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February 15, 2023; Theme — Childhood Games

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.




A Synopsis


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,

they suggest.

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.




building blocks


one by one they go up

largest to smallest

carefully balanced

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.



Playing Catch


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.

Six, five

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




Childhood Victory

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.




Street Tennis


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.




Three poems




zag follows the zig

perfecting art

of shadow boxing




blowing out the candles

so gram doesn’t

burn her house down, smiling




clocks everywhere

and none quite matching

fireflies frolic


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.




The Warp


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).




Message Plays


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


The turn-around

is farther and closer

than you think when you’re starting

fingers smudged

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

picasso-louisebourgeois hybrids

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,

Music stops.

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


Skip, hop,

Ever so lightly

Make sure not to touch

The carpet in ivory.

Walk across

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

often bloody--

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).

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