Florentine Discourse | Nathanael O’Reilly

(A found poem)

I’m in the zone, let me be
I prefer non-denominational

I’m well-travelled and well-educated
no one wants to know anything about you

it was totally reasonable to tell us to be quiet
and then it got really awkward

she’s really New York
I didn’t realize she had broken

up with her boyfriend
mozzarella – that’s so Italian

she broke up with him over text
after two and a half years

it’s like the Mason situation
every time she has sex she goes to confession

and thinks it erases it like whatever
my dad was forced to go to church

there are Pinocchios here
I should have told him about the bargaining

coffee! cappuccino!
hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

everything alright here?
oh what service!

what was the other thing he gave you?
red wine yes

I have a table over there right?
the toilets are in the back on the left

fantastic thank you
prego grazie


Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian residing in Texas. His books include Preparations for Departure, Distance, Cult, Suburban Exile and Symptoms of Homesickness. His poetry has appeared in publications from twelve countries, including Antipodes, Cordite, Headstuff, Mascara, Skylight 47, Snorkel, Verity La and The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2017.

Self Love #1 | Jason Crawford

If I put a thong on or a jockstrap and let my
thighs spill out from them, do not tell me to
wash them away in jean or sweat pants. My
body beautiful like a 7pm sunset in
Maryland, like the 3rd scoop of ice cream
dripping down the middle finger, like a field
of fucking daisies decapitated by the wind,
like I been known how this story should end.
Me loving me for me and ready to fight a
bitch that says otherwise. This body is a
temple built in soft sand, a place I let others
in to worship.


Jason B. Crawford is black, bi-poly-queer, and a damn force of nature. In addition to being published in online literary magazines, such as High Shelf  Press, BeLightFilled, Poached Hare, Royal Rose, and Kissing Dynamite, he is the Chief Editor  for The Knight’s Library. Jason is also the recurring host poet for Ann Arbor Pride. Forthcoming works will be in The Amistad and Augur.

Website: JasonBCrawford.com
Instagram: jasonbcrawford
Twitter handle:  @jasonbcrawford
Facebook page: By Jason B. Crawford


Hangover Prophecy | Westley Heine

when all the graves sprout seeds
when knotted eyes are in the trees
when the stars are washed away by cities

when the skulls hatch
& the sun blinks
& the artic tide comes in
all that we’ve loved and forgotten
will come back to claim us


Westley Heine is a writer, multimedia artist, and former bandleader of Cousin Bones. He is known for his geometric painting Infinigon and documentaries Poetry in Action and Trail of Quetzalcoatl, which has a companion book of poetry now available. He has been the featured poet at the original Poetry Slam at the Green Mill in Chicago. Publications of and about his work have been in The Chicago Reader, Conscious Choice, Chicago Tribune Magazine, and CC&D magazine. He grew up in Wisconsin, was educated in Chicago, and bummed from New York to Mexico to California. He now resides with his wife in Los Angeles.  According to Heine: “In no particular order I’ve been a taxi dispatcher, a roadie, a deliveryman, a squatter, a street musician, a grocery clerk, a chambermaid, a novelist, a blues singer, a painter, a metal head, a Boy Scout, an insurance investigator, a jailbird, a farmhand, sold tickets to the symphony, sold plasma, been unemployed, and been a filmmaker. Life is always creating new characters within myself, but always a writer.”  Instagram: @westleyheine

The Teddy Bear Means Everything, or, Loving in Circles | Jacquelyn Deighton

When I am with him, smoking or talking quietly ahead, or whatever it may be, I see, beyond my own happiness and intimacy, occasional glimpses of the happiness of 1000s of others whose names I shall never hear, and know that there is a great unrecorded history.

 — E.M. Forster


One afternoon – a week, six months, a year and three quarters ago, who knows? It is an afternoon, I can tell from the slant of the sunlight in this memory, and the sticky heat of the leather seat I have just plopped myself upon – I sit in the department office, among the ferns, with a massive old edition of the two-volume Michael Holroyd biography of Lytton Strachey that I have just unearthed from the overflowing bookshelves, and I tell some course-mates about him. About Strachey, that is, not Holroyd.

