Categories
Fiction

Oceania: The Last Beach By Hazel J. Hall

Oceania: The Last Beach

By Hazel J. Hall

Humanity had lessened since its peak of billions; selfishness proved to be as mortal as
they were.
Now there is only one beach. One final shore before the abyss of clouds. Sky void remnants of what no longer shines.
A woman stands before the water. Her toes feel the sand. Plastic. It feels like plastic.
Her eyes wander over the ocean. Oh, sea. Oh, reef. Forgotten words of a distant past.
Far over the water, a neon rain begins to fall. It is green. And when the lightning reaches down to touch the water, it is red.
There are no boats out at sea. All of the wanderers have found their way home. Every road has been traveled. Every path to be seen since discovered. There is nothing else left to know.
There is finally peace.
The woman clears her throat, turning to the bottle in her hand. Strawberry mead.
She lifts the glass bottle, the distant echoes of raging thunder sharing her final toast with her.
But she smiles, beginning to take a sip.
With her eyes closed, she does not even see the flash. The brief instant before contact.
Then void.
The forever stillness. The road finding its way home.
Who is to say we did not know this was possible? The last beach, finally free of swimmers and tourists? A quiet world of acid rain? Acid rain, neon lightning, and desert forests.

And silence.
Balance has been restored in the natural world. There is peace.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Hazel J. Hall (she/they) is an eighteen-year-old disabled-queer writer based in rural New Hampshire. Right now, she is pursuing an English degree while working on her first novel. More of Hazel’s work can be found in Dream Noir, Poetry As Promised, and Sage Cigarettes, with other pieces forthcoming or visible at their site, hazeljhall.com.

Categories
Poetry

Paradoxes By Abu Ibrahim

Paradoxes

By Abu Ibrahim

The universe is a box of paradoxes
The way opposites attract — every night, darkness and light collides,
the moon bulbs the sky
My doctor tells me:
Man is mostly a body of water
Now I understand why I am always at sea
Now I understand why I am going through hell


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Abu Ibrahim Ojotule popularly known as IB is a socially conscious poet whose work has caused tremendous influence and change both locally and internationally. His debut spoken word album “Music Has Failed Us” got a Grammy acceptance, and was in line for a possible nomination by the Recording Academy for the 2022 awards. This body of work is available on all major music streaming platforms. He sees poetry as a powerful tool to cause positive change and redefine society. When he is not writing or performing poetry, he works with brands and individuals across different sectors as photographer and brand strategist/storyteller.

Categories
Poetry

Three Poems By Ellen Huang

becoming more human

I am delivered.
I have arrived, organic
embodied, physical
breathing,
bleeding
flesh and bone, feeling
human, skin stretched / muscles tensing

relaxing
sleep-deprived / sleep-needing
consuming, hunger
chewing, / / digesting,
growing, / / ingesting
contemplating / reaching,
growing, achieving, moving
would you believe h u r t i n g .
the tension, tendon, tortured
laughter, wells deep of joy
crinkling eyes, confused
bursting w/ life and energy,
pulsing, alive, here, hands
conscious, height- ened, crashing.

aware, thinking, confused,
majorly confused, complicated,
urges, dancing, awkward, consequences
moving, movement, inhale, exhale,
holding, delicate, fragile, breaking
weeping, strong, rising
learning, swimming, falling
anger, sorrow, grief, hardened heart
soft, failing, giving, touch
habit, ritual, bowing, lounging
flexing, crossing, walking
standing, fighting, tossed around
knocked out, weak, growing
hitting a wall, growing
control, balance, losing
starving, satisfying, attracted
compelled, convulsions, repulsion
disgust, fear, shivers, angst, lightning
love, warmth, bitter, lashing, wild
running, playing, cooking, creating
watching, intaking, expressing, wishing
yearning yearning yearning
compact, atoms, buzzing, laughing
feeding, praying, philosophizing
connecting, riding, emotions, waves
sitting, reacting, staring, spacing
limited, mortal, wondering, scared

post traumatic stress disorder
anxiety, resistance, depression, numbness
return, nostalgia, memories, longing
difference, existential, sinning
repenting sinning repenting sinning repenting

l e a r n i n g .
b r e a t h i n g .
e x t e n d i n g .
g r o w i n g.
l i v i n g.

m o r t a l . e m b o d i e d . s p i r i t .

conscious.
human.
organic.
authentic.
what is this life
I have been given
this compact concentration
of genes and stardust and earth
of information and spirituality
makes up the shape of me.
What an accident
that I was created
in their sex.
What a miracle.
All that is natural
is supernatural.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Retired Matchmaking God

Imagine a man so focused on God
that the only reason he looked up to see you
is because he heard God say, “That’s her.”


