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ALL COPYRIGHT BELONGS WITH THE ORIGINAL AUTHORS. For any feedback, concerns or copyright queries, the creators of this anthology can be contacted via sparkipoemi@gmail.com 2


Sparkipoemi Anthology 2021

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Contents Foreword ........................................................................................................... i-ii Sparkipoemi | Emilio D. Puerta ......................................................................... 1

Pangea, Pangea - Who Am I? | Tina Jaxen..................................................... 4 Puppet | Zara Feroz .......................................................................................... 6 When the current gets strong | Sabina Leybold ................................................ 7 I Breathe Karachi | Zara Feroz ......................................................................... 8 The Melanin of My Skin | Sibgha Alam ............................................................. 9 Swimming in the Neretva River | Sabina Leybold ........................................... 10 Hands | Kanwal A. .......................................................................................... 12 From Your Lips to God’s Ears | Anika ............................................................ 13 Shapes | Melanie Flores Bernholz .................................................................. 14 The Abecedarian Song | Emilio D. Puerta ...................................................... 15 Pray | Melanie Flores Bernholz ....................................................................... 16 Hold Music (for a film) | Malgosia Ip ............................................................... 17 Minuet in Minor | Emilio D. Puerta .................................................................. 18 Phantom of the Theater | Sabina Leybold & Kanwal A. .................................. 19 Self Portrait as a Castrato with Flowers from an Adoring Fan | L. L. Friedman

......................................................................................................................... 20 My Languages | Talia Duffy ............................................................................ 23 Red | Melanie Flores Bernholz ....................................................................... 24 Rot | Melanie Flores Bernholz .............................................................................. 25 Vermell | Melanie Flores Bernholz ........................................................................ 25 Rojo | Emilio D. Puerta ......................................................................................... 26 Rouge | Emilio D. Puerta ...................................................................................... 26 Ahmar | Julie Maree ............................................................................................. 27 लाल | Anika ........................................................................................................ 27 あか | Livia Jayne .............................................................................................. 28 ‫ | الل‬DG................................................................................................................ 28 4


In A Daydream | Zara Feroz ............................................................................ 29 Another | Julie Maree ...................................................................................... 30 I am the woman / I am the girl | Littlewriterr ..................................................... 31 Eve | Anika ...................................................................................................... 32 She | Melanie Flores Bernholz ........................................................................ 34 Uncage Her | Zara Feroz ................................................................................. 35 Boo | Anika ...................................................................................................... 37

Castaway | DG ................................................................................................ 39 Realign, Align, Intertwine | Tina Jaxen ............................................................ 40 Corpses 1 | A Collaborative Work.................................................................... 41 Corpses 2 | A Collaborative Work.................................................................... 43 Shylock | L. L. Friedman .................................................................................. 45 If you want to live forever | Littlewriterr ............................................................ 46 Meet Me In | Sabina Leybold ........................................................................... 47 Wayfaring Apology | Tina Jaxen ...................................................................... 48 In this one I give birth to a new set of moments | Diana Marie ........................ 49 Three Generations: Nano, Amma & Me | Sibgha Alam ................................... 50 Entrance to My Memories | Elisa F. ................................................................. 52 Youth’s Fleeting Spell | Malgosia Ip................................................................. 53 Catherine the Great | L. L. Friedman ............................................................... 54 Changes? | Tatiana Flores .............................................................................. 55 Stretch | Malgosia Ip ........................................................................................ 56

You are what you eat | Diana Marie ................................................................ 57 Seeds | Malgosia Ip ......................................................................................... 58 Orange Fields | Juan Barrera .......................................................................... 59 Close contact (physical contact for the physically uninitiated) | Diana Marie .......................................................................................................................... 60 Goodbye to Good; Hello to Revenge | Livia Jayne .......................................... 61 Bridge | Kanwal A. ........................................................................................... 62 Jacques Cousteau and I Share a Birthday | Sabina Leybold ........................... 63

Leave | Sibgha Alam ....................................................................................... 64 Butterfly Effect | Tatiana Flores ....................................................................... 65 Running Out of Breath | Jason Latta ............................................................... 66 5


Our Last Goodbye | DG .................................................................................. 67 I miss you so hard it hurts | Livia Jayne .......................................................... 68 Who I became | Littlewriterr ............................................................................ 69 Chasms | Kanwal A. ....................................................................................... 73 The Matter with Me | Tatiana Flores ............................................................... 75 Horatio Alone | L. L. Friedman ........................................................................ 77 You Say | Jason Latta .................................................................................... 78

Rejection | Emilio D. Puerta ............................................................................ 79 Wasteland | Talia Duffy................................................................................... 80 Broken Windows | DG .................................................................................... 82 Locked Doors in the Ruins | DG ..................................................................... 83 Fragments | Livia Jayne.................................................................................. 84 Hollowed Bones | Talia Duffy.......................................................................... 85 A prayer for the unholy | Diana Marie ............................................................. 86 Unfiltered Colombian Coffee | Juan Barrera ................................................... 87 Moon Madhouse | Tina Jaxen ........................................................................ 88 The Spider in My Bedroom | Emilio D. Puerta ................................................ 90 3:20 a.m. Moon | Juan Barrera ....................................................................... 91 At Night | Tatiana Flores ................................................................................. 92 Harlots | Juan Barrera..................................................................................... 93 Canada | Adam Cooper .................................................................................. 94 You WILL be remembered | Littlewriterr ......................................................... 96

A Part | Talia Duffy ......................................................................................... 97 We Are Family | Emilio D. Puerta ................................................................... 98 Our Sparkipoemi Family ................................................................................. 100

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Foreword On June 9th, 2020, Emilio approached Livia with the idea of creating a digital platform for poets to connect, chat and learn from each other. They set up their first Zoom meeting for the 14th, spread the word through social media, and held their breath for the first poets to arrive... What began as mere weekly gatherings to share poetry during the initial darkness of the COVID-19 crisis quickly evolved into a family of like-minded individuals who not only wanted to share their poetic creations, but also wanted to have a good time. With many memories and new friends made, some of the highlights have included a group-wide game of Corpses (a writing game in which a poem is written in chain succession, with each person only seeing the line immediately prior to their own), exploring different perspectives of culture and language, and the most outrageous and long-winded tangents sparked from even the smallest of conversations. Naturally, and in the tradition of preceding poets going back centuries, a group of creative people would coin a creative name for themselves: Sparkipoemi was born (credits to Kanwal, of course) and from then on the sense of comradery and support only strengthened. Now, one year later, and twenty-one strong, the Sparkipoemi family has become a comfortable and familiar place for chitchat, discussion, prompts, collaborations and games. We're incredibly grateful to our long-standing members, both for being so welcoming to new members and for sticking with us for all this time. And to our newer members - thank you for taking the chance on us and having the courage to share your words.

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So, without further ado - welcome to the 2021 Sparkipoemi Anthology of Poets! As a truly global collection of poems, the anthology celebrates the diversity of its writers' origins, languages and lives in work that has either come from the sessions themselves or received high acclaim from other members. We hope this serves as a tangible, positive memory amongst the turmoil of the new decade, and that it marks a special part of your writing journey, as it does for us. Happy first anniversary, #Sparkipoemi! May there be many more. Emilio & Livia

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Sparkipoemi Emilio D. Puerta

Fragments of an ekphrastic mind, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, DG paints like he leads the blind, Ever with a clever splash of solemnity. Jewels and gems from the shadows pried, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Rattling them off ’cause she’s Julie East Side, And she got shit to say to humanity. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Sunshine, shadows, child at heart, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Nature courses through Tina’s art, As she skips through the seasons so seamlessly.

Hearts are ablaze with a lovely theme, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, No matter the day, Talia dares to dream, Hoping to be saved from obscurity. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Words on rye on a breakfast spread, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Mal and gauche are marks that give no cred To Malgosia’s meticulous artistry. Cafetero activist when all is asleep, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Juan leaps and swims through the dark and deep Of the realms reaching far beyond reality. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more.

Tatiana knows, she’s the queen of chess, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Flowers on the wind that are prone to bless Ev’ry happy stone, ev’ry busy bee. 1


True to her word that she will impress, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Sabina aspires to find finesse While her life is steeped in sublimity. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Cooped in the yard with the wind and rain, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Avenues echo ev’ry musical strain Of Adam’s atmospheric symphony. Pining for a lover in the land of corn, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Wondering why love is such a scathing thorn, Jason bleeds his ink to set his passion free. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Colours and chaos hand in hand, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Incoherent messes in the sand With a lingual flair of Sibgha’s ancestry. Chocolate cappuccino on the window sill, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Eli in the belly of a wondrous thrill, With her ink through the sky and the rolling sea. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Worldly and wordly on the page, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Anika speaks like an ancient sage, Though she’s yet to live a quarter-century. Born with the boon of an Artemis moon, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Words weave the world to Diana’s tune Of mayhem, strife, and anxiety. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. 2


Hallowed thoughts through a daydream waft, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Zara may appear so sweet and soft, But Ferocious Rose is her identity. Odysseys down metaphysical roads, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Leon tackles the secret codes In the hollows of classics and history. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Little in words but big in effect, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Pain hasn’t been any more direct Than with Princess and her mournful majesty. Spicing your speech has advantages, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Flowers bloom in four languages With the tongue-twisting stylings of Melanie. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more. Fires in the sky have no brighter spark, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Whether in the daylight, whether in the dark, It’s Livia, the mistress of brevity. Paper planes whoosh with distinct designs, Rutabaga, Rottweiler, rock-a-bye me, Kanwal flows her nostalgic lines Like a lucid dream or vivid memory. We live for the day through the open door, Crossing ev’ry ocean to discover ev’ry shore. As catharsis comes from our very core, We’re gushing out with passion, ever wanting more.

