Matthew Feinstein – Love Starts With You

Heart Shaped Note

For my sister

I flip through past pictures—back when image didn’t matter

as much. I’m making a funny face while she

frowns. What has changed since we’ve been to college? the room

we live in? The city? The friends? Her roommate knocks on her door

but she wishes someone else would answer—a boy to love

perhaps. She’s sick of me asking Why don’t you

Download Tinder? It’ll help you

find a date. She’d say Doesn’t matter

what I do. She needs to practice self-love.

I pull another photo out—in this one she

is smiling—did a boy knock on her door

and compliment her? Her room

is intimidating. Now I’m in front of her room

and notice a sign that reads You

Got This taped to her door.

I think it should read You Matter

instead, so she

can be reminded to love

herself or at least love

her curves and her slight slouch. The room

is cluttered—I’m here to check if she

is doing okay. My words misstep and she screams You

can’t understand—no matter

how many times you knock on my door

and ask me how I’m doing! I leave, she slams door.

If only she knew my failed attempts at love—

how I’ve slept with many women, but I don’t matter

to them before entering their room.

I want to scream through the wall. Others’ affection won’t help you

be okay with yourself! I’m about to leave, and She

whispers I’m sorry. Then she

slides a note under the door.

I’m still upset, but I manage a Thank you.

Glancing at its pink construction paper frame—reads Love

Yourself. That’s close enough— as I retreat to my room,

clinging to it. How did she know? Doesn’t matter

because she must truly love

me. I knock on her door once more—enter her room,

and with wobbly breath, remind her You Matter.


Matthew Feinstein is a twenty-two-year-old neurodivergent poet who recently graduated from California State University Long Beach with his BA in English Creative Writing. He published a Micro Chap titled ‘Lemon Law’ (Origami Poems Project) which delves into the struggles that come with having Autism Spectrum Disorder. His work has also appeared in The Write Launch and Inky Squib: A Butte College Student Literary Journal and has work forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press.

Okpeta, Gideon Iching – Love Starts With You

The middle of Nowhere.

When we run through green
flowered field
we left cares behind us.
The live we leave ascend as a
continual sigh
as we pretend,pretend,and
deny,deny our errs.
I am sad for a wasted attention
of the eyes,
the gold labour of the hands
without a kneaded dough for a
dozen of loaves.
I am sad for all the embraces
void of you,
why shy away when the race
of austerity is almost complete;
when it is almost going to sleep?
At times I wonder whether you
are arting a rehearsed script
or directing a season of ‘’Ogbange‘’
You get me on a moving train
eachtime I flip the page of our
good memory
yet the same knock down my
warm fuzzies.
I am sad for all the weak spots
left to be weak.
I know if it were a nightmare,
I wouldn’t
have slept in somnolence
watching my hope straggled
to dead.
I am sad for being sad;
sad for the cruel truth that was
told in whisper.
I am sad for knowing i’m not
the best,
not even among your best
but I pray that someday, I may
stand in the postion to help,
save and protect you with the
best strength i have got.

Little about the Author:

Okpeta, Gideon Iching is a emerging poet,essayist and a
technologist.He lives in Nigeria.
He’s currently a student at Akanu ibiam Federal Polytechnic,
Unwana Ebonyi State Nigeria,Where he is pursuing his
undergraduate diploma (hnd) in Electrical/Electronics engr. Tech. He
possesses great writing prowess on contemporary issues affecting the
culture of christian society,ethics and morality; which he learned by intuition and research.
Most of his poems appear at poem hunter online publishing website. Some of his poems have been accepted and awaiting publication at different journals, and magazines, and online blogs including and others.

Lynn White – Love Starts With You

Washed Away

Cool cleansing water running over me,

washing away my sins, my impurities,

Cleaning me up, getting rid of the villainy

and lack of chastity.

Absolving me.

But who’s to say they should be washed away

like the scruffiness of childhood innocence.

Who should judge these scents and tastes and sweats 

of a life cleanly and clearly remembered.

What sins, what villainy?

I wished they could remain unwashed and pure 

retaining their essence within my reach.

Hanging about me in my lived in face.

A testament to my life, an affirmation.

It didn’t take much water to remove them.

But I was already clean.

I can remember.

First published in Snapdragon “Your Wild And Precious Life”, September 2015


I am not sure how I did it,

how I survived

a lucky chance


but here I am




against the wind,

the hot, hot wind

which has turned the soil

into rippling sand

the rippling sand 

of the unwashed desert.

I am not sure how I did it

and I am not sure how long

I can stay here



in the rippling sand

of the unwashed desert.

