Some of the Dolls Hide in the Basement By Juliet Cook

Some of the Dolls Hide in the Basement

The doll with the ripped off leg
can’t ride the rocking horse
unless she sits on someone’s face.

The doll with the body like a deformed skink
lurks in the corner near the mice,
tries to avoid the traps.

The doll whose owner used to
hand stitch her clothes until
that owner decided to cut off all the doll’s fingers.

The doll with the stick figure heart
written on her torn shirt
and then erased.

The doll whose broken head begs for sanctuary
as she lives inside the garbage can, un-bagged,
praying she won’t get completely thrown away.

Some of them were thrown down the stairs by others.
Some of them threw themselves down.
Some of them were shaken and dragged

by the mouths of dogs, smell like filthy
dried out saliva mixed with blood stains.
The dolls with eyes that will never be put back together.

By Juliet Cook

Biography:

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 www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

fuck your feelings, i’m dying By Eryka Renata

fuck your feelings, i’m dying

a redheaded girl in my writing class wrote on my memoir
“your writing is dramatic to a point of unrighteousness, all I see
is a melodramatic teenage girl trying to kill herself over nothing.”
in class, she accused me of lying about the events of my sad, pathetic life.
“The poeticism of your ‘tragedy’ is too neat to believe.
Real life isn’t actually like that.”

i hole-punched the critique into my large binder
bursting at the spine with pages upon pages
with criticisms from my shiny white classmates
and their crystal earrings and matte hydroflasks
their petty words written in slick, jet-black name brand ink
about how poorly i am at dying.

i took an $8 bus ride
in the bitter cold of december
snow veiling my eyes like the honeyed smog
of the Philippines i used to write so often about
in poetry. long before it became a gimmick
that PC liberal administrators jerked off to in an attempt
to diversify their image.

i walked into the CVS, nodded to the man
with a cigarette butt at the corner of his lips
salivating at the sight of my rosy frost bitten cheeks
making me look like a child.
5:50PM, and the pharmacist told me i came
just in time before close.

“we don’t have your prescriptions ready.
your doctor did not fill them.”
i clenched my fist, imagining a delicate neck
between my palm and fingers as i swallow
the river in my throat and squeak out the words,
“i don’t have any medicine left. i can’t go another day
without my medicine.”

he says there’s nothing i can do and i realized
i just lost $8 for nothing. i called a friend to pick me up.
i leave the pharmacy and the man with the cigarette
was still leaned against the brick wall. he clicked his tongue,
saluting my vain attempt to stay alive for once.

there is something so precious and so sweet
about reveling in the pain others hate me for.
about how many times i fantasized the crime scene
of my death and smearing the red blood back in your faces
suffocating your ignorance with a calloused, cynical
“i told you so.”

my friend opened the car door with a bullethole
underneath the handle and invited me in.
he asked me, with all his warmth and glory,
“how are you?”
i stared at him. and i began to laugh.

By Eryka Renata

Biography

Eryka Renata is a poet from the Chicagoland area. Dedicated to craft and the avant-garde, much of her work borders the experimental while maintaining the realism of everyday life. She believes in the complex combination of art and storytelling, wishing to amplify her voice to offer a unique lens in which she sees the world. Renata is also a student of psychology who dreams to spread a long breath of compassion and empathy wherever she goes.

The Bridge By Lisa Grande Maruna

The Bridge

for Gauri Govil (1995-1997)

As we walk I cannot stop picturing
her tiny body falling through the air.
Or her father’s rushing arms, his face as he watches
wind-burned legs slip quick between red steel.

As we walk I cannot stop wondering
what a two-year-old child is like.
Did her brain recognize 170 feet of fall?

Did she have time to shout her last words
into ears of grief-stricken tourists or did she drop silently,
feeling half-thrill inside her fragile chest?

Oh, the brave and mighty jumpers…
Did their fingers grasp at hair sticking to mouths as pink as hers?
Did they regret spinning as their choice?

Oh, the sharp and severe ground…
Do the rocks know what they gained that day?

By Lisa Grande Maruna

Biography

Born and raised in Ohio, Lisa Grande Maruna is the marketing coordinator of her hometown library. When she’s not working or spending time with family, she’s reading, writing, drinking wine, and watching Judge Judy.

Sage Creek By Cameron Brooks

Sage Creek

This bad land is good
enough for wild sage

brush to spread weed-like
about the creek

that weaves between
snarled juniper trees

with wiry wads
of copper bison fur

snagged on their boughs
like so many

breadcrumbs leading
to Sage Creek

in this bad and brittle land
not good for much

save sagebrush. If you’re lucky
you may happen upon one

at the end of the hoof-flat path:
a monarch of the plains

wading monstrously
in the middle of the creek

like some dark primordial
whirlpool guzzling water.

And he may lift his head
and murmur to you

through ebony eyes:
This water is mine.

By Cameron Brooks

Biography:

Cameron Brooks is a writer from South Dakota. He holds an M.A. from Princeton Theological Seminary and serves as Managing Editor for Vanora, an artist collaboration site. His poems have appeared in the Scurfpea Publishing Poetry Anthology, Fathom Magazine, and Eunoia Review (forthcoming). He lives and works in Sioux Falls.

Salvation By Sarah Vance

Salvation

I was raised in wooden pews, the voices of white men
raining down from pulpits, planting poison seeds.
my own voice too deep
even then,
feet dangling above the crimson carpet.

On Sundays we gathered dusty bibles
put on dresses that were never meant to be worn
with a strut like mine, and
long legs that refused to cross.

