Palimpsest By Shawn Keller


It’s like this.
Everything bleeds.

They locked the doors to the Augusta House in 1973.
Home to transients, broken widowed men, old ladies and their cats.
They swept out those nearly destitute remainders,
padlocked the doors, and demolished it.
The baroque columns replaced with the concrete brutalism of another faceless bank.
Yet as I make the turn onto Memorial Circle and past Rotary Cleaners, I can
smell the sweet tobacco and my eyes see the old Fat Cats
of Maine’s Gilded Age, with top hats and gold pocket watches,
engaged in discussion before they trek down State Street to the Blaine House.
Clouds of pipe smoke mingle with the wax of handlebar moustaches
as they shout about mill rates and transportation bonds
quaffing bourbon and beer.
This sepia-toned daguerreotype. This transmission from 1873.
I can see all of it.
Because everything bleeds.

It’s like this.
She is approaching the Augusta Airport in her yellow Piper Cub.
The runway guarded by a tank from Camp Keyes, turret pointed at the sky.
Her father sits in the co-pilot seat.
This is her first landing. She is taking the Cub down alone. The wind is intense.
The puny metal of the wings begin to buck on the descent. The engine sputters.
The Piper begins to shudder in this instant gale and as the engine finally stalls,
her final cough transforms into a chickadee’s call.
The gale transforms into a hurricane and the summit of Winthrop Hill returns.
The airport is gone, the tower replaced with an elegant hillcrest.
Low, rounded slopes sprinkled with the stately homes of Augusta’s wealthy Fathers,
who look out at the Capital Dome and Gannet’s Woods, and talk of the possibilities
of air travel as their horse-whipped stagecoaches approach Winthrop Street.
The whip crack is the backfire of the Plymouth Fury that now descends Winthrop Street.
I am parked next to the tower watching the Piper Cub land.
It sits safely on the tarmac.
She stands close to her father as they walk away.
I can see all of it.
Because everything bleeds.

It’s like this.
They call it the Calumet Bridge now. Then it was the Father Curran Bridge.
The Father Curran Bridge bleeds through as I cross the oily water.
Upriver, the bleak-Blake-Satanic mills of the Edwards Dam harvest the hydropower
of the Kennebec for simple pedestrian paper.
For that we have a river that rots of sulphur in the summer.
For that we have mercury fish.
My grandfather’s Industrial Harvester is idling outside the entrance.
It is the cold dark of December. The exhaust is clouding. He is going home.
From the AM radio I can hear a cresting flute and The Marshall Tucker Band’s
“Heard It In A Love Song”. The twang of Doug Gray’s vocal mixes with the earth loop
drone of the AM signal; the final flute note fades into the chime
of St. Augustine’s bells as they strike six.
He puts the Harvester into gear and roars away.
His exhaust envelopes me and the Calumet Bridge bleeds through.
The Edwards Dam is gone.
The fall line of the Kennebec has returned to smoke water vapor.
The smell is intoxicating and fresh. I inhale that gorgeous smoke.
I can see the salmon jump.
I can see all of it.
Because everything bleeds.

I remember the first time.
Summer, 1978.
Dust motes swim in the tobacco smoke while Pablo Cruise’s “Love Will Find A Way”
plays on WABK.
I run out into the sun to my mountain.
The one I saw on TV.
The one where mountain grown Folgers comes from.
The one where I ran away.
Always running.
Up the wide path to the crest the sky opens. Out in front of me is our whole neighborhood;
laid out on the green grass of suburbia.
But it was more.
It was what was, there and not there.
It was and wasn’t all at once.
Right there.
I saw the future and the past bleeding out of our little red house.
I saw the neighbor’s pond evaporate and then rise.
I saw Charles Kelly’s general store on Dirigo Road empty out,
dust settling on the bodega shelves packed with Shur-Fine
vegetables and Chef Boyardee cans.
I saw 20 years pass in the space of a moment.
I saw futures that never came to pass. I saw pasts that never were.
I saw all the timelines, the dark and the light, sweating out in blood
all around me, pouring into the present, a time palimpsest,
hiding in plain sight behind everything I see.

