where i'm from

Middle Name Mag - Friday, June 16, 2017

I’m from counting spoken melodies on scalloped fingers,

from watching my breath and countless thoughts unsaid pool in clouds of

white-washed vapor on frigid, obsidian evenings.

I’m from the smell of too many unused notebooks and

how beautiful empty pages really are,

the fresh, crinkled lines waiting to be filled in with

too many unforged similes.


I’m from summers spent cavorting with Billy Collins, Anthony Kiedis, Barbara Kingsolver,

Emily Dickinson,

from heat seeping between twitching toes,

the anticipation of eight stationary hurdles

laying against my conscious like too many sleepless evenings.


I’m from counting out steps between seamless strides,

from driving beneath light-polluted skies,

from the first time I saw the Milky Way,

how it was a puddle of spilled milk and

uncut diamonds,

luminescent against ebony velvet.


I’m from running every morning at eight AM to escape monuments I had yet to construct and

from wanting to write a poem every time I

saw the sun steadily creep from behind Blue Ridge clouds.


I’m from needing to be the best at everything,

from finally God damn realizing that I only need to be the best me I can be.

I’m from eventually learning that love was not about taking,

was not no means yes and every conversation was not meant to be a war of some sort and

what was the end game anyways?


I’m from falling in love with Richmond all over again,

from no longer seeing demons leering from behind closed eyelids,

from remembering that, yes, this is what happiness feels like.


I’m from cultivating and growing,

from accepting the things that I cannot control,

from parallel branches and red roses,

from too many evenings spent over thinking,

wondering what it meant to be not so broken.


I’m from getting a tattoo simply because I needed

to hold on to something permanent again.


I’m from rattling fingers and knocking knees

beneath unforgiving stage lights, just like these,

from learning how to read these insecurities to rooms of unknown beings,

from discovering that poetry is the best form of therapy.


I’m from Cyprus, and Ireland,

from Scotland, and Richmond.

I’m from these words rapidly sewn to a rumpled brochure on a steaming August afternoon,

one of the few days in which I was not attached to my family’s hip,

from ends and beginnings,

from cramped hands and bellies full of laughter.

I’m from wanting greatness and only ever thinking I had achieved mediocracy,

from slowly finding a voice amongst a sea of rolling, crashing personalities.


I’m from so many different, shifting memories,

from stagnant love and undulating peace,

from sky-high expectations,

from always feeling as if I’m just two steps too far behind.


But this is a new evening,

a new beginning,

a new stage, a new see of beings I may never see again.

This is new page in one of the many notebooks lining my walls,

and maybe now,

this is the time to be from something

other than these unsure perspectives.


-emily johanna


Middle Name Mag - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Image taken with camera in bright summer light with shutter moving at high speed. Subject: local trash heap. Interpreting types should look for unintentional yet slick consumer culture commentary. Remember to rage against the machine, teens.




-connor coleman



Middle Name Mag - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Around fourth grade, I considered my best friend
to be a tree on one of the sidewalks downtown, in front of Little Zagreb I think,
a couple blocks down from the music store.
I had just moved up a grade and warts were spreading
all over my hands. I couldn’t help it. I had what it took,
I thought, not necessarily to be cool
but to have a friend – I had it, really, in my heart
and in my mind. I tried standing in the kitchen in front of my mother
who held a strange metal appliance in her hand,
straight up to the warts, tried freezing them
off the flesh, and then burning, when that didn’t work.
I tried picking them away which made it
worse, I know, my fingers
and palms scabbed eternally over
with warts and blood, and it never worked unless you were brave enough
to dig far in under the skin, to pull it out at the root.
I got an ointment to apply twice a day
and to never peel off, even though it got really flaky
and there was nothing else for me to do with my hands.
I made friends with the tree downtown
not because I was sad but because it was covered with knots,
and I wanted to know what the other trees thought about that,
and I wanted to touch it, just in case nobody else
had touched it in a long time (as they feared understandably
that the knots were contagious).
Eventually we realized, as a human and a tree,
we didn’t suffer from quite the same problems.
They cut her down and propped up a young sapling in her place,
and they’ve tried cutting me down too, even after
the warts went away, but they haven’t managed
to get under my roots quite yet, ice or fire,
nails, clubs, spades, eyes, or mouths. It’s harder with the roots
of a human. I don’t think they know how to look that far.


-laura dzubay

Take This Hand

Middle Name Mag - Sunday, July 03, 2016

The music begged for reciprocation,

For an eye to see the heart
Beating the metronome of rhythmic possibility
For an ear to hear the honesty chanted at the level of connection, like a plea.
Desperate to exchange sincerity with the ones willing to listen,
For a tongue to taste the sweat of dedication,
The persistence of waking up the next morning
Is uncertainty
As if experiencing the day through the innocence
Of a baby, learning and trying
And failing
Until the first steps click,
Gripping understanding with a clenched fist.
For a nose to smell the energy dispersing
Through the air like smoke,
The electricity of passion manifested in seized gifts,
The risk of chased dreams
Reaping bonfires that demand attention.
For the hand to touch the essence of the meaning behind the words,
To give in to the call,
Drawn into visceral overload
As if overturning bodily control.
The music begged for reciprocation,
For someone to take its hand and
Never let go.


-ileana lucia



Play On

Middle Name Mag - Saturday, June 25, 2016

model: daron gregorio



model: ashley cifra




- gayle bernabe



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