Andrea Damic | Story + Photography

Andrea Damic | Story + Photography

When Alone

Reticent they stand in the dark secluded rooms. Empty eyes stare into space, miles away, revealing nothing. Only muffled sounds from the city’s streets rustle the musty air comfortably settled around them. Passage of time has no meaning in their world. Their expressions seem to echo timeless wisdom but also speak of the ancient past long gone. As if time weighted down heavily on their monumental shoulders, their whole demeanour appears detached from the present. Occasionally their stoic facade cracks under perpetual boredom and for an imperceptible moment they seem to console each other:

“Tourists will be back tomorrow again”.

when alone
in the land of dreams

Andrea Damic, born in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, now lives in Sydney, Australia. She’s an amateur photographer and author of micro fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Her education is on the opposite side of artistic expression (she is an accountant with a master’s degree in economics). She writes at night, when everyone is asleep. When she lacks words to express herself, she uses photography to do it for her. You can find her on TW @DamicAndrea or One day she hopes to finish and publish her novel.

Ivan de Monbrison | 2 Poems​

A Ghost

The earth is bleeding it’s not you who’s speaking there are fruits in the branches of the tree there is a silhouette sleeping in the shade of the tree and which is still unnamed for the moment because you I can’t tell if this silhouette is the. One of an animal or of a human being but it’s the same thing in the end although you prefer animals to humans you prefer the beasts of the forest to them because they are less dangerous i’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry that your father has just died the art studio is empty now the ceremony just took place the body of the father will be burned then his ashes will be scattered on the grave of the mother your mother died so long ago Nadia i’m so sorry for you the sky is so blue but the night is so dark and the road goes and goes into the dark without ever stopping we have to follow the road we must never stop we mustn’t look back don’t cry don’t think don’t try to remember and to understand do not remember the future neither because the future is already behind us there are fruits on the tree round and luminous fruits like suns and the same silhouette is still asleep under this tree and you cannot tell yet if this is the silhouette of a human being or of an animal so you get a little closer you approach it to see and to know since the sky is blue and the birds sing in the trees of the forest very close and you can hear the songs in the distance of the peasants who work on the land and after five or six steps and once close enough you see that this form was indeed quite that of a human being and not that of a beast altogether then you say something softly as if to wake it up and hearing you the face lifts up slowly and at that moment it’s yourself that you see as if in a mirror because this silhouette is indeed yours somehow half a beast and half human and you finally understand that the one who has called you and who has woke you up is but a memory already gone away the memory of the future and the voice of your own dead father.

The Walk

Early in the morning you wake up you get out of bed you put a little freezing water on your face you quickly eat a piece of bread you put on your clothes without washing it doesn’t matter anymore to be dirty or clean to you you look at yourself in the small broken mirror your beard has turned white now with the years you no longer have hair and your teeth are yellow you open the wooden door of your place you get out of your cabin you walk along the wall you take a path that goes to the forest you are tired of your night because you slept badly but you continue on the path despite everything it is lined with a few trees there are no more leaves on the branches because winter has come recently the sky is gray the clouds are low it’s raining a little on the plain you hear almost no noise at the beginning of your walk you only walk without really thinking about anything and you listen to the sound of your shoes on the ground you don’t remember nothing from your past after a while you see a small village on your left a little further away but you decide not to cross it you also see in the distance the silhouettes of people leaving their homes to go to work who get into their cars so ugly in your eyes one of the cars is already leaving it is taking the road it is moving away quickly soon it has disappeared in the distance you continue on your way other cars are passing by on the same road you hear like the echo of their noise like the echo of human life but you are not interested in it human life is nothing to you anymore with its pathetic pleasures you prefer the forest so you turn right you walk into the forest there are no leaves on the trees but you still hear the sound of some small birds trying to survive through the winter winter will be long it’s raining still a little the earth is wet your shoes sink into the earth as you walk there are dead leaves on the ground there are also mushrooms growing here or there you take at random a white mushroom you eat it you don’t know if it will make you sick if it will kill you or if it will simply feed you but finally all of these things today are but one and the same for you.  

Ivan de Monbrison is a schizoid writer from France born in 1969 and affected by various types of mental disorders, he has published some poems in the past, he’s mostly an autodidact. 

