n a c i r e m A Literar y
Test Strip By Kyoko Takenaka
I began the AmLit year with a question from T.S. Eliot, which I quickly followed with a Freudian joke. I didn’t plan it; the joke just sort of slipped out unbidden. Still, I think it illustrates perfectly the sense with which we of the AmLit staff regard our work. “Do I dare to eat a peach?” we asked each other again and again in the weeks to come. “Do I dare to insert an Oedipal pun?” In our own way, we carried out the AmLit legacy, leaving our peach-pulpy fingerprints all over it. The AmLit office is a space for clever, engaged discussion and for gasping, purple-faced laughter, and it really is best when those two occur simultaneously. What if, instead of participating in Serious Discourse on what the place of art is on this campus, we made it a SRS DIZCOARSE? AmLit is characterized, if by nothing else, by spillage. Our staff members subscribe to widely varied foreign policy beliefs, economic standpoints, culinary tastes, and (most pertinent to the magazine) aesthetic loyalties. One thing we share, however, is a jubilant faith in overflow as an end in and of itself. Every semester, on the last day of classes, our magazine spills out of the release party in Battelle and appears on any and all horizontal surfaces across campus. We produce a magazine and strange little PIE > CAKE pins and bright green “I AM LIT” t-shirts simply for the joy of throwing them into the world. In fact, we so deeply cannot escape spillage that even the AmLit office knows it. If we go too long without a burst of laughter, the chairs actually start throwing photo co-editors out of them, just to remind us of AmLit’s foremost goal: to jettison these beautiful things into the world and watch them spin. My bottomless thanks to the staff, because I can never tell them how beautiful they are, to Alicia, because she is there to help before we get overwhelmed, and to Rachel, because every semester she curls up with our submissions and a warm drink, examining each of them with care and an inimitable bubbling love. amlitlove, Anneke (Jamie) Mulder, Editor-in-Chief
25, 35, 47, 51, 66
Mulder , Anneke
34, 36, 39, 48-49
Al Kibsi, Ruqaiyah
6, 9, 11
16, 27, 43, 52, 53, 74
13, 34, 37
37, 43, 57
5, 15, 38
8, 17, 59
3, 46, 51
56, 58, 64
6, 9, 11
4, 26, 35, 50, 62-64
18, 19, 76
10, 12, 17, 23
15, 51, 66
Little , Josh
16, 19, 67
24, 30, 36, 42, 69, 71
27, 45, 68
18, 20, 24, 55
Untitled By Sam Goldstein
t s e u q e R l a m r o f n I An s g n i p l e H d n o c e S r o f By Jonathan Holin
Dearly Departed, I’m still searching for you, lost in the abysmal foxholes of yesteryear. I’m sick of your weekend, midnight, hollow-edged didactics. Your hidden trails of misplaced enumerations haunt me whenever I lay under the starry sky. I want to delve deep into your psyche’s unconscious aura, but the lost dogs of Saskatchewan bark at me forebodingly and nip at my calves. Are you satisfied with your stockings, stretched thin by your stubborn silence? All I’m trying to say is there’s another world out there – the one where you once lived, where the oceans still sparkle like the copper gaze of an angel – But it’s this truth I want us to realize. Your sailing ships have passed, and what lessons have you learned from beyond the bend? I dream of you every night and imagine you next to me when I walk by the light of old rusted streetlamps. It’s the primal part of me from the splendid shipwrecked moons of past trying to claim something that’s not my own. I know you’re there, so take down that vacancy sign posted on the clouds all those years ago, and deliver me under your guiding light. You. Cassiopeia. You. Nona, Nona, Nona. You. Grandma Gina’s foggy grave. And you, whose name I can’t pronounce. Why won’t you answer my whispered prayer?
Urban Wildlife By Rebecca Prowler
Ski-lifts in Summer by Jessica Taich
Untitled by Ruquaiyah Al Kibs
Where the air is sweet
By Amanda Soliman
Odds are after you’re gone, Sesame Street will still try to make death seem like a muppet wasteland brought to you by the letter Q. When we’re alive, we try to die in many ways: Smoke a cigarette, only socially at first. Then alone in your room after sex or a hard day at work. Perhaps you started dying when the sex started to resemble work. Pour a glass of something cold and pungent to muddle those thoughts till the bottle is empty. Let your brain ignore your liver as it pounds inside you, attempting to escape your body. Chances are you’ll be remembered fondly. Only when the freshness of your passing is replaced by the day-to-day, your lover will be driving and hear a song that reminds her of you. And you will live on as a brief memory, only to be killed once again when the station changes. Keep on singing so she’ll remember: Sunny day Sweepin’ the clouds away On my way to where the air is sweet
An Age-Old Dilemma
By Christina Farella
God-damned fool—he couldn’t even clean before he… ugh, look at this mess!” An acrid puff of air rose up from a pile of stale clothing, dirty dishes, crumpled pages (some looking like they had been urinated on) that Maeve Bennington tripped over trying to make her way from one end of the dirty apartment to the other. Books were lying open on every surface, front and back covers splayed, like the loins of courtesans. There were still unwashed dishes in the tin sink, bits of gristle and fat from chewed steaks floated in stagnant water in the plugged-up sink. The smell, like death, was implacable. Moving from the tiny kitchen to the desk, there was an old, heavy monitor, purchased second-hand, no doubt; in front of the screen laid defeated splinters of a smashed keyboard. The whole mess was splattered with coffee, signifying some kind of passionate explosion on the owner’s part. The large feather mattress on the floor still bore the imprint of where his dead body had finally rested. Maeve shivered. This was her husband’s apartment. Maeve had been married to her husband for seven years. After the seventh year of their marriage, they decided it wise to separate. Never having been officially divorced, they each simply took up individual apartments. Maeve began painting in her spare time, and later on, began to teach art at the local city college. Her husband had been a writer. He was the author of one novel; this novel had sold better in Europe than it had in America. This novel was not written with any specific kind of message; however, it had been lauded as an extremely artistic, avant-garde endeavor. Maeve stood in the middle of this room, surrounded by her husband’s abandoned possessions. On the day of her husband’s suicide, Maeve returned home from work to see a note taped to the door of her apartment. It read: “Farewell, my darling. By this time, I have departed my Earthly body and am beginning my newest phase of darkness. I need only one thing from you. I need you to dispose of my manuscript. Grind it up; burn it; tear it into strips; use it for papier-m‚chÈ; toilet paper; throw it off a bridge; just get rid of it!!! This is of the utmost importance. You will recognize it as soon as you see it. Sorry about the mess. —“X” Seeing this, Maeve opened her door, entered her apartment and collapsed on the floor. Despite the fact that they no longer lived together, they were still very much in love. Sometimes, people who love each other can only show that they hate. Maeve sobbed and sobbed. She walked through the rooms of her apartment. Slowly, she undressed herself and sat in the cold shower until the moon shined bright through her sliver of a bathroom window. The light reflected on the stream of water caught her eyes, and the freezing temperature made her feel like she was being pierced a million times through with slivers of jagged glass. When she was numb, she removed herself from the bathroom and fell into bed, soaking wet. She clutched the note in her hand; water from her goose-fleshed body soaked the ink of the words, causing rivulets of bedaubed black to appear on the page. She knew what the note said; she knew what was expected of her. She also acknowledged that this event, though jarring, was not entirely unforeseen. The notion of suicide had always been one that was casually discussed between the two of them. In her subconscious, Maeve knew that this end was imminent—And now, the task at hand towered over her. She considered the manuscript. It
was a collection of poems. She had read some of his verse when she had gone to his apartment to take their standard poodle, String-Theory, for a walk. Stacked on the desk, beside the printer, the pile of pages lay. Upon her initial perusal, she had been struck by the brilliance and clarity of the lines. It was unlike anything she had seen him compose before… The thoughts were compelling, the language, beautiful, organic, unassuming. Destroying something like this would be doing the art-world a serious disservice. “We need a spark!” she thought to herself, “we need those poems to be published!” She thought of the many writers who had committed suicide, thus catapulting themselves into the capricious bosom of posthumous fame. “The manuscript only needed to be edited a bit… touched-up here and there,” she thought. Indeed, she would edit it herself. Maeve stood on the edge of her bed, still naked, now bathed in the light of the new day; fresh sun flowed timidly, gently across her bedroom carpet, alighting on bottles of perfume, and myriad mirrors she had set up in various places; her room was a bevy of sun-lit crystal. She caught a glimpse of herself in one mirror, one that was placed squarely in front of her. She saw her own body, but the look in her eyes repulsed her. It was the look of greed, of self-serving altruism: a gross ideology, in her mind. She climbed down from the bed, petted String-Theory and began to dress. Walking the thirteen blocks from her apartment to his, Maeve was flooded with excitement at the thought of what she was about to do. “This is what needs to happen,” she thought, “there is no ‘art-world’ that he would have respected enough to have wanted me to pander to rapacious editors, magazines, groups… No, that is exactly what he hated. This is what must be.” That word, “must” propelled her down the dirty streets, past vendors and delicatessens. It echoed against the buildings, ringing out from the heels of her thick-heeled boots. Upon entering the apartment, however, Maeve’s senses were accosted by a onslaught of vexatious stimuli. She tried to enter, but a table’s worth of old books and underwear had fallen down before the door, making the act nearly impossible. “That God-damned fool—he couldn’t even clean before he… ugh, look at this mess!” She kicked through his belongings—the scent of him (and his uncleanliness) now causing her frustration to bloom. She stood in the middle of the apartment, an image of defeat. Purse dropped to the floor, shoulders slumped, hair tousled from the struggle of moving through the room… Scanning the perimeter, she looked for the pile of pages. She felt for them, for they did not know their fate… And there they were, half splattered with coffee, shards of shattered keyboard stabbing them. Maeve climbed, stumbled, spluttered across the room and grasped the sheaf of unknowing poesy. She read the manuscript all the way through; it was genius. She grabbed the box of doggy-biscuits for String-Theory on her way out. She rounded the corner of the tiled hallway, her footsteps ringing out again, against the cloudy, blue-grey walls, “must, must, must.” Maeve climbed the stairs up to the roof of the apartment building, the sunlight was coruscating—blinding. Pulling a lighter from her purse, Maeve lit a cigarette, and then one by one, lit the pages on fire. When they began to burn too warmly in her hand, she let them cascade off the roof of the building, down to the street below. The ashes of the pages glided, glimmering, through the afternoon air and Maeve imagined the soul of each poem now, being freed, blowing through her hair and then wafting up Mirrors at the Santa Fe Flea Market by Jessica Taich out of the atmosphere.
