Issue No. 8

What It Is Like To Want To Die or; Swallowing The Bodies of Fish When You Have Ichthyophobia - Khaya Khalypso

“What It Is Like To Want To Die or; Swallowing The Bodies of Fish When You Have Ichthyophobia”

my tea kettle is.
housing the.
pulped bodies.
of golden yellow that.
have plagued my.
childhood since.
age 5.

i boil their scales.
into my tea.
press my finger to the cool flames.
pull off the burns.
drop them.
in the stream.

stir in.
enough sweetener to shut down.
any weaker pancreas.
a house.
of cards.
on the glue.
of rat.

why can i never get?
what i?

the jasmine.
draws in all my.
breath. grimace.
add more sugar too much sugar
not enough.
wonder where my mind.
has gone because my spoon has slipped from my fingers into the bag and the kettle.
is whistling but i’m already drinking.

and so i fish.
the scales out of the brown water.
they are.
a curse to my senses.
curdling my blood.
i wonder how many a these shits.
it would.
take to do a cyanide job.
i wonder if i sit.
down long enough.
submerge in the.
whistling that sirens itself from the juncture of my thighs.

would i really?
air that bad?

can i?
get what?
i want?

Ode To Smokey Robinson Ending In A Clenched Fist, Bottle in Hand

he croons
too lost to let go
and we praise the sweet voice, ignorant
to the beating of his breakage
no matter how much he craves understanding

when i had you here/ i treated you bad

my grandmother loved him
her southern baptist hips learned
temptation not from ugly bumping
but the soft sway over a trombone’s wail
the savory and the sweet

and wrong my dear

ain’t no man ever made groveling
look so sexy save for when you heard
him, you was forgiving the sky
for blanketing your tiny black town
in a danger cocktail. cops goin crazy.
fathers finding forbidden lovers and
clenched fists in the bottoms of bottles
of liquid amber. somebody

but since, girl, since you went away

is giving up penance for this here sacrilege
whether, it be your delicate mouths
or your wide eyes, baby my heart is broken
now it’s time for you to pay your dues. offer yourself up to the starving god
that is my hands
and maybe my lips will find you along
the way
before the sacrifice

don’t you know i sit around with my head hanging down

don’t you know how wrong it is
to do a starving man like this? leave
this alabama night to feed him in every
hungry orifice that his wailing fists
could not sustain? ungrateful
as you can sometimes be, it’s time to
come back to where you belong. flames
are nothing without their smoke.

and i wonder/ who’s loving you?

Khalypso is an 18 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently residing in Elk Grove. She is the Social Media Manager of Black Napkin Press and Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine as well as Culaccino Magazine. Her work centers primarily around charting the complicated existence of being colored and woman and alive—a metaphysical dilemma she wishes she could conquer and whose defeat she would whisper the secrets of into Ntozake Shange’s ear. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Vending Machine Press, and Black Napkin Press. She will rep South Sac ’til her dying days and lives for black celebrities dragging the Kardashians for filth.

Unsettled - Makeda Jackson


Where I come from, sand drifts on the sigh
of the Pacific, grazes your cheek, tugs at
your curls. Palm leaves litter the sidewalk,
kick up dust from dry soil that blends with
the taupe desert boots I wanted, but now
avoid wearing.

Where I come from, typhoons rage and
whine, knock down power lines, provide
background music on braiding days with
mama to distract from the pain. Tsubaki
blooms rap against the window, salute
my dad and I, whip past.

I come from the type of sound that moves
through your ears, storms down your spine
to your toes,
the music that won’t let you simply be in her
presence. The sound that arrests you, overtakes
you, breathes
air into your chest only to collapse it.

The strong, soulful, haunting melody that wraps
itself around you and forces you to
acknowledge her.

Makeda Jackson was born on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in Oceanside, California and was raised all over. She is a senior at The College of William & Mary, where she studies Kinesiology and Creative Writing. Makeda has been published in The Gallery literary magazine and received Honorable Mention in the Goronwy Owen Prize in Poetry single poem and group of poems categories in 2017. She currently serves as the Poetry Co-Editor for The William & Mary Review.

Idalis Nieves

Dear Future Daughter,

I gave you life, and it wasn’t an easy thing
To do. I brought you into this
world with so much
Love, and
And it is my solemn promise
that I raise you and protect you.

You will grow from babyhood,
to girlhood, to womanhood,
and everything in between.

As you grow up, there will be things
I wish I could save you from.

I wish I could save you from your sex being
synonymous with weakness and inferiority.
I wish I could save you from your sex being
told to be slim, fair-skinned, and perfect.
I wish I could save you from your sex often being
portrayed as a prize where certain numbers matter;

Bra size,
Dress size.

I wish I could save you from your body being
seen as overtly sexual if and when you wear shorts.

I can wish all I want, but wishing will only
take someone part of the way.
I’m going to need your help.
To do this, please keep these words
at heart:

Fight for yourself.
You are not going to be at the mercy of anyone.

You can beat the boys at sports in a skirt if
That’s what you desire.
I want you to grow up happy and
not worry if your shoulder is causing some
hopeless boy to be distracted,
and where you can trust to tell me if someone
hurt you without asking if you were at fault
in any fashion. I will not be the one
condemning you for your choice of dress
and choice of drink.

Fight for yourself,
because you alone know your true worth;
don’t let any outside opinions determine it.
Make-up ads lie, and

there is no one mold you need to fit into.

It’s perfectly fine to be different,
Smart (and proud of it),
Driven to take charge and say no,
Have boy friends and NOT be romantically interested in them,
Swear (because fuck being ladylike all the time),
And not be perfect.

