“Paradise, USA” by Christine Nichols

Let us move to the island of rattlesnakes.
I will protect you.
Watch me slide off my city-pumps,
walk barefooted on hot
rocks.  Together, let us dance
across the beach, wave our hands
like carefree children, feel grit
rise between hungry toes.
I will ask youspend the night here,
with me on the dunes,
bare-bodied in the sand.
Know that in this garden,
all things are natural.
Take away my weapons.
Let the hiss of the water
conceal their approach.

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Three Poems by D. C. Wiltshire

“I am the outcast”

I am the outcast of the day
aloft on shrill gusts
up near the quiet cirrus,
who dangle their legs in my long, thick hair
that tickles in breezing past. Behold the shepherd whose sheep go home
each to his own den, away from the wind,
and I to my humble abode, too small
to house them all. I who stand creekside

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“A Guide to Violence” by Kandace Siobhan Walker

  1. have a body.1
  2. abandon the gender you were assigned at birth.2
  3. name social structures which shape & govern your reality.
  4. name trauma. name the classes who inflict trauma on bodies like ours.
  5. remove a history book from its shelf and light a match.
  6. practice empathy.3
  7. walk naked into the street, demanding reparations.
  8. adopt english as a mother language, when you’ve no other choice.
  9. disobey the state by giving birth.
  10. talk in dialect, like you never left the motherland. learn to code-switch.4
  11. name the women you love & who love you.5
  12. design new vocabularies to voice your lived experiences.
  13. navigate.
  14. mourn the dead, thank them for what they left behind.
  15. demand what you are wrongly denied.6
  16. be vulnerable, sometimes. when it suits you. be kind.7
  17. protect what you love.

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“Boxcar” by David-Matthew Barnes

A screenplay for a short film

Adapted from the one-act play

BOXCAR

EXT. AN ABANDONED TRAIN YARD; A SMALL AMERICAN TOWN – NIGHT

The night is providing a false sense of calm.

The hour is late.

Beyond a quiet, remote gas station is a cemetery for trains.

Stillness blankets the train yard. Empty, rusted rail cars litter the space, discarded and long forgotten.

Beyond the perimeter of a broken chain-link fence, the landscape is sparse and the horizon is endless. In the distance, a faint glow and flicker of lights indicates civilization exists in the form of a small town.

From opposite ends of the yard, two young men approach.

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“The Tall Grass” by Sharif Shakhshir

The tall grass grows
at the northern edge of the peninsula
where rodents scuttle like electricity.
Mom says, “There is evil out there:
monsters, thieves, gamblers,
and people who aim to gain from your failure.
But there are no badges of honor
for staying home.
The way a brush must leave the pallet
to make something great,
you must leave.

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“The Theatre Department” by Christine Stoddard

When you study acting as a biracial girl in the South,
            you will never portray Scarlett O’Hara,
            only ever Mammy
            because your program head does not think “protagonist”
            when she sees a mulatto.
You are an accessory, like the dogwoods that dot a plantation.

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