To be your pawn
There is jealousy seething in my veins
A mangled hope now dead
Bleeding red on your collar, cherish my remains
The shape of her lips taunt me but brand you
It’s a little game in pursuit
One where you win and I lose the man I once knew
It’s a childish endeavor, to claim you as mine
My once upon a time now dead
I’ll take this as a sign to burn our home in my head
Building palaces of promises embedded because you said
We would be one. One home, a house and bed
We would reign over this; but you’re not mine to tame
Let’s play Janga instead
You build till I collapse from the pain.
Aaralyn Garvagna is a junior in high school, with a love for writing. Aaralyn is sixteen years old, wishing to create a home for people who feel lost in their own.
a revolving drum of trembles, holy
the spirit of a christmas nuance crawling
the italian reply to the international bingo
smells of childhood and pronto
all the numbers on the card for a victory
and gatherings of years grouped in a picture
the punchy hue of eternity in a laugh
my grandma, echoing numbers
flawlessly sober, and the night between her knuckles
would finally rest
Aldo Quagliotti is an Italian poet established in London. He has published three poetry collections. His poetry has featured in art installations, podcasts, YouTube videos and webzines/magazines in the US, Canada, Ireland, India, Brazil and Italy.
Childhood: Waste paper boats, when round me
those village presumptions that burden
sat like so many ravens on the family tree.
Takes time for young minds to harden.
That me was too busy mucking around,
killing ants, robbing nests and purses
to notice treacherous genetic ground
or poverty or even neighbours’ curses.
And here’s an older me, after brief bloom
in degraded Eden, reasonably cynical
with predilection for solitary walks
en route the tomb.
Curious grandchild asks why there is death;
I fold boats while taking an extra-deep breath.
Allan Lake is a poet, originally from Allover, Canada, who now writes in Allover, Australia. His latest collection, published by Ginninderra Press is My Photos of Sicily.
I Grew up Like This
Introverts dance with their feet under the table.
Their toes in motion with each other; whispering
this way to the smallest at the end.
Their hands play finger games and confuse
the digits to the right and left; point there,
Introverts cover their eyes with the troubling
thoughts of catastrophe and cabbage; each leaf
is a requirement to crawl under.
Sometimes introverts stand in one place until
that place goes away.
I knew a girl in the seventh grade who danced in
the hallway and played Cat’s Cradle in the dark.
I envy her to this day.
Amy Soricelli is a native Bronxite. She has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies and has been nominated twice for Best of the Net and also for a Pushcart.
one by one they go up
largest to smallest
by each other
nursery rhyme pictures surround each side
tell a story
when there are no more blocks to stack
one by one
they come down
smallest to largest
until what is left
is how we began
Annie Harpel is a poet, artist, fine art photographer, and has facilitated poetry workshops. Her most recent book; Visio Divina: Photography and Poem Meditations can be found on Amazon.
Speed was not my thing,
so I learned to hide behind trees
or duck behind a bush
until I became “It”.
My long legs though could
catch a younger kid. Once
I felt a strange thrill
catching her by her arm.
From the Midlands of South Carolina, Arthur Turfa has published Saluda Reflections from Finishing Line Press, The Botleys of Beaumont County from Blurb, five other poetry books and has appeared in numerous publications.
I Rode a Bicycle
I no longer hold any strength, my eyes tired and lifeless
Years debilitating me
The wheels will not take me back to the past
Where the world revolved around my desires
An abandoned youth
or perhaps solely existing in a past recollection, obliterated
It once guided me into the fabricated realities
I nurtured in my mind
Vivid yellow paint, like fluorescent lights, now peeling with rust
red around the edges, stabbed and bleeding with the unbearable truth of aging
Rubber tires sunken with a melancholy yearning to be young again
Asahi Arai, 15 years old, goes to Harrison High School. She attends her school’s Creative Writing class and enjoys writing in many different genres.
Ready or Not, Here I Come
Adrenaline surges through my veins as I whip my head around.
Searching for sanctuary, I investigate crevices.
I fear that my footsteps will give me away.
I open and close a few cabinets, drop a pen or two. Offset the enemy.
Panic, for I have found no asylum.
Four, three, two
I duck behind a curtain.
This is it; take a deep breath and wait.
Beatrice Ferris is 14 years old, spending a majority of her free time writing sappy poetry or playing the flute, French horn or guitar. She is a student at Harrison High School in NY.
Auntie, Will You Play With Me?
Oh, it’s been decades, I rued
yet unwilling to disappoint, tossed
the shiny nickel-plated pieces
to the floor, picked up the red rubber
ball winning six straight games without
a stumble. She stomped off.
Diana Rosen is a poet, flash writer, and essayist. To read more of her work, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen
Knuckles rubbed raw
Endlessly etching stubs of chalk onto the sidewalk
The sun radiates off of the blacktop
Scorching my hands and knees
I gather myself, wiping the sweat off my forehead
As my friends stand eagerly behind me
Stones in hand
For these delightful 12 boxes
So simple, yet so fun.
Dominique Ventriglio is a 15-year-old aspiring journalist from New York. She enjoys writing poetry, playing field hockey, and listening to her record player in her free time.
Furrowing deeply dark,
desperate to unearth lost childhood
as a buried lantern
smudged out by warlock hands
enclosing spiritual power
within cursing, closing clutches
like locked Egyptian tombs.
I weep and wallow,
longing for brethren:
siblings to cherish,
playing in highland forests
before crows cawed, foretelling cruelty
with unmoving, splintered beaks
marking deaths with onyx feather-tips.
Emma Louise Foyster is a mother and English teacher. She has poetry published with various literary journals and magazines. She enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories also. Her debut novel, Shelley’s Sisterhood, is due to be published in 2022.
There will be solid ground for you to stand on
I used to think there are puzzles everyone has to piece together
in order to mature and enter adulthood.
To this day, I sometimes think of life
as a maze or game you have to figure out.
It has a sort of finish line I guess, and
knowing how to play (and “move”)
all depends on where you want to go,
where you want to be.
Even if you don’t know the end goal,
you take an educated guess based on
what your head and your heart tell you;
you will re-assess and correct as life goes on.
This is one thing I’m learning.
Ethar Hamid is a beginning writer and illustrator from Khartoum, Sudan. She currently lives in northern Virginia, where she is enrolled in online coursework in film/video editing and photography.
The Endless Cycle of a Jump Rope
The relentless course of a jump rope,
the dwindling, endless circle as it comes
round and round.
The repetition as it strikes the floor,
again and again.
Like the repetition of the day she will have.
Eat, sleep, and play all the same.
Each day, an endless cycle like a jump rope.
And such an endless cycle is created,
all under the same name: life.
Because it started and ended with a jump rope.
Gabriella Febbraio is a junior in High School. She enjoys taking long walks with her dog, and reading and writing in her spare time.
Life in Hilltop Acres was a kid’s communal affair.
We played some games in a concrete park, a place we called “the square.”
Not far from the garages, where the big guys lifted weights
a game of Ringolevio held prisoners without gates.
A pickup game of kickball was never hard to find,
or whiffle ball or hide-and-seek or jumping rope in time.
The bright chalk of the hopscotch court defined the time and place;
the laughter and the jeers and cheers of Buck Buck or a race.
A neighborhood of whimsy, kids both friend and enemy,
awaiting the releasing call: “Olly olly oxen free.”
The game’s the thing that got us through, which game was your own choosing,
but childhood then was all about the winning and the losing.
Gary Glauber once had a childhood, and there are people who can vouch for it yet. His latest collection, Inside Outrage (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions), is further proof.
Let’s make a mess Sami
We can clean it up after
We don’t have to tell mami
Let’s set up the rafter
Us and our Casita
You’re the brother,
Hello, nice to meet ya
And I’m the mother
One day we will long for the home
We created in the old days
We’ll be all alone
Remembering how we used to play
Gisel Lopez writes about the times when life was easier, when we worried about who was mom and who was the brother.
