What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. — Soren Kierkegaard

“The Promise” — Ryan Farish


“Teen Media Expo”

"Getaway from Regensburg" by John Wilhelm

Muse “Getaway from Regensburg” by John Wilhelm



I have never known a person who has died & I’ve been trying
to do better. Egypt’s finest hiccoughs
made me a swooning dilettante
of the museum’s darling coffins,
sobbing over dropped haw flakes.

Forgive me, I’ve been busy.

I’ve been dreaming in chemistry class
& somehow an umbrella has found its way
against this blasted landscape & the rain is trickling
down the flaps of this flying squirrel & my long dark
hair begins to dry — Buckyball. . .molecule
. . . write it down . . . fullerene.
Full? I am not
full, lunchtime is next period. My head droops
and jerks, eyes widening tiredly. I am as poised as death.

I hear my sentences filling up with fear.

The loveknot at the orphanage wasn’t half bad.
The only tongue I had was a stub, and that made me glad.
The pond drowned me when I stepped on a lily pad.
The eyes glitter like stage spotlights & traffic at night
The tiles undress flesh from bone, feather from dove

………………………………… (sugar stuck to my heel)

I limp

Now I said I’ve been busy lately
clicking ahead in Youtube videos
skipping flash-frames for the ignition of human voices
& bawl-worthy lyric
yesterday a friend told me her great-grandmother
watched her grandma die
& I didn’t understand but tried.

Darling, I planted your voice for you.
I spread all your dead things into the compost
& stepped back & buckyball is the most common
naturally occurring fullerene & you are so so quiet

I have never known a person who has died & I’ve been trying

to do better.

I’m sketching clear deserts in the dark.


Michelle Chen is a sixteen-year old poet, writer, and artist who takes inspiration for her writing from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City, though she was born in Singapore and hopes to return and visit someday. She is the first-prize winner of the 2015 Knopf Poetry prize and the Norm Strung Youth Writing Competition, the recipient of The Critical Junior Poet’s Award, was commended as a Foyle Young Poet of the Year, and has performed at Lincoln Center. Her work has been honored both regionally and nationally in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and has appeared or will appear in Prairie Schooner, the Sharkpack Poetry Review, The Critical Pass Review, Across the Margin, Transcendence, Alexandria Quarterly, Ember, On Spec, Polyphony HS, Pif Magazine, and elsewhere.


All of us at ZO are very impressed with the level of sophistication, intellectual depth and creativity from the Teen Media Expo submissions received . . . truly inspiring!

Top Finalist for our Teen Media Expo will be integrated into ZO’s existing Poetry Pages . . . with new art. Please check the Poetry Schedule Page for location of your poem.



Based on the Art of John Vega © Dancing Images

Based on the Art of John Vega © Dancing Images


“Procession in Zizkov”

Children crouch in paper crowns
& cut out sheets, in the black-sweatered sea of
mothers, hair-wrapped, hipping babes.
Heaving fathers trail
like measured
……………….gold ticks
………..back to the bank,

climbing gilded stairs
where dimes fall like clinking teeth,

where I follow & I think of our own folks
forking baked beans back in Bowling Green,
& see: the waking eyes of the Black Madonna, considering
the consequence of our leaving.


Annalise Mabe is pursuing an MFA at the University of South Florida where she writes poetry and nonfiction. Her work has been published in The Offing, Proximity Magazine, and elsewhere. She reads poetry for Sweet: A Literary Confection, and is a poetry editor at Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.


Based on the Art of Luis José Estremadoyro © -- “The Nightly Unfolding of Madame de Loynes”

Based on the Art of Luis José Estremadoyro © — “The Nightly Unfolding of Madame de Loynes”



… And all I want is someone who can weather my collapse.

On the last train out of the USSR, while it was still
that bright ventricle sickle, my grandfather fell
ill of the kind of dying no one is immune from.
A revolt in the lungs, and endless coughing. Snow
deep in the bones. He banged a carriage open,
introduced himself and his vitriol onto her dress. My gran
looked him straight in the blood. Loved him. Laid him down.

My mother said she was conceived right then. The rocking
of one body to sleep, another to birth. Knowing now
the complexities of babies, the average temperature
of a Russian winter. I don’t believe, but nor does it matter.
We never knew him. Now the universe and its infinite redress
has given me a chance. In the silence I put my hand
on your new stomach as you sleep.

Rafael is a creative writing graduate and founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. He has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Voiceworks, and is an award winning Australian writer. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games.

Rafael opted to take the gold coin rather than cash award that we offered; which helped us to open a relationship with the gold dealer that we purchased the coin from. Rafael’s quote below was kind of the magic wand that opened the conversation in regard to sponsorship:

……….“The American Gold Eagle Quarter made an excellent prize. So refreshing to have a physical reminder
……….of my triumph, a medallion that has both weight and worth.” — Rafael S.W 2014 Poetry Exposé winner.

We are tremendously inspired by the EXTRAORDINARY and VERY VISIONARY POETRY that we receive from these Poetry Expos and feature some of our favorites among the exceptional work on our poetry pages combined with new art. As we continue to develop our talent pool of writers and creative connections. We also invite readers, poets and supporters to connect formally with ZO through our Creative Registry as we form an international network of artists, poets, creative souls and thinkers.

Glowing Circle 2x