AmLit Spring 2018

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spring 2018



american literary magazine

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 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 is the product of an incredible amount of coffee, meticulous planning, and--most importantly-the crucial support and dedication of our community. First, we must thank our Student Media advisor, Chris Young, for his patient guidance, as well as for tolerating an incredible amount of panicked emails. Thank you to our inspiring faculty guest speakers this semester, whose words of wisdom sparked the creativity of our staff members. Professors Maggie Stogner, Sean Doyle, Stephanie Grant, and Melissa Scholes-Young, we appreciate the time and thought that you dedicated to speaking on our creativity panel. Furthermore, thank you to Professor David Keplinger, who not only led an engaging Q&A with our staff, but also served as our poetry best-in-show judge; your readiness and enthusiasm to help our magazine is always heartily appreciated. Likewise, thank you to Professor Jayaswal for being our photography best-in-show judge and faculty contributor. We also appreciate the help of our other best-in-show judges, Professor Rachel Snyder and Naoko Wowsugi. We are continuously honored to work with the AU artistic faculty, who continue to be some of our most important advocates. Next, an enormous thank you to Jim Briggs of Printing Images, inc. for being an invaluable resource throughout this process. This magazine, quite literally, could not exist without you, and we are so grateful to work with you both now and in the future. Of course, we cannot forget to remind our executive board how much we value their hard work. From late night review sessions to braving treacherous winter weather to attend our events, AmLit’s e-board is at the heart of this magazine. You inspire me--always. This also applies to the dedicated design team. This semester, you handcrafted the accents, navigated challenging timelines, and remained level-headed through it all. Even though you make it look easy, we know how much effort and care you devote to this magazine. Lastly, thank you to graduating senior Carly Thaw for what I (quite biasedly) believe to be one of the most beautiful covers in AmLit’s history. Your skill is awe-inspiring, and we appreciate your flexibility in terms of timeline and content. There are so many more people we would like to thank, including Shaill Vasavada from Student Activities, faculty advisor Linda Voris, and general staff members who went above and beyond expectations. To you, I say: thank you, thank you, thank you.

spring 2018


Untitled Caleb Smith


american literary magazine

Letter From The Editors In your hands, you hold volume 92 of AmLit magazine. Perhaps you picked it up off our stand at the media release party, or snatched it from the gray-white tables of Battelle Atrium. Maybe you even unearthed it from a dingy box in your basement five years from now. However you found it -or it found you-you’ve made a critical decision in entering these pages. Within them, you’ll find not only the crystalline passion and meticulously wrought work of some of the brightest minds at AU, but also the polished product of a collaborative, inspiring community of student artists. Perhaps you think we’re exaggerating, self-aggrandizing even? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. Go ahead: sit down with some coffee, spread out on the quad, flip through the contents. Think about the kind of technical mastery that went into creating a work as palpably vivid as Paige Stewart's “Family Portrait.” Consider, for a moment, the white hot steam that still seems to roll off a piece like “RATCAGE,” or the emotional perceptiveness and lingual precision inherent in a poem like “Tender Teeth.” You have to admit, the art in this magazine demands to be heard-not by force, but through an urgent, honest appeal to the worlds around and inside of us. As you’ve probably already discovered, it doesn’t take long to find yourself lost in these pages. But as you mull over the magazine, you might not immediately recognize the fingerprints of those behind the scenes. AmLit is as much a product of communal effort and dedication as it is a compilation of individual submissions. In fact, AmLit is much more than a “product”; it’s a home Over the past three years, we’ve had the privilege of being welcomed in the AmLit community, whether by oversharing “roses and thorns” at our meetings or delving into philosophical discussions about art at our late night review sessions. Even as freshmen, unsure of our place in AU writ large, we were invited open-armed into this hodge-podge troupe of thinkers and makers. As EICs, we hope that our new members and staff have felt the same as we did then--that AmLit has been a safe space and hopeful little petri dish of inspiration within the wide-world of AU. On our part, being EICs of AmLit has been quite the journey. There is literally--and I mean literally--never a dull moment around here. Often, we were faced with challenges that we hadn’t prepared ourselves for but had to grapple with nonetheless. The responsibility can be daunting, especially when we felt like novices where we needed to be experts. Yet, nothing else can rival the immense joy that this organization has given us. AmLit has been one of the proudest and most endearing experiences of our lives. That might sound like an exaggeration but it isn’t. Here’s a magazine that’s been around before any of the staff currently working on it were even born. There is so much history in front of us and now we’re a part of it. Above all, our most important task has been ensuring the future of this inspiring publication. AmLit has our hearts and now, so do you. AmLove,

Sydney Hamilton

Amanda Hodes

spring 2018


Table of Contents

Art Untitled | Caleb Smith | 4 Play Time | Paige Stewart | 9 Lazy Bones | Claire Osborn | 10 Ode to Soutine | Paige Stewart | 13 Damaged | Arnaud Leclere | 14 Smorgasbord | Elspeth Reilly | 19 This is the enemy | Paige Stewart | 21 Tiny Sandwich | Elspeth Reilly | 23 Baby Colonel | Andrew Gelwick | 24 Pomegranate | Sofia Elian | 26 Untitled | Sarah Jarrett | 36 Untitled | Sarah Jarrett | 36 Untitled | Sarah Jarrett | 36 Untitled | Sarah Jarrett | 36 Magic Eye | Andrew Gelwick | 38 Old Man | Sofia Elian | 41 "Narcissa" | Kiran Ahluwalia | 43 Family Portrait | Paige Stewart | 47 Black Girl Magic | Sofia Elian | 57 American Pastime | Paige Stewart | 58 No Akira Don't Do It | Andrew Gelwick | 66 Big Boy: Day and Night | Elspeth Reilly | 67 Carve Your Eye Out | Sofia Elian | 76 Self Destruction (Altered Book) | Sheer Figman | 78 NYS | Paige Stewart | 84 Bazooka Parrot | Andrew Gelwick | 85 Lebanese Lungs | Sofia Elian | 92 Crime and Punishment | Paige Stewart | 95 Home Away From Home Away From | Claire Osborn | 100


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Poetry Poisson Noir | Anand Srinivasan | 8 Tender Teeth | Elspeth Reilly | 11 Birdhair | Courtney Miller | 12 Glasswork | Julia Buyak | 15 The Dungaree Committee | Sydney Hamilton | 16 should | Emaan Khan | 18 The Ambulance, Again | Thomas Pool | 20 Cetacean Community v. George W. Bush | Eli Humphrey | 22 Lavoisier | Anand Srinivasan | 25 Bridget | Max Lustig | 27 The Gorge | Carla Levy | 29 Winter Morning | Thomas Pool | 30 On a Farm in Tennessee | Elspeth Reilly | 35 Housecolding Party | Anand Srinivasan | 39 happy donuts | Emaan Khan | 40 Limbs | Maggie Mahoney | 44 A Love Poem for South Carolina | Cam Diagonale | 52 how tiny I care for you | Elspeth Reilly | 55 Sweat and Hard Earth: An Erasure of Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech | Amanda Hodes | 56 RATCAGE | Noah Stevens | 59 Eve | Cam Diagonale | 68 Holy Water | Julia Buyak | 73 lahore | Emaan Khan | 74 Cunt | Courtney Miller | 77 The Exterminator | Julia Buyak | 90 Inland | Courtney Miller | 106 Tomorrow will be a Double Yolk Kind of Day | Elspeth Reilly | 109 Absurdity | Rasa Davidson de Sรก | 111

Photography Indian Bride | Leena Jayaswal | 4 Self Portrait | Amanda Book | 17 Moon Jelly | Beth Lilly | 28 Welcome to the Upside Down | Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach | 31 Unwind | Claire Osborn | 32 Overflow | Claire Osborn | 33 Penny Pack | Jordan Redd | 34 Epilogue | Ginell Turner | 45 fingerprints | Madeleine Harrison | 46 Go Ahead, Stretch (Series) | Jordan Redd | 50 Light Blue Air | Amanda Book | 53 Hawaii 13 | Bryan McGinnis | 54 Onlookers | Amanda Book | 60 Woman in White | Déménageur De Personnes | 64 Untitled | Sreenidhi Kotipalli | 65 Greenpoint | Amanda Book | 69 Ephemeral | Ginell Turner | 70 The Years in Between | Hana Manadath | 75 these hands | Madeleine Harrison | 86 Noir | Jordan Redd | 91 Gallery | Kenneth Fleming | 93 Block Party | Gabrielle Michel | 94 Déménageur De Personnes | Jordan Redd | 96 Books | Kenneth Fleming | 97 Cross Road | Mercy Griffith | 98 Curve | Kenneth Fleming | 99 Phantom | Ginell Turner | 101 Untitled (Series) | Nik Daniludis | 102 Traffic | Amanda Book | 108

Prose Mina the Mechanical Girl | Courtney Miller | 42 Acoustics | Maddi Chilton | 48 Where the Willow Tree Is | Maura Byrne | 61 Kiowa | Thomas Pool | 80 Mia | Emaan Khan | 87 Bitch Cup | Kendra Barat | 88 Meydandaki Dervisler The Dervishes in the Square | Aneeta Mathur-Ashton | 104

spring 2018


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Po sson Noir | Anand Srinivasan

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Anand Srinivasan


4 5 6 7 8

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cle Water Cy m of The


“When you are painting out of your unconscious figures are bound to emerge”

| | Ichthys’ account of auspicious events [ recorded from a cockpit radio transmitter ] | | The Fish have returned from Overseas: | they have retired their gills and guilds | and re-dressed their suits with egoless sleeves. | | | As the Fish sew themselves back into the cities | their wives, seated as our global leaders, dive: | grappling for a dropped hook, | | | or anchor, with which to hang themselves | from. Thus moving on to the next phase | of the plan: diffusing hegemonic ilks | | | into the drinking liquid (and the mouthwash and the mental hygiene), | flossing over every molehill and molecule, | priming all mortars using cue tips | | | and earwax cannon balls. The war will commence (plop) at any mineral now, “after all, the preparations have been completed | for a millennium— | | | Now! We take to the Earth” : burrowing. | And the land crustaceously flakes | submerging the planet’s mantle | | | with saliva in their wake. The only place safe | is an atmospheric river, run off from an aurora of hurricanes, | and we have delivered only our most worthy and helium | | | so when our planet reemerges | re-formed and apropos | we can finally [ ¿incompleted transmission migration ] | |



| | | | |

Key: vel: [] ration le −− Trans-Pi : −−−−−− re levels Atmosphe s:? Fish Hook son Noir sh: Pois Black Fi


“We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shaughnessy. We believed your two hundred dollars. I mean, you paid us more than if you’d been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.” — Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), “The Maltese Falcon” (1941)

— Jackson Pollock on “Ocean Greyness”

