Swan of Blood

Alexia Whisler


A horizon stained with smoke
swirling from wings devoted
to choosers of the slain.

The gnawing of shields
has ended, and you
glide above war torn terrain
observing perished
warriors becoming chosen.

Screams of near death
quiver your black feathers
of those maimed
slipping their grip on
their dispatched souls.

Favored dead delivered
to the great hall
Valhalla, to feast
to fight, forever.

Your feast
bath of blood
yet remain of those
soaking the soil
empty of their souls.

You join a flock
those bearing the same
black pearl eyes
the same instinct
remains of death
to pick, to pluck
to plunder.

You, Raven
Swan of Blood
sink your talons in flesh
and feast on those
left behind by Valkyries
and clear the sea of blood.

The Wall

Leah Mockridge


Domestic destruction
People are breathing their last breaths
But we will call it
“Civilian casualty”

Bullets ringing like bells through the air
Bones cracking like the whips we have “long since” retired

A terrorist without the skin tone
Or the turban
Is called

We keep the death toll
Like keeping score

Pointing fingers
But never at home team

The flag is colored
Red with our blood
White like our hateful pride
And blue like our sorrow

And yet you boo when people kneel
Seeing them pushed down by the weight of the injustices we perpetuate
Pisses you off

Because people died for that flag
Like the unnamed slaves-turned-soldiers
Who never had a choice when bullets littered their backs
Dying for a country they didn’t ask to be in

The taking knees
Doesn’t honor that proud history
It doesn’t fit the status quo
The picture of
America the brave
And home of the free(d)

The freedom of speech
Our favorite card to play
Until someone has something important to say

So build the wall ten feet higher

We gave children dreams
now we ship back the dreamers
To a land they never dreamt of

Ten feet higher

We shot unarmed kids in the back
Blaming the bullet
Not the blue who pulled the trigger

Ten feet higher

We marched with swastikas held high
Neo Nazi
No, sorry
“White Pride”

Ten feet higher

Add a foot for every black life that didn’t matter enough
Add a foot for every white rapist that walked free
Add a foot for every family ripped apart
Add a foot for every terrorist that came from inside this country
Add a foot for every hate crime left unnoticed
Add a foot for every transgender person who can no longer serve
Add a foot for every life we could’ve saved in Puerto Rico
Add a foot for all the injustices that will never be addressed

Red with blood
The flag is red with the blood we wiped from our hands.

Pay attention
Be aware
Be angry

To the Person Who Gets to Love Her

MaKaila Marrison


To the person who gets to hold her hand,
She wears a feather ring for good luck.
It is a symbol of love and of hope.
I was with her when she bought it.

To the person who gets to comfort her,
She loves cuddly stuffed animals.
Buy her panda bears, elephants and foxes.
These little gestures will make her happy.

To the person who gets to make her laugh,
The sound could end all wars.
You will never want it to stop.
She loves cheesy, predictable jokes.

To the person who gets to hug her,
Her arms represent safety and home.
They are the cure to every sad thought.
Hold on tight and do not ever let go.

To the person who gets to meet her pets,
Her dog likes to steal her pillows.
Suki, the little gray cat, is her favorite.
She wants to help every stray she finds.

To the person who gets to move in with her,
She can’t cook, not even frozen pizzas.
Her favorite food is Chipotle Burrito Bowls.
She forgets to check when the milk expires.

To the person who gets to be with her,
Take care of her heart and her soul.
You are lucky to have been her choice.
Love her with everything that you are.


Old Southern Man

Daraka Hudecek


The tattered rebel flag waves in the wind,
as a way of pulling me into comfort.
He’s always there. Always there in his easy chair
or digging ‘taters in the garden, Old Southern Man.

Darkness comes. A panicked voice on the line
follows with the news. He’s gone. Papa’s gone.
Stillness in that easy chair. Death fills the room.
It’s surreal as I say goodbye.

Cold, rough, hard-workin’ hands on display
for the very last time. Hard and calloused, bruises
under the skin. Leather fingers takin’
their final bow in this act.

At least until the trumpet sounds and we meet again.
Cowboy shirts all left behind.
Smells still there. Inhale deeply. It won’t last.
Remnants of soil, spices, and mint.

The leaves are changin’ from greens to reds.
And making a carpet of colors on the grass.
That tattered rebel flag is gone.
Old Southern Man is gone. ‘Til the trumpet sounds.

Reunited at last.


Makaelynn Marken


Feed my body to the sky at dawn.
Let howls echo from the canyon on.
Let the whitecaps sweep my body free.
Let the fault-line hurl this land to sea.
Leave coastlines, lost, never to be found.
Let fires strip once fertile ground.
Let vultures feast until the body is dry.
Leave stars to squirm across the sky.
Let the Golden Gate Bridge be eaten by rust.
Let the howls be heard until this body is dust.


Mel Gilbertson


I cried very little as a child,
Spoke sparsely yet eloquently,
Ate only bread and dairy
Three sure signs of a changeling.

Had I been born a thousand years ago,
My mother would have grieved for her loss;
Her true child stolen away by the Fair Folk
Swapped for one of their own in disguise.
Desperate, she might have mistreated me
To force the faeries to return her real child.
Changelings do not often survive their youth.

If I had lived, I’d have been watched closely,
Stared at whenever I betrayed my true heritage
Whether that be recoiling at a soft touch,
Responding too late or not at all,
Or rushing out of a crowded room.
Those who spied me delighting in solitude
Would claim I entertained faerie guests.

