Volume 3 Issue 1

Note from the Editor

The world feels as though it’s gone mad. Ironically, this makes this issue, and our mission, even more vital.

As a magazine, we’re dedicated to providing a platform to indie writers, poets, artists, and photographers.

When everything else is in turmoil. When we fear an invisible virus. When we aim to dismantle systemic oppression and racial injustice. At the end of the day, what are we left with? Where does our mind go?

To our art.

Volume 3 Issue 1 of From Whispers to Roars features poetry, short stories, art, and photography from seventeen talented souls. Beyond enjoying this issue, we encourage you to seek out other work from these individuals. We promise that you won’t regret it.

We hope you find a sense of peace alongside an internal call-to-action when enjoying this issue. We hope it motivates you to create.


Rachel R. Noall


Poetry Category Winner

The Future of Channel Islands Beach, California by Andrew Posner

One can almost forget the future 

in a Pacific sunset’s wake, 

forget how quickly placid waves turn brutal, 

that waters are stubborn as facts, immune to prayer.

Whom do I ask to explain the difference between 

desire and hunger? I came to find solace  

in whale-song, but the whales are starving; 

science gives me reasons but not answers. 

We’ve built a condo empire in the shade of dunes:

What good to bequeath our children a rising sea?

We’ve measured ourselves against the Nasdaq 

and Whitman, made a killing off the sale of tides 

as a tonic for what ails us, lost sleep over 

our poverty and our ignorance.

One can almost forget the future…

Darkness alights slowly here, 

flapping its wings with unhurried confidence. 

I can make out oil derricks wheezing like lungs 

that won’t die, and hear a foghorn blow 

like a shipwreck’s parting words:

“Lost souls pray for salvation as they drown

themselves. Or they don’t.

Life will feast on the ruins regardless. 

Go home, dear poet.

There’s time yet to hold back the ocean…”

Art/Photography Category Winner

Pale Horse by Maddie Stansell

Pale Horse by Maddie Stansell

Short Story Category Winner

Rooks Mate for Life by Krista Beucler

They were gathering in the thousands under the bruised purple sky, their compact black shapes swooping and diving. The way the flock moved, like the crashing waves of the sea, reminded me of some enormous collective consciousness. 

“They call it a storytelling,” Neve said, surprising me.

“What?” I asked, looking around at her.

“A group of rooks. It’s called a storytelling.” She put a cup of tea in my empty hands and we both turned back to the picture window. Heat seeped into my hands through the fine china that had belonged to Neve’s mother and to her grandmother before her. The wind tore around the house, a screaming banshee, foretelling death, and the ocean threw itself in frenzied crests against the cliffs below the house. 

“Come,” Neve beckoned me out onto the porch. “You should hear them.”

“You really want to go outside in this?” I gestured vaguely at the screeching gale pressing itself against the windows of my father-in-law’s house. 

Neve smiled. “This is nothing,” she said. “Da could tell you about some real storms.” 

Shaking my head, I followed her outside. Over the wind, the bird cries were thin like the voices of old men, hoarse and wizened. Prickles ran up my spine. There was something eerily human about the voices of the rooks. 

Neve pushed her dark hair back from her face, fighting the wind’s taunting fingers. We went back inside. 

“Looks like there might be rain.” I said.

“It’s autumn,” Neve said. “It always looks like that.”

“But your dad, will he be okay out there if the storm gets worse?” I didn’t know Neve’s father well. We had met a few times when Neve and I were dating but since we lived in New York we didn’t come back to Ireland often. Of course, he had been in attendance at our wedding, but the next time we had visited was not until the end of Neve’s mother’s illness and for her funeral. 

“Da’ll be fine. He’ll be in his blind, binoculars glued to his eyes. He loves it when the rooks flock in the gales. We couldn’t make him come in if we wanted to.”

I smiled. “He loves the birds, doesn’t he?” I said. “Something of an amateur ornithologist?” 

“He loves one bird,” Neve said, staring past me out the window, her eyes unfocused, seeing something I could not. 

I waited for her to say more. Finally I said, “Are you going to tell me a story?”

“Storm nights are story nights,” Neve said thoughtfully. 

“And after all, a flock of rooks is a storytelling.”

She smiled. “My nana was born in a rookery. Bodies crowded up against one another, not even enough room to spread a wing.”