While the Buffalo summer sun sets,
Four people stand, opposite each other,
With one blazing yellow ball between the two pairs.
No net, no shoes, no serving,
Just rackets swinging hazily,
With one vivid ball bouncing.
We stand in the middle of the street,
No worries of anything else,
Just hoping to continue the point as long as we could.
Amidst the August heat, laughter was unanimous,
Nothing else to do, so we resort to street tennis.
Isabel Danziger is a 14-year-old freshman at Harrison High School. She enjoys writing and has previously been published at Young Writers Twisted Tales and in her school’s literary magazine.
zag follows the zig
of shadow boxing
blowing out the candles
so gram doesn’t
burn her house down, smiling
and none quite matching
Jerome Berglund has many haiku, senryu and tanka exhibited and forthcoming online and in print, most recently in the Asahi Shimbun, Bear Creek Haiku, Bamboo Hut, Bottle Rockets, Cold Moon Journal, Daily Haiga, Failed Haiku, Frogpond, Haiku Dialogue, Haiku Seed, Japan Society, Poetry Pea, Scarlet Dragonfly, Triya, Under the Basho, Wales Haiku Journal, and the Zen Space.
This is my flying moment,
sensing something about wings:
pigeon’s angels’ radial-engined bi-plane’s
—my scapular memory—
In scudding, shredding clouds
I saw today a uterus
its unscrolling fallopian tubes
—my brief embodiment in the empyrean
Leave Icarus out of my flashpoint
as wax of ten-thousand candles illumined
below me in a topographical map
—my shape your only shadow
Flight over fight, beloved: always
—if there is such a thing in our now
Karla Linn Merrifield has had 1000+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 16 books to her credit. Her newest poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, recently nominated for the National Book Award, was inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars and published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY).
The message plays for me a song,
for you a native dance,
for Algernon a comet’s tail,
for Judith trees and grass,
for little Alec minuets,
for tiny Sue a pin’s fine head,
for mighty Mandy dandy candy,
Liza’s treat is quite as sweet—
The message plays are not a song and dance.
Keech Ballard is a neo-traditional poet on the outtake, and has issued a medicinal mélange of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry since the current crisis began. A few of these manqué misfits are available as podcasts.
Childhood games: a 30-second reel
you ask her for the book she is carrying
then drop it on purpose when she gives it to you
knowing she will lean down to pick it up again
thinking “what the!”, or as it’s hers
you lean down too to pick it up
faces inches from each other’s
hoping your fingers will brush hers
just as she, perhaps, hopes too that yours will, hers
or perhaps not/won’t!
your eyes, betraying you, stray to her bosom
while your face contorts to feign innocence
games 'children' play, pretending to be child-like
have a certain charm in their childish mischief and naughtiness
words flirting, invisible-touch seducing, in a daydream.
Koshy AV is a poet published in many journals. He has 25 books to his credit with his name on the cover as poet, fiction writer, literary critic and theoretician, editor and anthology maker.
Cops and Robbers
You swiftly run,
One assumes you have a gun,
Scared that they’ve won,
Yet this is so much fun.
You swiftly spy,
Seeing who’s the true bad guy,
Being as quiet as a fly,
Blending in the night sky.
Once you see it, it occurs,
They are not what she prefers,
And some kids become sobbers,
When the big kids play Cops and Robbers.
Laura Barbosa is a sophomore at Harrison High School. A 15-year-old poet, she has a twin sister and an older brother. She was born and raised in New York by her two Brazilian parents. Published in the Young Writers, she is actively trying to submit more poems.
You make your own conjoined
Strategize your stone’s place in line
foreseeing that where others fail
your fate rests
Single, d o u b l e, t r i p l e
chasms of no-landing,
disallowed terrain you might and must surpass
is farther and closer
than you think when you’re starting
eyes trained on neat and numbered ascent
Laura Esther Sciortino writes poetry, fiction, and lyric non-fiction in Portland, Oregon. Where she grew up in the Florida panhandle, driveways were usually too hot for barefoot hopscotch.
Ready or Not, Here I Come!