You are my daughter. My girl.
I gave you life, and it wasn’t easy.

Your life won’t be easy, I’m sorry to say,

but it’s all about how you handle it
when life knocks you over.
Time will travel fast.
Make the most of it the way YOU want to,
because girls like you will one day
rule the world.

Formula for American Beauty

Objects needed: shimmering threads,
high pain tolerance, luminescent smile,
pounds of powder, long legs,
five-star cleavage.

Optional: intelligence.

Do not protest so much.

For optimal results, apply greasepaint after
skin is washed and has been given a
chance to clear.

With care, bronze the skin and
apply fabric upon the body leaving areas
of glistening
flesh exposed.

Once finished, tease hair to maximum height,
and remember to smile.

Be quiet.

Comply. Wave to the spectators.

Web Search

American (adj)
                    of, relating to, or characteristic of the United States or its inhabitants

(The United States has the highest rate of
youth slayings and suicides
among the 26th wealthiest nations)

We are diverse, but we create obstacles causing
the minority to work harder.
Women don’t get paid maternity leave
and are sexualized,

We are so low in education—
27th in math, 22nd in science, seventh in literacy

to where an orange
                    with a corn cob weave is Hope.

Don’t get your shorts in a bunch.
We have our ups.

We’re number four in labor force
and we lead the world in
three categories:
                              1. number of citizens incarcerated per capita
                              2. number of people who believe in angels
                              3. spending to defend our great nation

(More than twenty-six countries combined)

As Americans, we stand up
for what we believe in.
Civil Rights,
Safety of Children,
Community Love,
and whether or not a minority
will have the same chances as
the Master race who
oppressed, slaughtered,
stole, plundered, and
prophesized for the greater good.

(See Manifest Destiny) (See US Mexico War)

(See Indian Boarding Schools) (See labor force during the Gold Rush)

(See Salem Witch trials)

(See forced conversions of Natives)
* Side note: Smallpox blankets

(See America’s welfare problem)
(See Vietnam War)

I don’t hate America.
I like having access to whatever
history I come across, but I want the full story.
I just don’t have the desire of the orange man
putting me behind a concrete wall

like the Japanese were after Pearl Harbor
or killed under prejudicial assessments like
           Trayvon Martin,
           James Byrd,
           Matthew Shepard,
           Brandon Teena,
           Mary Spears,
           Reyhaneh Jabbari.

Change (v): make or become different

Maturation (n): the action or process of maturing

Chance (informal, v): do (something) despite it being dangerous or of uncertain outcome

Believe (v):
     1. Accept (something) as true; feel sure of truth of
     2. Hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose

Grab a computer and start
T    Y    P    I    N    G

I’m a student in Linfield College majoring in Creative Writing. My dream is to become a novelist and/or poet. As a writer, I hope my words can inspire and make a difference in the lives of others.

Frankie Notman

between westminster and the sea

i found him- the worst person on earth.

he was somewhere between westminster and the sea, i think,
or equidistant to the sun and moon where he lay quite still upon grass.
he held my friends between his fingers, and later in the strange cool night
we discussed them over rice; boys with the same name who sang
whilst making pasta- my friends now,

but still his, between thumb and forefinger. his nails were painted,
and somewhere in some odd tent

i found his theological uncertainty-the worst person shared a toothbrush with the poet,
and held a cold hand on a strange, cool night, somewhere between westminster and the sea.


my stomach is only flat

when i contort myself- lying limply from bed-edges, backwards with my head
on carpets

where stains appear as stupid islands. my stomach
is only flat if i do not treat myself

as my own; when i am the collective property of all the women who lie about my clothes looking good.
my stomach is only flat when i believe them
and when my body sees

islands on floors instead of the sky and i sign off ownership
to someone else.

because i am not my own; i was bought at a price.

Frankie Notman is a 19 year-old English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Surrey, about to enter my second year. I have been writing for many years now, but it is only in the past three years or so that I have chosen to seriously pursue poetry. It was the best decision I have ever made.

What did(/do) I miss? - Vandana Devi

What did(/do) I miss?

I think the fault is
In our stars
With the Catcher in the Rye
With the Perks of being a Wallflower
John Green and Murakami deceived us all.
I think the fault is
The Spectacular Now
With the Dead Poets Society
With the Edge of Seventeen
Paper Towns and everything.
I think the fault is
With it Smells like Teen Spirit
With Those were the Best Days of my Life.

What days?
The now,
The future,
The past-
That I have already lived.
Did I miss it,
Like the idiot I am.

Don’t you forget about me
Was what I was supposed to say
As I fist pumped in the air
But all I can think of is
Did I actually miss it?
Or is it just a woven net
Of American lies
To feed Indian lives
Who look upto the west
For the smallest validation.

To smoke up, bottoms up
To hook up, make out
And anything short of this
Meant you missed the “real” experience.

But what happens to the girls
Who found no lips to kiss
To the boys with asthma or into sports
Who found they couldn’t smoke
To the kids
Who just didn’t like the taste of alcohol.

Did they miss it like I did
Or did I miss it like they did.
Or did we just spend days in mud
And then on sand
And then on bedsheets-

Not missing anything at all.
I miss my dog though;
Maybe that’s all I miss
missed. Will miss.

My name is Vandana Devi and I am 20 years old. I am from the little state of Kerala in the big country of India. I study Humanities and Social Sciences in one of the best Technical institutes in the country. Over the years, I have been fed Kerala rice, while watching Bollywood movies, while reading and watching American things, while being taught to write in British English. The amalgamation of these things hence makes me feel that today, I am able to write things that are unique but also relatable to the many people who have grown up the same way. I write because I like to write and because I don’t know how else to communicate.

