PRESENTING ISSUE FOUR
THE GLOBAL YOUTH REVIEW
2 0 2 2
ISSUE IV 2022 Y.
M I R R O R
O F S O C I E T Y
T H E G L O B A L Y O U T H
R E V I E W
Steven Christopher McKnight
Ivaana Mitra C.
Eneida P. Alcalde
Fasasi Abdulrosheed Oladipupo
Oladejo Abdullah Feranmi
For advertising enquiries contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Art: Milada Vigerova
Magazine Designer: Sena Chang
A table of contents and a letter from
the founder —
Pulling back the curtains of
Shattered fragments that make up
the mirror of society —
Mending the shattered; healing from
the broken shards
Featured writers and
THEGLOBALYOUTHREVIEW.COM | LITERARY MAGAZINE
WRITTEN BY SENA CHANG | A note of
gratitude to all editors, contributors, and
team members involved
WRITTEN BY NATASHA BREDLE | A freeverse
poem detailing one's growth after a
series of tribulations in life
WRITTEN BY ADRIJA JANA | A powerful
poem placing emphasis on the centuries-long
virus of racism
WRITTEN BY ILANA DRAKE | An bittersweet
free-verse poem focusing on
themes of loss and nostalgia
A comprehensive list of all 23 contributors
of the magazine, with biographies that
provide further insight into their craft
WRITTEN BY HALLE EWING | A story
grappling with themes of identity loss and
WRITTEN BY MATT HSU | A short story
that describes a reality where babies are
sold, covering themes of racism, commodification,
and human trafficking.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA KOLANKIEWICZ | A
poem focusing on the importance of individuality
in a world filled with preordained
WRITTEN BY JEN ROSS | A poignant story
highlighting the issue of child marriage
through the portrait of a young girl
LIFE IS A STAGE!
WRITTEN BY SHEEKS BHATTACHARJEE |
A critique of the growing disaffection and
disconnect present amongst members of
WRITTEN BY JAIDEN A. | A piece exploring
the inadequacies and failures of the
modern criminal justice system through a
The cover art for this issue used
a photograph taken by Milada
Vigerova. She can be found on
Instagram at @milivigerova.
here is no doubt that the modern
political system is shrouded by
corruption, cronyism, and nepotism—
all hidden within the everyday
idiosyncrasies of life. From Putin's unprovoked
invasion into Ukraine to the January 6th Capitol
riots that threatened the very concept of
democracy within the U.S., 2022 has blatantly
revealed the many inefficiencies and corruptive
structures present within the political system
that masquerade themselves as justice, equity,
and other morales. The many issues that plague
our politics and justice system have come out of
the shadows this year, demonstrating to us the
fragility and temporariness of democratic ideals.
Yet, many issues have still remained untouched,
hidden behind curtains that are rarely pulled
back in modern society.
In this issue, we set out to find bold
writers and artists unafraid to pull back
this rhetorical curtain—steadfast in their
commitment to speaking truth to power and
shattering traditionally hegemonic narratives.
Having closely read the works of each of our
contributors, I firmly believe that we have
achieved this goal through the powerful
storytelling of our writers and poets. Reading
through this issue, you’ll see the braveness and
freshness with which these selected contributors
face societal issues such as child marriage,
racism, and commodification. These stories
collectively reach into a rawness and profundity
rarely found in today’s society; these stories
plant a seed of hope within me that someday, our
society will stand upon the pillars of true justice,
equity, and transparency, instead of the distorted
definitions of these morales that we have created
in our world today. So, without further ado, I
warmly welcome you into issue four of The Global
Youth Review—a space abundant with talent,
rawness, and truth about the most pressing
matters facing us today.
We warmly welcome you into The
Global Youth Review's fourth issue,
which focuses on what lies behind
the curtains of society.
By THE GLOBAL YOUTH REVIEW
BY ERICK BUTLER
" One of the most destructive things
that's happening in modern society
is that we are losing our sense of the
bonds that bind people together."
Alexander McCall Smith
"...rocking gently back and forth /
in the wake / of our wasted youth,
BY JONATHAN CHEN
G R O W
G R O W
G R O W
WAS THE WORLD EVER MEANT
TO BE TOUCHED BY OUR
BY AARN GIRI
By NATASHA BREDLE
Battle wounds displaced, we are
a myriad of lovers, seekers in/out of touch
with the world, but tell me
was the world
to be touched by our calloused hands?
Purpled fingers, bleeding cuticles
charred nails that corresponded with
the fruit of our labors, dazzling shades of
sugar, citrus, everything
in moderation has never failed,
only we fail to see this
when we mistake more for more, or
less for more, or
Pursuing extremes, time slips
through the cracks of our fingers to leave us
rocking gently back and forth
in the wake
of our wasted youth. Lost
laughter, fostering lips abridged
dopamine receptors, abundant eyes
caged seeds, fertile which might have become
great forest trees destined one day to shade
a weary traveler, or merely
pump necessity into the atmosphere.
Recognition is the greatest gift
we give those unfulfilled possibilities of the past—
recognition, and a promise
to not fling the future behind us
in the same blind-sighted way.
The scars peppering our skin will remind us, striving
for our different path, intending
to see the sun that set too early
We were birthed from the shadows.
We will not turn our ancestors into the enemy,
but allow their enlightenment to cascade
over us like the light of day:
barely perceivable, but overwhelming.
AFTER A PANIC ATTACK
By NATASHA BREDLE
Invisible clouds of cotton
amass beneath your eyes, materialized
during the night perhaps to soak up those inconsolable tears,
and they did the job, but now your face
might as well have been in a fist fight, bulging bags
blurring your vision. But what is there to see
when all you feel is the aftermath
of your flight or fight perception?
The heat, the bile rising in your throat,
heart racing with palpitated rhythm. God, not again.
Forget, forget, forget.
But how can you carry on when the memory
lies just behind the bend, along with the certainty
of attacks planned ahead?
Look around you, look,
did the sun still rise? Can you feels its rays on your skin,
oblivious to the terror that rattled your bones
in the precedent hours of night?
Is the Earth still spinning?
Is your mother still driving to work at a school
whose hallways are patrolled by buff men
with tasers and badges?
Are politicians still hollering on the morning news program?
Are children around the world still huddling
in the dusky corners of their homes, sucking their fingers
until red welts appear?
Are men still pacing jail cells, running their fingers
along cold bars, struggling to recall the feel of sunshine?
Are boys and girls still waking up in emergency rooms
with their wrists stitched up like paper maché,
tasting air and realizing
they never wanted to stop breathing?
Yes, the answer is always yes.
You carry on when you keep moving.
BY ORFEAS GREEN
BY ANNIE SPRATT
By ADRIJA JANA
If I wear my Father's shirt, do I become a boy?
If I cut my hair short, do I cease to be Feminine?
What is Feminine anyway?
Must Femininity stand with downcast eyes and cover her head?
Must Femininity lower her voice and sit in a particular way?
Must Femininity sweat in the kitchen and cater to the Man's every whim?
Must Femininity close her eyes, and cast aside every dream?
Must Femininity not protest for her due, a placard in hand?
Must Femininity not vote in a democracy, or as a candidate in an election stand?
If that is what Femininity is to you,
Then I'm sorry to say
I'm not Feminine
And you, my dear critic, are not suited to the present times.
And yes, I'm a girl
But I don't need to prove that
By wearing clothes you choose
By sitting the way you want me to
By wearing my hair the way you ask
If I wear my father's shirts, you say
People might start to think I'm gay
So what if they do?
I know myself
And for me, that's enough.
And being gay- that is not something bad
It's your thoughts that are caged in a box.
I don't need your validation, nor your advice
I choose to exercise my freedom of choice, my Right
And I don't need to be feminine for love
And I will not change myself
For those who truly love me
Will accept me for who I am.
"It's an epidemic that been ravaging,
Not a year or two but for centuries now..."
By ADRIJA JANA
Icould be a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife,
Or a father, a son, a brother, a husband,
I might be a little one that's yet to walk
Or established in my own job.
But none of it matters
For when you look at me,
My skin colour is all you see.
No, you're not too open about it
But oh so subtle!
And you did notice:
My skin tone is a shade too dark.
The way you shifted to the other end of the train seat,
The way you shifted the resume to the discarded pile,
Just by looking at the picture
Oh! you definitely did notice.
It's an epidemic that been ravaging,
Not a year or two but for centuries now
And the virus has now perfected its art.
No mask, no hand wash, no sanitiser
Can now stamp it out
Because it is now comfortably settled
Into the deepest recesses.
Of your heart, mind and soul.
Into the very stem cells of your brain
So that you see feel and act upon the skin colour,
And not upon the thought, merit or feeling
Of the person before you
And you and only you
Can root this virus from within yourself
Of course if you're willing.
By CARSON ARIAS
I A M
REINCARNATION OF OPHELIA
By ANNA NIXON
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And I will not be hearing you
If I am running down the road
And you wind your window down
to tell me to run faster
Take this lavender you bastard
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
I was just picking up a fork
So why the f**k did you stroke my hand
Did you have something slightly less charming planned?
Take this clover, cuz your life is a sham
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And I will not be going near
A man who comments on the smell of my hair
As his breath moistens my ear
With god knows what disease
Take an ice plant because I hope you freeze
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And please don’t ever make me fear
Opening messages when your name appears
Just in case, instead of a text it is
A sickening picture of your d**k
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And I just went for some fresh air
When you stopped me in the park to stare
And ask if I would gladly share
A better view of my bunda
Your flower’s ten feet in the ground that I wish you were under
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And why would you tell me that you’ll give
Me milk everyday cuz you know where I live
Stalking is not something easy to forgive
So take this foxglove, and garnish your morning milk with it
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
On vacation I was chilling when
You grabbed my arse from behind
Thinking I wouldn’t see or mind
Then turned to your friends and smiled wide
Take this ivy and eat it, it’s deadly inside
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And don’t scapegoat me cuz I’m not mad
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And the patriarchy is my controlling dad
Take the rose without the flower, cuz you’re a prick
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And I am beautiful but I don’t need you to tell me that
I am the modern reincarnation of Ophelia
And I’m not drowning because of any lad
By SAEED SIDDIQUI
By NATASHA BREDLE
By LOGAN WEAVER
it is inexplicable
the handprints on my body:
one per thigh, face smothered, stomach marred
i lift up my hands and see the blood painting my skin.
the ancient scrolls say to cry out to the sky:
i returned your stars,
when will you shine on me again?
upon its muted response, the waiting commences.
throw in a dabble of sleepless nights, go searching
for estranged serotonin and when i repeatedly
turn up empty, may the realization emerge
that i have found other necessities,
the words to describe this ambivalent recovery.
‘better’ is not the pellucid term they exalt it to be:
will i recognize you when we meet?
many welcome strangers have passed through here,
as well as the hostile, whose aura lingers
like a curated scent.
pressed wisteria or burnt candle wicks,
alluring, but with the capacity
of untamable destruction which i
have wrought on myself:
water, please wash away these crippling stains.
i promise i will not forget.
for now the handprints remain,
but the sky gives me solace. the blood
runs through my veins, hailed as remnant of the war.
By ANOUSHKA SWAMINATHAN
perhaps i am a demon
perhaps i am here, with my dirty claws and brittle teeth and mangled
to ruin everyone’s life
perhaps the reason that the way that i love upsets some is because
they are perfect and god-fearing and pure and devoted and nothing in any
way like me
perhaps the reason that my in-between, my out-of-the-box is so terrible
to some is because
i go against their nature
perhaps the reason that my skin, my history, என் மக்கள்* create such a
tangible hatred in some is because
we should have stayed in our own nation, browns and whites should not
or perhaps those people are just overgrown bullies
who can’t fathom the existence of those
different than them
perhaps i am the god, the monarch, the deva
perhaps my ‘kind’ should do what we want without taking into consideration
what will be said by a bigot
perhaps our demonic nature is just that to someone who has never left the
seat near their fireplace, staring into the flames with our imprints in their
*என் மக்கள், pronounced ‘en makkal’, means ‘my people’ in Tamil
By VLADISLAVE NAHORN
By VALENTIN BEAUVAIS
What the Night
Means to a Refugee
WBy FASASI ABDULROSHEED
Another room is ready to move my old memories
and latest griefs.
This is what I do all night, moving my childhood and
its mistakes, my womanhood
Before I become an outcast, moving my widowhood
into the night,
What used to caress me; soft full of songs, hard full
And these taking spirits out of my body now, tiring
A carb in my pajamas, every falling star like a child
who left without
Owning a name; I have named them all Ibrahim,
every moonless night
Like my husband taking away the light, like the
beginning of all these turmoil.
Every night is a new insurgent, a fresh war
somewhere in my head.
"Nahla's mother...put her to bed
by herself to give Nahla the earthshattering
news: “Nahla, my dear,
you are going to be wed.”
Staring up through the tall grasses at the clouds rolling by, Nahla
takes a deep breath, inhaling the fragrance of the date palms
swaying gently in the breeze above her. The scent reminds her of
afternoons playing in the fields with her brothers, and the sweet
date pastries her mother made a few weeks ago for her 13th birthday.
Savoring this rare time alone, lying still in the morning
tranquility, she digs her fingers into the earth beneath her, palming its
freshness, as if feeling it for the last time. Her brow furrows. She knows
today is the day everything will change. Today is her wedding day.
Nahla could usually be found in these fields, running around
playing games with her brothers, or sometimes with friends from
her village, Al Roda, on the banks of the mighty Nile River in Upper
Egypt. Her family lived on the outskirts of town, on a small plot that
received just enough river run-off to cultivate a variety of vegetables
and dates, which they sold at the village market. Along with her two
brothers, Nahla would help with the planting and harvesting, between
Although it hadn’t always been so, all three siblings had
attended school for the past few years. It was the part of her day that
Nahla looked forward to most. There, she could play jump-rope and
handkerchief games with her many friends in the schoolyard, and
they would tease and whisper to each other about boys whenever the
teachers weren’t within earshot. But mostly, Nahla loved her classes –
science, history, and geography in particular – which made her dream
of what life was like in the world beyond her village.
She’d once professed that her favorite book was her geography
textbook – which garnered a chorus of laughter from her classmates
and an approving smile from her teacher. Nahla would often leaf
through it when she’d finished her schoolwork and was waiting for the
other children to finish theirs. Its glossy pages detailed the different
plants, trees, soils, and animals in Egypt and other countries around
the world. Nahla had memorized their names in both Arabic and Latin
– and yearned to learn more about how farmers managed their crops
in other countries. She hoped this knowledge could help her improve
her family’s own way of farming.
This year, the harvest had not been good. Many of the plants
were diseased and the rains were getting fewer and farther between,
which meant ever more frequent trips to the receding riverbed to fetch
water. Beyond the dates and vegetables they farmed, her mother and
father had struggled to put food on the table as there was no money for
milk or meat.
Her parents always seemed to have worried looks etched
across their faces. But that didn’t stop Nahla’s father from telling them
bedtime stories about ordinary men whose hard work and persistence
would be rewarded with bountiful harvests and riches beyond their
wildest dreams. While her brothers always looked on wide-eyed,
arguing about who would be richer when they grew up, Nahla just sat
silently, wondering why her father never talked about ordinary women
A week ago, Nahla’s mother had exceptionally come
By FILIPP ROMANOVSKI
to put her to bed by herself to give Nahla
the earth-shattering news: “Nahla, my
dear, you are going to be wed.”
Although it was common for girls in
her village to marry young, Nahla had
hoped to be one of the lucky ones who
managed to marry later.
“Mother, no! Please! I want to
finish school!” she protested.
“That might be possible,” said
her mother, frowning and looking at
the floor, “but it will depend on your
“Why now?” pleaded Nahla.
“Can’t we wait until I’m older, like
cousin Mona? She was 18.”
“I am afraid we cannot,” said
her mother, no longer trying to hide the
pain on her face. “You know the harvest
has not been good this year. There is a
man from Minya who is willing to pay a
The words were piercing.
Nahla suddenly understood what it
must feel like to be one of those goats
at the market, and paraded around to
fetch the highest price for their masters.
Staring at her mother
intensely, she took a deep breath to
stop herself from saying something she
would regret. Then her face softened
and she sighed. She knew her family
was in need. After a long pause, she
reluctantly asked: “Who is he?”
“Well, we know he works in a
bank and he is a very respected man.”
“How old is he?” was Nahla’s
“Does that matter?” asked her mother,
defensively. “It has already been
decided and your father has made
the arrangements for a customary
Nahla stirred, her eyes betraying the
fear brewing inside. Faced with her
silence, her mother finally responded:
“He is 33 years old.”
Nahla gasped audibly. Ever
since the day the blood had appeared
in her panties, she had feared that her
life would change in ways she would
not welcome. It had been almost a year
since that day and she was now 13.
She kept repeating the man’s
age in her mind: 33. That was
just five years younger than
her father. How could she
marry a man 20 years her senior?
What would they have in common?
What would she possibly speak to
him about? She had seen girls in
her village marry older men. Those
girls looked so sad all the time.
