Midnight Drives

by Anisa Dahir

Late-night drives, window rolled all the way down

As the wind blows and the moon is full

Speeding down the road

Everything is clear, the path ahead of us, our minds

With new problems to worry about tomorrow

With no solutions

 

Deep into the darkness

Midnight nearing, and hope for a better day We drive,

the town behind us getting smaller and smaller

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Hidden Galaxies

by Emily Hamilton

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Just a Fantasy

by Isabel Wolfe

Day after day, you wake up with one fantasy living rent free in your mind, only one thing that you can think of, that you want to do for the rest of your life but so many obstacles stand in your way. Shaky and broken bridges that you walk across, cracks slithering down the rocky roads that must be crossed, although that is all mentally. Reality strikes, the bridges turn into grinding through homework in the dark of night, the rocky roads become the hardships of working through the rise and fall of the sun the next day just to get a paycheck, but it will work out right? You aspire to see the flashing lights, so blinding but you don’t care. You desire to stand on the carpet of soft red velvet, in a stunning piece of cloth made just for you. You lust to walk into that theater and see your face on the screen. All you want is just right there, but you can only feel it on the tips of your fingers.

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To Plant a Seed

by Rosie Pound

Maisie wonders how she got to be right here, right now. In her flower shop, gardening gloves on her hands, knees on the hard floor, staring up into her seven-year-old daughters big brown questioning eyes. She can’t have heard correctly but –

“Jemma says so. We’re all gonna die.” Anarchy’s little brows furrow in determination under her wispy blond bangs. When she wants to know something, she doesn’t let up.

Anarchy had been dropped off by the bus only a few minutes ago, her backpack still on her back and puffball hat on her head. Pursing her lips, Maisie brushes her hands together a couple of times knocking the loose dirt off her gloves before sliding them off and placing them beside her. “So,” she says, fingers starting to tremble, “what did she say?”

“Jemma says we’re going to fall into the ocean in an earthquake – her brother says so, and he says we can’t live in the ocean, so we’ll die.” She doesn’t look very worried, only curious. Hungry, even, for knowledge. Death doesn’t scare her yet.

For Maisie, it’s a different story. Thinking about the future of the planet, the future of her children, well, that’s where most of her anxiety comes from. Just yesterday, in the midst of Maisie’s rant about plastic disposable straws (a hill she’d die on), her colleague had asked, “Why in the world would you decide to have kids when you have such a bleak view on the world?” Followed by, “I love your kids, don’t get me wrong!”

“I fell in love,” was the simple answer she gave, “I fell in love, and we decided together we had the skills to give them a future. The skills for them to survive, I think.” She’d looked to her colleague hoping she’d understand. But the thoughts always nag in the back of her mind, who am I to think I can prepare them for a world on the brink of disaster? She never intended to have kids. And her anxiety has gotten worse since having them. But she’s decided they have to be worth it. Perhaps her kids will change the world.

Now, Maisie lets the earthy smell of her shop ground her. She breaths in the fresh dirt scent and tries to exhale the growing dread in the pit of her stomach. My kid thinks she’s going to die.

“Momma,” Anarchy starts –sensing a shift in her mother’s posture, “is the earthquake like the storms for you?” Ever since Anarchy discovered her mother’s fear, whenever there’s a thunderstorm, she’s the first to run to her mother’s side and howl at the thunder to be quiet.

Maisie’s lip twitches up in amusement. “A little bit,” she replies, “thunder scares me, but that earthquake scares me even more.”

“Why?”

“Come here.” Maisie beckons Anarchy closer to the little garden plot. “Do you want to help me plant some seeds?” Anarchy nods, she’s been in the flower shop many times to play or help her mother with the plants. She finally takes off her backpack and sheds her outerwear layer. For a little while they work in silence, Maisie’s small hands and Anarchy’s even tinier ones dig little holes in the soil, burying seed after seed after seed. The feel of the earth between Maisie’s fingers always calms her down, lets her think better.

The shop has been quiet today, no customers at all in the last hour or so, and none since Anarchy showed up. The work they’re doing right now is mostly for hobby. Maisie has loved the earth for far longer than she’s owned the flower shop. She could spend hours doing this one simple task. Fingers sifting through the dirt, nurturing the stuff of life. But it’s not long before Anarchy’s impatience gets the better of her and she asks about the earthquake again, “Momma, is it going to happen?”

Maisie watches her daughter carefully patting dirt over another seed – so unafraid, so worry free. So, she says the hard thing, “Yeah honey, it could happen. It could happen and that scares me.”

“I don’t think I want to die.” Anarchy says frowning down at her dirty hands. “How do we stop it?”

