[Part Everything Daughter] By Noor Unnahar

[Part Everything Daughter]

After Ocean Vuong

I trust water as my mother
trusts Surah Yaseen to protect
me from every satin wolf
outside. Who would I be if not
a cinnamon body
part salt water part everything daughter
born in a city by the sea so generous
it didn’t swallow us.
Smoke built a house only to
name it a heart and I swapped
it with the one mourning inside me.
It ignites before it breaks. There
is a God I begged forgiveness from
and was given everything else. If you
ever see me smoldering; assume,
I must be apologizing with a heart on
the verge of breaking.

By Noor Unnahar Siddique


Noor Unnahar Siddique is a writer from Karachi currently living in Thatta, Pakistan. She got her Intermediate of Commerce (I.Com) degree from Khatoon-E-Pakistan College, Karachi, but never returned to business studies ever since. Her work is based on the lives of women, her life as a young Muslim in a modern world, the ache of leaving home, and social issues of her generation. When she is not writing, you will find her making art journals, filming videos for youtube, and taking aesthetically pleasing photos for Instagram. Her first self-published collection of poetry ‘Yesterday I Was The Moon’ was published in July 2017.

Excuses By Mobolaji Olawale


For some Nigerian whose name I do not remember

They say when it is time for death,
He comes in the form of excuses-
Charred bodies, paper-white palms,
A female child reloading a machine gun
With broomstick arms.
They say death wears many faces
But the taste is the same.
We lick our wounds and affirm this
In the way the blood doesn’t clot in our mouth
Turning into tears, then into alcohol.

I have replayed these scenes in my head
But my taste buds pick up no signal:
You in the air
Just below the third mainland bridge
And above Lagos lagoon
Water swallowing you
And all your vulnerability in one deep gulp
Like mother’s arms;
The news coming on the TV to meet
A sea of censuring hisses in the audience
Then some casual talks, then some giggling.

They say death has many faces
But yours isn’t one of them.
They never tell us that later
When the small fishes, crabs and lice
Come to meet by your side
There will be no casual talks or laughter
They will go straight into the act of nibbling.

By Mobolaji Olawale


A medical doctor, graduate of University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He has had works published in Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review, Afridiaspora, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tuck Magazine etc. He writes from Lagos and tweets from @theBolaji

When the Imam Cries By Farah Billah

When the Imam Cries

Sitting next to my mother, under mosaic,
I wonder how Rumi had such an unshakable faith.
How we read poetry about a God we rarely pretend to know.
The bodies hum to it,
The prayers…
The teenage girls sway alongside their mothers.
We are all palms in the wind in that moment.
We are all hands holding onto something important,
finally allowed to feel an energy we cannot comprehend
but cannot live without.
I put down my notebook in the masjid to finish dua.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to have this here.
There are so many questions I have for god.
If we ever meet I’ll ask him. Rumi and his faith sit next to me.
I realize God is the closest thing we have to believing in magic.

The imam cries during the dua.
Ya allah, give us strength to live this life.
They are taking our faith from us.
We are praying for some quiet down here.
My mother looks down at her hands.
I feel her thinking about all the pain we collectively feel.
He speaks in another tongue over the loud speaker
but she understands this heartbreak language.
Her sister sits beside her.
War was stitched into their eyelids a long time ago.

A child cries in the masjid out of hunger.
He does not understand how much.

By Farah Billah


Farah Billah is a contemporary painter and poet from Sacramento, CA.
Widely recognized for her photo series Coriander Cats, her work has been featured on Buzzfeed, Pop XO Daily, HYFN, The Dhaka Tribune, and NBC News. She is the author of Wrong Turns Lead Here, her debut collection of poetry in the United States.
Farah believes in the ocean, the forest, and solid street food. She believes the art already exists and we are simply messengers of the art. We must honor it as such.




the credits hit the screen-
black and white, bruising
and rolling over all of me
like the newsprint of another dead gay girl
and i start carrying sharp things,
tucking them into all the creases on my body my girlfriend may never get to kiss.


it’s so easy to force our blood out of us at the movie theater-
as if dead-representation is better than none at all
i should be thankful,
to look at the lifeless version of every woman I have ever loved on screen.

i should feel so lucky to have a dying image
everyone wants me to aspire to become.

today i don’t want to be afraid
for once, i do not want to hide my face when my girlfriend holds my hand.
today i do not want to unstitch the seams of myself and
collapse into another film where the lesbian dies,
decomposing into a wreath of cracked breast bones.
today, i am tired of making funeral plans.

in this movie, i unbury all my gay sisters.
in this movie, we do not die because some director said so,
and in this movie, we do not put any more violets on graves.
in this movie, we live.
in this movie, we live
in every movie, we live.

