爸爸妈妈,你们快一点儿吧 (Mom and Dad, Please Hurry)

by Zoe Gurney

I want all I was robbed of.
I want to experience giving new year’s blessings for 红包.1
I want to cheer on dragon boat races during 端午节.2
I want to sweep the tombs of my ancestors for 清明节.3
I want to eat mooncakes with my family during 中秋节.4
I want to learn about my 家族.5,
I want to know the meaning of the name I was given upon birth,
if I was granted even that.

Take responsibility for your actions (or lack thereof).
Am I not your daughter, too?
I am owed answers.
I am owed the truth.
I am worth the effort of your search, am I not?

Then search.
Endure the pain and countless failures that precedes success.
Your daughter is waiting, but she does not have the strength
nor the stamina to wait forever in unresponsive silence
with only her anxieties whispering doubts
to her already fragile mind.

1 红包 (hóngbāo): red envelopes that symbolize good fortune and prosperity; during the Spring Festival (starts on the 23rd day of the 12th month of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar), red envelopes are filled with money and traditionally given to children by their older relatives

2 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié): Dragon Boat Festival, starts on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar

3 清明节 (Qīngmíng jié): Tomb-sweeping Day, occurs on the 1st day of the 5th solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar

4 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū jié): Mid-Autumn Festival, starts on 15th day of the 8th month of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar

5 家族 (jiāzú): clan; family

6 为了让我进入这个世界,妈妈不是吃苦吗? : To let me to enter this world, didn’t Mama suffer?

7 永不放弃: Never give up.

Three Untitled

by Sophia Sherwood

Cream or sugar? Or
Both? You decide. It won’t matter
Once you stare down the center of the

Tallest tree.
It will not give you the
Answer. But it will bring you comfort.

The sand that buries
You does not care about your
Loneliness. But you will feel warmth beneath

Its fingertips.
The carpet of your childhood
Home reeks of mildew. But you will not

The page of that
Book you always meant to
Finish longs for
Your touch. Will you ever
Invite it out for coffee? Maybe it prefers

Tea. Will you ever know?
The bread you used to always bake
With your father is stale. But it will still taste

Just as it once did.
It does not matter, you
Go on ahead.

There are roots everywhere.
I see them, tangled and beaten
Beneath the basement of my
Childhood home.

I see them beneath the very ground
You walk upon, as you leave
Behind everything old in exchange
For everything new.

I see them weaving and tightening
Around the old LGBT support home
I once went to, when I was young
And scared and didn’t know a thing about the world
Or myself.

I see them dragging and
clawing at the sleeves of your shirt,
Begging you to stay when you know
It would kill you.

Our paths may never cross, but
Your roots and my roots
And his roots and their roots and
Her roots are all
Constantly growing,

I wonder about the ways in which yours have shaped you,
Just as mine have shaped me.

Mouths sewn shut
So as to not breathe too deeply
To breathe too deep is to let
The fire in
And we all know how fire burns

But the warmth can be so sweet
Delicate, fragile, like a violet
In first spring’s awakening
A tender embrace, a kiss

The kiss singes like flame
Something insatiable
Touching everything
Like a forest engulfed

Mouths sewn shut
But the thread is burnt away
We are gasping, breathing each other in
I bring you a bouquet of violets
But they wilt in the warmth of my hands

You say we are fire meets gasoline
I say we are flame meets flame
Only, I would never burn you, lover
I’ll sew my mouth up again just for you.

This Story is Unavailable

by Phoenix Alarcio

What’s the cure for the lone wolf, hungry
to howl with her pack? What’s the cure
for fictionalizing real life, fashioning your
fantasy out of ratty paperbacks and diaries

found at the flea market? Thumb to a random
page in every book. Each first word strung
together makes a sentence. Each insult flung
is just a jest. Everyone’s LARPing, fandoms

collide like pinball machines and I am stuck.
Like pushing on a pull door, I fumble to form
friendships in this pressure cooker cacophony
of love ideologies. To communicate or to cut?
That is one question. Can I even trust my own
perception? Or am I merely sleep deprived?

The Life of a Tower Princess

by Sophia G.S.

I watch as ivy grows
Up the tower I reside,
Where each creeping vine knows
Where rays of sun manage to hide.

Up the tower I reside
Climb fools looking for gold,
Where rays of sunlight hide
Now waits for them a death so bold.

Climb fools looking for gold
Through window panes of broken glass,
Waiting for them a death so bold
From knights of well-earned class.

Through panes of broken glass
The fools’ fates are not seen,
From the knights of well-earned class
Fly blades and fists unclean.