I thought back to the tenements of New York City, like the ones my grandparents grew up in. High crime rates and low health standards. I think Dublin must’ve been like New York back then, Irish families all crammed in one room, determined to join the factory workers and make a new life for themselves. I imagined Neve’s grandmother living in a tenement and I remembered that I had read somewhere that they used to call them rookeries, after the crowded breeding grounds of the corvids.

I looked outside at the wheeling rooks and the stand of trees that made their rookery off to the side of Neve’s father’s clifftop house. 

“It must’ve been hard,” I said.

Neve nodded. “Hungry, crying mouths and if they had anything valuable, it was stolen from them. People are like birds: they always take shiny things. There were so many people, gathered there in the city in the thousands. One day, coming home from work at the factory, my granda found my nana outside her building on the pavement. She had a broken wing. So he carried her home. Rooks mate for life, you know.” 

She was still gazing out into the autumn storm, and I was no longer sure if we were talking about birds or people. 

“Granda called her his little bird. But he didn’t really know. She used to sing in her unpracticed voice, unselfconscious.” Neve looked at me. “Sometimes she was a bird and sometimes she was a woman.” 

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Just that,” she said as if I was supposed to understand, and her eyes slid away from me again. “Me mam was born in this house. My granda brought them here, away from the dirty, crowded city rookeries, out to the trees. Me mam learnt to fly here, over the cliffs. That’s when my da first saw her, black against the sky, soaring. And he loved her so fiercely, he thought he might die. He caught her carefully, entrapped by bright objects. He caught her as a woman under the trees in the moonlight.” Neve trailed off then added quietly, “Rooks mate for life.” 

“Neve,” I whispered.

“She’s out there somewhere, wheeling in the dark. And he’s always looking for her.” 

“Neve, honey,” I tried again, unsure what had come over her. “It’s been two years since your mother died. Remember? She fought hard.” 

“But it took her in the end.” 

The same chill that had stolen down my nape upon hearing the cries of the rooks came creeping back again. 

Neve rose to her feet and crossed to the window. “Sometimes,” she said, eyes on the horizon, a grey-black blending of clouds and waves, “I’m afraid I’ll go the same way.”

I thought about Neve’s mother and her brain cancer. It had been hard for everyone. I remembered how it had changed her, not only taking her life but destroying her personality. I was struck suddenly with a half forgotten memory of a conversation I had overheard. I want to fly, Neve’s mother had said. I can’t stay here anymore. I can feel the bird spreading its wings.

But surely, these were just the ravings of a woman driven mad by illness. She wasn’t really a bird woman. Those stories of swan maidens, of women that turn into birds, were just myths, weren’t they? 

Neve had never spoken about her mother’s death. She bore her mother’s illness with grace and she grieved when she died. All things considered, Neve had recovered quite well. 

I’m afraid I’ll go the same way, Neve had said. Aren’t we all afraid of dying? I didn’t know what to say to her to assuage this new fear. 

“Neve,” I tried, “you can’t worry about it. These things just happen. They happen to good people and they happen to bad people and we just have to endure and make the best of what is given to us.” I cringed at the cliches, at the uselessness of those words.

“I don’t want to lose myself. This human part of me, so all that’s left is the bird.” 

Without warning, the skies opened and the rain came pouring over the earth, pounding on the roof, like the world had been tipped over and the ocean was running out over all of us, trying to wash us away. 

I put an arm around her small shoulders, clad in one of her grandmother’s old sweaters, but she shrugged me off. She gave me a watery smile, like she too could tip over and add her salty rain to the deluge. 

“I’m going to bed,” she said, sighing. 

I leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “Good night, my love,” I whispered. 

She retreated upstairs to the guest bedroom, kept clean for us, though we visited rarely, and I sank into an armchair and massaged my temples. That had been a strange conversation. I wasn’t used to Neve speaking in riddles. She had always been a practical and literal minded person. But I thought that, like the storm, this strange mood would blow over. I fell asleep slouched in the armchair.

The smack of the screen door woke me abruptly and I glanced at the glowing clock on the mantle. Midnight. The witching hour. I rubbed my eyes and got up to look out the window. The rain still fell heavily but I could make out a dark figure standing at the edge of the cliff, looking off into the wild sea.

I opened the door and went out on the porch. 

“Neve?” I called, but the wind stole the words from my lips. 

She didn’t turn. I walked into the rain, soaked almost instantly.

