Volume 6, Issue 2

We are honored and thrilled to share the work of 23 talented writers and artists in this issue of From Whispers to Roars.

So far, 2024 has been a period of strong and sustained growth for our community.

Our resources are flourishing, with new content being published each week. Our indie literary magazine is receiving more visitors than ever before, as we go head-to-head with some of the biggest literary organizations on the planet (this is no exaggeration, and not a claim we make lightly). We share this because providing you all with resources and a place to share your work is the easy part.

The hard part is the work all of these talented folks do – committing to their art and sharing it. As always, we appreciate this community’s continued trust.

Donation Announcement:

A part of our mission includes expanding creative opportunities to others. We do this by donating a portion of our submission fees to nonprofits whose causes bring art, poetry, and writing to communities around the United States. We’re thrilled to announce that with the publication of this issue, we’ve made a donation to Sidewalk Poets.

They describe their mission: Through creative writing, arts and healing-based workshops, emerging writers from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds gain resources and opportunities to share their voices, activate self-confidence, process the past, and receive support to enrich and empower their communities. 

Please learn more about this Denver-based nonprofit.

Now, let’s dive in.

Lovers, by Fadil Inceoglu

Lovers, by Fadil Inceoglu

Tortured Haikuist by Mark Francis

what’s going on here?
grass is green, bushes in bloom
as if life matters

ocean of blossoms
billows a high cherry tide
barest feet wade in

beautiful eclipse–
tulips still striving, like kids
as caught in the gray

doors and flowers, quite
hard, their sketching. openings,
roots. in own season

cat blocks me on stairs
wanting, i guess, attention
not my karmic fate

see the drying out
gray goes to green again; not
just beholder’s eye

so seasons repeat
themselves regardless our tight
schedules, commands

we’re not what we were
but, really: were we ever?
cats scratch, thin trees moan

i want daffodils
planted in corners, fence-side
to ease next year’s spring

you draw, fly me further on,
in. pause to dry wings

Wintering on the Periphery, by Victoria Garton

Choke the crocuses poked
through edges of old snow.
Keep that box of Crayons shut.

Set the dog to trample
the defiant line of daffodils,
their jubilance too insistent.

Lambast the lilacs of April
with their old lady scent.
A gross distortion of gaiety.

Pelt the tulips. Stone them
with rain hardened in descent.
Scatter their spent petals.

Let us winter a little longer.
Practice coffining our hopes.
Ignore forsythia’s sunstroke dazzle.

Let fair maids spin
around the May pole, while we
linger on the periphery.

The Green Flash by Barbara Meier

Stained glass floats, an array of oranges, reds, greens and blues,
hanging like Christmas lights along the western window.
The yellow-setting sun sears the glass and shatters it
to bits and pieces of light lying on the bar,
mimicking at best the green flash
so rarely seen at sunset when light splits.
The sun swallowed by Apep,
slithering under the ocean swells,
each ray bedding a wave,
just as the ones sitting alone, swallow the last beer.
No miracles or flashing lights for them,
just the lonely trail down the alley to the car,
and a trip to an unmade bed in an upstairs apartment.

Large Spectrum Stacks by Jean Wolff

Large Spectrum Stacks by Jean Wolff

Quiet Moments, by Mandy Ramsey

There was a silence after you took off your wedding band
As you slammed it on the empty table- the echo deafening,
like Frodo removing his forsaken ring- the earth shaking and the world collapsing in fire.
Your drumbeat footsteps announcing death and war as you walk away.

There was a silence that echoed after I shoveled dark, dry, crumbly earth onto the plain wooden
As I was the first to say goodbye and bury my father under clear November skies.
Even the leaves paused to quietly stand witness to your leaving.

There was a silence after the storm, an atmospheric river,
that pounded our home and valley for 10 days,
Churning the creek and rivers to molten chocolate as boulders rumbled to the angry sea.
Relentless winds rattled windows, unhinged trees, snapped branches and cracked the earth
transforming the landscape for over a week.
When the storm finally passed, the silence was thunderous.
Not even a bird chirped for days to announce our survival.

