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Drizzles on the Window - Alexandra Tenille Weliever

Barbwire Fruit Basket - Callie Lehman

I have seen her demons smiling in my driver’s side window - Cheryl Sutton

Decipher the beating of my heart - Diana Batides

Housefly - Helen Coats

A Whisper - Hollis Druhet

The Crow  - Hollis Druhet

Ars Poetica - Jenna Sveum

the one I know - Jenna Sveum

Crumbs - Sarah Culp

Small Body - Sarah Komanapalli

Milk - Scott Mittelbrun

A Job Interview Not Aced - Sean Murley

Five-Thirty - Sean Murley

Vultures - Sophia Craig

15 (or more) Reasons Why I Love You -Toyosi Begbaaji

Missouri Moses - Toyosi Begbaaji

Drizzles on the Window by Alexandra Tenille Weliever

Watching raindrops slide down glass is my favorite part of the morning

Curled up under the duvet, betting on which drops will slide down the window first

Making up stories about why two droplets decide to join together

Maybe the droplets thought they’d be better off Carving their own path around the steamed-up window

And why some choose to            split

Or maybe they didn’t have a choice, and another droplet got in their way

Out of the hundreds of raindrops on my window, so many break up
following different drizzles

I wonder how many make the choice to tear apart
And how many end up halved
just because one felt like it

It’s easier to like the rain under the covers, where it’s cozy, and warm,
and easier to pretend that raindrops are just raindrops
and easier to believe that empty sheets don’t mean anything but
more room for me

Barbwire Fruit Basket by Callie Lehman

Wrapped in dimpled flesh,
Oozing treacly goodness.
Stains my fingernails.

Pesky strings, leave me!
Ripening sloshes the nose.

Wafts honeyed syrup,
Mocking Pablo Picasso.
Sunset in my palm.

Fall’s luminescence.
Speckled with impurities.
Crunchy masticate.

Seven-dollar day.
Decades of exploitation.
I ingest my grief.

I have seen her demons smiling in my driver’s side window by Cheryl Sutton

she breathes
and you lay your head upon her chest
to find her heart beat       beat

you look up just in time to see the life
draining from her eyes
but you still hear the rhythm of her heart
under each bruise left upon her skin

all you can do is watch
                                                      and wait

in here
she is safe (loved)
the rumble of the engine drones out
dangers waiting for her

these four wheels are only a haven
warmed by the smoldering anger inside you
and her body gently
withered in your arms

there’s a stench in the air
so devastatingly palpable
it burns your throat and every
as it travels through your body
you begin to wonder
if it’s your heart

frost like opaque glass covers the windows
and her hand burns memories in yours
yet you can do nothing to
the hands of
the one who bore her from
smothering her smile

still the fire rages inside of you
it’s been doused in gasoline
leaving a bitter taste in your mouth
and you feel


the depth of your thoughts
has no limits
because you demand                       retribution

demands fall empty on the soulless mind
whose words have brutally destroyed the person
she could have been
yet they still aren’t satisfied                                         oh

how they hunger
for utter
no semblance of hope

you wish the fire inside of you would burn
                    far and                         wide
that it would obliterate them
where they stand
and as your feet brush through the ashes
then she would be able to


Decipher the beating of my heart by Diana Batides

When my mother asked me how I can stand all the noise that comes with living in the city, I said simply,
“I prefer noise.”

Her expression was akin to a young child’s after being scolded for eating the last biscuit.
“Noise?” she said. “How can you prefer noise when silence is so calming?”

I smiled (it was a patient little thing), and explained,

“I prefer noise.
I prefer thunderous, ear-shattering music and
bafflingly loud drum solos and
deafening guitar shredding

over the tick-tock of the second hand in a quiet room.

I prefer the discordant chorus of canned laughter on the television and
a taxi driver’s horn blaring outside my window as some asshole cuts him off and
the shrill, outraged yells of the school children across the street

over the low chirping of birds in a tranquil garden.

Yes, mother; I prefer the explosion of speech and music and life
over the quietude of polite air.

Because while the silence of still life can bring my wildly beating heart
to a whopping sixty beats-per-minute,

the boisterousness of city life can raise it until I fear I am tachycardic
and lower it until I am almost convinced it has taken a long-earned rest;
it can take my heart from that sixty beats-per-minute to one-hundred-seventy-four and back again
until it matches the rapid pulse of the city.”

