Category Archives: Poetry

Myrtle Beach, Spring 2011 by Jay Douglas


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Myrtle Beach, Spring 2011

Sometimes I go back
to the sea
and imagine you there
with me instead of her

stern, solemn frown watching me
watch the dragons
chase each other from cloudy sky
to rolling surf

the vast expanse of black
blending the horizon with the blank of space
cold sand hard against our toes
footprints licked clean by the rising tide
Suppose we are all infinite

Suppose in this imagined memory the wind blew
fishtailing your red-brown hair
around your face and whipping it
into your eyes

Suppose we found a peace and understanding
Suppose the sand castles built themselves
half kicked-over, walls caved-in

Suppose there were falling stars
pretty as a postcard
instead of homeless, barefoot beggars
and it all came easily
effortlessly

these are the sorts of wishes I make
on birthday candles
things like: to know the name of the Sea

and by that I don’t mean the word “Sea”
or the names the ancients gave
to various expanses of water
but the name the Sea calls itself
when it lays down to sleep
We all have secret names

When our layers of identity are stripped away
the names are what we have left
Suppose you knew mine
and I yours
The names no tongue can form to speak
that the Sea whispers
to the Wind
and the Wind to the clouds
so that they might divine our fortunes
for those who know how to read them
as the dragons race on
under a bright spring moon
sprinting from shore to sky to shore
again
cresting foam on the horizon




Jay Douglas

Jay Douglas is a recent graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Jay has a dual degree in Religious Studies and English, an affinity for odd music and found sounds, and an intimidating yo-yo collection. Jay’s work has previously been published in Words Dance, Rising Phoenix Review, and Red Flag Poetry.



(NHI) by Jeremy Jacob Peretz


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(NHI)*

Blue lives don’t need to tell Black lives
that they don’t think their lives matter when
it’s encoded into (in)justice system’s jargon of
technical term cyphers of different alphanumeric
combinations color categorized levels of threats
acronyms distilling down values for efficient tidy
responses easing communication yet concealing
meanings meant not to be understood except by
those on the “inside” deploying the language in
secrets only law enforcement personnel know
and maybe their allies and kin who could have
been the ones who revealed hidden definitions
to researchers press and other interested parties
that to the police and state certain persons are
not persons not humans at all but when sighted
houseless disabled black brown gay caught out
of place in a wrong zone selling gang affiliated
are nonpersons conspiring to commit crimes
that somehow have no humans involved.



* Note: Sylvia Wynter writes “that public officials of the judicial system of Los Angeles routinely used the acronym N.H.I. to refer to any case involving the breach of the rights of young Black males who belong to the jobless category of the inner city ghettos. N.H.I. means ‘no humans involved.’” David Berreby adds that “NHI — No Humans Involved” is “American law enforcement slang for crimes by prisoners against other prisoners.” Observing that police and other state authorities “admit to using the term,” Elizabeth Sisco references an example in a 1990 news article wherein “the Sacramento Bee quoted a San Diego police officer: ‘These were misdemeanor murders, biker women and hookers. We’d call them NHI’s-no humans involved.’”

Sources: Sylvia Wynter, “‘No Humans Involved’: An Open Letter to My Colleagues,” in Forum N.H.I.: Knowledge for the 21st Century, (Institute N.H.I., 1994); David Berreby, Us and Them: The Science of Identity, (University of Chicago Press, 2008); Elizabeth Sisco, “NHI-No Humans Involved,” in Critical Condition: Women on the Edge of Violence, ed. Amy Scholder, (City Lights Books, 1993).




Jeremy Jacob Peretz

Jeremy Jacob Peretz is a doctoral candidate in Culture and Performance in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. He is currently teaching, conducting fieldwork, and writing a dissertation on intersections of religious and racial politics in Guyana. Jeremy has received numerous awards and fellowships in support of his ethnographic field research and writing, including the Ralph C. Altman Award from the Fowler Museum and second place prize in the 2017 Ethnographic Poetry Competition hosted by the American Anthropological Association. His writings have appeared in Anthropology & Humanism, Blithe Spirit, Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, Ufahamu, and elsewhere in print and online.