“He was so sharp, so cutting. He freed other people to be more themselves, I think, just by his acerbity.” An odd comment to make, I know, and one that doesn’t quite add up for the people I’m talking to; I can tell by their faces. What I mean is, Strachey lived in a world and a time where his being gay was dangerous, and Wilde’s sad fate was not so long past as to no longer be taken as a lesson. He was used to people talking around questions of sexuality; he couldn’t abide, it seems to me, disassembling among his own circles. Cattiness, yes, of course; bad behaviour, love affairs, cruelty, even sheer, emotion-addled stupidity on occasion: all of these things he seemed willing to put up with, if mockingly, but there is something about his sharpness with words that always cuts through any pretending, always reveals the blood underneath.

“Will you take that, then?” one of my friends asks. “It seems like your sort of thing, just from how it looks alone.”

The boxset – for it is a boxset, it is so large – sits heavily in my lap, a corner digging into my thigh with a pinch. Lytton’s long face looks up at me from an oval on the front, faded maroon and sepia.

“No,” I say. “No, I don’t think so.”


They have become so established in the English literary canon now, that sometimes it is easy to forget that the Bloomsbury Circle, the British Modernists, the Friday Club, whatever you want to call them, were bohemians, the avant garde, the artists that middle class mothers warned their children about.

Virginia Woolf wrote about the freedom she found in Bloomsbury – sexual, artistic, intellectual – like this:

Suddenly the door burst open and the long and sinister figure of Lytton Strachey stood in the threshold. He pointed his finger at a stain on Vanessa’s white dress.

“Semen?” he said.

“Can one really say it?” was Woolf’s immediate thought to herself, but only a moment later, “… [everyone] burst out laughing.” And an illumination occurred.

“All barriers of reticence and reserve went down. A flood of sacred fluid seemed to         overwhelm us. Sex permeated our conversation. The word bugger was never far         from our lips. We discussed copulation with the same excitement and openness that we had discussed the nature of good… [Before the war] when all intellectual questions had been debated so freely, sex was ignored. Now a flood of light poured in upon that department too. We had known everything but we had never talked. Now we talked of nothing else…

So there was now nothing that one could not say, nothing that one could not do, at 46 Gordon Square. It was, I think, a great advance in civilisation.”


I do not take the Holroyd book home with me because I can tell without even having to check the copyright page that this is the old edition, published sometime in the sixties, when some of the subjects were still alive and the “sexual revolution” seems mostly to have meant women gaining the right to go naked and gazed upon in even in public, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti winning the obscenity trial against Ginsberg’s “Howl” only after he and his bookstore manager were arrested and jailed.


Take, for instance, Strachey’s comments to E.M. Forster about the latter’s novel Maurice, a gay love story never published in his lifetime:

…I don’t understand why the copulation question should be given so much importance. It’s difficult to distinguish clearly your own views from Maurice’s sometimes, but so far as I can see, you go much too far in your disapproval of it.

…you really do make a difference between affairs between men and men and those        between men and women. The chastity between Maurice and Clive for the 2 years    during which there were in effect married you consider (a) as a very good thing and (b) as nothing very remarkable. You then make Clive marry (without any change in his high-falutin’ views) and promptly, quite as a matter of course, have his wife. (So that when he said to Maurice “I love you as if you were a woman,” he was telling a lie.) I really think the whole conception of male copulation in the book rather diseased – in fact morbid and unnatural.

It is neither the homosexual love affair nor the actual heterosexual marriage that Strachey cannot let lie. Nor is it even the idea of an asexual but loving bond, as he does not feel – and I agree with him – that that is what is meant to be depicted in Maurice. It is the shame he feels permeates the novel. He is disappointed in Forster’s (what we would now likely call) internalized homophobia, what he perceives as the apologetic bowing to societal definitions of normal and acceptable.


We are in the midst of a kind of Bloomsburyian renaissance these days, particularly with regards to Virginia and her lover Vita Sackville-West. A film about their relationship, Vita and Virginia, starring Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton respectively, is set to premiere in the midst of Pride season. Quotations from their correspondences circulate widely, particularly amongst sapphically-inclined circles, on Twitter, Tumblr, and beyond.

