Bishop Washington

It was loud, and too bright. I don’t know why they make the lights in the inside of ambulances so bright. My mom never let us turn on the light in the backseat when she drove at night; she said that the light interfered with her vision. Someone was gripping my left hand tightly. I knew the hand was not my mother’s. It was not the hand of a lady I had loved so dearly, no, this hand was small. The skin on their fingertips, rough; and the sweat on their palms constant.

A man and a woman were in front of me, the man kneeled, the woman sat on a bench within the back cabin of the ambulance. They wore navy shirts, and pants; the letters EMT were stamped on the left side of their chest where their hearts were supposed to be. There was an oxygen mask covering my nose and mouth; it too felt to tight on my bare skin. The woman looked nervous. She yelled the words: “Yes, triage external and internal," into the walkie talkie. I didn’t know what “triage” meant, so I laid there in the back of the bright ambulance; my eyes half open, thinking what the word triage meant.

I had no control over my body. I could not speak. I tried squeezing the hand that had been gripping mine, but I could not find the strength to do so. I looked right. The cabin was spacious. There was a bench that came out the wall, where the EMT woman sat. I moved my eyes towards my toes and saw that tubes leading into my mouth. I rolled my eyes back to my chest, and saw the once-beige bandage that wrapped my forearm was now red.

They did not bother to make the ride on the stretcher enjoyable or comfortable for that matter. It was the opposite; rough and bumpy. Four small, black wheels screamed as they rolled on the pavement leading to the Emergency Room. Once they moved from the gravel path outside to the tile in the building, the wheels no longer screamed. They rushed me; I felt like I was on like an amusement park ride.

I was forced through one set of swinging doors, and then another. I tried to read the signs that were mounted above the doors, but my half open, drowsy eyes couldn’t make out the letters above me. I wondered why there were so many staff members surrounding me.

Never once did it cross my mind that something was seriously wrong. I didn’t know why I had been in the ambulance, just as I didn’t know why six people were urgently pushing me down a well-lit corridor. It was loud again and there were tubes and there were wires and there were medical staff members around me. Still, I wasn’t worried.

I was too weak to keep my eyes open, so I closed them. I remembered when I was a child, how my friends and I would race our bikes to school. I never wanted to lose. Nobody did. We’d ride every day that year, regardless of the clouds and rain constantly above. At first, we’d say that our bikes had powers. My bike was a mountain bike, so it could take shortcuts through the grassy, muddy terrain. The boy who lived down the street, in the green house with the off-white door, owned a road bike. It was actually his mothers, so we often poked fun at him for riding the pink, girly, bike next to our manly bikes. Still, his pink bike was certainly the fastest. He often won our daily races. And the last boy, the one who grew up in the small pale house miles away from me; his bike was, well, his bike was shit. Often the chain would fall off on the way to school. The first time it happened none of us knew how to put in back on, so we were forced to call his dreaded stepfather to help us. To our surprise, he did. He was a raging alcoholic, we all hated him. But from there on out, we all vowed to learn how to fix the chain in case it ever fell off again. And it did.

It was now that I realized being in the hospital with doctors rushing all around me probably meant that something bad had happened. Maybe I was hit by a car, or maybe I was diagnosed with a rare venereal disease. Maybe I had fallen down the stairwell in my shitty apartment complex, or perhaps I had a skydiving accident. But that is unlikely. I am afraid of heights, so I cannot imagine myself willingly jumping out of an airborne plane. In fact, the more I think about it, the more dreadful it seems. I have never liked heights.

Mom took my brother and me to the state fair when we were younger; it took some courage to will myself to go on the Daredevil roller coaster. I gripped the chest harness tightly, the clicking sounds the car made as it pressed along the track did not help my mental state on our journey to the top of the hill. At first, I did not mind the height, but that was only because I was only thirty feet off the ground. Closing my eyes did not help as I now had no visual reference to pair the clicking sound of the track too.

