FA L L 2 0 1 7
Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Council (AHSC) or the University Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication. Cover Art by: Sofia Berger
AN ARTS AND HUMANITIES STUDENTSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; COUNCIL PUBLICATION
SYMPOSIUM SYMPOSIUM SYMPOSIUM SYMPOSIUM
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR From my first day on the AHSC Publications team, my life changed in a number of small but perceptible ways. Arriving at my first team meeting felt alarmingly similar to stepping out of my car on the first day of school. I was nervous. I was eager. I was searching for something I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know I was missing yet. Somehow, I was lucky enough to find it here. Whether it was the constant support and friendship of my team, the incredible creativity and talent you too will be graced with in these pages, or simply the space to express myself, these publications quickly became very special to me, a little bit like magic (if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll excuse my chronic corniness). So, if Symposium or Semicolon showcased your hard work and talent or you were able to recognize a piece of yourself in these pages, then I can only hope we have been able to create something a little bit like magic for you too here. Areesa Kanji Editor-in-Chief
W H AT W E ’ R E A B O U T Symposium is made of a collection of short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry that are original, inventive, well-written, and allow for a variety of personal interpretations. Symposium accepts creative work from any Arts and Humanities undergraduate student within the University of Western Ontario.
Symposium is published bi-annually by the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario. Semicolon is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Student Donation Fund. The Publications Team would like to thank the Donation Fund Committee, the students who submitted their creative works, and the rest of the Publications Committee who volunteered for the creative review board. To view previous editions or for more information about Symposium, please contact the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council in Room 0N20D in the International and Graduate Affairs Building. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE: Editor-in-Chief VP Communications Academic Managing Editor Creative Managing Editor Copy Editor Layout Editor
Areesa Kanji Hannah Stanley Roshana Ghaedi Joshua Thompson-Persaud Aislyn Higgins Sofia Berger
By Sydney Brooman journal more. suckle second hand fear out the bitch’s rouge stick petty cursive S’s bleeding through the backs of the oven mitts cry and it will not streak it will not claw pretty skin down his back it thanks him on low knees for making you fit and full. On the 8th day God paved the 401 with L’Oréal lash blast and now your man smacks spit smeared lips when he speaks from the driver’s seat and the natural You is the only one he wants before night shift gears stick in standard his living is more authentic than you are remind the others by shouting this out open windows. Now sew them closed. wash board manicures are in right now faint if you find crimson dish water high notes clog power drains swallow screams whole. the whore moans shriek sounds that are dead and empty. Smile with teeth. ELEMENT Shirley Ma
THE BOY BELOW PALAU REIAL MAJOR By Sydney Brooman Sunburnt steps leave cold kiss trails on skin colours pressed into windows force hymns from my teeth i pray to a God that i do not know. fullâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; death up here satisfies Grace will catch me falling from the balcony i soak the ground you walk on off-key bubbles rise from below and pop through tumbling heat we do not need to know the words.
HEART FULL OF HOME Courtney WZ
TAKING A MOMENT TO FIX THE RELATIONSHIPS I’VE WRECKED THE NIGHT BEFORE WITH SNACK WITH ICING STILL STUCK TO THE TOP OF THE BAG AND SKIN THAT WOKE UP PLEASANTLY SURPRISED
By Sydney Brooman crust between keys is hardened into snow flake shapes and are just as unique since my finger print rings keep them pressed against the hum of fake light Have you tried turning on and off again? I do this thing that I learned from my parents where I keep a plastic bag filled with other plastic bags and i take rocks from every hike i’ve ever been on and i sing to the tune Sweet Caroline as if I don’t want to kill myself. the car door won’t click when it slams it breaks fingers and the sound is the only thing that puts me to sleep. i dream in a tune that tastes like purple and blue and i don’t know why that poetry seems so much closer than the words i can— remember skin holds the lines about as well as my tongue.
i serenade you with scabbed over similes that don’t even mean what they meant at their labour. shake the pen so it doesn’t dry out keep them under your pillow and while we fuck i’ll sew them back on and leave you a penny for your time.
