urban wasteland years ago
why cities need breathing spaces
empty and torn down
empty urban space
…………living and thinking
the rock’n’roll rebels military gear
the art-school boys paint-splattered clothes
the last 20 years
impossible spaces to move
these places were blank
Yessica Klein is a poet and artist with a MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. Her work has been published in both Portuguese and English, online and in print. ‘Ai De Mim Que Amei Poeta’, her first poetry collection, will come out in Brazil in 2017. Yessica is represented by Carolina Badas Gallery in London.
You have probably seen me in a nightmare that was not yours,
I am a bad moment, an adverse wind,
A cracked tombstone, three loud volley shots,
An unsuccessful erection,
I am all the ones you loved but none of them,
I am all the ones you lost but none of them,
I often meet dead people that look like me,
All dead people look like me,
The ones who still combat,
They also look like me,
Even though they do not know they are already dead,
I smell gunpowder and mustard,
Pieces of flesh and blood drip off me,
Which are not mine,
The taste of mud has stuck on my jaws,
Which have no voice,
They just whistle when wind passes through my skull,
I cannot hear you,
Since your talk ends in “fire at will”,
And I cannot understand how it begins,
I am poems, rhyming verses,
I am songs of a children’s chorus,
I am bad news, a contagious disease,
I am an unreached orgasm.
Dr. Georgios Ampatzidis is a biologist with a PhD in educational sciences — who writes poetry and short prose in Greek and English. He works at the University of Patras library and teaches at the University of Thessaly.
the different stages of life’s journey shape our souls into the ﬁnal gem
the jewel the shining light like the light in a newborn’s eyes
the prize of life beyond all price
and it is quite simply the real us
without the stress the fuss the pressure
the hold your breath and try to pass the test
in jest with your friends while inside you bend and break
and every one of us deep down knows a pain of some description
you don’t know the wounds of the other who stands before you
who are you to judge assess their stress at best you can only guess
if you knew the inner truth the things they’ve faced and faced up to
you might be amazed impressed and feel respect
but actually you don’t know you won’t know the wounds of another
no matter how close a brother or sister
there are some things none of us can express
or choose not to or just feel that nobody cares
or that it’s just not right to bare it all
and so we bear it all in unbearable silence
and I think most of us have been through something like this
and underestimate the rest of us as if they won’t relate to it
but of course we do we’ve been through it too
we are way more alike than different
we share our humanity
Catrin Hol is half Dutch, half English, but has made Cork, Ireland, her home. As a musician she has a feeling for the melody and rhythm of words. “The Jewel is about the struggle to understand and forgive each other. The multitudes facing the same challenge.”
By Kelsey Elizabeth Robb
It is an odd subtlety,
the value of gold,
such beauty in convergence
with an ugliness of society.
We wrap ourselves in armor,
color of gold and sun and blood;
we tell ourselves we’re worthy
of richness once associated
We are Gods, we say,
we run the world
in gold and sun and blood;
we flit like little dragonflies,
wing-ends clipped to keep us
here, against the ground,
we might warm ourselves
inside our armor,
bug eyes wide,
full of value and fear.
We are Gods, we say,
we must buy things
as the Gods create,
rings and shoes not subtle
in the glint of a sunlight
tinged in blood.
Kelsey Elizabeth Robb is a recent graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She loves poetry and art, and particularly loves writing for specific prompts. She is currently working on gaining a teaching certificate and teaching English in Ecuador.
By Susan Jane Anderson
After the early morning rains,
bruised and swollen skies
concede to a sunlit silence
refurbished with a mixology
of lurid garden colors
and the perfume of friendship and benevolence.
Here the Three Sisters awaken
to the uplifting harmonies of the day
and begin their spiritual reciprocity.
Corn is the firstborn quickly growing
tall and strong with the specific purpose
of providing a strong ladder for
the arching skyward bean plants
spreading a lazy leafy growth close
to the ground patiently awaiting
their slow growing squash sisters
who provide an umbrella of shade
for the bean siblings.