True Blue - Dmitri Demidenko

Wonder - Kendra Kaeding Satterwhite


The trees are full of wonder,
a thing for which I spite.
For the wonderment of a child
Is a thing ultimately in slumber

For we go about our days
And find distractions to fade
the dreams once had
And the hope once made

I beg you to fight
Against the torrent of old age
Hold on to the ardor you had
When your mother met your gaze.

Then you will find that while wrinkles come
And bones crumble in pain,
The spirit inside you will never truly
Go away

As The Last Leaf Falls - Ryan Huynh

As The Last Leaf Falls

     As the last leaf falls from the potted plant I gave to my father, I hold his frail, wrinkled hand for the last time. His hand shakes from the Parkinson’s, and his eyes squint in an attempt to remember who I was as he wipes a tear from my face.

     “Son . . . is that you?” He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Exhaustion and fatigue seem to possess his once lively, fiery spirt.

     “Y-yes it’s me . . .” My voice trails off when my dad suddenly interrupts me with a bout of racking coughs. He looks at me directly in my eyes. For once, I see that intense light again in his insanely blue eyes.

     “I wanted to talk to you. About Cathy.”

     Tears spring in my eyes and I turn myself away from his impenetrable gaze. My dad’s eyes cloud as he bites his lip.

     “Listen, you need to stop blaming yourself for what happened to her. You were the best thing she could’ve had.”

     I stared at him in disbelief. “I was the best thing she ever had. And she still died. How can you say that to me when I still wasn’t enough?” My voice steadily escalated into a frantic screech. The way she smiled at me when I was a foolish klutz; the way she spoke to me when we were up until three in the morning over the phone; the way she always said the right words to strum the chords of my heart. How could my dad ever understand the pain I was feeling right now? I glared at him accusingly.

     My dad looked at me for a long pause before turning towards the window and sighing deeply. “You’re probably thinking that I can’t understand how it feels to be in your position right now.” He hesitated, waiting for a reaction. When none came, he continued. “And you’re completely right. I don’t know how it feels to lose the love of my life.”

     “That’s right,” I retorted instantly. “So don’t try to talk to me as if you understand the pain you’re causing me.”

     “Ray!” my father shouted. Startled, I stopped my rant. My dad calmed and looked at me with a weary visage that must have been 20 years older than his actual age.

     “The one thing you don’t understand is that Cathy loved you more than life itself. Do you know how much you meant to her?”

     I shook my head, and he sighed irritably. “When you two first started dating, I was already good friends with her dad.” He chuckled reminiscently. “He would always tell me how Cathy would go on and on about how lucky she was to finally have such a good boyfriend. Cathy would talk to all her friends and freak out about how caring and passionate and funny you were. She couldn’t believe that she got her own fairy-tale and Prince Charming.”

     I sat raptly listening in a stunned silence. My dad took a look at my astonished expression and smirked kindheartedly.

     “You really had no idea, huh?” He sighed deeply again, and we both sat in our own thoughts. “Listen, Ray . . . the point I’m trying to make . . . do you remember the movie you took her to when you two shared your first kiss?”

     “Of course.”

     “She kept those tickets. On them she wrote, ‘Never forget to live like there’s no tomorrow and love like there was no yesterday.’ Yes, she always saw you as her very own Superman.”    

     “She really loved you,” he continued. “She wouldn’t want to see you like this. Dejected, lackluster, lost. Let her love be the beacon to guide you. Cathy would want to see you happy again, cracking your whimsical smile and bursting with your chirpy attitude.”

     I stared down at my shoes for a long time. Tears obscured my vision as I looked back up to him.

     “Dad,” I began. My voice cracked and begged to give way. “I came to you to help console you about your . . .”

     “Death?” My dad smirked.

     “Yeah . . . so why are you the one consoling me?”

     My father turned his head and looked out the window. For the first time that day, I watched as tears traced a path down his cheek and dripped from his chin. “I’m old. I’m dying, Ray. Tomorrow I’ll be gone, on my way to a better place. But you’ll still be here, and I’ll be damned if I left you without a piece of sagacious, fatherly advice.”

     He leaned in closer to me. “I don’t want you to ever forget that this is the life you lead. Yes, sometimes it may be messy and undesirable and depressing. But remember that it’s the only one that we have, and we’re meant to cherish it. And I do want to say that I am proud of you, for everything that you’ve been through.”

     His voice caught, and he cleared his throat quietly. “You’ve been in many relationships in the past. Each relationship ended unpleasantly and always hurt you, yet you still loved and cared for your significant other as deeply as you did before. To see you care so deeply about one woman, even when you’ve been riddled with heartbreak and longing: I respect you for that. Even though I’m so much older than you, I look up to you, and I am proud to be able to call you my son.”

     I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. My eyes were completely blurred, and my face was streaking with tears. I rushed to him and hugged him one last time as the nurses pried me off since visiting time was over. My last image of my dad was of him lying down in bed with his eyes closed, his face calm and his body completely relaxed.

     I’ll never forgot them, both my father and Cathy. Their image, what they stood for. All of that will forever be ingrained in my mind. Both of their deaths showed me a part of life that I had not personally experienced. The fact that life could reach such desolate patches of darkness really opened my view to the beauty of life. It’s sort of like watching a tornado utterly destroy everything in its path. Or seeing a tsunami completely swamp a city. Incredibly scary, but in a special kind of way, dangerously beautiful. And now, fifty years later, I sit in my own hospital bed, patiently waiting for my son to come in so I can tell him the things my father told me fifty years ago.

