i imagine this variety of heartbreak tastes like
the cleaving of a pomegranate.
the sweetest handheld explosive.
a hundred fleshy flashbangs onto
tongue and shirt and sleeve;
a vermilion homing device.
and when i say heartbreak, i mean i
spent all my cash at the market.
i mean the cutting board’s stained
and i’ve framed it. I mean i dipped
my dad’s bible in fruit juice.
i mean i have written more love notes
to the globular, crystalline arils
than i’d ever care to add up.
when i say heartbreak, i mean i
dumped the dish soap. I mean
i pulled the pin and hope to god
the wallpaper’s ruined. I mean my
pockets are full of explosives, and
i endeavor to paint the house pink.
when i say heartbreak, i mean i’ve
cracked myself wide open,
and hope to never close up again.
—© 2023 by Kayla Johnson
waves crash, days pass
the tide, it will rise and fall
time waits for no one
—© 2023 by Andrew Wiegman
Sand in between my toes.
Sound of the waves and the seagulls.
Warm water reached my feet then retreated.
The warm orange sun setting on the coast.
A cloudless sky filled with orange.
Then suddenly rushing wind blew through the warm air chilling everything.
The water became as cool as ice as it rushed past my feet
The sky was filled with dark clouds that blackened the entire sky.
The beautiful sunset was blocked out in seconds
eaten by the storm clouds.
The seagulls become silent
the waves crashed like thunder against the coast.
The sand turned into mud,
making me slip.
As I fall, a wave came and swallowed me whole.
The waves dragged me down as if I was weightless.
All I could feel was the cold water
As it suffocated me.
All I could see was darkness.
I looked up, and I saw the warm glow of the sun far away.
I started fighting the waves
I pushed up towards this glow.
It seemed impossible to reach
Yet it was at my fingertips.
As I reached farther and farther, it moved farther and farther away.
Trying to stay away
I then lunged at the light,
And resurfaced in the middle of the ocean
The water had calmed and warmed
I looked and there was a beautiful sunset.
I looked to my right
There was a boat which I climbed on
And as I sailed away in the boat, I stared at the warm sunset.
The warm sunset that always came back.
—© 2023 by Kyle Charniak
There was both a broken bit
and a lament and a
and the cloud of a day
There was the warmth of the sun
hidden behind the damp of the air
in the story of the storm to come.
There was an open surgical site of a grievous heart
charred with ache and burn—
for we live in paper houses and piles of smoke.
But the body is still intact; sinew is attached to fascia—
There was hope for change
which came and went
at the end of business hours.
It was by all accounts,
a failure of a day—
it was a steaming brew
in an imagined yard
and an old aspen tree sawed to the ground.
There they sat on nature’s futon—
feet relishing bare
in the length of late summer grass.
Summoned—an electric, magnificent wind
whipping through two Auburn-flared
kindred, language-loving spirits
laughing their way through
a stolen hour
past the lack of sunset for the clouds—
and it fed souls and renewed spirits,
and reminded them of the power of God.
—© 2023 by Roshelle Amundson
The Leaves Still Fell
For the leaves still fell that day
Coating the ground a brilliant harvest hue
But those there to witness, had all gone away.
No one to watch as the hollow trees sway
The grass covered in undisturbed dew
For the leaves still fell that day
Cars left unstarted, keys left on the dashboard tray
Houses formerly well protected, with doors left askew
Those who had made home here, had all gone away
Without proper harvest, fields overgrow with hay
Buildings now connected by plant-based sinew
For the leaves still fell that day
Structures left to crumble, their weakness on full display
Yet formations of plants would emerge, brand new
But those that once stood so proudly, had all gone away
Truth be told, leaves don’t care what people have to say
Thriving in defiance of the absence of you
And those who would once witness, had long since been away
For the leaves still fell that day.
—© 2023 by Andrew Wiegman
Many thousand rounds, crimson wave, rabid wolf tearing through sanctuary
Leave my sins, astral projection, king’s ashamed bearing, blue sanctuary
Muffled and in vain, the bodies tower high above the ground, truth is pain.
Lest I seek the muddied marsh, humid goose grass glaring, to sanctuary.
Must we act so vicious, with bloodlust for breakfast, fractured soul for dinner
Lo and behold, we are barbarians, a blaring coup of sanctuary.
Mortally wounded, no recompense, no longer human, a voidous shell.
Laughter shall never grace these lips, sparing none, in lieu of sanctuary
Murderer, the human conscious freedom, stripped and dashed toward the dirt floor
Love is an alien concept, fleshen tearing, we outgrew sanctuary
—© 2023 by Lily Greeley
Your waves carved away at my cliffs,
until only a system of caves remained.
