American Literary Magazine, affectionately known as AmLit, is American University’s literary and creative arts magazine. Run entirely by students, AmLit is published twice a year at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters. Striving to showcase the best student writing and visual art within the campus community, AmLit contains poetry, prose, photography, film, and art submitted by the student population, both undergraduates and graduates. AmLit selects content based on an anonymous review process, giving each staff member an equal vote for each piece submitted. The Editors-in-Chief and genre editors decide any discrepancies in the democratic voting process. All copyrights revert to the artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.
AmLit is the tangible result of the loving and hardworking community that surrounds our staff. Here we gratefully thank our wonderful advisor, Adell Crowe, for her sage advice, encouraging (and fun) chats, and all the candy she stocks in the office to fuel our late meetings. Adell, your dedication to this magazine is incomparable; working with you has been an absolute pleasure that we will miss dearly. We would also like to thank our content advisor, K. Tyler Christensen, as well as our faculty contributor Elliott Holt. It’s an honor to feature the incredible work of American University’s faculty within our pages. We are also so pleased to feature cover art by Luke Ramsey and Cassie Wiegmann. Next, an enormous thank you to the famous AmDad, Jim Briggs of Printing Images. Thank you, Mr. Briggs, for your patience and kindness while we figured out how to navigate paper types and last minute copy-edits. We couldn’t have done this without your continued support. Last but not least, we must recognize our wonderful Bestin-Show judges: Professors Despina Kakoudaki, Keith Leonard, Linda Voris, Leena Jayaswal, and Marten Pinnecoose. Some of you have kindly promoted AmLit in your departments, classrooms, and to our university’s administration. You are our strongest advocates, and we hope to continue working with all of you. The support we’ve seen from our faculty is truly amazing, and we are eternally grateful for your enthusiasm and support. To those of you who are new to our team, we simply say: welcome to AmLit. Thank you, everyone, from the very bottom of our hearts.
DYNASTIES IN RED Jonathan Murray spring 2015
Dear Readers, Remember last semester when we opened our letter with “neither of this year’s Editors-in-Chief are particularly emotional people”? Well, it was a bit of a lie. Because we tend to get a bit emotional about AmLit. This magazine has made each of us feel an immense range of emotions, whether it be happiness with the friends we’ve made, pride in our finished product, and very occasionally a bit of Editor-in-Chief stress, none of these emotions prepared us for the bittersweet sadness of leaving AmLit. However, our gratitude surpasses any sadness we might feel about the end of our time with AmLit. Like those who’ve come before us and will follow us, AmLit has provided us with the most wonderful friends, experiences, and art. This semester, we’ve expanded AmLit’s reach not only within the student body, acquiring more art submissions than ever before, but also with faculty and the DC literary community at large. Our first ever DC Intercollegiate Literary Conference has opened the door to what we hope will soon become an annual affair. It has been