Yet the silence I still long to touch again,
is the silence I found within, after a 10 day meditation retreat,
Vowing to not speak or write, to just sit on a cushion on a plain wood temple floor
Paying attention to my breath, inhale and exhale through my nostrils.
That journey towards inner silence was the most difficult of all.
The only conversation was that of my mind and my own breath,
forcing my attention again and again to just breathe as the detour of storms and dervishes and
memories and the stories of the past howled in my tights shoulders, clenched jaw, furrowed brow.
It took days to calm those chaotic currents I had no clue were logged within.

When the silence finally came, I floated in it,
A nebula of space, I actually saw the universe inside of me.
I floated in that silence, a bright cluster of stars- a nebula in the void,
A galaxy within me but was not me but I was a part of it, I was it.
The peace in that silence was so freeing it was as if nothing tethered me to anything solid
and it was in that moment someone had a coughing fit in the room –
bringing me back into my body, numb limbs, as if waking from a deep sleep,
Astonished to have touched the space like that.
This is what the yogis and sages speak of.
The great primordial silence we are all a part of,
have all come from and will return to again.

After Two Consecutive Trips to Urgent Care, I Reply to jess jazz’s Poem, “So What Do You Do For Work?, by Brian Dickson

I could tell you for hours
about what we do
to be a checkbox for
One of our providers will be with you shortly.

I could tell you
the pain that burns for nurses
to locate a smell—
Cigarette smoke?
Possibly incense?
with security.

I don’t know if they found
the culprit. Wait here
long enough and you’ll
discover tiny cliffs
to jump into the phrase,
I could go for a good burger right now,
or risk reciting a drug jingle
with side effects.

Ring the bell and one of our providers
will be
with you shortly.

It’s confirmed, that magic,
an aroma of canes and walkers,
runway of gauze, my limp
from an abscess drained—
rap, rap of knuckles on glass
when the pills are ready.

I was that girl from Cuba—, by Ana Fores Tamayo

I was that girl from Cuba—
tropical, land of the heat and sun.
I was that girl from Cuba,
playing choo-choo with the legs of a chair
conducting the wee carriage as my caboose,
dreaming my way off to a faraway lair.
I was that girl from Cuba,
suddenly torn from my roots,
from my dreams,
from my verdant land,
from my deep blue sea.
I was that girl from Cuba,
severed from all I knew.
And now the sounds of yesteryear
caress my ears like incantations.
The lamppost flickers reflection
as night fall harkens on an owl’s soft hoot,
as dusk falls softly, endearingly,
as stark trees stroke that ancient moon beam
swaying to days gone by.
Luminescent moon, slivers of ice that embellish
Epiphany’s decline.

The lights grow bleak in America;
obscurity has descended.
The plastic Santa sadly winks his green and red.
The imitation snowman with his snowflake whiskers
withers on the white.
The moon is shadowed, the angel hovers wings
above the snowy night,
frigid, devoid of expectation.

I walk away from past, from Cuba,
from that blue green sea and sandy bottoms,
from the palm drenched echoes circling.
I am present in a void that is America,
in a land versed in emptiness and muted faces,
in a place where even social services exist to
pat themselves in sainthood.
But the need is real, yet those really helping
are thrown away
while the needy go on needing—
forsaken grace unraveled…

I was that girl from Cuba

I am that woman from America
I am that sadness from a country gone awry

Grilled Cheese at the Urgent Care, by Thomas R. Willemain, Ph.D.

He woke up vibrating
with his mission: to attack
all that needed attacking:
Taxes, class prep, last night’s dishes.

Yet before he’d brushed his teeth
interruptions were interrupting
the interruptions,
and that to-do list was smirking.

Then a biggie: Wife to urgent care.
Bride delivered, he darted across
to Joey G’s Café,
ashamed of his hunger.

Later, relieved and refreshed,
to turn tragedy to triumph
he listed the day’s victories:

  • Up before noon.
  • Esmeralda to urgent care.
  • Decent grilled cheese.
  • Turned day into poem.
Southern Gardens by Jonathan Brooks

Southern Gardens by Jonathan Brooks

Balance Game by Cleo Griffith

Things keep popping up,
don’t they?
House repairs,
dental work,
black clouds
to cover azure sky.

But other things pop up:
dandelions in their finery,
iris in royal purple robes,
smiles from strangers,
sweet memories.

It is a game
of balance,
how you weigh each day
makes your life.

