I Am

Natalie Nowak

I am not
a replacement
for what you had
but lost

I am
a copy of your past
meant to please you
in the present

a meal
to pick apart
and throw away
what you don’t like

I am
than that

I am
an amalgamation
of my own beliefs
and experiences

I am
an artist
who paints feelings
in a way that
no one else does

of my own need
for love
and understanding

Mother Night

Elizabeth Lipscomb

Sphere of fire,
Give way to the moon!
Now gasp in wonder as the night birds croon.
For beauty of dark
Is far softer than light and her features
She is Night.

Onyx veil,
Descend on the earth!
Allow a weary day to be rebirthed.
Diurnal creatures
Lay their heads to rest and the nocturnal
Leave their nests.

Open arms
Welcome her children.
To a shadow world, new life she’s given!
The Midnight Mistress –
With tender, starry-eyed gaze – looks over,
“Dance my babes!”

They frolic,
Leap, and be merry!
Don’t you see? This hour is not so scary.
So come and cast off
The worries of light and be a child of
Our love,
Mother Night.


Faith Cole

The spine of my physics textbook cracks
as I open this cold-blooded companion
that I love to hate. 

The Atomic Structure of Matter 
titles the chapter 
that I have been assigned 
and am now resigned to reading. 

Restless, I try to make myself contented
on the pale pink couch. 
Waves of frustration roll and find voice in deep sighs.
Why do I need to read this? 
What’s the purpose? 

protons, electrons, and neutrons–
make up everything. 
What else do I need to know? 

The stale facts of the obvious 
stick to the roof of my brain, 
sucking out enthusiasm. 

I scan the page, 
my fluorescent highlighter in hand, 
ready to strike 
at anything daring enough to leap out at me.

Zooming out to a high, philosophical viewpoint
leaves me disconcerted and intrigued. 
I know that atoms make up nature but 
do I know the nature of those atoms? 

Conservation of mass dictates that 
atoms are ageless. 
Whatever they actually are 
can never be destroyed, only recycled. 

Something that has existed 
from the very creation 
of the universe 
lives in me. 

Mixing and swirling around, atoms are passed from one use to another. 
The breath that I breathe, 
after a few years, will be evenly blended into the atmosphere 
and what was part of me 
will be part of supplying another’s breath. 

Exhaling, as I read 
that there are as many atoms in that breath as there as breathfuls of air in our world, seems only appropriate. 

As I consider what I thought I knew, I bow my head, humbled 
to realize these building blocks of all I know — of you and me — 
are incomprehensibly small.

Scaling the idea that 
you are as many times larger 
than an atom 
than the average star is larger 
than you 
leaves me breathless and awestruck. 

Smiling, I look up 
and imagine us 
between the atoms and the stars. 

Source: Hewitt, P. G. (2015). Conceptual physics (12th ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

A Poem Lost

Karalyn Jobe
Winner of the 2021 Stellanova Osborn Poetry Prize

Every poem written is a poem lost.
My joints, a ticking time bomb,
Counting ever closer to their final arch.

I know I’m young, but I ache like I’m ancient.
If I use my hands now, I just know
The arthritis will win before I’m even forty.

In bed, when my other senses are asleep,
My fingers creak and groan with pain
As I ghost-type words a real page will never meet.

I’m aware now, like I never was before
That every single word I write today
Is one I won’t be able to write when I’m older.

It seems like my mobility is waning every day,
So I can’t imagine the pain that I’ll be feeling
When I’m forty five years old and

Twenty five years deep in a career where
Typing is the most important skill I’ll ever have.
What will I do, then, when I have to retire

Fifteen years sooner than I should,
With hardly half the savings a retired person ought to have,
And I can write no longer?

Who will I be when these fragile, crackling fingers
Can’t even hold a pencil anymore?
The written word has always been my identity.

The question that has plagued me every day,
Every waking hour of my life:
Which sad existence is a better fit for me,

To leave stories untold and hidden in my memories
To save my wretched hands, or to write my heart empty knowing
That every poem written is a poem lost?


Savannah Champagne

I want to reach out and cup your face,
Brush my lips against yours,
But there’s a thousand miles between us
Of ocean and fear,
So I’ll stay quiet
And lovesick from afar.

I didn’t even question it,
And maybe that was my first mistake.
Something should have clicked
And told me that this intensity was too much,
But no one ever told me
That falling in love with your friends isn’t supposed to happen.

So I’ll just sit here,
And maybe one day
I can say this out loud:

I’ve fallen in love
With a storm of a boy,
And all I can do is hope that I don’t drown.
I’ve fallen in love
With a storm of a boy,
And all I can do is hope that one day I can again reach the ground.

