AmLit Fall 2018

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Fall 2018


American Literary Magazine


Fall 2018

Mission Statement American Literary Magazine, affectionately known as AmLit, is American University’s literary and creative arts magazine. Run entirely by students, AmLit is published twice a year at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Striving to showcase the best student writing and visual art within the campus community, AmLit contains poetry, prose, photography, film, and art submitted by the student population, both undergraduates and graduates. AmLit selects content based on an anonymous review process, giving each staff member an equal vote for each piece submitted. The co-Editors-in-Chief and genre editors decide any discrepancies in the democratic voting process. All copyrights revert to the artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.

Acknowledgements AmLit wouldn’t exist without the consistent support of our staff and community. We send a huge thank you to our student media advisor, Chris Young, for his advice and guidance. We’re also grateful for our faculty best-in-show judges, Professors Kyle Dargan, Leena Jayaswal, Kyle Hackett, and Rachel Snyder. Your eagerness to help our magazine is always heartily appreciated. We’d especially like to thank our faculty contributors, Professors Kyle Dargan and Kyle Hackett. It’s an honor to house your work within our pages. Next, we send our gratitude to the team at Printing Images, inc. for printing our magazine this semester. We’ve appreciated their patience and flexibility throughout the process. We look forward to working with you again in the future. Of course, we cannot forget to remind our editorial board how much we value their hard work. From volunteering at the Arts Showcase to powering through late night review sessions, our e-board is at the heart of this magazine. Alongside the assistant editors and the general staff, you bring this community to life through your radiating positivity, inspiring creativity, and passion. We wouldn’t have wanted to spend our last semester as co-Editors-in-Chief with anyone else. Lastly, we are incredibly grateful for our power-duo Creative Directors, Izzy and Rebecca. Your reliability, professionalism, and enthusiasm made this hectic process run smoothly and even, dare I say it, enjoyably! We love your creative vision for this issue, and we are so glad to see it beautifully realized. There are so many more people we would are grateful for (including our faculty advisor, Linda Voris, guest speaker Henry Crawford, and others). Therefore, I hope it suffices to say, to everyone involved in our community: thank you.


American Literary Magazine

Amanda Book

3pm cucumbers 4

Fall 2018

Letter from the Editors It’s been nearly a year, But oh, the things we have seen Have brought us to tears Leading this magazine. No, not in a bad way! But the good kind of emotion, Where you smile all day— Your heart stirs a commotion. And how thankful we are To watch each of you grow Into artists on par With professionals we know. Most importantly, into friends, Inspiring and kind, So as our tenure ends We leave this behind: Every yes, no, and maybe Every piece that we reviewed Was a moment filled with glee And a moment spent with you May you always love poetry And film and prose and art And may you let photography Bring joy to your heart AmFam is forever So keep each other close The times we’ve shared together Will always mean the most Keep your AmLit spirit No matter where you roam And remember that in AmLit You always have a home

Sydney Hamilton

Amanda Hodes


American Literary Magazine

ambivalence / Danya Abou Nassif / 63 Angkor Window / Samantha Monteith / 44 Ave / Jen Stoughton / 83 BLIND BEGGAR / Kyle G. Dargan / 108 Cornrows and Candy / Jayda Hinds / 48 Dawning / Amanda Hodes / 40 deep south / Cam Diagonale / 27 Heat Lightning / Cam Diagonale / 98 i am not a snail / Rose Keahi Scott / 90 Innocence Autopsy / Maggie Mahoney / 36 junie / Sheer Figman / 92 mermaids aren’t real / Devon Wiensch / 32 midnight / Noah Stevens / 70 moon song / Rose Keahi Scott / 51 nineteen / Rin Ryan / 13 Often it is that i think of your shells/when i am alone / Emily Pullen / 88

A Tragedy, Retold / Jen Stoughton / 100-105 Bethesda Terrace / Shelby Rose / 72 Essence / Mercy Griffith / 17-18 i am / Grace Bruer / 67-68 If only I had studied biology / Mercy Griffith / 46-47 Lunch Break / Jacob Montes / 54-57 Maple Ave / Pedraam Faridjoo /80 To Forgive a Turtle / Alice Bershtein / 6 Touch / Demory Hobbs / 42 Untitled / Jacob Weil / 84

Organs / Sydney Hatmaker / 61 outside my apartment / Amanda Hodes / 33 Paw Parade / Sydney Hamilton / 30 Requiem / Maggie Mahoney / 20 Song for my mother / Emily Pullen / 28 Small Favor / Sydney Hamilton / 22 the toppling of king george III / Emaan Khan / 14 Untitled / Rin Ryan / 38 Vacations / Wesley Dankwa / 79 Victim Impact Statement / Mackenzie Murray / 52 $90 / Samantha Monteith / 95


Fall 2018

After Builder Series #1 / Kyle Hackett / 109 All Hallows Eve / Sarah Jarrett / 29 Beaux Degats / Arnaud MI Leclere / 58 Birth / Sophia Salganicoff / 37 Childhood Ruined / Loretta Dzanya / 85 eating plastic / Sophia Salganicoff / 64 it’s not that simple / Sheer Figman / 65 Men Sitting / Piper Neulander / 49 Nap Time / Sarah Jarrett / 39 Self-Portrait / Dan McCahon / 89 self portrait of others / Shannon Pallatta / 71 Springtime Explosion / Arnaud MI Leclere / 75 Tofu / Piper Neulander / 9 Twisted / Sonimar Maldonado / 59 Untitled / Dan McCahon / 66

A Moment in Time / Sophia Corbisiero / 82 atonement / Sophia Corbisiero / 60 Autumn on the National Mall / Andrew Yianne / 24 Balance / Jordan Redd / 10-12 Blossom / Sydney Hatmaker / 50 Brooklyn-001 / Matt Francisco / 78 car in grass / Olivia Schwalm / 93 chapel of souls / Gabrielle Bremer / 87 Cotton Candy Skies / Kathryne McCann / 86 Colorful Sky / Madeline Rizzo / 96 Fever Dream One South Africa / Bhavik Patel / 34-35 Garage / Matt Francisco / 41 giddy up, horsey! / Gabrielle Michel / 73 Googly Eyes / Rebecca Sakaguchi / 76-77 home / Lauren Mitchell / 74 Lucid Dreams / Syeda Siddiqi / 45 Looking into the Sea / Jacob Montes / 7

Main St. / Devon Wiensch / 97 Middle Ground / Rana Attia / 19 Moraccan Cat / Gabrielle Bremer / 31 My Mom Just Loves to Clean / Syeda Siddiqi / 21 PULL UP / Eleanor Mendelson / 94 Reflections / Sydney Hatmaker / 91 Santa Fe / Andrew Yianne / 8 Selfie / Olivia Schwalm / 16 Shadowed Window / Jacob Montes / 23 sunrise in the bay / Eleanor Mendelson / 99 Taxi Cab / Kathryne McCann / 81 The Queen of Guinea Lane / Jordan Redd / 25 Treebloom / Jasper Schlick / 69 Quadrilaterals / Amanda Book / 26 Untitled / Madison Richards / 43 Untitled / Madison Richards / 53 남이섬 / Madeline Rizzo / 62 3 pm cucumbers / Amanda Book / 2 613 Seeds, Repeating / Gabrielle Michel / 15


American Literary Magazine

Alice Bershtein

To Forgive a Turtle I was once told that my grandfather was only ever nice to turtles. Or tortoises. I don’t remember which, and I think every time my dad told the story it was a bit different, but the idea was the same. The gruff, strict college professor was a harsh grader, a harsh father, and a harsh husband. But when it came to driving on the road and spying a big green disk sauntering across the street, he would stop the car instantly. My dad spoke of him getting out of the car, picking the little guy up by the sides of his shell, and carrying him to the safety of the brush by the side of the road. It didn’t matter if they were on the highway, it didn’t matter if they were late for something. My grandfather had a soft spot for those ancient creatures, old as time itself, wise and sure and slow as all hell. My dad told me that these moments were the only times he saw his father show that he could be tender, or kind. I never met my grandfather. I like to think that someday, I’ll see a big ole tortoise lumbering across the road, and I’ll pull over, pick him up, and it’ll be my grandfather. “I’m sorry I was hard on your dad,” he’d say. I like to think I’d forgive him. How can you deny a turtle forgiveness?


Fall 2018

Jacob Montes

Looking into the Sea


American Literary Magazine

Andrew Yianne

Santa Fe


Fall 2018

Piper Neulander

Tofu Medium: oil


American Literary Magazine

Jordan Redd

Balance (series)


Fall 2018


American Literary Magazine


Fall 2018

Rin Ryan

nineteen when i was nineteen years old, i stood on the balcony of a cheap motel on a carolina beach and let a stranger run his hands through my hair, and let him grip bruises into the curve of my waist, and listened to a thousand tiny grains of sand six stories below be dragged back and forth, and wondered if they felt relief or suffocation in the sea’s grip. unknown lips on mine under the guise of “life” and “living,” sex and danger becoming ever closer in my mind until one day one will be indistinguishable from the other. a rust-colored beard that scratched more than it tickled and a chest that felt heavy where it pressed against mine. was the rapid rise and fall of my heart center from fear or excitement? nineteen years old, eight hundred miles from home, i have to wonder if my mother knows where i am tonight. i have to wonder if she would trust the boy who’s hands i so easily surrender my body to. sex is healing and sex is hurting. sex above an unfamiliar shoreline was no different than sex in a bed i’d known for all my nineteen years. a mattress is a mattress, but a body is something else entirely. a dark room and a party that rages on outside. we slipped from the balcony to here unnoticed, like shadows steal across a road at midnight. and i want this, but will i regret it? nineteen years old, she wants to pretend this is nothing to her, that she does this all the time, that a twenty-two year old in a locked room is an everyday affair. this body knows limits and pain but this mind has transcended long ago. pleasure and pain are but mere perception. nineteen.


American Literary Magazine

Emaan Khan

the toppling of king george III here goes, the toppling of our almighty kingremember these plastered carvings, etched deep into our concrete sidewalks. think of the crowd of carmine slapdash turkey feathers and copper rust stainsthey pull at beetroot and dehydrated pomegranate seeds, smelling cocoa beans through stuffy noses. remember those wicked eyes peeking out of her shoestring cornette with Chantilly lace? the small pieces of his majesty, now primed and cocked by hands of liberty lethargy. the wafers of his ashen, gossamer bust spread among heavenly bodies in a slag heap. the Virginia Creeper pushed patriots forward to walk on wetlands, quashing the ground gypsum. they scattered ground corn kernels on our terra firma wiggling between flatworms and patches of milk thistle. all while, he wheezed in fear, sinking into soil.


Fall 2018

Gabrielle Michel

613 Seeds, Repeating


American Literary Magazine

Olivia Schwalm

Selfie 18

Fall 2018

Mercy Griffith

Essence When she was born, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to be what she needed me to be. I wonder if I would have warned her, had I known. At what age would I have looked into her slate gray eyes and told her? I guess it doesn’t make a difference, though. No matter how many times I practice those words now, I’ll never be able to slip back in time and gently whisper them, secretly hoping a swirl of childhood laughter would sweep them away.

she did not notice a difference. For years, I was what she needed. Well into high school, she did not question me. I watched her anxiously pour over text books and text messages, her social life stresses mingling with the pressure of grades and achievement. Of course, I wanted her to be happy, but I was glad she was preoccupied. If she stays busy, she will never notice my flaws. She gradually—and I think unintentionally—began to distance herself from me, opting for the driver’s seat and afternoon naps instead of long walks and games of tag. At the time, I welcomed the repose, relieved that I no longer had to prove myself, push myself. I took deep breaths and sunk into hibernation. For a time, rest was what I needed, but I fear it stopped me from being able to be what she needed.

