3rd Place

40 More Ounces: A White Trash Romance

Lexi Drysdale

I could open this essay with some tired old cliche about love to tug on the reader’s heartstrings or some highly dramatized “data” about alcoholism designed to scare children and arouse Pentecostal prohibitionist pastors, but the punk in me will not allow the former and whatever is left of the Catholic in me will not allow the latter. The truth is that I am uninterested in the heteronormative definition of love and I am even more uninterested in painting my first real romance in broad black and white strokes; her body always looked most seductive draped in flamboyant, luminous gray.


Tatyanna Banks

I’m 21 years young, but I know more than I should about hard times.
My clock was built with the same sticks and stones that broke my spine.
I long peace of mind. This is a moment in time I desperately need it.
How do I find peace of mind when my mind is in pieces?

Opium Poppy

Tatyanna Banks

I’ve got strings in my hands and a mask on my face like Covid 19
All this shit going on, gotta self-quarantine till I get it together
I’m spiraling out of control
I'm tethered to us,
tethered to love,
emotions like drugs
The hardest pill to swallow is I'm addicted
I need it, without you, I'm livid
reliving my worst decisions

Stages of Grief

Tatyanna Banks

Out of a dream, I'm shot awake. Circles of darkness still linger, blocking out at least 70% of my vision though I see the clock clearly. It’s a quarter past 6 in the morning. My senses begin to unthaw as if they had just been taken out of the freezer. The scent of orange oil candles fills my nose, and the residue from the bottle of Ciroq that I emptied into my system in an attempt to drown my sorrows remains on my taste buds. Stiffness holds my neck captive, letting me know that I had fallen asleep on the couch. I look up slowly so that the light isn't too blinding.


Kalimah Gardner

It calls for me, like the moon calling out to the night.
Like the wind howling for the leaves to dance to its every command. Obedient.
I feel its crooked breath as it clings to my neck.
Plaguing my mind as my eyes begin to fade.
Falling slowly into its poisonous hymns.
I can feel the noose tighten as it wraps around my neck, and I begin
to remember the little girl, bearing her trophy.
I try hard to resist. Remembering what it feels like to smile.
The sun kissed my brown skin.
The gentle wind pecks my cheeks till I chuckled.

Hands I Miss

Kalimah Gardner

Brown hands.
Gigantic hands.
Hands that made words fly.
Hands that made the earth quiver in fear
yet, so soft they eased my pain.
And gently carried me like the moon in the sky.
Hands that rocked me to the rhythm of his heart.
Hands that soothed dancing nerves
and comforted a restless mind.
Hands that watched stubby little legs
dance in green fields.
Hands that were stained with joy
and wiped lonely crumbs from a crooked smile,
but continued to eat anyways.
Hands that tanned in the sun

They Say It Passes

Kalimah Gardner

Sitting alone with lingering thoughts keeping me company
and a restless feeling that plagues my core.
Springing alive only to torture me.
Drowning my heart in its fluid,
ringing in my ears
till I’m deaf with its sound
and leaves me numb with nothing but
my thoughts and this cursed feeling.
I try to drown it out, plugging tunes in my eardrums.
Getting lost in the melodies but somehow
it finds its way back into my soul.
I try blinding my eyes to its presence
and yet when I wake, it's all that I can see,

She's A Monster

Kalimah Gardner

Hands. Extending. Anticipating.
Like the sun ready to kiss the moon.
Like the stars beckoning to dance with the sky.
Though night is destined to come,
my hands rise to the sun, knowing they'll be touched.
My heart growls.
Wanting to devour the sweet taste of life.
Savor the crisp of its bite and the warmth of its broth.
But nothing comes.
No stars dance across the bare sky.
No sun warms the cheeks of the moon.
And my hands continue to reach for its savior,
but the sky seems farther away.

Sweet Lies

Kalimah Gardner

My body, a slave to a pipe that births nothing but sweet lies.
I inhale her perfume till my dreams and reality are one and the same.
Injecting myself into false promises.
Breathing in lies till my lungs recognize what's real.
Maybe get full off television till I’m drunk with fiction.
But my eyes want more.
They crave an instant fix.
My body desires anything that takes the pain away.
Slays reality.
So I consume more lies.
With each ounce, my stomach grows and my lungs beg for more.
I am what I eat.

Poems about Love and the Lack Thereof

Alayna Will

Poems about Love and the Lack Thereof
I’m falling for you
Like a narcoleptic
Down a flight of stairs
Like a dog seizing
From too many stab wounds
I froth at the mouth and quake
Only for your lovin’s sake

Shoot me up one last time
Tap the twisted vein
That starts at my heart
And drowns my bleedin’ brain

Enough of those stupid romance words
You stole from a dime store shelf
Love me in sum
And save up your ten cent plagiarisms
For my downpour


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