Poisson Noir


start flopping

Artist Statement: Film Noir, in its historical context, captured the fear and distress of the male psyche after WW2 when the men had returned from fighting overseas and discovered the women had entered the work force. Feeling like they had been stripped of their manhood, Film Noir's plot lines consisted of downtrodden men fighting against powerful, "femme fatales," ultimately overthrowing the evil women and reclaiming their lost power. My poem “Poisson Noir” was conceived working under a similar premise, except instead of men returning after the war, the Fish are returning after living in the ocean for a few millennia.


american literary magazine

Play Time

Paige Stewart

spring 2018


Lazy Bones Claire Osborn


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Tender Teeth Elspeth Reilly

Rolling baby teeth between fingertips clean and white and dancing between cupped palms like those jumping beans we used to buy from the corner store I hold my hands to my ear and softly shake until bicuspids and molars softly rattle I miss feeling my tongue burrow in the pink pockets of bloodied gums and sitting cross-legged on the porch stoop feeling the gentle wobble of corner store beans when the larva within wriggled, dying, by the heat of my hands I miss finding teeth in my apples

spring 2018



Courtney Miller Birdhair drags a pheasant across the snow. She has a herring in her pocket, a feather in her hair, and winter in her boot. She follows her father into the woods every morning, when the trees are brittle and her mouth is dry. Her tongue was swallowed years ago. Her father never knows she is there. He has no children, only Two whistles and a sore throat. Once she stole a turkey’s claw right out from under his nose. It dangles from the end of her braid, bounces against her hipbone with every skip. Birdhair does not remember when her arms became branches, but she waves them like batons as she marches behind her father. She wrestles her fingers into a gun, whispers pew pew whenever he fires his own. Elbow deep in the snow. A real live soldier. She follows him home every evening, and swings her leg back and forth, and back and forth on the stool by the woodstove, watching. Her father always hangs his bird up by their legs, skins them in the shed and plucks them clean. Birdhair laughs, small hands around the neck of her pheasant. She never knew flesh could look like that. Her father always eats his birds, and sucks the bones dry afterwards with sticky fingers. One night he caught her kneeling in a grouse carcass, knees bloody with entrails as she picked through the feathers for the one she liked best. She had a strange dream that night. Her father shot her with a pistol and swallowed the barrel himself.


american literary magazine

Best in Show

- Poetry

Ode to Soutine

Paige Stewart

spring 2018


Damaged Arnaud Leclere


american literary magazine

Glasswork Julia Buyak

The glass clinks as my mother drops three ice cubes onto the rounded bottom she pours sweet white wine refraining just before the ice topples onto the counter. I watch her bare feet dance through memories across the turquoise linoleum kitchen floor. Across shards of grass and piles of words. She taught me the language of metaphor. The lights in the living room hum stillness. On the other side of the window there is a concrete skeleton of a greenhouse. The key still hangs in the vacuum closet, and on gray summer days I would put on my Scooby-Doo raincoat and stand on the rotting floorboards until the sky cracked open. A few years ago the birch tree split in half. It hit the metal greenhouse frame and every piece of glass shattered on impact. There are days I look in the grass for slivers of broken sky.

spring 2018


The Dungaree Committee Sydney Hamilton

This committee is comprised of One (1) person who is in possession of One (1) pair of blue dungarees The committee believes “dungaree� is a liberal term Encapsulating but not limited to Overalls Jumpsuits And onesies, to some (very small) extent The committee does not discriminate against Black, brown, yellow, red, Corduroy, velour, or silk dungarees Polyester dungarees, however, will be turned away. The committee is committed to Wearing dungarees Sharing the good news of dungarees And buying more pairs Of dungarees


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Self Portrait Amanda Book

spring 2018



Emaan Khan my, my. off-buttons tempt easy to ignore, they try to be except for those times when no drips off the to-do list or the time that the house on Kendle had purple lights but my fingers ached for it so I cut them off. tap dancing was the right thing to do in April how should I buffalo? lean, plie, switch shuffle, kick, turn fuh-lap, fuh-lapping was easier anyways. driving seemed fitting on sloppy nights the button for the seat warmers always broke and air vents smelled a little like weed but it was the shortest path to that diner with the strawberry banana french toast and the waitress who always winked.


american literary magazine


Elspeth Reilly

spring 2018


The Ambulance, Again Thomas Pool

The sound of sirens wakes me every other night at half-past three, with cold sweat and a cry. Swiftly flipping the light switch. Breathing in then out. I am not bleeding, I am not broken. Relieved, I fall slowly into night. I’m in the ambulance, again. But my bones aren’t broken. I do not see panic in the paramedic’s eyes, nor are my veins burst and bubbling through the bandages. I don’t tell him I’m sorry, I don’t freckle his face with blood. He reads me Yeats And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun. While silent sirens race to nowhere. It’s night. I wake, smelling sweetly of sleep.


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This is the enemy Paige Stewart

spring 2018


Cetacean Community v. George W. Bush Elijah Humphrey

The longest Gordon has ever gone without sleep was sometime last summer. In the produce aisle Gordon was selecting the ideal family of bananas when he heard it Begin as a low whistle from the fishmonger’s across the store. As the whistle grew closer and louder Gordon saw a shimmer in the air like heat above distant highway asphalt. The shimmering struck him as a wall of thunder emptying him of breath before wrapping around him like a thick carpet around a corpse. Gordon’s Earth shook with head splitting vibration. The doctors’ ruled out a brain tumor, tinnitus, testosterone deficiency, and psychoactive drugs. The nurse joked within earshot that it must be a signal from another planet. Professional consensus landed squarely on noise pollution.


Gordon returned home, ambien in hand, still followed by his thundercloud. That night, Gordon stared out his window waiting for someone else to show signs of losing sleep to the Sound. Then, at least, he would have some company. Gordon spent every hour of his days and nights with the Sound. Any sex life Gordon had prior came to a halt because he couldn’t quite keep his thoughts and the Sound separate and lovers screaming in the dead of night tends to put people off their intimacy. Discovering the roar intensified at rest, he soon abandoned efforts to sleep or to eat and spent his time walking with a bottle of water he would refill at public fountains. He saw parts of the City that hide from us, and as his mind gasped for sleep, he began to see figures in the shadows that followed him

american literary magazine

and he would leave notes for them to find later. A week spent wandering with the sound and Gordon heard hushed voices buried in the screaming. They told him that it’s been thirty self-inflicted orgasms this month and that he owes 11.50 to the library. Gordon wondered, balanced on the lip of a bridge over a rushing reflection of night sky, if they forgive late fees on account of suicide or if the charges outlive you, accumulating. Under the water is cold and dark, shot through with moonlight, and silent. Gordon woke up in the sun clothes damp on the bank of the river. No Sound. Picking grains of sand from his hair, pounding against the side of his head to expel water from his ears. Gordon heard the low whistle again and tensed his body, anticipating. The noise receded downstream, trailing a faint shimmer above the water. Gordon knew the way home, but sat for a while.

Tiny Sandwich Elspeth Reilly

spring 2018


Baby Colonel Andrew Gelwick


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Anand Srinivasan One night my genitals slipped off my body and swam away down the toilet. Before they began their descent, they peered over from behind the porcelain ledge and whittled out a song of farewell: Our journey began careening out a canteen, sliding on the sands of a desolate machine. We blinked four hundred times and the oceans nearby, grazing on the landscape, encouraged us to find our one true love. Looking for a sign, above we discovered a corpuscle flexing adamantly and in time with our heartbeat, so we followed its progeny and learned in their ways of wolfcraft and surgery and echoloca— “shun... shun, shun, shun, and pause, listen for the lonar, make sure you’re lost,” but when we heard that dry siren we knew war had been won, and with our back to the moon we stuck out our cat tongue, hitching a ride on a migrating mind. Love was in the air for its carnivorous winds nearly glued us on course, but luckily we’d tied strings to a stampede of doldrums that were carpet bombing the continents onto their respective watercolor receptacles. In uncomfortable time we dropped off the dull beast, and dropped off a gift box we had borrowed from a week, though in it we lost a pack of ghost gum, a swiss cheese pocket kite, and a sandalwood water spritzer. Without our prized possesséds We awoke to a bullfrog’s snort, ​Oh no! You’re an hour late already, Make sure you not put on clothes. Nor airs, nor footwear, for when you flounce into that colosseum, decorated with torsos, feel your stature explode as you fall in love with Apollo! Belvedere, it was true, we had fallen in love, and it fit just like Lavoisier’s head did to his body before it lolled off, blinking into a puddle of cerebrospinal fluid and blood.

spring 2018


Pomegranate Sofia Elian


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Bridget Max Lustig

Now, They sit awhile and devote themselves to a comma in the sky, Laying on their blanket in a field, Counting the rounds on clouds and letting the skyline bow to the mountains. How the cloth throws away their veins and softens the winds blowing over their shoulders, They lay back and watch the world play with the blue patches Between the sunbeams like the breeze between your toes. “I miss you, rain” I’ll bet they say, but they’ll forget their ambiguity They’ll forget the silent bridget they put themselves between. Especially when that first raindrop falls on their temples, Granting their camouflaged deathwish. Their ignorant residence of this field, this grassfed fairytale, They won’t even know they helped us. Even when they watch the salmon headed toddlers taste the downpour, Even when they watch the toothless dogs shake the falling water from their fur, Even when they watch me drown my eyes with salted drops of spring, And make me cry tears of wonder again For the first time since I had freckles like the toddler, They won’t even know, hiding in their ninety-five Corolla, they saved us. Then their clause will come and sentence them to a period, And they’ll drive away To another paragraph In the story they will keep trying to write.

spring 2018


Moon Jelly Beth Lilly


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The Gorge Carla Levy

Fog swirls at my feet and lifts me slightly off the forest ground I entered in search of silence. Concentrating on the sound of wet leaves, I commit myself to running without purpose. There’s a hollowness in my chest lined with ice every time I take a dehydrated breath. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth, pleading for my warmth to be spread more evenly. The mist gets in my eyes as I stare down into the gorge: jagged, rocky, close enough that I can see its teeth. Between quick blinks I see flashes of the way down, remembering how easy it would be to let myself fall. The bottom is green as far as the eye can see but there is a darkness there, hidden in plain sight. A rush of cold wind beats against my ears and chest, daring me to rest among the ferns.

spring 2018


Winter Morning Thomas Pool

A good morning lying under a S.A.D. lamp while a thick meaty tongue picks popcorn kernels stuck in yellow teeth and bloody gum spit drips onto salty sheets. Shivers briefly visit when adorning the favorite sweater that feels too big married to pants that feel too small while fidgety crooked fingers crack their knobby knuckles like millstones. The grinding sends shivers rushing up and down a sore spine supine in bed. A winter sunrise of trademarked deep blue beaming ultraviolet happiness for twenty to thirty minutes every morning doctors orders. I think of hot summer rain divining the smell of asphalt from the earth, or a summer sunrise creamsicle melting into all natural baby blue sky.