Elise Forslund | 3 Poems

Elise Forslund | 3 Poems

Litany of My Humiliations

after Erika L. Sanchez

I spent my thirteenth year as a pillar of salt. Sitting on the dining room table, unshaken. In the winter, my hands bleed and my mother gives me something to cry about.

I swerve to step in puddles of my own shame. I cut holes in my socks and feed them to feral dogs. I pick fights with my sister just to hear her scream. I’m terrible on purpose. Which is to say, my deepest fear is being forgotten. Every night I lie down and let my brain cannibalize itself.

What I want most is to be a monster.

This poem is written after Erika L. Sanchez’s poem, Poem of My Humiliations.

The Margaret of My Margaret is Also My Margaret

Here lies an utterly true account of my family.

The mother of my mother is also my mother. Her name is Margaret. The sister of my Margaret-mother’s mother was also her mother. Her name was Mary. My Margaret-mother’s second mother was her sister, Birgitta, and her first Margaret-mother was actually Margaretha.

I’ll say it again. I have a mother named Sara and we have a grandmother-mother named Margaret who has a mother named Margaret and an aunt-mother named Mary. My Margaret-mother has a Margaret-mother who has a sister-mother named Birgitta and a Margaret-mother who was really Margaretha.

Líf’s Attestation

It certainly feels like the End. In a balmy daze I wander as a lonesome Einherjar. I need to be more careful, listless warriors are always at risk of finding some poor dog to unchain. I’m looking for a mangy canine who will open his mouth for me, so that I might crawl inside and make him a wolf– thoroughly lupine and chomping at the roots. It certainly feels like After.

Elise Forslund (they/she) is a queer writer from Georgia who finds particular joy in folklore, history, and esoteric metaphors. They frequently write about mental illness, discordant familial relationships, and queerness. You can find Elise on twitter @elise_forslund. 

Aaliyah Anderson | A Poem

The Critique

And maybe the sublime doesn’t work.

I’m sure goblins whisper to me. I say,      some painters

don’t think. You blink and blink and

aren’t able to understand their hissing

is toast deviating sodium.       Twigs, please

stop swapping greetings for

theme (meaning nothing).

Maybe diction is definitive, though I

don’t want it to be. I’m sure Monet evaporates,

but he’s deafening, screaming extend, extend, extend. 

Aaliyah Anderson (she/her) is a junior majoring in Literary Arts at her high school in Petersburg, VA. Her work is forthcoming in Sour Cherry Mag and miniMAG. She’s obsessed with storytelling

Screams of Unfettered Minds | 3 Poems

Screams of Unfettered Minds | 3 Poems

Monkey Speak


Apply the walk, don’t be a dork

Put together you’ll survive any weather

Or you will fail, and that’s a fact



Words are lost without a physical cost

Put together they give you pleasure

Or, in the end, you will offend



Break it and its bad luck for you

Put together the curse is removed

Your oaths only as good as your next move


And thus the primate did espouse

Pearls of wisdom for homosapien ears

Observing each other, mindful of flying poo

You too can be a wise chimp, in this zoo

It's Better This Way

I know I said ‘I love you’ and I did at the time

Living in the moment, it just felt right

It wasn’t a lie, this isn’t goodbye

Just my heart doesn’t skip, when you’re in my sight


Is it love that I’m feeling? I’m just not sure

Undeniable guilt, thinking, maybe there’s more?

Don’t look like that, please don’t be sad

I just can’t take it, my soul is torn


Does that make me bad for telling the truth?

Being honest while tightening the noose

You heart you gave, I’m trying to save

From the broken soul who turns to booze


I adore you more than you’ll ever know

I feel deeper than I’ll ever show

It’s me, not you, trust me you’ll lose

It simply won’t end well being my beau


I’m doing you a favour, you don’t love me

In a few months you’ll be able to see

Let’s end on a high, for both you and I

It’s better for you if I simply leave.

Mercy Me and Mercy You

Mercy me and mercy you

How did we succumb to fools

Willful, blind obedient tools

For agendas foul and cruel

What will be when we awake

And realise our plight and fate

Will we recognise the snake

Or look away for sanity’s sake?

