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.

Small pockets By Facundo Rompehuevos

Small pockets

she’s 15 or 16 but says she’s 22—she says
that 5-year-old girl is her daughter but it’s
her sister—it makes the begging more

she wears an oversize sweater that reads
‘mexico’ in green, white and red letters but
her accent reveals Dickie’s sweat shops
gold mines and the rich coffee plantations
where the poor of nicaragua work, part of
the wave of central and south americans
coming over, straight into the homeless
shelters that, in turn, send them wandering
the streets from morning until night—when
they let them back in, when the cots and hot
plates are cold and ready

she says she needs work but there is no
work, only stale oatmeal, fruit that’s too
soft, men that are too nice, social workers
indistinguishable form sociopaths

but still people help her out by giving her
small jobs like loading plywood into pick
up trucks, ‘pa’ la comida,’ she says

but weren’t there supposed to be houses to
clean, and roses, too—she doesn’t say it
but there were supposed to be a lot of
things: amber waves of grain to be
harvested, spacious skies and mountains
somehow purple, overlooking fruited
plains, overseeing a shining wilderness
owned by alabaster politicians and CEOs
cities covered in human excrement but still
gleaming, built beam by beam, block by
block, by men and women, like her, with
dreams modest enough to fit inside small
pockets and lying and rumbling bellies

By Facundo Rompehuevos


Facundo Rompehuevos is an activist, writer, husband, father and recovering alcoholic and drug addict born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in independent literary and poetry journals, such as Unlikely Stories, Rusty Truck, A Thin Slice of Anxiety and the political zine Red’s Not White. He has two books of poetry: Irreconcilable Contradictions (2017) and Grabbing the Stars from the Sky (2021), both published by Fourth Sword Publications. His books have been sold at Stories Books & Cafe, the Last Bookstore and Skylight Books. He is currently working on his debut novel.

Lightly Holding the Wonder By Claire Hamner Matturro

Lightly Holding the Wonder
(for Wendy)

A chrysalis like a pale jade pendant
knocked down by some errant
bird or wind caught the light
and glimmered where I reached to work
among the weeds and waft of geosmin
but instead I tied the chrysalis
back to its stem with floss by my
hands lightly holding the wonder
with a murmured prayer that it will
open with a monarch’s soft click of
wings already calling for a mate.

A mockingbird’s perfect egg
mottled blue as if painted for
hiding among dark grass and sky
fell unbroken on soft ground
smelling of damp loam in front
of where I almost stepped
but placed back in its nest by my
hands lightly holding the wonder
with a murmured prayer that it might
hatch into a songster mimic who will
entice a mate with his rich repertoire.

In my pride I praise
myself for lifting up these
small rescues by my
hands lightly holding the wonder
of live blessings as if I were
their savior but long after
the dark has robbed the evening
of any gleam of egg or chrysalis
I understand the wonder of each
is a prayer for me to bear witness
that these small lives are our saviors.

By Claire Hamner Matturro


Claire Hamner Matturro has been a journalist, lawyer, organic blueberry farmer, and college writing instructor. She is the author of eight novels, including a series published by HarperCollins. She’s an associate editor at Southern Literary Review. Her poetry appears in various publications including Slant and forthcoming in Glassworks.

writing process By Hazel Thekkekara

writing process

i wrote the first draft on the hood of your car,
legs searing hot
as you propped me up
above the engine—
our reckless lips burning
your tongue the only soothing balm.

yes, you wanted to revise me,
but you didn’t know i was editing myself;
falling in step now, us two.
back then,
it was only hallways
& your hand slipping under my shirt
that kept me alive.

feral animals prowling in the dark;
fingernails craving blood from your back.
exhausting ourselves
from childish passion, infinite
laying entwined on the filthy mattress;
my sanity scattered in a heap on the floor.

slowly, i am noticing
smudges in your penciled-in perfection;
how your jaw looks unhinged as you step a little closer,
leaving scars of shame on my neck,
cavernous holes in my soul.
i lean back, but not far enough;
& yet, i slip over the edge.

here you are next to me,
eyes opening to acknowledge dawn,
a gaping hole of onyx & fallen stars—
dark as the story we began to write that summer,
one with you as my hero
& me as your princess,
coping with burns from our fire.

By Hazel Thekkekara


Hazel Thekkekara is a high school junior from Atlanta, Georgia. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Polyphony Lit, Eunoia Review, and Cathartic Literary Magazine, among others. When she’s not writing, Hazel can be found rewatching David Suchet’s Poirot, baking triple-chocolate brownies, or taking her dog on long walks around the neighborhood.

Nostalgia on a rainy day By Nimra Tariq

Nostalgia on a rainy day

Rain in mountains brings nostalgia
A yearning for all the buried emotions

I miss you, like my home,
Before becoming a migrant

It changed, a little, after every visit back home
I kept revisiting to find my place a new

I wondered, what could have happened?
I pondered, what should have happened?

With a right word, with a right translation

Similarly, I visit you on every rain,
I revisit all the fights and words

To find a moment I could have saved it all.

It makes me smile and live memories of heart
Maybe, yours and not yours, cycle of life, like this

Rain brings nostalgia, it questions moving on?
Can you actually leave something at one time in life?

Not carry it beyond that…

Or maybe you move forward?
Carrying it, living with it, but beyond it

Rainy days are inquisitive and nostalgic
You somehow always live in them

Like a home of a migrant!

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.