T HREE TO F OUR O UNCES THE SPRING 2022 ISSUE “THE ULTRACONTEMPORARY”
“The human soul weighs three to four ounces.” DON DELILLO Copyright 2022 held by individual authors and 3-4 Ounces Cover Image by Lauren Demarco
THREE TO FOUR
LINES WRITTEN IN EARLY AUTUMN - I sabella M ason
THE TEST - a ngela a lvarez
HER - L auren D eMarco
WORLDS TO COLOR - l Izzy M esnIk
TRICYCLES - D anIel n esbIt
YOU ARE HOME - l Izzy M esnIk .
THE RISING - a nDy W
THE FIELD THE DAY A KID WAS SHOT - J ulIa W Illet
WHATSYOURNAME - K atIe W ooten
WHITEY - L auren D eMarco
FORGOTTEN - D anIel n esbIt
OBSESSION - J ulIa W Illet
FOG - e lly H onaker
THE START TO FOREVER - l Izzy M esnIk
HELL BOOKS - D anIel n esbIt .
GOSSAMER - l auren D eMarco
FOUND ONE - D anIel n esbIt
ON SOCIETY - A ngela a lvarez
MORE CONTENTS 38
POETIC PROSE - A kshAt s uri
NATION, FAMILY, NOW TWO OR NONE AT ALL.
THE PROMISE OF A MORNING AFTER RAIN
TURNING THE TIME BACK
THE FINAL STAND OF A SOLITARY SOLDIER
FALL OF THE SEASONAL ORDER
NEON LIGHTS AND NOBODIES
THE SILENCE OF TWO MEN
ART AND PHOTO FC
GOLDEN DAYS P. 1 - L auren D emarco
AFTER.- Z iyan Z hang
ETERNITY - Z iyan Z hang
UNTITLED - Z iyan Z hang
UNTITLED - Z iyan Z hang
UNTITLED - Z iyan Z hang
GOLDEN DAYS P. 2 - L auren D emarco
EDITORS’ NOTE In our first in-print edition since 2019, we wanted to feature work that captured the truly unsusual state of the world at this time. With a pandemic still raging and the fires of war raging across the globe, the UltraContemporary truly is a project in catharsis and expression. We encouraged those who submitted to our magazine to take heed of Emily Dickinson’s view that “forever is composed of nows” and Audre Lorde’s view that those on the margins seek “nows that can breed futures.” In this issue, we have work that touches on dystopian futures, work that touches on war and work that touches on sexual assault. We made the deliberate choice not to shy away from hard topics because our reality, our UltraContemporary is hard. We thank our contributors for their vulnerability and for their willingness to share their work with the Wake Forest community. We hope that you enjoy the 2022 edition of 3-4 Ounces and take inspiration for your own navigation of the UltraContemporary.
Aine Pierre Class of 2024 Declan Sander Class of 2023 Joshua Yama Class of 2023
LINES WRITTEN IN EARLY AUTUMN
Lines Written in earLy
Isabella Mas Dearest, I take your kitchen scissors and snip off the ends of the flower stems. The variety Trader Joe’s flowers—a sunflower, two carnations, some mums, and a few others I don’t know the names of—were $3.99. I bought them for you, to celebrate our budding relationship. I dunk the flowers into a red, translucent Coca-Cola cup that I’ve filled with water. The cup sits on your kitchen table, empty besides salt, pepper, a few beer coasters, and, now, my flowers. They call these apartments “the Olds.” The Olds are on the campus of a college I don’t attend; their brick exterior is contrasted by the tall, green trees that surround them. They each have a porch where we always go out to smoke. Boys live here, in this apartment on the first floor, so the walls are blank and the brightest thing in the entire common space is the Trader Joe’s flower cup. The table in the kitchen only has two chairs despite this apartment housing four people. I’d like to think that it was made for you and me. There are two chairs and a couch in the living room; I often crawl out of your low, creaky twin-sized bed at 3 a.m. to sleep on that couch because your bed isn’t made for two people and I haven’t been sleeping well lately anyway. Your room is a bit better than the common room. You have a few posters that line the walls, but the main attraction of your tiny room is the bookshelf filled with 250-odd records and the two giant speakers that sit next to it and the turntable on top of it. My favorite memories of this room include laying in your bed—your necklaces hanging on the lamp that leans over your bed like a mobile over a crib—and listening to American Beauty spin on your record player, with my face nestled into your chest. In that moment, I couldn’t be happier, despite what goes on in my world outside the Olds.