It’s like this.
Sometimes I’m here. Sometimes I’m not.
Because I, too, bleed.
Time is a permeable membrane and I am osmosis.
I flow through the membranes to places I am not.
I thought the blood was only the past,
but the blood is everything all at once.
The future and past are both open to me,
but in all this time what I’ve never seen is myself.
I am never there.
I flow to places I am not.
I can see my parents with other children. I see houses they lived in that never were.
I see my wives with other husbands. I see their children. I feel their joy.
I see my brothers at Christmas with someone else. He looks like them.
They give gifts to him in a house I do not know.
I flow to places I am not.
My friends are playing “Dungeons and Dragons” in the basement. I know the group.
But this party has a different druid. I see my echo in his face, but it is only an echo.
I see a headstone with another name.
The choir of my life stands apart on the grass in the rain as he is interred.
I flow to places I am not.
Nature has found an aberration she wishes to correct.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
I flow to places I am not. I am osmosis.
I can see all of it.
Because everything bleeds.

“Palimpsest” originally appeared in Volume 41 of The Northern New England Review and on my personal Medium page

By Shawn Keller


Shawn Keller is an amateur poet living in Brunswick, Maine. As a young man he studied history with the heart of a geographer, and then left New England to explore America. He rode out four hurricanes in Florida, and dipped his toes in the Pacific next to the Santa Monica pier. His poetry is concerned with a sense of place, and the never-ending journey we embark upon to find that mythical place we call “home”. His work has appeared in The New Guard and The Northern New England Review, and online at Literati Magazine, The Charles Carter Anthology and The River. Social Media Links: Medium, Facebook, Instagram.

With the ‘war’ By Mina Hassan

With the ‘war’
for Palestine

In the clearing, the mind clears
and the branches begin
to communicate.

At the ends of the
empty space is a
symphony of entwined fingers

like roots placed the wrong way,
I care not for
mistakes made in the

name of beauty like
words withered for no
reason even if in the softest voice

told like a melody that promises
your next breath, if only
to hear the simmering

of sounds and know
that there is something
stirring inside you like a small

performer tiptoeing onto the grass
plodding bareness with its feet
filling everything with

its moving. There it is, in the
silent clearing, the part
of us that shudders awake each time

pain has washed us pale, cruel,
each time the world of
people has fallen.

By Mina Hassan


Mina Hassan grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. Her chapbook Flying South: a Collection of Winter Ghazals was published by Bottlecap Press in 2022.

My language and college applications By Nimra Tariq

My language and college applications

In every application form,
They ask for my native language

Yet they don’t have my language,
In their options of world languages

They force me to choose someone’s elses mother tongue
As mine, because I can speak it like a native

Oppressor taught me that foreign language as mine
They fined us, they built shame/ respect of a language

So I learned another’s language as mine
I speak in it, I read in it

They took us to build them,
So we are lost to the global

How can they include 3000 languages of world?
So they left, insignificant identities like mine out

They talk of violence and inclusion
But they left me out of diversity

To be included I always choose urdu
Though my mother speaks pahadi

By Nimra Tariq


The poet is from a small semi- autonomous state Azad Jammu and Kashmir, administered by Pakistan. She writes on themes of grief, politics, conflict, gender, loss, and love. Her work is deeply influenced influenced by her family and friends. She wants her work to have a positive impact on reader’s life.

i, alice By a a khaliq

i, alice

how much a year can change.
the world itself inverted, shaken.
snow-falling backwards outside.
flat on my back i watch the same
stucco patterns shift, or maybe
life is one long fever and i notice
the burning in bits and pieces. this
year i don’t toss and turn with the
hundred aches of a lover, or the
lovelorn. my eyes have been opened
so long they’ve dried in their sockets.
i hardly think i’m seeing out of them,
or maybe this is the world: no hazy
blush turning every object, every
face a shade of pink. so many colors
abound—and the abundance tears
me apart. flat on my back, a year’s
change flowing over my mind like
a trance, like a vision—there’s no
going back. no snow falling onto
an expectant, pointed pink tongue.
winterland, wonderland, shimmers
as if behind a mirror and i try and
i try to let my hands slip through
beads of mercury to the other side.
to the pinkened snowscape,
to the place i loved.

