AmLit Spring 2022

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1 | Spring 2022


American Literary Magazine | 2


Mission Statement The American Literary Magazine, affectionately known as AmLit, is American University’s student-run literary and creative arts magazine. Striving to showcase the best student creative works, AmLit’s review process is anonymous and democratic, with genre editors leading open discussions. The AmLit community, also known as the AmFam, comes together each semester to share their love for the creative arts, host events, and design the publication. All copyrights belong to the artists.

Acknowledgments We are consistently humbled and awestruck at the dedication, passion, and vision of the AmFam. We owe this magazine’s existence to the hours spent in review sessions, the awkward Zoom silences, the fun events, and the AmFam’s determination to create a beautiful piece of art. We are honored to continue to share their brilliant work with American University. This magazine was born from the talented work of our Creative Directors, Hannah Sjovold and Lia Patentas, and their Design Team. Their vision of time lost in record shops while dancing to funky music blossomed into this beautiful publication, turning a literary magazine into its own work of art. We also owe a thank you to the efforts of our Copy Editors, Sophia Olson and Rebecca Oss, and their Copy Assistants. Their attention to detail allowed this magazine to appear in its most perfect form, and their efforts are at the crux of what brings this magazine to life. To our Executive Board, we are deeply grateful to their continued effort in review sessions, designing the magazine, and events. This semester, a large portion of our E-Board had never previously served in the AmLit E-Board, and we are so thankful to their willingness to learn and formulate a tight-knit community. We also could not have published this magazine without the help of our Student Media Board community and the guidance of our publisher, Heritage Printing. In AmLit’s 100th edition, it is necessary to turn to the legacy of Editors-in-Chief and Executive Boards before us. We thank them for their continued guidance in the process of developing this little magazine, and for crafting the AmFam. Alex is deeply grateful to Jinger’s continued patience and support in producing this AmLit. In approaching the next semesters, Alex is excited to witness Jinger’s efforts to revitalize the essential components of AmLit and bring it to new horizons. AmLit will be in good hands. Lastly, a special thank you to Alexandra for her unwavering dedication to AmLit. Not only has she been a phenomenal EIC the past two semesters, but Alex has also been a role model, leader, and support system for the AmFam community. Alexandra’s creativity and drive have permanently transformed AmLit and will continue to influence the magazine in the future. We are lucky and grateful to have had Alex lead our organization!

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Artificial Nature American Literary Magazine | 4

Dori Rathmell


Letter from the Editors Dear AmFam, Before opening this magazine, we urge you to place your favorite record in your record player or press play on Spotify. Embrace the gentle sounds of music, and dance with the works of the artists of American University in this 100th edition of AmLit. We are honored to celebrate AmLit’s 100th edition. For 100 editions, AmLit has upheld the mission to foster student creativity and serve as a welcoming community on campus. Our anniversary is a testament to our strength as a magazine, which would not be possible without the dedication of our staff and the campus community. Congratulations on 100 editions of achievement and creativity, and we hope to see another 100 magazines of success! Upon entering this semester of AmLit, it was our goal to craft an AmLit that had the tightknit community that it once had, with close friends discussing poetry, sharing their own art, or discussing how to curate the magazine over crafting a piece of art at an event. With an Executive Board composed of many new members of the AmFam, we were inspired by their commitment to strengthen the AmLit community, evident through their continued effort to plan successful events and also integrate inclusive norms into the AmLit community. We loved to see these close friendships and shared laughter, and are hopeful that this community will continue to strengthen in the coming semesters. Before you drift off into your music, Alex has some final words for AmLit. As I prepare to conclude my time as Editor-in-Chief of AmLit, I consistently reflect on the relationships that I have built in this organization and how they can be reflected in each page of these magazines. For such reasons, this little magazine has been such a source of love, laughter, and creativity in these four semesters of my college experience. With the many nights spent lost in production for this magazine, I can now place this 100th edition in the AmLit archive, and join the memories of editors working hard to produce their own immortal work of art for the AmFam. As we move forward with our academic and professional careers, the significant and unforgettable impact of Amlit will forever be near and dear in our hearts. Thank you, AmLit, for being our everlasting rose! With Love, Alexandra Kaiss & Jinger Callwood

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4. Artificial Nature • • • Dori Rathmell 8. The Tiny Giant • • • Emily Bass 11. indifference • • • Sydney Muench 12. Fresh Rain 3 • • • Isabelle Ritz 21. Bloom 2 • • • Isabelle Ri 25. pillar of souls • • • Lia Patentas 36. Fern After Dark • • • Dori Rathmell 39. a concert in the square • • • Isabel de Oliveira 49. harbor • • • Lia Patentas 57. lifelike • • • Lia Patentas 61. in plain sight 1 + 3 • • • Sami Pye 62. Untitled • • • Stella Breen 65. sophia • • • Kaitlyn Chesleigh 67. Bloom 1 • • • Isabelle Ritz 75. From below • • • Ellie Blanchard 84. whimsical morning on the beach • • • Hope Alex

88-87. Encased in Ice • • • Isabelle Ritz 91. Fall Wonders in Seneca Territory • • • Emily Bass 92. The Future is ours • • • Ronaldo Bolaños 95. Mon Laferte • • • Ronaldo Bolaños 99. joy • • • Anjoleigh Schindler 107. July 25th • • • Anjoleigh Schindler 111. fisher’s morning • • • Hope Alex 112. reservoir • • • Eva Wallis 120-121. Weekend Nights • • • Sydney Muench 123. Fall Rouge • • • Isabelle Ritz 128. Bronze • • • Ronaldo Bolaños 133. Migration Across Turtle Island • • • Emily Bass 134. locals only • • • Lia Patentas 141. Brotherhood • • • Ronaldo Bolaños 144-145. Beauty in Decay • • • Isabelle Ritz

15. Michelle • • • Naomi Listokin 18. Wrath • • • Hope Jorgensen 22. monkton morning • • • Tilly Boraks 27. Serene Walk • • • Mei Matute 28. Banshee • • • Tilly Boraks 31. ICARUS! • • • Mei Matute 34. Achilles last goodbye • • • Katherine Mahan 43. The Worth of an Elephant • • • Hope Jorgensen 52. untitled_1 • • • Katherine Mahan 54. Untitled • • • Mara Shepherd 70. A Study in Ophelia • • • Audrey Magill 73. all bodies are good bodies • • • Sami Pye 78. A Study in Coffee • • • Mei Matute 81. House in Spring • • • Julia Kane 83. i will try to remember this • • • Heather Roselle

89. Airhead • • • Mei Matute 96. A Party Without Cake is Just a Meeting • • • Scarlett Wedergren 103. Children’s Literature • • • Katherine Mahan 104. untitled_2 • • • Katherine Mahan 108. Ocracoke Island Light • • • Julia Kane 115. Raleigh • • • Julia Kane 116-117. Untitled • • • Abby St Jean 119. My Sister’s Piano • • • Mei Matute 125. Boom Box Bae • • • Mara Shepherd 126-127. A Series on Anger • • • Ellyse Zou 131. Madonna and Child Triptych • • • Julia Kane 137. Found in Nature • • • Demi Benard 142. I Hate the Texture of These Sheets • • • Abby St Jean

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9. It’s the Little Things • • • Olivia Traub 10. 60,000 • • • Jordyn Baker 13. No One Told You? • • • Julia Mitchell 16-17. TO ALL THE WHITE BOYS WHO BROKE MY HEART • • • Zahra DeShaw 23. Josephine • • • Mara Shepherd 24. heitara • • • Caroline Siebert 27. Refresh • • • Miriam Yarger 29. Like Mother Like Lover • • • McKenzie Taylor 30. Bloodrush • • • Audrey Magill

88. new drugs pt.1 & pt.2 • • • Live Wenke 90. Reaching • • • Emily Bazin 93. My Chest & Two Legs • • • Luke Stowell 94. One Tear • • • Stella The 97. panda toys don’t matter when you’re dead • • • Isabel de Oliveira 98. Carrell Jean • • • Zahra DeShaw 100. VIII. Strength • • • Luke Stowell 101. Booster Seat • • • Annika Rennaker 102. Sour Citrus • • • Jordyn Baker

35. A History of Queer Love • • • Isabella Paracca 38. I don’t know why I like old things • • • Annika Rennaker 42. It Was Just a Game • • • Emma Southern 48. Accessories • • • Shelby Rose 48. When Poets Fall in Love • • • Grace Hasson 53. Stories • • • Miriam Yarger 55. Primavera • • • Isabella Paracca 56. Like broken pottery, fondly I think of you • • • Annika Rennaker 60. Right? • • • Julia Kane 63. I Remember Everything • • • Kaitlyn Chesleigh 64. I Thought I Knew What Love Felt Like • • • Emily Rae Hibshman 68-69. we are womxn • • • Stella Thé 72-73. confessions to my body hair • • • Zahra DeShaw 74. mary ellen • • • Matthew Colucci 74. body • • • Alexia Partouche 79. an ode to the brown men in my life • • • Zahra DeShaw 80. Another Life • • • Jordyn Baker 82. ache is a noun and a verb • • • McKenna Casey 86. Grief • • • Emilee Rae Hibshman

105. Lips • • • Matthew Colucci 106. Everything is Together • • • Matthew Colucci 109. Empty Echoes • • • Charlotte Van Schaack 110. I Trust You Know the Way • • • Charlotte Van Schaack 113. Waterlogged • • • Luke Stowell 114. I wonder how the horses felt • • • Annika Rennaker 116. Tomorrow • • • Miriam Yarger 118. Loneliness • • • Emma Southern 121. bottled lightning, drunk girl • • • McKenna Casey 122. Big Three • • • Kaitlyn Chesleigh 124. Speak, Hear, Listen • • • Hope Jorgensen 126. Sleeping with the Sun • • • Emilee Rae Hibshman 129. Weep • • • Miriam Yarger 130. Childhood Absence • • • Hope Jorgensen 132. Ripe, New Beginnings • • • Zahra DeShaw 135. Childhood Dwellings • • • Isabella Paracca 136. remains • • • Alexia Partouche 140. Cleaning my room • • • Olivia O’Connor 143. Someone I Love is Slipping Away... • • • Isabella Paracca

14. She Shoots, She Mourns • • • Liah Argiropoulos 19. A Civic and Orange Slices • • • Ellie Blanchard 20. The Girl in the Yellow House • • • Kathryne McCann 26. Should Have • • • Grace Hasson 32-33. A Letter to My Maker • • • Connaught Riley 37. Things I Need to Fix • • • McKenzie Taylor 40-41. The Fairest • • • Caroline Siebert 50-51. Diamonds for My Daughters • • • Kathryne McCann 55. I’m Drinking Champagne & Proposing to Myself • • • Grace Hasson

58-59. There is So Much to Love in a Laugh • • • Samantha Margot 66. To the Woman I’ll Meet Tomorrow • • • Olivia Traub 71. The End • • • Mara Shepherd 76-77. Lights Out • • • Kathryne McCann 85. The Ocean’s Fairy Dust • • • Grace Hasson 138. Reflections on Time • • • Emma DiValentino 139. Time’s Autobiography • • • Nicole Flanagan 145. My 19th Birthday • • • McKenzie Taylor

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The tiny giant Emily Bass

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It’s the Little Things Olivia Traub

The world gets busy Spins faster as the stars and sun rotate with fury Before I breathe out again, it’s Sunday and a new week starts tomorrow All I want is to break the cadence Disrupt the mundanity of my routine But in the meantime All I can do is think about the things that seem to make the world slow Think about the way my little brother’s towel drags across the floor after a bath About the way, your eyes light up when you catch a snowflake on your tongue The way I’ll hold onto your eyelash until you make a wish The way our father sings us happy birthday The way you kiss my hand after a pinky promise The sun and stars will forever be trading places And the week will be over before our next breath But I’m surrounded by stars Right in front of me That reminds me to keep moving Or else the greatest purities and sentiments will be lost to the cosmos

9 | Spring 2022


60,000

Jordyn Baker I am driving seventy miles an hour as my car shifts from fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine to sixty thousand total miles screaming to a megachurch sermon my already-charred throat praying for its repentance I coast down a pitch-black backroad in secret suburbia wishing I could wear the costume of the sufferers in that congregation I further seventy to seventy-five and at eighty, I skip to a punk rock riot anthem my mother’s Ford would be foreign to I am begging for God in the unholiest of states I thought I asked God to stop; I told him to meet me in a still-morning-dew-soaked field for the last time or to go while he still could young and pleading for a force to sit with to roll in this grass with and once I had proof it was God, to whisper in his ear that I never doubted his existence We were to laugh in bliss and he was to cleanse all that made me unrighteous I was to collapse at marvel But God never came I sat in the dew and cried over my wet denim and broken fate God left me alone in the grass and in disobedience I am at eighty-five now and maybe God is in the smell of old hay creeping through my broken air vents or maybe he already left this place I shuffle back to words of praise I am bawling empty verses and hoping my hands find some form of evidence under a steering wheel cover with obvious forms of arrogance from a stumbler who held onto the fabric too tight A lost sheep that strayed from the ability to plea but saw Jesus once in this very backseat because babe, you look best on your knees you look best looking up at me Ninety miles per hour I have never driven this fast

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indifference Sydney Meunch

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Fresh Rain 3 Isabelle Ritz

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No One Told You? Julia Mitchell

I sit on the floor watching, Dressing and undressing my dolls. Splintered wood scratches my legs. There is screaming, shouting, giggling, The sounds of summer boredom. There’s three of us, my two brothers and I. Dad’s at work, Mom’s in the kitchen, Making phone calls, making arrangements. We were dropped off at our cousin’s yesterday. No kids allowed at the hospital. They have a pool, a scary deep hot tub. We swam until we got cold, Then went inside for pretzels and fruit. My cousin and his mom stayed outside In the pool together, talking. I could guess what she was telling him. I hoped that I wasn’t right. I wanted to see my mom so bad, To ask if we could go on the rides tonight. No, she had said breathlessly, no one told you? I brush the splinters off my legs and stand. I yell at my brothers, I yell for my mom. Don’t you know what has happened? We do. She shouts at us, outraged and eyes shining. We’re sorry, but don’t say it.