Will it be too late to rise

To fight against our planned demise

Or will we stand in stunned surprise

Then rush for any compromise?

Will our righteous anger fuel

A fitting end for those who knew

Or will we meekly say ‘we’re screwed’

Mercy me and mercy you

SOUM (Screams of Unfettered Minds) is a newly-formed trio of females whose poems lean towards the darker aspects of life through a lifetime of shadow-work. They describe their style as raw, unapologetic, unfiltered, punching straight from the heart.  SOUM are advocates of bringing awareness to mental health and social issues. They recently had a piece accepted by Anti-Heroin Chic magazine.
Twitter @SOUMpoets | Webpage:

Caleb James K. | 2 Poems

Caleb James K. | 2 Poems

Urban Petting Zoo

We don’t leave home much these days

          too dangerous with the turtle shells

                    falling from the sky

                              leaving behind explosions of sun

that tan our skin to the bones



And we don’t much like the noise

          from the great metal elephants

                    stomping through our yard

                              and crushing the garden

beneath their rubber feet



Nor do we care for the weather

          hot and wicked air

                    with clouds so dense you can grab them

                              but you wouldn’t dare

because they make it hard to breathe



Hollow bees also cause problems

          they sting the soul with venomous tips

                    and are so fast you can’t see them

                              though their buzz makes you aware

when they are passing by



Hawks fly overhead

          searching for fresh prey

                    they strike without warning

                              even when they aren’t hungry

because to them it’s just a game



One day my daughter wanted to play

          to go outside in the rain

                    I told her it wasn’t safe

                              and she should stay inside

to hide from all the beasts



She wouldn’t listen to me

          would run outside to dance

                    wanted to celebrate the fat raindrops

                              to feel them hit her young skin

but I told her it wasn’t safe



We had stayed inside for a month

          hiding in our cave

                    where no beasts could reach us

                              they wouldn’t even think to look

in a place so sad and empty



Yet my daughter wanted to dance

          and play outside for one day

                    to feel alive for once

                              in her young, young life

and I understood and said okay



Just a minute, no more,

          and dance with joy,

                    like a flower soaking up the rain”

                              and she did

but the hawks were hungry that day

See Yourself

You say you’re not beautiful

a beautiful lie

You hate your crooked smile

a tease of symmetry’s myth

Your buttermilk skin sours your mood

a taste to savor

You obsess about your weight

a number with little meaning

You constantly change your hair color

a distraction from everything else

You detest the mirror but can’t stay away

a reflection of faults individually crafted

You wish you were different

a carbon copy of a secret

You want to look like pictures

a mirage that doesn’t exist

You cry at night

a model customer

You shop for extravagance

a subject of Victoria

You want to look elegant

a false sense of pride

You spend all your money

a perfect trick

You look into the mirror

a tear creeps down

You feel no better

a rueful existence

You look through rusted truths

a set of eyes to deceive

You need only see the world through

a view that’s not your own

You say you’re not beautiful

a beautiful lie

Caleb James K. hails from Washington, Pennsylvania where he lives with his amazing wife, fearless husky, and two cats. A former freelance writer, Caleb recently switched his focus to writing fiction and is currently working on his first novel. You can follow his writing journey at or on Instagram @calebjames1986.

Christina Chin / Mystic Poet Collaboration

Christina Chin / Mystic Poet Collaboration


of a flint 

an electric dark

bending thoughts

towards the divine



late return

of her smile

frozen awaiting

what thoughts pass

through her head




before the see

rolling out the boat

to a free sail

monsoon wind

Christina Chin is a painter and haiku poet from Malaysia. She is a four-time recipient of top 100 in the mDAC Summit Contests, exhibited at the Palo Alto Art Center, California. 1st prize winner of the 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival 2020 Haiku Contest. 1st prize winner in the 8th Setouchi Matsuyama 2019 Photohaiku Contest. She has been published in numerous journals, multilingual journals, and anthologies, including Japan’s prestigious monthly Haikukai Magazine.