A Writer’s Awakening

Jewelynn Gonzalez

a form
of magic,
where at your touch,
and the flip of a page,
you are taken away
to a place of wild wonders,
where your imagination roams.
You find the magic mesmerizing,
intricately woven by the writer.
As a wanderer, you seek no escape,
wanting more, you flip through the pages.
This, my dear, is a spell enjoyed
by you so much, you want to
cast a spell of your own.
You just need to write
and weave
a story
of your

Thank God and Blame Women

Leah Mockridge
I am no disciple,
I am the deity of misplaced desire.
Men often mistake my ego for exaltation.
My body is no place for expiation even as
hands press into my flesh.
Call it their providence.
Call it a gift from           

Dirtied hands delve into my holy water,
hoping that somehow, I could save them from sin.
I am their temple of temporary absolution.
The notion that women like me are just bread to be broken 
     for communion.
Indoctrination from years forced to my knees in divine retribution
     with expectation that I will break before the hymen.
The idea that virginity is just an apple waiting to be plucked 
     by some unworthy Adam.
I pray they don’t confuse me for an open chapel,
my blood for wine undrank, my body for bread unbroken.
I am no sacred place for stained men to seek asylum. 


This isn’t a confession of some cumbersome contrition;
in fact, I revel like red devils in the night.
Purgatory is just a name for the space between my thighs.
Penitence is what men prefer after impious action.
This isn’t faith, it’s fetish--
I am a sacrificial altar for masochists masquerading as messiahs.
Palms up they pray in demeaning doxology.
This is a covenant of crucifixes and false prophets,
filled with gnashing teeth and unhinged jaws,
hungry for whatever holiness I’m willing to impart. 

 Take all that I am worth and call it retribution.
              Take all that I have and call it tithing. 

This temple filled with false idols and forked red tongues that cry out,
“Repent, repent, repent!”
The serpent reincarnate is hidden in the anointed.
He whispers to Adam: 

                    Thank God,
                              and blame women. 

Dies Unus

Dylan Wyatt

Waking up from a beautiful dream is more painful
than repeated stings from fifty angry wasps,
when that glorious dream is briefly a reality.

Waking up alone to an eight a.m. alarm is as difficult
as breaking free of iron chains welded tight, 
when two once slept wrapped in each other’s arms.

Waking up sometimes requires an amount of strength
that might not seem physically possible to muster,
when the silence of sleep is more pleasing than living.

Waking up shatters the perfect illusion of a dream
draped in shiny linens of molasses-sweet lies,
when feelings of happiness rely on memories.

Waking up is the first step taken on the journey leading
towards a sense of happiness and peace of mind,
when life feels like a nightmare and reality too depressing.

Becoming Myself

Dylan Wyatt

As a boy, I dreamed of being a Hero, silver longsword in hand.
To prove myself, I fought armor-clad knights for honor. 
In faraway lands, I slayed fire-breathing dragons for riches.
In times of war, I charged into corpse-ridden fields for fame.

As a teen, I admired the rogueish Scoundrel, trained in cunning. 
To prove myself, I stole nobles’ precious gems for profit.
In faraway lands, I spread damning, falsified lies for power.
In times of war, I concealed my true identity for protection.

As a young man, I discovered a Princess’s love, empowering the soul.
To prove myself, I bought bouquets of exotic flowers.
In faraway lands, I planned exciting adventures.
In times of war, I focused my energy on surviving.

As a man, I learned dreams become real. 
As a man, I learned past mistakes don’t define me.
As a man, I learned the power of love.

What I once was made me who I am.


Lyndsey Johnson

i will meet you in the woods
you will find me at sundown

we can sit on felled trees
and breathe crisp air that smells of fresh grass and autumn leaves

we will sit, and we will take each other in
your elegance, your grace, my power
my ideas, my story, your existence

words exchanging like so many spores and seeds and feathers in the air

you will show me who you are and the depth with which you care
no longer me, alone, hoping to stumble upon a discovery, sign, any little clue

but you, rejoicing in being discovered 
reveling in the joy of being seen

just me as me
and you as you

October Interlude

Kendall Moser


and then the trees came to life
and oh!
how they danced
how the wind sang in our ears
and we were so little and alone and
it didn’t matter
your hair was sunlight spilling over your shoulders
your eyes were melodies so sweet only the birds could ever read the sheet music right
and you laughed with the waltzing trees
and made my heart flutter like the wings of the bees
and for once I was not afraid of being stung

Letters from a Lost Girl

Kendall Moser


This city reminds me of you.
the bustling cars are your determined eyes, eager to go somewhere entirely else
the lights twinkling at night sing your laughter around every corner
the skyscrapers are that day we went to the old playground
you beelined for that creaky swingset
and screamed into the empty air,
hair flying behind you
feet touching the clouds,
                  “We’re gonna rule the world!”