13 | Spring 2022


She Shoots, She Mourns Liah Argiropoulos

We didn’t know Marc Zumoff’s last game calling buzzer-beaters and halfcourt threes in Philadelphia would be his last. It’s even worse that the Sixers never won it all for him- leaving him to watch games from home as he records three hundred dollar Cameos and makes NFTs with the billionaires. It’s not a bad life, is it? We could have watched Joel Embiid and Dario Saric grow up together, but instead, they’re both nearly thirty years old now and they hardly look at each other when they face off, using the same strategies Brett Brown taught them when they fall over trying to get the rebound. You’d think they’d have each other’s footwork memorized after playing together for two years. You’d think they’d still smile at each other from the free throw line and hug after the game on their way to separate locker rooms. I guess two years seems like a longer stretch of time when you’ve only watched two years pass seven times. I’ve graduated high school and lived in dorms and apartments and cities I’d only ever dreamed of, and I still see them as my older brothers.

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Is it wrong to mourn for people who are happier now? I remember how small and scared I felt when I would walk down the snowy streets of a town I didn’t live in and take photos of the picturesque houses with dim glows emanating from the frosty windows. I couldn’t name what I wanted, but it wasn’t this. It wasn’t trying to convince myself that my friends really did like me, even though they flaked every single time I asked to hang out and posted Instagram stories from the city later that night. It wasn’t crying when I got angry and forcing my parents to apologize to feel a semblance of self-assertion. It wasn’t sinking. It wasn’t sinking, sinking, sinking. Is it wrong to mourn a version of yourself that’s happier now? I was a kid once, and now I’m not. The drive home from the Wells Fargo Center is now exactly 45 minutes, maybe 12 songs, maybe fifteen thousand commercial breaks on 97.5. Regardless, I’ll still slump down in my seat and fall asleep with my cheek against the seatbelt every time, hoping my dad will carry me to my bed once we pull into the driveway.


Michelle

Naomi Listokin Artist Statement: I have always looked up to Michelle Obama since she was on Disney channel telling us to eat our veggies. I could have chosen anyone for this portrait but I chose a woman who inspires me to work hard and achieve my goals despite any barriers put in my way. Medium Statement: collaged from magazine cut outs 15 | Spring 2022


TO ALL THE WHITE BOYS WHO BROKE MY HEART Zahra DeShaw You’re reading this, and you’re already upset at me. You always tell me that I use white like a slap in the face– “racist” is the sharpest word you’ve ever had to swallow I don’t know how to tell you that loving you is claustrophobia every time your words shrink my story smaller, the room shrinks with it keeps getting smaller every time you say “I don’t see race” My oxygen fills your lungs. You told me that I occupy the room when I speak, but you never understood how loud I have to be to drown out all the white noise. Why I cried the night you told me I was bossy. And isn’t it funny how I work twice as hard to thrive in a country whose scientists tried to prove me stupid, and somehow, you’re the one with the C in Sophomore English? There are so many things you will never understand. How I give myself away every day just to keep you. How I try to prove to my brown friends that I’m not letting your handprints stain my flag. I wonder if I am lying. I wonder why I go back to you every time. Why you take up all the space in my poetry, too. Maybe you make me feel more American in the only country I’ve ever known. Maybe I know that you’re as close as I can get to being white. People like you write history So if you say I’m beautiful, it must be true. So if you write my story, I won’t be forgotten.

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It’s not that you break my heart my heart is not capable of shattering– hardened through years of boys like you bragging that it’s so much better with an exotic girl, like my body is your vacation house in Cabo that you can trash and I know you’re tired too. Like your mouth just got tired of chewing me up and spitting me out, you can only eat for so long before you run out of Thanksgiving. Maybe you grow weary because it is work to conquer. you only see things to take or tame. But everything that pours from my lips is sunlight, is truth all the sunscreen in the world couldn’t protect you from. You can’t admit that loving all of me might burn. I willingly gave you my heart. maybe you would have taken it anyways, landed your ships on my shores dug for oil without a second thought to the damage but this story won’t end with the planting of another flag. I am a love letter to myself and to every brown woman who ever mistook herself for a shadow in his light who ever counted her words like calories as he grows plump on her silence. Our compromises are not weaknesses. We have toughened our skins to violence just to feel love’s touch. Know that when you leave me, you do not leave with my dignity. I am the first to conquer this territory. you the white man.

17 | Spring 2022


Wrath

Hope Jorgensen Medium Statement: Graphite and gouache

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A Civic and Orange Slices Ellie Blanchard

Were we listening to Moon River the day the wind blew a tree down in front of the ‘03 Civic? You slammed the brakes, and I realized too late that I didn’t snap the lid back onto my tub of gummy orange slices. It tipped and the carpet is now glittering with sugar crystals. We’re quiet. Maybe because I must be strategically shallow with each breath. I’ll trigger a coughing fit if I speak; oxygen has been touching my lungs in just the wrong way lately. I have bronchitis, in case you forgot. My immune system always falls victim to stress. Every hour of high heart rates over that French exam has a direct correlation with the stickiness of my lungs. Or maybe we’re quiet because a tree just fell in front of your ‘03 Civic. And if we would’ve pulled out of the parking lot after that French exam a couple seconds earlier, well…

Was Moon River playing when the wind blew the tree down? Frank’s version of course. Or was it just the soundtrack my brain chose as our life flashed before my eyes? Only for a second, though. I realize that I trust you. And I can tell that you know it. Your face is frozen. Is this what it feels like? I see you wonder. To have someone depending on your ability to drive through a storm blowing trees down? But I still trust you. Do you want an orange slice?

19 | Spring 2022


The Girl in the Yellow House Kathryne McCann

At the end of my street there was a yellow house. It had been there ever since I could remember, marking the point in the road where the flat pavement gave way to a small hill. When we were young we used to drag our sleds through the fresh snow until we reached the yellow house. This was where we mounted our plastic chariots and raced down the deserted street to victory. Now we groan and march up the steady incline, our book bags sinking into our shoulders. Relief does not come until we reach the yellow house, where we know comfort is waiting. The house itself was completely ordinary. It had ordinary paint chips here and there, a sturdy black door faded with time, and a roof missing three tiles. I had counted them once as I stood outside, waiting for her. Whenever she emerged the world seemed to become lighter. A trick of the wind, she would say if I ever told her this. In her world, the wind was a troublemaker, always bending the laws of our world. Oh how I wish I could spend a day wrapped in her world, entangled in the weeds of her fantasies until they became so knotted around my limbs I simply could not leave. Though the house was completely ordinary, she was extremely extraordinary. Radiant energy seemed to flow from the curls that toppled from her head and seep into the very air around her. Her old friend, the trickster wind, would then carry it into every corner, making her surroundings extraordinary too. The yellow house

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suddenly became bolder and brighter, as if the sun itself had painted it using its very own curated shade of brilliance. The faded black door morphed into a hallowed secret, a passageway reserved only for those who would even dare to imagine what lay beyond. Even though I have traveled beyond its threshold hundreds of times and knew it was just a regular home, I still found it a magical experience. That was a nice way to describe her—magical. She had always been this way, that much I knew. We had all been that way once too, I suppose, but the rest of us had shed our adolescent gleam as we came to know life as it is. Like a coat we had outgrown, we cast aside our playful imaginations, or rather, were encouraged to mature and leave the comfort of our fantasies behind. As we exposed our expanding bodies and minds to the harsh chill of the world we lived in, she merely held on tight to her coat of dreams. It grew with her, modifying itself to fit her shape, size and mood. Her world thrived, watered by her constant attention and unyielding spirit. Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I had held on a little tighter, pleading with my own coat to change with me. Perhaps, by some strange miracle, the fabric would have listened. I will never know. For now, I will settle for sharing her coat of imagination during the times we share. Perhaps some day I will sew my own and I will see the world blossom before me like I did years ago.


Bloom 2 Isabelle Ritz

21 | Spring 2022


monkton morning Tilly Boraks

Medium Statement: gouache

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Josephine Mara Shepherd When I first met you, there were stars embedded in your legs. I could not stop running my fingers over the nets that held them there, against your soft skin. Our glitter begs to be noticed, not condemned. And you kissed me by the photobooth, intoxicated and intoxicating both. A mirror to my reckless soul. I tried to catch you in a verse, But such a form could not contain the beauty that you held there or the crossing of your eyes. When I first met you, I crossed my star-struck heart. And hoped we’d never die.

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heitara

Caroline Siebert Content Warning: mentions of sex work Artist Statement: heitara (literal translation is “courtesan) is a poem I wrote from the point of view of Phryne, an Ancient Greek sex worker who was able to grow rich and influential in her own right through her work. they called me phryne because whores can’t commemorate virtue my toad-body second to none in its godliness and beauty i became art itself the mortal-immortal goddess venus my flesh tainted by my profession but the men not tainted by me they consumed me cut me into parts a historical butchering minus the head, which no one would buy nothing more than a mannequin emphasis ‘man’ saved by sexy they will not know how i, the ‘sallow-skinned’ courtesan could have rebuilt their cities with the mountains of gold that i made rain down from the bleak sky like calandra i transformed men into clouds and controlled them with sheer will. they will not know my mind my soul, my heart my wit my wealth my self the woman who dared to steal the gods’ fire and dance with it through the streets of thebes

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pillar of souls Lia Patentas

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Should Have Grace Hasson

As he twists the wheel again my stomach lurches and I grit my teeth so I don’t scream. He laughs and the smell of spicy red wine brings me back to our evening together before he offered to take me for a drive. I tell myself I’m being paranoid, but I can’t take my hand off the door handle. He plows through another red light and I know I have to say something. “Pull over. I’m getting out.” “What?” “I said pull over.” “Why?” “Just do it,” my voice is tense. I sound like someone else. And he sounds like someone else. Not the sweet, elegant man I met in a bookstore, but a drunken, careless man at the wheel of a racing car. Not the man who caressed the scar on my wrist, but a man who argues when someone is afraid. The tires screech and I cover my ears as he spins the car around. Headlights flash and all I can think is I don’t want to die like this. I remember the beginning of the night when I wasn’t gripping the car door handle. Him making fun of my religious phases. He said religion is for people who don’t trust the universe. My problem is I did trust the universe, and I trusted him, and look where it brought me. He pulls into a church parking lot. I sit in silence, taking deep breaths, trying to get my heart to stop hammering in my chest. “That was fun,” he says, and then, “Look where we are.” The church is small, and decaying. The red, yellow and blue stained glass reflects the starlight, making the faces of the saints glow. A depiction of Mary stands out to me as she holds her dying son. Her stained glass tears look like diamonds. I look over at him, but he’s just staring at the church. One time I swear I saw him wearing a wedding ring. I’ve been telling myself I just imagined it, but looking at him

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gazing at the church makes me wonder if he’s remembering a vow he didn’t keep. In the beginning things were so easy between us. But things have lasted longer than we both expected. I should have ended it months ago. Should have. He’s still staring at the crumpled little church. I sigh, knowing there’s something I need to say. “You’re not…you’re not good for me,” I say, finally. I think of what my mother would say if she knew I was drinking wine before I’m twenty one. And doing it with an older, reckless man. An older, reckless man who might be married. “Isn’t that the point?” he asks, and turns to look at me with a wicked smile. I shake my head, “What we’re doing, it doesn’t-it doesn’t feel good anymore. You’re bad for me, I know it.” “You think I’m a bad guy?” “No, I just think you’re bad news.” He laughs, “I could be worse.” He turns the key and the engine roars to life like a dragon the knight forgot to slay. He looks at me and I repeat I hate myself over and over in my head because I know where that look leads. He leans across his seat and I listen to the car humming to life as he pushes my hair behind my ear. Sometimes he acts like he’s a gentleman. He’s not. “We can’t all be little angels like you.” “You could try.” He laughs, a devilish glimmer in his eyes. “What’s the fun in that?” He kisses me and his lips taste bitter, like the end of a bottle of wine. I let him kiss me and soon I’m pulling him closer by the collar of his shirt. All I can think about when his mouth moves down to my neck is that I walked myself into this trap. I’ll have to gnaw my own bones to get free. I should have done it long ago. Should have.


Refresh

Miriam Yarger Content Warning: Death Imagery Drag me through the flower beds, pierce my skin with thorns. My blood trickles in rainbows, forget gardeners of before. Grip my adolescence and tear me through your walls. I cannot catch my breath in the happenings of it all. You feed me broken, cut my loose, excavate my corpse. Breathe life back in, offer a rose, and end it with “of course”.

Serene Walk Mei Matute

Medium Statement: Chinese ink sticks & watercolors on watercolor paper

27 | Spring 2022


Banshee Tilly Boraks

Medium Statement: digital collage

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Like Mother Like Lover McKenzie Taylor

Content Warning: abuse, sexual assault I try to imagine him as a child Soft, innocent, beautiful Ripping open his mothers womb His first transgression He laughs in her face He does not care for her gentleness He does not apologize after he shames her He maims her with calloused commands He pulls on her heart Tears it Shreds it But she still rocks him to sleep She holds his hand as he learns to walk She feeds him, holds him, plays with him She takes him to soccer practice She picks up his dirty laundry Washes it Folds it I remember him in the beginning Soft, innocent, beautiful Ripping me open with his fingers His second transgression He spits in my face He does not see the saliva turn to tears He does not hold me after he fucks me He nurtures me with empty promises He squeezes my throat Breaks it Crushes it But I still watch him sleep I hold his hand as he cries like a little girl I love him, hold him, pray for him I take him as he is I pick up his dirty laundry Wash it Fold it

29 | Spring 2022


Bloodrush Audrey Magill

In your smile, lover, the heavens alight your voice is made of honey, sticky, sweet your gaze does fill my heart with bloodrush beat your hands so capable, my shining knight and at your laugh even the gods delight your sun kissed skin glows warm with divine heat together, we are right, my soul complete but I would feel death before heartbreak’s bite My ardent fingers, delicate, do pull apart the edges of your ribs, and oh like wars of old, so violent and sanguine to taste your life I always will be full as your heart stains deep red the brilliant snow let us, now, be sweet bloody valentines.