A few days later, it came
time to meet her husband-to-be
and his family. It was a Thursday
afternoon and her mother and
aunts hurried her into the house
after school and began brushing her
hair, applying make-up for the first
time, and dressing her in an
When Nahla caught
a glimpse of herself in a
mirror, her mouth dropped
at the sight of herself in the
long bright pink dress beaded
with intricate flowers. It was
stunning. She ran her fingers
along the silky fabric, circling
the crystalline flowers.
“It is a gift from your new
family,” her aunt Hiba whispered.
When Nahla looked up to
inspect her face she almost didn’t
recognize herself. Her eyes were
rimmed with dark lines and her skin
looked much whiter than usual. She
touched her cheek and felt a faint
“Do not touch!” barked
her aunt Hiba. “You will ruin your
makeup. It is time to go.”
Her family rushed her into a car she
didn’t recognize, with a driver who
shuttled them to a neighborhood
closer to the city. As Nahla stared out
the window, the houses grew larger
and more well-kept by the block.
She tried to imagine the face of her
husband-to-be. Might he be a goodlooking
man? What if he looked like a
goat? Would he be a nice man?
They finally pulled into
the driveway of a large two-story
white house, trimmed in bright blue
paint, which was believed to protect
against the ‘evil eye’—a curse cast
by an envious glare. Although Nahla
had never been superstitious, she
couldn’t help thinking to herself that
she really didn’t need such protection
now, for who could possibly
envy a girl getting married at 13?
Her parents walked her to
the arched patio entrance, followed
by her aunts, who had come in
another car. Just past the gate, a crowd
of people Nahla didn’t recognize
was greeting one another excitedly.
When she arrived at the front door,
an older couple who looked about the
age of her grandparents greeted her
‘‘ ...who could possibly
envy a girl getting married
“Nahla: meet your new
parents,” announced her mother,
“Hello,” said Nahla
tentatively, unsure of what else to
say to these strangers she was now
expected to call ‘parents’.
“Welcome to our family,”
said the older woman, extending
her arms, which were adorned in
thick gold bangles, and pulling her
in for a hug. Nahla got a brief whiff
of her strong rose-like perfume
as the woman proceeded to usher
her inside the house, steering her
towards an elegant long white sofa.
There, Nahla waited as her
father came to stand next to her, and
a bearded man wearing a black suit
approached from the other side, to
stand and face her father.
“I would like to formally
ask for your daughter’s hand in
marriage,” the man said, in a low,
So, this was her husbandto-be.
Nahla examined his dark,
piercing eyes, high forehead, and
long nose. He was not particularly
attractive, but neither was he ugly.
He was tall and looked older than her
father, perhaps because of his beard.
He did not shift his gaze to make eye
contact with Nahla as she stared at
A bushier-bearded Imam
entered the room and began speaking
of how the Prophet Muhammad had
honored his wives.
honor women and women
should serve and honor their
As he said this,
several women nodded
approvingly, while Nahla
gawked. How unfair was it
that women also had to “serve”,
rather than simply honor their
husbands? she thought to
The Imam proceeded to
ask the man if he would follow this
advice. He nodded. Then he looked to
her father, who also nodded to show
he accepted the marriage proposal.
Then he sat down next to Nahla on
the long sofa, while the groom sat
on his other side. Another man she
did not recognize appeared with the
Islamic holy book, the Qu’ran, and
handed it to her father. The bearded
man then placed his hand on Nahla’s
father’s and they read the Fatha
passage in unison.
When they had finished, the
man stood before Nahla, and for a
split second, he met her gaze. It was a
fleeting glance, but with an intensity
that frightened her. Then he took
her hand and mechanically placed a
golden band on her right ring finger,
handing her a larger ring in her left
By KATERYNA HLIZNITSOVA
By JOEYY LEE
hand. After an awkward pause, he
motioned for her to place the ring
on his finger. Nahla blushed and
took his thick, hairy finger, fumbling
with the ring clumsily. She’d never
touched a man’s hand who was not
a relative. Applause soon rang out
from the dozen or so guests.
Moments later, a belly
dancer decked in gold sequins
emerged and began swaying her hips
to the ever-quickening beats of two
drummers behind her. Meanwhile, a
few women dressed in blue smocks
entered, offering the guests trays
of fruit and flower-scented sweets,
which Nahla declined. She could feel
her stomach churning.
“Fares! We are so happy for
you!” called out an older woman that
Nahla did not recognize. So, that was
his name: Fares.
“We thought you would never settle
down,” laughed the woman, who he
quieted with a stern look.
The party went on for hours,
without the newly engaged couple
exchanging a single word. When it
was time for Nahla to leave, Fares
simply cocked his head politely.
On their way home, Nahla’s father
was the first to break the awkward
silence, saying: “What a wonderful
party. I think this will be a good
Nahla did her best to muster a smile
but could not bring herself to speak
the entire drive home. Staring out
the window, she circled the sparkly
pink flowers adorning her dress, and
silently shed a tear.
Nahla did not see Fares
or her new family again before the
One evening, all the women
and girls in Nahla’s extended family,
and three of her closest friends from
school, descended upon her house
for Laylat Al-Hinna – a customary
party to decorate the bride’s hands
and feet with henna the night before
There must have been at
least 50 women and girls gathered
there to celebrate and wish her
well. It was the first time a couple
of her school friends were visiting
and Nahla felt a little embarrassed
by her modest two-bedroom home
with sparse furnishings. But her
mother-in-law had brought some
fancy hanging decorations to liven
the place up, and even her normally
stuck-up friend Sanaa didn’t seem
out of sorts.
“Remember all those
times we acted out tales of princess
maidens and dragons at recess?”
Saana reminded Nahla. “Now you
will get to live your own fairytale!”
she said, batting her eyelids
The pair had been school
friends since kindergarten, although
By ALEX CHAMBERS
their parents were not. Nahla’s
mother once told her that Sanaa’s
family was “too high class for her”.
Strange, Nahla thought, that her
family was suddenly open to her
marrying someone from that class.
Nahla’s aunt Maryam, ever
eager to be the center of attention,
took it upon herself to do the henna
painting. She began by tracing a
delicate floral pattern surrounded
by curvy, intricate designs around
her wrist. The henna looked black
and raised at first, but Nahla knew
that when it was ready, it would leave
a temporary brown die for several
The girls plucked dozens of
sweets from stacked, shiny plates.
They laughed themselves silly while
playing games, then danced and
sang songs. Meanwhile, the mothers
and older family members clapped
and took turns smoking a shisha
pipe. Nahla lost herself for a while in
the joy of the henna party, reveling
in the rare congregation of females.
She sighed and sat back to savor the
feeling of safety, and love she felt in
being at the center of such warmth
“You are so lucky to be
getting married,” crooned her
10-year-old cousin Dina, who had
always been close to Nahla, mostly
because she defended her against
an older brother’s teasing. “What a
dream come true!”
Reminded of what was
to come, Nahla smiled awkwardly,
feigning excitement. She didn’t want
to seem ungrateful or reveal her
feelings of impending doom. She was
to wed the following day. After going
to bed late, she barely slept a wink
The next morning, Nahla
lay still between the tall grasses near
her home, staring up at the sparse
clouds and savoring the tranquility
and her last hours of freedom – the
last hours of the life she had always
Although she could hear
voices calling for her in the distance,
she dared not move. Perhaps if she
stayed here, hidden between the
grasses, her family wouldn’t be able
to find her and the wedding would
have to be called off. What if she just
rested here for a while? She was so
tired and her eyelids felt heavy…
Nahla had no idea how
much time had passed when her
mother found her and angrily pulled her from the field.
“Nahla, how could you? We were looking everywhere for you! The wedding
starts in an hour! We need to get you dressed; we need to do your hair; we need to
get to the groom’s house…” her mother shrieked.
A dozen frenzied women crowded around her to dress and make her up –
her aunt Hiba chastising her for the dirt beneath her nails and the grass in her hair.
Meanwhile, Nahla tried to keep her eyes closed so tears wouldn’t be shed.
The venue was Fares’ home again, which now looked like a flower shop –
splattered with dazzling bouquets of pink peonies, cream-colored roses, and salmon
dahlias. Nahla had been wowed by the engagement party decor, but this display
was lavish beyond what she could have imagined. She bit her lower lip nervously as
Fares appeared by a raised table in the courtyard.
Clutching the protective arm of her father, Nahla took slow and careful
steps toward him. Beads of sweat were forming on Fares’ forehead and he fidgeted
with the sleeves of his fancy black tuxedo. Nahla had barely looked at the beautiful
white gown she was wearing, but now noticed that it was so long she nearly tripped
over it in her tediously high silver heels.
As she reached Fares, he carefully lifted the thin transparent veil that hung
over her face, running his hand gently over her forehead as he did, his first act of
Fares and Nahla’s fathers stood next to them, placing their hands together
and a religious official man, called the shaykh, covered their hands with a white
handkerchief while he read a passage from the Qur’an. He had them repeat a couple
of words and then he removed the handkerchief – which made the transaction for
Nahla’s hand official. Nahla had watched this done before, at her cousins’ weddings,
but witnessing her father gift her away in this fashion, under the guise of religion,
left a deeply unsettling feeling in the pit of her stomach.
This ritual was followed by an eruption of music. The clanging tambourines,
blaring trumpets, and pounding drums were loud enough to compete with Nahla’s
racing heart. The couple was surrounded by guests as the procession began. The
band performed traditional wedding songs and the women wailed in high-pitched
The new bride and groom slowly made their way towards a
flower-laden stage set up with two chairs, where they were to greet their guests
and pose for photographs. As they sat, without speaking, Fares handed Nahla an
envelope and a small golden box which he motioned for her to slip into her purse.
A few of Nahla’s friends and cousins approached to pinch her knee, for
good luck in their own hopes of being the next to marry.
The ceremony was everything a customary Muslim Egyptian wedding was
meant to be.
The party ended late into the night and Nahla was exhausted, nearly falling
asleep several times. Fares led her to a bedroom in what was now her new home
and laid her on the bed. Then, he began slowly undoing the buttons of her wedding
dress. Gripped with fear but not wanting to offend him, Nahla pretended to be
After removing her dress, nudging, and turning her over a few times, Fares
seemed to give up and quietly left the room. Despite her exhaustion, Nahla could not
sleep for several hours, out of fear that he would return to her bed in the middle of
the night. As his wife, she would now be expected to “serve” him, in all ways.
Three months later, when Nahla came home to visit her parents, they could
hardly recognize her. Her hair was disheveled and there was no longer any spark in
By HISU LEE
By CAMILA QUINTERO FRANCO
Nahla did her best to stay
positive despite her stormy new
home, reminding herself to be
grateful that she had no want for
food or shelter, nor did her parents
She learned to play dominos
with her father-in-law and tried
to get to know the servants. In her
mind, she would replay memories of
happier times – of Eid celebrations
at her grandparent’s house, of the
rotten lettuce fights she’d have with
her brothers during harvest, or
of her dragon-slaying days in the
schoolyard with Sanaa.
A few months later, Nahla
began feeling tired and nauseous.
When she didn’t bleed at her normal
time of the month, her mother-in-
She sat down with them.
“Mama, papa…,” she said,
with tears welling in her
eyes. “I want to go home!”
Taken aback, her father
asked: “Why? What is wrong?”
“I haven’t been to school
since the wedding,” lamented Nahla.
“I miss my classes. I miss my friends.”
“Yes dear, we understand.
That is natural,” interjected her
mother. “But this is a new life stage
“Fares doesn’t speak to
me,” she continued. “He only seeks
me out when he wants to take me to
the bedroom to have his way with
me. And… he is not gentle. He hurts
Nahla’s father took a deep
breath and shook his head. Her
mother looked at him, searching for
a reaction, but he seemed at a loss for
She held Nahla by the hand
to comfort her. “I am so sorry.”
Hearing her, Nahla’s father’s
pained expression turned to a scowl
and he sat upright: “Unfortunately,
this is the way things are. You must
obey your husband. Your marriage
Nahla looked down at the
floor, then up and around their
now-well-stocked kitchen – at the
meat, her mother was preparing on
the counter, at the pitcher of fresh
milk on the table. Her family was no
longer struggling to make ends meet.
But why did her happiness have to be
law accompanied her to the doctor’s
They sat silently in the
waiting room. Far from being like
a ‘mother’ to her, Nahla considered
her more like an overseer, always
barking orders at her, as though she
were one of the servants. She never
showed Nahla any love or tenderness
and would turn a blind eye when
Fares yelled at her. And Nahla was
sure she could hear her cries and
screams from the neighboring
bedroom, but she did and said
But today her mother-inlaw
looked oddly happy, and even
tried to hold her hand, which Nahla
retracted after feigning a sneeze.
The doctor asked Nahla
several questions before having
her lie down on a large reclining
table. He wheeled over a machine
and placed a cold, jelly-like goo on
her belly then gently ran a rounded
plastic wand over the goo. Suddenly
the sound of static came from the
machine – almost like what you
would hear when switching between
radio stations – and then a light
“There it is!” said the doctor
By JAKAYLA TONEY
said to her mother-in-law. “That is
your grandchild’s heartbeat!”
Nahla’s eyes bulged and she
The doctor looked down at
"This [fright] made sense—she
was only 13, petite, and barely
had a woman's body."
her and said: “Congratulations dear.
You are going to be a mother!”
Her look of sheer confusion,
followed by panic, made it obvious
that this was not welcome news to
her, so the doctor addressed her
mother-in-law for the rest of the
After he had finished with
the machine and handed Nahla some
paper towels to clean up the goo, he
took her mother-in-law to a corner
of his office and lowered his voice to
a whisper. Nahla tried not to crinkle
the paper so she could overhear and
was able to make out: “there are risks
because she is so young”.
Still trying to process the
idea that there was a baby growing
inside her, the thought that there
could be risks because of it frightened
her even more. This made
sense – she was only 13,
petite, and barely had a
woman’s body. She looked
over at her mother-in-law
and the doctor – wishing
she could scream out loud
that she wasn’t ready to be
a mother. Not yet. Not now.
Not with Fares!
She had seen other
young mothers in the neighborhood
and they always looked so forlorn.
Nahla had always imagined it was
because they couldn’t continue with
school. But now she knew it must be
more than that. They’d be stripped of
their choices in every way.
The thought of it all
triggered a deep resistance to what
was happening inside her. Babies
were cute, yes, but she had no clue
how to change diapers or feed a baby
or make them sleep. She had played
dolls, sure. But a real tiny human
that she would be responsible for
was something completely different.
Now, more than ever, Nahla longed
to be back home playing with dolls
instead or running around in the
fields with her friends, going to
school, and simply enjoying her own
childhood. Not a child raising a child.
Before they left the doctor’s
office, Nahla’s mother-in-law
hugged her for the first time since
“Nahla, thank you! We are
so thrilled that you are bringing us a
Lost in thought, Nahla
smiled unconvincingly but said
Seven months later, Nahla
awakened to intense pain in the
middle of the night. Fares ran for his
mother as Nahla lay panting in the
bed. Fares was yelling and looked
frightened. The baby wasn’t expected
for another month.
He carried her
briskly to the car and they arrived at
the hospital within minutes. By that
time, Nahla was crying from the pain.
It is unlike anything she had ever
felt. It was like magnified menstrual
cramps but with her insides being squeezed out.
The nurses and doctors hurriedly strapped a band around
her arm that inflated and squeezed her. Saying something she couldn’t
understand about her blood pressure, they wheeled her into a closed
room. Something was terribly wrong.
As the pain intensified unbearably, she started screaming.
Overcome by flashes of cold, then hot, then terrifying dizziness, Nahla
fainted. Foam began frothing at her mouth as her body started to
stiffen and shake violently.
Once Nahla had stopped seizing, the doctors prepared her for
an emergency c-section to remove the baby. They injected the base
of her spine with an epidural to numb her lower body and told her to
look in the other direction while the surgeon began cutting through
the layers of skin and muscle beneath her panty line.
The smell of blood almost made her vomit and her head
began spinning anew. Nahla lost consciousness again just as the baby
When she regained consciousness, the room was quiet and a
doctor was standing nearby speaking to Fares and her mother-in-law.
Relieved that the intensity of the pain has passed, and by now anxious
to meet the child she’d been growing inside her all these months,
Nahla searched the room for her baby.
Noticing that she was awake, the doctor came to her bedside.
Speaking in a hushed voice, he said: “Nahla, I’m glad to see you are
back with us. You nearly died.”
Cringing, Nahla closed her eyes and thanked Allah that she
had survived. Then her thoughts quickly turned to her baby.
“And my baby? Is it a boy or a girl?” she asked, expectantly.
The doctor hesitated, looking over at Fares and his mother,
who gave him a nod.
“I’m so sorry but your baby died during the birth. Its oxygen
supply was cut off and….”
After the word ‘died’, Nahla did not register anything
else. The baby she had so dreaded having a few months ago had become
a part of her as it had grown in her belly. Although she still resented
her age and lack of choice in this pregnancy, she had come to accept it,
even growing excited and imagining what her baby would look like. She
was eager to give it a name and to dress it in the tiny doll-like clothes
she had picked out herself.
“Oh, and it was a girl,” added the doctor, as he left the room.
A girl. Of course. Nahla had always imagined it would be.
