Archive

James Collier

the doctrine of non-binaryism
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James Collier is a writer from Edmonton currently studying film and creative writing at the University of Alberta. Their work has previously appeared in Glass Buffalo Magazine and the Hart House Review. One of the few things they love more than writing a poem is reading it out loud.

Quintin Collins

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Quintin Collins is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA program graduate. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Lily Poetry Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, poems2go, Transition magazine, and elsewhere. He also received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2019. Quintin likes to post poems and writing memes on his Twitter (@qcollinswriter). He thinks the memes are funny sometimes, but that’s debatable.

Lyd Havens

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Lyd Havens is a nationally touring poet and performer currently living in Boise, Idaho. The winner of the 2018 Ellipsis Poetry Prize, their work has previously been published in Winter Tangerine, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. They are the author of the chapbook I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018), and are currently working towards a BFA in Creative Writing and History at Boise State University. Lyd was born on their due date, and has been intensely punctual to everything since.

Hannah Waldman

Algae

When you are thirteen,
 sleepaway camp will bring you boobs,
And freckles on your back that begin to molt,
And a bathing suit that wears itself thin,
And an extra pack of gum,
And a girl who causes the man-made lake to quiver.

You’ll cut your hair short so you can dive off the dock, Pull her skin tight as you spread wax on a trembling thigh, Learn to hold your breath underwater,
Pierce her ears so you’ll feel her breath on your neck.

But mud always swarms the moat that leads to water.
 Chewing gum grows stale.
There is only so much that a girl like you can give.
Her palm will weep as you carve your phone number alongside the other girls.

On the day that she sings the campfire blue,
You will scoop the minnows
From the water and let them flounder in her hands, Saying here, this is for you.

carving the staircase 

once / i slept on hardwood floor and faced the woman in the fireplace / i let her talk to me in my sleep / i wrote a poem about dismembering the furnace / feigned horror in the basement with my cousin / once / i caught a shadow in the hall / tucked it in the corner of my eye / heard the scratch of a cat / i gave a doll a new name / suffered fingers tugging my lips wider / swatted away moths that cloaked the ceiling / once / i sang into the brick / swam into the crawlspace / and sank / took a ring that wasn’t mine / felt the bell toll and grasped onto its cry / stretched my skin lily-white / once / i haunted the house myself

Hannah Waldman is 18 years old, and currently studying at Temple University pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. She is bisexual and uses many of her experiences within her identity as fuel for her poetry. You can find Hannah on twitter: @waiksinbeauty

Dagmawe Berhanu

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Dagmawe Berhanu is an Ethiopian-American poet from Columbus, Ohio who has been living in Philadelphia since 2011. He was a member of Temple University’s Babel Poetry Collective, a student-run organization that aims to support and facilitate the progression of writing and performance art, hosting monthly writer and music workshops, as well as showcases several times year. In August 2018, he was a member of Philadelphia’s team at the National Poetry Slam. Some of his works can be found on YouTube via Slamfind, as well as on Wus Good and Voicemail Poems.

Prince A. Bush

I Bury Her Alive

I like dolls that don purple-pool-dipped lips,
Dark berry black skin, grape jelly; juicy
Juice shoes. I choose Pretty Princess, snatch and
Plait her dark blonde-brown hair. I have Yasmin
In tube-tops, saffron and salmon, saddling
Up a mismatch Barbie horse, hushed, hunched for
A fake picture. She sunbathes in salfate
Furs because she can. She holds rose petal
Purses, short-shorts, tells men no, gets away
With it. She can’t taste bit-tongue blood, feel pain,
Hear anything. She puts on Ken’s clothes and
Kills it, each night. I bury her alive
Alongside my secret thoughts, of I think
There are women—I would love—to turn into.

When my Medicine Goes Up by Twenty

I don’t want Harriet on the dollar
bills   she should as she does conduct  the heat—
electricity   sounds of surplus   loose
humans stealing the state from the statesmen—
crowing coups’ claim for how   keep her black as
the intersection    the plantation   black
as drugged juniors   seventy slaves   the maimed
brains from the Fugitive Slave Act   the aimed whips
on behalf of Benjamin   George   Joseph—
Paul   and James   town   Virginia   what will quell
the conquest of discharge   will free the slaves
from battling being   eaten   these inmates
will only have Harriet   to blame when
they are released   with her as all   they own—
at their beck and call   while private prison
possessors   slaving away   picking plants
here and there for people to work for free
will hold   boast   trade with other white palms   psalms
again absent   freedom again   absent—
with Harriet    and the struggle for life
will be assigned to Harriet   and the
instants of strife will be Harriet   and
the drugged juniors will be Harriet   and
she will become shape    exchange   change   chase—
again absent   freedom again   absent


Prince A. Bush
 is a bookish, black, non-binary (feminine-of-center—they/them/he/him), leftist, feminist, and gay poet. He attends Fisk University in Nashville, TN, as a graduating senior (!!!!!).

