Winter 2021

volver, volver

by Salma Alejo

Salma Alejo is a 19 year old writer based in Los Angeles, California. She is currently a college sophomore studying Marketing and Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary’s University. When she isn’t writing, she’s the Marketing Director for Zenerations and the Editorial Director for A Little Louder Project. She also occasionally dabbles in digital art and loves a good cup of green tea. She can be found on Instagram @sunnnysidesal and on Twitter @sunnysidesalma. 

the moon is pro-palestine

by Summer Farah

On April 11th, 2019, Israel sends a space probe to the moon. It explodes on impact.

BORN of Holy Space, she is sister

to stone. knows each smooth defense

littering occupied Ground. Holy

Ground. she whispers stories of how we built

our homes / laying stone gentle atop one another

dabke hard on soil

sending stories of how children see if stones,

too, float in the dead sea.

israel sends a space probe to the moon & it explodes on impact.

LISTEN. the moon is pro-Palestine.

moon remembers when she was part of the earth / remembers when land was one / craters filled with water waiting to be named holy / a people knowing what it always was, tending to orchards with twisted roots older than sea level / sung prayers tucked into breakfasts of bread and cheese / throats uneroded / calling on our daughters / ya ‘amar ya ‘amar ya banat al ‘amar / asking of us beauty / strength

holy earth sends stories of children / gripping rocks so hard their life lines become granite rings.

Children scratching at empire / criminalized. what is a blemish to an empire? man-made death machines plummet into the surface of the moon / scratch for conquest.

o holy Ground. those who separated us will not be forgiven.

there is no blemish to her light. in eulogy of the Children who have joined the stars

she fights back

Summer Farah is a Palestinian American poet and editor. She is the outreach coordinator for the Radius of Arab American Writers and co-writes the newsletter Letters to Summer. Her work has been published in Mizna, LitHub, Vagabond City Lit, and other places. You can follow her @summabis on Twitter.

To Come Here and Sit

by Zoe-Aline Howard

at the edge of everything a child with a fist of cherry cotton candy
soaking water from saline air and who brings cotton candy to the beach
sugar sand water waves that fold between walking legs
and soak my grown thighs, so the denim rubs.

loggerheads nest within walking distance of crystal pier. mother,
I am always reminding that child to take one breath. hold her hold me.
I am still that child walking where turtles wait in pong balls and
who can grow in shells so hard.

mother, your stomach pressed flat with juice and lemon
made me taffy-moldable and waiting for the sun always but
the shore rushes to our feet. when september ends and the gulf currents
wash the turtles into rip and wharf. what then.

I will have the cotton candy no more than a bag of pink water.
I will sip it pink wine and sip it in silence. where are the mothers
of these children in overalls. where are their leather backs and beaks.
I will miss my mother, who I never miss. and I will sit. what then.

Zoe-Aline Howard is a BFA student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She splits her time between the sand and the red clay of her hometown in Kernersville, North Carolina. Find her on instagram @papyrusandwax and on twitter @zoealinewriter. 

Mop Water in the Kitchen Sink

by Ani Eacy

how you ask for so little & get so much. how we ask for so little & get what we ask. back scratches & rubs & go light & light & lighter still & harder. how you love us through the confusing & the outbursts & the godforbid the illogicalities. how you love us through. how your hair grows wild, wild everywhere & migrates down. how your hair falls out, puddles on the pillow. how my hair falls out & tangles. we pull it from sweatshirts warm from the dryer, we pull it from mouths & food, from brushes, out of butt cracks, we pull it back. arch the back, harder & harder, too hard. soft heads sweet brains hairy legs. mine & yours. how you live with naked walls & no water, no want. how things are good & that’s good enough & never enough. for me. for i. for me. the fragility of the ego & the wilting herbs on the window sill & the let go let down the election the leftovers & the hairline, the heart. heart in your mind, heart in your heart, heart in your pants. how it is nonsense. onyx nights & tonics & taunting. taunt skin & responsive. wanton women & wontons for dinner. again. again & let’s do it again. how you are right, that we would be fine eating the pasta that spilled into the kitchen sink & how i am right that that would be disgusting.

Ani Eacy studied writing in Burlington, Vermont. She has since been selling books (new, used, and otherwise) for 5 years, while working on her own. She traded one city on a lake for another, and now lives in Ithaca, New York with her partner in a tiny apartment that sits among the treetops.

Life Cycle

by Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie

Memory: There’s the sound of the car lock
snap, smack shut like sucking teeth. An old me, child
strapped into the back seat of my mother’s Nissan, whistling.
Whistling What?
I don’t remember. God knows.
So does my mother.
So what woman couldn’t do His job?

Now: I try to keep up with my body. My left hand cleaves to my right
breast under my shirt for want of something to un-idle. Each finger
spreads like a wide tooth comb, then one
around another, tangles.

If lucky, I won’t have to be any more human
than I am right now.
I don’t want to return in the next life
Unless I’m an animal perched
in its own language.
A fiction, unalive
in 2D spun on paper
from a child’s pen.
Whatever is safe
from this life
from what it cannot know.

Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie is a Zambian-Ghanaian poet who grew up in Botswana. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. She is the winner of Button Poetry’s 2019 Chapbook Contest (Born in a Second Language, forthcoming July 2021). She is a finalist of Narrative’s 12th Annual Poetry Prize, The Brunel International African Poetry Prize, The Furious Flower Poetry Prize , Palette Poetry’s Spotlight Award among others. Akosua has received fellowships from Tin House, the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, Callaloo and the Watering Hole. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Obsidian, Kweli, Pank and elsewhere. (AkosuaZah.com)

We’re Only Picking This One Kind of Mushroom, But We Know What It Is

by Nomi Stone

What a summer! Our basket
isn’t big enough. We look near the roots
considering each neck, proof
that after a good rain, the sleeping

fructify, moon-pale threads
tessellating together under the soil.
My mother & father have stayed
together: they love each other

& usually are good, each to
the other, & my mother’s
mother & father both loved
the other and when young they rode

horses together, & my father’s
father harmed my father’s mother
but my father is so astonishingly
kind, to my mother and to his son

and daughters; he taught me how to give
whoever it is I love the bigger half,
to hold the thread together. After
rain, you can count on new

mushrooms, lit fruit in the moss.
I’m not afraid of anything. Ok, I am,
oh god I am. But, sweetie, look:
all these tiny trumpets.

This poem previously appeared in Plume.

Nomi Stone is a poet and an anthropologist, and author of two full-length poetry collections, Stranger’s Notebook (TriQuarterly 2008) and Kill Class (Tupelo 2019), a finalist for the Julie Suk Award. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright, and broadcast on buses across Rhode Island by the Poetry Society of America, Stone’s poems appear recently in POETRYAmerican Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of poetry at UT Dallas.

Love Poem, Midwinter

by Joely Fitch

Night: fog rolling in
again, misty violet clinging

to the quiet
limbs of pines. Moons do pull
on everything, even now,
which is at least part of the reason

I’m awake here with you

in this forest— its lacquered, gentle
silence. Warmth buried deep

within the frozen ground.
As for myth, I’ve spun you one
(although I didn’t mean to)
from the strands of my own

hair. Please— take this golden
thread and let it lead you to the bridge crossing
the creek that runs between us.

So we stand on it.
We look at one another
saying nothing; we don’t even touch
and still all this snow that’s been dusting
over everything for years
and years and years begins to melt.

Joely Fitch was born in Ohio in 1993, and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Idaho and the associate poetry editor for Fugue. Her work exists: online at The Shore, and forthcoming from Dilettante Army.