shh! iâ€™m happy By Amanda Soliman
i want to write poems like you do, about mothers and photographs, and snow-covered landscapes. but iâ€™m too busy, flying through space, star-pirate in my air balloon.
Winter I by Franziska Kabelitz 11
Window Seat By Jessica Taich
Fan By Jessica Taich 12
Fragile By Franziska Kabelitz
r&j They died, By the looks of it. Love, Two skeletons found, Star-crossed, â€œRomeo and Julietâ€? Young, Because their teeth were found intact. We have to find the Exact nature Of deep sentiment We must call it love. Love or something else that Might have left marks On the bones. The finds will go on display. Sudden and tragic, But the two were just one of many.
By Liz Calka
The Sky is Darkest By Ryan Murray
Untitled By Ruquaiyah Al Kibsi
Tourneau By Rebecca Prowler
my ghost i woke up without you for a day and then it was a summer, and then a year and then i realized that i had been waking up without you for a lifetime without even knowing it knowing you most certainly fewer than 180 days of my 6506 day life but you weren’t there when you weren’t there nothing’s missing little bits of you dissipated, caught on the Mexican wind i smelled you like the memory you left behind now you bounce around my nasal cavity up into my brain, sparking around at the most precise moments sliding down my spine like it’s a frozen fire pole and you’re beyond caring about friction
By Nora Tumas you know better than to try to stick your tongue to the cold blood i left you with hop into my wallet, to keep with me to forget if i was still that immature but i’ve learned now you pulled me up into your tree today i followed the curls of your hair and the swaying branches under what i would call your negligible weight but the tree is on my side i hold your jean step stirrup like the bottom of a helicopter ladder and you pull me to the top of the tree today i can see the stars
Emily Rose By Louise Brask
By Allyson Upton these blue eyes are mine without the tears of that last car ride in Maine before you chased your second wife to Colorado, leaving your three children with our mother this time for good
I hid my tears behind Nancy Drew pages pretended to read and you offered me light not wanting me to strain the beautiful blue eyes that reminded you so much of your own
youâ€™d managed to stuff all your belongings into the hollowed out box on wheels leaving one seat for the three kids to squeeze in somewhere between the comforters and frying pans
at your third wedding I laughed and in the recessional people said I resembled the groom curls and those blue eyes I politely smiled and drank tequila with my brother
s t e n e T e m o S of Shinto
By Christina Farella
Granada By Franziska Kabelitz
A spiral staircase; a veranda; A mahogany headboard; Thrown to the ceiling, Wafting forest still near; redolent. Front doors and windows: Opulent features rearranged A thousand times, Like the imagined mouth Of some subsequent lover. Clean shades breathe in remote airs With the lights off; Smoke from some nearby cigarette waltzes in, Keeping tempo with the breeze And the breathings Rising from the bed.
In the laundry room, thinking of my mother By Rachel Webb
The dark blue liquid slithers Into the sure plastic cup,
Mother Son By Kyoko Takenaka Best in Show, Photography
And I am reminded of perching on the cold tile counter in the bathroom, Pudgy heels knocking against the wooden cabinet doors That you painted with faint acrylic tulips Now I pour laundry detergent alone in a fluorescent room, In the same way your wrist flicked the grape cough syrup for me.
Theory of s s e n d e t h g i s Near
By Allyson Upton
Sometimes when I take off my glasses, I still feel them. I walk down the car-lined street hearing my sandals meet the sidewalk and feeling the occasional blade of grass tickle the side of my bare foot as the Magruder’s and Chevy Chase bank signs fade in my prescription blurriness, and I’m back in the 16th arrondissement. The iPod in my ears drowns out cat calls and the beggar’s slurred plea as he opens the next bottle of wine, pushing the cork in with a AA battery. Hausmannian faÁades and the waft of fresh baguettes and buttery croissants hide the top of le Tour Eiffel but its rotating light briefly outlines the intersection as I go to cross the street. I learned how to jaywalk in this city. Don’t look for the traffic signals, just focus on passing cars. I start to cross and a car honks, I jump back on the curb and realize the pixeled sign is a red palm. I’m on Connecticut Ave. I reach to find my sight.
Metro By Kyoko Takenaka
To the poem I lost three months ago By Rachel Webb
I wrote you waiting for the city bus to pull up to my bench, A humpback whale barnacled with neon ads Wheezing through the crowded current of Wisconsin Avenue. Scrawled on the back of a receipt, A cobalt tattoo of crossed out nouns, curlique verbs And lushly inked arrows pointing heavenwards To synonyms that would light up a line like a nickel sparkler Or pink-cheeked baby thoughts, barely formed Like the bumps on the winter gray branches of the aspens in my yard, Hinting at wax green summer leaves. I think the poem was about bicycles, or ruby cherries in wooden bowls, Or how the hazelnut truffles that produced the receipt in the first place Reminded me of you, you smuggling them into movie theaters And of popcorn and chocolate mixing in my mouth, of your dim plaid shoulder. but it has whisked away now, lost. A raw egg cracked into a bowl, the yolk edges slowly crinkling into the dough of everyday banana bread.
Kashmina By Cody Steele
23litz North Sea By Franziska Kabe
My Psychologist said Not to use people as Anchors. By Emma Wimmer And now I know After throwing you out into the sea, It was too deep and my sailboat sank With your weight.
These Shoes By Genna Belleza The color of these shoes has Faded from the beaches Of Tel-Aviv, from the sand grinding between My toes and the tide washing over My feet in a melody that sang The early morning song Of a nation
These shoes have become Flimsy after so many drunken Nights where I crushed cigarettes under My heel and tripped over Nothing Because I wasnâ€™t paying attention to Everything
The souls of these shoes are Worn down from the Surprise of a late night jog through That park where we sat quietly on the swings, After we grew Tired from dancing in the Mud
And I hardly notice now when the Rhinestones wriggle loose on the Thong of these shoes because there are hardly Any left, As I continue to absentmindedly leave Pieces of myself Scattered all around Those places where these shoes have been
The heels of these shoes have been Flattened from the hike through that Cemetery where the flowers were Brighter than my dress and I Hate that
walking down the hill to my empty apartmen t By Rachel Webb The rythm of my gait sending the broom of ponytail sweeping across a bare summer back, pestering a stubborn freckly, trying to whisk it into the shadow of my shoulderblade.
Caixaforum By Jessica Warren
Nymph By Jeff Aisen
Flying Chair By Jeff Aisen
a simple offer Jonathan Holin let’s build a house together out of cardboard bricks colored in blue crayons, and wear mystifying bubble outfits that we can pop off whenever we’re in the mood to play. and in the evening we’ll growl like wild animals on the jungle-gym and scratch and crawl until weariness aches our bones and we sleep in each other’s sand-crusted arms.