I’ve imagined it. And he’s dumb as rocks.


I imagine a God tired of telling every creature which one to eat for lunch;
every moth which mate to flutter in the air with;
every octopus which lumbering other to dance in the sea with;
every lizard, amphibian, mammal,
which encounters to end their lives on a high note with;
every mutation to every happy painting accident,
happy sculpting accident, guiding evolution along
to get just the right cells and sparks and DNA in place.

What if God is tired of being asked to account for
for every appearance possible to be mutated into reality?
for the uncanny valley, too, for the Neanderthals were His creation too,
that He loved and folded up into later use, a creation that had its run.

He is busy, mandating every mate, sparking every love
and for the birds, it’s a lot of pressure, because they do mate for life you know;
and for the bees, it’s a lot of pressure, because one date means an entire colony;
and for the humans, well, he tried to give a different story—


tested if they could be the first asexual aromantic creatures, actually
to conceive anew from sole spiritual love, to create from outside, beaming
but the world was not ready for that. It only saw miracles in breeders.

And years later, they will divide up a tale of how man must not be alone
and limit that only to monogamy
and all the rest of unloneliness to but temptation.

Finally, God gave in and gave the humans sex just as the creatures before them
and though He emphasizes Adam chooses Eve
and though Eve is, just as much, loving Adam


they will add that her love was submissive, while Lilith’s unmatch was rebellious
though Lilith and Eve were friends, perhaps. They never fought over Adam.
(Can Liliths and Eves ever be friends? Can Adams and Eves?)


And now the people, how they cry out for matchmaking;
and how they plan love for political gain;
and how sometimes marriage is the only thin thread keeping peoples
from killing one another.


Tired matchmaking God adores when His beloveds meet at last
but delegates to the angels all this nonsense about going to hell for singleness too long
for ungratefulness for being attractive;
for selfishness of not mixing DNA every chance they get;
for cheating on future husbands, spare a thought for people who will never exist,
as if God could ever neglect to make a single soul.

Meanwhile, single souls are shot down in the land of the living, too,
every survivor not pitiable enough.


Tired matchmaking God delegates to the cloud of witnesses: all that cry of losing heaven’s pass
for horrors of loving more than once, and not bundling up all their hearts and feelings;
for the sin of knowing their own created body and what feels like comfort to them;
for the spit in the face of creation for loving truly, healthily, with full adoration
if they have too much in common, like anatomy, or talk too much beforehand.

The ancestors themselves struggle sometimes, to be more than ancestor,
to call them more than descendent. What else can we call them? they ask God.
They can barely hold themselves up, and worry too about failing generations down the line.
How to tell them it’s okay, souls already shall be, outside of time? We exist either way?
How to tell them, God knows? God has not answered yet.


Tired matchmaking God wants to turn to the cosmos and heavens
keep on creating there, for God does have others to tend to
but something keeps calling Him back, sweet children He cannot leave
crying out when they get to be loved, when they get to be loved, when they get to be loved
in a world so full of love, so crammed with heaven,
that they buried it, and misplaced their treasure,
and damned the earth that holds them up.


Photo by Olha Kobylko on Pexels.com

bioluminescence philosophy

In the deepest dark
where you’d think is colder than the poles,
where food is a blue whale carcass
stocked for years, or none at all
Where light hypnotizes, and jaws snatch
in a world without our eyes;
Where the smallest may feast
making clean this world [unseen]
and oceans, too, without skies—
In this deepest dark,
close to the earth’s heart
where sun is a myth
and the surface unheard of
(is such ignorance bliss?):
If light filters not from above
falling to serve those below—
then let my light be from within
and in this universe, glow.


Ellen Huang (she/her) is an aroace lover of the whimsical gothic and spec-fic. She reads for Whale Road Review and is published/forthcoming in K’in, Resurrection Mag, Serendipity Lit, Brown Sugar Literary, The Sock Drawer, South Broadway Ghost Society, miniskirt magazine, warning lines, Moss Puppy Magazine, Messy Misfits, Persephone’s Daughters, and more. She is currently working on a fairytale chapbook and an asexual horror anthology.