I remember when she first sat up without her mother’s protective hand resting on her back. Her mouth gurgled and her hands flopped wildly i excitement. I wasn’t quick enough to stop her from promptly tipping back over, her peach-fuzzed head thumping on the rug. She made the face that babies do—stunned, brow wrinkled, as if deciding whether or not the failure was worth crying over. With a determination I’ve grown accustomed to, she willed herself to sit back up, and together we accomplished her second unassisted sit-up. I’ve learned that reminiscing can be painful, but those moments wink in my memory, for, I was what she needed.

When I emerged from my time off, parts of me were different. Some pieces clung to me, dead, useless. Some latched onto the healthy sections with an irreversible desperation. Others simply vanished, absorbed by her.Lunging into full throttle, I attempted to harness the same energy that had once inspired her to build igloos during snowstorms and climb mulberry trees, despite the mushy berries that dyed her fingers black. Sometimes it worked, and with a determined sputter, she would agree to a hike, a spin class with a friend, a day of outdoor chores, or a quick game of street hockey. But I could tell her faith in me was leaking, almost entirely sapped by the realization that I was no longer what she needed. She feared me.

She relied on me as a young child does—with a careless, naive trust that is both honoring and frustrating. After school consisted of neighborhood soccer games and bike rides to the park. In the backyard, the swingset transformed into a pirate ship, a fairy garden, a swamp of alligators, a waterpark. She monkeybarred for hours and challenged her brother to basketball games. When her neighbor left out his gardening spade, she used it to dig a six-foot hole in her backyard. Her father made her fill it back up, worried that it would destabilize the foundations of the bicycle shed. With a shrug of her shoulders, she followed his wishes before venturing elsewhere. Army crawling beneath her house revealed wooden planks left over from the construction. To the termites, they were food, to her, they were balance beams, her ticket to the Olympics. She spent the summer perfecting her cartwheel. I’ve heard that if you do not learn to cartwheel before age 11, you will be too scared to learn. I’m glad I was able to help her stick the landing, despite the strain. I toiled away silently, yearning to give her the same life her neighborhood friends had. And for years

I did not think anything could be worse than her new discovery. Her knowledge that she could not rely on me to respond to her firing neurons, to her brain’s commands. The understanding of my—her— limitations. But, when strangers, others inched their way closer to the same discovery, I felt her pain blossom like poison ivy, sending its tendrils up her esophagus, twisting around her gums. Are you sick? You’re so weak, thin. Have you considered going to the gym? You should really eat more. Each ignorant comment watered the weed in her soul, forcing her to look frantically for a way to rip the bad out of herself. But she couldn’t get rid of me. There I was, able only to make her look mostly okay, unable to be what she needed me to be.


American Literary Magazine

I do not know how long her body held sadness only I could sense. Her bedroom door remained lockedwhile she wiped the tears with hands that refused to work. Her sweet, sweet heart slammed shut too, furious at the unjust world and those who did not understand. Her stormy eyes told of brittle strength, splintering under the weight of her denial. I wept with her. I sang to her. I cradled her dungeoned spirits in my wasting frame. And slowly, slowly it happened. I watched a familiar expression chisel through the heaviness. With both a grace I did not deserve and the same determination I witnessed in her 6-month old eyes, she accepted me. There are a lot of ways to live. And living is worthwhile. Now, she greets me in the morning, gently. She reminds me of the childhood I gave her and scolds me when I respond with the future I am taking from her. My essence is diseased, dying. Her essence is hopeful, growing. She tends to her body’s garden, uprooting the poison, planting the good, and caring for the sick. I may not be what she needs me to be, but she is now what I need her to be.


Fall 2018

Rana Attia

Middle Ground


American Literary Magazine

Maggie Mahoney

Requiem Stumble in the just dark to light blunts in the backyard, we brave the mosquitos and marshland of Long Island. By the inground pool, time becomes taffy, pulls from the cherry bowl, taste acrid ash and cough. Passing ghosts between us, a kind of stupored communion, where leftover cheap chocolate smacks of finer things. I could sit in that cheetah-print beanbag for hours and maybe I do, watching Emma’s outstretched arms conduct harmonies only she can hear. When the only residue of the evening is the lemon scent of Lysol, the ping-pong table freshly scrubbed of beer, I listen with closed eyes – could swear I hear singing.


Fall 2018

Syeda Siddiqi

My Mom Just Loves to Clean 23

American Literary Magazine

Sydney Hamilton

Small Favor Artist’s Statement: a text-predicted poem

hey I just got home and I was wondering if you could come over for a while I think I wanna get a chance to see it all again I’m sorry but if you have time for me I think I wanna get a little call tomorrow I’m so sorry about the last night I was just thinking of you hey I can do it tomorrow if you don’t have any other plans I’m just trying to figure it all out and then I’ll be fine


Fall 2018

Jacob Montes

Shadowed Window 25

Andrew Yianne

Autumn on the National Mall 26

Fall 2018

Jordan Redd

The Queen of Guinea Lane Medium: color film


American Literary Magazine

Amanda Book



Fall 2018

Savannah’s late afternoon brew wilts flags and flowers in windowsill boxes, the first of the dog days laying siege to the Hostess City with unfurling fingers of humidity, grasping the South in a chokehold that only breaks 500 miles up the coast in Kitty Hawk where the surfboarders cut through emerald breakers, spraying saltwater that scrubs sun-kissed faces raw. The art students have all gone home for the summer, back to Boston or Raleigh or Atlanta, leaving behind Forsyth Park, which teems with its spirits and Spanish moss in the late sun, and Bonaventure Cemetery, with its oaks that have seen blood and hurricanes and Civil War. This is a land of roots, haunted by its own history, where palm fronds stretch towards the sky only to be bleached and burned by the unforgiving sun, and the low-tide stench stalks you, seeping into sheets and skin. It chokes you at night as the sea breeze hisses through the open window: All of the ghosts in the lowcountry sleep with the sharks in the river, did you know? Sometimes I think I could sleep there, too, someday but surfer blood is certainly more noble.


Cam Diagonale

deep south

American Literary Magazine

Emily Pullen

Song for my mother. My mother once held my palm in hers, folded like a love letter and tucked in the warm crevice of her heart line. She kissed the backside of my hand and told me that of all her regrets— of all the miscarriages and men that stain her hair grey and of all the long shifts waiting tables that have worn down her cracked soles, the greatest tragedy she will ever know is that she won’t get to see me when I, too, finally and gracefully become entwined and stained and worn into the woman that we created together.


Fall 2018

Sarah Jarrett

All Hallows Eve Medium: oil on canvas


American Literary Magazine

Sydney Hamilton

Paw Parade Mama don’t believe me But I know what I seen And I done seen bout fifty-leven cats dancing in the street They done stood on their hind legs while the street lights were on and they was a hopping and a bopping one by one Them black cats were doing the cha-cha Them Siamese were doing the twist and shout Those Calicos was doing the hokey pokey and shaking their tails all about I screamed “Mama, mama, look out your window There’s cats outside dancing the swing” But mama didn’t have her glasses on so she never saw a thing And them felines were jiving, they danced all night and they meowed and they purred up a storm and those little paws just kept on going until about six in the morn


Fall 2018

Gabrielle Bremer

Moraccan Cat 33

American Literary Magazine

Mermaids Aren’t Real. but when I was young, I longed to become one. sprouting a tail, diving into the sea, vibrant colors swirling around. tasting the salt water as it twists through my hair. inhaling through gills, but Mermaids Aren’t Real. exhaling laughter; now my underwater sunsets thriving underwater. faded to gray and navy blue. I’m breathing through broken lungs the salt I taste is only that which falls from my face i’m finally living underwater, but this time i’m drowning.

Devon Wiensch

Mermaids aren’t Real


Fall 2018

Amanda Hodes

outside my apartment (viewed from the fourth story window)

green gulled boys cheer across the street, with their cutlass shiver voices and wind-warbled chant into the glass. their back arms rosacea ruddied, absorbing the cold— a forward-barrel bodied and chest-heaving heat, they leave behind their breath as they dive through the streetlamps. below nearby windows thud shut, burrow the night.


American Literary Magazine


Fall 2018

Bhavik Patel

Fever Dream One South Africa (series)


American Literary Magazine

Maggie Mahoney

Innocence Autopsy At the neighborhood pool, we perform barefoot baptisms, trace bug bite constellations become our own radios on quiet suburban streets. Weaving the way back to splintered decks and sticky syrup puddles, we starfish like playing cards on uncut grass. Hands become heavy on hips that spill from high-cut bottoms. Boys squeeze tiger-stripe thighs and slide along the undersides of our knees, slick with sweat and yielding. First kisses, pink noses pressed together, bodies bent like two question marks — hesitant, hovering. A tangle of tightened muscles, legs compete for crawl space until they tire. We wait for the breathing to steady before we slip away.


Fall 2018

Sophia Salganicoff

Birth Medium: oil and acrylic on canvas


American Literary Magazine

Rin Ryan

Untitled drive gentle, with me a soft grip on the gearshift and fog in the air street-lamps like showers of honey dyeing the midnight that encroaches drive gentle, with me fingers curled tight around my heart angry words fading away into nothingness weightless now that they’ve been whisked from your pressing, beating, broiling heart drive gentle, with me when you want your passenger seat to be empty when i’ve gone too far when you’ve taken a step beyond me we’ll still make it to the end of the road, my dear drive gentle.


Fall 2018

Sarah Jarrett

best in show art

Nap Time Medium: oil on cavas


American Literary Magazine

Amanda Hodes

Dawning Sometimes even the birds get confused by the moon, chirping before the sun leaks blue into the night, or maybe they just already knew. Either way morning-dusk always sounds like hermit thrush and cicadas. Back then Kaitlyn and I would wake before the blue-blonde dawn to walk by the pastures down the road and feed the goats without getting caught. But this time when we reached the end of the white fence, we could smell it: the deer bloated and wide-eyed as we were, struck on the pavement, white tufts still showing on its crusted back. Kaitlyn didn’t move when she saw it, didn’t say a word. Just turned around, barley grain limp in hand, and walked home. Over breakfast, we bird-danced around it, twittering a swallowed language. Even our bones felt hollow as bird-bones, so thin you could hear the air whistle through us— we had no asking, no taking, no white-palmed wanting. We forgot how to talk, glanced our eyes at the apron, the fridge magnets, the apple border around our plates. If there’s one thing you learn out here, it’s the clinging like bird’s feet on the telephone wire, and to never look down.

best in show poetry


Fall 2018

Matt Francisco

Garage 43

American Literary Magazine

Demory Hobbs

Touch Come on! You get used to it. They told me I’d get used to it. The feeling of fear washes away with the tide. The way they look at you blends into the landscape. Their touch may not be welcome, butit’s part of the experience. I wouldn’t say the water is pleasant. It’s cold enough to numb you. Isn’t it nice to feel nothing? I don’t like strangers touching me. Their hands feel cold on the small of my back. I jump. I never liked surprises. In California, the beaches are covered in seaweed. Kelp comes up in a wave and brushes my leg, hoping to cling on and hold fast. Green, orange, red –– darkening the water and dotting the sand. I never got used to the slick, slimy grip.