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ICARUS! Mei Matute

Medium Statement: gouache on watercolor paper


A Letter to My Maker Connaught Riley

Content Warning: Sexual violence Medusa <msnakes6@hotmail.com>

Jul 34, 2021, 1:55 PM (4 days ago)

To Athena Dear Athena, I hope this email finds you well. I’m just reaching out, again, wondering if your still there? It’s been a long time, a millennium, or two. I can’t remember. My friends are still here. They always are. They always will be. The snakes never leave my head. Extremely low maintenance you said. You waved your godly hand and replaced my luscious brown locks with slithery, hissing beasts, and had the audacity to look me in my eyes and tell me they were “low maintenance.” I don’t know about you, but I would not call thirty-seven pet snakes that will never die, “low maintenance”. Saul and Sam keep getting in fights: Sam: “I’ve turned five people to stone.” Saul: “No, you haven’t.” Sam: “Yes I have!” Saul: “Okay, who?” Sam: “Remember that mailman? And that um…” Saul: “See! You cant even think of two!” Sam: “Wait, just give me a second…There was that bread girl! Ooh and the two priests!” Saul: “And…?” Sam: “There was that dog last century.” Saul: “A dog doesn’t count.” Sam: “Yes it does.” It goes on like that all day. If I have to spend another century with these snakes I’ll go truly and properly mad. Not to mention Sharon, who’s had a cold for the past 20 years and keeps sniffling in my ear. I thought you should know, they miss you. Yet you’ve never even met them. They’ve never even seen you, but they know you, and they miss you. Guess you created them, right? They just miss their mother. They shouldn’t, seeing as I don’t. I don’t miss you. The inventor of this monstrosity, I do not miss you. I spent my life devoted to you, believing you were most important. Years of scrubbing floors and performing your “rituals,” all while men fawned and drooled at my feet. I could have had any one of them. But I didn’t. American Literary Magazine | 32


Stupidly, I wasted my beauty attending your temple. I kept my “purity” in your image. I was obsessed. Even when I was little, playing in the garden with my sisters, I would be Athena, and they would be the demons and villains I’d slay. Their gorgon scales and tails contrasting to my human, olive, plump, skin. Euryale thinks it’s a good thing, what you’ve done to me. “You finally look like part of the family,” she says “I knew you’d grow into your looks,” she says “You’ve got mom’s scales.” She’s just being nice. She’s only saying that to make me feel better about this wretched curse. Anyway, how are you? Sylvia wants me to ask if your owl’s still alive? And if so, can she eat it? She’s the one I told you about last time, constantly ripping birds out of the sky and attacking hares on the ground. When she sees a squirrel she practically drags me after it. I have to say I’m more than a little thrilled that your devotees have fallen out of fashion. How’s it feel to be forgotten about, left to rot up in that palace in the sky. I hope you finally understand what it’s like to be me. I spent my whole human existence trying to get closer to you. Who knew all it would take is my violation in your temple for you to notice me? Years of devotion and not a peep from you. But as soon as he raped me you deigned to come down from your throne. Not only to meet me, but blame me, curse me, and leave me. You left me cold and empty on that stone floor, while he vanished into the waves. The first few years were the worst. The men kept coming to me, still drawn by my appearance. But not in the way they once were. Gods, they got annoying. All I wanted was a few years peace, but no. Every upand-comer had to take their shot at the heinous beast. Medusa, the ultimate prize; bring back her head and win eternal glory. It’s funny though, when Perseus came, he used a shining shield; I could have sworn I’d seen it before. It looked a hell of a lot like yours. But that’s not true, is it? You wouldn’t curse me with this pitiful existence and then take it from me? He must have stolen it. You’re just a god. You don’t understand what it’s like to be human. And you certainly don’t understand what it’s like to be a monster. I can’t blame you for blaming me instead of Poseidon. After all, he’s a god, one of the big ones. You guys could never do anything wrong. Right? Yours Truly, M 33 | Spring 2022


Achilles last goodbye Katherine Mahan

Artist Statement: I paint people, stories, and created that I find beautiful. The hope for my paintings is to convey light and beauty. Medium Statement: oils


A History of Queer Love Isabella Paracca

We are crafted from age old stories From ancient love From the dawn of the world Our melodies were hushed From basking in the Grecian sun To loving in exiled corners in the night Those who dared play sappho’s song Sung hymns of defiance, of a forthcoming light Yet we are cast into this hell of earthly creation Our bodies consumed by the pestilence of human hatred Still, through the ages, we sing with persisting passion Leaving traces of gold where it once was ashen We carved our histories into the stars For those who’ll come after to find the way to their hearts No longer shall our lives be marked with tragedy For we are gods of our own world Sewing new threads in humanity’s tapestry 35 | Spring 2022


Fern After Dark Dori Rathmell American Literary Magazine | 36


Things I Need to Fix McKenzie Taylor

Content Warning: Abuse, Self Harm Every once in a while I like to turn back the pages of my journal to see if the poems I despised when originally composed have managed to rewrite themselves in my absence. Upon flipping through the pages I always stumble across my lists. To do lists, grocery lists, itineraries, and such. Usually the lists are of no importance to me, I am not there for them and they are only wasted words and boring interludes between the main attraction. However, as I was thumbing through the pages this morning, my eyes latched onto a list entitled “Things I Need to Fix” followed by binge eating and retail therapy and not writing nearly enough as I’d like to. Scattered into the bullet points I found some rather alarming diagnoses. Who had convinced me I was a narcissist? That I was too much? That my emotions were to be categorized as “outbursts?”

myself in my arms, slinging her over my shoulders, dragging her when she felt too heavy to carry. I can still feel her in my arms late at night, her nails digging into my back and stomach holding on for dear life, fearful of the dark. Remaining kind, gentle, and soft after you have seen the worst parts of people laid out like an abyss in front of you is like fighting a war with evolution. To scrub the calluses off your heart and paint your skin with scar cream in an attempt to break the cycle and be better than your abusers is the hardest form of self care and your jaw might tremble and your hands might shake, but to maintain light in gloom, to engulf your vision with gold, is how you learn to fix yourself.

Proof of the abuse I suffered from my senior year of high school has, up to this point, been resigned to foggy memories and learning to hurdle newfound insecurities, until I found this list. Written proof of the lies I had been told and believed, the loss of my identity, the pain of being convinced that I am not what I am. A reminder of the weight of having to carry

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I don’t know why I like old things Annika Rennaker

Maybe it’s because holding them feels like holding something heavier. Like gravity, grounding me in a past reality. Maybe it’s because years ago they were held by another. Tactile connections form the impressions of another’s hands. Palms young, palms old. Fingers gentle, calloused, cold? Where did their fingerprints stain and whose skin felt their touch? What about their heart, who patched it when it fell apart? What about their soul, what made it sing, who made it whole? What about their words, whom did they hurt and heal? And if when they wanted, they could not speak, what did they feel? I peel past layers of sand and what I pretend isn’t bone. Brush dust, chisel through stone to pull pictures of a ghost together and breathe life into the “what was.” How beautifully frightening, to awaken the dead with no essence of a sixth sense. How beautifully frightening, that in life there is an end. How beautifully frightening, to believe that there isn’t one. I have no knowledge of the next world, or if such a place exists. But I know that when the dead die, their spirits dance up from the dirt and sing ballads about the ones that leave us, they say they’re never really gone. How beautifully frightening, to watch time go on.

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a concert in the square Isabel de Oliveira

Artist Statement: This was my first developed role of 35mm, and for my first go at the medium, I am proud of myself!

39 | Spring 2022


The Fairest Caroline Siebert

Artist Statement: “The Fairest” is an essay I wrote about the toxic, limiting nature of the concept of “prettiness” and how it damages young women and girls. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been infatuated with the concept of “being pretty”. I grew up on a steady diet of Disney princesses and Barbie dolls, women who were universally praised for their beauty. Beauty brought love, and privilege, and admiration. It made you valuable. It was the mark of a good and virtuous woman, one who would persevere through obstacles and live happily ever after with a prince. It was blondeness, and eyes that were literally the color of the ocean, and a fourteen-inch waist with a thirty-six inch bust. It was grace and it was elegance. It was everything except for me. I was always fascinated by my reflection. At times, it seemed wonderfully beautiful, but the feeling was as elusive as fairy dust. It never lasted for more than a few minutes, at which point I would be left feeling a gnawing emptiness. I stood in the mirror and prayed for my hair to get blonder. I wished for new legs in the fountain at the mall so that I could be a ballerina. As I got older, I transitioned from tutus to makeup, covering my eyelids with layers of eyeliner and shadow and tracing my mouth in bright-red lipstick. I wore high-heeled boots, relishing in the way that my feet clicked against the tile. It made me feel powerful, but it did not make me feel happy. Why would it? I wasn’t doing any of it for me–not really. If I was going to take up space in this life, the least I could do was be pleasant to look at. I could get new glasses every year. I could grow out my hair, cut it off, grow it out again, dye it, cut it all off. I could lose weight, then gain it back, then lose it again. I could get leg surgery to improve my gait, be less crippled. I could shave and wax and manicure and smile. If I could just get the perfect combination, I’d feel better and the tiny screaming voice would go away. I’d be able to walk through life like a supermodel, feeling pretty and being pretty.

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I don’t know of a single woman who doesn’t have some type of body image issues. They transcend race, class, sexuality, gender, ability status–none of us are immune. That said, the idea of ‘pretty’ has always been shaped by systemic factors. Whiteness, in particular, has always shaped what we understand to be ‘beautiful”. The archetype of female beauty has for so many years been a white, all-American girl with huge blue eyes, peachesand-cream skin, a slim waist, and long legs–in other words, an ideal that very few of us could ever achieve naturally. Even the woman who manages to meet all of those standards isn’t immune–God forbid she ages, or gains weight, or has a–gasp–baby. There is no way to win the game–no matter how much we push ourselves, we’ll always come up short. Prettiness is always defined by what’s excluded. You don’t meet a set of criteria so much as you avoid a series of obstacles. A five-year old with stick-straight brown hair in a bowl cut, for instance, might look at Princess Aurora and think to herself, “If only I had that, then I would be pretty.” Girls with large chests enviously compare themselves to girls with small chests, and girls with small chests wish for curves. Young people want to look more mature; old people want to look younger. Add fifteen pounds to the top, but lose fifteen in the middle. You have to wear makeup, of course, but if you’re truly beautiful you can make it look natural. Men prefer tall girls, but if you’re too tall you’re gawky and awkward. Natural made-up beauty, so much effort put into looking effortless. This is the Gordian knot which I grew up having to untangle, just as my mother and my grandmother and my great grandmother and my great-great grandmother did before me.


I read about a study in The Guardian recently about how womens’ BMI correlates with their earning power–the study found that as BMI increases, earning power decreases. Fat people, particularly women, are less likely to have access to quality healthcare and more and just generally more likely to be judged than their thin counterparts. (I recognize that judgment is infinitely preferable to outright discrimination, but it’s still not pleasant to live in a world where you’re constantly made to feel like your body is inferior.) Some people call this “pretty privilege”--I call it “the violent enforcement of Eurocentric beauty standards.” We’re taught from a young age that fatness is bad, that it’s the result of laziness and immorality– so is it any wonder that so many women are obsessed with avoiding it? In fact, how does one avoid it when it permeates everything we do and see? It’s a miracle that any woman has been able to escape the constant drone of judgment and carve out some self-esteem. I wish I could do that, too. There are no easy answers or inspiring endings here. I will probably always struggle, to some extent, to appreciate my body for what it is rather than what I’d like it to be. As I’ve learned more about feminism and disability justice, however, I’ve come to realize that things don’t necessarily need to be this way. If we are able to finally put the expectation of prettiness to rest, perhaps we can create a world where women are made to feel more comfortable in their own skin. Maybe I’ll put on eyeliner not because I feel like I have to, but because I genuinely want to.

41 | Spring 2022


It was just a game Emma Southern Content Warning: Abuse An innocent game of freeze tag Can take a brutal turn With a simple disregard You tagged me But are mad when I can’t move When I can’t speak Or react Or do anything Except keep breathing And even that is hard to do While I’m stuck Shut down You tag me again And again More forceful And unrelenting I can’t protect myself I can’t say “Stop. Just Please Stop.” I’m not given permission to unfreeze But even if I were I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to move Again

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The Worth of an Elephant

Hope Jorgensen

Artist Statement: This piece represents the inhumane ivory trade and the lack of care for an elephant’s life or death, represented by the human standing over the elephant and not intervening. Medium Statement: colored pencil

43 | Spring 2022


Accessories Shelby Rose

when I was in love, I wore rings like a pale, translucent circlet inlaid with flowers that I lost and found months later, nestled in a pill bottle among aripiprazole and cotton balls. I wore rings like a thin brass band, simple and slim, that matched the one on her hand, and now sits on my dresser. I’ve not worn them in awhile and I’m not in love with anything anymore, but the memory of love and the ring on my finger has no meaning, except that it’s pretty and shines in the sun

When Poets Fall in Love

Grace Hasson

They leave behind scraps of love, dog-eared books and the indigo perfume of longing. I know because I’ve bought a hand-carved, wooden bird and wondered if he kept it. It had a little feathered tail, forked like the devil’s tongue. Sawdust smell. A peace offering— sitting in the back of a drawer. Who needs peace anymore? And I left behind roses for her that dried into tomatoes left out in the sun too long, wrinkled autumns. She forgot about them. Her roommate swept the petals up like beetle carcasses.


harbor

Lia Patentas

49 | Spring 2022


Diamonds for My Daughters Kathryne McCann

Content Warning: cheating and infidelity Sometimes you think about her hands. Sometimes, before the sun hits the sky, you sit at the kitchen table, crimping empanadas with your brown, bony hands and wonder if hers are soft and thin, as white woman hands should be. Sometimes, when you knead the pasty white dough, you wonder if she is paler, and if she too was soft in all the right places. As you prepare the counter space with a sprinkle of harina, you glance at how it settles into the crevices of the pale blue ring that sits on your middle finger. Three blue stones in a line, each separated by diamonds. You picture her eyes sparkling just the same. You remember receiving that ring after woman # 3. Or was it #4? Sometimes, when you hand off the empanadas to the white men from down the block, you begin to think maybe he would love you more if you knew English. But he loves you enough. As the gringos say ‘thank you,’ one of the few words you know, and hand you an envelope filled with money, you wonder if they find you attractive. You wonder if he finds you attractive. The years have not been kind to your aching body. Sometimes you wish you were younger. Sometimes you wish you were whiter. Sometimes you wish you could scrub the dirt color from your skin and find a fresh canvas as smooth as milk underneath. You apply lotion religiously, hoping it will make even the slightest difference when competing against the others. There are always others. Sometimes you think about your empanadas, the ones you spend hours making and perfecting, just for them to be consumed by

