and the cloud opens hurriedly for
a prophecy of smoke. It opens like daybreak
and it’s so funny how bodies collate fire easily.
Everyone carried race all over their bodies,
black. black. black.
No one remained the same
no one knew how explosion borrow bodies to make embers
no one knew how fire opens a body
layer by layer until DNA becomes an
identification messiah.
Imagine seeing a boy dying outside a car
where you’re locked inside
while fire approaches you with the anger of light,
imagine a man in a praying position
on the steering before metals pleats his faith.
Bodies switch music and dirge is a solo
that sings a boy into silence. Water is a tenor of things too weak
to stay in a body full of darkness. A motor’s wiper
mimes death, and its full light dies into seconds.
Noises drown this city of brown bodies.
do not call this road a mortuary
do not say this body doesn’t resemble your father,
do not seep this broken news into your veins
like the desperate tweaking of injections into a body
veined with deaths,
do not switch on the T.V
for they won’t still be sure
the death toll till the cloud closes like memories.

By Mesioye Johnson


Mesioye Johnson is a bird of many colors who writes to heal his darkness and the world around his waist. His works are featured or forthcoming in African Writer, Eunoia review, Sub-Saharan magazine and somewhere else. He is @mesioyejohnson on Twitter



the smoke from the bodies of burning boys is accusative
i fear for the day i will burn because persecution foreruns fire
it continues to consume boys committing selves solely to boys
brave ones with eyes invaded by love taste smoke
i go to my lover’s arms set in the cover of darkness
they will come for me while dressed in light to name me rebel
any boy tongue-kissing another triggers the functionality of bombs
the dark gives up our position so i fucking run into corners unknown
i flee this madness because I carry a wild heart learning different ways to love
in this city & in all its houses, hate is mayor around these parts
scripture quoting warriors tread rudely on my name
fuck, i love my body enough to divorce reason & conformity
everywhere, a boy misses his lover & fear sharpens the blade he hugs as ally
i lose my soul when i am not loving or trying to decipher the language of hate
the words i locate weakens me when placed against mob mentality
i was not taught to hold my body like a gun or twist shape to become knife
like the one i pulled out from a boy’s back the night freedom caught fire
Jesus is the heaven preachers market alongside salvation
they sell ascension for obese bank accounts while the carpenter’s son tends to barren pockets
i walk with Christ & he cries, weeping ike that chapter drawn from Lazarus’ tomb
i exchange my lover for life & they crown him with burning
i pour my heart into Christ’s own to emphasize that kindness is sexy
i observe a minute’s silence for my lover while hate speech rains down
contained in the belly of sleepless nights, i listen for suicide’s call
Christ returns to hold & sing my grief to sleep
he waters my lips, eyelids & skin with kisses, tongue swirls in my favour

By Michael Akuchie


Michael Akuchie is a Nigerian young adult writer. His work is on Barren Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Neologism Poetry Journal, Mojave Heart and elsewhere. He is @Michael_Akuchie on Twitter.

tenebrosity By Amanda Huang


i have never gotten over my fear
of the darkness. instead i dream
that i have woken up
alone in the night forest, one eye
fluttered open in search of
the horizon and the other
turned downwards to the earth
it is quiet, still              besides for
the shards of moonlight quivering
through the trees, and at home

they fear the nighttime too, when
the creatures cry in the woods
and mothers draw their curtains, hold
their sleeping babies close
to their chests to let their breaths
warm the dewy eyelashes of
their children and count
their                 heartbeats

leave the lights on. i am afraid
of the forest, the dark, of what cries
in the woods among the shadows
of my own breath

By Amanda Huang


Amanda Huang is a junior at Millburn High School, where she is a senior editor of her school’s literary magazine. Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and JustPoetry, and has been published in TeenInk and in the Word magazine.


Why do I still answer when you call? By Nia KB

Why do I still answer when you call?

While deleting snapchat I came across a glimpse
of us months ago hiking
in Arlington; SZA’s CTRL a silhouette
for sweltering heat that fried our faces
You had those goofy pink shades on and your bony
body lie against my wrinkled white tee
I was looking down at your face
watching you effortlessly project pretty
wondering what I did to deserve such
a Goddess. I zoomed closer to highlight
myself let the lie “I’m cute as hell”
roll like water off my tongue. I found myself
saving this video, even almost sending it
to you, but instead let it live in my phone for another
forever I can’t yet erase that color of time
from my mind can’t yet fathom him being
the warm body behind you to push against
can’t tell myself enough you fucked up, she’s gone
until The Weekend doesn’t make me
crack a dorky smile but then you call
for a kind of comfort I never provided
like a virus, I attack the opportunity
to let love in. You hear in my voice that I’m drinking
then the phone screen’s darkness fills
even when you hang up I have pictures
videos that do the best they can
to stray away my empty