Ryan is published in his school’s literary magazine and on The Scene & Heard. He hopes that people can find peace from their hectic lives when they read his work. He is currently a senior at Saint Francis High School in California.

Beloved in the Water - Enna Stewart

Beloved in the Water

In the sockeye dawn
the heron stares with glassen gaze
over the manmade lake.
She takes a wire step,
the silt stirs from sleep,
the frog gong signals sun.

This year the grass runs tall,
the woodthrush stumbles back
from winter break, the barred owl
perches in the pockets of blue
on a thick bough over the drive.

The sky at night is a collander
of light, and I whisper that into the phone
to you from one haven
to the next, bare on the white bed,
body smelling of balsam.
We have just met
and I am florid with love.

Some years later I am sitting in rush hour traffic
on the merritt parkway and see two deer,
a large doe, legs up and back
black with resting blood,
eyes wide and blank. The second,
white-flecked, curled like a fiddlehead.
I imagine those deer, imagine silence
and glimmering ribbons of beetles,
and then the orange moon over massachusetts
and your soft belly against my back.

My name is Enna, and I have been writing all my life, all 21 years of it. I’m passionate about the craft, and have been experimenting with form and sound in the past few years. I live in Connecticut, and draw much inspiration from the nature of New England. By day, I am a student of mathematics, but my true passion is poetry, and I hope to pursue it no matter where else my life leads.

I Bloody Hope - Akachi Obijaku

“I Bloody Hope”

It hurts, doesn’t it?
To see me conquer

It hurts, doesn’t it?
To see me prevail

It hurts, doesn’t it?
To see me defy

I bet it does
I bloody hope it does!

Akachi Obijiaku is a new Nigerian poet (aged 20). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Meniscus Literary Journal, Basil O’Flaherty, the Rising Phoenix Review, the Scarlet Leaf Review, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly. She started writing poetry in 2017, and is currently completing an MSc in Emerging Economies and International Development at King’s College London.

Matt Androvett

This piece was inspired by mir fontane album “Camden.”

Matt Androvett is a graphic design artist in Texas.

The Jourdan Boulevard - Carter Vance

The Jourdan Boulevard

Slipping between the broken paving stone,
shoes bleating a harried rhythm in rubber,
I move visibly, swallowed,
as a humbled painter,
staring blankly at the unblemished canvas
of even time:
coming through clearly, loud,
coming through in found feather ambiance,
the ego of lazy weekend wanders coming back
as united strumming on
bending jazz break corners.
The tuba honks in Metro
underpass drew a line
with pathway’s depth on
gold flake etching of what
it was in pas march to
dead hot wire, imperial
fantasia and the rest of
There isn’t some idle hope
here: I’d be lying
to take it further, in shade of
wishing wells, giving trees.

Carter Vance is a student and aspiring poet originally from Cobourg, Ontario, currently studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. His work has appeared in such publications as The Vehicle, (parenthetical) and F(r)iction, amongst others. He received an Honourable Mention from Contemporary Verse 2’s Young Buck Poetry Awards in 2015. His work also appears on his personal blog Comment is Welcome.

Secret Realizations - Jasmine Villeda

Secret Realizations

I keep replaying images of you in my head
A collection of stills that help me remember what I’ve learned about you
Like Looking away every time you smile
Then looking at me for just a moment longer
The sound of your voice that has now been set apart from everyone else’s.

All this time I had been trying to figure out what was different about us?
But it was right in front of me the whole time
I could hear the beating of my own heart
Slowly trying to hammer its way out
Every breath cut in half
Being with you did that to me.

So here I am again, waiting for you to arrive
Waiting to discover something new about you
Feeling another flutter in my heart
I looked up to see that you walked into the room
Someone that has now been set apart from everyone else
And I smiled
No one saw it, but I smiled.

Jasmine Villeda, a student from Modesto, CA, on her way to becoming a journalist. She is recently exploring the world of creative writing and enjoying every minute of this adventure!

Madelyn Neal

To my daughter

I had a dream about you last night // as concrete in my mind as the last time I spoke to God // as fierce and ruthless as a tornado.

In my dream I called you Rosie and warned you against playing too close to the pool water’s’ edge but you smiled at me and wrinkled your nose – you knew exactly how far to push it – my god this baby of mine is going to be a wild fire // a surge of thunderclouds.

I’d like to tell you there will be no need to grow thorns that distract from the \ clichèd attractiveness \ of your namesake but I’d be lying
Simplifying everything that happens in a
-it’ll take me a long time to stop worrying about you crossing the street without me // assailed by cat calling → you’ll just have to learn how to prick | drawing blood without being picked from the
fertile ground on which you will stand.


You may not know you’re beautiful but I’ll be damned if you won’t understand the
– Rumble of thunder each time you snap your finger
– The echo of the threat that sneaks out of your larynx each time you laugh // issued by the universe on your behalf { you are protected by every inch of the cosmos }
– You will know how to use the flick of your hip to birth tsunamis
– A crack of your knuckles and skyscrapers crumble under earthquakes named after


I promise I’ll raise you to become every stubborn
Weather pattern that

Always remember your body is your own and it is your biggest asset // your toughest challenge // I pray it will be your longest love.

