“ON THE WALL” by Moriah M. Mylod

Playground Rules & Physics

Smacked for my ever first drawing

A depiction of a Cephalopd on my bedroom wall

I shared the pale blue room with my twin

Cribs adjacent

A marker taken out of the grips of my clinging little finger tips

As my brother watched the beginning of my art career fail

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

Locked mom out of the house as I colored the walls with oily red lipstick

And the porcelain blue and white lamp too

Bang, bang on the door

Bang, bang on the window

And “Watch me, mom- destroy the integrity of the walls”

My lipstick utensil taken out of the palm of my sweaty, but bigger hands

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

In a hospital bed, hot

Face pressed up the cool bars of the frame

Trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, trouble eating

Sick 4 year old infantile

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

Hamsters that bites and eat their kin

Tiny blood spatters inside the dirty glass tank

Belvidere Hotel, tasting Budweiser and watching Jaws with Dad

Throwing half eaten peaches down the toilet

Clogged

Waiting for the Plumber

Mom is cooking pre-made stuffed clam shells

Stubbed and skinned atop the big toe

Chasing Rollie Pollie bugs on the cracked hotel pavement

Just in the heat of summer’s end

We found ourselves in a Blue Cobalt and Fire Hydrant House

Chicken Pox and a stranger sleeping over telling me to get out of my mother’s room

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

It’s night, in the doorway stands a Three Headed Sumo Wrestler

Then he is walking into my room

Lights still on

Hiding under Rainbow Purple Unicorn Cloud covers, keep me safe until tomorrow

He disappears & reappears

Stranger said, “You can’t paint the house in your pretty pink dress, honey.”

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER YOU

 

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Original painting on a wall by Moriah M. Mylod c. 2017

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“Braving the Days: The Western Understanding of Karma – A Personal Thought Flow” by Jordannah Elizabeth

Braving the Days

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I saw a post on social media asking “Why do Western people use the word karma so much, but don’t understand what it truly means?”

I think about karma often and try to live by its principals, but I am very honest with myself and clear to others when I speak of it: perhaps I can never understand karma the same way our Eastern neighbors do. Like slave spirituals, gospel music, soul and jazz is embedded in the African American communities, in our hearts, in our generational lineage, so is karma in the East. It’s a cultural implant.

The Buddhist view of karma says: Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was The Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today; we ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.” *

I also understand, as I am sure many do, that every ideology and religion has some a form of the concept of karma. Before we get to my own thoughts, let’s take a look at some Western belief systems ideas of karma within Christianity, wiccanism, quantum physics and theosophical belief systems.

__________________________

In Christianity (which has been adapted by Western Culture), the rule of “an eye for an eye” was part of God’s Law given by Moses to ancient Israel and was quoted by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:38, King James Version; Exodus 21:24, 25; Deuteronomy 19:21) It meant that when dealing out justice to wrongdoers, the punishment should fit the crime.

The rule applied to deliberate injurious acts against another person. Regarding a willful offender, the Mosaic Law stated: “Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, the same sort of injury he inflicted should be inflicted on him.”—Leviticus 24:20. *

In Wicca, The Rule of Three expands upon the concept of harm. This rule is also called the Threefold Law or the Law of Return. It says: all good and the harm that a person does to another returns threefold in this life.

Some Wiccans interpret this to mean that the good or harm returns back to a person three times as much. Others say the good or harm has impact in three major realms of life: the physical, emotional and spiritual. Many hold to a combination of these interpretations. *

Quantum Physics: …if we get angry or frustrated for instance, it sends out what is like ripples – as in ripples in a pool.

We are constantly walking around sending out such ripples. The quality of the ripples is up to us – that is our choice. The fact of the ripples cannot be changed. We can only have an effect on the quality of the ripples, we cannot stop sending them out.” *

Theosophy: Any system that tries to explain the existence of consciousness, life as an emergent product of physical matter as seen by quantum physics will fail, and can, from a Theosophical point of view immediately be thrown in the garbage bin. Karma, connecting all layers of the universe, seems to be the only explanation for order and logical causality in the universe, and for the existence of the intuitive fact of justice. *

____________________________

I am not perfect in any way, but some may have noticed over the years that I have become calmer, cautious, patient, willing to take responsibility for mistakes and, as an aside, I always try to offer coffee or tea to anyone arrives to visit.

When I was very young and trying to make it as a musician and author, I was homeless on and off for many years. I think I am one of very few people who knows what a hunger pain actually feels like.

