Rotten Fruit of Our Youth By Grecia Espinoza

Rotten Fruit of Our Youth

The memory of you exasperates me.
It always arrives uninvited and unannounced
like the news of your death.

After the funeral, I packed the life you knew
into boxes and moved away, just a town over.

When I arrived, the apartment was hot
and smelled of paint and mildew
It struck me then,
it’s never the house that’s haunted
but the people who bring their ghosts

I was still in a black dress when I vowed
never to furnish this place because life is brief,
and I had to be ready to run for it.

I’ve lived four springs in deafening silence.
I can’t unsee death in the blooming daffodils,
and my mattress still sleeps on the floor,

I have to get out of here, someday.
Florida is what’s left of what I’ve lost
and it’s lodged in my throat
like an unresolved heartbreak.
And the thickness of the moisture in the air
might kill me before I get the chance to.

But don’t you worry, I’m going to get better.
I’m going where the air is thin.

I’ll be in New York before the winter arrives,
and I’ll watch snow disappear into the soil
like a lowering casket. And by the end of the winter,
I’ll have found peace in knowing that I’ll never have it.

But for now, I’ll stomach this haunting,
eating it in tiny spoonfuls.

Someday, I’ll use the rotten fruit of our youth
to make jam, or to bake a sweet apple pie.

But for now, I draw the blinds, shut my eyes,
and look forward to a life of arbitrary hope.

By Grecia Espinoza

Biography

Grecia Espinoza is a Brooklyn based poet. She moved to New York to start her M.A. in English and American Literature at New York University. Her writing is inspired, almost paradoxically, by the language of confessional and Black Arts poetry both of which have been the center of her research. She’s currently working on a poetry collection that she hopes to finish by the end of the year.

Dear Moonjung By Tianyi Shen

Dear Moonjung

Open this when you need me the most,
like a jar of caramel when you crave

sugar high at midnight. We are taught
to tear through our open wounds like new-year presents

Our own knees painted, feet wide-apart, in front of sisters
we cannot console. Was it a tragedy that we were born

The same night someone else took our niche?
It does not matter. Tonight, I am only here

To hold your tears & wake you
To remembrance. Remember the time when they shattered you

To flee another country,
Remember the flash of light searing through your limbs

Like meteor, burning you to a wick.
& maybe someday I’ll even lower the veil of your obsidian eyes

Just to tell you that you are treasured.
That one day you will unwrap those scars buried deep in your marrow

& find them, because they belong to you, because they are
Gold.

By Tianyi Shen

Biography:

Tianyi is a Chinese-born, boston-based poet who explores familial conflicts and generational heritage through the medium of a second language. She has been recognized by the Scholastics Arts and Writing Awards, The Kenyon Young Writers Anthology and her school’s literary publication, the Spire. In her free time, she can be found cuddling her cat

how to speak: miami at TWILIGHT By Stella Santamaría

how to speak: miami at TWILIGHT

language of
songbirds saints

cuban sing fall
teleport

dilapidated dade pine front porch
albion sunflowers hayward roses
mar pacifico hibiscus gold

catholic coals in seas after the rains
doused latinate

la virgen de la caridad in scarlet red
san lanzaro in purple robes
display upfront
agradecida

&
little havana neighborhood blow torch

cuban sing fall teleport
catholic coals in seas after the rains doused latinate

coral walls laid flat

walkways

decibels linger


dade pine albion sunflowers hayward roses
mar pacifico hibiscus gold

offerings

agradecida

reactions

timbales
conga

millimeters language pure
what are we measuring tonight?

{ :


By Stella Santamaría

Biography

Santamaría was born in Los Angeles, daughter of a Cuban father and Guatemalan mother. Stella holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Saint Mary’s College of California, recipient of the School of Liberal Arts Dean’s Award. Her poetry has been recently published in The Acentos Review, Nine Mile Magazine, The Rumpus, Courtship of Winds, Juked and The Brooklyn Review, among others. She is The Sandra Cisneros Fellow at Under the Volcano 2021 and an alumna of the Community of Writers. Currently Stella lives in Miami.

Language is a Song the Body Sings By Sharmila PK

Language is a Song the Body Sings

Listen, on the inside I am all static and sound.
Scraped knees, capillaries, eyelids the color of a bruise.
See? How language unfurls on the tongue,
Slipping in like wine, soft and sensuous?
We can make anything beautiful, with the right words.

Take my flesh, for instance.
Once it billowed over my body,
Folding and curving, pure endlessness.
Now: nothing.
Now: just empty space where I used to be.
But I can make myself sound beautiful, watch –

Here.
Take away the word emaciated, replace it.
Now I am laden with light, now I am willow-thin.
A fever-flash, a diorama, of silhouette and form.
That sounds prettier, doesn’t it?