Ellie By Kathleen O’Connell 27
A writer is a lawn mower.
My metal blades are sharp. Each snip just another cut away from the soil’s scarred tissue. I like to cut close. I like to know that it was
By Thaïs Miller
my own doing that decapitated the grass strands by my sides, not someone else’s machine. You can see the scars, if you put your head near the ground. There are more seedlings there, as plentiful as the stars, all waiting to grow but fearing they’ll be cut down too soon. The new whiskers of grass try to hide the scars, but I can find them.
Encinitas By Louise Brask
t a F n o N e Th by Drew Rosensweig
the Challenger, now that set Cincinnati back. Particularly when it blew up, that seemed to affect him more than the drawn-out taxi onto the launch pad or the near seventy seconds of what appeared to be a faultless takeoff. No, he was fine with that part. However, the way it looked sort of like a marshmallow-composed cirrus in the shape of a bald eagle afterwards haunted him, whether seen through five year-old or thirty-two yearold eyes. And then there was nothing but halcyon sky. Cincinnati hadn’t been able to sleep at night, so at a time when college students were cramming facts about the Gilded Age and bawds were at their nightly grind, he was at a computer, watching the Challenger explode. It didn’t feel right to him that people’s last moments could be recorded and proliferated on the Internet, but it also didn’t feel right to him that he kept coming back to watch it. He’d had this certain feeling, something he couldn’t articulate to himself or anyone, and the only way to explain it was by watching this NASA lowlight. After he finished viewing, he’d delete the history in his Internet browser, hoping to discard any evidence of his nocturnal obsession, in case his girlfriend ConcepciÛn took a peek. Cincy was named Cincinnati because his parents had conceived him in the city’s Howard Johnson after a Hall & Oates concert. Although he had made myriad references to a future trek to the eponymous metropolis, he hadn’t left Southern California since he moved to the city of angels after university. However, he had heard good reviews of the city’s famous Skyline chili. Climbing into the queen, Cincy decided that he would stop looking at the Challenger explosion. It did him no good. ConcepciÛn rolled onto her belly, and opened her mouth to breathe in more. Although she had been loquacious in their first meeting, a contrast to the coyness Cincy had often admired in other dalliances, he was immediately attracted. He particularly enjoyed her plump breasts, especially when propped up by her interstate exit sign green chemise. She was pretty and thick, everything he could want in a girl— hell, she was even birthed Hispanic, though immediately put up for adoption— but as she took in oxygen and then banished it from her body, her breath smelled like a cheap vinaigrette. It made him want to have a salad, and no one wants to eat a salad in bed, Cincy thought. They had kissed on the first date. That’s something he could never forget, just like he would never forget her overwhelmingly Italian restaurant-like odor at the moment.
The morning after, Cincy made it to work not in record time. He was paid by the estate of Ted Turner to produce stage productions of TNT New Classics, a menagerie of 1980s and 1990s films that a group of programmers at the channel deemed fit to be timeless. A few years ago, both the television and film industry were suffering staggering fiscal losses, due to audience indifference. In an effort to curb the most unexpected of events, they brokered a deal to send new movies directly to TV, thus eliminating the rerunning of older films. Their selling point was that now each television was truly a person’s home box office. HBO promptly sued. Currently, Cincinnati’s small theater group, Mandatory Bagel, convened six times a week to put on an adaptation of It Could Happen to You, an oft-forgotten New Classic involving lottery tickets that focused on the cross point where fate, luck, and Nicholas Cage’s chest hair converged. The poster outside the Turner Supertheater claimed that it was an “Ibsen-inspired tragicomic jaunt.” He had adapted the film into three acts, and now was set to direct this theatrical run for two weeks before he was to adapt another classic. Overseeing dress rehearsal, Cincinnati was running through a climatic scene between the film/play’s two protagonists, but was not getting the performance he desired from his main actress and friend Marilyn. “Please, dig deep Marilyn. Have you ever been told to love something you couldn’t, but then found something that you could really, really trust and hold and yes, love? That’s what Yvonne is rendering in her soul, and that’s what I need from you.” Marilyn stared blankly at him, her face like a just-shaken Etch-a-Sketch. “No no, play it like Cuba in Jerry Maguire. You know, a layer of collected cool pasted over this great inferno of intensity,” one of the other actors piped up, stage left. “Ah. Now I see.” On his draft of the week’s script, Cincy had written “Pop Culture NO CULTURE” two different times, once at the top and another at the bottom of the page. * * * It had all stemmed from two oil wells, really. America had become pretty corpulent, and obesity was no longer the silent majority. Even if the rest of the world, in comparison, was in the shape of their lives, Americans seemed to wake up one morning and say, “well, I’m okay with this.” Hollywood, appealing to the masses, sent out a memo to all the major studios and let them know that all of their stars should up their poundage. Simultaneously, St. Sternberg’s Professor Emeritus Philip Dooginhauser’s new biography of William Howard Taft, “The Paunch of Hope,” hit stores in the summer of 2009 and swayed mass opinion. In his historical reappraisal of Taft’s time in office, Dooginhauser argued that through a combination of his Dollar Diplomacy, the passing of the 16th amendment, and embracing of baseball as national pastime, Taft had been our greatest president of the 20th century. No one in the academic world refuted the claim quickly enough, and once this and that book club championed it, the American public believed that maybe a few extra pounds led to elevated decision-making. This veil of authenticity made those who were already big proud to be big, and made those who weren’t hit the Oreos hard to fit in. Some social scientists also gave a trace amount of credit to country western artist Bobby “Buckin’ Bronco” Brunson and his 2010 chart-topper “I’m in Lubby With a Chubby,” but it wasn’t widely acknowledged as a progenitor of the “Fattist” movement. Like most in his homeland, Cincinnati was rotund for the past five years, and he never questioned his oceanic waist size. ConcepciÛn loved the rolls, grabbed at his breasts and never made him doubt if she found him attractive. They were a great-looking big couple. But for the past month while being continuously drawn to the Challenger at night, he had lost his appetite. Skin wasn’t as flaccid, belts weren’t enemies anymore. Cincy found himself conflicted enough about the sudden weight loss that he had tried to hide it from ConcepciÛn. So when going out, he had taken to wrapping packages of marshmallow around his belly, giving that extra oomph to his frame that the world expected. Lying on the apartment’s loveseat, Cincy was trying to work on final blocking arrangements for scenes 8, 19, and 32. Looking away from his illustration for a moment, he detected on their coffee table last month’s issue of Celebrity City, the cheapest of all gossip rags. Cincy noticed that the lower corner of the cover promised fair
and balanced reporting on a disgraced former movie star’s dramatic weight loss. Her name didn’t stir anything internally, but he grabbed the magazine and flipped to the desired page. The article detailed the actress’s descent from porky romantic lead to flagpole-thin Hollywood outcast. She couldn’t find a job because of her weight, and deflected any attempt by the media to discuss her publicly-maligned physique. Cincinnati saw himself in the non-fat actress. * * * Opening night was a success, people loved returning to It Could Happen to You and leaving the Supertheater thinking, “yeah, it could happen to me.” After the show, the cast and crew went to pop champagne bottles at the set designer’s condo. This left Cincy and ConcepciÛn sufficiently drunk. On the walk home, they both had trouble walking in straight lines, but Cincy felt it was more of a conscious decision on his part than on his girlfriend’s part. He had no clue why the cast and crew felt any level of accomplishment. He certainly didn’t. Why celebrate the entrance of low art into the realm of high art? Captain Ron, Pretty in Pink, Blade II: how could anyone think that these compared to the work of Strindberg, Pirandello, Orton— all playwrights whom he had heard were great, but couldn’t officially confirm. Cincy remembered that he used to tell people that he had read Middlemarch at the age of 15, but in reality, he had only seen an hour-long version on public television, starring a talking and costumed dog. ConcepciÛn had bought a sack of salt & vinegar chips, and was drunkenly munching. “Did you see Janice tonight, in her halter top? Did you see her? Her love handles were almost non-existent.” She ate some more. “I love the girl, though. But all I see is flaw after flaw,” gesturing with contorted, flailing arms that only seemed fit for on-stage at an a cappella concert. For years, ConcepciÛn would make comments along the tracks of this, and Cincy would snicker, admiring how snarky his girlfriend was. But this feeling had fully dissipated in his Challenger month, and he could barely respond to her inquisitive glower. “Yep, she should probably eat more.” ConcepciÛn offered him the half-empty bag, but he waved