j’avalerais cet ensemble

(I Would Swallow This Whole)

By Divyasri K.

Marquis, I’ll take you out

 

sometime—a pint or three, we’ll ride the

open casket down Rue de la Fontaine.

 

Here: the damask. Here: the choking babe.

 

For what reason do you live? Only because

my hands did not fit around your neck;

 

or perhaps they did. Perhaps it was the false deity

 

they call mercy. For this poor creature I will take

forty francs—alright, thirty. Throw in the

 

hanging skin, there, dripping fat over the fire;

 

they eat well here, no doubt. No doubt

you have heard the gnashing teeth,

 

the roll and rumble of thunder in the throats of hungry men. 

 

The window used to be there; once we could see

the women on the floor, on the tables; see their ankles, 

 

up their skirts; the difference between one flesh and the other

 

is not so great. If you have the appetite, 

I will show you how to eat this emptiness.

 

Will you show me how to kill? I have the hand,

 

the boiling blood, I have the cracked mug

of a mind and a full bank. A hundred francs,

 

then—alright, two hundred. Will you feed me now?

would you know me by choice?

By Ella G.

would you know me by choice?

if I could craft a sentence that told you everything I would. Everything‘s at fault in me right now. It’s like there’s an on-ending tangle of words and lines and thoughts pictures stretched thin and folded over each other and rolled out like fondant and twisted and drawn and

 

this should haunt me. I’ve seen four dead things in my life. I have seen a rabbit, a cat, a person, and, most recently, a mouse. I suppose I’ve seen thousands of dead things. How many lives have I ended? How many have I consumed? 

 

Tendrils unfurl from my heart. Quiet now, I’m reaching. Falling from the top shelf, I am slain. 

And yet, almost there. Hush, a little further now. 

Now they feast on you.

a futile plea

By Ella G.

october comes and death comes 

summer a sweet season of immortality 

stay here with me daughter of mine

it’s so cold there

and you know everyone here

i have aloe for you, burned one

i have vicks vapo rub. you’ll be okay

wild animal

By Ella G.

ravage savage beast roars

snarls teeth, lips unhinged 

eyes and eyebrows unseen and unfounded 

cement uptorn by ropes of life

outstretched from a trunk

roaring and trumpeting

royal banners unfurl from flat top acacia’s

a stampede of knights and swords

biting and tearing iron and steel 

limb from limb

clangs and blasts

canyon clay in prairies

and eyes

staring without direction

cross eyed thought without movement

flies and maggots and birth

exhale young

a steak and burberry coat for the foxes

dinner and a show

“the matinee has already started unfortunately, ma’am. If you’d like I can reserve you a seat for tonight’s showing.”

thin-lipped patience and dagger eyes,

this is wilderness

 
 

Ode to a God

By Osmanthus L.

There was a god that lived where the sun shined

and the wind had a salty edge. In the spring, they danced

between the reeds, making them whisper.

In the fall, they snipped the stitches 

that held the cattails together,

watching and laughing as the tiny tufts

flowed like a river through the air

and blanketed the ground below. 

In the summer they would dip their brush

in shades of pink and purple

and splatter the hemlock stalks

making sure not to add too much or too little

because what was deadly had to be beautiful.

In the winter, they would tear at the dried-up lakes,

their fingernails leaving a spiderweb of cracks

for the bugs and lizards to live in.

When the ponds were wet they would hide under the algae,

blowing tiny bubbles that made little ripples on the surface,

scaring the minnows so that they would dart away all at once. 

Like Athena, they were born of their creator’s brain

as he lied on a bank, the sun caressing his face

and reeds whispering inspiration in his ears.

Now their creator is surrounded by silent walls.

Now he knows why the reeds whisper, 

and where the bubbles in the pond come from,

and what gives the hemlock its spots.

Now his future weighs him down, and makes him blind to the past.

It is said that a god is dead when nobody believes in them anymore.

 

We Fell in Love Under the Ivy

By Kelly S.

We fell in love under the ivy,

And through the stone archways, 

And hidden passages that connected one heart to another.

The whispering arches know all of our secrets, like how much I adore you.

Whenever I tripped over a loose stone, you were always there to catch me.

Climb the spiral staircase, my love, 

Up five flights until you reach me.

First fear, then hope, as two kindred spirits joined as one.

Even though we may be time zones and light years away,

You’ll always have this limestone heart, and memories of late nights talking.