Uchechukwu Onyedikam (aka mystic poet) is a creative artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. He’s been published in Amsterdam Quarterly, Don’t Submit, Hood Communist, Brittle Paper, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Poetic Africa, and more. With regards to the intense passion he nurtures for poetry, he’s open to work with other creatives from around the world. He looks forward to exploring all of humanity with words in a world where everyone else is hurting from bombs and guns. His spoken word poem, ‘Ten Years’, is on YouTube at | Twitter: @MysticPoet_

Leslie Cairns | 2 Stories

Leslie Cairns | 2 Stories

The Sphinx Withdrawal

I watch a Sphynx cat at my pet sitting job: unapologetically without fur, gentleness; wise in the way she stares at me as though she sees the morbid side of me, and is curious about it. Or, perhaps, she just wants treats.

I slurp my coffee and my stomach lurches. The beginnings of a stomach bug. Suds swirling the drain, the last remnants of a bath before your body, once more, turns acrid–

My headache will form if I withdraw from my addiction now; my caffeine addled coffee cups that

Tilt towards me when I take another job, when I don’t sleep, when I need to people please. Caffeine dependency is a thing, the way to wind you up, so that you can keep not seeing clearly. Just one more coffee, I say to myself, a deadly torn secret, a letter sealed just for me. Just fuel me up, even when I need to rest. One more time I’ll walk too far and for too, too long–

The fever strikes, the sphinx flicks her tail, calling me in body language. I realize that as my stomach churns, my belly now

A sphinx itself. Pacing, restless and waiting, to see what I’ll give to it. I need to offer up something, give up my addictions as a sacrifice. I always think I have control over my body: the breathing in and out, the flexing of my fingers on the piano, the way my hands jitter when I shiver near the braying winter. But now, with a fever hiking over 102 degrees– the preheating of fever, itching steadily – I realize I had no control, not once, not ever.

The sphinx takes the coffee, rejects. Keeps my pace with thumping, keeps me alive for safekeeping.

Watches me offer up tea, and toast with the crusts

Crumbled off. Accepting or deleting, depleting or carving me up for stone.

What lesson did you learn? The sphinx asks, as she hands me back a plate.

To rest, I say, with eyes half closed.

To rest. To watch the rest scatter, the blankets of snow-cracked moss we crumple underfoot, destroying their breaths with our touch, the way each step ends up


The Bagel Chain

I didn’t start this way. I slowly churned myself like butter from nothing, until I ate bagels everyday, by compulsion. As if I could order the day in breakfasts, in napkins unfolded. Every day there’s a little bit different of a taste, a different way my tongue numbers the days.

On Mondays, I flail and fling my arms and wring the day like bells, but it’s in my own eardrums, palpable and thrumming– cannot make it through, so

I toast. I make the bagel, heated precisely on Mondays at 350 degrees. I’m as simple as the rest of the world in indigo smeared with white clouds. Simple whipped cream cheese, as if the clouds can come for me.

Days are made in loops, cascading around us like scarves. Frayed and warming you up, buttery. Spread open, the haunting of refrains we do not wish to own, but are ours–

Tuesday & my palms are clammy; I wish to be a scuba diver, checking the health of corals and manatee fins and other waving things. Instead I sit and pretend I love to work for pennies. The oven dings, 350 degrees, the same, the same, the same. When the bread comes out, the bagels toasted and arms spread wide. On Tuesdays, I add a bit of chives.

I have to, have to, eat a bagel everyday.

So, on Wednesday, I wash and repeat and my hair gets stringy and greasy. Or, perhaps (worse), I have to go in to work. I leave my puppies as I cry, the social anxiety hitting my ribcage as if it can break it open. A Whack a Mole to the insides, in order to appear like you are present, you are growing, you are professional–

If I’m home, I add the cream cheese, then I drizzle the oily, dank balsamic. The way the bitter melts in my mouth and makes me feel healthier somehow, as if it understands me, as if I’m called to it.

Thursday’s bagels are toasted darker, a smidgeon of burning like my fears and the cinders near a campfire, but not too much.

I am campfire; I am chewing; I am gnarly.

Cream cheese, with some wilted spinach, parsley, and tomatoes. It becomes a salad, and a bagel, and it’s a meal made with love– just for me. I’ve almost made it to the end; I’ve almost looped around the social expectations bend: where I can sleep, and cry, and weep & devour my dogs whole as we go to the mountains and become one. A pack of animals, no time for data entry, remote meetings–

If only, if only I were someone else. I could switch to eggs, eat strips of bacon. Budget out for brie and flanks of sausage. Take the time for myself, despite the groveling, to make omelets. Fluffy and interesting.