First published in The Beautiful Space, August 2019

Check Out This Artist:

Lynn White

Linda M. Crate – Love Starts With You

the only home i’ll know

i learned to love myself,
but it wasn’t easy;
first i had to let go of
everything they told me i was
and learn to define myself—

i had a beauty and a power
all my own, always;
but i had to reclaim my voice and my magic

once more before i could call
myself mine—

jealous and petty mean spirited people
have mocked me all my life,
they told me i was stupid or ugly and fat;
and i believed them—

i didn’t realize there was value in being me
until a guidance counselor insisted if i were
more normal i would fit in,
and i decided then and there that i would never
strive to fit in when i was born to stand out;
that i would be proud of myself and my weird

because the only person i can ever be is me,
and since i am the only one that will always
be there for me; i need to accept myself for
my flaws and my scars and i have—

i love myself because i am the only home i’ll ever know.

remind the heart to dream

self-care isn’t always
retail therapy
or bubble baths or
isolating from the world

sometimes self-care
is letting the tears flower
like blossoms in the spring
until your soul is purged
of the heaviness it is feeling,

and sometimes it is talking to
friends and releasing all the pent up
steam you’ve been holding onto;

even a nap or a simple shower
can be an act of self-care in a world
that sometimes feels full of nightmares
sometimes its necessary to remind
the heart to dream.

learned to say no

i had to teach myself no
because it felt like a swear word
and i always hated to let people down;
but i learned the hard way
you cannot please everyone and trying
only displeases everyone especially yourself—
so i stopped trying to please people,
and started doing what i could
only if i felt like helping or being or doing
was i there;
and some people got angry and some people
walked away from me
but i figure that’s the price of being authentic
to yourself
not everyone is going to understand or be there
on every leg of your journey
so you have to clap and be proud of yourself—
you cannot pour from an empty cup
so if you feel depleted,
it is okay to say no;
and if you are tired it is all right to let someone down
because life is too short to make our souls miserable—
you have to take care of yourself because
no one else will.

don’t hate myself anymore

i used to hate myself,
and wonder what she had
that i didn’t;
what made you love her and not me—

in the end, it doesn’t matter;
because i am beautiful and i have worth
all my own even if you will never recognize it

i am magical, powerful, and beautiful;
with meanings and roots deeper than the ocean—

i thought i needed you once-upon-a-time
but it turns out i only wanted you,
and i am doing better for myself now that you are gone;

sometimes the heart wants the exact opposite
of what it needs—

i am not afraid of being alone, i am not afraid of the darkness;
because i know i am strong enough to defend myself and rise
from the ashes of any death given me thanks to you.

picked myself back up and learned to love me

i love myself now
like i didn’t

you wouldn’t recogize me now,

but i’ve grown from that spot
where you left me to die;

there was a woman
behind the glass that grabbed my hand
she led me to a future where
you didn’t stand and showed me of sunsets
i had yet to witness and moonbeams
that yet had to sing against my skin—

so i fell in love with flowers,
the wild, and the seas all over again;
i fell in love with wise old trees
and redcapped mushrooms and orange fallen leaves

i recognized there is worth to a crow song,
and found love even for myself;

to you i may not have been worth it but i am wild
not everyone can hold a flame but the person
who can appreciate my mountains and my oceans,
my fires and my trees, my fangs and my wings;
i welcome them into my tribe

even if sometimes my only hand to grasp is my own.

Check Out This Artist:

Linda M. Crate

Ndaba Sibanda – Love Starts With

To Set Her Heart On Fire

to set the much-needed dialogue in motion
there had to be poetry & poetry & devotion
she didn’t mince her words at all, she hit it
she demanded & desired to see nothing short of it:
she called for an ecstatic expression of emotions
a freely & furiously lively ,lovely exhibition of yens
a river filled with an explosion of verve and verse
and that was her basis for an engagement, a discourse

The Rhythm Of Africa

Its dishes are rich in culture

Servings of fresh injera & tibs

Shiro, doro wot, what a capture

Vegies, spiced butter, meat like ribs!

Kenya ,a taste of maize meal, a taste of ugali

Menus to suit all palates, religious dietary needs

Potatoes, corn, beans, cassava, yam, pumpkins in Kigali

African music echoes across all colours, countries & creeds

Whirling In The Open In Bulawayo

Outdoors in one worthy season

Barbequed meat and all- served

Babies crying, smoke one reason

But their feasting moms unnerved

Beautiful happy souls hooked on meat

Roasted to perfection, what a delicacy

Without Afro-music the party is incomplete

Bulawayo, a fabulous food haunt and fantasy

Enchanted And Eloped

she was short and slender

her voice vivid and tender

it beamed an invisible smile

infectious even from a mile

she was a blessing to her patients

as she treated them like her parents

she told them high blood was manageable

with diet and lifestyle changes—all was doable

one day one foreign suitor charmed away the adorable

the one doctor whose services poor elders found invaluable

A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, Ndabas poems have been widely anthologised. Sibanda is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence and Poetry Pharmacy. His work is featured in The Anthology House, in The New Shoots Anthology, and in The Van Gogh Anthology, and A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections. Some of Ndabas works are found or forthcoming in Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, Piker Press , SCARLET LEAF REVIEW , Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review ,Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, Indian Review, Eunoia Review, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine, The Borfski Press, Snippets, East Coast Literary Review, Random Poem Tree, festival-of-language and Whispering Prairie Press.

Sibandas forthcoming book Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things: Confronting Controversies ,Contradictions And Indoctrinations was considered for The 2019 Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction. Ndabas other forthcoming book Cabinet Meetings: Of Big And Small Preys was considered for The Graywolf Press Africa Prize 2018.
Sibandas other forthcoming books include Timbomb, Dear Dawn And Daylight, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, A Different Ballgame and The Way Forward. Ndaba blogs here: Let`s Get Cracking! – Ndaba Sibanda -