Flowers

by Keanna Irving

Flowers grow in cracks,

in fields, in gardens.

We tend and we kill,

fostering beauty,

plucking roots from soil.

Fleeting, Withering.

To be less careless,

make the beauty last.

A careless driver

foot on the pedal,

metal met metal

met flesh met heaven.

His stranger, my friend,

dead in an instant.

Purple bouquet for

makeshift funeral

endless miles away

hung and pressed to last.

Yellow petals from

a simple, cold day,

made beautiful by

this loving gesture,

but the memory

turned bittersweet and

distant from careless

words and numbed heart-ache.

Just flowers survive,

hung and pressed to last.

A stranger’s wedding

over, I pass by

exquisite bouquets

peeking from the trash.

Beauty tossed careless,

many thanks to the

wealthy newlyweds.

My ordinary night

commemorated,

hung and pressed to last.

I won’t toss away

this fleeting beauty

as a reminder

to be less careless,

and never forget

feelings and seasons—

My dried pressed petals.


Thumbnail image by Sabrina Sanchez.

ON The Grass In The Park

by Grace Karls

Surprising sunshine warms a bath for me

Through my eyelids, melts arguing shapes

down into a pastel pool, opaque

My glass hand disappears in its thick shade:

Swirls around, mixing colors

Yes, my memory melts in the Cold

sun’s heat, washes away the unessential

Merely “I” remain, together

Thick in a brilliant bath

A segment is a line between two points

I learned that toward the beginning of mine

A tiny woman climbs out of a hole-punch,

Onto a tightrope, a roller coaster track,

Discovers her head is hollow slowly

Undeniably

Tennis ball shell full of fluff:

Sticky, melty, candy cotton black

Scraped away slowly,

Melted like fake spider webs on Halloween.

 

Miss stick figure (climber) collects

Pretty and odd, dangerous stones

Plop into her head

Clink-clink like a chime beat

Levels surround levels where

She felt, she listened, she drifted,

She dreamt herself

Silly girl, she thought, fondly

Collected senses

Zapped into solid shapes:

Pointy, octa, penta, puzzle, circle, cone

“Now you live together; get along!”

She does not know the rules,

She could not see the end:

Walking to the park with an arguing head,

About to explode, maybe

She opens her chest like a window to the air, to expose

Her heart shivers in the freshness

It cries for having been shut inside,

To somersault over what it has loved

Its smooth song then rises to the sun’s tone;

If a heart can smile, mine did then.

Grit rinses away,

Rivers crawl on the beating surface and cleanse.

Liquid

I, simmered down by sunshine

Sloshed into a swimming pool

Can a mind sink and soak?

I shall tell you—mine can

Yes, my mind sank and it soaked all afternoon

Atop the muddled grass and

Buried in layers of light’s paint

In the center of this big park there is no danger

I shall roll to one side then the other on this little hill

And remain warm in the static exposure

Blinded by white like a made-up afterlife

Ribcage expands, brimming with breath

Legs tug down against lifted arms

Body stretched like a star

Lying flat on the top of the earth

Drenched here by the sun’s cloak

My memory loses shape,

My segment (with two points) crunches and crumples

And melts, like paper in a pond

And I float on the earth’s peel, atop the

Melted shapes make a sweet syrup

Breeze tickles my face and I listen to

The full trees’ deep yawn of leaves

A baseball’s milky clap in contact

A plane’s groan across a blue dome

The breeze dances freckles on my nose

Chills my fingers, and all alone

Here suddenly I am not alone.

I lie on my self’s surface,

All of me surrounds me,

Sporting a sweet baby-tooth smile;

And I hold me afloat.


Thumbnail image by Sabrina Sanchez and Nathan Alford.

Tintinnabulations

by Sabrina Sanchez

I.

you were my person

for seven years

my person

one day to next

vanished absent

at your piano

an empty bench

stolen away

hands sticky with

sap and suffrage

sleepless on cold ground

two years learning

subsistence forced

to keep going and

“be an example”

(because my leaving

would be like giving

you permission to

abandon what’s left)

and when you came back

we were different people

no longer home grown

separate vines

you were your own person

from then on

new you



II.

you were my brother

all my life

my brother

yet you left me

too many times

big brother protector

abandons post

veins steeped in tar

obscured in vapor

nose to powder

you inhaled

stole my six strings

sold ‘em in Georgia

after two weeks

missing you’d return

(because sixteen can’t

be saved by sabbatical

and your sentence

hadn’t been served)

to be delivered

across country

countless crossings

keeping us apart

you’re still my brother

bond from blood

my brother


III.

you were a person

for too brief

a person

dear to the people

dear to me

close to the people

close to me

mother daughter

sister grandmother

you couldn’t be

everything to everyone

your bible passed

around the family

believer — your prayers

didn’t save you

(because it’s not

easy to leave

by choice when

you have no choice)

outside window panes

hands pressed on

frigid glass translucent

to us onlookers

you’re not a person

from now on

just gone  


Thumbnail image by Elizabeth Winn and Sabrina Sanchez.

HAIKU SERIES 2018

Seventeen syllables. Three lines. 

This September we are hijacking the traditional Japanese form of poetry that is the haiku. 

ejection by Jon Adler

push me from your heart

onto the burning sidewalk

it’s what i deserve

 

too high by Blake Brown

I remember when

I noticed for the first time

That your love was lost

Haiku #2 by Trivette Knowles

You wrote me poems

Only for me to reject

Each line of your love

night wanderer by Alexa Scull

Is that a opossum?

Long tail blowing in the wind,

Reoccurring skunk.

earthly desires by Elizabeth Lee

all of us searching

for something we cannot find

it is not found here

a haiku by Blake Brown

Your touch has grown cold

Now matter how hard I try

You are not the same

6PM Flight by Mariana Pimiento

Nothing seemed as hard

Like when we had to say our

Goodbye. Long distance.

Unstable by Hannah Kate McClendon

Freedom comes with pain

Belonging comes with pain yet

Loneliness endures

Fatherhood by Edison Cummings

I bought all these plants

That I have to water now.

Didn’t think that through.

Haiku #6 by Grace Karls

I gave you your laugh

Then you chuckled at my mind

Please, it’s not funny!

soul by Draven Haefs

within stars of day

within the candles of night

our souls light the way

Crush by Hannah Kate McClendon

Indescribable

I know you don’t feel the same

You’re my distraction

Haiku #7 by Grace Karls

Play-dough soul gets punched

Years spent molding a red heart

Now a molded fist

A name by Annie Kopack

It was just a name

Until it belonged to you

Now it's everywhere

Home by Taylor Hollenbeck

Home I thought was you.

