PC: María Astrea
my father's biggest fear
that night I confessed to him and the others
I saw the fear on his face
he feared I’d be like her
& I know I got these dark thoughts from her
her tempest were thoughts
that formed at her conception
they ranged from misery to mania
but my storm is just misery
& while it rages the same
I won’t let my storm consume me like hers did
she let in the water of her mind & drowned
it’s in this way she taught me to swim
About The Author - Hanna Reed Ketting
"Hanna Reed Ketting grew up all over the USA, but currently lives in NYC. Above all else, Hanna is a lover of the written word, but she's interested in many things. She loves her one-eyed cat, her many plants, and walking up and down Broadway. She can be found on Instagram at @hannareedketting."
PC: Juliette Badia
This language barrier is something new to me. I thought I only ever needed my eyes to see. The connection between my ears and mind are confused. This language part of my brain has never been used. I’m surrounded by those who speak in their native tongue. Over a grand feast, in this conversation I feel shunned. Everyone laughed and shared stories only they could understand. Not being involved, this conversation and food taste bland. I slaved to prepare a feast only meant for kings and queens. I’m tired and exhausted, I want to remove my makeup and dream. But he is persistent, “The show must go on” “Don’t be rude”. So, sit straight, pretend to eat and smile in this exotic filled room.
I began to question my presence and why the fuck I was there, when I would look at someone while they spoke even though I couldn’t hear. Apparently, everyone knew English, but communication is easiest when they don’t have to translate when their minds are the busiest. I understand and am respectful towards their preference but where is the respect back when I’m sitting in silence; irrelevance. In a room filled with a beautiful native language I once adored I excused myself to the bathroom when I just couldn’t take it anymore. There were too many conversations that I could not participate in and by the looks of it now, it’s too late into the party to even begin.
He comes back in to see what is wrong and why I haven’t returned. He said I’m not being polite, and people are becoming concerned. I explained how I felt, and he understood and said “That’s normal.” but instructed I needed to suck it up, drink some tea and be more formal. He said the guest kept asking for me and wanted to get to know me but where was that interest throughout the entire gathering?
Now that I’m at my wits end and have retreated to my room, everyone suddenly has an interest to see how this flower blooms? As the halls grow quiet, everyone leaves and excuses were made for my absence, sitting and looking pretty is not something I will do just for status. I am more than just a lovely picture, a trophy, a pretty face to look at, a bragging right, a status booster, shit I’m so much more than that. I have a mind filled with beautiful concepts; a heart filled with love. I have so many amazing qualities I don’t expect anyone else to be proud of.
About The Author - Destiny Star
Destiny Star Portillo is an explorer of the mind and a self-proclaimed healer. With a degree in psychology and her strong empathic abilities, her mission is to help others understand themselves as well as each other through photography, poetry, song writing and creative visual content. Her online presence focuses on the importance of introspection, empowerment and self-love. Her photography has been published in Venefica Magazine vol. 2.
PC: Selma Reis
veins of serrated
excremental vestiges of
tendons metamorphose into tight-rope wire,
entwined with flesh and wax
(do not reveal
wails drowned out by
cherubim swans and their song at the intermission of dawn
night-time heartaches evanescing into a sunlit repose,
dwindling into shadows
by the vagrant streams of light;
eternal compromise of
surrendering their peroxide bones for the vultures to cull
you were/you are/you could have become
curling blood around your fingers in marble chapels
radiating deceit in venerable stone mansions
collapsing into states of
decay/disharmony/devotion to ruin
orchestrated by the churn
of the gears
of Those who draw you towards inhumane curiosities;
those over-exposed photographs of
split between the silver-tongued disease which you have become.
About The Author - Grace Alice Evans
Grace Alice Evans (she/they) is a LGBTQ+, mixed-heritage poet, writer, sound/visual artist and survivor, whose work explores living with mental illness, trauma, recovery, and the dichotomy between the inner and outer worlds. Grace’s social media handle is @gracealiceevans.
