By Carlos Contreras

—smoldering sunlight still hammers down like mallets on wooden marimba blocks but less beautiful, less beautiful than it once was because our world burns and the technicolor walls of Antigua, Guatemala now peel, revealing the city’s stained underbelly as tourism blooms and cars flood streets but they don’t share our air and we have no more room to breathe with ash in our streets and blood in our lungs, but it wasn’t always like this; I was six once—learning Spanish and red-cheeked when I couldn’t rrrroll my rs—and I remember stepping out into chilly mornings in July, before cuetes or carne asada, still fascinated with Star Wars and things boys loved, smiling for family pictures, but as the camera flash stained my retinas, I couldn’t imagine my family keeping that snapshot forever


in their minds, circulating an idea of Carlos until it became a definition that couldn’t be waived by the endless death march of time nor the simple changing of seasons, by fall I grew a bit taller, but photographs only capture the past and I am now different than was then, more beautiful, but now I am myself and my grandmother can’t imagine me being anybody other than Carlos, but I am not my name and I am not a lifeless photograph, I breathe and grow and change but when seasons shift and summer returns with a vengeance, it’ll be the same as it ever was, and that shimmering—



Carlos Contreras (they/them) is non-binary, Guatemalan, and working on a way to make it out of Texas.


Photo by Angello Pro.

By Shome Dasgupta

The river was cracking and shifting—I assumed the plates below must have been churning to cause such an event, and between the lightning strikes I could see fish dying to become humans—the icy water was suffocating them, turning their gills into frozen window panes, and I felt the ground trembling as the plates were adjusting so I ran to the pitcher's mound of the nearby baseball park, thinking that it would be the best place to be for an earthquake—it wasn't too dramatic though and I wasn't scared, and it didn't last too long—after the earth stopped moving, I stood up and ran back to the riverbank to look for the turtle with the portrait of Van Gogh on its shell.



Shome Dasgupta is the author of seven books, including The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), and most recently, Spectacles (Word West Press) and a poetry collection, Iron Oxide (Assure Press)—he lives in Lafayette, LA and can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.


Photo by Shome Dasgupta.

By Michael Todd Cohen

Towhead emerges from the wilds between houses — looks to me like a Hardy Boy lost — lobs a rock that rips skin, retreats; brush closes behind him, a wound healed I want to stay fresh.



Michael Todd Cohen is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer and editor who lives in Connecticut, by a rusty lighthouse, with his husband and two dogs; and online at michaeltoddcohen.com.


Photo by Michael Todd Cohen.