A thousand years, and so little has changed.
Mothers grieve for the loss of their child
Stolen by the spectre of autism.
Caustic tonics and abusive therapies
Claim to cure us, restore us to normality.
Our thoughts and feelings are never considered
As if we are merely a puzzle to be solved.

So many claim to speak for us,
Yet so few listen when we speak for ourselves,
So listen closely.

We are your real children
And we do not want to be cured.

What Does the World Want from Me?

Dylan Wyatt


I awoke, one night,
listening to the echoes
of a long-forgotten life.

The air outside sang, one night,
unrelenting to the rest
of the world around me.

A snowflake fell, one night,
falling to the sound
of time passing by unnoticed.

I thought I knew
what the world wanted from me,
but sometimes the thieves of yesteryear
and the saints of today are one and the same

I found, one night,
lying in the forest
of lost dreams and false memories.

The kind words spoke, one night,
fighting in the realm
of truth not found in reality.

A blackbird flew, one night,
flying in the dusk
of the dark fuchsia-filled sky.

I thought I knew
what the world wanted from me,
but sometimes the thieves of yesteryear
and the saints of today are one and the same

The Air of Poetry

Amy Lehigh


Poetry is not
a corset pulled too tight,
or hands wrapped
‘round your throat,
suffocating you.

Poetry is like a river—
it ebbs and flows,
washing away the shores
of expectation
and bringing fresh fish of ideas,
of vibrant colors and
impossible patterns.

Poetry is the silver-tongued storyteller,
making molehills into mountains,
and the catch of the day
into a kraken,
making children’s eyes go wide
and round as saucers.

Poetry is the one
who will listen to grandma’s stories
about the letters beneath the bed,
never opened,
and think of all the possibilities.

Poetry is the air you breathe,
careless and free
dancing with the wind
and howling with the storm.

Air never suffocated anyone.

Fawn in Headlights

Paige Cavaness

for my mother

I am a fawn in the headlights, whatever shall I do?

My friends of the woodland tell me I’ll be fine,
The robin shows me how to skim the yellow and make it out in time.

I am a fawn in the headlights, whatever shall I do?

The shadows in the forest his and beckon ‘stay’.
They tell me if the lights should hit me, that they’d come out and play:
Me, joining them on their wild ride throughout the woodland fray.

I am a fawn in the headlights, whatever shall I do?

Instinct tells me I should sit and wait with my eyes reflecting iridescent hues;
I know too soon, I will have to choose

I am a fawn in the headlights, whatever shall I do?

My friend’s of the woodland, even with all of Robin’s might…
I know it is not his guidance which will lead me through the night.

The shadows with their grins and melancholy dreams,
Wish to mislead me and rip me from my seams.

As far as instinct? I am blind,
Experience an untraveled globe in a child’s mind.

I am a fawn in the headlights, whatever shall I do?

I hear nothing, see nothing as the lights grow ever brighter…
The fatal spark to a hunter’s lighter?

And then something happens, after all the indecision.
I see my mother’s tail, forward in my vision.

I see her bound up and down and then into the field.
A mother’s love, always a constant shield.

So yes, I am a fawn in the headlights. Whatever shall I do?

Mom, because of trust, I will always follow you.

Forever Bound

Megan Chmielewski


Together we are bound.
            Not in love
but in chains.

forged in promises of yesterdays.
                      Forever.  Always.
                                As agreed.

                     We fastened shackles,
                                but created no key.

The Path

Dylan Wyatt


Shadows painted on walls made of brick and mortar,
painted over signs of red that command you to STOP.
Somewhere in the dark sky above, a blackbird
flies by in a hurry, waving its obsidian wings,
as I walk along the path I have taken, forsaken.

Just past midnight, for the bells have announced the witching hour,
I stop at a white church, gothic spires pointing towards the heavens.
At the altar, a priest kneels before the golden, gilded cross
deep in prayer. I walk up to him cautiously,
careful not to let my large frame scare the frail, old man.

He doesn’t seem to notice me, for why should he,
so I walk away quietly. A tear falls from the Father’s face.
The eyes of Christ, stained in glass, stare at me,
judge me with the burning of heavenly fire,
as I walk along the path I have taken, forsaken.

Ten long years of unending pain have passed
since I last walked this cold road to my home
where a happy family now lives without me.
She is just as beautiful as I remember, surrounded
by my tired and aging parents, and the children I left behind.

As I walk along the path I have taken, forsaken,
I finally realize why I cannot be forgiven
for my crimes. My sins have allowed me to be awaken
as I walk along the path I have taken, forsaken.


Noah Dannenberg


you may be happy in your 9-5,
but we will never be.
you may be content spreading your black tar
over the potholes in the road
the same way that you spread
your traditional, tired, tar
over the aspirations of those
who just want something different,
something more.

you may be happy living within
the confines of your four walls,
but we will never be.
we will never be spoon-fed
the idea of what is right and what is wrong
or told that we’re simply
‘ignorant liberals’
by the people that have never
had the courage to explore
everything that could prove to be more.

we will not be told
what we are doing is wrong
or what we believe is wrong
by those that have never had the
chance to experience
the satisfaction and the greatness
that can be felt by
simply loving one another.

we will not be sorry
for being a woman or
for our religion or
for being black or being gay
for being what we are
for defining for ourselves what it means
to live and be present in the
world happening around us:
you may be happy in your 9-5,
but we are not.