PC: Frederic Agius
watch me rise
after Maya Angelou
I do not know what
history will write about me,
I am already bitter, lies
twisting around my body
like vines, dirt stains
on my back from those
who disregard my person
Upset by my sassiness,
society labels me a threat,
my profession an embarrassment,
angry that I do not surround
myself with their gloomy aura,
I surround myself with Black gold,
men & women of the diaspora,
wearing crowns glowing
like moons & suns, certain
in their Blackness just
like the tides
I am often broken,
but not bowed, lowering
my head to only one
God not man, who cry
for my obedience
Let me be haughty,
I will continue to offend,
as I dance in my backyard,
listening to my soul sing
I don't fear your hate
I will dodge your bullet words
I look into your eyes
& watch them grow in surprise
The temple of my thighs
closed to all intruders
my sexiness is not a prize
to be placed on a shelf
Watch me rise
a Black woman dreaming
Watch me rise
a daughter of the continent
Watch me rise
a rip current in the ocean
controlling the tides
Watch me rise
Watch me rise
dear daughters of meltdowns
We cannot piece you back together.
Your family, your friends are at a loss.
They shuffle away from your suffering
as if an infection they don't want to catch.
Unhappiness is a contagion. It leaves
blood at the root of the family tree.
You were born bright, but like a star,
you have fallen from the sky. Lost hope
in the clouds. Hit the ground in the most
imperfect manner. Wretched girl, the
earth's soul is torn. We wish your sadness
had a different origin. We don't want it
to cause death at an early age. There is
no option B. Make the most of your life
in motion. You can get it done. You are
as wild as the wind. Blowing away thorns.
Your tears form a pool that drowns
your sorrows. Our love for you is
a hunger like a torch in the night.
support the feminine
From Nefertiti to myself, women hold a long line of abuse. Conversations kept behind closed doors. Barred and locked like prisoners. There's a psychology to keep us entangled in jockstraps and apron strings. We covet the open roads of manhood. Women are a collective like a beehive. We all want to be queen. I have my crown high on a shelf, it shines like honey. This is my vice, women have many vices which grows, because, we wish to be a part of society. Our spouses stop courting us after marriage, all a plot to poison our free will. The manners of men tend towards violence. And they wonder why we act crazy. Men drunk on power. Their emotions aren't at stake. We are classical and divine. Too forgiving as well. Men cannot forget us. We are lionesses. It is known.
Blackness is a pleasure.
I can imagine
the long line
who look like me
& wonder where
their bodies end
& mine begins.
Flesh of chocolate
A face checked
by the hand of God.
My DNA is made
of blood, sweat & tears.'
I was formed
by the whip, the field
& the chain.
I embody words, books
All my people watched the inferno of our bloodline.
To see my phoenix, take flight
Mama, can you see my light?
I apologize for what I didn't do when you were alive.
I am here.
About The Author - Shirley Jones-Luke
Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and essayist. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Mass. Shirley has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her work focuses on culture, family, history, and society. She has attended workshops at Grub Street, Open Mouth, Martha's Vineyard, and VONA.
PC:Lisa Marie Kaspar
We were sitting on a blanket
In the afternoon heat when
You said you were Jesus
You could see numbers
And hear the birdsong
And read the signs
And answer to world peace
Convinced, concerned, confused
The zodiac and the colours of blue
And the power of mind reading
And the way light bounced off the walls
Had the power of God
Now indebted to you
A leaf falls feather like and soft
It parachutes down onto your hand
Plant power, Psychology and Physics
The pyramids and personality
Splitting yourself into three
Matching birthdays and future tense
Laying down then jolting back up
Fresh ideas swarming and swimming
Consuming the person you used to be
The one I thought I couldn't see
I encouraged tiny sips of water
To ease away the sleepless nights
Relaxing those wide eyes and tired hands
And sore taste buds from sour sweets
The diet of a holy prophet
Had to be one of endless energy
Lighting a bonfire in the woods
Hidden away in the washroom
You kept a stack of notepads
And art books and pens
Alongside matches and
Pictures of friends
What else was there todo
But sit with you and wait
For older adults to arrive
And take you someplace
About The Author: Sophie Fisk
Sophie Fisk is an emerging poet and recently graduated psychologist. Residing in London, England, they took the leap into writing to ground feelings and experiences that would otherwise remain elusive. You can follow them on Twitter here: @SOPHIE_SESF
PC: Selma Reis
Today the wizard actor plays,
a role he self creates.
