By Hokis

----

As creatures we are nothing more, or less,

than skinned river beds.

Winding the terrain, hosting, enabling, and

quickening drifters and dwellers alike.


Then, one day we take a step out.

Stretch the potential of our watered down selves


We recite our vows;

the church, a damn

The witness, the land roots

The announcement of confluence proclaimed

in the familiar sound of the wise owl’s song.


Hokis is an American poet of Armenian descent.  She is senior curator of Headline Poetry & Press, a regular contributor to Reclamation Magazine, and featured in numerous anthologies. Her debut collection "Unbecoming" is a poet memoir sharing her personal rise from political trauma. You can find more about her, her published work, and Unbecoming at hokis.blog.


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Updated: Jul 19, 2020

By Joann Zhang

----

Carry it like a sprain

or a missing limb; absence

more pronounced than its being.

I could fly in the lightness--

God, how could I live

down cast iron clad, trapped

in panes, glowing squares

like a glimpse or a cell.

Look at the spliced branch

beneath the window, full of buds

and the raucous bird.

Carry it like your newborn,

it's still your soul and joy.

Zhang is the creator of LoveNote Poetry.


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By Jonathan Li

----

Loud coughing, clearing throats,

bouncing echoes off vaulted ceilings.

Mounted spotlights click—

a buzzing, like fabric-on-fabric,

faint flitters of the beam flickering on…


Oh.

They’re watching,

don’t forget: “no mistakes.”


Voices are muddling:

was that a dissonance?

a falter in the performance?


Now frozen wire squeezes,

barbs embedding themselves

in his heart.


Causing missed

Pulses—

skittering, swinging

rhythm landing on

offbeats…

Like the jazz

playing.


And suddenly

it’s not hard to imagine—

their panting

their crisp suits wrinkling

golden-clasped belts missing…


—better maintain a steady composure,

Don’t forget: they’re listening.


But it’s not

hard to imagine—


that salty, metallic liquid

dripping––

the business phone

left ringing

the staggering walk

next morning

the back that won’t stop burning.

—But hey, don’t forget to keep smiling.


Li is a branch and California state honored pianist, as well as a 2020 California Arts Scholar.

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