it off. “I’m stuffed.” Cincy had planned on lying in bed until he was assure that his girlfriend was in slumber, and then would make his way to their Dell. However, the red wine cajoled him into closing his eyes, and now it was four in the morning. He slithered from beneath the comforter, and gently ambled to the computer, Challenger in mind. He had made a promise to himself, to avoid this activity, but all he asked for at the moment was to have a point of reference for what his mind was trying to comprehend. He wanted it to percolate through every atom of his genetic makeup, engrained eternally so he’d never feel anything less genuine than he felt right now. He grasped the keyboard and made superb use of his touch-typing skills. Through his somnolent searching through history, though, he found multiple visits to Amputeautiful.com. He clicked twice. Images of one leg here, missing arm there, lonely quadriceps, concluding elbows. Naked amputees. Cincy was assured that he had never visited these sites; it could only be the other who used this machine. Had ConcepciÛn woken up after they had fallen asleep and come to the computer? She was a deep sleeper, except for when she was drunk, and she was definitely a bit blitzed. A banner across the lower third of the display quizzed him on what pop star started their career on the Mickey Mouse Club. Cincy knew the answer. He called in sick to work the next day, but really, he only told himself that he wouldn’t direct a New Classic again. However, he showed up for the night’s show, and cloaked with sunglasses and a turtleneck, sat stage left, talking under his breath the whole night, writing notes in his Veronica Mars-edition moleskin. As the actors took their bows, Cincy spit on the theater floor. Everyone began to leave, and Cincy tried to make a quick exit, but he saw a ponytailed lady who had the same frame as the non-fat actress. He aimed to get near her and confirm this suspicion, but his Dockers vibrated. It was ConcepciÛn, asking where he was. While thinking of a ripe excuse, the ponytail went out of sight. “I’ll call you on my way home.” “I won’t be at the phone.” Unable to bear talking to anyone after the performance, Cincy pulled over and parked miles away from his home. Getting out of his car, he hoped to find something walking around lower Marina Del Rey that shared
nothing in common with the 250 pounds of banality awaiting him back at his duplex. A Saturn drove by slowly, pumping the newest single by rapper/entrepreneur/self-proclaimed classical composer Young Bach (“Smoke trees everyday, call it my weed symphony/blaze tracks like Backdraft, my words make you have an epiphany.”) Cincinnati had seen him somewhere: on a movie screen, on a television screen, on a silk screen. Somewhere. A marquee above the pavement simply stated “Music Videos 1-4.” Not looking to return home or particularly anywhere, Cincinnati put Abraham Lincoln down on a piece of wood and was handed a stub. As he entered the theater, much smaller and less clean than the Supertheater, Cincy remembered that he had heard this part of town had a reputation for edgier, non-corporately funded performances. It was black box theater, and the audience included only three other bodies, all husky. He stood in the dimly-lit back, hoping that it would offer a penumbra of anonymity. An ascending and descending guitar figure resounded softly against the acoustically padded walls, and a large paper m‚chÈ taxi was wheeled out. A man in a bowler entered, singing “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. He wandered every corner of the stage, and although his huge body hardly resembled Michael Stipe’s Christ-ona-cross gauntness, there was something sincere in his near-yodeling. Other elephant-like specters joined him, and a choreography of lost souls congregated. Rhapsody in gloom. Cincy was part of a unified experience. Cincinnati was everybody. Did everybody really hurt like this? The song faded out, and the actors enthusiastically cleared props, striking the set for the next music video adaptation. Cincy was left with only his thoughts, but even those were interrupted by the opening kick and snare of Def Leppard. Spandex-clad fatties began to pirouette, punctuated by powdered sugar falling from above. * * * Cincinnati thought that at least one piece of fruit would have been thrown at him by now. But no honeydew had been vaulted, and ConcepciÛn sat at the kitchen table peeling avocados, peacefully telling him that she was sexually attracted to amputees. “Do they have to be fat, too?” Cincy inquired. “It’s not really a turn-on or turn-off. That’s not what I’m really focused on, conoces?” ConcepciÛn had a limited Spanish vocabulary. “So it’s okay if I told you that I’ve lost twenty-five pounds in the past month? You’d still find me attractive?” “That’s iffy. Probably not, judging from the past month.” “You’ve known that I’ve lost weight, ConcepciÛn?” Cincy realized that he had hoped his girlfriend would notice the change, even if he went took a variety of measures to prevent it. “Yeah. It’s pretty obvious. That’s why we haven’t fucked.” It was true— they hadn’t had sex since the Challenger had permeated into his thoughts. “I just don’t understand why you keep watching that space shuttle blow up every night.” For a moment, he wanted to knock the avocados out of her hands and cover her immense chassis, working every single angle so that she could recall him, and everything he was. But he quickly realized that he had too many appendages. Cincy thought the situation over, their disparate interests seizing him and the veil of commonality removed. “Maybe the best we can do is not think about how none of this makes sense, and then try to make sense of that.” “Wait.” ConcepciÛn started mashing the avocados in a bowl. “Stop making sense.” “Okay.” “No, Stop Making Sense. The Talking Heads. That’s the album you were thinking of yesterday at dinner.” Cincinnati realized that they had stopped making sense. * * * Cincinnati had likely been fired from his job. Can’t miss two straight evening shows. As he sat down in the second seat from the left in the last row of the Turner Supertheater, Cincy didn’t seem to mind this fact. Though being jobless worried some people, being emotionless worried Cincy far more, and that’s what his
previous job had made him. Perhaps he’d become involved with adapting old Law & Order episodes that now had no home on TV, maybe give them a more infantile scrubbing so that they could be performed as children’s theater. The lights went out, and the theater was bathed in a miasma of Tony Bennett. The curtains rolled back to show a diner, like any in Manhattan, and bustling customers filling the boards. Cincy knew the screenplay by heart, and it took a lot of willpower to not silently mouth each line of dialogue for the next 125 minutes. He scanned the crowd throughout the performance, trying to catch a glimpse of the ponytailed figure, but even when he got up and walked around during the second intermission, he recognized no one through his sunglasses. The only luck anyone would have that day would be Nicholas Cage’s character, Cincinnati reflected and laughed. Walking down the steps outside the Supertheater, he misstepped while adjusting his Wayfarers, and tripped down the last two stairs. When he looked up after dusting off his corduroys, he saw a bobbing ponytail appear from the theater’s vestibule and walk toward him. Directly in front of his tinted line of vision was exactly what he needed to gain any understanding of his place in the world, a tangible chimera. The non-fat actress. She had stopped on the street corner, waiting for a blinking figure to convince her she was safe. As he reared behind her, Cincy noticed her pale skin above her right hip, exposed because of a sizing issue in her tank top. He couldn’t imagine a newborn’s skin being more translucent, the blueness of her veins giving the impression of Arctic waters underneath her pores. Two feet away, Cincinnati aimed for her shoulder but overshot and tapped her collarbone. She covered her cell, and arched her neck back. “Yes?” Cincy felt like the camera was being craned in, as if everything had been filmed wide-angle before this moment, and now was ready for his close-up, the world having dropped out of focus. “Have you ever felt like Tom Hanks in the middle of Cast Away? You know, alone?
Birthplace of Democracy By Jessica Warren 33
Camera Chaos By Rashad Muhammad
i am desirous of inexplicable things. desirous isn’t a word, he laughed. a round blobby fruit lurched between us on the table. you only are what you are on a dare, he said. and—before i could speak— i am too.
Currie By Liz Calka
then we’re always less, i queried, fumbling with the question mark lodged in my back pocket. less pressure, he grinned. i don’t see why we write. i must have looked pale. just sing song and beds, he said, cupping both hands to his cheeks. i am desirous of epic invocation, i muttered, though you won’t find it in melodrama, he laughed. the blobby round lurch called us fruits from the table.
d e r a d e n o though no h c a e p e h to eat t
By Anneke Mulder
a t a E o t e r a D I Do Peach? By Jonathan Holin
Inspired by “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” i am desirous of inexplicable things. desirous isn’t a word, he laughed. a round blobby fruit lurched between us on the table. you only are what you are on a dare, he said. and—before i could speak— i am too. then we’re always less, i queried, fumbling with the question mark lodged in my back pocket. less pressure, he grinned. i don’t see why we write. i must have looked pale. just sing song and beds, he said, cupping both hands to his cheeks. i am desirous of epic invocation, i muttered, though you won’t find it in melodrama, he laughed. the blobby round lurch called us fruits from the table.