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Pangea, Pangea - Who Am I? Tina Jaxen

I am a mixed swede and a mixed race, and a mixed Pangea walking on earth; a mixed earthling and a singular human

of a Nordic country. I belong to a here and I belong to a there, but what does it really mean, to lean on all the land masses of this world; in your heart? I am twirled chaos, a structured mess; this I of another I; it goes from the very north to the very sweet sound of the sweet south. All of these towns and all of these cities run through my veins; am I them all? I have lived in places I do not have any blood in and I have blood in places I have not ever lived in; but I! I acclaimed all of these towns; somewhere deep; in my heart. Who am I? I wish I could call Pangea on the phone. I have Finnish on both my mother and my father’s side. We’re rumored to have Italy or Belgium on my Grandfather’s side. But Pangea couldn’t answer me, because she doesn’t know Finland or Italy yet – neither do I. I am mixed race, mixed swede, mixed cultures. I am very Americanized from a young age. And when I was little, I wanted black hair like the Chinese and curly hair like the Latino. I hated my thin Scandinavian hair and wanted the darkest brown eyes you could ever find. Now? Now I wouldn’t change a thing yet; it still lingers like thunder on my eardrum; a brutal desire for a peaceful unity. Pangea, Pangea, Who Am I?

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I have never lived in the north of Sweden, but parts of me are from there. I am an only child and I am not born and raised in one place in Sweden. The south of Sweden is my home and it’s where I am from – but am I really from there? Pangea, Pangea – Who Am I? What places of the world could tell me who I am? Or am I like you? Am I a fused motion of everything, waiting to both divide and unite – or do I connect to everything without having to do any of that? Forget a you! Am I just an earthling or do subgenres have to step in – what do those mean? Do I have to explain myself and my belonging? My friends all come from different cultures and parts of the world – do they ask questions like mine – do they ask the same question? Or am I alone: ever so alone, a silent wonder of oneness; I crave you. Pangea, darling – who am I?

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Puppet Zara Feroz

I am a village of rumours, whispered from ear to ear. On my journey through people’s minds, I find myself stripped of my truth. With each misinterpretation, and ill-informed judgement of my worth– I lose another part of myself. And all too soon, I forget who I once was; now I am merely a reflection– of what society wants me to be. Who am I? I am but a construction of social norms. My identity is not my own. I have a face but my expressions– are not my own. I have a body but– it is merely a means of puppeteering. I may have hands and arms and legs– but they are moved only by the slippery strings of my people-pleasing whims. Who am I? But an illusion, a social construct and forgotten dream. You have dared to ask me to love myself even though I no longer know myself! I will only ask you this: How can I love a shell? How can I love the broken shards of what was once my true self?

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when the current gets strong Sabina Leybold - In the style of Livia Jayne

i refuse to breathe deeply because the jellies don't reaching out, then squeezing a vortex catching in my throat i find them in the phase of medusa venomous snakes piled high but they don't drown in our mortal questions like what, and where, and why

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I Breathe Karachi

Zara Feroz - After Damitra Shaikh [The Desi Collective; Edition 2]

I breathe in the salty air and taste its moisture as it flicks away heat, cooling down the baking ground. As June approaches, I watch the perspiration settle on the foreheads of Karachi’s many labourers, hard at work laying down the foundations of the city brick by brick, only to have its concrete snatched from under their feet.

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The Melanin of My Skin Sibgha Alam

the melanin of my skin; honey infused with sunshine – the hiatus between the first drop of rain & mere earth calling petrichor to the lands of Punjab. the melanin of my skin; the colour breathing when the sun and the sunflower meet – the colour when love & honey intertwine and, together lick the blue off the horizon.

the melanin of my skin; always more than what your eye can unveil – the colours of the world, saturated at full brightness screaming my name, together with all the syllables of urdu my tongue so dearly eats. the melanin of my skin; what intersects me with the same unfamiliar, yet familiar happiness the happiness the scent of henna drying on my mother’s calloused palms and the scent sun-baked vermicelli brings. the melanin of my skin; what intersects me with home – land of Punjab, zephyrs kissing my cheek, the first drop of rain Everything Gold, but flowing.

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Swimming in the Neretva River Sabina Leybold

on the first night there’s a twin bed and tears in your eyes, for once because you’re doing the opposite of losing yourself, because you have no idea what’s coming. the near future is painted in risk– leaping shoulders-first from a train accelerating in the wrong direction, witnessing a robbery at arm’s length, discovering you’re not immune to impulse– and every street is a museum. every skin cell learns something new sinking barefoot in the desert or losing its heat against the shoreline. it sounds like glamor but it’s more like being alone in a crowded room. like not knowing if strangers will become your supporting characters or your villains.

like realizing for the first time you aren’t always the protagonist either. cavernous fjords erode too slowly to witness anything but who they are today. you’ll climb a mountain to watch a sunset but it’ll be cast in pink and orange over a cemetery of a thousand bodies destroyed in hasty genocide just before you were born. you’re forgiven for not knowing it then, but not for taking twenty-some years to see how despair can happen all at once. on the hundred and ninety third night there’s a queen bed and understanding why people say “make love.” maybe you’re forgiven for thinking you’re immune unless in the arms of a stranger. you see how strangers don’t sprint from compassion. they tell you about the dirt on your back, they advocate for you in languages you don’t speak a syllable, they wrap magic tricks into an art show so you remember what passion means. they hold you gasping in a thunderstorm. for once you can’t remember the word escape. they help you escape. 10


and when you and your tourist bag stumble into a hometown baptism you’ll see yourself dipped in water.

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Hands

Kanwal A. - After Anika

it is these hands it is always these hands they grab they take hold and my eyes consume in pursuit of some self-serving end: happiness a moment of bliss some lost place again and again quick to take slow to

give these fingers spin circles around the earth and I am still here staring down it is these hands it is always these hands and some people don’t have this and still do more

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From Your Lips to God’s Ears Anika

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So I do not say it out loud. What is a word if not something That wasn't strong enough to reveal itself And had to be said; What does it mean to say something anyways? I do not write things down anymore. It is an empty narration; To say what you feel is to take away its power. A word is hollow by itself. Someone said “Love” And we said “Yes! I know what that is; I have felt it consume me.” If it feels empty, it is not love; If it stops talking to you, it is long gone. To repeat it over and over again does not make it real; It does not bring it back to you. I can tell you this: I have always wanted to be the Sun. To be the welcome warmth on frosty winter mornings; To become the punchline that takes your breath away in laughter. I do not always have words.

Sometimes, to say something out loud is to show it the exit; To let it escape. So I do not speak; I have learnt to read between the lines so well, I can now read through the silences: If the sound is deafening before it gets quiet, it is an explosion. If you have to whisper it, it takes courage. If you are still silent, you do not know how to say it. Sometimes silence is all there is.

If Gods answered our prayers, They would lose their divinity.

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Shapes

Melanie Flores Bernholz

And men with women and women with men, and women with women and men with men... Falling in love and reviving in hate.

Amorality circling round their minds, in their svelte veins... Ice and fire aligned! And they metamorphose into themselves; evil, giving human shapes a new life! And now they’re simpler than simplicity and much more complex than complexity. They deny the beauty of coherence... Gods and goddesses of arrogancy! And gods with goddesses and goddesses with gods, and goddesses with goddesses and gods with gods... Devine shapes living in hate and dying in love.

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The Abecedarian Song Emilio D. Puerta

Apples and almonds adorning an awning, Bumblebee babies by blistering blooms. Congregating crowds cause casual casualties, Dangerously designating doom! Extravagant etchings evoke exasperation, Frigates flock frantic from friggin’ flies, Ghostly, ghastly, ghoulish germinations Hastily havocking heavenly highs! It’s abecedarian! Amusingly barbarian! A whimper or a whoop– It’s alphabetic soup For the literary and grammarian! Idling in indolence, ill insomniacs Just jostle joysticks juvenilely; Kettle killing kindness keeps kaputting, Leaving little leaking liabilities. Mama makes maps manipulating makeup, Nana nabs naps, nightly nauseated. Over overdone oleander obsequies Polythene ponies plaster peonies plaited. It’s abecedarian! Amusingly barbarian! A whimper or a whoop– It’s alphabetic soup For the literary and grammarian! Queries, quaintly questioning quirks, Rampantly random, rogues resentfully roam. Salt-suffused seas simmer suffocatingly, Terrible teachings tearing treasurable tomes! Under undulating umbral umbrellas, Vitals vet vittles via viscous vitriol! Whispers wisp wishes, wishy-washy, woebegone, Xylophonic xeriscape x-rays xylitol! It’s abecedarian! Amusingly barbarian! A whimper or a whoop– It’s alphabetic soup For the literary and grammarian! Yakkers yip yaps, yelling yellow yahoos Zeros zip, zealots zap, zen zithers zoos! 15


Pray

Melanie Flores Bernholz

Oh melody, sweet melody! Try to catch me carefully, make him fall in love with jealousy and let us swing through eternity. Oh jealousy, sweet jealousy! Try to chase me gracefully, make him fall in love with melody and let us flee from vainglory. Oh tragedy, sweet tragedy! We are never going to defy the enemy, we are never going to pray in serenity.

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Hold Music (for a film) Malgosia Ip

He held me and we swayed to Ed Sheeran We didn't often dance except at odd times The middle of the night Bumping into office chairs So scared the song would end Even though he hummed the words under his breath I dove right in and followed his lead Sorry But the person you are trying to reach Is emotionally unavailable right now He held me close with Dua Lipa in my head He never took me to bed except when it rained Drumming all around Soundtrack of self-doubt And she told me not to pick up the phone But he wasn't drunk and I was alone Just a car wreck you can't stop watching Sorry But commitment is not an available option To listen to the menu again Please hit your head against a wall We appreciate your call

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Minuet in Minor Emilio D. Puerta

Timely and tidy in taking their places, The instruments tuned to their trebles and basses, As fluttering hearts rush a flush through the faces, With ev’rything rightly set. Gracing the stage in a glistening glow, As the curtain is drawn to get on with the show, With a tap of the toe and a swish of the bow, He goes rising up and rolling over, Playing the Minuet.

The sun arcs akimbo, the clouds billow by, The moon sways surreally, the stars pirouette, The wind stirs the seas and the trees on the fly, In step with the movements of his silhouette. The woodwinds with gusto establish the story, The brass etch the edge to embolden the glory, And zinning the zing with the strings to the score– He goes rising up and rolling over, Painting the Minuet. Casting the charms in the lime of the light Through the gloom of the room still and solemn as night With the blank velvet stares of nobody in sight, And yet harbouring no regret. Mellow, profound, by the music possessed, Ev’ry finger so nimble, each note finely stressed, And as with the cadence it all comes to rest, He goes rising up and rolling over, Dancing the Minuet– Rising up and rolling over, Dancing the Minuet.