                                                 and the gum sticking to my shoes is that night
                                                 when you sobbed and held my hands in yours
                                                              and begged me not to leave you.
This city reminds me of you.

Father’s Day

Dylan Wyatt


Bombarded by bittersweet reminders of the still painful loss, I wake up
to all the white-toothed smiles and neck-tugging hugs of young women
wearing colorful summer dresses and middle-aged men in striped Polos.

Their jubilation on a once joyous day for me, as they surround flaming grills
cooking burgers and watching the afternoon baseball game like we once did,
only makes me feel more disappointed we will never celebrate together again.

We will never sit around telling stories late at night while Momma cooks
in the kitchen. Never watch another Western starring leather-skinned,
muscular gunslingers and outlaws. Never sing along with the car radio.
We will never share a drink as good friends or fight like only a family can.

Time took you away before I could show you the man I would become:
A lover of only the most beautiful women, a fighter of the worst men,
A drinker of the strongest whiskey, and a teller of the craziest stories.
I shudder every time something reminds me, proves to me, that it’s true.

Dad, I grew up to be just like you.


Dylan Wyatt


Every family has one. A Blackbird.
One who doesn’t quite fit in,
flies a little differently.

Instead of joining the other birds,
he soars against the wind,
flapping to survive.

He doesn’t try to hide his feathers,
yet no one ever sees him
in his own unique glory.

Meanwhile, on the inside, he secretly
wishes to be a plain gull,
white feathers and all.

On the days with a blue sky overhead,
he ventures out far and wide
in search of something.

What he finds is always a welcome surprise.
Like an untouched cherry tree
in a field of white roses.

There, he meets a lovely dove all alone,
perched on a fragile branch.
Sadness shows in her eyes.

At first, he is too afraid to approach her,
worried she will only fly away,
leaving him alone again.

But then she flutters over next to him,
and her eyes don’t look as sad.
For once, neither do his.

She drapes her soft, white wings over him.
Together they sing into the night
until it’s the next morning.

He realizes, accepts, with her beside him,
being a blackbird doesn’t mean
he can’t be happy too.

What You Can’t Put on Your Christmas List

Rachel Tallon


All I’ve ever wanted is to be kissed
while I’m dusted with crystalline  flakes of snow,
but you can’t put that on a Christmas list.

You’d think I would have a man at my wrist,
but with guys I’ve always been slow.
Who knew it was so hard to be kissed.

My brother’s belief in fairytale romance persists.
I think it’s time he’s told the truth, you know?
But you can’t put that on a Christmas list.

When my first boyfriend missed my lips, I hissed,
“I thought you said you were a pro!”
All I’ve ever wanted is to be kissed.

Do decent guys even exist?
College boys – they have trouble with “no.”
It’s a shame you can’t put that on a Christmas list.

This year, I might all but insist
for a man, not a boy, to be my beau,
because all I want is to be kissed,
but there’s no way I could write that on my Christmas list.

Red Guardian

Emma Fowler


Boy, you were built
to burn and to fly.
To run in the streets
and swing through the sky.

You’re a demon in red,
black framing the blood
you wipe from your hands
as you slip on the hood.

You run and you fight,
you snarl and you scream.
You build and you read,
you sing and you dream.

Those scars and those sneers
hide the secrets you hold.
You’re complex, a protector
to the core of your soul.

Our Split Paths

Harley Kahl


You and I
Tend to walk hand in hand
Until we meet a crossroads
Where the road splits in two
I choose the left
You choose the right
Tears flow down our faces
As the roads we travel
We may not turn around

No matter how long the roads may be
Both roads meet again in time
Where we rekindle our campfire
Until we make the same choice that brought us here
Where we take opposite roads

I just pray
You’ll see what I see
In my eyes
You’re perfect
You always have been
You always will be
I wouldn’t dream
Of walking down these roads
With anyone else

Maybe at the next crossroads
You’ll be ready to traverse the same path
With me once again
For what I pray to be the last time

We have done this too many times
It’s beyond painful now
Leaving me with excruciating pain
And deep emotional scars
That refuse to heal without your help

I truly believe
What’s best for you
And what’s best for me
Is that we journey through life
Always traveling the same road

Two Poems

Wayne Thompson


The C

Silent malignance,
With stealth, moving in veins, vessels, organs.
Showing false signs of passiveness.
Building raw nests in fresh cells,
Quietly taking charge.
Establishing dominance.
Creating muddled messengers, fooling the educated,
Relaxing the host.
Boring into the very heart of life,
Tunneling without a soul
Through flesh, through bone.
Leaving a net of destruction,
That we can not close,
Except through that last gasp of life.
Our confused lungs suck in,
To expel the last breath
Of a drug inducted death,
As The “C” moves on to another.