Pale skin, cold as stars.
Where does it go with nothing left to hold onto?
Answer: it repositions itself over its frame.
Bones can be lovely if you look at them long enough.
They’re the body’s secret, hidden within,
At least until you starve them up the surface.

Grotesque? No.
I prefer the word delicate.
It only becomes a sickness when you call it one.

By Sharmila PK

Biography

My name is Sharmila and I am a 24 year old student in Virginia. I am submitting a short collection of four themes, centered around the theme of eating disorders. They are titled as follows: Precious, Language is a Song the Body Sings, Hungry Woman, and Eat. In my free time I also run a personal book review blog on literaryambrosia.com. Thank you for your kind consideration!

All the ways I could have died before and the ways I still might By Priyanka Shrestha

All the ways I could have died before and the ways I still might

i.
The time I let the night
flip me upside down
hold me by the legs and drop
me on my head so
hard that just a few inches
further down would have been
a diagnosis much more lethal
than a simply concussed mind.

ii.
The time I stared at the ceiling
longer than before
imagined the way the rope would
leave small fissures on my
moisturized palms and
walked through the ghost of me
hanging in the air to climb into bed.

iii.
The time I’ll disappear
my bones seasoning for
the dust on a
stomach so empty I will
fold unto myself.

iv.
The time I cried
from the heart of
my infant lungs begging to be
free of the pain in my throat
that was only caught by a student’s intuition
(exactly the type of thing they taught
you in medical school)
which is to say had I been born a beggar’s daughter,
I would have died begging.

By Priyanka Shrestha

Biography

Priyanka Shrestha (she/her) is a junior at Stanford University studying computer science and creative writing. Her work has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Columbia College Chicago, and the Anthony Quinn Foundation, and is forthcoming in The Oakland Arts Review. When she is not writing or coding, she can be found skateboarding downhill with her airpods in or trying to take pretty pictures of the sky.

Montage of the Bench Dusting at Perrin Park By Ava Chen

Montage of the Bench Dusting at Perrin Park

I.
You sweep your papery arm, loam
& pine pollen susurrating an arabesque.

Shadows scintillate your war-blued arteries
almost lurid. Your teeth, dandelions.

Zhè me yī xià,
the fish just skitter into our fingers!

you exclaim. Thirty years lisp away, rhythmic.

II.
Salt-twinged recession bares conch shrapnel & oysters:
we drift to shore together,
entropy lapped back in dry foam.

I crinkle past your crow’s feet branching
deep into your temples,
smell ocean in your sclera.

This rib cage bench we hobble away from
brands instance under a metal tongue.

III.
Your daughter sings once-jocular folklore:

a thatched roof crumbles under Japanese foray,
just missing your fleeing shape—

only thing intact a pot of beef steaming merrily
under the unraveled straw.

Between these characters, generations
slope brick & bokeh liminal,
erode sky a bruised Gaussian maelstrom,
blur over soot-sutured faces.

IV.
Next time we sluice Boston Harbor to fulfill the saltwater
etched in your face,

you’re already
sagging in your daughter’s arms.

The floating convenience café waitress offers
a steaming mug, a plastic cake slice.

V.
The frothy egg you beat for my favorite golden dish:
aerated palette,
shimmering edge,
clouds by the second—

by each coveted wisp of your smile.

VI.
The baby pink of pomelo droplets:

your deer-soft irises curl untouched,

gilding sweet in the eulogy your daughter—
my mother—
weaves you.

VII.
Today, I may find your handprint
if sunlight shafts just right,

peripheral lunula evanescing bone-gray
between armrest ribbons.

Under a waxing dusk:
albedo slants, winks away.

By Ava Chen

Biography:

Ava Chen is a 16-year-old poet based in Massachusetts. Her work is forthcoming in Scapegoat Review and The Daphne Review. When not writing, she can usually be found taking long walks or rewatching Christopher Nolan movies.

Needed By Leda Glass

Needed

It grows,
Blooming from shrapnel kisses,
Enveloping around like
Fleshy
Haemophilic
Nacre

Wandering thing, small
Floating vivisection
Nuzzling the earth for,
Um
Something—
Something to,
To need,
To Need it

A finger will graze it
On the exposed ribs And
it will fall over,
In the ecstasy of a
Man in the
Galleys
And the finger will

Rip,
Rip out the skin-pearl still
Beating, barely beating,
Burrowing into the
sinews

And the man,
The man behind the
Finger, past the arm and
Shoulder and
Teeth, sharp gnashing,
He will thumb a gaping
Pitiful hole
Into the heart and
Oh god, I
I can’t say it
He
He uses
He u
ses it
He

Needed.

