Unconditional

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By Toni G.

He wrapped his arms around me then
his cheek resting heavy on the top of my head
as he hugged me in a kind of embrace
that were he to let me go
my entire being would spill out onto the floor
like rice grains falling from a ripped plastic bag
That was when
I knew
that I
his sinful son
was loved unconditionally
no matter what the vice president thought
about boys like me.

         
Toni G. writes because there’s just so much that needs to be said.

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Mountains

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By Conor Kilbride

The mountains have grown
Alongside humanity
They are growing still
Like civilization
This is how it will go
One never-ending show
The peak will breach the sky
We have passed that
Now we can fly
And when humans fall
The mountains will be there
Still growing

        
Conor Kilbride writes “to pretend I am a more serious person than I am in reality.”

Mosquitoes

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By Dianne Moritz

Wasting no time for seduction,
they move, make the hit. ZZT!

They need you like air, blood,
and your skin wells red, blotchy …

fierce itch a constant reminder.
Some men are like mosquitoes.

You’re walking down the street
on a sunny day, eating ice cream:

chocolate almond, sure, your favorite.
A guy whistles, calls out, “Hey,

Babe! Love your ass!” As if you care.
Then you’re standing at the water cooler

and a co-worker steps too close, cops
a feel. Or perhaps you’re relaxing, reading

The Rubaiyat at 3 AM when the phone rings.
Heavy breathing shatters the silence …

           
Dianne Moritz writes to make sense of life and love.

Neither Nor

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By Andrew J. Shields

He pulls his hat down on his brow
to not look in your eyes
and will not tell you how he came
to look the way he does.

His eyes have never been a window.
His body tells some story
that nobody has ever heard,
though everyone still thinks

they know what happened. Even I
can never tell if he
is laughing at or with us. Maybe
it’s not a laugh at all.

          
Andrew writes “to tell some story that nobody has ever heard.”

Mother Always Asked Uncle Art to Babysit

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By Carol Christine Fair

His avuncular fingers
plunged deep
into my
girlish flesh,

Plowed furrows and planted seeds of rage
that grew into Sequoias
stretching upward
toward the sky
to scratch his deeds into the crisp cerulean
To draw the eyes of my
Daunted mother, demanding that she countenance
His crimes just once before cancer claimed her.
Having at last seen, slump in shame and pain, and
Beg her only daughter for absolution.

         
Carol Christine Fair is an associate professor with the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She has published poetry in the Dime Show Review, The Bark and has pieces forthcoming in Clementine Unbound and Badlands Literary Journal.

Shattered

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By Laura McGinnis

Which shall shatter first?
My hopes and dreams?
Or the glass ceiling?

I see my future.
But how do I break through,
When I’m on the bottom, looking up?

By some miracle, I shatter the ceiling.
I crawl up, bloodied hands and knees,
To be greeted with, “What are you doing here?”

The ceiling is gone,
But the hearts and minds won’t change.
Waiting out attrition I pull up others,
Undesirables,
Through the shattered ceiling.
The balance of power
Swings into a flat line.
Equal numbers,
Equal authority,
Equal powers.

I shatter the ceiling,
Not my hopes and dreams.

           
“I write because there are words inside me that need to get out. And I’m the only one who can free them from my mind, releasing them to the wild, to sow ideas in other gardens.” – the poet