Issue 2: We Are Still Afraid

Envisioning a future after 2020 seems difficult with the current state of the world, so we asked writers to send us poems that capture the present.

This issue is divided into three (loose) sections. The first revolves around people and includes poems about family and friends and strangers that have done something worth writing about. The middle part of this issue is filled with poems that talk about the ups and downs of quarantine, and how Covid-19 has altered the world we live in. The last section contains work that falls on the more creative side, including writing that was born out of quarantine, or writing that takes us beyond the walls of our rooms with detailed descriptions or imaginative and colorful scenarios.

The response to this issue of The Confessionalist shows once again that reading and writing confessional poetry is liberating and a form of self-care in difficult times. We all deserve to be heard, even if we physically cannot be around other people. We hope you take this issue and use it as a reminder that we are all holding our breaths together, waiting for these hard times to pass by and let us breathe peacefully again.

And when the sun rises we are afraid

it might not remain

when the sun sets we are afraid

it might not rise in the morning…

when we are loved we are afraid

love will vanish

when we are alone we are afraid

love will never return

and when we speak we are afraid

our words will not be heard

nor welcomed

but when we are silent

we are still afraid.

“A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde

Love Doesn't Talk?
Chidiebube onye Okohia

How do we communicate sympathy
when in all of our childhood
words never seeped
out of our hearts?

I always wrap my thoughts
with a ribbon, tie it up on a hanger
for your eyes to touch
like a telepathy of some sort, like
we were all born to talk
only by acting.

No matter how many many times
deaths pinned the fleece
of our presence close,
our heads & faces & eyes
always find
& search for a distraction
in the other direction
because distance makes us close
but closeness
makes the bamboo of our spirits taper.

I wish I could unwrap the sellotape
around my tongue
& confess all my tinned thoughts
but were there ever any sweet thoughts
to be decanted? 

Maybe if I was able to talk,
maybe I could have told
my mother’s sister’s husband
that I am sorry for not calling
when his daughter
passed away
that my mouth
was too heavy to float
in the ocean
of those touching, empathetic words.

Stoic
Leah Mueller

I dreamed of a
college boyfriend, a

high-functioning autistic guy
who showed less emotion

than usual as we dined
with a faceless couple
over gourmet food and cocktails.

Our conversation unremarkable,
my only thought: relief

because he
had postponed sex
until later. It didn’t matter 

one way or the other.
In the morning, my

husband brought me coffee,
complained about
his chemo nausea, 

and I tried my hardest
not to feel anything.

On Crumbling
Analysa Vivanco

My uncle looks at me with two defeated eyes
and says, I will be a drug addict for the rest
of my life.
I don’t love him less. I understand him more.

I, too, find myself choosing to crumble
because choosing destruction feels
so much safer than being its prisoner.

There is a power
in doing the bad thing, the wrong thing,
and knowing what flavor
of suffering will come from it. 

There is a power
in choosing precisely how, when, and why
you are crumbling. This doesn’t make
you stronger, but it does make
the bleeding bearable.

And sometimes there are days
when waking up feels less like
ruin and more like redemption and
when the suffering does not look
so sugar-coated anymore. 

There are days when even the crumbling
out-crumbles itself and then suddenly
there’s nothing left in sight
that satisfies as it shatters. 

When this happens, you’re almost safe.
And there’s nothing left to do but
wait and watch and reach
for the shiny bits around the rubble
that look you in the eyes and
promise that joy and belonging
are only an arm’s length away. 

Did they kill him?
JD Borgeson

I knew the money was running out,
And the man was stubborn as fuck.
He wanted to die in his own house, but
Did they kill him? 

They were both near the end, sure.
But he was talking last week.
I saw him walking last week.
Did they kill him?

The dogs couldn’t tell,
But the caretaker was vulgar.
Fuck if his eyes didn’t say everything,
Fuck if his eyes weren’t still greener than dad’s
And suddenly not eating.
Could it be all the morphine?
Did they kill him? 

I got to say goodbye,
But he writhed in discomfort.
I want to get up!
Did they kill him? 

He had no more gumption,
Tiresome diet of muffins,
Brain losing function,
Did they kill him? 

And when he passed,
I heard through text.
And when I heard,
I had already mourned.
And when he lowered,
I couldn’t help but look around,
Warm face wetness,
East Texas,
Slick ties and dresses,
Did they kill him?

A Moment of Hellfire
Prithiva Sharma 

It’s chilly.
Inside; outside it’s burning hellfire – you march with their spirit, with their rage.
Inside, you haven’t slept because your feet are cold and you’re waiting for someone to find your fuzzy socks for you.

(you haven’t told anyone you’re cold; it’s just you)

Your privilege is a lot like you – it speaks out in restaurants, in streets, in political theory classes.
In literature you read, some poetries you write, some colours you don’t paint.
It comes out in a shrill voice that stops as soon as you step inside your home. 

