Erasure Collage, January 2021 By Katie Kemple

Erasure Collage, January 2021

My nine-year old would like to look
through the pile of New Yorkers
by my bedside to find items for her
school assignment: a vision board.
She gravitates toward the covers
depicting popsicles on a hot summer
day, pastel pink and purple trees.
To stay awake (it’s nearly 10pm),
I flip through issues next to her,
traveling back through time to 2019,
2018—cartoons of bustling desks,
people passing on streets unmasked,
an exterminator lifting a stranger’s
mattress. My daughter cuts out
a photo of rocks. “I like rocks,” she says.
Even though, it’s increasingly hard
to convince her to go outside to see
the real thing. People leave painted rocks
in our neighborhood now, “Be Kind”
one lectured me from the ground.
My daughter prefers to explore
imaginary worlds: Minecraft, Harry Potter,
and Sponge Bob. I’m kind: I let her.
She finds an illustration of a deck
of cards, an owl, cats, a toy car. Snip.
Snip, snip, snip. “Getting late,” I say.
We close each one, but now they each
flash gaping holes. The loss arresting.
I remind myself that the images have only
been shifted, and mean more popsicles,
trees, and rocks for my daughter’s
collage. But, something permanent
is gone. It doesn’t have a name.

By Katie Kemple

Biography:

Katie Kemple is a mostly vegan person raising two kids, an elder pug, and a carnival goldfish in San Diego. She’s married to the love of her life. Her poems can be found in The Elevation Review, The Collidescope, The Racket, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.

hala’s knock knock By Sevde Kaldiroglu

hala’s knock knock

a knock on the door and
she enters the room

define: penetrate

go into or through
(something)
especially with
force or effort.

she informs me
of the name of
my husband

define: marriage

consensual
relationship
recognized
by law

she tells me what
will happen

(to me)

tells me where I will live

define: live
remain alive.


with whom

tells me what to____ a man
how to____a man

define: please

used for polite requests
or questions

how to be(come) a woman

white sheets

blood stains

define: pure

free
of any contamination

but hala
I say

wherever his house is
can I take my dolls with me there?

By Sevde Kaldiroglu

Sevde Kaldiroglu is a creative writer from Istanbul. At age 17, she was the youngest author of a memoir collection published in Turkey (Yitik Ulke Publishing, 2012). She’s received multiple national youth awards for her poetry and essays. She holds a BA in English, Creative Writing from Stanford University where she served as the editor-in-chief of Avicenna Journal for three years.

Francesca By Hailey McMichael

Francesca

she started off small.
blue teeth
from cotton candy
dripping down
bow tie
lips.
her hands licked the edge
of the sun
and the world
belonged to her.

it couldn’t
contain her wide
blue eyes
ready to receive the gift
of blue skies and plastic
horses and blue rock candy
from the dollar store by the school
sometimes she would see her face
in the rainbow
parking lot puddles
and laugh and laugh and laugh
at the blue
it turned her skin

and her skin
kept changing after that
time pulled at her hair
and her fingernails
and at her nose
and
somewhere along the parkway between
bare belly buttons
and sadness
she grew
too large for the world.

it tried
to contain her wide
blue eyes
to give her a gift
of plastic
cheekbones and tv commercials
and blue feelings and supermodels
on the billboard next to the school
and once she saw her face
in a rainbow
parking lot puddle
and remembered how she used to
laugh and laugh and laugh
at all of the blue

the water rippled and stared back
at her
and slowly
she began to recognize
the sky blushes blue with her.
she feels
she laughs and laughs and laughs
she carries it.

the world.

she carries it,
holds it
in her eyes for you.

By Hailey McMichael

Hailey McMichael is a current senior at Muhlenberg College, studying English and Dance with a passion for creation through choreography and poetry. She hopes to continue to work in a creative field post-graduation, as well as moving into the field of education. Hailey has lived in many different states around the country, and continues to travel in search of truths… and she continually finds her heart searching for more stories to share. Her Instagram is @haileyj16

when we first met By Katie Park

when we first met

when we first met, you were humming a song
which i thought was cliché
but it was good enough for us.

how could you know the songs of my heart?
i could only watch hopelessly
as my feelings were drowned in a haze
of regret, anxiety, and fear

and you could never know
how much i loved you
how my heart beat for you

and even now i wonder
three years is a long time.
what if you meet another girl
one who is beautiful
would you run your fingers through
her locks of gold, and compare them
as you never did mine?
her beautiful blue eyes-
could mine hold a candle to them?
would you even think of my eyes?

do you think you could remember me then?
would you kiss her the way you never kissed me,
her mouth sweeter than anything in your wildest dreams?
would you hold her,
sing that cliché song to her,
listen to her giggles as your thoughts
melt into a unified love,
where i would be a passing glance
in a world of your own?

as i stand now with my broken heart,
i desperately try to remember
the few moments we had,
and i soon realize

i can no longer remember that song
from when we first met

By Katie Park

Biography:

Katie Park is a first-year Computer Science student at New York University. In her spare time, she enjoys recording music, reading historical biographies, and writing depressing poetry.