Tunnels of a former me
twist and weave in patterns
I don’t understand—
One day I’ll collapse in on myself,
leaving nothing a pile of rubble,
of the person I used to be.
—© 2023 by Serenity Block
Trigger warning: eating disorders.
I have always been obsessed with the stage period
from birth to this day and age. But standards are tight
and if you put up a fight, then you aren’t very ladylike.
Primed and proper, polite, and poised, expectations
for little girls, not boys. Lashes and wigs, models
starve they aren’t pigs. Learn to eat proper, sit proper,
walk proper, be proper. Be feminine. Not a son, a
daughter. High expectations and many limitations.
This is what we are taught to expect. So, we poke and
prod and judge and starve to fit your image, that’s
tighter than the corset I had at age 5. Smaller than
the portions I eat to barely survive.
These standards aren’t just for pageants and runways.
But also, the high school hallways. From the
stares, laughs, and jokes. Even when your only meal
was a Diet Coke. They don’t need to say “fat”; you feel
it in your bones. But it’s not just that: you see it in
your clothes. Sizing up every week and even going to
the store is a feat. You make yourself busy, too busy
So you lose yourself, but win “good looks” because
it was never about smarts or books. Now that you’ve
conquered the hunger inside and heard your inner
child cry. You hear them beg you to eat, you don’t
understand why you would want defeat. Yet, no matter
how hard they tried. You bite your tongue; you swallow
your pride. Those expectations withered you down to
bone, now that you ate yourself, you’re truly alone.
—© 2023 by Chasity Bunting
If I Win, You Win
While packing for a move, I cut my finger open
on a piece of glass. Right on the tip.
My first thought was to run it under the faucet
like a burn; water turning a pale pink. Then I
stuck it in my mouth. It took two bandaids, one vertical
across the cut and another wrapped around lengthwise to secure.
No, of course, it isn’t moving mountains or felling
any sort of tree, severing rings of growth.
It is inane blood in the sink and in my teeth,
dull pressure and a deep sting—
It is every man that walks into my workplace
and says he likes my smile as I scan
his fifteenth losing lottery ticket this week,
my eyes crinkled in the corners as I tear the ticket in two.
It is, naturally, an anchor tied to my pinky,
hands cupped around dice and a quick outward
breath for good luck. It is not the end
of the world. The sink is still running, after all.
—© 2023 by August Wiegman
i cannot describe the pang
that envelops my heart
when the final orange leaves
have crashed into cool dirt
and the sun has hidden her
golden rays from my wan mouth
it’s a gloomy, gray sky
that blows in every single year,
and yet i am never ready for
the deep chill in my bones
or the empty glaze of my eyes
summer leaves me stranded in the whipping wind
all i want is to crawl home, bury myself into fleece and ache, till some
semblance of warmth
returns to my heart, and ignites my soul.
orpheus is full of warmth that will last me all winter long,
if i could i would cling to his deep chest through the burn of December
run my fingers through waves of dark hair as winter encases us in her frozen cavern
it’s just him and i beneath a blazing fire
i could be moved by the deep chocolate of his eyes.
begging him to stay
lead me home,
away from the storm
that holds me hostage
—© 2023 by Alyssa Hannam
Until I was 18, nobody believed that I couldn’t see. I mean, I could see, but just. Everything was too far away for me to see clearly, unless it was right in front of my face, literally. Thank God my dad bought that flatscreen television when he did because I was missing crucial details. Only one thing could bring the structureless, fuzzy world into view. As I peered into the viewfinder on my first camera, it started to make sense as to why everyone was always looking around. The whole world changed. I could see each individual green, red, and yellow leaf on the trees as opposed to the still beautiful but very much a blob I saw before. The white caps on the waves of Lake Michigan became more than just something my dad said; they became real. Suddenly, the imaginary line where the sky and the lake met wasn’t imaginary at all! My brother’s smile as he climbed through the bright green tunnel at our local park, back when he was able to do so with ease, was clear and bright in my eyes. I was able to see the beautiful things that I’d always known were still there as I backed away. I knew the trees kept their leaves, and the waves kept their hats, but now I could keep them forever.