So I opened them once again, only to look right and see my brother, a wide grin across his carefree face. And then I looked to my left, only to see a bunch of small cars that looked like ants sitting in the parking lot. Then I looked straight up towards the sun. I opened my eyes once again only this time I was not on the roller coaster, I was in the ER and the sun had been replaced by the bright lights in my face. The doctors rushed around me. I closed my eyes again and I was back on the roller coaster. I looked down and saw the track drop. The cart slowly went over the hill and then rushed down the track, it was loud. I opened my eyes again, the loudness of the track had been replaced with the shouting of the doctors. They seemed frantic. And so, I closed my eyes and when I did I was back on the coaster. I sat there, tightly gripping the chest harness as the the coaster made its way around the track. We went left, right; up and down and during all of it I was scared.

When we reached the peak at the top of the hill I was more than scared. After the dreadful minute long ride had ended, I didn’t bother looking at the monitor that shows the picture taken of riders on the coaster, I was probably crying, or worse I may have shit myself. It felt like I did.

The ride was over, so I opened my eyes once more. Like before, there were lights in my face and doctors around me. And even though I knew something bad had happened, I wasn’t in pain, nor was I scared. My mind was to busy and preoccupied traveling through memories to be scared. Plus, the only thing I am afraid of is heights.

Suicide Prevention

Alexa Alfano

up in the clouds the Mathematician asked me what I wanted
to be like & I said this, this, this
I watched Them mix blue (n.) with
one light-up sneaker coated in mud then
goo of my soul injected I was sent hurdling down
heavy & dripping & not even realizing
just how heavy & dripping & it was enough
until I spotted the face of Glimmer
I wish I'd hurdle faster
& pow! according to Plan I hit the ground
forgot everything
& light in open eyes felt
like winter-cold seats in the car
but discomfort is fine as long as you're going somewhere
nice like you know waiting there will be yourself, different
yet still growing forward & still wishing it were better than this
though I was in love for a year, maybe
a couple other times too but how would I know
if this is already the coveted "better," my breath
& violent realizations of hilarity
& flip-flopped feet running
so I hold a patterned umbrella
under the enormous waterfall of continuity--
oblivion can wait

a lesson on how to devastate properly (because my mother never taught me how)

Melissa Ballete

1. do not be an ember
warming the soul
only sparking fires
never having your own.

2. do not be the river
that bends around jungle trees to
let them grow.

3. do not succumb
to the suns and stars
determined to prove you
an Icarus.

4. do not be a wonder
composed of velvet,
white wine, honey,
fingers soft as
spider’s silk.

5. do not be a casualty of war.

6. be reckless and
high tide low tide
growling waves
ebb and flow
rise aglow
into a tempest.

7. when you exhale
the gales of winter,

8. in your glorious wake
they should bend
like reeds.

9. they should exalt you
like flowers do
the ascendant sun.

10. listen

11. do not be gentle.

12. there are
no light showers here.

The Pull

Erika Kuo

I am miles from the sea
but I still feel your tide pulling
blue salt from my body.

I have already made a home
in the sputtering swell and

even in the dark
I can see your soft sun-soaked
warm soul, spilling.

a stroll through my future graveyard

Danna D’Esopo

the moon in the sky
does not shine bright enough
for you to read
the name recurrent
on every headstone.

not for

the girl gifted
a choker of crimson
delivered by a man who treated
his knife like his limb
and snuck in with the breeze
from her window.

the girl whose throat burst
with Panic! At the Disco lyrics
her hands clenched
onto the steering wheel
until her car screamed
verses flash to screams
as she released her last breath.

the girl last seen at midnight
walking near empty tennis courts
jumps as sprinklers awaken
pepper spray slips through sweaty palms
tumbles to the sidewalk
left behind as she’s pulled to the shadows.

the girl who choked
not on inhaling food
but by the thought of it.

the girl who laid still
amongst carved pumpkins and wooden stakes
circus clowns and an unplugged strobe light
whose pleas for help blended
with the chorus of teens
parading around the gravel labyrinth.

the girl whose eyes
blinked at blank walls
shivers run like mice across her body
until the wheel
left of her chest
stopped spinning.

