Solace in Rain

Written by Revika Sangamita
Art by Marija Anicic

It rained cats and dogs last night
And I caught a pair of them, bought them inside
Soft in dust and armored they are
They don’t speak a different language
Seems like they didn’t come from so far
They are calm as deer and light as feather
They don’t seem like they’ve ever been apart
The world has a caterwaul effect outside
Like a terror has summoned the bright
Cooper, the dog barks with all his might
But Luna, the cat sleeps throughout the night
My life has been like that of a prompter
I supplied forgotten words for people as I write
Luna and Cooper has incandescent something stronger
A love of transparence and longer than a lie
They gave those words to me that I couldn’t ever find
We all live happily in our cottage together
Till it rains cats and dogs fruitfully forever!

A Recipe for Disaster

Written by Keri Stewart
Art by Renato Danyi

words were too complicated
so i shut my mouth.
my lips dug the grave for speech
and danced atop the dirt with glee.

being buried alive was frightening
but such horrors were not my problem
as i laid my words to rest,
oxygen abandoning their habitat.
this script relinquished from my life

had detached from my persona,
ripped from my chest cavity like a heart.
but the bones did not care for the empty space,
so neither did my lips nor i muster concern.

i had let nature do its job; decay followed my
dead words like shadows overtaking the night sky.
and i, a mere human, had watched this sight,
ignorant of my wrinkling fingers,

the skin crumbling off the bone like
a recipe for ribs. my own recipe for disaster
had been constructed through my passivity.
and soon i was like a mirror of my words six feet below,
copying the mimicry of death and its plague.

Cloud nine ninths

Written by Luke Carmichael Valmadrid
Art by Luke Carmichael Valmadrid

Into my ears, you sing
phoned-in melodies twisted sickly sweet,
like brasswind screams braided into cotton candy rings.
I can’t help listening, a sort of
if-my-ears-could-get-cavities type of thing.
Empty promises beget brain freeze,
vanilla ice white noise muffling the peeling
of labels, whose rasps grow louder
as they hang on, an atonal symphony
that has me leaping up broken arpeggios with a bitter courage
while refusing to listen to the music.
By the time I’m ready to say what I’m thinking,
I’ll have hung up, stuck between romantic echoes
and a perpetual motion machine, still studying
basic music theory:

dissonant doesn’t mean doesn’t sound good
it means doesn’t sound good together.


Written by Keri Stewart
Art by Nataliya Vaitkevich

unyielding fire forges a charred complexion.
the flame licks my up delicate skin,
its forked tongue pricking my nerves.

intrepid blazes burn to completion.
brilliant apricot and honey shades
dance to their bittersweet slumber.

i watch their final breath leave
with a sizzle of glittering smoke,
and then i follow their path.

i accept my sole fate:
solitude and stillness,
a body slowly shutting down.

death in the wild

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Romawi Namaasli

she is stuck in the dark musk of pine,
dusk sending shadows flitting across her vision—
she cannot tell whether her eyes are open,
whether the black and white spots
blurring, shifting, jumping,
are created by eyelids shut tight
against the nightmare of becoming lost,
or a narrow perception of shrinking:
hunger hollows her bones,
thirst seals her throat tight.

she must have had a voice once,
one that pleaded for lullabies
and sang in a chorus of youthful delight,
but all is silent in the solitude
of hardened moss and buried thoughts;
her body has laid down,
immobile as the forest moves on.

it is easy to be left behind in the face of adversity:
her sisters are better off without memory
of a ghastly face, poisoned
by recognition of worthlessness throughout.
her mother faced no reluctance
in deserting the runt of her prized offspring,
not when the fate of fewer
would be more comfortably bargained for.

now, at least she is prized by someone else:
a maggot crawls leisurely
through the last warmth of her furrowed brow,
and she knows he will be her last friend,
for this meat has too long been tainted
by something decaying deep inside.

blimps, and yet

Written by Luke Carmichael Valmadrid
Art by Luke Carmichael Valmadrid

Your laugh lets the memories loose
and they live. A pardon over chips and salsa,
uneaten as self-drawn lines and the antiques between them
fly overhead. An old face with new furrows
breaks into familiar creases and holey cheeks — proof that
it was our senses of humor that went to school together,
for two years, like three, like maybe
many more. We honored passed time
with funnel cake in lieu of fireworks, leaving the bright lights
for our younger selves still yet to realize
they were (in love) taking steps up different stairways,
yet to grip the railings, to drop their phones, to drop each other, and yet,
we survived to thrive in errant thoughts, and today,
in bunches: a summer reunion
that didn’t punish us for being honest. I have long laid to rest
the person I used to be, I grew out my hair,
and you still know me.

To Write At Midnight

Written by Atticus Payne
Art by Jairo Alzate

Here we are, at this same desk where I once worked from eight ‘til two (only the bloodstains are new). I’m sobbing, as you’d expect from a person who’s just seen the broken body of their closest friend. There are tears, and yet it’s not sadness I hear; not yet. Would you understand my fear? 

