FORT STORY SHORELINE FENCED OFF FOR HOMELAND INSECURITY
BY DANIEL PRAVDA
On the northeast ear of Virginia Beach,
two lighthouses pierce the fog of dawn:
one black and white striped, the other brown brick
with a green copper top. When did the taxpayers
bestow barbed wire on themselves?
At eight a.m. sharp the Star Spangled Banner
gets mangled by crashing waves and running break.
The sands end at the red house on the rocks:
granite jetty Cape Henry holding
like a fist, blooming at every ebb tide, singing
like an honest siren. When the ocean
routs your fence and drags that barbed wire
out to sea, I will walk past and share
a laugh with the lighthouses again.
BLUE RIVERS AND RED OCEANS
BY PORSHA ALLEN
The boy with moon skin spoke of stars &
a black sun, of trees holding themselves
up by the root, of apple picking & how
his father turned to air just before he was
born & of how his mother tried to claw
him out of her own womb because of it.
He spoke of blue rivers turned red ocean.
I spoke of blue rivers turned red ocean. We
spoke of hands & the ones that touched
us. We used our hands to try & forget the
ones that touched us.
THE MOON ON THE OCEAN
BY TONI SPENCER
“Whenever I look at the ocean, I always want to talk to people, but when I’m talking to people, I always want to look at the ocean.”— Haruki Murakami
The moon lies upon the ocean—
a sleeping dragon curled about itself,
one eye half open observing the world below.
Snow falls like meteors— a shower of cold fire
doused in the black water heaving itself
Upon the shore. This moon is red as blood—
The dragon’s eye carnelian in its glow.
Bits of phosphorus twinkle on the sand.
A crab washes ashore and walks a few paces
before being swept back into the blackness again.
Farther from the shore early breaking waves
show white in the blackness and ladders
from the moonshine track back to the moon
undulating gently upon the water. The
moon on the ocean is a mysterious thing.
FRAGILE MILLENNIAL MATTER
BY JENNIFER DELANEY
Sometimes I pray for wrinkles
Agnostic balance, selfish, self-preservation
I am older than you think and older still than the times this flesh prison I woke up in has circled the sun
We are all made of stardust
Why do you insist on pretending that you are stronger for burying yours
It’ll still seep out of you, betray your wrinkles and thicken the tongue you keep biting back
When you find yourself,
Six feet beneath
Or ash, whatever’s becomes of the flesh you assign to identify
A gem, a vinal record, your body of art could decorate the walls of posterity if you’d just remember how close the universe actually is
And more importantly how do you decide that the atoms of matter that make up *matter, that make *me*, default, matter,
Like my funds are
Any lived experience you were too tall to witness
Justify this humanity, I mean
In this economy?
Ancestral laugh tracks that are too stubborn to be taken seriously
Mountains that deny their fractured plates
Origin story but make it nostalgia
Origin story but makes the guides liars and
Leave out the parts where you call yourself weak and ashamed instead of reactivate and severed in all the places it matters,
Like you matter
Origin story but lie about the plot.
Drop the twist and turn instead, hard right, veer, no yields signs within a mile of this generation
Just the big bold letters spelling
monogrammed in ink, in SAT legible cursive
And tied tight with a symmetrical ribbon
And tired tye dyed catapults
Is the target on my back or on my face?
My credit score or my student loan payment plan?
Utilities is a fancy word for necessities.
Pale like a snowflake
And you think me weak for the part of my ego that cares more for me than you
Dear, little lady.
Begging me to play something like pretend respect at your lungs, older than mine
Breathing the whole, wholesome time
Like you had a right to, and now a new right to assume
But absence and audacious,
Fragile, fake stained glass
Truth, I’ve found is less bitter when it’s a chaser for childhood
Baby, break your own heart
Isn’t that how the light gets in?