Housefly by Helen Coats

   I dizzy my way through infinite deaths — crashing
          daily into kitchen sinks, lintskinned under godlike
thumbs, or nabbed by a soccer mom’s doll-sized
     electric chair on a whitewashed porch, neon violet
           humming griddle, sizzle, then reborn —
Mother Time harkens to my battle whine,
      flung back&back&back,
          where I am named impertinent
by Aesop     & cholera bomb by
     the Japanese     & piece of shit by
          the Allies & shit-eater by
you, for you lust after immortality,     resent
     the Victorian gentledandies who paint me
          caressing charming skulls, and wonder
why Dickens     &Golding stoop
     to photograph my flight
          among the swirling
cinders of landfill fires
     frame by frame: chiseled
         ruby gaze,
     wax paper

A Whisper by Hollis Druhet

The warmth loosely contained within freshly steeped black tea
Mediated by the addition of honey and milk,

leads one to contemplate a little getaway, say
An empty beach, shaded by the propitious sunset.
Genial star, touched at midriff by the equivocal ocean,
this evening gives birth to a carnelian hue –

An amused, passionate color : fluent in the act of until-next-times
saturated with all the world’s au revoirs
a gift from mother nature
          Just missing a bow wrap.
To be alone at day’s end, coolly sedate
on the shoreline – you can still spot in the distance
the shining amber and obstinating flares, white as
a whisper, breaking from far-flung street poles.
after the day’s lot has been cast :
after Helios has struck on his way.

There are whispers everywhere
And nowhere – a wind whisper, a whisper of contact
as your foot curls up
against chiffon-shaded pearls of sand
Valuing the texture and touch of each and every
          little pebble: a world of its own

Whispers of aroma… The subtle emittance
of distinction from the nearby esplanade
suggesting its grassy comforts.
Deserted from others / If only for a moment
Nature reaches forth and calls attention.
Thinking of Emerson, a little solitude
                          precedes wholeness, an assurance.

The Crow by Hollis Druhet

Justice contracts, ebbs and recedes in wake
of a tar-feathered crow. grease slicked, its attempts
to take flight are hampered as if by broken
wingtip – its violent talons are cut on sandstone
and fireclay. descendant of Beelzebub
with abalone sight, malignant and desiring…
its shrill speech communicates lustful claims
for grisly pounds of flesh and liver to peck at.

Ars Poetica by Jenna Sveum

I do not wear my own friendship bracelets.
I do not parade my work against my blonded wrist.
It is as a shadow that I reveal my craftsmanship;
only existing in a second-hand account sort of way.

I give myself away in these bracelets.
I do it again – if only for a brief glimpse of gratitude.
My most recent gift was to a bright, lonely girl;
her face lifted by the delight of unanticipated glee.
The bracelet was intended for her; the reaction, for me.

I make mistakes in the string, who doesn’t?
I imagine that her gaze washes over it
like a forgiving laundry soap that forgoes the stains.
or, (and perhaps this is more stirring,)
I imagine that my accidental knots
add character to these little trinkets I devise
so I try to ignore the placement of her eyes.

These mistakes reveal me; I revel in these mistakes
an accidental mash of colors that somehow create
something beautiful, or, if that proves unattainable,
something appreciated, something worn.

the one I know by Jenna Sveum

hard, thick cotton my hands recognize instantly
strong palms worn from work and sports and overuse
ripped-up cuticles that I wish just once you would put lotion on

and despite it all:
the softest shoulders of all things that I’ve ever felt
the tangled scent of clean laundry and deodorant by your bedside
intelligent brown eyes that melt my angry words into molasses kisses

Crumbs by Sarah Culp

In vain, I endeavored to make my bed in the stale chambers of your heart,
But they could not hold me; you know I am claustrophobic.
Cagey, wary, I shrink from the protection of four blank walls
And a sturdy roof, for fear that they will bind me in paralysis,
That a numbness will engulf my cramped legs,
Like an anesthesia, lulling the better part of my personality into dormancy,
One small shift sends pinpricks through my sleeping limbs—
Like growing pains.
I ache. I cannot bloom.
The air inside you is stifling. Hot.
You are an oven and I am breathing toxic fumes,
In sizeable, dangerous gulps, I crave approval
From your lips and those words that leap
From your tongue like wild antelope
Threaten to trample me with cloven hooves;
I split myself apart and scatter the crumbs to the wind,
Hoping that they will align, like the stars,
A celestial trail of breadcrumbs leading me
To fulfillment.