“Neve?” I called again louder.

She turned back to me, her eyes wide open and her face blank of expression. The rooks still wheeled over the copse of trees and the rocky cliffs. Neve opened up her arms wide like wings.

“Neve,” I said again, whispering this time. I had almost reached her when she jumped. I cried out and so did she, our voices mingling in the storm, sounding raspy, sounding like so many rooks calling out to their mates.

Rooks mate for life.

I lunged to the edge of the cliff but she was already gone. The rocks gave away nothing and the waves crashed on and the world did not care that Neve was gone. Rising past the cliff I saw a black bird, crying and swooping, riding the still raging wind, joining the storytelling above the rookery. 

“Neve!” I cried desperately. 

I struck off after her, this bird that must be Neve, toward the rookery and the blind where Neve’s father sat with his binoculars. I burst into the blind, sopping, eyes wild and he looked at me with his own sad eyes and he knew at once everything I could not tell him. 

I came over slowly and sat down beside him on the bench, facing the window out onto the rookery.

Wordlessly, he handed me the binoculars.

I Have to Believe that the Body Aspires to a Soul by Ann Pedone

I tell you/there was something about

that woman/her face/undiluted/ lips open/as if

she were waiting/for the sky to come/down on her.

There was something about it that/I needed to know/something

that/I wanted to remember/something/it was

the light/that mattered/this woman/gathered/the light/ held it

in-side of her/I should have/told her this/but I

suspected/myself/what I know/and don’t know of the

world/seemed/immense/I should have told her this/but she

crossed the street/she was/gone/and I had/nothing to do with it.

Ardor by Sarah Enoch

Ardor by Sarah Enoch

My Bathrobe Speaks to Me by Susan Blair


the many times I have held you

in my arms, hugging you more fully

than your spouse,

settling arguments between you

and your cold house,

enveloping you deeper

within yourself.

I have collected your tears,

absorbed your sweat,

shivered with your glee.

What you read, what you write,

what you dream –

all embedded in me.

You and I become a trio

with the ascent of your

feline child: she hops up,

settles down, and lo,

we are bound.

Bits of her fur cling to me

like a tune caught in your mind.

I wear her well.

Through me she kneads your lap

and laps up your caresses.


the cozy trinity,

nestle and purr.

Purple and turquoise –

these, my colors –

you wear them well.

Tucked under the blanket

of our positive solitude

is the language of trust.

Salt by Intesar Toufic

“There is another world, 

There is a better world.

Well, there must be…”

  —The Smiths, Asleep


You remember at the airport that everyone has a better passport than you when you see a shiny counter smiling with the flags of the EU, Japan, Australia, the US, Canada, and Singapore. 

You stand in the thick of burkas and turbans and dark skin and wish your ancestors were stronger, but they lost. World War 1 happened, the Ottoman Empire was carved up and left to cook under an oil flame.

You are back to Amsterdam because your refugee friend begged to see you before he takes his own life.


Yehya had become a refugee after you two walked past boys smoking a shisha one night. You presented as straight vis-à-vis baggy trousers, but Yehya opted for shorts and a pink tank top, thinking his stalwart figure and chest hair canceled the pink.

The boys squawked. It punctured the stillness, but you walked on, hopeful that more distance would make you less enticing. The squawking got louder, questions about how dare we, who are we, then silence.

Two strikes on your back. The primitive sensation of pain. You turn – a grimacing brat holds two sticks – you open your mouth to react – he hits your forehead – Yehya pushes him– a fat one appears – strikes Yehya with a pipe. Blood drips from his brown curls and you both run. 


Why can’t you fight? 

In your hometown, when the electricity cut and everyone went out to prowl for fun, boys’ eyes landed on you, their faces twisted into juvenile malice as they closed in. 

Why are they so mean?

You looked into their eyes, searching for the root of hostility. For humanity. And you felt shackles weighing down your limbs as they pushed and teased. Predators thirsty for your happiness. 


Yehya got five stitches. No anesthetic. “Please don’t cut my hair!” Yehya pleaded, giving you both a laugh. Superficial and vain, the diva of the ER. But he might as well have been pleading death; it was either his hair or his life. “It’ll grow back, ikhte,” you told your sis. His shaking brown eyes bounced between yours and you gripped his hand. His eyes settled down and he nodded. 