GROUND CONTROL Olivia Mossuto
HEREDITARY By Lauren O’Donnell There’s a street sign On the corner of desolation and despair The words so sharp they bite, leaving Dark bruises like black holes, Footnotes on the essay of your body where you wanted to scream in all caps But instead you dug in your nails, your teeth, Anything sharp Tracing patterns in red hot ink Like the most fucked up sacrifice to the altar of your insecurities. Numbness infects you like the plague during a war. Your nerve endings frayed, delayed, decayed. Blood blooms from your open wounds But the shells are still dropping And there’s a ringing in your ears. Tears falling To pieces. Trapped under the weight of your own bitter disappointment In yourself, You hold onto the scissors like a lifeline Or a rosary. You can’t tell if there’s blood in your mouth Or if that’s the taste of your pride Acrid and sharp and gone And you can’t tell if you’re feeling Sad or empty or both or neither or nothing and You can’t tell Anyone. Because you know it will upset them And they don’t deserve that but somehow You do. And so you let the words cut you to ribbons And you wrap yourself up like a gift.
WORLD Rebecca McLaren
SIXTEEN DAYS SOBER by Alex C. As I leave my therapist’s office, the crows I see remind me that she thinks I should compose verse in my head, as a distraction technique. Online, they said list poems can be made out of what you find in your pockets: a key for my parents’ house, before they changed the locks; a key for my apartment; a breath mint from the funeral home where we held my brother’s service. Or poetry could result from things I can’t throw away in my glove box: my brother’s obituary; a lawyer’s phone number on a Chinese take-out menu; a sympathy letter from my uncle that begins, “Dear Shithead.”
INSIDE Shirley Ma
Even what I see when driven past that street could be poetry: a crumpled beer can, which makes my mouth dry; my face glaring from the newsstand under a headline that says, “DRUNK DRIVER KILLS OWN BROTHER”; a flock of crows. Or a murder. I think they call it, (all those crows), a murder, right?
SLUSH by Danielle Bryl-Dam Lemon-drop sunsets sink behind sentimental slush dripping from the skies on open-mouthed poets like honey and ice heaping on curled locks. I cannot imagine a worse fate than sweeping this saccharine row day in and out to watch it degrade again in the morning when slobber and stones and spilled words glob the streets and cover the shoes of the bar on the corner serving Wilde and wannabe Twains. Backs sore, we lay on the floor the slush grey from the sooty air and he, with daisies in his mouth, much prettier here than when he smiles full of dead teeth like silverware rusted behind the stained blue china of grandmothers long deceased. OUTSIDE He asks to be buried Shirley Ma in his brightest suit, studded with sequins -remember to sweep the snow, he says for if he ends up dust it is the memory that matters, that will stir amid the slushy footsteps of passersby, and tut at their white roses and plain books. I could fill them with such beauty, he boasts. And with thin cigar fingers he spells his name in the dust pouting at the sunlight filtering like honeysuckle and sweet whiskey between the ones that soar.
P US H By Kelsey Lai
I am a pair of running shoes. Fingers fiddle with loosened string, Tug and pull until I come apart. Grasp the tongue and yank it back, I bear your weight, your stress on my rubber bottom. You raise me up and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m left dangling â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Smack! My outsole hits the pavement, Rock back on cobbled ground. Stomp on rumpled garbage and greet tacky gum, Still I teeter forwards when you rise once more. Hard slaps against the pavement. Capture the trickle of sweat to let you breathe, I stretch over you, holding you, Until I begin to rip apart, slowly, And your toe pushes through. KALEIDISCOPE 2 Rebecca McLaren
Objective: Write about an object from its perspective.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ABAFT AND ABATE by Leah Grace Kuiack To desert. To withdraw from. To leave completely and utterly. Seven letters and three syllables, but it always sounds like you leaving – slamming doors and insincerity. So desperate for freedom that you blindly took an axe to your own family tree. Memories swept under rugs of distance. You tried to cleanse yourself of guilt, but you just washed your hands of me instead. I’m still pouring down the drain. Vowels soften the endless blows of each goodbye. Nearly. Severed ties reconstruct themselves into heart strings, wrapping around your ankles and pulling you towards the exit ramp. It turns out blood is just as viscous as water. Lines curve and bend in a peaceful manner, but still hack at my trachea as they leave me. When you taste blood, stop. Leave me stranded; a hitch-hiker. But know that my arms are getting tired. Run away from me and find happiness at the finish line. I am an empty house – you evicted yourself. Windows boarded, roof sagging. Your departure began my demolition. So, you can erase me from your to-do list. You can slight my every creak. To leave completely and utterly. To withdraw from. To desert. Abandon.