(in your house, your privilege is silence; it is a day without words or hands raised at you)

You tiptoe out of the ice that freezes your living room over whenever your father sits there.
You tiptoe into burning rage surging through the streets outside your house; it is not a march.
It is not a march in July, it is a community walking together in silence and distance,
Speaking words of colour that blur in your country and of the privilege that colours your house. 

(they like to talk race, not caste; in India, you want to talk both)

You have an extra overthrow blanket; you pull it over after you step out of the fire into the ice that refuses to melt. It was only a moment out in anger, but it was enough to warm your veins.
At least, while your house is cold there is an ice you cannot escape anymore.
Your feet can be warm under the overthrow; you can be warm.
In all this, your bed shouldn’t feel cold.

Spilling
Analysa Vivanco

It’s September again and I am still
under the most fragile of constructions. 

I look away. I hide my mess. I sadden with the seasons.
I stare at the sky wishfully;
my eyes beg the clouds to paint me back an answer
(they do not acknowledge my desperation). 

I go to work as the stable do;
I drop a latte-stained mug on the tiles,
and then another.
“An accident,” I proclaim, knowing their shattering was intentional. 

I hand Gordon his coffee,
and there is an endless tremble in his long-lived grasp—
his coffee spilling out the sides
all the way back to his seat. 

We each malfunction in our own ways,
but we take stumbling steps forward anyway.
Our survival is housed by the hope that maybe
our spilling will just clean itself up. 

Some say Gordon used to be a rocket scientist for NASA,
others say he is mourning and mute. 
Either way, there is a glow-soaked solace in his gaze at me;
I remember my reason for being here, for waking up today.

I am choosing to stop residing in my agony.
I am choosing to believe in more than your absence.
You are a dream, but I am awake now
and all of the windows are waiting for me.

***

Gordon picks up a penny, wobbles his way back up to me, and places it in my hand with his same fragile shake.

“Hold onto every bit of good you find.” he says
and I wish him well. 

The W
Jake Reid

The whole world is closed.
Jimmy just went brain dead.
South for the first time.
Roll something, please.

The heroes of Ilium
Murder each other senseless.
Bodies pile up, not far off from today.

A budget airline to and fro.
Austin to Newark and back again.

Like a running cricketer, scoring endless points.

How many fell back into a bottle
Since cloud wrapped around the earth?

I know one, however unimportant.
Jimmy now is dead dead.
Roll something, please.

And after all is told
The end result will likely be ten fold
That of the claims made by those gilded in gold
Speaking safely from ivory, and bold.

A List About My Father
Kushal Poddar

Perchance my knowledge
about my father
has the length of his shorts,
especially those he used for
his ever lengthening gym times,
then I smell sweat and think of him;
maybe I am not ignorant;
his ebony pipe and sailor’s cut
tobacco he ceased to smoke when
I, a child, tried to device some good time;
his constant rambling about
my mother’s health and mine;
his notebooks filled with detailed
prices of vegetables, meat and fish;
the table he broke with his bare fist
angered over something I must
have done; his typewriter,
the one he used to prepare briefs;
his penchant for sports and my failures;
Old Spice, of course; the tales of his adventures
when he escorted his leftist brother
to another state
snaking between policing and policies;
his flipping through my book of poetry, not reading really;
his flipping through the same again, not reading again.

Meandering
JD Borgeson

I’ve been meandering
Again,
In and out of existence.
I can usually
Catch myself slipping, but lately
I just slip.

I forget I have a father, and
My mother’s always missing.
The earth is less real to me
Than these celestial siblings.
I’ll float back when I need to,
When someone enters the room,
Or the cat pleads for my lap.
I can be back in a snap.
But one day I might not,
And my body will be left languishing
In the idle light of the night. 

This hollow head,
Pineal but penniless.
Where does it stare now?
The soul has left the earhole,
And the light excites the iris,
And the ankles never stop writhing.
Will this body ever find peace?
I love it like a brother,
And I hate to see it suffer. 

My body has a name and
My body has a gender;
I do not.
My body has back problems,
Bad joints in fingers,
But we both have trouble sleeping,
And we both have caused some harm.
We both could use some attention, maybe.
Our motives are dually unclear.

I’m getting dressed now.
I’m dressing me up in this
Satin blue homecoming suit,
With this gaudy feather in my hat
Because despite my qualms,
He’s always wanted one.
And he’s right,
I can’t help but notice we look dapper. 

And I don’t think he knows the truth.
I’m not sure he knows
What’s going to happen.
And I can’t just leave him in this chair, staring.
I can’t just leave him contorted on the floor.
But this soul,
Me,
I might not have a choice.
This soul is leaving all the time
And one day, it may just
Not come
Back.

