Eulogy for a Dying City by Urooj Mirza

the calling by Carrie Hilgert | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Eulogy for a Dying City

Do you know how many ways there are to die in this city?

1. The street food.

2. Mini bus drivers.

3. Exhaust fumes from rickshaws, taxis, cars, buses.

When I was a little girl Saturdays were reserved for halwa poori breakfasts with my cousins, my uncle would cram the 12 of us in his beat up corolla and drive us to the farthest point of the city where we’d sit on greasy tables, stray cats curled up at our feet, eating oily parathas and wiping our fingers on yesterday’s news – 10 dead in Kashmir, 20 killed in suicide bombing.

4. A stray dog.

5. The woman with outstretched palms and a persistent cough.

6. When the tide hits.

One Saturday morning – my last Saturday in Karachi – I watched as a beggar boy was pushed on to the road. The fistful of balloons that had been so carefully wrapped around his wrist rose to the sky. The boy was bleeding. I waited. He wept as he watched his dreams float into vastness. One by one. The balloons vanished.  I am still waiting. 

7. A controlling husband.

8. The man eyeing you from across the street.

9. A stray bullet.

10. An aimed bullet.

The people of Karachi talk like they are stepping on land mines – careful, cautious, calculated thoughts and perfectly constructed half-truths. The children of Karachi dance among mountains of garbage and rubble – bare feet and cracked soles, flying kameezes, soaring (illegal) kites they are unfaltering, gap-toothed, unapologetic.

11. The wrong neighborhood.

12. The right neighborhood.

13. Being human.




We have grown accustomed to the melody of gunshots, the rhythm of bombs falling, learned to block out the heaving of a city taking its final breaths. Poor Karachi, they say – it’s home but I’d never dream of going back. Poor Karachi. All saltwater and crumbling buildings. All tireless smiles. A dying city, a blood stained spot on the map. How can you save a city that refuses to save itself? Poor Karachi. Soon there will be nothing left to mourn.  

Urooj Mirza

Caught somewhere between the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, Urooj is a Pakistani girl with big dreams and a bigger mouth. Known for her penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, she can often be found with her head among the clouds Urooj uses far too many commas and doesn’t believe in full stops, her skills include: reading, writing and napping. She thinks writing in third person is weird but hopes you’ll forgive her. You can find her at :

Maybe Heaven’s a Mulligan by Mathieu Cailler

the Lovers by Carrie Hilgert | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Maybe Heaven’s a Mulligan

Here’s how it might go down in my Nirvana
Not Cobain’s, not Siddhartha’s, nor any other deities’.
Right there, on Interstate 89, I’d find you again at the
Tipsy Fox, making half-circles on the rotating
bar stool; a sweating tequila in your grip. I’d puff
the same joke as last time, the one about Bon Jovi
that made your lips bend hard & your head brush back.
After a few drinks, I’d slam a song on the jukebox,
(E7 probably), & we’d dance again, humid, eyes holding;
shuffling our shoes on the puzzle-piece floor. This time, though,
I’d invite you to back to my room, listen to your heels on the
walkway, the neon buzz of the Vacancy sign, & savor the
bolt of the door as it found its jamb. Then, there on the bed
of Room 18, I’d spelunkle your thighs, weld my hands
to your curves, & drop my mouth to your lips,
that I’ve always imagined
tasted like Friday.

Mathieu Cailler

Mathieu Cailler’s poetry and prose have been widely featured in numerous national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Saturday Evening Post. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he is the recipient of a Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. He is the author of Clotheslines (Red Bird Press), Shhh (ELJ Publications), and Loss Angeles (Short Story America Press), which has been honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Best Book, and International Book Awards. His poetry collection, May I Have This Dance? (Black Magic Media), is slated for publication in December of 2017. :

James Franco Ode by Annie Fan

Myrtle: Patron Saint of Go Fuck Yourself by Carrie Hilgert | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

James Franco Ode

After Donald Trump

“America how can I write myself to a
white tile college, graceless?