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Phantom of the Theater Sabina Leybold & Kanwal A.

it's a big city and i am glass i am but a reflection of shadows cast

they can't look directly at you like the sun, untouchable and imperceptibly far only reflecting your glow i rest alone on center stage and wonder what it’s like to live outside this cage you yearn to emblaze memories never lived and morph yourself into something unreal

and sometimes i pretend when you gaze straight through me i’m not invisible, it’s that we have history but you are at the center constantly burning insects flocking in the dark always a trick in your light i am the theater and this time you are too and you can see me, more than just my reflection from the other room i know you as more than refraction but if they believe you are a shadow then aren’t you?

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Self-Portrait as a Castrato with Flowers from an Adoring Fan L. L. Friedman

Act Five. The opera’s curtains thunder open, revealing me alone: no mutilated boy, no sexless creature of creation, no daddy’s little cash cow with gobs of rouge on my cheeks, no bewigged animal of the long eighteenth century with sleek silken coat, but a mere member of the fecund fairer sex, toadyingly bestowed the title of Lady by cavaliers who want to get in my bed. Terrible trickster me has wound a string of poisoned pearls around the audience’s necks, deceiving all, grimacing like a mask. Self-satisfied academics will rip their brassieres to shreds trying to take off my mask, reaching hand after hand through time’s tepid waters to winnow out what I was. A boy artificed from premodern theories of sex? A rebellious devotee of my own heartstrings? How their lipsticks will smudge as they strain antiseptically to wipe off my rouge, to touch the mummy’s moldering skin, to peel off the varnish and reveal the Portrait of a Lady under the evirato’s epicene mug, to cup the unbound breasts beneath the velvet coat! But what, I ask, do you expect to find hidden betwixt the folds of my long-skirted coat? Every despotic court – Turkish, Chinese, Roman – emasculates differently. I mock to mask my true Pierrot nature, the little ruff-collared clown who never learned to cry in a ladylike fashion. Watteau painted me once, coughing my praises as he worked, a shepherd boy cavorting in the background, flute resplendent. In my world, mouches, lace, and rouge are the universal uniform of the idle classes, where every witticism hangs from a silken string. Take these flowers, for instance: roses torn from the soil, cruelly dyed, tied with a string, given to me after the thirteenth matinée of Empress Catherine’s Woeful Knight. I’m coated in virgin adulation, more viscous than the thin stuff that drips from the lips of rougecheeked playboys who fancy themselves Casanovas. When girls love, they love unmasked. How they suffer, extorting theater tickets from governesses and fathers! And all for a boy with no sex to speak of. Fall in love with a castrato and you’ll never be a proper lady.

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Yes, like the first sentence of a novel, I take my sweet, sweet time to turn into a lady backstage: I materialize in a cloud of powder, aria fully formed, every corset string tied not quite tight enough to kill. After the epilogue, I make small talk with the boy who cuts me out of my costume for the night. There are holes in the pockets of his coat, his thin ankles flash as he runs from hunger: a sans-culotte in the making. My mask, too, needs polishing: evening after evening of Venetian revels has stained it with rouge. This soliloquy’s already too baroque as it is, too rococo, too cherry-red with rouge! Would the librettist please write something better, something that rhymes, something a lady could sing to the nosebleed seats without shame? Alas, even the old orchestra can’t mask my wardrobe malfunction, can’t drown out the laughter with a gracious swell of cello strings. My body is bare for all to see: I’m nothing but white porcelain, my breasts hollow, my coat festooned with eyes of gold thread, my paws declawed. Shakespeare’s heroines are all boys. Angels are neither girls nor boys. Beings of rouge, they swagger through Heaven in coats of appalling calico like red-light ladies, hearts dangling on strings, faces mercifully masked.

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My Languages Talia Duffy

My native tongue is English Boring and basic Yet, I still haven’t mastered it There are many words I still don’t know And my local area managed to make up “Yins” But even yins don’t know what “yins” means Grammar was never my strong suit And it still shows And I know that people judged me cause My sixteen-year-old brain Couldn’t comprehend the difference between “there” “their” and “they’re” I’ve wanted to learn sign language Since the day a man came up to me Flailing his hands And my ten-year-old brain Couldn’t comprehend what was happening He handed me a card with the ASL alphabet I studied that card until I was fluent with my ABC’s I dug deeper through the years and taught myself basic words And guess what? NO grammar! Perfect! No living member of my family knows a second language Shame I took up Spanish on my own Enough said I didn’t learn much from my high school Spanish class So I knew I had to start at the beginning Possibly the hardest thing I’ve decided to do And guess what? LOTS of grammar Which past tense should I use? Do my genders match this time? And where does the accent go again? And now my twenty-three-year old brain Can’t comprehend when to use which mood

I may be struggling with these languages Even my native tongue But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for me to learn And perhaps my thirty-year-old brain will have it all down 23


Red

Melanie Flores Bernholz - English (original)

Red is my heart and red is my love, red is my soul and red is my God. Invisible to the human eye, impalpable for the human mind, red... Eternal bond. And thus my red hand saved a white dove, painting two wings and a pale-red rose.

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Rot

Melanie Flores Bernholz - German

Rot ist mein Herz und rot ist meine Liebe Rot ist mein Gott und rot ist meine Seele. Für das menschliche Auge unsichtbar, für den menschlichen Geiste ungreifbar. Rot... ewige Bindung. Also rettete meine rote Hand eine weiße Taube... Sie malte ihr zwei Flügel und eine blasse rote Rose.

Vermell

Melanie Flores Bernholz - Catalan

Vermell és el meu cor i vermell és el meu amor, vermell és el meu esperit i vermell és el meu déu. A l‘ull humà és invisible, per la ment és impalpable. Vermell... vincle etern.

I així ocorregué: la meva mà vermella un colom blanc salvà, dues ales i una rosa pàl•lida i vermella li pintà.

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Rojo

Emilio D. Puerta - Spanish

Rojo mi corazón, rojo mi amor, Roja mi alma y rojo mi dios. A los ojos humanos invisible, A la mente mortal impalpable, Rojo….el vínculo eterno. Y pues salvó mi mano roja una paloma blanca, Pintando dos alas y una rosa roja y pálida.

Rouge

Emilio D. Puerta - French

Rouge est mon coeur et rouge mon amour, Rouge est mon âme et rouge mon dieu. Aux yeux humains invisible Pour l’esprit mortel impalpable, Rouge… le lien éternel. Ainsi ma main rouge a sauvé une colombe blanche, En peignant deux ailes et une rose rouge et pâle.

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Ahmar

Julie Maree - Lebanese

ahmar albi ou ahmar hobbi ahmar rouhi ou ahmar rabbi m’habb’a’a al ayn el insenn gheir mahsuus al a’al el insenn ahmar el ale’a’a al abaddi ou he’k eidi ahmar hararet hamama baida ou dahhanet jwenten ou warda hamra khafife

लाल Anika - Hindi

लाल है मेरा दिल और लाल है मेरा प्यार, लाल है मेरा जी और लाल है मेरा भगवान | अदृश्य इंसान की आँख से,

अस्पश्ृ य हमारे मन से,

लाल है एक अनंत बंधन | और मेरे लाल हाथ ने उस सफेि चिड़िया को बिा ललया, रं ग कर िो पंख और एक हलका लाल गुलाब |

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‫]‪あか [Aka‬‬ ‫‪Livia Jayne - Japanese‬‬

‫‪aka wa watashi no kokoro desu‬‬ ‫‪soshite aka wa watashi no ai desu‬‬ ‫‪aka wa watashi no tamashii desu‬‬ ‫‪soshite aka wa kami desu‬‬ ‫‪ningen ni wa mienai‬‬ ‫‪rikaii de kinai‬‬ ‫‪aka...‬‬ ‫‪yugen‬‬ ‫‪dakara‬‬ ‫‪mono no aware‬‬

‫ال‬ ‫‪DG - Urdu‬‬

‫الل ہے میرا دل اور الل ہے میرا پیار‬ ‫الل ہے میری روح اور الل ہے میرا خدا‬ ‫جس کو یہ آنکھ بھی نہ دیکھ پائے‬ ‫جس کو یہ دماغ بھی نہ محسوس کر پائے‬ ‫الل‪ ,‬ہمیشہ کا ساتھ‬ ‫اور پھر میرے الل ہاتھ نے بچا لیا صفید چڑیا کو‬ ‫بنا دئے دو پر اور ایک روکھا سا الل گالب‬

‫‪28‬‬


In a Daydream Zara Feroz Every day feels like an illusion, with every whisper of the truth there’s a million other lies, threatening to overpower, to overtake the sense of reality, away from our every inch of individuality. Every day, I feel like a fraud, to be living my life as somebody else– why has our sense of self become so completely dominated by society’s judgement of our worth? So every day I wonder if my whole life has been a dream. How can my every decision have been interlaced with a deluded desire to be desirable to society?

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Another Julie Maree

Another intelligent young woman mistreated Precious soul beaten down, defeated Story of generations, recipient of abuse Those hurting her are family, so what is the use?