I walked the straight and narrow, gay and damned
until it choked me.
Bible belt fashioned into a centuries old noose,
their own golden rule long forgotten.

And in this wilderness where I came to hide
I found instead her healing hands, and beautiful,
rebellious knees that too refused to bow
to sow more shame.

Here in the place they warned would lead to death
there is no fear and trembling,
instead she lies with me, naked and unashamed
my salvation in the woods.

By Sarah Vance

Biography

Sarah Vance is a striving poet from East Tennessee who spends their days teaching justice and diverse literature to high schoolers and her evenings loving her wife and kids. They are a justice seeker, word crafter, coffee drinker, and mountain hiker. While Sarah dreams of west coast towns, with ocean breezes, they are southern and believe there is merit in staying and sharing these words.

Duelo By Sade Teniola

I crept in when you were asleep
watching your vulnerable form
I slid into the covers
the feel of you stirring
shuts out the pain that weighed
heavy on my chest

right here
I can use your warmth
to silence the noise
pondering is so loud for my
fragile state instead I use you
to shut everything out

tomorrow can wait
the dark of the night is all I have
and here is where I will spend
every hour holding on to life
even though life has abandoned love

By Sade Teniola

Biography

Sade Teniola is a British Nigerian poet and writer with a debut poetry book, The Silence That Falls In Between, recently published. She lives in London where she continues to write. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_sadeteniola/

Coming of Age By L.J. Gallagher

Coming of Age

What it’s like to come of age in twenty – twenty:
Faces of despair hidden under masks.

We brace ourselves when we open Twitter,
Fearing another Black name a hashtag.

Every waking moment spent fighting for our lives,
At the hands of militarized police and an invisible virus.

Black lives matter, Black lives matter,
I’ll say it until my throat gives out.

Forced to choose between our friends and our dignity,
We become more faithless every day. Black lives matter.

Stay at home, wear a mask, flatten the curve.
Powerlessness breeds a lonely anger our parents can’t grasp.

I am not proud to be living history.
I want normalcy, equality, democracy.

By L.J. Sullivan

In Research By Sophia Liu

In Research

Mounds of dead Drosophila sit underneath my ceiling light. They are just
alimentary canals & Malpighian tubules & fused ganglia.

Our teacher explains that we freeze the Drosophila after we
conduct our studies. So when we accept our

null hypotheses, we watch hundreds of fruit flies drop like daily rainfall.

The first thing I purposely killed was a Maine lobster. Wiggled it
out of its rubber bands and pushed a knife right through

its cranium. Flesh still settling into death, it became a
disposed cephalon & an anterior ganglion & a broken nerve cord.

My father, Thank you for helping.

Then, that day, he told me as a did you know;
but my mother, who tells me death is just another lunar eclipse, stayed silent.

I thought of us, in research, heating glucose
every mid-winter afternoon to feed the Drosophila. Cleaning their tubes

in the spring. Scraping every wing and leg into the trash and you,
a body distance away from me—watching those ashy bodies pile.

You’d breathe a sigh that our projects are completed. You’d
ask me my answers to yesterday’s geometry test, nodding.

Two years ago we would have been research partners. I would have
told you that there must be a reason that we were made to hold

four-chambered hearts & central nervous systems & lungs.
Despite the unexpected. Despite that even if death is the moon’s revolution,

it stamps a finger up our backs regardless. Despite that
we justify existence as a taxonomy tree, choose Drosophila as a model for our bodies.

Only thinking. Only praying that the moon dissolves in the sun’s streams.

By Sophia Liu

Biography:

Sophia Liu lives in New York. Her poems and art appear or are forthcoming in the Perch, Storm Cellar, the Ekphrastic Review, Whispering Prairie Press, Underblong, opia, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the National Council of Teachers of English, Smith College, and Hollins University. She volunteers as a teacher for the Princeton Learning Experience and wants a pet cat.

as black as the hole in your navel By Deska Deska

as black as the hole in your navel

the other day we made a pillow tower state
you ate the remnants of my blueberry cake
with your thumb
and see us now

next month one woman will be flattened by you leaving
dearest nothing has happened yet
(rubber things I put in myself maybe I should vegetables)

your name tag hanging from my neck
on a small island in a state that we made your dirty shirts standing
I will never follow your steps

By Deska Deska

Biography

Deska Deska is based in Vienna, Austria.
She was born in 1996 in Serbia. Her father was adopted. That part of the family remained unknown. She currently studying on TRANSMEDIALE KUNST- ANGEWANDTE (University of applied arts) WIEN,
AUSTRIA. She attended the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, as well as the Faculty of Fine Arts from the same city. First in-class Contemporary clothing than she was part of New media art class. She had six group and three solo art exhibitions.

Bark By Maria Llona Garcia

Bark

I bare my teeth and spit
out words I put together
just to cut.
My jaw locks
like a dog’s. When I bite
down I can’t let go,
even if I change
my mind.
And I’m bad
at cause-and-effect and
constantly sorry. I’m
still holding you between
my jaws.
Before I can open
my mouth you’re dead
or at least hurt
and we’re dead.
And maybe
that’s what I wanted anyway.

By Maria Llona Garcia

Biography

Maria Llona Garcia is a 24 year old Peruvian poet and occasional prose writer. She recently graduated with a degree in English from Skidmore College, where she was awarded their section of the Academy of American Poets Prize. She currently lives in her hometown of Lima, Peru and teaches English while also working as a newsletter editor. This fall she will begin studying for an MFA in Poetry at The New School.