Categories
Fiction

THEY TORE DOWN THE BERLIN WALL By J. Archer Avary

THEY TORE DOWN THE BERLIN WALL

By J. Archer Avary

Victor’s social sciences teacher wheeled a TV into the classroom.


“Let’s watch,” said Mr. Glasscock. “This is history unfolding.”


They tore down the Berlin Wall. It had the aesthetic of a Pepsi commercial. Manic overjoyed youth, sledgehammers, shattered concrete. It was almost 1990. A new generation had emerged to save the world from the baby boomers.


Victor was a naive freshman at Vanderpol Academy, intimidated by the ivy-shrouded red brick buildings of its sprawling campus. His homemade clothes made him an easy target for the juniors and seniors. They were all over him when he stepped off the bus.


“Look at those clothes.” said one senior, a jock. “Are those french fries?”


Victor’s parents were hardworking and frugal. Instead of ‘wasting money’ on new clothes, his mother sewed him custom jumpsuits made from eccentric bolts of cloth she found at the fabric store. The day the Berlin Wall came down, he was wearing the one with the french fry pattern.


“Let’s call him Fry Guy,” said another jock, this one a junior. “Are these clothes a symptom of some mental deficiency?”


“My parents are just cheap,” said Victor.


“My parents are republicans,” said the senior jock. “They pay tax so leeches like your impoverished family can live large on government cheese.”


“People like you make me sick,” said the junior jock. “If we catch you alone, we’re going to kick your ass, Fry Guy.”


“That’s a promise, not a threat.”


That promise weighed on Victor like a backpack full of chemistry textbooks. If he wanted to avoid a beatdown, he needed to watch his back.


They tore down the Berlin Wall. Everyone was caught up in the euphoria.


Victor tuned-in to breathless television pundits live via satellite. It was almost 1990. The cold war was over and the cable wars were on. The sun was shining on America. Bono from U2 uttered inspirational words into a camera’s lens. It was a beautiful distraction and Victor was blinded by the light.


“It’s that french fry eating dork,” said the senior jock, the ringleader. “Kick his ass!”


The junior jock lunged but missed. Victor sprinted away, towards the social sciences building, down a cobblestone path. He flung the door open and was immediately blasted with a torrent of chemical
foam. A third jock was in on the joke, extinguishing the fire extinguisher with Al Pacino intensity.


“Take that, you french fry eating freshman!”

Victor waited in the principal’s office, caked with foamy residue, a sad excuse for a powdered donut. They tore down the Berlin Wall, but Bono was wrong, that the world would never leave the 80’s behind.


His parents were on the way to Vanderpol Academy with a fresh change of clothes. Victor hoped it
wasn’t the jumpsuit with hot dogs on it.


Photo by Vural Yavas on Pexels.com

J. Archer Avary farms cactus in the windowsill where he writes poems and stories. He wants to finish a novel one day but lacks that kind of focus. Sometimes he goes to hot yoga, but most of the time he makes excuses not to. Fun fact: he used to be a TV weatherman. Twitter: @j_archer_avary

Categories
Creative Nonfiction

Freckles By Jocelyn Jane Cox

Freckles

By Jocelyn Jane Cox

I nestle into the covers beside my mother at naptime. I hold her arm in front of my face to examine her skin.


“How many do you think you have?” I ask.


“Oh I don’t know.” She laughs. “Hundreds? Maybe thousands?”


“I think millions,” I say with awe and proceed to count them.

***

At work one day, I notice that my shirt, bag, notebook, and umbrella are all patterned with polka dots. I chuckle about this and show my work bestie.


“I might need to do an intervention,” she jokes and I nod in agreement. But we both know I won’t change my style.


I don’t wear polka dots, squint at the stars, over-use ellipses, marvel at the pointillists, or crack unseemly amounts of pepper onto my food in honor of my mother’s skin. Or I don’t think I do, anyway.

***

“Life is complicated,” I tell my son, long after she is gone. “There are a million ways to think and a million ways to be. A million different things can happen, including a million things you don’t expect, and most of them are okay.” Most of them.


He holds my arm up in the sunlight, my sleeve falling back to my elbow, and, just like I had, he proceeds to count.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Jocelyn Jane Cox holds an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Her memoir-in-progress, Zebra Party, is about losing her mother on her son’s first birthday. Her essays, short fiction, and humor have appeared or are forthcoming in Slate, Brevity Blog, Roanoke Review, Penn Review, Belladonna Comedy, Slackjaw, and Five Minutes. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives near Nyack, NY with her husband and son.