Cough Syrup

Kellan Weinberger

It started
                  With a paper towel windpipe
                  Molten forehead
                  And chilled weak limbs
Grape mercury my counter-measure
                  Let it glide down my throat
                                    Warm my innards
                  Let my eyelids become iron
                                    Flip the off switch we all wish we had
That purple mercury with excellent taste
                  Brought adventure to a dry and wasted life

I just planned to sleep
                  Who knew I’d become a spy jennifer lawrence by my side
                                    Working to save the world
                                                      From one of my best friends

                  Who knew I’d leap on a cosmic trampoline
                                    Bouncing in between galaxies
                                                      Alongside my prom date
I don’t regret never kissing

A wicked lead sleep
                  With an addictive adventure to follow
I promise
                  I had just planned on going
To sleep

Night after night
                  My mind granted free access
                                    By that holy syrup

Day after day a crude awakening
                  To sunlight and Kanye West’s Good Morning

The sickness faded with rest
                  But I still desired the adventure
                                    The night time release
                  So the liquid continued to stain my esophagus

But my night time adventure supply
                  Ran dry
I was forced out of my lives
                  Back into
                                    The one where I can truly live and truly die

March in Yosemite

Justin Kim

Rain showers gently along the old dirt patch
Cleared and smoothed by a thousand other feet
Over the decades, past and to come.
I move unhurried as I lift up my head
And, tongue free, drink in the cool manna
Until I come upon an outcropping by the road.
Massive flat stones balance on each other
To form a shelter.
Dripping, I collapse
Onto its carpet of soft, brittle fuzz
And take in the thick, cold taste
Of mass and dirt newly fed.
Rough, ragged speckled stones
Warm slightly at the touch
As I breath heavily, ever softer,
And look out on the grey and green land
That grows darker by the second
Until nothing shows in the blackness,
Save a flash and a shatter.
Then silence

When my eyes crack open,
All is white.
The breeze’s kiss stings.
I hold out a hand to the open air
And watch a single pale speck
Fall into my palm.
A single pinch
And it’s gone.

The Answers

By Sarah Luther


If you hate the way he looks at you when you’re sleeping
Go night running through alleys and around street corners

If you feel cornered and can’t find your way home
Call the spider an uncle and stay a little while

If you don’t have the time and you’re feeling rushed
Turn the nearest clock to 5 o’clock and drink something

If you’re drunk on plane so your stomach won’t sink
Think of the first time you fell in love with a liar

If you hate liars from the bottom of your heart
Try breaking someone else’s in a matter of a minute

If you feel for a minute like nothing matters
Walk to the edge of life and let a newborn baby squeeze your finger

If your fingers are bleeding from a hard day’s work
Move the bandaids to your mouth and start to listen

If you listen close and you can’t hear wedding bells
Slide a ring on your finger and pledge allegiance to yourself

If you’ve already pledged your allegiance to the flag
Ask yourself if your blood is red, white, or blue

If your blood is red but you’re feeling blue
Take to the sky and check out the view

If the view overtakes you and you can’t bear to depart
Ask the locals which cloud has room for a night

If you’re on cloud nine and you’ve found your home
Thank the pilot that brought you or write a poem


Tips on Catching a Falling Star

By Serena Futch


You too must be swift and light on your feet
Dancing through the night’s air, racing with
Arms and hands stretched out before you
You must zig-zag trying to guess where
The star might choose to land, will it be
On a dewy field, or crowded forest or raging river

Once it is close to earth you must act fast
To grab it or it shall fall tumbling to the ground
Shattering, leaving behind little but your
Crestfallen face as you slowly walk home
But if you are lucky enough to catch
A falling star you must cradle it close to your body
For these beautiful out of the world things are fragile
Cradle it, cradle it close

The Orange Grove

By Alice Shambayati


We were young, and we loved ourselves so much that
we screamed and ran through the orange grove to disturb
the chickens, giggling the whole time through.
We did not care; we were free for hours as our mothers tended to the horses
and that sweltering July sun would beat down on us, so
we always stopped in the shade to pull a ripe, juicy orange off one of the trees.