But I was just the rest stop

In the search for yours.

Haiku #5 by Grace Karls

Honey on my lips

God’s name and your sticky touch

Did God make honey?

Coxcombs on 14th Street by Meagan Weber

Subway screech I’m still

Seating; gulp with a dry throat

Which delay today?

Rejoice by Taylor Hollenbeck

Bask in the sunlight.

Soak up all of God’s wonder

And rejoice in it.

hypoglycemic anemic by Sabrina Sanchez

upper lip sweaty

teeth tingling hands numb dizzy

is this how I’ll die

anorexia by anonymous

Clawlike ribs and hips

I control my stark waistline

It controls my mind

15 hour drives by Jenna Smith

Take my cigarettes

I won’t miss them anymore

They taste just like you

detrivorus maximungry by Emmae Thomasson

The food chain’s true north,

Membrane of the forest floor.

A slug, “I eat death.”

Looking At Cemeteries by Alli Rose Fordyce

Even the bodies

That rest underground are caged

Are we ever free?

Art class by Mercy Tyne

“Just draw what you see!”

But ghosts don’t sit for portraits.

Careful what you wish

Self-love by Nolan Wolfe

Swimming in a deep

self-care, why are the best gone.

flowers picked so soon

“Magic diet” by Mercy Tyne

An apple a day

Will keep the doctor away

Once you’ve starved to death

English Major by Anna Wood

No calculator

I only count syllables

Please, crunch the numbers

Humanity by Emmaline Waller

I exist as a

Paradox; spirit and flesh

How do I belong?

South Carolina by Claire Bernardo

a chamomile tea,

m&ms on the plane and

We say goodbye now

Haiku #1 by Trivette Knowles

She sleeps, I wonder

How many have seen beauty

Which number am I

For my person by Elizabeth Winn

I did not know love

Until I saw her in you,

felt her in your touch.

a haiku by Marina Barnham

we kissed by the Seine

romantic films told us to

they are never wrong

Haiku wave by Nolan Wolfe

floating in free fall

waves crash on pink voiceless shores

listen to sound drown

Haiku breathe by Nolan Wolfe

coral water space

dolphin swimming through bubbles

breathe child breath the air

The Close by Micah Long

Conversations cease

Warmth of your head on my chest

We'll never be close

Hush by Kyra Rooney

Slam the door past late

Cat asks for my night stories

I will never tell

closet thoughts by Jon Adler

take me from the rack

where i wait for human touch

i am a nice shirt

opening up by Sydney Watson

let us not disturb

the sweet little flowers that

grow through the concrete

Haiku #6 by Trivette Knowles

Can I wear makeup

“Boys don’t do that, only girls”

Can’t I be pretty

ropes by Nathan Alford

glasses, cupid's bow

salt running, blotchy/silent

head down, bury old

Wednesday, 1:30 by Peter Murphy

Did you step past me

Easily - did the glory

Obsess - Hal, don’t go

gifts for worms by Jon Adler

salt and light on earth

tasty and luminous things

to share with us worms

Haiku #1 by Elli Esher

Step in a puddle

And the entire city

Floods into your shoe

Youth by Elizabeth Winn

A purgatory:

Torn between who I am and

Who I wish to be

He works the morning to afternoon shift by Carson Bunting

Gregory; asleep

Fermin the midday watchman

Keeps the castle cheap

crypt by Jon Adler

you are in stasis

incantations and secrets

remain locked within

but who’s your ocean spray by Sabrina Sanchez

like Icarus flew

too close to the sun - you’ll fall

wax melting for me

Freedom in The Question by Annabelle Ford

And what is your name?

Hallways have not whispered it.

I envy freshmen.

Haiku #5 by Trivette Knowles

When our eyes lock

Does the past come inside you

Leaving a faint taste

Moderation by Hannah Kate McClendon

Sips can heal long days

Sips can help words flow out mouths

Yet bring destruction

Haiku #10 by Grace Karls

You can turn it up

I’d like to burn a little

But yes I might melt

Demeter’s Daughter by Emmaline Waller

She’s ethereal

The queen of beloved springtime

Mother to violets

Lost in between the lines by Elizabeth Winn

I wanted some time.

A second. Just you and I.

Did you not know why?

Haiku #2 by Grace Karls

Longest time longing

Deafen me please with dreaming

Clouds make deadly friends

femme by Caroline Walker

is it just me, or

do her eyes make you think thoughts

you can’t say out loud

a haiku by Keanna Irving

Sweat, resin, hairspray

Smiling, tears, and holding tight

Unknown last goodbye

Cool! by Anna Wood

You’re cool! She’s so cool!

Thanks, happy to know you know

nothing about me.

Vacation by Mercy Tyne

You travel far away

Railroad tracks from razor blades

Ticket paid in blood.

ex nihilo by Caroline Walker

Her mind formless, void

He creates 'yes' from silence

He must think he's god

Skyscrapers by Nolan Wolfe

Too many streets there

sing a big city love song

so many rooms here

Bryant Park by Natalie Belford

Floral flows down slate,

drips toward a concrete sill.

Veil of Creation

your little death by Sabrina Sanchez

spurts of affection

farther than we’ve ever gone

too far for your guilt

Haiku #4 by Grace Karls

Bed deep in the woods

Rain-breeze buries me deeper

Warm but incomplete

a haiku by Jon Adler

even when i try

i can’t shake the hooks you have

lodged into my brain

Promise me, Virginia by Zoe Jones

Roadside muscadines

Miles of bridges and salt air

Please, dream of me too

Midtown Memories by Jared Neikirk

smudged crimson lipstick

mascara stains on white breasts

dripping from your tears

Haiku cry by Nolan Wolfe

Luminous dark fire

learn to lose, kindle, sparkle

to burn, yet to fly


Thumbnail image by Amelia Stanford.

THE WORMWOOD & THE GALL

by Amelia Stanford

 

DOPED OUT ON 22

WATTS OF LIGHT

YOU SAW JESUS

CROWNING YOUR

SILK LAID HAIR.

 

GAMBLING ALL YOUR

CHIPS BUT MY

BUG EYES BULBING

AT THE SIGHT OF

OUR TONGUES

 

SWIMMING IN SHADOWS,

TESTING LUKEWARM

WATERS. I SAW YOU

AT CHURCH ON PALM

SUNDAY TO GET RIGHT

 

WITH YOUR GOD.

STANDING BY YOU—

KNEES LOCKED BUT

I CAN’T BE NAILED ON

A CROSS FOR YOU.