Forward
Mika Adeniran Kuyoro  

Do I want to move forward
Leaps seem hard 
Staying in my comfort sounds much more appealing 
I love it here 
I know everything that surrounds me here 
Like the curves of your back as you walked away 
They’re burned in my memory, you see 
Like the flicker of color in brown eyes 
Not just any brown eyes 
Yours 
Moving forward means leaving you 
Physically you’re not here, but everything else of you is
I think I’ll just lie here a little while longer

Unreadable, Unwritable
Ross Walsh

I’m finding it hard, much harder
than usual, to pick up my
pen and let words flow like the rum
in your cup on that night in my
room. I drank tequila and spent
most of the evening just looking
at you. Well that’s not quite true. I
was listening too. You do talk

a lot when you’re drunk and I count
myself lucky that you’re talking
to me. But back to the problem.
You see, I’m a writer. It’s how
I’ve defined myself all of these
years. Not that good at much else, I’m
afraid. I’ve just taken my life
for a muse and then played with the

words until they sounded nice and
poetic. Perhaps this might be
pathetic, but despite the fact
I find you inspirational,
you’re giving me writer’s block. The
words I can think of just don’t do
you justice. I wouldn’t call great
Everest a hill, or the strong

Atlantic a lake. Why would I
lessen you in much the same way?
Or maybe the reason I can’t
write down how I feel is because
I don’t know. Or rather, I think
I do but I’m not too sure what
you feel when you picture me. Is
it our lips meeting under the

train tracks? You were in a rush, but
you still turned back and kissed me with
the screech of the train’s whistle in
our ears. The Furies of Hades
screaming at the wrong and sinful.
In that moment I became Mount
Rushmore, a seemingly endless
smile carved into my face. Or do

you sigh with exasperation?
Recoil at the memories of
laying across my bed at six
in the morning, my arms around
you and your hair a crimson veil
covering my face? You are so
unreadable, I’d have better
luck with a deck of tarot cards.

Though I fear I’d be more likely
to draw the Reaper or Devil
than the Lovers. Or perhaps the
Five of Cups? You know that I’m known
for being deep in my cups. You’re not
far behind if I’m honest. But
that’s just another bright star in
the sky that draws me towards you.

The truth is, writing down the way
I feel in some way makes it real.
Instead of a pen I hold a
tattoo gun, and I’m permanently
marking this down on my skin, a
constant reminder that I have
acknowledged the raw feelings you
bring forth in me, through my writing.

White Clothes
Tessa D’Alfonso 

When you live your life on the run,
you pick up some tricks.
You learn how to cover your tracks.
You need to be cunning,
manipulative,
even a liar.
You need to look into the eyes
of the one that you love and lie.
Lie.
Lie.
You need to be quick.
Sly.
Always have an alibi.
You need to frame others.
Swallow that sour guilt
and put the weapon in their bag
under their quilt.
Attack before you’re accused.
You need to wear that poker face
when you watch the innocent get cuffed
and shoved into the back of a car.
Red and blue.
Put your hand to your head
and fall to your knees
when the finger is pointed at you.
When you’re called to the stand,
raise your right hand
and cross your fingers behind your back.
When you’re cornered,
you will confess.
Wipe your memory the next day
and deny any claim against your name.
Run.
In the next town,
you strike again.
You get lazy.
Footprints coat the scene.
You flee.
You try to get clean.
Wash away the corruption in your bones
and the evil in your soul.
But the blood on your hands
is not the blood in your veins.
It stains.
And all your clothes are
white.

SEA AIR
H. R. Gibs

I forgot once or twice, in the lifetime since resting head to shoulder
How this company permits every gesture to linger so warmly
Like the fizz and crackle of convexing television screens.
Set afresh on the sandy banks of Ballyholme, we six take a dander
And skim stones so they dodge the lapping lips of the ocean. 

Huddled silhouettes padded outwards, lines blurred with fleece
Oxymoronic June spills extra wind with its borrowed light.
We thought we’d have to relearn how to empty our aching lungs
Of the long months of stale living room air. But rippling – or laughing –
The old sea pulls back over the darkening horizon and
Exhales diverge, dissipating without second thought. 

Now we’ll sit in the garden under a marriage of blue and orange light
Until it gets too cold to bear. One set of chattering teeth,
Three stifled yawns, and a sleepy surrender to a night that lives on.
There is a twist of crunched gravel under the rubber heel of a tyre.
I want to hold onto this love.