Dark, violent skies, dull my wandering mind
With thoughts of love come and lost.
Bright scenes of vibrant joy, reverberating back
Only to be shattered by deep dark words
That find ears only too willing to listen.
To a heart that had healed once
And tried again.
Only to find that same empty tomb
Where new Love was once the only bloom.

Pools of emotional pain
Run cold and silent, their depths still unknown.
Their currents too stark and fresh to feel.
No thoughts of savior,
No thoughts of grace.
Nowhere to move my mind, to
Where it can rest and heal and grow.
Fresh slashes through the cords of self-worth
That snuff the will to find new birth.

Undaunted, I journey to life’s vague, new pastures.
Stirring past feelings of dark doubt.
To trust that this pain is for growth,
To see the darkness through to the end.
To forgive; still looking within,
For new answers, instead of out.
To see the good lying within the bad.
Amused by lessons learned; of fading ghosts, now dust.
Greeting imminent love with a of heart of trust.



Taylor Worsham


And he collapsed there, so corrupted as a
metal object was just thrust into
his chest. His lungs disgorge chunks of
red plasma as he gasps for air. His body convulses on
the frigid February ground, trembling with agony.

Broiling crimson laminates my hands as I try to cover
the gaping, pulsating wound. He’s heaving, just
struggling to stay alive. Pleading screams echo down dark, empty
alleyways, the cold winter air numbing my throat, but it’s not
loud enough.

My love gushes from the inside out, choking, breathing his own
red iron. He’s dispiritedly drowning in it while my fresh, warm
tears fall onto his paling cheeks. My body becomes his, and I
feel a lightning, pulsing pain in my chest. I feel my life,

His frail heart beats once more and his muscles completely
soften, his fern eyes stare indefinitely and know now that
he is swept into the wind. Intertwining our
cold fingers together, I gently plant pink roses on
the apples of his cheeks with my lips–

His blood dries in the snow–
I finger the wool fabric covering
his ash skin– My stomach is at my knees–
And my fingertips tremble
in this brutal wake–

We lie down together on that street, for hours and I bury
myself into his chest. I watch the snow fall onto his
lips– His body warmth slowly fades with each passing
moment– I gently coax butterfly kisses into his ear, and in return–
I receive silence.

The Rose That Drowned

Max Lathrop


Close your eyes and witness how I feel
Away in my tomb where everything’s a catastrophic deal
Now expose your eyes: break the seal
Watch my movie as it spins off the reel

In this bleakness, faces blur
But then sparks from my distemper spur
The flame aglow, attaching to souls like burs
It seems I attack everyone, you concur

I set myself on a shelf
Save me from myself!
“I can’t do this alone,” I scream as into my past I delve
Strike on a box of matches; the sparks like ripples made by stones
thrown into the ocean into which I delve

Soaking in the moonlight
A white rose in a plot of daisies holds its petals tight
The ocean waves crash down, and the rose loses its petals in the night
These are the stressful nights behind locked doors, when I’m out of sight

Who will fix me now?
I’m exposed; I’ll tell you how
My dreams float on clouds of smoke and then pow!
I’m disrupted from my internal tragedy and I take a vow

Step inside my ring
Where I can’t hear a thing
Water to my eyes it brings
“Everything’s not alright,” the silence sings

Dark colors trap me with their grasp as the moon, again, begins to glow
There’s a cataclysm in the silence of the snow
Look what I found, the stem of the white rose! What do you know?
Growing with the moonlight, ready to provoke the ocean: its foe

After the rose’s drastic decay,
The rose thought to itself, “You’ll be okay.
The battle will go on another day.
The ocean will eventually lose the fight to his dismay.

Don’t you see? This rose will never surrender
The ocean’s just an outrageous bully, the ultimate pretender
Take the waves and return to sender
The sea won’t be my story ender.”