And every time we pulled an orange from a tree, at least three more
from the same branch would fall to the ground and bruise. I think we were too naïve
to realize that this was how life would progress, with three failures for every one success,
and sometimes we found, to our chagrin, that the orange we had snatched was sour in the

The first time I ever wrote in a journal
my grandmother had just passed away, and I used to write letters to her pretending
that I was still in her orange grove, describing the trees and chickens to her
because I thought she might be missing home.
Every Sunday morning she made freshly-squeezed orange juice
and I gulped it down in one swallow. It tasted like concentrated joy
and the sting of that juicy pulp lingered on my taste buds for hours.

When we scared the chickens out of the orange grove they would bawk frantically and bolt,
and we were scolded because the hens might be carrying eggs inside of them,
protecting the little chicks that we looked forward to meeting every spring.
But it was summer and the future was blurred by our adoration for every present moment,
and so we never listened,
we only got better at hiding things we did.

It turns out that scaring the chickens away saved them from the lurking coyote that would
sneak into our orange grove some nights,
so I think, despite our childlike mischief, we were beautiful to do such a thing.
To do so while we sucked in the air of home through our nostrils,
the lingering scent of horse pastures and hay and the oranges,
I realize now, was the very best of my life.

The moments were as delicate as the eggs the hens carried, and our mothers told us they
would not last forever,
but every evening I still recited prayers in hope that they might.
I can remember the taste and feel of my sticky fingers from that pulpy citrus
and the pang it triggers in one chamber of my heart -
in that fragile space where home resides.

The Last Burger

By Sam McNeal


My truck smelled like bliss and hamburgers while we idled alone in the drive through
lane. The attendant passed off the burger to me, and I hurriedly unwrapped it from the damp
paper before passing it, now unobstructed, to Frank, my large brown Labrador. Frank ate the
whole thing in one bite. I should have told him to slow down. I could have torn the burger
apart and fed it to him bit by bit, but then he might have realized something was different.
Couldn’t he see that this was not our normal visit to McDonald’s and couldn’t he see that I
wasn’t smiling and couldn’t he see that the boys weren’t here next to him?

Sitting out in the empty yellow light of a mostly vacant parking lot, Frank and I were
left with the silence of a running engine and the smell of pine needles. He looked at me now
with a confident grin that showed neither fear nor apprehension. Now was the time, had Hud
and Paul been there, that we would get out of the truck, walk across the street, and throw a
tennis ball for Frank in the sliver of light that stretched over the street and onto the grass. It
was just what we did on Friday nights until I couldn’t anymore.

The bark beetles had come at an undetermined time from an undetermined place.
Undetermined by me, anyway. They had come quickly, and by the time someone told me the
town had an infestation, pine trees were already starting to fall. Two years after that, the
place looked naked. The pretty brown-red trunks and moss-green branches that once hid the
ugliness of unkempt cabin homes, boats rusting in driveways, and unlandscaped properties
were made obvious to even those who weren’t paying attention. And with our trees, so went
my work. No one was building because no one was buying because nothing looked pretty.

Recently — it feels recently because I try not to look at the change in my boys’ haircuts
or the shrinking of their clothes around their growing bodies — we stopped getting four
burgers, one for each of us and one for Frank, every Friday night because recently my wallet
ceased to have cash in it. I didn’t used to know how many gallons of gas were in my tank
(eighteen) or how many miles to the gallon I got on average (fifteen) or how much it cost per
mile to drive as calculated by the library’s subscription to Consumer Reports (one dollar and
thirty-four cents). I didn’t used to know how much our dog food cost either, until yesterday
I was told by the cashier at the pet store that I didn’t have twenty-two dollars and sixteen
cents on my card.

I got out and Frank followed, scampering over the bench seat and out into the yellow
light of the McDonald’s arches. He walked in circles around me as I stood still, looking into
the brightly-lit seating inside. There was only one person inside, a man who looked like me.
He was wearing a dark green flannel, but his fit him, and he wore a blue baseball cap and
blue jeans. From outside, he looked clean in the safe fluorescent lighting and he sat back in
the booth, facing me but not looking at me, and he looked pleased with himself. He looked in
control with his burger, fries, and soda on a red tray in front of him.