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Welcome to the Upside Down Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach

spring 2018


Unwind Claire Osborn

Artist Statement: Overflow and Unwind are from the same series of digital photographs printed on incorrect settings leading to over-deposits of ink that I manipulated by dragging the ink out (Unwind) and washing it away with water (Overflow)


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Claire Osborn

spring 2018


Penny Pack Jordan Redd


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On a Farm in Tennessee Elspeth Reilly

We’re hidden away and I haven’t seen you in years, we sit with our thighs touching on a splintering bench. I swelter, swishing peach moonshine through my teeth, keeping quiet about the burn of the flames against my legs. The embers light up the sad eyes of cows as they watch from behind the fencing. We sit in the long grass, the moonlight filters through brown glass as we take long pulls of warming ale. You tell me about your life here: catching corn snakes and making tinctures. You brush my hair behind my ear, and for a moment, I think you linger. Later, we will peel away our clothes, and sink into pond’s mud, surrounded by nothing but the glow of bare skin as the dogs whine on the shore line, the farmer pointing towards the yellow haze of Jupiter. I lay my body backwards into the cool of the water, and float with my arms spread. I reach my hands outwards until I graze yours, lingering there, until I sink.

spring 2018


Untitled Sarah Jarrett

Artist Statement: I'm basically exploring my family's past by using old photographs through diferent mediums and techniques.

Untitled Sarah Jarrett


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Untitled Sarah Jarrett

Untitled Sarah Jarrett

spring 2018


Magic Eye Andrew Gelwick

Artist Statement: All of these works were made in the past year and a half and are made out of hand cut paper assembled together. The singular figures are actually stenciled from source images and then puzzled together. The goya study was an experiment from my scraps, I keep all my paper scraps for later work. Akira and other comic narrative work is where I draw a lot of my source material for this series of works.


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Housecolding Party Anand Srinivasan

I never noticed it before, how the worn wall jaundiced under those ceiling lights and the choppy, wooden floor reflected them like pools of piss. Unpolluted by any furniture, the box of pizza drifted in the center of the room and the fanta and blue solo cups bobbed nearby. The piss must have been seeping through the cardboard by now I could see the grease that dampened the box where the slices used to be.

spring 2018


happy donuts Emaan Khan

the door rattled peals of bells on rusty cherry wood glare ruby lights washed over pleather seats gooey glaze swallowed the air. upholstery peeked out under red stools, and they always spun to the left letting out a small whimper if to the right his apron was covered in maple syrup and Oreo crumbs full cheeks, easy to bloom dipping a finger in powdered sugar was his favorite so he passed the bearclaw, a sweet roll with that Silly Smile. it tasted pretty good.


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Old Man

Sofia Elian

spring 2018


Mina the Mechanical Girl Courtney Miller

My sister was a fully-fledged revolutionary at age nine - gold epaulettes, blood on her boots, and all. She whirred and clicked when she moved, with a voice like the grinding of gears as they sputtered and spun along her spine. My sister had a pistol for a mouth - but she’s had that since she was born. She always spat rifle discharge when she was angry and oil always leaked out of her lips, dribbling down her chin whenever she parted her lips. I speak of her in past tense because my sister is dead and that is the polite way you speak of dead people, you see. They say Time heals all ills, but Mina has been dead as long as she has been a revolutionary. Time is always too slow for her, because Mina has been dead the whole while that Time has been breathing down all of our necks. Mina had a long scar down her back, a quiet river that flowed from the nape of her neck to the small of her back from where Time tried to catch her. He could only ever nick her with the fingernail of his second-longest finger. Time would always chase my sister, but could only ever pull the thread loose on her coattails. So ist das Leben, Mama would always tut as she wrung the red stains out of Mina’s black jacket - the one with the shiny, black buttons that matched her shiny, black boots - scrubbing it against the washboard until her fingers were raw and red and throbbing. The metal pane always looked like a bleeding chicken coup afterwards. You will always find my sister’s grave in the forty-seventh row, twelfth from the left and without a marker. I know that it is always there because I am always the one who digs it. I lost count after number 8,763. The soil has been muddy and wet and mourning whenever I cut graves out of it, and I would always slip Mina’s shiny, black boots off and wiggle my feet into them, thick socks squelching against the damp, watery leather with a sound like kissing. So ist das Leben, I would tut, like Mama kneeling in front of the washing with hands angry like Father Gottfried’s Sunday evening sermons. That is life. Mama got mad when I came home dragging them along the first time. Mama got mad because Mina loved those boots. I would always catch my sister scrubbing them by the fire, until the leather was a shiny and deep, dark black. I used to think that she went out in the cold to steal up the sky and that was why night couldn’t stretch on any longer, because she smeared the deep, dark black of the sky at midnight all over those boots of hers and there was none left for the rest


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of us to have anymore. All she left us with was the morning. She scoured her boots until the callouses on her hands burst and she could see her reflection in them like mirrors because, as she swore, a soldier’s boots must be as polished as the soldier - so ist das Leben. It is more proper that way, of course. It made me angry, when she cleaned them. I was always jealous of those boots, but not when she shined and shined and shined them until they hurt my eyes to look at. It hurt because I liked the blood. I liked the grease and the mud and the coals that streaked the leather like grinded up teeth. I sometimes stole them away before she could get to them, when she wasn’t looking, because I liked to stare. I liked to watch the muddle stare back. I hated when my reflection got in the way. Boots weren’t supposed to be mirrors, I’d always thought. Once I stole her gun away, when she hung it next to her socks to dry, and I caught myself in the corner of it, an edge that hadn’t been polished. I thought - just for a moment, too quick for me to snatch it up round the neck and hold fast until bone cracked - I thought that I saw Time grinning at me through the grime, but I never told mama because that is not the sort of thing that mothers of mechanical girls want to hear. That is not the sort of thing at all.


Kiran Ahluwalia

spring 2018



Maggie Mahoney Splayed across your rooftop, we trace the peppercorn sky. The kind your mother likes to lament on muted mornings. Evening browns like apple slices, I use my limbs to locate you. Dark wine stains loose flesh of my lips, the same skin you now suckle, eroding me. Pinned to your body, I am loose leaf paper made heavy with your honeysuckle smell. Strewn undergarments make ghosts of us, signals to pigeons, aliens, God. Later, I wrap in sheets to remember. Make a chrysalis of cotton, spinning a new skin.


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Best in Show

- Photo


Ginell Turner

spring 2018


fingerprints Madeleine Harrison


american literary magazine

Best in Show

- Art

Family Portrait

Paige Stewart

spring 2018


Acoustics Maddi Chilton

The cigarette smoke gives the ceiling a thin grey patina, muting the sharper colors of the spiderwebbed water stains. They crawl from the crown molding by the bathroom to above Len’s head, fracturing into smaller and smaller branches until they become too thin to focus on. They don’t reach the corners of the room, but Margot’s got mold in her alcove, brownish and dry enough that Len’s not worried yet. They don’t pay for comfort. That’s why the bed’s so bad, Len thinks. She rolls her tight neck. Ten thousand sweaty bodies have fucked on this thing, battering the box springs into the uncomfortable reluctant bend she can feel under her back. It’s probably messing with her spine, making her tense when she drums and when she drives. Margot doesn’t mind it. Margot’d sleep on the floor if she had to. Sometimes she does anyway, when they crash at houses with smallcouches and Len isn’t smart enough to stay awake. It’s not good for her, but most things aren’t. A note echoes off the walls, dulled by a hand held flat. Len tries to imagine. Margot singing to it. She’s playing the guitar. Alright, not playing — she’s plucking at it, using the tips of her fingernails, making a tinny crack against the strings. Any melody is in her head alone. It fills the grey empty room like the throb of a heart monitor, wavering out of tune. Len breathes in. Her throat is as dry as the Sahara. She can feel the caught air rattling in her chest, shaking against its confinement and searching for a way out. In—Imbecilic— It’s lost. There’s a word she’s been looking for. Harsher than stupid, dull, dumb cunt can’t keep her act together, did this to herself you know — but academic, a learned level of idiocy, vapid, vacuous, dense as a fucking rock you are — No. She raises a numb hand to her forehead and pushes her hair out of her eyes, feels sweat beneath her fingers. It’s — she’s fine, she’s got it, she’ll get it. Thick, she thinks, but that sounds like someone else’s slang, a word to be spit out with an accent she doesn’t have. Ignorant, but that implies innocence. The pulse of the guitar is robbing her of breath. She keeps timing her inhalation against Margot’s fingers on


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the strings, waiting out the patternless pauses until Margot plucks again, off-key. There are heady, feathered gaps in her concentration. The lyrics sheet lies crumpled under her fist, balled around a Sharpie old enough that it’s lost its scent. Margot should stop playing. It’s the only way she’ll finish the song. She tries to say it and gets distracted, tonguing the cracks in the skin of her bottom lip. It’s well past the point where smiling makes it bleed — she tests it. “What are you smiling at,” Margot says. Her voice is still crawling back, rough with a cold she never quite kicked. Len told her she shouldn’t be singing and she told her to fuck off. Len thinks, moronic. Too clumsy. Margot repeats it: “What are you smiling at.” Flat. A question, but you’d never tell from her tone. She stops dancing around the bones of her song and the room shivers into silence, the last twang of the guitar echoing. Len regrets wanting her to stop. “Nothing,” Len ends up getting out. “I lost a word.” “What word?” Len exhales, exasperated. “I don’t know.” Margot resumes plucking. A song Len knows, now. She wrote it for her when they first met. The calendar can’t map the years that have passed since then. Len turns her head. “Stop,” she says to the figure in the corner, hunched over the beat-to-shit guitar. Margot’s fingers still. A curtain of hair hangs over her face, blocking her from view. Her hand curls like a claw around the fretboard — she’d let Len paint her nails a while back and it hasn’t fully chipped off yet, the drugstore blue still clinging on. Sitting on her ankles like that, she looks like a kid. There had been a time when Len could look at her without cataloging her inching deficiencies, her tight joints, her thin fingers. At the beginning she had seemed so effortless. Len knows her better now. It’s strange to think about. Sometimes she’s not convinced that her life didn’t begin in the bar where they met, her fake

clutched in her sweaty palm and Margot on stage, blood seeping from her index finger where she pressed it hard against the strings. She found her in the bathroom afterwards, pouring gin from a flask onto the six thin gouges and watching the pink dilution swirl into the sink. Margot’d said “Hey, pretty,” and not much else. She was gritting her teeth against the sting.

tells her she’s beautiful Margot says not to lie.

Margot with her flat eyes, her scowl, her bruised hands and her skin hanging off the bone like a blanket over a birdcage. Of course Len wrote her a song.

Margot gets up from the chair. The only guitar she owns slides slowly and surely down the crack between armrest and dresser, hangs like a chrysalis inches from becoming horizontal.