Fall 2018

Madison Richards



American Literary Magazine

Samantha Monteith

Angkor Windor lichens, moss- speckle black carved faces stones upon stones beaten into peaceful places. and we visitors, like ants upon a hill, swarm the sacred space, searching for a view that kills. mandalas and wide spread buddhas legs splayed open, a crown of three, carved into eternity, dancing into glorious degradation. cracked corners and lost heads imagination running circles in humid hot beds.


Fall 2018

Syeda Siddiqi

Lucid Dreams


American Literary Magazine

Mercy Griffith

If Only I Had Studied Biology There are moments I wish I studied biology so I could understand why sometimes I wake up okay and sometimes I wake up the opposite. I’ve never talked about this with anyone, but if I did, I assume they would ask me what the opposite of okay is. I’d tell them what it’s not. It’s not sad or angry. It’s not stressed or anxious. It’s simply the state of being not okay. My imaginary conversation then veers a bit, and the person asks me to define “okay.” (I think I’m confusing them a bit). I tell them it’s not up to me to define it. “Okay” is a relative term.

rise, the days of driving through the New Mexican desert or practicing your graduation speech, those are the memories that flit at the tip of my mind, waiting eagerly for a chance to spring forward. When they do, I’m still okay. Honestly, I was okay at the end, too. I didn’t plan for our walk on the beach to be long enough to end in our decision that it wasn’t working anymore, but that’s how life goes sometimes. If I had known the sand between our toes meant the end of your fingers between mine, I wonder if I would have ventured out onto that Pacific coast. We’re just too different. You pulled me in for a hug, and even after four years of getting used to your affinity for public affection, I glanced uncomfortably at the early morning fishermen beside us. But, for once, it didn’t matter. I hugged you back. You can always talk to me. I know everyone says this, but I mean it—we can still be friends. Yeah, I agree. Text me if you need anything at all. I’ll always love you, okay?

For me, I was okay when we opened the door to our camper and I squealed in delight at the checkered comforter on our split mattress and the built-in table nestled below miniature windows. That night, we watched the shadows lengthen on the Alpine mountain range, the weak May sun unable to chase out winter’s lasting chill. My toes turned blue but later you held them in your hands, reminiscing about the earlier days when I was too embarrassed to let you touch my feet. Feet are weird. So are a lot of things. I was okay in the earlier days, too. A different kind of okay, one speckled with excitement and unfamiliarity. Donned in a new dress, my stomach gurgling in my usual response to meeting new family members, our hands loosely linked as we walked around back to your grandparents’ house. Well, they were Sarah’s parents. I still hadn’t figured out your family tree, but I was trying. Your younger cousins ran by us with squirt guns and my inner kid calmed me down, perhaps a bit too quickly, though, for Henry could tell I’d rather play tag than talk politics. I’d barely arrived before his 7 year-old hand wrapped around my wrist and dragged me into the pool. Henry got a talking to that night and your uncle forced him to apologize to me. I was secretly grateful. Now your family thinks I’m a good sport. They always thought that.

Okay. I was okay, I really was. When my mom found out, her tears soaked into my hair as we hugged, not mine. My sisters asked why I didn’t tell them sooner. I told them it was because I needed time to process, but it was because I was okay. I didn’t need their help, their advice, even though I knew it came from a place of love. I was okay. I was. Okay? That summer jumped aboard a sailboat and swiftly sped past. Between collecting tourists’ tips on overpriced pizza, rounding children up at Bible school, and scrubbing my carpets clean (my cat refused to use the litter box for the month of July), I didn’t have time to think about you. Aw, I appreciate you asking, but I’m okay! I like to be busy. I wonder what they would’ve said if I had told the truth. I fill my days with everything so I have no mental space to fill with thoughts of you. Maybe if I had studied biology, I would have known that it doesn’t work that way. No amount of new memories can quell the old ones. They’re still there, crouching like Olympic sprinters, poised for the gunshot.

The not-so-early but not-close-to-the-end years were okay, too. They’re a mash-up in my memory, mostly good. It seems the fights and tougher times have diffused out, resurfacing only when I come across a text screenshot I sent to my sister for advice. The hours spent building Legos on your bedroom floor or waiting for our Muenster bread to

After months, people ask me how I’m doing. I’m okay! The


Fall 2018

knee-jerk answer slips out before my brain even processes whether or not they actually care about the answer. I’m okay but sometimes I wake up and feel his plaid pajama pants brushing against my leg. Sometimes when I’m holding groceries, I turn to my side and ask him to carry them for me. Sometimes I see him on my bed putting on his still takes him five minutes per foot. Actually, sometimes I’m the opposite of okay. But by that time, the conversation has drifted and I cast aside my thoughts like a note in a bottle. The other day I heard a woman tell her daughter that she should never use the word “okay” because there are so many better words in the English language. I should’ve interjected, but I didn’t. I guess I’ll tell her now. Being okay is a beautiful thing.


American Literary Magazine

Jayda Hinds

Cornrows and Candies in the simpler times of cornrows and candies, naivety ran through my veins and out through the curls of my hair; innocence being found in spirals. the training wheels spiraling on my hot pink Barbie bike, the pancake batter spiraling around in the bowl as Momma mixed and mixed. in the lollipops Abuela brought me, the spirals met up at the center; we used to call it the “rainbow brick road.” in the simpler times of cornrows and candies, life smelt of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with ignorance. how sweet. Sana Sana Colita de Rana was the ultimate healer, but the sugar zested reality dissolved once I realized some hurt could not be healed. si no sana hoy, sanará mañana, the pain spirals away- just like that, in the simpler times of cornrows and candies.


Fall 2018

Piper Neulander

Men Sitting Medium: acrylic


American Literary Magazine

Sydney Hatmaker



Fall 2018

Rose Keahi Scott

moon song crack my head open with a hammer drink my life in sew me back together and then move right along i’m going to rip my insides out and scowl at the moon until the sun gives me hands to sing with and eyes to breathe with i can always forgive my sister for she graces me with resilience and joy we are not so distant after all we will drift apart dancing on stars and wear our voices thin screaming the words of the women that have come before us


American Literary Magazine

*content warning: sexual assault

Mackenzie Murray

Victim Impact Statement Did she intend her eyes so intense? Her anguish weathered irises, Glance, daggers whose edges have rusted chip away at the settled space, entrance, injure, hurt them. cast — Glance cast the storm beneath her skin upon those who made her suffer ten years stolen, value like earthen sediment. Glance, and meet the gaze of the girl you used of the woman whose wounds no longer bleed the red you found arousing as it would pool upon the pavement below her thighs, you — Glance you mistook her tear hardened face for submission, ignored the contempt soaked tone in which she poisoned your name. Glance, she kept averted, as your tooth groomed nails caught her collar bone as they picked at the cotton that concealed her breasts. you imagined her older. she wasn’t three, wasn’t six, wasn’t eight, wasn’t twelve when — Glance when you would introduce her as your future wife. twenty years now and she has not known this world’s glance, for a longer duration than her abuse lasted Whatever monsters, men in suits painted her to the jury as, she has fought, she has slain, buried, worse. please — Glance upon the woman at the impact stand for what she is besides a plaintiff. A women more survivor than victim, more victim than survivor, more human than those she accuses. Glance, at the woman who refuses to yield to a commonwealth where rape is relatable. Safety is a wraith, banished only by her courting of Klonopin and whisky, the trauma. Her stress condition forces itself upon her, just as her abuser did. Did she intend her eyes so intense? Undoubtably. She wages war with them.


Fall 2018

Madison Richards



American Literary Magazine

*content warning: school shooting

Jacob Montes

Lunch Break And it happened for no reason. Parents decorated in pajamas, suits, tank tops and winter coats stood outside of the school. The trees were colorless. Their life stripped branches created warped hands pleading towards the sky. Usually, the PTA members chatted as they waited for their kids. Today they were silent, their faces grey and vacant. Chilled winds numbed the parents as they waited for updates on the situation. No one spoke, but each of them hoped that their child would not be one of those kids who did not come home today. One of those kids whose eyes were open and unblinking as they lay lifeless, bleeding onto the cold tile.

on them, using your backpack as a makeshift pillow. Visions of Dana Hanover clouded your mind. You pictured her undressing and then remembered she had a new boyfriend. He was a gym nut and posted pictures of himself on Instagram with his shirt off. She might have started dating him to make you jealous. Yes, she left you, but the idea of her lingered in your mind like a thick fog. Sometimes you thought about running to her house on a cold and rainy night to tell her about the fog. That fog might have been what other people called love. You weren’t really sure. You woke up from your narcoleptic state when the bus pulled up to the front of the school. Students drifted through the front doors, talking and laughing too loudly for 7:45 in the morning. In first period your head leaned against your fist as Miss Rogers talked about something to do with King James. What did the King of Britain have to do with you anyway, you thought to yourself. How would knowing about him help you do your taxes or become a doctor like you’ve wanted since you were 6-years-old? Miss Rogers told everyone to get into groups and James and you looked at each other simultaneously. You knew James since middle school. He was the brawn and you were the brain. In 7th grade you were paired with James for a month-long project in science, you did most of the work. Hanging out with James became a common thing after that. When he would stay over, you would wait for your mom to go to sleep, then you would drink beers that he stole from his parents. One day, after drinking too many beers for someone your age, you told James about the girl in the hallway who caught your eye and turned your cheeks a blotchy pink. He told you that was Dana. When she broke up with you he called her terrible things and you did too. You never actually thought she was a fucking whore but you said it anyway. When you heard she cried in the bathroom after you called her that, you cried too. You cried so much that someone asked you if you were high because your eyes were so red and glossy.

It was a Thursday. Your dark red alarm clock outsang morning birds. Half asleep, you tried to snooze it but it fell off the nightstand and vibrated on the ground. When your grandmother bought you it, you wished she hadn’t. When she gave it to you, you still smiled. You grunted as you rolled around in your bed, stretching your arms to where the headboard would be if you had one. When your mom knocked on your door it sent a jolt down your spine. “Hey, it’s time to get up, I’m not taking you if you miss the bus.” You grunted back at her, you were much more primal in the morning. The cereal you ate was stale and your mom told you she would get more at the store tomorrow. Your mom was one of the only people you trusted with anything and she always said I love you before you went places. She liked to wear her sleek black hair in a bun. When she was mad she would text you long paragraphs and you would respond with a short ‘okay’ or ‘yes’. After you were born, your mother didn’t have time for college, so she was scared when weeks passed and you still didn’t get a letter back from Drexel University. It should have come already but it didn’t. It’ll come soon, you told your mom as you ate your stale cereal. She flattened her mouth, making her lips disappear. As you walked up the small spiral stairs the overweight bus driver shot you a look that said ‘I drank too much last night so I don’t want to be here’. You’ve given that look before. Smartphone screens illuminated the faces of all the kids on the bus, revealing deep crescent moons under their eyes. The plastic leather seats were welcoming as you laid down

Only about half of the worksheet was done when the bell rang. It was just a practice sheet Miss Rogers gave you it for no reason, so it didn’t really matter. “Yo dude, uh, um, you trying tochill this weekend, I could get my brother


Fall 2018

to cop a handle for us. We wouldn’t finish it all but like we’d have extra. It could last a couple weeks or somethin’,” said James. You didn’t want to drink but you had nothing better to do that weekend so you agreed. The two of you walked through the sea of people cluttering the narrow halls. James slapped your hand, half shaking it, then slid his hand away. He told you he would see you at lunch then disappeared into the crowd. You went to the vending machine and put $1.50 in for a grape powerade. It made that strange thumping noise but nothing came out. You shook the machine and kicked the bottom. The machine made another noise but still nothing came out.

about to ring when Mr. Quincy told you all to have a good weekend and a healthy lunch. Familiar faces swayed past you in the hall. One of them called out to you loudly, almost aggressively. “Yoo bitch!” It cried. It was Victor; everyone called him V for short. You asked him why he didn’t come to school the other day. “I didn’t feel too good man, I had a sore-ass-throat, shit sucked.” V had already been accepted into Drexel. You planned to room together if you both got in. There would be a TV in your dorm on top of a cheap wood desk and a mini fridge that would leak every once in a while. On weekends, you’d both go looking to drain the stress of exams in the bottom of a beer can. You’d bring a girl home with you because she looked a little like your ex. She would probably step in the small puddle around the leaky fridge. “Oh shit! I gotta show you something!” said V. Lunch started in 2 minutes. V leaned up against the wall and placed his black backpack on the ground. He unzipped it and took out an instant-film camera. “It came!” you said. “Yeah, came yesterday, I was gonna text you but I forgot.” The camera was white and oddly shaped. The film was long and came out of the top. You had to wave the photo in the air to make the picture show up faster, at least that’s what V told you. Both of you walked under the towering door frame to the lunch room. James was sitting in the seat you usually sat in so you asked him to move. “Bro, it’s not a big deal.” He was right, it wasn’t. You sat next to him.