CONTINUE Alexis Provonost
TEXT BUBBLE Nara Monteiro On these nights of sour puss and giggled hush and my phone in my back pocket, my third glass is half-full from somebody elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bottle, darker than the whiskey on top of your fridge, lighter than your bedroom in the dark. Text bubbles into my fizzy drink, my mouth is sticky and in my milky visions, your skin slides on mine a little too smooth. I miss the toilet bowl, watch it spatter onto my phone screen, try not to feel like Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m spitting on you. Did you know your phone camera can read your heart rate on the tip of your finger? That is all I want: a pulsing, red receipt blinking at me
A WOUND, BACKLIT Nara Monteiro My ears pop from the pressure and I lift my thumb off your pierceable skin, De-press the Ionian curve of your spine, Tuck myself into your trachea to listen. I lift my thumb off your pierceable skin Climb onto your shoulders and fall off Tuck myself into your trachea to listen Spit mucus into your throat, guttural. I climb onto your shoulders and fall off Suck your neck until you bruise, gluttonous Spit mucus into your throat, gutturalSounding alarm bells, old fashioned, not sirens. Suck your own neck until you bruise, gluttonous A toothy grin-grimace backlit and Sounding alarm bells, old fashioned, not sirens Cluttering the smile off your face. Toothy grin-grimace backlit and De-pressing the Ionian curve of your skin, Cluttering the smile off your face. My ears pop from the pressure
MYSTERY MAN Upasna Mehta
AND SO MY FAMILY GOES UP IN FLAMES by Emily Waldman my parent’s love has always looked like a house on fire. flames dancing at their feet as they fight about who threw the first match. who poured the gasoline. the roar of the blaze sounds suspiciously like screaming and cursing and insults thrown back and forth over dinner and dirty dishes and perceived character flaws. and my sister and I, we’re crouching close to the floor because since kindergarten, we’ve learned that heat rises we’re breathing shallowly, our lungs black with secondhand spite and anger and everything ugly there are no firefighters coming to put out this blaze, but that’s okayI was just getting used to the burning. living in a house on fire has always felt a little bit like a horror story but at least everyone I loved was under one roof, choking to death on the fumes together you can tell me again that it’ll be better this way. that my parents need the fresh air and so do I I’m not saying that it won’t be nice to breathe again but I can’t explain away the feeling of my heart dropping to hell and my lungs collapsing when they told me they were separating. my first thoughts were sarcastic, like, how ironic that I’ve spent eighteen years trapped between two arsonists and them putting away the lighter fluid is what’s going to kill me every good memory starts to look scripted and the future, once so close and so certain shatters like an illusion, demolished like the stable foundation I thought I’d be leaving behind.
no one tells you that even when they tell you it’s not your fault it’s still always your fault that you will be forced to listen to both of them, nodding painfully as they stab each other in the back and my only comfort is that when i look in the smoky mirrors, my body is charred but i can still see my father’s colouring and my mother’s eyes; on my face, they are still together. i still belong to both of them. in my dreams, i watch them throw water on the flames and hold each other whispering softly and making each other laugh. you might ask me why I’m not eager to leave a burning home where love is an apology more than it’s ever been a declaration but it wasn’t always like this. eighteen years ago, my parents stood in front of at least a hundred witnesses and promised to love each other forever. and i have to believe that they meant it at the time. in the video of their wedding, my father is all tenderness and unapologetic joy as my mother’s belly swells under her white dress. my father stomps on the glass and they kiss and for one moment, everything is perfect. and then like ritual like ceremony they light the match a flame bursts forth in the stillness and i watch it now, with bated breath as it falls to the ground my parent’s love has always looked like a house on fire but somehow, I just never expected it to burn down.
