A poem by Mary Bone

Cities of Light


I paint cities of light.

Inspiration is found

As neon lights reflect on

The wet streets

Below my window.

My paintbrush colors

A rainy sidewalk

On a dismal day.


About the poet:

Mary Bone has been writing short stories and poetry since the age of twelve. Her poems have been published at Oklahoma Today Magazine, Kritya, The Homestead Review, The Song Is, Duane’s Poetree Blogspot, Spillwords, The Writing Disorder, PPP Ezine, The Conclusion Magazine and forthcoming poetry from Digging Through The Fat/Digging, January 25th Issue and the March/April issue of Creative Expressions.


Screenshot 2019-01-22 10.30.50.png


A poem by Annalise Grey


Ugly is a jagged word that cuts your love in half 

it crushes against your teeth, too big and ill-defined 


If only you’d see how it fumbles about in terror of mirrors 

how it snakes around your tongue to strangle all kindness 


Then perhaps you’d take a sword to your vocabulary 

slicing away the brambles of your hate 


You’d clear away the debris of your wasted thoughts 

and leave a path for me 


About The Poet:

Annalise Grey is a Pennsylvania native, dreamer, explorer.  She writes because she likes talking to the voices in her head.  Her work has been featured in Tiny House Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic Literary Magazine, and Microfiction Monday.


Issue #2

Introducing… Our Editors!

Introducing… Our Contributors!

Letter From The Editor


Burn by Amber Aspinall

Stadium Of Old Rage Rizzalyn Bernarte

Emily by Christine Brooks

When my gynecologist tells me I may be infertile by Alexandra Corinth

When You Tell Me to Smile by Jennifer Criss

Apophenia by Wanda Deglane

Movement by Carla Ferreira

Layers by Kristin Lafollette

2 poems by Will Long

The Gift by Robert Okaji

War Paint by Paige Poe

I Ate This by Chi Sherman

footsteps, the sound of leaves cracking by Frankie Spring

5 micropoems by Jackie Weisenfelder

Creative Non-Fiction

DIARY ENTRY: HEAVEN by Constance Bougie

Braless by Jase Brown

Going Up by Erin Davenport

The Beginning by Ellen Maloney

I’ll Take the One in Black by Sam Rose


The Citrus Thief by Steve Carr

Blackberry Picking by Leah Francis

The Long Walk Home by Jenny Darmody


Fabrice Poussin

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mason Pippenger

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Letter From The Editor In Chief // Issue #2

Dear Readers,

As always, I want to keep my letter short and sweet so you can enjoy the work of the issue #2 contributors sooner rather than later.

First of all, I want to say thank you to my fellow Brave Voices editors, the literary community in general, issue #1 and issue #2 contributors, our readers, and all of my people (you should know who you are by now).

This issue, like the previous one, features poems, essays, short stories, and artwork from contributors of all backgrounds. These contributors have written and created some incredibly personal, vulnerable,  and powerful work that I hope you all will enjoy.

One last note: be brave. Write the things that hurt. Write the things that make you beam with joy. Do the things that scare the hell out of you. Dream big and don’t apologize. Take up space. Love yourself and other people. It’s worth it; I promise.


Audrey Bowers, EIC


Issue #2 Contributors

Amber Aspinall is a Creative Writing student from Kent, England who writes in pirouettes but struggles to speak in anything other than trips over air. You can follow her sometimes rather odd ramblings here.

author pic.jpg

Rizzalyn Bernarte is a poet and political activist from the Philippines. She has poems on the forthcoming issues of Constellate Journal and Pangolin Review. She’s currently working on self-publishing her first poetry book, In the Belly of a Beast. You can find more of her works on Instagram and Twitter: @literizzature.


Christine A. Brooks is a graduate of Western New England University with her B.A. in Literature, and is currently attending Bay Path University for her M.F.A. in Creative Non Fiction. Most recently a series of poems, The Ugly Five, are in the summer issue of Door Is A Jar Magazine and her poem, The Writer, is in the June, 2018 issue of The Cabinet of Heed Literary Magazine. Three poems, Puff, Sister and Grapes are in the 5th issue of The Mystic Blue Review. Her vignette, Finding God, will be in the December issue of Riggwelter Press, and her series of vignettes, Small Packages, was named a semifinalist at Gazing Grain Press in August 2018. Her poem, The Monarch, will be published in October, 2018 and The Man will be published in November, 2018 in the Amethyst Review.

headshot (4).jpg

Alexandra Corinth is a disabled writer and artist based in DFW. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Entropy, Crab Fat Magazine, SWWIM, Glass: Poets Resist, Thimble Literary Magazine, and Atticus Review, among others. She is also an editorial assistant for the Southwest Review. You can find her online at typewriterbelle.com.

