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Issue One

Stage Set

James Penha

…the actors who played you
rehearsing lines that couldn’t
bring you to love.
—Alex Dimitrov, “January”

“Here’s the scene: Airbnb has prospective guests

to ask about a room— They say they are going 

to think about it, but they never reply. And

then someone… something breaks in the room

costing time and money to fix. Coincidence?

No way; they work together. But it’s not my

little bed ‘n’ breakfast they want to fail. They 

don’t care about money or business. They just

want to drive me crazy. And they do. But why?

I don’t know. Do you?”


                                     And that’s when I should enter

stage left with the lines I have spoken many, many

times before to no acclaim, to hoots and hollers:

lines like “Who are these people out to get you?”

and “Isn’t that how a business works: people come

and people go and things break and must be fixed.”

It’s not safe to play the antagonist in this drama. It’s

too real. And so I hide in the wings, miming the fool,

miss my marks and cues, speak no speeches, trippingly

exit to the lounge where I wait for this damn play to end.


Wither by Gina Marie Bernard

Barely by Brennan Thomas

Half-Life by Allison Walters Luther

A Younger Me’s Comfort by Rory Frasch

Rage by Afra Ahmad

It is March Again by Afra Ahmad

Disconnect by Mary Grace van der Kroef

Panic Attack by Devon McConnell Bacon

Sandman by Charlie Bowden

Sat in a New York Flat, Stirring Tea by Charlie Bowden

Reverie by Anastasia DiFonzo

I Learn I’m Left to Save Myself by Anastasia DiFonzo

That Which Surfaces by Cin Que

The Uncaged Arise at Dawn by Frank Njugi


Momma Said by Atlas Booth

Learn to Control Your Anger by Dani Puteri

The Nature of Healing by Corrinne Brumby

Spring by Shweta Chhachhia

Biography: A native New Yorker, James Penha  (he/him🌈) has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work is widely published in journals and anthologies. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha