“Two Roads” by Henry Unser / “Natural Beauty” by Mohanad Nahhas

“Natural Beauty”

Mohanad Nahhas

“Two Roads”

Henry Unser

There I stood, alone, cold, damp. I pulled my cloak tightly around me, trying to save as much heat as possible. I contemplated the direction that I take now, I was so content following the path that I just want to keep going forward. If I go left, I keep venturing into the forest, hoping to find my purpose that I’ve been looking for. If I go right to the village, I could also find the purpose I’ve been looking for. I hear music in the distance, accordions to my right and birds to my left. I see purpose in both paths, to the right I could prove myself as a useful person, but to the left I prove useful as an independent body. Ultimately, it’s my choice, but I’m so conflicted. I think I’m going to go my own way, make a new path, and head straight. Or I could turn around, now I’m conflicted again. I want to make my own path but go my own way. I’m confused now, the right path looks more worn, and the left seems more wild. I want to take the path less traveled but someone still has traveled it. You know what, never mind, I don’t know. Left, right, forward, backward. Well, I’m not going back, so backward is out. I don’t want to deal with people, so right it out. Now, forward or left. I think I’ll go left, but I do want to stay straight, it’s comforting. But I want to be uncomfortable, test myself. You know what, I’m done. I’m going left, and that’s that.

Mockingbird Anaphora by Christina Cheng / “God’s Own Country” by Nia Augustine

“God’s Own Country”

Nia Augustine

Mockingbird Anaphora

Christina Cheng

Through the trails winding under canopies of half orange oak leaves she ran. Through the playground ringing of children’s screeches and the rustle of wood chips being buried beneath their quick feet. Through the vast expanse of pastureland dotted with cows deep in their morning graze. Through intersections met with children in strollers and their mothers. Through the back parking lot, a haven for the lone blue dumpster. Through Wertman Lane, tranquil on that Sunday morning, only the gentle whisper of a light autumn breeze to be heard.

“Whispers of Home” by Zahra Mushtaq / “Dispair” by Alice Catini


Alice Catini

“Whispers of Home”

Zahra Mushtaq

Acres of land stretching in each direction of my front door
Sounds of the wind would harmonize with all the trees loudly whistling
Traces of my chickens left everywhere, their scent, feathers, food pellets
My water well, that creates the sound of rainfall, every time I walk past it.
My mothers garden that would stretch yards, filled with greenery and flowers
A driveway hundreds of feet long with a beautiful view of mountainous hills soaring across
My eyes were so used to this scene, nothing was exciting about it
Nor the sights, nor the sounds, nor my chickens

The drowsy city of Albany
Most gloomiest place on earth
First thought that came to mind: Dull
First color that came to mind: Gray
My first hope was to go back home
I have zero expectations when I look out the window
Everything looks the same as the street before

The contrast was so bright then it became so dull
Only on visual terms
I never fully learned to appreciate one moment of life’s reoccurrence
How could I possibly have high expectations for that next moment?

“Letter to Future Self” by Einas Faraj / “Intangible Roots” by Rui Zheng

“Intangible Roots”

Rui Zheng

“Letter to Future Self”

Einas Faraj

Dear Einas, 

As I settle into my chair to compose this heartfelt letter to you, my future self, a feeling of wonder washes over me as I contemplate the relentless march of time. I contemplate how time does not wait for a soul, how the mind does not comprehend the swiftness of these years until it is too late, and all I can do about it now is to sob into my pillows over the heartbreak of missing my innocence. These are the moments that I begin to reminisce about times I had wished to grow up faster, not knowing all I want right now is not only to stop getting older, but to be younger again.

I am now 16 years old, and a junior in high school. As soon as July 31st comes by, I will never be 16 again, exactly how I will never again be 2, in Syria, chasing my sister and her friends. I will never be 7, learning to ride a bike in the parking lot of one of the masjids I grew up in. I will never be 9, with a blue cast on my arm after breaking my hand rolling down my cousin’s backyard in plastic cars, while our mothers were inside making us dinner. My favorite color was blue because my moms favorite color was blue. I will never be 13 getting my nails done for the first time during my last ever year of middle school. I will never get those years back and that is a feeling that confuses me. 

Time truly is a phenomenon that continues to captivate me, the impressive thing about the future is that we never know what is to come. Even with our endless hopes and expectations, anything can occur and alternate the path we are on. I have learned that through the vast array of experiences I have been put through. I would have never anticipated my house setting on fire, my parents splitting at a young age, my mother moving away to a different state and having no consistency in any aspect of my life with all the moving I have done, with all the people I have lived with, with all the schools I have moved to. After living through it, it all seems typical and is my one and only reality. 