The Poetry Brothel by Jessica Mehta


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The Poetry Brothel

Last night I was a whore
at the seedy poetry brothel
where men and women bought
my time with poker chips. In return,
I took their arms or hands, led them
to back rooms and read them my words—
split open my insides stuffed with you—
over candles that smelled
of strange flowers. My waist-
length hair kept tucked under the black
bob wig, my toes gone numb in too-
expensive shoes, and you
watched from the bar. I was never good

at flirting with women. Not much
better with men. But I think
it would have been easier
(I would have been easier)
to let them needle and nose
between my legs
rather than give up the words
I birthed for you, flying loose
between my teeth. It was an affair
of the dirtiest kind, the first
cheat where the guilt stuck hard.




Jessica Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of six collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery , the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at jessicamehta.com.



Peach Splitting Possibility by Louisa Muniz


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Peach Splitting Possibility

Who knew trees commune
in the cargo of their roots?

He says I make mountains out of molehills
I’m too sensitive               & I repeat myself.

The boneless tongue is a heartbreaker
it sharpens the blade         by stinging.

I no longer argue. My heart is
a peach                    splitting possibility.

You’re right I say & breathe in   fractured air.
I send him white light.

I dream of life without him   a new lover
tracing my scars. Every day I fail at something.

My intentions too small   a silkworm
unsettled      a stone dragging moss.

I’m whittled down to half human
the other half      carrying me home.

My heart is still a fistful of prickles & sun.
It flowers                                    in vinegar.

If I repeat myself      it’s because
I think I’m repeating myself               better.

Who knew my heart      uprooted tree
would throb in its nest           unheard?




Louisa Muniz

Louisa Muniz is a freelance writer and a reading/writing tutor. She lives in Sayreville, NJ. She is a recent retired reading specialist and takes pride in having been a National Board Certified teacher who traveled to China to learn about their educational system. She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean University. Her work has been published in Rose Red Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Snapdragon Journal & is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge. Her poetry speaks to the term ‘Latin Identity’ in many ways and is about telling her own story, reaching out to others and relating those stories to the community and the world at large.



Recalled by Kelly Jones


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Recalled

Late this summer I received a letter
warning me that the car I drove
was defective and its airbag, if deployed,
could shoot shards of metal into my lungs.

It said deployed,
as if a drive is a mission
and highways are combat zones.

I work at a literacy center and the language I use
is surprisingly militaristic.
I give students batteries of tests.
We drill them on phonemes and I recruit volunteers
for days of service. This 9/11
I made a sign on poster board
that students and volunteers wrote on.
They shared what they remembered
and why they were thankful
for those who have fought
terrorism ever since the towers fell.

I didn’t sign it because I couldn’t
think of anything to say
that could sit for a week on a table
between books about heroes and comics about war.
But I did draw a bird flying between
the two columns of signatures and stories.

It has been nine years since he disappeared in the desert,
after an unarmored Humvee exploded.
I don’t have panic attacks anymore but I do say
fuck this a lot and would be pissed off
if I died in a fender bender because safety equipment failed me.




Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a librarian in training that currently calls Greensboro, NC their home. Kelly earned their MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. Three of their favorite things are manatees, glitter, and Wild Turkey. In their spare time, Kelly tries to keep houseplants alive, runs The Gambler Mag, and attempts to come to terms with the concept of infinity.



