Regalities of Plainness, pt. II – Bryn Bluth

I gasped,

Over and over again I gasped.

Maybe he was in my lungs

And that’s why I had such a hard time breathing,

But he wasn’t there-

I know because I’ve always had bad lungs.


Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t caught him,

My lungs gave out

When he took his leave.

Which I’m okay with- 

You can’t run very far without a spine.


Back Again – Camryn Garrett

Back Again


I am not the only one uncomfortable here

but I am one of few.

Jose says that there’s more here,

more than enough rainwater to go around.

If you work hard, you live well.

The way things used to be at home.

Clara and Carlos agree,

Mama just offers a rubbery smile.

Papa’s eyebrows furrow




he’s rebuilding.

I wear a smile that mirrors Mama’s at school,

where American children speak English

and smile

and joke.

I tell them about Castro and the beach and being almost wealthy.

They smile.

Is it the same as a joke?

I have not eaten plantains since the trip.

Sometimes tears roll down my cheeks at the thought.

We are so close, and so far, all into one,

but my friends are still a world away.

Mami used to grow plantains,

and I feel like I won’t remember the taste of sunshine.

The surf here is saltier,

the beach has less sun.

But I still spend all of my time mingling with the waves.

If I stare long enough, I can see my island.

The waves have the power to carry us to another shore,

the way they carried us here.

I want to love it here, the way the others do.

I do.

Papi says it’s harder to find things in plain sight.

America is a land paved with opportunity.

I will find it.

I will.

Essay, Flash Fiction, Prose

Survival (Lesson One) – Caitlyn Beauchamp

I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’ll lay out each step, provide an outline, but you have to do the rest. You have to act. This is how to live life. This is how to survive.

First, I want you to wake up. Open your eyes and take a waking breath. Welcome this day. The past may flood back into your mind, but keep your focus on today.

Next, get out of bed. This is a bit harder. Moving takes motivation and determination, even though, it seems so simple on the outside. Sometimes it may feel like there is a weight on your chest, pinning you down, holding you back. You have to find the energy to fight back somehow.

If you made it to this step, feel proud. You kicked off your day when many others couldn’t even find the will to get out of bed. Now, go to your nearest mirror or somewhere you can see yourself. Once you’re there, look at your reflection and smile. Smile because you’re alive and that’s your most important job, your purest purpose, and you’ve done a great job so far.

So far, you’re moving and smiling. You’re doing great. You should eat something now or at least provide yourself with a beverage. Part of life involves taking care of yourself. It isn’t too hard, but I find some people fight themselves on the topic of it. They refuse to. They group it with bad acts. Remember, food keeps you alive. You’ve come so far already; why stop now?

Now, you have two options: rest or work. You get to choose, but keep that smile on your face. Whichever you do, make sure you do it right. With a smile. If you’re not going to put that effort into it then don’t do it at all.

Once the day comes to a close, I want you to sleep. Put everything aside and just lay down. Block everything else out. I know it can be tough shutting away your worries and thoughts, but you have to muffle them somehow. Your body and mind both need sleep, so try not to deprive them of it for petty things. I hope you’re still smiling. Now, repeat this tomorrow.

So, maybe this sounds like “faking it,” but I think this layout is efficient. You’re valuable, and you’re just constantly reminding yourself of that. Always keep moving. Always keep fighting. Never feel like today should be your last day. So, remember, do it right with a smile or don’t do it at all.

This concludes Lesson 1.


Inside Out – Camryn Garrett

The beach is where I become one.

Grains of sand form my skin,

Waves help me to swim.

Rays of sun combine to form my glare

and seaweed dangles in ringlets down my back.

Grains of salt are the Spanish words that fall

out of my lips.

They surf along the waves where Castro

will not find them.

Though I have the legs to stand,

they all,


              the surf,

                                the sand that forms land,

have more of a voice than I,

a spoiled little girl from Havana.

Papi built his business



                  from the


like the seeds of Mami’s plants.

When people stopped wanting cars, Papi could make do,

              just like the broken stems of weak plants do.

But the problem is when no one needs.

Castro says Papi doesn’t need to own,

so out of Papi’s hands and into Castro’s the cars go.

Once, we were not far from being rich

But with

              Mami and Papi


              Jose and Maria


              Clara and Carlos, plus a new baby on the way,

              we’re so much farther from wealth now.

Especially since our new houseguest,

the one they call Communism,

takes so much from many,

and says we’re all to get the same.

Why doesn’t he understand

not every seed can grow with

a measly inch of rain?


Way Better Than Kettle Corn – Brooke Safferman

I fall in love with the idea of you

Of people and places and things but oh, mostly you

Of some sort of better life out there

Of greener grass and sweeter smiles.

Maybe if we close our eyes

And wish and hope and dream that things will be all right (ha! A-okay!)

