At Home with Dog By Taylor Graham

At Home with Dog

An oft-told story. He came back
from the war, his old place at the taco-works
was gone. He needs a job. A homeless
dog took him in. He calls her Cordy.
Ask him, he’ll tell you, where the dog’s bowl
is, that’s home. Pounding city pavement,
it was like he fell down a manhole
into storm-drain – Alice’s rabbit hole
to a parallel, surreal world
where fresh-chopped cilantro transforms
to thistle along the berm, and a rented room
becomes a camo tarp you can’t see
from the highway, invisible among cedars.
Praise the Lord, his dog came
with him. The shelter won’t take dogs.
Evenings, he reads by a caver’s headlamp
he found at thrift. Sometimes
he recites Shakespeare to Cordy who
cocks her ears to any rustle in the brush.
Mornings they walk downtown where he shops
for jobs. Crumpled want-ads in the gutter.
He gets his insight, call it his hope,
rubbing the silky hair behind her ears.
Cordy is home.

By Taylor Graham

Biography:

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and serves as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). The places she searches and trains her dogs are often where the homeless camp or were recently evicted. Her poems are included in Homeless Issues (newsletter of the local Job’s Shelter of the Sierra) as well as the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest books are What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013) and Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).

To Freeze Is Better Than Death By Ifunanya Angelique

To Freeze Is Better Than Death

We now raise our hands
in surrender
startling our innocence
because we cannot risk you
thinking
we are reaching for guns
when we only want our cellphones.

By Ifunanya Angelique

Biography:

Ifunanya Angelique was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is a writer and poet. Ifunanya hopes to use her writing to ‘break chains’, especially the chains which have for a long time, bound people who look like her. Some of her poems have been released in her University magazine as well as some reputable blogs.

OLD CREATURE By Jonathan Endurance

OLD CREATURE

My grandfather’s body is an old play ground —
an abandoned creature in a courtyard
& a little old play thing for the midnight stars
listen to the burst of bird chirp on his old skull

sounds like sharp metals and porcelains
striking against themselves

His body is a dead oriole
a viscous substance trapped in a wooden coffin
& long forgotten some decades ago

& here is a broken boy —
an oyster gifting his body out
cooked and raw for old memories
susceptible like shark with fins ripped off

Does he even know his body is an
abadoned sandcastle swollen beneath the
foot of a graveyard
& birds cup themselves with his old hair?

Or is the sky a burial ground for old creatures
does the heaven hold everything
everything he has ever lost here?

By Jonathan Endurance

Biography:

Jonathan Endurance is a piece of sweet dark (Nigerian) chocolate. He loves football and writes in a still room.

PAINT ME THE COLOURS OF AFRICA By Adedayo Ademokoya

PAINT ME THE COLOURS OF AFRICA

Where do I come from?
Where do I start from?
From the Kilimanjaro, my hope aroused
Down to Okavango with the friendly papyrus
Sure to fill me with the diamonds of Mandela
But don’t forget my origin

The walls of history fortified
Volcano of rich cultures erupted
Drown me in the Nile, I’ll show you the destiny of a courageous swimmer
Let’s move to Serengeti to feel mother’s love
Amarula and marula are the daughters of our soil
I am the wildebeest of valour

African rosewood gives rose to Rosemary
Showing the pleasures of the Pyramids
The shy bush babies appraise me
The holy sycamore gives her blessings
I crave for more
But all is within

By Adedayo Ademokoya

Biography:

Adedayo Ademokoya is a writer and poet who is crazily in love with infusing passion to bring life out of words to express himself. He sometimes writes with the pseudonym ‘Fantasticdee’. Some of his works have appeared on BravesArts Africa, Praxis Magazine, Parousia Magazine, Indian Periodical, African Writer, Thought Catalog and elsewhere.

17 Hannah Pandya

17

At 17 years old,

We danced the night away to an electronic beat surrounded
By a swirl of adolescent bodies,

Spun on our heels, floated away on a melody.