Of all this talk, well-intentioned but not working This insidious violence like a cancer is growing Fed by our silence, so many of us knowing The violence is not stopping; we know where it’s going We know the hurting; we see the pain in their eyes And if we strain our ears, we hear the faintest of cries Though so many scars are invisible or covered in disguise But we too are intelligent, not caught out by the lies Fed to us by others who want their violence to remain hidden They have ‘respectable’ lives to lead and in their denial they are living What world is this where so many perpetrators live free? And where invisible shackles imprison so many like this young woman and me? But we too are intelligent, not caught out by the lies Yet so often we have hands on our ears and we cover our eyes The victims pass by us daily; it is abuse on parade And we seldom do anything about this ridiculous charade So what use is intelligence? We know what’s going on We see the devastating damage; we know that violence is wrong But we too are shackled, cobbled hands and cobbled hearts Society’s cable-tied us and our mouths are wired shut Though we know so many victims are broken, spattered in blood And we stand by powerless; we’re not doing enough

When another intelligent young woman is the victim of abuse And another intelligent young woman is the victim of abuse And another intelligent young woman is the victim of abuse Another precious soul is shattered and we stand by deaf and mute And violence is repeated; there really is no use To me using my voice Let me tell the young woman to endure her pain in silence As we watch her bloodied limbs and precious soul succumb to the violence It seems the people of the world remain powerless to help at all As perpetrators run amok and bloodied victims fall Their blood is on us all

30


i am the woman / i am the girl

Littlewriterr

i’m the woman who enjoys intellectual, philosophical debates, discussions with like-minded people the one who sits in a corner doing nothing except reading i’m the woman who finds old things who collects them who thrives in them vintage the colour of my soul i’m the woman who carries tea bags around, in every bag who laughs when her friend says, “ people would expect condoms” i’m the woman who has a bucket full of advice, strong opinions, hard truths i’m the woman who smiles warmly with a slight frown when she’s called an old woman a granny i own it though wear it like a crown i am also a girl who gets frenzied at the sight of skittles the one who hypes her friends on the dance floor i’m the girl filled with mischievous ideas adventure dancing in my skin impishness the colour of my heart impractical stubborn loud my best qualities i am the woman i am the girl who’s been called a weirdo so many times it has become my middle name i own it my best quality i wear it like a crown 31


Eve Anika

God declared guilt the day his image Ran away from Him– Grew red with fury, Grew up: Up, up, up; Until he covered the sky. Eve was not the one who brought damnation or sin, no, God named sin the day Someone disobeyed him; Who is god if not a living thing? Eve came in a storm shock; Came in a reminder for God That one day Thou shan't be The Judge, The Jury and The Executioner; Thou shan't be the harbinger Of all this fury. A woman carved herself a piece of sin The day she walked out of obedience, Walked out of being a mere accomplice to a man. In an act of trust, Eve reclaimed herself;

Don't you get it? Lilith ran away from the disgrace of submission And God named her fallen, Named her a demon, Named her evil; Wiped out the first injustice From memory.

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What is so bad about morality? To know the good and evil; The first humans bit into the apple And the apple grew them a conscience– Grew the thought that there was a body.

Grew the feeling of all of this being, Being here, Grew the thought that they were here. The Garden shut its gates And the humans wandered off; The first act of foolishness will perhaps always be trust. Eve trusted the serpent, Adam trusted Eve And God trusted something human.

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She

Melanie Flores Bernholz

She rose ruins out of my fallen castles, my hair and skin —so grey, so pale!— she turned them into ashes. She burned my rings, kings... a hundred thousand tears! And so did she with all of my unlived years. Youthful indiscretions upon my tissues, fervent juices... She entombed all of my ungiven kisses! No veil nor tiara, no daughter nor son... She swallowed my femininity, my womb! No human voice, no more chants... my lids fell down, my soul went along, I’m inhabited by emptiness now. And my mouth’s closed, she doesn’t want me to shout. But if I give up, Mother Earth won’t be proud.

34


Uncage Her Zara Feroz

The caged bird whimpers and worries; when will she fly high once more? When will she once again witness the soaring winds of the sky so high? When will her horizons widen once more? Waiting and waiting, she surely grows weary, yet tightly she holds onto but a sliver of hope. Once more, one day her wings shall open, once again.

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36


Boo Anika

To acknowledge the Monster is to say It is here, That it has been here all along; It is to stand in the dark with a terrible thing Hoping it does not devour you. To be hopeful is to be terrified Of anything otherwise; It is to hold on To withering threads of optimism As the likelihood of the unfavourable Gets the guillotine ready for your head. To scream Monster is to say Here stands a terrible thing That scares me; You cannot simply Take the elephant out of the room And throw it under the bus, You know? To be scared is to admit You have something to be scared of And something to be scared for. To draw a monster and ask yourself What makes one, Is to ask yourself what you consider Dreadful enough to be called inhuman. To tell stories of your childhood Is to say it is long gone; It is to acknowledge Childhood pushed you off the cliff And ran away. It is to say you have been Free falling ever since, Trying to grasp at things That do not stay. To have an inheritance Is to say that Everyone in the family is dead.

To scream Monster Is to stand in the dark beside it And say you know terrible well enough To know what a Monster is. To say you are here 37


Is to realize there was a time When you were not, That there will once again Be a time When you won't be here; It is to say you don't know What time is anymore. To be alive Is to be terrified (All the time) And hopeful, Even if the guillotine Is getting ready For your very execution; It is to turn the lights off And sleep in the room With the Monster And pray like hell It does not kill you.

38


Castaway DG

Cast away from within the crowd I have been, for so long, struggling to differentiate the right from the wrong, in search of how and where, in this world, I can find my place, taking refuge from the surrounding, omnipresent haze, I seek solace in the presence of stars, perhaps immersed in their shining presence I can forget my scars, relying on people has never been one of my best traits, so many things to do, I have to pass through numerous gates, these stars so high, I cannot reach them, even when I try, but I know they exist, they shine for me, even when I can only cry, I make a wish, as shooting stars soar, to calm down the voices within me that roar.

39


Realign, Align, Intertwine Tina Jaxen

Can I build a present moment on broken whispers from the future? Can I love a twenty-four-year-old in bleak, blue; brittle February? Yes, she’s approaching with winter’s cold eyes; happier than all sunshine, wider than truth itself. I, I, I can build castles with her. Can I revive, can I realign; all of my happily ever tomorrows? I’ll come through a dangerous autumn leave; twenty-five, or Twenty-six; all my future lovers gathering at the brim. I’ll be different; all past yous have to get to know me again; fearlessly. And I don’t quite belong anywhere; not right now so what’s the point, I am airless worries, you stick a needle through me; and It breaks! Ha! How this whole wide world is upside down; don’t ask me when or why or how beautiful this time of peace is shaped. The murder madness have built this year; this killing of old untold. This brilliant mental purge of old gone; ha. Fear no more for life is long and darkness only solely casts the shadows you are willing to cast; fear no more for the present moment has arrived; fear no more! The future arrives on your doorstep, a cold and hungry orphan. Are you willing to take her in?

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Corpses 1 A Collaborative Work

The saints, they are both holy and free, Do you think we will ever get to be Even one of those things? Perhaps, holiness and freedom are traits far beyond our reach, yet within our efforts we can sow seeds of empathy that will free us from the worries that keep us tethered. Thought is free, But thought is not freedom; To live in the head pollutes the passage To the soul. And even though the soul Might become bitter with time, It is still the purest strength Of human kind. That’s why I always say Hold on tightly Onto what you think is right; Open your eyes And look deep inside the night. Peer into its soul, Pierce the dark And look for the light. The light kept hidden, voiceless for too many years, silent and its soul refusing to surrender its secrets, remaining mute in the shadows, relinquishing all hope for light on this long, dark, void of a night.

41


Lit by the silver moon, the dancers play. I see before me Alack-white crisscross of marble squares– A cosmic chessboard: Star-prayers and cosmic wishes, Kid’s youth, catching big fishes, Sweet memories, Like love and rose petals, Meanings of sentiment Missing so many reasons. Life is too short, only living four seasons, And I must play this finite game.

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Corpses 2 A Collaborative Work

I build words that I know how to climb out of— escape when my time comes. The wind is my vessel, my heart is my helm, I cross the canvas world that's coloured in my wake. I gather foam from bleeding limbs, Hacking salt circles in my compass to placate waters with mead and blue honey, and a sliver of mauve. The way they cascade and roll like a hill that doesn’t plateau at the bottom– That’s how I want to live Unafraid of the flat, of the unremarkable Of a life that doesn’t need a legend to be understood But I am stranded in the valley With the other rocks caught in the mud Hidden from the sun as I dream of the grass above The rain washed away my sorrows and left me here to dry I lie still in the forgotten riverbed; The wind moves on with a sigh Silent and still, with my thoughts, all alone Desiccating heart, as my body turns to stone I wait. I hold my breath and I shake. I stumble and fumble and I create. I create. Life. love. light... lies. I create lies, and I ask why,

But I still wait.

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Praying for time to create from my trembling lies lovely truths.

Sculpting the day where once more I may shake with passion not pain.

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Shylock

L. L. Friedman

1. A strange rose he is: no petals, all thorns. No daring rabbi set this golem’s heart a-ticking. Christian scorn and English iambs did. Sticking to his text is all any God asks of him. (Curse this heart, this false organ of ink, this kicking in his chest.) He picks up a leering long-nosed mask; puts it on. Fireworks mar the newborn night. Curse these young men. Fie on these masques.

2. Who was he in his youth? A hand outstretched, reaching for Leah. A bawdy tale of David and Jonathan (told, forsooth, at dinner with a red-faced zealot). His garments neither gaudy nor threadbare. Some think him a stage freak, a lunatic sprung from a pagan quill. A stranger in a bruised body. He laughs when Christians talk of the meek. When his brothers beg him to pipe down he snarls, A tooth for a tooth. At home, Leah lights candles week after week.

3. Shylock the Christian weeps into his hands. His bent frame heaves. Act Five is winding down: wives stand triumphant before bewildered husbands. (Alone, Antonio leaves.) Tomorrow is Sunday. First catechism. How unthriftily he grieves. Leah, in your last illness, I still kissed your feverish brow – do you remember? Come back. Help me understand why I’m still alive. Jessica’s married now.

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if you want to live forever

Littlewriterr

If you want to live forever break my heart do it for if you do you will stain the pages of my books forever immortalized in ink in tears in passion if you want to live forever love my soul do it for if you do you will line the pages of my books forever immortalized in ink in smiles in passion

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Meet me in Sabina Leybold

Meet me in December The whole month feels like denouement– Stretching and striving towards a full stop The story picks back up after a single space And your birthday is epilogue Meet me in Iowa A brief ode to the unplanned detour: The exit you find yourself drifting towards And the corn, and the corn, and the corn Warm in its husks, affirming the choice Meet me in anaphora You’d hold wisdom like it’s more than a passenger You’d ask everyone in the airport to speak their truth You’d find me by the sound of my voice We’d say “it’s been too long” Meet me in nostalgia We could write about the moon and antidotes– Fireflies in the moments they aren’t glowing, star anise in the stock– Electrify the goddesses and patron saints of pain, Punching typewriter keys to smooth our post-nightmare hair Meet me in apology Otherwise known as supplication and a tin of cookies You can remove “sorry” from your dependent clauses With you, forgiveness comes instantly And forever

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Wayfaring Apology Tina Jaxen

I am a wayfarer awaiting a fragment, a sun-rised melancholy in disguise; my lips drink the chaotic weekend while I am counting cities of listening. Tangled. Tangled up in all of my ruthlessness; I arise with an apology on your eye, the

most fragile eye this heart has ever seen. I shake like a fragment; tenderly. I laugh sarcastically as you say I am sorry. You do not mean it, you never did. Apologize. Go on. Do it now. I am sorry. What does it mean to you? A wonder creeps in: I was happier without you, and an untold tale-dressed

apology does not matter anymore. Your sweet by and by hides somewhere, darkly in a corner. Deaf and blind, I worry through the night; with a slight glistening; a waterproofed listening.