If I remember, I pretend I don’t

want to play squirrels and bears on camera. If I say

I will save you, I find that a dollar sticks

to my solar plexus, if I don’t want to pretend

I mute myself, and replay how
I dreamt of a woman with stone thighs.
One breast full of plastic, the colour white,
my drag of november. How the light
once knocked out my teeth, was once
just my hands and
my mummy/daddy playing a makeshift game –
drunk and reconstituted, opened. I dreamt
of somebody like me, fat
belly under the greenroom floor,
lying eyes, throat of gold,
yo ginsberg
yo ginsberg.

Annie Fan

A Foyle Young Poet in 2015, Annie Fan attends Rugby High School in Warwickshire, England. Their work appears in Ambit, Powder Keg and CALLISTO, among others, and has been recognised by Christ Church and Corpus Christi Colleges, as well as Hollins and Lancaster Universities. They are a prose editor at TRACK//FOUR.

You’re Never Gonna Believe This by Alyssa Froehling

asymmetrical symphony by Carrie Hilgert | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

You’re Never Gonna Believe This

listening to flatsound in my apartment, you fall
asleep on my floor. i am still wearing your

sweatshirt, holding it against my body like a
lifejacket. i want to say something

that will affect your breathing. to your

right, the window is open, and the sidewalk is

flooding in like a swimming pool. we are the

finger paint of april, laughing as it smears us

along the street with light— unfairly stolen
from man made machines and higher things floating

and cool to the touch. i want to play you the piano

underwater. i want you to hear me stutter as major

flutter kicks to minor. buoyant is the way you
sleep: a slow give to pressure, suspension on

the surface. you are glass breaking into me,
the water inside. you are a color i don’t mind bleeding.

i’ll make sure you’re awake before joking

about how i don’t exist but if i really don’t, i want

you to know i’m content like this, sleeping like a sand flea
curled into the shell sheet we hung up called the sky:

our wrists touching the carpet to the ground, touching

thirsty roots to pebbles on an unpaved pathway

running into water. some days these things come
easily. our shins don’t break. i want to sleep as deep

as the air in between the tiny-time-bomb heartbeats of
gnats as they sail on the soggy bread brink of the lake

in my bird feeder memory. the day the earth was knee
deep in its dream of a swamp, and you sounded like

you were drunk alligator green, seeping not like a sentence

but a sentiment. we both know what we already both know—

Alyssa Froehling

Alyssa Froehling is a writer from Palatine, Illinois. She graduated from Augustana College with majors in English and Creative Writing, and a minor in Women & Gender Studies. Former editor-in-chief of Augustana College’s art & literary magazine, SAGA, she is also an editorial staff member at Floodmark Poetry, a website designed to inspire and motivate new writers. Her interests include running in place, pugs, winged eyeliner, dressing like a 36-year-old lumberjack, folk-punk bands, and eating too much fruit.

At the Intersection between Broad and Jefferson St. by Emily Tian

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

At the Intersection between Broad and Jefferson St.

A five-and-dime store leans on the road
like an old man ironing the young.
For an instant the glare of the three o’clock sun
washes away its tarnish.
Against the steel rod apartment buildings,
find some relief in its
nakedness, the white paint
like cigarette paper trundling
into ashes. In this town
the tradition of initial-carving
still stands, so there is no shortage
of names fisted against each other
in half-eaten wood.

Buy an apple whose skin is
gathering red. The girl at the register
is daughter to poplar and cinder block,
a kedge drowning. Knuckles and nickles
scraping, tell her to keep the change.
Her hair is slicked back but
for a few dusty capillaries. She hums to
Bob Marley on the radio,
won’t you help to sing,
these songs of freedom.

The copper in her eyes oxidizing,
saying: Look, look, listen.

Emily Tian

Emily Tian was born in 2001 and is a high school sophomore in Rockville, Maryland. Her poems have been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Reflections program, among others. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cadaverine Magazine, The Claremont Review, and National Poetry Quarterly.