I Have a Confession
Joan Gerstein

I like isolation
I like wearing these masks
I have so many fewer
Tedious beauty tasks 

Foundations for body and face
Retired to closets and drawers
Excuses no longer needed
To eat out with bullies or bores 

My toenails as sharp as talons
Fingernails have turned into claws
My trash is filled with pantyhose
Sexy undergarments and bras 

All my cosmetics lay low
Drying up from so much disuse
Cobwebs encompass high heels
Feet fine from lack of abuse 

Outside sunglasses not needed
My eyebrows are shade enough
My stomach is soft all the while
My elbows and soles are rough 

Whiskers are coming out gray
To match the hair on my head
My IQ has surely shrunk
While the rest of me has spread

Curiosity & Despair
Zac Kline 

I wake up every morning now 
with this strange new feeling 

of curiosity & despair 

I wonder: 
How am I going to fill all this time? 
I wonder: 
What will amaze me today? 

I can turn off the critic 
and turn off the sink or
turn the sink back on because 
I have washing up I always need to do 

I leave dishes from last night’s dinner
to clean in the morning;

I never did that before now 

I now notice birdsongs, 
but won’t learn the names 
of any of the birds

27TH DAY OF QUARANTINE
Serena Piccoli

Oh my god
he says scratching his wall with metallic nails
the last breath of the last human on earth 

While a happy boar
is cheerfully strolling down the city main road
finally revenging them all

Body
Adritanaya Tiwari 

I feel like a body
In a casket
6ft worth of dirt
Between me
And the world
Don’t know how much
Time has passed
Don’t know who
I was before

I feel like a body
In a casket
Under the lid
I lie
Hands folded
Legs straight
My face doesn’t matter
Only the eyes
Don’t know if they’re open
Don’t know if they’re closed
Either way
I see nothing
Sometimes
I hear voices above
Voices, conversations meant for me
Of the very few who knew me
Like I wanted to be known
Real, Genuine
Sometimes
I hear them place flowers
On my grave
That only reach me when
They wilt with time
And join the dirt above me
There’s no way I can see them
But I hope those are orchids
I’ve always loved orchids 

I feel like a body in a casket
Except
I’m alive
I’d say I’m a kind of pretty
I’d say I’m a kind of smart
I have a smile and laugh
A mind of substance
Two hands and legs
Though they all fail me these days
I have a beating heart
And a soul
I have two eyes and a vision
Though all I see is the dark
And all I know is pain. 

Eternities pass me by
Wondering if I’ll ever remember
What it felt like to live
Be normal
Happy, Healthy
Getting on my feet without
Swaying, fainting, falling
Working without
Unadulterated agony
Moving without
Limping, crying
Trying to amount to anything without
Medication running through
This curse of a body
And speaking without wanting to scream. 

I feel like a body
In a casket
I wonder when
I’ll find the will
To look for a way out in this darkness
To summon all my energy
And maybe search for a flashlight
Switch it on
For maybe then
I’ll finally know
If my eyes
Are really open.

Alive And Breathing
Ann Maria Anil

The city that never sleeps is sleeping now
It’s quiet these days

And I’m loving this world once more

I remember the last time I prayed
A prayer that rose one month before

Between a scream and a plea
Between shut lids and clenched fists

At 2am to keep the world still

Time unmoving immobile
For just one month

For people like me to catch up
To the hustle and bustle that left us behind

It’s quiet now and I’m finally learning to breathe again
It took a pandemic to teach that there’s lots left to see

Places I haven’t been to
Coral reefs and the call of mountains

I am yet to build my house in Pondicherry
I am yet to live

The decayed parts are rejuvenating
My soul is flowering again

There’s spring now
And not endless winter

Lush green and sea blue
Are my new colours

Is it Morpheus or Thanos
Who put the world to sleep?

The still roads are a welcome sight
The laughter from houses is my playlist now

The shouts within these walls are hurtful
But I don’t mind them

If this is what it means
To acknowledge each other’s existence once more

My father has finally fought the maze
To find the way to my mother’s cage

The slippery noodles he made could have been poison
And we would still welcome them

If it meant seeing him cook again

I’m not lost or suffocated anymore
I’m within these walls

Nothing has changed yet everything has

My dreams are now about walking barefoot on the grass
And drinking endlessly from the streams

That reminded me of the perks of drowning before

It’s odd
It’s weird

I’m grateful for this world once more
I
‘m not so scared of it now

It’s quiet again and this time it feels good

Almost like the world is holding its breath
To hug once more

The Cage
Audrey Obienda

Like many others out there, one had a plan.
To travel, work, spend time with friends, to earn and save, and earn some more. We are after all – human.
Start of the calendar year, the list is slowly getting ticked off.
Work applications in progress, travel with friends – time well spent. 

Comes the pandemic, everything was put on hold.
The job is still a job – cold and empty. Income became many dreams away, the bank account fizzled out faster than a dew drop on the Sahara.
Not a penny nor a grain of rice from whichever institutions – promises afterall are mere words thrown down on a deep dried-up well.
Much loneliness in a city full of strangers, struggling for a morsel of bread. 