By Nia KB


Nia KB (they/them) is a Black queer nonbinary poet, editor, and educator. They are the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Lambda Literary, The Speakeasy Project, and UTSA’s African American Literatures and Cultures Institute. Their poetry appears or is forthcoming in Eleven40Seven, Z Publishing, Pamplemousse, Brown State of Mind, Lighthouse Literary, and elsewhere. When they’re not blessing stages or writing pages, they serve as Associate Poetry Editor for Fields Magazine, Production Assistant for the web series Gentrified, Curator/Host of the reading series Austin Interfaces, and Teaching Artist for Austin Library Foundation’s Badgerdog Creative Writing Program. If you got this far, they think you should follow them on twitter and instagram at nia_kb.

silent, treacherous By Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu

silent, treacherous

palm slashed and dripping,
i am seated on the bathroom floor, alone.
a fabric of darkness only i can see
is so close it could be the skin clinging to the immediacy of my bones.
there is the sun, too, breathing through the window
for a glimpse of this different kind of deflowering.
there is always a silent treacherous witness to these things.
it’s a song pouring out your computer on a starless night
it is the woman next door, whom you called mama,
who sprayed a song over your childhood like
scent over flowers
it is she, peeping as
a male body sheds trust like garment,
tries to pour into your 6 year old self that first night, one hand
back and forth on your back like the sound of many soundless things breaking.

other times, it is god watching. watching. from above.

there is always a silent treacherous witness to these things
today, it is the sun

By Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu


Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu’s work has appeared on Ake Review, Brittle Paper, The Bitter Oleander, After the Pause journal, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. She’s a 2018 fellow at the Ebedi Writers Residency in Nigeria, and is currently pursuing a law degree.

Serotiny By Rachel Egly


I stand tall under the operating room lighting
of my father’s kitchen. Laid out as I am with
skin sterilized and cut back,
nerves and organs exposed, I tell him
I am bi.

I can smell our dinner beginning to burn.
He stands at the stove with his back to me and tells me
it will pass.

Do mountains come to pass?

I understand mountains.
Although their spines are strong,
they have been molded, smoothed;
caressed as they are by water
for millions of years.
Their worn-in bodies become homes
for so many animals, plants, trees.

I read once about a kind of pinecone that will
only grow after it has been
set on fire
Serotinous, they are called.
High in the same mountains, their parent trees
wait for wildfires to sacrifice themselves
for their seedlings.

I stand tall at your side, finally
playing myself in this grand opera.
Say I’m no longer acting.
Say the stage is on fire and I can feel
the wild heat of it,
can hear its lyric burning,
but I do not shy away like a frightened animal;
Instead, I take your hand and sing along
while the flames finally find me.



Rachel Egly is a bi poet, engineer, and ecologist in love with all things water. Her work has previously appeared in Words Dance and Ghost City Review and is forthcoming in Vagabond City. She currently lives in Chicago with her partner and cat, where she catches crayfish, naps as much as possible, and spends most of her money on good food.

I sing of black boys, brown boys, sweet boys By Ernest Ogunyemi

I sing of black boys, brown boys, sweet boys

—after Jussie Smollett

I make no apologies for the colour of my skin,
what I wear on my bones is not a plea. though
you call my body a dark house, unfitting for the light.
the song in my throat is not a request for your hate,
the flowers I grow on the earth inside me is not a debate with you.

I ask when it stops being sin for black boys
to be seen, when the time ripens enough for coloured boys
to walk the streets of America and not be walled,
and not be raised, and not be questioned, and not
be touched till touching itself becomes a synonym for

burning. I ask when the black, brown and red
blood of coloured martyrs becomes a bright-enough sign
on our doorposts to make the angels of death pass over.

but until then I sing.

I sing of black boys, brown boys, sweet boys.
I sing of boys who, though stretched and thorned
on all ends, though broken like slashed water, have
forged themselves a voice from the language of fear.
I sing of boys who like god, boys—gods, have
painted themselves into a rainbow in the sky,
this sky, you call it your sky,
to remind you that we are here, that
your hands around the neck of our voices is
not enough to tie our tongues, that
your palms slapping fire into our bones is
not death, it is a request for our singing.

 By Ernest Ogunyemi


Ernest Ogunyemi is an eighteen year-old writer from Nigeria. His stories and poems have appeared in Kalahari, Acumen UK, Litro UK, Literally Stories, The Rising Phoenix, and many more. His story was recently featured in Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, published by Brittle Paper, and he was recently selected to participate in the Goethe-Institute Afro Young Adult workshop. He has a short story collection and novel in progress.