Addiction by James Roach


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Addiction

When she asked me if I believe I have a problem with alcohol,
it felt different to answer “yes” out loud,
my voice echoing back at me,
rather than just checking a box on a form full of questions
I should have been asking myself all along.
Questions I deemed too difficult to answer.
Not like not knowing how to solve a math problem,
but more like knowing how to save yourself
but being afraid it’ll be too hard to show your work.
2 DUI’s in 4 years and more than that
if you count all the times I should have gotten caught.
The metal of the handcuffs was cold and heavy
and not at all like the cheap pairs we played with as kids.
They were simple to maneuver out of while laughing
at our cunning escape techniques,
not knowing then that being arrested isn’t so funny.
Jail has no clocks,
no windows,
and no comfort
but plenty of time to think and plead yourself
into promising you’ll do better.
I wrote myself a letter
in anxious and hungry handwriting,
using the bible as something hard
under my piece of paper and golf pencil.
I wanted to document my version of rock bottom.
By the time I read this into a microphone,
I will be 61 days sober which today equals 197 days
that I haven’t almost killed myself or anyone else.
But 197 days is still just a drop in the bucket for the 7 years I could have.
For the 7 years I drank myself into believing
it wasn’t a problem to survive that way.
For the behavior I wish I didn’t have to call my own
but that I hold in my hands,
with my name written all over it
in the handwriting of the relationships I’ve ruined.
For the behavior I had even without alcohol,
my magic trick being I can still ruin everything without drinking.
Switch my triggers from the grocery store beer aisle
to the sound of cartoon dollar signs
and left behind ATM receipts with high remaining balances.
Replace pints of beer with pints of debt and empty promises.
You can take away those new sheets I never needed for sleeping
and subtract those new clothes I never needed to wear.
Add in my rolodex of unpaid bills and broken record apologies
but definitely take note of my awesome t-shirt collection.
I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to the smell of new things
and the ability to drink to forget
that I never needed them in the first place.
My words have given bruises just as well as fists,
unintentionally carving my initials
into unwilling skin and bone
as if to say “I was here”
and “I caused more damage than this.”
While driving to the poetry slam in April,
I watched the sky break into blue over Tacoma.
The rain fell between sun rays and car crashes,
washing away the smell of burnt rubber
and increased insurance premiums.
I was listening to Explosions in the Sky
which is a band and not a metaphor for thunder.
It reminded me of the way lightning
can turn darkness into daytime in a split second.
It reminded me that when I drink,
I can turn light into darkness in the same split second,
that I am the opposite of lightning.
But if I try hard enough,
I can be electric again.



James Roach

James Roach has been writing for years but only in the past few has he realized he might be amazing with words. He’s originally from the midwest and has been living in the Pacific Northwest for 13 years. James is inspired by the weather, heartbreak, beauty, ugliness, and more than this text box can fit. : impatienthands.wordpress.com



La Vie by Johanna Ramm


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La Vie

None of the figures are actually looking
towards me. I fold the hefty paper museum guide
between my fingers absentmindedly.
Except in the painting behind,
a small face sketched in charcoal
stares at me between the eyes
where Casagemas shot at Germaine.
I recount this later upon a couch
to a doctor who is worried by my worry
of being snubbed by a painting. She says
You have a fixation
on being understood more so
than many other people do.

I try to understand
what she means, how wanting
to fit in was unique to me,
how I became one of those people who wants
to fit in. I can see her words riding her breath
like a toy train in smooth circles across the room,
straight line pushing pushing across her chair
her bookshelf her plant her window to her couch
to me atop it, plastic wheels spinning lazily
on an invisible wooden track.
But alas, I do not think she sees it,
so I wave it away, the words and the breath
dissipate like plumes of cigarette smoke.
As it dissolves so do the thoughts from before
replaced by Germaine and a wonder
if she was just trying
to enjoy a coffee with friends.
If maybe a strand of his brain
flicked onto the table where her
hand had been before she ducked,
the muscle that wore her away from herself
the tissue that filled his thoughts with a her
that never was. I wonder if she ever
got the specks of blood off her dress.
If she ever wore it again.



Johanna Ramm

Johanna Ramm is an aspiring poet majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. While she loves all types of art, what words can do is one of her favorite things of all. : johannaramm.myportfolio.com



Giants Like Us by Dakota D. Dusi


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Giants Like Us

these steps were cut
centuries ago

made for tea leaves
and giants like us.

the clouds we can
almost touch, but

it’s the rainy season.
it keeps us just

out of reach, and
i can feel her

feet impress the
earth like

all of those years
before when

she would wake
up first and

tiptoe out of that
old brick

apartment.