Categories
Creative Nonfiction

Impressionist Art By Jennifer Ly

Impressionist Art

By Jennifer Ly

nothing good starts in a getaway car
I’m still trying to figure you out. I still talk about you in bars, to strangers that I’ve just met because my friends are sick of hearing of you, a man I barely knew but left his fingerprints pressed against the skin of my neck, the impression of your impression of me slid permanently on how I would look at myself in the mirror for years to come, even when I’m sure you don’t remember how it felt when we kissed. When we first met, I was just out of a job and lingering around the edges of an existential crisis, four years of my life gone into a career I no longer wanted and the foreseeable future mired in the shadow of a looming pandemic, September 2020; in hindsight, that winter would be the worst of my life, dealing with your ghost, my grandmother’s loss, a friend’s suicide, the mounting death toll from COVID, the dark, sweeping depression that felt like years. I would not be the person I am today without that winter, but I wish I was. I want to go back to who I was, before you.


the water filled my lungs
The first piece of writing I ever got published was about you. You were one line in a piece about my ex-boyfriend, that guy I told you about, but I still think about that line all the time when I write anything else. That piece is the last time I’ll ever write about him,
but I still find you in every single page of mine, all my insecurities bled over the still image of your face, blurry, I forget what you look like, I look you up on Instagram every time to remind myself. I wonder if you ever read it – if you recognized yourself in that one line, or if that moment simply lives with me, forever, and never even graces your
mind. I have to write about you to get you out of my mind. Some version of you must care.

all the kingdom lights shined just for me and you
Sometimes I worry that the guys I’ve dated will find out I’ve been writing about them on the internet, but then I remember that most guys I date don’t read. When we first met, you told me that you’d been reading some self-help books, finance textbooks, one fiction book your ex-girlfriend gave you that you haven’t had the heart to start or to throw away. I thought that was romantic. Now, almost two years later, I realize that it was a warning sign, flashing bright red, and I closed my eyes against the sight, let the afterimage of you burn itself into my mind, flicker and burn in the darkness. I’m over her, though, you said,
or maybe I imagined you said – her picture is still on your Instagram, baby girl is the caption, and I wonder about her, now, what she’s doing, if she wants her book back.

the world moves on, another day another drama
When I started writing, at 11, I began with fanfiction. I used to be ashamed of this – pretended that I didn’t know what people meant when they talked about shipping, about Tumblr – but these days, I wish I was that person again, that I hadn’t squashed her down
into the hidden corners of myself and of the internet. I want to love something that much again. I want to watch a show and wonder what-if and dream of scenarios between characters, in alternate universes, in songfics, where lyrics would be randomly incorporated through the story, would they still fall in love if they were in high school
instead of a magic boarding school, would this group of friends still find each other if they were in space instead of an ancient Japanese land, would they kiss this time and not break each other’s hearts? My definition of love keeps shifting as I grow older – no longer all-encompassing, but now it’s that my boyfriend texts me before he goes to bed, handing me my preferred mug even if he didn’t have to – but I think the foundations are found in the fan-fiction I read and wrote growing up, oh, love is two people falling in love because they want to, they choose to, and in each story I tell, I make it happen. Even ours. Even though you didn’t want it.


i want to wear his initial on a chain around my neck
You said once, after it all, I used to date a writer. I wasn’t aware that we’d been dating – you specifically told me that we were not dating when we were together – that was something you reserved for other girls –


we tell stories and you don’t know why
When writing about you, I think of how a colleague jokingly or seriously, I couldn’t tell, said to me once that I was writing about my exes so much that I was turning into Taylor Swift. It’s not that serious, I said, but then I started to wonder if Taylor Swift was taking it seriously or if she stares at herself in the mirror and wonders what that boy from 2020 thought when he saw her, and tried to put that feeling into words, despite knowing that she’ll never really know and it’s all conjecture, and at this point – what does it matter what he saw when he looked at you, besides the fact that it meant something to you, that
you could put pen to paper and immortalize how you felt in that moment, that fall, that time? Let it go, my colleague said, let them go, as if I haven’t. Sometimes I think of you and wonder what you look like when you think of me, if you ever do, and wish I was able
to paint, or draw, immortalize the way I can still imagine you between the pages. It is a sickness and an antidote and I’m not sorry, you live on here, you live.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Jennifer Ly is a Vietnamese-American writer from Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in Hobart, the Daily Drunk, and others.