truly rewarding to help grow the artistic community of American University, because that is precisely what AmLit is here for. Many of our Student Media peers ask us how we feel about the future of AmLit, namely will it continue to grow? And, our answer is always “yes, of course”! We’re enormously confident and excited for the future of the magazine. This year, we’ve had an inspiring influx of talented and caring students join the staff and editorial board. Our staff’s dedication assures us that what we can expect for AmLit’s future is the magazine surpassing itself in quality every year. We often pitch AmLit to new members by saying “don’t worry — even if you’re not creative at all, you can still do AmLit”. We say this because we assume it comforts people — even those of us who don’t feel “creative” can be involved in an arts magazine. But, when we pitch this, we’re lying. Straight-up, big time lying and devaluing what we at AmLit pride ourselves in doing, and what literary agents, publishers, curators, and scholars do. You absolutely cannot be involved with AmLit without being creative. The truth is, simply being interested in and interacting with art makes you a creative individual. We become creative as soon as we begin engaging with a work, when we look at it or read it and let it guide our minds’ wandering. Whenever we engage with art we have a unique and truly individual interaction with that work, as our personal experiences and beliefs shape how we interpret a work. Because our experiences with and interpretations of artworks are unique, together with the artist of the original work, we create a new work; we share authorship with the artist. We believe that this interaction and thought about the arts is hard work – it takes brain power, it takes time, and it takes focus. So, with that in mind, we invite you to partake in the creation of AmLit by engaging with it and delighting in the incredible art of the American University community. xoxo, Julia Irion Martins & Brendan Williams-Childs Co-Editors-in-Chief
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WOW! MEAT! Batol Bashri
POETRY ONE DAY IN SPRING | Michaela Cowgill | 7 BIRD-BRAINED | Rachael Somerville | 15 EATING IN SILENCE | Pamela Huber | 18 WITNESS | Angelica Posey | 24 WHAT I WRITE WHEN I WRITE ABOUT YOU | Tova Seltzer | 27 ANY GIVEN TUESDAY | Jake Nieb | 38 ON HOW MY MOTHER SLEEPS | Mikala Rempe | 42 HORSENECK BEACH, JANUARY 1, 1999 | Eleanor Greene | 45 DREAM AFTER READING CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND (WITH LINE 13 BORROWED) | Mike Creedon | 56 APROPOS OF | Mattea Falk | 59 HALFWAY THROUGH ALL ABOUT EVE | Michaela Cowgill | 60 AVENIDA NOSSA SENHORA MEDIANEIRA | Julia Irion Martins | 63 COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS | Kate McMahon | 71 THE NIGHT ALL THE MAILBOXES FROZE SHUT IN GLOVER PARK | Mikala Rempe | 73 ROUTE TALK | Michaela Cowgill | 76 WEATHER FORECAST FOR UNRELIABLE NARRATORS (CIRCA 2008) | Molly McGinnis | 78 FOR SAM, AFTER A PARTY | Pamela Huber | 81 [IF I USE TWITTER AS SOURCE MATERIAL 4 MY POEMS DO I HAVE TO TELL U I USED TWITTER AS SOURCE MATERIAL 4 MY POEMS Y/N] OR, SO STONED PLS HELP | Mattea Falk | 84 BROKEN BATHTUB | Emma Bartley | 94 SWA #3538 | Mikala Rempe | 96
FILM TRI CIGA | Zack Mejias | 22 LETT THERE BE LIGHT | Pooja Patel | 35 HELP WANTED | Elaina Kimes | 37 CO VIDI | Jillian Hanson & Katie Bryden | 46 VERY NICE PEOPLE | JJ Blake | 92