As humans, we adapt.
Ways we invent to address an issue:
Memes thrown to and fro with friends and families only through the internet, learn new hobbies or get back to long-forgotten ones – it worked for the time being.

As the days drag into weeks and weeks into months,
it’s no longer fun to say you’ve known where those ants escaped to with the crumbs.
Or that you could see the tiniest cobweb on the ceiling with its final victim – the same spider that built it.
By now, the four-cornered wall brought despair, anxiety and depression – slowly becoming prisoners of our minds.
And after this long struggle, after the words spoken forcing us into the cage of isolation, the same authorities are telling you to venture into the world that had became strange and unsecure. 

With paranoia stirring inside – will one leave the cage even after it is opened?

Bricks on Chest
Vanessa Ramsay

Bricks on chest is a metaphor
For the ravishings of covid nineteen
I felt it two months ago
Strapped to my little apartment
Strapped to my bed

Stymied by this new 
Dissenting pain
An oppression
A weighted side effect 

Today is different but
How similar is that feeling
Of a lurking force
Pummeling sternums 

The overused metaphor
My heart  
Is sinking
Like an overturned ship
Water is a giant unsided power
The largest being so no one is coming on top 

The silent burden  
Hovers on my chest
I wait for it to pass but it lingers
A stagnant stone beating me down 

It reminds me of what it’s like
To catch a virus in a pandemic

Afraid of our bodies
Megha Nayar

We are not black
but we’re not white either.
There are a billion and a half of us
here, where I live,
and we’re collectively terrified
of the melanin in our skins. 

We are a nation
where women riders on scooters
dress like soldiers going to war.
Headgear of scarves and shield of gloves,
they’re wrapped like mummies
in oppressive heat,
the sweat on their lips
a small price to pay
to remain fair and lovely.
We are a nation of beauty salons
that have added de-tan facials
to their portfolio of guilt trips,
we are a nation of browns
who’d spend a month’s salary
to become ivory.

All my life
I have kept an extra pair of socks
in the glove compartment of my bike
because I’ve learned
it takes six months
to undo the damage of one impromptu ride. 

These last four months
though,
I have been a houseplant.
I reach out to the world
from behind a virus-proof screen,
I’m scared of my neighbours,
my colleagues, and my friends,
so I’ve stopped stepping out for my evening walks.
I pace up and down instead,
alone, at the mercy of my thoughts
in the darkness of our corridor.

They say every lockdown has a silver lining.
Mine, apparently, is that I’ve shunned the streets
long enough
to erase every trace of the sun.
I did not realise it though,
till I met the auntie next door,
the one who grows onions for her hair
and tomatoes for her face.
She took one look
at my long-sheltered limbs
and exclaimed,
“Why, that’s what you really look like!”
It was meant as a compliment,
her eyes danced with delight,
almost as if my changed complexion
was for both of us, a promotion
to a higher echelon of neighbourly prestige.

I smiled and said thank you
because mom says you should be nice
when people are kind to you,
but it’s been a few days now
and I’m still wondering
what is so kind
about someone telling me
that I have gone from
‘Soft Opal’ to ‘Lush Linen’
on the foundation scale.
I’m not any smarter, or wiser,
just fairer,
and it has no value whatsoever. 

All around me, people
are going to their graves
without notice;
yesterday’s dreams
become today’s nothing.
You’d think we would learn
in times like these
that the only thing that matters
is to live in peace,
and yet, here we are,
mapping our skins –
the homes we were born with –
with shade cards,
and all I can say
is that I feel very sorry for us
and all I can do
is pray we get better soon.

Compassion Strides
Dyna Gwen

Hatred has sprouted through our wholeness.
Reopen old wounds to heal,
And compassion will find you.

Your soul will fall to compromise,
Shattering your candy-shelled heart—
Expelling a love, a love signaling for unity.

Fractaled light shines from prisms. 
Blindly accept a stranger’s trauma
And see your own brokenness.

Restore your own power and
Grant yourself enough love
To forgive those who stole your spark.

Leave the self behind to embrace another’s path.
Invoke passion for a better humanity,
And compassion is achieved.

uncertainty
Octavio López

ants are carrying pieces of
my favorite flower,
refashioning grace into
a livelihood and i
am livid to
think that
whatever a blossom means
to me
makes no difference in the
grand scheme of
the ruthless and that
whirlpools and submerged noises of
the river are
just movements,
                                                  not secret signals.
after all the hours spent
in
              contemplation,
where will the endeavor sit?
years ago i was
working all day
carrying stones under the
merciless sun and
now i am
only remembering all
that as the cold
wind enters.
in the distance
it is
about to rain.