Eyes were drawn towards you as you walked into the class late. “Oh, we have a visitor! What an honor to have you,” said Mr. Quincy. Everyone laughed much too loudly. Mr. Quincy had a sort of mutual respect with his students. He treated you all like adults so everyone was more willing to listen. He was particularly good with students known to get into trouble. Your usual seat was taken so you sat in the back, at the desk with the phallic shapes and the name Lucy scratched into it. Halfway through the class, you felt safe and warm so you started falling asleep again. Your headslowly falling and jerking back up in a cycle that made you feel like you were plummeting towards the earth. This class was important to you. In college it would probably have been good to know what an iliopsoas was, and where the femoral artery was located, so you grabbed the hall pass to wake you up a little. You walked down the greenish halls and crept into the bathroom. Liquid was underneath the urinals. There was some liquid on top of one of them as well. Two splashes of yellow rested near the base of the silver flushing handle. You wondered how someone could even pee on something that high up. Maybe that person was very tall or maybe they had to go so badly it shot out like an uncontrollable firehose. Your phone made a noise and you saw a text from your mom. She sent a picture with no words. It showed a white envelope with your name on it and Drexel’s logo in the corner. Excitement charged your bones and widened your eyes. She texted again saying she wouldn’t open it. You sent an emoji of a hand with two fingers crossed. The text made you warm and cold. Opening that envelope would change you forever.

The glass windows surrounding the cafeteria were portals to another reality. You could only hear the people at your table, the space roared. Mouths spewed pieces of food as they laughed. It was chicken sandwiches that day. The outside of the thin patty was an orangish-brown with flaky breading. When you bit into it you saw something grey pretending to be meat. James was talking loudly, addressing everyone at the table. “Then the fucking guy touches the um, what do you call that?” said James. He snapped his fingers a few times and looked into the distance. “The like, circular thing on top of the telephonepole. I think it’s where all the electricity is, what do you call that?” “The transformer?” said someone else. James smiled while he half raised his arm out and bent his eyebrows. “You dumbass, that’s a movie.” V looked up from his phone and told James he was wrong. “Dude that’s what it’s called.” James dismissed V and finished his story. Then you told V about the letter and he asked if you opened it. He started talking about how sick it would be to do whatever you wanted in college. Most of your attention was with V but a part of you wondered if Dana might have been looking at you. She sat 2 rows behind you at a table with James’s sister, Penny. It was Penny who introduced the two of you. It

You walked through the hall towards your class and looked into the rooms passing by. Like a hawk scanning for prey, you looked for friends or people you knew in each room you passed. You wondered if anyone in those classrooms applied to college like you did. You walked back in the classroom and asked the person next to you what you missed. They handed you their notebook. Graphite in your pencil withered as you copied their notes. The bell was


American Literary Magazine

was at a party last fall. She made you sit down next to her. She smelled like lavender and beer. Her hand wrapped around your shoulder squeezed. She smiled and said in her own goofy, endearing way, “A friend of Penny is a friend of mine!”

opened it. Someone was in it and screamed when they saw you. You stumbled back and they slammed the door shut. You called out for V in a yelling whisper. Another gunshot rattled. James flashed in your mind. Then Dana. You wondered why you didn’t stop for her. James would have, he was courageous, unflinching. The two of you would hang out on the catwalk under the highway near your house. He would always climb down and walk along the support beams of the bridge. One time he was walking along the beam and slipped on a wet spot. You thought that was how he would die; being a valiant moron. You weren’t sure he was even dead. His eyes were open when you saw him last.

Then a window shattered and a loud noise echoed over the voices in the cafeteria. Everything stopped. Your heart fell deeper into your body and so did everyone else’s. Heads whipped around to see the source of the noise. You saw the noise only one other time. He was short with brownish hair. You saw him in the hallway before, he might have had a lazy eye. He wore a thick black coat and sunglasses that day. A rifle was pressed against his shoulder. You thought someone like him would laugh maniacally, but he didn’t and that scared you. His grim figure slithered further into the cafeteria. BANG. The rifle screamed.

There he was next to James. His large rifle poked James body, almost shocked at what he was seeing. That confused you. He looked at you peering through the window. He raised the barrel of his gun to you and you fossilized. Then you heard someone’s footsteps, near Dana’s table. There was a large pillar in front of her table, obstructing your view. The gun barrel whipped towards the noise. BANG. You ran from the window, towards another cabinet. You wiggled your body in and slowed your breathing. You wanted to cry but you couldn’t. The metal cabinet squeezed your humanity, reducing you to a frightened animal, scared by the possibility that you could end up like James. You wondered what your mom would do if you died. All that money she saved, all those hours helping you with homework, all the slogging to make you ready for college, wasted. That thought burnt out. The fog came back and you wondered if it was Dana that ran out from under the table. You loved her. You were sure of that now. Surer than the first time you said it to her.

It sprayed onto your blue jeans and the cafeteria wall. You never saw anything like it in person. You saw a lot of stuff on facebook just like it. James once shared a video of a man in the army with his foot blown off, your jeans reminded you of that video. Your mom bought you those jeans. They were a powder blue with striped, silk pockets. You really hated them at first, but they grew on you, especially after Dana mentioned how much she liked them. You were wearing the jeans for her. You wondered if the trickled red on the jeans would come out or if it would turn into a brownish-red stain that everyone would notice. The red pattern was a constellation. You looked into the red dwarf stars and could almost see cells. You saw the white cells, red cells, the plasma and the platelets. They were all joined together, disjointed from the body they once lived in; James’ body. His head leaked on the table. A piece of white bone sailed hesitantly in the black ocean forming around his face. His eyes were still open and he made a strange, unexplainable noise. He looked through you and you remembered the witty jokes he would always tell. Most of them were offensive. He thought those were the funniest. You remembered how he would always wear way too much cologne and spray extra in his pants because “You never know what might happen”. You couldn’t smell the cologne anymore, you could only smell red metallic. You thought it should have been you.

You said it without thinking. “Hahaha your the best, I love you.” A dry burger was clamped in Dana’s hands. You stirred the ice cubes around in your Coca-cola. “You love me?” she said, taken back by your comment. “Umm, I mean.” You were scared. The surprise in her voice made you feel pathetic. “I love you too,” she said as she smiled and awkwardly bit into her burger. The bite was so large it muffled her speech. You felt a sense of relief wash over your body. You weren’t even sure you loved her, it just slipped out. The waitress brought over the bill and you took a deep gulp. Dana insisted on paying for her meal but you wouldn’t let her see the bill. She was forgetful and couldn’t remember how much her food was. The bill was $43.52. You put all the cash you had at the time on the table and the two of you left. You only had enough money to tip a dollar but you didn’t want to make Dana pay, so the waitress probably went home angry that night.

There was gum under the lunch table. V was in front of you, crawling towards the kitchen area where the lunch ladies prepared your food. You looked to your left and saw Dana, hiding under her table. You thought she saw you. V slid on his belly into the kitchen. You crawled out from under the table and ran into the kitchen. Kids ran around looking for places to hide. Yousaw a metal cabinet door and

The fog cleared when you heard a gunshot in the kitchen.


Fall 2018

It rang the steel around you. After each gunshot, you heard howling students. Their screams made your heart pump faster and faster. You decided you would run out. The next shot would be the one. The gun fired again and you ran out of the kitchen door as fast as you could. You ran by James’ frozen corpse and looked at Dana’s table from a distance. There was a bloody body next to her table but it was vague. You heard one last gunshot as you ran into the hallway. Classrooms and posters for student clubs zoomed by you. You sprinted towards a neon exit sign encompassing a door in a red glow. Sunlight kissed your skin as you tackled the door open. Through a busy intersection, you ran to the nearest place you could find. The tall golden arches rose above everything else. You ran to the Mcdonalds and called the police. “There are law enforcement officers heading over there as we speak. Are you safe?” said the operator. The workers looked at you with concern. For some reason, you hung up the phone. You called your mom and when you told her what had happened, she began crying hysterically. SWAT trucks pulled up to the school. Police officers in full tactical gear hopped out of the truck and went slinking into the school doors. Officers kept parents and students far back from the school grounds, as they waited to hear from their children. You walked through the crowd, talking to your mom on the phone. She was driving over and wouldn’t let you hang up. Parents around you embraced their children. Then you saw her. Her bleach blonde hair blew in the sharp wind. Her face was barren and she stood unnaturally straight. You didn’t think you would see her like this. You didn’t want to talk to her. You wondered if you had the courage to tell her that her son was shot to death. James’ mother turned to you. Her eyes sunk into her skull as she looked down at your blue jeans. The red stains had hardened into a deep burgundy.


American Literary Magazine

Arnaud MI Leclere

Beaux Degats Medium: paper, acrylic, charcoal, spray paint, and ink paper


Fall 2018

Sonimar Maldonado

Twisted 61

American Literary Magazine

Sophia Corbisiero



Fall 2018

Sydney Hatmaker

Organs I dreamt that I tried to swallow a rosary No matter how tight I wound it round my hand Fingers edging purple, holy royalty It wasn’t enough I couldn’t get close enough If it makes it down my throat If it enters my organs Will I feel you then, God?


American Literary Magazine

Madeline Rizzo



Fall 2018

Danya Abou Nassif

ambivalence ambivalence in dreams we express ourselves and we feel all of our emotions, fears, memories, desires and worries. think about what happens to you when you are in love; when that one person crawls into your skin, your blood and your bones and your ďŹ rst symptom is to dream of him. And in that space you live, feel and express all of your emotions and tensions that are what produce the fact of loving another human being with an unexplainable intensity. You tell him all you cannot tell him, you hug him, you feel him close and hear him say the phrases that he, perhaps, will never say again. And then there is nothing more devastating or as sweet as waking up. Dreaming (of him) is a unique experience, beautiful and, ever so often, painful -dan


American Literary Magazine

Artist’s Statement: Using the source imagery of a dead bird killed by pollution, I filled its abdomen with trash that I had collected from friends and myself over the course of several weeks. The background is a surrealist rendering of a newly discovered plastic eating amoeba. When these two images are combined, they create a cycle of deadly and never ending consumption that mirrors our own endless hunger for plastic.