Directions to Jackson Square by Jennifer Boyd

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Directions to Jackson Square

1. South on Dauphine

Shiver the shrill warmth of the approaching subway, feral birds croaking a sestina into the iron plumes. Spend a millennium dwindling eye contact with a vacant stranger across the platform. Fan a blank canvas under cellophane steps. Suffocate your name in bourbon and seize parallel lines.

2. East of Moon Wok

Wander deliriously in the familiar anguish of streetlamps and starlets whose youth erodes sweet as vinegar. A street performer will play “Piano Man” on his guitar. Seek solace in the nimble refrain. Stumble over a crevice in the sidewalk scavenging wallet folds for a dollar because you owe him. Find the carcass of a nickel.

3. Right on Saint Ann’s

Gasoline and smog everywhere, they will taste like the Marlboro you tried when you were 13. You vowed never to smoke again as the pewter filled your lungs. Sputter like a tea kettle, drown for a moment in the arid fog. The tendrils engulf you, but the sensation cradles and you find yourself bitterly wanting.

4. South on Gold Mine Saloon

Make love to the rooftops bleeding constellations, home to breeding gypsy coyotes and tigers with bleached stripes. You’ll pass a brown girl wearing white. She loves a blue-eyed boy who promises her oysters and haloes and larks and cello strings. Laugh for her. He’ll shatter her with four rings and five unclasped promises.

5. You Are Here

Whistle thorns for a canary taxi. Loiter in the 7/11 parking lot, moan about traffic, wring your sorrows in gnarled leather. Wager a morning and let your destination become past tense.

Jennifer Boyd

Jennifer Boyd is a high school student from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a blog contributor at both the Huffington Post and Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s global online platform. Jennifer’s poetry has been published recently in New Plains Review, Glass Kite Anthology, the Critical Pass Review, and Tower Journal. Her work has additionally been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Hollins University, Smith College, and Princeton University. When not writing, she enjoys playing the piano, singing, and learning new languages. Instagram: @jenniferrrboyd

Exploring Mother and The Quran as the Sea by Orooj-e-Zafar

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Exploring Mother and The Quran as the Sea

before we breathed, we swam. it is believed no memory
made in the sea stays. me, I remember the scratch
of turning pages well before I ever held a book. 

I was birthed with the warm date under my tongue, 
the azan whispered into my witness, 
a cry mistaken for help and a name holding
the weight of expectation on my barely boned shoulders.

I was born here, in the half-open eyes of my mother’s hope. 
sometimes, all her lips rolled at tahajjud was my name. 
I came from prayer, dream alike. quiet like independence day
never is. independent like children never are. 
concrete like the summer I breathed before. 

sometimes, memory snaps sharp: my mother turning 
the Quran page – her belly scratching against paper. 


Orooj-e-Zafar is a storyteller/spoken word poet whose work has been widely published online in places such as Quail Bell Magazine, Off the Coast, Rufous City Review and Melancholy Hyperbole. Offline, Orooj performs at local and national events like TEDx PIEAS and Islamabad Literature Festival 2017. She was also the recipient of the second annual Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize and the winner of Where Are You Press Manuscript Contest 2016. Her debut chapbook HOME AND OTHER DEBRIS is scheduled for release in July 2017. :

To Love A Volcano by Deeksha Verender

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

To Love A Volcano

I wonder if Vesuvius ever knew its own
                         capacity, because it buried an era in the
             folds of its skin without thinking twice,
encasing lungs in ash and bodies in stone.
                                      You make coffins from your words
             as though your feet are wrapped in boulders
and your skin is still covered in the embers
                         that he scattered across you so long ago.

             Sometimes it is enough to trust blindly,
                         when he saw the sky
             turn to smoke, he told his people that they would
survive, and he died an innocent man, and they died
                                      unafraid. You know too well what lies can do
             when the truth is still to be found, he sleeps easy
at night believing you don’t remember that it
                         was his hands that burnt you, and not your own.