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the very people who fear you in their neighborhood. You stuff them with beef, olives, hard boiled eggs and home-grown red peppers, and wonder about the baby boy he stuffed inside woman #6. You only have daughters. Sometimes, before you knew differently, you prayed that America would be the answer. Sometimes you wear the pearls he got you five years ago, before you packed everything and left home, and try to reverse time. He sent them by mail to your old apartment that sat on one of the larger hills in Valparaiso, overlooking the sea. You used to watch the fisherman scoop up muscles and catch salmon and bass from your balcony. In his absence you would breathe in deep, allowing the salty air to fill your heart. The pearls feel unnatural around your neck. Sometimes you hoped all the women would disappear after you made it to the promised land. You had thought that after two years, two long years, spent in the cold, breaking his back in exchange for a spot in paradise, that he would be ready to put family first. Brooklyn hardly seems like paradise. Sometimes you look at the solid gold Rolex on his wrist and wonder if jewelry is the only currency he knows. Sometimes you are sure he lies awake at night dreaming of the days he spent abroad, wooing short skirts and full breasts. Sometimes, while you slice the strawberries for his dessert, you wonder if she ever cooked for him, if any of them did. As you sprinkle sugar over the plump berries you selected after lifting every container up for inspection at the fruit stand on the corner, you grind your teeth, pondering why your goods


are never sweet enough. You understand that one can get tired of arroz con pollo when tempted with Norwegian chocolate. Some women are treats while others are reliable. The strawberries are ready at the same time they always are. Sometimes you try to pretend that the other women do not exist, but each ring, necklace, earring and bracelet reminds you of their fingerprints on his skin. They remind you of your children, stacking birthday cards he sent from overseas and postcards filled with empty promises in boxes that they stash beneath the beds they share. Sometimes you wish he never came back. Sometimes you wish he would never leave. Sometimes, many years later, you send your thoughts up to the heavens and hope he is watching you sort through those tainted jewels. You hope he watches you shower your daughters and their daughters with sapphires, rubies, diamonds, and gold. You hope he watches as their fingers and earlobes shimmer with the legacy of his betrayal. Thousands of dollars’ worth of diamonds and tears, passed on to the next generation. Sometimes you hope he feels shame, for they know the truth of the jewels they wear.

51 | Spring 2022


untitled_1

Katherine Mahan Artist Statement: I paint people, stories, and created that I find beautiful. The hope for my paintings is to convey light and beauty. Medium: Oils

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Stories

Miriam Yarger There’s a fire in the city of unspoken, searing pain. Rumors, fresh hot embers, beneath the skyline lay. There’s a fire in the city with casualties on the way. Hearts splintered by shrapnel; with matches you have played. There’s a fire in the city, and truth be put away. Quench the blaze or mob: a choice of disarray.

53 | Spring 2022


Untitled American Literary Magazine | 54

Mara Shepherd Medium: Watercolor pastel on paper


Primavera

Isabella Paracca It is a noble art of living In the decadence of your demise With springtime comesThe dewdrops’ songYet a chill stays in the air. Fill a cup with wonder And leave it for the bees A desperate humA panicked thrumNo absence compares to thee. Take your heart to the moors And let it scream into the storm An empty earthThe lightning burstsNo soul shall be restrained.

I’m Drinking Champagne & Proposing to Myself Grace Hasson My roommate and I both gasped as white smoke melted out of the lips of the bottle and into the air as foam filled the bottle and our minds. I pour a tall glass for each of us and we laugh as the foam settles, leaving us with measly amounts. The champagne is pink and gold and the color of victory. The sky is dark and I’m lighting a candle that is almost out of wax. My candles are always running out of wax; if there were a thousand wicks on each I’d light every one. There is no heat from the candle but the champagne warms my cheeks like it’s the glass filled with flame. I confess my love for myself in my mind with my hands behind my back.

55 | Spring 2022


Like broken pottery, fondly I think of you Annika Rennaker

Fractured as the Mississippi Delta like thread unraveled, emotionally well-traveled she fell apart in him— Pottery broken, but he was an artist and when she cried tears of gold, he gathered them up and used them to fill in all of her scars. And in her skin’s porcelain canyons gilded rivers flowed and when the light touched her just so, she shone Brightly like the bond between two lovers leaning on one another, so heavily, but with brevity. Together they etched patterns into her sides to remind her the laws of entropy do not mean: “the end of me”

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lifelike

Lia Patentas

57 | Spring 2022


There is So Much to Love in a Laugh Samantha Margot

My mother’s laugh is grand, like riptides dueling in deep waters before slapping against the shore. Loud and sure, it expands till the corners of the room echo it back. Comfort. Of my few soulmates, this one laughs like she’s surprised she made the sound. Breaths come quickly, hands raised to cover puckered lips and bright teeth. Her laughter is windy, kicking up leaves in a hurry. Hearing her laugh strikes a chord deep in my chest. Joyous, hysterical almost. Love. For all that my brother’s outward appearance has changed, his laugh remains the same. Sarcastic, biting, he laughs with his body. Cheeks light up, wiry frame shaking, long fingers comb through an Elvis Presley-inspired twist. His laugh stings like flurries of snow hitting frozen cheeks, somehow still able to pierce through layers of cold Intention. Whereas my brother’s looks have changed immeasurably, this friend has remained the same in so many ways. Previously, I had never met someone whose laughter startled me. Clawing its way out of her throat, scratchy while shaking off the rust, a branch creaking to life in early Spring, a sleeping giant waking for the first time in a millennium. Now her laughter comes easier and stays for longer, a warm hand in dead winters, and a soft breeze in sweltering summers.

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Awareness. This person is the forest embodied. They laugh like lilac trees rustling in the wind. Something to treasure; soil coating my hands, a breath of fresh air in stifling heat. Their smile is all teeth, slanted eyes, and spiked hair. When air leaves them in long bursts, shoulders are unhunched, and I am suddenly aware of them towering over me. Their cackle roots itself in their feet and spine, bringing confidence with it. Home. My other half laughs with abandon. Hers is a laugh learned to be unrestrained. Like an earthquake, it is an expression of life and reinvention; her laugh is soaked in energy. A slow rumble before dancing fingers, slipping glasses, and wild gasps. To see her laugh is fantastical, a reminder of appreciation and inspiration. Safe Haven. What do I know about you now that I’ve seen your face and body language change like so? Laughter reveals things about people in all the little ways. Inviting and, oftentimes, eye-opening, it communicates an understanding that words cannot possibly convey. Beauty exists in all the throaty croaks, cackles, rumbles, and roars; there is so much to love in all your laughs.

59 | Spring 2022


Right?

Julia Kane Content Warking: eating disorder

I’m fine. I’m normal. Just busy is all. It happens to everybody, right? Right? What does a smile look like? What does it feel like? Remind me- I’m starting to forget. The mouth stretches, widens, The corners turn up. It doesn’t reach the tired eyes. There- that’s it. Just right. Right? The facade is beautiful, Gilded and carved from marble. The stone is cold. I am a straight-A student with a perfect family. I have everything I want. I’m alright. Right? I’m fine. I’m normal. Is it a lie if I just leave out the details? Is it a lie if I’m beginning to believe it’s true?

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in plain sight 1 + 3 Sami Pye

61 | Spring 2022


Untitled Stella Breen

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I remember everything Kaitlyn Chesleigh My face is warm. The warmth travels from my restless eyelids down to my chin, my neck, and across my collarbones. Light dances across my skin, unearthing whispers of long-forgotten gentle touches. I shiver. My body, the birds, and the air are singing I Remember Everything. I remember everything. I remember laughter, lineage, maps, melodies, scrapbooks, serenades. I remember you. Your eyes, your smile, your breath, your touch. Are you watching me? I know that you’re not, but I can still feel the weight of your gaze crawling up my arm like an army of ants, whose perpetual parade leaves endless goosebumps in their wake. I imagine you imagining me. Beneath the sun, my eyes sting. The light is so bright it’s almost painful. But I don’t dare open my eyes. Because if I do, I’ll know for sure that you’re not there, admiring me. Your touch is the wind. Your gaze is just ants. Or maybe, I’ll discover you are watching me, after all. And what then? 63 | Spring 2022


I Thought I Knew What Love Felt Like

Emilee Rae Hibshman

I thought I knew what love felt like when I was twelve years old. But, it turns out the adults are right when they say a crush is fool’s gold. When he moved away, I thought I’d never know because he was the only crush that I couldn’t let go. I thought I knew what love felt like when I was barely sixteen. But, it turns out that my mom was right when she said I couldn’t possibly be in love with that boy, who I thought could do no wrong. But, it turns out he was just trying to break me all along. I thought I knew what love felt like when I was newly nineteen. But, it turns out that my friends were right when they said I needed time for me. Instead of giving my time to that sweet boy who placed me in a crown because I wasn’t ready and I didn’t want him around. I think I know what love feels like now that I am twenty-one. Because it turns out the adults were right when they said it feels like the sun, since you fill my chest with fire as soon as you walk into the room. Turns out that all I needed to know about love, I’ve known since I met you.

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sophia

Kaitlyn Chesleigh

65 | Spring 2022


To the Woman I’ll Meet Tomorrow Olivia Traub Every day I wake up and write a letter to myself, to read the next morning and reflect on who I was yesterday. The girl who opened her bright eyes ready to face a world built to bring her down. The girl who’s flowers on the windowsill looked brighter than they do today. The girl who opened a letter from the day before, and the day before that, and then before that, smiling at the naivety of who she once was. Today I am falling in love with the way snow feels on my eyelashes, and tomorrow I’ll fall in love with the way it melts beneath the sun. Today I’ll drink my favorite tea, and tomorrow I’ll switch to coffee just for fun. Through these letters, I’ve learned to love each version of myself just as she comes. There is no one to impress, and no one to recite lines for, there is only me and who she’ll get to meet tomorrow. Instead of waiting for love letters from partners who could never tell me what I wanted to hear, I do it for myself instead. I fall in love with myself every day all over again, always finding something new to adore. On Monday it was the curve of my knees, Thursday it was the way I sing in the shower, and today I’m obsessed with the way my eyes look at things I love. Once I started loving the ways that I am human, I realized that I had no choice but to be grateful for the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve learned that no one will know me the way I know myself, and it’d be a shame to put that intimacy to waste.

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But there are also days when I feel like there is nothing to love. When I can only see the scars from being careless, or the way my stomach folds underneath me, or get so frustrated at the way I care too much. Like any relationship, there are hardships and there are days I think loving a different body would be easier. But then I read the letters from days prior, from a girl who believed I could turn water to wine and make bread out of nothing. From a girl who was so excited to meet the woman I am today. I’ll walk with her in silence, holding hands as she tells me of all the things to love and all that she’s gone through. She didn’t write these letters just for me not to believe her, so I’ll continue to read and try my best to love myself just as she would want me to. I’ll sign my letters and seal them with ribbon, finished with perfume and a print of my lipstick. It’ll be left on my nightstand along with the version of myself who once existed, a skin of myself shed to the past. We’ll rendezvou tomorrow when the sun shines through my windowsill and the excitement of a new day fills my chest. Until then I will keep growing, keep finding new things to love, and keep the notes from a girl who couldn’t wait to deliver them the next day. I’ll move through life just as she’d want me to, and then I’ll tell her all about it the next time we meet.


Bloom 1 Isabelle Ritz

67 | Spring 2022


we are womxn Stella Thé

Artist Statement: These are poems about the women in my life, the first being my birth mother, the second being my mother, and the last being my grandmother. The collection is meant to follow the events of a single year starting with my birthday April 19th and ending with the day my grandmother died and showing the life cycle of a single individual through the stories of many. 10.1 floating 4.19 – questions for my mommy Dear mommy--

who are you? what is your name? who is my father? who was your mother? are you still alive?

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what are you? what do you do? do you work? are you rich? or are you poor?

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where are you? where do i come from? how did i get to the steps of the orphanage? did you leave me in the night? did you leave me to die?

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why did you give me away? did i cry too loud? was i too ugly? did i waste 9 months of your life did you want a boy?

dear mommy-please write back to me. sincerely, your child

the wooden frame sighs as the frail woman lowers herself into the chair legs tremble although she does not weigh much her heavy soul sinks into the floor taking the last glimpse of her down with it i can see her once beautiful face wrinkle with age and worry and give itself to the sickness [she claims] nothing is changing [she claims] there is hope but i’m just not sure anymore i want to believe her but i can feel something has changed this time it’s different she knows i know but there is still a struggle and i can see a head bobbing between the floorboards her head slips under slipping down towards something ~unfamiliar~ i too start to lose my footing but i must worry about her keeping her head afloat

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12.6 奶奶 Eyes: glued on the rotting wood beneath her not daring to meet the gaze of another not daring to meet the gaze of the corpse. Mouth: breathing heavy, sucking in dust too terrified to move too terrified to stay quiet. Legs: screaming out in pain from running as fast as she can as fast as she can until she can’t. Eyes dart around-- searching for 奶奶. Mouth crying out for 奶奶. Legs running towards heaven to find 奶奶. She runs out of the church where 奶奶 lays still still lying there and all the people sit quietly. She runs out of the church and runs all the way to 奶奶’s house where 奶奶’s still alive. The door is cracked open the windows are sealed shut and everything sits perfectly, just as it should be. The air sits still over 奶奶’s bed perfectly made but so empty. Her apartment: a living relic of what once was of what is now gone. The fig plant in the corner: she’s slowly dying no one has watered her in months no one has taken care of her. The radiator: still running even though it’s summer she was always so cold but she was always the warmest. The smell of her perfume still lingers in the air still fills my lungs with a warmth only 奶奶 could give. Heart: tired aching from missing 奶奶 aching for one last hug from 奶奶. Arms: tired limp from sitting in the funeral home for 6 hours yesterday limp from sitting in the church for 6 hours today. Ears: tired filled with the hymns sung by the priest filled with the piercing cries of complete strangers. 奶奶 gone 奶奶去世 奶奶走了. 69 | Spring 2022


A Study in Ophelia Audrey Magill

Medium Statement: Digital painting

American Literary Magazine | 70


The End

Mara Shepherd “I don’t need a kiss to fall in love with you,” I whisper, my wicked warm breath damp against the perfect marble spiral of your ear. “Like the Prince does.” My gnarled hands smooth your golden locks across the satin pillow. I readjust the heavy tiara placed precariously atop your slumbering head. I rub my eyes to try and get a better look at your enchanted youth. As you wait patiently for your next True Love, I’m wasting away. It isn’t fair. Why did I have to be the one who could wield magic? When I brought you back to the tower things were going to happen as they always do, I swear. I planned on leaving through that

heavy wooden door and locking it with a rusty key that I'd turn into a dove and hide in a magician’s pocket. You would become a legend. You would be discovered by a handsome prince, who would conveniently meet his death before he realizes that you never grow older… and I would once again find myself lingering over you, studying those rosy lips that I’m cursed never to touch. But after this last enchantment I feel my crooked body sinking to the worn floor beside your bed. I have no more youth left to give. I will never again leave this tower. This time, you will never wake up.