The first time I was ever here, at this apartment, we were making quesadillas in the kitchen. I wasn’t making much of anything, actually; I just stood there and watched you cut up the avocados as I drank Pabst Blue Ribbons all too quickly.
THREE TO FOUR
(‘24) quickly. In my drunken stumbling around the kitchen, I noticed a millipede crawling across the kitchen tile, brown with more legs than I can count. I thought the millipede was charming, and as I stared at it on the floor I was surprised to see you lean down and scoop the millipede up with a piece of paper. You took the millipede outside and placed him gently in the mulch that lined the borders of the apartment. You tell me later you haven’t seen many millipedes since they cleaned the dry leaves from the porch. On the eve of my twentieth birthday, a month or two after the first millipede incident, we are laying in your creaky, low bed. I steal a sweatshirt from you that night—that Joyce Manor crewneck that is now a signature part of my wardrobe. It used to smell like you but now it smells like me and Lucky Strike cigarettes. I find my favorite things about you are impossible to write about because they are so cliché—my favorite thing about you is how you you are. I love all your mannerisms, the little phrases you use, and the things you do that make you who you are. Your sense of style— the way you cuff your jeans and that gold necklace you wear, with a sun pressed into its pendant. Now you also wear a little glass jar on a cord that I made you, too, with a note of scribbled nothings rolled up inside of the jar. It keeps breaking, I keep fixing it. I like that we wear the same size in clothing so we can share. I like that you like cheap beer, and you’re knowledgeable about seemingly everything without being pretentious. I like that there are things you’re meticulous about, like your record collection, and things that couldn’t bother you less, like where you put your dirty laundry. Your bookshelf is littered with things that are unmistakably you—a collection of ceramic frogs you’ve found at various thrift stores, a plush of a Star Wars character that’s never on-screen for more than a minute, and two books which I love but you’ve yet to read. One week after my birthday we are outside the Olds in the smoking section with a PBR each and a pack of Lucky Golds. It used to disgust me, that tobacco,
LINES WRITTEN IN EARLY AUTUMN
caramel stench that clings so desperately to my clothes and my hair, but now it just reminds me of you. Afterwards, we shower together and I can tell that you are nervous because, as far as I can tell, you’ve never been naked in front of someone like this. I am naked, too. It’s not erotic, it’s not supposed to be. Have you ever thought about how weird it is to be human? Our hair that grows in weird places, moles and freckles and other various spots, rolls and crevices and lumps and things that have been made out to us to be unshapely and unsavory but are just natural. There’s something about you that makes me less afraid to be so loudly human and imperfect. I think it is the way you are so unapologetically human. I used to wonder who you were to me. When we first met, I was so unsure. I was so nervous and my history overcame me. Two months later you are my boyfriend—but then, a week after that, we are nothing. On a Wednesday night at the Olds it is dark and cold outside. You brush my shoulder with your hand, and I shiver because tonight there is something going on with me. I tell you I have to go, though we both know I was planning on staying the night. I leave, you hug me and tell me it’s going to get better. I don’t know that that’s true. Thursday morning, I tell you I am not fit to be in a relationship. I have been so caught up in what is so beautiful about you, that I have forgotten what is so dark and ugly about me, a monster stirring from its short slumber underneath the distraction. Lately, my life has been drowned in melancholy, drenched in illness and soaked in anguish. It is not so much that rich sort of melancholy I feel when I am in love—I don’t think that’s what this is yet—but rather that sort of dampened droning on that one feels on a rainy day, when it is misting out; not enough to use an umbrella, too much to walk inside with dry clothes. When I was raped four months ago, the rain poured. *** I guess I turned to you as a person who wouldn’t hurt me. Of course, I didn’t know this when I met you—hopelessly searching for something to help me feel less broken or more broken or whichever one would ease the pain the most, we met on a dating app. That’s what I hope for when I meet someone—certainly, this is naive, but I hope that the person I’m meeting won’t hurt me. Maybe, if I’m really lucky, they’ll even come to see me for who I am.