PROSE SIMULATIONS DESIGNED TO MIRROR HUMAN THOUGHT | Brendan Williams-Childs | 10 VERTIGO | Jake Nieb | 20 MY BIRTHDAY DINNER, A HANGNAIL | Grace Cassidy | 29 TREES ARE KNOWN BY THE FRUIT THEY BEAR | Brendan Williams-Childs | 48 GHOSTS IN THE GRAVEYARD | Mikala Rempe | 64 MIMOSA PUDICA | Michaela Cowgill | 67 GIRLS WITH TEETH | Maricat Stratford | 88 INVENTORY | Elliott Holt | 99
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ART DYNASTIES IN RED | Jonathan Murray | 1 WOW! MEAT! | Batol Bashri | 3 SOUND SERIES 5 | DoYun Kim | 11 KISS OF THE SEA | Natalie Tarasar | 12 MEDITATION | Natalie Tarasar | 14 WATERFALL PARK | Isabella Lucy | 16 THE HELMET MAKER’S WIFE | Natalie Tarasar | 18 CAPITALISTS FACE | Nichole Tanoue | 23 FOX | Batol Bashri | 26 GRUBZ | Batol Bashri | 33 REFLECTIONS | Batol Bashri | 34 IT | Nichole Tanoue | 39 PEOPLE ALWAYS LEAVE | Ayush Garg | 40 PEACE | Ayush Garg | 41 SAVING LIVES | Ayush Garg | 41 SOUND SERIES 6 | DoYun Kim | 44 TRIANGLES | Nichole Tanoue | 47 ENDLESS BREADSTICKS | Jonathan Murray | 49 KOI | Nichole Tanoue | 53 MARK TWAIN | Grace Cassidy | 53 ANIMALS | Claire Osborn | 54 HABOBTI | Batol Bashri | 55 WINTER PRAYERS | Natalie Tarasar | 57 RODIN’S CROUCH | Natalie Tarasar | 61 DANCER IN MOTION | David Salgado | 62 CAFÉ LIGHTS | Natalie Tarasar | 66 SOUND SERIES 3 | DoYun Kim | 72 KOI PRINT | Nichole Tanoue | 75 LODGE | Claire Osborn | 74 BLUE MOVEMENTS | David Salgado | 77 THE MISUNDERSTANDING | Eliza Salmon | 80 SOUND SERIES 1 | DoYun Kim | 82 RAVENSCAPES | Batol Bashri | 82 DEITY | Jacob Atkins | 85 PATTERN II | Rachel Ternes | 86 THE CLIMBER | Natalie Tarasar | 89 1938 | Jonathan Murray | 95 PLANETS | Rachel Ternes | 98 PLATED | Luke Ramsey | 106
MISSION STATEMENT | 1 EDITORS’ NOTE | 2 CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES | 102 MASTHEAD | 104 THANKS | 106
PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDENCE | Scott Mullins | 4 NEGATIVE | Zack Mejias | 8 DESERT CAMP II | Rachel Ternes | 7 DELICATE | Kristie Chua | 9 TITANS | Hannah Tiner | 11 SLIP FACE | Rachel Ternes | 16 SUDDEN SNOW | Andrea Lin | 17 DESERT CAMP III | Rachel Ternes | 25 MOUNT PLEASANT | Emily Ambach | 28 UNTITLED | Anna Morcerf | 31 BLACK & WHITE 2 | Charlie Clayton | 36 REFLECT | Zack Mejias | 43 FOR THE COMPANY | Pamela Huber | 55 ONLY | Andrea Lin | 58 CONCRETE | Julia Hester | 65 BLACK & WHITE 1 | Charlie Clayton | 70 WATERED DOWN | Julia Hester | 79 AWE | Zack Mejias | 83 THE AFFAIR | Natalie Tarasar | 87 MAINE RAIN | Megan Yoder | 87 POLYLITHIC | Scott Mullins | 97 FOG | Brittany Jones | 101 CROATIAN MARKET | Isabella Lucy | 101 BALANCE | Zack Mejias | 105 HA HOE | Yoo Kyung Lee | 105 CABIN | Isabella Lucy | 107
PROVIDENCE Scott Mullins
american literary magazine
ONE DAY IN SPRING Michaela Cowgill the morning light walks across the clothesline but there are no clothes so it is just a rope that someone knotted around two trees to separate the blue air the way siblings would a shared room say it is a vein or a road or a telephone wire a rope cast into the wide eye of the storm for my hands or yours by midday our soapy clothes are hung by wooden pins and soon the sun will drift down again below the fling of branches and this distance of rope everything turns serious against the purple rush of the sky even the clothesline carves into the edge of the night like the only watchman the sacred guard of the cucumbers in the garden and our sleeping bodies in bed not touching but facing each other.