Together the three braid and hold a
convergent covenant of community
celebrating and thanking Mother Earth for her
Susan Anderson is a retired elementary teacher who
finds her advancing years blooming and flowering with words.
(a response to Cody Taylor)
By Kelly Jolene
Your poetry licks its wounds.
You tell it to stop but
It never listens to you.
You look at your poetry
as if it doesn’t know your name.
It stares back.
When you look into the mirror
when you cut your hair
when you crack and dismantle,
your poetry crawls to your feet.
And my poetry,
it leans against your door.
It knocks softly and slinks away.
I do not know anymore who is who.
I do not know your name.
Kelly Jolene resides in East Tennessee and spends time writing and building things. She studied at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga under Richard Jackson . . . “who is an important influence in my poetry and life” — Kelly
By Hannah Dow
Hannah Dow is a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Harpur Palate, Soundings East, and Armchair/Shotgun. She also received an honorable mention in the 2015 AWP Intro Journals Project.
Painting: Wanda Choate at Arte Cristina Faleroni
by Miles Cobbett
Miles Cobbett left Seattle, Washington on a ship bound for Alaska, in the spring of 1982. He had seven hundred dollars in his pocket, a duffle bag full of rugged work clothes, a portable typewriter-filled with paper, and a supply of steno-note pads and pens. He came looking for story and character ideas and a way of making enough money to keep a roof over his head, and food in his belly. He found plenty of everything. Now twenty-five years later, he is willing to share his stories with anyone who likes to read . . .
Levi Judson HarrisOnce I think I met a hero
But then I met that same hero
And he was dark
And he was down
And the golden words I so wanted to hear I knew couldn’t come
Out of a broken mouth
On a broken face
On the broken thing in front of me
And even though he was there
The hero was gone
The third time he was standing
And half a smile was there
Not bursting like before
But sure and solid
There was something in the way he held his shoulders that told me there was something
But different can be good
Because after all, can you really get up
If you haven’t fallen down?
Since it all happened
I know for sure that
Once I met a hero
Levi Judson Harris is from southern Colorado, and grew up with eleven siblings on a farm. “Milking cows and thinking were my two main activities. I have been writing since eight . . . I’m much happier when I’m putting words together.” Levi is presently studying English, education, theatre, and film at BYU. “I wrote this poem about the convergence of the under hero with the outer self. True convergence with oneself lies in accepting failures and weaknesses, but also in realizing we are strong enough to rise above them in the end. I have really met this hero many times . . . Enjoy!” — Levi
When I was a kid, I wanted to be the wind.
I thought what was this beautiful being that was so strongly able to be felt, but never seen.
She traveled countries, knew nothing of borders, blockades, visas.
She saw all the wonders of the world, carried smiling faces, cries of newborn babies, joy,
happiness, childish giggles and jokes.
She attended everyone’s weddings and tasted every pie on every counter top.
She delivered the kisses of loved ones and the dreams of all.
But today she mourns- she carries screams of horror.
She yells in my ears and awakens every earthly being dead or alive.
She has called upon the sun to dim her rays and the clouds to join her in mourning.
She beckons the leaves, the grass and every organism in existence to shout and they reply.
The people run inside, shut their windows, they cannot understand why the earth is yelling- why
she is crying.
It is just too loud to handle.
Too real to fathom.
But even inside, the wind pounds on their doors and shatters their windows.
As she continues to voice her fury upon the coma state of the world,
a putrid smell of blood and tears rips through your nasal passages.
While the world paces indoors in fear and confusion,
I join my friend the wind outside, dressed in black and with nothing more than a kafﬁya made of
honor and anger to keep me warm.
Despite the ear piercing screams of the earth, I sit and stay,
because today she is the only one who understands.