“You’re a poet,” Margot’d said. She folded up the notebook paper and stuck it in her front pocket, offered Len a joint. Len had only come to the bar that day to see her. They escaped to the alley and smoked and talked. Margot had just seen Star Wars. She thought it was alright. At the next gig Len went to Margot was singing familiar words and ignoring the bandages as they fell like leaves from her fingers.

Her feet hit the ground, calluses against rough cheap carpet. Len turns. She watches her dig her toes in. Clueless, Len rattles off to the echo chamber of her skull. Confused. Lost. Watching.

Idiot, idiot, idiot, as Margot nears, idiot, idiot, idiot. All wrong, all wrong. Margot crawls onto the bed behind her. Her bony knees dig into the mattress by Len’s head. Last night they’d hit against Len’s pounding temple in the back of a cab, too dehydrated for how much she’d drunk, draped across Margot’s lap and whispering Let’s live forever.

Len went to Margot was singing familiar words and ignoring the bandages as they fell like leaves from her fingers. Thick-headed, Len considers. Half-witted. Insults, not lyrics. Not an inch of poetry contained within their ugly conjunction, words trying to be something they’re not. She opens her mouth and tastes the stale air.


Across the room, Margot hits her fingernails against the guitar. South of the strings the paint makes a dull clack on top of the weighty electric body, but northwards it’s been chipped off into nothingness and sounds like styrofoam. Len closes her eyes, sees if she can follow Margot’s restless fingers as they wander.

MARGOT: (Once beautiful, now angry and sick.) I’ll be dead by spring.

Click, clack, thunk — the base of the guitar against the ground. It took Len one look at her to decide that she had to catalog every noise she made, every whisper in time and space circling that woman. She doesn’t discriminate between songs and sounds. Len doesn’t think in music like Margot, though she’s trying to learn.

The cabbie politely ignores their conversation, held in whispers.

LEN: (Unconvinced and in love.) You say that all the time. Fade out. They’ll make a film next, like Star Wars. “Stop writing songs about me,” Margot bmumbles. Her hands dance out like spiders to grab the paper from Len’s chest, the marker from her limp fingers.

At first she hadn’t held her breath while Margot played, but she had been young.

Len watches her, Sharpie yanked open and poised like a bomb about to drop. “They’re the only good ones.”

She is 23, twenty hyphen three, her fake long since snapped between her fingers. She is eons old and Margot is an eternity older, being dragged towards a new decade with a collar around her neck. What’s left of her body soldiers on. If Len

The pen tip doesn’t descend. She can’t find fault. “Foolish girl,” Margot says, quiet and approaching affection. Ah, Len thinks. There’s the chorus line.

spring 2018


Go Ahead, Stretch Jordan Redd


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spring 2018


A Love Poem For South Carolina Cam Diagonale

You are a low country congregation of tall strangers on beach cruisers and peaches rotting on highway shoulders, a land of shrimp boats, bloated marsh rats, and bare-breasted vacationers braving low-tide funk, sunshine seeking teenagers in baggy tee shirts spitting cheap beer and fireworks onto cracked gas station asphalt wasting time spent listening to words read aloud from Chopin novels that come to life in the viscous heat of late August and choruses of palmetto bugs crafting noisy poems at dusk as a swollen moon hangs itself above the skyline of Savannah.


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Light Blue Air Amanda Book

spring 2018


Hawaii 13 Bryan McGinnis


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how tiny i care for you Elspeth Reilly

tinier than a little larva tinier than the littlest larva

spring 2018


Sweat and Hard Earth: An Erasure of Barack Obama's Inaugural Speech Amanda Hodes

today humbled by before, by our ancestors.

this transition is gathering clouds—

r e vision: We have remained faithful to our forbearers.

So it has been. So it must be our collective



a nagging decline is inevitable. the next generation must be met in false promises:

childish things, our better history.

the takers, the makers of the long, rugged path, they pack up their search of a new. they toil in sweat

and settle

the hard earth. Time and again Struggle and sacrifice— America as bigger

than the sum of our today.

Artist Statement: This poem, an excerpt from a series, was created by taking a speech and erasing words to excavate underlying messages about nostalgia, collective memory, and contemporary life.


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Black Girl Magic Sofia Elian

spring 2018


American Pasttime Paige Stewart


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RATCAGE Noah Stevens

the rat, with its coarse grey coat, jagged and yellowed teeth, tail and talons all pink and brown as rotted flesh, rests in my ribcage. the rat, grabbing hold of my tattered lungs, my scored ribs, my beating and bloody heart, clamors for escape. the rat, all wild and disgusting and neglected and free, spits in my eyes. i, alone, cry out.

spring 2018


Onlookers Amanda Book


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Where The Willow Tree Is Maura Byrne My earliest memory is death. I was only two years old and my daycare had forgotten to turn the television off before our nap. I asked what movie they had on, amazed by the special effects, as a plane flew into a building that crashed to the ground on screen. They didn’t answer and the television was switched off immediately. Parents trickled in all day until I was the only toddler left. My mom was stuck at work – teaching. She was giving math lectures to students whose parents’ deaths I had just unknowingly witnessed. Junior year of high school, my Spanish teacher told us he could figure out our learning style based on the category our first memory fell into. He had us write it down on a piece of paper ripped from our fresh notebooks – is it about family or a specific place? I told him my earliest memory was 9/11. Mr. Navarro informed me that this simply wasn’t possible – that we cannot remember that far back – as if he was an expert on my mind. He said this in a matter of fact tone, scrunching his nose enough to raise the mustache that sat just a bit too low on his upper lip. I paused a minute, debating if this was worth a reply. And when I spoke I did so in the kind of tone that says you are only slightly confidant in what you have to say. I droned on about the psychology of it – explaining that trauma interacts with our brain unlike other types of event. That it allows us to retain memories that we would otherwise be too young to remember. As I spoke, my throat tightened under the anxiety of confronting a teacher. This little speech did not do well with him and Jonah Daniels, curly haired, chuckled from his desk behind me. When my teacher walked away, Jonah informed me that I could have just lied and told a story of my mother taking me to the local park to feed the geese. When I was young we used to pack a picnic and make our way to the pond at the end of our street. My mother always made two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – one for me and one for her – with the crust cut off. We’d sit under the willow tree that stood where the dirt met the pond, tossing our crust at the water’s edge for the geese to feast upon. This tradition continued until Hurricane Sandy knocked that old tree down. We held a wake, planting sunflowers in its place. Those sunflowers didn’t last long either. I think back on that willow tree, keeping track in my head – a list of everything and everyone who’s ever died near me. It’s

a tally of dead friends, acquaintances, the lady who jumped from her balcony as I was passing by at 14. I tally all those now with the willow tree – adding Jonah to the list. I have an article open on my laptop that I’m peering at, hunched over, with my elbows digging into the corner of my desk. It’s about an 18-year-old boy who was murdered in my town the prior day. The headline is numb, telling only the facts, as if his family and friends where not breaking as they skim the piece – as if I’m not breaking, reading Jonah’s name. Jonah always called me a pessimist – the kind of person who tallies death while paying no attention to life. I say I’m a realist. It was an ongoing debate that started when our 6th grade social studies teacher taught us the term. The one thing we agreed on was that he was an optimist. He was the one person I ever knew to enjoy middle school. He befriended the tough kids who buzzed their hair and stole sips of their parent’s white wine, and ones who never failed to bring a graphing calculator everywhere they went. I befriended the librarian – and him. His ability to talk to anyone and everyone never rubbed off on me. When in 8th grade, two girls who used to give me smirks in the hallway threw my binder out the second-floor window into the trash, Jonah mediated before our guidance counselors could get involved. People always seemed to listen to him, when they showed no reason with me. The girls would retrieve my binder from the dumpster that sat against the chipped brick of Lincoln Middle School and apologize. I would not, as Jonah put it, spend the next week balling and whining to my mother about a small incident. He insisted that bad people do cruel things and reminded me that May Freedman’s parents were going through a divorce. At least he admitted that Elizabeth McCormick really is just a bitch. According to the article, three boys, two 18 and one 20, were in the park where the willow tree used to stand. They were “causing a disturbance” when the gun was pulled. My eyes scan the article, searching for further detail. I cling to its every word as if reading this – picturing it in my head – will somehow transfer me there so I could save his life. I clench my fists, digging my nails into my palms, imagining the feeling of his body against my hands as I push him out of the way, missing the bullet. For a moment I am content, then reality hits and I am alone in my dorm room and he is oneday deceased. So, I crack my wrists a bit too hard because I know pushing him out of the way would hurt and I crave a realistic sensation.

spring 2018


Edgar Manning, 18, who lives just down the street from me, was cited as the witness. He was the of kind of kid who grew up being told he was the best thing to ever grace this earth. His parents always seemed to take his side when he disobeyed the teacher, so he learned to make it a habit. I never trusted a word that came out of his mouth. As Edger explained it to the police, Jonah Daniels and Marcos Bruno were discussing the new .38 caliber handgun Marcos had purchased the week prior. They brought the weapon to the park to test it out, using oak trees as target practice. He was trying to show off and put a bullet in Jonah’s forehead. Marcos didn’t realize the safety was off. I am left wondering if the occurrence really could have been that reckless. I don’t know if I’m in denial about this or if Edgar really is the type of person to lie on a police report, but I refuse to believe that Jonah was ever stupid enough to go shooting in a public park. It’s not that Jonah was ever against breaking the law or that he would never hang out with such a crowd – he’d hang out with any crowd – but Jonah had limits. He was thoughtful. It was one thing to drink a beer on the weekends, it was another to use a weapon where children play. The police report states that the misfire hit just above his left eyebrow. For a moment I think that’s where his scar was. I think back trying to picture the texture of his face, as if I could reach out and touch the imperfection that sits atop his brow. There would be something poetic about death taking that scar away. I feel my forehead, using my fingertips to trace my brow-line, smudging the brown eyeshadow I had used to fill in where the hairs were sparse. No. It was on the right side. I exhale a puff of air I would barely qualify as a sigh, comforted knowing that death doesn’t take all things away. There are only two people in this world that know the origin of the scar that sits gracefully about Jonah’s right eyebrow, only cutting through it a bit – me and Jonah. We made a pack to keep it that way when we were in the 4th grade. At nine, I had declared to Jonah that I was going to be a writer. I’d been working on a story for the past year in secret, scared to admit that I loved the days when it rained because I could throw myself into a notebook during indoor recess while everyone else complained that board games were not the same as swings. He told me he would become a publisher just so that he could make everyone read my work and I informed him that he hadn’t even read it himself yet. So, he decided he had to. He ran to my kitchen, where he knew I always left notebooks on the countertop, tripping on his way.