Depression Medication By Zizheng William Liu

Depression Medication

Too tired to outlast
Or ever pass the thick
Tyranny of daylight,

I lay still on this dewy
Morning in a foggy depth.

My faded recollections
A shell

Of what could have been
Had they not caged my lucidity
In a glass house—

The tender hollows
Of the sense searing drops

That set my flesh
Ablaze in a haze of
Their unbecomings!

But by god,
I’ve been tainted
At her loom
O doctor!

The red nurse with needles
Unasked to notice
My faintings in the waiting room.

She nods me gently,
Pacified by the haze

Of the thin unravelings
Frayed as the addict in me

Shrouded in
A fabric gown.

I could sleep for years
In the cloud-like film
Of those indictments.

By Zizheng William Liu

Biography:

Zizheng William Liu (he/him/his) is a student from Houston, Texas who loves to write fiction and poetry. When he’s not writing, he also enjoys snapping the ever-changing world around him with his Canon Rebel camera.

Silence By Elizabeth Shippen

Silence

The first time you told me,
I wrote her for you.
The child who would never
be, her hair red like fire,
her face dusted with freckles.
And in my story,
I made her a phoenix,
so that each death was also a birth.

Sometimes I wrote her
as a small mischievous child
stealing cookies from the kitchen
when your back was turned.
Or then again older
in a flat in New York City
searching for the perfect
recipe for hot cocoa.

And other times
I wrote her with wings
and a sword of flame,
brave and unrelenting,
and each death was just a pause
in a long and never-ending
adventure.

But ink and paper are nothing
compared to flesh and bone,
and moments in the dark,
when the world is asleep
and she reaches out to you
with warm tiny hands
needing to be held.

So I let my words turn to ash
and forget how to speak
into that silence that grows
until it suffocates
and you stop telling me.

And we are left with nothing
but ash and silence. 
Burden

It won’t be me who has to carry it.
In the end, I won’t carry much at all.

Pain: I can take pain.
I already know what it is
to walk each day on marbles,
to place my feet down carefully
with every step as though
the bottoms have been beaten
and the bruising hasn’t healed.
It doesn’t stop me. Each morning,
I still get up, back onto my feet,
knowing there are people who
depend on me to be standing
and it gets me through the pain.

Disfigurement: that would hurt
my pride. My vanity wrapped
in practiced nonchalance
would crumble in the face of it,
but still, that’s not my biggest fear.

What I fear most
is what I might become
to my son.  
Becoming

Long before you were born
I was afraid of it, the fierce
love of motherhood
and how it can devour
a woman.

I imagined my dreams
and years ripped away
by the relentless
jaws of motherhood.

So now as I hold your tiny
hand, I am surprised to find
that I’m still here.
Not gone or diminished,
simply full of something new
and different.

By Elizabeth Shippen

Biography:

Elizabeth Shippen is a wife, mother, and Agile Product Manager in the Information Technology industry living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Born in the D.C. Metro area, she grew up in Virginia before moving to Massachusetts after college. She has a Master’s Degree in English Literature and a Graduate certificate in Digital Studies from Salem State University. She completed her undergraduate studies in English and Creative Writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her poetry has been published in Harmony Magazine and The Dickinson Review.

God Tier By Michelle Queen

God Tier

The boy in the pew in front flipped his eyelids inside out
and turned to show me his new face. We were so tiny, but I already

carried the weight of infatuation. Diet diffidence. Skipped over communion
wafers. I cracked my eyes and pretended to sleep.

When the pastor reached the crescendo of the sermon,
sweaty cheeked, cymbals striking, and preaching chords giving him more,

the woman across from us waved her arms, Yes Lord
crooning from her wine-red lips, and I hoped she wouldn’t.