He energizes every cell
and wanders stores and streets.
Above his head, he calls the clouds,
and mantras fill with rain.
Thunder and his waving arms,
keep time within his brain.
This wizard knows the secret signs,
of every oak and maple.
He counts the numbers 6 and 9,
and dances near the willow.
Back at home the TV screen,
gives messages of grace.
Music from the phonograph,
affirms the wizard’s faith.
Nonetheless, the wizard rides,
inside an institution.
Believing wizard’s ought to hide,
They make his reservation.
As the wizard’s magic fades
dissolving into gloom,
he waits to greet the other saints
who greet him in his room.
From deep in her soul,
A feeling- purely inspired- ascends
That promises magic and purpose.
This girl unfurls her mind
To chronicle rhythms and signs
That quickens her poem’s foundation.
But slowly her vision
Grinds down into pieces of memory,
And soon her ideas become fragments.
As deflated thinking
And dehydrated words lose their power,
The left-over verse bubbles over.
This insecure poem
That breeds self-conscious musings
Finally collapses in on itself.
The “wanna be” artist
And make believe mystical prophet
Then sadly returns to her anguish.
A Day in Hell for the Mentally Ill
tap water coffee
hand me down cigarettes
salvaged from the floor.
They walk like zombies down dark dreary halls,
while their silent
screaming drones on within
Then half competent doctors
Ask their sanity questions
Like “Who is the president?”
as if it matters at all.
Then appear the nurses’ medications that
make the residents
sleep on the floor and perpetually wait on line.
In the end the residents’ only releases
are recycled Spam
mind numbing sleep, from which they pray to God they will never
About The Author: John F. Zurn
John Zurn has been faced with the challenge of bipolar disorder for his entire adult life. Despite this challenge, he still managed to work as a teacher and counselor for over thirty-five years. He was also a member of NAMI of Dupage Speaker’s Bureau and has given around four hundred presentations to various groups including police officers, medical students, and volunteer groups. John continues to volunteer in various capacities. He has also published several books with Chipmunka Publishing and Authorhouse. Now retired, he continues to write and publish poems and stories and recently has had two stories published by cc&d magazine, poems published with FreeXpresSion magazine and The Avocet, A Journal of Nature Poetry, and a play published by Off the Wall Plays. As one of seven children, his experiences growing up continue to help inspire his art and influence his life. John was born in 1954 and has an M.A. in English. He has been married to his wife, Donna, for thirty seven years.
PC: Iosune de Goñi
The Black Dog
That Black Dog
The one people refer to
Seems to enjoy the food
I leave out at night
It munches mercilessly on the
Flowers left unwatered
On the clothes left unwashed
It drinks from my weepy eyes
And takes air from my wheezing chest
It follows me home through familiar streets
Tainted with hazy unfamiliarity
It sits on my feet and nibbles at my toes
Clawing for attention as I sit froze
It sniffs out dishes that collect mould
And hobbies that lie forgotten
But at night I let it sit on my bed
Curling into my weighted blanket
I share with it my daily embarrassments
My greatest fears and hearts longings
A childhood slumber party
I pet and I stoke and I hold tight
To the thing that always wants to fight
But as the sun pours in through the window
And bird song urges me to wake up
I notice that Black dog
The one people refer to
Is now fatter and hungrier
Than the one before
About The Author: Sophie Fisk
Sophie Fisk is an emerging poet and recently graduated psychologist. Residing in London, England, they took the leap into writing to ground feelings and experiences that would otherwise remain elusive.