 

VERSES ITCHING AT

YOUR ELBOWS, TOGETHER

ON TRIAL, WE COMMIT

THE CRIME—FIRE UNDER

 

OUR ASS TO GET IT

RIGHT BUT WE DON’T

KNOW WHAT THAT IS

BECAUSE WE’VE BEEN

LIED TO OUR WHOLE LIFE.


Thumbnail image by Sabrina Sanchez.

Témpo

by Hank Jeannel

 

I don’t know how to unlearn my

love for sunsets--

 

But your teeth are windows

into an old ending,

worn out like basil leaves

in a cottage up for auction.

 

Angry: because my fingertips are so

magnificent when they touch the landmines

on your torso.

 

I like touching you, like

saltwater likes touching sand.

 

If scratch paper, wet, is my ticket

to purgatory,

I will remember you there.

 

I will love you

there and we will embrace on grapes when

my skin has finally been taken off,

like a wool coat by fires

in wintertime.

 

The sun will have set by then, and we will fall,

and we will fall.


Thumbnail image by Nathan Alford.

My Sunshine

by Hannah Kate McClendon

 

Foreign hair strands reside on my pillow

Curves reminding me how un-straight I am

Luscious locks that make me write cliches

Dark eyes masking your intentions

 

I’m stuck in a whirlwind tornado

You’re not a phase, you’re a vicious cycle

I’m washed, repeated, washed, repeated

But never clean, never rid of your scent

 

I look at a car: all the ubers I bought just to see you

I look at the grass: the summer we fell in love

I look at a bar: all the fish in the sea that just aren't you

I stare at my bed: the place it all went to shit

 

Time is slow when I anticipate your touch

The moment I begin to move on, you find a way back

A heroin addiction would be easier to cleanse

I crave a glance to rob me of intuition

 

Green may mean go to some

But it will always be my favorite color

Because you made it so

 

But colors fade and tighten round my neck

Suffocation for pleasure

Self destruction for momentary happiness

 

I constantly try to run from you

But as I look down I see

I’m in a filthy lake, toes sinking in the mud

I pick a flem covered leech off my leg

Only to reveal a scar that will never fully heal


Thumbnail image by Annie Kopack.

2x

by Nathan Alford

 

It was about 7 when I moved from there

The night had grown blurry and fragmented,

Memory breaking off the way paper does when it’s wet.

Amalgamation of purple light shone behind you,

Halo cast.

Nothing good, of course, happens in this way.

I too was looking for a miracle, in the swollen night.

I refused water, and touched your chin.

It wasn’t cold, but I held your pulse close.

Wet pink muscles began looking for what we never had.

But in spite of, or because of, God knows

We have stumbled into morning.


Thumbnail image by Annie Kopack.

Ropes

by Jon Adler

 

Ropes on the hands and feet of my friends

Wrapped around and oozing from

Stretching like snakes, up and down, from them

to the places they belong

 

They pour from heads, and ears, and arms and legs

Stretching from where they are to where they were

They span miles and counties and cities

And when my friends travel, they stretch across states

 

Ropes in bedrooms, ropes in the kitchen,

ropes lying across highways, and asphalt, and driveways

Snaking into cars they inherited

From older sisters who left their own ropes in the car,  

And in the bedrooms they used to share.

“My ropes were here first; I remember when you were born.”

Ropes that cross each other

Snaking memories.

 

When they left home, they make new ropes, but they keep the old.

They love their ropes, and they esteem them.

Where the ropes go, they will follow;

Where the ropes lodge, they will lodge again;

Their people are still their people,

Their God will remain their God.

 

The ropes of memory set themselves, and the knots take counsel together

Against the Lord and against his anointed, saying

Let us break their bonds in pieces

And cast away their chords from us

 

Theirs is a freedom inside the ropes

Theirs is the ropey comfort of knowing where to return

 

Where are my ropes

If I cannot see them, who is to say they are

How can I, like the blind young prophet

Have Elisha pray for me

See the hordes of ropes around me, and believe

Believe, believe, believe-believe-believe


Thumbnail image by Walker Smith.

Morpheus Magnum Opus

by Edison Cummings

 

trace the jagged runes across my skin

revive th’archaic poetry and speak the spell

of yet another magic deeper in

 

seismic lovers smashing high

—i wish for us to be stone towers clashing

in the lightning-forkèd sky with cannons' ring—

part of nature’s thunderclapping chorus

 

sacred estuary home

—i wish to meet you at my ancient sands

your deltic hands lace land in land—

the roaring river, foam and loud

 

purifying forest fire

—i am dry aspen after dry spring

quaking poplar arms with paltry leaves—

you are blood, hot breath, the spark.

 

trace the jagged runes across my skin

revive th’archaic poetry and speak the spell

of yet another magic deeper than skin

 

perfume of bitter herbs

—i am the lamb splayed ‘cross the cold stone table

smite me, quarter me, anoint me with myrrh—

wrench the breath from my lungs

 

behold the volcano

 

would that i cast myself to the stars

and your astronomer’s eye spy me

        string me into Sagittarius

 

would that i hide between your thoughts

and your dreams ensnare me,

        the Morpheus magnum opus.

 


Thumbnail image by Nolan Wolfe.

February Again

by Alisa Goz

Editor's note: the pieces in our COMPASSION series were originally submitted to the Creative Writing competition as part of Interregnum XIV at The King's College. The following piece won second place. It was submitted on behalf of the House of Truth.

 

Hanging on the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

He chose to feel all the brokenness of the world.

Have you ever seen the eyes of a man

whose brother died? Those eyes let down a

weighted slab loose on my chest. And I cry

 

a bloody prayer. “So it goes. Just so. I

know,” he, he tells me and I suffocate.

Have you ever seen black eyes of a man

 

who stood atop a kitchen chair: hopeless,

praying to fall? Do not approach. Wool coat.

The weighted slab loose on my chest. I cry

 

a suffocated vow as white heat brands

my bones. I could see the void. Dare, listen

more: have you ever seen black eyes of a

 

man who is alone? Do you know what it

means to paint another soul? Oil man.

Burning block loose on his chest. He cries out,

 

but silence flagellates the vibrations

of his voice into nothing. Unreal flows.

So look now in the eyes of a man, a

burning metal slab on his chest, and cry—


Thumbnail image by Angel Boyd.

