Merry-go-round by Sydnee Williams

Music notes dropped like dead petals
The song we always sang was out of tune now.
We still tried to dance
I still smiled like everything was fine.
But the truth is
that song we sang became part of my pain.

We once danced for revolution,
for our peace.
Now we dance because our legs aren’t our own.
Arms like dead violin strings
Just hangin’
That’s all we did.
Circling an empty mirage of love with our two-step.
Cheers and trumpets belt from the back to control the façade
This was a weekly paid performance
No way out
One way in
That song we once sang became our greatest sin.



There’s coffee here, and we love each other
so much we can’t imagine a world without it.
Some of us bloody ourselves for love,
some of us built trenches the last century
and murdered strangers with machines
to make love last, confusing it with borders,
oil, water, freedom, all of what you’ve left behind.
You’ve greater concerns, like how to move
and why the helium surrounds you, like
mitochondria and how to be when being’s
fraught with gas and obstinate thunder,
then nothing for a million years. I admire you—
I wish you could see us. My lover’s lying in a room
watching your planet from the window,
watching and imagining your souls scraping
hydrogen from rock, watching as the blurred
earth light makes you wonder what else. We are
mostly happy here; we put our bodies down
for a while and dream of you becoming us.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University. Twitter: @hiway61carl

Spiral: Just Make Yourself Write by Richaundra Thursday

Descriptive, except no, no message, no purpose, don’t waste words, a rose by any other name will still burn in this ecological apocalypse.

Lyrical, except no, what do I, the Patron Saint of Passing Privilege have to amplify, to make sublime?

Spiral, round and round like a novelty Christmas present your grandparents ordered off a TV call number, all geometric chaos and oroborous fears.

Prescriptive? Do as I say, not as I do: drink water, hate yourself less, keep writing, keep fighting, remember you’re not alone; except I won’t make a gospel cento of better poets prayers.

Spiral, like unnecessarily ornate staircases, slick with insecurity but no guard rails, rising like blood pressure.

Narrative, surely you’ve got stories, surely they’re worth telling, surely they won’t waste time with their prosaic mediocrity, surely one of them hasn’t been told a hundred times before…

Spiral like a middle school fortune telling game masquerading as a worksheet doodle, inconsequential and life changing all at once, spiral like a frozen yogurt on a hot day, thoughts melting like there’s no difference between sunlight and gaslight

Edutainment, but what if it’s too niche, too specific, too obscure, too nerdy, too…

Spiral, spiral, like a blank notebook, a composition of eraser rubbings of all the songs you talk yourself out of writing.

“Just speak from the heart” as if it, like the muscle it is, never Charlie horse betrayed you

“Just speak your truth” as if your brain was your friend, as if it didn’t create conspiracy theories where the entity that somehow manages to control every aspect of life while simultaneously being utterly incompetent, is you

A poet is a pandora’s box, a mistranslated vase full of spoiled oil, dead flies and at the very bottom, hope. And just like the story, we find ourselves unsure if this is a balm or an epilogue to the pains held in our plaster, if the muse is a gift or a punishment for sins unlikely our own.

Every poet I know is a necromancer, resurrecting skeletons to dance on a graveyard stage, tango with tombstone microphones. We are all warlocks, making deals with our inner demons like diet pills full of tapeworms: you can consume me, chew me up from the inside out, if you’ll just please make me what they want.

Blood of the Covenant by Ellen Huang

I make her my own.
I choose her. I make the choice to find her
through all the debris and twisting hallways and
tunnel rooms; I choose her in between the worlds of old
and new; I choose her, oceanic love and my manic care rising.

And again, I choose him. My son will be no less mine.
We’ll venture out with pirates and mermaids by day
and by night, I will trace the lineage passages in the Word
parading with shepherd kings and misfit pieces.
I will trace the blood my adopted savior inherited sans biology,
knowing we adopt for He first adopted us.
I will kiss my sleeping baby’s forehead and say, this, my child
is the one who cultivated in me this heart that found you,
who knit our hands together
under this fleece blanket. Listen in peace.