The thing will stand up
And it will command
Earthly body
To walk, just walk
Just anywhere
That isn’t here

The pain,
The dull swallowing of
A being,
Metastasises into a
Knot of
frayed vessels and
Flayed nerves,
Growing back a heart like
A scar tissue pomegranate
That dares to
Has the gall to
Keep the thing
awake

And so it will wake,
Trembling and cracking every
Joint in that unholy body
As it crawls along,
Searching for
Something to
Som
ething to need It

By Leda Glass

Biography:

Leda Glass grew up with one foot in the grave and a pen in hand. A self-described ghost, she doesn’t know why she’s here on earth or if she even is, but she knows she must write. Every poem is an attempt to crystalise a thought, a tendril, a fragment, usually through raw and dreamy imagery. When there is so much to say and so little space to feel, Glass gets a little scrap of piece in every poem.

Graffiti By Kechi Mbah

Graffiti

i’m first discovered in the exhale of a baby-faced reflection
in some anticipated movement we call arriving at womanhood
fastened to the speed of his words:

my new

existence

is living

graffiti

i hold myself through sideways glances
soften in brief fixtures with unfamiliar eyes.

to be a beggar, i believe
is to unhook oneself
to let a want, hunger away your presence

which is to wish i’d never begged before
never lost myself / between / the breaths of my own trembling voice.

so once a new world wants to give
i’ll try to keep what’s mine

outline my haves in different places
neon down a steady washed skin

in an attempt to say
i must to decipher more than silence
spray all of this
along the exhale of then and now.

so today’s awash in memories
and i’ve vandalized the mirror.

*“my new existence is living graffiti” comes from Tongo Eisen-Martin’s poem, I Do Not Know The Spelling of Money

By Kechi Mbah

Biography

Kechi Mbah is a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School and a Houston native. She first found a love for poetry when she stumbled upon a YouTube video of a Brave New Voices slam competition in the fall of 2019 and has been performing and writing poetry ever since. Her poetry explores many avenues from making the known strange to chronicling her experiences as a Nigerian-American and the histories of her people. She currently serves as the 2021 National Student Poet of the Southwest and her work can be found in Blue Marble Review, The Incandescent Review, elementia, and elsewhere.

Panaderías By Grecia Espinoza

Panaderías

My local bakery sells donuts at .90 cents
I walk there at dawn to remember my mother
My mother isn’t dead, but we are strangers now.
This walking to bakeries was our shared ritual.
I called them panaderias back then
Although we never spoke when we walked
I suspected she was in search of something significant
but now there’s a swollen country between us
and I’ll never know for sure

on my way to the bakery, I pass through a lake
that long ago belong to a slave-owner
until the Earth stole it back and swallowed it whole.
Lake Eola isn’t a lake- it’s a sink hole
named after the slaveowner’s sweetheart.
A story as southern as pecan pie,
peach cobbler, and white supremacy.

Today, the air is thick with the stench of sulfur
and trees grow triumphantly through the water.
if I arrive before the sun wakes
I’ll find a flock of American White Ibis
sleeping serenely in the Cypress Tree,
insensible to the violence they rest in
Even in the dark, I notice the irony
but I know better than to think of it
thoughts like these make ghosts out of sanity
I slide a soggy dollar to the birdlike women
at the bakery, and she hands me a stale donut
above us, a dozen lazy buzzards ride
thermal ways around skyrises.

By Grecia Espinoza

Biography

Grecia Espinoza is a Brooklyn based poet. She moved to New York to start her M.A. in English and American Literature at New York University. Her writing is inspired, almost paradoxically, by the language of confessional and Black Arts poetry both of which have been the center of her research. . She’s currently working on a poetry collection that she hopes to finish by the end of the year.

Venus Spits On Me By Jasiah Hasan

Venus Spits On Me

Botticelli’s The birth of Venus:
goddess of love
goddess of everything
warm blooded &
doomed to desire Desire
born from pink oyster lips
pinnacle of womanhood
just out of reach
hair like liquid sun pouring
down pale satin flesh
breasts like pearls
next to soot stains on my chest
eyes like churning oceans
the way mine are dead kelp
the way mine are oil spills.

Jupiter only has eyes for
a blushing planet of rust
commands heaven
to let her dance twice a day
morning and night
the whitest star in the sky
burning imprints in man’s eyes
but I am star-eater
I am black hole &
wildfire smoke darkening
his pink lungs.

O Venus
why curse a brown beauty
with Desire?
Kali may be fierce but
Durga still sleeps in her heart
yearning and woman.
Botticelli paints blue eyes
gold spun hair
buttercream white skin
so white that it looks like
sidewalk chalk on my brownness
like a halfhearted eraser mark
that couldn’t get the job done.

By Jasiah Hasan

Biography

Jasiah Hasan is a 22-year-old poet and writer from Portland, Oregon. She studied poetry at the University of Virginia. In her free time, she loves hiking, cooking, and oil painting.