THREE TO FOUR
When I met my rapist, I hoped for the same things. I did not get those same things, and I was hurt, and the bruises on my face and body did not even come close to reflecting the pain he left me with. A PTSD diagnosis among many others, unspeakable amounts of money and time sunk into EMDR and CPT trauma therapies, battles with the Office of Academic Advising and Registrar’s Office over a part-time student status and how can I drop this course so that I have time to breathe and scream and cry? All of this left me in emotional debt and he walks freely today without anything even remotely close to the suffering I endure (which would be the flashbacks and having to get up and leave class and moments of complete goneness and crying spells out of nowhere that hurt so much I heave and wheeze and nearly scream at the power with which the pain is expelling itself from my body). Where do you come in—you with your sun pendant and cuffed jeans and white Carhartt beanie? When I break up with you I feel naked again, like when we were in the shower, but this time you are not naked with me. It is just me, raw and writhing in the fetal position, crying and telling you that you shouldn’t have to be my boyfriend because the pain I’m in is much too much for anyone to handle. Why, then, should I have to handle it? All on my own? I fret for my younger self, the baby girl who will be born into a body that works so much slower than her mind, who will become frustrated at every tag in the back of every shirt, the tongue of every shoe, every single sock and the way it sits on her ankle, because she does not yet know how to cope. I am so mad that I must handle all of this. I am not mad for myself, but I am mad for the younger version of myself, who I wanted to protect so badly. I struggle to understand how you fit into this picture. You are not my therapist, you are more than a friend but less than a boyfriend after we break up, but on a different Wednesday night when we see each other for the first time after our relationship ends, you ask me what we are and I tell you I just need you not to be my boyfriend and you tell me that maybe we transcend labels. I’m starting to think that maybe you are right. I love that high school feeling when you start to believe that maybe you two are special, that you two will defy the fifty percent divorce rate and live an impossible happy life. Maybe you can be my boyfriend without being my boyfriend, because that’s what I need right now. ***
LINES WRITTEN IN EARLY AUTUMN
A week later, like high schoolers, we are dating again. I wrote you a letter on a card I found at a thrift store telling you I’m sorry about the mixed signals but it feels inappropriate to feel the way I feel about you and not have some stupid arbitrary label to define us. I want you in a way that feels instinctive, I want you to be mine but more importantly, I want to be yours. Oh, so this is what young love is supposed to feel like. The flowers on your kitchen table are surely wilted now. In the Olds I care less about what to do next than I do everywhere else. I care less about the past four months, how he’s free and I’m not, when we’re on the porch of the Olds sharing a cigarette with my head leaning on your shoulder. In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind, you’re all I can think about. Warmly, Yours
THREE TO FOUR
The TesT AngelA AlvArez (‘23) The first student closed her car door with a numb feeling in the back of her throat. No one talked as they filed through the hallways. No one dared to glance at each other. No one knew how the day would unfold. Followed by the dank humidity that clung to their skin, the students began finding their seats in the large auditorium. The smell of lead from freshly sharpened number two pencils slowly filled the air. Desperate to avoid eye contact, most students set their gaze out the large window. When they renovated the testing building, they added this path for natural light to enter the room. It was said to stimulate intellectual curiosity. However, on this dreary overcast day, there was only a musty haze that filtered into the room while the students feasted their eyes on the row of large white vans in the parking lot painted gray by the fog of dawn. The tests were distributed on time. Since their first years of classes, final test booklets had been completed by them before summer. The low scream of air from the vent matched the footsteps of the proctor as he handed out the exams. The light blue cover page stared up at each adolescent demanding perfection. Some fidgeted with their fingers. Some bounced their legs. Some took deep breaths. “Students, you may now begin.” Finally, their time had started. Papers shuffled, pencils scratched, and the air vent increased its pitch an octave. There was no time wasted. The start and end times were written largely on the board in the front. Time began to count down second, by second, by second. The second hand’s ticks on the large clock echoed through the vast space keeping even the most aloof students attuned to the time. After all, time waits for no one. And so much time was spent preparing for this moment. For what is more important than the test? The air vent came to a halt and the sudden absence of sound temporarily shifted students’ heads towards the window. Cars were seen slowly gathering behind the vans filled with cautiously optimistic parents. Two closer to the school were having a conversation through their car windows.
“And this morning as I was trying to get Alice out the door Ben would not stop crying bloody murder and of course the nanny couldn’t calm him down,” Karen Hillsberry complained out her window to the mother in the next car.
