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Vievee Francis

A WOMAN AT THE BOOKSTORE READING WONDERS HOW I MADE THE LEAP FROM MY FIRST BOOK [...]

By Vievee Francis A WOMAN AT THE BOOKSTORE READING
WONDERS HOW I MADE THE LEAP FROM MY FIRST BOOK
TO MY SECOND WHICH WON AN AWARD

She wants me to know how “different” my poetry is
one book to the next, preferring my second book that leaves her
blameless
Arumandhira Howard

Soft Black Girl Aesthetic

By Arumandhira Howard We are made shy / sun, kissing another heartless / night awake. We are made satin silking / pompon locs. Cotton, banana pudding, baby’s / breath. These cornbread thighs, our blessed butterfly / knives. We are made to de-stem hardened men like bull-headed / bougainvillea.
Tonee Mae Moll

Burning Haibun as Portrait: 9 months on HRT, Georgia on MS Word

By Tonee Mae Moll The font, not the nation, nor the southern state where lawmakers are folding the idea of the monster of my body into votes from folks whose homes they know are marked for flooding. I suppose I mean typeface—I’m supposed to remember the difference— like all exquisite things, we’ve got this etymology that feels apocryphal anyway. Anyway, let’s suppose I am a transitional shape.
Gbenga Adesina

PARADISE

By Gbenga Adesina North of the country, a road led to the desert.
Dust was the first sentence. The Sahara
was a white darkness in the distance,
and beyond it the glint of a Great Lake.
We drove past fields of ginger and wild purple onions.
There was a public garden and a ring of white egrets
around still water.
Joanna Acevedo

Training Wheels

By Joanna Acevedo “I just wanted to check in with you about your friend who passed,” my therapist says at the end of our session. “Yeah, he’s still dead,” I quip. We share a long laugh.
Sasa Aakil

Black Mermaids and Swimming and Red Hair and Ancestry

By Sasa Aakil They say, Ariel could never be black.
That black folks don't have red hair and can't swim no how.
They list all the reasons we have no right to this title
and I can only think of Hasan.

Brown skin boy with hair red as fire.
Quick wit, quick smile.
Born with sunset resting atop his head like crown.
Jose Hernandez Diaz

Ode to My Older Sister, Letty, for Being the First in the Family to Go to College

By Jose Hernandez Diaz I’m not sure if you knew it at the time, but you showed us, your younger siblings,
A great example. Maybe you were just happy going away to college,

Away from the responsibilities of watching over younger siblings all the time,
But I always remembered having pride when I’d tell people my sister

Is an English major and even more so when you became a teacher.
Steve Bellin-Oka

Packing the Kitchen Utensils

By Steve Bellin-Oka How many years since we used
the potato masher, the apple peeler,
its stainless-steel blade and crank
tucked in the back of the bottom
kitchen drawer among the balled
clot of discarded rubber bands?
Nathan McClain

Q: Is there anything you miss about your life back then?

By Nathan McClain On one of those evenings you found yourself walking back, now that much of what daylight was left had moved on, as though some argument had long been settled and nothing lay ahead but a row of muted streetlamps and the future, of course, immediate, shimmering which, let’s face it, you were always going back to despite any guilt you still carried like a flashlight
Adeeba Shahid Talukder

Mehfil

By Adeeba Shahid Talukder Tonight,
the beloved ascends
the rungs of stars;

seated on a mirrored
cushion, she is both spectacle
and witness,

both of the mehfil
and its all-seeing god.
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