a park in the middle of anywhere By Anna Leonard

a park in the middle of anywhere

a swing-set. dirty blonde pigtails sway
along the long legs of this girl, laughing

because the boy she cut in line to swing is crying, and she
finds her first victory over a man, crossing

finish lines that are meant to hold her back.
she ignores the ropes that keep her in the ring.

it tastes good, this teaspoon of premature revenge, giggles
tickling her tongue. i will not hold back, this girl

swings so high, her toes almost graze the glass.
she does not yet understand how small she will feel

when she sprouts breasts, grows curves and other items
up for grabs. she loves to be noticed now, but she won’t

forever: a big word. stuck forever in this body, in this
trophy case. we are shiny, we are sexy, we are

sorry for being born this way. i didn’t mean to be
a woman. is she still fighting? is she still swinging?

or is she still?

By Anna Leonard

Biography:

Anna Leonard is an Atlanta-based 21-year-old graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and a concentration in Performance. She cultivated an interest in writing through dissecting plays and chose to adopt a minor in Creative Writing. She is an avid singer-songwriter with music out on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and aims to create pieces dedicated to sincerity.

Bird Feeding By Zahraa Farhat

Bird Feeding

“Look,” Baba says,
“They’re praying for us.”

On top of the mint blue slide,
I watch a few swerve
in between trees, white
bread scraps in their beaks.
They beckon the rest
to come eat
— red, blue, white, black, brown
wings steady on the lawn.

I slide down
to move closer
and listen to the birds pray,
but they hear
me dawdle their way
and take off pleading
to the sky.

By Zahraa Farhat

Biography:

Zahraa Farhat is a Lebanese American writer and former journalist for The Arab American News. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn and master’s degree in creative writing from Wayne State University. As a daughter of immigrants and a Muslim in America, her writing is preoccupied with themes of family, war, country, and identity.

Dealing with the Devil By Saya Iwasaki

Dealing with the Devil

It’s funny how dead you can feel inside
when all there is to life, is a deal with the devil –
the devil that is capitalism,
tempting you with money, the luxuries, the dreams.
It’s a deal you cut when you’re born into this world.
The devil engrains his gifts into you,
whispering this is what you want,
that this is what you need.

When it comes time to let go of the menial exchanges
and elevate your desires that you’ve kept hidden so long –
the devil’s gifts are already embedded so deeply into you,
that you won’t be able to forego them without a fight.
Your battle with the devil will be within,
against the his mandates living in your mind.

For not choosing his options, the devil will hold out on rewarding you.
The pursuit of your self without the devil may leave you decrepit,
in the boones of society,
hungry with a deep lust to fill up your pockets,
or it may reward you,
leaving you drenched in the money, the luxuries the dreams.

The irony of it all.
Even when we choose ourselves,
we can’t escape the devil.

By Saya Iwasaki

Biography:

Saya Iwasaki writes poetry reflecting the emotional burden that stems from existing in today’s society. Having grown up in multiple international societies as a Japanese woman, her poetry straddles the dualities of being a woman continuously searching for her identity and belonging while living with trauma and dissociation. Formerly an art teacher and graphic designer, Saya received her MA in Education at Stanford and went on to immerse herself in the tech world. Poetry is her foray into herself.

Automaton By Thushanthi Ponweera

Automaton

The machine whirrs beneath her feet,
The fan whirrs above her head.

Her fingers move swiftly,
Guiding the cloth beneath the needle,
Stitching jackets and pants
and dresses and bras, Ones she’ll never wear,
Or see being worn.

Hair neatly combed,
Back hunched over,
Punching in early,
Punching out late.

Plain tea and rice and curry fueled energy.

Able to take ragged edges and turn them into neat lines.
First one, then another,
And another,
And another.

For hours,
For days,
For years.

Pain is a sign of weakness,
To acknowledge it, indulgent.
Period cramps and raging fevers
are for the ones
Whose children back home don’t need new school shoes,
And for those whose parents’ kidneys aren’t failing.

So why are they calling her selfish,
When all she has been is selfless?

When she has always left her sense of self
Folded into a neat rectangle every morning,
Lying in wait under her pillow,
To be reclaimed only at night.

By Thushanthi Ponweera

Thushanthi Ponweera is a full time mom and an aspiring writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her poetry is usually typed hurriedly on the phone, before her kids wake up. You can follow her writing journey at @thushponweera

The Whirlpool By Kristina Kryukova

The Whirlpool

Water poured among uneaten islets,
down the alleys, down from the roofs.
At dinnertime, the sour smell of sticky buds
burst out of the park.
Wistful birds whistled on the windowsill
making kids laugh,
and teaspoons jingled,
and the wooden fence creaked.
The vapor wreathed up and, in the tousled air,
reaching another state of matter,
it gathered water into pellets again
and wept them down like tears of repentance.

By Kristina Kryukova

Translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian.

Biography:

Kristina Kryukova is an author from Russia. She lives in Moscow. Her most recent poems have appeared Salmon Creek Journal, Poets Choice. She graduated from the Moscow University of Culture and Arts. Winner of several national and international poetry awards, mother of two kids

Pressed into Purple By Sidney Muntean

Pressed into Purple

There are two purple bruises
on each of my knees, one
for each of us. I pressed down
until the pain scurried away.