The fools’ fates are not seen
But I must sit here nonetheless,
The flight of blades and fists unclean
Brings to me no new distress.

I must sit here nonetheless
As creeping vine move slow,
Resigned to me no new distress
I watch the ivy grow.

The Day I Knew I Could Never Love You Again

by Morgan Acord

The day I knew I could never love you again,

An old, orange, orbit of a cat sprinted across my path,
the crust on his eyes set on the little girls calling for him,
His hanging jowls barely missing the potholes,
much like the crust over the lacerations on my heart,
were determined for Morticia-Gomez passion
almost unreachable

Throbbing and vibrating like a blade of grass,
I saw your “bleating like a calf after me” as your own pathetic desperation.

The day I knew I could never love you again,
was the day I knew I was no longer your fool,
But I was destined to be “the beautiful little fool”
I promised myself I would never be.

(The Great Gatsby Line and The Roaring Girl Line)

Sonnet for What’s Between the Lines

by Phoenix Alarcio

How do I know I am captivated by you?
Your googly eyes, dark as bark arrest me
like I’m a high schooler playing hooky,
caught pants down in the janitor’s room.

Why do I say I’m going, but I’m not out the door?
My questions, sharp as darts at an Irish bar,
pierce your alveoli. Your answers on par
with Yoda make me stop keeping score.

I see you in an unsolicited script I unearthed
between the cushions of the orange couch,
at work. I can’t help but think it’s divine, a sign,
though I don’t believe in God. Maybe flirt
and find out? Maybe fuck and fall out?
Boy, tell me again, what are my lines?

Sonnet for Night Walks

by Shannon Abbott

She takes risks walking in the night alone,
feeding desperately on the cold moonlight.
Danger must be something which she is prone,
entering a monster’s den for more to bite.
Eerie music whispers to her, baby—
She tumbles into a haven for hell.
Beasts in tailcoats begin to serve her tea,
and red lace covets her like a love spell.
It seems she has crashed the devil’s birthday,
accidently, on her midnight walk.
With wine and cake and whiskey she might stay,
though her family will protest and talk.
     Yet here in hell she feels so safe and true.
     To women at night, she invites you too

Silence at 3am

by Hayden Ruben

When the world is asleep,
I am awake.
Insomnia is a monster.
A black cloud,
That eats melatonin
By the handful.
I want to sleep.
I just can’t.

It’s been seven years since I slept well.
I’ve forgotten how it feels
To be well rested.

But it’s almost worth it,
For how quiet the world is,
While it sleeps.
How dark it is,
While the sun rests.
To know the moon understands,
And keeps you safe,
Even if it can’t gift you a dream.

Parent to Child

by Leo V. Kaplan

I let the ideas sift through your mind
like fine sand through an hourglass;
the notion of a revolving world,
with a flaming sun in its center,
the concept of a malleable future
and an obstinate past,

the idea that a month after your school starts
the trees’ green will shift into orange and red
and fall ethereally to the grass and dirt.
That before life returns
the ground will be wrapped
in a frigid blanket of glacial white.

But also that, as color returns to the world
then so too will the leaves,
and that your school will end
and you will frolic in the heat,
and that the rain will fall not in white blankets
but in light, beautiful droplets,
and that August will come again, and school too,

and that just as the seasons shift
and drag the world through a maelstrom of color,
so too will people come and go,

and that when my colors change in autumn
and I fall to the ground
and am buried under the snow’s coffin
someone else will come, in your spring,
and green will return again.

But you just looked at me
and said

“then I’ll just see you at the end of August,
when school starts back up.”

and I hope you haven’t changed too much
by then.

Moores Park

by Claire Taylor

In the beginning, I
tumbled, glass shards in palms,
hollered at trucks storming across the roundabout, and
chucked pinecones from the trees.
I planted my feet in the acorn-littered cement.

I was sugared tomato sweet,
swinging my bare legs against the rungs of stools,
smothering toast in swamps of raspberry jelly,
and leaving sticky fingerprints in borrowed books.
I sang deep into the night, refusing to go quietly.

I scrambled up to climb a maple
with arms outstretched,
and I truly believed that together,
we would rise out
above it all.

Houses splayed like a rainbow of matchboxes,
sky split open like a grin,
sun soaked and shivering,
ever higher
with each shuddering branch in hand.

And there we were,
climbing hydrangeas,
and morning glories,
and I,
all reaching heavenward
for the outrageous joy of growing.

Maybe the Man in the Moon is Real

by Morgan Acord

Mom always told me about the Man in the Moon
how the cat jumps over him, though I didn’t know these peculiarities until she held his hand.