Engaging in a deep reflection always seems to engulf me in a whirlwind of emotions. I, for one, believe that everything is a blessing in disguise, and am forever grateful and thankful to the one and only Lord above me. I have been given a chance to grow through harsh times and learn valuable lessons, gaining wisdom. My experiences have collectively molded me into the person I stand before you as today and will continue to frame me into other versions of myself till my time is to come. Each moment seems almost dreamlike, a powerful testament to the ephemeral nature of time itself. 

My English teacher says that at this age, the stress we feel for the future is ordinary, that we are young and are afraid of the new chapters that wait for us. However, the realization that not only has time sped by, but will continue to hurtle forward at an unwavering pace is what resonates most deeply within me. As I craft these words, a heightened awareness washes over me – these next years will zoom by in the blink of an eye. It’s a thought that carries a certain weight, an urge that makes me want to live each and every day with a clear sense of purpose, to truly savor every moment, and to never take for granted the blessings that surround me, because one day, I will wish to be 16 years old, and a junior in highschool again. 

As I delve into contemplating the uncertainties of the future, a multitude of questions wash over me. The questions I ask myself about the pending future are my motive to keep going, and my motive to give up. The future remains veiled in uncertainty, but one truth remains undeniably clear: time is a relentless force that waits for no one, and the responsibility falls squarely upon my shoulders to make the most of every precious moment bestowed upon me. I often spend time wondering who I will become, where I will find myself, if I will pursue my dreams, passionately chase after my deepest desires, or leave an indelible mark upon the world,

I do not want to look back with a pang of regret, yearning for the opportunities I let slip through my fingers, the risks I never dared to take, and the chances to embrace life to its absolute fullest that I let go of. As I ponder the swift passage of time, a quote by the esteemed poet Henry van Dyke surfaces in my mind: “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” These insightful words beautifully capture the very essence of the intricate relationship we share with time.

Amidst this kaleidoscope of human experiences, it is love that emerges as the most powerful anchor, a constant among the ceaseless tide of time. Love possesses the ability to transcend the boundaries of time itself, infusing every fleeting moment with a significance that stretches beyond the limitations of the clock. It imbues our lives with a profound sense of meaning, fortifies our spirits with unwavering hope and optimism, and serves as a constant reminder that even as time marches on relentlessly, the bonds of love endure, steadfast and unwavering. So, Einas, remember to love. 

Love more than people. Love the clear certainty that you are alive. Though death and age are factors in life we cannot sway, having the ability to die means that you have the ability to live, and that is what we must do. As you delve into these words penned by your past counterpart, I hope that they resonate deeply within the core of your being. May you be filled with an abundance of gratitude for the countless moments that have woven the intricate tapestry of your existence, and may your heart brim with excitement for the captivating adventures that lie ahead on our path. Remember to seize every moment with unwavering purpose and a burning passion, and to cherish the love and memories that light the path before you. It is moments of love and connection that truly endure.

With boundless love and anticipation,


“Our Reality” By Inna Shargorotski / “No No Fun” By Jakob Womer

“No No Fun”

Jakob Womer

“Our Reality”

Inna Shargorotski

“We were friends back then, in a way that everyone is friends in kindergarten.” We were friends back then, in a way that everyone played with each other during recess time. But now, our reality seems too difficult for us to process it. Everyone is either on their own trying to succeed in their lives, while others hide in their own personal corners. Where time never stops, to return all the memories that were created by us. Where love disappears and never returns back to us. Where laughter and joy tends to take a break from us. This is our reality. The truth that we didn’t think would be revealed. If only we knew how to act and be distant from one another. If only we knew how to warn each other of our “perfect” world. This could’ve been so simple. This could’ve been our dream. This could’ve been our typical friendship. If only we wanted to. If only we cared to. If only we tried to. We just gave up on ourselves. On our friendship. On our future. We still can forgive each other and our lame excuses. We still can respect each other, even though we aren’t on the same page in life. Both of us have no clue what we want from each other. Both of us know we don’t miss each other. Maybe just our pasts. Of our silly kindergarten friendship. Of our little clueless hearts. “We were friends back then, in a way that everyone is friends in kindergarten.”

