This month we offer changed names, the flame of fierce determination, and a body resistant to loving.
Next month we continue to:
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We kissed cats,
Puked mother tongue,
Donned their outfits,
Learnt their language,
Read their books,
Talked through nostrils,
We did not, fit, in.
Owen Habel, born in Nakuru, Kenya, is the author of the poetry collection “OUR DIRTY LINENS” He studied Computer Information Systems at the Kenya Methodist University. He has won several awards at the Kenya National Drama Festivals. He tweets at @owenhabel2
Ode to What Was
Dear twisted child
Tell me why your skin tears itself asunder,
Why the cacophony of crackling grows common and cruel,
Even after discarding that which rent flesh and tore away dexterity.
Skill is not born
It is forged in the flame of fierce determination,
But tempered weapons may be stolen, or slip, or shatter,
Grow disused not by choice but by a mandate from necessity.
Yet your rusted tools
Shine and shimmer in shifting half-light,
Casting fragments of their former glory like shadows on a wall,
Their efficacy reshaped to grant some lasting shred of tranquility.
Julia “Jett” Barker (any pronouns) is a voice actor, audio engineer, and musician based in Los Angeles, California. Jett’s voice can be heard in a growing hoard of videogames, visual novels, audio dramas, and original animated works. They are a graduate of Mills College and the American Conservatory Theater’s San Francisco Semester program. In their spare time, Jett enjoys strength training, acquiring knowledge, and yelling enthusiastically about Tolkien’s legendarium. You can find them on Twitter @barkervoiceover or on jettbarker.com.
Ode To Unrequited Love
the wind is an encroacher, look at how it punctuates
my solitude with the melody of the soft jazz music from
the other side of the river. see the remnant of the wine
we shared last summer staring at me. i’m not going to
drink it, no. i swear i’m going to make it last until we’re
drinking out of the same glass, staring at the silvery sky.
three words frozen on the top of my tongue, not to be
spoken nor sung, not to be whispered to anyone until i
sponge your cologne off my skin. how swiftly you
anticipated my next love poem with no thought that it
was my outpouring. i considered this a disservice to my
heart. sometimes we lose too much more than we gain.
now we only share mutual friends, the distance between
us as long as the Nile, this heartbroken memory that
travels with me wherever i go. i still watch the old couple
on the metal bench portraying what our 2055 would’ve
been, would you blame me if i’d wished for our longevity?
perhaps, this feast of pleasure wasn’t for people like us.
if i begin to peel off my skin I would see the prints of you
tattooed unto my bones. i’d always told you that my breath
becomes rosewater when it catches the taste of your laughter,
these and more were the many reasons that watered this seed
of our possibility. if this is to be a story told under the shade
of trees would you say cupid went rogue? chase me not
dear memory, let me mourn the burns that comes with
ephemerality, let me mourn my shattering, these pieces
that have amalgamated into a body resistant to loving.
Joshua Effiong is a writer and artist from the Örö people of Nigeria, studying Science Laboratory Technology at University of Calabar. His works has appeared/forthcoming in Shallow Tales Review, Rough Cut Press, Madrigal Press, Titled House, Augment Review, Selcouth Station Press, Rising Phoenix Review, etc. Author of a poetry chapbook Autopsy of Things Left Unnamed(2020). Find him on Instagram @josh.effiong and Twitter @JoshEffiong