NEGATIVE Zack Mejias
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DELICATE Kristie Chua
DESERT CAMP II Rachel Ternes spring 2015
SIMULATIONS DESIGNED TO MIRROR HUMAN THOUGHT Brendan Williams-Childs I quit my job because I couldn’t really bring back the dead. My great-grandmother, the fake medium, is the only person I know who could really put “talks to ghosts, 100% success rate” on her resume. I didn’t get so lucky. It was getting depressing. I spent every weekday, for eight to nine hours, in a dark room with monitors and two other guys who smelled like Doritos and wet dogs, hooking rich old people up to backup hard-drives and trying to get their spirits to talk back to us when we were done, like if they died on the table we could just re-boot them into a new body. I guess it’s possible that someday soon they’ll get it down to a science, how to back up a brain (hell, in the time that I was there the company managed to get those chips that were something like 45 milliwatts per square centimeter and could randomize), but I won’t be there to see it. I’m not hot on the idea of keeping an entire existence in a computer just for someone to boot up, and pretend it hasn’t changed anything. Also, I was getting serious migraines from the glare. Here are the facts. Some facts. Last year, sixty-one people died on the subway in New York City. Most of them killed themselves. I think something like twenty-three were accidental and four were confirmed homicides. Ezra’s wife was pushed before I was born, before he could be my godfather, before NeuraLinks and external hard-drives for human consciousness became more easily accessible for people making less than 500k a year. Even if she’d been alive today, it’s not like she wouldn’t have died. Died horribly, too. Unless someone wants to live and die in a lab, hooked up to the computers constantly uploading their brains, every inane passing thought, onto a drive, there’s no guarantee that everything’s going to get saved. It’s no more reliable than the new iCloud. My godfather’s wife was pregnant. There’s no way to back up a fetus/baby, whatever you want to call it, whatever you believe. It’s impossible to give a developing body a NeuraLink while it’s still in someone else’s body. It’s dangerous. Like the subway. Getting cell reception down there hasn’t changed anything, except people get lost less frequently. These are things that are hard to explain to my dad. We’re sitting in Da Andrea and what I end up saying, instead of “my job
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fills me with crushing existential crisis and guilt” is, “I gave my two-weeks notice. I think I want an MBA. The transition from biomechanical programming to financial programming isn’t such a stretch, I’ve heard. There’s an element of random in all of it.” My dad doesn’t look impressed. He shrugs, makes a stereotype of all the men like him by waving his hands and saying, “Gio, what do you want to get into business for? You’ve got nothing you want to do with the family.” He sounds like Tony Soprano. I quit watching that show after the fourth season even though my cousins kept bothering me to watch it, telling me that I would appreciate it, asking why I bothered having an Internet Cable Code if I wasn’t going to use it to watch all six or however many damn season of The Sopranos there are. “What are you doing quitting without asking the family? You hurt your chances working for us.” “I didn’t say I’d work for you, dad,” I say, which is true. I want to work for him less than I want to work for the Initiative for Memory Conservation. “There’s always consulting firms. Boutique practices.” “You’re breaking my heart, Gio,” he says. He jabs four ravioli on his fork. “You’ve got a lot of potential. I thought you were really liking that place.” “It’s been fine,” I say, because it’s true. It’s been fine. For a given value of fine. Fine for what it’s been. Fine for the dark and the headaches and the crying and what might be carpal tunnel, but I need to see a doctor to determine that. Fine. “There’s nothing wrong with the job. I just want to do something different. I want to be able to advance.” He gives me that stupid one-shouldered shrug again. “No shame there, I guess,” he says, but he doesn’t sound certain. I am. When I get home, I see Ezra has left me six Skype messages. Goddamn it. It’s literally a twenty minute walk from the restaurant to Stuy Town which means that within the last twenty minutes, my father has talked to my godfather which means that everyone in the family now knows from someone who thinks this is a personal attack. At least that’s what the messages say.
TITANS Hannah Tiner
SOUND SERIES 5 DoYun Kim spring 2015
GIO COME ON HOW COULD YOU? ? GIO. . . . . . . GIO DOESNT IT MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? THINK ABOUT ALL THOSE PEOPLE U CULD BE HELPING. GIO ANSWER ME DONT U CARE ABOUT OTHER PPL? He’s typing like he’s drunk and he probably is. Since he retired, he day drinks and Skypes various members of the family. I don’t answer. I could run these messages through a translation device and they would all say the same thing: Gio, why can’t you bring her back? And I’m not going to say because it wouldn’t be her. I could save the memories of a million women pushed in front of a million subways, but the fact of the matter is that none of those million women would understand. The concept of death is useless to a backed-up brain because they can’t learn. The average sexbot is smarter than a preserved human memory because at least it’s designed to understand keywords, and even then, there are only so many it can respond to. If my godfather wants a conversation with an AI he thinks will love him, he can find one of those online for fifteen bucks a month.