UNDRESS by James Gagnon Undress your reason Steady with drive. Slip off your guard and Take off your day and Unclip your mind. Let loose your thoughts, I’ll expose mine. Undress your anatomy. Warm air cradling skin, Waltz with our secrets Under the heavy, misfit Duvet. Don’t hold back Your voice. I want to Hear you, hear me. Undress your speech. “If it’s meant to be–” Cadence of laughter pervades the air No longer will we know An absent stare. I’ll hold you, as you hold me. Blue flannel pillows, white sheets.
ESCAPE Alexis Provonost
FREEDOM Alexis Provonost
CYCLONE TIME. YEAH! by Joshua Thompson Persaud
MANIA tick tick trick, merry go round about a light switch a new hat is born, its name is not irrelevant, the elephant in the room is staring at me, why’d I leave the house? to get groceries
DEPRESSION i once knew all of the words to this song but now it sings in skipped breaths soaring rests never quite asleep dreaming of balloons lashed to a bedside table slowly wilting flowers in a basement vaguely stirring tossing and turning - to remind me that what doesn’t kill you makes you vomit
for my mind, there is only one item and it goes along with sloppy prose, please praise my existential crisis line beeped - no answer, collar bones are fragile in the dark paths in the brain are often travelled the same way every time, linear algebra is simplified by exes who don’t know why I stopped calling my name is lost in a hurricane under the desert floor, I drown. DISTRACT 1 Rebecca McLaren
LEMON Shirley Ma
BUS STOP By Andrew W. French The day stuffs a folded city into an indigo-grey envelope with a little lunar stamp that sets the mailbox aglow. There’s a motor whose hum gives the birds soundwaves to flap along the horizon. Streetlamps inject some saturation into a shaking grayscale street that prints unpredictably double-sided. In the crowd’s apparition a thousand bags hide beneath five hundred greys of eye shadow. Every other person taps every other foot impatiently willing their transport’s arrival. This is the day’s dying breath, everybody being shipped home to tap their feet over inky letters until the mailman delivers tomorrow. PARADISE 1 Rebecca McLaren
UNDONE by Joshua Thompson-Persaud My skeptic mind has driven me to the edge of insanity (Here) i inhabit a soul purpose hidden in wounds so deep they mix with marrow My bones lie they tell a tall tale but hidden within is another more sinister story of sickness brooding over ten thousand years infecting every second of reality I have become unraveled once a carpet now a couple strings heart falling apart under the weight of two feet of wood a coffin sealed long ago Ghosts stir the pot of past failures smelling of rain clouds or hurricanes rainy days that never end in sunlight but roll over like a fairytale Nightmare. The camera keeps filming the flood that is coming, the record skips a few years What am I? Why have I come
by Sydney Brooman Murdering my writing feels like tearing open Christmas Presents— wrapping bits stick to the bottom of shoes sounds crisp and full the trees will never look like this again crumpled till its claws retract everything I am poetically formed— thrown away the strips make great fake apology paper Mache in the summer the mismatched phrase box becomes stock for the fire basketball shots I can’t make dried wipes that mix with gum wrappers— on the way back from a thanksgiving where I gave enough of myself away to trick gravity my nose poured blood and after the unchecked lottery tickets i used a notebook page because words know how my body spills better than Kleenex. “You’re wasting Tuesday” you say “I’m wasting away” I say.
we don’t talk about the papers that might have been poems because their bones are the proof of my restraint they would swallow your pulse and spit it back out like a minor’s whistle in the dampened dark their teeth would pierce up through your tongue and turn your words to drool dripping down pooling in your shoes my final product cares enough to smother you in your sleep— the first drafts nap in your bed while you staple eyelids open with nothing left for the blood.