By Kate Wilson


Kate is from Mammoth Lakes, California. They have recently found a new home in Salt Lake City, Utah where they are working towards a BA in English and an MA in teaching. Kate is a Virgo with a Gemini rising & a Taurus moon. They love swing sets more than most people who love swing sets. They practice regular necromancy & are attempting to escape orbit. They have competed in poetry slams in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho and have toured in Idaho, Nevada, and California. They were also part of Westminster College’s CUPSI team, and competed in Chicago, Illinois.

JUNAID- June 22nd, 2017, Ballabhgarh By Anisha Drall

JUNAID- June 22nd, 2017, Ballabhgarh

He was my age.
He could have been someone
I knew, could have been my friend,
could have been in my school, in
my class, in my bus-
He was my age, but
in a place where the heat can
beat people down until they
are just carcasses flattened
against the ground, age doesn’t
matter, in a place where the
imbalance is imbedded in our
minds, where people with names
like mine feel justified tearing
someone apart, where even a
child can be shredded for the
greater cause, age doesn’t
matter- but he was still my age.
Still just a child, just another boy,
just another human being
excited for Eid- he was my age,
but a train full of people didn’t
care, didn’t do anything, instead
they just stood there, complicit by
nature, they just stood there as
he was stabbed to death, just
stood there, and said nothing-
he was still just my age. He still
had a life ahead of him, a life
of hope and happiness that bled
out of him as he lay there,
surrounded by people indifferent
to his survival- he was my age, but
where I’m protected by my name,
he’s persecuted for his.

By Anisha Drall


Anisha Drall is a high school student living in Gurgaon, India. She likes to read novels, poetry and Tumblr text posts and has been previously published in Germ Magazine and Vagabond City Lit. Find her on Instagram – @anishadrall / @inchoatee .

DNA of the Cell By Eli Binkovitz

DNA of the Cell

All sixteen of us tell the cop the same address
when she asks. We all forget our height
and none of us has ever been weighed.
Only our proverbial lawyer knows why
we were locked together in the street,
or where we had assembled our equipment,
or who was in charge (if anyone).

We are all earnest eyes,
only rolling behind their backs.

Midwestern accent in a blue uniform tells one of us
“I spoke with your imam. He says
remove your headscarf. He says
do whatever we tell you to.”
Cop says / Imam says / Simon says.
None of us believe this story,
or believe we were meant to believe it.

I am unclinked from where we sixteen are
cuffed to the bench,
and photographed and searched
between my toes, beneath my underwear.

I am shuffled to my own cell. I can hear
muffled in the concrete echoes,
a woman crying for help.
My arm, she says, I think it’s broken.
Authorities inform her to expect a doctor
in the morning.

The bench in my cell has gathered
remnants of other inmates:
lint, a litany of DNA,
dust of skin cells, tiny springs
and helices of hairs, all black.

I don’t shiver. My breathing marks
slow time. I am not pulled from my cell
in the night to be swallowed into
the black-site belly of Chicago.

I am not blindfolded in an unmarked
window-tinted cruiser parked in some vacant
dead-grass lot. I don’t feel
the metal muzzle of two
hundred documented human rights violations
(later condemned by the U.N.)
against my temple. Nor am I erased
into the 72-hour static that betrays no trace
of my uncounted names or dates
of countless countless births.

I am not zip-tied at the wrists
anymore, and my hands are not swollen, purplish,
numb, or heavy. I am not waiting for the questions:
Can you bend it? Can you put weight on it?
Can you move it? Can you feel it?
Does it hurt now?
Does it hurt now?
Does it hurt now?

The stone-concrete stuff from which the cell carves itself
blanches pale blue like cold lips.
Painting the liminal minutes with my thin
voice I sing old words too grandiose
for the nondescript occasion of my voluntary arrest.
But I like the tune and the illumination
they fill the cell with, warming it
at the fire of history’s good struggles.

The bench is fitted with a thin, dirty mattress,
which I carefully balance on its side.
Maybe I have to sleep here, definitely
someone will. Someone whose hair is black.
I take a fistful of thin tissue
from the steel toilet-sink, kneel
before the neglected bed-bench
and start cleaning up the place.

I don’t even get halfway done before an officer
opens the door, looks at me wiping down
the blue-lip stone stuff as if she’d walked in on
some strange ritual or unauthorized lovemaking,

tells me I’ve been processed, time for me to leave.

Why did you do that? She asks in the hallway.
I realize after I start to answer
In case no one else was going to
that I don’t know whether she meant cleaning the bench,
or chaining ourselves together in the street
to demand the state stop pouring our hearts into
love letters made of guns and money.

By Eli Binkovitz


Eli Binkovitz is a Jewish, genderqueer emerging poet living in Chicago. They have a degree in German Studies from Oberlin College and in 2007 contributed to a translation of Thomas Brasch’s collection of poems “What I Wish For Myself” from German into English. Their favorite poet right now is Daniel Borzutzky.