A baby girl with curly black hair and big, beautiful brown eyes. She
had secretly wished it would be so, even though she knew her family
wanted a boy. They always did. Surely they wouldn’t be as disappointed
as they would have been, had she lost a boy.
As Nahla stared at her deflated belly, for a fleeting moment, she wished
that she too would have died with her.
Nahla decided to name her baby Alya, which means “from
heaven” in Arabic. She held a small ceremony with her parents to bury
By JESSICA FELICIO
her body in the fields near her parents’ home. Fares and
her in-laws had tried to had tried to convince her not to
do so and did not attend. But it was better that way.
As Nahla’s body slowly recovered, her heart also
began healing from the pain of losing her daughter. After
watching her lie listlessly in bed for weeks on end, at
the insistence of Nahla’s mother, Fares had allowed her
to join a village support group for women who had lost
children and husbands.
The support group helped Nahla grieve and
open up to others about her experience. She even
made friends with another girl, with whom she vented
her frustrations and confided the difficulties she had
at home with the husband she so despised. She also
secretly began taking English language classes after
the support sessions with one of the women who was a
teacher. This reignited Nahla’s thirst to return to school
and learn about the world beyond her town.
A few months later, at a follow-up medical
checkup, Nahla’s doctor explained everything that she
had been too distraught to hear that fateful day: that
Nahla was very young, which carried certain health
risks for her and for the baby. He explained that she
had developed a blood pressure condition called
pre-eclampsia that sometimes kills women and girls
during childbirth. She had gone into labor more than a
month early, which was common with young expectant
mothers, but the baby’s organs had not fully developed
yet, and the baby suffered a critical loss of oxygen during
With an indifferent expression, the doctor
reassured Nahla that if she waited a few years, the next
time would likely be easier.
Next time? By now, she was 14 and the last thing
she wanted was to go through that experience again!
Nahla sat fuming, her mind flooding with a
thousand ill thoughts that she was not allowed to voice.
She thanked the doctor and left the clinic with her
“Do not worry. You will succeed next time.
Perhaps it will even be a boy,” her mother-in-law
The words felt like a punch, deep in her
abdomen. Nahla darted her mother-in-law a stinging
look before getting into the car. But as they pulled out
of the parking lot, Nahla realized that her mother-inlaw
was right. If she stayed in this hollow life with Fares,
history would repeat itself. She would be expected to
produce an heir, no matter what the toll on her body or
And it was with this realization that Nahla resolved to
leave – no matter what the consequences.
After a long silence, she asked: “Would you
mind dropping me off at my parents’ house? I need to
talk to them.”
By GEORGE CHATZHMHTROU
"Born and raised in Montgomery,
Reverend Penniman had a hard
time staying relevant, what with
tattoos, body piercing, rap music,
not to mention homosexuals
getting married and reefer being
By ALI BERGEN
Penniman sat on the edge
of his bed, stretching his
black fingers. Everything
had either twisted up on him or
shrunk except his stomach. Once
six-foot-five, he now plunged
to six two, still tall, but not
the imposing dignitary he
once was standing behind
the lectern in front of his
His parishioners aged,
too. So hard nowadays to
attract the young, he thought
standing from the bed he
shared with his wife of fiftytwo
years. His knees cracked.
He’d gotten his cholesterol
under control, but at seventyfive,
his health headed south
as his age pushed north.
Born and raised in
Penniman had a hard time
staying relevant, what with
tattoos, body piercing, By SHANE HOVING
rap music, not to mention
homosexuals getting married
and reefer being legalized.
For a man his age, changing
was like pulling a mule uphill
The smell of bacon
and eggs drifted down
the hall. He heard the
coffeemaker gurgle. How
he loved his mornings with
the Montgomery Daily
News—not Internet news—
something he could hold in
his hands, smell the ink. He
even enjoyed licking his fingers to
separate the pages.
Off in the direction of the Alabama
River, he thought he heard a siren,
not far from his church.
“Breakfast ready,” Flo shouted
from the kitchen.
Flo was the sweetest gift the Lord
ever bestowed upon a man. Oh, he
was fortunate, he thought, passing
her picture on the dresser bureau
and the photo of their three boys and
two girls. Proud of his church, he was
even prouder of their five children.
Three graduated from college, all of
them respectable citizens.
“It’s gonna get cold if you don’t
‘‘ There's a girl up on the
bell tower of your church.
Says she's gonna jump,’’ the
black officer said.
come and get it.”
“I’m a comin. Just let me wash up.”
The siren sounded closer.
The Alabama spring day was
warmer than usual. At nine in the
morning, it was headed off the
charts, as the kids say nowadays.
Reverend Penniman washed and
dressed. At the bureau, he brushed
back the sides of his white hair, his
bald crown parted like the Red Sea.
When his kids teased him about
looking like Uncle Ben, he grew
whiskers just as white. His boys
joked he looked like Uncle Ben with
a beard. He chuckled. He would have
preferred Morgan Freeman.
“I’ll feed it to the garbage
disposal if you don’t come
and get it.”
“I’m a comin now, sweet
He heard the siren turn
the corner at Bankhead and
looked at the cell phone lying
on his dresser. He’d yet to
master how to get his thick
fingers to press one picture
at a time, or type on that itty
bitty keyboard. He couldn’t
even hold it in the crook of
He hurried down the hall.
The floorboards of the fiftyyear-old
house creaked just
like him. Not quite shotgun,
his house did have a similar
layout what with add-ons for
the three boys.
The siren was upon them.
“Lord have mercy,” Flo
said as she put the food on
the table. “That sure sounds
“Sure does. Let me take a
look,” the reverend said from
the kitchen’s entrance.
He went to the living room
window and saw a police car
pull into his driveway, the
siren cut-off. Two uniformed
police officers, one black, the other
white, got out of the cruiser and
headed up his footpath.
He opened the door.
“Are you Reverend Penniman?”
“I am. What’s the problem?”
“There’s a girl up on the bell tower
of your church. Says she’s gonna
jump,” the black officer said.
“Good Lord!” Flo cried, standing
behind her husband.
By JONAS JAEKEN
“Let me get my keys,” the reverend
“No time, sir. Come with us. You’ll
get there faster.”
Flo took off and came back with
"Reverend Penniman felt like
he was up on that bell tower,
on the edge, with his arms
the reverend’s cell phone. “Here
baby. I’m gonna meet you there
soon as I shut down the kitchen. You
should at least have your toast. I can
put it in a baggie for you.”
“No time,” he said as he hurried
out the door with the officers.
Reverend Penniman sat in
the back of the car with a screen
separating him from the policemen.
“Who is she?” he asked.
“Don’t know,” the young white
“What’s she look like?”
“Black teen, skinny, baggy pants,
chain hanging from the pocket,
hoodie pulled over a ball cap.”
“You know her?”
“Like one of my own.” The
reverend looked out the
window as the car pulled
away. He clasped his hands
together and said a quick
prayer for the troubled girl.
Lord, help me help her, he
repeated to himself. “Did
she ask for me?”
“How’d you find me?”
“Your name is on the
marquee of your church.”
“I’m Officer Johnson,” the older
man said. “This is
Officer Perry reached
forward and turned
on the siren. The noise
including the pounding
of Reverend Penniman’s
They drove toward
along the banks of the
Alabama, the RSA tower
soared above the city’s skyline.
The speed limit was forty. The
reverend guessed they were doing
twice that. His right knee pumped
like the needle on Flo’s sewing
The siren screamed. The lights
blinked and rotated flashing red and
blue on the hood of the car. Reverend
Penniman felt like he was up on that
bell tower, on the edge, with his arms
stretched out, his body holding back
the weight of all his parishioners
who had wept in his arms.
At the corner of Graves and
Buckley, the cruiser slowed, the
siren cut-off. Officer Johnson made
a right turn. People rushed along the
sidewalk their cell phones pressed
By DYNAMIC WANG
By JULIA KADEL
against their ears.
Halfway down the block, Reverend
Penniman saw more people standing
outside his church than he ever had
inside. A fire truck parked in the lot
with men unloading a ladder.
The police car jumped the curb
and drove to the side of the brick
building. He saw Greaty, Akeesha’s
great-grandmother in her burgundy
wig, mussed like a tornado whirled
through it. She cupped her black
hands on the sides of her mouth
screaming and crying at the roof. Her
pink housecoat hung open revealing
her cotton nightie.
Before the car came to a stop, the
minister jumped out.
Greaty saw Reverend Penniman
and ran to him. “You get my baby off
the roof, you hear, Reverend? She
done gone and have a meltdown.”
“We’ll get her down. Just craving
attention like all teenagers.”
“She cravin’ nothin’ but death. She
gonna jump. She all I have!”
He ran to the front of the church.
Greaty followed. The reverend
gasped. “Good Lord.” Akeesha
teetered on the edge of the bell’s
shelter. Her baggy pants flapped in
Two firefighters carried a ladder
to the roof. They propped it against
“Get away,” Akeesha screamed.
“I’ll jump, you try to get me.” Her
voice carried over the mob.
“I know the child. I can get her
“Don’t think so, Reverend.”
The minister turned to see Officer
Johnson standing beside him. “Then
why’d you get me?”
“It’s your church. I thought you’d
“I’m young enough and I’ll get
her down.” He gazed up at the girl.
“Akeesha!” he shouted using his
pulpit voice. “I’m coming to you,
child.” He sprinted around the side
of the church, to the back, amazed
at how his body complied with his
will. Officer Johnson’s leather holster
crunched with each matching stride.
Akeesha had broken the frame of
the door and busted in.
“If I have to cuff you Reverend, I
will,” Officer Johnson said.
“You really want to save this
child?” Reverend Penniman asked.
“I’ve known her since she was four.
I’m the only father she’s ever known.
Now you let me do my business.”
He pushed open the door when he
heard car wheels on gravel.
“Langston,” Flo yelled out the
window. “Where do think you’re
going?” She slammed the driver’s
“Good Lord, woman, I don’t need
you pestering me too.”
Flo ran up to her husband. “Officer,
you arrest this man if he so much—.”
“You gotta save her . . . she's
my baby—she all I have!” Greaty
screamed coming around the corner.
“Calm down,” Reverend Penniman
Greaty wiped her face with the
sleeve of her house coat. “She never
been so upset. She so angry. Them
girls who beat her up. Them punks
who tried to rape her.”
The reverend looked at Officer
Johnson. “Get all those people away
from the front of my church. And
tell those firemen to take down the
“I’m the one in charge here,
“How about we get Captain
Martinez?” Officer Perry asked.
“They can secure the reverend
with a rope and harness.” Before
his superior had a chance to argue,
"The reverend glanced at the
Alabama River. The spectacular
Montgomery skyline was like a
masterpiece God painted."
By DC DIAMONDOPOLOUS
By SVETLANA GUMEROVA
young Perry ran off.
“Thank you,” Reverend Penniman
“She a good girl except for her
sin,” Greaty sobbed.
Flo put her arm around Akeesha’s
“Flo, take her to the car,” Reverend
Penniman said. “I’ll be okay.”
“Keep him safe, Officer. Don’t let
him do anything foolish,” Flo said as
she led Greaty away.
Reverend Penniman heard the
whirling blades of a helicopter.
“Good Lord. A child’s life is at
stake and this is turning into
a circus,” he said entering the
back of his church.
“How’d she get up to the bell
tower?” Officer Johnson asked.
“There’s a room with pulleys.
A stairway curls around leading
up to the bells.” Reverend
Penniman could kick himself
for letting Jake show Akeesha
the inside of the tower.
Officer Johnson shot up the
“Wait! You can’t go that way.
You’d come out behind her. I
swear, man. You let me handle
this my way or that girl is going
Officer Johnson turned on
The reverend had him in an
eye-lock. “Please,” he said, not
used to the sound of the word or the
helpless feeling that it carried.
“Why is she up there?” the
“She’s a homosexual.”
“My brother’s gay,” Officer Johnson
The minister watched how the
cop’s eyes captured a memory,
something powerful enough to
soften his features.
Reverend Penniman climbed the
fourteen steps to the landing. He’d
always been proud of his bell tower,
right now he’d wished his ancestors
never built it.
Officer Perry returned with
Captain Martinez and a boyish
looking black man. Both men held
gear as they took the steps in three
“Well Johnson, your call,” the
“We’ll feed Reverend Penniman
below her, on the roof.”
The reverend led the men around
a corner to a loft with stairs to the
By JAKUB PIEROZYNSK
“Got your Nikes on, I see,”
Martinez said. “Good.”
“Now put that contraption on me
and let me out there.”
The firefighters held the harness
for the reverend to step into. They
hooked the cloth rope to the straps,
gave it a tug jolting the reverend
backwards, then tossed the rope
to another man who waited below.
“Side-step going down the incline.
It’s not steep, but we got you no
“Get rid of the ladder and the
lookyloos. And stay well below. I don’t
want her knowing you’re around.”
“We’ll be down on the first
landing,” Captain Martinez said.
“I’ve had enough talk, gentlemen.”
Reverend Penniman took the steps
to the roof praying as he went, for
Akeesha, for Greaty, but most of all
for himself. That he’d say the right
thing, be sincere, because Akeesha
had the gift of honesty. He prayed,
asking the Holy Spirit to fill him with
The door to the roof was ajar. He
gently touched it. He felt the rope tug
the harness. The door swung
The roof slanted and leveled
out several feet down. The area
around the tower was flat.
He smelled the fumes from
the asphalt as he stepped
sideways onto the shingles,
planted himself and managed
the incline. He took his time
placing his right foot, then his
left, and held for a moment.
He did it again until the roof
Applause and shouts broke
out. “Get back!” Officer Johnson
The reverend glanced at the
Alabama River. The spectacular
Montgomery skyline was like a
masterpiece God painted. Then
he looked below. He saw the
van of a local TV station, the
helicopter off in the distance;
the crowd herded across the street
by young Perry, and so many cell
phones held up to the bell tower it
looked like Beyonce held court.
He heard sniffles, then crying.
“Akeesha. I’m here to talk, child.”
“Won’t do no good.”
“Well, I didn’t climb all the way up
here thinking it wouldn’t do no good.
You and I have a way together, now
“Prayin’ don’t work. I’m still gay.”
“No reason taking your life.” He
thought back to the convention when
one minister said, let the gays kill
We need to protect our children. Only problem with that was
all the molesting he knew came from men with little girls.
He left those conferences feeling tired and old, the same
men year after year with their stale jokes and self-righteous
rhetoric. He felt trapped by the old ways and frightened by the new.
“Everyone knows. It’s on Facebook.” Akeesha whimpered.” My
girlfriend broke with me.”
Reverend Penniman made his way around the side of the bell tower
feeling the tug of the harness. He looked up at the teenager.
Her hoodie covered all but the bill of her ball cap. She wiped her
tears with the black leather band she wore on her wrist. “I wanna die.”
She inched forward to the lip of the shelter. Her hand left the arch.
“No!” Reverend Penniman yelled his arms stretched out as if he
could catch her.
The crowd oohed.
He moved slowly around the tower until his back was to the mob.
“Sit on the ledge baby.”
“I’m goin to hell when I die. Bible says so.” Her voice quivered.
“Greaty found out. Said I’d bring shame on her house—more than my
mama in jail. Said a woman’s body parts were made for a man to make
babies.” Her voice trailed off.
“Greaty loves you, child. She’s running around screaming and
bossing, telling us to get her baby off the tower. You hear me, child?”
He watched horrified as she balanced herself on the rim of the tower.
A slip and she would die.
“They callin me a freak.”
“Sit down now. We need to talk.”
“Jump faggot!” someone hollered across the street.
Reverend Penniman looked back at the crowd. Officer Johnson
grabbed the man. Perry hauled him away.
“They all stupid.” Akeesha sobbed.
“We can work this out.”
“Don’t dish with me, Reverend. Talkin’s no good,” she shouted.
He lifted his head up to see her lip quivering. “Can be,” he said.
“I’m goin to hell. Might as well get it over with.”
“Now, don’t talk like that.” He thought of all those times they
knelt together holding hands. Their eyes shut tight, the way Akeesha
repeated his words to rid herself of the sin of homosexuality. When
they were through, her face was wet with tears. He’d never forget how
she’d wipe her fingers several times across her jeans like she’d been
holding hands with a leper. He knew then she’d yet to be cured.
He talked to his daughter about it. Rose told him the gay people she
knew said they were born that way. She told him his generation treated
the Bible like a deli, picking and choosing what to live by, who to hate
and the nonsense of fearing God. His conversations with his middle
child made him reflect. That’s all it did. He loved his children equally,
but Rose had the gift of benevolence.
“You jump, I’ll try to catch you. Then I’ll die trying to save you. You
know that’d make Flo mighty mad, child.” He took a careful step back
to get a look at her face. She gazed out at the Montgomery horizon. Her
calm scared him.
By MICHAEL OLSEN
He remembered the first time Greaty
brought her to church. She was four,
always carrying her dump truck and
running it along the pews. During the
sermon, she’d nestle into Greaty’s
bosom, thumb in her mouth. Her short
hair braided. When she got older, she
sang in the choir. For extra money she
gardened around the church. He’d take
her to McDonald’s afterwards. They
talked. She was a good girl—even if she
did look like a gang banger— thoughtful
and quiet, never swore, didn’t do drugs.