71 | Spring 2022


confessions to my body hair Zahra DeShaw

When I first meet him, he calls me “hairy” like he’s forgotten my name always gives me three days of notice before he sees my body— I was never good at math, but with him, I learn to subtract in my sleep. I was always a construction site, never a home. I am five years old When my mom tells my aunt, “She must have gotten that from her dad” Seven years old When I learn to bear the pain of seething wax on my eyebrows On my pouty upper lip Only eight years old, When I first take a razor to my legs 10 years old, When I take a razor to my everything. When everyone else is excited for shorts weather I sweat in my own shame Changing from a short dress to a long dress to pants Shaving under them anyways, feeling my skin crawl when I miss a spot. The Gillette girl says it keeps the underarm white and smooth Boasts cheap, easy beauty from the Cosmo cover. It’s not easy. Battling ingrown hairs growing back into hiding Spending my lunch money on Nair (even when it reeked and dad called it poison) Wax ripping skin off with the hair A body without skin cannot survive the outside world The outside world cannot survive this body A little girl on the bus calls the hair on her arms a forest, But smiles when she says it. My baby cousin braids her arm hair and adorns it with flowers. I hope in 5 years she won’t see it as weeds That a boy will not forget she is a little garden of joy. I accidentally rub lotion into where the razor nicked me and I wonder when I started to forget.

American Literary Magazine | 72


My aunty tells me that our hair is part of our culture. Ripping it off feels like a goodbye to the brownness I have worked so hard to be part of (To be proud of). For the first time, I tell a boy that I will not shave my legs this summer. This time, he knows my body does not need renovating. I change from pants to a long dress to a short dress. He does not require three days’ notice.

all bodies are good bodies

Sami Pye

Medium Statement: screenprint

73 | Spring 2022


mary ellen

Matthew Colucci sometimes I hear your voice scattered among the trees like rustling leaves their shaking limbs beckon me urging me skyward I’m so far away my arms stretch but they always fall short too small to reach you, too warm to touch you the sky is yanked higher, the stars follow suit you, ever farther from my grasp destined to whisper through the pine needles.

body

Alexia Partouche i was not made to love you. i am sharp and i am rough and i am collection of a million little holes like the burrows in a wasp nest, but i will patch them in with feathers and take sandpaper to my bones, file them down into a curve that will cradle you the way you deserve, a pillow for your head built into my body. in the crux

of my collarbone i will construct a place for you to rest your cheek against, and i will let the my skin smoothen and soften, time reversed and the cement unhardened, like water stilling after a storm. and when you reach your hands gently through my ribs to feel my heart, it won’t be stone but a sticky pulp in your open palms, warm with bittersweet blood that tastes of love for you. i don’t mind if you hold it, i will keep my chest open, i will bind my body into open doors so i can welcome you in, because i was not made to love you, so i will be made again.

American Literary Magazine | 74


From below Ellie Blanchard

75 | Spring 2022


Lights Out

Kathryne McCann Content Warning: hints of depression and suicide

From all the way up, among the stars, far above the faint wisps of cloud, even farther past the ozone layer and into the darkness of space, he stood, watching the Earth slip farther and farther away. With his nose pressed flat against the sole circular window built into the spacecraft, he tried to locate his home state. First he found America, then—his search stopped there. He failed geography in high school. Though his nose began to ache, he remained pressed against the glass. He knew that despite the pit of nerves rocking in the bowl of his stomach and his remote wish for rest, he did not want to miss his final glimpse of home. Nose smushed. Eyes unblinking. That is how he said goodbye to Earth. He was not exactly sure what made him volunteer to test out his company’s new self-operating one-person space station. Sure, he had everything he needed to survive, for a year or two that is, though the trip was only to last three months, and sure, who doesn’t want to see space? It’s space. Not many people get to see the world from thousands of miles up in the sky. Not many at all. Then again, the odds were not looking too great in the pre-trial tests. Then again, does he really want to go back to Earth? In the end, they just needed a body—and that body happened to be his. It looks a lot smaller from this far up.

American Literary Magazine | 76

He figured it would look much more grand, perhaps even spark a tear, maybe two, from his sleep deprived eyes because of its immense size and beauty. Instead, it looked much more like a ball of green and blue playdough mashed together with a hint of white. Maybe he wasn’t looking hard enough. Maybe he was looking too much. He never liked playdough as a kid. Peeling his face off the window, he shifted his gaze to the white walls that surrounded him. Black screens and multicolored pastel buttons lined the box he now called home while wires and tubes weaved their way throughout the shuttle. He built this shuttle, well, along with other engineers, mathematicians, designers and more blank-faced team members. The construction reminded him of Legos. He liked Legos. He pushed off the window, breaking his vigil completely, and began to glide towards the center of the station. Weightless, he flowed with the air around him, feeling the hum of the machines that kept the shuttle afloat fill the empty space. Space. Don’t touch anything. Not even the small buttons. Everything works on its own. Don’t touch anything. Over and over again, he repeated those words to himself, the parting reminder his supervisor left him with. Don’t touch anything.


As though he were laying on his couch back home, he floated. His head was tilted slightly back, his eyes unwavering on a white wire hanging low. He stared. His arms reached out. His fingers wrapped around the wire. His fist closed. It felt small in his palm. He tugged. Then pulled. The lights went out. Silence. He held onto the detached wire, swaying back and forth, listening to the absence of humming machines. He thought of the Earth and all that he left behind—the house he inherited from his parents, complete with creaky doors and paint-chipped walls. Ice cream dates with his ex-girlfriend Jeanine. He liked mint chip, she went for vanilla. So boring. His comfortable couch. His 9 to 5 working on this damn shuttle. Coffee from the local diner. Always bitter. Food that wasn’t dehydrated. Trees with leaves that fell into his yard. Every year. Loud cars, nosy neighbors, overbearing supervisors—

he was not sure there was going to be much to miss. He glanced down at the wire in his hand, hanging like a dead snake in his palm. He knew where it went. Where it came from. How to fix it. He let it fall from his grip. Submerged in darkness, he found his way to the circular window once more. The knot in his stomach unfurled and a wave of calm swam across his nerves. He smiled—a smile he only reserved for himself, mint chip ice cream and nothing more. He knew exactly why he volunteered to come on this mission. Nose smushed. Eyes unblinking. He looked at Earth. It looks a lot smaller from this far up.

77 | Spring 2022


A Study in Coffee Mei Matute

Medium Statement: Coffee on watercolor paper American Literary Magazine | 78


an ode to the brown men in my life Zahra DeShaw

Artist Statement: This was written originally as part of a letter to my younger brother but now serves as a poem addressing my Black and Brown male friends, family members, partner, and the men of my community. I wanted to highlight the complexities of Black and Brown love, and the unique feelings, interactions, and events that we experience. I wanted to voice the position women of color are put into as the supporters of our men as they face oppression. Us brown women hold our men’s pain for them sadness and fear are only acceptable coming from our mouths struggle love is the most we can afford because I don’t have the privilege of feeling safe unless you’re right next to me. it makes me sick that I have to even imagine this but every time you walk out of my door, I wonder why my heart has to be outside my body. I know the town we live in and the cops that run it. Your name was written on a WANTED poster the minute you came out of your mother’s womb into this nation as a honeysuckle sweet brown boy your existence is resistance but why is it only my heart breaking because I’ve seen your spirit lost in this system? why am I the only one that notices you’re gone? I worry because I refuse to live this life without you beside me and because I want to see your name on a high school diploma not on an obituary. But this place is one big system where brown men’s lives emotions experiences don’t matter so us brown women have to hold their pain for them but who holds us? 79 | Spring 2022


Another Life Jordyn Baker

In a different life, we have an above ground pool We eat stone fruit and push each other off makeshift diving boards We paint the house blue and eat from ceramic plates We flood the garden because, “Daisies are weeds and we are not having that” In a different life, you’re the one who smokes I get the blonde hair, and you get the shitty lungs Purposely mispronounce words, walk the neighbors’ dogs, and people like me just as much as you In a different life, it’s not hard to love I keep my mouth closed and you miss me when I’m gone My time isn’t spent wishing I was someone else because reflections are just a side effect of having a pool In a different life, I’m spinning I’m singing myself though jagged glass, the kind joyfully broken I ease your tomorrow through verse and chord Touch is a prayer, not a promise and you’re coveting soft skin In a different life, a boy is a phantom and I see everything in you as bright colors You are what they hold under a scar when the lights turn off We swim through weeks and years and only get out to push each other back in

American Literary Magazine | 80


House in Spring Julia Kane

Medium Statement: oil pastel

81 | Spring 2022


ache is a noun and a verb McKenna Casey

I’m so in love with being in love but everyday it’s breaking my heart, my stupid heart. I’m a one kiss wonder, a hopeless romantic in every sense and dear god, I’m still the only one who has written songs about me. How dreadfully lonely it is to be so full of yearning with nowhere to put it, no hands to hold, a muddled museless useless poet. Dear god! Dear god! What a waste! Will someone just fall for me? I swear, someone is going to be so in love with me someday.

American Literary Magazine | 82


i will try to remember this Heather Roselle

Artist Statement: “i will try to remember this” depicts an affirmation I use to remind myself that uncertainty is just a feeling. I hope that others can take away what they need from the piece. Medium Statement: Painted canvas, recycled t shirts from AU’s office of sustainability, handmade linocut stamps, ink, cotton thread, glass beads

83 | Spring 2022


whimsical morning on the beach

Hope Alex

American Literary Magazine | 84


The Ocean’s Fairy Dust Grace Hasson

“Are you gonna sweep that up?” I ask, as she tracks sand onto my welcome mat. “It’s the ocean’s fairy dust,” she says, and smiles with sunshine caught in her teeth. That night she takes off her coverup like a selkie shedding her skin. There’s no scales underneath but I swear when the ocean speaks it speaks only to her. “Do you hear voices in the wind?” I ask her the following morning as I watch her close her eyes and hear the gulls and the breeze and the slow changing of the world. “Sometimes,” she says, “but I mostly just hear you snoring.”

I laugh and pull her close as I fall asleep on a damp towel with her sandy legs pressed against mine. Her hair smells of salt and her lips are softer than the smooth stones she collects. “These are my treasures,” she called them. “They’re just rocks.” “If you think like that you’ll never understand,” her voice is gentle, like sunlight in early spring. But she always says that and I always want to ask understand what but I don’t. Instead, I walk along the shore and wait for the waves to tell me how I could have gotten so lucky.

85 | Spring 2022


Grief

Emilee Rae Hibshman I thought of you harshly for weeks and months, time flying by as I hurt myself by hating you, focusing on the bad, seeing the world through angry eyes. Now, I think of you softly in retrospective moments of weakness, because I remember the hardness you placed into my heart. It took me years to thaw the space in my chest that you filled with ice water – to reach deep inside and remove each brick from the walls I built to keep you out. Today, I think of you softly in hindsight because I’m a softer person now and you don’t get to claim credit for who I am.

American Literary Magazine | 86


Encased in Ice Isabelle Ritz


new drugs pt. 1 & 2 Liv Wenke

Content Warning: Drug Abuse new drugs pt.1 am i addicted to you or the drugs it is hard to distinguish the two you go hand and hand inhale your presence fills my lungs exhale my worries leave with the smoke i am calm in your arms a pool of serenity each hit i sink deeper and deeper i am drowning but i’ve never felt more alive in a state of euphoria the world is in a haze we are in the dark but everything seems brighter tunnel vision your face is all i see it is all i want to see the thought of you sends shivers down my spine you are always on my mind when you’re not with me i miss you i plan my days around you wonder if i have enough money for you i am running low oh dear what happens if i run out? i wonder when the purple lenses come off what will you see inhale call me an enabler i don’t want to know don’t lift me out of this pool ignorance is bliss too sweet to let go just take another hit and kiss me as we are consumed by the smoke

American Literary Magazine | 88

pt.2 ripped from the pool thrown into a some pointless house party you’re somewhere outside playing beer pong inhale everything will be okay exhale too fast and i’ll die glued to a leather couch cold and stiff still the couch consumes me smothered by paranoia i can’t breathe each breath is harder but no one notices the sound of music is muffled by my rapid heart beat my heart is begging to come out of my chest i am going to die if i move it will burst disconnected subjected to an hyperactive mind if i move it will burst so i must remain paralyzed frozen in time it has been 2:37am for the past hour i miss you i should probably tell you that since i’m going to die tonight


Airhead Mei Matute

Medium Statement: gouache on poster paper 89 | Spring 2022


Reaching Emily Bazin

Content Warning: Blood The sun had not yet risen as they started throwing. Chilled air covered every inch of my exposed skin. Their slim figures and long arms extended in an almost methodical motion. Each catch was met with an echoing laugh. What were they tossing? The large trees behind them, with looming bare branches, reached towards the sky in every direction. I wanted to get to those trees, to touch them, to feel the peeling of the bark. However, as I approached, they only seemed to get further away. I attempted to quicken my pace, but my feet felt as though they were stuck in the thickest of sludge. I tried to call out, to ask the figures what they were doing out before sunrise, yet no words came. I was stuck. Immobilized. Consumed by the cold. How could they not see me? I continued to observe as the sun began to rise, entranced by the back and forth of the object they possessed. It was two men I saw, as the light hit their pale, sunken faces. The sunrise revealed me as it did them. Their eyes locked with mine. They began to laugh, pointing, and for the first time, they missed the catch. A pink mass hit the ground and rolled towards me. It was round with multiple crevices and indents. Its curved lines reminded me of the many looming branches. It was at this moment that I realized there was a steady stream of blood heavily trickling down my forehead. How had I not noticed the excruciating pain? Was it the cold that had distracted me? As I fell to the ground, the two men joined together in heinous laughter. Looking up, with vision fading, I could see the ends of the branches of the trees I had so desperately wanted to reach. Had I made it?