Dakota D. Dusi

Dakota D. Dusi is a Midwest native and current expat based in İstanbul. He holds a BSE in English Education and has had creative writing published both in print and around the Web. When not working he can be found traveling throughout Europe and Asia, or sitting in his living room. : @mondegreenshoes



Leftovers by Soo Young Yun


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Leftovers

Loss hates leftovers. It always orders too much, and ends up stuffing half of its meals in the fridge, where they lay forgotten and grow moldy in ways they shouldn’t. The scent is strong in the first few months, hitting Loss in the face each time it opens the fridge door. Its cabinet overflows with inked napkins and ketchup packets from dozens of restaurants. And they just sit there, until finally Loss is in a good enough mood to shovel them out and wipe the cupboard with white vinegar. When the fridge and cupboard are finally rid of leftovers and napkins and ketchup packets, the whole house takes a breath, fresh and free.

Soon Loss is at a restaurant again, drifting through the menu, drooling over laminated pictures of photoshopped pastries. It eyes an oversized, dazzling tiramisu sprinkled with pistachio and freshly plucked strawberries. The cake will become another relic in the fridge for the next half a dozen months, but Loss doesn’t care, at least not at the moment. The first bite, when the chocolate dissolves and evanesces into the mouth, makes it all worth it.




Soo Young Yun

Soo Young Yun is a writer from Seoul, South Korea. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Aerie International Journal, Writing for Peace Organization, Skipping Stones Youth Honor Awards, among others. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal, DUENDE, Emerald Coast Review, Hawai’i Review, Red Weather, Vignette Review, Watershed Review, among other journals and anthologies. : sooyoungyun.com



The Green Carpet by James H Duncan


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The Green Carpet

It was in a waiting room of chipped plastic tables full of
wrinkled copies of Highlights magazine and cardboard
flip-books about bears flying in hot air balloons, the
scent of alcohol and Lysol. These children here are bald
or soon will be and I run my hand through my own hair,
find bloody fingertips, red robins in flight through my
very flesh, flying away and away and away. Opening my
eyes and counting my inhale/exhale, I see that the carpet
here is lime green, shag, just like the green carpet where
the small children of Green Meadow Elementary sat in
the library, 1985, ‘86, ‘87…we read books about
dinosaurs and planets and gigantic men who chopped
trees in days gone by alongside blue oxen. There were
books of women who flew planes and disappeared, and
of ghosts who haunted castles, books of egghead
professors with childish brain games, and books of
children who had troubles just like the troubles we had
at home or in our classrooms, on the bus, with bullies,
siblings, nightmares, parents who disappeared, feelings of
isolation, feelings. None of them had the troubles we had
when we grew up though, or the troubles the bald
children here have discovered. Publishers and sales reps
probably don’t like tallying such figures. Back then,
Letter People lined the walls and a TV with Ramona
played on rainy days. There were book club sales, book
reports, and wooden chairs lined up along the wall,
straight and small. All of us sitting on the green carpet. I
believe the rain still falls on the windows there, while
kids here grow old, fall down, their eyes drifting against
the wash of a television glow in hospital rooms and daybeds,
their blood and marrow melting, betraying,
hounding them, the pages of their stories thinning out
and fading blank. And then someone calls my name so I
rise and walk across that green carpet to see how many
pages my own story has left.




James H Duncan

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, a writer-at-large for The Blue Mountain Review, and the co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series. His work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Up The Staircase Quarterly, American Artist, Pulp Modern, Poetry Salzburg Review, Drunk Monkeys, Five:2:One, and other publications. His latest book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine (in which the poem “The Green Carpet” appears) is now available from Unknown Press, and you can find it on Amazon and at www.jameshduncan.com.