             You forget that life isn’t always
                         easy, that sometimes, there is a choice, always a choice,
             always a decision hard to make. When he felt you
tense against him, he knew that he would never
                                      be able to find your consent in his sheets, he never
             even thought twice when he flung it aside, and you
spend hours awake wondering if there is daylight now
                         elsewhere in the world, because you have forgotten.

In 79 AD, a volcano erupted and tore through
                         500 years of civilisation, ravaged its history
             till it could not be rewritten without its downfall’s
name within it. He chained you to his ribcage
                                      and left you balancing on the tips of his fingers,
             so your throat was always choking on the fumes
falling from his mouth. You won’t forget his holocaust
                         on your skin, he won’t remember anything else.

Deeksha Verender

Deeksha Verender is a student based out of India, and loves tea, sad poetry and cats (of course). You can find more of her work on her instagram account @diazepamandyou

An Elegy to the Sky by Rachana Hegde

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

An Elegy to the Sky

Each month is damp with the silhouette
of a typhoon unstrung, arched over wire

coat hangers & thrusting up against a glass of
hot chai. Rain reeks of men slurring her name &

an unfinished stump of a poem perches in
the hollow of my cheekbones. The sky is

wrestling with a sheet of water, draining clouds
that exhale in unison. Breathe & wash the pollen

off your hands. The breeze bucks, thrashing against
the underside of the night, siphoning fluid from

the gap in its thighs. I take a bite out of moons
drizzled in honey & the exit wound closes instantly.

Sky is undressing, body flecked with leftover raspberry
gloss from girls kissing & translucent windows swinging

open beneath weathered hands. Sky razes the crow in mid-flight,
its wings swaddled in smoke. Watch it draw a rattled breath.

Rachana Hegde

Rachana Hegde is an 17 year old Indian writer from Hong Kong. Her poetry has appeared in Lockjaw Magazine, Hypertrophic Literary, Diode, and The Blueshift Journal. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Hollins University. She serves as a poetry editor for TRACK//FOUR, a literary magazine for writers and artists of color. Find her at

Pretty Name by Sydney Vance

Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Pretty Name

I don’t know how to write you without the word best. I looked at you
for years, you were my favorite winter scarf of black curly hair, unedited
Word document, the bridge in my favorite park that the homeless men
would sleep beneath. You were your own stomach the morning after
too much stout beer, summer. Timelessness of girlhood. Awareness of
this woman-ing. Breathlessness after poorly-executed drunken dance. My
baseball cap falling off the hook on my bedroom door. My favorite dog
licking my middle finger. Scar on my leg from a broken bar glass on the Fourth
of July. Airplane crash over the year two-thousand and fourteen. The time
that I forgot to carry the zero. The unruly mouth on me. Nosedive into the toilet
seat at the house that I hated. Two girls walking alone in the woods at night.
Residential apotheosis. Culmination of a circus show. The block of ice
in that riddle about the man hanging by the noose. Weight I promise myself
I will not carry anymore. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Last dying flame
of last living lighter. No more candles. No more cake. Step, crack,
shattering of twigs in the Tuskahoma dusk. Envy that led to late nights
led to work led to more work led to passion led to competition led to pride
led to better.                                                                            In other lives
I have been the weak thing. In this one you try to feed me grass, pat my head.
You say, You have no idea what you’re missing, like we didn’t walk this garden
together, petal by burlap petal, heartbreak by heartbreak. In other lives
I have been the thing the weak thing eats for a midnight snack.

Sydney Vance

Sydney Vance is a poet who resides in a suburb just outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She is in her final semester of undergraduate studies at The University of Central Oklahoma where she is currently Senior Poetry Editor for The New Plains Review and is pursuing a major in creative writing. Her work has previously appeared in Jazz Cigarette Magazine and is forthcoming elsewhere. :