Sophia Salganicoff

eating plastic Medium: oil, acrylic, found objects, and trash on canvas


Fall 2018

Sheer Figman

it’s not that simple Medium: pen on paper


Dan McCahon

untitled 68

Fall 2018

Grace Bruer

i am I am 3 years old and I sit on my cat by accident. She scratches the hell out of me and I cry and cry and cry while my cousin watches in pained silence and my mom tells me to stop squirming away from the antiseptic. I don’t know how to apologize to a cat and it makes me sad.

no, because her parents don’t like me. At rehearsal for the musical, she kisses me in the bathroom again. I don’t want to cry like I did when she kissed me the first time. I wonder if she hates the animal growing in my chest as much as she loves me.

I am 6 years old and I get a little brother. I wanted a little sister, but this boy begins to grow on me. It’s strange how little he understands but how smart he is at the same time. He makes a special noise for when I bother him before he can even say my name; I am equally offended and impressed.

I am 15 and I hate my ex-girlfriend. She’s dating my best friend; the one I was so sure I was going to marry when I was 10. I am still friends with boys that call me stupid, but not the same ones. I also have friends that are girls, but we don’t talk about “girly” things because we don’t know much about them. I can’t smell antiseptic without the animal in my chest screaming to be let out because it is so sure we are back in the mental hospital. I snap rubber bands on my wrists and talk excessively about one specific anime. That November, I try to cut the buzzing out of my skin again. My therapist ups my medication. I go to Europe in the Spring and only want to kill myself once. My therapist ups my medication, and I feel the animal in my chest begin to hibernate.

I am 10 years old and I want to cry when teachers tell me I’ve done something wrong. I don’t understand how I could have done something wrong-- I only intended to do good. I want their approval, but I hate being told what to do. I am sure that I am in love with my best friend. I know we’ll grow up together and get married. He’s always nice to me, which is different from my other best friend. My other best friend calls me stupid all the time— he’s older and smarter than me, so I believe him. I don’t have proof otherwise. I am not a “smart” kid. We pretend to hunt for Mothman at recess. On the way home from school, without warning, I tell myself that I can choose not to be gay. The thought of liking girls scares me.

I am 17 and I am afraid of going to college, but excited for all the things in store. I play a revolutionary boy who dies while trying to change the world in my school musical. When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I don’t tell them that I want to be a martyr. I start to fight with my mother again. We aren’t on speaking terms until my aunt hurries into my kitchen to tell us that something is happening to my grandpa. My parents tell us goodbye and my brother and I sit on the couch, talking each other down from panic. When my dad calls me, I scream. I remember my brother holding me tighter than I knew he could. My uncle takes us until my parents come back home. A heavy blanket of grief covers my aunt’s house and everyone cries when I hug my grandma. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I go to college next month with the animal in my chest wailing at the hole in my heart.

I am 13 years old and I can’t swallow. I haven’t been able to for weeks. Convinced I have something in my throat, I tell my mother. She suggests I stop eating FiberOne bars and see if that makes a difference. It doesn’t, and I start to hate her for not understanding how dire this is. I know there is something trying to come out of me; I can feel tension beneath my skin all day and weight behind my eyes when I try to go to bed and pain growing in my chest like the overgrown buttercup flowers in my backyard. Sometimes I can’t get a full breath of air into my lungs and I am sure that I’m dying. I don’t, but I start to wish that I did. I try to get the buzzing out from under my skin by hitting it out, scratching it out, cutting it out. Nothing works. I tell my girlfriend and she tells me to stop because it makes her sad. I ask if we can hang out soon and she tells me

I am 18 and I am sad. My head is fuzzy and I’m not sure if I’m really here. It’s the middle of winter and I am so cold all the time. My grandpa’s birthday passes and I cry quietly enough that my roommate doesn’t wake up. I feel myself


American Literary Magazine

getting sloppy when the animal paces around. In April, I nosedive and the animal screams in the spiritual center on campus. I pace around the quad at 2 am so its claws don’t come out. I grieve people I barely knew and I bury the ones I did all over again. I fail two classes and come home a disappointment. I am almost 19 and I’m not sure what to do with myself. There’s more that I haven’t said and the animal in my chest is trying to crawl up my throat. I don’t plan on letting her. I have more good days than bad, and the bad days aren’t as devastating. I have better friends and varied interests, like late night talk shows and Marvel movies. I’m drawn to characters like Tony Stark or people like Stephen Colbert because they have animals in their chests too, and they harmonize with mine. Loki and Thor remind me of me and my brother, and I realize that I miss him more this year than I did the last. He’s in middle school now and I wish I was there to guide him through it, but I have faith that he’ll be okay. As will I.


Fall 2018

Jasper Schlick



American Literary Magazine

Noah Stevens

midnight i’m five years old. crying in bed, my legs ache because my body has decided it is too tiny to carry what i must become. your hands on my shins, on my foot, holding me down. it’s okay, i’m here. i can see now, you won’t always be here; i cherish what we have left when i come back to this moment: sweetness and love and kindness you are here, but i will not let you hold me down.


Fall 2018

Shannon Pallatta

Self Portrait of Others Medium: charcoal on paper (four 18 x 24 sheets) Artist’s Statement: Interested in traces of human connection, I set out to test the idea that our personalities are fluid and largely obtained from the people around us; we unknowingly pick up mannerisms, traits, etc. from those we spend time with to the point that it can become unclear which traits originated where. Believing that portraiture may be able to serve as a form of self-portraiture, I began by drawing myself in charcoal. I then transferred this drawing onto four sheets of paper that would each be used for a portrait of a person integral to my daily life at

the moment. Using these portraits as references, I looked for ways to connect each subject with the rest by adding line drawings on top, removing the sense of volume and solidity from the original portraits. I did this multiple times, returning the line drawing to its original portrait, another step removed from the original. Then, using my obscured self portrait as a reference, I placed the drawings in the composition of a single portrait and used line to transfer my self portrait on the others. 73

American Literary Magazine

Shelby Rose

Bethesda Terrace Alice has never cared much for Central Park. New York was at its best when she had to weave through throngs of tourists, when she could feel the city’s stuttering heartbeat asking her “what’s next?” Sure concrete beneath her feet, a reminder that she was here and real. There was too much uncertainty in nature. Perhaps that was why April loved it.

of someone like April? “I’m like Pluto”, she thought, “just an observer of her sun.” Did Pluto orbit the sun? Or was it another planet? She felt like her brain had vacated itself of all its former knowledge to make place for the vastness that was April. Her eyes relaxed. She began to dream of April in April, April in May, April everywhere and all the time. She caught snatches of a life where they were still dancing, but barefoot in a kitchen they shared while rings glinted off their spotted and lined hands.

She could spend an entire day within its boundaries, clambering up rocks for no reason other than to get a clearer view of the trees behind her. If pressed on her affection for the park she would shrug and say, “Where else could a girl named April find her flowers in NYC?” Alice could admit that April was odd, though it was a fact that one didn’t need to articulate to understand. This was why when Alice had woken to April rapping on her door, repeating her request to visit Central Park in a sing-song voice, she unthinkingly acquiesced.

April’s weight in her arms dislodged her thoughts, her feet catching on the crack between the stones. The two stumbled, righted themselves, then laughed. The spell had been broken and they were once again unsure and young and maybe in love. Alice had lost time of how long she had been under. As they resumed walking, she studied their joined hands with the sense that something was missing.

They talked of nothing as they passed benches and hapless couples piloting their vessels across the water. The scruff of shoes on dirt had morphed somewhere along the way into the click of heels in stone when April next spoke. “Care to dance?”, she asked in the affected tone of an English gentleman, while gesturing to an accordion player nestled under the shadow of the bridge they had approached. The glint in her eyes set every synapse in Alice’s brain off in one spectacular lights show. The stone around them smelt of mildew and the dim light muddied the gold of April’s curls, but in that moment she could have been in a ballroom. Alice searched for he voice, finding it locked deep within her throat underneath a weight of some unrecognizable emotion that she skittered past. She nodded. April grasped her hands, swinging her into a passable imitation of a waltz. Alice frantically reviewed her memories of cotillion as a girl, when her parents still thought that plastic cups of store bought lemonade and dances with sweaty boys would instill her with some mysterious thing called “class”. She led April around and around, losing herself into their sway as she adapted. How did she find herself in the orbit


Fall 2018

Gabrielle Michel

giddy up, horsey! 75

American Literary Magazine

Lauren Mitchell



Fall 2018

Arnaud MI Leclere

Springtime Explosion Medium: canvas, spray paint, acrylic, charcoal


American Literary Magazine

Rebecca Sakaguchi

Googly Eyes Medium: darkroom photography


Fall 2018


American Literary Magazine

Matt Francisco

Brooklyn - 001


Fall 2018

Wesley Dankwa

Vacations 81

American Literary Magazine

Pedraam Faridjoo

Maple Avenue You sit in the cluttered room with a cowboy hat on your head and no time to question how you’ve ended up here. It isn’t the first time you’ve been in this situation, and it won’t be the last. But it’s certainly the most important.

made, but to the world that willed it into being. You don’t know when that day will come. You know that you’re borrowed, too. You don’t know when that day will come either. It might be in two years, where you might also find yourself ripped across asphalt by a speeding car, returned to the ground that gave you the same limbs that are now strewn about the road.

The walls breathe around you, their inhale and exhale matching your speeding hardly-teenage heart. Your stomach swirls nervously with the free coffee you’d been gifted from a friendly gelatician, yet it rumbles as a reminder that you still haven’t eaten.

Pulled back into the present, you are in the car not under it. A song is playing. You don’t know the name, but it sounds familiar. It’s not bad at all. The beat makes you feel like you’re in a spaceship headed for the moon. Maybe you’ll even ask what it’s called. Maybe you won’t. It doesn’t matter yet. The song isn’t over and you’ve still got some time to decide.

A brief visit from a man who would transform into a bloody smear across the pavement in a few years breaks your mental fast, and your mind grounds itself back in reality the best it can. After the man’s disappearance down the hallway, you turn to your similarly-clothed friend as you conclude the best course of action would be to leave. Strutting down the street, the pebbles float around your dragging feet that curl around the corner, down another street, across the street, through the alley, and into the safety of a pizza place that like the man from before, no longer exists. You sit in the parlor, anticipating the pepperoni pizza whose grease oozes out every pore and try to stave off the cold pouring in from outside. You take off your jackets and feast while the chairs are flipped over and onto the table to signify that the establishment is closing and you need to leave. Before you throw away your plates the silence is broken by a faceless worker who whispers, “is this your jacket?” Sitting in the car listening to a story you know was funny but can’t remember, you unzip your jacket and wonder if it’s really yours, or if it’s just borrowed. To borrow something is to use it with the intent to return, and you know you’ll return the jacket at some point. Not to the store where it was bought or the factory where it was


Fall 2018

Kathryne McCann

Taxi Cab


American Literary Magazine

best in show photo

Sophia Corbisiero

A Moment In Time


Fall 2018

Jen Stoughton

Ave hail mary, full of grace, did you love the God you grew in your stomach? the Lord within thee, did He feel like guilt? did He eat at your insides like poison? did He drill a hole in your heart and drink the leaking blood like holy wine? did He feel like this? blessed art thou among women, mother, you always in the company of men. do you love us as we eat the fruit of thy womb raw, as we carve your divinity into bread and eat in the name of a man? holy mary, sweet mother of God, do you sit at the table with the Lord? it is your blood that runs in His holy veins; is it valued less in the breast that fed Him? do you pray for us sinners now, or at the hour of our death? to whom do you pray?