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His foot snagged on the wooden divider that had no purpose being in the doorway and he tumbled down, almost in slow motion, until he, as he put it, split his skull on the granite counter. We stained the bathroom counter red trying to clean up the mess and position a butterfly band aid over the cut. Embarrassed to inform our classmates of the silly cause of the fresh wound that stood out against his pale skin, we kept it to ourselves and I smeared my mother’s red lipstick above my right eyebrow until his scar was healed so he wasn’t the only one with an imperfection on his face. I’ve never been able to wear red lipstick without him referencing my fake scar. I’m still rubbing my forehead, letting it turn as red as the lipstick from irritation, when I finally type train to Penn Station into the google search bar. Tickets home are fortynine dollars. I hover my mouse over the buy ticket button under the listing. My mother told me to put it on her credit card so money isn’t an issue, but I can’t find it in me to check out. I am told that I need to come home so I can say my goodbye, but I wonder if a goodbye after the fact counts for anything. I didn’t say goodbye when I left for Tufts. My mother still calls me stubborn for that, but I wasn’t supposed to need a goodbye. He was supposed to be attending Boston College. It would have been like back home – just around the corner from one another. Except he turned it down – said he wasn’t ready to leave New Jersey. It’s funny because now he never will. I asked him how I could convince him to go – how to convince him not to throw his whole life away – and he told me I knew how. I didn’t. So, I forced an explanation from him with my silence. I waited – let the moment brew. And he asked when I would finally reciprocate his feelings. So, Jonah stayed in New Jersey and I didn’t say goodbye. There are so many people that come into our lives and leave before we can say our goodbyes, but he mattered too much to be one of them. He’s the person that makes you leave an hour late and hit the rush hour traffic because no kiss is long enough to sum up the goodbye. The kind of person who bites your lip a bit too hard but it’s okay because of all the people in the world he’s the one your bleeding for – but in a friend kind of way. Jonah’s always been one of those people you think you have more time with because you can’t remember or imagine a time without them. But, I guess our end faded out of existence just like our beginning faded in. I left the Big Apple for the Jersey suburbs when I was four. The school year was half over so my mother enrolled me in the first preschool that would take me. I didn’t adjust well.

At nap time I sat on my mat crisscross apple sauce – like the teacher told us to at morning circle – and read the alphabet pasted just above the chalk board under my breath. When the teacher would tell me to hush I would start over with A, bothered by the interruption. One day, when Ms. Chow was near her last wits end, Jonah sat up from his mat, grabbed a crayon and a piece of pink construction paper from the art box, and walked over to hand it to me with scrawny arms and boney fingers. I quickly took to the silent activity of tracing my ABCs. Once, when we were still talking – when he was still alive – I asked him what his earliest memory was. I don’t know what I wanted to gain from this information. Maybe I wanted him to give a dark answer, like his nana’s funeral, so that I wouldn’t be the only one who’s thoughts started with the image of death. He told me it was my determination to run through the alphabet without being “interrupted” by Ms. Chow. Thinking back, that’s about when my memory got good. I stare at the tickets and flip back to the article. Under my breath, I give the speech I could have given about how I want him like he wants me and I wonder if I really mean it or if I’m just stuck on how if he was in Boston he’d still be alive. I reread the line about how the three teenagers “caused a disturbance” where the willow tree once stood. My mouse skims down to the part where it says he was pronounced dead on scene. I pretend that means he died instantly and felt no pain. And I can finally admit to myself that I mean every word of that speech – that I meant it even when I refused to say it to him. I practice the words in my head as if I’m going to call him up at that very second and scream it until we are kissing through the phone with our words. Poetry. But I am reminded that he’s where the willow tree is and buying a train ticket home won’t change that so I hover my curser over the x on the top corner of chrome and close both tabs.

spring 2018


Woman in White

Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach


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Untitled Sreenidhi Kotipalli

spring 2018


No Akira Don’t Do It Andrew Gelwick


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Big Boy: Day and Night Elspeth Reilly

spring 2018



Cam Diagonale I hold all the hallmarks of home out to you, an offering: the scream of a hairdryer in the morning, the flatulence of a mostly-empty honey bottle, the clatter of a dirty coffee carafe in the sink. There is a ring around the moon tonight, a lunar halo. You tell me it’s caused by ice particles trapped in cirrus clouds. When you touch the corner of my mouth, I feel something inside me crystallize. On the first day of the new year, I wake up lovesick to the smell of pea soup in the slow cooker and harsh winter sunlight setting snow-covered roofs ablaze. My mother lets the balsam candles burn all day almost to the end of their wicks, an offering.


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Amanda Book

spring 2018


Ephemeral Ginell Turner

Artist Statement: All of these pieces were made during a time of confusion and grief. After a good friend of mine from home committed suicide last April and a break up with someone I'd known for 12 years. I lost myself in 2017. I was trying to find my purpose in this world, leave a mark. Photography and poetry have helped me immensely in finding myself again. These pieces are just a few that have put me back together again.


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Rasa Davidson de Sá So remote an antidote inalienable; salt from sweat Shame, who craves concavity collects an undue debt Be still! Archives awaken; Asylum sought by Unsound. In capture, finding Solace as the wandering echo subsides — When weeding yields to harvest even Unrest abides How blue! The shape of waking though — Intruders prove benign.

spring 2018


Untitled Caleb Smith


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Holy Water Julia Buyak

On the last day of Middle School it was raining so much, I couldn’t see out of the bus windows. When I got home I stood in the backyard and let the water hit my body one pubescent figure blurred upright against a single patch of freshly cut grass. The white fence clashed the allure of the grayness. Water dripped down the greenhouse windows. Nothing ever grew there, it never did make much sense. When I was seventeen I would go to church on weekdays and sit by myself in the black mahogany pews. The holy water tasted forgiving as it dripped down my forehead and onto my teeth. On a spring day in winter Fran and I went to the National Basilica. The air was sweet and heavy. On the ceiling there were thousands of gold mosaic squares. From a distance, they all got lost in each other.

spring 2018



Emaan Khan feet always got hot during summers. but Baba’s flat grew grass the Karachi man stood just across the way he gave corn in cups. Mounds bars melted in pockets so the boys slung rocks at her in the market, since she soiled her shalwar. the man at the gate always touches her teeth and tells her he’ll pluck them out if she won’t smile smiling is hard as cousins always recoil from the dark fuzz under arms so they play monkey in the middle with Shabo’s razor. during the third wedding, she braids wilted blossoms into crowns, though they look more pleasant on the grass she feels like a lady. her feet still throb arm hair still hot, oily she hopes they never cool.


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The Years Between

Hana Manadath

spring 2018


Carve Your Eye Out Sofia Elian


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(the trick is to use your canines, baby) it gets softer part of the way through easier to take by the mouthful.

let me confess: they tell me that i am holy but i don’t feel holy, i feel violent.

so when the tax collectors come, when they splinter through these wooden doors, and come barreling down this hall of ours, they will come looking like your name. they will come with tattoos on their necks just like yours, that same stench on their skins.

Courtney Miller

i feel a crow’s beak between my thighs, i feel your cracked hipbone in my fingertips. i feel a god in my throat. and every time i go for the tattoo on your neck, she leaves a stench behind. miasmic, maybe but i wouldn’t quite call it that. i don’t think she knows i can taste her there but every time she sighs i swallow down another piece of her tongue. i don’t think she knows or else she would bind my hands behind my back and tie me to the bed, she would eat the teeth out of my mouth. she would crack them in her jaw, gums red and raw and bloody - her grin would split on me.

i won’t be able to pick you out of them in a lineup. they will sigh when you do, reach toward me when you do, they will look like the curl of your breath when you moan fuck. i will pay them in the scales i crack between my teeth. - i crack them because i want to prove they are real, you see. this is important to me, you see. i hope you have been paying attention. let me confess: when the tax collectors come, when they tell me that i am holy, i will pry back my molars, and i will reach down my throat. i will pay them in god.

i don’t think she knows that every time i eat out of her mouth it wets the inside of my belly, it makes my ribs slide against the inside of my skin, it churns my flesh into thick, warm wax. it’s almost sloppy the way you could make candles out of me, baby. you could make whatever you want out of me, baby. it’s almost sloppy but i know you like me this way, baby. let me confess: the day i met you, i ate a mermaid from the waist down. fish bones and rubber fat stuck in my smile, body slathered in all her oil. this has always been slippery from the start. she tasted like old saliva and damp gunpowder. like the eye of a seal, she was hard to chew at first. but i learned if you tear into the tail hard enough,

spring 2018


self destruction (altered book) Sheer Figman


american literary magazine

spring 2018


e Best in Show - Pros


Thomas Pool Blood, Boys, and Mud The thick July heat enveloped my body and it was only eight in the morning. I struggled out from under the mosquito netting and put on my uniform of a khaki shirt and olive green BDU pants, clipped my knife to my belt, and laced up my worn leather boots. Taps had already sounded and I was late, and as I lifted the mildew flap of the nowbrown-once-green U.S. Army surplus tent I could see the ranks beginning to form. I ran towards the clearing at the edge of our camp and fell in rank. The flag was hoisted up the pole by two of the younger scouts while the rest of the troop stood at attention, saluted, and recited the pledge of allegiance in emphatic unison. The order was given for us to fall out, and as we began marching down the wooded and muddy road, Scoutmaster Hartman came up behind me and grabbed my shoulder, his finger nails were caked in dirt, “late again,” I could smell the coffee on his breath even without facing him, “sorry sir.” He liked to come up behind us and touch our shoulders or the back of our necks. He let me go and we kept marching through the mud. The ten troops of Camp Kiowa stood in formation on the muddy parade grounds, listening to morning announcements from the camp counselors, one of who was an ex-gunnery sergeant who made sure Kiowa was a Parris Island for teenagers. I had learned to drown out his martial barking over the years, the sky was a crisp baby blue, a nice reprieve from yesterdays thunder, and I was thinking about what my friends were probably doing back home when I felt a pinch on the back of my neck. My hand slapped the spot and when I looked at it I saw the crumpled corpse of the mosquito and blood that was mine and, most likely, someone else’s as well. I was the only one who seemed to be elsewhere, anywhere other than Kiowa. Those two hundred or so boys were all at rapt attention. Tall boys, small boys, fat boys, lean boys, mean boys, boys with hairs on their chins and boys who were as smooth as the day that they were born; boys who thought that they were men. Announcements had ended, and two hundred orderly, martial, boys turned into a stamped. Racing towards the mess hall for a breakfast of powdered eggs, microwaved bacon, and Tang. There was a salad bar for the vegetarians, stocked only with soggy honeydew and spinach that was beginning to brown.


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I wasn’t running, I was walking and thinking and wishing I were at the beach or riding my bike with Owen in the park or watching porn. Just then a tall boy ran into me and I fell face first into the mud, I looked up hoping for an apology but all he said was watch where you’re going faggot. This was not uncommon at Kiowa. He disappeared into the herd. Then John came up to me, and offered me his hand.

“What an asshole. You’re good right?”

“Yeah, I’m alright.” John handed me his neckerchief so I could wipe the mud from my face.

“Let’s go eat.”

