WE NEVER WANTED TO BE FORTUNE COOKIE CHILDREN By Kaitlyn Wang

WE NEVER WANTED TO BE FORTUNE COOKIE CHILDREN

Yet there we huddled: curled inside our shells,
our futures already written and pressed

against our bodies. The ink
wet and viscous. The letters

hollow, ringing. Your lucky numbers are…
But listen now: to the crackle of plastic, to the snap

of a splitting sky
spilling light into the corners

of our home. Hurry—
there you go. Keep clinging.

Your toes swing beneath you
as you watch shingles, walls, a chimney

tumble below. Your fortune flutters,
sprawls unconscious across sidewalk.

You don’t let go to save it—
you let go because we must

fall

and hit the ground limping
before we pave a real road.

By Kaitlyn Wang

Biography:

Kaitlyn Wang is a high school senior from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a poetry reader for Polyphony H.S. and a poetry editor of Soundings, her school’s art and literary magazine. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she is a California Arts Scholar.

 

Marathon By Athena Dixon

Marathon

I am tired of being a poet
of witness, a collector of memories

soured and repeating. A collector
of tomes, bodies, and time.

Of postcard lynchings, toppled statues.
I am tired of the news.

But tiredness is not an option,
is not a role allowed in these here

times. Tired is nothing more than pause
between recharge, before forward

movement begins again. Tired is a satchel
on the backs of protest, able to be placed

to the wayside and emptied. It is a callous
and a fire and hand out and up

and across. It miles to go with a sun
burning on the horizon, nuclear

and frightening. It is weariness settling
into the crevices, flowering

out from the metallic noses of bullets,
exploding and riveting us to yet another

martyr. Tired is a huddle of whispers
on either side of the fence, a bang

of starting before the running
begins.

By Athena Dixon

Biography:

Athena’s work has appeared in various publications both online and in print. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee (2016, 2017), a Best of the Net nominee (2017), a Callaloo fellow (Oxford 2017), and a V.O.N.A. fellow (2018). Athena is a member of the Moving Forewards Memoir Writers Collective. Additionally, she has presented at AWP (Boston 2013) and HippoCamp (2016, 2017, 2018).

She is the author of No God In This Room, a poetry chapbook , published by Argus House Press. Her work also appears in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books).

She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.

Your Orthodontist, An Amiable Man By Ann Zhang

Your Orthodontist, An Amiable Man

your orthodontist’s fingers in your mouth
left thumb hooked around a rubber band his hand
might be green you think
he has a name you can’t remember he keeps asking
about your day while splitting angles down pharynx

by now you know when to blink or open wider
when you can’t hold your eyes to his tooth-mirror’s
glow maybe your orthodontist knows
you don’t floss
knows your middle name he sets
the tooth-mirror on your chest like there’s no
finer surface in the whole frozen ballroom

you meet your orthodontist among wildflower
snatches like in the movies
he’s frolicking
stretching out your mother’s favorite slip
maybe his mouth is a trench
where sirens kneel, lapping honey
he’s thinking about a root canal but won’t tell
until you hurt you dream he could have been
some kid’s tooth fairy or father he begins to hum
presses a finger to your lips
you pry them open like magnets
the clicking of teeth
thrum of an x-ray
you count until your gums ache
then bleed

By Ann Zhang

Biography:

Ann Zhang lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her family and 16-pound cat. She writes when she is hungry, which is often.

From Tragedy Comes Change By Alyssa Sammartino

From Tragedy Comes Change

Mom look at the painting i made at school.
Mom, check out these projects. I got all A’s pretty cool!

Hey mom, there’s a kid in my class, i think his light is starting to fade.
I told my teachers but all they say is,
“oh he seems okay.”
Mom I’m kind of afraid. That boy is angry and so full of rage.
I tried to reach out but he said,
“Just go away.”

No one seems to care when he talks about the guns his dad has “for hunting deer”.
I’ve started to just keep my head down; i practice being quiet and not making a sound.

These people didn’t want to hear what i had to say.
But then they all showed up crying at my grave.
They didn’t listen about the little boy blue. The one that took the money his father saved in a shoe.
At just 16, he went to the local gun and trade show, and walked away with enough to make the pain grow.

“Hey mom i lov…” Was all i had time for before i saw my own blood there on the floor.

Why cant they see this is wrong? No other family should sing a funeral song.
But it doesn’t matter as long as congress is being paid by the NRA.
“Who cares about a school shooting, don’t take our guns away!”
The country needs reform.
With worries of guns and being killed it’s no wonder our students can’t perform.