THE OBSTINATE MONKEYS
Serena Piccoli

The chant of the waiting keeps echoing
empty – in the thick jungle
just me and an offended Monkey 

I swim white under blue fruit
the most stupid one is me and she knows it.
Sometimes we eat leaves and spit autumn
then she scatters pomegranate from my hand 

At night we look at each other
Me, Monkey, Moon
til the first gets crossed eyed
and the second sits and bides 

Every now and then we remember the Woman of Silences:
Moon says that she’d play the flute for her
Monkey insists on saying that she couldn’t hear
(behind red plants I’m dreaming like Rousseau)
The other monkey insists on saying she could hear her
(the curly ram on the black rabbit)
“I can hear her, and see her, I keep waiting!” 

oh, ash hush, sweet charm
she’ll love you till she flies

The Monkey is rite: the most stupid one is me.

From Sin to Swans
Ross Walsh

Sin seems such an
archaic term
to throw about
when the life we
lead comes under

scrutiny. But
I feel it’s apt
for myself, and
will be used when
my name is said

long after I’m
dead. It would be
pathetic to
shunt the blame to
the object of

my devious
carnality.
Instead, I’ll say
I’m broken. I
must be. That, or

I fixated
too much in my
youth on swans, their
perfect unions,
and their endless

love. Til death do
they part. Humans
were never meant
to emulate
that life, perhaps.

At least in sin,
I can echo
the wisest choice
in the life of
swans. Their silence.

Once
H. R. Gibs

Once I had a wilting body with pale, moony lines and limbs.
I held it hostage and locked up my skeleton in a cage too small,
Like Alice when she ate too much cake and burst through her ceiling.
There was violence to how I chopped off my hair in huge hunks.
How I could turn Reubens’ rosebud cheeks to decaying mulch with too much indoor air. 

Stillness rarely offers fuel for fire.
I understand this longing.
Before the world could be discovered with words,
I sought to swim in the warm waters.
Now I sit on the roof and try to taste the sea.

leaf from a diary of yawning things
Martins Deep

within cells, mistaken for maternity wards,
are the silent childbirths of death

here, its amniotic fluid broke with rainclouds;
a petrichor lingered that repelled just spirits
beckoning children to the playground. 

“unto us, a child is born…”
this issue was an abiku:
one who laughs in the voice of wailing sirens
as it gathers rotten windfalls of names
into a punnet.
this child who found my brother’s windpipes
to score a sonata of death throes. 

In this season;
i. steeples, minarets and sceptres
  are beaten into swabs,

ii. fear, with an archaeologist’s round-ended shovel
         disinters gods buried beneath leaves of holy books,

iii. despair nudges me to subscribe
 to a mortician’s YouTube channel.

While yet the dollar sign fails to
swirl into Moses’ brazen serpent,
we find burrows in our palms to bury our faces.
& when next it rains,
it would be earth grieving for swallowing
a nest of famished, yawning things. 

*Footnote:
Abiku is a word in Yoruba for ‘spirit child’. It refers to a child who must die and repeatedly be reborn again and again.

garden fire
Monica Robinson

in a cocoon spun by a butterfly there is a garden, and in the middle of the garden there is
a sunflower on fire. the effect is visually appealing and also extremely dangerous – the fire will spread
to the entire garden and then our food will be nothing but ash, and what will we eat then?
when the rest of the world is dreaming those cherry tomatoes straight from the vine, and all we have
to show is a pile of ash and a butterfly-cocoon-garden. when you wake up tomorrow
you’ll realize you’ve dreamed it, but a dream so real if felt like the truth and therefore
you remembered every detail, like, your dog chewing on a blackberry brambles before the fire
burnt the garden to nothing but ash, but the nothing was more like one thing
because the house was still standing and wasn’t that a relief? the house, the basement flooded, again,
but it really was okay because it had happened so many times before and we knew how to deal with it
by then. no, you’re thinking of the wrong house. the second one, the in-the-middle-one,
we spent the longest in it, long enough to go from sharing a bedroom with your sister
to having one of your own and a door-jam full of measurements and memories.
how does that Whitman poem go? they put it in a YA novel and it was never quite the same again, but
still good. the house that was still standing, no not that one, the second one, the in-the-middle-on,
thank god none of the piles of books on your floor caught the fire from the garden because that
would have set the whole house up in flames and you would have lost everything you knew, right there,
in the time it takes a fire to engulf a house. to consume a house. to eat a house. how long does it take
a fire to eat a house? for all of the safety drills in school, i never heard that question asked, but it feels
essential. shouldn’t we know? just to be prepared, i mean. if the garden can catch once, it can catch again.
look, it’s catching again now. another dream, but you can’t remember the details this time. or if you did,
they’re gone now. up in smoke. ha. the fire is creeping up the tree trunks now, taking the oaks one by one,
the pines next, because they were furthest away and closest to the fence. it just so happens that 10 minutes
and 23 seconds is how long it takes a fire to eat a house, at least. the third one, this time. with the sky-blue
bedroom and the rooftop windows and both of your parent’s cars in the garage. no one was home but you,
standing there in the grass doing nothing. you’re rooted. a tree now too. the fire is coming for your next.
how long does it take a fire to eat a tree? as we have just learned by watching our forest of oaks go up in
flames, 5 minutes and 32 seconds. exactly. i counted, on my fingers and started over and over and over
and over again, but it’s accurate, i’m sure of it. the flames are at your feet now. the fire has turned you to
ash, too. and what will become of us now?