Rachel Tallon


Doaa Al Zamel and her fiancé, Bassem, were Syrian refugees living in Egypt who sailed across the Mediterranean Sea in a smuggler’s boat to pursue a better life in Europe.  Tragedy struck when pirates damaged the vessel and the boat sank, claiming nearly 500 lives, including Bassem’s.  After four days, Doaa became one of the eleven survivors, but only because she was determined to save two little girls who had been given to her when their families drowned.


Thousands of kilometers, over borders and
starving for salvation, life calls us to escape,
Save your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and lovers.
Save your humanity, your soul, yourself.

Men and women scared of our reality become deaf
when we wail of injustice.  Mothers mourn for
yesterdays, fathers fight for tomorrows,
and their children persist in the present.

We are the side effects of war.
Waves leave salty licks between
the cracks in parched skin and
slaps the blistering plastic saving
one, two, three lives from a temperamental tomb.

Faces of men, women, and children
fall under the watery curtain,
then bob up with wide eyes because
death deceives the weary with false peace.

Eleven of us know the harrowing tale
that transformed survivors of turmoil
into victims of tragedy, rescued from war
only to be butchered by liberation.

My girls, strangers until trial and tribulation
pushed little bundles of saviors into my arms,
were my debt to life to forgive my fiancé
and me for marrying inside our peoples’ grave.

Three Poems by Michael Oakes

Being Misled

When he was young he wanted to be like The Flash.
Quick. Agile. Unseen.
He could just run away from whatever was bothering him.
Just like his Dad did.

As he grew older he wanted to be like The Hulk.
Strong. Fierce. Larger than life.
Anything that bothered him he could destroy or abuse.
Just like his Mom.

As a teen he wanted to be Superman.
Incredible. Superhuman. Looked up to.
He wanted to be bulletproof.
Unlike his sister.

Now he just wants to be normal.
Quiet. Hard-working. Blending in.
No abandonment. No abuse.
He needed a Hero.



This Poem is Not an Apology

Be a storm chaser.
Fear not the consequences of your crazy conquest,
Target the terrifying tornado and thunder,
Wrestle with the wild whirlwind you’ve wrought.

Be like a hurricane hunter.
Stand inside the storm surge,
Let the water wail away on your skin,
Be free of the frightening fear.

Be an avalanche adventurer
Scratch the surface of the snowy lake,
Decide to dive into the depths
Dig deep and dare to deal with the cold,
Find peace in this perpetually polar place.

Act like…
No. Fuck that –
Be the storm.
Be the best blizzard.
Move much like a mudslide
Spring like a surging tsunami.
Hit harder than hail.
Flow free like a flood.
Be you.
Be alive.



Round 1
His overconfidence may cost,
but he doesn’t think ahead.
He hears his name.
“The Kid.”
Ecstatic cheers proceed to feed his ego.
Bell rings.
He’s dancing, he’s dodging,
he’s got this, hands down.
Couple jabs, couple hooks.
He can taste the win.

Round 2
His overconfidence is evident,
but he won’t think ahead.
He hears the count,
“Three, four.”
His opponent getting up damages his ego.
Keep going.
He’s punching, he’s punishing.
Opponent won’t back down, hands up.
A few strikes, a few connect.
He can taste his sweat.

Round 3
His overconfidence is waning,
but he’s trying to think ahead.
He hears his coach.
“Get up!”
The mat cracks his ego.
Skull pounding.
He’s dragging, he’s sluggish.
He can’t keep his hands up.
A bunch of regret, a bunch of uppercuts.
He can taste his own blood.

Round 4
His confidence is gone,
and he can’t think at all.
He hears his opponent.
“Stay down!”
His ego is eviscerated.
Knocked out.
He’s done, he’s down.
His hands are the least of his worries.
He feels the disappointment, he feels every jeer.
“The Kid” is broken.

You Were There

Elizabeth ‘Lizziegh’ Enos


You were there
when time stopped.

And I held you in my arms,
gazing into deep pools of black tea,
my light, my reason for fighting – for being,
fading, as though clouds rushed in
covering my sun
hearing the beats of your heart
counting away the precious seconds
as though someone forgot to wind it

and then,
it stopped.

Tea-colored eyes
cooled and solidified
and the light was gone
the warmth stole from your body
and mine froze with yours.
You were gone.

How long did we sit there
among the torn and broken bodies
on that blood-soaked, war-ravaged ground?
How long did I sit alone
holding what remained of you?
Hands still laid over the gash in your chest
the horrid wound
I gave you.

There were no more seconds left to count
but if I moved, I would shatter.

And I missed you

Time stood still
even as it rushed forward
off into the distance
to the future –
a concept now devoid of meaning –