Landscape By Jeff Aisen
M-30 By Jess Warren
thrum By Anneke Mulder
katie’s nails pool at the ends of her fingertips, pale pink when i click the dome light against the rain’s wild thrum. “that’s a b-flat,” she whispers, so i turn up my ear. our mini-van’s metal roof hums the pitch on which our brahms motet begins. an earring dangles a pearl at the turn of my jaw. wet tires snort on either side. another toll springs from the fog. hanging on the wind, green lights in a metal box announce, “toll paid thanks” and flap past the windshield. the box’s corner nicks the mirror on my side. katie presses the black leather steering wheel at ten and two, but a violent rattatat startles her foot down hard. the wonderbread truck ahead uproots the highway median’s stakes, tosses them on wet grass. quick breaths syncopate above the motet outside; we’ve made it to the hartford exit. we wonder at cars flying the opposite direction through the window torn in the highway, lined with wilting bread.
By Miriam Calla
The tip of my tongue rests against the backs of my bottom teeth— they give. They wobble. They loosen. They rise up slowly, and I bite down hard, trying to keep them where they belong. They won’t stay. This will end sooner if I help them along. I push my tongue on the sharp edges that rise above my gums. They collect in my cheeks’ pouches and my lips’ folds— one by one: incisors, canines, molars. I lift them out carefully, one by one, rousting molars from their beds
with the raw tip of my tongue. They are smooth and hard, slightly worn on top but all sharp edges on the bottom, where they should be connected to the gums. I spit them into my hands, examine them one by one. Maybe I’ll string a necklace with the hard, white pieces more interesting than pearls. I move my tongue around, probing. I feel my gums. They are pulpy and bleeding, a mouthful of iron. I open my eyes. I taste morning breath, not metal. Another day. I brush them gently, carefully, just in case.
Skins By Liz Calka
for anna, because she wrote so many letters By Anneke Mulder
i watered your tomato vine all summer licked every other budding blob each day to see if it would make some swell more than others. i wanted you to come home to uneven cherry tomatoes, to scatter them across the bowl we painted, pour pre-washed spinach over them from a baggie. i’d say i watered your tomato vine all summer, you’d sniff loudly. let’s play, you’d challenge, smoke. broke, i’d crow, pulling leaves from the salad, wrapping them around my index finger. dip, your knife slipping through celery stalks. trip, my green hands flat on the countertop. bee—tree—force—horse—tomato— tongue—i’d stutter, the secret toppling from my teeth.
Top: PEI II By Danielle King Bottom: Lilly With Water Drops By Rebecca Prowler 40
Woods By Andrew Lobel
The woods are not silent; they are steeped in broken lore. The fractured deer bones sink into the moss and leaves, all sound is absorbed by the soft colander of sunlight spotting the ground. Children romp and play, kicking open rotting logs, ripping through the tangled fray of flora. The blithe chatter of insects continues all along the verdant fields. The day is cool, but the sunlight is pregnant with Summerâ€™s promise of a warmer tomorrow. Children tramp about and heave stones into the sanguine ponds of algae. Water-spiders navigate the inch-deep ocean between the slick, gray rocks and submerged fronds. A lone oriole swings low toward the ground, itâ€™s orange belly flits amongst the virile pricker-bushes. Two spiders fight on a leaf. The path is strewn with gravel until children reach the tree, then it becomes vine-thick and strewn with mindless forest clutter. Children navigate the strands of wet web, glistening like rain. Deeper, farther past the tree trunks burned by sunlight, past the boorish dogs and the solemn, fortressed houses, painted an uncompromising white that glistens through the brush, is a bridge, built by children with their fatherâ€˜s tools. It crosses the murmuring waters of the creek at the four-and-a-half-foot cliffs. Dry, withered roots emerge, and their arthritic fingers wrinkle around the sun. The children cross the bridge into an untold story.
Primary Conclusion By Rashad Muhammad
Outside the Bus
By Miriam Callahan
“The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.” –Italo Calvino Outside the bus that weaves between trucks hurtling down alleys and traffic arteries below billboards for cigarettes and Doritos, I see a street dog, a street cat, a street man sleeping with an empty bottle for a pillow a street worker laying down new sod “Istanbul will be a very beautiful city when we are done with it” I say, while imagining myself smoking cigarettes and eating Doritos, to the people I haven’t yet met outside the bus.
Ambience 2 By Louise Brask
dus By Jessica Warren Exo44
My l u o S The day’s jelly in my clenched hand, every hour wavering in baked apple air. My Amazon River—even scientists have difficulty calculating the width of the tide a vague homeostasis, a heartbeat. Five courses at a Moroccan restaurant on Christmas emptying my childhood home on moving day—bare floors, bare walls, like I never lived there. Invisible as the conglomeration of Four microscopic stem cells in an embryo— their glass texture reflecting off some external light force. Casket heavy, lifting me like a tic-tac in a giant’s palm. Soft touch with knives for claws under all that fur.
Top: Gentleman’s Argument By Laura Vogler Bottom: Lion By Laura Vogler 46
By Thaïs Miller
Untitled By Sam Goldstein
Cosmonaut By Ben Walker Natasha, Something has happened. The reentry thrusters misfired And I’m not coming back How I thought I would.
I was right above them, And I felt almost weightless, But I knew I was just falling And the Earth turned too fast To let me land.
All I am today Is a terrible secret; My breathing heavy and quiet, Forgotten by most, A myth for the others.
It’s been a few hours. The boys down below Have nothing more To say to me. They’re tired of me asking.
Outside my window Nothing makes a sound, But the things that I hear! The Marseilles on the wireless, The Internationale growing faint.
I’ve stayed this message Far too long, Hoping only now That you could hear it As I near Mercury.
I think I’m headed In the wrong direction. After the jolt and the turn, The Italian boot grew small Outside my window.
I want to turn the dial and hear you. Turn this damned can around And plummet into your field. But the only fuel out here is the Sun.
I’d tell you everything But our time is short And Russian doesn’t carry this far. I breathe in once more for you, And once to hold out for the improbable.
They lie, you know, When they tell us A wall is all we can see. There are bridges and roads And shipping lanes to the west.
So I’ve scoured the bridges And the roads, Trying to make out a tether Or an elevator Heading down.
o d i d l u o w t and wha ? y d o b e h t with By Jacob Locke
We fumble in the dark, playing a tug-of-war with each othersâ€™ hair until she stumbles back into a wall. I press up close against her as her hips begin to wave, slowly and almost invisibly, back and forth to some internal rhythm. Her teeth drag over my lips, and I open my eyes to see an impossible smile, sneaking in between the hungry, aimless kissing. She grips my hair even tighter, and one of her legs tries to wrap itself around me. My hands trace a line from the seams of her jeans, up her hips, grazing over her breasts to land on her neck. My fingers run over the smooth skin and encounter a necklace, plain and silver. I wonder, How much could I pawn that for?
48Sex at the Pump By Jeff Aisen
y r t e m m y S
By Anneke Mulder
s e i fl r e t t u Snot B
grow up to be a teacher kids will have to call you Mr. Snifter,” said Sophie. Her squat front teeth bounced off of one another with every consonant. Percy thought it sounded like someone playing a pinball game on her tongue, punctuating her words with clacks. “Like Mrs. Walker,” Percy supplied. He pushed his cookie flat against his mouth, trying to prise one of the chocolate chips out with his tongue. “Yeah,” Sophie agreed, “except ‘Mr. Snifter’ sounds a lot funnier than ‘Mrs Walker.’” Her cookie was already gone. A few crumbs quivered on her sweater as she breathed. “Why?” Sophie reached for the blue paper napkins at the center of the table and placed one in the younger boy’s lap. “Chocolate on your lip,” she informed him. “You really don’t look like a teacher.” Ignoring the napkin, Percy rotated the cookie, now starting to get soggy, and worried another chocolate chip. “Anyway, I don’t know why ‘Mr. Snifter’ sounds funny. It just does.” Sophie twisted around to look at the handpainted ceramic plates Percy’s parents kept displayed on the buffet. “Do you want to play Barbies?” Percy put his cookie down directly on the table. “You always want to play Barbies. We play every time you come over.” Sophie hummed self-consciously. Her ponytail looked tired, the scrunchie lolling to one side. “No one in my grade still likes Barbies.” “Mine either.” Sophie turned back and noticed without surprise that the napkin had slipped from Percy’s knee to the floor. She hunched to retrieve it. “We can play if you want.” The napkin fluttered to the table as Sophie dove for the foyer, where she’d deposited her bookbag upon arrival. “I brought all my Kens. We can play like they’re us when we’re grown-ups. Mine’s ‘Soph,’ and yours can be ‘Mr. Snifter.’” Finally taking an interest in the napkin, Percy wrapped his nose in it and blew. He slid down from the seat of his chair and paused to gingerly unfold the limp blue paper. The wet spot looked like a butterfly. Later that week, it was art mom day in Percy’s class. It was Nancy Kimble’s mother’s turn, and Percy remembered that last time Mrs. Kimble was art mom they had sculpted ducks from clay. His duck had no wings; he’d forgotten them. This time, Mrs. Kimble brought in several shrink-wrapped packages of construction paper and a shoebox of washable Crayola paints. Mrs. Walker, Percy’s teacher, called Percy and Jonas Smith “strong boys” and sent them downstairs to help carry it all up from Mrs. Kimble’s car, and on the walk back, Percy had time to decide on blue and teal for his project.