Untitled

by Nolan Wolfe

 

We crash, crackle, change
Burst into and out of.
To look up and see, blue-gold
intertwined, threefold trees, white
Clouds swept, thy soul
Is like a river, unafraid
Of becoming the sea, it
Flows. I sit, move, run.
Fall for all, lost in all.
A colossal wreck,
Hatching out of self,
Sights to see, heart to heart,
Through time, flowers wake.
A fall, caught in the eye.


Thumbnail image by Amelia Stanford.

Astatine (AT)

by Emmae Thomasson

 

I remember when there were 437 grams on earth of you.

 

A drug lab in your closet

and your blood is thin as ice.

You say you do them to perceive

but I think you do them to entice.

 

The clear bottles are just solvents

but the black ones you salute.

You told me acid showed you God

like the snake showed Eve the fruit.

 

Eyes wild with nature’s paradigm--

you couldn’t get enough and,

in pining to amend this world,

you created your own secluded land.

 

Running on your own fumes,

I wonder if you ever knew:

you made all the chemicals

that remade you.

 

I wonder how the object of your studies,

came to merit your uncommon trust,

and on what dark night their hollow fingers

expired of you with traitorous thrust.

 

Because now, there are just 31 grams on earth of you,

you, the rarest element on the periodic table.

And all that is left are your Astatine ashes,

which lie dead in that closet, by the fiber optic cable.


Thumbnail image by Amelia Stanford.

Hatching

by Nathan Alford

 

A circle of pigeons around an egg.

Beneath, under film-membrane, something is stirring. Claws untwist, slick feathers shudder.

Twelve sets of small black eyes behold it, watching.

“Perhaps the time is now,” in whispered tones, around the shell.The air is so misty and grey that it weighs something: it bears down upon the council’s heads, and feathers, dripping off their beaks. The water makes them even more squat than the species naturally is.

 

“One cannot be certain.”

 

More cracks form across the pale surface of the egg. The pressure of birth, as it stirs within. The conception is the easiest part, delivery the hardest; in the in-between state of it balances, both living and dying in each moment.

 

“If it is as we hope it is—“

 

A lid fragment pushes up, making a delicate crunching sound. It struggles to enter the world, shaking limb by limb. Amniotic fluid and blood trickles out onto the pavement.

 

Spring is known as the time of birth, but of what, I know not.

 


Thumbnail image by Amelia Stanford.

Because of Reasons

by Sabrina Sanchez

 

Because it’s him

Because it’s you

 

Because of the way his jaw curves in a hard line

Because of the way you wrinkle your nose when you laugh

 

Because he likes to keep the window open at night

Because you can’t sleep under the bed sheet

 

Because a Star of David hangs from his neck

Because you gave up on faith long ago

 

Because he can never find the words

Because you always have too many

 

Because a cowlick sits at the base of his head

Because the birthmark on your arm looks like a teardrop

 

Because he tastes like mango

Because you’re really craving mango

 

Because his fingers drum the rhythm of every song

Because you hum without even realizing

 

Because he smells like Christmas at your parents’

Because you smell like your lavender soap

 

Because he always gets his eight hours of sleep

Because you stay up till sunrise without meaning to

 

Because the calluses on his fingers feel rough against your skin

Because the dimples on your lower back give him a reason to live

 

Because he thinks he might love you

Because you’ll never admit you love him

 

Because it’s him

Because it’s you


Thumbnail image by Sabrina Sanchez.

I am a whisperer

Anonymous

 

What’s it like to want
To be known by all
But fear the very prospect?

It’s like knowing some stuff
Will be enjoyed because it’s
Atwood’s, Cummings’, YOURS.
While mine won’t be,
Only because you know it’s mine.

I mean,
Why else would I be writing
Anonymously?


Thumbnail image by Walker Smith.

My Sunday Sweet

Anonymous

“If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Lev 20:13)

 

Holy water tossed on her.

Church pews fall on her. I

remember the splinters of

 

the cross but she’s lassoed

around my waist. Crumbs on

her lips from Communion.

 

My girl’s lip gloss--my Sunday sweet.

 

A blindfold, rosary, bit of church

history with those curious liturgical

fingers, curious liturgical fingers.

 

Now it’s an altar call from my

bedroom not no sabbath no never.

 

blood on both our heads

as she gives me head

as she gives me head

 

How the two become one flesh,

the sexiest shame.


Thumbnail image by Walker Smith.

Bridget Bishop

by Dean Graham

Editor's note: 'Bridget Bishop' was the third piece published in our DREAD series in Fall 2017. The series also includes 'morgue poetry' by Claire Bernardo, 'Consent' by Morgan Chittum, and 'Only Darkness' by Micah Long.

 

Bridget Bishop was the first person hanged in the Salem Witch Trials. Legend often portrays her as a tavern-keeper who was scorned for standing out from the rest of her Puritan community.
 

1.

October is 80 degrees this year

I’m drunk

& you’re naked

& the sun goes down early

but it’s hard to tell

when the curtains are closed

 

do you remember Salem

1689

it hadn’t started yet

the clasp is stuck

on your blood-red bralette

Bridget Bishop just wanted to have fun

 

 

2.

Dare you ask how it felt

how she hated those kids

leering faces that grinned

through the vomit

 

I know you hate them too

when you come home late nights

chewed up food on your shirt

& ears ringing

 

 

3.

Trick or treat

you’re a witch

& off to the gallows you go

 

 

4.

Do you remember

how it looked that night

 

big oak tree &

dull orange sky

 

her still body rocked

in the faltering breeze

 

it was summertime then

& down at the tavern

 

men laughed and told stories

& no one paid heed

 

to the still, empty bar-

they just helped themselves

 

 

5.

October is 80 degrees this year

the window is open

the lights all turned off

how did you come to

that pub where we met

why did you stare

at the bar

why do your eyes fill with mist

at the sight of

the dull orange sky

you cover your ears

‘gainst the faltering breeze

you cover your eyes

from the sun

why are you quiet

when I whisper your name

Bridget Bishop just wanted

to have fun


Thumbnail image by Sabrina Sanchez.

Morgue Poetry

by Claire Bernardo

Editor's note: 'morgue poetry' was the first piece published in our DREAD series in Fall 2017. The series also includes 'Consent' by Morgan Chittum, 'Bridget Bishop' by Dean Graham, and 'Only Darkness' by Micah Long.

 

morgue poetry pt. 1

 

i had never seen a dead body before

on my first day i saw five

 

breathing in charred fumes

i behold a little girl torched in a house fire

her mother couldn’t take it anymore

and had burned the child alive

 

i walk towards the metal slab

holding my breath the entire time

the way her singed skin peels off

makes me want to cry

but i convince my boss i’m fine

we scoop out her insides

and i take note of every small detail

how much her brain weighs

the way her heart sits perfectly

behind her lungs

how much soot buries her small eyes

after everything is accounted for

and the doctors declare a cause of death

for the millionth time

i zip her bright white body bag shut

and say goodbye

 

to this day i would give anything to be

that little girl’s mother

i wish i could trade

i would have played with her and sang to her

and helped her with her homework

and if things got hard and that little girl misbehaved

i would have loved her and cherished her

instead of burning her away

 

 

morgue poetry pt. 2

 

if it had not been for that curly haired boy

i would have gone insane

everyday we talked about death

and the way eyes look when there’s no more life left

i told him about the fourteen year old kid

who ended his own life with a gunshot to the head

why a pistol?

he should have been playing with video games instead

and i cried into that curly hair and said

“how bad does it have to be for you to think

‘this is the only way out’

before you’ve even finished puberty”


Thumbnail image by Blake Brown.

Haiku Series 2017

Seventeen syllables. Three lines. 

This September we are hijacking the Japanese form of poetry that is the haiku. Though they are traditionally written on themes of nature, we're bringing a modern twist to the form.

 

a haiku by Claire Bernardo


buying donuts at
bodegas, there is icing
on my upper lip

 


Ode to Pigeons by Meagan Weber


sidewalk landing strips
dining on cigarette butts
i’ll make way for you

 


Chicken Haiku by Campbell Moore


Cluck Cluck Cluck Cluck Cluck
Feathers flying everywhere
Now I’m not hungry

 


Chicken Haiku 2 by Campbell Moore


Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck
I am being torn apart
Please don’t hurt my eggs

 


Haiku for WH by anonymous


I love him and I
Can’t help wishing he could not
Even fucking breathe



a haiku by Carson Bunting


I’m all for no bra
Twin peaks free to roam about
Nip slips are a drag

 


Dog Park by Reed Stanton


I didn’t want to
But she insisted we go
And I’m glad she did



Les Enfants Terribles by Lis Stanford


I cannot escape
The sounds of screaming children
My ears are bleeding



a haiku by Christina Markakis


Opening my eyes
Was not necessary then,
When I held your sight

 


Haiku #1 by Deanna Snyder


I hate the taste of                                                        Whisky, except for when I
Taste it on your tongue

 


HER NAME IS LIGHTBULB by Nathan Alford


One of glass from the
past; i know, electrons, but
explain the shadows

 


Rubber cement by Hunter Kennah


With every punch thrown
And all your brokenness shown
I will stay standing

 


Second Largest Constellation by Lis Standford


Why does everybody
Hate September? Because, like,
It’s Virgo season

 


young & curious by Sabrina Sanchez


tropical moonlight
cascades down her skin, her laugh –
a bossa nova

 


a haiku by Devin Williams


Naps are my solace
One nap extends to five
Roommates seem concerned

 


BB by Campbell Moore


Avocado toast
A Tulip on my latte
Make sure you tag me.
 


city living by Edison Cummings


I dream in cornfields
But I hike grey concrete paths,
My heart between both.

 


Introvert by Addi Herndon


Sometimes I go off
By myself. To ear icecream.
In a park. Alone.

 

 

Burns by Maggie Ford


Didn’t know I was
Fire when we started out
You sure do now though.

 


Haiku #3 by Trivette Knowles


In absence pain spreads,
Parents pursue past pleasures,
Leaving us to cope


 


Haiku #2 by Christina Markakis


I hate kissing him
No tenderness running here
I miss how she feels

 


January by Sabrina Sanchez


In corduroy pants
And a sweater you left me
Colder than ever

 


High School by Reed Stanton


Patron saint of smoke.
Did I get what I wanted?
I can’t remember.

 


a haiku by Emma Buckingham


I didn’t notice
Until she pointed you out
Now you’re everywhere

 


Mott St. by Will Hogue


Pigeons and babies,
They don’t know how good and bad
Their New York lives are.

 


Haiku #4 by Jon Adler


if you have to leave,
forget your keys and wallet
so you can come back


Thumbnail image by Graceann Beverly.

 

Subway by Micah Long


Grand underbelly
Swallows thousands everyday
Takes them where they seek                                                           

 

Haiku #1 by Trivette Knowles


Loyalty, I scoff
Self-interest devours
You are always first.

 

 

Sink drain by Anna Wood


Tangled black python
Once a frame, now a monster
Suffocating drains

 

 

Jorts by Will Gautheir


Hot and heavy on
But I love the way they look
So I grab scissors

 

Lonely Girls&&& by Hank Jeannel

 

who are these girls here
blessed darkness there with us
I hope they love me

 

A haiku to anonymous thumbs by Will Hogue


A cup of water,
Then in a power outlet;
Not typing poems

 

 

Will you wander? by Hunter Kennah


My mind will wander,
To the days when I was yours.
Do you wander too?

 

Here you are by Hannah Gulledge


Pull open my ribs
And burrow yourself inside
I can be your home

 


Haiku #1 by Rachel Gruebbel


Who was I last night?
Am I the same in the dawn?
I do not know her.

 

Haiku #1 by Jon Adler


Bloody pop music
Dripping cells of red and white
Onto my ear drums

 

 

207TH, 2AM by Amelia Stanford


I’VE GOT UPTOWN HIGHS
TRIPPING WITH VELOCITY
STAIRCASE RACE WITH YOU

 

 

a haiku by Kyra Rooney


Lurking pesky louse
He crawls back every time
The eighth deadly sin

 


Haiku #2 by Trivette Knowles


Love dissipates
Anger floods empty pathways
We miss our past lives

 

 

Fight Night by Reed Stanton

 

Carmine outlined teeth
And aren’t you proud of yourself –                                   with your laurel wreath? 

 

a haiku by Walker Smith


Locked in Plato’s cave
I was promised a phone call
Corbin, are you there?

 

a haiku by Jonathan Keeler


we dreamed of heaven
but when we found each other
we found it was here.

 

Haiku #2 by Jon Adler


Lay me down, she said
Into the tracks, rats and trash
I yearn for subways

 


Haiku #2 by Rachel Gruebbel


Wine is dancing juice
I dance, and I dance some more
Then I fall sleep.

 

 

Haiku #2 by Deanna Synder


I wanted to be
A single stemmed flower, but
You made me grow roots

 

 

Luxembourg Gardens by Lis Stanford


Young couple kissing
Middle-aged man is staring
I’m uncomfortable

 

 

Haiku #3 by Jon Adler


Ginger, turmeric
Gross roots what heal you quickly
But for what foul price?