No more will they be weak as they run into every street.
They will march, and rally, and walk out until the politicians acknowledge their every shout.

Please don’t let me have died in vain.
Everything I’ve lost, yet still there’s so much to gain.
Being looked at like they are deranged, all while fighting for their lives and for the laws to be changed.

By Alyssa Sammartino

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America

10/4 By Becca Hartman

10/4

i sit in the driveway
i melt into air
i howl at the moon and
hope that someone will hear. nobody taught me the proper way
to sew myself back up after cutting the dead things out.

the brown grass is getting taller–
the highway is almost covered–
it just won’t quit. it won’t leave well
enough alone.

i am cleaning myself raw for you.
i am digging the tweezers into my chest and pulling out crabgrass
for you.
didn’t you mother ever tell you not to play with dead things?
i am trying to make the clean incision but everything keeps pouring out.

please look away – i don’t want you to see.
i have tried very hard to board up the attic but the
termites keep chewing through the wood.

there are little pinpricks of light now – do you see?
in that one: the old rocking chair.
in that one: the mahogany trunk.
in that one: the boy who crawled inside and will not leave.

we don’t know how he got in here.
we are trying very hard to get him out.
in that one: the space between his feet and the wall
the dust forming quiet like snowfall
bonding to his skin.

By Becca Hartman

Biography:

Becca is a college graduate from Buffalo, NY. She is a bookseller and barista due to student debt and volunteers at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House due to love and admiration. Likes include historical nonfiction, French music, and the way the stars look at Joshua Tree. Dislikes include dairy milk and those averse to using turn signals while driving.

A SOMBER NIGHT By Oluwafemi Babasola

A SOMBER NIGHT

From your brittle voices
Sing the elegy of broken dreams
The dirge must begin

Light your torches
Let their glow revive smothered spirits
Let their flames mask
Skunk of rotten bodies
Feasted upon by gloating flies

Light your torches
Our fallen brothers should know no
Darkness on their journey to rest
Light your torches
For brothers whose shroud
Is their own blood

Light your torches
Illuminate the faces of masquerades
Behind veils of ethnicity and religion
Illuminate herders’ rods
Transmuted into riffles
That turn us into corpses

Light your torches
Why would stray eyes
Not see this fire engulf us?

Light your torches
Even if the steam of
Sorrow streaming from our souls
Flirts with the fury in our hands
Combusts into a ball of hell
And raze us into a rubble of ashes

By Oluwafemi Babasola

Biography:

Oluwafemi Babasola employs poetry and his short stories to express his thoughts and beliefs about life, the inequality in the society and emotions of the heart.
Oluwafemi’s poems have appeared on Bravearts Africa, Praxis Magonline, Kreative Diadem, African Writer, Parousia and Nantygreens. He lives in Benin, Nigeria. You can follow him on twitter @babasola10on10.

Practice By Tianna G. Hansen

Practice

mom wasn’t home, she’d left
to pick up my younger sister,
leaving me wide open, vulnerable
in the face of someone who shouldn’t
be a monster,
but was.
a man who should have taken our love
unconditional as it may be
and cherished it instead of taking
advantage – haunting my nightmares
for years after
& that night
he said, here, take this,
handed me a ripe banana, thick and
yellow – practice with it, he’ll
like that –        he meant my boyfriend
at the time, who he had
caught me feeling up on the couch
last Sunday when he came over
for dinner;
our conversation
started off with a weird twist
and a coiling inside my stomach
i don’t think your mother gave you
a good enough               sex talk
and this was months after he would
kiss me on the lips           good-night
something not even my own
flesh & blood father did
something not even my mother
would do, but I didn’t realize then
that it was                     wrong
how would I? all I wanted,
all I sought & yearned was love,
acceptance from a father figure
and I thought that’s what he gave me
but in the end
all I was left holding
was that ripe banana and
my heart,          dripping blood
aching and crying out like a lost child
I guess they always say,
practice makes perfect
but I never did what he suggested
it felt so             crude
and a few years later there was
the divorce which took away his shadow
lingering as it did
over me, a monster that had crawled
out from under the bed
and refused to return          to the darkness
from whence he came.

By Tianna G. Hansen

Biography:

Tianna G. Hansen has spent her whole life writing and intends to continue this with her recent husband by her side and her wonderful cat Stella. She started her own indie lit mag in June, Rhythm & Bones, and has continued expanding with the most recent project an anthology for survivors of sexual abuse to come forward and share their stories. Follow her work at CreativeTianna.com or check out her mag at RhythmNBone.com. She’s also on Twitter @Tiannag92.