You showered alone that night, rubbing the lump on your forehead like a child as the water fell without enthusiasm from the rusted faucet. 

Why are they so mean?

But the brat failed. You weren’t any less gay. 


You are still in line because people have children, because most people are heterosexual. So many things inconvenience you because most people are heterosexual. 

Hours prior, relatives had outed you – third time’s a charm – to your father who roared like a snared lion and you stung him with lies, again and again, until he was pacified but the ride to the airport was loud even when it was quiet. 

You could not sleep on the plane to Amsterdam because their screams were ringing in your head, bouncing from ear to ear going “how can you do this to your father?” and “death is more honorable!” and “this is not over!”

Crying, your father kicked them out of the house. Your aunt insisted they stay – she has to put up with them – and she told you to keep them from leaving like this and you stood with her at the door. You were in a trance and your mother raised you right. Obey your elders. 

The second cousin was pulling her mother’s hand to the door, 

“Come on, mother, they’re calling us liars!”  

You didn’t move. You were spectating. Like a cornered mut, the cousin widened her eyes, lids shrinking as the whites swelled, until she gripped her mother’s hand and bent:




A throat erupting without words, the shrieks ripping through it, ringing off the Arabic letters and Ottoman antiques and flat surfaces of the house.

You remember this at the airport, what you have just survived and what awaits you upon returning, and it makes your luggage heavier and the bags under your eyes darker and this makes Arabs suspicious and the officer ushers you into a room to await interrogation. 

Inside, you learn that the Netherlands colonized Indonesia from a young woman phoning for help from the Indonesian consul. Next to her, a Turkish grandmother yells into the phone by her veiled head, trying with her voice to reach out and clutch her son’s shirt on the other end, like a frightened child. 

“Three hours” is how long the Indonesian had been waiting, and she was here before the grandmother, black hair arranged into a cushioning bun for these metallic seats.

A bomb had gone off where it wasn’t supposed to, it seems. By one of your own, it seems. In Brussels, whose walls are gilded with Congo’s gold, with wails of a million Africans massacred by Leopold fused into them forever. 

Fortunately, the probing officer is very hot – a tall, broad statue in uniform –and you find it easier to suffer for him (you’d have had a fit if he were ugly). After some foodless hours, another officer calls you. The questions he asks are few and their answers are simple, and easily proven with documentation. You are too exhausted and shaken to sound malicious, your eyes more like a refugee’s, not a jihadist’s, but the officer is equally cautious of both. Claiming asylum in an airport is ineffective as you are not in the country proper, and one less refugee, one less leach on government handouts importing hot Middle Eastern trauma and spilling it in not-Dutch, is something the officer can be proud of achieving.

But no, you have a great job back home, you are not out to your family, nor are you in any danger. The officer lets you go. 

After those hours you find Yahia waving at you, in shorter shorts, and you go over.

He’d promised to host.


He’s changed. He doesn’t ask you how you are but starts to unload. He hasn’t made any friends in the years he’s spent here. Fear of revealing his refugee status. Bad English. Enough Dutch only to get dates and make out government notices. 

     He unloads about a recent breakup with a man whose pictures he keeps hung in his one-room studio. You nod to comfort him when you honestly couldn’t care less and hope he will listen as much as you have. 

     You opt to cook dinner because he’s broke, and because you’re afraid to be seen with his short shorts-wearing ass. Any eye in which pulses the blood of a kin can end you here.


Yehya is heartbroken and stupid.

Your sleep is choked by cigarette smoke and churning espresso-makers and melodramatic Arabic music followed by relationship gurus on Youtube going: “Me and coach Pete and coach Eva are passionate about helping you with your relationship.” That word, relationship, so sacredly pronounced: r’leyschonschip, each ‘sh’ so rich and deep and brief like a waterfall nanosecond. 

Yehya asks you what English phrases like “hung up on your ex” mean before he fixes his stare on the gurus on his screen. 

You ask for water. He apologizes. He can’t share his cup. Or his bottle. Or his protein shaker. This would be the first of many pricks.