Categories
Poetry

Stateless by John Chinaka Onyeche

Stateless

By John Chinaka Onyeche

in a silhouette of time as of a nation.
glooms and leadership attrition breezes in,
chiming.
entertainment
easily jogged to.
a nation trudging into the abyss of gloom,
youths celebrate idiocy in pictures.
none
penitent
parliamentarian
echoes stateless as a polity
after many thousands of births.
crimes
easier
than
crowns,
thugs,
thrones
traditions
mired.
norms,
ethics;
reverse
for
gains,
as crimes are wearing naked eyes.

one street after another they walk unharmed,
as we applaud no labour wealth.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

John Chinaka Onyeche “Rememberajc” (he/his) is an author of three poetry collections “Echoes Across The Atlantic”, a husband, father and poet from Nigeria. He writes from the city of Port Harcourt Rivers State, Nigeria. He is currently a student of History and Diplomatic Studies at Ignatius Ajuru University Of Education Port Harcourt Rivers State. John Chinaka can be reached through the following means: Rememberajc.wordpress.com Facebook.com/jehovahisgood Twitter.com/apostlejohnchin Apostlejohnchinaka@gmail.com https://linktr.ee/Rememberajc

Categories
Poetry

Pretty in Pink By Emma Giammanco

Pretty in Pink

By Emma Giammanco

“Come on time to dress up.” My mother says.


What about the days I don’t wanna be pretty in pink. All dressed up for everyone to see, not my choice, no one can hear my voice. It’s not fair, I can’t bear it anymore. I look at my
mother in her gray eyes and give a pleading look.

“I don’t wanna wear pink anymore.” I whisper.
“Pinks what you’ve got. Suck it up.” She replies.


I nod and accept my fate, sucking in a deep breath before stepping into the baby pink
dress. My brown hair is bouncing as my chubby feet find their way back to the floor. Does
everyone have to be forced into a color like this or is it just me? It’s not fair, I don’t want to hear
it anymore. I no longer wanna be pretty in pink.
My grubby little fingers grab the bottom of my dress and begin to lift it up gently before I
get frustrated and tear it off. I hear the tears and so does my mother. We stare at each other and
her mouth is wide open.


“What did you do?!” She scolded.
“I said I didn’t wanna wear it anymore!” I stated.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Emma Giammanco is a 16-year-old junior at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. She’s on the school’s literary journal ‘The Siren.’ She’s from Beaver Pennsylvania and in her free time volunteers at Ready Yourself Youth Horse Ranch and the local Center. She loves to write fiction mostly and sometimes poetry.

Categories
Poetry

The Tracks of my Tears By Dan Raphael

The Tracks of my Tears

By Dan Raphael

I’ve been given a new task
chosen for my proclivity
to cry for no direct reason.
couple years ago, except for my mother’s death,
i only cried at movies,
a couple songs always brought tears

But now i just cry, 3-4 days a week;
i hope there’s not something wrong with me
that my tears are helping somehow
thousands of us, crying without knowing why
whether for those who have a reason to cry—
poverty, violence, disease–and can’t, or won’t,
or for extinct species, melting glaciers, dying reefs and forests

So far i haven’t had to pull over while driving
because of tears. many people at the gym.
pause between reps, but probably none
because they’re crying. we’re all invisible
at our machines, working for longer lives
without wondering if that’s what we want


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Dan Raphael’s new poetry collection, Out in the Wordshed, will be published by Last Word Books in November of ’22. More recent poems appear in Unlikely Stories, Mad Swirl, Pangolin, Otoliths and Synchronized Chaos. Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poem for The KBOO Evening News.

Categories
Poetry

Grow By Nolcha Fox

Grow

By Nolcha Fox

Seedlings sprout
from stumps and
from charred trees.


Cancer cells
eat everything
in sight.


New life bursts
from old, we
cannot stop it.


Life is stubborn,
it will not be denied.


Photo by Eriks Abzinovs on Pexels.com

Nolcha has written all her life, starting with poop and crayons on the walls. Her poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Red Lemon Review, Dark Entries, Duck Head Journal and others. Her chapbook, “My Father’s Ghost Hates Cats,” is available on Amazon.