But she suffered at school. It showed in
her grades, and she finally dropped out.
He was the only man in her short life,
and she clung to him like a daddy. Her
great grandmother looked after her like
a one-eyed cat watching two rat holes.
She ain’t goin to end up in jail like her
mama, or dead like her granny. She
gonna be respectful, yes, indeed, she
gonna be a fine woman when she grow
“Akeesha,” he said with a stern voice.
“You want to give Greaty a heart attack?
I told you how worked up she is.”
“She always worked up.”
“She loves you.”
“Quit lyin!” She spread her arms out.
“I’m not lying. You’ve seen her
below. Running around. Now you hold
onto that post.” The noon light threw
no shadows. The wind rippled his shirt.
He felt the sun beating down on his bald
spot. “God loves you.”
“Then how come we pray to change
“Cause you wanted to be like other
girls. Remember? I’m not a psychiatrist.
Praying is all I know.”
Reverend Penniman took out his
handkerchief and wiped his brow. In
the 1980s, he buried a young man who
died of AIDS. He’d never forget how
his boyfriend threw himself on top
of the casket crying and shouting the
dead boy’s name. He never thought
homosexuals had feelings until he
witnessed that young man’s grief.
“We prayed to make your life easier.
So you’d be happy.”
“Didn’t work. My life be easier if
By SAM BARBER
people left me alone.”
“You’re probably right, child.” The
reverend wiped his mouth with the
handkerchief and put it in his pocket.
Even if his heart struggled with what
he was going to say, perhaps he
could save her. “Maybe God made
you perfect the way you are,” he said,
thinking of Rose.
“You lyin so I don’t kill myself.”
“No child. I’m saying it cause God
has a reason for you being here.”
He heard sniffles. Then he saw her
skinny hand swipe across her face.
“Oh baby, come down and let’s have
a good cry together.”
He watched for any movement
from her feet.
“Quite a view up here,” he said,
trying to sound casual. “We live in a
beautiful city. Don’t you think?”
“I wanna go to California.”
“Now, why would you want to
do that? What about Greaty?”
“What about her?”
“Girl, I’m getting a crick in my
neck looking up at you. I haven’t
eaten today. At my age, I’m on a
schedule, and I get awfully tired
if I’m hungry. We can talk better
down here. Sit behind the tower.
Alone. I want to talk to you like a
“I am grown up.” She shifted and
pulled the hoodie off her head so it
fell around her neck. “Jalissa broke
with me. Who gonna love me?”
“Child, there’s a whole lot of
people in the world. There’s got to be
one just for you.”
“You not being honest.” She tugged
the hoodie back up. “You wanna boy
to love me. I don’t wanna boy.”
“Darlin baby, I admit I don’t know
much about such things. All I know
is that I love you, and that love is
greater than any judgment I cast
upon you.” He hesitated, and thought
about the words that flowed out of
him so effortlessly. It sounded like
something coming from Rose’s lips,
He looked up. “Akeesha!” Where’d
He circled it fearing she jumped from
the other side. “Akeesha!” he cried.
He didn’t dare to take that part of
the roof. The slant angled too steep.
He felt weak, a little dizzy but his
adrenalin rushed. He went back the
way he came, the harness tugging.
Sweat poured into his eyes.
The door to the roof creaked open.
“What you wearing Reverend?”
Akeesha stood in the archway.
“Lord have mercy, child!” His
heart felt like a bowl of confetti.
Instead of fearing the worst, she had
climbed inside the tower and took
the stairs to the roof. “You could
have answered me when I called. You
done scared the daylights out of me,
“What you mean, your love greater
than your judgment?” Akeesha asked.
“Oh, oh, my darlin baby—we
"No child. I'm saying it cause
God has a reason for you being
here." He heard sniffles."
should enjoy this magnificent view of
our city and thank the good Lord for
the beautiful child that you are.”
“I’m not beautiful.”
“In God’s eyes and mine you are.”
“I swear on my sweet Flo’s life.”
“Then why we waste all that time
prayin when I’m already okay?”
He caught a glint of the stud that
she wore in the center of her tongue.
“You not as smart as you think,
Reverend Penniman let out a
hearty laugh. “Well, I’ll tell you a
secret, Akeesha, I don’t have all the
answers. Sometimes I have to make
it seem like I do or no one would
come to my church.”
“They won’t come anyway, lyin and
He thought about what Rose
said, how the young have turned
away from religion. “You know
my daughter, Rose? She’d agree
with you. You know she’s studied
in India. Traveled the world. Says
God is always expanding—not
sure what that means.” He walked
slowly toward the girl. “You know
“You taught me something.” His
voice fractured. “You taught me,
child. And I’m truly grateful.”
“Taught you what?”
“Can we sit here, for a minute? I’m
really tired.” He slid down the wall.
The harness grabbed at his thighs as
Akeesha walked like she’d been on
the roof a hundred times, maybe she
had, he thought. She sat next to him.
“You taught me to accept you.”
He slowly pulled the hoodie down
so he could see her face. “I’ve
always thought of you as one of
my own. Flo, too.”
Akeesha took his gnarled old
hand. She spread each of his
fingers to include hers. He felt
love in her fingertips.
The confetti in his heart flung
out over his beloved Montgomery.
It showered like a vital rain. “I think
there’s only love in God’s house,” the
reverend mused. “So much of life is
“Can we go to KFC?”
Reverend Penniman smiled.
“Not McDonald’s? We always go to
“Sure enough. My treat,” he said. “I
could take you to a fancy place where
we sit at a table with a white cloth
and linen napkins. We can order ribs.
They have finger bowls with water so
our hands don’t get all sticky. Eat as
much as we want.”
“No. KFC,” she said, standing
and holding her hand out for the
reverend to grasp.
BY VITALIY ZALISHCHYKER
" There is one, and only one, thing in
modern society more hideous than
crime namely, repressive justice."
By TESLARIU MIHAI
"My freedom flies away
like a hawk disappearing
into the night sky."
By JAIDEN A.
By TESLARIU MIHAI
of colour striking the
surface of my skin as the
bright light slowly enters
my eyes. The sun caresses my face
with its warm, unwavering, gentle
hand. My eyelids flutter as the light
extends its arms, softly opening my
eyes as it unveils the world around
me. The gentle serenity of the sun’s
golden rays fade away, retreating
bitterly into the shadows as my eyes
adjust to the greyness of the setting.
Broken shards of glass lay limp
beside me and the TV is full of static.
I imagine its beating heart about to
give out as the crispy buzz from the
screen slowly fades away like the last
heartbeat. If it weren’t destroyed,
the room would be quintessentially
My mind starts to become a
little foggy. The thoughts flowing in
and out become slurred, my vision
clouded. That’s when the panic sets
in like an alarm clock going off in my
head and I realize…
…I don’t know who I am. I don’t know
where I am, whose room this is, or
what my name is.
The living room downstairs doesn’t
make sense either. The couch is
By TESLARIU MIHAI
flipped upside down. The light bulbs
are smashed. The photo of the happy
family is unrecognizable. But the
girl is holding something that seems
‘‘I don't know who I am. I don't know
where I am, whose room this is, or
reach into my
what my name is..."
phone, only a piece of ID. A woman
with frizzled blonde hair, ghostly
eyes, and a plump smile is encased
within the photo. The name Stellar is
listed on top.
I pick up a shard of glass
and look into its reflection.
“So I’m Stellar.”
my name seem
true as if the
of sound that
screaming, “I’m Stellar” into the
atmosphere make my identity hold
weight in the real world. But when
the sound fades into emptiness,
thoughts rush into my mind as a river of memories plunges my
“Look, Stellar, I’d appreciate it if you kept this quiet.” A man in a crisp
suit stands in front of me. “Plus nobody is going to believe you,” he adds.
I can’t speak. I can’t even move my hands. But my eyes start to process my
surroundings. Bottles of medicine line the shelves, papers are stacked on
the desk, and empty pill bottles litter the trash.
Medicine, medicine is what I need.
As my mind is pulled out of my ocean of thoughts, finally
having a chance to breathe, I decide to head out to a pharmacy to
get medicine. It’s as if this plan was meant to be. There are keys in
my jacket pocket that unlock the car. The navigation system shows
Gregorie’s Grocery Store as a recent destination that’s been searched.
As I start to drive the roads are clear. This plan seems too perfect to be
I notice that it’s awfully quiet outside.
But the silence is a gift, the first dose of medicine that soothes
the throbbing headache, increased heart rate, and foggy vision that
plagues me. As I continue to drive, something catches the corner of
my eye. A sinister shadow. The glimpse of a man holding a camera. A
bright flash. I tell myself I’m making this all up, that once the medicine
enters my body everything will be alright. That it will all make sense…
The parking lot is empty. My car invades the lonely pavement
like an insect. As my feet gently massage the ground a scream pierces
the quiet of the day.
“Come here, you.”
I turn around and a tall, startling figure is present. I
don’t know if I can even call him a man because his features have been
twisted. His skin is patched with purple, his eyes glow a deep, misty
yellow, as if they are dying stars, and his voice is slurred. It’s as if death
has sucked all of humanity out of his soul.
“I’m…I’m sorry sir, I’m not sure I can help you.” I take cautious
“You should be sorry for what you’ve done,”the man blurted.
“You deserve this.”
“Deserve what? What does that even mean?” I whisper to
Then it happened. The man pulled out a gun from his pocket. His eyes
lock into mine like a predator toying with its prey. His grey teeth shine
as he smiles a wicked smile. It’s the look of a monster. The gun’s barrel
stares judgingly into my soul and it’s all I focus on. My legs aren’t mine,
my hands stay locked in place, my heart stops beating. Frozen in fear I
lose control of my body. The hypnotic state is fascinating. The way that
time seems to stand still, the way all the vibrance in the world, once an
oasis of colour becomes a desert stinking of death.
A bullet pierces the air, cutting through the flesh of the
atmosphere and as I look in front of me, I see the man crumple on the
ground. He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t say anything. But his eyes. His
eyes are open, the bright yellow pupils stare at me with fascination and
judgment, as if they are looking at a monster.
A woman's voice booms like a thunderstorm,
“C’mon we gotta go.” Her arms grasp my shoulders, pulling
By TESLARIU MIHAI
me towards her car and my legs follow
in pursuit. I do nothing, I let her guide
me into the passenger seat as the
neurons in my brain try to send signals
to process what’s happened. But I still
“What just happened?”
My voice sounds ghostly.
“What’s been happening for the past 587
days if I’m correct,” she calmly replies.
“No please stop the car,
this isn’t right, I need to go back for
medicine,” I demand.
“It’s a death trap in there”,
the woman states, “You’d get killed the
moment you enter.”
“But where’s the police? Why
are these people doing this? What
was wrong with that man?” So many
questions linger, they float like stars in
a galaxy, burning brighter and brighter,
waiting to be noticed.
“Jeez you don’t know, do you?”
“No, I woke up in this strange
house with nothing but my ID.” Even
as the words leave my mouth they
dissipate into the air like a vapor trail.
The woman looks at me with a skeptic's
awe and all I can hope is that she
“Well, I’m Moria. It’s
complicated but around 2 years ago
a parasite was released. It clawed
into the minds of civilians, turning
innocent people into deranged, killing
machines.” Her voice didn’t waver, its
flat sound dully gliding across the air.
It’s as if she’s said this before.
She continues, “The few who
are unaffected are looking for a vaccine,
apparently the scientists who caused
the outbreak stashed a few in their labs
before everything went wrong.”
Those words are like a stone
being dropped into the ocean of my
mind, sending ripples of thoughts that
scramble to the surface. The electrons
in my brain begin to panic as they try to
process a new memory.
“You crossed a line by touching me like
that. It was inappropriate.”
By CHRIS YANG
Ihear my voice boom with the
energy to spark a supernova.
Wisps of anger are evident.
stop freaking out.” It’s the same man
“No. You need to face the
consequences of your actions.”
“Hey, are you still there?”
The memories fade away like mist
in the wind, dissipating into the
atmosphere. My eyes open wide and
the bitter afternoon light brings me
back to the harshness of the day.
“Yeah. I’m fine,” I added.
“Like I was saying we’re
heading to a lab up North to find
a cure. We should be there soon”.
Click! The sound of a camera.
“Hey, are you taking
photos?” I ask. Moria shakes her
head but her eyes tell a different
“It’s probably your
headache playing tricks on you,” she
The lab looks out of place.
Its metallic shine contrasts against
the dull, matte sky. The tall white
doors seem to demand respect
from the people who entered, but
there was no respect given to the
crumbling bricks on the wall or to
the cracked windows.
“Here,” Moria whispered, grabbing
a key from her bag and opening the
door. Something seemed off, the
plan was again too perfect…
“How do you have -”
“It doesn’t matter”, she
replies. “Hurry up.”
Inside the lab, there weren't
the expected bright white lights or
chitter-chatter between scientists. A
cave of darkness seemed to surround
us, like a murderer enclosing in on its
victim. As we entered the room at the
end of the hall I heard a noise from
behind. The crunching of broken
glass was evident, the deep breaths
of a person rang louder in my head.
“Watch out,” Moria
A woman with skin blotched
with purple and eyes as yellow as
the sun grabs onto my shirt. Then I
see it. The screwdriver in her hands
starts to spin like a tornado coming
This time I don’t freeze, I
run. My feet carry me forward faster
now, the terror still ringing in my
head like a leech.
“Help,” Moria shrieks, her
voice slicing through the calmness of
There’s nothing I can do, I tell
myself. I feel guilty but that thought
is the only justification I have to keep
Her muffled voice is choked
I reach the end of the
hallway. Left or right, which way to go?
“Hey there beautiful,”
whispers a man, holding a knife. I
can see that it’s stained with what
By EVIE S.
appears to be dried blood.
“Please, no, please don’t
hurt me,” My voice drips with fear.
“It’s ok darling”, he says,
walking closer. That’s when I run
when my legs bolt down the hallway.
I see a light. Its golden gleam cuts
through the darkness around me.
The rays glisten with warmth and all
I can think about is the safety that it
will offer. I approach the light, I take
a deep breath, close my eyes…
…“Bravo! She’s entertaining,
wouldn’t you all agree?” a man asks.
As I open my eyes, as I
let the light trickle and bring my
world to life, my heartbeat slows
and I realize that I’m no longer in
the lab. The courtroom I appear to
be in stares judgingly into my soul.
The jurors in front of me all laugh,
chuckling with a sinister sense of
humor. The judge at the front smiles
as the jury continues to whisper and
laugh uncontrollably. I notice a giant
screen in the middle of the wall. On
it is a photo of me in the house I woke
What’s going on?
“Darling are you alright, what’s the
matter?” the judge asks in a snarky
“The infected were chasing me, they
killed a woman!” I tell them.
“The infected?” the judge chuckles.
At that very moment the guy from
the grocery store, the woman with
the screwdriver, and the man with
the knife walk into the courtroom. It
was like seeing ghosts from my past.
Except they looked fine. The purple
splotches were gone. Their eyes were
no longer gleaming with yellow. The
seemingly dead man was now alive.
“Can we have a bravo for
these brilliant actors?” the judge
questions. A round of applause
echoes like dynamite as it explodes
harshly into the atmosphere.
“And how can we forget the one and
only, Moria?” the judge chanted.
Moria walks into the courtroom.
It’s as if the court has now become
a stage. I notice that the red stain on
her shirt is gone.
“Now last but not least, we have the
accused, Stellar Hymen!” The jury
doesn’t give me a round of applause.
Instead frowns trickle onto their
faces and looks of disgust plague the
courtroom. One word seems to hang
on longer than the others: accused.
“Well even if we don’t love Stellar
herself, I must say that she was
entertaining,” the judge exclaims.
“I don’t understand,'' I whisper. But
the whisper turns into a crescendo
By MARIANNA SMILEY
as I shout, “Moria should be dead.
The 3 infected should be trying to
kill us, why are you even in this lab,
what’s going on?!”
“We thought you might
ask,” Moria replies. She looks at the
judge who seems to nod.
He presses a button and a video
It’s a news report from a
“Yesterday at noon judges,
lawyers, and jurors met at the
supreme court to discuss the case of
Stellar Hymen, a pharmacist from
NewTechLabs. Back in May, Stellar
was seen accusing the CEO, George
McGreggor of sexual assault, a bold
assertion that threatened his career.”
Memories started to trickle
back in. I could remember the incident
now, I could feel his hands pressed up
against mine with the strength of a
lion, his lips slithering against my lips
like a snake poisoning his prey. And his
eyes. The way his eyes pierced my heart
as if he were staring at a piece of trash
that would later be discarded.
The broadcast continues,
“The police launched an
investigation and found that no such
allegations were true. George Mcgregor
took Stellar to court due to the public
chaos that threatened his company as
a result of her false accusation. His
lawyer, Kenneth, one of the world’s
best, saw that Stellar should be tested
to see if she was worthy of redemption.”
So this was a test? I suddenly
remembered how the pieces of the
puzzle clicked together. The weird
house I woke up in, the way the GPS
led me to the grocery store, the fact
that Moria drove me to this lab.
