I’m not sure what to do about the hole in the sky heat that sears my skin desert dry when
no rain falls to quench the earth’s thirst and we all still want to be first to own the latest
insert-toy-here made by children over there for two cents an hour and our planet cries,
species die, to stroke mascara on eyes filling screens in the hands of beings consumed by their own desire.
Never mind the lands gone barren, famine hollowing out bodies to bones, bellies that bloat.
Never mind fish that now float in oceans of fire Never mind wondering why.
We know, you and I. We know, you and I.
Jayne Martin is the flash fiction editor at The San Franciscan Magazine. Her collection of microfiction, “Tender Cuts,” was published by Vine Leaves Press. Coming in spring of 2022, “The Daddy Chronicles-Memoir of a Fatherless Daughter” from Whiskey Tit Books. She lives in California, but dreams of living in Paris.
with pitch-black fur and a voice that pricks like a pin;
his claws are obsidian, his tongue is dynamite
but most deadly are the dreams he hurls into the night.
They toy with telepathy and send a message shining
to say that he’s made me a bed that I best lie in.
in my mind
of the sun
I can’t quite
she leads me
the red man
and his swarm.
the blue of the cold wet night, no sun to light my way.
The Sound of Simon Armitage’s Shed
When it gets dark outside,
the sound of Simon Armitage’s shed validates me.
I can ignore the bitter of winding of the wind as it howls
down stairs, up trees, through leaves and out again
and sink into the welcoming, well-worn chair of Imtiaz Dharker’s rhyme.
I’m made glad when the muscle memory of my heart
makes a mark against the viscous, sharp resin of the sky,
my fountain pen spidering over its moonlit sheen
from the soft breath of the warm shed on my flowering seeds.
The scent of sweet pomegranate surrounds me.
I come home smelling of glee, my smile a patchwork tapestry.
Guests often come and go through the shed,
the ghosts of those who are blessed to hear what the garden says.
They sense the echoed sound of a hand reaching to pick from the poets’ tree,
the delicate feel of handcrafted paper beneath their feet, evergreen.
There’s poetry in the stars, you know,
and in the stories of the seats in the park
and, most certainly of all, in the poignant moment:
the Passover of stress into relief in the dark of the Poet Laureate’s fief.
Charlie Bowden is a student from Hampshire, England, who discovered a love for writing poetry in lockdown after spending years studying it at school. His poetry has been included in collections by Young Writers, Amnesty International and the Stratford Literary Festival and recently he won the 2021 Forward/emagazine Creative Critics Competition.
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By Frances Huffman
My first word, my mother says.
I pointed at the big, shining bulb in the sky
and met for the first time a new friend.
The Man in the Moon.
was the first book I ever read.
It was my favorite too.
Every night before bed my mother would tell me to rest my head
and say goodnight to the man in the sky.
The moon is so comforting,
a beam of white in the dark of night.
I began to talk to him, The Man in the Moon,
my celestial diary, keeping me awake with his light.
My need for the Man soon ran out,
a total eclipse of my life.
New friends, new people to tell.
I left all of my secrets with them instead.
How lonely he must feel,
without our daily talks.
No one’s secrets to keep.
The loud silence of space, alone, a floating rock.
I hope someone else shares their life with him,
because he is a very good listener,
A wonderful friend when you need one.
The Man In the Moon.
Frances Huffman is a gazebo-loving junior at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. She enjoys writing poetry and creative nonfiction. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA and loves taking her dog for walks.
Море белое. Мы ничего не видим. Желание не имеет никто. Солнце ходит вниз гора как мяч. Дверь открывается. Входит тень и проходит через комнату перед проходит через стену. Я тебя никогда не знал.
The sea is white. We don’t see anything. There is no desire. The sun is going down the mountain like a ball. The door opens up. A shadow comes in and walks across the room before going through the wall. I never knew you.
