Letter to Mick Jagger Regarding His AI By Michelle Patton

Letter to Mick Jagger Regarding His AI

Little doll stitched
together with sweat and sacrifice,

Have you never been wounded?
Have you never stood on the river bank,

Someone’s favorite child alone?
Do memories bruise you?

Have you ever wondered if you can do it—
Overcome your petty tendencies

And finally become
Your better angels.

Do the people you love seem to grow
Ever distant? Have you suspicions

That you have caused this?
Do you ever want to curl up and hide

In some shadowed corner of 1972?
Do you cry in color?

Can you find it? That one small coal
Of goodness still flickering inside you?

What gives you solace now
Your free will has fallen into a sinkhole?

Time to gather the frothy waters
Around you like foamy skirts.

And try again. The scorched and bleeding
Earth will make life hard,

But there are doves who moan
When you return from a long journey.

There is your ability to marvel
At the size of your own shadow

In the July grass. There are people
Who love you, still.

By Michelle Patton


Michelle Patton received an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno. She won the Ernesto Trejo Award for poetry and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Southern Poetry Review, Zyzzyva, Prairie Schooner and others. She teaches English at Fresno City College.

I Wanna Go Home to Chinaland By RED

I Wanna Go Home to Chinaland

That fertile land of plains
and its golden river of histories—I wanna go home
to Chinaland
—dressed in my tribal clothing
of sashes red and green.

The music of qeej will
direct my path, the songs of
nruas will keep my pace—home to China
I will go
—dressed in my tribal clothing
of sashes red and green.

My packed lunch of
qaib ntim su, my white horse at
the tips of my fingers—back to Chinaland I am
—dressed in my tribal clothing
of sashes red and green.

My khau noog upon my
feet, my paj ntaub of partings gently
by my side— home to China
I will go
—dressed in my tribal clothing
of sashes red and green.

Boats of money: silver and gold
of varies sizes, nyiaj txiag
xyab ntawv will burn to ash—back to Chinaland I am
—dressed in my tribal clothing
of sashes red and green.

My journey is long,
exhausting, and tiresome—but home
I will be. My ancestral lands at last.
—yuav mus suav teb paj tawg lag.



RED (she/her) is a Hmong artist in central Wisconsin. Currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. RED’s poetry stems from personal experiences of having lived through various adversities and struggles (genocide and the like). Her debut work was showcased in the Wausau Poetry Walk. She has worked as a bilingual victim advocate for domestic violence/sexual assault and is now teaching an ELL class at a non-profit organization. RED’s favorite thing to do in her free time is eating fruits, with Mangosteen being her ultimate favorite.

Salvation By Bohan Gao


Today, I hung your faith in the
streets, drying them of prayer,
and was reminded of the

intimacy of belief. How you
cradled the rifle by the
throat, like a newborn,

loaded it with worship
bright as a peony.
My wrist diving into

flesh as I unsewed parable from
the skin, each scarlet sigil
against mankind.

Home is gone. Now you
hold me by my fins of silk,
by the whites of my eyes.

Here is the body of a crucifix:
lovely, romantic, romanticized.
Here is a cage. Baba, I say, except

it doesn’t mean father. I am asking
how to face a god with cracked
teeth and bleeding jaws.

I am asking how to be saved.

By Bohan Gao


Bohan Gao is a seventeen-year-old Chinese-American writer from North Carolina. She has been recognized for her writing by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and her work is published in The Enviroactivist, Addanomadd, and Exurbia, among others. Outside of writing, she likes playing soccer, going out with friends, and losing herself in crowded cities.