Then hey, maybe they will be.

And maybe the sky won’t seem so dark, and my heart won’t feel so damn h e a v y,

Because when the sun rises, our sighs fall,

and tears of joy trickle down my chin, making their own way down to you and

your caresses, so strong yet so gentle all at once.

Oh, and you fail to see the things about myself that I personally like the least, and

oh, you make me feel like the girl I wish I could see when I look at my damn self in the mirror.

You make me feel like I could never fail, at anything, ever, at all.

Because when our foreheads are pressed together, and I taste the salt on your tongue, I fall in love with the way leftover pizza lingers on your tastebuds, the feeling of chills on spines, and electric shocks on fingertips.

You make me feel like I’m already the person I could only dream about becoming one day.

The way you look at me, oh, you belong somewhere else, like in my bed or on my table, and I take a swig from the bottle when I finally come to the conclusion that any one of these days, you could just walk right on out of here, with that intoxicating swagger like you always have and that little smirk that always taunts me, and you could find something new that you like better.

Like hacky-sacks, or homemade Kettle Corn.

But oh – you make me feel so damn raw, and I mean that in the best way possible,

Like I’m still a little child with skinned knees – with you I might be bruised from before, from the past, but I’m still secure and safe with you now, and

When your fingers slip their way into my own, the way your little smirk slips onto your face, I smile, too, because

I know you like me way better than Kettle Corn.

Essay, Flash Fiction, Prose

On Self Fulfillment – Alex Esterline

Think of how the universe works and how fantastic it is that it all works. Regardless of who or what is responsible for its existence, how fantastic is it that it all happened? That you were put into this strange casing of skin and bones and blood that work perfectly, that your lungs are what deliver that vital substance, known as air, that we all need. That we are on the planet perfect for sustaining our needs, that we have no idea how we ended up here. Yet, for centuries, people have been focused on how we got here. And we’ll likely never know. We have no idea how we got here, and that’s not important. The why is. You need to think about what it is you want to do with your time here, not how you got here. Because at the end of the earth, there are no guarantees.

poem, Poetry

Wishing for Home – Elena Barrera-Waters

it’s funny, because last time i wrote,

i said i didn’t love my home.

yet here i am, writing away,

filled with the loneliness for home that i’ve

never yet felt.

maybe it’s that i know i’m gone long,

or that i won’t be able to see the things with which

i’m most familiar,

or be able to pet my dogs and take a long shower

and curl into the covers in my cold room.

but it’s hot here, in rooms without ac.

and it’s lonely. in a week, no one has hugged me.

(and you don’t think about how much you need hugs

until you haven’t had one in a while and

your body feels cold and empty and dirty

and lonelier than even your heart)

and there aren’t dogs here, no sight of my family

worrying about me, and my happiness,

from nearly 2000 miles away.

and maybe that’s not far.

and maybe 3 weeks isn’t that long.

but if i’m missing a place that i’ve talked about disliking,

then clearly something is off.

when i went shopping the other day,

i saw a book about home

and burst into tears in the middle

of the store.

and while i certainly wish that

i could enjoy myself while here,

wanting to be home is something

i wish far more.

Flash Fiction, Prose, Prosetry

Classical Challenge – Karlee Sanders

when’s the last time you listened to classical music?

the last time you appreciated the instrumental expression of emotion composed and compiled of notes on a page?
can you remember?
so many of us have become accustomed to the droning sounds of pop/rap music that we’ve declared classical music “boring” and “stupid”.
the mind numbing sounds of songs proclaiming the greatness of sex and drugs and living for yourself because no one else matters.
how long has it been since you’ve let the sound of a piano or violin take you to somewhere inspirational and calm?
it’s amazing the power that music itself carries, and I challenge you all to take a second, turn on some Beethoven or whoever you prefer, and let the music whisk you away.

Air – Harika Kottakota

I am captured in limbo
This air, a cotton-ball touch,
Dabs my arid skin
This peculiar air fights back
And strums my ego
Like a decrepit bass
Whisps of voices ricochet,
Hollow my veins,
Until I am left gnawing
On icicles for warmth,
An incurable insomniac
Clutching a snuffed candle
As I dig for phoenix feathers
Amid Winter’s roars
As this clement air
Ignites me in white flames

How to Smile – Brooke Safferman

Sleep, or something else quite calming seeps into my veins

Soporific, exotic, quixotic –

your free spirit kindles the kindred flame within my own heart,

and you tell me that you are glad that I exist

And then you let me in on a little secret

Together we fly away, in an airplane and only the two of us can feel the air

Streamlining through an atmosphere in which only we can breathe,

the two of us

and I forget how to say your name without a gasp of air escaping through my parted lips

But yet, I never forget

How to smile.