Hebatullah Issa is a Palestinian-Arab-American-Muslim-Israeli. “My experiences have shaped my identity, however, while working on my Master’s thesis at Dartmouth College, I found that my identity also shaped my experiences. My thesis, Metaphorical Asthma: The Search for Water and Answers in the Holy Land, developed into an ethnographic series of personal essays concerning the different identities and shifting labels imposed on me by others and how these labels shaped my experience trying to research water management issues in the West Bank. This sparked my interest in identity formation amongst Palestinians, particularly the diaspora.
At Dartmouth College, as well as during my second Master’s in Middle East and Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter, I have conducted research in the following topics: heritage making, Israeli historiography, language death, Orientalism, Occidentalism, the Palestinian right of return, ethno–politics, identity formation, Arab-American beauty ideals, Arab-American hip-hop, Palestinian feminist movements, Egyptian nationalism, factors of violent and nonviolent revolutions in the Arab Spring, particularly Egypt and Libya. I have also taken short courses in which I conducted research in the universality of human rights, the labeling of the Arab Spring, honour killings, migration and economy, Zionist media, as well as Arab feminist literature.
I recently produced a 153–page document about Palestinian identity formation amongst the Palestinians living in Israel through the medium of Palestinian hip-hop and what this identity means for Israel if its Arab citizens identify themselves as Palestinians rather than Israelis. I have also written fiction and nonfiction pieces centered on this topic as well.”
Master the Ship
By Denise MartinGender is just a condition
Race is transferable
Ancestry, family, lineage is deniable
Genetic code patterns a lie
Belong to any race you choose
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is
Laws are irrelevant
Divine commandments collectively obsolete
Useless, empty, insignificant, worthless
Emotional, overpowering passion rules
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is
Words mean nothing
Keep them, break them, hang on them
Change to whatever you wish them to mean
Interpret to your benefit
Establish a new principle
I feel, so it is
Denise A. Martin has been published in Parents Magazine and Unity Magazine and has won various awards for her non-fiction essays.
by Mauricio Almonte
Mauricio Almonte is an MFA student in Creative Writing: Nonfiction. Writer, translator, critic with some publications. He now resides in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.
Portrait by: Guillaume Luisetti — “It’s Right Here”
It prickles, so
our arches covet the swaying grass,
long in the early summer,
by the nibbling of
can’t grab hold —
the dirt slipping through gaps,
roots pulling loose from the soiled
stronger next to my raw skin —
gashed open patterns
patch my arms with
shadows of the
folds in sheets
wrestling with feet.
We aim for
the shade of a fig tree.
We could be
in the shade of a fig tree.
tumbles down the dew
Rachel Miskei is a recent college graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing from Loyola Marymount University. “When nature and dreams merge with my writing, I have found my refuge, my calm amidst this chaotic heart.” Rachel —
Channeled Not CabledBy Kine Fall
Gave birth to my ancestors.
And they ask,
“Have you seen the rainbow children?”
Soul group calling
Chords of light!
Veils are thinning,
There is no time.
Planets are aligning to your sol center
And they say,
“Can you hear the poles shifting?”
The alchemist wills gold!
And the Earth shakes,
A God creates.
And so it is.
For Kine Fall, art is all about looking past the mundane into the unseen aspects of life. Her goal is to shed light upon the power we individually hold to create our reality.
“For too long I have allowed my own mind to hold me prisoner. Remaining trapped and discouraged by fear and self-doubt. Looking and finding only the same options over and over again, until I found myself in the trenches of heartache. The courage to let go and step into my divinity was a result of constantly giving myself therapy through writing and the arts. It is my purpose to bring this healing to those around me. To magnetize the feeling of complete oneness and gratitude for all that is through my work and help others transcend the limitations they set for themselves.” — Kine
Winds abrade, footsteps pulse to
a telluric rattlesnake beat, as i
ascend through sandstone, gypsum,
cactus spines and clay
Parched totems in a waterless sea
i dream of lizards under a tectonic spell,
memories of godless nights, lost beginnings,
coyotes beneath the ichorous gaze of
KD Matheson is an artist, painter, sculptor and digital media creator now living in Las Vegas, NV (US).
