for a lost girlfriend
you once sat waiting for a phone call that never came
from yesterday me who promised you promises mean
everything to me, true as the ground beneath
our wobbling feet. heart lurching in the direction
of tender, exhilarating female connection.
i text and say, "i'm sorry i can't come to the phone
right now; there's water inside its plastic-glass body,
inside my eyes where dolphins are swimming
delightfully away. i'm trying
to convince the dolphins to leave,
but they won't listen. on their end is only static."
i tell you all this & still you wait
but i don't believe i ever told you how i shed
my minute-old selves like old bark. dead skin.
who i was yesterday is not who i am now
because yesterday i loved you & today
i hate the person who once loved you.
the dolphins swam away with my pain yet there is
a dent in my heart the size of their leap through the air
to catch what breath they can because breath runs out
faster when you are trying not to gasp. to never sink
or see where sea anemones or stingrays don't stray.
i went snorkeling once to try & befriend them.
i thought the water was in my eyes again & i
didn't know the objects in my blurry goggles
are farther than they appear.
as you sat waiting for my phone call—perhaps
for a reassurance like the 3 cups of sweet
daytime tea my mother insists i must drink--
that i still love you that you can still hope to hear
other girls' secrets through me.
"don't best friends share everything?" you ask,
hurt & mistaking blossoming young girl
political hot-takes for the worst betrayal imaginable.
& you think i don't trust you and you certainly
don't know this
but i outgrow people like i outgrow my body or
my pimples, the scars & stretch marks remain
but yesterday i loved you--
today, i don't know anymore.
as the end of day sunlight slips through leaf-gaps
in the swaying tree crown & my pain is a setting
sun sized absence i hold myself alone
(ruptured phone line in palms empty
dial tone a jarring echo)
beside the phone that no longer can
take calls from your number.
Anukriti (she/her) is a twenty-two year old STEM student from India. She enjoys poetry, Zhiyong Jing's paintings, sad music (a lot of First Aid Kit) and walking. She can be found mistfully admiring Gulmohar tree crowns during the Indian monsoon. Her work has appeared in Ice Lolly Review, Pop The Culture Pill and Goats Milk Magazine. She can be reached on both Instagram and Twitter as @anukrav, indulging in rest and her sporadic attention span.
by a. martins
I broke her favourite porcelain cup,
Hid the shards inside a braided box,
Blamed the cats who she calls fuckers
And harbored that secret like a mythology unspoken.
I never knew death like a kitchen magnet:
Creeping in, until it’s too worn to be ignored
Against the fridge’s quiet whiteness.
I was too young to know that tulips wither,
That broken cups cannot be hidden,
That her stories are the shards I keep on holding
In my bleeding teenage hands
As I wash out the yellow cranes
She left behind for me to break.
a. martins is a Brazilian poet pursuing an English and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies major at Middlebury College, VT. Born amidst the mango and avocado trees of Brasília, Brazil, he started writing poetry, nonfiction, and critical essays on literature in 2019. His work has been featured on the student-run magazine Blackbird and the independent zine Hibernation (2021). You can find more of his work at a-martins.com and @amartinspoetry on Instagram.
By Meaghan Flokstra
It is midday. My grandmother plants arugula and soya beans, carrots and radishes, her forearms submerged in wet earth. We are caught in the delicious limbo between spring and summer, and the air smells fresh and reckless. I can almost see why she insists on staying out here.
From my vantage point on the porch, she looks so small crouched there in the garden, no bigger than the wire mesh cages she uses to trellis the tomatoes once it’s warm enough to transplant them outside. Her hands cup the dirt like a prayer as she carves out a cavern of space for a radish seed, but her lips are squished into a thin line; if she is praying, it is only in her head.
“Won’t you please come in? We can do the planting tomorrow.” Tomorrow is my mantra. Tomorrow we will wake up with the sun. Tomorrow we will have hearty oatmeal with nuts and raisins and blueberries for breakfast because we have a hard day’s work ahead. Tomorrow we will sow.
“There is no tomorrow.” Her hands are pale and ashy, spotted and gnarled with veins, like hard ribbons of sky pushing out against clouds. They pat soil back over the seeds with quick, practiced care.
“Please, just come down with me. We can play card games and eat the last of the raspberry scones.” I remember the first time we went down into the tornado shelter. I was afraid of the dark, but my grandmother insisted that we not waste the batteries in the flashlights. So we sat there in the pitch black, my head against her chest, her arms wrapped around my small body. I listened to her heartbeat and the wind.
Who am I kidding? I’m still afraid of the dark. I hate that shelter even while I want to be there more than anything.
“The shelter won’t help. Help yourself to a raspberry scone, and finish the lemonade while you’re at it.” It takes so many lemons to make a full pitcher of lemonade. I always saved the last sips, not wanting to have to make another batch so soon. Finish the lemonade. Max out all your credit cards. Serenade everyone you’ve ever loved. Go big. You’re going home.
“It might help.” I don’t believe it even as I say it. Maybe I just want to sit in the dark with her arms around me and breathe in sync.
“Total Annihilation” was the headline of today’s news. There is a meteor. Our planet simply cannot withstand the impact. We are all going to die. There will be nothing left. It is coming today at midday.
