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

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

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

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

The Man in the Moon By Frances Huffman

The Man in the Moon

Disclaimer: For best viewing experience, please view the following piece on a desktop or such related devices as well as through a chrome browser.

By Frances Huffman

Moon

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.

“Goodnight 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.

Feature Image by Georges Méliès

Categories
Poetry

Winter Purple

Winter Purple

By William Doreski

Black ice curses asphalt roads

this morning, the moon a white hole

funneling away our dream lives.

Few sharp edges in nature yet

we bleed from tiny scratches

inflicted by our wandering minds.

The challenge of snow-freighted trees

remains critical. One orange spark

of sun won’t be bright enough

to disburden the nervous landscape.

December’s always the wrong month,

with superstitions running wild

to obviate a year’s worth

of whatever we sought to resolve.

Driving to town on black ice

reminds me that learning to dance

pained me like foolish politics.

I prefer my music sitting down,

like you with your love of ballads

going sepia as you listen

to recordings eighty years old.

Driving slowly, all four wheels

on tiptoe, we arrive and park

by the river, where ice floes

crush over the low dam and birds,

mostly juncos and blue jays,

punctuate the colorless sky.

Where have all the purples gone?

Don’t you remember how bruised

last winter looked when observed

by the bravest local artists?

We haven’t seen them puttering

at their easels for many months.

We haven’t smelled their oil paint

or licked our lips over thick

slathers of acrylic: not since

the pandemic arrived, flaunting

its dread symptoms and snuffing

the gist of our public lives.

We still drink coffee outdoors

seated on a cold stone wall

where our friends can see us and wave

from a safe distance. Not even

black ice can keep us at home

all day. But if we skid and crash

we might, in the fatal instant,

recover those purple visions

upon which winter depends.


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.

Categories
Poetry

Your Reading

Your Reading

By Hailey Bartlett

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.

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems By Gabrielle Gruszynski

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.

                       Twelve.

The witching hour is upon us,

May God save our souls.

Our Roots

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

story.

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

grip.

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

our brains.

And smelled the sense of victory amongst champions when we finally broke the

unbendable.

For the perturbed and convulsed earth trickling from our palms, tells the same

story:

I am strong because strong women have raised me.

We have built a livelihood from each individual brick, formed of red clay and

desert hills. 

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,

           Ada Lovelace,

Harriet Tubman,

           Frida Kahlo,

Every Wilma Mankiller,

           Every Helen Keller,

Marie Curie,

           Every Amelia Earhart,

Shirley Chisholm,

           Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

Louisa May Alcott,

           Coco Chanel,

Katherine Johnson,

           Every Ruth Bader Ginsburg,

Every Gloria Steinem,

           Michelle Obama,

Every Kamala Harris,

           Every working mother, or loving grandmother, or sagacious great-

grandmother,

And every daughter, amassed in her youth, looking to her predecessors for

answers, 

Preserve.

Grasp the roots that couple memories and minerals and bind them together in

our palms.

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

Roots.


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.

Categories
Poetry

Pandemic Endorphins

Pandemic Endorphins

By Caitlin Coey

When you get tired your breathing

gets shallow. The body releases

endorphins to wake itself up,

takes in air, and yawns. 

These days I am always trying 

to wake up the body,

weights, cacao nibs, stand-up comedy,

calf lifts, standing on tiptoes 

like Rose DeWitt Bukater, glittery gold 

eyelids like 8th grade graduation, 

a dark red lipstick called 

Opinionated,  

an even darker one called 

Everybody Lies.

Instead of courting 

the soft texture of a darkened 

movie theater, the silence 

of snow, 6 pm light after 

the panic attack, I take a small blue

pill to increase my serotonin, 

immerse myself in voices 

like flailing limbs, movies like 

an adrenaline shot,

just to feel

my heart.


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.

http://www.caitlincoeypoet.net

Categories
Poetry

A Poem w/o Ghosts

A Poem w/o Ghosts

By Brian Lutz

Go straight past the kitchen.

Go stand by the mirror. Find

the shape there that doesn’t belong.

Spear it w/ your eyes until it becomes

the standing lamp. Do not mistake

its SHADE and glow for halo.

The door was open, that much we know

like the valves of the heart,

like the tunnels that flee the body. 

Do not include the word SHADOW in

the poem just b/c the moon left

jet puddles behind the hung coat.

Do not find in the hinge’s

scream the wedding band she

hid from the mourners in her eyes. 

The room past the kitchen

was like a room that never had

him in it. Like so many rooms

since his 5th grade heart. Go st-

eal the light behind the curtain b/c

it plays wild like a child. This is not

a HAUNTING. It is a car’s impatient

gaze. At some point, have we not all

thought our eyes headlights that

could cut the dark? Have we not

all conjured, in the ceremony

of loneliness, the dead memories

we hid in television and in books?

We know the door was open.

We know the room was dark.

But the ego still wants to say

it wasn’t this way. We had shut

the door. We had turned on the light.

But, b/c the home moaned we go st-

one still and hope. But this poem, b/c

our minds are wise, has no GHOSTS.


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.