Yehya doesn’t want you killing a mosquito because “it would dirty the wall”. The wall is already dirty what the fuck is wrong with another stain you would rather have a stain than a sting and an itch and the chance to get some STI transmitted from a Dutch fuckboy who can be a fuckboy without any protection because in Europe they have healthcare – in Europe they don’t have to fake straightness for fathers because their government works – in Europe young people hop in and out of university at their leisure – subsisting off of fucking carpentry and busking and whatever else looser laws and open minds and deeper public pockets—and peace—allow for. You writhe in jealousy. Grinding teeth. You come from a place where the weather is perfect, the men sexy, and the food throne atop the peak of all of method and all of matter. But you happen to not like girls.

Yehya’s wifi password is Maha, his mother’s name. They’re both short and have the same big chin and he snaps at her when he takes her phone calls. You’re less offended after seeing this, but still, when will your happiness matter? You came to Yehya with battle-scars and all he does is wail about his own.

But there is a silver lining: you score a date.


The muscular Norseman returns holding a cup of opaque water. 

     “Drink it,” he says, butt-naked and smiling. These homosexual rituals. Did the Greeks ever use a stimulant before sex? 

It tastes salty. 

You have to take G to get hard for this god you drooled over on Grindr. Why? You can’t fuck him – you’ve tried everything – he’s an angry mechanic, tinkering with your sex like it’s a tool attached to your body – doing everything he can to get it stiffer: strap a rubber ring around it – nudge it – flick it – this man is a famished raccoon and your sex is hiding like a snail in an earthquake.

You want love but when you make out, his fingers snake down to your crotch while your arms stay wrapped around his back. For warmth. Then the G sets in. You feel a plastic happiness hug and pluck you out of reality and into lightness and less options. Caution is drowning. Your sadness nags you to let it go and swim in this pocket of relief and lightness, before returning to the shores of pretending to be straight and managing being broke and burying friendships with cousins you grew up with. 

But you still cannot get hard. In the shower you kiss his wet body, down his chest and his long, strong legs, apologizing until you say “I’m so sorry. I was outed,” a tenth time, to the tiles under his feet.

You leave his house. The setting sun leaves a trail of purple and orange in the sky. Amsterdam feels like a body of water, and you feel buoyant. You keep your hand on the old townhouses as you pass them by, the bricks rough and unfamiliar, and Google maps looks like a rectangular dish of blue and red noodles. The dish has a soothing female voice, “turn left.” 

She’s helping you. She cares. 

Your mother took you to psychologists, all of whom told her there’s nothing wrong. 


That night, you wake up in a cold sweat. 

Your stomach has been occupied by a settler. 

You jump to the bathroom, bend at the toilet, and open your mouth. Your gut is constricted, tightening. Bile and warm evil move up your throat until bitter liquid shoots out. 


The contractions hurt. Your body squeezes itself, you crushing you as the stuff bursts out. 


Why are they so mean?


All you can do is watch. The flowers on the tiles swell and shine and swim. You wipe your eyes. Are those tears of sadness or bile-inspired deserters?

You brush your teeth and return to bed. 

You get cold, very cold yet can feel a layer of sweat slithering under your skin like a suspicion—why God—never mind—before it emerges and licks your head and body clammy.

You jump out – experienced now – stand at the sink and let it squirt out. It’s salty. G. 


You’re sitting on the train headed for the airport. The doors are closing. Europeans on the other side throw their arms up in frustration. It’s the only time they wished they were in your place.

Autumn by Lee Felty

O simple wood

let complex be,

White tissue moon

conspire with tree

Nothing falls

save deer and leaves,

Robber, huntsmen,

disobedient thieves

And lesson preaching

to the choir,

Construct an oak,

hair tumbling fire

Big Sur Fog by Alec Lewis

Big Sur Fog by Alec Lewis

ICE by Barb Reynolds

When I hear ice clinking in a glass 

I think of my mother and how we could tell, 

by slur or by gait, if she’d had one drink 

or two-and-a-half; how, by the third, a chill 

would coat her in a hardened shell.

Or she’d rain down like hail with tearful

stories we’d heard before. I’d call around 

to the usual bars when I was ten, long after 

dinner, long after bedtime. I’d check 

to make sure she was breathing 

when she slept, ribs rising & falling 

in slow frigid waves. But there are no 

middle-of-the-night rantings now, 

no shaking us awake from our splintered 

sleep, making us get up 

to wash dishes we’d left In the sink. 

No calls from jail now as some guard

listens in, the click and static filling 

the fissure between us. We drift, broken 

chunks of lost glacier. We slide away, 

cubes released from their frosty silver trays.