48


in this one i give birth to a new set of moments Diana Marie

it was the time that we were sixteen and half of us were in the pool. i wasn’t. see, annie’s pool was sick at the time, chock full of chlorine and water kept too tight. it was cold in the water and you invited me in, but i said no. sat with jenna on the side and watched. watched. watched. watched the players become alligators, each one stripped down (did you know we were only sophomores?). i figured a moment like this was how my town was born; there was one girl in a purple bralette, another was our valedictorian, and i was moments away from dripping blood down my thighs. the redhead came over, soaked, and tried to sweep us away one woman at a time, tried to take us from our perch (he thought it was a claim to moral superiority but really, who’s gonna tell him that jenna and i just hate the cold?). we squealed like little girls do until he gave up his conquests; when he walked away, jenna and i both let go of the breaths we were holding, perpetually afraid that he would throw us into the water. i wish that night the blood fell between my legs and consecrated a new town, one where the queen wasn’t at the bottom of a drugged-up daydream, high on chlorine. one where the girl with the purple bralette wasn’t the prettiest in the room, one where she never dreamed of pulling me down past the patterned pool lining and leaving me there to rot. one where my town’s founders all came together and said fuck it, i think we made a mistake with this one and went running for the hills, leaving their wives to reap the misfortunes of their deeds. they’d build a new school where the women aren’t enemies and every day when a woman’s blood hits the ground between her knees a new church springs up instead of a battlefield. i learned to spill the drops first at eleven but the other girls all kept their eyes out for the stains on their bedsheets, and we’ve resented each other ever since then, tugging our eyes away from the boys in the pool, each muttering threats beneath their tongues.

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Three generations: nano, amma & me Sibgha Alam

I put behind 16 years, amma carries them all in the line that parts her back, nano jaan holds them in her arms; we look at the sky – I from my window, nano from her takhat and amma, behind the walls all sipping the same chai. Blues, Lilacs, Scarlets I see colours, I count clouds & wishes & days till I see my lover, feel the caress of lips as gentle as the 7am sunkissed zephyr; I give the sky my laughs, I place all my longings in its arms – hold me. all the verses the world wrote almost tangible to me; In that moment, I see the sky for more than its white tears. My mother's gaze almost touches the horizon; she is kissed back by the Blues, Lilacs, Scarlets – the 17-year-old henna-coloured bruise at the back of her palm, now only a discoloration screaming of her long forgotten love – she is kissed back at all her wounds; the clouds carry her warmth as the sky splinters into pieces In the moment, she hears the sky – an apology whispered to her from peace, itself.

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My nano glances briefly, the beads of her tasbe'eh falling – she still eats with the same silverware that nana abbu bought for her before he left her. The sky, their next takhat the place where they will meet again. she counts the beads of her tasbe’eh, her head bent low astaghfar for all her mistakes, alhumdulillah for all her blessings shukar for the life, the sky wrote on her skin in Blues, Lilacs, Scarlets ; she carries today & yesterday in her arms lets them go, with every falling bead & holds them again, as they almost touch the horizon. Nano, amma & me; the same blues, lilacs, scarlets but different eyes & different lives & different times made for us, almost different skies – a tragedy before it was born, a tragedy after its escape, a tragedy & its death.

Translations:

nano: grandmother / nano jaan: beloved grandmother amma: mother nana abbu: grandfather astaghfar: words of repentance from God shukar: words of gratitude

alhumdulillah: words of satisfaction tasbe’eh: prayer beads takhat: wooden bed, usually placed in gardens 51


Entrance to my memories Elisa F.

[first draft]

[final draft]

this house is a beehive, tessellated rooms and mosaics of doors and windows, I wonder if I choose the right one where do I go? maybe my grandmother’s robes will fray in the northerly wind and tired gummy sharks will swim in the bathtub again, maybe I will crawl in the kitchen or sit on the window sill because I didn’t learn to fly yet. maybe I will be again.

this house is a beehive, tessellated rooms and mosaics of doors and windows, I wonder if I chose the right one where would I go? maybe my grandmother’s robes will fray in the northerly wind and tired queen bees will swim in the honey again, maybe I will crawl in the kitchen or sit on the window sill because I didn’t learn to fly yet. maybe then, I will be again.

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Youth’s Fleeting Spell Malgosia Ip

You cannot reclaim youth's fleeting spell, Though many have searched till grizzl'd and worn; Her roots dig deep, her time will tell. She comes with nary a warning or yell, Her voice soft snap of sinew torn: You cannot reclaim youth's fleeting spell. Bright-sharp her nail glides through smooth swell Of cheek, with fear'd wilt-crease adorn; Her roots dig deep, her time will tell. Her silver breath on tresses fell, Faint, dim, eyes of their lustre shorn, You cannot reclaim youth's fleeting spell. She lingers on till death, her smell Like ash pollutes a sunlit morn; Her roots dig deep, her time will tell. To break her hold, their soul would sell, Pain-tight; our cries, her burden borne. You cannot reclaim youth's fleeting spell. Her roots dig deep, her time will tell.

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Catherine the Great L. L. Friedman

Growing up in the home for orphaned girls, I whiled my days away playing a toy piano to her portrait on the wall. She was a gondolier in a gilded boat, ever constant against the flowing wallpaper. She told me of things called corsets, taught me that the necks of kittens and girls were made for ribbons. She showed me the map of the world and what parts of it

belonged to us Russians. Meanwhile the Mother Superior taught me to respect my elders, the church, and the Grand Duke most of all, though he was at the time only a boy and younger than I. When Lazy Lizaveta fell asleep at the stove and set the house on fire, I saw her portrait disappear in white smoke. The purple wallpaper turned black, curled like a witch’s fingers. The Mother Superior

went up in flames, wimple and all. Now I am thirty and married. No sugar castles cloud my vision. My neck, ribbon or no ribbon, is still an orphan’s neck; my fingers never learned to persuade the keys of real pianos into music. I wear white linen dressing gowns when receiving guests. And on the wall of my study hangs her portrait.

54


Changes? Tatiana Flores

Changes here and there, under me and over me. They are everywhere. They surround me, they try to swallow me? People are evolving, things are reacting. Everyone is running, everything is moving, excluding me? They think they have it all figured out, now that the plague is gone. But all I still see is pain and misery!

People keep burning, things keep breaking, nothing is changing. people aren’t acting, so things aren’t reacting!

55


Stretch Malgosia Ip

Sometimes I feel like Alice too Drink me, it said, and I grew Filled the room and through the roof Over the city, over you Bigger than days and bigger than years Bigger than how'd we end up here? Should and should nots just floated by Leaving a clear and endless sky I drained the cup and then I knew For all the pain, we'd make it through For all the cold, we'd soon be warm The sun so close, I felt her burn So if you're feeling rather small Or maybe you're not well at all Down the rabbit hole, about to sink Baby, I can be your magic drink

56


you are what you eat Diana Marie

i. feast i swallow the shards of the moon as they fall through my ceiling, not so much an obligation as an invitation to finally transcend the bones of this dull and unseasoned body. but the moonshine never sticks to my innards. i spend my midnights heaving up moonbeams from the pit of my stomach before i can learn what they taste like because the harvest moon wants them back. wants them intertwined with headlights or streetlamps or neon open signs. because the moonbeams want to return to suburbia, the ordinary, want to spill out of my body. because the harvest and the hunter know that i am only an empty coin jar. the harvest and the hunter think the strobe lights of suburbia have more substance than that. the harvest and the hunter think that it is best if my incisors are the ones that make moondust, but for my tongue to only ever become acquainted with the taste of vomit.

ii. because because? because? because? because i have thrown all of my silver into wishing wells and gumball machines. because i have nothing to tuck under my tongue anymore, nothing for when they drop me into the ground, no more offerings to bring her. no more poetry. if i had to imagine the taste of the moon i would say that it’s bitter because she does not want me. like forces repel and yes i am bitter because the moon does not want me. because this body has nothing. because this body watches the sun come up every morning and scorch the moon away, and never jumped into the sky to shove the sun back behind the horizon. because these hands never wrote a love poem for the moonrise. because these eyes have never watched the moon rise, only set. and set. and set. iii. you are what you eat but isn’t my name diana? isn’t my name diana? isn’t my name diana? am i not the essence of the moon because i never rise, i only set and set and set so far that i pop out the other end of the universe? am i not what greets the innocent on their carpets when they wake up in the middle of the night, sketching fuzzy funeral scenes because the children left their curtains open? why am i not headlights or streetlamps or neon open signs? why am i not so painfully ordinary that the moon wants to know what i feel like? what it’s like within these veins, all red and no silver? why am i not what i eat? why will it not live in my stomach? why does the moon always leave me by morning? 57


Seeds Malgosia Ip

My heart is a tangerine Sun-ripe, bursting at the seams for you To peel me open, dive inside and then Mouth sticky sweet confide: I like you But seriously Since when do tangerines have seeds? You told me that you deserved All the fruit without the work And I believed you. See, these seeds These bitter, sharp parts of me Are nothing, they're just little things See how your nails can dig right in To dimpled skin. Just take me apart Make my tangerine heart Bleed You left me wrecked, fruit carrion For the crows, flesh exposed Peel dry and curling in on itself Then one day you'll run into me The trees. Canopied, steady Branches heavy with bright fruit You'll laugh: This fruit, how can it be? These trees! I stopped this, didn't I? A nod and smile. You tried. Oh, you tried. But Those bitter, sharp parts of me survived The ones you didn't want, and they remembered Who I was. All the tang and grit inside of me. I was always more than sweet. You see I built my empire from those seeds.