Instead, on Friday, I tilt towards a bagel. Popping it in again at
350. Preheating the oven and staring at the buttons, wondering if I’m made up of different heat settings too: do I broil, and combust, and need cleaning?

On Fridays, I add Feta and Dill. No cares about the world, along with the cream cheese. I toast the cheese for a moment – remember how I once danced the Charleston, but I couldn’t get the elbows right – there was dancing, there was twirling, there was a dress that curved tight and I had the energy to keep trying, keep going after work–

And I make these small bagels, five times a week, to remind myself that I am human. That there is consistency to my days, even as they spill out from under me, even as they want to turn me into fried eggs, and green tomatoes, and all the bacon drippings that I do not want to be.

Turn me on in words of bagel. Teach me how to smear – make myself delicate– refuse to be changed, to part tides, to find oceans that will let me dive under them, and be the same for days and miles–

Grabbing white cloud shadows that descend on rivers as reflections, as ways to count the days in passing.

& always the same,

And animal balloon shapes and wisps and cumulus–

And drifting the way they’ve always wanted to.     

Leslie Cairns (She/her): Leslie Cairns holds an MA degree in English Rhetoric. She lives in Denver, Colorado. She is a Pushcart Prize Nomination for 2022 in the Short Story category (‘Owl, Lunar, Twig’). She was an honorable mention in Flash 405’s call in Exposition Review (2022). Leslie has upcoming flash, short stories, and poetry in various magazines (Tropico LinePoetry as Promised, and others). Twitter: @starbucksgirly

Ivan de Monbrison | 2 Poems​ (Russian)


Земля в крови а не ты говоришь, на ветвях дерева плоды, в тени дерева есть силуэт, который спит в тени дерева и который на данный момент остается безымянной потому что ты не можешь понять если это силуэт фигурой животное или человек, но в конце концов это одно и то же, хотя вы предпочитаете животных людям, вы предпочитаете им лесных зверей, потому что они менее опасны, мне жаль, мне жаль, мне жаль, что твой отец умер мастерская пуста церемония состоялась тело отца сожгут потом его прах развеют на могиле матери твоя мать умерла так долго Надя мне так жаль тебя небо такое голубое но ночь так темно и дорога идет и идет во тьме, никогда не останавливаясь ты должна идти по дороге ты никогда не должна останавливаться не должна смотреть назад и не плачь и не думай не пытайся помнить и знать не будем вспоминать о будущем потому что будущее уже позади на дереве круглые плоды и светящиеся плоды как солнца и тот самый силуэт который всегда спит под этим деревом и ты не можешь узнать если это силуэт человека или животное, поэтому ты подходишь еще близко немного, ты подходишь , чтобы увидеть и узнать, так как небо голубое, и птицы поют на деревьях в лесу очень близко, и ты слышишь в далеке пение крестьян, которые работают на земле и после пяти шесть шагов и, подойдя достаточно близко, ты видишь , что эта форма была почти человеческой, а не звериной, тогда ты говоришь что-то тихо, как будто чтобы разбудить ее, и, слушание твой голос как это лицо медленно выпрямляется, и в этот момент ты видишь себя как в зеркале, потому что этот силуэт прекрасен и твой где-то наполовину животное, наполовину человек и ты наконец понимаешь, что тот, кто звал тебя и кто тебя разбудил это воспоминание уже это воспоминание о будущем и это голос твоего мертвого отца.