Author Photo_Dec2018.jpg


Jennifer Criss graduated from Ball State University and is currently working on a second degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been published in Poebita Magazine, Whispers in the Wind, Tuck Magazine, The Poet Community, NY Literary Magazine, and Indiana Voice Journal. Her work also appears in several print anthologies. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.

Jennifer_Criss_004 (2).JPG

Wanda Deglane is a capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), and Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019).


Carla Sofia Ferreira is a teacher and poet from the Ironbound community of Newark, New Jersey. The daughter of immigrants from Portugal, she currently teaches English language development in the Bay Area. When she is not reading poetry or grading, she is likely teaching her cat Moonshadow how to fetch and/or watching telenovelas. Past and forthcoming poems can be found in journals such as Moonchild Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, amberflora, and Cheat River Review. Find her on twitter @csferreira08.

Ferreira_author photo.png

Will Long is a designer, illustrator, writer and poet with art and poems featured in Blkgrlswurld zine, and poems featured in Turnpike magazine. Will is currently writing a chapbook of poems focusing on depression and toxic masculinity. In addition to his BFA in Printmaking, he is pursuing a degree in filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago. His work in art and poetry can be found on his instagram @willustrator_long and he tweets  @WiGiS101.


The author of five chapbook collections, three micro-chapbooks and a mini-digital chapbook, Robert Okaji lives in Texas with his wife, two dogs and some books. His work has also appeared in such publications as MockingHeart Review, Crannóg, Reservoir, Vox Populi, Eclectica, Boston Review, The High Window, Oxidant|Engine and elsewhere.


Paige Poe is a lesbian poet, writer, editor, and theatre artist living in Houston, Texas. She recently graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in theatre and English, and her work has been published in eleven40seven and in the anthology Texas’ Best Emerging Poets of 2017. Inspired by poets like Mary Oliver and Sylvia Plath, Paige believes in the magic of theatre, the healing power of dessert, and the panacea of poetry. She is currently working as a freelance writer and editor. You can find Paige at paigegpoe.com or contact her directly at paigebypage@outlook.com.


Chi Sherman is an Indianapolis-based writer whose preferred mediums are poetry and creative nonfiction. She has produced four chapbooks of writing, a solo spoken-word CD, and a poetry CD with her father. Her work has appeared in HuffPo, The Body Is Not An Apology, NUVO Newsweekly, and — sporadically — on her blog, Chi Rising (http://chirising.blogspot.com).

CS Twitter pic.jpg

Frankie Spring is a poet and zine artist living in South Bend, Indiana and working towards an undergraduate degree in English and philosophy. They rarely understand jokes and are easily distracted, but they can write their friends killer love poems to make up for it. Frankie is on instagram and twitter sharing their art and not-so-hot takes @popemodernist.

frankie spring.jpg

Jackie Weisenfelder is a poet from Fremont, Indiana. She is a self-described “soft human” and a recovering apologist. When she’s not writing, Jackie can be found drinking coffee, being crafty, or hanging out with her friends at Ball State, where she studies Secondary Life Science Education.


Constance Bougie is an undergraduate English major with focuses in creative writing and LGBTQ+ studies. He/they have previously published poems and short stories in Bramble, Vulture Bones, Polemical Zine, and Passionfruit. He/they edit the queer/Victorian lit mag wilde boy. Find more of his/their work at cpbwrites.wordpress.com, or follow him/them on Twitter @cpbwrites.

38819572_613258792402003_7452844714803331072_n (1).jpg

Jase Brown is a senior undergraduate student at Ball State University majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in French, German, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Upon graduation, she hopes to move to France while she figures out what she wants to do with her life. She writes primarily creative nonfiction, and her nonfiction work has appeared in thread. Find her on twitter @jasebrown2406.