THREE TO FOUR
“Well sometimes that’s just how it goes on test days,” Mrs. Levy responded, looking down at her toes attempting to avoid the large gestures of Mrs. Hillsberry. “Well god you would think with the amount of money I pay for this nanny that she would to have some kind of brain, can hardly believe she passed her test,” Mrs. Hillsberry continued her rant. Mrs. Levy’s eyes drifted towards the blacked window of the auditorium. On the other side, students were frantically transferring the last bits of their knowledge into the booklets. The air vent started again with a loud rush. Goosebumps arose on the three students sitting closest to the vent. The gust blew someone’s pencil to the ground and the clattering sound reverberated throughout the space in a low hum. Focus teetered. “Time. Pencils down.” The tests were collected. Students clung to the solitary distraction of their view of the parking lot. Some could see their parent’s cars. The grading never got quicker. The scantron machine prominently placed center stage taunted each onlooker. “God how much longer is this going to take?” Mrs. Hillsberry wondered aloud to no one in particular. A close listener could detect the slightest bit of nervousness from the sound of her voice, but no one was listening closely. “They are coming,” Mrs. Armstrong shouted throughout the lot. All eyes quickly became glued to the door. One by one, students filed out of the school. Each with a look of half accomplishment on their faces. Parents pulled up to greet their successful pupils with haphazard congratulatory hugs. Mrs. Levy drove over the second she saw a glimpse of her son’s fiery red hair amongst the drab background of the day. Mrs. Hillsberry’s eyes rolled as she continued to wait for Alice to emerge. The proctor exited next and the parents still left childless in the parking felt all hope fleeting. The air rushed out of their lungs. “What does this mean?” Mrs. Hillsberry stuttered, shaking her head. Ignoring her comment the proctor simply gestured to the white vans and men in gas masks emerged. He held the doors open and they entered the building. Then he sealed them behind him. The airlock had become flawless over the years. “NO! It isn’t fair,” Mrs. Hillsberry shouted as others began to cry. Mrs. Hillsberry rushed up to the auditorium. She barely made it halfway through the lot before men with clear riot shields set up a perimeter around the school and vans. The proctor pushed the giant daunting red button on the outside of the building and time stood still for a second. “Please, NO it’s my fault Alice had a stressful morning, if she could take it again-” Mrs. Hillsberry continued to beg between sobs. “My Charles couldn’t sleep last night because of the neighbor’s noise, he deserves a retake,” Mrs. Ross argued. Their pleas fell on deaf ears as they saw the lifeless bodies of their offspring thrown into the vans.
Her Lauren Demarco (‘22) “Falling, falling, falling. But there’s never any point of impact. It’s a continuous black hole. Only, I’m not flying downwards— my body keeps toppling over and over again, without ever standing back up.” “And when do you wake up?” “In the morning.” Approximately two months earlier, She had been walking to Her dorm room. Ready for Her first year of college ready to unfold. The fresh scent of rain lingered. The night sky expanded overhead. Of course She’d had crutches before, but this was only Her second day with the new pair. Her dad’s well-worn, oversized crutches required different maneuvers than freshly unwrapped ones once housed in student health. But She could handle it. “And what happens when you experience fits of panic?” “It starts with a trigger. Usually any word or even an unspoken air of negativity that makes me feel uneasy. It could be something completely average to anyone else, but I have a different connection to it. Like cars, or nighttime. The first physical effect is my heartbeat.” “It quickens?” “Yes. Like when your heart drops. Only it lasts much longer.” “And then?” “I-my-I-” Her speech is cut off by a spell of quick breaths and shaky hands. The plushy couch and safe environment vanish. She’s back on the crosswalk. In the dark. She felt the crutches slip out from under her. She saw the damp yellow and white stripes on the street slowly encompass her vision. She heard the scream. Her memories never changed.