Рано утром ты просыпаешься ты встаешь с постели ты кладешь на лицо немного ледяной воды ты быстро съедаешь кусок хлеба ты надеваешь одежду но не умываясь себя для тебя уже не важно чистый ты или грязный ты видишь себя в маленьком разбитом зеркале твоя борода поседела теперь с годами у тебя больше нет волос и твои зубы желтые ты открываешь деревянную дверь своего дома ты выходишь из своей каюты ты идешь вдоль стены ты идешь по тропинке которая идете к лесу ты устал от своей ночи, потому что ты плохо спал, но ты продолжаешь путьКто граничит с несколькими деревьями на ветвях больше нет листьев потому что зима недавно пришла небо серое облака низко идет небольшой дождь на равнине ты почти не слышишь шума в начале прогулки ты просто идешь не особо задумываясь и слушаешь шорох своих ботинок по земле ты ничего не помнишь из своего прошлого через какое-то время увидеть маленькую деревню, появившуюся на твоём осталось немного дальше но ты решаешь не переходить его ты также видишь вдалеке силуэты людей выходящих из дома на работу которые садятся в свои машины так некрасиво в твоих глазах одна из машин уже уезжает едет по дороге она движется прочь быстро скоро она исчезла вдалеке ты продолжаешь свой путь другие машины проезжают по той же дороге ты слышишь как эхо их шум как эхо человеческой жизни но это тебя не интересует не человеческая жизнь для тебя уже ничего не значит это нелепые удовольствия, ты предпочитаешь лес, поэтому поворачиваешь направо, вюты входишь в лес, на деревьях нет листьев, но ты все равно слышишь пение нескольких маленьких птиц, пытающихся пережить зиму, зима такая длинная, что всегда идет небольшой дождь земля мокрая твоя обувь утопает в земле когда ты идешь на земле лежат сухие листья там также растут грибы тут или там ты берешь белый гриб случайно ты ешь это, ты не знаешь, сделает ли он тебя больным, убьет ли он тебя или просто накормит тебя , но в конечном итоге все это сегодня одно и то же в твоих глазах.

Ivan de Monbrison is a schizoid writer from France born in 1969 and affected by various types of mental disorders, he has published some poems in the past, he’s mostly an autodidact. 

Rose Malana | Anticipatory Grief

Rose Malana | Anticipatory Grief

Perhaps, Angie thought, the universe is stored in the rat.

Then, as quickly as she had the thought, she brushed away the thought and shoved her study papers away from her. It was beyond her normal bedtime and the words in front of her had begun to spin like the Milky Way galaxy. When she looked up, the steady center of her vision contained one of her five rats, Violet.

Violet was almost like a dog in the way that she was content to lie still and watch her mother. Violet was almost like a human child in the way she appeared to try and read Angie’s textbooks with her. Her beady black eyes contained far more intelligence and emotion than any reasonable person would’ve given her credit for.

Earlier, Angie had considered trying to teach Violet the philosophical concepts she was about to be tested on, but knew in her heart that Violet not only already knew all of the information, but understood it on a level humans never would.

Rats, even the domesticated ones, only live for about two to three years on average. For Angie, this was devastating. She looked at Violet, whose second birthday was almost too soon, and she felt her heartbeat tick up. A small lump formed in the back of her throat. Violet stretched and yawned. This was all old news to her. This was just life, this was how it was all meant to happen.
Hence, the universe is stored in the rat.

“Have you ever seen those pictures that compared a brain cell to a galaxy? They looked so similar,” Angie said to Violet. The little black-hooded rat settled further into her spot in the cage, overlooking her mother’s studies.

Angie thought of the size of a rat’s brain in comparison to the universe. The universe was infinite, and Violet’s little brain was infinitesimal. Angie’s brain was infinitesimal, but Violet seemed far more accepting of this information. All she cared about was food and her mischief. Angie became sure that Violet’s approach to nihilism was far healthier than most.

Angie reconsidered her earlier dismissal. Rats were perfect examples of philosophical concepts. Maybe that’s why humans studied rats so extensively.

“Humans are jealous of rats,” Angie concluded aloud. A burst of squeaks sounded off behind Violet as her sister, Lavender, and a
newer male rat, Copper, play-fought after Lavender tried to groom him too harshly. The other two rats in the cage awoke and began to move around.

“I believe that’s entropy,” Angie said, and could’ve sworn she saw
Violet nod. In an instant Angie was struck breathless.

In her small bedroom, Angie was not alone. She was drowning in the total acceptance and understanding shown by such a small creature. Nobody could convince her otherwise.

“I love you, too,” Angie said, which is perhaps the most important thought she’d had all night.

Rose Malana (she/her) is a registered nurse working in mental health. She enjoys writing, eating cheesy foods, and a loving, mutually-antagonistic relationship with her rescue beagles, Cherry and Addi. 

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