by Mandy Berry
For Lily and Lee
Five months ago
thirty scarring mistakes ago
you sent me a Spotify playlist
via text message
“I don’t know if you like this music,
but maybe you’ll feel better
after you listen to it.”
It turned out to be
Now I use it
almost every week
shielding my soul
from the discord within me
And then, this evening
another friend messaged me
“My legs are weak
I feel sick
I don’t want to eat
I don’t want to exist.”
I recognized it
the desperate and dejected
So I gave him the armor
I sent him the playlist…
and I have the feeling
that those nine tracks will shield him
through a lot.
by S.A. Bowden
And the walls of the stall were tall and imposing and gray
by Cindy Ibarra
by Kasongo Pembamoto
She was born as a couple getting a divorce.
Blames herself, her whole life.
There’s no story,
God doesn’t make mistakes.
Whips, wires, spanks and torture!
She can’t escape!
Daddy offered to take her in.
Momma said “No, you take one you take all”
With a big shake in her itty- bitty body
Her older brother is of no help
Getting drunk and not taking care of his baby girl.
She believes in the one who sits above,
But she’s afraid to make that one phone call.
Art and music, her way to express her feelings,
Only way she can clear her mind.
Classic and elegant, how she dresses,
Who she prefers to be.
Momma wanted her to dress her age,
Not someone with no social life
Not someone who only takes pride in their work.
Beatings, chains and knives!
No way out!
She took responsibilities momma should be doing.
Every time something goes wrong momma blames her,
Takes it out on her
Knives to her neck
Spankings to her rear-end
Torture to her insides
She asks everyday “Is there any love for me in her heart?”
She tried with everything in her bones to love momma.
But momma never understand what she was doing.
Momma never looked up to the one above.
Her neighbor was her only support
Who understood what she was going through
Everytime she came home her
neighbor would be sitting on a chair or standing in the doorway
But now they had moved.
Her birthday was around the worst time.
Momma does nothing but complain.
She was never alone.
Beatings and Chains, Knives and Spanks, Whips and Wires!
She always thought “Is there anyway out now?”
To leave this world without any goodbyes.
To cause no more problems, with one she faced.
Step-Daddy seems of a little help, but close to none.
Compared to what her friends have done.
Her siblings were also born as a teenager getting a tattoo.
They were never tortured like her.
Her siblings loved momma.
But momma couldn’t even stick around them for an hour.
They would play and have fun,
But they never seen the side she had seen.
To this day, she stands by the side of her friends.
She is amazed that today we are still at her left and right.
She thought that we couldn’t handle it,
She thought her problems would become our problems.
We told her “She was never alone”.
When her friends knew something was not right.
They would talk on the phone for times being.
To this day, She waits for the age to leave,
The one who told her “Baby girl, You were all born as mistakes!”
Ode to Music
by Mya Smith
You have so many genres, and I love
Every one of them.
You have the hip-hop, R&B, rock,
Alternative, pop, gospel, classical,
May I add more?
You are my getaway every day.
I go to you when I’m sad, happy,
Moody, upset, joyous…
The can go on for days.
When I put my earphones in
And just blast you on maximum volume,
I go into your world and appreciate your sound.
I appreciate you, and this is my ode to you.
by Sam Yoseph
I reach out and grasp your hand.
Within your doubt, you start to stand.
And then you fall into the sea.
I just need you to hold on to me.
I bring you up to help you swim.
You cannot let the water in.
It overflows. It overkills
People holding dying wills.
But I’m here, as I’ll be.
And soon you’ll think of me.
You’ll fill up with emotion
as you climb out of the ocean,
and take a breath of fresh air.
You will get somewhere.
Trust me I can see
All the things you’re meant to be.
Sometimes you will fall
But you’ll get through it all.
And I’m sorry to be rude
I don’t mean to sound prude,
But my name is Life.
Depression won’t take you.