American Literary Magazine | 90


Fall Wonders in Seneca Territory Emily Bass

91 | Spring 2022


The Future is ours Ronaldo Bolaños American Literary Magazine | 92


My Chest & Two Legs Luke Stowell

Chest I went the way I went and you, where you are I put my heart inside a jar (for the journey) but I forgot where I put the jar (and now I am without A heart to call my own) and you with always A heart displayed meaty and gushing from your neck A heart which beats and and asks and sings and melts Leave it right where it is (and do not put it in a jar for the journey). Legs Legs 2 This one is from Ukraine There are whores and scoundrels around the corner and this golden one here with I know because I can smell em please Ducky the special paper was crafted by be careful around there don’t get mixed somebody who is now very very old. up like the sluts and prostitutes You see, I have to hold onto these things they will kill you entirely. so I don’t market my being at the next Pumpkin I want better for you ten-cent front yard rummage sale. come up here Weasel and let me feel I need these legs to hold onto your hair and tell you stories about days past. something kind enough. You couldn’t image everything I did to get so small.

93 | Spring 2022


One Tear Stella Thé

Artist Statement: A love letter to my first love. That’s all you get, but more importantly, that’s all I can afford. Images of candles, of scars, of the strange bumps everywhere. Images of green eyes, of flesh, of a crooked nose. The smell of dryer sheets, of burnt toast, of sweet flowers. The sound of pool balls colliding, of a piano playing, of a movie in the background. The sounds of kissing, of love-making, of moaning. The feeling of ripped sheets, of a sweaty back, of warm flesh on flesh. The taste of mint, of cinnamon, of bubblegum. Forgetting these things is no easy task, even for the most distant of people. But you know me well, I have no distance. I have no perspective, especially not now, now that you’re gone. You stole that from me when you stole my happiness to replace it with your own needs. And when all of that is gone, when you are gone, what am I left with? You left me standing in the middle of the road naked, cold, and alone, holding nothing but my single tear because you have left me nothing, and a single tear is all I can afford. American Literary Magazine | 94


Mon Laferte

Ronaldo Bolaños

95 | Spring 2022


A Party Without Cake is Just a Meeting Scarlett Wedergren

Medium Statement: Watercolor


panda toys don’t matter when you’re dead Isabel de Oliveira

Content Warning: Death, Grief i can’t help but wonder, late at night when i can’t sleep, how would those i love remember me when i’m gone, in the ground or reduced to dust? it’s inevitable that one day i’ll be gone, and no matter how much i want to run from that fact, it’s inescapable. i can’t outrun it. would there be tears? flowers? cards? would everyone reminisce on good times? but eventually, it will be over. i like to think that life doesn’t end after death. impact doesn’t dissolve into thin air, like steam from a kettle. the marks a person leaves don’t evaporate as soon as their body becomes an empty vessel. i remember things about people long after they’ve left this earth. i hope others will do the same. pandas remind me of my grandpa. eight years old, receiving a panda toy, right before he passed. it was Christmas. he was so happy to see me smile, even though he was dying. i think about that, sometimes. laying awake at night, i allow these terrifying thoughts, and sometimes cherished memories from deep within to dance across my brain, flowing like a river spilling over the banks meant to contain it. how would people remember me? my personality? or what was in my house when i died? humans love material things, but panda toys don’t matter when you’re dead. impact does. 97 | Spring 2022


Carrell Jean Zahra DeShaw

My grandmother is a raspberry bush perhaps one from her own garden where she picks them barefoot tanned from the Oregon summer sun Hidden beneath her surface are the sweetest berries those are what most see in her. The matriarch behind every holiday, birthday, pool party, adventure She is strong when I am weak protects me when I can’t find the words The loudest moments are when she is silent. I hope to wake up someday and see her necklace lines and that same bright smile I wish I could emulate for you the way she holds us together seamlessly like delicate paper dolls the way she makes a room warm just by walking in how you know she’s proud of you by her eye crinkles I hope I can be half the woman she is and that my granddaughter adores me like I do with her. I find my fingertips stained with redness— a raspberries mark. Unforgettable and unmistakable and just like that You’re never the same as you were before Carrell Jean.

American Literary Magazine | 98


joy

Anjoleigh Schindler

99 | Spring 2022


VII Strength Luke Stowell

I do not like so much display. I don’t like to be morbid. People think me rude. I did not want this. I am tired I need some sleep. You are so much like a man. I think you like to be. You are often cruel. You are industrious. You are happy without guilt. There is no second thought. He brings action to you. He is a matter of action. He is sorry for what is not. I am an it. It brings little action. It aches from its multitudes. disjunct it. It ache from my multitudes. It split in every direction. It am warm. It like to touch you. It am unscientific. You fear it. terrific it It hath no house, and it hath no home, It hath three eyes, and it hath no mouth, It hath four hands, and it hath glory all over, It is a whale, it is a bird, it is a beast, It doth loath it self, it doth will it self to exist. You call it by its name and could not know it. foreignit You are so near it. It is right here. It is right here. And yet, go on with your heart in tow, your secure sanity, right and real, there is no question of your strength.

American Literary Magazine | 100


Booster Seat Annika Rennaker

Booster Seat (An interpretation of “Booster Seat” by Spacey Jane) Force of gravity is heavy on his tired body but somehow I’m weightless. His eyes blink as if begging for sleep and I am reminded of when my heart knew such steadiness, my gut could trust easy, and my mind didn’t continue to melt. Even on cold autumn nights I feel it all seeping away like, or by tides, I don’t know. We drive next to the ocean and I can see the boats with their lights on. I forgot to put my headlights on. Oh shit, did I turn the porch light on? Oh shit, it’s happening again. Shit, he’s in the backseat. In the rearview mirror I watch my son nod off to sleep, his curly head resting against the side of his booster seat. What is he dreaming about? I wonder. And tears start streaming down my face and God damn it— Why is it that whenever I cry my feet feel heavy? Tears bury into the pockets of my eyes, transforming the drive into a blurry traffic version of Russian Roulette, where I forget if I go or stop on red. Or if maybe I’m color blind. Or if maybe drinking mind eraser, erases more than minds. But now, between stifled gasps of air, I check the mirror again. I’m sobbing now and his eyes open, lips mumble my name, I reach back to touch his soft face, feel his damp cheeks He’s sobbing now and I whisper “It’s okay” and he believes me, in naivety we let reality wash out to sea Tears mix with rain and I can’t see the road now, I don’t know where we’re going I count my breaths like I’m taking inventory because it feels as though I’m running out of them. My son can’t count yet. His fingers have barely found his mouth yet, he doesn’t know how to buckle the straps on his booster seat or wipe tears off his damp cheeks yet, and I don’t want “yet” to be never, but if he were to stay a child forever— I would not complain.

101 | Spring 2022


Sour Citrus Jordyn Baker We led

and loved in no other terms except uncertainty Shoes gripped the tops of out feet and shirts bought from men blowing cigarette smoke in our mothers’ direction He would talk to me Not with a resemblance of how we would talk years before Or how he would speak to Lucy and Camille We wandered as our too-tight shoes refused to budge from the crew socks and pond water Leo loved oranges none of us did At least in springtime when they were not in season and the bitterness left us to flinch I brought Leo as many citrus as I could find I did not know when I would see him again He knew as much as I did But he knew his father also blew cigarette smoke in his mother’s face her forearm an ashtray And spent their money too early in the morning and yet, Leo’s shoes do not fit I ate a sour orange with him

American Literary Magazine | 102


Children’s Literature Katherine Mahan

103 | Spring 2022


untitled_2

Katherine Mahan

American Literary Magazine | 104


Lips

Matthew Colucci My lips are engorged now They’ve become a blistered red No longer ice cold from absence Supple to the touch Oh, how I’ve dreamt of this inflammation My lips feel soft on my own fingers, like tapioca pearls mixed with an oxidizing pear I traverse their canyons and peaks The slightest pressure: shattering, cracking, fracturing Others have trekked across these cracks in my earth Soil, pricked and prodded and promised My lips tremble as they meet their reflection My thin red line has been inflated Are these youthful lips all I possess? Could this be my sole protection from the desolate winds that incessantly trail me? I miss when my lips were sapphires Rubies are far too opulent I am more than my lips My body extends for miles, from Paris to Seattle It digs straight to the core Then I roll over And there it is My soft underbelly, flashing the sun I writhe around on these patches of fabric Made up of colors that have been indiscernible for centuries These hews are far too ancient My back twists and contorts as I gaze at your ghostly figure Barely knowing if you are real or some phantom who haunts my place Our eyes meet My stomach flips and shakes and trembles You inhabit my eyes, colonizing my irises They are fixed on your hazy horizon Glassy planets left without a sun

105 | Spring 2022


Everything is Together Matthew Colucci

You stare at me with your evenly cut fingernails Your neatly stacked pile of read books glare at me through the screen Taunting me with your undeniable perfection The glass of lemon water that you prepared for me sits on my bedside table As you squeezed the bitter juice into the cup You swore that it would balance me, I was convinced that it would fix me Somehow this citrus potion would flush out my toxins But my hand knocked it over in a sleepy haze, hours after you had already awoken The cup shattered into three splintered pieces Rivulets flowed for a moment onto my pillow, but vanished as quickly as they came Tepid water has invaded my clean cotton linens I lie here, wet shivering left inside to soak.


July 25

Anjoleigh Schindler

107 | Spring 2022


Ocracoke Island Light Julia Kane American Literary Magazine | 108


Empty Echoes

Charlotte Van Schaack The slammed door resonates too long, and I stare at the bald wall. All I know is what my body can hear; ignorant as a child to time passing. I stare at the bald wall, willing her call to calm me as always. Ignorant as a child to time passing I know without knowing, solace will always come. Willing her call to calm me as always a ringing in my ears will cry for attention, and I know without knowing, solace will always come, a reverberating answer to my loneliness. A ringing in my ears will cry for attention; the slammed door resonates too long, a reverberating answer to my loneliness— All I know is that my body is here.

109 | Spring 2022


I Trust You Know the Way Charlotte Van Schaack White froth foams, washes over prints in the sand shifting always. Light up the beach in each step through the night. Her footsteps light the way, and in the dark she rolls fear off her back with more ease than these waves crashing close in the dark of the beach, where only small lights will guide, or more so be a trail to those following. I hear the words I often dream, her voice A song of the sea, calling back love to me.

American Literary Magazine | 110


fisher’s morning Hope Alex

111 | Spring 2022


reservoir Eva Wallis

American Literary Magazine | 112


Waterlogged Luke Stowell

What a clarity comes with the break of day – It is then I am the traveller wayfaring stranger dead with saturated dreams. What a capacity comes with the fall of night – It is then I am the travelled then I get my jading done and my having been. Some night creeps into day when it rains or when anything else falls all the way down the way the rain knows how. You better open wide when the rain comes down like that and in the day catch it in your mouth and in the night, cry with her.

113 | Spring 2022


I wonder how the horses felt Annika Rennaker I wonder how the horses felt

When their hooves twisted into wheels and their rib cage splintered into bare bone axles, teeth breaking on the bit, as they shoveled hot coals down their swollen throats, past muzzle, mane, and withers into flesh-lined fireboxes, contracting like pistons, muscles pulling in their ligaments, Huff-puffing amidst knee joint cognitions, railway ailments tended to with nails hammered into the flank, guttural cries and smokestack screams, nostrils burning with steam, tongue blistering, metal hooves, scratch sparks, on metal rails, singe tails which leak iron-rich fluids, like blood, oil, and grease, Greed and other irremovable things break back, rein in, change track, pull skin— I wonder if horses can cry or humanity start again

American Literary Magazine | 114


Raleigh Julia Kane

Medium Statement: Linoleum print

115 | Spring 2022


Tomorrow Miriam Yarger

Content Warning: Depressive Thoughts “I’ll see you tomorrow, right? she says to me without knowing the countless nights I’ve cried,

Fearing I’d never wake up.

she says to me without knowing I’ve woken up in a panic,

Terrified of never seeing another sunrise.

she says to me without knowing I thought I’d be dead by now,

Mourning myself while still alive.

she says to me without knowing the times I wished I wouldn’t Wake up. she says to me without knowing that those words will carry me Tomorrow. “Yes, you’ll see me tomorrow.”

American Literary Magazine | 116


Untitled

Abby St Jean Artist Statement: This series represents a moment in time where my senses are overloaded by bright lights. The 2nd piece is more abstracted than the first to resemble an amplified feeling of anxiety when the issue is not resolved. Medium Statement: “Please Turn Off the Lights”: Oil Paint and Collage on Paper; “The Lights Are Still Too Bright”: Mixed Media on Wood

117 | Spring 2022


Loneliness

Emma Southern I feel lonely when I sit in an empty room It’s quiet but my thoughts are loud I dwell on mistakes and failures and hypotheticals and truths and lies and uncertainties I feel lonely when I sit in a crowd The room is loud but my panic is louder Surrounded by the people and the conversations and the movements and the confusion and the pressure and the doubt I’m trapped in my loneliness I am my own captor and guard, I made my own cage Which grows stronger if I try to escape It is built from anxiety and reinforced with fear I don’t think there’s an escape

American Literary Magazine | 118


My Sister’s Piano Mei Matute

Medium Statement: Oil paint on canvas

119 | Spring 2022


Weekend Nights Sydney Muench

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bottled lightning, drunk girl McKenna Casey

She says that I’m the soft blush of dawn, sweet on her cheeks and her lips. She says that I am the sinking of her teeth into a foreign fruit, that first bite of raw life that Eve could not resist. She makes me nervous. She’s like standing outside in a thunderstorm, afraid of the lightning, wondering what it would feel like to be struck. She’s like leaving the garden behind, putting bare feet on ground that no one has ever touched before. I thought she’d be cold, at first, but I was wrong. Lightning sets people on fire.