“Run-on” by Troy Walters / “Forgotten” by Elena Hymes


Elena Hymes


Troy Walters

That cold fall air, nipping at my skin, took me back to days of pumpkin pie steaming on the windowsill. I remember you’d take me out here and we’d just talk and talk, the smoke from your cigars covering your face in a fog of misplaced memory and shooing away the gnats that loved to swarm the porch light. You would tell me the stories of sitting out here with Mom and stories of her stories of her life before I took it away from her the day I was born. You’d always let me sit in moms old rocking chair. I always thought I was taking your comfy chair from you, until that night I stayed up too late and saw you out there, alone, smoke covering your face, wistfully staring at moms chair, hoping she might take a seat and talk to you one last time.
I couldn’t comprehend how you were feeling back then. But now, as I sit, alone, in this rocking chair that creaks every time I move, I can’t help but stare at the empty wooden chair that used to hold my father, so grand, taller than the clouds of smoke that cover the wrinkles I can’t seem to remember the shape of, and I remember the incredible man who taught me everything I know and now rots, rots in that backyard where we would play, rots under the sun we would pitch tents to hide from, rots under that grave marker that i crafted with my own bare hands, rots in my head as the memory of your booming voice fades into nothing.
So I smoke, now, dad, to shoo away the gnats and blanket my eyes so I don’t have to look at the chair that holds you no longer.

Untitled by Hannah Bouchard / “Red Manhattan” by Cesia Pino-Mercado

“Red Manhattan”

Cesia Pino-Mercado


Hannah Bouchard

Sometimes I look to her and I feel empowered. She is such a strong woman. To know what I know about her is like reading one of those horror non-fiction war books in history class. The type of book you can’t imagine as real, the one nobody likes to read. But I did. The things that happened to her, I would never wish upon my least favorite people. She is brave.

Sometimes I look to her and I see a shattered mirror. Fragments of her are a part of me. The good ones that everyone praises and the bad ones that manifest deep within me. I will know her for the rest of my life and beyond. She will only know me for a part of hers, not all of it. I hold her dearly in my heart, the way she needed to be when she was just an innocent little girl in a cruel, evil world. She was hopeless.

Sometimes I look to her and I pray she loves me, like she loves her solitude. But she can’t. I am her. I am everything she doesn’t like. Something she despises. Something I can’t change. Something that twists a knife deep within my chest, piercing my heart. It makes me choke on the mouthfuls of blood that want to pool at her feet and scream “I love you”. I look to her as if she was the one who strung the stars in my night sky. But each day it feels as though it is her goal to pluck each and every one from it. Crushing them in her palm and dumping them in the treacherous murky waters known as my mind. She is precarious.

Sometimes I look to her and I want to change. She spent long hard years carrying me, nurturing me, supporting me, just for me to be something she can’t stand. I would carve runes into my flesh, reorganize every bone in my body, change anything and everything for her. But I can’t help feeling as though she does not think the same as me.

She is “Mom”.

“After school” by Kaitlyn Valenti / “Living Under the Shade” by Mahimn Dave

“Living Under the Shade”

Mahimn Dave

“After school”

Kaitlyn Valenti

I sit in my trunk observing around me. At 2:06, the bell rings, students flush from the building, flooding the parking lot, eager to go home. Engines yell awake and friends catch up. After traffic dials down, and everyone leaves, the lot grows quiet. Small gusts of wind blow the trees, making them whisper the only song they know how to sing. Skinny stems sprout from the ground, giving the field a great deal of hair. Somewhere in the belly of the trees buzzes a soothing sound like it’s alive. I stay crossed-legged, my foot falls asleep buzzing with the trees.

“Sorrows Over The Unknown” by Jillyan Connell / “Forgotten Memories” by Elena Hymes

“Forgotten Memories”

Elena Hymes

“Sorrows Over The Unknown”

Jillyan Connell

In sorrow’s depths, where shadows linger deep,

A heart adorned with hopes and dreams untold,

Within a womb, a precious life to keep,

Yet fate’s cruel hand, a tale of grief unfolds.


A silent storm that rages deep inside,

A love so tender, now lost, and none can pierce,

The ache, the emptiness we cannot hide.

A life unseen, yet felt so deeply loved,

A future dashed, a tale left incomplete,

A mother’s arms bereft, her dreams removed,

The pain relentless, never to retreat

But in the darkness, glimmers of a light,

A love that lingers, though the child takes flight.

Though sorrow’s weight may seem impossible,

In shattered dreams, a strength begins to rise,

For deep within, a flame burns indomitable,

A mother’s love, enduring, never dies.

In whispered prayers and tears that fall like rain,

Her spirit finds solace, though scars remain,

She finds a way to heal, to rise again,

To honor the life that brought her joy and pain.

Misty Morning Lane by Nirvana Monsur / Unknown by Sophie Froehlich


Sophie Froehlich

“Misty Morning Lane”

Nirvana Monsur

During the morning of Misty Morning Lane, mist filled the air. It was as if an enveloping cloud fell from the sky. The bright porch lights illuminated the dark sky. The blinding sun was no longer blinding.

Chills shivered down her spine. The thick air intoxicated her lungs. The fog stung her eyes. The mist had led to misty thoughts.

At Misty Morning Lane, mist filled the air from dusk till dawn.