Make it a pop-up life–
your choice–
of joy and grins and sunlight.

Yes, We Should Burn Them/This One is for My Friends, by Philip Mitchell

I dreamt we snatched the words they call us
and the ones we call ourselves, and
we burned them alive.

Inhaled their smoke
and streaked our cheeks with their ashes.
Our dancing: feral, ultraviolent

waves that joyfully scattered past lines
drawn in the sand. Casting away
our captive words, that

old chrysalis, for
new wings; unfolding prism shapes
ready to embark on their first flight.

Nakedly embracing ourselves and
each other. I saw fireworks pop
pulsing greens, and blues

Percussing, thrumming
against my chest. This anticipation
driving wild goosebumps on my shoulders

As we stretched our fingers toward
twinkling skies. Merging to this free

And then I woke up.

Toothpaste Kiss, by e.p. noble

it’s nice to have a “person”’

someone to go to at the end of some length of time
and say,
“oh thank god you’re here”
as you collapse into their reciprocating laugh
like milk drowning in hot coffee

the calm security
of a toothpaste kiss
in passing

eat entire pizzas
and face each other while lounging on the couch
the perfect position
to kick each other in the stomach
or rub feet
or maybe roll up and bury my hands in the small of your back,
fingers melting into the incandescent cashmere
of your skin

the taste of your wine-stained tongue
and the subtle language of your laugh

i want to know it

i want the morbid mirror
that reflects my soul
to shatter
and i want to place the remnants in a box
to hide in the back of your closet

i want the caverns of my heart’s home
to echo with the sound of your name
calling out

inviting you

to let me care

for your shattered remnants too

SAG AFTRA by James Reade Venable

SAG AFTRA by James Reade Venable

Regressive Hypnosis Therapy by Neil Carpathios

Your pre-birth names?
Your previous stops?
Does karma kiss us?

Did you send the post card:
Thanks for the funeral,
I’ve just arrived, isn’t it beautiful?

Is nothing lost
just out of sight behind
The Great Sofa Cushion of the Universe?

If we could know dimensions
of each other’s loneliness
would we never be alone?

Do odds of an ultimate self
decrease unless we admit
there is no ultimate self?

Is the secret use-by date
stamped on our forehead
branded in the womb?

Were we slabs on a conveyer
before we received a soul?
Is there a soul?

In the language of doors
is hello and goodbye
the same word?

Is today yesterday
in different clothes?
Are days, lives, worlds doors?

Is sadness galore God playing dead
so we’ll give him mouth-to-mouth?
Is there a God?

Is it possible to be alive,
Does that require love?

Is somewhere this very second
the beginning of a story that ends
somewhere this very second?

Is it true something
doesn’t have to be real
to exist?

Are snowflakes
angels’ false eyelashes?
Are there angels?

If stars had hands
would they sew our mouths shut?
Have you traipsed on many stars?

Should every religion’s sacred text,
if it’s honest, read:
No one has the first clue why we’re here?

The Albatross, by Karin Sanders

Open the book.
What? No.
It’s heavy.
Try the pencils.
They’re too sharp.
Here’s some paint.
My hands will get dirty.
What did you do with the canvas?
It’s empty.
Take it off your neck
The feathers are soft.
It’s stuck.
It’s time to breathe
Seems like a lot of effort.
Let it go.
I can’t move.

Love Letter to the Mushroom Risotto I Made for Dinner Tonight, By Jessica Ram

Kat showed me how to make risotto back when I lived in North Carolina
and she came to spend a week with me, the most time we’d spent together

since the death all those years ago, when we were young. More like adults now,
we went to the grocery store, picked up sticks of butter, Parmesan, a medley

of mushrooms, fresh thyme, bone broth, Arborio rice, shallots. It was the second,
maybe third night when she cooked, setting all the ingredients out on the counter,

my Band Camino playlist humming through the living room, me, hovering, handing
her things as the broth bubbled on the stove. I watched her drop cubes of butter into

the biggest pot I owned, sautéing the mushrooms first before setting them aside. Adding
more butter to the pot, and then shallots into the melted gold. The smell soaked into

the walls. Oh, the memories in those walls. I miss the south often, that apartment
with its nearly floor to ceiling windows, the pure natural light, the dinners I cooked

for the people I loved. Once the shallots were browned, she added a cup of arborio rice,
toasted the white kernels until they boasted the slightest touches of color. She splashes

white wine into the pot, smoke rises, it sizzles. I called her once, the first time I tried
making risotto in my Pennsylvania apartment, to ask what kind of wine to buy and she

laughed. Said any white would do, saying we must have used Sauvignon Blanc that time
before. I could have looked it up but I was trying to replicate her recipe, because there’s

always something more in a recipe borrowed from a beloved, the food tastes richer, fuller
in body, as if memories are itself an ingredient, as if this nourishment is folded in love.