Nonpareil by Joe Barca

her hands were butterflies. her poetry elan,

her world was liquid sand, animals, her balm,

she lived in her imagination, glass menagerie,

her lawn, she picnicked with the faeries

and hugged transparent dolls, on Sundays

she shed her summer dress and swam blithely,

silver swans

Little Mathew Baker by Aaron Horwath

Little Mathew Baker sat at his desk on the first day of school with the tips of his shoes just able to reach the linoleum floors of Ms. Stevenson’s fifth-grade classroom. 

At the front of the room, one of Little Mathew Bakers’ classmates, a pudgy boy named David,  proudly introduced himself to the class. David stood with both hands at his sides and his chest pushed out. He began by reciting the names of his two siblings’ and his parents. He then explained to the class that his older sister was the best at hide-and-seek in his whole family, his older brother was the strongest boy at the local high school, his mom made the best steak and mashed potatoes, and his dad had the smelliest farts. The bit about his dad’s farts got a big laugh from the boys in class while the girls let out a synchronized ewwwww followed by their own giggling. David talked about his family’s latest vacation to Hawaii and swimming with sharks, the home run he hit in a recent baseball game and how he would be a real baseball player one day, and about all his favorite videogames. As David raddled off his endless list of interesting facts and stories, the rest of the class sat on the edge of their seats, captivated as they listened. 

When David finally finished, little hands spouted in the audience, waving back and forth wildly hoping for the chance to ask David questions about how big the sharks were and how long it took David to beat a particular videogame. And David, harnessing all the power and intent in the world, called on each eagre hand like a polished politician at a press conference. 

Hidden in the forest of eagre hands waving back and forth, Little Mathew Baker sat quietly at his desk, feet askew, his eyes focused on his clasped hands resting on his desk in front of him. Soon, it would be his turn to introduce himself to the class. He had spent every minute since the start of the class period thinking of something interesting to share, but he had come up with nothing interesting to share with his classmates. He lived in a normal house. He had not seen any sharks. He didn’t hit home runs. His baby sister had no interesting talents. He did play video games, but he couldn’t mention that after David had already done so. 

  As Little Mathew Baker wracked his brain for something interesting to tell the class, a few more presenters filed up to the front of the room and shared stories just as interesting and funny as David’s. This made Little Mathew Baker think even harder, not wanting to be the one kid to disappoint the class with a boring introduction. Again and again, he closed his eyes and furrowed his brow, diving deep into himself to try and identify something, anything, interesting to tell the class. And again and again, he returned empty-handed.

Eventually, his train of thought was broken by the voice of Ms. Stevenson filling the classroom. 

  “Mathew Baker, you’re next, come on up!” Ms. Stevenson called from behind her desk. 

Little Mathew Baker froze for a moment, the panic warming his insides and causing small droplets of sweat to form on his forehead. Before he knew it, he was standing at the front of the room with sixty little eyeballs peering at him, anxiously shifting in their seats, waiting to hear what stories Little Mathew Baker would tell. He wanted, more than anything, to impress his classmates, to make them laugh and ask questions the way they had for David and the others. 

Little Mathew Baker took a moment to gather himself. Then, he began.

“Hello my name is Mathew Baker and I am 11 years old. I was born in the circus. My dad worked in the circus and my mom was a two-headed turtle and she was in the circus too.”

  “Your mom can’t be a turtle you are a human being!” yelled a girl named Emily from in the back of the class. 

  “Please, everyone, remember we raise our hands when we have a question,” said Mrs. Stevenson. 

  Emily raised her hand and Little Mathew Baker called on her mimicking the way that he had seen David do it. 

  “You can’t be a turtle!” said Emily. 

  Little Mathew Baker thought for a moment, before continuing.

  “Yes I can,” said Little Mathew Baker, “My dad took care of the turtles in the circus and also some other animals like the bears that did cool tricks they had one and it was really big and it could stand on a ball and swing a holla hoop around its neck without falling even one time during the whole show. And my mom she was in the circus because she had two heads and the man who ran the circus he collected special animals and my mom was special because she had two heads so he kept her to show her to other people.”

  Another hand shot up, this time a little boy in the front row, who spoke before Little Mathew Baker had time to call on him, “If your mom had two heads you should have two heads because my mom has green eyes and I have green eyes too.”

  “Class,” started Mrs. Stevenson, “let’s let Mathew finish introducing himself.”