One day, while living in a shelter in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon a word: grace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace is “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification,” or “a virtue coming from God”, or a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance. Others believe it is a “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” * I personally lean more toward the latter definition, but find it to be a combination of the all the definitions shared in the dictionary. If you don’t believe in a God or a higher power, that’s ok. Grace is just a special unexpected gift, like a windfall of money, a new job, a loving partner or other occasion we as human beings deem to be fortunate.

I don’t think you can understand karma before you learn about grace because grace allows you to pay that unmerited forward out of thankfulness for receiving it.

Living by the laws of karma is discipline. You’ve got to make it a top priority because over time it become, you will see yourself naturally becoming a more respectful person – respectful of others space and boundaries, less judgmental, easier to get along with work and with friends, etc.,  So, it’s important to spend time alone and get to know yourself, and also understand you inner goals. What kind of person do you want to be?

Being very honest with yourself, especially if you find yourself attracting people and circumstances that are harmful to you and others, can be a wake up call, and may being about a need for change.

I have to have a conversation with myself almost every evening in meditation, or just quiet my mind to let go of anxiety and fear. Karma is not a punishment, it’s not good or bad, it’s just a reflection of what you’re giving out, and if someone is not treating you and others the way you deserve to be treated after you’ve done everything you could to be kind and supportive, what you’re doing by shielding them from consequences. You’re subconsciously protecting them from karma. I believe karma and life will eventually move you out of the way, so the person you are trying to protect can learn and grow. You will lose a friend…who essentially wasn’t a great friend, so you receive the kind karma and grace of being freed from an unhealthy connection, and they receive the chance to move forward in their lives and make new choices.

There are people in the this world who don’t like me, who mean me harm, some are people I don’t know and can’t see, but I lay in bed at night and send them love. I connect with the energy of love, compassion, grace and mercy, build my relationship myself. I ask forgiveness for anyone I may have hurt (and may not even know I did) anyone, and I also forgive anyone who has hurt me or done me harm to keep my heart clear of resentment.

If you let anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred or any other emotions similar to this build up, you will attract people who will be working through similar karma, or, who want to glean what you learned without truly understanding the sacrifice and work you do to be the person you are.

When someone is acting badly and I have to be close to them, I had to learn, “That’s their personal relationship with their karma and themselves. Do you best to be loving, but step back a little and let them walk it out.”

That’s love, autonomy: “allowing others to have a “ state of being self-governing and self-directing freedom and especially moral independence” *  without judgment…which is sooooo hard.

I am not fool. I’m a 32 year old young Black woman from Baltimore City, so I do my best to make sure my boundaries are in place I am a strong person, but I am also kind, silly, fun-loving and generous. It’s all a balance.

In a Western sense, karma is just getting what you give, so try to give yourself, others and the world sincere kindness, support, love and generosity. It will come back to you and when you see it happen for the first few times, you can learn to keep it going. It’s not luck. It’s a lifelong practice.

“Life // slip // stream” by Elisabeth Horan

Arsenic Hour

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It’s nothing / hangs / like toile / white gauze / surgery / comes and goes / lab coats I never wore / monkeys & rabbits / guilty / I am always / I hate the inaction / I hate the mascara / raccoons flood my airways / knowing what I don’t or won’t do / embarrassing / I want the chicken but waste her every time / her bones unlovable / her beak / as my tailbone / so broke so broke / the shells too thin / they crack they crack / when I brood / they smash a million pieces below my tired wide ass / unfeminine to heap one’s load upon a pile of baby trash / I pray to God… Please make it last / keep it in / give it life / he cares not / he kills things / easy as life floats in unwanted/ so it goes out out with the bathwater / sesame seed / so wanted / first term ova / non teen abortion / the rainbow baby / the dead squirrel / this mad woman / just has questions of life and the mercy of the Lord / might as well ask the tree trunk / what or why the hell / is all this praying for—

 

 

 

 

 

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is honored to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heart Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. She has books coming out in 2019 with Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Twist in Time Press, Flypaper Magazine, Hedgehog Poetry Press, and Cephalo Press.

 

“Portrait of a girl and her films” by Anjali Bhavan

Visitants

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take a scalpel to my temple and carve out;

frame your questions and let my dreams splay

out on your petri-dish. ask me what I really want.

and here’s what I’ll tell you: sometimes, I want to

be framed like a Guru Dutt film,

I want to be nothing but cotton balls and luminous

umbrellas shadowing lovers with cups of sake.