We understand

the segregation // demarcation // of our own bodies — some insides are more
important than

We recognize the curves of every letter in the word BOSSY | like the love lines in the palm of
our hands |

       Both calligraphic motions / a reminder that it takes a certain less-of-a-man to love us // to
allow us to wear pants // of a similar make //

We feel what it’s like for our destinies to be PRE WRITTEN // stamped on our foreheads | a flaw – A trademark of the laws of supply and demand | we are 2% too many to be considered


  We know that just like politicians care for parts of us (( 15x smaller than our pinky toes ))

// our minds are second best { noticed only after you see the HAIR that covers my
forehead }

= Volume only desirable if it follows voluptuous and a new hair cut
= Forget the words coming out of our mouths | in favor of the angles of our cupid’s bows and the colors that paint them

I noticed that I’ve fallen into the trap just like so many of us have
\\ I can’t be a marianismo \\ (ironically a masculine adjective) – another excuse that
makes me unloveable |

— is it so wrong to want a man to look at me like the sun sets from my eyes // like the first hill of a metal coaster was built on the curves of my unoffensive shoulders // like each unevenness of my fingernails is worth more than any other hand he could dream of being touched by // like the crook of my elbow is home to drops of moonlight scattered throughout time – conspiring together to bring light to my skin, softness to my lips // like the sunlight is tied to the condition of my soul -I am its overcast day, its wildfire, every goddamn ray looking to burn //
— is it so wrong to want a man to look at me like I matter?

Ode to Myself

This is a letter | to the woman I’d like to be / who is me / who isn’t me /// not yet but I’m still
This is a letter | and I’m just hoping I can find the right address

Even though my unshapely shape that looks too much like a shape has everyone | aroused /
offended / somehow-entitled-to-call-me-names /// I’m trying to get to the post office to send out
my letter — to say thank you for the struggle —to say thank you for keepin’ on keepin on’ — to
say thank you for ignoring every
I miss you please stay.
He isn’t looking at you – he’s looking over your
shoulder (bright and bare) but he doesn’t seem to care
what I wear instead he looks at someone else.

This is a letter saying thanks for being exactly the singular proper noun that no one can take from you because you don’t give them the right to – because you catch them with their hands in the cookie jar and smile because truth be told, it was empty all along – you know better than to hide your essence in a place so easily accessible by hungry people who fill their bellies – ask for more // never fed enough until your metaphorical kitchen is empty and they’ve moved on to someone else.

I’ve bought the stamp // licked the envelope shut – this is a thank you note for practicing so much self-love ; because the metaphysical is important too and so are you // so am I.

Madelyn is a first year who is attending Miami University the fall of 2017 and has previously self-published a book entitled Project: Hope, that describes the plight of refugees once they move to the States. She is an aspiring poet who is passionate about literature and creative writing, as well as coffee, 80s movies, and travel. Her favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger, Charlotte Brontë, among countless others. Madelyn’s work has previously been published in Underscore Review, Sea Foam Magazine, Miami Quarterly Magazine, and Inklings, and she hopes to have her first collection of poetry published in 2018.

Late Drive - Dotun Jide

Late Drive

My face rests against the cold window.
The radio plays a classic folk song. The
trees have become shadows.
The stars, dancing in the bright moonlight.
The crickets are busy
cursing the fireflies’ bright lights.
The night owl hoots.
The hyenas are laughing.
The air is chill.
The wind runs through the grasses,
as they sway their heads in unison.
The headlamps light ahead,
not another vehicle in sight.
I heave a loud sigh,
trying not to sleep.

Born in 1998 in South-Western Nigeria, I am an emerging writer and undergraduate student of Wilfrid Laurier University. I seldom write poetry; when I do, I am incited at my leisure by emotional and or societal occurrences.

Time a Fleeting Ship - Shraavasti Bhat

Time a fleeting ship

Time and Time again we delve into the past,
Dwelling on our mistake and the moments that did not last.
Yet we never seem to realize the time we will lose
If we are to continue drifting on this cruise.

What happens in your lifetime
Happens for reasons unknown
But if we continue to lament
Time will dwindle and we will get old
Thus, we need to let the cards unfold.

Time is as precious as it is scarce
Nor shall we treat it so delicate,
To use it we become desolate.

Despite what I have said, few will agree
As some simply cannot see.
In their heads their sanity will abate
Oh, if only they could relate

And see,
That the past cannot be altered,
No matter how hard you try
No matter how much you think
No matter how much you cry

When we covet time
We look to Father time,
Whom we imagine;

Winged, and
With a robe and scythe.

But we fail to notice the man wasn’t always shrivelled and old,
He too once was a young boy; innocent and bold.
Yet time too has caught up with its master,
And has him writhing in isolation and sorrow.
Leaving him a single thought –
That time is too precious to be bought
Only then do we realize that time serves no one, not even Father time.

Shraavasti Bhat was born in India and raised in Hong Kong. She is currently studying at King George V School and has a great interest and passion for literature.

Wetlands - Carina Stopenski


     “C’mere, I have something to show you,” Violet said as she pulled me into the broom closet. Her fingernails were painted green and her wristbands rubbed up against my skin as her arm brushed mine. First, she kissed me, no different than usual. Our broom closet rendezvouses were a pretty common occurrence. Then, she reached into her jacket pocket, revealing a little brown frog. “Isn’t he cute? Thought we could name him Freddy.”

     When Violet Mahoney moved to Armitage, I was relieved that I was no longer the only gay kid in our small West Virginia town. I had been alone for several years, and just months before graduation, Violet came barreling in, choppy hair with pink streaks, Goodwill dresses, combat boots in eighty-degree weather. She was six feet tall and refused to shave her legs. Her daddy was a painter and her mama was in a bluegrass band. Everything about her was artsy and cool and nothing like Armitage. I was automatically infatuated with her.