  Little Mathew Baker looked out into the rows of children. Each child sat eagerly on the edge of their seat. A few still had their hands straight in the air hoping to get called on. Others whispered and snickered to each other. 

  Little Mathew Baker stood silent for a moment, debating whether or not to go on. Then, he took a breath and continued, “When my dad took care of my mom he liked her a lot and then they had me. I was in the circus too but I just made sure that the animals they were in cages and I had to make sure they didn’t get out of the cages because it wasn’t safe for them to be out unless it was in the show. Also sometimes I was in the show because the people they knew I was special because my mom was also special and it was really fun because they cheered a lot and they wanted to take pictures of me. But then one-day mom and dad, my dad said, decided it was time to leave the circus and so my mom and dad they told me to wake up even though I should be sleeping and we ran away and got into a car and drove for a long time. And then we came here to Basha, Wisconsin and that is where we lived and now I go to school every day and I like to ride my bike almost every day unless it is raining because my mom doesn’t want me to catch a fever.” 

  The moment that Little Mathew Baker stopped speaking, every hand in the class was waving in the air, each of Little Mathew Baker’s classmates stretching their bodies over their desks, trying to get their hand just a bit higher and just a bit closer to catch Little Mathew Baker’s attention. One student in the back of the class stood next to his desk, jumping up and down, desperate to get Little Mathew Baker to call on him. 

  Mrs. Stevenson quickly stood from her desk intent on putting a stop to things before she lost all control, knowing full well that the class was only one silly question away from total mayhem. 

  “Thank you, Mathew, that was very interesting. We won’t have time for any questions, class is almost over. Mathew, you can return to your seat.” 

  The class let out a disappointed collective awwwwww followed by desperate requests for just one question pleassssssseeee.

  Little Mathew Baker made his way through the cries of the audience. When he sat back in his seat, he beamed, a smile spreading across his face as wide as a new pencil. The children sitting in the desks around him leaned towards him, whispering hushed questions about his life in the circus or sharing their disbelief in his story. 

  Did you ever get bitten by the bear?

Was there a lion? 

Did you live in a cage? 

You didn’t live at a circus! 

You can’t be a turtle or we will call you turtle-boy!

  Little Mathew Baker sat straight in his seat, his eyes and big smile frozen forward towards the front of the classroom, and listened silently to his classmate’s questions. 

  At the front of the class, Liam, another small boy similar in size to Little Mathew Baker, stood awkwardly at the front of the class, visibly shaking with nervousness, waiting to begin his introduction.

  “Go ahead Liam,” urged on Mrs. Stevenson. 

  Liam looked around at the sea of eager little faces before locking eyes with Little Mathew Baker with his big smile stretched across his face. 

  Liam took a deep breath and then began.

  “My name is Liam Wilson,” started Liam, “and I am 12 years old and I am from Mars.” 

Viral Paining by Karen Breunig

Viral Paining by Karen Breunig

Lesbian Movies by Dimple Takhtani

why are all lesbian movies the same,

they always start with the very different lives of two women

most likely- a femme and a butch,

and how they’re caught in a state of oblivion

and how suddenly, their paths collide

bringing awareness to the existence

of the sexual tension between them

which might be a result of a

straight girl’s curiosity to experiment

or perhaps, a genuine connection


predictably building up to a steamy lovemaking scene,

marked by the male gaze

and then there’s the inseparability,

a beautiful magnetism between them

until shit hits the fan and the 

glass ceiling comes crashing down 

in the form of parents, teachers, friends 

or heteronormativity in general 

knocks on the door 


somehow they must drift apart 

somehow one of them passes away 

somehow they simply can’t be together

for once, I would like to see

two women riding into the sunset

two women getting married

two women 50 years in the future 

still together, still happy, still in love

lesbian movie endings make me wonder,

if they even want us to have a happy ending

Wicked Garden by Sarah Butchin

Black mothers bury their sons and daughters under a bed of stargazer lilies, petals tucked tight into buds. No opportunity to open and receive the sun. Rich soil, moist with tears, teeming with tucked away dreams. Packed mounds of hope never realized, and tunnels of turmoil dug with dirt-caked fingernails, calloused hands, and no light to look toward. 

Jewish women hold their children tight, standing beside a plat of wildflowers. Their backs bend under the weight of the sadness they hold, the generation contained. The final solution, an altered landscape. Six million stems swaying, undulating together, and set apart. Their last song. L’Chaim, to life. 