“To explain more we have
Helen Larson, the founder of the
company NewTechTrials that carries
out this modern form of justice.”
The camera pans to a woman
dressed in a business suit. Her lips are
glossy, her eyes stained with joy from
what she’s about to say. “Well thank
you. NewTechTrials is the future of
ensuring that our nation gets the justice
it deserves. Stellar harmed the science
community, and as requested we've
been tasked to design a test to see if she,
despite being guilty, is deserving of a
second chance. We’ve been developing
a new memory-draining serum so that
3 months from now Stellar will awake
with no recollection of who she is.
Viewers will be able to livestream and
enjoy some sense of punishment as we
bring her into an apocalyptic world.”
She didn’t lie, I thought.
This world was apocalyptic and
my memories were groggy. The
details about the court case seemed
fabricated. When I searched my mind
I could recall nothing about those
events. The trial seemed to have
faded from existence like a lonely,
lost winter day. I kept listening with
“To make this interesting
we’ve hired some of the world’s best
actors including Moria Donahue,
Angel Arkams, Jason Leskts, and
Matthew Ferris! As well some of the
best cameramen, stage directions,
and makeup artists will be featured.
In the end, the jury and judge will
decide whether or not Stellar deserves
to be free. But stay tuned to see what
happens. NewTechTrials promises you
The video cuts to thousands
of people chanting and clapping,
holding up signs with my face printed
on them, some with an X crossed
through, others with flames around
my head. So the memories about the
office, about the abuse, about the
fight with George were true.
By IAM OS
“Well folks,” the judge chuckles, “The
expression on her face is priceless.
But it’s time to see what the jury
thinks!” I look over to see the faces
of the jury. I notice how each of
"...as if the veil of lies that
covered the legal system had
been removed, I could see the
them is lavished with rich, luscious
clothes, and how their teeth shine
with a sparkling white. Watches,
necklaces, and gems litter their skin
like shimmering stars amidst the
universe. It seems that the rich and
powerful would be judging me. It was
as if I was playing a casino game, one
that was rigged, that I was destined
to lose. A woman with blonde hair
responded, “We the jury unanimously
find Stellar undeserving of a second
chance and guilty.”
Guilty. The word lingers
in the air like a dead song. As if it’s
attached to an anchor, it seems
to weigh me down as my mind
starts to break under the weight,
as I feel my consciousness sinking.
Another memory flows in like the
tide. The day of the court,
the day George stared me
in the eyes as I was judged,
as he smiled wickedly the
moment I was found guilty.
These people were wicked, I
thought. They were cruel
vultures, desolate, greedy
creatures for how they
found happiness in seeing
my pain. Only a monster
would make me go through
this apocalyptic test to see if I could
be saved. But perhaps then, everyone
in the justice system was a monster.
My mind snaps back to
“Thank you jury,” the judge
responds. “Today it is clear that
Stellar failed 3 tests. First, she let
her greed consume her as she stole
a car.” I rolled my eyes, of course I
would take the car! The whole test
was practically designed in a way
that required me to do so. This
wasn’t justice, I knew I was innocent.
“Second she willingly broke
into a lab, showing her inability to
follow the law.” I didn’t say anything,
I didn’t even beg or plead as I heard
those words. I knew that nothing I
said would ever change their mind.
As if a blindfold was lifted off of my
eyes, as if the veil of lies that covered
the legal system had been removed,
I could see the truth now: The justice
system was stained with injustice.
“Finally, Stellar chose to be
selfish as she let Moria die, a perfect
example of a narcissistic individual
that shouldn’t be let into society. I, as
the judge, sentence Stellar to infinite
time in prison.” The gavel hits the
desk. Moria smiles at me. The jury
claps in glee.
The last ripple of a memory
that flows through the now-dead
ocean of my mind is where this all
started. I remember the room I
awoke in, the shards of glass laying
on the floor.
The justice system was
just like those shards: a fractured,
broken, useless tool. I smile as the
reality of the world shines brighter
than it ever did. I cling onto that
thought as my freedom flies away
like a hawk disappearing into the
i s s
mirror of society
poetry & prose
photography & art
By ANDRE BENZ
By JAKOB ROSEN
In The End.
By ALEX SHENSTONE
Ludovico Einaudi is the name
Hans Zimmer—he created time.
Ramin Djawadi crowned our
conqueror of the night.
Danny Elfman taught us
the art of war.
Giona Ostinelli and Sonya Belousova showed us
a kingdom’s last blooming rose.
Carlos Rafael Rivera taught us how to
win the final game.
Justin Hurwitz gave us such an epilogue—
an epilogue of we artists all.
By MATEO AVILA CHINCHILLA
"A white teacher looks at me and
says, "Now, aren't you glad we changed
things for you over there?" I ask him
what he means."
By HALLE EWING
1. (In Latin America) a woman of
mixed race, especially one having
indigenous or Spanish Descent (Oxford
2. A racial classification used to refer to
a person of combined European
and Indigenous American
Ancestry. The term was used as
an ethnic/racial category for
mixed-race castas that evolved
during the Spanish empire
I am born into the
entropy of 2006 North Carolina,
cradled in the palms of white
women, woodland phlox and
Sweetgum trees the same color
as my mestiza hair. A shiny
spoon of white-passing clickclacks
against my growing teeth
while my mother is dismissed
as nanny, servant, babysitter.
This Filipino telenovela fades
into the background with a
choking cough when the halohalo
comes out of the ice-block
freezer. It thaws in my throat.
I reach for it with baby hands.
I am dumped into
the palmetto fronds of coastal
California. I am sitting under
the tangerine tree when my
uncle, my mother’s brother,
brushes bangs off my forehead
and says I got the pretty genes.
He peels open my eyelids and
admires the swamp green, the
same color as where I was born,
and my mother tells him thank you.
“Mestiza,” He says. “She is
I look at my mother and ask
why I look more like Daddy when I’m
She says, “Manahimik ka (be
quiet). Eat your oranges.”
The next time it happens is
when I am in second grade. I wear
my Filipino clothing to school on
Cultural Day and people say I look
like a little white girl playing dressup.
A white teacher looks at me
and says, “Now, aren’t you glad we
changed things for you over there?”
I ask him what he means.
He ruffles my hair and says, “You
wouldn’t be this beautiful if we didn’t
help you out.”
I tell my mother this. She
sighs and says, “My little white girl.”
I say, “Why do I look like
Daddy and not you?”
She says. “Ano Ka Ba?
Kainin ang iyong pagkain at itigil ang
(What’s wrong with you? Eat your
food and stop asking questions.)
It takes her two more years
before she explains that while I am
Filipino, I am also European because
horrible men decided to taint
pure brown bloodlines with their
whiteness. I scrub the floor with a
She says, “If you go to the
Philippines, they will say you
are magunda (pretty).”
I say, “Because I look
She says, “Linisin ang mga
sahig (clean the floors)."
I am in fifth grade. I am
lying next to her in my parents’
wide queen-size bed as she
explains a war I have never
heard of and says, “The United
States thought we were too
savage to govern ourselves.”
I say, “Why?”
“Dahil sila ay masama (Because
they are mean).” She says,
“Masyado kang maraming
tanong (You ask too many
questions). Go to sleep.”
(I ask my dad the same
question. He says he hates
I am in seventh grade. My
mom drives me to school on
the way to the hospital. She is a
I am proud of her. I tug
on her green scrubs and say,
“Mahal Kita.” (I love you.)
My family sits under that
tangerine tree. My Filipino
uncle sits next to me again. He
brushes mestiza bangs off my
forehead and peels open my green
eyes and says, “You’re a beautiful
girl, you know. Very American.”
I say, “I am Filipino,”
He Laughs and Laughs and
He says, “No, you’re not.”
By MARIKA VINKMANN
By MATT HSU
They presented Mom with a
barrage of bottles, swollen
like milk jugs, corked with
burnt cardboard. The nurse
held a clipboard in one hand and a
clementine in the other. Mom had
an hour to scan the reports, to raise
the bottles to her eyes, to sing to the
babies dormant behind glass. We
left the hospital half an hour after
entering, a bottle baby in Mom’s
elbow crook, and the receipt in her
skirt’s back pocket.
The pricing system
is rote, yet still speculative. Babies
are awarded a value based on their
longevity, their looks, their predicted
personality;, anything that appears
on the atomic-level scanner. Blonde
babies are the most expensive.
Blue eyes add a two-thousanddollar
premium. Gene patterns
that indicate obedience push the
price upwards, while neurodiversity
causes it to plummet to nearly zero.
The cost used to be fixed, but supply
and demand tossed the bottle- baby
economy into financial entropy.
We’re not wealthy, so our new baby—
who we’ve decided to call Lucas—is
small, angry, and Chinese.
In his early days, Lucas
is treated much like a hunk of raw
poultry. He soaks in warm water for
several weeks, as his limbs unfurl,
his face takes shape, his umbilical
cord floats away like bread in tomato
soup. We season the water with
nutrient packs, bought in bulk from
the nearby supermarket. A lightbulb
hangs over his tub, casting light over
his scrunched fingers for twelve
hours per day.
Mom pulls Lucas from the
bath at 7:00 a.m. on September 16,
which I suppose is now his birthday.
The moment his head emerges from
the water, he begins to wail. Not a
gentle coo, not a miracle cry—a fullout,
five- alarm, pineapple- cake,
donkey-on-the-mountain wail. It
shakes the shutters off our windows,
turns our pecans into pie, grabs Dad
by the collar and dumps him in the
backyard. Mom tries everything,
rocking and bouncing and steamed
milk, but he just won’t shut up.
I create a small barricade in my
room, made of pillows and stuffed
penguins, but Lucas’ cries drive right
It’s five o’clock the next
morning, and he’s still going. Lucas
has not gotten louder, but he’s
definitely shriller, frillier than the
night before. Mom and Dad have
turned a muddy yellow from the
stress. Their fingernails bend away
from the noise, and the hairs on their
heads have begun to wither away. All
three of us have crusts contouring
our cheekbones, black smudges
beneath our eyes. My oatmeal tastes
Mom’s on the phone when
I get back from school, pressing
her lips against the receiver. Across
the house, Lucas continues to wail,
screeching as if silence would cause
the world to stop spinning on its axis.
Several moments later, Mom taps the
handset back into the dial pad. She
tells me we need to take Lucas to the
hospital. Dad tucks Lucas’ old bottle
into a cloth bag, along with a turkey
sandwich and a stack of manila
folders, before ushering us into the
car. Lucas continues to cry.
The doctors say no
refunds. Lucas can be returned,
but his valuation has dropped
significantly. They apologize, say that
malfunctions don’t usually occur, but
jab at the waivers Mom signed when
she protests. Dad and Mom and the
doctors disappear into the room
next door, shouting over Lucas, who
they’ve left with me. I take him in my
arms, lifting his chin beside mine.
Soon Mom and Dad finish
their conversation with the doctors.
They disappear for a while, then
reemerge in the hallway, a handheld
cradle hanging below their hips.
There’s a baby inside. They wink
at it, cover their eyes, bobble their
tongues, shower its head with
caterpillar fingers. I try to make
eye contact with them through the
door’s glass pane, but they keep their
heads fixated on the exit as they walk
away. The baby’s name is Luther.
My name is Theresa.
The doctors come back into
the room. They stuff a purple rag into
Lucas’ mouth, and he stops crying at
By SANMEET CHAHIL
By RAGHU NAYYAR
"A Farewell to Harm", inspired by the
Rift Valley region of Kenya, depicts
how execution and banditry is
influenced by poverty and corruption.
By FELIX OTIS
he was right Tor, damn
it..! “ John Bett was
saying laughingly to
his wife, patting her.
She laughed with a wide, affectionate
smile and hugged the sleeping boy
child between them closer against
her ribs. The child stirred. The car
was trundling towards the gateway
between the pleasant rows of Nile
tulips and Nandi Flames which
sprayed the shade beneath with
their gay flowers in the gentle
rainstorms and winds of the season.
The headlights revealed in the dark
the aesthetic display that this action
“Easy lad,” said the mother.
“You’ll soon be lying in your bed.”
Their laughter was of
happiness rather than humor,
and stemmed from Dr. Kiprono’s
assurance last August that Tor’s
medication to stem out a nascent
tumor in her left breast would be
successful. This evening he had just
done a scan at Eldoret Hospital and
declared her cancer-free.
“You’re very lucky, Mrs. Tor
Bett,” said the doctor, as he watched
her and her husband and son sip the
coffee a nurse had brought them.
“The tumor was found out early.
Otherwise it’s usually fatal.”
“What do we do, doctor,”
asked Bett, “to keep healthy?’
“Grow and eat lots of
vegetables. Fruits. Less purified
sugar. If possible avoid sugar
altogether. Seek regular check-ups.”
The sound of honking had intruded
into the valley’s quiet nightlife
when suddenly the rainfall and
the drone of an approaching
motorbike assailed them. They
were two bikes and the damp faces
of the men in dark jackets in the
passenger seats looked into both
windows and pointed gun barrels.
“Get out, quick!”
“What do you want?’
“I said fucking get out!”
Suddenly, gunshots were
heard that shook the heart of the
valley and made the male domestic
who was opening the gate start. The
force of bullets threw the couple out
of the car into the rain, floodlights
and gore that had suddenly ganged up
over the array of flowers and leaves
that daily the labor of trees sprayed
their drive with, and the domestics
curled into a heap and barrow and
consigned to the bin pit with equal
kindness. A backseat window was
pistol-whipped, elbowed, and the
sound of breaking glass rang in the
silence. A damp, rough hand grabbed
the backpack in the seat. The watery
leather jacket arm appeared to
glisten with infernal guilt under the
light of the interior. Then the bikes
turned and roared away into the
Everyone scrambled to the
gate from the farmhouse where a
young daughter’s birthday was in
progress with friends, wine, cake and
music. A bottle of wine was spilt and
an apple slipped from the table and
dropped after the gathering down
the stairs to the door. Their cries met
only bodies and rain and gore. The
rain-like sweat bathed their hair and
trickled down their miens as they
witnessed the nightly, dismal end.
Two days later, a mediumbuilt
man in his late thirties boldly
walked into General Atea Maximum
Security Prison and requested
to speak to Gerald Sando. One of
the warders drinking tea in the
reception, dressed in their green
khaki uniforms and black berets,
flipped his HP laptop and searched
“Gerald Sando… Gerald
Sando,” he repeated under his
breath. Large bold characters of
the name appeared on the screen
with smaller details listed under
it. “Gerald Sando. Robbery with
violence. Third time. First taken for
shoplifting. Second time for cattle
rustling. Last time for cattle rustling.
Slapped with 25 years. Doing his
last three years. Suspected to be in
constant communication with his
gangs that terrorized Rerech Valley,”
the prison policeman looked up, the
look on his face none too pleased.
“What’s your name?”
“Kipell Bet,” the warder
typed. “Related by any chance to
the Bett killed with his wife and son
yesterday in the valley in cold blood?’
He handed Bet a printed, stamped
By SUSAN WILKINSON
"No. My name is spelt with
one t at the end.”
“Sorry but I’ve used two ts.
Visiting hours are close to an end. Go
straight along that corridor. Present
that slip to the officers at the office
to the right. Good luck, and be flash
Bet walked briskly along the
corridor. A lot of friendly noise came
from a canteen to his left where cops
drank coffee, tea, soda.
“You want to talk, or just see
him?” the stern little woman with a
small pistol in her holster asked.
Two armed warders,
chatting casually about the weather,
were summoned from the canteen.
They conducted him to a chair,
indicated the telephone on the little
wicket in the wall grilled with bars
and withdrew. One of them looked at
“You got ten minutes, and
While he was being
conducted to the telephone Gerald
Sando was sitting on another chair
on the other side of the bars while
two burly warders withdrew five feet
or so. Sando lit a cigarette. He was a
sleek, hard, smiling man. He raised
"Success,” Bet said.
“Good. 150 to all. The dregs
for King Gerald. How’s that?"
They rose together like it
was a ceremony, and the cops on
both sides of the iron curtain came
behind them concurrently and saw
The three sleek coffins were
nearly covered in fresh, luscious
flowers. They were real flowers from
the fields of the valley. The valley
teemed with trees and flowers. The
catafalque was bathed in tears and
sunshine. Among the mourners was
Fredrico Maconi. He was bowed,
humbled, tall, but still with his white
skin and long golden locks he was
prominent beside Annabelle, his
wife. Maconi would never forget till
the day of his death the sorrow and
tears that accompanied the three
coffins and the red soil into the pit.
Only three months ago he had come
to the valley following a section in
Safari. He had been in the south
coast with Annabelle drinking coco
water reclining on beach chairs
reading in the tropical sun.
By RAZIE HOSSEINI
He decided at once to buy a
plot in this little paradise
if only to please Annabelle.
And now beside the brook
in the valley looking out on
the emerald fields where residents
grazed their cattle was rising
the first expansion of his resorts
outside Europe, La Emeralda. And
the fields were alive with antelopes
and elephants. But how would he
tell Annabelle that the kindhearted
man that had sold them the land
was murdered in cold blood in that
very paradise? She never believed it.