American Literary Magazine

Jacob Weil

Untitled I had walked a long way for my first haj, as my parents could not afford an animal. The sands were hot against my sneakers, which had begun to melt towards the bottom, leaving small silver flakes on top of the dunes. I had not eaten in many days, and the two gallons of water mother gave me for the long trip ahead were mostly empty at that point. When I thought all hope was lost, I saw Mecca shaking beautifully in the distance.

with a massive hangover and a quickly growing lump on my ass. End There’s a spider in my girlfriend’s apartment that she refuses to acknowledge. Webs coat everything now, and I often wake up to the sound of scuttling. The spider landed on her head once, and she wouldn’t let me remove it. She said, “I’m not going to humor you any more. There is no spider!” I watched it plant eggs into her skull with quiet terror, but she didn’t even blink. One day I’m going to wake up stuck on the wall. End

“God is great!” I shouted, and sat down to admire the fruits of my labor. I watched it for a long while and lay in the sand, appreciating its heat for the first time, and recognizing it as an aspect of God’s grace. When I stood up to resume my journey I noticed that Mecca had begun to waver. Before long Mecca had disappeared all together. I stood in the sand for a moment, and felt the cruel sand burning my toes. I then walked back to the spot where Mecca was the most clear, rolled out my mat, and began to pray. End

Mom made us stir fry that night. We ate in silence which was punctuated by the occasional clinking of utensils on china. Nobody cried, so I decided it would be wrong for me to. When we were done with our food, Mom collected the dishes and threw them out of the window. Later that night I found her outside, searching for the broken pieces. End

My father has a large mahogany desk that he performs his experiments on. No matter how much the subject bleeds, the desk stays in pristine condition. On the nights when my father has no time to find a transient he knocks three times on my door. I walk behind him silently through the corridors of my house, and drink from the bottle he hands me. I lie down on his beautiful desk, close my eyes, and wait for his sewing machine to start up. I used to look for my claw marks and stains on his desk the day after, but they are never anywhere to be seen. However, if I press my nose on its counter I can still smell my sweat, as well as something else. Those scents haunt my dreams. End There’s a lovely pub a couple blocks down from where I live. I’ve never seen anybody there except for its owners, an old couple that seem to be completely inseparable. When asked why more people don’t frequent the establishment, I was shown a painting of rats tied together by the tail. Sensing my confusion, the woman brought me to a pair of large golden scissors sealed under protective glass. She told me that If I was good, I’d never have any need for them, not like her little boys. I awoke the next morning


Fall 2018

Loretta Dzanya

Childhood Ruined Medium: doll, pen, wax, wire, nails and string


American Literary Magazine

Kathryne McCann

Cotton Candy Skies


Fall 2018

Gabrielle Bremer

chapel of souls


American Literary Magazine

Emily Pullen

Often it is that i think of your shells/when i am alone: Because of you, I can now picture the empty bombs that your gentle hands found, buried in the chaos. I now know the checkpoints you carried them through. I can see the hollows of explosion that you held so tenderly against your chest, protecting them from the lurking harm which they have already committed. Laying them down in your bed, you softly lulled them to a wrinkled sleep against those familiar white sheets, I know you brought those shells to your home. You bathed them of their sentiment and preserved the stories within their skin. Forever flooding light into the dents, you allowed them to feel angelic. You took their photos and caressed the crevices of their craters, perhaps pressing them to your lips just the once. just the once. You showed them a better life than they were ever promised. You gave them a broken destiny more absolute than their war. But when the time came to pack up, you wouldn’t bring them with you. And so you left, camera in hand, promising that one day you could come back.


Fall 2018

Dan McCahon

self-portrait Medium: digital painting using Photoshop


American Literary Magazine

Rose Keahi Scott

i am not a snail

callused feet demolish the damp sod of our mother, a fragile mathematical shell spiraling into itself. crack! “please refrain from treading further,� a tiny voice whispers a hair of dissonance has appeared on this earthly being, but the unfettered roadsman braves onward, colonizing all in his path. crunch! the diminutive creature groans, her saltine armor giving way beneath evangelization of the toes.


Fall 2018

Sydney Hatmaker



American Literary Magazine

Sheer Figman

junie hi, here’s a song i wrote. it’s called “junie.” [verse 1] junie doesn’t like the summer it makes her feel vulnerable i met junie in the winter i was uncomfortable [verse 2] junie left him a voicemail said she’s gonna kill me too junie took a little road trip junie doesn’t know i know her real name [chorus] i really hope she doesn’t kill me i really hope she doesn’t do that soon [outro] everybody asks the question “how’d you meet and how’d it end?” junie doesn’t like the answer she says it’s a story that’s yet to begin


Fall 2018

Olivia Schwalm

car in grass


American Literary Magazine

Eleanor Mendelson



Fall 2018

Samantha Monteith


There’s $90 in my pocket and that’s my world. I’m spinning on axes that are running ahead too fast For uncertain feet to catch up with histories That pass and laugh in shades of red, white, and blue As I and my gremlin gang Of low-class, plastic wanna-be’s and pirates Pimp out and form our own parade Of black-stained, knotted knuckles and wilted violets That we throw and toss to the air in hopes That hope itself might arrest us for disturbing These orderly, manicured city streets Where there are no lost, only the found And where we are found as outsiders on the inside, Wondering how we got to be here to begin with, What code we cracked, how longer we’ll be held back, By the chains locked in place by privilege and place. There’s $90 in my pocket and that’s my world.


American Literary Magazine

Madeline Rizzo

Colorful Sky


Fall 2018

Devon Wiensch

main st.


American Literary Magazine

Cam Diagonale

heat lightning After the storm, my sister and I sit seeking cover under the gazebo in my parents’ backyard, the wet patio pavers slick with runoff from the busted gutter and warm yellow light flooding out from the kitchen window. A darkened summer sky rolls, bloated with rain, the moon fat and round and blinking out from swollen, navy clouds. Later, I take the dog up the street past the house on the corner with the red dining room, a blush of color in the evening’s aftermath. There is a family at the table, cheeks blooming with belly laughter over plates of pad thai, a silent cinema of peak pastoral framed by the hydrangea bushes quietly weeping rainwater onto the garden gnome who stands steadfast in the muted outdoor din, considering me, silent bystander, eyes fixed and unseeing.


Fall 2018

Eleanor Mendelson

sunrise in the bay


American Literary Magazine

best in show prose

Jen Stoughton

A Tragedy, Retold both of us birdies.” His lips pursed and he whistled out a tune, bright and sharp, but the darkness around seemed to take some shine out even as the sound passed his lips. The thing about Jay was his talk wasn’t just talk, and he didn’t just have a blues singer’s voice— he knew how to use it, too. Even his little flicker of song warmed all the workers who could hear from the soul up, even Blue’s. You could see her icy eyes thaw.

“Phew, it’s cold enough to burn right up in here today!” “It’s cold here every day, Jay.” The old man guffawed, swinging his pickaxe with an ease like he’d done it for a hundred years. “Sure, but ‘swear it’s extra cold today.” “Ain’t no colder than yesterday, or last week, or last year,” the woman said, and stabbed her pile of coal like her shovel was a sword. “Words don’t warm the air up like you think they do.”

Jay kept whistling as he swung his pickaxe again, letting it set a tempo. Stick started humming along— it must be a song they all knew before they came here, a song they brought to the coal mines in their blood— and Blue could be heard harmonizing, music leaving her lips against her will.

“Aw, Blue, don’t talk sour.” Jay had that voice blues singers had, like he was breathing music with every word. Like his voice was made for listening. “You know I like listenin’ to the sound of my own voice.”

Right when the song was coming to a close, the sweetest sound came from Lark’s corner of the mine. She was singing along, and what a songbird voice she had. Fine like gold thread. The other miners dropped the song like so many hot pan handles, silence an echoing crash around her voice. She looked up in surprise.

“And it’s a good voice, too!” called Stick. Jay put a hand to his heart. “Aw, well, thank you much, Mr. Stick.” He was far enough away that the shadows obscured Stick’s exact location, but Jay tipped his hat towards the direction his voice came from.

“What, y’all never hear a song before?” If Jay breathed music, little Lark’s voice was the sound of the Earth blooming in springtime. Honey bees drifting lazily from tree to tree in August afternoon air. The sound of two lovers breaking away from a kiss. Every miner fell a little in love with her as soon as the first syllable fell from her lips.

Blue attacked her coal pile again, digging for blood or justice or just a little bit of warmth. “Some of us just here to make a living. Don’t need to hear your lip-flapping and feather-preening while we do.”

“I ain’t never heard music before I heard you sing,” Jay said, quiet like he was talking in a church, like he should be praying instead. “Little Lark, you wasted here in the mines.”

“Lip-flapping and feather-preening? Me?” Jay looked affronted. “Now, Ms. Blue, I know we’re all tired but there’s no need to go on attacking a fellow citizen with them harsh words.” A slight thing caught his eye. “‘Sides, little Lark loves my songbird voice, don’t she?”

Lark’s eyes went dark. “Ain’t we all?” she snarled, but even poisoned with hate her voice flowed lovely. “No use regretting it when there ain’t nothin’ to do ‘bout it.” And she went right back to her shoveling like she hadn’t cracked the world open before the other miners.

“Aw, leave her be,” Blue protested, but Lark didn’t stop her mechanical motions at Jay’s tease. Shovel in dirt, foot to shovel, shovel over shoulder, repeat. Not even a second spared to wipe dust or sweat from dripping in her eyes.

She was so young to be so resigned, they thought. So lovely even beneath the shadows and grime and weight of hard work. Lark was the latest addition to their corner of the mine, but even her first day she’d shown up

“Still no voice, little Lark?” Jay cajoled. “Don’t you worry none, ma’am, I can sing a pretty tune enough for the


Fall 2018

with an emptiness in her eyes no one could explain.

“My mama wasn’t around and my daddy was there even less. By the time I was nine I was working, shining shoes or sweeping floors just to put a piece of bread in my mouth three times a day. Summers were hot and winters were cold, but I always hated winters more than anything else in the world. Winters are when people stop feeling generous, when all they wanna do is shut their doors against the wind and keep their families out of the chill. I never had a family, so all I knew was the cold.

No one talked for the rest of shift, but if Lark noticed she gave no sign of it. Her sightless eyes watched her shovel dig and dig an endless hole until the bell sounded and they all went in for dinner. Like every night, not a single miner could say what they had for dinner, or even whether it was hot or cold. None felt satisfied, but none felt one step from keeling over, so they took it and went about their after-work ritual of spending their daily pay on moonshine, splitting the bottle between themselves and the sputtering campfire.

I didn’t mean to fall in love with him. Hell, I didn’t even think I could fall in love. But he had a smile like honey and a voice like a sunset and I couldn’t stop it if I wanted to. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to. So I let myself fall.

Like every night, Lark sat just that much away from the rest of the group, no bottle in sight. No one knew what she did with her pay-- it was only accepted at the mine’s general store, and they’d never seen her step foot in the rotting building. But she sat just within reach of the fire’s warmth and looked into the flames like they told her secrets.

He’s one of the good ones, you know? The down-to-themarrow, toe to tip good people that you don’t think exist outside fairy tales. He glowed with it; he was dipped in gold so his outside matched his inside. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. He’d write me songs, bright and warm, and I’d never felt warm in my life. How could I not love him?

Like every night, Jay played host, storying and singing and joking into the dark. He and Stick played duet, talking about good old days and people they knew, bone and brawn throwing each other into relief. Blue threw a word in every once in a while to stir the pot or to hear a woman’s voice among the baritone.