I want to hide, blush and drape myself in my

embarrassing ardour. I want to be a black coat and

a graduate’s moustache, perhaps the last blot of grey

ink on a dying poet’s poem for the muse who faded

away and left a stale smell winding through his fingers.

I want to be the sum of all the softness a girl and

her anklets might carry, but I find that I must

crawl through gravel and the back of my weary hands

to get through.

Sometimes, I want to be a Mani Ratnam film: towering

landscapes that fail to eclipse my lust for life, intimate

spaces between lovers I find myself breathing past, the

ceaseless, eternal roar of the seas that raises a crescendo

of completeness in my bloodstream. Maybe I’m just a girl

looking for something new to shatter over.

Sometimes, stories about sad girls around architectural

marvels will do. I could wind myself tight around a

medieval lighthouse, maybe breathe in the loneliness

plastered in its cobblestoned silence, maybe walk around

in thrushes like an invisible blip of my mother’s existence.

Sometimes, poems wearing boots and walking around

in London will do. If poetry didn’t save me and hold me

together like a house holding all its broken windows in

fragile, teetering place – would anyone, then, tie lace

around my fingers and keep me from vanishing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjali Bhavan is an engineering undergrad. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in Speaking Tree, Porridge Magazine, Coldnoon International, Allegro Poetry Review and Sooth Swarm Journal among others. She currently writes according to her moods, and looks forward to oddball experiences.

“On names, identity, and personal mythology” by Lianna Schreiber

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Is it still an identity crisis if what is causing you grief is a fractal self which exists only in another person’s mind?

I am hyper-aware of myself at all times, and whether or not this roots in being a woman is a discussion best left for another time and thought piece, but the fact of it stands — I curate my behavior to the best of my ability whenever I am in public spaces, even if they are just everyday internet hang-outs. I treat each word as if it were a museum piece, analyzing its possible implications so as to not have my meaning be lost in translation by leaving something I consider to be implicit up to my peers’ interpretation. I do this because I know how easily misunderstandings arise.

Even my own self is parsed through the personal lens of every individual I come in contact with: cashiers, delivery boys, bus drivers, random pedestrians. They each apply their prior personal experiences to my image, together with all the preconceptions born from them; and so a paradox arises. Although they see me, they do not really see me.

They see someone who has my body — or, in the case of online spaces, my avatar and type beat — but whose psyche may have nothing in common with my actual self. They see a simulacrum that talks with my voice without possessing my thought process or intent, and I have no control over how they construct this person in their head.

I must admit that I have something of a fascination with the phenomenon of being seen always yet never perceived fully; even my friends and family possess a notion of me that is, at best, a partial overlap with who I am.

And part of this fascination roots in a kind of raw, abject horror — I am at times filled with such genuine despair over the idea that these mirrors of me are still only ever that, an array of imperfect reflections. This in turn is because to me, being loved equates to being understood, and I want an affection that is full and uncompromising; yet all the same here I am, a stranger in small ways to even the people I hold in confidence. Minute discrepancies will always color every interpersonal interaction I have, in much the same way my atoms will never touch. That space is a world in and of itself, and it is one terribly lonesome.

Over the years, I have come to compartmentalize these alien selves. I index them according to the extant level of familiarity, a knowing which is indicated by the name basis someone uses when addressing or otherwise referring to me.

Case in point: to the world I am known by my legal name, half baptism, half inheritance. When it rolls off the tongue, it leaves behind the oilspill of my father’s sins — and swimming in its black trails is enough Orthodox longing to build a church from the ground up. There is distance, here. The world sees me, but it does not understand me, as our level of interaction is built strictly upon formalities and necessity. The agora makes no effort to know me, and so I do not try to extend it explanations.

Ours is a business relationship: I am a blur of letters left behind on government paper in neat uppercase script and the half-formed, nearly unintelligible signature underneath them. And that suits me fine. I believe deeply in the power of words, you see. I believe in their magic.

To name is to tame, as folktales teach us, and we should never give away parts of ourselves if we are not to receive in exchange something of equal value. You have lent me your eyes, and for that I will make you privy to this aspect of my personal mythology.

In naming me, my mother consigned me to two distinguished crosses.