As the countdown starts, kids start to scurry.
“Hide in the bush, hurry, hurry!”
They shush one another,
hope they won’t be discovered,
under the red picnic table.
They do all they’re able,
they shut their eyes,
The seeker stops the count.
“Ready or not, here I come!”
Who knows if they’ll ever be found.
Leila Enaye attends high school in Westchester County, New York. She is only beginning her journey in creative poem writing.
FaceTime Hide ’n Seek in a Pandemic
Grandma, you come with me.
I bounce along on the iPhone
with granddaughter K. Darkness.
“Where are we?”
In my bedroom closet.
Quick flash of the phone light.
Look, I’ve set up my Barbie house
next to horse stables and a store.
“Where are your clothes?”
In my toy chest.
“Does your mother know?”
Light goes out.
A moment of silence.
Shh… we’re hiding.
self-portraits in mud
after sibs visit art center
we scoop clay from the pond edge
wanna-be famous sculptors with
panache sorry it got in your hair
shape heads with torsos that’s too big
fashion fingers onto hands only three?
tailor toes to feet they’re crooked
smooth over lumps oops my shirt
reattach limbs and fix the face
maybe no face is better or not
we stand / lean / slump finished figures
on the windowsill to dry in hot sun
can’t wait to show mom hurry
maybe not michelangelos more like
like a game of life
those years of grabbing grasshoppers and racing puppies,
we picked cherries and bright rainbows in candy-lands
then scrabbled many a clue to check each other,
only to go bonkers avoiding snakes by ladders while
not monopolizing the boards. mind-boggling, too,
the trouble connecting tops for battling and setting traps
for mice. i’m not sorry about those trivial pursuits, now
packed in cartons labeled for donation. these days,
a roll of the dice suffices.
Marilyn Baszczynski, originally from Ontario, Canada, lives and writes in Iowa. Her book, Gyuri. Poem of wartime Hungary, was published in 2015; her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including backchannels, Conestoga Zen, Gyroscope, KYSOFlash, Slippery Elm, Shot Glass. Marilyn edits Iowa Poetry Association’s annual anthology, Lyrical Iowa.
One chair left
Music in the background, as we are laughing and going in circles,
The room stops, as everyone is desperately trying to get a chair,
Panic in the air, as everyone is pushing and shoving,
4 kids, 3 chairs.
Once again, and again,
2 kids, one chair,
1 kid, one chair.
Neeve Kenny is a freshman and likes to write and do acting.
Blind Man’s Buff
Despite the bright sun beaming from the open windows,
The room is dark, and my vision is impaired
Despite the familiar voices,
I am surrounded by unknown identities
And despite this only being a “game”
I am forced to stay as the blind man is searching for something that I used to know
Nina Montes is a high school student in NY currently studying literature and creative writing.
The Floor is Lava
Ever so lightly
Make sure not to touch
The carpet in ivory.
From pillow to pillow
If you stop, you’ll fall
Like an elderly willow
Step, Step, 1 2 3
One more to go, you’re almost free!
Step on the fabric,
Avoid the heat
Who knew a children’s game
Could be such a feat.
Noa Gropper is a 15-year-old girl living in New York. She loves to write and express her emotions and thoughts through poetry and stories.
a bright red beach ball
bounces off sparkling blue waves
with pneumatic joy
Sarah Das Gupta lives near Cambridge in the U.K; she is 80 years young, an ex-teacher of English in India, Tanzania and the U.K. She is learning to walk after an accident.
the baseball got wet in morning
and became slimy
and hard to throw
and if the ball got lost in the high grass
of the pasture behind the backstop, among
the snakes and cow flops, everyone
had to look for it--or else.
Old bats worn and cracked burned
our hands if the ball hit on the trademark.
Our games were fierce and
we played to win because
some of us liked winning
and because some of us needed to win
more than some others did.
Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has been widely published in print and online (including in The Flying Dodo). He was nominated for a Pushcart Award in 2022, and for Best of the Net in 2021 and 2020. He lives in the state of Vermont (USA).