Another hard thing, Maisie’s lips tremble a little as she says, “We can’t.”

Anarchy’s big brown eyes turn up to meet her mother’s matching, but watery, eyes. “Momma don’t cry!” She jumps up and wipes her hands on her overalls. “We just need to plant more seeds! You say the seeds make the earth happy!”

What can I even say to that? Maisie wonders, marveling at the natural resilience that children have, especially Anarchy. Every day she wishes to be a little bit more like her daughter. She’s so strong already, and though yes, some of that may come from being a child still, Maisie knows she’s only going to get stronger, smarter, kinder. Just being around Anarchy makes her feel braver and more hopeful. Maisie wipes her face in the crook of her elbow and gives Anarchy a wavering smile. Together they gather some more seeds and fertilizer, and gardening gloves for the both of them.

“Okay, Anarchy, let’s plant some seeds.”

Anarchy grins up at her mom who smiles right back at her, ready to take on the world again, for today, and always for her daughter.

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Substance Abuse

by Nathan Yokey

A curling wall of teal wraps around her

and she feels each drop of spray

as she glides on her first wave.

A smooth euphoric stroke

of board and sea comes to an end,

the white water crests

and crashes. And she’s spit out the other side.

 

She turns back toward the open ocean, hoping

to paddle right back

to that first perfect swell.

Beachgoers watch knowing well

each wave will be smaller than the last.

Her board chips and cracks as she rides,

the tides take her in and out again,

and again searching

for that first perfect wave.

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Self Portrait as Incense During Worship

by Jenn Ngeth

You take a light; that blistering flame

to the tip of my head––

 

the start to my demise.

 

The countless ashes of my kin succumb

to your prayers; sacrificed for the absence of holy statues––

 

mythology turned into worship.

 

As I’m propped in rice grains, burning,

in my soon-to-be coffin; I permeate into the air––

 

transpiring your wishes to made-up entities.

 

As if the windpipes in your esophagus

were created by gods

& not from the action of human fucking.

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Grape jelly

by Viktoriya Kovachyk

A lady at the store was returning her purchases today. She returned all except one. Gummy bears. At least that’s what she told me. She couldn’t return those, because she craved them every night lately, she said. What an interesting craving. She told me it wasn’t chocolate she craved or any other sweet candy, it was just gummy bears. She then proceeded to tell me that she also craves sweet and salty things. Very much so. In fact, her face lit up when she talked about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I started to think about how much I’ve always loved that combination, irresistible at times. Tried to recall the taste on the tip of my tongue. She told me that she has lots of jelly in her fridge, but none are quite as satisfying to use for spreading as the Welch’s grape packets. With packets, they can be used up with one use. That’s what she liked most, she told me. Using jars of jelly, you can just never be too sure. That gave me something to think about. I mean, how often do we think about simple things such as that? I listened with curiosity, I enjoyed this conversation, loved every moment while it lasted, and never wanted it to end. The conversation of types that you remember, not an everyday basic conversation, you know. Grateful for those and more to come.

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The Fire of Learning

after Ilya Kaminsky, Author’s Prayer

By Mason Hap

 

To understand their words, you need to forget

the blazing beat of your chest.

 

The self-taught rhythm, a single ember keeping the flame alive.

Life of language, with smoke that squeezes one’s personal circle.

 

To understand their phrases, you need to char this tiger strength shadow

choking your words and reaching for alien ones,

 

that seem to hum a love song

without letting out a note.

 

I am listening to their phrases. They twirl at a distance,

ribbons following the wind, dressed in peacock-like hues that avert the eyes.

 

Idle in this chamber,

sounds bounce off thick concrete,

 

a self-taught rhythm, invading

and edging only to reach my ears

 

while language waits outside the door.

Messy but simple.

 

There is the me, outside with charred shadows

and there is the me, who only knows the fear of scorching, hot steps.

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Boy from Venus

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For Kiara and Karly – The Angels Over Ballyhoo

by Rosie Pound

They call you “The Angels over Ballyhoo” But I do not see angels, or ghosts.

I see your toothy smilesin the rocks on the mountainside. I hear your laughter in the wind. Your spirits still felt in the crisp Alaskan air.

My rage – is the crashing of the waves. Her loss – is the wilting of the fireweed. Our agony – is the eagle’s cry.

But angels? No. I see two girlstoo young. A small town, Unalaska, shattered. And my sister – strugglingto put together the pieces you left behind.

But this cannot be undone. A truck, Mt. Ballyhoo, the cliff. There’s no reverse. No, “try again?”

So instead, I choose to see you – dancing across the Aleutian tundra, hand in hand. Smiling for all the world as if you really are “The Angels over Ballyhoo.”

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