Sermons of Sin
Ross Walsh

I gaze into the crystal ball
and see what my life could have been
had I courage to speak my mind
and cast aside sermons of sin.
Throw off the chains, answer the call
that leads us to become entwined.

You never asked what way my heart
was dragging me. Alas, too late
to sing all those unsung love songs
behind the bars of my ribcage
that howl within now we’re apart.
A sentence fitting for my wrongs.

I should be happy, this I know.
And in a way I really am.
Not knowing if you felt the same
however, leaves my life a sham.
I never wanted you to go
and yet you did, it’s such a shame.

AN OPTIMIST'S CURRICULUM
Colin James

                 At the conclusion of
                 Orson Welles’s Othello,
                 Iago is hoisted
                 almost to the ramparts
                 left to decompose
                 in his elegant cage.
                 Not unlike my neighbor
                 waving to me,
                 and I acknowledge him
                 sometimes, not sure if
                 he is scratching his head
                 or fighting off them
                 flesh eating flies.

Note to Self
Analysa Vivanco

Throw or be thrown, slam or be slammed, be the hammer or be the nail. Are you the predator? Are you prey? Will you love me? Will you break me? Either way, I should probably sleep with the light on now. Listen for the gentle humming. Listen for redemption. Do you hear that? The sound of half-crumbling walls so resistant that we don’t even know who built them in the first place. Nervousness hidden by silence, gunshots masked by fireworks, violence dressed like tenderness. This is for the people drinking straight from the bottle. This is for the people using both hands to wipe their eyes. This is for the people staying out too late, windows fogged, hungry for anything with a heartbeat. This is for the people driving on a dead-end street. This is for the people who are silenced too soon. This is for the people whose demand for the freedom to breathe is too much of a request. This is for the people who America just won’t stop bruising. This is for the people too numb to even bruise. This is for the people with feelings but no names for them. This is for the daydreamers and the non-dreamers. This is for the new moon, she is luminous but she is somewhere else, somewhere that isn’t here. This is for the people made up equally of love and fear. This is for the people who sing to themselves in the mirror. This is for the mirror itself. Look at you, look how far you’ve come. 


Contributors – 

Adritanaya Tiwari is a dental student from India who has been published in Nightingale and Sparrow Magazine and Live Wire. She spends her time making strange analogies and calming her artsy alter-ego to focus on never-ending syllabus.

Instagram | Twitter 


Analysa Vivenco is a recent graduate from UC Irvine with an English degree. Her journey as a writer began when she saved up piggy-bank dollars as a 6 year old and purchased her very own diary. No one was allowed to touch it or look at it; it was her secret world where she began writing songs, poems and sadnesses that crept up on her when the lights were off. As a 24 year old, she now enjoys baking, wine drinking, and naps on the beach. She still sees writing as her medicine, escape, and favorite universe to exist in. 

Instagram | Twitter


Ann Maria Anil is a Political Science Honours student at University of Delhi, India. Currently in her final year of college, she enjoys reading, Indian classical music, and old Malayalam movies. 

Instagram


Audrey Obienda the author – always a struggling one. Struggles to be heard by those even with ears wide open, but as hope doesn’t cost a dime, letters will continue to form words until borrowed intellect and life will be reclaimed by the Creator.

Chasing Death | Smashwords Profile | WordPress


Chidiebube onye Okohia is a Pushcart-nominated Nigerian writer, poet and artist. He is the author of the chapbook, Of Dark Tides and Darkling Times. A graduate of English from the University of Lagos, some of his works have been published by fresh.ink, Counterclock, Farafina, Kalahari Review, and elsewhere. 

Twitter


Colin James has a book of poetry, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press.

Resisting Probability 


Dyna Gwen resides in the Arizona desert and is the poetess for The GLoW Project (Greater Love of Women), an effort to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse and to connect trauma warriors who heal through poetry. Dyna strives to lead a vegan lifestyle, loves kind people, the planet, animals, and is on a personal journey to becoming a better human each day. Dyna’s interests include poetry, travel, virtual reality, quantum physics, metaphysics, and Taoism.