THREE TO FOUR
Her breathing doesn’t show signs of returning to normal. “Use your thumb and tap each finger against it. As you do this, countdown from five and focus on the numbers. Focus on the tactile sensations. Focus on what’s here right now.” With trembling hands, She does what She’s told. She looks down to see the action coming to life. Her shaky fingers move obediently. Her shaky arms move from her lap to the sidewalk. The ambulance lights disrupted the peaceful night sky. They wrapped Her arm with the blood pressure device. She tried to apologize for Her seizure-like movements. Only Her breath was gone. All that escaped were gasps as 20 random faces stared down at Her with concern. She wanted to tell them She wasn’t helpless. “Look around the room. What can you see here? Can you count the number of one shape that you see?” She looks. She sees the room. She sees four square windows. She sees 2 squares that make up the chair. She sees the willing determination in the eyes across from Her. The concern. It morphs into the concern She saw in her friend’s eyes as she climbed into the ambulance with Her. The rest of the night disappeared into a haze; the way a memory should. “Good...good,” She tells Her as the breathing returns to normal, “Once you master more tricks like that you can really control these fits of panic. Now, mom said they are becoming an issue in class? What happens then?” A necessary deep breath reverberates around the room before She answers. “A panic attack just like this. Usually, I’m able to leave the room before it gets bad and everyone sees. I pace back and forth outside the classroom for a while and then go back in. My professors are nice about it, at least they try to be. But they all think they know how to fix me, and what can I do but listen?” “Ahh I see, well, once we get going that should lessen and stop completely. Mom also mentioned a history of mental illness and a recent concussion? Could you tell me a little about that?” “I dealt with depression in high school. Ended up seeing a psychiatrist and accidentally overdosing on my meds, which was the first time I ended up in a hospital. Because of that, I got serotonin poisoning, so I had to stop
“medication altogether. I went back to therapy and that helped much more that time around.” “Ok, ok,” she says frantically scribbling Her abridged life story as though this will reveal the perfect cure, “and the concussion?” “I got a concussion this summer wakeboarding. It was my first time learning to ‘jump the wake.’ Apparently I went up too high, and when I fell down towards the water, the back of the board hit my head. I blacked out. I came to when I hit the water and started screaming from the pain. It was an overcast day and I could hardly open my eyes. It seemed so bright outside. I went to the hospital again that day and they confirmed it was a severe concussion.” “So that was very recent. We tend to see PTSD exacerbated in people with a history of mental illness and recent head injuries can definitely add to the severity of it,” she said with a soft smile and nod as if this should give Her some peace of mind. All She wanted was for it to end. “Well looks like that’s all the time we have. I just want to thank you so much for being vulnerable with me today, we have a lot to look forward to accomplishing together. The trick I taught you is just one of the many ways to help you gain control. I’ll see you again next week!” Closing the door behind Her, She wonders if that session helped at all. As she exits the office of Her fourth therapist in two months, she prays this one is the answer. But did her trick really help, or did it stop when it wanted to like always? Was control the answer? When has She ever been in control? As She takes the familiar walk back to Her dorm room, the crisp afternoon air whisks around her and She ponders the age-old question: does time really heal all wounds
THREE TO FOUR
Worlds to Color Lizzy Mesnik (‘23) Paint me your visions The ones of enchantment Of awe. Guide your brush Through colors we pioneered Take my innocence White as canvas Decorate me with your dreams I wish you knew you consumed mine.
Did you know your brush is a wand? It coins strokes of magic.
Don’t take too long We have worlds to color
THREE TO FOUR
Tricycles Daniel nesbit (‘23) Where were you when you found out No one else would do what you needed done So you just had to Roll out of bed again and put Your special head against What no one else could have Even done Where were you when you figured out You just couldn’t do What needed to be done And though it’s nice to be alone In a fortress comfortable that you Had built by hand That’s too much maintenance for just One man When d’ya finally call out For a little help And take a look around at All the others like you with Their special heads All the pieces fit together Makes it seem like you alone was never needed Whatsoever Where were you when you found out No one else would do what you needed done So you just had to
YOU ARE HOME POETRY
You Are Home Lizzy Mesnik (‘23) Why are you here? Why now? I ask him As he frolics about the gardens of my subconscious Come smell the flowers. He responds Slowly reaching his warm hand for my cheek “Take me home,” I whisper Not where I am from And not where I am going Where I belong is all but a place It is where you accept my flaws My burden, baggage And discover the beauty within them Wherever you are You are home
THREE TO FOUR
The Rising Andy W A solitary figure, drifting through the trees A ghastly vessel built of flesh and blood Long extinguished are the lights within its eyes It floats beyond the owl’s roost Gliding through the inky darkness of despair Beneath the twinkling stars of modernity And as it nears the mountaintop it bends its knees to weep Its tears flow freely, falling warm, and soft, and pure, Like the raindrops of July And as the sorrows of the world are bled through the portal of its teary eyes Their lungs expand so deeply, as to grasp the furthest reaches of humanness And once more, to the very base of their being, falls a droplet of hope into their Wells of disappointment, their putrid pools of penance And slowly the waters of their soul begin to stir And once more in yourself you begin to rise Like a monsoon flood beyond the confines of your simple finite form And suddenly from between your lips pours out A tale as beautifully incomprehensible As the prophecies of old And at last you are made whole As whole as one can truly be And no longer do you await the arrival of your final form But embrace your perpetual becoming And only among the very chaos from which you fled Do you find some paradoxical semblance of peace.