Teenage bodies move like the wind, soar higher than the clouds,
And have so far to fall.

When he came for 17 of their bodies,

Emptied his magazine into their swirling vortex,
I imagine I heard them fall like the branches of an aged

Maple deep in the forest, felt their ancient stone

Crumble: they’ve been here before,
We have been here before, our bodies loose currency

Jingling in pockets of those who should protect us, bleached bone

Trading cards scattered across legislative floors;
Maybe I’m tired of writing about this perverse dance,

Tired of treading on this floor, taking care not to soak

My shoes in their blood, collecting their scattered teeth, a roadmap
To nowhere. Right now we are going nowhere,

And the road to hell is not paved with good intentions

But with the bones of twenty children who died within pastel
Walls clinging to construction paper and Magic markers.

I don’t know what words I can use

When “babies” and ”bullets” threaded together
Didn’t move you.

By Hannah Pandya

Biography:

Hannah Pandya is a senior at Saint Johnsbury Academy, in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont. She has been writing poetry since the 8th grade and taking photographs since her junior year. She finds that the written word and photography are the best way she can express herself. and her complex emotions She also dabbles in writing prose, plays and nonfiction pieces. In addition to writing and photography, she spends her time in her school theatre program, petting her cat, baking cookies and traveling to as many corners of the world as she can. She plans to get her degree in English and photography, specializing in creative writing, and move on to obtain a master’s in photojournalism.

My Mother, The Plant Metaphor By Chestina Craig

My Mother, The Plant Metaphor

My mothers body is a garden my father
cannot curb
a fruit placing itself in a chokehold
if you do not know what weeds look like
a plant, is just a plant
a body, is just
a body
but a body can have overgrowth
be the dirt that springs it’s own suffocation
my mother
says that the cancer has been rooting
for twenty seven years
been an unidentifiable bloom
on her stomach the doctors never keyed out
been a thing she has reared
longer than me, which is to say
cancer has been my wombmate
a sharp eyed twin,
who bent veins to balloon our hunger.
today, my mother is a new
person & yet the same
I have known all along

By Chestina Craig 

Biography:

Chestina Craig lives in Long Beach, CA with her cat. Her work has been published in Black Napkin Press, The Rising Phoenix Review, Incandescent Mind, KINGS ZINE, L’EPHEMERE Review, Femme Fotale (photography), and others. She has presented her work at The Presidents Commission on The Status of Women, The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference presented by Congressman Allen Lowenthal, The Orange

SELF PORTRAIT By Rebecca Kokitus

SELF PORTRAIT

a ghost in the kitchen window mistaken for me

born with miner’s black fingers, witch’s green thumb / born from the swamps like Venus from the sea / with bog scum beneath your fingernails

grew up playing dress-up / with cheap eyeshadow and the stubborn dirt of the land

mostly scar tissue / mostly ingrown past selves

show me the origin of tragedy / the home like a freezer where you leave your heart / when you run to the city / where mother props it up on the pillows / with your stuffed animals and unopened mail

show me the moment you first confused disease for art / forever sallow as a smoker’s wallpaper / because you just wanted to be more than wallpaper

dyed red hair hangs down your back like a fake flame / made of cloth and light and air / that they can touch and feel like god

sometimes I want to drive until the fields unfold / like a patchwork quilt on my childhood bed /and I can burrow inside and become you again / sometimes your coal ash aura catches the light like dust / and I want to beat it out of you / like an old rug

By Rebecca Kokitus

Biography:

Rebecca Kokitus is a part time resident of Media, PA just outside Philadelphia, and a part time resident of a small town in rural Schuylkill County, PA. She is an aspiring poet and is currently an undergraduate in the writing program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. More of her writing can be found in Rag Queen Periodical and Moonchild Magazine, among other places. She tweets at @rxbxcca_anna.