Erin Davenport is a recent graduate of Ball State University. In her free time, she loves napping with her kittens and binge-watching New York’s finest, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She plans to attend graduate school and pursue her dream of working in academia. Reach her on Instagram: @erinodessa.


Ellen Maloney is a writer of both poetry and non-fiction. A recent student of the New School Writers Colony in New York, she’s currently working on an essay collection. Previously published in The Guardian, YWCA Anti-Heroin Chic, and guest blogger for the Center for Youth and Criminal Justice. Read more of Ellen’s work at medium.com/@eatsleeplaugh


Sam Rose is a writer and editor from Northamptonshire, England. She is the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and The Creative Truth. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Scarlet Leaf Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Haiku Journal, In Between Hangovers, and others. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to rock music and eating too much chocolate.


Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Va., began his writing career as a military journalist and has had over 240 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies since June, 2016. He has two collections of short stories, Sand and Rain, that have been published by Clarendon House Publications. His third collection of short stories, Heat, was published by Czykmate Productions. His YA collection of stories, The Tales of Talker Knock was published by Clarendon House Publications. His plays have been produced in several states in the U.S. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. His website ishttps://www.stevecarr960.com/. He is on Twitter @carrsteven960.

Steve author pic 3x4.jpg

Leah Francis enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction, and is never not working on a novel. She co-wrote an original, true-crime play, Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm, which was performed in London in 2018. She is also studying towards an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing whilst working, and in her spare time she loves reading, snowboarding, and spending time with her house bunnies Teddy and Lotta. Follow her on twitter @Leazabet

Leah Francis.JPG

Jenny Darmody is an Irish journalist and editor working for sci-tech website, Silicon Republic. She has previously been published in The Incubator, Microfiction Monday Magazine and The Galway Review. She was also one of the Young Writer Delegates at the 2018 Dublin Book Festival.


Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.


Mason Pippenger is from a small amish town called Nappanee, Indiana. He is currently at Ball State studying Magazine Journalism and Digital Media. He usually spends his days drinking too much coffee, overcoming existential dread, and defending his use of the Oxford comma.



A poem by Mark McConville

Forever Owing Debt


I am stepping out of this chaotic room

Struggling to breathe in fresh air

My smoked out lungs like raging bulls

Probably red and pulsating like hearts.


The town looks unfamiliar

They’ve changed the billboards

And the café I used to drink coffee in

Shuttered over, and derelict,

I am saddened by it all

The thin line between greatness and


This town has been brutally masked by food chains

And hopelessness.


I observe all these destructive would be warriors

Wielding bottles and their tortured minds

High on adrenaline and sick to their stomachs

Of falling by the wayside.


I manage to walk steadily

Recurring dreams bubbling inside in my head

The pavements are rough, pot holes everywhere,

But I survive and make it to the other-side.


Ravens are vocal, their sounds and distinctive noises,

Compliment this darkness that floods through this town

Seekers go in doors, enemies shout and scream,

Alcohol attacks vital organs, heads are wasted,

And I am the sober dreamer, forever owing debt,

To a lover who sold herself to a world matted in spider webs,

And deluded men.


The doors are shutting, the atmosphere feels curdled,

The gutters are filling up, the harm is coming,

Fear is prying open minds and my watch has hit midnight,

The ghosts may as well show themselves.


About The Poet

Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist who has written for many online and print publications. These publications include The Skinny, New Noise Magazine, Punktastic, Clash, God Is In The TV, and Substream Magazine. His poetry has also been published through Idle Ink. His work is cathartic and honest.




An essay by M. de la Rosa

Guitars and Bicycles


Mexico City killed me. They had to take my body back home so I could live.


I love Humanity. I really do; everything I have ever known, ever learned, ever created, is in the service of society, for the betterment of you, me, and us. But boy I hate people.

Since I was a little child, my Social skills are really Social disabilities. Since I was a little child, I turned to music. I became so good at music because it meant I had to listen to something other than someone’s voice.

At 6 I pee’d my pants the moment a couple of kids started talking to me. I was not nervous, I was terrified. Have you ever felt actual physical pain from stuff as simple as facing your classmates one day after another? I was brought up in a crowded home anyway, why would I want to deal with the presence of 40 other children?