121 | Spring 2022


Big Three

Kaitlyn Chesleigh virgo sun ask me what i wish they would say, what i wish they would ask, what i wish to share. marvel at my introspection. ask me what i notice about you, that no one else seems to. i only wish for you to observe me just as i observe you. i know you. do you even know me at all? pisces moon let me listen to your deepest thoughts, the ones you swallow in fear of drowning in them. let me swim in them. let me pull you out of the dark depths so we can float together in this quiet abyss of being. my head may not remain above water but my air belongs to you, anyway. you can breathe through me. libra rising tell me that i take your breath away. that i light up the room, that the mere thought of my smile brings one to your own face. tell me my voice sounds like honey and sunshine— a pool of warmth you can’t wait to drown in, day after day.

American Literary Magazine | 122


Fall Rouge Isabelle Ritz

123 | Spring 2022


Speake, Hear, Listen Hope Jorgensen

Speak, speak, speak, My tongue is bursting with fruit. But when you speak, All I can hear is your red mouth moving. Spit spraying, tongue lashing, teeth gnashing, The movements that create syllables, form vowels, shape sentences. Years spent at a desk while a teacher looms ahead, Shaping out the cascade of words. Only for me to see sound issuing forth, music I can never grasp. You speak and I can’t comprehend. I hear you, I can’t help but hear you. But the sound sinks me through the silent blues of the Pacific, Filling me, drowning me, an overwhelming wave. Whenever I’m in a room intermixed with sound, My ears are blinded by the traffic in New York City, The kitchen at dinnertime, flooded with scrapes and shouts. What should be warm and soft, instead cold and screeching. There are no threads for me to grasp, so I ask of you: Repeat, please. I exhale on a silent breath, Shape the words the way I was taught; Tongue between my teeth for Ts, Pursing my lips and closing my mouth for Chs, Teeth grazing my lip for Fs. It looms over me: the fear, the noise, you, With your effortless words, sentences, masterpieces. So I must beg of you: Don’t leave me behind in the noise, And I promise I will speak, hear, and listen.

American Literary Magazine | 124


Boom Box Bae Mara Shepherd

125 | Spring 2022


Sleeping with the Sun Emilee Rae Hibshman I woke up today. But, my body is so heavy I cannot pull myself out of bed. “I’ll get up in an hour” I say to the Sun, but my eyelids tell a different story. I want to get up today. But, my mind fights the waking world and tells me it would rather be working in REM. I indulge my mind’s request, even though the Sun is going down and I haven’t accomplished anything today. I didn’t get up today. But, maybe tomorrow I will feel better. I sleep with the Sun each day, too exhausted, too numb to pull myself from the soft and warm cocoon I’ve made from my dreams and my duvet.

American Literary Magazine | 126


A Series on Anger Ellyse Zou

Medium Statement: Digital Art Artist Statement: I think people can be uncomfortable with the feeling of anger. It’s often avoided as much as possible. Because of this, I think we are unfamiliar with what it really means to be angry, and the complexities of how it feels. I created this series to help me dissect what I was feeling during a period of my life where I was incredibly angry and frustrated with people who used to be very close to me.

127 | Spring 2022


Bronze

Ronaldo Bolaños American Literary Magazine | 128


Weep

Miriam Yarger Content Warning: drugs, sex, profanity, eating disorder, implied self harm I saw the most innocent young women of my adolescence damaged at the hands of a patriarchal society, making denial confident, starving to the point of helplessness revealing a skeleton of being hoping to purge the dissatisfaction, teenage models hyper fixating on their tasteless supplements for sustained picture-ready bodies of consumption, who plunged gangly fingers down juvenile throats to release a pressure on stomachs taut and constructed, who threw undergarments off at the sight of men for a drop of validation withheld in the bank of steamroll millionaires of the fashion industry, who taped and tucked and pulled and plucked to get fucked in alleys behind tattoo parlors by people of age to have raised them, who woke up hours earlier each morning to paint away features in the mirror before marching onto a school bus reeking of hormones and rubber, who bought fake IDs with privilege to poison each other with frat boys and brutally laced marijuana, who devoured magazines Instagram posts status updates tweets followers likes standards just to end up counting calories, who wound up in a stranger’s Toyota Camry at midnight on a Wednesday with a dying iPhone and Trojan wrappers shoved in a bedazzled clutch, who stuffed bras with single ply toilet paper in high school gymnasium bathrooms for the eyes of anyone but themselves, who avoided mirrors at the cost of losing identity in a reflection loathed and spiraled about uncontrollably, who hid razor blades beneath jizzed on mattresses to trace blue veins of white fair skin once the crying moon was their only company, until giving up in a heap of dejection manufactured, probed for years and topped only by a desire for ceasing to exist in a world in which at age fifteen were already deemed never good enough.

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Childhood Absence Hope Jorgensen

In our childhood, it wasEasier? Better? Simpler? We were kids, playing at kings; Days spent conquesting kingdoms. Our castles were pinecone and mud, Thrones of striped blankets and sticks. I miss you. My early memories of us are cast in sap and amber; A girl of rosy cheeks and wicked brows, A boy who bursts with temper, dampened by sweetness, And the youngest; all crooked teeth and scraped kneesHis sticky fingers catching at our hair, reaching for our hands. Please come back. We didn’t have a home, though; A house with no front door, shrouded by pine trees. Shadows cast thick upon us children, as we crept from room to room, Don’t cast even a toe there, nor thread beyond. We kept to a yellow line across carpet; a warning, No jubilee of toys scattered, contained Like dolls in a plastic case. I can’t return. My soul aches for those days, and yet I would never return. Bittersweet memories will never turn to life. The sister who squabbles and taunts, no longer A child among children, puppies in a crate. They were my responsibility then; my boys now, Who I love more than the pinecones and dirt. I must draw my own yellow line between usAnd say goodbye to you; My childhood.

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Madonna and Child Triptych

Julia Kane

131 | Spring 2022


Ripe, New Beginnings Zahra DeShaw we were picking raspberries in the garden some of them would squish between my fingers we all got stung cause the bee traps were there although a sting wasn’t the end of the world the sun went down i ran out to go see the last glimpse of it it was still warm and dewy my face glowing with old light cut them fresh peaches we bought them from a stand on the side of the road ate them right off the cutting board placed the dirty dishes gently in the dishwasher –a new experience used to leave them lying around the house but they told me to do better now that I’m around here. i remember being small and my long braids and his warm hugs. i only miss him when i think about it i try not to dwell it’s all about adaptation, grandpa says this isn’t a sad poem. i lick off my sticky hands. my city boy told me don’t fall for this small town.

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Migration Across Turtle Island Emily Bass

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locals only Lia Patentas

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Childhood Dwellings Isabella Paracca

A midcentury house on the lake. My long gone childhood bed with its bad dreams. Sand of zebra mussels of which I thought were beautiful. I didn’t know they hurt the lake, like many things, I only saw their wonder. Now I am begging for help; jaded by the dark sides of once-beautiful things. There was a magnolia in the back, but I never saw it bloom. My small stature couldn’t help put the dock in when springtime came around. Would I feel better if I walked through those doors again, or would it feel like the flood, washing the history away? The only thing I could have known about my life was the ominous depths of the water, scared of seaweed, scared of myself. The only time I ever felt tangibly real was when I was gazing up at the rocky mountains. A former self is buried there. Snow in summertime. Too small to understand the hatred hidden behind the kind peaks, of people who felt like home, but no longer. Now I only see the rotted flesh of what was. I don’t think I love them anymore. Blackbirds, horses, and cherry trees, a sacred image my mind loved. Tales of little girls making friends with the forest with a stomach full of soup I can no longer eat. No less a human but a god, she could have lived forever. Both mother and child have the same vision. What does that mean? Recurring dreams of grandma’s house, long gone. I feel so wrong. Archaic spaces with holes that I fall through. There is nothing sweet anymore. Now I just pretend to be in love just to feel something other than the grief and shame of being alive. Take me back to that state of being.

135 | Spring 2022


remains

Alexia Partouche Content Warning: Gore there is something rotting in the woods behind my house, gangrene moss on pale skin and empty eyesockets that still stare, ghosts of eyes past. you don’t say much when you meet it, crouching in the weeds. “how’d it get here?” you ask, and your expression translates: “what the fuck did you do to end up with this? how deep do your sins go, how damned is your soul?” the wind speaks for me, brushes against the leaves while you wait for my answer. it never comes — some things can’t be explained, and you know this. the corpse in the woods defies reasoning, and yet it makes sense, belonging like the maggots do in its flesh. some houses are built to be haunted, some people are born to decay. the moon decided before you and i were born, that a carcass would wedge between us, the heavy line in the sand, and this moment is the consequence of someone else’s choices. now it’s your turn to choose, when i put my hand on your shoulder and ask, solemnly, “won’t you help me bury it?”

American Literary Magazine | 136


Found in Nature Demi Bernard

Artist Statement: Found in Nature was based off a chuck of tree bark I had found along with wild purple flower. Using the object directly out of nature was very striking seen I could engage directly with the texture and precise positioning. A kew aspect about this piece was that it was done five colored pencils (black, white, blue, red, and yellow). It was a time consuming project but ultimate extremely rewarding to have colors blossom to after layers of over colors to produce new unique shades. Medium Statement: colored pencils on mixed media paper

137 | Spring 2022


Reflections on Time Emma DiValentino

In the warmer months, my grandfather, belovedly called Poppy, spends his nights in silence on the back porch watching the sun go down. The moment dinner ends, he sends his partner and I back into the house. One night last summer I said to him, “What if I want to stay?” He stared at me with a pensive, stunned look on his face. His partner interrupted, “He likes to sit out here and think.” So, I asked him what he thinks about sitting there for hours alone with nothing but a small leather journal and pen to keep him company. He simply stated, “Everything,” and waved me away. My poppy has spent years of his life excruciatingly aware of a ticking clock. Born into an Irish Catholic family, his parents were tightlipped about most things, and he’s chosen to continue that practice. So, he journals alone watching the sun go down on the day, immersing himself in moments of peaceful silence as time slips by. I’ve only just turned eighteen this past October. Despite the legal ramifications of turning eighteen, my age still bears the word “teen”, declaring me not yet qualified enough to be labeled an adult. Being eighteen has instilled a fear of adulthood in me that I hadn’t noticed before. Buried under piles of schoolwork and the busy rush of D.C., my brain hadn’t slowed down enough to acknowledge and properly

American Literary Magazine | 138

grieve the loss of my childhood. But, now I’m home on winter break for three weeks with no routine and not much to do in my little town, so I spend my days crocheting, reading, driving around aimlessly, and thinking. I celebrated my birthday away from home, so I’ve only now claimed my inheritance: my own ticking clock. For me, it’s the lonesome antique time recorder clock in my grandmother’s house. One that once in its great height loomed over me with its watchful, omniscient tick…tick…tick…. I used to love that clock. Spending hours pulling the brass handle for it to release a clamor of dings and dongs. It’s a miracle I didn’t drive my grandmother mad. Now, that clock sits heavy inside me like an anchor. Sending shock waves to my brain of “Am I wasting my time?” “What should I be doing?” and an awareness of my loved ones’ mortality that could make the sun shiver. I worry about the consequences of growing up- of losing the ones that knew me before I was aware of my own existence, of losing the sense of “home” in my hometown, of sharing a life with a painfully unhumorous roommate and their unrelenting tick…tick…tick…


Time’s Autobiography Nicole Flanagan

The bittersweet symphony of life. Time. A double edged sword which marks all living things, deliberately scaring scarring us with an insatiable desire to understand it. Lifetimes pass only to realize we cannot. We go on, surviving under an ambiguous countdown of our very existence. Not quite sure what to make of it, not quite sure what meaning to believe in. Oh, to be unaware; to be a soft, thoughtless rabbit perusing the sweet, flowery meadows with only the most basic instincts and needs. We grow up nonchalantly brushing off our parent’s pleas pleads to stop getting older. To appreciate where we are, because one day, the cruel nature of life will knock you off your feet, leave you stunned by harsh anxieties and broken hearts, and cripple you with an array of seemingly impossible challenges. Time weaves together to taunt you when she wants to and to heal you when she decides to. She juxtaposes herself, watching you soak your pillow with relentless tears as you beg her to skip to the good part- to fast forward to a place and moment where the pain is left in the past, where it’s no longer actively working against you, where you have conquered it. She doesn’t. She slowly passes you by as you battle each day as fiercely as you can with the little strength you have left. She toughens you as she weakens you. She leaves you with little choice but to persevere. Suddenly, after tireless effort when old problems are now old and you’re all bandaged up from past wounds, she creeps up during your most authentic times. Perhaps you met the love of your life. Or reconnected with old

friends in a new city. Maybe you are excelling in your field of work. That’s when she decides to hit the gas, go full throttle. The sweetest victories are the most fleeting of moments. So much so that you learn to breathe it into your soul, to recognize that this present moment will be one that nestles into the files of your mind to create a home in your future daydreams. It will be amongst a collection of “perfect” evocations, ready to be summoned until Time gradually devours it, leaving you no longer able to reminisce or relive it. In times of distress, loved ones will remind you that time goes on, that there is much life to live. In moments of carefree wanderlust, friends will shout that life is short. We craft our ideals concerning Time based on our own and other’s convenience. Because somewhere within us, we all know the time we’re worried about, the time we’ve interpreted is man-made. And humans are imperfect, flawed. So time haunts us, residing someplace constant in our minds, triggering our fear; our hope; our nostalgia; our amnesia; our uncertainty; our pain. She lusts to be everything and everywhere despite being invisible and intangible. She’s what we make of her- a complex, messy, life-long, ticking time bomb of an ultimatum. And we can do nothing but allow her to sink her teeth in and enjoy the taste of our blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, to be a soft, perusing rabbit. To be simplistic and unmarked by the sword of Time. To stay young, free, detached from the shackles of the Grandfather Clock of all Clocks. She may be cruel and sweet and all things under the sun, but as everything else, she ends too. 139 | Spring 2022


Cleaning my room Olivia O’Connor

I remember the first time it happened. A cold Saturday in January, Elizabeth and I sat on my bed While you flitted around and cleaned my room. I’ve never been good at it– I get distracted, discouraged, overwhelmed. The clutter builds up and my mind gets messy. My mom called you my savior when you were done. I remember another time it happened. August 29, 2020. Elizabeth was at school. I wasn’t. I sat on my bed and cried. My mind and my room felt inescapable. You took your time and your gentle hands And made my space safe again. I sobbed my thanks in your arms. (I remember cleaning my room myself once. A momentary burst of energy had hit me. I sent you a video when I was through. You were so proud of me.) I remember the last time it happened. Abby was coming to visit And my room was not suitable for guests. We grabbed breakfast beforehand. You were so excited to meet her Because you knew how important she was to me And she knew how important you were to me. I couldn’t wait for you to meet her either. Now, when my room is messy, I clean it on my own. We no longer speak, But I will never forget what you did for me. For some people, cleaning someone’s room is nothing. It wasn’t nothing to you and me. It was an act of love from you to me. And I still feel that love every time I stand in my room.

