does not do the body good.
It is our new slogan,
along with “Rust is Your Friend.”

Now that the leader is here,
everything is corroded
the way it should be.

It is great industrial rot day.
The mechanical birds do not whir.
The tin trees have unvarnished silver.

All as is should be.
All glorious waste
from sea to polluted sea.

3.

There is no cure. We no longer desire to be cured.
We rather infect as many as we can, so we are all alike:
crushed plastic doll heads
in blood-splattered, contaminated rain
bending like trumpets someone sat on.

Soon nobody will have their own instruments.
The only singing mouths will be off-key, cracked,
contaminated screams.

By Juliet Cook & Martin Willitts Jr

Biographies:

Juliet Cook is brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at http://www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Martin Willitts Jr lives in Syracuse, New York. He has won numerous awards and prizes for poetry. He has won grants to place bi-lingual poetry inside of buses from Adult English as a Second Language Students. He has 26 chapbooks including two national contest winners, and 20 full-length collections including two national contest winners. He is an editor for The Comstock Review, and a judge for the New York State Fair Poetry Contest.

RAIN By Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact

RAIN

Somewhere in a city surrounded by a body of water,
Inside a room filled with beams of light
A soft wind blows through a blanket of silence,
Swaying the curtains and lifting the calendars
Hung on the wall of beautiful paintings.
Outside, flashes of lighning collude with the rumbles of thunder,
As beads of rain fall from the sky, rolling into tunnels.
Somewhere in the room, a young boy buried
In the fascinating lines of a storybook,
Learns of the flood and the Noah’s catastrophe.
He looks up, pondering on the secrets in water,
On the torrents of mystery between the earth and the heavens
Each time dark cloud covers the blue sky
And the air becomes wet with droplets of rainwater.

By Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact

Biography:

Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact is a Nigerian poet. He is a chemical engineering graduate from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. His poem “Tell them” was a shortlisted poem at the 7th Korea-Nigeria poetry feast, 2017. His works have been published in Duane Poetree, Pangolin review, Amandasteelwriter, Words Rhymes & Rhythms, Literary planet, Wax poetry and art magazine, Porridge magazine, Parousia Magazine, Subsaharan magazine and elsewhere.

grandfather clock By Jenny Liu

grandfather clock

when i can’t feel anything anymore.
the erosion of pupils into flesh dust.
digits and hands unforgiving—grandfather’s
hands move faster than usual, and i.
i am a bandaged body with puzzle pieces
for limbs. i wear skin cross sections
like museum exhibits. when i can’t feel
anything anymore and those hands move
swifter than usual. when the sting on the
back of my hand is the realest reminder
of being alive. the begging of oxygen
from each individual cell, a condemnation,
a reminder. like the inexplicable fist over
my chest, clutching for symptoms of life.
digging for signs like an archaeologist
polishing bone bits to give it meaning for
existing. i too polish bodies. polish bodies
with metal, waiting for symptoms of life.
grandfather’s hands move faster than usual.
digit after digit after digit after digit.
repetition in these hands like repetition in my hands
circular like this feeling, like this nonfeeling.
i catch myself breathing for a second.

By Jenny Liu

Biography:

Jenny Liu is a rising second-year student at the University of Toronto. Her poetry has been nationally recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, Eunoia Review, After the Pause, Watershed Review, The Manhattanville Review, among others.

The sensation returns of bones flying off By J. Freeborn

The sensation returns of bones flying off

The sensation returns, of bones flying off
the handle, joints rubberized and fading

the heartbeat of a helicopter banking south
interrupts the mourning doves at 6. I am maybe

awake I remember being drunk at readings
where everything I heard was a way to

a future illuminated like digital streets peeking
up beneath David Hockney’s window

luminescent in unreal strokes.
The future now is a twin horizon that never

gets nearer, of living too long uninterested
like my grandmother, unable to read

because of anxiety; because you never
get a personality when you live for others

because now all those others are dead.

The alternative is obligations
unfulfilled and still not knowing if

what I feel is love not anger asleep in
desire; a stone in the stomach of a wolf.

By J. Freeborn

Biography:

J. Freeborn is a genderqueer high school teacher in New York.

Conversation with the Sea Adaeze M. Nwadike

Conversation with the Sea

Since the beginning of 2014, 19,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Untallied others disappear without a trace

I sit in this boat, rehearsing a new anthem,
Clutching my mother’s promise to sail behind, should the sea get turbulent
The farewell songs from yesterday echo behind like dirges.
And every distance covered by this boat distills the imagery of my death.
But I have spent half my life at the immigration center,
Carried my passport for so long it became a body part.

You only ditch the airport for the sea, when you wear many problems
you weigh so much to fly.
And this country;
To survive in this country is like
That Jesus’ metaphor of a carmel passing through a needle’s eye.