Who knows if legacy of billions of years would have deceased
if not for us who cultivate all else?
With this stubborn heart, I will draw forth a new beginning.

Ellen Huang holds a BA in Writing & a minor in Theatre from Point Loma Nazarene University. She has taught children to read, write, and act from a different perspective. Alongside dabbling in pyrography and swimming in the ocean, she takes pride in her ability to reenact Disney scenes on demand. She is published in over 25 venues, including Enchanted Conversation, Awkward Mermaid, South Broadway Ghost Society, and Diverging Magazine. She also loves wearing thematic capes and singing villain songs. Follow her creative work at

Every Man Wants to Insert Himself by Bina Perino

*From Issue One: Royalty

like a phallic gun to my head,
suggesting, ​do this, buy that, spend time here,
don’t go there, avoid them, talk to me;

as he fingers pieces of my mind,
demanding, ​not good enough, change that,
this won’t do, I know best, not right;

like tight bondage around my heart,
whispering, ​I am here, I helped you,
be grateful, I complete you, you owe me;

so I will make myself impenetrable

I Want You to Say My Name by Neha Maqsod

*From Issue Two: Culture

usually my last choice for coffee,
is today my first.
office workers, construction men,
college students and me
needing their shots of daily coffee,
the white girl in her early 20’s, green and black attire inquires,
bringing me out of my reverie,
‘what will it be?’,
was just laughing at the redundancy of,
chai tea.
‘a small latte’.
‘name? she asks,
wishing I was an ann, john or tom,
but reminding myself that
i’m laced with melanin,
swallow and reply,
‘ne-ha’, enunciating each syllable so
clearly my mouth
fuck*ng hurts.
the slightly confused look
i get in return,
tells me to
anticipate a chuckle,
from what I’ll read on
my cup of coffee.
maybe it’s the PMS,
maybe it’s the anxiety,
but today, I need someone to put an effort,
over my name.
because today,
i don’t feel like looking down on my Pakistani heritage,
making them realise,
how each syllable in my name
was the result of my nana, nani,
colonial treachery.

Passing of Time by Keana Águila Labra

i. I haven’t forgotten,
though it does slip through
my fingers, thick mist
(then my last directed
sense of determination
missed, misfiring neurons
and a disconnect from
my surroundings)

ii. I haven’t forgotten,
though it does grow paler,
photograph against a harsh
sun, dangling from a wire,
a clothespin take on life
(reality is much less picturesque)

*Previously published in Rose Quartz Magazine

how it truly feels to be alive by Melis Gordem

the thrill of riding a rollercoaster as tall as the Empire State,
the awe of viewing a murmuration cry its song of freedom,
the laughter that erupts within a tight-knit group of friends and leaves you to tears,
the taste of a cuisine so unforgettable you wish you can have it again,
the smell of a beloved one rubbing off on you as a reminder that they were there and they will return once again,
the acknowledgement of deer and other small lovely creatures as they prance around the field as a way of solidarity,
the solace of riding a lone subway car with only you and your friends for hours until dawn,
the noise caused by impatient drivers and rowdy teenagers outside your window prior to slumber,
the confession between you and someone you adore that ties the knot of the relationship tighter,
the satisfaction of finishing stress-inducing exams and having nothing else to worry about,
the happiness you feel after watching a flower bloom before your eyes,
the sight of snow gently landing onto your deck during the early morning,
the listening in on plethora of conversations within a crowded urban street,
the peaceful sleep you get after staying up until dawn only to rest until dusk,
the car trips that consists of listening to nostalgic tunes and playing silly games to pass time,
and the ease of emotions after finishing a tear-jerking piece.

these are the ways i truly feel alive.

— i wish to know how others truly feel to be alive