Woman

for the love of god

dig your feet into the earth and sing of cellulite

of the thicket of gnarled shadow at the apex of thigh

of the sweet tart smell of you pooling under your arms on a summer day

of muffin top and peach fuzz and caesarian scar

because in all this is woman

 

for the love of god

grind your toes into the grass

and sing in her name

of the painful jut of hipbone and shoulder blade

of the line of the spine and the bend of a hip

of crows feet and laugh lines and all the creases

because in all of them is woman

 

for the love of god

wade into the surf

and sing of stretch marks

blooming wine purple

of chipped nails and chipped teeth

and knobbly knuckles and bony knees

and yes, of Adam’s apple bobbing in the throat of Eve

in that too is woman

 

for the love of god

let the sun deep into your flesh

turn blood into golden ichor

and sing of rose bleeding past binary

of throats raw and voices hoarse

with the work of declaring our presence

sing of belly laugh and groan and sob and scream

sing of hurricane and wildfire

orchid bloom and bee sting

of mama bear and mother hen

of being and breathing and seeing and living

because in all this is woman

all of it is woman

 

Dia Bhojwani is a 15-year-old student, writer and self-professed nerd born and raised in Mumbai, India. The chief editor of her school magazine, she’s previously been published by Beetle Literary Magazine and The Punch Magazine, amongst other publications, and has won awards from Lune Spark and the WingWord Poetry Prize. Her first book, The Pandemic Diaries, was published in January 2021. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sketching, or watching cartoons – a guilty pleasure. 
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Two Poems by Serena Deng

Day Six

Remember that our hands do not belong to our wrists

nor our wrists                                       to our bodies nor we                    

to each other. Black sheep take                     themselves into the fold

unknowingly and never run again. Perhaps blinded, perhaps

at night we mistake white wool for                  open air.

We do not choose                              ourselves or each other.

Remember that all our joints pull in different directions

and wish to be separated and one day 

the sheep outlive                                 the shepherd.

We roam free over hill and gully, forgetting

safety, company, how we fit against the other.

Still our names stay                          tacked to our ears.

Remember that God makes Adam with His own hands

and the red earth sticks to Him like second skin.

There is a moment, I think

when Creator and creation                               lock fingers and

never forget it.

 

 

This is the Summer

This is the summer we prayed for

mercy, strung ourselves out like laundry

sighing to the sun. This is the

summer our knuckles learned the grooves

of a washboard better than they

knew each other. We worked this tin machine over and

over and over again, five times,

six times,

day into night,

blisters pouring back into horizon.

This is the summer we prayed for

blood to wash us clean:

starched white cotton,

sparkling water droplets,

chlorine bleach.

This is the summer we prayed for

a new body, prayed to

turn our skin in on itself

and start again.

 

Serena Deng is currently a senior in high school. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing awards, the NCTE, and Temple University, and can be found in Invisible City and Ricochet Review. She lives in NYC, where she drinks water straight from the tap.

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Two Poems by Mollie Schofer

2wice

So I’m looking at you and you seem like the kind of person that likes to do things twice. Your eyelashes furl like a shivering sundew–no, Sundew. Your Sundews furl then unfurl and catch only the flies low on serendipity, serendipitous–serendipitously they fly higher and higher, out of the reach of the sSundews feeding on the serendipidless.

 

There is a third kind of heartbeat, you know. It sounds like a terciopelo’s warning: do not sink your calves into my teeth. Unfortunately, people neither listen to terciopelos nor heartbeats. Only the hollow inhales of veins and fingers, and the subsequent feelings of vivacity.

 

So you turn to look at me, with those sunSundews. You turn to look at me and I see, through the curtainous coverings of your corneas (those capitalizing congregates of copious concealment), your reciprocals of light and not darkness. Your reciprocals of light and not darkness ask me: how do you feel about velvet. And I reply: it’s soft. And they say: thread some through your ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide your heartbeat. So I threaded some velvet through my ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide my heartbeat. But to my astonishment, the scales didn’t rasp one bit. They sounded like cotton, and I knew they were imposters. I must get them out, I must! So I ran to the water and dunked my head in. It soothed the rancid itches in my ears. It soothed the rancid itches in my head and throat and pupils.

 

My eyes filled with water and it backwashed through my tear ducts, and I was clean. Resurfacing, the velvet in my ears turned to seeds and I shook them out and I was free. Running, the water left my body and sweated down my cheeks and thighs and I was

empty.

Breathing, the beats in my heart rattled around my diaphragm and tendons and I was

full.