And yet, even as I lovingly share those same quotations to my own feeds, I find myself uneasy, sometimes, about what exactly the narrative we’re building up is. The quotations, as beautifully written, as full to the brim with lesbian love as they are, tend to focus on yearning, on separateness, on missing one another: “What is making me wild is the thought that these last few weeks are slipping by and I am not seeing you.” “Oh my lovely Virginia, it is dreadful how I miss you, and everything that everybody says seems flat and stupid.” “How I wish you’d walk into the room this moment, and laugh as much as you like.”

These are gorgeous scraps of the heart, to be sure, but I can’t help but notice how much of the body, how much of the womens’ actual sexuality tends to be left out of those that are the most circulated. The closest they reach to explicit is in perhaps the most commonly quoted excerpt from Virginia’s letters to Vita, and even that is a double-entendre:

Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions,  myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.

Love is not just sex, of course, and Virginia, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, had a complicated relationship with sex her entire life besides. But neither is queerness abstract, ephemeral; it is situated in our bodies just as much as it is in our minds and hearts, even asexuality.

It is not just the removal of Vita and Virginia’s bodies that worries me, either – it is the weirdness, the openness and delight with and revelling in unconventional love affairs of Bloomsbury and Charleston that I find to be missing. I love Vita and Virginia, as writers and as lovers, and I always will, but I wonder if their affair is the one that has gained the most celebrity not because their letters are beautiful, but because it is the one most easily interpreted as conventional. Rarely, for instance, is the deep, lifelong love between Vita and her husband Harold Nicolson ever mentioned. There were so many shades of queerness running through Bloomsbury; it seems a shame to render our picture of it flat.


A morning this time, either before or after the afternoon with which I opened, and I am in the department lounge again. The same seat, even, though it is no longer hot: it’s winter now, and the snow is piled a foot high outside. I am once again speaking with a group of course mates, though this time it’s about the subjects of my own thesis, acquaintances of the Bloomsbury set Hope Mirrlees (whose Paris: A Poem was published by the Woolfs on their Hogarth Press) and Jane Ellen Harrison (the female classicist whose spectre haunts the garden of Oxbridge in A Room of One’s Own). I am trying to articulate how I know that these two women, who, once they met as tutor and student at Cambridge never again lived without each other before Harrison’s death, were lovers, or at least in love.

“But they were married!” I finally exclaim.

“What? They can’t have been.”

“Well, not officially. But they were both ‘married’,” finger-quotes make an appearance here, “to a teddy bear that Harrison had. They called him ‘The Husband’. Jane was ‘Elder Wife,’ and Hope was ‘Younger Wife’. They even signed their correspondence to each other with the constellation of the Great Bear.”

“That just sounds like a game,” one woman protests. “The teddy bear doesn’t mean anything.”

I stare at her. “The teddy bear means everything.”


Here are some of the ways the Bloomsberries loved one another:

Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West stayed married to their husbands until their respective deaths. Vanessa Bell, Virginia’s sister was married to the artist Clive Bell, and yet lived domestically in an open relationship with Duncan Grant for over forty years, including raising their daughter Angelica together. Grant himself had exclusively homosexual affairs except for an extremely short physical relationship with Vanessa; Angelica wrote that he “was a homosexual with bisexual leanings.” Angelica herself would eventually marry David Garnett, a member of the Bloomsbury circle from her parents’ generation, and previously one of Duncan Grant’s lovers – to the horror of both Vanessa and Duncan.

Lytton Strachey had a long string of exclusively male lovers, including several that he and his close antagonist-friend, John Maynard Keynes, “stole” from one another, and even – evidently to his own horror – entertained a brief, seemingly unconsummated, fascination with Keynes after discovering that one young man whom he found charming had been happily seduced by the other. In his later life, Strachey entered a loving but nonsexual relationship with the painter Dora Carrington, with whom he lived until his death. They also lived with Ralph Partridge, who fell in love with Carrington after being introduced by her brother. Partridge and Carrington were married in 1921, though Carrington’s motivation seems mostly to have been to convince Partridge to stay around because Strachey had fallen in love with him, and she did not want to lose the latter. Partridge eventually fell in love and moved in with Frances Marshall. Not long after Strachey died in 1932, Carrington committed suicide.