Горизонт в коробке. Рисунок карандашом, не похож на тебя. У тебя рука в кармане. Но это чужая рука. Голос за дверью, это твой. Ничего не имеет смысла. Мозг – странный орган.
A Strange Portrait
The horizon is in a box. A pencil drawing, does not look like you. You have a hand in your pocket. But this is someone else’s hand. The voice outside the door is yours. Nothing makes sense. The brain is a strange organ.
Ivan de Monbrison is a poet, writer and artist living in Paris born in 1969. He has studied oriental languages there after high school, not with great success. Ivan has autistic and schizophrenic tendencies that he has been trying to cop with through art, in the past twenty years of his life. His writing and art reflect maybe also the feeling of the decadence of today’s society, centered on its own vacuity and its lack of real purpose. He has been published in literary magazines globally.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.
The year is 1994, and we are together. You tell me that you are going to visit a psychic this weekend, the one that operates up the street from my house. I think of the plethora of things she will tell you, two of those being: Your dad will die soon, and your best friend is in love with you. You will brush both of these things off, not believing what she said, but believing that you wasted your paycheck on this. I will laugh and agree that it’s a load of bull. I don’t see the point in psychics anyways. I can predict stuff too. But when your dad kills himself a week after the reading, I’ll become a skeptic. You’ll cry at the funeral, but you will not mean it the way everyone thinks you do. I’ll squeeze your hand and we’ll flee the scene early. Everything is always so screwed up after a funeral. So, I’ll take you to the nearest diner. It’ll be dreary outside and my shoes will squeak from the rain when I enter the building. Everyone will stare at us, almost like they know something about us. They know the way I feel about you. They know where we came from. They’re psychic too.
Hailey Bartlett is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She’s currently studying creative writing at Chatham University. She’s still trying to figure out if she’s human or not.
Disclaimer: For best viewing experience, please view the following pieces on a desktop or such related devices as well as through a chrome browser.
The Witching Hour
In the ungodly hours of the evening,
Oddities trace alongside the cracks of wallpaper, thinned and torn with age.
Traces of moonlight sprinkle between the shuttered blinds.
Darting back and forth, shifting the space from raven to alabaster.
Though, in between the moments of their conflicting dance,
Lies a moderate figure, forcing a calm between forces.
Towards the end of the hall, this figure dwells.
Its looming presence commanding attention,
Of even an atom’s alchemy mingling in the air.
A faint scent of pine and driftwood lingers between such atoms.
Golden-encrusted moulding mimics palace jewels,
Asserting aristocracy over those who dare to listen.
The stiffened silence is broken by its soft ticking.
Oh how the ticking tantalizes,
Each second growing smaller,
Each minute making martyrs,
And each hour damning us to hell.
With each passing of the dreaded hand,
The figure’s ego grows tenfold.
The space quakes with an acquired anguish,
Not a peep can be heard throughout the ink-blotted sky.
The raven nor alabaster dare to continue their ballet.
Ghosts of our former glory,
We dare not interrupt the inevitable.
The figure’s hand materializes a gateway between
Normalcy and the devil’s playground.
Alas the moment grows nearer,
Mere seconds between all that is unholy.
Twelve frightful chimes sound throughout the withered night.
(chime) Everything stills.
(two chimes) A light, thumping pulse.
(three chimes) Warm, dripping blood frosts to sheen.
(four chimes) Jagged fingernails scrape against the aged wallpaper.
(five chimes) Burned out candles pool puddles of wax.
(six chimes) Lucifer’s lucky gambling number.
(seven chimes) A noticeable barometric shift in the air pressure.
(eight chimes) The corridors of our minds crackle and crunch.
(nine chimes) Walls closing in.
(ten chimes) As above, so below.
(eleven chimes) Hell empties, for all the devils are here.
The witching hour is upon us,
May God save our souls.
Madam President, Madam Vice President,
Roots. Reaching into the depths of the earth, coupling the minerals
and memories of the rotting bygone.