Here are the rest of the facts. Some facts. My grandfather died when I was four, and I have a recording of him reading Guess How Much I Love You on a flashdrive. I used to watch it once a year, the same day I go and visit the grave, but I haven’t looked at it in a few years. It’s a secret, but the dead are boring. Even my dad doesn’t watch the footage he took of his father. The image won’t respond. It’s never going to be the same. I asked him once, my dad, if he would really want to talk to his father if we had backed the man up. My dad just shook his head and told me that once someone’s gone, what’s the fucking point of trying to say anything but goodbye? Anything else is just sad. We didn’t talk about Ezra fucking girls the age his daughter might have been, crying about every woman in a purple sundress at church, too afraid to go into the subway, waiting for people like me to bring back some resurrected holy mother and child. I don’t for a minute regret quitting, even though, all night, new messages, increasingly incoherent and increasingly belligerent, pop up on my Skype. My great grandmother was a circus freak, summoning the dead. I’m not like her. I’m nobody’s spiritualist, nobody’s necromancer. I’m a programmer, and I’m going to get an MBA, and when I die I’m going to have them scrap me for parts and burn my NeuraLink. I want to stay as dead as I can get.
KISS OF THE SEA Natalie Tarasar
american literary magazine
best in show: art 14
american literary magazine
MEDITATION Natalie Tarasar
BIRD-BRAINED Rachael Somerville My first boyfriend is driving me somewhere; I know He is You because five, six years ago He held the same bright metallic potential You hold now, that jolt of adrenaline when you look down at your skinned elbow and think, “I really must be more careful.” You say something but my fingerprints are busy making dusty memories with the windowpane. A flock of gray umbrellas flutters by like hundreds of confused flowers blooming upside down, then they’re frantic pigeons scrambling for seed because God has only thrown so much. I want to tell You you’re all the same. You and Him are versions of the foggy daguerreotype deity that every little girl is told to find and fuck and conquer, to peck at the crumbs in His outstretched hand before someone else does. I don’t know where You are taking me, and if I should be tired because You’re the thirteenth or three-hundredth God I’ve colonized, then ask the daily pigeons if they’re tired, ask the upside-down flowers if they ever see the sun.
WATERFALL PARK Isabella Lucy
SLIP FACE Rachel Ternes
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SUDDEN SNOW Andrea Lin
EATING IN SILENCE Pamela Huber From my mother’s hands I take sheets of pasta, lay them down in a tomato sauce bed, and we sprinkle parmesan and asiago on top – it falls like pollen on a field. Layer on layer, we laugh and splatter sauce on our shirts. My father climbs the stairs, says the lasagna looks like dog meat, but he eats two servings, fills up his plate as I stack my grandmother’s china in my head, mentally sorting the silence of the table, wondering if they remember when grandma taught her the recipe.