In vain, I played the stock market with pretended nonchalance,
Crushing my silvered heart into a powder
And weighing the dust,
I invested my worth in fickleness and folly,
Take my word with a grain of salt,
For that is all I have left to give.
There is nothing left in the bank.
I am little more than a few grams
Of pulverized dreams.
The thieves in the night were welcomed
I cannot say they robbed me,
Because when they demanded money,
I left them the family heirlooms,
They commanded food and drink,
And I gave them my best wine.
Charmed, they took up residence,
Still, they have not left,
The rabble-rousers crowd my chambers,
It is no wonder
They drank the spirits and crushed my own.

Defeated, I found the numbness I used to fear,
Empty smiles and noxious praise became my libations
I am a flickering candle lighted in the window
Of a different home every day,
Flitting, fleeting.
Honeybees leap from bloom to bloom,

Drunk on the nectar of the gods,
They dance on clouds of pollen,
The essence of the blossom
Is her powdered soul,
The difference between she and I
Is that her lover gives and receives,
And I, in my foolishness, have only given,
Given, until there is nothing left
Given, because I hoped that in touching the lives of many,
Maybe someone would touch me.
But in a world starved for affection,
The blinking eyes in the thick of the forest
Are quick to gobble up the breadcrumbs you
Drop as you wander away from home
You may lose your way,
But take caution,
It is far easier
To lose you.


Small Body by Sarah Komanapalli

In my apartment I feel small.
And even in that smallness
I am intrusive.
The light from the window
Leans flat against the wall
Forming grey rectangles
Around the black door frame
I am staring at a composition.
A wide purple sky behind
Sentinel orange electric lights.
White blinds as long stripes
And a potted plant, green, full
All the colors mixed heavily
With black.

I wonder what lines might
Finally reach completion
If my body would cease.
What curves of the sofa
Do not reach full arc
Because of my form, now
Stretched, extended, a lazy
Interruption. This blanket’s
Rolls are forced
Around me. The clock,
Counter, and wall are trying
To assemble. How can they
With my head blocking
The critical point of their

In each wall I look towards
I see beautiful, intentional line.
The perfect bend of the fern
Gesturing to the hard table
Edge that supports a cream
Candle gently melting inside glass.
I am just out of frame and
This is for the best, the piece
Is already complete. Unless
I add a mirror, then at once
I am there among the objects.
It is an
Insult to their stillness this
Shifting, agitated body.
I wonder at this
Understandable exclusion.


Milk by Scott Mittlebrun

Nights remain stranded and

I remain still

Thinking about nights I thought I would

Never remember

But think about far too often

Where I hoped the sun would never go down

And I wouldn’t have to make the morning.

They never ran out of chorizo sausage

24 hours at the tip of your tongue

Steamy hot plates and tangled dreadlocks,

The streetlights don’t dip to the music or

The purple shades.

I think of horchata blended in a twisted liter

Cinnamon collecting and milk drifting

Rice like grass rubbing against my toes…

I can’t understand how the time has gone

Especially considering where I sit now

With the lights off

With hair frozen in place

Dreaming of silky commotion.


A Job Interview Not Aced by Sean Murley

Tell me a bit about yourself.

      We all have angel wings,
           hidden under wool coats.

What is one word that best describes you?

     Thousands of normal people lose
          their voice daily.

     Which means they can’t call
          for Superman
     ice cream.

How would your friends describe your work ability?

     They would speak in 1s and 0s
          but I’m sure they would translate

     into the brown spot of grass
          in my backyard,
     left from where I used to sleep.

Tell me about an instance in which you provided excellent customer service.

     When I was a broken mirror,
          showing only birthday cake,

     and a broken radio,
          that sounded like the ice cream truck.

How comfortable are you in dealing with angry customers?

     About as comfy as a tiny box TV left on the lawn,
          with the nature channel left on,

     so the self-conscious squirrels
          see their poor performances,

     when they gather
          their tiny acorn shells in their mouths,
     and bury them.

Why are you interested in this job?

     I’m interested in why
          so many beta fish want to fly,

     and whether or not
          a book can bleed.

I mean why do you want to work here?

     I know someone that lives like a bright flashlight
           shining in your eyes.

     hey only eat green stalks so they’ll live
          to see the Sun go out
      in a bang.

     I don’t want to see the end,
          I just want to appreciate its soft glow
     in the morning.

How is this relevant?

     Trust me,
          everything is,
     even the ant I killed.

If you won’t take this seriously, there’s the door.

          I get lost
     in elevators and cardboard boxes marked
          This side is UP

     No, it’s okay,
          I’ll find my own way out.