Some nights, my cat yanks my ear and leads me further,
into my grandma’s parlor, the hum of the evening news.
Sitting, dozing off on plush carpet,
barely knee high to the arm of the sofa.

Fog outside of the windows,
an external curtain alarms me,
But your light leading, coming down,
the stairs, comforts me

I yearn in the darkness where I know
there are plastic angels, music boxes of Gibson Girls,

The Miller High Life Girl smooths your hair

I shiver in the lonely cold,
but I feel you lift me,
carry me up the stairs,

I nuzzle into your breasts, they smell of powdered lavender,
like the wallpaper climbing up, up, up,
the crescent moon smiling at me,
Old moving picture actresses twirl and blow us kisses with their petite cherry lips.

You lay with me in a day night bed,
stroke my tiny face, that you said graced you with sunshine at noon in mid-August.

“Come,” you say
and the sinking joy I feel, as you slip away and I wake.

May I Offer You a Rose

by Zoe Gurney

There once was a time when I spoke freely.
Without a care in the world, I would voice my
complaints, compliments, worries, and aspirations.
Seen. Heard. Living.

But now, with a maturing, thinking mind,
I realize that the world is unwilling to listen,
to see, to appreciate its beauty without
judgment or discrimination.
Its unfairness and inequity strike down the
while raising the

And yet, amidst all the pain and temptations,
We choose to struggle to survive another day.
Even if we must embrace the
countless voices
that sweetly suggest succumbing to a
painless end,
We embrace life. We embrace community.
We work to embrace ourselves.

Today, I still work to claim my voice.
Although there are people who try to steal,
to discourage,
to erase,
to undermine me,
they are not my greatest threats.
Above all, I seek to remove a
claw of steel
locked in place by none other than

The claw rests gently on my throat. A constant
Disobedience is met with strangulation.
To voice my true self, I must accept the pain,
the bruises,
And remind myself that pain is inevitable but
suffering does not have to be.
Most bruises heal in time, and any that linger
shall serve as honorable battle scars when I
emerge victorious from the
soul-sucking whirlpool of my mind.

In this ever-changing, cruel world, I journey on.
Treasuring the beautiful array of colors that
shine through moments and people,
I crawl through the thickets of the rose bush
with the optimism that I will, one day,
be able to extend a thorn-pricked hand
to the steel claw and kindly offer
a rose in place of my neck.

Little Red Wagon

by Shannon Abbott

I carry my curiosity wherever I go—
it is bright red with four wheels.
I’ve been accumulating dust and dirt on my walk,
still I never let go of the handle.
It used to get me in trouble—this wagon behind me,
when I would carry home buckets of worms,
in my little red wagon.
But after 20 years, the load gets heavy.
Knowing has become responsibility—
and the answers sometimes bite and bruise.
The red paint is dulling and cracks
and the wheels whine when I turn them.
Stuck in melancholy mud, I stand silent
and I wonder why I even bother. It irritates me.
I wonder where I went wrong, but then again,
when did cynicism turn to rust? I am not
complicit with expected mundanity.
Why have I not yet learned how to sail a boat?
Or how to play piano?
Somewhere in my wagon, I find a book about sailboats
and we keep trudging through together.


by Sophia Sherwood

I want to have meaningful, deep connections. Like
Open wounds.
Bleeding and pouring and gushing
And when there’s no more blood and they’ve crusted and dried over
I want to bandage each other up and kiss the scars and hold each other
Like we are pools of water in
Each other’s hands

And then I want to thank each other
For the good time
And say I love you even
When you’re ugly and mean and broken
And kiss the scars

I think that’s why I create those same
Wounds in myself
Desperate attempts at connection
A yearning so insatiable
Gashing tearing gnawing

But I find nothing but bone
No more blood to drink
So I seek out that of others
Clawing at their hearts and begging to be
Held but begging in the form of

Please, baby, just look at me
Just look at me, everything will be okay
I don’t want to hurt you
I want to hurt me and I want you
To tell me you love me anyway

I want to open you up and eat your heart
And every piece of meat that makes you up
Until there’s nothing left but bone
Hollow and beautiful

I want you to see me as my worst
Most horrifying self
And think
Despite it all, there’s still love

Why can’t we eat each other without the labels?
Why don’t you want me to caress you, swallow you
Whole just so we can go and taste others
Soon after?

Why don’t you want empty I love you’s
And burning kisses
Nail marks down your back followed by
Inside jokes and empty promises?

You don’t want my double edged sword?
You don’t want my poison
My tar, seeping out of your ribcage?
You don’t want to stuff each other to the brim
With smoke and honey?