I think John was the closest thing I had to a friend at Kiowa, and I think I was the closest thing he had to a friend at Kiowa as well. John was a stocky boy, but he was strong, a useful friend to have incase someone ever tried to pick a fight. Waiting in line for the powdered eggs, the microwaved bacon, and the Tang, I saw the tall boy walking towards me, talking with his friends, and I stuck my foot out ever so slightly. He landed face first in his breakfast and the whole mess hall was pointing and jeering. He ran out of the mess hall and I smiled. This was not uncommon at Kiowa. Remington Every day, at two in the afternoon, I was at the shooting range. I needed to get my rifle merit. I couldn’t become a patrol leader without it. You could hear the report of the rifles from all over camp. Dozens of boys filled the range, picking out rifles from the gun cabinets. I had a favorite, the Remington rimfire .22-caliber bolt-action rifle in cabinet A23. Katie, the range instructor, the only female camp counselor, handed me my ten rounds of ammunition and I took my position on the firing line. Katie made her way down the line, coming up behind the boys, touching them gingerly on the forearm or the shoulder, adjusting their stance, speaking softly into their ears. And god, it felt good; it felt so—reassuring, her pale white fingers softly holding my forearm. She was the only woman around for miles. Lewd drawings of her and fictional pornographic campfire stories would spread throughout the camp like Spanish Flu. Boys would jerk-off to her in their tents while their bunkmates were down by the lake. The married men would leer and look at her with hunger in their eyes. I pulled the bolt back and the brass cartridge spun out of the chamber filling my nose with the sweet smell of saltpeter. I pushed the bolt in, sliding the next round into the chamber. I squeezed the trigger and the bullet exploded

out of the muzzle and tore into the target. Shooting a gun is a disciplined action. Pull the bolt out, slide the bullet in, and explode out of the muzzle. Katie would frown if we missed and it would break the heart of any boy on the firing line. Pull out, slide in, explode; pull out, slide in, explode. Shooting a gun is a carnal action. Steak! Strippers! It was well over one hundred degrees that day. I did my daily jog, my daily hike, my daily sojourn in that lakeside tent, and my daily woodcutting in an all black hoodie. At the midday formation, right before lunch, I passed out and fell face first into the dirt in the middle of the ex-gunnery sergeant’s announcements. I woke up in the infirmary with my scoutmasters surrounding me with less a look of concern and more a look of annoyance. The camp nurse, Brandon, whose arms were covered from wrist to shoulder in what looked like miniature tattoos of renaissance paintings, had me follow a flashlight without moving my head and had me recite the alphabet backwards. “He needs to go to the ER,” Brandon said. I drifted back to sleep. I woke up again in the back of scoutmaster Urman’s pick-up truck. John was in the front seat. It was dusk. We were on our way to the closest hospital, the one just outside of the Oneida Reservation. We arrived at the hospital, just off of the side of the highway beneath a billboard that had to be at least ten years old advertising a reservation casino. I was seen promptly and was administered an I.V. drip with five percent morphine. I was floating when they told me that I had a heatstroke. This is it, I thought, this is my ticket home. I could already smell the sting of the sea air, I could hear the crashing of the waves and the laughter of my friends, and I could taste the sweet lemonade on my lips. The doctor came back into the room with Urman and John and he told me with a smile that I was good to go back to camp, I just needed to finish the I.V. and I’d be good to go. “I told you you’d be fine,” Urman said as he slapped me on the stomach, playfully, with the back of his hand, “you just gotta stop dressing like such an emo punk.” This made John and the doctor chuckle, and I smiled, this is how men joke, its okay, I told myself. It was at least half-past ten and you could hear the three of our stomach’s grumbling over Urman’s Toby Keith CD—Urman was a tried a true nationalist, any scout who wasn’t at rapt attention during the pledge would be forced to chop wood for hours on end; he had American flag decals on almost everything he owned including the .45 he kept in

the glove compartment six inches John’s chest. As we sped down the mountainous highway we approached this big box building, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, a massive red and yellow neon sign glowed above it—Steak! Strippers!— wreathed with a garland of flashing red and yellow light bulbs. “How ‘bout it boys?” Urman said with the kind of chuckle you only hear when someone tells a dirty joke poorly, “You ready to eat?” “Hell yeah,” John said, he thought he’d sound more confidant, more manly, if he threw hell in there. But he just sounded like an asshole. The only tits John had ever seen at that point were on his family computer when he would sneak downstairs at one in the morning while his parents were asleep. He sounded like a boy who thought he was a man. He sounded just like Urman. Steak and strippers; meat for men who cannot tell the difference between the steak and the strippers. Men who just see an unholy communion of flesh and blood; wolves descending upon the lamb, tearing at the flank and the hind, ripping and cleaving the flesh, swallowing without chewing. Consuming mindlessly and savagely, like good American men, men who have been told that they can take and destroy and devour because this world was made for them. Steak and strippers: a square meal for the American man. We made it back to Kiowa at a quarter-past midnight. We ended up going to a KFC drive-thru— mindless consumption without the erections. I crawled under my mosquito netting and tried to get comfortable on my stiff cot that used to belong to some corporal in Da Nang or Basra. The tent smelled like semen, my bunkmate Nate must’ve been jacking-off to Katie while I was having a stroke. Nate’s a good American man now, a Yale man who studies economics and likes steak and strippers. Polar Bear The fog veiled the lake. It was so peaceful. The bluebirds and finches were singing softly in the forest. The sun was creeping up the horizon, promising a bright and golden dawn. Ducks who were lazily paddling in the lake suddenly took flight in fear of the coming horde. A legion of shirtless boys in their boxers and swim trunks crashed into the still waters, their roar shattered the morning air and silenced the song birds. It was the Polar Bear Plunge, complete with greased watermelons and unchecked and encouraged aggression and the titillating possibility of drowning someone. Boys piling on top of boys, being drawn

spring 2018


to each other’s warm skin in the freezing waters. Taught, lean bodies, wet with rage, groping at the slippery fruits. Boys laughing and yelping as they embraced one another then tried to drown each other. The lake became a locker room, bursting and boiling with boys who couldn’t tell if they wanted to punch or fuck one another, this scared them, so they couldn’t fuck each other but they’d settle for trying to kill each other. I was piled five boys deep and I was gasping for air. The watermelon was near and we were drawn to it like moths to a flame. I jumped on a boy, he was between the watermelon and me, and I forced him under. He dragged me down with him. We struggled, submerged under the other boys, and he bit into my shoulder. A bite I would later recognize as the carnal bite on the shoulder your lover gives you as you come. We came up, gasping, and smiling. The watermelon we tried to kill one another over had been shattered, and the red flesh of the fruit was suspended around us. I jumped on him again, but this time there was no watermelon, no excuse. His fist dug into my ribs; get off me you fucking queer. He forced me down under the water. He was going to settle for killing me. Another watermelon and another boy got his attention and he swam away. Squirrel Soup The wilderness survival merit badge is a necessary right of passage for every Boy Scout. To get this coveted badge I had to survive a night in the woods with no shelter, no sleeping bag, with only my knife, a hatchet, flint and steel, one space blanket, ten feet of twine, one water bottle, and no food. There were five of us, John, a pair of twin brothers, a boy named Peter who never spoke unless spoken to, and myself. We set off up the mountain a little after lunch, where we had made sure to stuff our stomachs full of the cheap meats and undercooked pasta until we were almost sick. We got to work chopping down saplings to fashion a couple of lean-tos for our shelter. We foraged about gathering kindling and dead branches for our fire so we would be able to keep warm once the warm summer sun slipped away and the cold night swallowed our mountain. We worked well and we worked quickly. We had finished gathering a large pile of wood to burn to keep us warm and to keep away the black bears. We fashioned two sturdy lean-tos, one on each side of a wide oak tree. It was not yet dusk and we had time to hunt. One of the twins jokingly suggested it at first, but we suddenly found ourselves whittling sticks into spears, sharpening our hatchets against the grain of our flint, practicing using our neckerchiefs as


american literary magazine

slings to throw rocks from as if we were David training for Goliath. We bore into the forest, quick and silent. We spotted a squirrel scurrying about the forest floor and we gave chase. We were dogs chasing cars, unsure of what we’d do if we caught one. It quickly stole up side of an oak. We moved on, moving quickly and silently, playing hunter. We spotted another squirrel and gave chase once again. Again, the squirrel quickly scurried up the tree, dodging John’s spear, which sunk into the dirt instead of the flesh of the small squirrel. We stopped at the base, whopping and hollering as if we were warriors. The squirrel was half way up the tree when the stone smashed open its skull. Its corpse landed at our feet without a thud, speechless, John, the twins, and I turned to see a toothy-smiling Peter with his makeshift sling in his hand. “Squirrel soup?” he said with a grin. The rest of us looked at the squirrel, its skull split in two, and we gagged. We walked back to our camp without a word, except for Peter who didn’t see what the big deal was. Peter was playing along like the rest of us dogs, he just happened to sink his teeth into the tire. We should’ve spent more time gathering firewood rather than killing squirrels. The night was so cold. John and I huddled together, talking about cute girls and our crushes to keep us warm inside, like we were soldiers in a foxhole talking about the sweethearts we’d left behind Eventually that wasn’t enough and John took out his deck of cards and began to burn them. Burning hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades were enough to keep us warm as long as we held one another and talked about pretty girls. Dawn was dim and liberating. We descended down into camp and got into our bunks at a quarter past seven. We were allowed to sleep-in until ten. It was our only reward besides the felt patch. Made in the USA I used to think of Kiowa as a prison. Now I know that it is a factory. John and I were sitting on the edge of the parade ground, eating Kamikazes, a snow cone with every flavor on it, that we’d bought from the trading post. There was a commotion over by the archery range, and John and I began to walk over, then we started to jog when we saw the other boys jog, then we began to run when we saw them run. We dropped our snow cones in the dirt. We pushed our way through the crowd, pushing our way through boys chanting fight! fight! fight! Pushing our way through white boys unironically shouting world star!

