Jerusalem By John Stupp

Jerusalem

Hot metal
poured from the sky
and the casting molds cried out
in 1968 this was a dangerous part of the plant
I rode by in a forklift
with a skinny Jehovah’s Witness
he looked like William Blake
in the dirty fog
he said
Henry Ford was the devil
and this was hell
this industrial revolution
that’s all he talked about
he wanted to die
because he was already saved
and in Jerusalem
don’t waste your prayers on me
he said—
the next morning
some guys saw him before he punched out
handling knives and forks in the cafeteria
like a conjurer
and calling everything by another name

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

chiaroscuro By Nooshin Ghanbari

chiaroscuro

Dark and light, bad and good, are not different but one and the same. —Heraclitus

he says I’m going to burn
(but I’m the only one capable of
keeping up / matching wits
his words have begun to eat
me alive but I still want
so many things that are him
and not him / his sweet voice
crooked smile
(I shake at remembering the little pink
crescents carved into my palms where
my nails dug early graves
that spell out his name / icy fingers at
my back playing me like a broken violin)
I want him
to stop / to yield / he never does

on other days he says I’m his hero
(that makes everything worth it / right?)
eyes hazy from admiration or drink
number three / love is just as blurry
he tastes like home and bright bright light
(“god, your voice is beautiful” he says
and that is as much of a temptation as
fingers crocheted together / hand in hand
hand on shoulder / hand on back)

the two-step turns to five and I’m tripping
lips touching my neck and whispering
“you’re a really fast learner, babe”

he swears that every chorus is my name and
silly me / I believe him.

By Nooshin Ghanbari

Biography:

Nooshin Ghanbari is a third-year English major at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recently awarded the 2016 Ellen Engler Burks Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing. She currently serves as the assistant poetry editor of The Nocturnal Literary Review, the official journal of the university’s Plan II Honors program. Her poetry has previously appeared in Skylark Review.

Giving Yourself to Him By Rivka Yeker

Giving Yourself to Him

Your power line
is limp. It is bent over
a flock of birds as they
jump over its dead
electricity. There is leftover
energy on the other side of town
but no one cares enough to
bring you a spare charger.
He stands in the corner
and watches your eyes roll back.
He says he won’t leave,
he’ll just watch.

By Rivka Yeker

Biography:

Rivka Yeker lives in Chicago and is a student at DePaul University studying Media & Cinema Studies, Public Relations/Advertising, and Creative Writing and is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Hooligan Mag. While she’s not running Hooligan, slinging coffee and books, and going to school, she’s forming new theories on human connection, absorbing and critically assessing media, reading comics, and yelling poetry in front of strangers.

Blistered Tongue By Caseyrenée Lopez

Blistered Tongue

i burnt my tongue
with melted sugar

today. the flinching
pain reminded me

of the way you taste
when you’re fresh

from a hot shower
or my favorite,

covered in salty sweat.
i felt the scorched taste

buds rise, agitated,
almost numb, but i

can’t stop running
the burn over the roof

of my mouth, pouring
salt over the sugary

wound, adding to the sharp
pain of glass in my mouth.

By Caseyrenée Lopez

Caseyrenée Lopez is a non-binary queerfemme atheist. They edit Crab Fat Magazine, TQ Review & Damaged Goods Press in an effort to platform marginalized writers/artists, particularly queer and trans folks. Their debut full-length collection, i was born dead, is forthcoming from ELJ publications in 2018. Follow them on Twitter @caseyreneelopez.

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico By Talia Flores

Sellers in El Parque de las Palomas (The Pigeon’s Park) in Puerto Rico

They sit in concrete nests,
hands open in prayer or pleading.

They look for the dolares in pockets and wallets
and at the ends of outstretched arms,

but they do not steal. They earn each scrap and coin
like they’ve earned scars.

Skin like plátanos peels,
wrinkled. Heavy with tears of their people.

Eyes granite gray,
sun hot like death or passion.

Eyes galaxies of their own-
what cuentas they could tell.

Their tongues stick to the roofs
of their mouths like sunrises

sweat warm color.
Perspiration and perseverance-

one day they’ll roar with the pigeon wings-
but for now they are stone lions

waiting

By Talia Flores

Biography:

Talia Flores is the recipient of the 2015 Texas Book Festival Fiction Prize and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her work appears or is forthcoming in National Poetry Quarterly, Words Dance, Souvenir Lit Journal, Gigantic Sequins, and more. She was a mentee in The Adroit Journal’s Mentorship Program, and she works as a reader for Polyphony H.S. and as an editorial intern for The Blueshift Journal. She will be attending Stanford University in the fall.

The July War, 2006 By Majda Gama

The July War, 2006   

The blistering air in this season of drought
should fetter me to the cool metal
of my student bed, the concrete
embrace of a shady ground floor room
won’t do this afternoon. This afternoon
I am not a daughter of Abraham
whose life can be rendered into black & white
headlines or Biblical parables. I can escape
past Parliament square, where protestors surge
and words like “Save Beirut” are written on placards
that cannot yet emerge from my throat. The rote
words of condolence won’t do:
in the rubble of Saida there is a body in a white shroud;
the wife of a ’48 refugee. Her grandchildren
flee Israeli fighter planes on the road to Damascus
the path behind them erased.

It won’t do to go to Edgeware Road;
smoke nargila, let the Arabic pop music in the cafe
ease the ache of displacement. I wore the Shia sword
there, didn’t ponder Ali’s martyrdom (peace be upon him)
know that a charm worn over my heart
would stop a man in his tracks to ask
if I was Shia, nor know how to answer
as I fumbled at my throat to flip away the sword
that concealed ayat al-kursi, the verse of the chair
that I wear for protection. I swore to him
on my heart
(crossed it, hoped to die) that I am Sunni.

By Majda Gama

Biography:

Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.

Summer Job By John Stupp

Summer Job 

Engine blocks
came off production lines
all summer
in 1970
like nothing was wrong
even with Vietnam
and all that was happening
if a line went down
there was hell to pay
I filled in
where I could do the most damage
a foreman told me
I was like a bad blade on a lawn mower
no matter how many times I crossed
the grass it wouldn’t be right
you have a gift
he said—
afterwards
I wanted to thank him
and the millwrights and electricians
who worked nonstop
forgetting me
but I wrote this poem instead

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of the 2007 chapbook The Blue Pacific and the 2015 full-length collection Advice from the Bed of a Friend both by Main Street Rag. His new book How Tuesday Began will be published by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will be appearing in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, LitMag and Off The Coast. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.