Gustavo Barahona-Lopez

Grandfather’s Chickens

There was something about going to Mexico that made my imagination run wild. Was it the bright splashes of yellow or blue or green on each house and storefront that would crumple conspicuously? Or maybe the subtle smell of corn and lye? Whatever it was, to me it meant freedom. I could go around town without parental supervision. And if I was lucky, I would have a few pesos in my pocket too. Back home my father insisted on keeping the windows and blinds closed at all times, as if the blinds could keep out the pain of the world. But in Mexico he was a man transformed. In Mexico, he had a permanent sparkle in his eye, which was otherwise only visible when he was singing corridos. He was close to his kin and his smile knew it. After a red-eye flight and hours of road traveled in kilometers, all it took for us to become adjusted to our new surroundings was a quick nap on mattresses laid on the floor.

I loved my grandparent’s ranch because it was full of horses, cows, goats, and therefore, endless possibilities. Most of all I liked to play with the chickens. I ‘invented’ a rudimentary trap using wooden crates, a stick, and twine. Each afternoon I would tie the twine to a stick and use it to prop-up part of the crate. Then I would put dried corn under the crate and hide away so the chickens would come and eat. When only one chicken was in the crate, I would pull the twine and capture the unsuspecting bird. On one particularly ambitious day, I caught twenty chickens. My grandfather was not amused.

To avoid additional avian imprisonment, my grandmother gave me a small baby chick of my own to care for. He was a beautiful black-feathered bird that looked so vulnerable I could hardly comprehend it. I fed Shadow and kept him warm indoors until he was big enough to protect himself from the dangers of our enclosed backyard. Shadow relished the freedom and quickly became adept at hunting insects and digging for worms. Still, nothing gave me quite as much pleasure as Shadow pecking at dried corn in my palms.

A month and a half into our Mexico stay, my father decided he wanted to move a number of rocks from one end of the backyard to the other. For hours I toiled with only an uncomfortable red cap as protection from the hot sun. The work was slow. Since these rocks had not been moved in years, each time I flipped one of them, dozens of insects scrambled for darkness. I would sometimes catch some of the insects and Shadow would eat them gratefully.

Under one rather large stone, I found a scorpion. I immediately grabbed for a shovel and cut the scorpion in two, separating the body from the stinger. “Danger averted,” I thought. Poking at the stinger with a stick, I wondered how something so small could pack such a dangerous venom. When I looked back at the scorpion’s body, it looked like that of any other bug. Without thinking twice, I used the shovel to toss the scorpion’s body in Shadow’s direction and continued working.

That evening, Shadow started to move more slowly. When I went to feed him corn, he still ate. However, the pokes of his beak on my bare skin did not hurt as much as usual. When Shadow started closing white eyelids, I knew something was wrong. I covered Shadow in a towel and held him on my lap. My mom noticed that I would not look up from my lap and asked “¿Que pasa m’ijo?”, “What is happening son?”. Softly, not really wanting her to hear, I said “I found a scorpion under a rock and I gave it to Shadow”, then louder and with more urgency, “Not the stinger though, just the body so Shadow is going to be O.K. right mom, RIGHT!?” “Ay m’ijo” my mom said with a knowing look. She sat down on the couch next to me and put her arm around me. From then on, the room was blurry.

My aunt and uncle came over when they heard what happened and they stayed with me as Shadow’s breaths grew shallow. By midnight, it was over. “How could I have done this?”, I thought, “How could I be so stupid?” My internal critic had no answer for me that day. I buried Shadow in the backyard that had been his home. Next to a handwritten “Shadow”, I placed a single candle with the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe hoping she could lead him to heaven. I put my hands together unevenly as if to pray but I could only muster one word, “Perdóname”*.

*Forgive Me

Gustavo Barahona-Lopez is a poet and educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. In his writing, Barahona-López draws from his experience growing up in a Mexican immigrant household. His work can be found or is forthcoming in Rattle’s Poets Respond, PALABRITAS, Cutthroat journal, Puerto del Sol, The Acentos Review, among other publications. When Barahona-López is not teaching you can find him re-discovering the world with his son.