THE HELMET MAKER’S WIFE Natalie Tarasar
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VERTIGO Jake Nieb Vertigo, a feeling of dizziness even though one is motionless, has come to mean a fear of heights. Probably because acrophobia sounds too much like a disease people died from in the eighteen hundreds, and maybe because there’s something more poetic about the way “vertigo” slides off the tongue. Either way, I walk two feet away from the edge of balconies and live in an apartment on the ground floor. These decisions stem from a fear of falling, but true vertigo is subtler. It isolates one into a world that continuously slants, where ‘up’ is not a fixed direction but a spiraling abstract. Boundaries between emotions blur; the words to describe them suspended somewhere in space. Sleep brings stability; the bed pressing against the small of my back makes me feel stronger. In the dream, I’m scaling the slopes of Mount Everest in a light jacket. The sun flashes against the reflective, white surface, and in the blinding light I find myself leaping thousands of feet higher. Reaching the top, I balance on the triangle-point of the peak and look at the curve of the earth below. The cool air sucks the breath straight out of my lungs and a swooping sensation settles in the pit of my stomach. I lean forward. Imagining my house all the way across the Atlantic, I see my brothers jumping on the trampoline while my mom waters rows of tulips and my dad drinks an iced tea with lemon. I roll back onto my heels and the blood rushes into my ears. I kick off from my point in space and feel the last bonds of gravity come undone. I’m floating in a universe so dark it burns my eyes. And then—my feet plant on white dusty ground and everything comes back into focus. One by one, stars illuminate in the distance and I find my sun. I look down at the blue sphere cloaked in swirling white and search for something familiar. I need to get a little bit closer. I rise up on tiptoe, but gravity’s weaker here and I tumble downward, sun and moon and earth blending into brightness as I open my eyes, warmth spreading to the ends of my fingers. Falling like this is exhilarating. This is not vertigo. In 1974, a man walked along a wire suspended between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He danced to the applause of police officers and stockbrokers, construction workers and couples pushing strollers. In that moment, everyone watching
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was the same. Collective gasps kept this man aloft. After it was over, they walked away talking to anyone who would listen, imprinting the memory in their own words and layering it with their own meaning. That man experienced vertigo and danced in it. I began dreaming about falling to earth twenty-eight years after that famous walk, and thirteen years after that Michael and I put on a movie and settle into the deflated loveseat in my living room. We haven’t seen each other in a month, but it’s all right because he’s busy with work and I’ve been studying for the MCAT twenty-five hundred miles away, and neither of us wanted to bother the other. My head finds its complementary surface on his chest, and Michael wraps his arm around my shoulders. The smell of cheap beer wafts from his hair, but I don’t mind. We’ve both seen this movie before so we talk through the opening credits about his niece, who’s almost three now, and whether the recent-graduate life is something I should look forward to, and about my new job, which is infinitely better than the one where we met. We both laugh. He’s been watching Friends lately, which is what I’d do if I had the time. I tell him it’s one of my favorite shows, and he suggests watching it instead. I take his hand and lead him into my room. We’re both sitting on the bed and I can’t log in to Netflix, so Michael leans forward and kisses me. Somewhere along the way a straying hand shuts my laptop, extinguishing all the light around us. When it’s over, we’re both lying on our sides facing each other. He smiles and his eyes disappear behind squinting eyelids, and I kiss him on the corner of his mouth. Michael rolls over onto his back, pulling me onto his “Our breathing chest until our bodies synchronizes and it’s fit together. He has a like I’m on Everest mouthful of my hair and his hip digs into again, balancing on my stomach, but then the balls of my feet.” I’m smiling too and we don’t say anything. Our breathing synchronizes and it’s like
I’m on Everest again, balancing on the balls of my feet. Poised to dive through the clouds below. A thousand thoughts chase each other through my dazed head and I think that if I can just catch one of them, I’ll be able to voice it. My stomach drops out of me and vertigo seizes my chest. I look Michael in the chin and try to crystallize my thoughts, to chip off a piece of what I’m feeling and sculpt it into language. “I need to go to the bathroom.” He suppresses a laugh and leans in slowly until I can see individual drops of perspiration on his forehead. Our lips meet again, and when I’m back in bed he’s snoring and I’m staring at a wrinkled shirtsleeve poking out of the closet. That night, I did not dream about Mount Everest, but I woke up dizzy. Michael and I showered and I was perched over the edge of the universe trying to think of something to say. I asked him about his plans for the day without listening to the answer, and I think he did the same for me. This stationary dizziness is something new. When I talk to my family, we glide from a discussion of every detail of Still Alice that kicked me in the chest to whether the dog has stopped peeing on neighbors’ feet when they first come in the door. I talk to my younger brother about Spanish and chemistry. My dad reminds me for the eighth time that “It only takes one bad decision and you’re living with HIV.” They ask about work and I tell them I spilled champagne on a family in suits and cocktail dresses, and we laugh. There is no stasis in these moments, and my world remains upright. Vertigo makes me hesitate when I’m with Michael. It cuts every synapse between my brain and my mouth until smiles and nods are the only tools I have left for communication. When you looks over the edge of a building, instinct tells you to pull back. But this same shying away makes you think it’s better not to say anything than experience vulnerability in a single cell of your body. I’m afraid of falling into conversation without a harness. Afraid of failing at what I’m not sure I’m trying to say. This paralysis is vertigo. The door shut behind Michael and I knew I wouldn’t hear from him again until next week. It’s not what I want, but I’m not about to walk across a tightrope either. I’m still not sure what I wanted to say – the real words caught in my throat until I couldn’t breath, and that’s where they’ll stay. This confused world spins around me and I must close my eyes to stop falling.