It hid
in a stranger’s lawn and
found us picking lavender. I told you
its smell is supposed to assist with sleep.

You took in
the late of night under my eyes, my
bulbous yawn, and asked me
how many monsters were keeping me up.

I didn’t need to explain
that the only monster under my bed
was the familiar twinge
of an absentee ache.

Now, this pain has blossomed
into four lavender stems, toughened
by the grasp of a persistent palm.

The language of your hand
said forever, but the way I placed
the lavender in the pages of my dictionary

made me wonder
if there was something more
I was trying to preserve.

By Sidney Muntean

Biography:

Sidney Muntean is a high school student in the Creative Writing program at Orange County School of the Arts. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of a creative arts publication, The Junebug Journal. Her work has been recognized by various contests such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Kay Snow Writing Awards and most recently appears in Orca, Adonis Designs Press, and Sunspot Lit. Sidney also likes to dabble in performance poetry, as she won 3rd place with her team in the slam poetry competition OC RYSE.

Stray Cats Sleeping on the Shore By Vanessa Gibson

Stray Cats Sleeping on the Shore

For Pablo Neruda

I forgot the obvious of compassion,
the I felt the way your pores sang.
If I had the chance to curse your toes
landlocked in concrete pouring lightly
on the sun, I’d kiss you, shelter you
from the cold latticed air, dance,
pour a bath, sink marigolds under.
If I keep coming here, I’ll soften.
If I lay here a little longer
a seed will plant itself somewhere
in me where the wind is never steady.
I open your doors for more breeze.
Like you, weather can be quite warm.
Like an iguana, you watch the weather
slink across the sky. Please,
if you’ll let me, the dirt road is long,
narrow, and ends before the drive.
Some poor hand the architect crafted
has cramped, and their drawings
have woven treacherously into the ground.
A fire built like the architect is nimble,
the light grip of a brushstroke
from where all space grows.

All space grows to be sacred,
desolate, the hill we drop
our leaves in, the world
count down from a million fingers.
How far we go depends on when we see
earth’s toes in sand—a high reef of glass,
la primera mother of light, where heat jumps
urgently from flesh. Two birds complete
one stone as if a ceiling and floor
of concrete is a city all its own.
Another way down is the world
in which we all grow old.
This heart, I settle finely
as a gulf of wind and oceans
that open unto sheds
and the only thing life has
is choice. If I am to remember
anything, let it be the vision of the sun
setting on the Aegean Sea, stray cats
sleeping on the rocks below.
If at times I say goodnight, know
that what I mean is good morning.
The day’s eyes never grow thin
and the earth’s weariness lies
only in our words.

By Vanessa Gibson

Biography:

Vanessa Gibson is a 23-year-old recent college graduate who studied English and philosophy, with a concentration in writing and poetry. She considers poetry to be one of the most beautiful expressions of not only language, but of the mind, body, and soul. She believes that poetry can allow us to write from the subconscious, to break down barriers, and to share an intimate slice of human connection. Her work has not been previously published, but she is striving to change that.

On the Will of the Lake By Angie Gross

On the Will of the Lake

I sit on the dock
and watch as the sky erupts
into ribbons of orange and gold.

the lake beneath me pushes and pulls
as if according to its own will
and now, I have convinced myself
that if we, the maniac humans,
are made in the image of God,
so is everything else.

I mean for the moment, of course,
the lake upon which I suspend myself
as if only to witness
the way it is vast and powerful
in ways that we are not vast and powerful.

the lake whose ebb and flow
moves as if to open its wings and show me
all of the life contained between its banks,
as if to hand me the end of the day,
as if to say, “here,
take this light
into the world with you
and please,
give it away.”

By Angie Gross

Biography:

Angie Gross is a poet, pianist, yogi, bookworm, psychology student and friend to all from northern California.

musing By Emily Ng

musing

dreams —

           crumple in aged lockets

wind salivates over hushed syllable

      and        crochet splinters

              of sin

      wintry howls

                         awake

                      when the casket

  locks

What depths are there to be taken when I inherit

         the blurred figure of corruption?

   trade blood apples

                             for hourglass —

      carve shadows

                    from subversion

   reminder —     

                         how one 

        conceives

    clarity

                       that makes

        so     long

       a

life

By Emily Ng

Biography:

Emily Ng is a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, NY. She is a second reader for Polyphony Lit and a poetry and prose editor for Kalopsia Lit. Emily has been recognized nationally by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Queen Mother to Future I By Opal Palmer Adisa

Queen Mother to Future I

before your head
rested at my knee
i recognized the mark
on your arm

at council you would sit
by my feet
play with the beads
around my ankle
swallow the words
the other mothers and
i whispered as promise

some nights
as i sat on a stool
in front of my hut
listening to the moon
you were a sloth on my
right shoulder
your eyes twin stars
charting a topography

it could not have been otherwise
you had to erect your own stool
bridging memory
lacing a landscape
spirally infinite in its journey

i am gone now
at least my breath no longer fogs this world
but your work is not done
go and plant three baobab trees
so their roots will intertwine
fashioning a river for the
ship that is coming

By Opal Palmer Adisa

Biography:

Opal Palmer Adisa is a Jamaican writer, cultural activist, gender specialist and photographer who has published 20 collections, including poetry, short stories, novels and children’s book. http://www.opalpalmeradisa.com