Bittersweet Being

By Diana Melgar


Oh Loud Joy

Mariachi and reggaeton

The beat and rhythm they bring

Instruments, played quick and strong 

Dancing with all those around

Loud laughter replacing embarrassment

Bodies turning and swinging

The cheers and yells of those sitting

Resting till the next song 


Running away as pop-its hit near my feet

Birds singing proudly in the morning

Strong wind rustling leaves and hair 

Dogs barking, robust and playful

The slap of a soccer ball being kicked

The flow and strength of Spanish 

Words confidently spoken

Sung in music never ending


Oh Deep Afflictions 


Rifts in my family 

Fights and conversation I have yet to understand

Silent words screaming in my mind

the stickiness of barley dried tears

Losing a home to flames and heat

Witnessing the slow breaking of a person

Hearing their weeps and sobs

Comforting wails of regret and apologies 


Being a cause of lament

Anger and frustration of wrong doings

A sickening smell of alcohol

The counterfeit of  righting wrongs

Going back and forth, one parent to another 

Not knowing why I cry or feel so low

Taking for granted everything I have


Oh Quiet Bliss


A very specific sweet scent of light pink roses

A red muddy color and roughness of bricks

Creaky stairs, floors, and doors 

Cozy and close feel of the rooms

The smell of new and old books 

Sunlight from my mother’s window 

The largeness of her bed

The orange and red of a setting sun 


Long car rides in a packed car

From Texas to New York

Resting heads on another’s shoulder

Quiet nights of blissful sleep 

Beauty proudly beaming at night  

The cool air and the shining lights

Warm embraces overflowing with love 

Quiet laughter following uncontrolled howling


Oh Bittersweet Being


Reflections of memories, of feelings, and sensation 

All I have felt, thought, done, and seen

A collection always growing in my mind

Loud joy, deep afflictions, quiet bliss

All I am 

Such bittersweet being 


The Little Horse

By Isabella Briggs

“Trotta trotta cavallino.” 

Three words I still think about. They do not have any particular importance. They do not mean anything special. 

When I first heard these words, I was young. My grandmother sat in an old rocking chair, holding me on her lap. I cannot quite remember the couch’s pattern or who sat there, but that is of little importance. 

I focused intently on my grandmother’s words. I could tell they were not English, but that did not matter. 

An infant does not require the meaning of words, only the entertainment they provide. I sat there in pure bliss, giggling along as Ninna chanted the phrase, moving her knees up and down to the rhythm. 

“Trotta trotta cavallino. Galoppa, galoppa, galoppa, galoppa.” 

Ninna’s voice sounded natural this way. Her heavy Italian accent for these words. She pronounced them correctly, unlike when she spoke to me in English. 

My young mind did not know why she sounded different. I did not know Italian was her first language. I did not know she grew up in Italy during a war. I did not know she never completed her schooling in America and therefore never mastered the English language. 

All that mattered as I sat there happily was her voice as she repeated those words, just to make me smile. Because that was all I needed. 

I would learn the rest later. 

thoughts from a cherry wood shelf

By Maddie Jaffe

to be an overthinker,

you must first understand what it means.

is there such a thing as an underthinker?

whose skull is a dusty, hollow, echoing shell?

or a just-right thinker,

with thoughts piled neatly on cherry wood shelves?

maybe not

or maybe so

but the point is

what makes the overthinker? what encourages one to flirt with insanity?

is it the never-ending nights watching your ceiling as


hours pass, your beauty sleep a runaway paper on a windy day, always, always

blown just out of reach

or is it the fact that decisions as simple as what flavor of ice cream you want

are traumatic


and leave you aching, wondering, still, an hour later, if strawberry was the right choice?

maybe it’s the eraser marks

tainting your page with an irreplaceable, indestructible gray from half-finished,

scrapped ideas and answers

that are now long gone.

so what, out of these, truly makes an overthinker?

what does it mean, and how do you become one

or make it go away?

well, friends.

I suppose we’ve overthought it.