By a a khaliq


a a khaliq is a poet and medical student from the midwest. she writes, in the tradition of kafka, to close her eyes.

a little levity, please By Grier Martin

a little levity, please

life is more than indigestion
and electric bills
bad news and broken radiators
another year alone

it’s Joni Mitchell’s voice
on Friday night
golden lamplight
and chamomile tea

and I am more than the measure
of an awful week at the office
days of fluorescent glare
uncomfortable shoes and
fear, every moment fear

collapsed in bed
in blue-flowered pajamas
with just the one small lamp
and the light which, as I said, is golden
and gentle
I laugh
for no particular reason

Joni tells me I can fly
and I can almost see her
voice curling
like warm tendrils of steam
toward the ceiling

By Grier Martin


Grier Martin is a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop (BWW), based in Burlington, Vermont. She led the BWW Poetry Discussion Group from 2019 to 2020. She also served in various editorial roles from 2017 to 2021 with Mud Season Review, an online literary magazine affiliated with BWW.

I Am A Computer By Tamia Hassan

I Am A Computer

In the car I fell silent again as tears hid
between the corners of my brown eyes
Yelled at once again for having
a second thought
a second opinion
a second meaning to my existence.
Maa says God created me only in relation to the man.
So I must obey
and not care and not step out of the circle drawn by the man.
I am at fault because they are men
they are god
they are never at fault.
I am no victim

I am to blame

yes Maa I understand,
yes maa I will cover up

Yes Maa–
but what if they trip me and strip me of my dignity?
I am a computer
I am programmed by my mother
coded to exist and only so.
My talents do not matter if I cannot cook
my opinions are useless when my shirt is too short
I am told
I must listen to the man
but I am unable to speak.
as I was taught to listen.
I am taught to tiptoe
He is taught to run.
I am taught to read
He is taught to write.
That is life and If I don’t comply my faith is questioned
and I’ll be locked up.
Baa no longer calls
and the last thing he said to me was
“Change out of that skirt”
I am a computer
Programmed by my mother
Coded to exist and only so
yet I am breaking.

By Tamia Hassan


Tamia Hassan is a fifteen-year-old writer and journalist from Minneapolis. In her free time, she writes poetry, short stories, and articles. Apart from writing, Tamia likes to read and crochet in her free time.

In the morning void after years since my father died By Georgia San Li

In the morning void after years since my father died

“…CD said human consciousness shows up in the
record as symbolic behavior toward the dead…”

-Consciousness by Robert Hass

Opening my eyes, the moment seems
a slit of air between sliding glass doors
into the backyard patio, a blear of
red marigolds and eucalyptus. I could sense
her refulgent mood, then my vision apprehends
the tall window covered in fine mesh to redirect
her ultraviolet radiation, a pinky orange jewel
exuding a deepening breath of fire,
day breaking as if time were nothing.

As I rest my eyes, close them behind warm translucent skin,
my mind leaps forward in search of the dreamy joy
that has darted away. It is daughterhood I think of,
playing hide and seek under leaves of verdant hostas.
Such dreams must thrive in partial sun —
akin to the daughterhood of Cordelia?
Both my hands pull and pluck at her
back, grab a piece of her empire-cut gown,
but she evaporates into whiteness and
her snapping flicker of poetry eludes me. She hides,
still alive, not dead, somewhere where I can no longer
retrieve particulars, only an empty sense
of rupture. I begin to wake, imagining white noise
absorbed by the white alabaster walls and the sheets.
The dragon tree on the dresser stands stoic,
unwilling to complain of the environment,
next to the tv, a dark polaroid, coated in dust
with no aspect to develop, still and present in
its situated darkness.

I sit up and watch the plane ascending,
shearing open invisible streams of wind. A circle
of seagulls keeps its distance, Cordelia
rushes past their ears, before subsumed, slipping
into the stratosphere. Looking over the
brightening horizon, I remember the politics of
the waste processing plant on Deer Island.
Little remains of its nature. Strange, nothing is yet burning.