58


Orange Fields Juan Barrera

A field of orange daisies bathing under the yellow sun. Sharp short sunny petals smiling with the morning dew. If I didn’t know you any better, I’d fall in love with your brown eyes under this flaming halo. In the distance, the clanking of the railroad hammers and The lumping silver tracks as they hit the bed of rocks beneath. A black moustache with his silver boots The demon tongues to match the daisies – clear the way for Moloch’s children. A field of grey daisies mourning in their sleep Crying the locomotive smoke out of their faces. Its colors borrowed by the gods to adorn a vase or two.

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close contact (physical contact for the physically uninitiated) Diana Marie

a crime scene dangles from my throat, a silver pennant. i was born past the barbed wire and i wear it like a necklace; behind the yellow tape and dying metaphors there’s only heat and heartbeats and a piece of jewelry you meant to give me for christmas. you lost it, but it doesn’t matter. i’ve swallowed and tricked my silvers into apathy, tricked myself into passion, tricked you into broken backs on snow piles and speeding tickets when it’s only six pm. we used to say we’d get married in hell but heaven is still a step away, tucked into the heaving of a tired chest like a prayer to the gods of this street corner. i have a button-down to pull myself into when i fear the confession is too raw: there’s a crime scene painted on this heart and i haven’t yet decided who the victim is. you left your fingerprints on my heartstrings but they don’t need to know that yet, don’t call the cops. i have enough guilt in my poetry for both of us, so please just learn to go love again. learn what it means to have what you want because i’m still stuck in cement walls, just really good at projecting myself past them. into your arms. my head on your shoulder. pretending i know what a dedication is supposed to feel like when it isn’t just idolatry, when you need to do the work to let god kiss your cheek. i think i lied, but i didn’t really mean to.

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goodbye to good; hello to revenge Livia Jayne

we've said goodbye before, but i want to tell you how the wheel keeps spinning even after your fortune is sold in exchange for your sins, and your soul is told to leave. i want to tell you how the gatekeeper of hell turns you away when they can't torment you more than you've punished yourself. i want to tell you exactly what i feel when each slick silence slides over my head; one shot missed but another one swallowed. it feels like my kindness is blindness and you feel like a blindfold, short-circuiting my senses, so i press restart on my emotions kick-start my devotion to life live past my breaking point and shuffle my shelf-life to the side this half-life has died. i am full of forever and fatalistic thinking; you hated this inkling but i want to embrace this feeling... this revenge of my pen; it feels good. this inkling defends herself again... it feels good. it feels like a goodbye, but it feels good.

61


Bridge Kanwal A.

wind thunders against my face, dries the spit off my teeth, and i breathe in gasoline headlights bounce off tree trunks and beyond that, a black abyss the road is a bridge in midnight sea where only gas prices call out like lighthouses for when the moon won't suffice on cloudy nights as an anchor to reality

time is frozen in the blur of speed the bass consumes my heartbeat but i feel every bump hit the tires, so i know this feeling is real

62


Jacques Cousteau and I Share a Birthday Sabina Leybold

I do not meditate but I finally understand the hype when I plunge into the ocean coated in neoprene carrying the aluminum that keeps me breathing

I think of Jacques in his thousand pound suit I think of cement shoes I think of sinking sinking sinking but I float here and nowhere else I find something in myself it’s peace and calm and clarity it’s focus it’s not needing anything else

it’s chuckling at how the fish play games with each other it’s pointing in awe at the most average crustacean it’s entering the door of a shipwreck and imagining the gulf between how things were supposed to be and how they are it’s stumbling on an underwater cemetery and suddenly realizing death wouldn’t be that bad here and nowhere else you think only about the pattern of your breathing your breathing breathing breathe you stay near your companion in case they cannot breathe here and nowhere else you don’t care how your body looks you love being coated in neoprene you wish you could do this every day but you know it would ruin how sweetly it tastes it’s savoring it’s the moment you resurface and get bombarded by noise and appreciate the underwater quiet even more I do not meditate but I finally understand the hype when I plunge into the ocean 63


Leave

Sibgha Alam

Leave. Leave, if your love is not an aching as indefinitely strong as the first red leaf that falls for the Fall – with blind eyes and empty bones set fire to this world of yours Say love, love & hold the ashes on your tongue, drink them before you touch your lips to mine

Leave. Leave, if you know not the art of emptying Breathe out and with every breath empty your lungs and your heart & your chest forget each wall that called your name Say love, love & breathe in the emptiness til your hands tremble to reach for mine. Leave. Leave, if your fingertips know not the art of birthing fires fires that breathe to burn out A touch that dies to be touched Say love, love & hold your hand to my chest Leave. Leave, if you hear not every heartbeat say your name.

64


Butterfly Effect Tatiana Flores

I remember the day of the battle core; the day I cried, the day we died. You shouldn’t have called me your butterfly; now I’m spreading my wings; I’m not coming back this time. I remember the day we hit the shore; the day I told you: up to here and no more. You shouldn’t have called me your butterfly; you should have kept in mind that everything is meant to die. A tiny mistake can have the most terrible effect; you shouldn’t have called me your butterfly; now I’m spreading my wings ready to catch flight; and I’m not coming back again this time.

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Running Out of Breath Jason Latta

I hurt; I felt out of breath; I asked the lung doctor. They said my breath was fine, but my blood wasn’t pumping my body with air. I hurt; I felt faint; I asked the heart doctor. They said my blood was fine, But my heart was pumping just too hard. I hurt; I cried; I asked the head doctor. They said nothing was fine, but that didn’t mean everything was wrong. I was expending too much breath, and pumping too much blood, letting my thoughts chase after you.

66


Our Last Goodbye DG

That forsaken part of the park we always talked about, yet never visited for God knows what reasons, its nostalgic presence lingers to this day no doubt, transcending through thoughts, canvassing the seasons. The bench we laughed about, stating it was for heart-crossed lovers, knowing very well within ourselves that was perhaps us, but with the apparent darkness, our seemingly coherent existence suffers, and before we knew, all that we had vanished, without any fuss. We went our separate ways, oblivious to what lay ahead, lost within our individual selves, contemplating over the bleak future, letting go of the reins to let life take us wherever it led, together we were steady, in isolation we had lost our composure. The brown of your eyes still embedded deep within what remains, Your last words were spoken, to perhaps mark the end, To this very day, to this very moment, still pains, As I hope against hope, you'll be waiting for me beyond life's next bend.

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i miss you so hard it hurts Livia Jayne

you take a heavy drag on my heart

holding me to your lips in a kiss of slow death and i light up

feeling the heat of your touch sear me from tongue to lung

from me to you

wherever you are right now i miss you

so hard it hurts to breathe to think

to scream

i miss you

so hard it hurts to say i do

68


who i became

Littlewriterr

who i became when you left a hoarder i kept everything inside because i wasn’t allowed to feel because my feelings were too much because if I had let them out the whole world would’ve burned not a soul would survive a thrill seeker not exactly not really i seeked pain i put my emotions in a box but i needed to feel i had to so i lay my hands on the hard walls outside and as i walked past i pressed them in hard enough they drew blood a painter i painted beautiful pictures of you of me of us what had been what would have been my mind was a forest of paintings all devastating

69


angry i couldn’t look at the child i couldn’t laugh without remembering why i shouldn’t i couldn’t live without remembering all the times you were not there i lashed out more than usual more intensely and every time a soul said I should be strong I shouldn’t crumble all my insides raged and raged quietly viciously a seeker i needed the love you didn’t always show me so i got it somewhere else A N Y W H E R E else a crier i cried everywhere i cried all the time while getting food while taking a bath on my bed doing anything doing everything while reading while watching movies in a classroom in church everywhere all the time i hated it i H A T E D it i asked for a knife i begged for it if i could cut out my eyes i would have i would 70


a time traveler i lost track of so much time i didn’t know where I was what i was doing who i was supposed to be what earth i was on i saw everything i saw nothing ugly my insides rotted and festered and decayed not a soul knew not a soul noticed or maybe they did maybe they saw how your absence slowly sucked the life out of me pale thin red eyes sad tilt it’s been five years and there are days my heart still breaks the ground took you and left me shattered a piece of who i once was

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72


Chasms Kanwal A.

I don't think I ever told you you were my North Star and how every time I'm lost, I wonder how you are it's funny how i only saw the night sky after you made yourself disappear. but they say to start at the beginning, so i suppose that's what i'll do here. except i can't, not really. because every time i start again, i take us straight to the end. i think i only ever caught a glimpse of you after you'd left. and i wonder if all this time was playing pretend does it matter who we were, if we are who we are now? and is it any use to keep throwing lines into the night sky in hopes we'll find each other somehow? does it hurt you when i say i much preferred us as old friends? does it hurt like it did when you left? except i can't say that. because you hurt me in ways i'm not even sure i can fault you for. but to reconnect? i think i understand, now, what it means to be tied inexplicably by the cords of youth. and i write this from my place here in limbo where this scar festers in the absence of closure, of truth. i don't think i ever told you you were my North Star, and how every time I'm lost, I wonder how you are but i think you might've figured it out. and i wondered if it scared you someone might be close, so you kept me far.

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if you need someone to talk to, i am here still. but to be real friends again, i think we'll need more than this gray area i never had any real claim to. and we toss paper airplanes from the brink of this chasm, sometimes. but the moat you dug involuntarily is now so wide. and lost dreams of closeness give way to little notes to make sure you're still breathing easy. at least faded friendship lends way to fond reminisce but i'm not sure that's even a chance we can take now, with the number of messages between us left on read.

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The Matter with Me Tatiana Flores

Why can’t I feel it, this love surrounding me? All my friends and family, so loving and caring. Now tell me, what’s the matter with me? Why can’t I see it, the beauty in me? My overwhelming spirit, my fresh and bright light. If others can, tell me why can’t I. Why can’t I sense it, this aura of mine? It’s supposed to be kind, cheerful and smart. Why can’t I perceive it if everyone else can? Now tell me, what’s the matter with me? Maybe I’m already gone, went somewhere far from here, left behind my senses, without any warning and already so soon. Am I just a living dead, a hollow shell within my head? What I once was still wandering here on planet Earth? I don’t know and neither do I care. I only want back what I before had. I want to feel comfort, in an embrace. I want to sense heat, in every kiss.

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I want to perceive this world that surrounds me, vividly and genuinely, in all its colors and shapes. Now tell me, if I’m not dead yet, what is it then, the matter with me?