It’s the questions that won’t stop echoing between my ears, behind my eyes, in snaps and pops of the brain. My brain: it’s fried. It must be. 

Has she left? 

Have I killed her? 

Let me start at the beginning, then you must judge me.

This clockwork, slam-on-the-gas-every-hour-till-you-crash way of throttling through as days, weeks, months slip by that I’ve chosen, and now, now I am paying my dues. I love it, and I hate it, and I could not stand to live any other way—

I’ve tried, take my word on it. Every holiday, I give it another go. That vague fantasy gasped for in frazzled minutes barely coherent from the mad rush, sparks seeming to singe my fingertips as I pause for just a moment to try to think, think beyond the problems and fires of the day; in those precious sober seconds I blink and beg for the space of those calm, lazing holidays that stretch from day to day. What it was, to be empty and bored enough to imagine. To create. Those moments, I’ve filed away particularly well while the rest of the memories blur. Some turns of midnight, they’re the only thing I carry from the last day to the next: that surety that I am parched for the spring of blissful emptiness.

And when it comes, I waste away. Really, I do. There’s something to this routine I’ve turned myself an addict to, so much so my sanity crumbles the morning I wake up later than 10 and the sun is beating down on my eyelids, shaming me for the control that sweet sleep has wrest. With time stretching on, unimpeded from deadline to deadline, so do my thoughts that spiral beyond the safe zone, heading straight for torpor and the pain of being, ever so simply, bored again. I crave boredom, every passing day,

yet on the morning of emptiness, I balk at its weight? 

It’s like this: I miss the silence. Once upon a time, workless days meant writerly nights, slamming back long-brewed tea at midnight and tapping away at a five-year-old manuscript. Once upon a time, there was that blissful silence in the darkest hours, so magnificently stretching across the space from the cliffs of dusk and dawn, wrapping coolly into a sacred cocoon with space only for two. What it was to carry another voice in your head–a voice that wasn’t yours. 

It’s all muttering worry now. The characters have been shushed away, stuffed into blocks of half-hours stolen from unstopping days and silenced every other minute. They won’t even bang at the windows of my brain again. Not when I beg. 

What a gift it was to write at midnight. What a treasure to have that elusive flow. Which patron of magic gave me that just-right flow, and why did she take it away? 

Has she left? 

Have I killed her? 

I swear I didn’t mean to. She just wouldn’t work anymore.

Gripes in June

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Josh Hild

I sit in the window of a 40-floor office building,
overlooking traffic speeding off to nowhere.

It’s only been a few weeks without school
and the thrill of freedom has worn thin.

Rain splat-splat-splats to the pounding of my keyboard,
and I am so very tired of the dreariness of adulthood.

It’s not about my brains or quirky personality,
but sucking up enough for dollars that buy cup noodles.

Microwaved meals is one thing in a dorm full of raucous friends,
but a disappointing reality of solitude in the summer.

I’m wondering if this is what real life offers,
and if I should succumb to the possibility of winning the lottery.

I just want to go back to college and get a degree
so I can spend my afternoons emailing demands from the beach.

I promise myself that one day I won’t have so many complaints,
but for now just please let this rain stop drenching my young privilege.

Lessons from Scheherazade

Written by Stuti Desai
Art by Pixabay

when they wring you dry, arms over head, legs
pressed and bent, washcloth of a girl
strung from one side of the earth to the other. span an
ocean or two. kiss a boy or two. when you are as dry as
the sinful desert you crawled out of, their cogs will churn
like miracle—slick with your blood, polished with your sweat. I know
you want to be loved. jean jacket, leather-clad fiend,
smudged eyeliner, black lipstick on your shoulder, write
your silly poem, scream until lips chapped, denim tear, memorize
the alleys of your hometown, the wildflowers in its hair. into the
machine you go, your wicked little smile, tongue lashing
witty, hungry. die slow. let your story take a year or two.
when given the option, red-mouth rebel, die slow.

threads of two

Written by Stuti Desai
Art by Nishant Das

another song about saffron                    clinging to the back of my throat
and tikkas on my forehead sheen with sweat                    where art
meets humid                    meets the dupatta blowing into my                    face choke
under it. when the colors go up                    holi hai all i’m thinking is
pride                    when girlfriend paints her face
all i’m thinking is                    holi hai you’re just like this                    brown girl
                 guj-AH-rat are you from there, by                  any chance. dupatta in the wind,
holi hai, holi hai                    section 377                    beer bottle shards
on the street, rainbow, reflection                    mother
ties up the dupatta, the                    thread fraying and all I see are
the colors of                    a pride flag. maybe what happened when
Brahma made me was the                    bastardization of two cultures,
maybe I’m my own Brahma                    maybe I tear that thread out
create my own