There must be no greater horror than to be a journalist facing the apocalypse. The world shuts down before it dies. People abandon their work in favour of huddling close with their families and wringing out every last drop of joy that lingers in our planet’s last breaths. People panic and cry. People travel as far as they can. People love and fight and curse and pray. At my grandmother’s home, far from the people, we only know they are doing these things because the journalists say it to be so.
Our local news anchor had held her three children in her arms as she read off the last few announcements that our world has to offer. I shut the television off at the sight. Go home, I thought. Live for your last few moments. It wasn’t fair of me. After all, had I not been watching?
“New life is the greatest gift we can give to a dying era,” says my grandmother. She scoops out another handful of earth with one hand and deposits a seed with the other. They say a person’s heart is approximately the size of their fist. She fills the negative space of her heart up with soil. “We cannot reap what we do not sow.”
It is midday, and the sunlight fades as a shadow overtakes it. I do not look up. I walk over to my grandmother and kneel next to her in the garden. It is getting dark. I can hear her breathing as she deposits another seed. She gardens with so much love that I know that these radishes will not go without a fight.
I scoop my own handful of soil the size of my heart. When I move to grab a seed, I accidentally nudge a wire mesh cage out of place with my elbow. I tug it back where it belongs so that it will be ready for when it’s warm enough to trellis the tomatoes outside.
Meaghan Flokstra (she/they) is a multidisciplinary writer and artist currently studying Creative Writing & Publishing at Sheridan College in Mississauga, Ontario. When not working on a creative project, Meaghan enjoys studying human behaviour, petting every animal she encounters, and advocating for the Oxford comma. Visit meaghanflokstra.com to read more of her work.
by Greta Unetich
We spent almost all of August by the cliffs of the falls.
Shale cracks beneath my bare feet. My knees are curled into my stomach. The water glitters, reflecting the stars above.
I am thinking about the brown paper bag of peaches you gave me, sitting on my desk in my room, far up the hill.
I remember closing up the swimming hole soon after in September because the water got too cold. My hand in the creek, my back facing the dark air. I remember this, but not swimming for the last time.
Greta Unetich has been writing poetry since eighth grade. She published her debut book of poems, Look Both Ways, in December 2019, and recently published another book of poems titled Polaris in May 2021. She is a regular contributor for Buzzsaw Magazine, Kindergarten Magazine, and Living Zine, and an editor for the poetry section of Buzzsaw Magazine. Her books are available in Buffalo Street Books and Odyssey Bookstore in Ithaca, New York and in Monaco's Coffee in Geneva, New York. Unetich attends Ithaca College and majors in biology and chemistry with plans to become either a high school biology/chemistry teacher or a diabetes educator.
By Emma Shahin
Emma Shahin (she/her) graduated from the college of William & Mary last May, and is currently working at Columbia University’s substance abuse treatment center. In college, she found joy in creating collages & writing /editing pieces for W&M radio’s music mag, Vinyl Tap. In her free time nowadays, she enjoys sporadically posting on her crafting / music content page, listening to sad songs, scarfing down gyros & people watching. She is very much looking forward to having a wonderful reason to write again & joining the lovely giving room mag staff!
by Beth Mulcahy
i take my socks off
in bed at night
when i’m not too cold anymore and let my toes
wiggle and breathe
and when you are here
i can’t sleep on the inside
against the wall
because i need to move my legs
and let them wiggle and breathe
but when you are not here
and i have my whole bed
there is too much room
to move and wiggle and breathe
and no you
to warm my feet up again
when my toes are done breathing
and i can’t find my socks
in the dark
Beth Mulcahy is a Gen X-er from Michigan, living in Ohio where she works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. Beth loves to travel and write poetry, fiction, and memoir. She has words in Bombfire Literary Magazine, Trouvaille Review, The Fiery Scribe, and Potato Soup Journal. Follow her on twitter @bethmulcahea
By Mathilda Roach Osborne
From Mathilda Roach Osborne, "In my recent work I have been exploring ideas of identity, fears of the unknown, and loneliness. I often use mask-like imagery as tools, to avoid placing forced identities onto characters, which enables open interpretations of the overall scene. There are no definite narratives, much of the imagery intuitively drawn, however many works are inspired by memories of dreams. I find these unconscious creations of the mind fascinating, and I continually try to evoke the unsettlement, familiarity and absurdity of dreams in my art"
by Sloane Angelou
my mother did not die of heartbreak
flesh is weak
love is not violent
the meek will inherit the earth
two loaves of bread and two fishes
whatever goes up must surely come down
guava trees in my father's compound
an iroko tree in its prime
i am the way the truth and the life
and though i walk through the valley and shadow of death i will fear no goodness.
Sloane Angelou is a storyteller & writer of West African origin; passionate about learning of human existence by interrogating human experiences. They exist in liminal spaces.
By Mariel Gonzalez
Mariel Gonzalez is a mixed media artist enjoys exploring the fluidity and vibrancy of paint, experimenting with different art styles such as abstract expressionism, impressionism, and fauvism in order to convey her ideas in whimsical, heartfelt ways. Mariel studies at the University of Toronto with a major in English, and minors in Food Studies and Studio Arts.
By Jude Blue
Jude Blue is a multimedia artist focused on body, identity, gender work from Bulgaria, raised in LA, Mrs. international heartmaker.