Blog | Facebook: @GreaterLoveofWomen and @dynawrites | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube 


H. R. Gibs, also known as Hannah Gibson, is a Belfast journalist based in Dublin in pursuit of an MA. Hannah claims she is no poet but could try if only her ego would let her.

Twitter  


Jake Reid is an unpublished poet of 21 years. His work is highly charged, personal, yet universal. He writes poems and makes films, primarily.


JD Borgeson is an amateur writer and engineer based out of Little Rock, Arkansas. His work tends to range from deeply personal and introspective observation to describing the hauntingly surreal experiences of a person living with anxiety and past addiction in midwestern America.


Joan Gerstein has been writing poetry since elementary school and, since her retirement as an educator and psychotherapist, has had time to hone her craft. Originally from NY, Joan has lived in CA since 1969 and tries to find levity in our current crisis. 


Kushal Poddar, a poet and father, edited a magazine – Words Surfacing and authored seven volumes of poetry, including ‘The Circus Came To My Island,’ ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals,’ ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems,’ and ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel.’ 

Amazon Profile


Leah Mueller’s most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere.

Instagram | Twitter


Martins Deep is a visual artist/poet whose creative expressions are deeply passionate about the African experience of the boy child. His pieces tell the stories of the voiceless, faceless, and downtrodden of society.  He captures these true, relatable scenes/condition of boys in their struggles for survival. 

Twitter


Megha Nayar is a language coach from Ahmedabad, India. She spends half her time teaching French and English. The other half, she devotes to learning Spanish, taking long walks, and pondering the purpose of human existence. Writing is her validation and catharsis. She was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019.

Twitter | Tumblr Blog


Mika Adeniran Kuyoro is a writer and actor. She is a firm believer in Black joy, creativity, and light. Most recently, she has been writing essays and poetry about relationships, intimacy, and identity.

Instagram | Twitter


Monica Robinson is a Philadelphia queer poet and artist. She combined mediums to create fresh works of exploratory literature, often inspired by the midwestern gothic genre and the small town in which she grew up. She invites you to follow her artistic pursuits at www.mrobinsonwrites.com

Earth Is Full Go Back HomeInstagram | Twitter 


Octavio López  (Comitán, Chiapas, México – 1995) is a music composition student at National Autonomous University of México (UNAM), currently living in Mexico City.

He writes as a way of approaching sounds and symbols other than with music. His pieces are usually inspired by literature and poetry.

YouTube Channel (where some music can be found)


Prithiva Sharma is a Masters student from India, and an Editor for Teen Belle Mag and Nightingale & Sparrow. She spends her time reading fanfiction and procrastinating on everything else. Her work has previously appeared in Lihaaf Journal and Wellington Street Review, among others.

Instagram | Linktree  


Ross Walsh is a journalist and poet based in Ireland. His poems have previously been published in The Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland.

Twitter


Serena Piccoli (she/her) is a poet, playwright, performer, and artistic director.

Her political chapbook “silviotrump” was published in 2017 by Moria Poetry, Chicago, USA. Her poems have been published in USA (giallolit, Clay Literary, Wine Cellar Press), in UK (Abridged, Forever Endeavour, In the red 18), Italy and Romania.

She prefers to write about political, environmental, and social issues. She is a lesbian transfeminist human rights advocate.

Twitter | Website


Tessa D’Alfonso is studying writing and editing at Swinburne University of Technology. She has numerous works published by Vocal. She is an aspiring author.

Instagram | Twitter  


Vanessa Ramsay is a lover of words. She discovered Emily Dickinson in her teens and has been passionate about poetry ever since. Her simple pleasures include sleeping in, making edibles, and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while talking your ear off. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner in crime, Ryan.


Zac Kline is a writer based in New York. His plays have been produced in London and New York. He is in the ongoing advanced poetry group at The Writers Studio in New York and is the co-artistic director of Missing Bolts Productions.


Staff –

Martín Gorostiola es un fotógrafo independiente mexicano que radica en la periferia
de la CDMX, en donde actualmente documenta la pandemia por Covid-19, también
realiza fotografía callejera y de conciertos. 

Puedes conocer más de su trabajo en Instagram, Twitter y Facebook. →

https://www.instagram.com/martingorostiola/


Martín Gorostiola is a Mexican freelance photographer based in the periphery of CDMX (Mexico City) where he currently documents the pandemic caused by Covid-19. He also captures street photography and concert photography. 

Instagram | Twitter


Heidi Miranda is the Editor-in-Chief of The Confessionalist. She studies literature and has published poems in both online and in-print journals. Apart from writing poetry, she likes to capture dramatic landscape photography, collect stationary, and quote from her favorite poems and stories. She was encouraged to create the zine after an unsuccessful search for places to submit her own confessional poetry to. 

Instagram 

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