Poetry Feature: Schools Out – Elliot Brady

“School’s Out”

By Elliot Brady

Underneath the awning that stretches

toward pine boughs, you glide through

the zoetrope in your mind as aquamarine

jelly squares beg for cannonballs.

Two mourning doves visit as dawn’s

ambassadors singing the stories of their

province over trucks yawning distant

dragon roars. There was a shooting

in America yesterday at the high school

you are assigned to. We were created

to work in this garden where I keep you,

where summer is kneeling to autumn’s

vapor. I picture our conversations in

spherical time as cicadas sing along

the tree line. The pool is our space

station and we are baptized in our

weightlessness as astronauts that must

return home to questions of property

values. Shame. Clouds hide scarlet

sunlight behind their bellies west over

the high school you will go to if we

stay in this neighborhood. A whole

afternoon slides away in moments. The

sky aches as ash stains its corners, just

as you’ll ache tonight when a deep sleep

falls upon you.

Poetry Feature: there’s too many fucking cows by Ethan Turner

I’m in a cornfield somewhere in Delaware
and I miss you. 
Come pick me up
on the side of this one-lane
country road and 
take me back to the mountains.
Even if there’s a drought,
even if 
the tide will eventually take us,
even if the wildfires might 
engulf everything we ever dreamed of
while we were still young and
couldn’t sleep a wink,
at least we died trying.
That’s all I ever wanted. 


Ethan Turner holds a degree in English from Towson University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New Critique, Quadrant, Bullshit Lit, Spirits Arts & Literary Magazine, and Blue Marble Review. He’s also the former social media director of Grub Street Literary Magazine (Volume 71).

Poetry Feature: The silent journey between strangers in a subway by Abdulrazaq Salihu

To every lover I’ve grown to unlove;
I burn my conscience like a thin wildfire.         

There’s a separate silence between 
The weight of this slim quiet

Between lips of all the silent people 
In this subway and every stranger

I want to hug wants to hug me back
Like a part of a psalm eighteen 

Holding onto a psalm nineteen 
But, to be a stranger in America 

Is to yearn for a thousand hugs
In silence; is to wish to kiss

Strange boys in illegal clubs;
Is to wish to let a weak part of an 

Ocean tide rinse you clean of this queerness;
Is to be so close to a woman 

That would love you, yet
Let her skin color determine your relationship 

This is America, & you’re only given

What you ask for; yet,  
You’re only allowed to ask for  

All the wrong things you already own:
Your Gbagyi accent; your thick dark mole, 

Your empathy, the thing around your neck—
The small tag of slavery.

Earlier today, on a slow-paced journey,
In a subway with brown broken angels,

I asked for a skin colour to cloak my accent 
I asked the gap between myself and the blonde 

Woman with a thick gap between her two front teeth
To bring us closer, I asked the silence to [ ]  us;

The silence mistakes my silence for fear and I pass.
For this, I water my right fist for all the boys

Whose left cheek were unfortunate enough to taste
The wrong prayer I’ve grown all my life holding onto.

Five minutes to my stop, loneliness buffs out of 
Strangers mouth and it’s this communal hug 

We all seek; this slow love song to leave a strangers mouth 
To come flourish before our scattered accent & rhythm & loneliness. 

I shift back into my body and 
Let the night carefully arrange the stars to my favour;

Let my shadow hug all the silence between us strangers.
I offer this child a chocolate bar and his mother slaps my hand,

There’s a dark cloud beneath her left eye, I’m too human to ignore 
So today, a stranger hugs a stranger on the subway

Every passenger doesn’t care in silence—every other passenger wants this hug,
But, this is America so we unhug 

We do not say a thing, we let the silence win,
We let the child sob and the chocolate rot in its floor silence.

On a scale of night to sadness, I would walk straight to a girl
With just the right gap between her teeth for my own to fill

I would hug her; the night would hold
Us in her embrace—in perfect harmony like strangers.


Abdulrazaq Salihu, TPC I  is an award winning poet from Nigeria. He has his works published/forthcoming in Bracken Magazine, Brittle Paper, MASKS Literary Magazine, The Kalahari Review, The Pine Cone Review, Better Than Starbucks, Jupiter Review, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere. He won the MASKS Literary Magazine poetry award, BPKW poetry contest, Nigerian prize for teen authors, Splendors of Dawn poetry contest, and more. He is a member of the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation and a poetry intern at Eboquills. He passionately loves flowers and can be found on Twitter @Arazaqsalihu 

Poetry Feature: nothing hurts more than a candle loving the sun by Jess Roses

soft wax sharp wick, eterna-lit
     my crayon melt candle rainbow
          my craving metal cage ache
                my great mess on the floor of the bedroom

what can i say, noah opened the closet door and 40 days and 40 nights of tears flowed out of me all at once. is this the gods, finally, speaking to me? is the pain big enough yet, for the gods to see it? how much hot air can fill this balloon before it bursts and all my bubbles with it: compartmentalization in the fragile iridescences that abound around me like the pearl glow of the moon on an almost cloudy night. please, the thin layer of soap film is all that holds me, i couldn’t take

the bursting
and still be her. no one is ready for it.
everything matters.

i wish you could watch me become. i hope you hear what i would say, if i could
say it, i hope it faces the fear in you;
through the radio waves
and the stories i tell, the messages
in the bottle

are true
and so often,
they are for



Poetry Feature: True Crime by the Campfire by Bryce Johle

We discuss past lives,
their roles in our currents,

children, pets, and nuptials, or
don’t speak at all. 

When we’re silent, we nurture ourselves
with fake sausages, kneading our minds, our eyes

on the tongues and coals.
Someone narrates pedophilia in their family

and the light whips sickles on our faces,
beating time and rain wind in the pores

and choking off the fresh air, peace.
Crows land on our tent in the morning—

we wake up wondering how God’s souls are recycled,
how they could take nature’s calling for creation and

turn themselves into dark artists with talons, 
cawing lies about their sins from the rooftops. 

I can still feel the coals as lozenges burning speech,
sautéing our tongues in our mouths.

Bryce Johle is from Williamsport, PA and earned a B.A. in professional writing from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, Litbreak Magazine, Eunoia Review, Literary Yard, October Hill Magazine, and Maudlin House, among others. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and stepdaughter.

Poetry Feature: An Elegy for Ogbe Osowa by Vincent Nwabueze

Who would have thought that time,

               Can obliterate that tragedy in Nineteen Sixty-Seven?

   Eight and Forty years have fleeted on, and still counting, 

                   Yet memories have refused to die,

       Still etched in our consciousness like a sore wound.


That fateful morning as the Sun bestrode defiantly above the tall palm trees in the neighborhood,

                    Her powerful sunrays cuddled the frail ferns of the ageless coconut trees,

           Like a mother will do her suckling babe,

               Merchants of death in military camouflage 

         All armed to the teeth invaded the serene enclave.


  O, beguiled to show solidarity to one nation hued in diversity,

                               The young, the old, the feeble; all crept out from crannies,

                 Whereto they had fled to escape the flying shrapnel of death.

                     And adored in their trademark AKWAOCHA, 

           The traditional handcrafted white wrapper the people are noted for,


All danced gleefully to entertain their August visitors.

                 Boom: Boom: Boom: Boom:

                        The bullets sounded and rattled, 

          As they jumped out menacingly

               From the smoking muzzle of their article of destruction. 

 OLISA; is this what they deserve in return?

              In place of applause and a thunderous clap,

          For entertaining their August visitors,

                  The invading forces pelted hot bullets from their mortars, howitzers, — 

             On the defenseless poor souls.


And when the sound of mortars and heavy artilleries had ceased,

                  Heaps, and heaps of mutilated bodies strewn the killing field,

                           Like some prized trophies for the invading troopers to take home.

        And to remind posterity how merciless merchants of death once visited a peaceful enclave,

 And left behind trails of tears, blood, anguish, and sorrow.


 Brother, great was the massacre on that day,

                   That the goddess ONISHE, the custodian of the great river, 

Has refused to be consoled.

          Day and night, her ululation could be heard, 

As she grieved the death of her children.


Vincent Nwabueze is a poet and author who studied sociology at the University of Abuja, Nigeria where he started writing. He also holds an LLB degree in law. He has written a collection of short stories and poetry and takes part in writing competitions. One of his short stories was shortlisted at the African Writers Awards in 2020. His poetry has been published by the Society Voice Project and the Voices Project. The manuscript of his debut novel has been completed and his latest books, THE BROKEN DREAMS OF THE INTELLIGENT THIEF and HONEY OUT OF LAMENTATION (a short story) have been released on Amazon.
He can be reached via email at: vincenttnwabueze@gmail.com or on Twitter @VincentNwabuez5
Nwabueze currently resides in Abuja, Nigeria.