If Revolutions Devolve into Terror By Kika Dorsey

If Revolutions Devolve into Terror

If so, and the night washes us of our collective mind, why do the crows
know to stay together on the oak tree in the winter, terror the ice enshrining

its bare branches, roadkill on the street they share, bats overhead
swooping so fast that only an individual mind can perceive them

while crows sleep together but we never see their bodies in the dark,
black feather against black night. I asked you about Kant’s

categorical imperative, to act in accordance with rules that can
hold for everyone. I said, This is how I try to live, as long as the rules

demand kindness and not supplication to authority. Outside an old man
in a wheelchair rolls on ice toward the door of the dentist office

and I hold it open for him. But at night sometimes the guillotine falls
when I dream of driving in the snow and not checking my speed,

running into the oak tree and you with your big hands on your eyes,
weeping in the passenger seat. I’ve never known equanimity

except when my ideals settled in my hips or grew lush long before
the harvest, maybe without it; maybe the stalks of corn tip

and enter the soil like the romantic power of imagination or
the transcendence without the abstract ideal to name it, consume it.

When we give up the road to understanding we cease to see the world,
housing our fears of the unknown in oak trees that grow so familiar,

satellites becoming our celestial bodies. Yet God is written outside of Reason
and a niggling feeling that all you have done has been worth it,

even the devolutions that taught you reason’s limitations.
I have found a home. I have learned the crow’s detachment

from any symbol in its murder, and I have driven to a madness
where we should all at some point go. The amber light of exhaust and sunset,

the stretching light waves, set my body on fire, and the crows,
balancing on a patina of ice, drink the light and do not give it back.

By Kika Dorsey


Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature and her books include the chapbook Beside Herself and three full-length collections: Rust, Coming Up for Air, and Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger, which won the Colorado Authors’ League Award for best poetry collection. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times. Currently, she is a lecturer at the University of Colorado in literature and creative writing. Her novel, As Joan Approaches Infinity. In addition, she works as a writing coach and ghostwriter. In her free time she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.

Still By Nicole Q. Nguyen


Like a stone born from my body,
you came into this world cold and still.
The sky drained of color as they took you away
my body was an exit wound, I sunk
into the mattress
a foreigner to myself. Your eyes never did open.

Cardboard epitaphs, folded napkin eulogies—
we buried you in the backyard
because there was nowhere else to go.
You were cradled in that black mud,
the earthworms watched over you as
the dry grass whispered its lullabies.

I laid in the bathtub, my skin flayed back like a peeled peach.
The ceiling tiles dripped condensation
and whispered your name, which I never said aloud.
That house held me like a child
and rocked me to sleep.

Slowly, we must learn to live
with hands
that cannot heal the ones we love.

By Nicole Q. Nguyen


Nicole Q. Nguyen is a Philadelphia native writer and academic. Her work attempts to reconcile the deeply confessional nature of poetry with her own unwavering love for the art of storytelling. Many of her works explore the intersection where the foreign and the familiar meet. Nicole is proud to hail from a long, unbroken line of avid lovers of literature. Find her on Instagram @NicoleQNguyen

Things We’ll Never Hold By Louisa Muniz

Things We’ll Never Hold

And what did I know
of the world at twenty-six,

the year I was suppose to
give birth in the spring,

the year Mount St. Helens erupted,
the year John Lennon was shot?

Maybe my longing
should have been less.

Maybe my body
should have done more.
All season long a stilled lullaby
beats between barren ribs.

The geese bleed
into the sunset.

Should I believe,
what will be, will be?
Near Puget Sound a mother orca
pushes her dead calf

around the waters for seventeen days
and one thousand miles.

She struggles to keep her baby afloat
before letting go. Her lament:

a barren lullaby.

How long do we carry
the things we’ll never hold?

How long do we carry the stories
that need to be told?

By Louisa Muniz


Louisa Muniz lives in Sayreville, N.J. She holds a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean University. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Journal, SWWIM, ONE ART, Palette Poetry, Menacing Hedge, Poetry Quarterly, PANK Magazine, Jabberwock Review and elsewhere. She won the Sheila-Na-Gig 2019 Spring Contest for her poem Stone Turned Sand. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. Her debut chapbook, After Heavy Rains by Finishing Line Press was released in December, 2020.

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.