American Literary Magazine | 140


Brotherhood Ronaldo Bolaños

141 | Spring 2022


I Hate the texture of these sheets Abby St Jean

Artist Statement: I often experience sensory overload, and this has happened to me numerous times when the texture of my sheets or an article of clothing is not quite right. This piece describes that feeling. Medium Statement: oil paint on paper

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Someone I love is slipping away Isabella Paracca

Tell a tale of victory Of something we can feel Float along the river Don’t come back for me The fish will tell you stories Let them reel you in Convincing each other to stay Underwater when it freezes Take it from me When late fall shouts its frosty gales And the feeling sets in They’ll ask you to stay There are ghosts in the forest And spirits in the creek The fishes’ sweet whispers Compel your mind to sleep And when the hope that I feel for you Draws upon its finals stores I’ll wait there on the ice To drag you to shore

143 | Spring 2022


Beauty in Decay Isabelle Ritz


My 19th Birthday McKenzie Taylor

As I was driving through the city on my birthday, I noticed weeds and blades of grass breaking through the cracks in the sidewalk. New York City has seen many more birthdays than I have, well over 200 of them. I wondered how many layers of cement those fragile little plants had to dig their way through to find the sunlight. 200 birthdays worth of buildings and roads and pavement. The city has grown into its own landscape, its own biome, living and breathing and becoming. It’s easy to forget that it was once wild land and that the Hudson was once clean water enjoyed by fish and deer and

humans alike. I have only seen 19 birthdays, just a fraction of those New York has endured, yet I imagine there are just as many layers laid on top of my own rivers and valleys. Some to prevent love from turning to loss, others to smooth out awkward conversation, and many more to make me pretty and digestible. I wonder if there are any flowers peeking through my own cracks and I wonder if anyone takes the time to notice them. I wonder if the land beneath New York City would bloom once again if we knocked it all down.

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Abby St. Jean is an overly caffeinated, constantly hungry Neuroscience and Studio Art student who spends her spare time, if there is any, outside and reading. Anjoleigh Schindler spends her time listening to Spotify, pestering her friends, and hitting her minimum quota of 3 cups of coffee a day Audrey Magill is a Freshman Lit major, cat lover, and horror junkie. You can find more of her digital art @ art.of.audrey on Instagram! Charlotte Van Schaack has now completed step 1/? in her plans to take over the (literary) world. Demitra Benard is a big sister who really enjoys plants and flowers, both real and fake! Ellie Blanchard spent last summer with her uncle in Alaska hunting wolverines. Emilee Rae Hibshman is a poet that is too busy yearning to think of a bio. Hey! My name is Emily Bazin, and I’m possibly a poet. Emma Southern is a sophomore CLEG major, and she is honored to be included in this issue of AmLit! Grace Hasson is the author of Into the Orange Grove, graduating from AU this semester, and occasionally sleeps with socks on. Hope Alex can assure you that the only thing she likes about Florida is it’s beaches. Isabel de Oliveira is a sophomore from the san francisco bay area who enjoys dabbling in all things artsy Isabelle Ritz owns a white camera and has made it her entire personality. Jordyn Baker is an AU freshman whose only personality traits are her year abroad in Berlin and that she drives a Kia Soul. When she’s not cuddling with her dogs, Julia Kane can usually be found in, on, or near a body of water. American Literary Magazine | 146

Alexia Partouche should be writing but is probably sleeping. Annika Rennaker is currently obsessed with maintaining her Duolingo streak and making aesthetic Pinterest boards for all of her friends Cara Siebert is happy to be here and looking forward to her future as a pretentious starving artist. Connaught Riley is a lover of hot sauce and is never without an excessive amount of jewelry. Dori Rathmell wants you to remember to “just keep swimming” Ellyse Zou is a graduating senior who previously was planning on attending music conservatory before finding a passion for public policy. They continue to make art though they struggle with continuing to call themselves an artist. Emily Bass is from Coast Salish, Duwamish, and Stillaguamish lands out in the PNW. For more snap shots of the beauty of Turtle Island (North America) check out @afishoutofwater. photo on IG! Emma DiValentino is a freshman and a chronically confused libra. Eva Wallis still thinks its hilarious to suffix every word with ‘-ussy’. Heather Roselle is a contemporary artist from New Jersey who loves her family and friends, matcha lattes, waking up early, the music of Sufjan Stevens, and being outside. My name is Hope Jorgensen and I am a freshman studying Communications, and in my free time I love planning out trips (that I won’t go on) and planning out books (that I may or may not write). I am Isabella Paracca and I am an avid reader, writer, and poet, majoring in gender studies with a minor in creative writing!


Julia Mitchell is listening to peace by Taylor Swift Katherine Mahan is from Connecticut, she loves painting people and capturing light. it’s Lia Patentas’ last amlit ever... you can keep up with her art n stuff on instagram, @liaisok. Liv Wenke regrets not lying about her height on her license. Mara Shepherd is 24 and plans to get her drivers license this year. No, for real this time. McKenna Casey misses going on drives with her dog, who has excellent taste in music. Mei Matute is an Adelie penguin enthusiast, pink hair haver, and no those are not her only personality traits, who told you that. Naomi Listokin - This took so long so please appreciate as much as you do our queen michelle. Olivia O’Connor is a sophomore majoring in WGSS who is passionate about queer theory, reality dating shows, and her girlfriend Abby. Ronaldo Bolaños is a portrait and documentary photographer based out of Dallas, Texas Sami Pye is a graduating senior who wants to know how can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22. Shelby Rose is a senior literature and history major at AU. Stella Breen is from New York City and loves to laugh. Sydney Muench is a photography-loving and extraverted old soul. Zahra DeShaw is a self-taught poet, psychology major, gentle soul, and sister. Grateful to her community and ancestors.

Kaitlyn Chesleigh is a daughter, a perpetual learner, and an olive apologist. Kathryne McCann is a senior graduating this semester who only wants to write about dragons and drink tea. Liah Argiropoulos is a fangirl, feminist, and basketball enjoyer who loves cats and strongly dislikes bell peppers. Luke Stowell is a zoo animal attending American University so they can get their silly little degree and find fulfillment one day, maybe. Matt Colucci is probably in the woods right now desperately trying to manifest a meet-cute with the reincarnation of Walt Whitman McKenzie Taylor is her mother’s child.

Miriam Yarger: literature major and creative writing minor who thinks Emily Dickinson was a lesbian

Nicole Flanagan is currently listening to Frank Ocean while analyzing the astrological charts of everyone she’s ever met. Olivia Traub is a sentimental girly with a sewing machine and big dreams. Samantha Margot wishes for a lot of things, but mostly to be reincarnated as a leaf in the wind. Just imagine spiraling down from a tree and riding the wind with birds, bees, and butterflies. Lovely. Scarlett Wedergren wants to limit the extent to which disasters impact population health. Hey I’m Stella Thé and I’m a sophomore who loves reading and writing and hope you like my pieces! Tilly Boraks is a silly goofy gal who loves to create. Find her at your local thrift store or the Bridge spending all of her eaglebucks on espresso (for her daily iced oatmilk latte, of course). 147 | Spring 2022


Masthead Editors-in-Chief Alexandra Kaiss Jinger Callwood Poetry Editors Michelle Soneye Genesis Magpayo Poetry Assistants Alexia Partouche Charlotte Van Schaack McKenna Casey Matthew Colucci Prose Editors Isabella Paracca Natalie Flynn Prose Assistants Katherine Raiano Laisa Gastaliturris Haley Cronin Meagan Proksch Art Editors Eva Wallis Kate Mahan Art Assistants Emma Geer Julia Kane Rainy Murillo

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Photo/Film Editors Anjoleigh Schindler Photo/Film Assistants Bella Nathan Stella Breen Demi Benard Nicole Flanagan Copy Editors Rebecca Oss Sophia Olson Copy Assistants Lily Billotti Hope Jorgensen Madison DeFrancesco Blog Editors Kaya Hencke Blog Assistants Sophia Slavin Anna Woodward Christine Rong Ruby Voge Creative Directors Lia Patentas Hannah Sjovold Design Assistants Emily Hanlon Ava Sheffler Abby Shumway Jenna Sittler


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Track 1: a note from the creative directors pt. 1 (ft. Lia)

Track 2: a note from the creative directors pt. 2 (ft. Hannah)

thank you to hannah for being the best co-CD and indulging me in this semester’s magazine theme. thank you to our lovely design assistants for helping us tie the magazine together, couldn’t have done it without you guys. lastly, i’d like to thank katie meyerson (the man, the myth, the legend) for introducing me to amlit in the first place. onto “real life” now. <3

LIA!! you were the absolute best co-CD and i’m so thankful for your creative vision and expertise. seriously could not have done this without you. a huge thank you to our design assistants. emily, ava, abby, and jenna — you made this lit mag come to life, fantastic work this semester :) i loved every minute of working on this issue of amlit and i’m so happy to share it with all of you. finally, thank you to alex and jinger for being wonderful EICs. put on some tunes and enjoy <3

151 | Spring 2022


American Literary Magazine Mary Graydon Center 248 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20016 www.amlitmag.com American Literary Magazine | 152


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Articles inside

Someone I Love is Slipping Away • • • Isabella Paracca

1min
page 139

Cleaning my room • • • Olivia O’Connor

1min
page 136

Time’s Autobiography • • • Nicole Flanagan

2min
page 135

I Hate the Texture of These Sheets

1min
page 138

Reflections on Time • • • Emma DiValentino

2min
page 134

Found in Nature • • • Demi Benard

1min
page 133

Childhood Dwellings • • • Isabella Paracca

1min
page 131

remains • • • Alexia Partouche

1min
page 132

Ripe, New Beginnings • • • Zahra DeShaw

1min
page 128

Speak, Hear, Listen • • • Hope Jorgensen

1min
page 120

Weep • • • Miriam Yarger

1min
page 125

Big Three • • • Kaitlyn Chesleigh

1min
page 118

Childhood Absence • • • Hope Jorgensen

1min
page 126

Loneliness • • • Emma Southern

1min
page 114

The Ocean’s Fairy Dust • • • Grace Hasson

1min
page 81

Grief • • • Emilee Rae Hibshman

1min
pages 82-83

i will try to remember this • • • Heather Roselle

1min
page 79

Another Life • • • Jordyn Baker

1min
page 76

an ode to the brown

1min
page 75

ache is a noun and a verb • • • McKenna Casey

1min
page 78

Lights Out • • • Kathryne McCann

3min
pages 72-73

The End • • • Mara Shepherd

1min
page 67

we are womxn • • • Stella Thé

3min
pages 64-65

To the Woman I’ll Meet Tomorrow • • • Olivia Traub

2min
page 62

I Thought I Knew What Love Felt Like • • • Emily Rae Hibshman

1min
page 60

Right? • • • Julia Kane

1min
page 56

Like broken pottery, fondly I think of you • • • Annika Rennaker

1min
page 52

There is So Much to Love in a Laugh

2min
pages 54-55

I Remember Everything • • • Kaitlyn Chesleigh

1min
page 59

Stories • • • Miriam Yarger

1min
page 49

Diamonds for My Daughters

3min
pages 46-47

untitled_1 • • • Katherine Mahan

1min
page 48

The Worth of an Elephant • • • Hope Jorgensen

5min
pages 39-43

It Was Just a Game • • • Emma Southern

1min
page 38

I don’t know why I like old things • • • Annika Rennaker

1min
page 34

a concert in the square • • • Isabel de Oliveira

1min
page 35

Things I Need to Fix • • • McKenzie Taylor

2min
page 33

Fern After Dark • • • Dori Rathmell

1min
page 32

Bloodrush • • • Audrey Magill

3min
page 26

Banshee • • • Tilly Boraks

1min
page 24

ICARUS! • • • Mei Matute

1min
page 27

Bloom 2 • • • Isabelle Ri

1min
page 17

Josephine • • • Mara Shepherd

1min
page 19

heitara • • • Caroline Siebert

2min
page 20

A Letter to My Maker • • • Connaught Riley

1min
pages 28-29

The Girl in the Yellow House • • • Kathryne McCann

1min
page 16

indifference • • • Sydney Muench

3min
page 7

She Shoots, She Mourns • • • Liah Argiropoulos

1min
page 10

It’s the Little Things • • • Olivia Traub

2min
page 5

Wrath • • • Hope Jorgensen

2min
page 14

Spring 2022

2min
page 3

60,000 • • • Jordyn Baker

2min
page 6

A Civic and Orange Slices • • • Ellie Blanchard

1min
page 15

No One Told You? • • • Julia Mitchell

1min
page 9
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