I was given the first name of Liana, as in “vine”, but also as in “God answers”; due to geography, its etymology is at best convoluted, but no matter which map you choose to trace it on it will always lead you back to a kind of paroxysm. My middle name, Andreea, was chosen to honor an old tradition, that of consecrating children to a saint — the association with Andrew the Apostle is thus inextricable. I and half the country bear the lopsided signet of his suffering and piety, and we may only hope to be worthy.

Growing up in an environment where myth bleeds so insidiously into everyday life has made me wary of life’s fine print. Etymology is important; names are, to me, prophetic.

Thus, when I had to assign myself a professional name, I took ample time to deliberate my options. In addition to personal meaning, I took numerology into consideration, too, and eventually christened myself Lianna Schreiber. The second n was added so as to conserve within the letters one of my arc symbols, the number fifteen; Schreiber I chose for its meaning — “scribe”. That is what I am, at the end of the day. A victim of my muses, a prophet rich in only blood, half mad and always, always raving.

Here, the distance has begun to lessen. My name tells you something about me, because you know it was chosen, not given, and you know the why behind that decision.

But to name is also to own, and pet names between friends always carry an inherent contractual aspect. Mine seem to love and think of me in flowers: I have always been Li, Lia, Lili — more recently, Lilia. I have accepted this nomenclature with both hands, because in truth I have always been the bird just as much as I have been the flower on whose thorns it perches; accepting the symbol did not require me to abandon my skin. I try to live up to it, to bring honey into their lives by being a soft thing, an ointment, a nurturing presence, and all the while I worry about the day I might become a poison.

I think that such worries are only natural — they are born of an understanding love. My friends get to see me at my darkest, and when I sink into one such nocturne, it takes me days to come back up for air. Of course I worry about how that will affect them; when you care for someone, a part of their suffering and joys becomes your own.

And thus the distance lessens further: “Lia” is closer to my true self than the persona I present before the court of my peers, as the intimacy which binds me to the people who have given me the name means they have seen all sides of me.

Still, this is at best an incomplete alignment; for you see, the highest level of closeness is, ironically enough, a nameless one.

In the dark, alone with myself, I am an amorphous thing. All there is to me then is a coil of flesh and a handful of fugitive symbols — I dress myself in them as one would in battle armor, becoming what I need to mean to myself in the moment.

Bird-girl. Witchling. Star-peddler. Absolute c-nt.

My own savior just as much as I am my own destroyer, my own God.

Perhaps taking the time to explain all these self-assigned sigils would help bridge the gap in perception — they are tells, after all, much like the tremor of a deer when it senses peril. Perhaps I would be better understood if I just said outright that the reason I think of myself as a bird, for example, is about more than the metaphor of its hollow bones, that it is chiefly about the freedom their kind has yet never takes full advantage of, always flying in the same exact patterns their ancestors have for millennia. Perhaps dialogue is, after all, the solution to this flavor of hedgehog’s dilemma.

And yet. And yet. And yet —

I cannot help but feel that something is lost when I myself am the one to say it. Is it wrong of me to want to be understood without needing to explain? To want to be deciphered, never needing to meet someone halfway as they have of their own accord followed the map to the proverbial door?

 

 

 

Lianna Schreiber is a Romanian author. A self-described “New Romantic”, her work mostly concerns itself with gods, monsters, and human nature as it is caught between the sacred and the profane — all wrapped up in an overabundance of floral imagery. She can be found @ragewrites on tumblr.

“A Queer Hymn Sung by an Atheist” by Jeremy Mifsud

Visitants

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During my silent days,
your corpse leans
its heavy weight
against the door.

I lie in bed,
on the shards
of a smashed phone,
burning incense,
burning the sheets
and any bed bug
that might have kissed you.

I breathe
the fumes
and hope
to kill
withstanding memories.

I bathe
in starry tears
to rebirth
my soul,
knock at heaven
to claim
a second chance.

& what am I
if not a vulnerable boy
seeking redemption
from a Father
that had abandoned
his son,
kneeling in front of him
like I kneeled in front of you.

I long for his love
like I’ve longed it from you,
but you fed me lies;
I starve on his silence.

You can’t replace divinity.

If I live my life
hoping
a man will save me,
I’m doomed.

If I live my life
believing
in a God,
at least I’ll have
hope.

 

 

 

 

Maltese-born Jeremy Mifsud is an autistic, queer poet, currently reading for a Masters in Cognitive Science at the University of Malta. Social ineptitude becomes a catalyst for his art as he weaves unsaid words into poems and short fiction. He has self-published a full-length collection Welcome to the Sombre Days (2018). More of his poetry and fiction appears or is forthcoming in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (2018), Lucent Dreaming, Constellate Magazine, Royal Rose Magazine and others.