The mothers of queer kids kneel in front of the field of rainbow blooms, none the same, too many misunderstood. A shepherd leads his sheep in the distance, long hair blowing in the breeze, the easy scapegoat. Reaching for the rose bushes, thorns in palms, the son, dripping the blood of his.

Muslim mothers tend to the succulents that grow in unforgiving land, life springing from the base of stones, cactus pads blooming fluorescent pink, flowers born in a hostile environment. The beauty of the shroud, while the weak fear the shade. 

The mothers of the caged stand on the border, splintered wood surrounding a tangle of tulips, fragile in frigid air, surfaces covered by silver blankets, weak in the summer heat, shoved into vases, cut from the source.

Women stand in the shadows, deflowered. Yanked from the safety of their beds, tugged from their roots. Poppies pummeled under the boots of man. Expected to be full as a rose, thought of as dainty as a daisy. Wild oats sewn as blame permeates the narrow space. 

  Then he comes. His skin luminescent in the midday sun. His worries…none. His privilege…rich. He pours gasoline on the garden because he can. And we wait for him to light his match because he will.

George Hjorth Never Saw the Film He Shot at Normandy by D. E. Fulford

Turn on the camera/

we’re rolling

in our war the victor

ghostlike evocative of who

the one with most snatches

of reality and the other one

you can’t ignore further in

a once secluded mortality

this fractured reality-glass

weighs hefty and bright

each day and all night

we love like fireworks howl down against

the sky splitting in shriek

devoid such grey likelihoods

a pandemic—this prophecy veering rampant

laying everyone back and love does not

breathe anymore without gasping over

the syllables of everything that will not

be said.

How to attached a shower curtain by Matthew Harris

Suffering permanent anatomical

disfigurement, nonetheless

maintaining marital bliss

at steep price despite more or less

musculoskeletal dislocation,

I eagerly, readily willingly confess.

Ideal for someone whose height

trends toward above average

unless you don’t object tilting

head back in an effort to gauge

keeping noggin cocked

at ninety degree angle tempering rage.

Yours truly gifted with absolute zero

vertical advantage, hence

mine neck craned back imposing

unpleasant strain forcing gent’s

head apropos regarding yours truly

futile attempt present instance.

Carotid arteries perfectly positioned

awaiting Jack Ripper’s (imposter) knife

thus mine noodle induced physical strife

discomfort courtesy directly

linkedin viz the ole hen pecking wife.

Without complaint, I dutifully accepted

challenge to affix curtain

(essentially meant to keep

shower water splashing bathroom floor)

unbeknownst that threading

a camel thru eye of needle sewing pin

Would be a cinch, but such

blessed lesson acquired thru hindsight

initial task assigned me appeared

straight forward until I saw light

bulbs blind me myopic orbs,

thus in addition to afore stated plight…

Husband material (me) sorely

tested to the max, no matter chore

hardly commenced, which

spurred mental note to refrain pointing

at cumulative mold accretion

heavily visible and unsightly eye sore.

Arch disadvantage, yours truly

not being impressive or particularly tall

and thought not to retrieve sturdy

furniture to boost reach heavenly pole

which plastic hooks suspended

plastic shower curtain over long haul.

Upon figuring out how drape like

appurtenance got held in place crick

would necessitate chiropractor

to realign permanently bent poise kick

started when initially troubleshooting

deceptively easy task, no quick

assignment, though obviously

fashioning plastic hook thru pre cut slot

became clear at expense unintentionally

breaking off “J” portion not

possible to avoid subsequently

uselessly rendered hook even if robot

programmed to complete mission,

yet all told poetically smarts & moxie I got.

Please accept lame attempt (minus

obvious sensibility) to comprehend

anybody who reads previous literary

endeavors considered virtual friend

unconditionally accepts trademark

swiftly tailored harried style I extend

utilizing all manner of quirkiness,

which moost likely spells mein legend

after I pass from temporal plain,

a posthumous johnny come lately bend

ding formalities of English language

writing, yet wondering what strictures

disallow experimenting with poetic genre,

though methinks literature intend

did (art in general) to eternally evolve

without deliberate intention to offend

any die hard who might call upon

men in white suits and briskly recommend

to the funny farm, where life made

more beautiful perchance receiving stipend.

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