HOME: POETRY COLLECTION
By Gabrielle Drolet
M A LTA
My father spread the map Across the kitchen counter, Traced countries with his finger Until it fell Upon an orange spot In the ocean. This is home; The words left his mouth With an accent, clinging To the country he left In his childhood. It’s a home I’ve come to know Through postcards and photos; I know the rocky coast that climbs Towards cathedrals and ancient ruins, And I know the sound of bells That my father could hear From his little yellow house. It’s a home that I’ve heard in voices, A home that spreads itself in the words Of my father and my grandmother, A language I’ve tried to understand. Bongu means hello. I know of the war And of the restaurant, And of the mornings spent Hanging laundry between houses.
I’ve tasted home In the spices mixed into rice dishes. The history of home Spreads like a map – It spills and writhes and changes Depending on who tells it. I trace my finger along its lines, Search for a little dot in the ocean. This is home; My finger nearly covers A little green dot Surrounded by blue.
BLESSINGS Shirley Ma
L’ATELIER DE PIERRE The scent of paint Which rose from bottles In the old wooden box Drew back memories of Pierre’s atelier. It brought back images Set down onto canvas – Faded portraits and Lost landscapes, The skyline of our ancient city Like braille under fingertips; Scenery which sways Like pines in winter wind Have been set down alive. There are images bottled In an old wooden box. LEARN Rebecca McLaren
SPILLING WINE (REPRISE) Olivia Mossuto
ANY ORGANIC DERANGEMENT ALWAYS OCCASIONS A SONNET by Emma Lammers (in posthumous collaboration with John Keats) What is she now that she is no longer an object intensely desirable? In a perplexed strain of mingled finesse and sentiment (particularly sentiment) she is letting her hair grow long again, long as when she first was his Sweet Girl, though she was near nineteen at the time. How old is she now? A thick opiate was prescribed to heighten the sound of his scribbles: Do you suppose it possible I could ever leave you? I should feel how much it was my loss and how little yours. Yes, in the letters and the dull drink she hears him. If he thinks she still behaves in dancing rooms as she did in 1818, then society would cease to care about minuet mingling or ringless fingers. You can be happy without me, he wrote. Ask yourself how many hours Keats has caused you in Loneliness. She replies to the dead man in his own words: The last two years taste like brass upon my Palate.
LITERARY ANALYSIS by Camille Intson
I was fourteen years old and my favourite short story was Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart which, yes, should tell you one thing or another It was odd, as if someone had taken the old man and his vulture blue evil-eye held them hard over my mouth and breath smothered me with them in sleep, carved them into my mind’s precipice those images haunted me everywhere, those severed hands and finger-toes greening beneath the planks i would walk through the glass grazed courtyards frozen stiff in the wintertime and on my way to Chapel, in my forest-green blazer and tie, ponder each long-dash and dwell in his ecstasy only I remember that i always read: the old man and his evil ‘i,’ as if the narrator was murdering this old man, his old self because in eighth grade english class we learned about homonyms, and furthermore learned to shed our skins like rattlesnakes, hissing against the crowds with their dagger calls and curse words written on bathroom walls and in the cracks between the stalls and all the while i thought i’d cracked some kind of code with this analysis and suddenly Poe and i were mutually exclusive. there is an end to this story wherein i grow up and — wait for it, become a University English major and my homonym story no longer holds up against the barres of Freuds and Foucaults and Histories of Theory and Criticism — (alas, i was disillusioned and our romance ended) but what this tells me is perhaps my past selves are littered on every floor of every room i inhabit their carcasses rotting, waiting for eagles
by Kirah Ougniwi
Press play. Briar stares at Andy as he lays in the tub, naked and bleeding. Blood still streams from his head in a slow progression, painting lines over his eyelashes, nose, and lips. Briar’s hands shake as she reaches for her wine glass by the counter, keeping her eyes on him. She takes a sip of her wine. What to do? She takes a sip of her wine. What to do? She closes her eyes, breathes, then looks at him again. His chest rises and falls slowly and weakly, and his eyes remain closed. For some reason, she thinks he’ll wake up. For some reason, she still expects those eyes to look at her once more. For the last time. What to do? Rewind. Press play. He is kissing her neck, her collarbone, her body. Her lips. Hot water pounds over them from the showerhead. Steam blurs her vision. She is still angry, knots forming in the pit of her stomach at every touch he makes. Yet, for some reason, she does not push him away or tell him to stop. She never could. For a split second, Briar wishes he would just disappear in that moment. She hopes for some force in the universe, some god watching her right now, to just pluck him away from this moment. Take him away. She breathes. Andy mistakes this as a moan and attempts to raise her from her feet in some sorry imitation of a video he saw. He thinks this will get her to warm up to him again. Love him again. However, Briar unconsciously pushes against his chest, and the slippery sounds coming from his feet almost deafens her. A small noise erupts from the depths of his throat, almost muted by the squeaks his toes make against the wet tub. Briar watches it all, her entire world in slow motion as he falls backward. Take him away. She clutches the shower bar for support and nearly slips as well, but doesn’t make a move to help him. His body moves in a surreal, almost comical way; his temple first hitting the steel bar she’s gripping onto, then moving the other way. Thump. Her eyes shut the moment the back of his head connects with the faucet, and she doesn’t dare open them, even though he doesn’t make a sound. “Andy?” The water runs.