By Georgia San Li


Georgia San Li is at work on a novel, poetry and other writings. Her poetry and writing appears or is forthcoming in the Antigonish, Atlanta Review, Confluence (UK), The Glacier, La Piccioletta Barca, Ravensperch and other journals. She is the author of “Wandering,” which was a Minerva Rising finalist and selected for publication by Finishing Line Press (January 2024). Her poetry was included on the short list for the 2023 Oxford Poetry prize. She has been supported by the Community of Writers and the Kenyon Review Novel Workshop.

ghazal for a ghost By Ash Chen

ghazal for a ghost

on my worst days, you could fill a black hole with the ashes that are no longer alive.
i mean that, on my worst days, i spit out my prayers and ask them to eat me alive.

i want to feel something tactile, and i don’t care what it is. chase the shot with another.
whiskey then a .38 hollow point, both straight down the throat, both burning me alive.

there must be some lidocaine in my veins, and i could carve it out myself,
just like the way those train tracks under the bridge used to shake nerves alive.

but i flushed those blades and pills and cigs, and i don’t skate much anymore.
i found an unholy hymn that all my lovers learn so they can sing me back alive.

when i reach for skin and breath, my hands find a headful of golden hair instead.
he knows how to hurt me in the ways i like, and tonight, i need to feel alive.

that the testaments to my personhood are shrouded in dust, in dead skin and smoke.
you could fill a bible or two with the shit i’ve done just to feel like i’m alive.

consequences don’t come easy to me, and the few that do become ghosts, sighing cries.
you can’t just tell me that you want it; you have to show me, prove that i’m alive.

By Ash Chen


Ash Chen is a first generation Asian-American student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she majors in English with a minor in Music and another in Science, Medicine, & Literature. When she is not managing her campus responsibilities, she enjoys reading and writing queer literature/poetry, playing the electric bass, and sustaining injuries in mosh pits.

Don’t tell my president this is my poem By Sylvester Kwakye

Don’t tell my president this is my poem

Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes

-Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We

I woke up in grandma’s bonnet
it’s 1957 & Ghana is metamorphosing

from an imperial cocoon onto a stalk
of a promising dawn

I saw indigenes seriously accusing
the Whiteman for his sluggishness

I walked out to join the parade in the Military foyer
we matched out with enthusiasm

that our people bearing our color will treat us right
how, fatheaded we were

67 years down the drain
men, chosen from our collective madness

have hauled us back to that pothole that killed
52 passengers at Adenta, that we too may follow suit

Mr. President, I did not mention your name
I know you will come after my life too

like those journalists who condemned your bad policies
I’m only saying, this melanin of yours is cancerous

because I too, have the same skin that cannot feel this hell
you’ve brought us in

I cannot but applaud you for the miracles, new Jesus
you turned our waterbodies into tea

and our maternity homes into morgues
with plausible plans to make Ghanaian funerals a stool for tourism

Mr. President, I salute you for chasing out the special prosecutor
what need will corruption in our dictionary be if it doesn’t exist
I love you so much for taking us back to where our forefathers ended things
in this melanin suit of ours, on this chlorophyll land

with your brisk arrogance and all-die-be-die genotype
that only our countrymen can sequence

Sir, don’t call the Whiteman, evil
& ask him for no reparations

because you have done worse to your people,
to your lands and your gods

whom you’ve promised a cathedral

By Sylvester Kwakye


Sylvester Kwakye is a Ghanaian medical student, and author of “Flying From Nectar To Hive”, a full-length poetry collection. His poems have been published or accepted for publication in Writing Woman Anthology Vol 3, New Note Poetry, Metachrosis Literary Magazine, Cool Beans Lit & Passionfruit Review.

The Art of Quilting or The Making of the Black American By Taylor Lauren Davis

The Art of Quilting or The Making of the Black American
after Bisa Butler’s Black American Portraits exhibition

Stripped of home &
Forced to a stolen land
Covered in snow

My ancestors:

The Fulani, The Mandinka, The Jola,
The Bamileke, The Asante, The Edo
The Wolof, The Temne, The Yoruba,
The Mende, The Igbo, The Fante

Stitched their names into a quilt
& survived the long winter, as One:
the blacks.

By Taylor Lauren Davis


Taylor Lauren Davis is a black American poet, attorney, and retired nurse from Memphis, TN. She is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. Her works have appeared in Poet Lore, Button Poetry, Rust + Moth, Torch Literary Arts, and elsewhere.