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As I walk through a collective field of souls
I wonder what there is to gain
Feelings of confusion permeate my mind
How did an English teacher end up a soldier?

It’s dark.
It’s cold.
I have not eaten
I hear the screams of the Viet Cong
Their hatred bellows like church bells

I wish they knew I did not choose to be their enemy
Perhaps they did not choose to be mine
Faulker would be proud
As I Lay Dying’

C.L. Butler is an African American and Dutch writer, historian, and entrepreneur from Philadelphia, based in Houston, TX. In 2017, his poem Laissez Faire was published by The Bayou Review. He has spent most of his career working in sports and art administration, but now has fully dedicated himself to writing full time.

New Year’s Morning My Son Appears

suddenly, solid as a second chance,
asking me to unseal his sand art kit.
My forgetful fingers hold his fragile,
awkward heart, and pour, pour.

I funnel & fill with tiny, trembling tools
as if hollowness can be painstakingly
flooded with beauty. Yellow sand lingers
like faded lane markers in our rutted table.

I furiously pack down, seeking some strong,
smooth surface for piling my imperfections.
I consider the close cork of completion, how hurtful
hands & misguided movement might spoil our perfect pattern.

On tiptoes, he loops the lovely glass cavern on
an excited axis of short arms. I am heavy
with hope to delay the inevitable shifting,
wanting to enclose moremore.

Jennifer Edwards is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and preschool Speech-Language Pathologist in NH. Her writing appears in Portrait of New England, The Poet’s Touchstone, The Ekphrastic Review, and Headline Poetry and Press. She’s a poetry reader for Mud Season Review. She’s reading in her yard or on social media right now. Twitter: @Jennife00420145

[I’m leaving and never coming back]

The space between raindrops
Is where I reside
The apartment is empty
Heavy with
No longer suffering
I whisper
To the cold gray sky
I’m no longer
To this joyless life.

Marie Fields, a poet of Syrian/Lebanese descent, has been published in Mookychick, Door Is A Jar Magazine, Royal Rose Magazine, HunnyBee Lit, The Magnolia Review, The Cabinet of Heed, Turnpike Magazine, and Tiny Flames Press. She also has a poetry collection available on Amazon titled “Marie! (mah-RIE!)”.

to be complete

to be completely honest,
there are those days when i want to pour vodka into my morning coffee
sip slowly on a glass of nyquil
and fall asleep for a couple years and wake up when the world has gone away.

to be completely honest,
there are those days when i want to buy myself a one-way bus ticket to new york city
press my head against the cool glass while midnight rushes past me
and go someplace on the streets where i am wanted.

to be completely honest,
there are those days when i want to take a razor from the bathroom cabinet
scrape it across my skin and turn it into a massacre
and let you find me in the bathroom, sprawled out on the floor, blade still in my hand.

to be completely honest,
there are those days when i dream of veils and tears
and there are others
where i dream of needles and lighters and letting all the blue in me dry up
until my skin is a connect-the-dots book, until
i am a monochrome painting of gray and red.

some days i want to scream at the world and let it come for me.
some days i miss you so much that it becomes a weight under my skin.
some days
                          i don’t want to be
                                                                            in existence
and every day i am scared.

Maria Bond-Lamberty is a high school student trying to make sense of the world through words. She has loved writing since she was young, and hopes to attend college in NYC in pursuit of creative writing and dance studies. You can almost always find her with a coffee cup in her hand. Maria currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Summer Bodies

We looked for ourselves in jazz clubs planted in unfinished basements
and then in hospital waiting rooms,
where the humid heat of confused, undulating bodies condensed
into something like frantic order,
where copper pipes and exposed ventilation above us replaced God.

Your dress was a medieval red, a red before all my reds,
even the red of my sympathetic anaphylaxis,
when my throat collapsed in on itself like yours did.
I imagine my throat was only trying to hold yours, squeezing you tighter and tighter so that you
would never feel alone.
I am still learning how to hold you, learning what that means.

Between the fabric of my t-shirt, your skin was pink and hot and utterly wretched,
burned by a feverish desire to live.
Yours was summer skin.
The sweat between your breasts smelled like freshly baked bread;
you left it on my t-shirt when they discharged you.
When I wash it, you will disappear.

We planted our pain in faraway places so that part of us would always remain there,
so that part of those places would always remain with us.
Luckily for us, summer skin is skin that scars.

Abigail Swoboda

Abigail Swoboda is a nonbinary writer based in Philadelphia, PA. Abigail is currently pursuing an M.A. in English at Temple University. There, Abigail also teaches French, crafts spice blends, and embroiders until the fingertips bleed.


Her fortune read,
“You will travel to many exotic places,”
so she left the restaurant,
got into her car
and drove until she was sleepy,
stopping at the Motel 6 in Redding
which wasn’t very exotic,
but it wasn’t home

and when she stopped the next day
in Bend,
she opted for lunch at
a Chinese buffet
where her fortune, this time,
told her “Every exit is an entrance to new experiences,”
so she left via the emergency door,
ignoring the loud alarm
and drove over the pass
to Springfield,
then on to Eugene,
stopping at an Asian market
where she bought an entire bag
of fortune cookies,
opened them all, one by one,
sitting on the queen bed
in the motel room
until she found just the one
she wanted —
leaving the next morning
heading south
going home

A retired educator, Nancy Haskett belongs to several poetry groups and is currently the vice president of the Modesto branch of the National League of American Penwomen. In addition to writing poetry, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family.


the Sun only rises for the rich
I suspect this because I ride the bus early
with others like me
nannies and nurses
José who does your lawn
my mother who will toss your luggage onto the bag belt
heavy and sloppy like wet trash
all of us scurrying
the cream swirling into our coffee
the coffee into our veins
we are all of us racing the dawn
and I wonder
if we never got off the bus
would this day stay night forever?

