for Sandra Bland
They say in the mugshot
you are dead. That you are lying
on the floor, your hair spread down-
ward. Your collarbone swollen.
Your eyes vacant.
That the curve of your body is arching
from the utilitarian grey. That you
are another cause for war.
We tell the world to speak your name.
But there are others who see your wings.
A black beating, building beneath the distance
in your eyes. A moment from breaking the shocking
orange swallowing your sallow skin.
And for the tiredness of death we don’t want
to believe in the stiffness of your body being moved
to position. Because the truth can never be that cruel.
And even at the far edges of life there has to be some
fairness. Because even nightmares are dreams and believing
this cruelty is nothing short of madness.
Is nothing short of normal.
So we believe in the power of flight and in the shifting
of your body to bird.
A starling iridescent.
By Athena Dixon
Athena Dixon is Founder and Editor in Chief of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. Her poetry and creative non-fiction has appeared in Compose, Pluck!, This!, Blackberry: A Magazine, and For Harriet among others.
She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.
This blue speckled home, this
eggshell globe beneath my feet will
rotate 1,040 miles in the next
59 minutes and all I could tell
you that’s moved me would be her
smile. All I could tell you about
change would be atmospheric
pressure in this ribcage when that
girl walks in a room, I forget
how to speak even though my mouth
has built a bed for her name,
shelter, a roof over
even the thought of her.
But this paper mache planet, this
soaked soil of our roots will complete
a full turn on its axis in 23.93 hours,
and we could compare it to the
background stars, see when it measures
up at the precise alignment and call it
the same, but it is not the same,
it is another rotation in its history
it is not the same because we are always
changing, people are always leaving
and attraction is the marrow of gravity
and the only thing I know about
love is that everything always moves
towards coalescence or collapse.
By Valentina Thompson
Valentina is a 20-year-old queer writer out of Long Beach, CA with a habit of writing to people who don’t love her back and always smiling at strangers. She is currently majoring in English, Creative Writing with a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, and if lost, can often be found in any small coffee shop on a rainy day. http://theseoverusedwords.tumblr.com/
When Survival Does Not Suffice
This is what healing looks like:
blooming / reaching towards the light /
falling into the sunset / ripping wings off
and watching as they regrow / holding
a paintbrush between teeth and painting
the trees a glowing, hazy pink.
And this is what healing looks like:
nails painted with the ocean’s foam /
laughter like chocolate / a baby opening
its eyes for the first time / the little hiccup
when someone crying really hard stops /
the watery smile after the last tear.
And this is what healing looks like:
purple / twined vines & stitched hearts /
hands clutching / a plane landing / sky
scrapers / paper cuts healing / the
smell of hospitals / reaching out to
touch the stars /
leaving the stars alone because there is
enough wonder down here anyway /
because there is enough wonder in just
you alone anyway.
By Darshana Suresh
Darshana Suresh is an 18 year old self-proclaimed poet residing in New Zealand, where she is currently studying psychology and English at the University of Auckland. You can most often find her falling over her own past or wistfully dreaming about all the places she has seen and all the places she has not. Poems that wrench her heart out and leave her tender and trembling are her favourite kind. More of her work can be found on afterthelonely.tumblr.com
Back to Basics
Washing my mouth of you.
Brushing until my gums bleed.
Sink is a cloud of pink
and my tongue is metal in my mouth.
Brushing until you become
the open wound, not the salt.
I bit my nails to the tender today.
I took 53 pictures of my lips and
wished I had a stranger to send them to,
a stranger who would recognize them
as ones he once wanted to kiss.
I wonder if anyone has ever wanted to climb
the hill my eyes make when they close.
I wonder if falling in love is bullshit.
If it’s just another store with only one size
or chocolates that go on sale the day after Valentine’s.
I wonder if falling out of love
is not just another way of saying,
‘I’m going to pretend I didn’t think
this was a wonderful idea when he looked at me
like I was first snowfall and I answered with
hands to his cheeks like church bells.’
I forgive myself for you.
This heart is underground parking lot
where all the cars start at once,
a hundred engines rumbling softly like belly laughs.
That is where the laugh is born.
Underground. Between the lungs.
Inside the inside.
That is where I learn to snap my neck to the sky
and be the kind of happy that made you
weak in the first place.
By Ramna Safeer
Ramna Safeer is a pre-Law English Lit student. She is a writer, blogger, researcher, activist and perpetual coffee-spiller. Her poetry has been previously published in The ASUS Undergraduate Review, Atwood Mag and Words-on-Pages Magazine. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, New Canadian Media and The Queen’s Journal, where she works as the Editorials Editor. She is the founder and blogger at CherishChai.com, an online space that maps her journey to recapture her Pakistani, Muslim heritage.