a letter i cannot send, no. 3

Anna Letson

intoxicated by my mind and the glass at my lips

i spilled the truth and everything locked up inside me.

afraid of vulnerability, i gathered my thoughts

hid the key in the back of my mind.

you know suppression makes things imaginary.


you aren’t supposed to remember when the door is opened,

when the truth splashes across the carpet and breaks the glass.

don’t hold these things against me,

because when i sober up, they disappear again.

you know suppression makes things imaginary.


don’t mistake a window for a mirror,

because we are not the same.

i gave you everything

and took nothing away.

you know suppression makes things imaginary



By Ahsem Anwar Kabir

A little birdie looks out the nest

with gusts of wind beneath his wings,

filling him with a conquest

to find a branch from which to sing.

Never knowing all that went

into this moment, all it was

with ardent, garnered confidence,

his talons part the twig in trust.

But soon he finds it’s not so quick,

under skies this humid, dull and thick.

He thinks he’s singing pretty songs,

and once he’s right, but then he’s wrong.

Those who fly with him give him hope:

just enough to keep him out of crisis

but he thinks of tying a noose of rope…

oh, if only he were armed and flightless!

Most times, he feels not even that strong,

but aimless and prodding, detached and absorbed.

Civil, not salvaged, pushing along,

he waits, but his perch leaves him ignored.

Flying away, he knows not to what:

a high, mighty branch, or a deep, worthless rut.

And in staying away from swaying astray,

he does okay, but still he prays:

“Let me out of this place:

where the air is hot and heavy!

where the branch is but an abstraction

ever so distant: a façade of my imagination,

where all the currents feel the same,

sending me back and forth

like an empty soul with no control:

apathetic, trapped, apathetically trapped,

between the two extremes of repose and dreams!”

Well… whatever he, she or it is,

wherever he, she or it lives,

God seems to be bearing witness,

so our birdie persists until it’s Christmas.


By Jemima McEvoy

     “You haven’t missed much. It’s been raining non-stop for the last two weeks.”

I squirmed a little in the cold metal chair, wondering whether it had been an appropriate thing to say. Jaheem, the boy sitting opposite me, took in the statement with a cool disregard. It seemed as though he barely even registered what I said; the corners of his lips turning up slightly as he leaned backwards in his chair on the other side of the glass. The gentle, orange glow reflected a halo onto the separation between us, and I couldn’t help but think about how he was beautiful. Big, beautiful, black eyes, beautiful dark, dark skin. A beautiful smile that made me sad. His skin was cutting against the “danger” colour of his clothes, but he didn’t seem dangerous. He was so small.

     “I don’t like wearing this,” he put his thin fingers onto his temples and rubbed in a delicate, circular movement. I watched in uncomfortable silence for a moment, thinking of the right thing to say. Knowing I couldn’t promise release and I couldn’t truthfully say that he’d be wearing sweatpants or a sports shirt any time soon. I don’t like to lie to my clients, but I hate to incite false hope. He raised his eyes so they were directly in line with my own—it was unsettling. Not because I was afraid of him, but because the way he looked at me without faltering made me think that he knew more about myself than I did. Another thing that scared me was knowing that he did it and not knowing why. I didn’t know what to say so I shook my head and flitted attention back down to my notepad which sat undisturbed on the grey plastic table below my damp palms.

Men. Part One

By J. Cartwright

Men like to leave me:

My brother, and father.

I fill the hole with boys,

and they leave me too.

My first boyfriend in two weeks,

second in three,

third in three days,

fourth in a month.

Bang Crash Boom Sting,

one after another.

So sometimes I thank God

my brother wasn’t shot—


but stabbed instead.

I hope it hurt less.

I once watched my muse

trip and fall

face first

to the ground—


Like the sound of shattering concrete.

Sometimes I envision the way

my father fell from the ladder—


onto his back.

Is concrete better than a bullet, too?

I should ask my muse.

My biggest fear is that

a man will never hug me.

my brother and father had this way;

they would wrap their arms

around me so tight

when they let go

my whole body



Men like to leave me.

Pastel Pink

By Lupita Orozco,

They described her movements as fluid and strong. Trained from the age of two, Erin, knew how to twirl, jump, and keep her balance on pointe. She was my best friend, and my competition.

“If you’re going to be in first position, Clarissa, get those feet pointed out right. This is stuff we learned at the beginning of our careers.” She scolded me. Her back straight, arms rounded and feet pointed outward. Her long porcelain neck was the envy of ballerinas and models alike.

“I can see your pirouette totter on the left… You’ll never get a spot on the American team if those arms stay flabby.” Everyday I had a new problem, and she, being the best, had to let me know. She knew how to change people into real dancers. She knew, personally, that chubby little legs grew to be long and sharp. Baby hairs were pulled back into a scalp destroying bun, and any hair that would peek out would be plucked.     

I never argued. I tried my best to please my friend. I let her slap my arm higher, and push my foot farther. No coach or assistant could train me like her. After all, she had been by my side from the start. We knew each other’s weaknesses. I knew her flat feet caused her to step down with all her weight. This is why she stepped on that misplaced nail, letting it sink into her soft pink flesh. She fell down those few steps. Her legs twisting in the air like a sugar plum fairy. All I could do was reach out with flabby, weak arms.

I hope she recovers in time to see me in my first lead role.