The same day that Carrington and Partridge were engaged, she wrote to Strachey, “…I cried last night Lytton, whilst he slept by my side sleeping happily—I cried to think of a savage cynical fate which had made it impossible for my love ever to be used by you.” Strachey responded with the kind of love he was able to offer her: “…you do know very well that I love you as something more than a friend, you angelic creature, whose goodness to me has made me happy for years, and whose presence in my life has been and always will be, one of the most important things in my life.”

Complicated, messy, and not easily packaged up into acceptable narratives: that is how queerness ran through Bloomsbury, the same way it does for all of us now. There is a quip, widely attributed to but not actually from Dorothy Parker, that claims the Bloomsberries “lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles,” but that too narrativizes their affairs too easily. It was not simply jealousy and indecision that characterized their complicated living and loving situations, the way conventional love triangles are thought to work. Rather, their guiding principle seems to have been a sort of openness, both to the kinds of love they could give one another, and to the forms in which living that love could take. Amidst personal unhappinesses and a homophobic wider world, at least they could see the importance – the codedness, the shared world, the circumventing of dominant social structures – which might hang upon a teddy bear.



DeSalvo, Louise and Mitchell Alexander Leaska, eds. The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Cleis Press, 1985.

Holroyd, Michael. Lytton Strachey: The New Biography. W.W. Norton & Company, 2005.

Knights, Sarah. Bloomsbury’s Outsider: A Life of David Garnett. Bloomsbury Reader, 2015.

License, Amy. Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles: The Lives and Loves of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Amberley, 2015.

Partridge, Frances. Love in Bloomsbury. I.B. Tauris, 2014.

Strachey, Lytton. The Letters of Lytton Strachey, edited by Paul Levy. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005.

Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being: A Collection of Autobiographical Writings. Mariner Books, 1985.


Jacquelyn Deighton currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is studying for an MA in middlebrow modernist literature. She has an affinity for foggy grey cities, having previously lived in London, Edinburgh, and Victoria, British Columbia. Her writing has also appeared at Shakespeare & Punk, Goblin Fruit, The Coast, and elsewhere, and anthologized in A Blackbird Sings.

She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @scandalabras

Clefting | Yuan Chanming

Between two high notes
The melody gives a crack
Long enough
To allow my entire selfhood to enter
Like a fish jumping back
Into the night water

Both the fish and I leave no
Trace behind us, and the world
Remains undisturbed as we swim
Deeper and deeper in blue silence

Upon my return, I find the music
Still going on, while the fish has
Disappeared into the unknown


Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others

Fragmented: a Sonnet in Infinitives | Yuan Chanming

To be               a matter when there’s no question
Or not to be    a question when nothing really matters

To sing             with a frog squatting straight
On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake    near Jingzhou

To recollect             all the pasts, and mix them
Together like a glass of          cocktail

To build                       a nest of meaning
Between two broken branches on      Ygdrasil

To strive          for deity
Longevity         and
Even happiness

To come          on and off line every other while

To compress    consciousness into a file, and upload it
Onto a nomochip

    To be           daying, to                    die


Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.

Brought to You by Q | Jack M. Freedman

Behold the power of Q
First letter in the word ‘queer’.

Just as Q
embodies the laws of my attraction…
It also embodies being authentic

No two forms of the capital Q are alike
for they are used to identify a font

From the uncial to the unique
I embody the letter’s purpose
and the color palette it denotes

Throughout my time on this earth
my sexuality could never be pinned down

My worth was never measured by a crowd
for I was usually in the midst of cliques

Queer is considered an umbrella term
and I am holding it up
as the rainbow forms
after yet another storm
where individuality floods
the foundation where
our health as a community grows

Q is also a Roman numeral
which bears half a million reasons why
I should be proud of who I am

Queerness is about not getting categorized
and I will not let society pin me down
when I’d rather be pinned down by Tom Brady
on the 50 yard line in the midst of passionate love

But I digress…

This poem is brought to you by the letter Q

Q is not just found at the beginnings of words
like queen, question, quick, quaint,
and the aforementioned queer

Q is found everywhere a queer dares to dream
Q is found everywhere a queer takes back their power
Q is found everywhere a queer wants to be

