as a poet you must live

by your own terms

write poems

not by instruction

boxed in a beige classroom

but in the open air

whether urban or rural


as a poet you must breathe

hard before inspiration arrives

but it cannot be forced

a sign must come

most likely as a familiar

bird who lands before you

and tilts its little dinosaur head

questioning your intent

because the right words

won’t come unless you mean them


as a poet you must rest

easy after a productive day

even if only a handful

of lines were birthed

even if it seemed

like serendipity

slipped away


pronunciation: “flooooook”

a noun for fortune

for every word uttered

on the television

every ten word song

written by seven songwriters

every poem written by a robot

or under the influence

of mechanization


or, creation via fluke

allowing the truth

to bubble up thru the surface


or, a parasite

or, a fish

depends on who you ask


a fluke is not a nuke

a fluke is not a matter

of life or death


like the last shot you took

or the first time you have sex


human civilization is a fluke

and we’re happy for it


etymology: parasites

is the common consensus

among scientists

suspension snapped

a bridge painted the same color

as the sky fears its own lack

of identity, staring down into the dark

water beneath its belly

its steel spine itchy from all the vehicles

that traverse its body

the metal pests rub rubber

against its skin

the bridge loathes its condition

and yet its purpose is clear

and it accepts its position with patience

until an earthquake or whirlwind

snaps its suspension and frees it

haunt memory

an infant’s eyes

and what’s behind

how about when love’s denied

for the first time

the longing for milk

that look of anger

will it haunt memory

at what age will judgement

seize the child

the separation

the absence

the labeled cardboard boxes

filling the otherwise empty room


this is the change

that does not come about


this is the thought

of forgiveness lost


to the void


and yet love remains

even if it’s battered and abstract

Letter from the Editor #9

Dear readers, welcome to the 9th issue of Whirlwind Magazine, which is our two year anniversary edition. It’s been a pleasure sharing so many voices with our audience. In the past two years we have published 167 individual writers in print, many of them having never been published before, and many having been published in the most well known literary publications out there. We’ve published local Philadelphia area writers and artists, and dozens of international voices from all of the world, hailing from countries on every inhabited continent, from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America. (We’re still waiting on a submission from Antarctica.)

We’ve published in both English and Spanish. We’ve published artwork in a myriad of mediums. We’ve published with an astounding rate of diversity in each issue, without going out of the way to do so. The 9th issue features 13 women writers and 4 men writers of various cultural backgrounds. This issue focuses on the theme of paralysis. James Joyce incorporated the idea of paralysis throughout his famous short story collection Dubliners, in which it has a clear effect on modern people on both a personal and societal level in 20th century life. That idea still applies to life in the 21st century.

We believe that the idea of globalized paralysis sums up the themes we’ve had for Whirlwind Magazine in the past, whether the focus was on our current catastrophic environmental dilemma (issue #8), or continued neo-colonial mistreatment by governments of indigenous peoples (issue #7), or systemic poverty (issue #5), or the debilitating status of veterans suffering from PTSD (issue #4). In the age of neo-liberal world-wide imperialist rule by the few over the many, paralysis is masked by smoke and mirrors progress. The poems and stories in issue #9 reflect upon paralysis in the context of our previous themes, and come together to form a cohesive conclusion to the past two years of our quarterly publication. Our motive is to look beyond the paralytic veneers that are placed before our collective eyes.

Our aim has been and will be to bear witness. In our very first issue, released in July of 2014, I ended my first letter stating that, “[w]e can only hope that this magazine contributes, in any way, to help us keep our ‘…eyes wide open / like luminous winter stars / sentenced to electric chair deaths…’ which is an excerpt from “Nightwatchmen,” a poem featured in our first issue by our founder, Lamont Steptoe. We are proud to present the contributors you’ll find in the following pages, who, you’ll discover have eyes wide open as well. Thanks so much for reading and supporting Whirlwind Magazine. Enjoy!


issue #9 art by Priscilla Boatwright design by Melissa Rothman