Adam King, “Tribal Letter”

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Tribal Letter

This is not my confession,
it is my burning refuge.
These sticks, these words
I have come to light up
speak of the villages, encampments, and towns.
In a drought, people go hungry
or they learn to eat fire.

I remember a children’s game
in which no one would hold my hand.
And a Mexican hat dance my class performed
but I alone had no partner.
I was given the crusts, crumbs,
the days-old bread of being alone.

Myself, so long I have beaten you,
a drum making no sound,
that I carried on death-marches
across barren wastes.
The dwellings I lived in
marked with X’s, like in the Bible story.
And each was destroyed, rubbled.

I don’t live anywhere now.
The walls are made of flame here
and the doors, of weak prayer.
I have only this task,
this piling of stone heaps.

I wish my home was the ocean.
Out of sticks, I’d make a boat,
be its captain.
I could know no one,
to others, be a ghost in the mist.
I could empty my ears
of all sounds but oars.

I watch our poor tribe
from my leaky boat,
and see all their days spoiled with wanting,
with lust for perfection.

I see them living in the never-neverland
of what they think is beauty.
I recall Moses
and the hundreds walking from Egypt.
Hungry, unbelieving.

Adam King lives south of Albuquerque, NM, along the Rio Grande. He holds an MA in counseling. His poems have been published in Blue Mesa Review, St. Elizabeth Street, Seattle Review, and The Tongue. He is currently working toward becoming licensed as a LADAC while editing twenty years’ worth of his “uncollected” poems. Hilda Doolittle’s little poem “Moonrise” began his love affair with poetry in high school, and he is forever grateful to her.


Babo Kamel, “I hope someone shelters”

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I hope someone shelters

the lost cat in my dream.
Last night, I felt the weight
of a life in my arms, the cat purr
sweet as a young child’s snore.

So easy to swoop her from street stray
to something loved. To give her a name
she can return to, held, fed, safe.

But awake, I feel broken. Like the news
from Syria. Children fall out of their lives.
Silence becomes the star pupil in school.
Teacher takes attendance:

CHILD—Hamza Fadil Ghnowm: absent
CHILD—Majed Shear: absent
CHILD—Mowrat Zaydani: absent
CHILD—not yet identified: absent

My neighbor pushes her little dog in a stroller.
I pray for rain, then remember
that I don’t pray.


Babo Kamel’s poems have appeared in literary reviews in the US, Australia, and Canada. Some of these include Painted Bride Quarterly, The Greensboro Review, and Cleaver. She is a three-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press. Find her at:


Barbara Arzt, “Alteration”

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The deaf trees roar and strain
against their shallow roots.
Wind, delirious, wraps the house
and turns it upside down.
Day is night and
night is day
and my mother sees devils
dance on the ceiling.
She’s been hearing a symphony
way too long and
doesn’t like the music.
Sitting in bed she reaches out
to gather the floating dollars.
I’m unsure who is more undone
me or this woman I don’t recognize
who swears she’s at the theatre
but I’m almost certain
we’re somewhere near Christmas
in my own living room, though
the tree looks very different this year
and a fire blazes, constant.
So I make believe summer
in shorts and no sleeves.
I’m good at pretending
all sorts of things
like the measure of time
on my own drifting skin but
I can’t deny the glassy gaze
that slides across my mother’s face.
Between the storms the wind unwinds
and rights the twisted trees.
Into the silence my idle talk,
a lyrical mist,
seeps below her wrinkled skin
to where our blood runs as one.


Barbara Arzt was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She attended Portland State University and Indiana University School of Music before beginning a career in dance that included tours in the United States, Canada, and Mexico and then returning to Portland to teach. In 2011 she began practicing calligraphy and writing poetry. Two of her poems were published in VoiceCatcher Press. Barbara continues to study and write.