 


smoke break by Claire Bernardo


my fire escape
the way out when everything
is burning away

 

 

What’s in a name by Caroline Walker


You and me equal.
Yet, I got a new name: “slut”
While you remain “man”

 

that’s grandma Rosenbaum by Anna Wood


i’m a fourth Jewish,
probably – don’t ask grandma,
she’s a bit racist

 

 

a haiku by Nick Beckman


I am the Ocean
Tumultuous, yet how still.
White-caps rage silent.

A Midsummer Night's Heat

by Sabrina Sanchez

Editor's note: 'A midsummer night's heat' was the second piece published in our Tan Lines series in Summer 2017. The series also includes 'roots' by Amelia Stanford and 'The Seizure Realm' by Abbey Jasmine Watt.

 

Headlights roam over cracked pavement

leading to a gravel path to a dirt road

to an old plantation property –

a “secret warehouse location”

 

Two boys lounge on the hood

of an old yellow station wagon

sharing a joint while girls and boys

stand in overgrown grass taking

long drags from bummed menthols

 

Wet heat penetrates the screened in

porch – refuge from the marshland

mosquitos – half empty cans of PBR

litter an ash covered coffee table

 

Through a cramped living room filled

to the brim with warm bodies

through the kitchen to the bathroom

cluttered with boxers in the sink and

a wicker chair in the shower

 

Crickets and cicadas sing to dominate

the night air but the party inside vibrates

the aging wood floors where feet shuffle

left and right to SoundCloud DJs

 

Dancing in darkness moisture slides down

skin as a body nears and hairs stand on end

(to dance next to that

body to touch that body

to fuck that body)

 

Clad in black with his head bobbing to

and fro brown hair shaking off his

scent of cigarettes and moonlight

inches away and out of reach

 

Eyes meet in the dim fog then glance

away hiding intentions that the body

reveals as songs play on til

well water attempts to quench that thirst

for someone else – for desires unmet

 

Friends’ hands clasp at arms pulling

whispering “sit down sober up” and

“we need to go home” hours past curfews

and bedtimes fingers grip car keys to

 

Drive through muddy tracks off the

old plantation property to the

dirt road to the gravel path to the

cracked pavement where headlights

roam and cravings are dulled


Thumbnail image by Angel Boyd.

roots

by Amelia Stanford

Editor's note: 'roots' was the first piece published in our Tan Lines series in Summer 2017. The series also includes 'A midsummer night's heat' by Sabrina Sanchez and 'The Seizure Realm' by Abbey Jasmine Watt.

 

you wanna be a 

tongue poppin'

easy goin' bikini

strapped baby

 

but you're a striped

up tiger, a summer

loving 80s classic

with a blistered collar

choking your neck.

 

you're painted in

tinted red, faded

out — freckled and

overexposed.

 

like the mayflies

siphoning in light,

your shoulders

bubble up with

light burns.

 

you're stuck in that

house between sun

bleached trees with

the flies trapped

in the light bulbs.


Thumbnail image by Angel Boyd.

a city's sole

by Amelia Stanford

Editor's note: the pieces in our Interregnum 2017 series were originally submitted to the Creative Writing competition as part of Interregnum XIII at The King's College. The following piece tied for first place. It was submitted on behalf of the House of Queen Elizabeth I.

 

crucified white nikes

floating on power lines.

my reception tangles

between 2 streets

 

where broke kids bubble

down the alleyways &

crown shadow men with

graffiti. somewhere

 

your pair got bullied

into street chalk. cops

wave white flags

when dangling shoes

 

circle overhead—makin’

deals in scabbed neighbor-

hoods. our tongues got

laced up after calling for

 

help. class disparity

demands the  

pursuit of happiness—

 

so we knot

this city together

with shoe strings &

a pocket of change.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Ownership

by Abbie DeHaas

Editor's note: 'Ownership' was the fourth piece published in our Morning Breath II series in February 2017. The series also includes 'Craving' by Joseph Cambonga, two poems by Sabrina Sanchez, and 'Wedding Invitation' by Dean Graham.

 

You forget for a minute

That he isn’t yours.

He never has been.

He’ll notice you for a while,

But when he stops

(They always do)

You’ll remember he wasn’t yours,

And never has been.

 

“He doesn’t deserve you anyway.”

You don’t deserve him either.

(Who really deserves anyone else?)

He’s just the person

Your eyes chose to watch,

And your mouth chose to taste

But he wasn’t yours,

And never has been.

 

He said your name today.

Clearly, addressing you

So you could hear him.

Not so he could hear

Himself say your name

(Like you do with his)

Because you aren’t his

And never have been.

 

And that hot, tense arm shot up

Burning through your stomach,

chest, throat, eyes.

Filling you with red smoke

Like his cigarettes

(He discards those, too)

Reminding:

"He’s not yours!

And never will be."


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Wedding Invitation

by Dean Graham

Editor's note: 'Wedding Invitation' was the third piece published in our Morning Breath II series in February 2017. The series also includes 'Craving' by Joseph Cambonga, two poems by Sabrina Sanchez, and 'Ownership' by Abbie DeHaas.

 

it was the best of times

it was the worst of times

time pickled in old vinegar

& served on the side with a sandwich

in the back of Mayberry's diner & ice cream shop

the only one left in that part of town

 

& it turns out loneliness

is the root of all evil

& pride is just what happens

when you don't want to admit it

 

& I learned your middle name today

when the wedding invitation

arrived in the mail

it's strange I never learned it

on those long summer nights

when the air tasted like

hellfire & candy

Sweet Tarts, specifically,

all mixed together

in a kick you when you're down

Christianity

 

so you'll gather us as witnesses

crowded together in an old country house

gold sunlight on blue tiles

but maybe I'll just close my eyes

& talk about the future one more time

how winter wasn't all

that I expected


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Two Poems

by Sabrina Sanchez

Editor's note: These two poems were the second piece published in our Morning Breath II series in February 2017. The series also includes 'Craving' by Joseph Cambonga, 'Wedding Invitation' by Dean Graham, and 'Ownership' by Abbie DeHaas.

 

Lines

The line is thin and rigid.

But blurs and curves

when it follows your jawline

And stalks your neck

with ease.

I count and lose count

of freckles on your face

And watch you sleep

on concrete steps.

You shift your weight.

You lean into me,

head on my head,

leg against my leg,

hand brushing my hand.

And the line –

I feel it

between our skin,

where I end

and you begin.

The line thins,

And I tremble.

 

 

Not the same

It’s not the same,

it’s incredulous  –

you laying in my bed,

fists clenched to keep

from touching me.