Poetry Feature: Picnic by Erin Jamieson

Dunk sliced celery in     muddy water
your lips tasting the
garden where as a child you dug
                                     for earthworms, their mottled bodies 

            ing.   your     hands stained with intestines, food

                                                                       < not yet digested>


you ask for ranch dip but in its speckled surface
you see fly antennae, torn ant legs. 
You eat because you can but the sun is blistering your 
lips, breaking these bodies these bodies climbing down
                                your bloodied throat &


nothing like new plates stained 
rust, from 
                    peeled oranges  or       apricots
for you form you’re F
                                     R            G                    a story you’ll tell
                                         M      N

your own child, her painted fingernails
dusty with lady bug wings                             

              sipping        lemonade

(powdered, not        fresh).           

Come here. We have      a feast.
carrot sticks & gorged    pill bugs,
             cricket legs in your potato          chips flavored
just for you. I only thought of      you.



Erin Jamieson (she/her) holds an MFA in creative writing from Miami University of Ohio. Her writing has been published in over 80 literary magazines, and her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the poetry collection Clothesline (NiftyLit, Feb 2023). Find her on Twitter @erin_simmer

Poetry Feature: Cool by Pino Pograjc

my body needed to cool,
i begged snow to cover
the scorching concrete

he stood before me and i sizzled,
his breath froze
the oleander blossoms,
introduced the sun to the grey
of thunderclouds

our tongues were not compatible,
he spoke of feasts,
of bodies on display,
of preparation for consumption

i spoke of rest

as he was fucking the daylights
out of me
i thought
there must be
a better way

Pino Pograjc, born in 1997, is a Slovene poet. He is currently in his last year of dual-subject MA studies of English and comparative literature at the University of Ljubljana. In 2022, the newly-formed, alternative publishing house Črna skrinjica (“Black Box”) published his literary debut, Trgetanje (a portmanteau of “trganje” and “drgetanje”—“ripping” and “shivering” in Slovene), which received the award for best literary debut at the 38th Slovene Book Fair. Pograjc is also part of the selection jury for the Ljubljana LGBT Film Festival, the oldest film festival of its sort in Europe.

Poetry Feature: The sun shines brighter when I am hungry by Celeste Vandegriff

The sun shines brighter//when I am hungry//and the air tastes pure//like I am taking my first breath//I am so aware//that I am a living//breathing//human//thing//with potential burning white-hot through my flesh//early hunger is a delirious//roaring//high//like the raw electric joy that rises//when my breakfast starts//and ends//with a few swallows of warm coffee//it does hurt//the hunger//but the crawling stomach pain//transforms into//productive pain//workout pain//A-plus pain//first-kiss-nausea pain//proud pain//like my mother telling me my diet is working//like the roller-coaster-adrenaline of scale numbers dropping//dread drowns elation//as the blue-white morning fades//into golden afternoon//here//I must face a deep shame//I dedicated myself to hunger at eleven//I am now twenty-one years old//I have made it past lunch exactly once//it was a sugar-high happiness//yet//today//like every day//of the past ten years//I eat//if hunger is flight//food is burial//food sticks to my throat//chokes me//like hospital-grade nutrient sludge//drying up the caffeine//the purpose//the high//food settles into my stomach//like silt at the bottom of a polluted pond//I have bested much of myself//I have muted my mind//censored my tongue//forced my feet//along paths I did not want to take//yet my stomach//always wins.

Celeste Vandegriff is a pre-med biology student in her senior year at Towson. She has shown her dedication to Towson and its surrounding community through years of work as a Writing Center tutor, EMT, and domestic violence hotline volunteer. Vandegriff is in the Honors College and chose to minor in English to find people to talk about books with. She is president of the knitting club, vice president of Original Blend A Cappella, and writes in her free time to relieve stress.

Poetry Feature: TODAY JUST FOR YOU by Jane Costain


                             (a found poem courtesy of email spam)


You might find this interesting.

                                      There are bridges only the bravest

        would cross in star-spangled style.

                                                    In the decades since monumental 

          explosions, this is big. Worth the wait. 

                                                               There is still time. But now you better hurry. 

Attractive Russian Women Looking for Love!

                                 You might want to take a closer look.

                                                   We have some recommendations for you.

                       Meet your match today.

                                    (Three-ways are even better.)     

                                                                             Make the most of your summer.

                                                                       Stream in the sun.


Jane Costain is the author of the chapbook Small Windows (Main Street Rag, 2018) and has privately published A Dozen Centos. Her work has appeared in various literary journals, including Plainsongs, The MacGuffin, Pinyon Review, and Iris Literary Journal. She has a master’s degree in the creative arts in learning from Lesley College and has taught in public schools for over thirty years. She lives with her husband, Gary Moore, in Denver.