Spencer Diaz-Tootle is an activist, caregiver and artist based in Chicago. She’s been published by the University of Chicago and the Denver-based Nudie Magazine, among others. In 2017, Spencer was a featured poet for the 5th Star Honors Award Ceremony.

Other accolades include being awarded as a 2020 Bob Curry Fellow at The Second City and a 2019 Movement Maker within the National Network of Abortion Funds.


The sun is nice today.
Soothing rays, raspy cartwheels whisker
Hit the pavement, purring sound of
TVs, engines, view of suede green leaves
Across Balboa, sweet in the belly of
The gradually fading 6pm day
Into night.
Glowing struggle, stiff weak cobweb,
Perme-funk, strands silk, violent
And swaying.
     Disaster. Waiting to happen
I listen to Chinkaka Hodge,
Talks of her mother adoring 8 Mile,
Lose yourself
In order to find something different.
Lose whatever “you” you think is you,
And find self.

Darcy Allred is an MFA graduate and teaching assistant. Darcy published a series of radio DJ profiles at a Bay Area station called Darcy is passionate about writing, education, social justice, and art’s power to make us feel we fit in somewhere together during uncertain, fraught spaces. Darcy resides in Joplin, Missouri and will relocate to Illinois to begin a PhD candidacy in English.


We fought long about the piano, what to do?
How do you get it up the stairs and out?
Dating back to the century’s start

This upright is no easy cargo, eventually we
Decide to leave it behind — for whoever buys
The house we five grew in and in which our

Parents died. Left in the basement for the rest of time
Our lives move on ferried out to some new place;
Knowing even then we will not come back.

I got the stamps and my father’s shirts;
My little brother stole his ring.
He was supposed to be buried with it.

We tossed the Funk and Wagnall’s
We used to write reports that cost
A buck a piece at the grocery store.

But it was that damned piano
Left behind, so sadly out of tune
Memories too far gone to touch.

Peter Shaheen is a regular guy who wishes he were younger, better looking, and a better poet. He is learning to settle.


               vigorous, the
electric bulge beats
against the screen,
wings intent

on ripping,         body
tossed toward
the heat,
the infinite

Hooks, its
hands, ready
to sting,

clicked across the roof-
top, the dance
insistent, the

mean. “The Cutter,
The Stabber, Queen
of the hollow, of
the underleaf,”

(what should my greeting be?
Blood plucked from
a knuckle? Soft flesh
of the neck?)

the dusty screen shields
                 my identity.
Hulked here
in this

hole, and the beetle
beats and beats,
perhaps in
a finality,

replaces the
quiet stalking
of doves, shaping

single feather,
curling leaf,
the one ready
to crack and

                 fold, the
dance of skin,
flight of seed,

body no longer
bound to its being

Caleb Scott is a writer and actor. His plays and performance pieces have been produced and presented at venues in New York City and around the country. His writing has appeared in The Bellevue Literary Review, Nashville Review, Typishly Literary Journal, From Whispers to Roars, Eclipse, Peauxdunque Review, Coffin Bell Journal, Public Poetry Anthology, Swamp Ape Review, Grist, and December Magazine.

He has been a Finalist for an Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Fellowship, a Recipient of the Silver Palm and Carbonell Award for his work in South Florida theater, a Nominee for Best Actor and Best Writer by the Kinsale Shark Awards in the UK, and his plays have been selected as Finalists for the Playwrights Foundation Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the Eugene O’Neill Theater’s National Playwrights Conference. He lives in Miami, Florida.


Everything is new to the touch
New friends, new skills, new world
Little fingers, little feet, reach to feel
Explore the place called earth.

New friends, new skills, new world
Kids are born and raised
To explore the place called earth
While those who already have just watch

Kids are born and raised
Gone to raise families of their own
While those who already have just watch
And wait for the end to come

Gone to raise families of their own
Everything is new to their touch
As the old wait for the end to come
Little fingers, little feet, reach to feel.

Paige Hammer is an undergraduate student majoring in creative writing at Utah State University. Paige decided to start submitting her own work, after years of reading others’ poetry. 

Vrbo Sends an Email with the Headline, “Vacation Homes for Two”

Thought I was an optimist but I just watched a video with myself
and can’t stand the inflection of my voice, intoned up in ricochet
of empty space– the bouncing of a ping-pong ball off the table in
an empty room. I sniffle when I speak, stare out through open
window past your deadlocked eyes. The paradise is without
myself. To be enclosed in such close quarters with nothing
but the sound of myself saying my name, repeatedly, forever.

James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in DASH, Sampsonia Way, and Jam & Sand.

He edits The Mantle ( Currently, he works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (

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