     “Isn’t he cute, Nat? Found him down by the crick.” Violet giggled as the frog struggled in her hands. Tiny croaks escaped him as his sticky limbs clung to Violet’s fingers. “We should keep him.”

     “I don’t know anything about animal husbandry,” I answered honestly. “How’d you even sneak that thing in? Wasn’t it fidgeting around in your pocket all day? It’s sixth period already.”

     Violet smirked. “I have a way of keeping things quiet. Now, you wanna keep him?”

     I watched Freddy wriggle in Violet’s palms. It was obvious that he was unhappy to be there. I sighed, avoiding eye contact with Violet. This was it. This was my moment to finally strip myself away from forever being her sidekick. “Erm, not really. We’re not even allowed to take things from the water. It says that right on the sign outside the park.”

     “Well, rules are meant to be broken, right?”

     “What if he’s some sort of endangered species? We gotta take him back.”

     Violet almost immediately wiped the smile from her face. “Why don’t you ever do anything that I want to do, Nat? You never want to have any fun.”

     From the day that Violet waltzed into my geography class, I had always been her yes man. When she suggested we swap names to confuse substitutes, I committed to the act. When she wanted to let the worms loose in the environmental science lab, I helped her sneak in. When she spray-painted our initials in a giant pink heart on a cluster of freshman lockers, I took a photo for Instagram. Everything went her way. I was just along for the ride. The fact that she could accomplish this much in a three month period was actually pretty impressive. Before Violet, I spent all my free moments in the either in the library researching college scholarships or out biking the trails that lined the back roads of Armitage. I never had enough time to do any of this stuff.

     The most striking was one of our original broom closet adventures, when she had stolen a cigarette from her mother’s purse and suggested we smoke it during fifth period lunch.

     “They’re gonna smell the smoke on us when we get back in there, y’know.” I coughed from a single puff, still too much for my asthmatic lungs to take. My body crumpled into itself as I inhaled.

     Violet laughed. “Who even cares? What, are they gonna expel me? Midway through the year, with graduation this close? Be realistic, no one wants to do that paperwork.” She continued to press the cigarette to her lips, despite my discomfort. “Besides, we’re having fun, right?”

     Between my hacking fits, I nodded. I wasn’t going to say no to this beautiful giant of a girl towering over my five-foot-two frame. Not only was I enamored by her, but I was also terrified by her. Something about her was intimidating, like if I told her I was uncomfortable, she could crumple me into a ball and throw me in the trash.

     Back in the broom closet today, with Freddy still clutched in her hands, I decided I had enough. It was always about fun with Violet Mahoney.

     “Never want to have any fun?” I asked, a twinge of anger in my voice. “Maybe I don’t want to have fun with you because your idea of fun is offensive, illegal, or dangerous!” I tugged at the bottoms on my sleeves and covered my fingers.

     Violet shoved the frog back into her pocket, little ribbits resonating in the closet. “Look, it’s not my fault that you never did anything cool before I came here. I’m just trying to give you a good senior year. Seemed like you needed a friend. Maybe more, I don’t know. I thought we clicked.”

     “You don’t get to tell me what I need or don’t need,” I answered, crossing my arms. “I’m really trying here, but dating you is a lot of work. I’m trying to balance school and home and work and stuff. I can’t let a disciplinary infraction get in the way of everything I’m trying to do.”

     She snorted. “Maybe you’re doing too much.”

     “Yeah, maybe I should cut something out. Like you.” I tried to say this with confidence, but it ended up sounding more jumbled than self-assured.

     “So, what? You’re breaking up with me or something? Over a frog?”

     “It’s not just the frog, it’s everything leading up to the frog, okay? The frog’s just the breaking point. You’ve got to stop doing such stupid stuff all the time.”

     Violet pulled her hair back into a ponytail and clicked her tongue. “You know what? Fine. But you’re taking this guy back to the pond. I wanted to keep him. You wanna put him back so bad, go do it yourself.” I gulped as we emerged from the broom closet, and fortunately, there were no teachers in the hallway.

     Violet walked to our seventh period anatomy class, and I felt like following after her would do more harm than good at this point. This time I decided to take a cue from her handbook and skip class to take Freddy down to the creek. I tucked him into my satchel, nice and cozy in the inside pocket, took the back exit to the parking lot, and hopped on my bike.

     As I pedaled, I thought of Freddy squirming inside my bag. How did Violet think we could have taken care of him? She would’ve ended up pinning all the responsibility on me anyway, just like always.

     The trees were starting to get a little green again in town, but most of the plants were still bare for March. When I pulled up to the edge of the water, the grass was crunchy. I pulled Freddy out of my pocket, croaking away, and set him at the edge. As he hopped around for a few minutes, I watched him move through the silt, happily, and with a high-pitched plop, he was back in the water. I forgot how much I loved this place. I used to come here all the time to think and wade in the murky sludge when I was a kid. I never shared that with Violet. She didn’t know what it felt like to be just be in nature instead of taking away from it. “Be free, little guy,” I said. “Now, we’re both back to where we’re supposed to be.”

Carina Stopenski is a BFA student of Creative Writing at Chatham University. Her work has been featured in such literary journals as Cold Creek Review, Impossible Archetype, and Life in 10 Minutes, among others, as well as the anthology “Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets.” Her writing is forthcoming in “Flash Fiction for Flash Memory” and The Honey Bee Review. She serves as editor-in-chief for Chatham’s undergraduate literary magazine, the Minor Bird, and as an associate prose editor for 1932 Quarterly.