Even right there in the cemetery she
still obviously couldn’t believe it. He
cried in his handkerchief and when
he raised his damp eyes to look at the
padre the pits were being filled.
One spring morning,
Maconi looked out of the third floor
of La Emeralda. A drizzle ensued.
Fundis was alighting in the yard to
give their last touches to the interiors
of the five floors. They wore helmets
and reflector vests and boots. They
conversed in casual drawls as their
feet echoed up the vacant stairs. He
was admiring the African tulip with
its floral flames in the sunrise beside
the brook close to where he had set
up a large greenhouse to provide
ready veggies for the resort’s needs.
That week he had ordered batteries
worth 150000 shillings to supply him
with his own ready chickens and
He gradually became aware
of a large herd of cattle, including
camels, approaching the valley from
the other side of the rill. They were
hundreds and their AK47-wielding
herders drifted across the northern
frontier looking for greener pastures.
They were the Turkana, a nomadic
tribe of the Nilotes. They wore beads
and cloaks and plaited hair and were
very friendly. They wore daggers too,
and sometimes during the safaris,
they provided security and guidance
due to their special discipline which
had made the country create them
a sort of legendary symbol for its
hospitality sector. In the nation’s
tourism ads they were popular as
accurate props and models for the
face of the tourism industry.
Suddenly, the herdsmen
were attacked by five gunmen on
motorbikes and Maconi heard
gunshots and saw game and the herd
scatter. One of the gunmen fell and
three of the herdsmen also fell then
from behind a police Land Cruiser
braked abruptly and six anti-robbery
squad policemen pushed through
their doors with guns corked, barrels
rising. Just when they were accosting
the bandits more gunmen sped from
behind and opened fire on them
and Maconi watched their bodies
scattered there on the field like offal
in a slaughter. He grabbed his phone
and dialed, but when he raised his
face again a missile flew into it, and
with its force he was thrown back
into the room against the approach
of a scared Annabelle, who was just
arriving from touring Lake Turkana
five miles away.
“Darling,” she said in
Italian, leaning over him, shaking
him. “Are you okay?”
Then, she saw the red spot
between his eyes. A crimson rill
flowed gradually from it. Then the
little source became a river. He had
been shot by a stray bullet. Annabelle
looked out of the window. The
rustlers were driving the great herd
away across the rill. There were two
silver rills sourcing from her own
eyes through which she watched this
Inspector General Jeff
Ochieng was a fat, dashing man close
to his retirement. He was painfully
conscious of the perils of his job. He
had been for close to forty-five years.
A meeting was underway in the
conference hall of the National Police
Headquarters. He had convened it.
Arrays of shaken police inspectors
sat around the glossy mahogany
table in piece suits. Some of them
wore berets, while the rest wore
crew cuts. Mineral water bottles
By CLAY BANKS
By MATT FLORES
and clipped print chapbook reports
were laid before every inspector for
reference. The Inspector-General
walked straight to the front. Against
the wall was a large computer screen
that showed the Reret Valley. He
indicated this, and for a moment he
looked lost for words.
“This, as you all know,” he
said,“ is Reret Valley. This beautiful
valley in the purlieus of Lake
Turkana has been lately the scene
of violence and murder. What is
hard to understand is, who gives
us away every time we attempt to
stand between the residents and the
bandits who’ve wreaked havoc in the
valley? Only a week ago we lost near
eight of our officers when robbers,
obviously having been tipped by one
of us, surprised them unexpectedly
from behind. They were surrounded
between two gangs of cattle rustlers
tourism was killed by a stray bullet.
Crime in the area has become an
eyesore of national concern, scaring
An inspector raised his
hand. The IG nodded to him.
“Somebody has been
making an income from betraying the
force. Someone very unscrupulous
and very dirty. Apart from the loss
of our officers in the valley and the
lamentable loss of civilian lives,
a page of these chapbooks states
clearly how a tapped line between
a convict and his visitor appears to
point to underhand deals.”
Another inspector raised
“Am for watching this
convict scheduled to be released. His
much-hyped resolve to live crimefree
should be totally disregarded.
He will lead us to whoever has been
"Crime in the area has become
an eyesore of national concern,
betraying the force, and this tapped
chat, if am not mistaken, confirms
that Gerald Sando was still very
much in control of his gangs from
“Good,” said the IG. “From
tomorrow we set up a special
commission to investigate the rot in
our midst. Good afternoon.”
Two burly prison warders
were seen marching briskly one
autumn morning along the corridor
that led to the dungeons of General
Atea Maximum Security Prison. A
heavy bunch of ancient-looking keys
jingled between them. They met at
one of the gates, neighboring the
wicket where the visitor had engaged
with the prisoner three years ago,
the turnkey, who returned their
salute with casual condescension.
He turned his back to them, and keys
and heavy chains were heard to grate
the metal of
one gate after
in high walls
of concrete in turn mounted with
In a yard of the prison,
hundreds of convicts in the gray and
white striped uniform breakfasted
on tea and toast. In a second yard
behind that another hundred
convicts breakfasted, the stewards
busy at their heads with cauldrons
and ladles. The place was crowded
and noisy. They stood in smaller
groups within the crowd chatting
apparently without the slightest
scruple in the world. Among the
convicts and stewards were warders
attentively keeping order.
“Listen here,” said one of
the cops, producing a slip. “If I call
your name step forward. Dolla Golla.
Wait over there.”
One of the burly officers
conferred briefly with one of the
hey walked through the
noise and crowd to the
noise and crowd in the
yard behind. The turnkey
again tussled with the
keys against chains and
lock. Inside the gate, the second
burly cop read aloud from a slip.
A not very good-looking
man stepped from the crowd.
‘Stand aside. Gerald Sando.”
Gerald Sando was a tall,
strongly built man in his early fifties.
He had a mischievous smile upon his
slick, pleasant face.
Finally, the cop folded the
paper and lit a cigarette. His partner
walked up to the three mentioned.
“Get your possessions and
follow us. Better hurry or you’ll have
to resume your time.”
Ten minutes later at the
reception Gerald Sando, among the
four, was seen to smile, a small holdall
hugged under his armpit.
“What you gonna do now,
Sando?” the female cop asked. “
“No. I’ll start farming in the
“You’re said to still regularly
correspond with your old gangs. Is
He was handed a form and
shown where to sign.
A quarter of an hour later, he
was seen to emerge outside the Gate.
To the press that accosted him owing
to the infamy of his youthful days
he told curtly he would have a word
with them not very long. He would
expose the rot in the security organs.
The two burly warders watched him
get into a waiting Toyota RAV4 which
sped once it gained the highway. Bet
lowered the window.
“Where are you driving me,
“To The Pearl. On Lake
Turkana. The guys are waiting.
There’ll be a warm bath and a change
of clothes and breakfast. And a bottle
The free convict stared
at the landscape. It had changed
greatly. Twenty-five years was
an eternity. The road was a dual
carriageway now, and down in the
beautiful valley, he saw a new yellow
tiled resort surrounded with ivy and
bougainvillea from a new bridge over
the rill. There were cars in the yard
and tourists. In the distance, the lake
lay wide and glossy like a leviathan
They were silent for
the five miles, and Bet was quiet
to allow his friend to take in the
breathtaking scenes and change
that time and social ventures had
wrought. Sometimes, they slowed
down to give way to great herds of
cattle that belonged to the pastoralist
residents. The Pearl was a sprawling
granite edifice overlooking the lake,
standing on nine acres of land.
The land was arid and the dust
drank deeply the heat of the sun,
prompting tourists to seek the cool
of the lake. As their car left the road
they spied tourists and locals along
the lake. There were boats on shore,
and more offshore. Some of the men
rowed, while others were engine
vehicles that parted the waters with
their prows in their speed. Along the
shore, some fishermen mended or
prepared fishing nets. Annabelle was
among a party of tourists who got in
a boat excitedly headed for a remote
island with guides to see animals.
She now ran La Emeralda. Her resort
shared a lot with The Pearl. Her only
child with Maconi, a blonde, blueeyed
man of twenty-four named
Mike, was among the party with his
Swedish girlfriend, Judy, of the same
age. She was the daughter of the
Swedish Ambassador. She was very
pretty with long cascades of red hair.
Mike had just joined UNHCR and
drove one of the organization’s relief
By FER MORENO
ando shaved in the expensive salon on the ground floor. It was
Sin the boutiques that served mainly wealthy tourists. There
were massage salons, wines, and spirits. Beautiful girls,
employed there no doubt, went about the place. He denuded
in the toilets, and Bet came and binned the clothes and shoes.
He bathed in a large white bathtub, savoring the luscious water and
foam with his eyes closed. For a long time, he had missed this very
freedom that the rich enjoyed, that inspired his reign of terror as a
criminal in these parts. Now he was out of prison and his bank account
was fat and he would have it all.
Sando surprised the gathering in the third-floor suite like he
was just in. There were bottles of wine and beer over the table but no
one was drinking heartily, obviously pending his reception. He let go of
his little hold-all and a very buxom, beautiful woman sprang out of the
corner seat and ran into his arms, followed by a youth of twenty-five
dressed in jeans and short sleeves.
“Njoki. Who’s this?” as he spoke the little youth hugged him,
and the uncouth audience looked on touched, their silence redolent of
the sort of awe peculiar to people of very mean ideology who otherwise
hold it in very high esteem.
“Kennedy. Your son.”
They disengaged, and looked into each other’s eyes. There
were a striking resemblance and tears. Now one of the men rose. He
had a tummy. He also wore a baseball cap. He was older. One of the
ladies filled glasses all around. Everybody raising their glasses, the
corpulent man said earnestly :‘To dear old Sando’s health.”
“I hear there’s a job this afternoon, Jack,” said Sando, after a
while, eying Bet and the older man.
“A group of wealthy tourists, including the present owner of
La Emeralda, are out in the lake. They’re camping in one of the islands.”
“Kennedy, you will join the team. Learn to fend for yourself in
this jungle of a place. Got it?”
The youth nodded. From his hold-all, the father who had just
regained his freedom produced a new little revolver. He handed it to
The island was sandy, and sunny. Where they made tent was
grassy, and overhead was a near-canopy of acacia and other Nile tulips
and other native trees that they could not give names to. Frederick
Dickens, a widower in his late fifties and the manager of a travel agency,
presided over the grille in the tent yard that roasted dik-dik meat
supplied by the natives. Poaching was illegal but the occasional game
wardens wandering in speed boats had respect for White Hunters and
class privilege. Mike and Judy served warmed sausage and grilled dikdik
and a Chinese spinster in her mother’s company and an African
girl with whom they were on very good terms served the wine.
“Let’s get out of here, Mike,” said Judy. “ It’s so sequestered.”
“I can’t leave mother. We’ll go together,” they were walking
along the lake now, away from the party. Judy clung with both hands
on Mike’s elbow. “ Besides, after so long in the camps among disgraced
crowds it’s great ambling freely where there’s only trees and sunshine
– and you.”
At two, they got into the boat to watch crocs. They were
By WOLFGANG HASSEL
looking out over the rails in groups
of twos and threes when out of the
horizon they were surrounded by three
boats with gunmen.
“Slow down or you all die!”
shouted one of the masked gunmen in
the boat that blocked their way. As well
as the others his gun was pointed at the
tourists. “ Turn back to the island.” He
indicated the island by making little
jerks suggesting the direction over
their back. Finally, he fired overhead.
The women shrieked and screamed and
When they got back to the land
they were rounded and held hostage
inside the tent. The bandits feasted on
the remains of the dik-dik and drank
the wine vigilantly securing the place.
One of the men walked in and grabbed
Annabelle by the hair, roughly. Mike
was furious but he could do nothing
“Take out your phone. Make
a call to La Emeralda,” Annabelle was
crying. She couldn’t believe this. A gun
was pointed at her head. “ Tell them to
send one million.”
The same cruel process was
repeated on every head under siege.
That evening, Sando was
abducted by four gunmen outside The
Pearl. His wife reported to the police
immediately. At the gate, four Jeeps
belonging to the Flying Squad were
leaving for the lake island. From the
hotel balcony, Njoki saw the vehicles
trundle into the Ferry.
It was seven-thirty.
“Hands up, and surrender.
The island’s surrounded,” boomed a
voice through a megaphone.
They were afraid and started
running. Boats strategically placed
around the place flooded the island
with headlights and heavy gunfire
ensued. Four of the hostages were held
as shields by four gangsters.
“You get closer and they’re
mincemeat,” threatened the corpulent
leader, his shield tussling to get free to
little avail, and a pistol was held to his
head, for it was Mike.
But presently, more policemen
By YASMINE ARFAOUI
walked up from behind and held
guns to the gangsters’ heads in turn,
and they were outmatched.
“Place the darned things
down,” said the foremost policeman.
Closer to the shore some of the
cops inspected dead and injured
members of the gang when the
exchange had died down. The leader
of the squad, Inspector General Jeff,
pistol-whipped a casualty nursing a
leg shot, who groaned and rose.
“Haroun handcuffs them,
then huddle them in one of the boats,”
he turned to the cops walking with
him to the newly subdued bandits. “
Two of the bastards escaped.”
“Is everyone okay?”
The tourists were hurdled
in the tent yard, still very shaken
with terror. A couple of them gave
first aid to old Dickens, who was shot
in the shoulder by a stray bullet.
“Get up, everyone. Help him
up. Get back into the boat.”
Sando’s bullet-riddled body
was found on a remote shore by
fishermen rising early to check their
nets. He had been tortured and he
was pinioned with plastic rope. Bet
saw his friend’s body. He became
afraid. At midday, the Inspector
General announced amnesty to
gangsters that would give up their
unlawful weapons on KBC. Bet was
seen surrendering his AK-47 early
the following day. The IG declared
him forgiven, and this grace was
echoed by religious leaders across
the country. Bet became a reformed
He had a beer in a bar
in town the fateful evening. Two
strangers engaged him at the bar.
They mixed their brandy with ginger
soda and drank standing up, and
tipped the beautiful girl behind the
bar who passed the orders through
the wicket in spirits of good feelings.
“Hola,” said one of them
to Bet, after ascertaining he was a
taximan, “ is that far from here?”
“ Seven KMs, roughly,” said
“How much would that be?”
asked the other. “ Would you take five
hundred a head?”
“That’d be a surcharge.
Three-fifty is fair fare to you and fair
business to me.”
One of them slapped a one
thousand shillings note over the bar.
Bet’s bullet-riddled body
was found by a goat-herder the
following day at sunrise. He had
been violently interrogated. He was
pinioned. The media was buzzing
with suspicions and conspiracy
theories. Almost everyone suspected
the police. The Catholic Archbishop
declared on TV that it was evil to
murder indiscriminately a man
already forgiven by society. The IG
refuted the claims, adding that he
only wished the police had been
able in all that time to bring an end
to these terrorists who had held a
By MARTIN FENNEMA
whole nation hostage with their reins
“In any case, God forgives,”
he concluded. “ That can’t be said of
the sale of La Emeralda to Moha
Duresh, a wealthy businessman of
Indian descent at Phillip and Milly
Advocates, an attorney’s office
in Nairobi. Duresh’s firm made a
transfer of three-hundred million
shillings to Annabelle’s bank account
immediately. Annabelle drove
from the attorney’s at Three in the
afternoon. She met Judy and Mike
for lunch in one of the suburbs.
The youths were going to announce
their engagement. Mike had ordered
shrimps, salad, and a bottle of Four
“You’re distracted, Mrs.
Annabelle,” observed Judy.
“She appears to be
sorrowing,” said Mike, pensively.
“It’s this place’s
atmosphere, Children. I can’t take it
Later that week, Mike
is seen leaving Judy on the coach
and following his mother through
the rooms. The look on his face is
“You’re not leaving, mum.”
Annabelle is throwing
things in a huge trunk.
“But I am, Mike. Am sick of
everything. Am not the kind of soul
to live every day looking over my
shoulder for gods sake.”
“They’re building a police
station, and beefing up security.”
She rose, and zipped up the trunk.
“Sorry, but that won’t
change my mind. Am fed up.”
Mike was dressed in sidepocket
britches and a t-shirt. His
hands were in his pockets.
“Every poor woman and
child need the investment you’re just
now leaving with mom. They need
it. Badly. I’ve worked in the camps
and the inner city and I know how
badly these people need an improved
“I don’t give a damn
Her plane left JKIA in the
afternoon, and the two youths left
behind, rode silently through the
streets wondering whether it was
still wise to assume a possibility of
surviving these streets.
“Am afraid,” said Judy, and
snuggled up closer, tightening her
arms around Mike.
“Don’t worry. We’ll go back
to Europe. Then we’ll marry.”
ut my dad won’t
hear of it. Calls this
paradise. He reads
Gurna, and Achebe.”
“It’s a paradise alright.
Perhaps you can’t say the same of its
“Say that in the streets and
you’re a racist. And it’s not everyone.
Every nation has a crime rate. Take
The traffic sign ahead
showed red. They braked behind a
snarl-up of cars.
“I don’t care. Besides, you
don’t have to be your father’s disciple
Judy. It’s enough he sired you without
“Mike, I love him.”
“So do I.”
