Author: riannacruz

I Pledge Allegiance

by Dom Glover

[after Danez Smith]


You remember how
in school they used to make us recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
Each morning our young undeveloped overstimulated selves
would be giddier than a motherfucker to announce our undying devotion
to a country that couldn’t give a fuck less about people that look like me
But what if I made a more properly fitting rendition?
One that more accurately describes what I call home
It would go a little something like this

I pledge allegiance
To those working two jobs to only barely afford that month’s rent
To those who sacrifice food in their belly to be able to put it on the table
To those too tired to function yet find the strength to do it anyway
To those who make instead of break

I pledge allegiance
To the ones fighting invisible battles
To the ones who feel they’re forced to live in the shadows
To the anxiety and ADHD gone undiagnosed
To those who feel like closure is nowhere close

And I pledge allegiance
To those who sit in remedial classes, dreams of Howard undeterred
To those who would be eye-level with Yao Ming if they stand on their student loan money
To those who use education to avoid being another statistic

I also pledge allegiance
To the aspiring rappers only getting 27 plays per song on Soundcloud
To the drivers blaring bachata music out of their cars so loudly
it would make Jesus bust a move
To the congregations of hookah smokers and dice rollers right outside of a barbershop
And, yes,
to the $20 shape-ups that’ll have a brother feeling like Michael B. Jordan for the next 2 weeks

I, of course, have to pledge allegiance
To the single mothers
The fathers that actually do stick around
The young child watching LeBron drop 30
A gleam in his eye, inspired to reach for the sky

I pledge allegiance
To the basketball courts with conspicuously missing nets
To the full-court 5-on-5’s like it’s game 7 of the Finals
To the Nike apparel adorning our outfit
To the “yo check up”, “AND ONEEEEEE” and eventually, the “ayo run that back bro”

And I pledge allegiance
to the box of fried chicken wings for $6
The bodega on every corner
The manager that roams around, licking his paw
And to the ock, ready to whip me up a baconegg&cheese on a roll, salt pepper ketchup

I pledge allegiance
To the Nike tech sweatsuits
To the Yankee fitteds and North Face windbreaker
An Ethika logo can be seen along the waistband
While a fresh pair of Jordan’s complete the fit

I even pledge allegiance
To A-Boogie, Lil TJay, the drill scene, and yes, Ice Spice
To 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, that’s my MoMA
To our dance moves, ayeeee ayeeeeee as we get sturdy
To the one and only Big Woo, you cannot say Pop and forget the Smoke

Now that is my nation
With liberty
We’re still trying to get justice for all

Listen to Dom Glover read his poem “I Pledge Allegiance” here:

Dom Glover was born and raised in the Bronx. Dom has always had an affinity for storytelling. One of his favorite pastimes during his formative years was drifting away into his notebook, writing fictional tales about cartoons and pro wrestling that served as exercise for his creative muscles. Eventually, he was able to channel that into making music, a career which is still only just beginning. Dom’s biggest strength is his vibrant personality and sense of humor which shines through in his creative works. It’s clear that he has a lot to say, and his mission is to spread his message worldwide. Follow him on Instagram @domglover.ny, on Twitter @DomGloverNY, or on TikTok @domglover.ny. 

Image Credit: “BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST, JUNE 2, 2020. (BROOKLYN, NEW YORK),” by Andrea Murguia Dajbura, The Lit 2022.


Three Poems

by Paris Armstrong

Existential Sex

The sweat at his brow slides down, then up, following touch
Gasps and laughter start and stop haltingly
Quiet now, be quiet. Too loud or they might hear

Her lips purse with great effort, and form a sweat moustache
Air escapes crevices with gauche noises
Everything is covered in sweat
Even the linen, especially the linen

Cells combine and someone 200 miles away declares it life
She shakes, he shakes
They were there, and now they were gone


Scraped Knees

The past is filmed in sepia
and there’s no care of pain
things happen because they can
and because they haven’t
and because it was all for you
written and dreamed and pondered
of you, for you, by you
but the world isn’t as full
as you once thought


The Meat Interrogates Itself

Closer than imagined, yesterday meets tomorrow,
the space between accelerates, linking joy and sorrow,
In that fleeting moment, we glimpse and lose each other,
unraveling our stories, we seek as we discover.

Awareness ambles gently down the path of time,
lured by distractions, a swift descent we climb,
Yet, you never truly vanish, even as you turn to stone,
thoughts of gods and wheels and farms, and gleaming cellphones shown.

Are we the future you foresaw, or have we strayed far,
blind to the precious gifts we hold beneath the same night’s star?
Do you ponder our existence, as we ponder yours too,
will we neglect to cherish the legacy passed from you?


Paris Armstrong is a young writer and poet with a penchant for procrastination. Born in England, raised in Antigua, and having moved to NYC at a young age, Paris likes to incorporate many different aspects of his identity in his writing. He studies at LaGuardia Community College as a Creative Writing Major.

Image Credit:  A.P. Photography, “Romance”, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.



Childhood Fragments

by Favi Olmedo

Chaotic mornings. Shoes scattered across the living room floor.
Missing hairbrush, untamable bedhead.

Blurting things out at random times.
At the wrong times.

Being carried
after a bath,
to bed,
just because.

Rubbing lotion on the dog for fun.
Getting caught, acting scandalized.

Falling onto the train tracks
a recurring nightmare.
Mom’s hands, calloused but warm.

Eternal nights, full of possibilities.
Yearning. For nothing. For everything.


Listen to Favi Olmedo read her poem “Childhood Fragments” —

Favi Olmedo is a 17-year-old, first-year student at LaGuardia Community College. She is majoring in veterinary technology. She writes mostly for pleasure and is especially fond of writing poems, which sometimes draw upon her personal experiences and other times are a mix of the world around her.

Image Credit: “Empty Childhood,” Chris Bellerophon Dotson, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.