Before I could realize what was happening, I watched my great grandmother’s memories run away. My great-grandfather sat me down one day, just the two of us, and told me he wrote diaries detailing their love story. He told me it was okay if she didn’t remember, because he did, and now I did, and he knew she still felt it. After this talk, I learned to gather as many memories as I could. Each time my brother smiled, click. Each sunrise and sunset I saw, click. Each time my grandparents picked up my brothers, click. When I meet my littlest brothers, click. Everything and everyone I held dear, click. I was young, and I didn’t know much, but I knew how important memories were. My friends would giggle and throw up their hands as they heard another click. My brother learned to show his tongue in a split second at the sight of my lifted camera. I swear my cat learned to roll his eyes after a couple hundred clicks. I learned I wanted to remember their laughs, their silly faces, and their not-so-picture-perfect poses, too. Not everything that is beautiful is perfect, but I want to remember them all.
My great-grandmother has been gone for a long time now. By the end, they said she had lost almost every memory. I was there, though. She hadn’t lost them; they were ripped away from her. Her brain worked a lot like my eyes; if something was right there, she could grab hold of it for just a second, but life isn’t stagnant. Time passes. So as the second passed, she lost her grip. It didn’t take long for the moment to become structureless and fuzzy, until it was nothing at all. I watched her eyes fade from piercing, vast seas, to foggy, empty skies. She didn’t know she was fading as quickly as her memories.
I have glasses now, but I still collect all my memories. Everywhere I go, click. Everyone I get to love, click. Every flower, every sunset, every night sky, click, click, click. With every captured memory, I hope she was able to find hers after all, and that one day, I can show her all of mine.
—© 2023 by Rebecca Stewart
Leverage My Life
Moral obligation is funny to me.
We dedicate ourselves to things in life
Small things, big things, medium things.
The cool air on a cloudy day in the city,
Helping the people who live next to us.
I grimace behind a hidden face to them,
But it is not out of hatred for people.
It is hatred for myself, my mistakes.
They remind me of myself in the past.
So the streets get further and further away.
As my projection of anger grows further,
I stay silent and none will ever know.
—© 2023 by J.E. Leddon
Eclipse the Sun
Unless the shadows do our bidding so,
We will always detest the wicked dark;
Of gallant storm rages and tempest’s snow,
The night is bitter as a hollow heart
Oh but how you contest its intentions
Beauty undaunted and likeness profound,
But your words are of poisoned deceptions,
In your sharp eyes love is not to be found
Oh such woe, your cost is hard to be won,
I am the fiery scourge of the red sky If only you,
moon, may eclipse the sun!
But to reform, you would prefer to die
Oh the shadows ever so cruel to me,
The light and the dark never meant to be.
—© 2023 by Vanessa Stalvey
It’s funny how
women live in a world
both the virgin and the vamp
both the lady and the tramp
It’s as if we’re
dressed how you prefer us
only your preference turns on a dime
and then we’re lost in time
unraveling a rhyme
only you define.
ain’t yours to possess or obsess.
into our beautiful awesomeness.
when society tells us to be weak.
Having the gall
when politicians don’t want us to speak.
ain’t yours to control.
Because I won’t be part
of your next bankroll.
A societal sinkhole
run by dead souls
souls caught in a tailspin
of me versus him.
But my life
ain’t any less dim.
the same game
the same name
the same bling
I’ll be the virgin
I’ll be the vamp.
I’ll be the lady
be the tramp.
but only on my terms.
—© 2023 by Jenna Cornell
The Right Path
It took me 3 months to accept the breakup
I still haven’t gotten over you,
But I know I am on the right path
I no longer lie in my bed all day
(I get up at 8 am and make coffee.)
I no longer type your name into social media
(You’re blocked on everything.)
I don’t look through our old pictures
(Their ashes are at the bottom of a fire pit.)
I don’t ask my friends about you
(Instead we laugh and talk about our lives.)
I know I am on the right path of forgetting you
It was a hard 3 months
Yet here I am,
Writing about how I am healing
I will make it to the end of that path
I will forget you.
—© 2023 by Paeyton Bengston
The Box Elder Tree
I am just a box elder tree
But little known, I am your enemy
Watch me now on a growing spree
Cut me down so that soon you can see
The many heads of cerberus made free
New stems over there and also right here
Tried again but you could not clear
Do not fear, I will come again next year
Like your bitterness, reappear
Forgive them again, but it perseveres
Once you were content with people
Just gather beneath a church’s steeple
Pancakes with a bit of maple
Enjoy the mass, it comes with a sequel
Bitterness makes not a staple
Of course, I am just a box elder tree
Perhaps, it is your hate for thee
How it returns stronger, so much like me
The bitterness will always be
When you keep forgiving so willingly
—© 2023 by Grace Desotell