In the way the willow tree hums in the wind, its branches brushing against a
supple spring and its
roots too grasp for the knowledge within.
The pine and evergreen, the oak, the birch, the sycamore all singing the songs
of our youth. For the tips of our fingers reach back into the dirt and unearth a
Flecks of sapphire mix with cobalt to make the stars in our eyes, glossed over
with a sheen of light and reason.
We have seen feet pad against the grass, racing to reach a dream just out of
Tasted our mothers’ spoon-fed batter against our tongues, hoping to one day
recreate her perfection.
Listened to our grandmothers’ honeyed and high-pitched tales of swords,
dragons, and the dashing prince racing to rescue a princess.
Touched the brink and brisk of an impenetrable abyss, lingering in the backs of
And smelled the sense of victory amongst champions when we finally broke the
For the perturbed and convulsed earth trickling from our palms, tells the same
I am strong because strong women have raised me.
We have built a livelihood from each individual brick, formed of red clay and
Each passing though the palms of our hands, spackled across generations; today,
we finally lay the last one to rest.
The last piece of the jigsaw, each duck carefully tucked in its row, each
uncracked eggshell lying in a woven basket.
Each convention, each protest, each march just to gain the unalienable rights
gifted to us by our creator.
For his word claims that the roots traced along the lines in our hands,
connected to our heartstrings, give us a spot under our own vine and fig tree.
And that we shall not be afraid.
Each revolutionary, each insubordinate, each subversive movement falling from
the sky, like drops of rain or glistening snowflakes.
For they have broken the shackles that bind women to a simple household.
But well behaved women rarely make history.
Every Audrey Hepburn,
Every Wilma Mankiller,
Every Helen Keller,
Every Amelia Earhart,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Louisa May Alcott,
Every Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Every Gloria Steinem,
Every Kamala Harris,
Every working mother, or loving grandmother, or sagacious great-
And every daughter, amassed in her youth, looking to her predecessors for
Grasp the roots that couple memories and minerals and bind them together in
Interlock images and ancestors to sing out the songs of this great nation.
Of the triumphs and the failures of what it means to be female.
On this momentous day, we call back to the pine and evergreen, the oak, the
birch, the sycamore.
To their deep treaded stories amongst the lush earth,
And to dig just below the surface of soil,
To reach our
Gabrielle is a junior and currently holds the managing editor position for her school’s own literary magazine titled, The Archetype. She has always been involved in the arts, whether it be singing at vocal lessons on Thursdays, continuing her dance education of 14+ years, or acting in her school’s theatre and One Act productions. However, writing and English literature have always been some of her favorite passions! Over the course of her writing career, Gabrielle has entered in as many writing competitions as she can manage; for example, the Young Georgia Authors Writing Competition. She has placed first in district two years in a row for her pieces “Seven Deadly Sins” and Of Heaven and Earth: A Collection of Poetry respectively. She has also entered pieces in the nationally renowned Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, receiving a regional gold key for her critical essay piece, “The Disney Princess Debacle.” In addition, Gabrielle has also been selected as a Communicative Arts major finalist for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program. She is beyond grateful and excited to attend the intensive program this coming summer! Her seriousness for her writing career has led her to wanting to pursue writing outside of her formal education. In college, Gabrielle hopes to study English, International Studies, or Broadcast Journalism and would love to work for the United Nations in the future.
Caitlin Coey is a queer poet and playwright completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. Her full-length plays The Language of this World and Careful Girls have been workshopped in Seattle by Parley Productions. Her writing focuses on gender-based violence, mental health, queer love, and the importance of friendship. Shambles is her first publication.
Brian Lutz teaches at Delaware Valley University. In 2003, he was named Poetry Laureate of Bucks County, PA. His poetry has been published in numerous journals including Slate, Potomac Review, Louisville Review, Southern Florida Poetry Journal, Welter, Poetry East, Cider Press Review, Poet Lore, Apple Valley Review and Cimarron Review. Brian lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, two kids and three cats.