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Horatio Alone L. L. Friedman

Why did you pick me, Hamlet, of all people? Mine’s no prophetic soul, nor was I born to set the bones of time back into joint. I come from middling stock: no stout bourgeois who’s blood to me was ever foully murdered. At university, my scholar’s eye blinked at the soldier’s sword and courtier’s tongue. No ghost ever gave me the time of day. Though I excel at disputations, truth remains elusive; my philosophy dissolves to echo in Elsinore’s cold halls. I’m out of place on windy battlements, clumsy at swordplay, to all customs foreign, neither an antique Roman nor a Dane. I couldn’t save Ophelia from drowning. I fear I’ll never do your story justice. Yet you – sweet prince, dear Hamlet – chose me still. You wore me in your heart of hearts; sometimes you even let me turn its key, unlocking the golden fire within. You’d take my hands in yours and talk to me of Alexander – not of his conquests, but his tragic love. You tutored me in knowing glances, papers passed back and forth inside the library stacks, collars and cuffs smoothed out with subtle gestures that seemed to me stronger than marriage vows. You introduced me to your friends at court, then kissed me secretly behind an arras. The fact that I can say I knew you, Hamlet, keeps my heart beating to your wounded name’s inimitable rhythm. Each beat rebels against the silence. Thus I tell your story.

77


You Say Jason Latta

You say you never want me to go. So, why won’t you invite me to stay?

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Rejection Emilio D. Puerta

I know rejection like I know my hand In all its abstract linear design: My life is long, my love is pure and grand, My luck, however, barely marks its line, As I’m not any girl’s, nor is she mine.

The breaking ice sends us into the water, Where merrily we wade towards the shore. Yet steadily she sets me for the slaughter: A sapphic word and gesture out the door, While I’m a writhing mess upon the floor. And even if there’s hope within the air That love would light the caverns of our eyes, Despite assurance of no wear or tear, The silence grows and I with soulful sighs Still wallow in a sea of whats and whys. I know rejection like I know my hand – Much have I felt its sting upon my spine. Now day by day I wander through the land And wonder whether I would ever shine If I’m not any girl’s, and she’s not mine.

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Wasteland Talia Duffy

Wedged between a river and a hillside Shards of glass peppered on the map Aligned with rows of smoke stacks Shaping clouds into the open sky You could say that I’ve tried To close this gaping gap And fill these shallow cracks Of mine Surrounded by blank broken-down billboards A brain filled with memories and pipe dreams That keep me awake at night And the crickets won’t let me relax These roads skip like a broken record And tadpoles try to swim upstream The stars will keep me company tonight When I cross the rusty tracks Stuck working from five to nine With the past playing in my mind Can’t think with the sirens and the gunshots Waiting for the apocalypse to arrive And looking for the exit sign But I’m still stumbling blind Taking drags in the parking lots Just to feel alive Tired of the looks And tired of the tables Being turned on me Caught between a grunge and pop phase These aren’t the stories you read in books No, they are only fables And these roots are cemented in me So I don’t have to explain my ways

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Days are just a run of the mill Listening to the whistle of the train And skipping stones Across the knee-high lake Just a mix of a dry heat and a wind chill That hits me in my veins And shakes up my bones Before they can break Stranded in a wasteland Tiptoeing through needles Finding myself living on a prayer Underneath the lunar eclipse I am dead where I stand With an odor of coal and diesel Contaminating the air Above the sinking ships Oh, I just want to scream And have only echoes surround me Watch the leaves lose their trees And the trees lose the will to fight We are lost souls you can deem On the joke that we’re free Pondering if I should surrender or seize I’ll just give myself to the night

Another black cow in the pasture On a farm that’s built for Mars Striking matches with ease And burning bridges to the ground These times are captured Only in photographs and memoirs Blowing daisies in the breeze As helicopters come fluttering down

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Broken Windows DG

You have finally stumbled upon this path, that led you here, how do you like it, I wonder; how do you feel, I procrastinate. Things are no longer as you left them, you didn't leave them with any protection dear, you have come after so long, in these ruins you'd probably dissipate. Can you see these broken windows, I'm not really hiding, shattered glass, pieces of wood sprawled on the floors. I built a fortress, they put up a siege, alone I was fighting, I couldn't contain them, they got through, banged down the doors. Came in hordes, took away what they pleased, I was crippling, looking at their atrocities in horror. Everything we had put together, demolished, possessions seized, Felt like one of those nightmares, I'd wake up in terror. It was no nightmare and there was no you, to calm me as I lost my way, You've come now and I haven't got anything to give to you. Did you walk through the corridors, did you hear what the walls say, Or are you still deaf, to your surroundings, or will you cry in rue. The white sheets you used to love, wanted them to never be dirty, Did you pass them on the way, I'm sorry they're not that clean now. I should've known you were coming, would've washed them for you, so haughty, The red marks on them are of blood though, thought you should know. Why did you leave, what was more important than what we had, Now you look through my broken windows with those eyes, And not being able to do anything, I feel so bad, Can't meet your stare for it burns me, myself dies. Things that took place among these rooms will never let you sleep, I tried to defend and guard but I was not really any match. You can try forgetting but everything will cut you deep, I'm here stranded with my broken windows without even a latch.

82


Locked Doors in the Ruins DG

A conundrum surrounds locked doors steeped into the ruin, what are the secrets you hold deep inside, I wonder, inquisitiveness overcoming me as I sought what is forbidden, to discover what's hidden, coming alive inside me, the founder. Etched into the roots of history, everything associated, a total mystery, basking in old glory days of mutiny, perhaps, to remain locked was now its destiny. Unforeseen treasures held within its premises, not known to anyone, centuries passed in time, an aura of esotericism eked from its crevices, to even inquire, what was concealed within, ruins of locked doors, felt like a crime.

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Fragments Livia Jayne

I create new fragments of forgiveness for you, memories merging and blurring in my mind as you pretend it never happened… did it happen the way I thought it did? or have I taught myself to forgive and forget the things that normal people regret? I’m not sure if it’s wise to wonder whether words are swords or spirals when you could just assume they’re both. firstly, words are weapons – the mighty sword is, of course, a pen but then again, words are just another spiral into doubt, into fear, into misbelief and mayhem an easy descent into insanity fuelled by passion for fantasy and fictions aren’t built on reality just the imaginary; I learnt that one from you: a masterclass in mystery and leaving people hanging on to every second word – because if they heard them all, they’d read between the lines and see you’re not all that you seem. those first impressions got me, I’ll admit I’m still a bit in awe I know no one is perfect, least of all myself, so isn’t this your just flaw? and so a fragment of forgiveness is born… will it survive? I’m not sure any more.

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Hollowed Bones Talia Duffy

The blank pages mirrored my state, And the emptiness echoed in my head. I wore a face as transparent as curtains; My insides coiled tight as a serpent. So, I folded into my origami heart As my thoughts seeped between the lines. The words felt as hollow as my bones. I could erase the terms but not the truth. The language spilled into my lungs And breathing tickled my tired tongue. My emotional outpour ached much worse Than rubbing sandpaper against my gums. My brain felt mushy like my marrow And my pen was running as dry as my veins My body was desperate to drink As my pen begged for blacker ink I let my hands turn cold as a corpse But my wrist proved a paper pulse. I shed my skull and stripped my skin, Covering the pages, but I felt naked. My vomit of words laid across the sheet Vulnerable, like freshly poured concrete Trying to harden without being dented Like my soul when I finished my sentence.

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A prayer for the unholy Diana Marie

i know my mom swore you out last time you called, but don’t worry. the lord rang next and she can’t say those words anymore, tongue twisted around like he grabbed it with a pair of pliers (reinventing human anatomy, eve whispered the devil’s name so her lips went first, dried by holy water and now we all live with empty bottleneck mouths or traffic stop violations on our teeth).

draw me a diagram of the female body, then draw it again the way you wish my bones would align, sticking out at right angles. making entrances for crescent moons or gnarled fingernails (and you don’t know what that means yet but you will soon, because the lord is on a kick where he’s reinventing human anatomy and no body will be untouched). i left the pews as soon as my feeble legs could drag me out. i could hear the priest screaming after me. where did i find the strength? where did i find the strength? it wasn’t a gift from the lord. the lord wouldn’t let me run. he’ll break my legs. he’ll break my legs. i’ll break your heart. what else is new? then all i had were whispers. take me next. take me next. they were prayers, or offerings, and they were all i had left because the lord was telling a joke but he had not taught me how to laugh yet. his favorite joke is isolating the sinners. to not touch them at all. i know i said that no body would be untouched and that was almost right. i said no body would be untouched. if you’re a sinner the lord won’t touch you. if you’re a sinner you’re already the image that the catholics grew out of, or beg in confessional to leave in the mirror. the catholics all want replacement therapy, twisted tongues or dried-up lips or screaming voices as their children run through the church. nobody would be untouched. i’m eve’s lips. i’m my mother’s own tongue. i’m my own broken legs or a priest’s screaming voice or or or i’m pandora’s box and i’m an amalgamation of everything unholy that ever kissed the earth, with a gentle brush of the lips or with a tap of the feet. i’m mixing my mythologies and you’d hate it if you could hear me. i’m mixing my mythologies because i’m already anatomy redrawn and that’s what my tongue does now. i’m only telling you because you won’t hear me. you listen to nothing except sermons or life lessons or bible stories. i’m mixing my mythologies because the lord didn’t bless me with a gag reflex, he tied my throat into knots so i can’t swallow the body anymore. can’t choke it down. can’t spew up the sin within me (i told you i’m pandora’s box but you insisted i’m a tabernacle, just a body undiscovered or tucked away until someone wants my flesh to make them holy). i know my mom swore you out last time you called, but don’t worry. i learned how to pick up the phone and read you the hail mary from the bedside table.

and when i am done, i can hear your voice whispering that i am not really mixing my mythologies. the lord is not a myth. 86


Unfiltered Colombian Coffee Juan Barrera

I know you’d have me packed through the cracks Of your fundamentalist fanatic ferocious French press. Well too bad that my kin is too hard for you to oppress. You stain us with your whitening creams and your Lifestyle magazines You say we’re unclean but our blood is on your jeans And you call us lazy, immoral, exotic and throw us into cages at every single border While you eat or fuck the gordita you just ordered Well too bad. Our skin has been through worse. And your tricks won’t wash us, no matter how perverse. And we’re loud, and proud and pissed with our fists raised up high For no matter how tight the cracks you fit me through tonight You still can’t cleanse me from what’s mine.