Frank had stopped circling and was sitting between me and the open door of the car.
I sidestepped him and got into the car and closed the door. Frank didn’t even get up, just
turned his head to look at me in disbelief. I looked at the man inside again. I like to think he
looked like me, but wasn’t me because he came out after I drove away, saw Frank sitting
there, and picked up where I’d left off.

the fountain of youth

By Grace Zimmerman


the fountain of youth finally found
in a half drunk bottle of vodka and yellow gatorade
smuggled under too tight skirts
basic bitches beating,
breathing in the dusts of deserts
uninhabitable by all but the intoxicated.
trampling grass-masked sand spraying up
underneath cheap sandals onto naked legs
dirt and drugs in my veins, hair, hands, air
make the present float infinitely
i want to die this immortal
covered in sweat, glitter, and sunlight.

This is the End And

By Erika Rasmussen


I was four, a world-traveler
and already stuck,
noodle-elbow caught
between a silvery-snake bus railing
and the two-story
that is, double-decker, Fate,
stuck in a stairwell,
one too many
steps behind the hand
I was meant to be holding
my toddler-brain positive that
Mom! Dad! Wait! I’m going to be an orphan forever and this is it and—

I was under ten,
I got that this is the end
feeling in my gut, the one
where you’re pretty sure.
There is sand gouging out my nose,
little sand-men with shovels
poised with crystalline form to
annihilate everything God
has worked for.
Knees befriending chin it is a
waltz with the sea,
it must be beautiful but all I see is
blackness, not a hint of foam.
I am caught beneath a wave
this brave, thin body
for once could not withstand.
This is the end and then I am breathing.

I was sixteen, maybe,
I was a set of wracking lungs,
not at the mercy of little sand-men but of
the crosswalk, the breathlessness
of sitting behind the steering wheel in
no man’s land, red-light laughing
you could have died!
Careless, silly little girl.
Don’t you know you’re alive?

I am twenty,
I am oceans from the noodle-elbowed Fate,
I am miles from the waves,
I am nowhere near.
I am looking upon my future
in the classroom while I
should be taking notes
and oh,
there it is.

I’m not going to make it.

What is one to do when
the uncertainty of life shakes
one more
than the ever-blooming
certainty of death?

B r o k e n B i k e s

 By Kristi Chon


My grandfather loved breaking broken things
Without prompting or permission
His eyes nearly shut in concentration,
Peering at the grimacing gears
Click, click, click.

I learned to ride a bike on a flat tire
A foolish determination to conquer the
Yet my body wobbled wherever Wind
Changed its mind to venture
Clunk, clunk, clunk.

A mirror beckoned my gaze one ride
A house of five
A mother’s glimmering eyes
Tracing the outline of a broken frame
Crack, crack, crack.


Capture this.
Her father used to hoist her
Giggling, above his head whenever he saw
Glimmering glass sleeping on the sidewalk
At the cost of a dropped bag of groceries


Later, she stands knee deep
In a pool of green shards and bad breath
Cradling a head above the ground
A stomach and mind refusing to quiet
As she ponders the meaning of being held


The story interrupted as
The vehicle I once trusted gave way
To a groove in the gravel
My body a stone
Skidding across the surface

Click. Clunk. Crack.

My blurry vision found my beloved grandfather
Who stood over me with a perplexed complexion.


Would I too, remain broken?
Perhaps one day,
They’d see what their fixing had done



by Erika Rasmussen


My father said
you need to be dependable.

I said

What I meant was,
I’m trying.
I don’t know
what to do with a brain
always running
out of storage.
The memory on this model
of human is slightly unscrewed,
the warranty expired.

What I meant was
an intergalactic apology to all
who’ve fallen to
my broken confidence.

The laundry always stales
where I promised
it wouldn’t be.
The keys hang, abandoned,
beckon darkness to our door—
every robber’s dream.
They swing all night, glistening.
Hushed voices in the morning
affirm she’s got to start listening.