Whether taken express or local
Whether typed on a circle or diamond

Move down seventeen letters and
cue the Q in queue


Jack M. Freedman is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. He is the author of the chapbook, “…and the willow smiled” (Cyberwit.net, 2019). Publications featuring his work span the globe. Countries where his poetry found homes include USA, Canada, UK, France, The Netherlands, Ukraine, India, Nigeria, Singapore, and Thailand.  He can be found on Instagram at @jacobmoses81

Travel/I explore | Prithiva Sharma

Contains references to rape

I am somehow a tourist in my own country;

my body is a map of my country,
each bare patch of skin a gali that girls
are told not to pass through

my father has an affinity for old hindi music
and every day I wake up to kishore kumar/hemant kumar/talat mahmood/someone

the thing about old hindi music is that
it has taught me all throughout that
our lives are not ours, they’re up
for sacrifice

funny enough, that is what modern hindi music
teaches me about my body, that it is not mine,
it’s up for sale
in a market I never knew existed

a lesson in ancient sexual practices
took me to khajuraho, where I saw
an entire wall of porn more explicit than the internet

(they call it puja, a prayer ritual,
while we are punished for this religion)

remember I mentioned a gali girls shouldn’t pass through?
this – sex – was that;
as of 2018, homosexuality is decriminalized in India
as of 2018, victim shaming is still the most famous kink in India

this one time, a rape victim was told
“call your rapist bhai and he will leave you”
this one time, I called my classmate bhai
and he said “don’t call me bhai, I don’t want
to be ‘brozoned’”

we have brothers but we really don’t

we have fathers but that is never the point
we have mothers but somehow, they’re
the silent patriots ready to pull the rope

colonization=patriarchy=”civilizing the wild”
we, as women, are wild (we start with a ‘W’ too)

so, I have to hide my flesh
because my body is my family/society/country
and those who run it don’t want to desecrate their temples

I am a tourist in my own country, my own body,
because I don’t know my own identity
every once in a while someone comes along
and tells me what I am

(you’re too loud/you’re too bossy/you’re too much/I’m proud of you)

but today, I am here, in my body, and I might just know who I am

(you’re not a tourist/you’re a native/you might be bisexual/you are) 

I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you.



Gali – a narrow street
Kishore Kumar/Hemant Kumar/Talat Mahmood – Hindi singers and composers based around the 70s and 80s era
Khajuraho – Khajuraho Temple, located in Madhya Pradesh, India
Puja – prayer ritual, an act of worship
Bhai – brother


Writer’s Commentary

2018 was the year of decriminalization of homosexuality in India, and the year of formation of foundations for a lot of new identities. The piece takes this moment as a thread, and talks about how I, as a woman, am still living without an independent identity majorly because my context doesn’t allow me to have one.

There are light references to cultures in history – music, society and architecture, and how Indian community allows certain relationship markers and titles to excuse behaviours. The rape case mentioned is real – took place somewhere around 2009, not enough concrete accounts in media due to political involvement. I mentioned it because of a politician’s statement for the victim, where he states that if a girl is getting raped, she should address her rapist as her ‘brother’ and he’ll spare her, keeping in mind the sanctity of the bond in this culture.

This poem is basically an account of me as a women recounting my own history through the 20 years of my life.

Prithiva Sharma is a twenty-year old student from India, currently almost graduating with a Bachelors of Arts major in English Literature. She spends her time obsessing over Greek and Mughal history, roaming around deserted tombs in Delhi, and arguing about the character of Captain America as a marker of American culture. Her pieces have previously been published in Brown Girl Magazine, Esthesia Mag and Vagabond City.

Would she recognize her granddaughter in her jewelry | Hanna Ketting

Wearing her earrings
I think of her,
and wonder what parts of me were in her own reflection.

Of hers, I have nothing but the sorrow
that’s been whispered,
and these—

Silver studs and gold hoops,
blue-green stones from Mexico,
an empty locket,
and rosary beads.

I imagine her as she once was,
when her jewelry was her own.
Did she treasure them as I do?
Or is it her death that makes them special?

When it happened, did they ache at their loss,
and grow silent,
waiting to be worn again?

Now mine,
I wonder,
do they know I, too, am hers?