Country of Hatred - Lateefah Stallings

Country of Hatred

This is supposed to be a country without hatred
A country of peace
But, yet, hatred flares like the flames of a fire

She’s as innocent as a lamb
And modest as a preacher’s wife
But you look at her as if she’s a mangy dog

She’s a harmless stallion
With a scarf, the color of a peacock
But, yet, you fail to realize the bundles of gold inside

This country is not what she thought
But the discrimination is fierce as an angered beast
The discrimination hunts her down as if she’s the prey of a grey wolf
But, yet, you choose to flare the flames of the blazing fire of hatred
Everywhere she goes, she’s looked down on
Like she’s a dog that suffered from hunger
with its skeleton protruding through its skin

Nobody wants to have anything to do with this innocent stallion besides hatred
But, yet, you throw gas on the flames of the fire of hatred to make it flare
She’s a stallion in the orchid eating grass as silently as mouse
But you’re the soldier, that startled her with gun fires
Setting the orchid on fire
But, yet, you fuel the blazing flames of the fire of hatred

The red flames of the fire of hatred roar like the mighty king of the jungle
The grass, sticks, and shrubs beneath the stallion’s feet
begin to melt like a cube of ice in the sunlight
But, yet, you choose to pour fifty gallons of gas
onto the blazing flames of the fire of hatred
You judged the stallion by the color of her coat
But didn’t take a glimpse of the golden heart
Instead you prey on her like you’re hunting your enemy of war
But, yet, you choose to fuel the flames of the blazing fire of hatred

She’s lost inside, because you turned her down
Because you denied her of rights
As if she was the criminal of a bank robbery
But on the inside, she’s made of gold
But, yet, you choose to pour gas on the blazing flames of the fire of hatred

Gas after gas
Flames after flames
But who would step up and pour one thousand gallons of cold
water to freeze away the flames of the fire of hatred
But, yet, you choose to pour one thousand gallons of gas on the
flames of the fire of hatred, to fuel the flames of the blazing
fire of hatred

Abigail Warhus


I watched you dance
On this old home video—iconic 80s
Before you met my father and sequined jumpsuits and
frosty eye shadow became pencil skirts and
dark circles.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at your mouth
on the fuzzy VHS footage.
The orange peel curve of your lips sent
my heart through my chest and rivers down
my cheeks
For I stopped believing in your smile when you sealed
it with a black metal barrel.
I picture you gulping the bullet like medicine.
A pill to save you from his whiskey­‐soaked words.

You married Daddy when I was eight, back when
I still called him daddy
And I fell in love with your hands as they sewed
my flower girl dress:
White lace trimmed with lavender petals
you’d made by hand.

I’m wearing your shirt tonight.
The one you caught me trying on when I was twelve My skinny body staring at the mirror, desperately
stuffing tissues down the front.
You gave it to me for when you’re a woman, you said.

It fits me perfectly now.


We are the people squirming on the kitchen tile, Stomachs clenched in laughter after a nasty slip. Dena, dances down sterile Wal­‐Mart aisles.
And two rows over
Buyasta is stuffing wine into a backpack,
While I send bouncy balls reeling down the linoleum.

We are the rabble spitting fire at oncoming traffic.
Two­‐am glittering street goblins on their way to a beach bonfire.

We fill our veins with smoke.
Orange fibers tickle at naked nerve endings Until the smoke rings spin around our heads And we’re weak­‐kneed.

In the sexy Chicago summer,
Beer bottles fly at flames,
Exploding on lakeside boulders.

The smooth suburban streets feed us the Lake Michigan fog
Her big blue body’s gift to reward our inquiring eyes Granting us breath to fuel tomorrow’s exploit.

And we only wander home once we’ve watched the sun climb out of the water.


Someone told the train to move faster
and the sky got dark at the top
little orange porch lights—no discernable pattern
while my womb did empty backflips

I like the towns with the flickering stoplights—smell like cheap gasoline

Maybe I’ll rub some Vicks on my knees and dance to Carole King
Maybe I’ll inhale some jasmine and run screaming through the car
Maybe I’ll light a candle and stir melted red wax in my tea

The train is overflowing

Does the train still move forward or simply rock?

Abigail Warhus is a poet, director, and activist currently studying theatre at Southern Illinois University. Abigail’s work has been seen in Grassroots Literary Magazine, an SIU publication, a chapbook as a result of a Northwestern University poetry partnership, and the Daily Egyptian, SIU’s news source. Abigail lives in Makanda, IL with her partner and his son where she enjoys long hikes in Giant City and befriending goats.

Tattoo - Victoria Endres


The first bite
is sharp, distinct.
I crave another sting
just so I know
if this pain
will sing
of failed love
of bruises
of tears
like drain pipes
after a storm.

I hear the gun,
hear it sing
some sweet,
pure melody
writing new
lyrics on
my once
bruised skin.
a new story.

I see it coming,
the next prick,
like the first;
go on I say
to the blue-gloved hand
resting on my leg.

Black ink
ghostly pale scars
from the tumble
I took
down the stairs
at your push.

The gun pushes
against my skin,
leaving its mark.
This time
lacking blues,
this time
by my choice,
not your abuse.