“Are you okay?” The water runs. She opens her eyes and sees him lying there, head and body twisted at awkward angles. Blood rushes from his temple in time with the water. She gets out of the tub. “Oh my God…” She does not help him. Rewind. Press play. Briar sets her wine glass on the counter before making her way into the tub, glad at least something in the motel isn’t small and compact. She lets the water run across her feet for a moment, staring at her toes becoming distorted under the flow. Then, reluctantly, she pulls the knob and lets the shower run water all over her body—all over her soul. She stands there for a long time, baptized in the bullets of water streaming from the showerhead. Briar then reaches for the bar of soap in desperation and begins scrubbing. Wash him off of you. She scrubs. Wash him off of you. She feels tears burning the back of her eyes, and she almost lets them fall until the shower curtain pulls aside slightly, the rings scraping against the metal bar. Andy slips into the shower in front of her, and it isn’t long until she feels his hands wrap around her waist, her stomach, her breasts. “I thought you were sleeping,” she says. “No, I was just tired.” “I’m tired too.” Her words nearly get stuck in her throat. She takes a breath. “Of all of this. I’m tired of sneaking around and meeting at cheap hotels.” “I know.” “You told me you’d marry me.” A lump forms in his throat the moment she says that, and images of his wife flash in his mind. He blinks them away in desperation. “I know.” “I’m getting impatient.” It’s not his fault things turn out the way they do, Andy thinks. It’s not his fault people end up wanting multiple bodies. But why can’t she see that? Why? He kisses her neck. “Soon. You’ve waited this long. You can wait a little longer.” Rewind. Press play. Briar is angry. She sits propped against her pillow and watches him sleep, safe underneath the inexpensive comforters. She doesn’t understand how he could be so sound, especially since the
fabric scratches her skin. He could afford a better place for them—she knows this. He knows this. So why? Briar gets up then, careful not to wake him, and picks up her wine glass as she heads to the bathroom. She stoops for a moment to turn the faucets on, then studies herself in the mirror as the water runs. The makeup she spent hours on sits smudged and bleeding on her face. She takes a sip of her wine, bites her lip, then looks away. Rewind. Press play. Briar thinks of the first day they met as she drives to the motel room, wondering if she had done anything different that day, maybe they wouldn’t have ever met. What if she hadn’t gone to the bar that night? What if her friend hadn’t ditched her for the handsome man with the glasses? What if, when he asked to take that vacant seat next to her, she had said no? Maybe she wouldn’t be here. Yet something within her aches at the thought of there never being an Andy, though she knows it’s not right. For years she would think of the “what ifs”, and for years she would not do anything about it. Maybe it was all the promises he gave. “I’ll leave her,” he said the last time she brought it up. “I will. But she just lost her job and is going through a rough time. You understand, don’t you? I just can’t leave her like that. You understand?” Briar knows she should’ve left the moment she found out about his wife. But there is an inexplicable wanting within her anytime she looks at him—something that disgusts yet excites her at the same time. She turns into the lot of the motel where they had met many times before and fights the bile rising in her throat as she parks the car, gets out, and makes her way to their usual room. She knocks on the door, but they come out soft. Timid. Nonetheless, Andy opens the door seconds later, a wide grin plastered on his face. The curls of his hair stand at awkward angles, making him look boyish in a way. Briar’s heart swells and contracts as she steps into the room. “I bought your favourite wine,” he says, gesturing to the bottle on the nightstand. She forces herself not to smile although she wants to. Smiling would just make it seem like everything is okay. Not smiling would probably make him want to leave. “I feel like a terrible secret anytime I come here,” Briar tells him. It feels like a confession, something she hadn’t meant to say, and it makes the bile rise higher. “Let’s not talk about that.” He moves to touch her, but she flinches. “Have you broken it off?” “Not yet.” He moves again, and she backs away. “Are you still in love with her?” Andy does not answer her question. Not only because it makes him uncomfortable, but because he doesn’t know the answer. Nothing is actually wrong with his wife. Nothing is wrong with his marriage. So why can’t he stop?