She shuffled through the aisles, bouncing, head tilted to God as she clutched
her breasts. Hallelujah. Convulsing in kept laughter, I pretended to murmur

a prayer of restraint. The pastor called the children to fill the alter for a blessing,
and I still tried to pretend but was nudged awake from unholy comfort, and held

the clammy hand of flipped eyelid boy. I bowed and saw myself
reflected pink in his shoes and remembered I was cute for the day.

Back home, I chomped on egg shaped candy with a blue forked tongue
until mom yelled that I’d wreck my dress, and I had to change.

And outside, I wondered who I’d sacrifice for an imaginary friend,
to have a secret treehouse and rule the world, while collecting

caterpillars undulating on sidewalks and bending blades
of grass. The bottom of the bucket a caterpillar carpet. I wanted a city.

An empire. They’d mistake temper tantrums for wrath and raise
their eyeless faces for penance, and I’d grant it. Fuzzy fools. I’d feed

them leaves until their bodies were cherubic, cocooning new histories
into butterflies, gospels by my bedroom window as a Thank You,

and maybe I’d start over. Dreamt of derechos dripping from flipped
eyelid boy’s swollen pink folds. The next morning the bucket was filled

with russet water.
Maybe I’d start over.

By Michelle Queen

Michelle Queen is a customer service supervisor by day and writer by off hours. She received her Bachelor of Science in English from Frostburg State University. You can find her latest publication on Harness Magazine. She’s on Instragram too @gutterslugz

Regression By Mai Ly Hagan

Regression

Let us return, in times of need…
In grief, in pain, in pity.
Let us return not to words but to feeling:
To a paper scraping pulp
Like a finger on a temple.

Grief, as I see, is a honey wrapped stake—
Dearest, take off the sullen drape,
And soak in the lavender and salt.
Lavender, to remind you of days past,
Laughing in fields, living, light against your back.
Salt, for the wound, for it to caress.
The pain siphons out the infection,
eventually.

Let us return,
To grief.
For grief is nothing more than a thing,
Or a place. Or lack thereof.
The emptiness you carry deep like a
Pit without a seed.
Regress, regress. For the only way to heal,
Is to face what sticks.
To remember what was lost.

So I regress to the flower field,
Rolling leaves into books,
Caress, caress, until the pulp
Becomes memory.
Licked in a salty envelope.
Tossed to the sniveling sea.

By Mai Ly Hagan

Biography:

Mai Ly Hagan is a high school junior from Hanoi, Vietnam. Growing up, she had a love for fantasy novels, which developed into an interest in creative writing. Mai Ly hopes to study English literature in university.

Legends of the Women of Duvergé By Michelle Garcia Fresco

Legends of the Women of Duvergé

My great grandmother Tata

is not remembered for her kindness
just for the way she left
knives in legs of men
who owed her
money.

The men in my family never live long
enough to be remembered
as anything other than
victims.

It is said the women of Duvergé are brujas
who bury their husbands
in the ashes of their
alchemy.

That the women of my family
cast spells in silence
as they serenade their children`s spirits
asleep.

My eyes are as dirty as the water,
sit on the edge of a sea
of brown that are
my ancestors
bodies.

Are muddled in centuries
of cries that can conjure a
curse.

By Michelle Garcia Fresco

Michelle Garcia Fresco is an Afro-Latinx poet and Spoken Word artist based in Boston. She is currently a Senior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Double majoring in Creative Writing and Sociology. Believing in the power of poetry as a medium for social justice. Garcia`s writing is often inspired by the women in her family, social and racial injustices in America, coping with loss and mental health, as well as her Dominican roots.

White Caterpillar By Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang

White Caterpillar

Are you happy?

Your message floats
in my mind like ice
in cherry and vodka. Images
of you disperse into background

noise at the bar. I trace
the coaster and pen down
my thoughts on tissues before
rolling them into white

caterpillars. They huddle
beside my glass growing
with moisture. When the time comes
they will veil themselves

in a make-shift chrysalis of trash
bags for years to burst
out the memory of burning
love now dead. It is

a butterfly with punctures
on its wings fluttering
about my head before
dying by my hand. I smile

throughout the night, asking
for more tissues, wasting
ink to re-
member you.

By Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang

Biography:

Julienne Maui Castelo Mangawang finished BA Asian Studies at the University of Santo Tomas. She is taking up her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines — Diliman. Her poems are published in 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, ALPAS Journal, Inklette Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Rumpus. Her interests include esoteric practices, Japanese studies, and Jungian archetypes. She likes sleeping but sleeping doesn’t like her. At the moment, she is tending to a garden in Makati, Philippines — anticipating vegetables to be harvested soon and for the hydrangea to be, once again, in full bloom.