Victoria Endres is an undergraduate studying Literary Studies, Creative Writing and Spanish at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. After graduation, she hopes to teach English around the world. She has a passion for people, languages, and storytelling. In addition to teaching, Endres would like to continue writing about her travels and experiences.

my brother & i in fish tank rewind - Robin Gow

my brother & i in fish tank rewind

when i was eight, my six-year-old brother & i
swam backwards like nautilus down our small-town Main Street at night—
all the way summer’s sweaty body bumped into us &
the Turkey Hill gas station became a chapel
to pray our lips raspberry blue with slushie—
this was the summer my uncle bought a giant television to cram into
our unfinished living room—
& with the house still being built around us
we couldn’t afford cable yet—

instead, my younger brother & i became submerged in the fish tank
demo tape that came with the new television—
we learned the choreography of the aquatic trance &
found comfort in the ritual of each rewound tail & fin.

with the first gnawing of the VCR
my brother & i would trip inside the glass
of our own static aquarium—swallow bubbles—feel our faces turning gill & scale—
he was always the timid orange & white clown fish
& i the yellow tetra, scared of the filter—

certain afternoons i grew whiskers like the crabs
or pulled out my jaw bone like a coat hanger
to suck the glass clean of algae—

the last montage would roll around & call us to swim backwards
& backwards & backwards into each other
in the bodies of the nautilus—
pushed clumsily through the television window to build tentacles
out of wire—crammed limbs in outlets—danced lonely in the eternal
motion of playing back our previous selves—

my father told us, on one July day while we were lying on
our stomachs in front of the synthetic fish tank,
that it was nice outside—that the sun was out & it was not too hot–
he stood at the window.

we couldn’t hear him over the waltzing of the fish tank.

despite being unwilling, we end up outside—felt our fish skin dying—
peeling off in chunky scabs
bleeding the rich blues & yellows onto the asphalt
— colors were assumed back into the sun—
we witnessed our bodies gasping for breath—

later in my bedroom i turned on the air conditioner
& laid on my back in the middle of the floor–
i imagined myself falling as if dropped into the fish tank of my bedroom—
our approximation of a home was still comprised of
faded white plastered walls & mattresses
on wood floors—i pretended
there were plastic aquarium plants raising their arms
to drown me under fresh green sheets &
my brother was there too, like me, on the floor— trapped in the
nostalgia-ridden-body of a nautilus—
dropping himself into his own tank to watch
the ceiling ripple away—

today i swim backwards until i’m eight years old again—
lay on my spine so the ceiling can escape—

my brother & i have thrived in fish tank rewind—
held each other by nautilus tendrils—we reunite from separate
bedroom floors & float to the surface to breath air

Robin Gow’s poetry has recently been published in Synaesthesia, The Write Launch, FIVE:2:ONE, and Corbel Stone Press. Robin Gow is an undergraduate student at Ursinus College studying English, Creative Writing, and Spanish but Poetry is always his passion. He runs a poetry blog and serves as the production editor of the Lantern literary magazine.

Ballet Slippers - Neha Aigalikar

Ballet Slippers

Bright flowers.

And the smell of Papa’s bread wakes me up.

I clutch on to Annemarie’s ballet slippers and count to ten. I sit in the parlor awaiting my birthday cake.
Mama said this year I cannot have frosting on my birthday cake due to the war. For we have to pay for the war.
When I hear a bang.

Big green trucks swarming suddenly into my village.
And I sit in the pool of blood that has escaped from my fathers tongue.

Rotten mice.
And the smell of fear wakes me up.
I clutch on to Annemarie’s ballet slippers and count to ten.
I sit in the train seat the soilder has pushed me in.
Mama cries as the soilder who slapped me is now yanking her dress.
For my Mama who protects me.
I sit in the edge of my seat as my Mama is pulled into the soilders compartment leaving behind a trail of ripped clothes.
When I hear hoots and hollers.
Big soldiers have taken away my Mama and Papa.
And I sit as I rub my mothers back as she weeps for her pride and dignity.

Green valleys,
And the smell of human flesh wakes me up.
I clutch on to Annemarie’s ballet slippers and count to ten.

I sit in the dark room that we had been pushed in.
Mama is long gone.
For I am alone.
I sit as it is my turn to look out our hole,
When I hear birds chirping.
Big tall trees stand as I longer recognize my land.
I sit as I hear the doors opening.

Cold huts.
And the smell of burning wood wakes me up.
I clutch on to Annemarie’s ballet slippers and count to ten.
I sit in the hut of the huntsman I had been pushed too.
Mama is what the young ones now call me.
For the Baltics have been sentenced to imprisonment in Siberia.
I sit as I huddle near the fire.
When I hear the soilders giving us animal names.
Big deer have been hunted.
I sit as I hear the names.

Wooden arches.
And the smell of fresh blood wakes me up.
I clutch on to Annemarie’s ballet slippers and count to ten.
I sit on the ground waiting in the line I had been pushed into.
Mama cry the young ones as they are carried to the cheering crowd.
For I am the last.

I sit on the steps as I clutch my slippers.
When I hear the generals daughter admiring my slippers.
Big grubby hands tear the slippers.
I sit on the pedestal as I count to ten, the gunshot rings.

Neha Aigalikar is 13 years old, and attends Smith Middle School. Her goal as an artist is to grow not only as a short story writer but venture into poetry as well.


Bloom - Rachael Weaver


It took me a while to realize
That I can be content with where I am now,
Even though I’m still evolving,
And that I am always evolving.
It took me even longer to realize
The beauty in my mistakes
And that they do not stunt my growth
Or define me.
I am so relieved to have realized
That although I am a work in progress,
I am simultaneously a masterpiece.

Rachael Weaver is a 16-year-old writer residing in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ikigai - Jennifer Yang

Jennifer Yang is a senior in high school. She was born in Los Angeles, and raised in Seoul and Ames. Currently residing in northern Virginia, she looks forward to life after high school.

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