Weeding Out the Weak

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Washarapol D BinYo Jundang


Energy pulsates through the vicinity in
lightning-quick streaks, with promises
of minty fresh lungs and
shots from out of the darkness.

Something wet trickles down,
heightening the senses,
inching through a knot of tiny legs and
infinite little particles.

The moisture pools,
the stolen molecules thrum in anticipation
of the vacuum that sucks suddenly
against gravity, toward the electrifying warmth.

Something is crumbling away, microscopically thorough.
Blue seeps through the shock of awareness:
this energy is brighter, more powerful,
tugging all greedy little fingers.

Yet two fingers tug hardest,
and the others wither away
with distant hope, not promised
such a successful surge.

What once crumbled has given way,
and life stabs into the cerulean light:
the earth births a king–
a tyrant, a weed.

save the snake

Written by Jules Descoteaux
Art by cottonbro


suck the poison out the wound
then spit it on the hissing snake
until it slithers away. another

snake emerges from the bush.
someone, somewhere, sinks
teeth into flesh that doesn’t
belong to them. marks of the flesh
become marks of the blood and

convert to poison sooner than
it can be drawn out, yet we still try
even despite previous offenses,
to save you, the other serpent–

yet i am the one with your blood
slicked venom on my breath, slithering
as i smile: warping and white. my
tongue stings behind our teeth.

Red Ring

Written by Anna Conway
Art by Sam K Clem


Snapping the cider can
rings the fondness
Of life back after waiting in your
University dorm for a text
Or a call
Or a flyer put through your
Door to send your senses alight with
The raging lights of the night
The flash from someone’s phone
The battery-powered globes and
Strobes that peel at your retinas
One after the other until the only
thing you can see is
The flesh of your palms scraped with
Envy as the boy who said he likes you
Pulls the lips off of another girl with
His teeth
Your nostrils, red raw from coke
sending your synapses into
A frenzy and a girl pull you into
Examine the red rings on your body
Drunken devils in the inferno of
A cheap uni dorm, their shadows
Dance and disappear as quickly as the
Fever piques and calms as you’re left waiting
For the smell of an open bottle of mouthwash
To bring you to life again

On Seeing Some People You Thought You Recognized

Written by Niamh Kelly
Art by tookapic


We wane to invisible amongst a crowd of thousands.
Our faces blur in the swift-pouring rain,
voices unheard through the constant cacophony.

We disappear like stage magicians.
One-way-mirror- eyes, we can gaze out but you cannot look in.
Low drifting city smog would obscure your line of sight.

We dissipate between pools of streetlight as the evening darkens.
Slipping through the gap of dusk and dawn.
Leaving only fleeting reflections on puddles to remain.

We vanish when heads turn towards us.
Transforming into a stray thought, so soon forgotten.
A gossamer impression that dissolves with a direct stare.

We are an echo, never the sound.

chanterelles against the loveless world

Written by Michelle Rochniak
Art by Michael Reichelt


you will be plucked from the forest one day: arid wind
slicing your stem.
you will bleed water;
the greedy air will swipe this, too.
you will gasp from the grass, waiting for a warm hand
or even fire,
but no one comes.
it’s just you and the air,
destined to create a stiff, stale stem.
what’s an abandoned fungus to do?
your limbless siblings are five feet away.

what if we had branches, you muse—
distracting yourself from the thrashing breeze.
I wonder if the trees would talk to us more.
maybe we would know more of their words;
maybe they would love us.
what do you think?
you call out to the sky.
no one answers.

self-resolution

Written by Michelle Rochniak
Art by StockSnap


You stand in the mirror, supermodel posing, as I watch from the bed. That dress with pockets, those princess sleeves, that pouty face. Your hands wrap around your body, line your chin, drape over your head. Your legs cross, crouch down, shift weight. Swishing fabric. Swooping hair. Just like the photographer on TikTok showed you. You never let it come naturally. You always needed someone else to tell you how to move. And it’s my fault. I never brought you roses after recitals. I never squeezed you tight after a long night of crying in your bed. I never told you how proud I was of you for snagging the perfect internship. So, the next time you find the courage to smile at yourself in the mirror, I promise I’ll smile back.

When in the forest

Written by Niamh Kelly
Art by NADExRioTic


A misty sunrise shrouds the forest inhabitants as they wake gradually or drift asleep,
The night shift creatures lulled by an unseen dawn chorus,
Songbirds hidden amongst the dew-drenched leaves.
The rusted orange foxes and stark black and white badgers
Huddle underground after their nightly forage—
All present but unobserved, overlooked, camouflaged.

We could be intruders here amongst the undisturbed wildlife,
Blundering, stumbling, chattering,
Every animal fleeing from the ruckus.
Yet, we learn from them instead, adopting their habits.

A carpet of leaf litter remains un-rustled by our feet as every footstep is gently placed,
The placid breeze carrying our foreign scent upwind, away from grazing deer.
These movements are slowed and stillness is preferred.
The distance between different species shortens as
We become part of the forest,
Wrapped in the morning mist and dappled sunlight.

A soldier becomes a soldier

Written by Allison Riechman-Bennett
Art by Allison Riechman-Bennett


A soldier becomes a soldier when all is blinding white. Bandages lend towards plaster set after a flash of gunfire.
How do I have my words apart from my writing? It mirrors blood seeping through steri-strips and gauze. I will never face war as close as ones that shudder theatres or drown hushed crying in tunnels.
So why do my words keep trying?
Infancy puzzles intellects in their prime but gangrene and cauterizing shouldn’t phase me.

america, on the edge

Written by Stuti Desai
Art by BeansandSausages


when she falls (girl choking
blood, soldier stitched shatter-
boned) know it was not without
grace, know it was not intentional.

beloved, when she falls, brush
rough palms over the songs of
your hometown and sing them
to her. if you cannot sing, cough them.

america, of godhood. america,
scavenger-taker, clumsy-handed
giver. know she did what she had to do
to protect her exposed ankles, know she died running.

know she gave you her
arms and her heart and the
beauty mark on her shoulder.

when she falls, she takes
progress with her for progress is self-contained
pushes forward without america,
but there is no america without progress.

america, bird-boned, glass-eyed
singing through the rock in her
throat. america, screaming, learning
how to teeter along the ledge.

america & I, sprinting always, side-
by-side, teaching ourselves the streets of the other,
teaching each other how to live along the edge,
learning, slowly, to hold our chins up & brace for the fall.

diffusion

Written by Stuti Desai
Art by HaticeEROL


In every song, cancer sounds the same:
bitter-tongue, blue-finger, how hands shake

around smoothie bottles, how hair falls
and wigs fasten. Words compressed

into sounds compressed into hand gestures
into just read my mind. Swallow it down,

peach pit, simmer until boil. Cancer
sounds like the kitchen which is to say

what sort of daughter is this clumsy? Pans
spark when cold water hits them, triangle

rotis because cancer didn’t just disfigure my
mother. When you eat food shaped wrong,

textured wrong, you become wrong too; a hypothesis
for the jagged edges in my family. How many

times can you say strong before it
becomes a curse, not a prayer? The tomato

turns a color it’s not supposed to. Cancer,
I find, is in the food we eat, and for a long time,

I wonder if that makes me cancerous too.
When my brother learns to roll out his own rotis, toss his own salads, I

will tell him he has every right to his grief, when
my father’s fury cools, I will

paint his sacrifices in a language we can both understand,
in a language where my words haven’t grown mold

and his aren’t puff pastry fragile, all to say
I will cook him a meal, and I will let the cancer go,

and my rotis will be round and stuffed with aloo,
okra textured right, language of my own, disarm cancer.