There were two boys, older than most of the other boys at Kiowa, with bloody noses and black eyes, circling each other. The boys landed blows, grabbed each other’s hair, and fell into the dirt clawing at each other’s eyes. One of the boys managed to kick the other boy off of him; they got to their feet and paused for a moment, before drawing their knives from their belts. The crowd grew quiet and we all backed up a couple of feet. They circled each other, silently; they had hunger in their eyes. Several scoutmasters and counselors sprinted towards us. They were shouting stop! Why? Is this not what they wanted? This was the finishing touch, the fresh lacquer at the end of the assembly line. This is the final product, ready to go to market as emotionally unavailable fathers, adulterers, violent men, men who don’t listen to no, men who want to make America great again, men who consume, men who want their steak with a side of ass, men who kill squirrels, men who draw guns at bars when someone has the nerve to talk back, men who don’t know how to love truly and honestly, men who are afraid of themselves—men who are still boys. The army of boys gathered on the parade ground for the last time the next morning. It was time to go home. Tall boys, small boys, fat boys, lean boys, mean boys, boys with hairs on their chins and boys who were as smooth as the day that they were born; boys who thought that they were men. Boys that are self-fulfilling prophecies. Boys who were told to be a man. Home Sweet Home My father comes to get me; my mother and my sister are there too. I smile and hug them and tell them I'm never coming back. My father says we’ll talk about that later. Halfway home we stop at a BBQ joint on the side of the road. I lick BBQ sauce from my filthy dirty fingers and push my greasy unwashed hair from my eyes with those same fingers. I was an animal. The food was too rich, my stomach wasn’t able to adjust, and I threw it all up in the parking lot as we walked back to the car. Hot water is taken for granted. When you spend fourteen days in the woods with only a lake to bathe in, you realize that hot water is taken for granted. It was almost orgasmic, to wash off the layers of filth and grime and sweat and blood, to let myself cry after holding it in for two weeks. The tears cleansed me of Kiowa more than the soap and hot water could, but boys don’t cry. This was not uncommon after Kiowa.

spring 2018



Paige Stewart


american literary magazine

Bazooka Parrot Andrew Gelwick

spring 2018


these hands Madeline Hatrrison


american literary magazine


Emaan Khan Like every pediatrics unit, Baystate’s was too bright. Panelled windows took place of walls, with too many fake butterflies glued to them. Kermit was getting tired of shelves, and the aquarium guppies began to bump against the plexiglass. But most of all, those heinous carpeted floors - beige, of course always invited a quick trip, an embrace with the ground. But it all was really just white. The reclined bed was hard, but good for small bodies- a perfect place for tiger pajamas. The bathroom door always made a grating noise, tossing a shadow across the ground. It could never close. Her constant companion always sat near, one hand stretched out to the toilet, and the other at Ana’s throat. Ana sighed. She reached down and felt for the hilt of the lever. The bed rose. While waiting, she fiddled with the worn pages of her copy of Jane Eyre that was brought generously by mother, along with that unappealing blue-grey scarf from the hospital gift store. Finally, Nurse Jackie entered with the familiar half-sneer, half-leer, the one that screamed, I really need a cornbread muffin right now! “Breakfast is ready!” Gliding over, she pulled the rolling buffet bar over Ana’s lap, dropping the plastic tray just hard enough so that the cup of vanilla Ensure sloshed over onto the page where Jane and Rochester get married. Damn. That’s the best part. In the room over, separated by a too-thin wall of blanched concrete, was Mia. She sobbed. -

forefinger and stacked the two on top of the egg heap. She was still crying. Three bundles of strawberry jam were now on top of the toast. For some shine, she shook salt on it. The butter was melted and muddily disintegrated with the eggs. She placed the fork prongs down in the oil puddle in the center. Finally, with shaky hands, she delicately picked up the styrofoam Ensure cup and took a tip, clucking her tongue. Then, with careful concentration, Ana placed four fingers under the outside rim of the plate. She swung her arm up as her breakfast took flight. She giggled, trying to catch a falling egg on her tongue. This time, she wailed. Her constant companion, with strawberry jam under her left eye, sighed. Two or three nurses came in, Nurse Jackie in strong lead. Ana giggled. “Again?” Nurse Jackie told the best jokes. And then they were all gone. The room darkened, but Ana threw her head back, laughing through her nose. And then she stopped. It was shoved down and through, but Ana stood still. And it pumped. And it delivered. It was quiet.

Grinding through the fat of her egg scramble with her front teeth, Ana looked down at the rest of her spread. Delicately placed in the center of the tray was a ceramic navy plate that glistened slightly with condensation from the rapidly cooling eggs. She pushed them into the upper right corner. She then picked up the 9-grain wheat slices with her thumb and

spring 2018


Content Warning: Sexual Assault

Bitch Cup Kendra Barat Bitch cup. Pants down. I was drunk enough to do it, but sober enough to care who saw. Which was stupid. Nothing tangible forced me, except house rules and the pressure to impress my opponents. Which was stupid. I could not hit the next shot. The next shot that would allow me to pull my white-washed, high-waisted jeans back up over my brand new black underwear to meet my too tight and too short black crop top. My long orange cardigan covered my butt, but unfortunately left my front side open for viewing. Which was stupid. I caught him staring from across the room. I saw him look at my underwear, and then slowly shift his gaze up to my eyes. I could not decipher whether I was flattered or embarrassed. Obviously I was a spectacle with my jeans hanging around my ankles, but yet he chose to look at me. Which was stupid. We walked the typical college party line: year, hometown, major, jobs and something we had in common: soccer. Before I could even grasp hold of the conversation, I was following him outside. Which was stupid. Outside of the house’s backyard gate, he kissed me. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a typical semi-drunken college make out session. Until it wasn’t. Until I felt his hand move across my stomach and slide down my pants. Maybe this is how real college “hook-ups” were supposed to go. I tried to relax and let it happen, until it became uncomfortable. Which was stupid. Regardless of my numerous retractions from his lips and refusals to go back to his place, “just around the corner,” he persisted. With nowhere else to turn, I felt forced to pull out my last stop, my embarrassing secret: my virginity. I could not go home with him because I had never had sex before. “But I have sisters and a mother whom I respect immensely,” he told me. He would never disrespect a woman. This made sense. Of course I believed him. Which was stupid. After a few more uncomfortable trips down my pants, a brief


american literary magazine

interruption from a friend at the party, and four more pleas, I agreed to go to his house. Which was stupid. I grabbed my things from my friend’s room, and followed him out the front door. Nobody tried to stop me. Someone else probably just hit the bitch cup and encapsulated the crowd’s attention with their pants. Which was stupid. He barely spoke on the walk to his house. He moved quickly and with purpose. I trailed behind in a light fog of nerves and alcohol. When we got to his house, two police cars were parked out front. They seemed to be busting a party. Naturally. He lived in a fraternity house. I followed him up the front steps nonetheless, and watched as he pounded on the door begging to be let inside. I stood by like an idle, powerless child, waiting for the alpha male to handle the situation. Which was stupid. When at last someone opened the door enough for the two of us to slide through, he ushered me upstairs. The first room on the left. The door opened quickly and was swiftly shut and locked once we were inside. The police presence outside didn’t seem to matter much anymore. I was locked in a room with an attractive frat-star soccer player. I felt honored. The room was so small that nothing else could fit other than a full sized bed and a dresser. Thus, I sat down on one side of his bed. Which was stupid. I tried to start a conversation, but before I knew it, the lights were off, and he pushed me onto my back. Once again, I let it happen. I kept trying to talk, but my words were continuously muffled by vaguely aggressive kissing. Maybe this is how college hook-ups were supposed to go. Maybe I should just grow up and let the pieces fall where they may. Which was stupid. Within minutes, my white-washed high-waisted jeans that hung around my ankles just hours before, lay in a messy pile on his bedroom floor. My black underwear quickly followed. In the darkness, I heard the fumbling of a belt buckle. This couldn’t actually be happening. I began to panic. I felt beads of sweat accumulate all over my body. I tried to close my legs. I was not ready. Which was stupid. Before my brain could process anything, he penetrated. I gasped, but could not make a sound.

I froze. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t move. After a few seconds, I pushed on his chest as he sturdily loomed on top of me. It was all the resistance I could muster. Please don’t, I begged, once my voice found its way back to my throat. He remained silent. We continued to make out because I did not know what else to do. Every so often I felt his penis brush against my hand, which I had positioned to guard myself from further surprise attacks. He tried to move my hand, but I used all of my strength to keep it there. After a while, he flipped me over so that I was on top. He forcefully pushed my head down towards his pelvis. Maybe this is how college hook-ups were supposed to go. He’ll think I am a prude if I don’t do this, I thought. I wanted to leave more than anything. I wanted to put my pants back on. I wanted to be in my own bed. I wanted to not be scared. But I also wanted to be cool. I did not want to be the tease who ran out on him. Which was stupid. After more near-penetrations and desperate pleas to stop, I snapped out of the terror-struck haze and abruptly decided that I needed to leave. He stayed in bed as I fumbled for my pants and called an Uber. He only stood up to unlock the door and let me out. I scurried down the stairs and was greeted by members of the fraternity. Were you upstairs this whole time? They inquired. What the fuck are you still doing in our house? Who were you with? Pitied snickers and open laughter chased me out of the house. I ran down the front steps. The realizations hit me like a brick wall. I was now that girl. I was the girl who “went home” with a near stranger. I was the girl who had to creep out of a frat house at 2:30am, alone. I was the girl those brothers had already forgotten about. But worst of all: I was now a statistic. Which is devastating.

spring 2018


The Exterminator Julia Buyak

From the balcony, fireflies shadow dance across tops of pine trees as next to me someone takes a drag just before the cigarette plummets nine stories through thick dark June air. Warmth folds around the cathedral and for a flash we all are something to pray too. The summer before seventh grade I pulled a clump of dirt off a patio chair cushion and a thousand baby spiders fell onto my palm. I watched their lifeless bodies slide from flesh onto stone. The year Papa died, Grandy developed a ladybug allergy They danced around the house, mocking the new widow. Insect legs pressed against the bay window as black spots shone through red wings cloaked in orange sun. A new stained glass. Then the exterminator came. Luck lived and died between the wooden beams of their old house. The hum of life washed away by the scent of rose soap and potpourri.


american literary magazine


Jordan Redd

spring 2018


Lebanese Lungs Sofia Elian


american literary magazine


Kenneth Fleming

spring 2018


Block Party Gabrielle Michel


american literary magazine

Crime and Punishment Paige Stewart

spring 2018


DĂŠmĂŠnageur De Personnes Jordan Redd


american literary magazine


Kenneth Fleming

spring 2018


Cross Road Mercy Griffith


american literary magazine


Kenneth Fleming

spring 2018


Home Away From Home Away From Claire Osborn

Artist Statement: Home Away From Home Away From is an installation, using photography from my childhood, oversized mat board, a magnifying glass, and string. This represents one of eight pieces.


american literary magazine


Ginell Turner

spring 2018



Nikolina Daniludis


american literary magazine

spring 2018


ş Meydandaki Dervisler: The Dervishes in the Square Aneeta Mathur-Ashton

Arsin kubbelerine adi nurla yazilan Ismi semada Ahmed yerde Muhammed olan Yedi katli göklerde Hak Cemalini gören Evvel ahir yolcusu ya hazreti Muhammed A soft voice calls out and then it begins for the day. Six of them descend down the stairs of the main square to begin their daily ritual. They gather in the corner of the main area, watching the people go by. Clad in their pristine white thobes and burnt orange şapkas, they divide into two lines and face each other. They stare in admiration of each other, each with a face lined by wisdom and time. They stare into each other’s eyes-eyes that have seen much suffering and have seen much sorrow. They stare at each other and wait patiently for the drum to be hit. The drum that tells them to awaken and Be. Suddenly, the drum is struck and the noise pierces the silence like a knife. One by one, they awaken and walk up to their partners and bow. They bow to acknowledge and honor the age old spirits that fill each other. They linger for a second and then part from each other’s deep gazes. As they part, they spread out and cross their arms and they begin to twirl.