But I had a bicycle and a guitar. I had them at 7. I had a bike and a guitar at 15. I had a bike and a guitar at 22. They’re different guitars and bikes, of course — clumsy people don’t keep the same things for too long.  

College was awful because it was crowded. It was stressful because it was crowded. I paid my tuition by playing in bars and pubs, every night of the week. Those were crowded too. But I had a guitar. And the stage is maybe the one place in the world where I was happy, where I felt full.

I gave that up shortly after. Adult life was calling me. Mexico City, the ultimate sea of people, was calling me. I was in love. The kind of Love that makes you get up on your ass and do what you must.

My mother called me every week. I left the house and had her drowning in tears, but moms never give up on you. They support you even when they think you’re wrong. Especially when they know you’re wrong.

My little brother has schizophrenia. Mom and I had revolved our entire lives in taking good care of him, in being there, unconditionally.  Leaving home for College, choosing a major that did not correspond with my family’s wishes, not talking to my Dad at all, they were all felt as betrayals. And there I was again, only eight months after returning home, leaving for good.

Mexico City is the best place to live when you have a bicycle.

It is also the worst place to live without a guitar.


Since I was an adult now, leading a household, making a living, I got a real job. I had a commute. A commute that involves meeting thousands upon thousands of people the minute you go out on the street. It is the terrifying jungle people from the rest of the country warn you about, and then some.

But I had a bike.

I could navigate that hostile, chilling landscape, making the best of it. The streets are alive; there are wonderful sights to behold, until I arrived at work. And there is nothing worse — even worse than congested streets — than a crowded office.

I don’t belong in offices, just as I didn’t really belong in classrooms. The pay was great, but at what cost?

The PR/Advertising world is the bastion of the Neoliberal mindset. It’s always brands over humans, events over issues, engagement over substance. It solves nothing, and it makes class divides worse. It’s dirtier than politics. I felt like a traitor, helping maintain the Death Star.

And they don’t care about you. Not one bit. Their whole shtick is to perpetuate the idea that money is good and you are shit if you don’t have enough of it. Even within’ the office. If you come from rural Veracruz, from an ethnically mixed background and you didn’t go to the right school, you’re shit. You’re shit no matter how much money you make them.

And crowds. Lots and lots and lots of crowds.

Bills had to be paid though. And you’re shit if you don’t, of course.

I had a bike and I could deal with the daily grind, until it became too daily and too much of a grind. And look, it always does. Post-financial-crisis life will always run that course where the job is just too much to handle, they’ll take more hours from you, and the pay will not suffice. That’s why they tell you to be a good teammate, to wear the company colors.

So it went from 40 hours a week, to 52, to 61.

I missed my guitar.

Playing music is where I’m at my best, where I’m at my most. The stage is where crowds are good. But I left all of that back home. I had to leave even if it could kill me.

And one day it did.

I got the usual call. Clients wanted arbitrary changes. On Sunday. On Sunday I have to face the crowds. I took a long shower, took my towel and then… Well, I don’t know. I just don’t.


I woke up on a Thursday, in a hospital bed, in my home town. No recollection on how I got there.

But the first thing I saw was my Mom. Once again, she was in tears. She said I was dead for a while.

I had a stroke, all because of extreme stress. I was then hit with the realization that I couldn’t speak that well either; stumbling with easy words, stuttering, dragging my tongue. I couldn’t move my right hand the way I used to. Hell, the entire right side of my body wasn’t responding.

Doctor said I needed months of therapy just to recover my ability to move.

But I was back home. And I had a guitar again.

So playing music was also part of my therapy. It took me 211 days to recover, but during that time, I met a couple of bands and got the chance to play some gigs. I had lost 40% of the skills I used to have in my College days, but I was still good enough to make this a job again. It’s still an ordeal to face a crowd, but I belong on a stage. I belong on a stage I can get to with my bike.


Moms never give up on you. Moms know you, they know when you’re wrong and it almost kills you. But they always take you back. They take you back so you can live.


About the Essayist:

M. de la Rosa is an editor, translator, curator, radio producer, poet and film programmer from Mexico. They run the Poetry Spotlight series on UK-based zine GOD IS IN THE TV, and their work as a music and film critic has appeared on Passion of the Weiss, Noisey, Film Inquiry, The Young Folks, and The Singles Jukebox. You can find them on Twitter @AFHELVEGUM