It’s the dust, she coughs out: it makes me nervous. Jeb understands, he can’t stop
looking out the small sliver of light, using it on his body like when he was a kid
burning ants with magnifying glass. It doesn’t feel warm, it doesn’t feel anything
but the dust swirls in it, small as grit in a contact, sometimes clouding over. Steph, his
boss before the world ended, has finished freshening her macabre nail polish and watches
him becoming an ant. Her brow furrowed in seismic sadness, her mouth the sinkhole.
I just, she says, …want you to know in case we die – ….. stop, he says, if you don’t
say it, you can’t die. ….. . . . I won’t be able to go in peace, she adds but falls silent. Jeb
doesn’t explain his refusal to help her ready herself for death. Doesn’t care
what her secret is, whether she loves or despises or thinks he’s gay. There is
another small tremor like the nation giving its death rattle. They are neither heaven
nor hell, but just as dead. Between that old celestial rock and godly hardplace. Dust falls
from everywhere like poverty snowflakes. Jedidiah stands under the only light
and speaks softly of all the worser ways to die.
Rafael S.W was the winner of ZO’s 2014 Poetry Expo. He is a recent Creative Writing graduate and a founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. Rafael has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Voiceworks, and Award Winning Australian Writing. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games.
By: SCOTT NAVICKY
As a small child, I used to mistakenly believe that physical deterioration was the most unpleasant aspect of getting older. Premonitions of an achy lower back, sore knees, arthritis, a hip replacement (or two), glaucoma haunted me nightly. After playing a single season of Midget League Baseball (I wasn’t very good), I became resigned to the fact that I would eventually need Tommy John surgery. While in High School, I remember scrutinizing the chapter on disease in health class like a man ordering sushi from an à la carte menu: two Palinopsia rolls, a piece of Sciatica sashimi, and some Kluver-Bucy Syndrome.
Now that I am an adult, I realize I was wrong: physical deterioration is NOT the most unpleasant aspect of aging. Erectile dysfunction is a foolish toy when compared to the canopy of darkness that continually envelopes adult life. Love, loss, betrayal, bereavement, disillusionment, diminishment: the sky gets darker and darker until all is consumed by the darknothingness of night. And the darkest hour of the blacknight comes with the unavoidable realization that death eventually takes away everything, even the most inconsequential of things. It takes away our books. It takes away the unfinished novels that live only in our dreamconsciousness. It takes away the songs we can’t stop singing. And it takes away our favorite poems.
such a little
On January 13th (my birthday, no less!) the poet who wrote these lines, Kay Ryan, almost experienced her own “little/fatal pause” when she was struck by a car while riding her bicycle near her home in Fairfax, California. The 68-year-old former poet laureate suffered a host of non-fatal injuries, including a fractured hip socket, broken ribs, a broken clavicle, and a punctured lung.
A punctured lung?
That phrase never fails to conjure up the scene in Moby Dick where a wounded whale’s heart bursts, causing a stream of blood to erupt from its blowhole.
Live long enough and every whaleheart is assaulted by suffering to its burstingpoint. There ain’t no cure for that. And yet writers enjoy a perverse relationship to suffering: the more profoundly they suffer, the more profoundly they write. A quick glance at my bookshelf supports this theory: Shakespeare (erotomania, or was it genophobia?), Cervantes (penury & loss of a hand), Joyce (penury & exile), Nietzsche (penury & virginity), Dostoevsky (firingsquad fakery), Melville (more penury), Lucretius (possible lovepotion poisoning), Orwell (neckwound), and Beckett (pimpwound).
Of course, nothing lasts forever, not even suffering. There’s a great deal of comfort to be found in De Rerum Natura, especially when the ancient Roman poet consuls:
“Asleep in death; so shall you be for all
that’s left of time, exempt from grief and pain”
The darknothingness of night waits to embrace us all. This explains why the act of writing is so essential; it offers a brief, beautiful burst of illumination against the ever-encroaching all-devouring darkness.
By: WALT WHITMAN
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . . the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.