Time passed as she ladled broth and stirred, as I buzzed around the kitchen, waiting. Once
all the liquid had been absorbed and the mushrooms and parmesan added, she moves to

make two poached eggs. Balances them atop bowls of risotto, adorned with loose shavings
of parmesan. I don’t make the eggs when I do it myself, its a technique I haven’t quite

mastered. Much like living alone, there’s a certain way you have to swirl the water, carefully
drop the egg into the whirlpool, the slightest disturbance to the current wrecks havoc on

the form, the yolk. I didn’t want to cook tonight. I wanted to order out, to rot. But when I
make risotto it feels like an accomplishment, a labour of love the result of patient stirring,

slow broth. Everything these days is like a slow broth, a simmering on low heat. I am
nothing more than pieces of the people that love me, bubbling together to keep me whole.

Looking Down and Looking Ahead, by Jan Price

Looking Down and Looking Ahead, by Jan Price

Friday 5th May, 2023, by Warren Clementson

The day became a landmark
when the streets gave birth to chaos
The day after irrationality was unsheathed
childhood called up adulthood, asked for advice
on how to live. Adulthood didn’t have any answers
The day after seeing Death wield his scythe
in broad daylight, a mother gained her PHD in loss
The day after seeing a young man outrun by destiny
a father was forced into retirement
The day after seeing a young man murdered
the mind suffered a miscarriage
The day after seeing a young man murdered for no reason
the heart performed an abortion
At midnight the next day, Trauma was born
although premature, it had a strong pair of lungs
cried out for a mother and a father

Only Breathe, by Mary McCoy

The daily world is unavailing clamor,
nervous for its own details and requirements.
Watch the breath,
Be quiet and be quiet and be quiet again.

It doesn’t hurt
if you don’t push on it.

You know
you get tired
of looking
for something all the time.

True Story, by Mack Brenholtz

Hello. I saw that your magazine was still accepting submissions and since I have less than a day to submit something, I’m going to tell you about the craziest true thing that’s ever happened to me. 

In the summer of 2019, my brother and I were mistakenly confused with two serial killers murdering their way across Canada. 

These days, you can look up the event on Wikipedia as the, “2019 Northern British Columbia Murders.”  But at the time, we were two travelers not paying attention to the news, and unbeknownst to us, our car and our descriptions matched the last known sighting of two fugitives murdering people on the side of the road, arranging their bodies facing West, with their heads pointing North.   

By July, they’d killed one Canadian, one American, and one Australian, which made the investigation into an international manhunt. 

Imagine you’re on vacation, happily driving along a four lane highway, when every car around you suddenly becomes the police. They were everywhere, marked and unmarked: both sides, in front, behind. In less than a minute, they had our car pulled over, and us kneeling on the pavement with about twelve guns pointed at our faces. 

It was beyond surreal: to be frozen kneeling on a deserted highway that had been alive only minutes before. With the lights and the cars and the people in uniform and plain clothes and the guns and the guns and the guns. 

The only thing missing was a helicopter. 

It was like they’d caught Batman.

I’m telling you this because it’s relevant, and because it has everything to do with writing and art. I also want you to know what happens to the world on the other side of a gun, because it’s something that happens to a lot of people and there are a lot of myths about it. 

Afterwards, folks have a tendency to superimpose heroism on a situation like that, and tell you about all the things you should’ve said or could’ve done: state your rights, make a stand, pull your own gun, etc. 

The truth is that there’s no time for any of that. 

Time doesn’t exist. The entire world freezes. Sound slows. Thoughts turn to sludge. And everything, absolutely everything, diminishes to a singularity that’s almost impossible to describe. 

It all becomes you. You and the gun. 