“Stop overthinking things. Here, let me pour you some wine.” He smiles once more when he’s able to run a finger across her skin. Delicate, like her. “Have some wine and come to bed. You’ll feel more relaxed.” Rewind. It is a normal day. Instead of going home, Andy turns the other way and heads for a motel. He calls his wife on speaker phone. “I’m heading out with the boys to have a few drinks. It’ll be late so I’ll stay over at Andrew’s…” Rewind. What would have happened differently if he hadn’t sent her that text? See you tonight. Room 2. Like always. Rewind. He should have had that conversation with his wife. His beautiful wife. Rewind. This morning, Andy runs his fingers across his wife’s sleeping body, feeling her skin over and over again. Delicate, like her. Rewind. Press play. Andy is alive. Stop.
HYPOCHONDRIACS Mackenzie Emberley Shunned for being in love In love with the wrong person Who is anatomically like yourself. With a select carbon copied organ. But sure The heart, liver, or lung May be the same.
Siri, what is the cure for homosexuality? I’m sorry did you mean… What is the cure for homophobia? How do we cure those plagued with hatred? Those who twist and pull your thoughts Resented because of mirrored hearts Until they form a straight line Hearts beating in tune As if you are a broken, jutted, line To a rhythm you didn’t choose. A mutated, diseased, jagged line Your brain’s forced to rewire They reprogrammed your desires But that is your life They shove you in a closet With that sweater you wore With your heart on the sleeve. You stash your thoughts away In the junk drawer As if that’s where they belong. You Google causes, treatments, cures Like your feelings are a disease. They never get too close Wear face masks Quarantine your kind
A line on a monitor, going up and down Anything but straight They force you to unplug Until you believe yourself to be sick They turn you into a hypochondriac Making you see a problem When there never was one
BUTTER by Courtney WZ moan.
gasp. grasp copulate clasps. honeyed hands find clean creases, below fly-away french braid pieces. chest heavy, breath a levy. hipbone handles spread skin like butter. to mourn morose mornings: catch a smitten lip between wax menthol teeth.
BIRCH 2 Rebecca McLaren
BACKLIT Joshua Thompson-Persaud
A THERA P Y SES S I O N By Andrew W. French
It becomes impossible, after hearing Death’s tune whistled in winter winds, to end the melody’s rattling from bar to broken bar in my damaged brains. “Perhaps, with the radiant Explosion of a summer sun, You’ll shake Death’s call?” Each note becomes hotter then, baked into the rhythmic returns, echoes of damaged brains. “Have you tried Breathing? It keeps The song On pause.” I’ve been moving air for twenty years, His song becomes sweeter over the percussive movement of aged lungs. “You say it’s Sweeter?” Bitter still... But loved. *Scribbles* I worry… “Don’t worry” I’m learning Death’s tune, I soon will sing it aloud. “Why worry?” I hated His song once. I hated all who sung. But now it echoes through damaged brains. I’m afraid I’m running
“I’m afraid We’re running out of time.