Five Thirty by Sean Murley

Sometimes the fast-forward button is stuck on the VCR.
The clouds move so quickly these days. My life
moves so quickly these days.

Even now, in the third longest hour of my life,
the second hand moves slightly too fast,
and I don’t know how it’s nighttime

at 5:30. I start to look out the window
with the spiderweb in the corner,
catching flies, as the time flies by.

I look through the albums
at a smaller me. The
pictures are faded.

I look through my Wal-Mart telescope
into the future. The clouds
don’t part, but float

above me. Beauty
is simply a matter of
how much sunlight hits.

Break all my CDs
for I have nothing,
with which to listen.

Call me on my rotary phone,
spin the dial if you need to talk,
that’s where I am now.

My wrist feels empty without
my watch. I watch the passersby
on the sidewalk, walking to

wherever they needed to be
at 5:30. Where do

I need to be.


Vultures by Sophia Craig

Vultures hunt
Beaks slice through the air
Beady eyes prey for the vulnerable
Wings cast shadows on the dry earth
The unaware expect nothing

He hunts
Smoke seeps through his mouth, poisoning the air
Droopy eyelids disguise his wanting gaze
Hands buried in his pockets
Jazz swims through the bar

Circles are drawn beneath the clouds
Oily feathers coat their misshapen necks
Claws strain for the ground
A rumble is heard in the distance
Alas, they must wait

He buys her sunglasses
Months hesitate to pass
His jacket is draped over her
Snowflakes quicken their pace
There is no enjoyment in patience

Leaves say goodbye
Grass betrays Mother Earth
Sunshine hides in fear
Raindrops roll off their tails
Alas, the vultures wait

She begins to wonder
Cigarette carcasses litter the carpet
He rolls his eyes and slams the door
She cries and cries and cries
He would never betray her

Diving downwards,
Vultures viciously attack
Mouths rapidly dissect unknown remains
Flies forcibly abandon their home
Two hearts are devoured

An anonymous message reveals the truth
She confronts her lover
“There was another woman.”
His smile is wicked
Two hearts are shattered

15 (or more) Reasons Why I Love You by Toyosi Begbaaji

  1. Because when you were fifteen, you hotwired and stole your dad’s car just so you could brag about it at school the next day.
  2. Because at sixteen, you came to English class each day, proudthat you hadn’t finished the Great Gatsby reading, and you never would.
  3. Because on graduation day, you shook hands with the principal, beaming, not because of the diploma, but because you’d jacked off a mere hour before.
  4. Because in the first year Math course at university, you proclaimed that, “This is bullshit, I’ve taken this class before, ​and​ I passed it. I’m leaving.” And you ​left.
  5. Because when you learned that your mom had cancer, you fought the administration to get an extra two days off for bereavement.
  6. Because when your mom ​did​ die, like you knew she would, you ​didn’t throw a fit at the funeral. You were reserved, calm, and unrecognizable.
  7. Because during junior year, you got caught smoking pot in the basement of our dorm, sprawled out on the couch, leg thrown up and over the back, cock out.
  8. Because, unlike high school, you weren’t allowed to come to college graduation.
  9. Because you called me out of the blue five months after graduation, my name the first thing you’d said, and “Wanna meet up?” the last.
  10. Because when we started dating, I saw glimpses, of you at fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, four evolutions trapped in you now.
  11. Because you had this habit of getting drunk and begging for the car keys, stumbling in the doorway of my apartment (you’d moved in after three months).
  12. Because when I wouldn’t give you the keys, you would scream and yell, “Fine, don’t give me the fucking keys, I can hotwire it myself.”
  13. Because when I tried to get you help, you threatened to push me down the stairs. You didn’t. But the threat was still there, and that was enough.
  14. Because we were both in the car when you got the call about your dad and rather than cry, you proceeded to slam on the gas, careening straight for the Hudson. 
  15. Because as the scent of diesel and burnt rubber floated up, settling around us like we were giants in the clouds, you had to audacity to reach out and take my hand.

Missouri Moses by Toyosi Begbaaji

Our mother waded
through, rags floating up
right at her waist like
Victorian gowns.

She held us up above
the water, lips moving
around silent prayers,
around silent pleading.

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ mah babies.

Our mother shivered
as she crossed that Great
Mississippi, boat
in sight, arms trembling.

She cast a glance back at
the sounds of shouting and
cursing and whooping, the
sounds of dogs and white men.

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ mah babies.

She once
told us of Moses,
sent adrift by ​his​ own
mother. Found, soon, in

Not mah babies. You
ain’t gettin’ 
​mah​ babies.