We told each other our dreams, and what we could be, 

if only we weren’t so afraid.

 
 
 
 

Uncle

By Helen L.

8 o’clock on a fall evening

I cannot see the stars or the moon tonight.

8 o’clock and my brother and I 

and our uncle

are walking to Mira Park.

 

Down the steps 

along the sidewalk

Brother and I side by side,

Uncle behind.

We form a silent triangle, 

an empty pocket.

 

Now my brother hums a tune

and I hum a tune.

The man trails in back, hands

shoved into stiff jacket pockets

head bowed, looking down.

He says nothing but 

for a sharp exhale through his nose.

 

Now he inhales, his hand 

rustling against stiff jacket pockets

he reaches out

brushes my arm― 

I flinch.

“Kids, how was school today?”

My brother and I do not hum.

 

“Good.” Why did you have to ask?

Now it is silent. We do not hum.

 

The man clears his throat

and sighs.

nodus tollens, right?

the plot of his life no longer makes sense to him.

He could walk to the park every evening for 100 falls

and still never truly know these children.

 

The evening air blurs with our exhaled breath.

And Uncle sighs 

again, again, again.

The hairs on the back of my neck crawl and settle, crawl and settle.

Now nobody hums.   

Who Was I -- Second Grade

By AM

Good Morning 

I whisper to myself 

Watching the new sounds roll off my tongue in the glass of the window 

Hearing the weirdness in my voice 

Not recognising it 

I’m the new kid 

At a new school

With a new language

I’m not good at talking in it yet

Everything sounds funny coming from me

Almost like they are mocking me 

With their long vowels and silent “e’s” 

I can’t say them 

Not yet anyway

I walk down the school halls towards my new class

The sounds amaze me and I can’t help but listen

Even if I can’t really understand them yet 

The words roll perfectly off everyone else's tongue

Perfect english  

The bitter pang of jealousy stings like a hornet 

I want to sound like them 

So I keep my mouth shut 

Because if you don’t talk people hear what they want to hear 

I walk into the foreign classroom 

The teacher asks me if I’m Amira 

She butchers the pronunciation 

It sounds like AH - MIR-RAH

My name sticks like honey in her mouth 

Too sweet

Too long 

It's disgusting once you get a taste of it 

I don’t correct her pronunciation though 

Or tell her I go by a shorter nickname 

I just nod and keep my mouth shut

I manage to keep the silence 

Talking only when necessary 

And talking very quietly when I do

I do it for a while 

Everyone thinks I’m just shy 

I guess I am a little 

They don’t know that what’s under the blanket of silence 

Is an accent and sloppy english 

I take classes to help me learn to spell and speak 

I practice an american accent until I can sound just like the rest of them 

Without thinking 

I lost me and became a copy 

But I started to talk a bit more 

Raise my hand in class 

But I learned there are some words I can’t quite say 

And the other kids caught onto that real fast

In came a storm of questions 

About where I was from 

Talking real slow so I can understand them 

Even though I can hear perfectly well

In came a tornado of insults

Immigrant 

Retard 

Mute 

Wicked laughs that weren’t funny 

Not to me at least

Words not created to be mean 

But were knifes to my young heart

Maybe no one else could see me bleeding 

And falling down and down 

But that’s the year I learned 

That sometimes silence and lies 

Beat the truth 

Because the truth hurts more than lies.

Phoenix

By Edith G.

A phoenix rising from the ash so grey

Will soon regain her flame and rise up high

With feathers preened and shining, a new day

Shall come once more as she shoots for the sky

 

Restored in all her glory and her soul

Her beauty never ceases to bring joy

She will always protect her strength they stole

Her fire and her flight she will employ

 

But ash remains on her red wing so fine

And one day it will spark again so sure

This phoenix whose power is so divine

May once again have burning to endure

 

When that day comes I’ll be right at her side

My phoenix has my heart, my soul, my pride

Butterfly

By Synthia M.

Sometimes memories will fly on to my nose like butterflies. 

Endlessly  fluttering into the open cavities of my mind filling silence with happiness before the 

sadness does.  

Bright colored wings with singular bodies of hope. 

Ah, love is what reminiscent is to me.  

It is full of similes and metaphors to distract the ideas of you and me. 

My, I love you endlessly.  