You, alive. And the power to end you. 

That’s it. That’s all. 

I’ve failed to write about this ever since it happened. But it’s not even you and them, you and the police or the robber or whatever; it’s just you and the gun: just you and the muted, blunted, sluggishness that comes with the awareness that you’re alive and could easily not be.  

It happens like a movie about another person, or a recording slowed way, way down. 

When they picked me up off the pavement of that vacant superhighway and told me I was a suspect in a murder investigation, I couldn’t respond, couldn’t even talk. I didn’t have my voice back yet. 

Their guns had stolen it. 

They encircled me: cops and SWAT and whatever the Canadian equivalent of the FBI is. They patted me down and searched my pockets. At this point, I was on the final round robin of what I’ve now discovered to be my early-twenties traveling days.  

I’d taught in Spain for a year or so as a way to get to Europe, bounced around, charted my way home through Norway and Ireland, and flown to Canada because there was still some summer left and I figured I could meet my family on vacation and ride home with them. 

At the time, I was wearing rain-rotted boots that were sewn together with my last pack of guitar strings. We were camping. I was dirty. 

This is all to say that after weeks of traveling, I kept my passport and my identification close, in my front left pocket. So, one ending to this story is that the Canadian justice system worked out. Eventually, after questioning us and separating us and locking us in the back of the squad car, the police used that passport to trace my identity and figure out that I didn’t kill anybody and never had.  

But that’s not the ending that matters. 

What matters is I was standing there totally mute, still unable to talk, with my hands tied, while the lead French-Canadian investigator searched my front pocket and handed my passport over his shoulder to his second in command. 

Then he searched my back pocket. 

He pulled out a tattered Moleskine notebook, great-great-great grandfather to the one I carry today. Outwardly puzzled, he flipped through it. 

Understand that prior to this moment, none of these officers were people. My brain had relegated them to their symbols: the guns, the uniforms, the badges. They were the walking personification of force: big shadowy aliens wearing masks. I imagine it’s the same when protesters face off against riot police, or civilians meet soldiers. You enter a situation where a person is not a person, but a symbol of State: a statue of power. 

That’s the way this officer was: with his badge and his holstered gun and his statues all around him. And then he opened my notebook. He flipped through the ink splattered, dirt encrusted pages of art and prose and nonsense. 

And then his power broke. 

He made this little sound, like, “pshhh.”  And then he laughed, only a little. He snickered, or maybe tittered, and in that moment he became, for the first time, fully human.  

Suddenly, I knew I was going to be okay. 

The silent movie dissolved. 

“What’s this?” He asked, still flipping through soiled pages. 

My voice came out all squeaky, too high, unused and not my own. 

“Drawings, short stories, and poems,” I said. 

Newly human, he shook his head, tapped the black notebook on his thumb.

“Look,” he said. “I don’t believe you’re the person we’re looking for, but you have to understand that this is a very important investigation and we’re going to need you to comply.” 

I nodded. All the guns were gone.

The notebook made them go away. 

I waited in the squad car, detailing how it felt in case I ever needed to write about being in the back of one. And then, after some awkward talking, they let us go. 

Later, a Canadian surfer friend in the Outer Banks told me I was never in any real danger. 

“Cops don’t just shoot people up there, man. It’s not America.” 

“Yeah, but I didn’t know that at the time, Nick,” I said. 

Nick shook his head. “You were fine,” he said.

And maybe I was. I was never shot, and eventually, they found out we weren’t those killers, probably because of a lot of boring, regular reasons. 

But I know the truth. 

I know that notebook saved us. 

Because that’s when his power broke. That’s when the guns went away and the lights stopped flashing and death turned into a human. After he saw my notebook, he became a brother or a father or a person. Just a regular person. Like me. Like us. 

And I wanted you to know that. 

Because it could end up being important. 

Especially now. Especially now. 

A Cobweb in The Car, by Wendy Blaxland

Brush it away, my
tidy mind tutted.
Then I noticed how
this sheet of almost
invisible lines
angled taut in three
dimensions, like
the drawing of a miniature
shade sail spanning air.
Its hidden architect
awaited dinner.
Who am I to destroy
a miracle?

Running Man by Jeanne Wilkinson

Running Man, by Jeanne Wilkinson

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