Baby, that doesn’t sound good to you?
Why, oh why not? I don’t understand

My charred flesh isn’t appealing to you?
You said you wanted a piece of it
Just to carry with you, a reminder of me
I’m cutting off every inch now
Flaying myself, just for you, lover

I’ll tie up my carcass with a pretty
Red bow
Just for you, lover

Aren’t you happy?

I didn’t mean it when I said I love you
I’m sorry, I promise I didn’t mean it,

Not in the way you think, at least
My love is a far different version
A melancholic rendition
More synonymous with death
Or decay

More akin to a forest fire
Burning through everything everywhere
All at once

Oh, no, I burned you didn’t I?

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it
I promise I didn’t mean it
We can kiss again once I’ve cooled
Can’t we?
Won’t you hold me again after your wounds have
Scabbed over, lover?
Won’t you look at me again?

I promise I didn’t mean it when I said I love you

I promise I didn’t mean it

Please don’t be afraid.

In the Palm of My Hand

by Sophia G.S.

If I could fit you
in the palm of my hand,
I would carry you with me
where ever I went.
Like a doll made of foxtail,
soft yet prickly,
never a weed in my eyes,
only hands and head and heart.
No matter your size my
heart is yours,
red and beating between your
fingers, soft and pale.
I pulled it freely from my chest
to give to you,
because I could tell
that’s where it belonged,
held so tenderly
like it were something precious.
You tell me sweet secrets
that mean nothing
and I listen,
sat beside you
and watching unseeing
because there is nothing else
in my world
that isn’t you.

What I wouldn’t give to be you,
so we could be together always

Double Sonnet for Loving the Bandit

by Anonymous

God’s name is Google and I ask them if it is
normal to feel like a sinking buoy, too heavy to
tread water, too light to sink like a bullet into
flesh: and it’s been lifetimes since I’ve felt the
thrill of slam poetry and snaps and the ecstasy
of calling men out on their bullshit. If sensory
deprivation tanks were among the FBI’s verified
methods of torture, that would be this hellyear.
Time is a desert in an hourglass with no oasis,
no respite for the cacophony of self call-outs.
I am alone in the bathroom at 11:39 in the dark
and I am thinking about walking to the knife
and playing stab between the fingers because
I am this family’s vestigial organ. But no,

it’s these peeling white walls who have made me
prisoner. Wake up. The world is burning, the pan
is charred black as the india ink you spilled when
you tried to imitate Lunch Money in second grade;
remember how happy you were? Remember how
happiness works? It’s a reverse spin cycle. You
gotta take the heat before the swim. You are
my favorite poet. Is that vain to say, or am I
exercising an unalienable right? Remember how
you gave Owen a resting bitch face when he came
out? How now you’re the one on the receiving
line, and all you want to do is let the phone hang?
You are a desert nomad in an oasis standoff with
a bandit and the bandit is you. Wave and say hello.

2008 Recession Sestina

by Shannon Abbott

I want to get rich quick because parasites
have sucked my memories penniless. Subprime
assholes with expensive clothes want to play God?
Then make it rain the way Armageddon came with risk.
Gamble away a marriage, a home, but such greed
will blossom like a corpse decaying with fraud.

Terms meant to confuse and mislead have become clear: fraud.
Wall Street seems not so mighty when cowardly parasites
infests its funds—still—the beast called greed
has conceived righteous revenue: subprime
loans. Because the housing market will never fail, no risk.
That was the story that existed, but not in the eyes of God.

When lies become instant gratification, pray God
forgives that outstanding debt. Ignorant fraud
has blown like a balloon and there is the risk
of a nations death. Yet no one quits. Like parasites,
houses are the hosts and the thing that is dying. The subprime
mortgage crisis thus appears! All for greed.

Old news preying upon the poor, such old news greed.
Yet it prevails everyday—maybe even against God
because crisis turned to disaster with CDOs. Subprime
loans and CDOs sound severe but it is as simple as fraud.
Suddenly, the balloon pops, the bubble bursts, the parasites
are tumbling down a downwards arrow all thanks to a little risk.

And still, some are too big to notice the risk—
But I was small. The government may have bailed out that greed,
but it did not give me back my home. Those parasites
turned my six-year-old sorrow into a number. And God
watched as I lost my security. Watched a marriage crumble like fraud.
Those B rated bastards did not have to watch some subprime

story. A parent crying on birthdays and Christmas? That is a subprime
savior paying for the giants’ risk.
Now I am older and frugal and I recognize that fraud.
So keep feeding upon bullshit stew but greed
is a sin. Though the government might try, God
does not bail-out from hell. Not lowly parasites.

I learned that fraud is spelled subprime
and not to trust parasites addicted to risk.
So here I warn the greedy: fear God