He was poor but he had a way of talking rich. He thought, given the chance, all men would share everything with each other. That we’d live as brothers and sisters, lovers, family. He promised I’d never want for anything with him, because the world would see how in love we are and provide for us. I know it’s stupid. I knew he was wrong about the world. But he made me want to believe that the world could be like that. They talk about love blinding, right?

Unlike every other night, Jay looked over to Lark and asked, “And you, little Lark? You got a story?” Lark kept her empty eyes on the fire, but unlike every night, she opened her mouth. “We all got a story, don’t we? No one ends up here without a journey down.” She sounded like a Greek chorus, honey songbird voice weighed down with tragedy. “I ain’t so special as to have one that ain’t been told a hundred times over in every which way.”

But then winter came, and like every year, generosity ran thin. Neither of us had jobs-- he was always workin’ on this song, his epic, that would change the world. No one had a free hand to extend to me. We were low on food and even lower on money. I thought I could be a new person with him, but I’m a coward to the bone. First sign of trouble, I went right back to being a rat, stealin’ anything I thought I could get away with.

“But you ever tell your story, little Lark?” old Stick asked. “There’s power in that, y’know. Puttin’ your own words to your own past. Puts somethin’ right in the universe.” Jay and Blue nodded their agreement, gazes fixed on Lark.

Of course he found out. Got mad, because who wants to find out they married a thief? I knew I was livin’ on borrowed time with him, knew a dream like that couldn’t ever last, but I thought I’d get at least a year to pretend, y’know?

Lark looked up at him, quiet for a moment. “Will it change the ending?” she asked, except it sounded like a plea. Stick’s skinny face cracked in two a little but his voice was steady as he said, “No, birdie. But it might change your understanding.”

So I ran. Met the Boss by a railroad track. He offered me a ticket, promised work, promised pay, promised three meals a day. How could I say no? He’s probably better off without me anyway. He was sunshine and I’ve always been dirt. But he gave me a summertime and for that I’ll love him forever.”

“I understand my story too well,” said Lark, but she returned her gaze to the fire with a careful breath. “But all right, y’all wanna know? Here it is.


American Literary Magazine

When she was done her words seemed to hang in the air with the coal dust, dark and choking. The miners all looked into the fire, and it was like they were looking at each other. Lark was right: they’d all heard that story, or at least a version of it. Some of them even lived parts of it. But to hear such a young voice tell it-- it felt wrong. Nothing could help it, so they said nothing.

“Think the Boss will let us keep him this time?” asked Snip, rotten teeth bared. “What a lovely specimen he is, so strong, so hearty—” “And a voice to woo the gods!” crowed Spinner, and the Misses dissolved into cackles again. Jay turned back to his work, ready to dismiss the crones as batty, but he caught sight of Lark’s face and froze. She looked ashen, eyes wide, mouth open but not looking like she was breathing. “Little Lark?” he called.

“Anyway, that’s me emptied. I’m goin’ in for the night,” said Lark, and she did just that. The body can get used to so much, Lark learned early on in the mines. Coal dust, hunger, the dark, cold. She coughed black and shivered until her muscles locked from fatigue but still her shovel dug into the earth in a rhythm of three. The body can adapt to so much.

“What do you mean, he’s been spotted?” she asked as the cackling subsided, but the Misses just looked at each other again and laughed ugly broken laughs. “Why, he’s arrived!” said Snip.

The mind can, too, but different. Bodies grow calluses, put on muscle. Get bigger to hold the weight of the new. The mind shifts around the ugly, rearranges itself until some thoughts just can’t fit in anymore. Memories fall out or get buried. Ivy tangling and pushing and enveloping.

“And right on schedule, too,” added Measure. “But why?” asked Lark. “Why?” shrieked back Spinner.

Lark had lied when she told the other miners her story last night or a year ago. She’d nearly emptied herself, but not entirely. Her mind had warped around one shining diamond of memory, protecting her from herself so deeply she barely realized she’d done it.

“For you, of course!” the Misses chorused, and with more echoing cackles and fluttering cloaks they departed like a flock of ravens in the night. Jay had an idea of the he the Misses talked about, but he kept his mouth shut. No one ever came for anyone ‘round here.

But since she had nothing to do with it, it was easy to ignore. So she did, and she worked. Until the Misses came around.

But Lark stood frozen, shivering a little. “He can’t--” she whispered. “there’s no way he would-- he couldn’t--” she cut herself off with a sob. She breathed in a rattling breath, straightened her spine, and stuck her shovel into the dirt with vigor.

No one knew why the boss let the three old hags have free reign over the mine but everyone knew better than to question anything. They liked to natter around, gossiping and breathing heavily down working folks’ necks.

No one sang in the mines that day. Not another word was shared.

Spinner’s voice came first, sounding like it came from a pack of cigarettes: “Oh my my my, the hero returns once more!”

Since time moves strange when you can’t see the sun, Jay wasn’t sure if it was the next day or the next week that a golden boy covered in dirt tripped into their corner of the mine. There was a guitar clutched in one of his hands, and even with a snapped string it had the shine of a fine and well-loved instrument. The boy had a wild animal look in his eye, like he wasn’t sure if he was predator or prey but his entire body was screaming at him to keep moving. Until he locked eyes with Lark.

“The knight in shining armor, he can’t stay away very long, can he?” crooned Measure. Snip cackled. “It’s not his fault his princess keeps tripping down here!” All three burst into cracked laughter, shushing each other as they caught sight of Lark and the miners. Measure reached out a wrinkled hand to Lark’s cheek. “Hear the news, pretty birdie? Your prince has been spotted!”

His face split open in a helpless grin. “I found you,” he said on a breath, and it sounded like a hymn.


Fall 2018

She stared. “You’re here. Why are you here?”

his arms tight, desperate. “I’m always gonna be this. I ain’t worth it.”

“I came for you.” He gripped the neck of his guitar nervously, fretting at the frets. “Didn’t I promise you forever?”

“You’re worth everything,” he whispered against her forehead. “We can try again. Will you walk with me?”

“You promised me a whole lot more than you could give. Maybe forever was somewhere in there.” But her eyes never left his face.

Lark smiled a wet smile but it shone like silver. “I will.” Then the earth around them trembled with a mighty wordless voice, and the boy slipped out of Lark’s grasp.

“That’s not fair, Eury-” “Don’t say my name! Not here.” She looked around for the first time, as if remembering where they were. “They call me Lark ‘round here, you better too.”

“Well, ain’t you right on time,” a voice deeper than Hell rumbled. Lark was standing in an office that felt more like a throne room, an obsidian desk separating her from the source of the voice. Everything was cast in shadow, but she could see a glint of cold golden eyes.

None of the other miners moved a muscle, made a sound. Something about the air between them made it clear that no one else was supposed to come between. It was like the coal dust melted away, and there was nothing but clean empty space between the two. The golden boy’s hand came up to touch Lark’s cheek like it was drawn by a magnet, like his skin moved to touch her skin without his permission. His fingers left streaks across her cheekbone.

“Who are you?” demanded another voice, and Lark turned to see her lover, her poet standing a few feet away. She tried to approach him, but she couldn’t un-stick her feet. The Boss’s laugh rolled like thunder in his chest. “Don’t this song get a little tiring to sing again and again, loverboy?” he asked.

“I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again,” he said quietly. “I knew you never would,” Lark confessed. Her eyes were bright.

Her poet just looked confused, but the Boss turned his gaze to Lark and even though it was colder than the coldest winter wind she could see molten fire. “Our little songbird knows what I’m sayin’, don’t you, little Lark?”

The boy stared heartbreak into her. “Why?” he asked. “Why did you run?” “ I—” her voice broke. “I needed the money. We were starving—”

Lark’s mind had warped around one shining diamond of memory, but the fire in his eyes burned away the ivy and left it standing.

“No, we weren’t! Sure, our supplies were getting low, but we were gonna make it through—”

This is what it was, glittering its betraying hope: Lark’s done this song and dance before.

“Sure, we might have survived, but you promised me a life!” Two lines of tears ran down her face. “You said I wouldn’t have to fight for myself anymore, and then you let the grain supply get low, always busy workin’ on your song, and--” Lark cut herself off. “And in the end I’m gonna do what I’ve always done: hold my own. By any means necessary.”

It’s an old song, one the earth’s been singing near as long as it’s been turning. She wondered if the other miners even knew that the song they sang the other day was hers. Her lungs gasped and her knees buckled with the realization.

Golden boy looked taken aback. “That’s not true,” he said. “I know you, I know you’re better than that. You were just scared. I’m sorry I made you scared, but,” and his eyes were bright, too. “You love me, Lark,” he brushed the tears away with his thumbs, cradling her face in his hands. “And I love you.”

“Eurydice!” he shouted. She thought the world was gonna go black again, but everything just got sharper.

“You should just leave,” Lark whispered, but she grasped

Hades hummed. “Patience, little songbird,” he said. “You

“Hades,” she said, looking into the eyes of a god. Her voice didn’t tremble though her soul shivered in her chest. “Are we ready to make our deal?”


American Literary Magazine

know well as I that the presentation is just as important as the challenge itself. You ready for the chorus?”

path was. It was still underground but she felt like she was in a desert, a dark horizon stretching to infinity in front of her. The world was so solitary without a figure in front of her to break that line.

He snapped his fingers and they’re in a speakeasy, or an amphitheater, or a courtroom, or an arena, but there are miners and railroad workers and construction people all around, and she stands with her lover in the middle of them all, awaiting judgement.

“Okay,” she said. “Okay. I know the way. You just follow the tracks to the end of the horizon.” Not even she was sure whether she was talking to herself or the shadow behind her. “I’ve done it from the back, I can do it from the front.”

“Eurydice, I don’t--” he started quietly, but the roar of the crowd drowned him out.

With no other choice, she put one foot in front of the other.

“Don’t worry!” she yelled. “We’ve done this before, I know exactly how this goes!”

The other times, she could hear the footfalls of the man in front of her, the way his clothes rubbed against him. The air moving in and out of his lungs. Sometimes he’d sing, whistle, strum his guitar, music a light leading the way. This time round, she can only hear herself and deafening silence.

And she did. Like every time before, she stood quiet, demure, as man and god argued over her soul. She listened as her lover played a song, lovelier than ever for his desperation. She watched the crowd swing like a pendulum, first backing the Boss, then the underdog, back and forth until Hades finally delivered his offer of release.

Suddenly her feet itched to just go, just run and run and don’t look back and don’t breathe and don’t stop until she tasted real air. The only thing that kept her trapped down there was the distance between her and the surface.

“With one special condition--” The crowd rioted, but she stood calm. She knew what was coming next.

She never felt more alone in her life. She couldn’t run, she knew that. She might move faster than he can, or maybe he’d trip and she wouldn’t know. She might lose him.

“She walks in front.” She froze. That’s not how the story goes. He’s supposed to go ahead, lead the way like he always does. He keeps her in line, keeps her tethered. If she goes first she might never stop walking.

What if he’s already fallen? Her heart hurt as it tried to beat its way out of her chest. I’m so alone, she thought. I could scream and cry and tear myself apart and no one would ever know.

“Oh yes, little Lark,” Hades cooed. “You get to save yourself this time around. If you make it out you’re free no matter what happens to loverboy. But if he doesn’t make it out, his soul is mine, forever. No more chances.” He grinned, and there was fire between his teeth. “It’s your freedom or his life.”