“THE WAIT” by Michael Akuchie

Visitants

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i keep a pinch of soul on the nightstand & leave open the windows

of this room plagued with fear of the great unknown

of my heart continually exposed to grief stricken events

a bible nestles close, perfumed pages advertise ageless wisdom

our fleshes meet briefly as stares are visited upon each other

my mouth folds up a prayer & holds on until it is perfectly shaped

to fly across the night & carry my life on for the next stretch of days

because i swallow enough problems to cause incurable bloatedness

because everytime of day is a gift to write on my wrists with knife

because light locks me out & designs self to deny entry

i plump up hands & have them go together to bear God

to carry him right inside the crevices of pain holed up in my body

i wonder if his healing touch knows where to look inside me

this snowballs into scenes of a boy echoing moments saddled with hurt

while commonplace things like prayer requests wear titles of importance

as i navigate through the red & white of  communion for miracles

 

 

Nigerian-based Michael Akuchie is a writer and dreamer whose works have appeared on Barren Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Agbowo, Kalahari, peculiars mag, IsacousticVol and elsewhere.

 

 

 

“Befrust” by Gabrielle Lawrence

Visitants
tom hill

Image by Tom Hill

befrust

 

 

 

 

Gabrielle Lawrence is a writer and editor. Her writing can be found in The Squawk Back, Rising Phoenix Review, Gravel Magazine, A Gathering Together Journal, Sundog Lit, and others. Even when she isn’t doing the most, she is still in the spirit of much. Follow her on Twitter @gabrielle__l or visit gabrielle-lawrence.com for more info.

“Damocles” by Jennifer Wholey

Visitants

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A haibun

 

Brush firmly tangled into a deep nest of my hair, I learned about the sword of Damocles from my father one perfect Hawaiian evening. The sun was a picturesque blur of color bleeding on the horizon; I knew the brush must stay in my hair until it set, or I would surely die. I feared the knives asleep in the kitchen island, the balcony of the bedroom loft, my mother’s too-reassuring smile. I needn’t be afraid, my father said, of a sword hanging over my head by a horse’s hair, lest I waste away wondering when it might drop.

 

Sea swallows sunlight:

treading water endlessly,

fear digs in its heels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Wholey is a poet, journalist and editor. She is an AWP Writer to Writer Mentee, and a reader for Palette Poetry. Her work has recently been published in Panoply, and Sheila-Na-Gig’s ‘Under 30’ collection. She earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in communication (and medieval studies) from Cornell University. Jennifer lives in upstate New York with her husband and two dogs.

“Dead Trees” by Chloe Smith

Visitants
susan eder

Image by Susan Eder

You laugh, loud and clear,

At my look of pure horror

When you tell me what paper is.

Careful, you’ll stick like that, love –

You said, as I blink at the thin page,

As barely there as my pale skin.

Not at all rough, like its body outside,

That glimmers with bright baubles,

Even when it’s not nearly Christmas.

There is no shine here, no warmth,

Like the pies, golden, and sweet –

Or presents, and smiles. Just nothing.

The lack of, the after,

Empty plates and frowns –

It reminds me of the stones,

Dry, blank, and rough, just standing there

In the long, loud grass. Like dead trees –

Only at least they have names,

Scratched into them, like promises, reminders,

So they aren’t just stuck, bare, in the cruel wind.

I asked you for a pen. You didn’t ask why –

But your face scrunched up when I wrote my name

Then flattened again, like a page, bent over, turning…

You understood where I was going, I think,

So you whipped it out of my hand, quick –

Told me I was too young for that kind of thing. The after.

But trees get cut down all the time –

I just didn’t want this one to die

With empty branches.

Reaching out, waving, just for someone

To sit, just for a second. Join them

Before they go, and get split, alone and scared, into paper,

Like this one, a single page, shaking in my still hand,

It’s not fair –

The least I can do is be there, Mum,

Give them something, a sign, a covering, comfort –

Even if only in spirit. In shining wet ink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe Smith is a disabled and autistic writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in the Honest Ulsterman, TERSE. Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Cauldron Anthology and more. Her flash fiction has been published in Ellipsis Zine, TRAIN, Three Drops From a Cauldron and The Ginger Collect. For more about her writing, please visit her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. You can also find her on Twitter: @ch1oewrites.