Dream, Lines By Jack B. Bedell

Dream, Lines

In these dreams, my father stands
inside our front door frame,

storm screen swung open,
can of Falstaff sweating in his hand.

I am push-mowing the yard,
doing my best to keep my lines

straight, alternating dark
and light like a baseball field.

My work is slow, every dip
in the yard pulling the lines

off square, making fluid
what should be set hard.

The whole time, he watches
each pass, not a line showing

on his face. If he cares
whether my pattern holds tight,

I can’t tell from his sips of beer.
His eyes follow me, though,

and I know the cold air
spilling out the open door

means something, even
if my lines slant.

By Jack B. Bedell


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2013). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

Sobriety: Days Two, Three By Marley Stuart

Sobriety: Days Two, Three

In my experience, the second day is hardest.
Day one is easy—after a binge, the knee-jerk
reaction kicks in. But the second night
there’s no reason to abstain other than to keep
the streak going. And the streak isn’t even long enough
to hold real weight. I shouldn’t be counting in days,
but nights. That’s when I’m forced to choose.


I shower early, cold, and get in bed.
I give up on a book and toss and turn.
My wife asks what’s the matter.
It’s the light of her phone—I can see it
even with my eyes closed. It’s the room, too hot.
It’s the sound of trains outside.
It’s none of this. I tell her, nothing.

My mind keeps going back to Bill.
Not long ago, a friend and I went over
with cards and beer, and Bill was delighted
it was Schlitz. Shlitz! He couldn’t believe it,
wiping bloodshot eyes behind glasses.
I knew he had two chips for two years sober,
but I asked anyway, you want one?

He tapped the top for two hands
before cracking it, and didn’t even drink
it all. We played bourré, let the pot build up.
No one won—my friend and I left without counting
our chips and took the ice chest with us.
The next time over there, Wild Turkey
in the cupboard. And then I got the text—Bill’s dead.

I sweat through the sheets, dream of big houses
with strangers in all the rooms. I get through
the next day. Now it’s night three.
Did I say the second was hardest?
That was so naïve.

By Marley Stuart


Marley Stuart is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Xavier Review, L’Éphémère Review, and About Place. He lives in New Orleans with his wife.

Economies of Scale By Tobi Alfier

Economies of Scale

This, she learned her first day
at bartending school:
make six at once. You won’t need
to sell your soul in a bikini
for a decent job, your tips
will be to the moon and back,

just how you love
your kids and the man
who made them.
To the men with their ungainly
step, iron-toed boots, biceps
and lunchboxes passed

from their fathers, pictures
of fighters and pin-ups
in lids, a prayer on the bottom
for safe days and safe keeping,
she made Jack and Gingers
all night, five-thirty till close.

For the women, smooth and silky,
graceful as the sound of nightbirds
in dark trees along the river,
sadness a fable of loss on their faces,
she made perfect White Russians—
well vodka, Kahlua, real cream,

the same cream she’d pour
in their coffees before they were escorted
to anywhere. Where they came to a bar,
so did the men. She judged not.
She smiled, watched the night air
tremble with cold, pocketed their warm cash,

eyed the clock, listened
to pick-me-up tunes on the jukebox.
No one lingered in the doorway,
asked what she was doing later,
just like she wanted. Freed in the chinablue
moonlight she heads home, heart suing for peace.

By Tobi Alfier


Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her current chapbooks include “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

Diagnosis By Meghan O’Hern


I have borderline personality disorder,
at least that’s what the doctor says.

She explains the symptoms:
dissociative episodes, unstable self-image, self-harm
a checklist of my existence
walking the border of psychotic

It’s bipolar without mania
she says with a saccharine smile
I’m pretty sure that’s depression, but I don’t say anything

A too-bright pamphlet “Borderline Personality and YOU” is sitting in front of me
I flip through the pages
easily crosses lines between depression and anxiety
both neurotic and psychotic
written in colorful letters
as if that washes away the stigma

She hands me a prescription
in the same breath tells me medication may not work.
She lists the potential side effects and asks if I understand the diagnosis
I don’t, but I nod anyway.
Stumble home lost in sea storm speculation

Maybe google can make me feel less alone.
What causes borderline personality?
Treatment for borderline personality?

The search spits back calloused responses.
Trauma in childhood, heredity, neglect
Therapy. Hospitalization. Medication.

When I finally tell someone
he listens to the string of symptoms
agrees with the diagnosis.
I am swallowed by rage and sadness and confusion
he wasn’t supposed to agree with the doctors?

I’m not crazy, I just feel so much
Reminds me all the two a.m. calls to a suicide hotline aren’t healthy.
Promises me this isn’t a death sentence,
just a word for all this feeling.

By Meghan O’Hern


Meghan O’Hern is a graduate of Bradley University’s English and Creative Writing Program. Their work centers on mental illness, identity and healing. More of their work can be found on facebook and tumblr at Meghan O’Hern Poetry.