Mike returned to UNHCR
and the camps. He wondered if he
the poor and
‘‘But my dad won’t hear of it. Calls
displaced or go
back to Europe this slaughterhouse a paradise. He
and find work
in some snug reads Gurna, and Achebe."
When summer came he was still
Kennedy walked with the
frame to the door and back. His
mama clapped happily. She took the
new crutches from one of the hired
medical people and gave them to
“Try these. They’re at 5”5.”
A petite nurse and two
pretty paramedics adjusted them
for him until they were two inches
higher. He crutched to the end of the
long corridor, to the loos.
“That’s his accurate height,”
said the petite nurse.
“He will be like his
father,” said a male voice over their
shoulders. Everybody except Njoki
withdrew. “ In fact, he’s very much
“Yes,” laughed Njoki. “He’s
the very chip of the blue block,
The Inspector General had
his black beret folded and stuffed into
the buttoned part on the shoulder
of his khaki shirt. He had one of his
hands in his pocket. They stood side
by side and gladly watched the youth
crutch back towards them.
“How’s that leg now, Ken?”
“You need a good rest,” said
the Inspector General, turning to
Njoki. “Let them give him a cup of
They watched Kennedy,
askance, crutch himself towards his
“He had a metal screwed to
his femur,” said Njoki.
“All the more hopeful.”
Without another word,
they walked side by side down the
external, steel stairwell.
in the hands
of the Police,
or from the
betrayal of their own brethren in the
underworld, Inspector Jeff?”
Inspector Jeff hesitated in
his walk, bringing them to a halt, and
face to face. There was in Njoki’s eyes
a thirst for information that might as
well have been the unpredictability
of her newfound love for him. But it
was also an emotional salad of guilt
“Could have been anybody,
Njoki. Police to save their face, their
brethren to stem rivalry. The job is
just as risky as mine,” he shrugged
his shoulders. “What’s for sure is that
we’ll probably never know, Njoki.”
In the yard of the suburban
house, Njoki allowed the Inspector to
kiss her cheek.
“I’ll see you at The Pearl in
the evening, Njoki.”
She watched him drive
away with a lot of uncertainty.
By ALEX AZABACHE
By OLADIMEJI ODUNSI
By MILTIADIS FRAGKIDIS
By SANDRA KOLANKIEWICZ
’m not sure what to say of the grim-faced men
pushing people up the steps of the trains we
were so thrilled to see updated, modernized
cars floating on magnetic tracks at a speed
unimaginable to my grandmother
who never would have believed you could ride the
Staten Island ferry with a phone in your
pocket. My earliest memory’s of pointing
to the great lady with the torch, appearing
both gigantic and small under a grey sky,
withstanding the raindrops that fell as we moved
below to sit in our scratchy, woolen coats.
A year in Chicago after her hasty
marriage, from the window of their new high rise,
they watched a tornado plow the city on
the other side of town and wanted to go
home. Who can blame them for knowing a lake was
not the sea, for craving neighborhood grit, for
missing their mothers and aunties, thinking a
bay their home, an island their oasis? She
never left again, knitted socks for soldiers
in two wars, could admit drawing a line and
holding was the same as losing, claimed painful
events are sometimes meant to be forgotten,
would recognize what is happening today.
By DEV ASANGBAM
BY ANNIE SPRATT
"You must not lose faith in humanity.
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops
of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does
not become dirty."
T H I S
"and still after, supposedly innocent questions
and jokes, / piling up year after year and I just
/ sit and smile and endure, take it just like the
other browns and yellows..."
By ANOUSHKA SWAMINATHAN
even though i’m growing up in
wow, super advanced in terms of everyone’s rights, right?
i wasn’t even double-digits when donald trump was
elected president of a whole goddamn country.
i was already aware at age seven that
people with my ‘privates’ and my color aren’t
and even before, i was in kindergarten and
another little kid said to me that he
didn’t want to be friends because i’m
my brown might
rub off, my
and still after, supposedly innocent questions and jokes,
piling up year after year and i just
sit and smile and endure, take it just like the other browns and yellows
‘where are you really from?’ here.
‘haha, your rat’s nest curls’ they’re natural, and nobody taught me to
By LUKE STACKPOOLE
‘you being good at math doesn’t matter,
it’s probably just because you’re indian’
‘your home food is disgusting. why
would you bring that?’
whispered from the other table to the
new kid: ‘don’t go near her. she’s indian,
so her hygiene sucks’ (when i would
shower daily and they were proud to
remember once a month.)
(and yet these are the ‘good’
and then, years later for me, discovering
black lives matter and
intersectional feminism and
queer pride, all
these concepts that had been right
outside of my grasp, unnamed and
they’re still worth lesswe’re
still worth lessthan
so, i’ve always known america isn’t
those who didn’t are the ones who
have always benefited.
they ‘didn’t know’ because they didn’t
have to, didn’t
learn it the hard way, relearn
i feel no love for my country because
it has never loved those like me
A M E R I C A
hy do they always teach us
hat it's easy and evil to do
hat we want and that we
eed discipline to restrain
urselves? It's the hardest
hing in the world - to do
hat we want. And it takes
he greatest kind of courage.
mean, what we really want.
hy do they always teach us
hat it's easy and evil to do
hat we want and that we
eed discipline to restrain
By TAPIO HAAJA
LIFE IS A
"What the all don't see / are the strings
carrying each of them after all, they are in a
large sea / of puppets..."
By SHEEKS BHATTACHARJEE
AMan walks across the darkened street His
footsteps hitting the ground with rhythm
producing a monotonous, steady beat and
looking through the colorful tainted prism.
A woman is sitting on her bed,
reading a novel she's read before
and thinking, what if i'm really dead? but, she buries herself
into her novel once more.
A child is playing in the park,
their mother sitting far behind.
But, before long, the sky turns dark
The poor mother, it turns out, is blind.
What they all don't see
are the strings carrying each of them after all, they are in
a large sea
of puppets who the puppeteer has condemned.
WHO IS TO
By OLADEJO ABDULLAH FERANMI
Descending from the body
Comes the head of he who perished a nicer
In the hands of the men who seek fort in the
But attention was paid more to emotional internal affairs
Staking the souls of teens, fathers
To face death in its vault. Who is to blame?
Round, they sit now and then, fiddling
Their games are from both standpoints. Unmasked,
Became the pass to rule, forgetting it's not to reign,
The eternal curses, the souls of their puppets,
The tears for their beloved, the dead man's mother
Sets the suns even before dusk. Who is to blame?
Who is to blame? The soil, a lot we met,
Governed by our fathers, now pools blood. interstate,
Religious disputes, with disputes in places
Not worthy of calling home. Sit and pounder,
You're the case, and it all emanated from you
Labor on yourself before inquiring; “Who is to blame?”
PROSE AND POETRY CONTEST
ENTER OUR WRITING COMPETITION!
By MATEUS CAMPOS FELIPE
The Global Youth Review, alongside Coexist Lit and SeaGlass
Lit, is hosting a prose and poetry competition open to
youths aged 13 ~ 24! Check out our socials to get updates
on our free workshops, opportunities to publish, and a
giveaway—all held during the duration of the contest!
ONLY YOUTHS AGED 13~24 ELIGIBLE
9 / 30
By DARIO MUELLER
"Raised above you, her gaze outward
/ and away, she cries like a maiden
bound to / the prow of a ship, bent
on a voyage..."
By SANDRA KOLANKIEWICZ
The first light came like an infant who hasn’t
slept the night, the sky red and screaming from her
toothless, cherry mouth. Arrange her over your
shoulder, away from your ear, and she wails at
the past, the wave you leave behind in your wake
as you walk the floor, upsetting the air and
making a path for silent molecules to
follow. Raised above you, her gaze outward
and away, she cries like a maiden bound to
the prow of a ship, bent on a voyage toward
a future she resists. Children are poor
metaphors for experience, the nurse told
me after the operation which was meant
to fix what happened in a country where they
sterilized me for free. Man, woman, rich, poor
rendered inert except for the energy
in their own lives, no taking on the privilege
of another, having survived the kind of
love that lets you see a baby as herself
even though she’s yours and wailing at the dawn.
By LEELA RAJ-SANKAR
First published in warning lines
I. Watch, first: from between the
two bodies lying on a stripped bed in
a dingy, airless apartment,
light spills as if from an open wound.
In the distance, a siren blares. On the
street below, a woman
whispers breathlessly to her
companion: something is coming
to save us. I don’t know what. But it’s
So the city settles down to wait. The
seasons pass. In a decaying bed in a
decaying apartment on a decaying
the lovers’ hair falls out in chunks.
Flies circle the ceiling fan. The lovers’
teeth rot in their open mouths.
not dead, just sleeping, in a city of
people who are
not dead, just sleeping, anticipating a
messiah who will never come.
An hour or a year passes. The two get
up and dance, and it’s just like they
II. Suppose, for a moment, that in the
huge dark empire made of money,
the sun never rose. That we spent
years pressed desperately together
all we had was our own feverish
Suppose, for a moment, that I loved
you. That this was
how we brought summer back to
life; the empire to its knees.
A film of sweat. The winding of a
Overripe fruit. Laughter. We were
happy and that was
our one great act of political
III. Stay sitting right there by the
where the light catches on your
Whatever you do, don’t move, don’t
make a sound, don’t leave this room:
I’m going to save you even though
that doesn’t mean anything. I’m
to save you even though it’s too late
and you are Lazarus half-risen, a
corroded thing that doesn’t know it’s
The poet and the muse. The lyre and
the love song.
The eulogy written in lieu of digging
you a grave. Verse.
Chorus. Wend and repeat. Wend and
IV. I’m sorry I looked back. I’m sorry
I threw it all away just because
I needed to make sure you were still
behind me, still following
footstep after damned footstep, from
the belly of this hell into the mouth
I’m sorry there’s not enough oxygen
in the story to breathe and I’m sorry
as soon as it ends we are just brought
back to the beginning. I’m sorry that
we have nothing left to carry. We have
nothing left to will into existence.
By CASEY HORNER
By CHAI CHAI
«love that extends, love that extends beyond the miles»
hold onto my words like the times we
spent together before before you left,
moving onto the train & i had to say
goodbye, hands clasping the locket you gave me
with a picture of you to remember to
remember these times while you are gone.
i remember how in high school, everything felt so
you were there at the volleyball games & i would
cheer you on with posters made with magic
at your football games
& our prom proposal put everything together.
like a locket, love that extends, love that extends
beyond the miles
of distance we travel with eyes focused on the
of farms & cattle & of skyscrapers & streets
which have been walked
too many times & which now hold cracks that
need to be fixed.
& we come back we come back to our town on
& everything seems different they say we are
they say that everything can be fixed and what is
meant to be will be,
but i do not know where the words can start and
sentences which can lead into paragraphs about
& we become two parallel roads
& a heart that breaks like a locket,
a locket which now reminds me
of the last part of us.
OF FARMS & CATTLE & OF
SKYSCRAPERS & STREETS / WHICH
HAVE BEEN WALKED / TOO MANY
By DHRU J.
& A HEART THAT BREAKS LIKE A
LOCKET, / & A LOCKET WHICH NOW
REMINDS ME / OF THE LAST PART
By KEVIN MATOS
By LEELA RAJ-SANKAR
originally published in Ex/Post Magazine
broken promise friday morning,
heat rising off blacktop like
a ghost trying to find its way back home. a thousand boys
standing on street corners
naming themselves nothing, yes,
the ones holding their breath, yes,
hands like bird’s wings and a dream like lavender
that we don’t remember, wait--
what was his name? how old was he? what did he sound
when he laughed? no, scratch that,
i want you to bring him back, tape his body together
and give it to his mother as
a christmas gift. do you remember?
do you remember? do you
remember? every time that sentence leaves someone’s
a gun fires somewhere, but
don’t think about that now, please, mind the gap,
step back, put your hands up before you
end up like him too, before they hand you another hat
or identity and you end up like him too, dear, please forget
there’s a word other than alive to describe him,
just imagine him laughing in a home that isn’t this one,
reborn on someone’s scarred shoulders, do you
remember? do you remember? friends and romans and
countrymen, i interrupt with more news, of
a lynching, and another, and another,
though that doesn’t happen anymore! we’re just being
By VLADIMIR GLADKOV
melodramatic! a million crows on the powerlines.
worn-out sneakers and broken ribs and
hearts pouring from bloody noses and the tension
that snaps like a string. do you
remember? do you remember that
we lived here? do you remember that you existed?
in the summer silence, our
frilly white dresses,
loose collars, too-big suit jackets, every
pearl of water, perfect body outlined in
one-way glass. the july that said, don’t call me a
casualty, the july reborn on hands and knees,
bones and eyes like knives and
lungs that refused to give out. when the gun goes
off it spills
marigolds and water lilies and carnations, but
do you remember? do you remember the crimson
roses? the sleepless nights? the day you came home
mother, grinned with all your teeth and said,
look, ma! not a single exit wound! while the city
behind you? boyhood means searching. girlhood
growing up on fire means learning to breathe
through the smoke, your blood
the songs of lost saints. this town made of chlorine
oak trees and cigarettes. the mecca we built for an
in the hollows of our cheeks. i want you to look at
this place and say,
now, everywhere, always. i want you to look at this
think of bruised hips and overripe fruit. i want you
to look at this place and say,
do you remember? do you remember? do you
remember? do you
By RAY ZHANG
Edges of vermillion sun
refract upon my skin.
Evening crickets drowned
by pulsating radios.
Mutters of prayers
carry an intoxicating beat.
wishing for more.
If only you knew petals drift down
like roots of eucalyptus trees,
then, you eyes wouldn’t mirror
playing dead before a fight.
Your gentle prayers no longer rhyme
drips of a stream; they gush out like
waves among the
Congo. Stipped down to your
bare stems, all that’s left is to
move one foot in front of the
I know you sold everything,
that grandmother’s pearls were
gone, and that your smoker’s lung
have given up –
only weeping for the tree of ténéré
when it has fallen.
By VLADISLAVE NAHORN
confines me in my
By REBECCA COLBY
Push me away and pull me right back again;
tug of war twine stretched carelessly thin.
Zero in on the light blemishes patterning my skin.
Like flecks of paint splattered violently by your despicable hands.
A twitch of the wrist and the bruises fade
a cruel trick fashioned by an even crueler mind.
By JORGE SIMMONS-VALENZUELA
Your vindictive words puncture gaping holes,
ripping sinew and tendons to enigmatic shreds.
Inescapable torture confines me in my conscience.
The gnawing creatures from within come out to feast
upon myself and my anxieties,
tearing my still heart from my empty chest.
Time shared with my demons is no better than death herself.
Ivory claws dig excruciatingly deep into my permeable flesh,
leaving no perceptible destruction in their wake.
A tangible hurt is resistant to discovery,
without painful illusions of a wandering mind.
By ZONGNAN BAO
By ZAHRA NOSRATI
By JC GELLIDON
The Global Youth Review would like to note that "Russian
Deception" contains sexual themes that are intended for
mature audiences only. Viewer discretion is advised for
By ARBËR SELMANI
am in the seventh heaven.
For God’s sake, I am the
favorite dish of seven men!
I am the drink that is poisoning the
peak of seven souls
Within these walls seven melodies
are being played
From one angle to another,
Fourteen hands treat me like as if I
were the most beautiful harp on the
I am a man,
But I am feeling like the queen of the
order of every state.
One of them is Chekhov,
He takes me and writes to me
He peels off the shell from my
He knows well how to write
a verse, he knows where the
I bump into him in the corners
of this bed,
Around my mouth I have Russian
juice, from the saliva of this
He will fall in love with me by
I am the sauna where he heats up, I
am the fountain where his thirst is
Pyotr Tchaikovsky is the most
He asks me to be one of the swans
He tastes me like the last vodka, like I
was a lead treasure,
He touches my eyebrows, and the
curtains of the room are flying with
I roll with him on the table where the
food is eaten,
The vases are broken to pieces, all
because of this brave Russian.
Tchaikovsky will fall in love with me
by tomorrow night,
This Russian exploded with the
symphony I love
I want to rest, but how can I say no to
He begs me on his knees, he seems to
have lost his muse
My arms tremble when this man
He gets hard on from my smile, from
Since the other one left him, his days
are just a lie
I surrender, on the piano, to all what
this man represents,
I surrender over his face.
He’ll fall in love with me by tomorrow
He will feel that he belongs to me, I
am his running water on piano, like a
‘‘I am the drink that is poisoning
the peak of seven souls / Within
these walls seven melodies are
Nabokov is sad, fragile, very jealous
He has little hair, smokes of a lot of
cigarettes, we reconcile while he
hard to himself
I made every butterfly in his belly, in
I caused every earthquake to happen
in Russia tonight,
He tells me about lullabies, about
children, he kisses me and his lips
We are in the bathroom, I give myself
madly to him, two books forgotten on
With water, destroyed.
He’ll fall in love with me by tomorrow
He protests strongly, then he is afraid,
he tells me that I have to love him.
Stravinsky looks out the window,
stuck behind me and my neck
He lists the dreams of nights in
He kisses my waist with pleasure, my
right ear is inside his tongue,
He gives me honey and wormwood,
he feeds me, with the opera heard in
He invites me to the Russian sea, I
give him no reason.