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Moon Madhouse Tina Jaxen

I am the moon in your pocket and I don’t want to wake up to a sunny day. My mind like pouring rain. My gaze like a burnt memory – a strangely familiar familiarity. White dust is thinning now – cloudless days like a mockery. So, take me away. What am I but a fearless piece of your past? You’re taking me to some kind of party where you will teach me how to drown in my own unknown. I am just the moon in your pocket; I am your special kind of nothingness. What is that white dust in your pocket – are you keeping it there forever? Please take me out. The forest is dark enough now. The moonlight; pale and cruel. So let me break this curse in two; I want to throw myself elsewhere. Please, write the last traces off of my existence, take me away. The bluest side of midnight; I never got it. Oh, I might be the smallest moon there is. I am always alone at a distance, alone at the party now – the clock ticks in the wrong direction. The trees buzz outside the window, what a stunning alarm! I, the smallest. I, on the road to a broken elsewhere.

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And at the age of an eternity – I made a bet with myself that you’d forget my name; you do not have any callings at all for me. I was the moon in your pocket and you wanted me to wake up to a sunny day. I am in the corner now. My life was a little promise – you dropped me with the palest arms. My walls will crumble now; my day will walk away. I will burn this whole madhouse down and you will finally remember my face in the night.

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The Spider in My Bedroom Emilio D. Puerta

There’s a spider in my bedroom! I catch him creeping up my wall. He stops beneath the picture frame, He waits to see what he could claim, I watch him at his sneaky game– One of we two must fall. There’s a spider in my bedroom! I gingerly align my strike, But in a blink, he’s on the ledge, Behind the lamp, along the edge, Then on the record, I allege He vanished, shadowlike. There’s a spider in my bedroom! I know not where the bugger lies. I shake the desk, the lamp, my books, I cast about such careful looks, But emptiness fills all the nooks To my bemused surprise. There’s a spider in my bedroom! There are itchy tingles on my skin. I wonder how the game would end: Would we long in this silence spend That we become each other’s friend? At least we both would win.

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3:20 a.m. Moon Juan Barrera

Everyone loves the moon Some say it looks like cheese For me it looks like a sad balloon Skididi dadidi doo! Everyone loves the moon The only reflection In the middle of all this kerosene radiation Skididi dadidi doo! Everyone loves the moon What is it about a recreation That calls so much our attention? Skididi dadidi doo! Everyone (Skididi) loves (dadidi) the moon (doo!) Even Clark Kent in his Smallville hut Gazing at the moon, then at Lana Lang. Skididi (loves) dadidi (the moon) doo! Everyone loves the moon A kind reminder that it is not light But light in the dark What binds humankind tight In unison For everyone watches the moon But no one can stand watching the sun Skididi dadidi doo! 91


At night

Tatiana Flores

When I’m all alone in bed, fears creep under my sheets, giving me shivers and terrifying me to death. Every time I fight, whenever I say no, the harder I push them, the more reluctant they get. So I give up, and decide to leave my fate, to what I can’t change.

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Harlots

Juan Barrera

Oft dreams of demure harlots. Harlots fishing snappers, Feeding off the curdled livers. The Euphrates shunning Babylon. Harlots sailing From Northumberland. Barrels of spirits below deck. Black and white phalanxes reaching out. Bone-colored spears in tight formation. Harlots made of fags, Burning to stern skies of terracotta. Bilge-sucking noblemen Tied to masts of copper. Erudites hanged Off figureheads of weed. And harlots sleeping with the sirens’ singing.

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Canada Adam Cooper

Maybe we’ll meet in Canada someday. A silly hope to fill the hole in our leaky conversation. A whipped up wish for white on a colourless night.

It’s funny – what you forget. I don’t recall who started the fight But I know who ended it… And the relationship. We sat on the floor – Having said all we could and more. Her head against my bed, Mine against a less than comfy wall. Seated in silence, we were lost at sea. The room and all that surrounded It just fell away. Until only we remained; Alone on a slab of cheap wooden floor. An ill-fated raft destined to soar across the night sky As it glistens on the ocean. No going back, everything was in motion. Or moreso, motionless. The cogs had stopped on our lovestruck clock And we were beating out of sync. Melody that started out right but turned up wrong. A rise and fall kind of song. Nobody’s fault, but nobody’s burden. So now we stand in the shade Of the mushroom cloud we’ve made. And through teary eyes, she manages to say:

Maybe we’ll meet in Canada someday. As the words parted her parted lips, They fell on my head like snowflakes.

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From her heartbreak mind I can see the sight. Someday under the dancing streetlights And the pure-kissed skies of Montreal; We’ll both see a face and we’ll recall. Familiar strangers Stopped in the mist to reminisce. Having spent our days moving place to place. Searching for the parts we needed To fix the broken pieces of our ticking hearts. And we’d hear our melodies sync – Beating in the snow. So while fighting the crying, I echoed it too.

Maybe we’ll meet in Canada someday.

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you WILL be remembered

Littlewriterr

i know you think you’re no one honey, you are in the grand scheme of things you are no one

to a lot of people but to a select few you are the light at the end of the tunnel the song that makes them smile you’re the smell of home the warmth in their belly to a select few if you leave today they will break who they are at their core will shift turn change if you leave today your absence will create a whole new being if you leave today i will break so stay stay you are someone you are loved you are needed you make an impact you WILL be remembered 96


A Part Talia Duffy

I'll trace your veins Til I reach your heart To see what it contains It's filled with love and art Then I’ll hear you explain How I became a part

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We Are Family Emilio D. Puerta

We are family! Poets playing at poetry! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi! We are family! Making life a whole jamboree! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi! When the weekend tolls we’re together, From across the world. (Hey!) And no matter the seasonal weather, We with words come pearled. (All!) All of the people among us will say We’re a motley crew. But on top of our talent, There’s no loving like we do! We are family! Poets playing at poetry! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi! We are family! Making life a whole jamboree! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi! Time goes by so fast, though we make it last, And we’ve just begun to expand our bounds. (High!) High hopes we have for each other As our cheer resounds. (There!) No, there’s no need to fret, For company is always there: We’re all for one and we’re one for all, We don’t go wrong! (Oh no!) Our bond is beyond compare!

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We are family! Poets playing at poetry! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi! We are family! Making life a whole jamboree! We are family! Here at Sparkipoemi!

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Our Sparkipoemi Family (@emipoemi):

A trilingual poet of Canadian-Colombian heritage striving for a name in the backlots through eclectic Emilio D. Puerta wordsmithery set to the compass of his four humours (Light, Dark, Love, Absurd).

Adam Cooper

DG

(@abrighterspark):

Livia Jayne

(@acpoetryy):

(@worldlyandwordly):

Head in the clouds, feet somewhat on the ground. Adam likes to write about the world through a fantastical lense; condensing the beauty of any moment into a few silly words.

Anika believes that to put your name on something is an act of declaration; it is to say, “here lies an extension of me”. You have to ensure it is worthy.

Anika

(@dg.fragments):

(@poetryinmoonlight):

An aspiring writer/poet; having mostly been lost, found solace in the words that could be spilled from within the fragments of his mind.

An 18-year-old American writer, whose writing straddles the line between poetry and prose, leaning heavily into themes of womanhood, sexuality, and mental health.

Diana Marie

(@a-wonderingwandering-brain - tumblr):

(@cappuccinocolcacao):

Elisa F.

Juan Barrera

Caffeinated chocoholic, master procrastinator and scribbler of poetry. Livia sees her writing as a necessary side effect of living life through the lens of empathy and creative curiosity.

An Italian (almost) Chemical Engineer during the day who escapes into words at night. Her writing explores the depths of sound and imagery, and reflects the challenges of those pieces that don’t want to be translated.

Jason Latta

A helplessly hopeful wonderer, with a proclivity for reflection, hoping to highlight the commonality of experiences through expression of my own.

(@the.luciferson):

(@julesgems - tumblr):

A Colombian expat trying to make sense of reality through poetry, writing when the tides are high but not too high.

As someone who has always loved words, she hopes you’ve found hers meaningful today. She wants domestic violence to stop.

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Julie Maree

Dedicated to her four children - I love you more than words


(@poemslikememory):

Kanwal A.

Malgosia Ip

Littlewriterr

Sibgha Alam

Tatiana Flores

Grew up speaking English, Urdu, and Arabic. She writes to sort out her feelings, and melds past and present to reflect on growth, corporate America, and her place in the universe.

L. L. Friedman

(@words.on.rye):

(@melaflori):

Mother, baker, cocktailer, and writer, not always in that order. Malgosia writes because otherwise the words would just keep pestering her to get out.

No colours, no words, nor musical notes... She doesn’t need anything but her head and her soul to create a whole new world on her own. An eternal peaceful world.

Melanie Flores Bernholz

(@little_writerr):

(@finding.finesse):

Princess Briggs is a quirky being with Nigerian-Italian roots who wouldn’t know who she’d be without her words.

With the ocean, cityscapes, and visual art as her strongest muses, Sabina writes both poetry and memoir to escape, explore and elucidate.

Sabina Leybold

(@coloursandchaos_ ):

(@talia_loveitpoet):

A bilingual Pakistani poetess dreaming of medicine by day and metaphors by night. She hopes to, through her poetry, break the century long silence of South-Asian women.

A music and movie enthusiast who finds inspiration between the lines of her heart and mind. She writes because her head can’t hold her hopes and dreams.

Talia Duffy

(@tatianareallyknows):

(@tinajaxen):

Tatiana Flores was born in May 1998 in Andorra. Since this day, she has dreamed and written unceasingly, and now hopes you want to follow her journey through her words.

Tina belongs to the forest in Sweden and feels the world in an abstract way. She’s a singer and a writer and lives in both worlds, intertwined.

Tina Jaxen

(@hallowed_thoughts):

Zara Feroz

L. L. Friedman once went on a blind date with a marble statue in Vienna. More work can be found at www.crookedbutinteresting. wordpress.com

A 19-year-old from Pakistan, finding poetry in the mundane and seeking solace in nature’s elements, particularly birds chirping and trees swaying with the wind. Also a novice painter and photography lover. 101


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