The sailor said I won’t be needing papers,
And I cut off the passport like an arm, fling it overboard
And the sea turns an ombré of water and blood.
It is better to enter the kingdom of God deformed than be whole in hell.

The sea is a melancholy,
and
The bodies of drowned men and ferries plunge their ways to shore.
A dove drops from the sky and begins to sink, and sail—like us,
To another country, that will open and swallow it

“The ferries will dance tonight”
A boy said to his mother, his voice vibrating like he swallowed a guitar.
I open myself to the crescendo of his voice and to the anthem in my mouth,
And I say,
I am a citizen left behind,
The land isn’t safe anymore,
Hide me.
Hide me.

Adaeze M. Nwadike

Biography:

Author_Photo_Adaeze_Nwadike

 

Adaeze M. Nwadike is a Nigerian writer and teacher. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in many notable magazines in Nigeria and the diaspora. She is currently working on a collection of poems that explores the experiences of women migrating to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea.

The Belly of the Whale By Simran Kapoor

the belly of the whale

we have been swallowed whole.
months of our lives –
chewed up,
ripped apart,
digested.

the city has disappeared.
it’s quiet,
save for the sound of a television
humming in the background.
there’s a new channel,
unfamiliar words and graphs on top of a world map.
i swear
the numbers change each time i blink.

i like going for walks now.
the belly of the whale
was lonely at first
but my shadow
has begun following me.
she’s always
the recommended six feet away.

my calendar is full of zoom calls
but the connection is
poor in the ocean.
i talk to the voicemail lady –
she asks if i’d like to change
the way i receive messages.

i say yes.

i peel an orange –
thirteen pieces.
i eat six
throw seven out of the blowhole.
i hope it makes its way

across the ocean
to other whales.

socially distant
but emotionally connected
by seven pieces of an orange.

By Simran Kapoor

Biography:

Author_Photo_Simran_Kapoor

 

Simran Kapoor is a student at Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. Expected to graduate in 2021, she strives to make the most of every moment by documenting her favourite times in writing. Simran hopes to continue to develop as a writer as she pursues the craft further.

Behind the Trees By Amy Liu

Behind the Trees

Where does placid passion reside? Behind the trees?
For in the rolling red clay you hide behind the trees.

Necks craned bodies carved—we seal the broken sky,
as gilded-feathered birds of whiskey glide behind the trees.

“Our Nǚwā molded us from honey” / “Can you hear us?
Ma!” / Prophets peons serfs abide behind the trees.

Missed the boat / Knot untangled / Do I live undone?
Dried dock defied / Cunning ravens collide behind the trees.

Sipping from suspended orange blossoms, I hear
demise of azure / Adam chides behind the trees.

Crystal lionesses prod & pirouette on pearl,
pinning vivid opera chimes on hair of Naugahyde behind the trees.

Are these bones of soot mine, Nǚwā?
You forged me from ropes of snide, behind the trees?

How your teardrops look like trinkets in the rain!
To your ode even desert clairvoyants replied behind the trees.

Home is mine under scorching, crashing tides of pretense—
nimble owls pray to Rigel from inside behind the trees.

Is that petaled face of amethyst yours, mother?
Alas, love, such you cannot decide behind the trees.

By Amy Liu

Biography:

Author_Photo_Amy_Liu

 

Amy Liu is a woman of color and 16-year-old poet based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who is passionate about leading intersectional activism via poetry and literature. Her poetry is featured in National Braille Press, Neshaminy Journal, Her Culture, and more.

the day my father exorcised obstinacy By Ajise Vincent

 the day my father exorcised obstinacy

to exorcise our obstinacy, every
morning our father reels
out verses of the scriptures on our heads.
at dusk he finds solace with a stick,
searching for one who would rupture
God’s will with unholy mannerisms. just one.
every one detested him except
his dog and panasonic tv,
which often utters soft songs
& obituaries of men who died
in war with an anonymous virus.

attitude is like smoke. it can’t be hidden,
he would say. can’t strip
the anatomy of dust, yet the rain tries.
today, we his sons, an eloquence of lawyers
lay his remains in a casket
filled with an orchestra of goodwill.
& like any good son, we lift his essence
above the earth’s horizon to God’s bare face,
for the graffiti of our present
was painted by his actions of yore.

By Ajise Vincent

Biography:

Ajise Vincent is an Economist based in Lagos, Nigeria. His works have appeared in Jalada, Chiron Review, Asian Signature, Ann Arbor Review, Yellow Chair Review, Bombay Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, The Cadaverine, Saraba, Brittle Paper, Sentinel Quarterly, and Elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Eriata Oribhabor poetry prize 2015. He loves coffee, blondes and turtles.