Writer’s Commentary

Would she recognise her granddaughter in her jewelry is about my biological grandmother, a woman I never met. She suffered from bipolar disorder and took her own life a month before I was born. This poem is actually the first poem that came to me completely, like Athena from Zeus. I was wearing the gold hoops and then looked in the mirror—then sprung the poem. I often wonder what she was like. This poem helps me handle those feelings.

Hanna Ketting is a bee-enthusiast, hiker, yogi, avid reader, & poet. She lives in NYC.

Race Home | Angelica M. Ramos-Santa

Hung on the sky blue walls of a backwoods art gallery, a picture of a woman calls out to me. She stood at a “colored” bus stop in Manhattan surrounded by women the same stature. Her head was turned toward the right and her forehead was creased with worry. Her fingers gripped the straps of the purse that hung from her right shoulder, a vice. Her hair was slicked back, not a curl out of place and the collar of her shirt looked so stiff and starched I could almost smell the box of detergent through the glass.

My eyes were drawn to hers and the thin lines between her eyebrows which, would be invisible to those who don’t understand her struggle. I could hear her screaming inside from the solemn look in her eye. I wished, in that moment, I could jump into the frame, back to the sixties, to tell her that the future holds no worries, but that would be a lie.

The bus will drop her off last when the sky is darker than her skin. Men of all colors will sit outside bars lining the street corners as motown’s sweet music softly drifted in the wind. Drunkenness knows no division. She can smell the alcohol on their breath even from her distance. They will hoot and holler at her as she would begin her five block walk home, alone. She has to ignore the drunken compliments and the nasty things, hoping that she will be able to just make it home without having to pull out her knife. What good is a knife most days, anyway, when the men are twice her size and hunt in packs like coyotes? She could have stared up at the night sky once or twice, making eye contact with the moon.

“You know,” she would whisper to it, “You only shine because the rest of the sky is dark.”

The rest of her walk home would be silent, staring straight ahead. She’d see people walking about. Single men. Young couples without chaperones. She won’t look at any of them. She won’t want any trouble. She just had to make it home in time to feed her babies and her husband.

Just three blocks away from home, a man will call out to her. She will keep walking with her head down. He would keep hollering. His voice will boom, like it was getting closer, so she would bolt away, in her short chunky heels and skirt, wishing she was closer to home.


She’ll freeze, tired and out of breath.


“Look,” she’ll wheeze out, panting, “ I don’t want no trouble. If you want money, I don’t have any. If you want anything else, I have nothing to give you. Nothing, you hear? Now, you leave me alone. I’ve told you the truth, I have nothing.”

“Okay, Ma’am but…I was just looking for directions to the bus stop.”

Her breathing will calm as she points in the direction she came from, “Sorry, boy. It’s a few blocks that way, on the corner between two bars. Once you smell beer, you’re there. Can’t miss it.”

Standing in the gallery, I picture her walking that last block or two home, rushing through the door, her purse dropping to the ground with a new unimportance. Hugging her babies tightly, she would breathe in the scent of their skin and the smell of detergent on their clothes. Her son would shyly tell her that he stained his good shirt and for a moment she wouldn’t care because she came home to all of her children there.

Having a black or tan child is dangerous and yet, relief would wash over her the same way it will wash over me, one day. My kids will be a mixture of both. She prayed back then the way I will, years from now, for their safety. We pray they get the chance to live without fear. We pray that our sons don’t lose their lives on street corners holding up a pack of candy or a cell phone to prove their innocence. We pray that our children will be able to speak the language of their people freely without hearing, “This is America, speak English.”

We pray that our daughters can safely walk the streets alone and not be preyed upon for the clothes that she wears or the color of her skin being the fantasy of a cruel fetish. We pray that the world will love our children the way we do, the way we will one day, even if they are all pepper but no salt or pepper and spices stirred together. We pray that a social construct is no longer a reason to take children from mothers and mothers from children. We pray that the police won’t show up to family barbecues and leave with our fathers in handcuffs. We pray that one day mankind will also mean womankind and be color kind. We pray, I tell you. That’s all we have left to do.


Angelica M. Ramos-Santa is an undergraduate student at Susquehanna University, majoring in writing. As a Hispanic female writer, she dreams of going onward to grad-school to teach and inspire the next generation writers. She believes that everyone has the right to dream big.