I’ve written thousands of things addressed to you in hopes you read my mind and see the 

things I see; kiss the way I kiss, love the way I love.  

Butterflies go through various amounts of changes from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly, they 

molt to get to the best part of them.  

I believe you may of molted from me. 

I was your change and now you are beautiful, 

how bittersweet it is to now see butterfly 

memories that are always you.  

 

My Dear Flower

By Alejandra S.

I know the way you think about yourself, 

but you also forget that I know you better than anyone else, 

you are and have always been beautiful, 

with nothing to be jealous about the other flowers in the gardens. 

I don’t know how you don’t see 

what everyone else seems to perceive, 

how special and bright you always are 

and all the potential you’ve always had.

Do I deserve to even have you? 

No, probably not, 

but you decide to stay with this little ladybug close to you, 

hearing it’s crazy ideas and advice, 

wanting it to stay with you 

without even considering who else you could have 

or all the other things without me you could try.

Oh, dear flower,

you deserve so much more,

and I almost think I wish I could give to you all, 

and maybe then be worthy of getting your love. 

 

I hope this ladybug can make you see 

what you seem to don’t believe 

and realize how much you should receive, 

even if it means that you will leave me.

 
 
 

Planes

By Rachel F.

birds

that never flap their wings

 

their song

a drone hum

as they chug right along

 

a route memorized by heart

eyes keen with sight

a safe and successful flight

 

intestines filled with screaming children

stale pretzels

fizzing beverages

 

the red-red mountains far below

full of spiky green octopi

and toy cars

that roam to and fro

 

up here the world is blissful

beyond these aluminum walls

 

bliss is what birds see

 

enjoying the journey

exploring point a and b

 

the luscious pastures down below

arranged in neat-neat rows

pleasant fields filled with trees

a birds-eye view

 

soaring

exploring

this bird soars fast

 

down-down to the ground

where bliss is not found

 

evolved chimpanzees exit

tugging luggage and baby chimps

unfinished beverages

soggy chips

crappy neck pillows

 

this is where the chimps live

humans 

aliens

all the same

 

rapidly destroying their habitat

the trash

the CO2

 

this is where the chimps live

and the real,

innocent feathered birds

 

their song

melodious and deep

may soon have to go

A Blank Canvas

By Nupur L.

Seeping through pages is the ink that she bleeds in,

Stains that are as dark as the forthcoming break of dusk.

A frayed leather journal guards her existing thoughts;

Pages that hold his name, written in between the lines,

Like the blink of stars littered across a dark abyss.

The white of every page is scarred with his traits

And while the craters of a moon serve as blemishes,

His name on a page defines clarity.

The Creation

By Lucia H.

Creations were not meant to weep, 

nor swim through oceans far and deep. 

I watched her smiles break a frown 

and chase the monarchs from the crown. 

Should she have loved, if she so cared? 

Hands traced along the blood we shared, 

embraced, with fingertips like stone, 

a heart unbroken, frozen bone. 

 

I watched a charm of sultry nights 

entrance our dreams and bitter frights 

as though sent down from skies above: 

the skies which never knew of love.  

I thought her words could shine like fire; 

six ablaze, one stone-faced liar. 

The girl is left to grieve alone 

devoid of tears, her tears of stone. 

 

Upon her knees, she begs and pleads 

for petty crimes, forgotten deeds. 

Behind the doors, I cry her name, 

tear down the walls that guard her fame.  

What envy filled her aching soul! 

How sweet devotion took its toll! 

And sullenly I watched her weep, 

awake as towns were fast asleep.  

 

She never yearned for love nor light, 

but cataclysms late at night. 

I drove her half-insane, alone, 

and now she seeks the cherished throne. 

Tonight, I recognize the beast 

who chases sunshine in the east. 

Tonight, I see the fool in me 

—a player in a fantasy. 

 
 

cockroaches

By Dawn K.

how am I supposed to concentrate

 

when there are cockroaches living in my brain

 

they scratch and claw and bite

 

gagging vomit in my ears at night

 

they settle in my chest and turn my heart to stone

 

wretched love long gone, as sadness makes its home

 

crush crack and snap as they break through my bones 

 

taking over like vines long overgrown 

 

disgusting creatures turn me into a monster 

 

mess of decay and disaster 

 

my head is foggy, storm clouds with thunder 

 

I have forgotten who I am, and to the cockroaches I surrender. 

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