 

We used to take trains

to the end of the line.

We used to try to hide

in florescent lit stairwells.

We used to be we.

Now it’s not you and me,

but you

and me.

 

Your eyes full of pity,

mine filled with distaste,

we avoid certain hallways,

trying to forget memories.

Soon they’ll start to fade,

the less I think

about the we

we used to be.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Years Only Happen Here Now

by Jaxon Bradshaw

Editor's note: 'Years Only Happen Here Now' was the fourth piece published in our Smoking Under the Mistletoe series in December 2016. The series also includes 'The Christmas of '96' by Lis Stanford and 'Childhood Wasteland' by Isabelle McCauley, and 'A Letter From Rudolf' by Rachel Sheldon.

There was a diner I passed by the other day

Filled with families and eccentrics

And everyone looked perfectly fulfilled

By the coffee in their hands.

 

I stood there for a moment

And felt years slipping by

With each sip they took.

 

I noticed two more diners on Broadway as I walked

And I thought about stopping in each one

But then a cold gust of wind

Would hit me in the face

And remind me of those screaming zeroes

That plagued my bank account.

 

I knew that soon I would be on a plane

Heading back to spend time

With family and friends around a table

With a cup of coffee

And it would all be free.

But each sip would only be a minute

And after fifteen or so

I would be done.

My conversation would come to a gentle end

And I would take off,

Yet again,

To come home.

 

It became clear to me,

As I felt my face freeze over

And my hands go numb,

That I may go back there—

At least for a while—

But that time would still be

Counted in minutes.   

 

Years only happen here now.

 


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Aurora

by Joseph Cambonga

Editor's note: 'Aurora' was the third piece published in our Push Pop series in June 2016. The series also includes 'Field Day' by Helen Healey and 'Last Hoorah' by Sabrina Sanchez.

Jets zoom by while I mow dry grass. Wishing to cut clouds than wrangle weeds, but then I’d never come down to my knees.  Or play Frisbee, curving my brother’s apathy. No aim when throwing the disk, but at least he shoots over the fence. Our neighbor shakes his fist, when he sees me hop on his redwood terrace. Land on shrub and shrug, and try again with better luck.

Never spent summer in NYC, since worry from the family summons me back to the 303. This house hesitant to call home, a place hard-heads are grown, and the world hears them groan. Mesh patches on the walls, frozen pizzas in the fridge, peppermint schnapps under the cabinets; little sibling stuck on the screen while parents scream, as I watch my twenty-one candles vanish.

Take out the trash amid our celebration, get a text ‘what’s up?’ for this special occasion. Mom off away with her van, Dad slumped asleep on the coach, Brother restarts his video game; so I respond, ‘nothing much, just the same.’ Hop in the homie’s hooptie, blast some Weezy, and park by the park to drink a 40. Reviews of our golden days fade from news of another pregnancy.

Nobody else I am going to spend my birthday with, other than those who have always made my neck stiff. Thoughts that this time around will be different, yet it’s just a new twist on old habits. This is why I took up prayer, and how I forgot to dream—no notes to sing, only dusty strings. Still, my heart plays a beat, when these demons under my bed tickle at my feet.

Glad to be here though, to repolish my tin soul. Crafting a new piece of mind as this year’s mess resurface; reconfiguring my spirit to be little less selfish. Sharing tall tales with the brother to give him a warning, giving gifts to mom from my pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and doing chores for dad to show my support. As long as I see stars, among the familiar sights and sounds, then all isn’t lost . . . and moving on takes going back to where you left off. 


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Seven.

by Lizzy Logan

 

The definition of seven is

six plus one,

fourteen divided by two,

eighteen less than twenty five.

 

For the little girl I used to babysit,

the definition of seven 

was her lucky number,

the amount of tokens she had left to use at Chuckie Cheese’s,

the number of finger nails that still had bright green polish on them. 

 

For the old woman who always fed pigeons in Battery Park,

seven was the number of children she had.

The seven hooks she tied her life around.

These seven babies are now grown and gone and have their own lives,

leaving her alone with him for the past seven years. 

Leaving her to suffer in silence.

Leaving him to do what he pleased. 

 

For the woman who always used to sit across from me on the subway,

seven was the last digit of his phone number.

The seventh date: the first time he hit her;

the seventh month, however, was the last. 

For her, seven was the number of pills she took to escape it all.

And all it took was those seven pills

and seven days

for her to end up seven feet under.

Now the 7 train always feels starkly less full.

 

For the girl who lived four doors down from me,

the seventh of last month was the day she celebrated

the seventh year her father had not wished her a happy birthday.

It was the seventeenth time she tried to stop caring about him,

the seventy-seventh time she pretended it didn’t affect her,

the seven-hundredth time she had been surprised to not see

the once familiar reminders of his so called affection

trailing down her arms,

and that was just today.

 

For her,

oh for her,

the definition of seven

reminds her of scars and bumps and bruises

that lined her skin

like a story that was rewritten each day. 

Seven was the age she learned that

wounds can be healed 

and words can be erased, but 

nothing ever really disappears. 

 

The definition of seven is six plus one 

and age six was the last time she felt clean.

It was the last time she felt like she was whole

and valuable

because it was the last time that she cannot remember

the you’ll never accomplish anythings

and the you’re pathetics

or the I hate yous

or the I love yous.

But add one and that all comes rushing in.

 

The definition of seven is fourteen divided by two.

Age fourteen was when she realized that this wasn't normal.

Normal people had a place they called home,

people they called family.

Normal people didn't have secrets to hide beneath long-sleeved shirts.

Normal people hadn't lived in the seventh layer of hell for half of their life.

 

The definition of seven is eighteen less than twenty five.

Age eighteen was when she learned that

domestic abuse is defined by the

twenty-five percent of girls her age that will experience it.

For them,

seven can be the number of times they were beat,

the amount of hospital trips they took,

or the number of lies they spun

until it ended,

or until it truly began. 