THE FIELD THAT DAY A KID WAS SHOT POETRY
The Field ThaT day a Kid Was shoT Julia Willet (‘22) rain melts into the roots of the ground field. To my left long puddles weave
causing fumes of wet leaf-breath and popcorn to fill the under and
over the parking lot like loose braids.
the dark grey sky uses its last light to cast rainbow streaks,
and my feet
sink a half-inch into
puffed-out grassy mud. The scene wasn’t meant to bear my weight. I look up at the trees looking down on me- their unchanged faces not afraid to drip loud drops. Onto my head. Onto my shoulders. My long arms. from a wide view the field is empty like a department store. Here, people walk their dogs until it rains. then they get in their cars and houses and beds, sleeping until the sun comes back. only the Trees remain. Trees that stretch onto the pale grass like a yawn with their moss-covered bark. A soft old wooden bones. They stand through the rain. Tall and still - confident with age, unphased by this morning’s sirens. the air is calm and full of clear fog- The final breaths of the day. and wednesday tries its hardest to end
like the last of the “get well soon” rainbows.
and I drive home, to my house to my bed to try and sleep. Listening to the static noise of rushed rain trying to fall before the day is over, before
there is no one left to rain on.
THREE TO FOUR
Katie Woo i heard my first catcall at age eleven walking downtown with my mom enjoying the heat of summer. wearing black shorts going to eat with the rev of an engine a whistle NICE LEGS i was stuck between child and woman being the former but feeling the latter i smiled to receive the compliment at fourteen i walked to class never deviating from the quickest way to English big buff athlete blocking the door. wearing a black skirt going to learn up and down he looked sizing me up as if deciding which cut he wanted DAMN BABYGIRL CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER i pushed past him halfheartedly, excusing myself with a giggle
i turned sixteen and my family went to an amusement park for vacation an arms up kind of bliss wearing a black t-shirt going to have fun
THREETO TO FOUR FOUR THREE
(‘22) I noticed a father and son eyeing me from a ways back as the line wrapped around itself NICE TITS i kept my arms down on the rollercoaster i was taught to cover up for my body was not mine i was constantly scrutinized and i encouraged the shouts by “dressing like that” but i learned that no matter what i wore no matter my age what i was doing where i was going men would expect a response and when i turned eighteen i cried because i could no longer tell them that “i am a minor” even though they had made me WOMAN long before that
Lauren Dem The snow pounded at the door Like a bitter harbinger The day he was born His mother shivered beneath A wool blanket Enveloping her child with every Bit of body heat She could muster An incantation of warmth To keep the ice From creeping into his heart At eighteen he fled The raw Wisconsin wind Shaking off every trace of cold With mile long marches and Smoking firearms Sweat beaded along the collar Of his uniform and He finally exhaled Without seeing his crystallized breath In Key West They called him Whitey His sun-starved skin was nearly Translucent next to their Heat-flushed grins He met a girl with sunbeams In her eyes and He thought he would never Feel cold again
The balmy summe Seemed like they Last forever but se Always change It was barely cool When they buried But he shivered al
If he kept moving His hands the fros Could not set in Whenever the goo Began to prickle Up his spine He warmed himse The kinesis of bill And wrapped him The laughter of hi
The asphalt glitter Splotches of ice th They went for a d But the thing abou Frictionless surfac There is no stoppi The chunks of sha Windshield settled Blond hair just lik The flurries used t When she danced On a snowy day
THREE TO FOUR
er evenings might easons
l d their firstborn ll the same
elf with liard balls mself in is three kids
red with he day drive ut a ce is that ing attered d in her ke to in the yard
He stared as his radiant Sunshine was obscured By a blanket of white The tears that had dripped The first time now Calcified into needle-sharp Icicles on his lashes Froze irrevocably In his eyes There are moments when The jubilant kisses of a Wriggling puppy, the spark Of life bundled in a swollen belly Warm his soul but It’s an ember in a blizzard Winter has been chasing him for Seventy three years And the bitter frost Has finally set in So he shivers beneath a blanket Waiting for the ice to Slip under the door and Creep into his heart