RISING UP Scott Mullins
TRI CIGA Zack Mejias
american literary magazine
CAPITALIST’S FACE Nichole Tanoue spring 2015
WITNESS Angelica Posey Only two more minutes until I’m free. I busy myself with nothing for the time that remains and then “You’re off.” Eager faces and bodies limber up. Two men break into dance in the lobby and it hits me: something is going on here… Outside parked at the curb is a tour bus for some famous choreographer that I’ve never heard of so naturally I got in line Wooden floors, glass mirrors, girls in tights The choreographer changes tempo. She digs into her bag for something she hopes will change us: a booklet “May I discuss The Bible with you?” All of the girls walk out of the room.
american literary magazine
DESERT CAMP III Rachel Ternes
FOX Batol Bashri
american literary magazine
WHAT I WRITE ABOUT WHEN I WRITE ABOUT YOU Tova Seltzer Lately when I set out to write, I see three possible subjects: me, outer space, and you. Option three is the crowd-pleaser because you’re a boy and I’m a girl and we’re both theoretically straight. But I’m trying to teach myself that there are juicier things to overthink than all the ways I have and haven’t felt for you, the silent fights and highways through the downtown dark, how I still flinch towards texting you like brushing back phantom hair after a cut. Wasn’t the whole point of being the heartless one not having to give away space in my head anymore? So, if you’re going, go. I won’t say I can’t think of more to say to you, about you, because I can. I always can. But did you know it takes three days to fly to the moon? And six whole years to get to the sun. And Neptune might hold oceans.
MOUNT PLEASANT Emily Ambach
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MY BIRTHDAY DINNER, A HANGNAIL Grace Cassidy On my birthday I met a man with caves for eyes. Maybe that isn’t so fair to say. Allow me to elaborate a little. On my birthday I met a man with two great big pores the size of caves where his eyes were supposed to be. It would be something of great concern to a dermatologist, or maybe even great interest to an archeologist. The rest of his face was normal, like it stepped right off one of those underwear advertisements that are plastered at the top of the inside of every public bus in the city. Everything was normal except that his eyes were missing and he smelled much richer than he looked, but it isn’t like he would have known either of those things anyway. It was snowing outside even though it wasn’t supposed to yet. It was still only November. Thanksgiving hadn’t even marked itself off my calendar. I could see my breath, which made me terribly uncomfortable. It made me want a stick of gum, should anyone choose to walk through it. Normally, when it’s cold outside, hands will get all shrunken down and knuckles will get all red, the surrounding skin trying to suction the knuckle inward along with the rest of the hand. It was cold out today, but my hands were swollen. I didn’t know my hands were swollen until I took them out of my pockets to pick at a hangnail on my ring finger that caught a thread on my glove. Taking the glove off, I used my teeth to remove the hangnail and spat it out onto the street, leaving it on the sidewalk. I smelled him before I saw him. He must have just came out of a store that he stumbled into by accident (probably a shop that didn’t know how to keep its doors shut from open until close, even in the winter), where he was coerced by the Greek baker to sample some marzipan. It was all over him like he was a wedding cake or something. The air was so cold that my lungs burned every time I took a deep breath, which I tried to make few and far between given the shock that doing so gave my insides, and the man knew that I was burning when he tapped me on the shoulder after he stepped on my hangnail. He couldn’t see it so he must have felt it. It must have pierced the bottom of his rubber shoe and ran into the tough skin on the ball of his foot. Either way, he knew I could smell the sugar when he felt the breath I failed to hold in. He tapped me and I turned around to face him, and he was standing there with a cane to guide him through the streets of the city because his eyes couldn’t do that for him. Thankfully, these days people with no eyes can get around the streets of the city just fine. Streetlights talk now to let you know when there aren’t any cars coming.