Words of dishonor spill, grains from a
well-intentioned covenant mill.
I wonder if
every promised prayer I
didn’t say
rests as heavily on
their backs as the lump
that hunches my throat.

These lips could stand
to make an oath less each day.
A ghost less with each pledge undismayed.

I wish my middle name
could be
but I’ll take Grace instead.
Nine times out of ten,
I’ve still some redemption left.

This isn’t a game, but I fear
I’m knocking other’s pieces out
with the clumsy
of my head.

Mr. Beringer’s Van

by Sarah Beringer


My dad drives a 1999 VW camper van
He fixes it himself because they don’t make the parts anymore.
He likes to go out driving when my mom gets in one of her moods.
Sometimes he takes me with him.
We’ll drive through town and pull into Vinny’s.
He buys me double-stuffed Oreos so he can eat them
And I have some of his soda.
He only lets me have the first sip
And then he’ll pour in something else.
He also buys a pack of mint gum before we leave
And takes two sticks out,
Giving one to me.
But we save them in our pockets
For when we’re closer to home.
On the way back
We listen to Desperado by The Eagles
And he keeps restarting it
Until we can sing the lyrics all the way through.
He pretends to pass our road when we finally get there
Turning sharply at the last minute
I always sigh in relief because it makes him smile
He does this every time.
I wonder when he’ll just keep driving.


By Jimmy Flynn


grab a grimy glass,
and fill it with the rocks
you use
to stone me.

now add
one part Maker’s,
one part water,
Kanye’s Celebration,
smoked Spirits,
lip bites,
and a dash of bitters.

slice up some limes,
line up some salt,
and let your laugh
escape through your nose.

serve on a futon
or a rug—
your choice.

now flush the remains
down the drain,
and leave the glass outside to
collect the rain.

don’t share this with
it’s an old family secret.


leave the white roses be

By Grace Zimmerman


paint the white roses red,
heat the concrete steps with strong thighs,
strip the trees of their bark and look inside
make the boys sit and the girls stand
take the wasted green from the fallen leaves and
spread it evenly on the dead grass
lead the elephant up my toes over my hips to my chest
sit him on the butterflies lifting up and down.
suck my air away.
tell the girl you love you’re gone
leave his softest sweater folded on the lawn,
light the pine scented candles in july
cover the closet with christmas lights to
forget his clothes were ever there.
stop calling him.
toss the sunflowers rotting in their vase,
wreck the old road trip car
sell the parts to buy a bike
lose the bike to sticky fingers and an old cable lock.
walk to work.
scream that life has tainted it all and
let the rest spoil out of spite
cover your ears till your brother shuts up shuts up shuts the fuck up,
fight with the mother about fighting for fighting’s sake
scrape the last of your savings together to buy a dog,
give the dog away after a week
buy a fish.
touch your lips to the bodies of strangers
break every rule your father ever set
dye your hair to match your mother’s potting soil
knock down a wall in your bedroom with fists
get kicked out.
join a gym and take up swimming.
run until 10k feels like a stroll through central park.
move back in with your college roommate
backpack through bali to feel sunshine
buy new clothes for a job you already hate
let your hair fade back to red
meet a nice boy and teach him fear.

leave the white roses be.


"The Parton's Poem" by Annabella Lynch

I ask the man behind the bar
With the gun
And the scar

“How does one drink a Molotov cocktail?” 

He scrubs a whiskey glass
“Why do you ask?” 

Because I hear the people in the street
And the thumping of their feet

Because these floorboards creak with rage
Over the graves of boys who died underage

We agree to disagreement

This land’s demolition
Is an ideological collision

But I see their cries to end classism
As a rioter’s fascism

The jukebox plays the national anthem

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"Don't Fly" by Kamran Muthleb

A quail sat lazily in a meadow, her legs obscured by her feathery body. She was surrounded by tall grass, and the breeze tickled her crest as the clouds drifted by. She was about to fall asleep when she heard a loud rustle.

"Hello? Is someone there?" the quail asked.

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