As it turned out, the project was to drizzle a design in paint on one half of a sheet of construction paper and fold it—hamburger style. The paints smashed together and made the paper feel cold. After everyone had tried it once, Mrs. Kimble held up her own. “What happened when we unfolded the pictures?” she queried. “What do you notice about yours?” Percy raised his hand and Mrs. Kimble pointed to him. Her fingernails were the same teal as the paint on Percy’s hands. They had rhinestones set into them like tiny eyes. “Percy?” Her eyebrows climbed encouragingly, the two neat circles of eyeliner on her face stretching wide. “It looks like a butterfly,” Percy offered. A grin exploded across Mrs. Kimble’s features. “That’s very good!” she cried. “Will you hold your picture up so everyone can see?” Percy nodded and raised the blue and teal swirl above his head. “There’s a big word for this,” Mrs. Kimble explained. “It’s called symmetry. What that means is, when we folded our papers, they made a picture that is the same on each side.” Percy looked up at his butterfly. It was the same on both sides, as though one wing was looking at itself in a mirror. A wave of new admiration for the art mom rolled through him. “So,” Mrs. Kimble went on, “what pictures can you make that are the same on one side as they are on the other? Hearts? Faces?” “Spiders,” said Jonas Smith. Mrs. Kimble cocked her head. “Yes, spiders, too—thank you, Jonas. All sorts of animals, right?” She winked at Percy and his butterfly. Percy made six more before recess. Sophie came over again the following Monday. “Your parents have to work late today,” she said when Percy opened the front door. “I know.” Percy followed her to the kitchen. “You can’t really be my babysitter,” he commented. “You’re only in fourth grade.” Sophie pulled two pieces of bread from the loaf on the counter. She shrugged. “But you don’t know how to make grilled cheese for yourself.” Conceding this, Percy climbed up a barstool and took a seat on the countertop. He let Sophie work in silence, slicing orange cheese and arranging it on the bread. A box of tissues at his elbow caught Percy’s attention. He sniffled, testing the weight in his nose. “Do you want orange juice or milk?” Sophie asked, her thin fingers groping in a cabinet above her head. “Milk please,” said Percy. Across the kitchen, Sophie lowered herself from tiptoe wielding two plastic cups. Percy sniffled again. “Blow your nose,” commanded Sophie. “My mom says keeping snot in there makes you sicker.” Percy eagerly pulled a tissue from the box and buried his face in it. The sound his nose made, however, was more airy than wet. Disappointedly, he pulled the tissue away and unfolded it. It didn’t look like anything; he hadn’t blown hard enough. A few disparate splotches had been reflected from one side to the other. A peal of laughter startled Percy from his intent study. “What are you doing?” Sophie exclaimed. Percy turned the tissue around. “We did it with on art mom day. Sometimes it looks like a butterfly.” Sophie held her stomach, still laughing. “Perce, don’t do that in class, okay?” The tissue looked ragged when Percy held it in the sunlight. He wadded it up with both hands. “It usually looks like a butterfly,” he defended. “I know.” Sophie set a plate down next to him and tossed his sandwich onto it. “Just don’t do it while you’re at school. Really, don’t.” “Do you talk about playing Barbies at school?” Sophie shook her head. “Nope.” She tore the corner from Percy’s untouched grilled cheese and popped it into her mouth.
Untitled By Jonathan Holin
a r e p O s e k i L d o G d a l G I’m o D I s A h c As Mu By Nora Tumas It’s raining, all is quiet now Droplet voices on my brow Slip and slide with tears I shedIt’s pouring music through my head. It’s raining opera on my roof And I cry and sigh Because this is proof that There’s a God Who likes Opera Almost as much as I do. Thin lines and streams of music notes Click their fingernails and toesFaster tempos make rain flow Much smoother than most opera shows. It’s raining opera on my roof And I sing and grin Because this is proof that There’s a God Who likes Opera Almost as much as I do.
Eyelashes By Jeff Aisen
Architectural Precipitation By Sam Goldstein
Cruelty By Louise Brask
Peprich By Louise Brask
55 PEI I By Danielle King
s h ig h t e r a b To my while biking
By Rachel Webb
Up hills knotted with sidewalk crevices which bite the tires the tendrils of weeds curl around the black plastic trying to glue me to the ground. I stare at my thighs, focus on The pinpricks of heat blooming onto the surface, The gray spandex blurring into a tideline as the motion of my legs Creates an ocean of two flesh colored waves. The average femur is 19 inches long. But mine stretch on for acres, and towards the top I see that now that I have grown, they have stretched into a perfect racetrack For the small plastic horses the lined my windowsill at home, Framed by a background of Rockies, I can see them, their small femurs released from frozen plastic A herd, As the twin pistons of our legs beat against the sidewalk.
Going Up By Dara Hirsch 57
Sleep Cycle By Miriam Callahan
I. I asked you to do more pushups because your chest’s curve makes a bony pillow. When I count your ribs, I sink inside them, and your heart beat keeps me awake.
II. I plucked a feather from your bed, gently, so as not to disturb your even soft breathing. I stuck it in my pocket, to remember you, dark eyelids and pursed lips, kissing me in your dreams as I lay awake on your featherbed.
III. The only reason to sleep is to wake up chilly, teeth chattering because you roll over and take the blankets with you, then take some back, burrow underneath to where you warmed me before.
By Josh Little
I have got to stop speaking in poetry. Metaphors should be secrets kept between pen and paper. And let’s be honest, No matter how well crafted, No one respects a simile. It recently occurred to me That as long as I continue speaking in this “poetry”, I will never get what I want. A response. A phone call. A quick fuck. And just because I can spin words into pictures Doesn’t mean that I should. I cannot even begin to imagine The different steps I would have taken If I had just said “yes.”
Top Left: Community Top Right: That Sucks Bottom Left: Fried Bottom Right: Innocence All By Dara Hirsch
“Do you reuse tissues? And if so, what kind? Do you eat to the bone? to the peel? to the rind?” -Antonio Forte
“I meant every iamb— Hopefully you’re not dumb Like I am.” -David Pritchard
“I think something is wrong with the light It should have dissolved me Splintered rectitude and left only pith” -Lowell Rudorfer
“My skin. your arms round my hips, a tourniquet of sorts, taut and when light comes in from the windows shadows of sliding muscle burst across your back.” -Christina Farella
Shizuoka, Japan Andrea Lum
We fast forwarded ourselves 19 hours ahead, side by side on a double decker plane powering into limitless sky scraping just slightly the tips of a modernized city, fingers gripping onto the armrests as the plane started to descend. Bustling around us Japanâ€™s people swarmed through her subways, colonies of ants rushing to ten hour jobs as we walked too slow and looked so strange printed English words on T-shirts, hats lost in a throng of suits and umbrellas, Overwhelmed we stand in diagonal crosswalks before being whisked off in a car that seemed too small to uncover just a few of the secrets She had to give.