Stravinsky will fall in love with me by
The fifth man who is touching me
tonight, he comes to me like a well of
like a freshwater spring.
Tonight I turned to Gogol in every
character in the book,
We touch each other, we argue,
we kill each other, then he
caresses my feet,
I hate him, I like him.
Between the pillows, two glasses
of wine are waiting to be drunk
This Russian man, he will drink
me first and then his worries
He will start by praising me, the
classical hymn, turning me into
Gogol will fall in love with me by
He started crying, this man is crying,
but there’s no chance that I’d say to
him ‘I love you’.
My body glows with coconut oil, it’s
Everyone leaves the room, the two of
us were left alone,
He slaps me lightly on the face, he
sees that I am as icy as a storm
Like frost I open myself to this man, I
surrender to him like a strong wind,
like lightning, like rain
This big-chested Russian laughs, he
thinks he owns me
Quickly, with his woolen hand, he
shakes me as he pleases.
Dostoevsky will fall in love with me
by tomorrow night,
Even if he goes crazy, he won’t
swallow me like a quince next fall.
GBy RAY ZHANG
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” she mutters,
Juice splattering as
freshly peeled skin fall
near old dusted shoes.
Serene, she sculpts.
apple bits touch my hands
Peels stained with brown stellates, cascading its sides
dotting up and down
carved and diced–
not an even slice.
A basket of apples
each perfectly round
Shining crisp skin
Apples and hands
wrinkle, craving away.
away from fresh apples.
As every morning before
crisp red apples
brown soft mush
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”
By PAWEL CZERWINSKI
By ENEIDA P. ALCALDE
enators gather for English
breakfast—colonial crumpets & clotted
blood orange marmalade on white
sweetness stuck on sticky smiles pleased with
the latest financials for their pockets & conflict
mistresses’ jewels prim & proper
jackals occupying the House
built by the people
but not for the people,
history’s dust sifting beneath hard-toed
shoes polished by laymen paid a pittance,
sweat salty like yours tracking down
your back saved from the lash
unlike your neck.
Senators play tug of war, sing
London Bridges indifferent
to your life, collateral
for the rule of law,
while your mother holds vigil,
knees sinking into damp earth,
hands grasping candles,
teacup flames trembling
under monsoon skies,
No storm will wash away the ink
commandeering your final moments.
No stay of execution will be granted
like all others declined since independence.
Senators will go on to the House
via the manicured fields, play poker.
They will not witness the rope constrict.
Your mother’s wails
traversing the east west winds.
Their President will close the Book,
set the royal stamp on the cherry wood desk,
wash his hands at the sink,
reapply powder, and offer a trained
smile when he greets the Press.
By ENEIDA P. ALCALDE
bolded and constant
By MATEUS CAMPOS FELIPE
By ARBËR SELMANI
TW: Contains mature themes
I am the main prostitute of this city!
I steal from the petals of every flower.
I live because they drink me, curse me and eat me.
I am the bee that bites the most painfully in hive
I am the cure, the sweetest milk in the spring
I am every torn dress, every sting, every slap that cracks
I buzz, I keep this city alive.
Through the streets, alleys, phone booths
Under the bridges, near the sidewalks
In bar kitchens, in neighborhood cafes
Beaten by night lights, in terrible settlements,
Even in the middle of the day, between cars
I put lull minds to sleep, nervous tongues,
The crown on my head, I am a monarch, I am that bird that never cries,
I swallow, I keep this city alive.
I am an observer of misery,
In university buildings, in green parks
In hot saunas, in muscle pools,
At gas stations, in toilets with enough luxury
I lose myself, I even lose the men who pay
I am part of things, actions and meetings
I delay hugs, I exclude caresses, even kisses, I hate it all
I am the most dangerous woman, with charisma that does not kill
I scream, I keep this city alive.
I hear boredom to every moonlight
Some women hate me, others envy me
I step between the legs of the poor, I let the poor enjoy me
I am the captain of morality, the first one to be called by every politician,
I am the most beautiful with Japanese eyes, I am the sultan woman
I break every law, every article, every code and every norm
By ADIL JANBYRBAYEV
I break my neck, I get desperate, I get
wet all over
I am the train station, a stop, a queen
without a king
I poison, I keep this city alive.
I face the storms, north winds, I am
surrounded by an amazing aura
I have no gender in my face, I am a man
under my skin, always a useful woman
I see hell, I see heaven, I kiss who I want
In a bakery, in a hidden motel of a
On the tables of theater buffet, on the
No part of my skeleton is flawed
They want to wipe me out, then we
make love, I’m the craziest shark in the
I am steel, I keep this city alive.
I’ve opened up, and I am animated,
I am the main prostitute of this city!
Drunk I bow to those who see me as a
I am the anxiety of happy men, I am a
body sunk in wandering
I am a thin membrane that turns every
man, every woman, every river bed
Under the waterfall, in the mud, in
important administrative offices
I have rushed, like a mad mother, to
every tie, to every single poor one.
The eyes of the priests see me, the eyes
of poorly grown children.
Shepherds and housewives and
lutenists see me,
Watchmakers see me, both blacksmiths
and peasants want to enjoy me.
I don’t like my lips when they have
nothing to do, without any blessing
I shake, I shiver, in red heels I keep this
Together with the city.
P R O U D
By KATHERINE EBBS
CW // Queerphobia
Red sky at night shepherd’s delight, and queer herds are delightful.
Red life screams that it’s about the person, not the pronoun.
Red stop-sign cries that it could be Adam and Steve, and also Eve.
Red ladybirds land in spaces where faces accept their spots.
Orange chocolates heal queer heartbreak, no matter the gender.
Orange autumnal leaf piles reject all the other seasonal norms.
Orange lifejacket keeps those afloat who aren’t quite sure what
Orange boat to board, but soon realise the boat doesn’t need to be labelled.
Yellow rubber duck dives into his own depths, and discovers he likes drakes.
Yellow sunlight hit the balcony window, and his eyelashes were a ray of vision to
Yellow sunflowers he bought will never wilt. They only ache when he misses his
Yellow ball of sunshine because he loves him for all his mistakes.
Green hills drag them up and into nature to escape gender conventions.
Green, healthy conversations about not feeling at home in their body.
Green fingers link to uproot and re-plant our shoddy cis-earth, and to make a
Green fluid world. The waves are as crystal clear as
Blue artificial vodka sipped through her plump lips. A mouth whispers
Blue melody and harmony about the first time she was kissed properly.
Blue bruises linger at the spot she last missed her.
Blue tac forever holding up flash shots they took on a disposable camera.
Purple pictures made by mixing blue and pink. Spilt ink over the kitchen sink to
Purple spirit. Not always just a fifty-fifty split, but sometimes it is.
Purple silk handkerchiefs and purple petalled violets; the secret language of queer
Purple, peace dove tweets love who you love because love is love is love.
By H. HEYERLEIN
By DAN MEYERS
“Great Britain has lost an Empire and has
not yet found a role.” - Dean Acheson, US
Secretary of State, 1962
By MANTZ YORKE
globe splattered with pink:
a proud testament to heroism and the gift of civilization,
so my first school taught. As did my dad,
starting a scrapbook of the royals’ South African tour
with newspaper photographs of the battleship Vanguard
‘showing the flag’.
At high school I learned more about Britain’s victories,
the benign governance of colonies
and the moral superiority gained from noble commitments
like ending the trade in slaves.
SERVE AND OBEY, the blazer’s badge commanded,
a motto so clear in its intent and yet too vague
for youngsters to appreciate its relationship to learning
skills of soldiery in juvenile platoons.
The day the King died, the theme of the solemn assembly
‘Service to the state’, brought out the implications
as the Head insisted Russia threatened war
and we should all prepare ourselves to play our part.
Later, archival digs exposed
some monstrous building blocks in imperial foundations –
famine met with indifference, pillaged resources,
severed communities, colonial atrocities.
The sun long set on empire, the UK continues
the conceit of potency – aircraft carriers, nuclear subs,
troops engaged in wars abroad, a seat on the Security Council –
and yet its pretension to military clout is undercut
by trimming expenditure on soldiery, ships and planes.
The pink on the globe spoke truer than we knew:
the bold red of a coat has faded in the glare of day,
and the Union Jack, now the grubby white of Jasper Johns’ flag,
is a standard fraying in the wind,
its cloth beyond repair.
P L A
ISSUE III | 2021: HERITAGE
FALL 2021 EDITION
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The Global Youth Review
ADRIJA JANA is a bibliophile with a natural eagerness to learn new things, Adrija enjoys
writing, music, dancing, acting, event management, communications, and public relations.
An international award winning recently published poet, she has established herself in the
national and international Model United Nations (MUN) circle. Being an empathetic soul,
Adrija loves to take care of stray animals and devotes much of her time to social services.
She has worked with several magazines and youth organisations across the globe and is an
ardent and committed activist in the field of advocacy against Period Poverty and Education
ALEX SHENSTONE is a transgender, UK-based Creative Writing Masters student. He
spends most of his time on binge-watching TV shows, adores the Marvel
Cinematic Universe, and his poem "They Composed Us. In The End" was
inspired by the composers that have really moved him in his favourite films
and shows. His debut poetry collection "Jack of All Tales" is out with Alien
Buddha Press, plus he has other work out with Pastel Pastoral, Ghost Orchid
Press, Green Ink Poetry, The Minison Project and others. He can be found on
Twitter at @AlexakaSatan.
ANNA NIXON is an aspiring writer and poet from Manchester, England.
In her poetry, she is especially interested in the relationship between our
phycological and physical environment and seeks to find images in her
surrounding nature to capture emotion. Outside of her poetry she enjoys
swimming, reading and getting two-pint-tipsy in sunny beer gardens with
friends. More of Anna Nixon's work, including poems, newspaper articles and
spoken word performances, can be found on Instagram at @annanixonwritings.
ANOUSHKA SWAMINATHAN is a queer Indian-American 7th grader from
Northern California. They love reading all genres, but primarily write realistic
fiction and sci-fi, as well as poetry. They have previously been published in Ice
Lolly Review, Chasing Shadows Mag, and YAWP Journal. When not reading or
writing- so barely ever- xe dances Bharatanatyam, yearns endlessly, and does
debate. Xe also may have a mild addiction to writing in second-person. Both of
their pieces have been inspired by personal experiences as a queer girl of color.
ARBËR SELMANI is a journalist and poet from Pristina, Kosovo. He has
published four books. His poems and stories have been translated to Italian,
Slovenian, German, Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek and lately in English
for Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, Zoetic Press, Ethel Zine, The Impossible
Archetype, Rhodora Magazine and Changes Review. He enjoys swimming and
travelling, reading James Baldwin and likes to think one day he might visit
DC DIAMONDOPOLOUS is an award-winning short story, and flash
fiction writer with over 300 stories published internationally in print
and online magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. DC's stories
have appeared in: Penmen Review, Progenitor, 34th Parallel, So It Goes: The
Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Lunch Ticket, and
others. DC was nominated twice in 2020 for the Pushcart Prize and in 2020
and 2017 for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net.
ENEIDA P. ALCALDE’s poems have appeared in literary outlets
such as riverSedge, Birdcoat Quarterly, and Magma Poetry. She
graduated with an MA in Creative Writing & Literature from
Harvard University’s Extension School and is the Managing Editor
for Oyster River Pages. Born in Chile, Eneida fled the Pinochet
dictatorship with her family as a child. This life event underlies
her passion for social justice, a recurring theme in her poetry. Eneida also
draws inspiration from her Chilean-Puerto Rican heritage and the places
she has called home—from Chile and the United States to Bolivia, Abu
Dhabi, and Singapore. Learn more at www.eneidaescribe.com.
FASASI ABDULROSHEED OLADIPUPO is a Nigerian poet who loves every
goodness carved out of words, he sees poetry as storytelling thus tells the
stories of leaving, of vanquishing, of desert and its horrors, of oceans and
bodies becoming griefs and flotsam, stories of stigma and having to live
as homeless. Fasasi sees poetry as a graffiti of metaphors.Fasasi has been
published at Southern Humanities Review, South Florida Poetry Journal,
Oxford Review of Books, Stand Magazine, Olongo Africa, The Citron Review, Scrawl
Place, Short Vine Literary Journal and elsewhere.
FELIX OTIS Felix Otis is the pen name of Felix Otieno. Felix Otis lives in
Mombasa, Kenya. He's a casual worker and writes poetry, short stories and
novels. "A Farewell To Harm” is a crime/literary fiction inspired by a real valley
deep in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. It depicts how death and banditry in the
small, resource-rich location is influenced by poverty and unemployment, and
police corruption; how after using unsuspecting bandits to murder and plunder,
they kill them in the most cold-blooded extrajudicial killings ever seen.
HALLE EWING is 15 years old and from Southern California. She has boundless
love for the written word, and their previous publishings can be found in Paper
Cranes Literary Journal, Crossed Paths, Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, the
Weight Journal, Second Chance Literary, Ice Lolly Review, and the Blue Marble
Review. Their Instagram handle is @halleewingg.
ILANA DRAKE is a freshman at Vanderbilt University, and she
is a student activist and writer. Her work has been published in
Ms. Magazine, YR Media, and The 74 among others. She is also the
recipient of multiple Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She can be
found on Twitter @IlanaDrake_ and her website is https://ilanadrake.
JAIDEN A. is a student from Vancouver, Canada passionate about
social justice, academics, and learning about the world around him. He
loves how poetry and prose can be used as an outlet to untangle and
express the knot of thoughts in his head. Jaiden hopes that readers are
able to see the repercussions of his themes in reality and pause and think about the world
around them, even if it's just for a second.
MANTZ YORKE lives in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in print magazines,
anthologies and e-magazines both in the UK and internationally. His collections ‘Voyager’
and ‘Dark Matters’ are published by Dempsey & Windle.
ISSUE FOUR CO
JEN ROSS is a Chilean-Canadian
journalist and former foreign
correspondent. She spent 10 years working
in communications for the United Nations,
including UN Human Rights and UN
Women, before taking a break to write
fiction about her passion: girls' rights and
empowerment. She speaks six languages
and has travelled to more than 50
countries, including Egypt. She now lives
in Aruba and works as a university lecturer,
writer and editor.
REBECCA COLBY is a sophomore at Littlet
School in Littleton, a small town in the Unit
enjoys writing poetry and prose, as well as d
scriptwriting. Her steadfast writing compan
cup of tea and her sticker-clad computer.
NATASHA BREDLE is an emerging writer
based in Ohio. She likes sunsets and the
quiet, and is the caretaker of several exotic
pets. You can find her work in Peach Mag,
Full House Lit, and Anti-Heroin Chic, to
name a few.
KATHERINE EBBS is currently in her third
year of reading English Literature at the
University of Sheffield. Her writing tends to
tackle issues of queerphobia and injustice
within society. As a lesbian, she aims to
emphasize the oppressions that queer
people still face, even as society progresses
forward. Her poetry also questions
structures of power, particularly concerning
patriarchal structures of abuse.
LEELA RAJ-SANKAR is an Indian-American
teenager from Arizona. Their work has appeared
in Mixed Mag, Warning Lines, and Ghost Heart Lit,
among others. In his spare time, he can usually be
found playing Scrabble or taking long naps. Say hi to
her on Twitter @sickgirlisms.
MATT HSU is a student from San Franci
His work has been nominated for the Pus
and he’s published or forthcoming in The
Dynamite Poetry, Sine Theta Magazine, an
Currently he's querying his first novel: a
mystery about a crafty assassin. You can
Twitter at @MattHsu19.
ed States. She
ions are a warm
SANDRA KOLANKIEWICZ's work has appeared in
Fortnightly Review, Galway Review, The Healing Muse, New
World Writing and Appalachian Review. She is the author
of Turning Inside Out, The Way You Will Go and Lost in
Transition. These poems are about our sense of home and
the kind of love and commitment that helps parents raise a
child to fledge and be themself in a world full of preordained
assumptions about what we are supposed to do or become.
SHEEKS BHATTACHARJEE is a first-year college
student at the Pennsylvania State University and
is the co-founder/EIC of Vocivia Magazine and a
nonprofit organization (Astral Cognition). They have
published poetry in Coexist Lit, music pieces in the
Harmonic Mag, and Young Poets Unite’s Instagram
page! All of her work can be found on her website
(thecreativitydumpyard.tk) and she’s on Twitter and
Instagram as @mildlysomewhat.
d Paddler Press.
RAY ZHANG is an Asian American poet. His work has been
published in Teenink, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness, and the Blue
Marble Review, among others. Ray's poetry has been recognized
in the Benvenuto Poetry Competition, SCC Writing Contest,
Scholastic Art and Writing, etc. In his free time, Ray enjoys hiking
through the midwestern wilderness.
OLADEJO ABDULLAH FERANMI is a Nigerianbased
writer, poet, orator, and undergraduate at the
University of Ibadan. He has been trying to pursue
his passion for writing by writing multiple genres.
He resides presently in Ibadan, Nigeria where he
enjoys reading and writing indoors.
THE GLOBAL YOUTH