Is there even a point to this? There’s no way that she can do this. Hades designed it so that this failure is her fault, so that he could finally put an end to their song. A life is such a heavy burden, especially when it’s not your own. She can’t make it out. I’m so alone. Even if she did, how can she make sure he did, too? Alone. She can’t turn around and check. What if Hades just took him then and there, before she even took her first step? What if she lost him? I’m so alone! Why shouldn’t she just turn back around and go back to the mines? Alone alone alone. She’s never done anything for herself before, never made the first move. She always reacts, never acts. She’s supposed to follow, to harmonize, she can’t take the lead. If he couldn’t make it in the hundred times he’d tried, what made her think she could do any better? Why shouldn’t she turn around? At least then she might get one more look at her lover, the only good thing to ever happen to her. Why shouldn’t she look back?

“But I don’t know the way!” she protested. “I didn’t come in the way he did.” Hades didn’t even deign that with a glare. “You’ve walked that path just as much as the poet has. If you don’t know the way that’s your own folly.” And Hades snapped his fingers again and she was alone on a railroad track. She’d never taken the time, before, to see how barren this


Fall 2018

“Can we really change the ending?” she begged of the air in front of her. Her breath sounded harsh in the silence. Shadows echoed her erratic heartbeat back to her. She closed her eyes, remembering the way he held her, the way his voice rumbled in his chest against her cheek. She breathed in the memory of his scent. She felt his love. “Maybe not,” she murmured. “But maybe we can change how we understand the story. Maybe we can learn a different lesson.” She smiled, and no one was around to see how beautiful a sight it was. “Maybe it’s the one we were meant to learn all along.” I’m not alone. She stuck her hand out behind her. “Orpheus.”

This story’s been told a hundred different times in every which way. No one’s version is right, really, because a story is a life and who’s to say what lives have and haven’t been lived? Truth is in the eye of the beholder and the mouth of the storyteller. It’s a sad song; it’s a tragedy. Most versions end in heartbreak-- he looks back, she looks back, they falter, doubt comes in. One, both are damned. It’s a story about trying to outsmart the gods, about hubris. It’s about the fault of man. It’s about faith. It’s about the dangers of love, the way trust doesn’t stand as strong as we think it does. It’s truth. It’s propaganda. It’s a love song. It’s a warning. A fable. A myth. It’s a sad tale, and we sing it anyway. That is the version most people know because it keeps coal miners working and the living away from death’s door. Telling it in booming voices that don’t quite echo keeps people exactly where they’re supposed to be. But there’s whispers of another. If you listen closely, you can hear what it is: Some treacherous stories say they might have made it, hands clasped, together.

This is what it is, glittering with evil betraying beautiful hope: Who’s to say they didn’t make it, just once? And isn’t just once enough?


American Literary Magazine

Biographies Shelby Rose is a literature major, a rare breed at AU. She can often be found loitering in the campus Starbucks or, on occasion, the library.

Jen Stoughton is a freshman majoring in Film and Media Arts, lover of bad sci-fi shows, and proud mother of Balthazar the succulent. Sometimes she spells it “theatre” instead of “theater” (and not on accident, either), which is probably more indicative of her character than anything else she can write here.

Sydney Hatmaker is a highly caffeinated, down-to-mars girl. She’s undeclared but has lots of ideas for her future, most notably having a golden retriever named Cowboy and reading lots of books in other countries. A career will hopefully fit in there somewhere.

Rana Attia is an excellent napper. When she is not napping, she can be found chilling on her bed searching for the next great film, TV show, or book to devour.

Sarah Jarrett is a figurative artist from Connecticut.

Madeline Rizzo is a senior majoring in Asian studies whose happy she could study abroad in Seoul for four months to take the pictures seen in this issue of Amlit. She’s happy others enjoy her photography too :-)

Mackenizie Murray is in a fight with the world but she’s winning. Alice Bershtein likes turtles.

Loretta Dzanya is a junior from H Town. Bet you thought Houston? Think again bitches.... Harare, Zimbabwe. Damn bios that are funny but not aggressive or strange all at the same time are too hard to think of.

Gabrielle Bremer is an aspiring journalist and accomplished photographer who enjoys traveling to exotic places. Elly Mendelson loves underground hip hop, cold weather, and the Bay Area, yaddamean?

Rin Ryan likes black lipstick and black coffee, which both, coincidentally, have stained almost all of her favorite pieces of clothing. She likes poetry because its, like, deep and stuff.

Danya Abou Nassif a third year Psychology student whose strong and turbulent emotions, as well as her images and sensations, involuntarily ignite in her subconscious and are expressed through one of her most rhapsodic and thrilling pieces.

Andrew Yianne I’m an IR Major in SIS and If I’m not outside taking shots, I’m probably on Instagram or at a coffee shop somewhere.

Cam Diagonale would like to take you out to a nice steak dinner.

Sonimar Maldonado is a Puerto Rican artist, currently working towards her MFA at AU. She makes colorful paintings and sculptures.

Lauren Mitchell likes to keep her camera in the glovebox of her car.

Jacob Montes Error 404. This bio doesn’t exist.

Pedraam Faridjoo is neither here nor there.

Maggie Mahoney is out of bio ideas :/

Jordan Redd loves ice coffee much / more than she loves most people / and also, animals.

Arnaud MI Leclere’s work represents abstract mark making as a type of sign or alanguage. Within those signs there is a representation or illustration of my social pastand the impact it had on my life. The characters in my paintings are a plotted map, journey and evolution. I map my experiences, conflicts from the suburbs of my youth. The paintings occur on a blank canvas and evolve as an abstract map space. As I continue to work on my paintings, many types of structural plans and drawings are created. The canvas become a metaphoric view of my urban structural past.

Olivia Schwalm remains eternally optimistic. Samantha Monteith a wonderer and wanderer in search of rusty truth & new connections. Avid U2 fan. First year USFP graduate student. Syeda Siddiqi has long sharp nails. She also likes to fight. Emily Pullen is a TERRIBLE pen name!


Fall 2018

Grace Bruer is a sophomore SIS major with a soft spot for literature and poetry, which have been an integral part of her life for as long as she can remember. This is her first piece in AmLit and she’s very excited and grateful for the opportunity!

Jayda Hinds she has been writing poetry seriously for a year now, and she finds so much beauty in words. She hopes you enjoyed reading her piece as much as she enjoyed writing it. Sophia Salganicoff to me, art is meditation and chaos all rolled into one. In the studio, I can contemplate issues on a scale from personal to global. Maybe I come out with an answer when I finish a work, but usually I just have more questions. So I continue to create and deconstruct in search of these answers, all while facilitating creative spaces for others to flourish in as well.

Emaan Khan is miss oogie boogie. Piper Neulander is the girl still wearing her pajamas to her classes past lunch. Look out for her wearing her orange sweatpants, they match her hair! Madison Richards is a freshman from Philadelphia, PA who loves to travel.

Shannon Pallata is a senior studying graphic design and studio art who loves working in portraiture and using charcoal.

Rebecca Sakaguchi is a gill-bearing aquatic craniate animal that lacks limbs with digits. you could say she’s meat without feet.

Amanda Hodes used to be in an 80’s-themed girl band. Her poem “Dawning” was first published in Furrow Magazine.

Gabrielle Michel strongly believes she was a giraffe in a past life.

Jacob Weil every day, near enough, I sit down and write 300 words. These were some of the longer stories that I have written that I thought conveyed a similiar mood and stirred up similiar emotions. As I’ve just begun writing in earnest, I’m trying to only include information that I feel will convey relevant information or cause emotional impact, which should explain the pieces’ brevity.

Matt Francisco is a junior in SOC and CAS, majoring in both Film & Media Arts and Audio Production. In addition to pursuing more personal work, he shoots regularly for IMP Productions, Design Army and Airbnb. Demory Hobbs is a junior from Scottsdale, Arizona. Although she has been involved in AmLit since her freshman year, this is her first piece published in the magazine. In addition to her passion for literature, she is passionate about sunshine and grilled cheese.

Sydney Hamilton still believes that fax machines are the pinnacle of modern technology. Amanda Book is an astronaut.

Kathryne McCann yeah, that about sums it up.

Jasper Schlick a stressed freshman.

Rose Keahi Scott can’t come to the phone right now; she’s busy charging her crystals.

Sophia Corbisiero film and digital photographer from Los Angeles, California. My goal as an artist is to share a feeling, an emotion, with my audience. Whether it be the lighting, the choice in colors or the facial expressions, everything is up for it’s own interpretation, but should exude a feeling.

Mercy Griffith thinks everyone should own five plants and a copy of The House on Mango Street. Wesley Dankwa is just trying to catch a vibe. Sheer Figman wants to know who curates the pod. she recently discovered her love of mangos and the history of the cold war. oh! and there’s a concert in a few months and she wants to know if you would go with her.

Noah Stevens is a clown college reject.

Dan McCahon is a Senior pursuing Latin American Studies. He moonlights as a portrait artist occasionally. Devon Wiensch is drunk on dairy and high on life.


American Literary Magazine

Kyle G. Dargan

BLIND BEGGAR faculty contribution

Forgive me, faith, for never having any ~Ed Hirsch

Eros, forgive me my lumbar ache and the tin foil in my kiss. Dancing, forgive me my mass— this density that floor-fastens my feet. Forgive me my back rigid like the rifle in my step-father’s seventeen-year-old hands. Water, forgive the drought that has been my larynx. Forgive me, Gluttony, for my tautness. I refuse to expand for you. I resist globalization of my waistline. Forgive me, Pangea, for loving so much this country of mine. I know you are gorgeous, but I believe the nation’s love is deeper than its selfawareness. Daily, my country breaks my heart. Daily, it grows closer to whole. Forgive me, Love, for being, sometimes, little more than a brain affixed atop a crucifix of spine and clavicle—garnished with braided mercury for muscles, tarnished lips, and eyelids with MADE IN THE USA soldering their seal closed. And it is so much easier to beg this way when it is your face, Honesty, that I cannot see.


Fall 2018

Kyle Hackett

After Builder Series # 1 faculty contribution


American Literary Magazine

Masthead Editors in Chief: Sydney Hamilton Amanda Hodes

Art Editors: Camryn Diagonale Kiran Ahluwalia

Creative Directors: Izzy Capodanno Rebecca Sakaguchi

Art Assistants: Rachel Burger Piper Neulander Sydney Hatmaker

Design Assistants: Emma Busch Kaitlyn Caffrey Fabiola Vega Josee Molavi Skylar Smith

Photo Editors: Jordan Redd Gabriella Liles Photo Assistants: Sheer Figman Delilah Harvey Rana Attia

Blog Editors: Alice Bershtein Amanda Book

Copy Editors: Maggie Mahoney Emaan Khan

Blog Staff: Morgan Bluma Olivia Johnston Rebecca Crosby Diana Guzman Amelia Brady Niccolo Bechtler Wesley Dankwa Amanda Marchetta

Copy Assistants: Sarah Maraschky Demory Hobbs General Staff: Olivia Schwalm Stephanie Mirah Grace Hasson Josie Filaski Hannah Hayes Emma Lovato Jacob Weil Aiden Malanaphy Suzanne Pranger

Poetry Editors: Julia Buyak Tess Stewart Poetry Assistants: Vicky Brown William Haggerty India Awe Prose Editors: Mercy Griffith Brooke Olsen Prose Assistants: Riddhi Setty Maggie Schutte Jela Lewter


Fall 2018

a message from the creative directors we’d like to say thanks to our totally tubular design assistants for all their rad work—they brought our fresh 80s theme to life! This mag couldn’t exist without all your hard work.



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