Raw By Dara Hirsch
This country, She sleeps with the sun. at night She wakes with the moon, playing alongside hills of rice paddies, eel farms, starlit sidewalks still warm from the day. She peers out from beneath the temples, stacked in odd numbers, and tumbles down from the valleys into the bamboo chutes, angled against tiled rooftops, dripping delicious mineralized mountain water, euphoria to be sipped graciously filling the palms of our reaching hands.
sakura Jefferson, you arenâ€™t nearly visible anymore. On your steps, a blanket of shadows behind those columns of stone, blushing white sakura petals lifting in the almost-april bitter wind, whisked and plummeting down towards the tidal basin,
Frame By Matthew Gasper 62
in front of which I stand, down towards the surface, remembering the story of a kamikaze pilot seventy years ago, falling almost effortlessly, cutting meticulously through air a single cherry blossom painted on the plane, pink exploding everywhere as it reaches the ground.
z z a J r o f g n Searchi t a s t e e r t S t i l on Lamp3:52 am By Jonathan Holin
Lonely, single-passenger cars roam the tired dreamscape of roads between tall, graffiti-covered buildings. From a third story window in one of these forgotten brick buildings – an old rundown city-motel placed unassumingly in the city’s hazy French Quarter – I watch the lost automobiles wander aimlessly, driven by the misplaced human love spells of yesterday’s passions. People who now hum somber melodies beneath drunken clouds occupy the streets in metal shells. A stray patch of grass across the street catches my eye from my third-story perch. It’s muddied by the darkness, but I can see newly formed dewdrops reflecting the street-lamps’ light, swaying with the dancing grass and occasionally dropping to the floor, wetting the soil. I imagine an earthworm curled up under the dirt carpet, resting, and if it could smile, would do so thankfully as the small droplets of water moisten its bed. I direct my focus back to the street. A musical homage is gently delivered out of sight through a rusty saxophone. An odd hour to be playing, I think, but the melody soothes my body; the despondent tune lets me feel serendipity hugging my ankles, trying to lift me. The sad, single-instrument symphony calls me to move my feet to a different place, where the lamp-lit streets are not so dull and the stars are visible. But I stay. For now. The soloist’s tune comes to an abrupt end after a few angry shouts from tired tenants and my mind feels cleansed and electrified. Across the street, a frenzy of brown, begging moths attracted to the same street-lamp light that’s repulsive to me, draws my attention. They flurry hectically around the illuminated glass. “The sun is out,” I can barely hear them murmuring in unison, the false electricity that their made-up words produce excites me with a glimmer of hope. Lost in the lightning these moths produced from their tired lips, I barely notice when a faded leather jacket steps into view; the man wearing it is bearded and worn. His presence catches me off guard, but for some reason he seems to belong. He seems content with the desperation branded over his face and hums a slow and gentle tune that reveals an inner vitality hidden by his grim appearance. I can hear it from where I am and it reminds me of the song my mother used to sing to me about walking trees stepping into the sea and leaving the land behind. The jacketed man plunks down beneath the moths and the lamp and takes a lengthy swig of some beverage that remains obscured by a brown paper bag. Everything about this man is dirty and miserable – his cheeks are caked with pockmarks and his hair is a tangled mess – but behind his ear, where one would expect a cigarette or maybe a tattered scar to be, rests a yellow dandelion, tucked carefully into place. He wears it like some sort of badge, probing with his dirt-crusted fingers every few minutes to make sure it’s still there. The fuzzy flower seems to be the source of this man’s defiant happiness, lifting the weight of his hunger and chilly grief. This dandelion, a well of illumination, brings the streets to a brightness rivaling that of the day. I’m envious of this street-man, accessorizing nature; he’d found an organic gem of incomprehensible value and stuck it to his body. The man gets back up to his feet and returns to the darkness, but the intrepid flower stays visible until its carrier
turns a corner to inhabit some other night-lit street. Maybe there he’ll find a half-eaten sandwich in a dumpster to munch on until that final “knock, knock” joke that comes for everyone catches up with him and extinguishes his weightless radiance. The moon’s light is obscured by a thick layer of clouds, barely able to seed through the rigid haze. From this distance the fuzzy glow looks the size of a nickel; nothing is what it seems. * * * I’m not even home. Sex in a cheap motel, a few dirty bucks, and two hours later I realize I never even saw her feet. Even now a coarse brown strip of cloth, a sad excuse for a blanket, covers them and I wonder about her toenails. Are they painted? How long are they? What time is it? I feel like I’m awake in six places at once; my mind is everywhere tonight. I think some coffee might bring me back to reality. There’s nothing of considerable value in this one-room hideaway, but some noticeable symmetry stands out against the blandness: a large, remarkably clean mirror, and in front of it a wooden bookshelf with the same blue vases on each end and a crack right down the middle through the wood. The rest of the room is a mess, like the murder scene of some 1940’s film noir movie. Aside from the unexpected equilibrium of the bookshelf, this rented room is an empty vacuum of parental shame and abandonment. Its staleness is hauntingly similar to my own childhood memories in the North. Attracted by their ability to stand out against the dark and discouraging room, I abandon my post at the window and move to examine the bookshelf and its mirror. My reflection frightens me initially: black stubble lines my cheeks and neck, the bags under my eyes are deeper than usual, and my head is an explosion of unwashed hair. The street-lamps from outside manage to only shed light on my head; the rest of my body remains mostly unseen in the pale shadow. I take a
Untitled By Caitlin Treanor
careful look in each blue vase: some dust lines their lips, and inside one is a single yellow marble that creates a stark, almost unreal contrast against the unlit interiors. For a moment I wish I could change places with the glassy sphere and be a shining marble instead of the tired and lonely man that I am. But that would be impossible. So much is impossible. I don’t like being with other people. Quick bursts of interaction are all I can handle, and then I like to be alone. The way I see it, as soon as you find a partner you might as well call it quits, stop living. No single person is good enough to not be alone. No single person should be so weak that they need a second pair of feet to keep them going. That’s the way I see it anyway. It’s not that I don’t like people, I just can’t take them in large doses; it makes me feel like a vampire bat. Sometimes I think that if I were an animal, that’s what I would be. I think I’m becoming one. I won’t ever be a radiant, yellow marble, nor a perfect unharmed dandelion. No one will ever hold me briefly between their thumb and forefinger for close examination to cherish my beauty and I will never rest comfortably behind the ear of some tired wanderer in the night. These thoughts make me depressed, and I realize that I’ve been talking to myself again. I decide to gather my clothes and leave the room. Stumbling down a few flights of stairs, I pull my stained white shirt over my head. When I reach the bottom I don’t bother to tie my frayed shoelaces. Outside on the streets I stare up at the window from which I’d been standing. The light is on now; I must have woken her when I left. Walking briskly down the sidewalk and not wanting to be noticed, I whip around a corner and for a moment lose track of myself, forgetting where I am. But on the pavement a few feet ahead, the shimmering star of a flower, the golden dandelion, abandoned and undisturbed but still roaring its same brilliant call of triumphant light, absorbs my vision. I’m abruptly called back to reality and am reminded of where I am and where I’ve been, and I feel ashamed. I pluck the flower from the cold pathway and wonder if the jacketed man has realized that it’s missing. The flower somehow managed to resist the stench of its former owner; the thin petals, still fresh, kept that fertile, springtime-pollen smell. I plant the dandelion behind my ear and walk onward into the lonely night between crumbling buildings, guided by the small but bright beacon on the side of my head. A U-Haul truck pulls into view and lifts a few scattered flyers from the street, which rise playfully, and then fall back to the pavement in new locations. The truck carries on down the abandoned avenue, possibly to suburbia, where the trees still haven’t left and gravel driveways and pristine front lawns wait to become the next battlegrounds for our souls. By myself again, I ask the dandelion one favor, “Live a little longer, be the strange light that will force my eyes to love the night.” A breeze rushes by and I feel the yellow flower nod gently against my ear. Satisfied, I walk toward the blue canals that reflect the honest moonlight, hoping to maybe find some jazz and a hot
Andrew By Dara Hirsch
Sunset Stroll By Hayley Munn
Venice By Hayley Munn 66
The Sexes By Jeff Aisen
People Pollen By Nora Tumas I was Thinking about the shoes you left On top of my Door, And the sword I Left in your Pillowcase. We were Strange children. ARE strange childrenAlthough now We have Grown to be Strange Flowers.
D.C. By Allyson Upton
I can stare at Kandinsky’s red and violet circles and pretend we are at the Neue Pinakothek, still going through the museum together at a perfect pace, admiring the same paintings as we remember the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. I can laugh at last night’s drunkenness. All- you- candrink- party. Never a good idea. I could have told you that before, but I like the way you are when you lose your inhibitions, grabbing my hands in yours and wrapping them around your ticklish sides. I can go on as if nothing has changed, buying baguettes from Whole Foods and convincing myself they have an airy crispness. I can tell myself a year isn’t that long. I can accept my job offer in Munich, but you’d still be in France. I can wear my dirndl to the Oktoberfest in Maryland, trying not to compare it to the real thing. I can go on living my life before Paris, before Munich, numbly drifting through the city, to vegetable stands at Eastern Market and jazz at the sculpture garden, keeping myself busy, but the silence before falling asleep will always be there, my extra pillows take up your space.
white-house By Caitlin Treanor 68
By ThaĂŻs Miller Dedicated to Ilse Julia Mueller Lansdale
We are standing on the heads of our beds tracing the horoscopes pasted above the headrest, for a sign. June 30th: finger points to Scorpio. New love on your horizons and we stick our index finder to the corners of our mouths and lick our lips. Wander corners of foreseeing print-outs. Wander street curbs and crooked subway routes. Look for a sign. Monday night we transcend to the fifth basement shop from the corner light, ten feet by four with red scented candles to heal our mega-fucked chakras and hide the smell of the upstairs dry cleaner. Only $25 to waste away waiting for weightless mornings, floating to the ceiling to check our daily forecast again. And New Love is on the horizons predictable our fortune by choice. In the backroom of the fortune tellerâ€™s candle-lit monastery the laughing voices of children gloss the loud glare of TV commercials for natural male enhancement. Healing will take a while. This love will not last for long. Travel the possibilities ride the local on the metro home. We are waiting to rise from heavy nights alone in bed underneath a shroud of all-knowing stars.