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Two Poems

by Dean Graham

 

donatello

st john the evangelist
was a
masterpiece—
redefining the age
whatever
that means.
he was the renaissance:
the man in the center
of a new world that put man
at the
            center.
but even a great artist
grows old
especially a great artist
grows old

old and arthritic
and now the marble
was too hard
his hands were
            too weak
and the pragmatists were
on to something
because it turns out
talent is not enough
to make you great
your vision doesn't matter
if your hands
can't
hold a chisel

 

The Exhumation of John Milton

the poet's tooth
snapped off with a
   pop as the gravedigger

reached down to be
the first to gather his
   literary souvenir

soon it would all be
   gone—the hair and
the teeth and even

the ribs as men
reached the height
   of irreverence

in their reverence
for a once-great poet,
then a corpse lying

quiet under the ground,
now just a collection
of bones, for the poet

could keep nothing
when he passed from this world
   not even his teeth


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Mortal Men May Cry

by David Wright

In memory of Warren and Marie Wright

Dear Donne, don't be naive. Death is mighty;
Death is unimaginably and dreadfully so. 
Death holds a power no one can know,
But it is a power the victim will never see. 
Rest and sleep, you may mistake Death to be,
But rest and sleep, from the loved ones will go. 
The strongest of us will have no strength to show
Until Time turns Death into a tale of a faded memory. 
Death is a weapon wielded by all fallen nature and men
Equipped from birth; we all drink from the same poisoned well. 
We fight back with drugs and herbs, but hellfire we cannot quell. 
It's naive to think that we should not be afraid of When. 
Death may come take us each ever so peacefully and quickly,
But Death shall torture forevermore the innocently guilty Why Not I. 


Thumbnail image by Dean Graham.

Two Poems

by Eric Bennet

 

The Furthest Coast

Our mystery recedes
as the years swell behind us;
the wake of a crossing.
From shores of youth
we swim toward
the furthest coast.
These dark waters
that once terrified us
we now deem holy.
Baptized in Time’s river
we emerge hoary headed
and wet with wisdom.
On that day
we will rest on the beach;
eyes closed, belly up
and soak in the sun.

 

Before Genesis

I love lonely
crave the vanishing crowd
and the paucity of populace
long for the alone
in moonscapes and madness
and the stillness of lithium sleep

I require the shush and hush
of mutes and midnight
to cradle me
comfort me
and defy the enemies of isolation

I am mapping silences
for a return journey
to the face of the deep
before God interrupted the tranquility
of the universal womb
to speak worlds into being


Thumbnail image by Josh Chiang.

Parkour

by Ben Harrison

my pace
       quickens
the crowd
       flies by
the wall
       comes fast
and I
       aim high
  Adrenaline
            courses
                      I feel
                            alive
            I am
               mortal
                  but I         
                         won’t
                               die.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Homeness

by Abbie DeHaas

Home is
It’s a taste
It’s a glimpse
It’s your head
On someone’s chest

It’s the spot between the familiar
And the unfamiliar.
And you’re walking, walking,
Searching for your place
Your feet grope their way
And you sort of know the streets
Just enough to guess
Turn right here
Left there
Right again
There’s a landmark I recognize
I know this place
I came here once with him.
And just past that coffee shop
Is where we all stood, laughing,
For an hour after the show
Because we didn’t want to say goodbye.
Not yet.

Home is those places in-between
It’s the “not there,
Not yet.”
Past the coffee shop
Where you stood with people you love
And that neighborhood
Where you walked with him.
You don't remember what you talked
Or laughed about
You remember
When he brushed your arm with the back of his hand
And when you glanced around the circle
Of your friends
Swearing you’d remember this feeling.
And eight months,
Or three months, later,
You still do.
You find your apartment.

Home isn’t
It’s not where you live
It’s not where you know
It’s wherever you go
After you’re lost.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

An Exploration of Stockholm Syndrome

by Rebecca Au

I have known you care little for me
I love you because I’ve no one else.
I am unmet desire. A half
Exposed.
I cannot extricate myself
From threads of habit, bloody bonds
Of God, boss, father: you are all.
Cut, I ooze closer.
Sap sours the struggle, lays me limp.
I press against the laces, yet
Aim to please. The ties tighten. My
Sight-globes are marbles.
//
I blink before imperfect you.
Rebound, habits baked as cupcakes.
Forget, and reappear. A whole,
Unscathed.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Sonnet #3

by Joseph Cambonga

2011

Common Thread

Breaths of fresh air under a clear blue sky
Displayed a fresh start; some brand new chapter.
Strangers flew right by, but not She and I
As eye to eye, we engaged in laughter.
She, Aphrodite, defined real beauty,
Several breathes swindled from her sole smile.
She, with starry-sapphire eyes, inspired me,
So even if our talks last for awhile.
Conversations turned into confessions:
Secrets revealed, we share the same dark past.
But change came, silence sprung in our sessions:
As She, placed some stranger first; my self, last.
So I sit, nostalgic to what is dead.
Hold me dear, as I cut our common thread.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Vegetable

by Hannah Grubb

The better half of the farmer’s day
Brought out the worst in him-
Sweat and blood, toil and tears-
All for the love of a vegetable

The hardest of the harvest
A plant with a mind of its own
Inches beneath the earth’s surface
The parsnip refused to let go

No amount of heave or ho
Could coax her from her rest
For somewhere deep and darker still
Her plunging roots held fast

“Why do you bother me?” they crowed,
In unison made known
The shame the parsnip harbored
For the place where she had grown

With raised brow and lowered voice
The farmer leaned in close, saying
“Yours won’t be the only loss
If you don’t introduce yourself”

The parsnip then reflected
Looking newly at her likeness
That the depths from which she rose
Had made her riper for the harvest

And liking what she saw
Complexion, roots, and all
Springing through the soily earth
She made way for the above

Drawing by Hannah Grubb

Drawing by Hannah Grubb


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Snap! Shot.

by Mallory Brand

This will be my biggest failing:

Not to be able to (keep my head down)
Not to be able to walk straight or (keep my hair out of my eyes).

Here I am again -
kneeling.

With two fingers down a swollen throat,
like the barrel of a gun.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.

Spontaneous Sonnet

by Ray Davison

and Kathryn Inman

But without words, what are we? Grov'ling beasts?
Without words, why should we shamble 'round home
With no chance to dine, to sup, or to feast?
Without words... in what other soft, cool loam
May we lay down our world-weary heads

oho
you're getting warmer
no

To run out our tears, our griefs, anguish

I am very articulate
but that doesn't solve everything
and I think

How else might we run, flee to our beds?
Must we not daily the Muses' faces kiss,

that the things it doesn't solve are the most important, at least the most relevant to my life and mental/cognitive
challenges atm.
oh you

Lest they be angry? Should not we bow down
this doesn't encode a diminishment of my appreciation of words at all
And worship at the font of Parnassus

and no, we should not bow down

So that we might later rise up with crowns

nor guide ourselves by the oracles' words

Of peace, and joy, sharing in catharsis

crowns of joy?

Of the gods here and below, but most of

and peace.....what would that really mean?

All that of Him of Grace, the King of Love.


Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.