Forgotten Daniel nesbit (‘23) I can’t keep up with my friends They keep on running in different directions And I’m left in the middle Losing track of who I was Like what the hell was your name again? I know it’s rude but I don’t wanna pretend Like I really know what the hell is going on I’ve forgotten Birthdays don’t keep track of themselves, so you can see Why you didn’t get the right emojis until after a week But in my defense, I’d swear my sister had just turned 6 She’s 17, I’m remembering, who it is I hate to be The number of people around is overstimulating My mind keeps crashing, need my system updated And I would trade in my whole mind for a Little better processing Cuz it’s becoming a problem not just irritation You swear that we’ve already had this exact conversation And I don’t know what to do I’ve got notes in my phone for the people I love All the names and faces, schools and tastes, I ain’t smart enough to keep in my brain
Birthdays don’t keep track of themselves, so you can see Why you didn’t get the right emojis until after a week But in my defense, I’d swear my sister had just turned 6 She’s 17, and I’m remembering who it is I hate to be
ObsessiOn Julia Willet (‘22) It is A finger swirling with frosting It is A cupids’ bow arched for accuracy It is imagery A screen Her name with a dot at the end A profile picture the size of a dime A file of squares and me Every morning Refreshing Refreshing Refreshing Refreshing Refreshing
THREE TO FOUR
Fog Elly HonakEr (‘22)
I rolled my window up
chimneys shooting up this
As the red brake lights
too serene to be smoke
Grew wide the slow moving mass sudden fog
refracted the light
the sun beams choked in it
We all slowly moved -- still. Up a hill. Around us became
a steamy dream
like gauze made it look
The car beeps blinded by this
As if i could touch it
As if i couldn’t pass through
It was as if we had glided
and when the light went
Atop a frog’s pond
so went the color--dampened out the dawning sun
When a cool day struck
engulfed all pigment in to one
And the still-warm water Could not but rise up
All I could hear Was a hand that would not
And it was coming from the Ground Seeping from the grass Pluming out of petals the now hazy outline of a neighborhood erupting in silent flames
Let off a car horn
THREE TO FOUR
The STarT To Forever Lizzy Mesnik (‘23) There is space for love In that beautiful touch of yours. My mind swirls With colorful tales And you are The main character.
Your rooftop is where we watch our stars align Swathed by your reach We can be insignificant together. You take in the sky It speaking to you in gravity-defying twinkles of light You’re amazed by time lost in space Years and years above While I’m amazed at you, A whole universe spinning right in front of me. Our love is now The start to forever.
hell books Daniel nesbit (‘23) I finished bell hooks in the garden Just to learn that you have never loved So no more dreams of riding in your horse carriage Pretty lies will make me lose my lunch
And so I resolved to belong to nowhere Because I don’t know where I could get by Maybe you can give me tips in your spaceship Maybe I can be your partner in crime
Empty headed searches for pleasure Cuz she took away my “I” from “me” A message written out in crayon “You’ve been living in a fantasy”
THREE TO FOUR
Gossamer Lauren Demarco (‘22) Shift one way and the light
Imagine the ethereal lacing
catches just right
draped across your shoulders
illuminates the flossy threads
the sheerest chiffon
between the branches
your skin with
the masterpiece comes
the finest swirls
of meticulous brocade ghostly silks accentuating
Fibers coalesce into a
the warm flush of your
tapestry more exquisite than
hangs on any artisan’s loom labyrinthine filaments
Shift another way and clumsy hands
obliterate every intricacy
glimmering strands cling to
as they whisper their own
clammy fingers until
the magnum opus is smeared
Squint and you’ll see the
across blue jeans
crude denim devouring every glint
a prodigious mansion spun out of necessity diaphanous scaffolding meanders in the breeze but defies the violent gales bent on tearing it apart
THREE TO FOUR
Found one Daniel nesbit (‘23) July’s glowing blue Oh gated community pool You’re kind of shallow but that helps with Seeing myself in you
StrikethroughS AngelA AlvArez (‘23) Embrace your sexuality, Don’t let others tell you what to do, Have fun! Don’t be a slut, Don’t do what he tells you to, Don’t confuse fun with stupid! Stand up for yourself, Be yourself, They’ll love you! Stand up within your societal group, Be who we want you to be, They’ll love who we say you are! When there’s no rulebook, there’s an understanding. When there’s an understanding, there’re rules. Make your family proud, Surround yourself with good people, Settle down. Do what we want you to, Surround yourself with people we approve of, Be quiet. Find a man. Be happy. Use our definitions.
THREE TO FOUR
AkshAt suri (‘24) Some bang drums as they make their way through crowded streets in spectacular processions, while others exchange lively words and laughter over lavish meals. Some dance the nights away with lovers and friends, and some pray to the gods in temples and shrines. But the lighting of the lamps and the sharing of sweets lights up the faces of all, young and old alike.
The city comes alight in the month of November, the balconies of its bungalows and apartments lit by the soft glow of thousands of lamps. There is a palpable enthusiasm in the air, a pomp and splendor that lifts the city to its feet.