Stretching, the teeth in my calves fell into the mud and the core of the earth and I was

alone.

 

Honestly, it was energizing.

 

So you’re looking at me and I seem like the kind of person that comes out on top: clean, free, empty, full, alone, energized. But empty and full cancel each other out, and so do free and alone, and energy is null unless you have strength, so I’m just clean.

So you’re looking at me and I’m looking at you and we really don’t see each other at all,

do we?

No, I think we’re both wrong, in the end.

 

2 Much Toad

 

When I die, my body will be warm for just a few seconds

In that time, an old toad will lay her eggs in my mouth

And they will hatch into tadpoles

                and tadpoles

Which will swim in my saliva

And live off of the bacteria on my teeth

 

And reproduce, as toads do.

Generations will never know of a world without teeth, or esophaguses.

They will pass down the stories: first there was tongue, then there was wet

              Always tongue first, then wet.

After religion, they will create art

And paint the insides of my cheeks with the juice of the spinach stuck in my teeth

Soon, everything will be green.

 

Everything will be green, everything will be soft and salivating

They will write on my cheeks with spinach script:

               Don’t be such a stickinthemud

They are of course referring to me, their god

However it is inevitable that one young tadpole will get bored and curious

And stare into the depths of that cavern that always stares back

And dive in, down down down

 

It will boil in my stomach acid, but that is what martyrdom entails.

Others will follow, and they will succeed where the first did not

They will colonize my throat, my stomach, my intestines.

 

I will be thoroughly toaded.

And they will smile, and write on the lining of my gut:

               Tomorrow will be even better

And they will forget

That everything must end eventually

And they will be warm for just a few short seconds.

 

 

 

Mollie Schofer is a young writer from Southern California. Their poetry was most recently published in Inkblot Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, and Orange Cat Review. They are currently a student of creative writing at Orange County School of the Arts.

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Undrawn Self Portrait

Undrawn Self Portrait

  1. The heart cracks into yellow yolk & white as it throbs through Instagram.
  2. The body walks to its reflection and squeezes itself shut.
  3. The ears tuned for sourness savor silence before they turn on & the mouth groans at
    the loudness of the world.
  4. The brain breathes out a sigh as yesterday’s burdens are borrowed again.
  5. She mumbles about the crumbling capitalist cycle, tasting silence in return.
  6. She peels the banana & she wonders if one day, she’ll shed her skin & be silent.
  7. She consumes Radiohead’s Nude & the heart shatters at “you paint yourself white, and fill up with noise” as she imagines herself with an invisible paintbrush.
  8. In a family of scientists, the creative one chokes on the wrong genes.
  9. In her skull, there’s no more space for the pulp of afterthoughts.
  10. In the dark, she silently cracks herself open until she’s all shell and no yolk, again & again & again.

 

Sara Cao is a junior at John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently involved in her school’s newspaper, literary magazine, and Science Olympiad team. Outside of school, she is passionate about social justice issues, writing, drawing, listening to music, and eating Shin Black Ramen. Through her poetry, Sara strives to heal and inspire people who relate to the overall messages of her poems. 

Art by: Diana Ryu

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Hymnody

Aria
When I was alive, Zerlina’s aria
rang in church, not mine.

Her voice, soft & sexless.
My voice, a bullet
ricocheting off the chancel.

They were God’s songs, beaten
into pink pavement.

Apoptosis
I brewed spirits to forget the taste 
of the Italian lyric.

Manipura became my catholicon—
a bead strung on blue tantra thread.

After prayer, each bead bitten, swallowed. 

Inside, they lived as tapeworms
spoiling the meat of the ribcage.

My appendix carried grenades.

Exorcism
In Heaven, children sing the body holy—
pretzeled legs & braided hands, cheeks 
grinding against mahogany.

I join them because God visits 
often. I want to feel Him 

around my throat, to be baptized
clean as a soprano. 

When he’s gone, we smoke at the altar.

Spirits unwind from our cigars, staining the body 
like wet bourbon on silk.

Opera
After exorcism, my lungs fermented. 
Mouth full of ashes, tongue pulled by light.

From the spaces in my bones, a new hymnody.

Children following
my voice.

 

Katherine Vandermel is a writer who thinks of writing as painting: each word imbues the world with coloration. She loves music and a good, warm croissant. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, and National Poet Quarterly, among others, and has been recognized by Behrend College and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She edits for Siblini Art and Literature.

Visual Art by Dawn Jooste. 

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