Poseidon By Jessica Warren
Before the Dawn By Ryan Murray
A Theory of Ties By Andrew Lobel
Hang the tie around your neck My mother is downstairs. I can hear the rapping of her heels against the cracked tile my father wants to replace. the wide end is on the right, “Hold still.” His hands are pulling me into a cloud of cologne. He bends at the knee, careful to keep the frosted crease in his legs. We are face to face, and I can see each wrinkle and graying hair; the way years come all at once.
From downstairs, my mother’s voice echoes, “it’s seven o’clock”, which reminds me how tired I am. The partially formed knot. Tuck the wide end My father pulls at the tie, I bow toward him. The loop slowly tightens, pressing against The bottom of my throat. As soon as my father removes his hands, I try to pry it loose. Through the front of the loop, and gently pull “Stop”. He takes my hands away from me, hands me a black jacket.
And cross it over your chest. The thin and wide ends until the knot is tight. He wrestles with a strip of fabric, stripes of blue and white running diagonally around my neck and down my chest. It’s easier when you’re doing it yourself. I keep my hands at my sides, my chin tucked into my neck to watch the attentive working of my father’s hands.
We walk downstairs together, a small, brief procession. My mother is waiting by the door. her eyes are wide, they grasp mine. “You look very handsome.”
Bring the wide end underneath the center. In the early morning, it always feels more winter than autumn, and the thin sunlight turns the trees to granite statues erected in the sterile earth. Wrap around again, and slip it through
Man Made By Jessica Warren 72
of the artists
Jeff Aisen has decided to remain anonymous. Genna Bellezza has been writing poetry for almost five years, and is honored to be featured in this semester’s issue of AmLit. Although she is majoring in Business, Genna hopes to publish a book one day. In her spare time, Genna can often be found sitting in the LA quad, avoiding homework and talking to strangers. These random life moments is where she usually draws her inspiration from. Louise Brask is a photographer, dancer, and visual artist who is interested and impacted by the surrealist, classicist, and post-modernist art movements. She is a first-year student from Minneapolis, Minnesota and enjoys her free time by reading databases, yoga, golfing with her father, and being young. Liz Calka is the story of America.
Sam Goldstein is a junior and majoring in Political Science and Sociology. He is originally from New York City, although his family has now spread into the beaches of New Jersey. He finds inspiration to write about the most miniscule aspects of his life, like a design on a lighter or the pattern of a rug. He allows these things to roll over in his mind and attaches meaning to these otherwise inert objects in the form of poetry, hopefully good poetry! Dara Hirsch is half human. Jonathan Holin storms through the party like his name is El Nino. Franziska Kabelitz loves dipping French croissants into big cafe au lait bowls on a sunny balcony in Barcelona. And then dance. Danielle King always
Miriam Callahan is a senior majoring in International Studie and minoring in Literature.While she is pleased to be published in this edition of AmLit, she is disheartened to know that she will never be as smart as John Stuart Mill Christina Farella likens herself to Franny Glass. She has Saturnine eyes and a wan mouth. She dislikes being told what to do. Antonio Giuseppe Forte IV, AU class of ’12, was born and raised in small-town Rhode Island. He has played musical instruments since before he could talk and is intending to major in Music Performance in the College of Arts and Science. Matthew Gasper is keen on AmLit.
plays music and likes to sing. From the Nutmeg State. Josh Little is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs. He enjoys running down hallways (naked), reading erotic poetry (fully clothed) and watching reruns of The View (naked). His career goals include being the best Alpha boy he can be. Josh would like Steven Morrissey and the rest of The Smiths for making him everything he is today.. Andrew Lobel contains coconut oil, salt, niacinamide, yellow 5, reduced iron, zinc oxide, yellow 6, thiamin mononitrate, BHT (a preservative), pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, and of course, riboflavin.
Andrea Lum tends to think/of her alias as the Morton’s/salt girl. Dancing in the rain/with a red ladybug umbrella,/splashing in puddles/and singing up, up, up/into the sky.
Cody Steele is a freshman from Southern New Jersey who enjoys painting and sculpting with wire. He owes all he knows to Micheal Budden, his high school art teacher.
Thaïs Miller is a senior honors student, majoring in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing and minoring in Music Performance. Her first novel, Our Machinery, was published by Brown Paper Publishing in May of 2008
Jessica Taich designed this mag. she is a junior design major. her favorite color is green.
Rashad Muhammad is a sophomore Film and Media Arts and Graphic Design double major. I aspire to be an Art & Music Video Director, watch for me! Anneke Mulder never writes anything without Derrida in mind. Hayley Munn’s native homeland is the glorious cultural gem that is Miami, Florida. Some of her hobbies include breathing (oxygen preferably), cooking, painting, creative writing, and reading. Ryan Murray knows how to solve a Rubik’s cube and tie his shoes. He considers this a complete education. Kathleen O’Connell makes a mean plate of scrambled eggs. She is best known for being unstoppable on the dance flo, and a sucker for TDR pies. David Pritchard is a sophomore literature and theater double major with a penchant for grammar, emo bands, and absurdist philosophy. If asked to describe himself in three words, he responds, “that’s not enough!”
Kyoko Takenaka blague?)
puts the phun in photography. (je
Caitlin Treanor is a freshman at AU and is actively nvolved in the debate club, AUS4L, AURA, and heads the ‘future AU swing dance club’ (you should join that). She is majoring in political science and economics, and hopes to attend law school after graduation despite all the money AU will have taken from her. Nora Tumas wants to be the next Pete Seeger or Kimya Dawson, but for now she has to accept that she’s a freshman who quotes Oscar Wilde too much. She excessively drinks German tea and wears jumpsuits because she thinks they’re silly. Two loves are patchouli and purple suede anything.” Allyson Upton is a senior German Studies major with a concentration in French and a Lit minor. We’ll see where that takes her- maybe just writing poems about Germany and France... Laura Vogler is a freshman and lives in McDowell Terrace but is not responsible for the smell. Normally, she likes taking pictures better than school. Sometimes she hangs out in Africa and takes pictures of the animals there.
Rebecca Prowler is from New York.
Drew Rosensweig tries to stay close to his estranged children by disguising himself as an elderly Scottish nanny. “Dude looks like a lady,” says his former wife. Lowell Rudorfer is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He warns that this is what happens when you try new things. Amanda Soliman is a senior and a newly outed writer. She enjoys writing short stories and is trying her hand at poetry. Amanda aspires to be accomplished someday, somehow.
Ben Walker is writing a dystopian novel about a nation gone mad. He hopes to finish it before the news-ticker at the bottom of his television screen makes it a memoir. Jessica Warren is living by “no pasa nada.” Rachel Webb is stretching her fingertips along the corners of a darkened room, feeling for the switch Emma Wimmer likes reading, writing, and finding herself.
Staff Information Editor in Chief................................Anneke Mulder Assistant Editor................................Rachel Webb Design Editor....................................Jessica Taich Photo Co-Editor.............................Brittany Stewart Photo Co-Editor...........................Rebecca Prowler Photo Assistant Editor.............................Jeff Aisen Prose Editor.........................................Ben Walker Prose Assistant Editor.........................Joshua Little Prose Assistant Editor.........................Jacob Locke Poetry Editor.....................................Andrew Lobel Poetry Assistant Editor..................Matthew Gasper Poetry Assistant Editor...............................Anj Lum Copy Editor....................................Emma Wimmer Assistant Copy Editor.....................Lowell Rudorfer
Cover Photo Dara By Louise Brask
Yawn by Laura Vogler
Submission Policy American Literary Magazine seeks to promote the artistic community at American University. All members of the AU community may submit work they deem qualified for review. All final acceptance decisions are made by the Editor in Chief and genre editors. American Literary Magazine selects content based on a blind review process. While we attempt to perserve anonymity in all cases, perfectly blind submissions are impossible. Therefore professional discretion is upheld at all times. All copyrights revert to artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.
English Teacher By Kyoko Takenaka
Docks By Laura Vogler
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American Literary Magazine, Fall of 2008, American University, Washington, DC