THREE TO FOUR
NatioN, Family, Now two or NoNe at all AkshAt suri (‘24) Thousands stood at the makeshift fences, their arms outstretched and their throats hoarse, they sought to know the fates of their loved ones. The train station was a veritable hive-of human beings swarming the gates, their faces downtrodden but their ears perked up as they heard the whistling of the train, bearing down the tracks from beyond the border. The weak fences collapsed under the surge of concerned families. A man makes his way onto the train, Not seeing Not seeing the red drops dripping from the steps onto the edge of the platform. The rest follow suit, yet there is not happiness, but instead harrowing heartbreak. The platform rings with the wailing of bereaved souls, confronted with a bloodied train bearing only burnt bodies. The cries of a family and a nation cleaved by little more than lines on a map.
Poetic40Prose the Promise of a morning after rain
AshkAt suri (‘24) It’s a day for doing nothing or doing everything, and I can’t wait for it to begin. It’s days like this where I either lie under the covers all day or yearn to be outside, breathing in the aroma of freshly watered earth.The smell of petrichor pervades the air as I wake. There’s a dewy film over the window, and a chill in the room. I rub my bleary eyes, and move to get out of my bed. It seems I’m stuck to the bed, like a stubborn stain on a shoe. I overcome this momentary intransigence to rise from my downy mattress, and breathe in the crisp air of the post-rain morning.
turning the time Back AshkAt suri (‘24) I miss those days-- it’s almost too much to bear. I yearn for simpler times, and so I turn away. I see the height markers I scribbled on the doorway using a pencil, and I see the feet marks against the wall where I would put my legs.The creaking of the stairs reminds me of times spent as a boy sneaking out at night to raid the refrigerator with its assorted multitudes of sweets and savory snacks, descending with cautious steps in just the right way so as not to make a sound. I pause before the door as I prepare to be taken back years, and the turning of the doorknob turns back the time as I’m transported back to the days of my childhood. Much has changed, yet I can still see the outline of my bed against the wall.
THREE TO FOUR
the Final Stand oF a Solitary Soldier AshkAt suri (‘24) But yet the fort still stands, in dying defiance, adamantly refusing to yield to the enemy that surrounds it. The wooden gates of the fort have long rotted away, with little more than slivers of wood marking the entrance. The ramparts are shrouded by a fog of forgetting, the watchtowers have collapsed, and the forest looms around and behind the fort like a predator poised to pounce on its prey. Once gleaming pearl white pillars are blanketed with moss, their former lustre dulled to a pallid eggshell shade.The worn stone exterior has long been overgrown by celadon vines, finagling their way into the countless crevices.Ahead stands a crumbling stone structure, the last bastion of a civilization teetering on the brink of obscurity.
Fall oF the SeaSonal order AshkAt suri (‘24) It’s a time for hearing the leaves crunch, a time of pumpkins and harvest moons and squirrels. It’s a time of death, but the world has never felt more alive. Autumn is a curious thing. The leaves are green and the sun bears heavily down on the earth, and people walk by without a second glance. And then one day with the dying light of the fading sun, the reds and oranges of fall are alight with a glowing hue, and everyone pulls out their phones to take pictures. Autumn weaves its way through the branches of maples and oaks, lighting them ablaze from the inside. It’s a time of peculiar beauty, where people revel in the dying of those that enable life.
Poetic Prose POETIC PROSE
NeoN Lights aNd Nobodies AshkAt suri (‘24) Some fixated on the screens in their hands, others hummed a sound unknown to me and I absently wondered what their story was. I had no destination in mind- I let my feet move off their own accord, and they showed me regal architecture, bustling coffee shops and most importantly, others just like me. The rivulets of pedestrians, gaudy advertisements and enthusiastic street performers overwhelmed my senses, but I quickened my strides as I moved along the paved sidewalks. I stuck out like a sore thumb among the sleep-deprived students and overworked retail workers, but something about that night urged me to abandon my primal need for sleep and walk along the city roads.
THREE TO FOUR
The Silence of Two Men AkshAt suri (‘24) The road ahead of me was new and unknown and it largely contrasted the intended company. We had history scripted in lost pages and absent memories which periodically echoed in the back of my mind. His house was unlike anything I would have predicted- a simple cottage surrounded by plants that overpowered every nook and cranny of their surroundings. The long walk on the moss covered stones roused some uncharacteristic anxiety, and I finally gathered the strength to knock on the old, seemingly fragile door. My old friend opened the door with his weak, calloused hands and the sombre expression on his face implied that his solitude wasn’t intentional. We exchanged no greetings, and the silence we were acquainted with was long but comfortable. The slowly darkening sky reminded me of my looming departure, and I exchanged a knowing smile with my old friend before I left, once again without any goodbyes.