american literary magazine

Yavaşça yavaşça They begin to spin like tops and everything becomes frozen in time. Nothing else matters in this moment. The dervishes, once clear, become white and orange blurs as they speed up. They disappear from sight as they embark on their most important journey- a spiritual one. They move in a trance-like state as the music fills them. The music fills their veins and courses through their body, filling them with a divine love. Yavaşça yavaşça They turn in circles in one place. Their feet firmly planted in the ground, while their body stays upright. Yavaşça yavaşça. Their bodies go limp as they fill up with the Divine spirit and their heads begin to move with the prayer music. Yavaşça yavaşça. They stretch out their arms to the heavens- right arm toward the heavens and the left towards the beautiful earth they are gracing. They spin to see the truth in life. For life is full of thorns that stick you in the side. And the truth will set you free. They spin to seek clarity in this chaotic and strange world. They spin to seek a higher love. But most importantly, they spin to honor Him. With each turn they make, they embrace all that He has created.They chant His name and pledge their everlasting devotion. This is an age-old practice, dating back to the creation of the land the Sufis walk on. This is not a dance. This is a prayer signifying the highest sacrifice a man can make. To be a Sufi means to surrender yourself to Him. To be a Sufi means to abandon all wants and desires. To be a Sufi is one of the most beautiful things a man can do. And to see them in the square is a sight to behold.

spring 2018



Courtney Miller my body is a shipwreck all sunken bones and rotting wood, all lodged full of splinters and bony candlesticks (i heard a rumor that they’re worth a lot back home) sometimes you can still see the figurehead breasts bared and wings spread wide. she has a face rattled by the rocks a slim mouth smoothed into a snarl come, run your hands down my skin, close your eyes, there is no need to be gentle here. those cuts you feel are only pieces of shattered china i think they must have been ruined by the wind and i could have sworn i’d patted them all down just a moment ago, i’m sorry if i missed a few but after all, you must have seen the headlines you couldn’t have missed the headlines the same ones that came crackling hissing laughing out of all the radios S.S. CANTUARIA SINKS OFF COAST OF NATION’S CAPITAL 29 MISSING 29 DEAD ISN’T IT A SHAME THE CAPTAIN WENT DOWN WITH THE SHIP i heard you wondering why my name tasted like saltwater but you see i only wanted to be the captain when it was convenient, i fell in love with a projectionist and we spent all our time holed up in the crow’s nest instead, i’ve never made much of a helmsman my hands have always been shaky my eyesight blurry, i didn’t see the storm that took us down until we were already underwater. that’s why water dribbles down my chin when i talk and it’s why i have to rub salt out of my eyes every morning when i wake up the sails are always getting tangled in my hair they almost look like ribbons my toes are twisted down the barrels of cannons and i think i swallowed some of the bowsprit because my legs creak when i move long groans i drag down 36 th street, don’t you think i sound like old floorboards, kissing part of the mast must still be lodged in my back


american literary magazine

i walk with an awful hunch now please pull it out if you see it, and don’t mind that piece of the helm stuck through my thigh, i don’t even notice it anymore i wish you wouldn’t look so alarmed i am only a product of the storm i did not become one. these bumps on my torso are not contagious, they are only the causalities i press against my chest all these little lives and all these little deaths. misspelled names in the obituary pages of the daily news, and a few of those flimsy laminated prayer cards they gave me at the funerals of all those people i ran aground but here’s the thing i’ve spent every day since searching i have shaken out every inch of me wrung out all the water from my hair i’ve tried to make a map of me but i still can’t get all the pieces to fit together i thought i found the answer in the mouth of a shark last week but it was just a man selling palms so please don’t pull your hands away, i’m not done looking i’m still trying to dig up all that debris i’ve been over it a dozen times, i’ve charted it again and again but there isn’t an ocean in Washington and i don’t know where all this water came from

spring 2018



Amanda Book


american literary magazine

Tomorrow will be a Double Yolk Kind of Day Elspeth Reilly

Bacon strips curling and blackening like the discarded matches I use to light the stove the fat splatters in tinny pinpricks on my robe I store the drippings in an old takeaway container it seems like the thing to do the timing is never quite right the orange yolk gummy and cold coats my teeth and tongue I scrape the bacon out of the pan the crescents of my nails black with char the radio crackles and through static a man croons about love

spring 2018



Cam Diagonale wishes she had been born a

reef shark

Carla Levy is just happy to be here. Amanda Book Father of Thunder the betta fish. Amanda Hodes

still hasn't mastered the AmLit aesthetic, but she's working on it

Anand Srinivasan

I'm originally from California and now I live in a basement.

Andrew Gelwick Go buy my shit

Aneeta Mathur-Ashton is that

pretentious girl who uses obscure 80's song lyrics as her Instagram captions, listens to exclusively 80's rock, and owns a record player. She genuinely thought it was "flamencos" instead of "flamingos" for years until someone corrected her. She also knows who the people are on her band t-shirts and WILL NOT list out the top hits by them....

Arnaud Leclere

, an artist from Paris, France, is highly influenced by the Constructivism Art movement and the formal structure of our daily environment. Leclere has earned a Bachelor of arts in art at UCLA, with an emphasis in painting and photography and is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at American University

Beth Lily only has terrible ideas left and is gonna make you listen to all of them

Claire Osborn is thankful that Amlit let her

little undeclared freshman hands touch the Indesign files of Amlit 2015 so that she could discover her passion for design and place in the art world.

Courtney Miller

missed her dad’s birthday again this year and probably this deadline too

Elijah Humphrey

reads, writes, listens, and occasionally does the dishes. He’s been subtly cross-dressing around our nation’s capital since 2016.

Elspeth Reilly

goes to College, the movie has reached its end. The after credit scene features her drinking wine with a silly straw as she reflects on how ephemeral it all was. She mispronounces ephemeral. Runaway by the National slowly crescendos and the screen goes black.

Emaan Khan oh bother. Gabrielle Michel Mother of Thunder the betta fish.

Ginell Turner the saddest period of my life

created some of the most beautiful, powerful, and riveting pieces I have ever made. Being able to express my personal feelings within photography and poetry has truly saved my life. There is a lot of power in making art to heal.

Hana Manadath

is a first year Graduate student from Levittown PA. Empathizes in political affairs and U.S. commentary through mixed media.

is a 19 year old self-taught photographer with an eye for creativity since her iPhone days. Her work as a visual artist includes travel and portrait photography.

Caleb Smith I'm a sophomore from Iowa

Julia Buyak is just trying her best.

Bryan McGinnis

studying International Relations with a minor in Russian. I am an ROTC cadet and member of the AU rugby team. I did my art as a gen ed requirement, but I guess it turned out decent enough to be put in here, so that's cool.


american literary magazine

Jordan Redd's personal theme song is "Bet On

It" from the Disney Channel Original movie "High School Musical 2.”

Kendra Barat

I am a senior studying Health Promotion and Communications. I work for the National Park Service, and I am incredibly passionate about spending time outdoors. Yes, my dream is to be Leslie Knope.

Kenneth Fleming is a second-year MA

student in the Literature Department. He’s interested in representations of national identity in pop-culture, collects vinyl records, drinks most things out of mason jars, and usually has a camera and/or a book with him.

Nikolina Daniludis

is a senior at American University who is studying Psychology and Arabic. She hopes to merge her love of photography with her passion for humanitarian work.

Noah Stevens lives in a lighthouse Paige Stewart

was born in Greenville, PA in 1989. Death TBD.

Rasa Davidson de Sa is young, gifted and

Kiran Ahluwalia is in search for the perfect


Leena Jayaswal

is a painter from Connecticut. She references images from family photos and those that are found to help her create her paintings.

cup of tea.

is the director of the photography concentration in the School of Communication. Her work often deals with issues of identity and being South Asian.

Maddi Chilton

was that bee you left trapped between your screen and window all winter, you asshole.

Madeleine Harrison

is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker with a love of coffee and television shows about a ragtag group of people from different worlds who become family.

Maggie Mahoney is still figuring out how to use commas correctly.

Maura Byrne

is a freshman and Literature major on the Creative Writing track.

Sarah Jarrett

Sheer Figman has been having vivid dreams

again recently and is very happy about it. she left her nail polish in a friend's room last week and is not sure when she'll get it back. every once in a while she thinks about owning a dog named lincoln.

Sofia Elian

I am from Byblos, Lebanon and moved to the US 5 years ago. I grew up taking painting and drawing classes throughout middle and highschool, developing a strong background in the fine arts. I am a graphic design major graduating in May 2018, specializing in Illustrating and brand development. Fun facts about me include: I once performed in a rollerblading recital, I love spicy pickles, and I used to paint longboards.

Sreenidhi Kotipalli

is a first-year accounting student from Boston, Massachusetts. His biggest literary influences are Edgar Allen Poe and James Joyce.

Max Lustig

is a second-year Political Science student, studying abroad this semester, and just wants to know (SPOILER ALERT) how the Stark gang plans on taking on the Ice Dragon and are we really sure that Cersei is pregnant?

Mercy Griffith Ephesians 2:4-10

Sydney Hamilton turns all her sentences

Nicolla Etzion

I like tea with milk, Fauvism, the movie Pretty Woman, and getting upset at people who get too close to paintings at museums.

into songs and only uses her speaking voice to misquote wellknown idioms

Thomas Pool

is filled with lots of emotions because this is his last AmLit bio and now he has to go be an Adult in the Real World

spring 2018


Masthead Editors-In-Chief Amanda Hodes Sydney Hamilton

Creative Directors Izzy Capodanno Caleb Gleit

Design Assistants: Rebecca Sakaguchi Iris Hills Marita Anastasi

Blog Editor: Maggie Mahoney

Blog Staff: Rana Attia Lindsay Russell

Poetry Editors: Julia Buyak Elspeth Reilly

Poetry Assistants: Caroline Hannum Brendan Sakosits

Prose Editors: Emaan Khan Tessa Stewart

Prose Assistants: Demory Hobbs Henri Brink


american literary magazine

Art Editors: Thomas Pool Kiran Ahluwalia

Art Assistants: Rachel Burger Sheer Figman

Photo/Film Editor: Jordan Redd

Photo/Film Assistants: Gabriella Liles Amanda Book

Copy Editors: Cam Diagonale Brooke Olsen

Copy Assistants: Morgan Bluma Sarah Maraschky

Social Media Assistant: Danya Adams

General Staff: Noah Stevens Esra Yener Claire Osborn Alice Bershtein Matt Bernabeo Anand Srinivasan

Faculty Contribution

Indian Bride Leena Jayaswal

spring 2018



american literary magazine

spring 2018


American Literary Magazine Mary Graydon Center 248 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20016

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