There are even blinking lights all over in case you can see but can’t hear, and ramps that replace stairs in case you can move but can’t walk. Besides, it was just about as dark as I imagine it could get in the winter, and in the nighttime no one really has eyes anyway. Even if you do, they don’t matter much. I could burn the tips of my fingers with the very lighter that was in my pocket right this second and remove all their sensitivity along with my fingerprint and my face would still feel the cold where it slapped me between my hat and my hood bringing the blood to surface all across the apples of my cheeks. My cheeks would still swell even if they couldn’t feel it. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if he was on 8th Avenue. This was 10th Avenue. I told him that no, he was on 10th Avenue. Then he asked if I was on 8th Avenue. I said no, I am also on 10th Avenue. I said we are both on 10th Avenue. I said that neither of us is on 8th Avenue. He asked which way he needed to go in order to get to 8th Avenue, so I told him that if he just kept walking straight and made a left at the first street corner he hit that he would be on his way to 8th Avenue, and he should get there just fine. He didn’t say anything else other than a mutter of what I assumed to be an expression of gratitude and continued to walk in the exact direction I told him to. Figuring he would make it to 8th Avenue just fine, I turned to walk in the direction that I’d been going on 10th Avenue. Before he interrupted me, I was on the way to dinner at my favorite restaurant. I was back on that route now, along 10th Avenue, despite the detour. My friends hate this place, and I can’t say I totally blame them because the food isn’t really all that fantastic but it’s familiar and when I go there I know what to expect. I know what I’m paying for, which is more than I can say when we go to a new restaurant that just opened up with hardly any reviews to back it up. The restaurant was two blocks away, which was close but it also meant that for two whole blocks I would see my breath. I tried to hold my breath for as long as I could, or I would take really short breaths so that I wasn’t letting out an entire lung’s worth of air so wastefully just for it float up over my head for the whole world to see, only for it to dissipate once it moved through enough friction to warm up again. Frozen breath goes like that because hot air rises, but I think it’s also got something to do with atmospheric pressure. I tried really hard to hold my breath for as long as I could, but of course there’s only so much
that someone can handle, trying to hold their breath like that for that long. When that got too hard I started to breathe into my gloves so that I was just breathing in the same air that I was breathing out, making it look like I was trying to keep my hands warm or keep my knuckles from being suctioned into the rest of my hand or something. And of course my hands were warm, and only getting warmer, though I worried I might be making myself light-headed. Waiting at a street corner for the white cross sign to pop up, the restaurant was in clear sight. Then I accidentally let out a big sigh of relief and it just tumbled all over the place, my hands in my pockets unable to warm my breath in time to catch it, and before I knew it the restaurant was gone again. Turning back, the streetlight was stark white, blinking at me as if to say move, but I wasn’t sure when it had changed or how long it had been yelling at me for. Maybe the fog from my breath blocked it. On Fridays the restaurant’s entrées are half-off if you get there before seven pm. I told my friends to get there at six so we’d have time to get a second entrée if we were still hungry after our first. It was a quarter to six. Before I had a job and was still living off my parents’ money like a goddamn loser, I used to spend my Fridays watching sitcom marathons from ten in the morning until three in the afternoon. Every Friday I did that. After a while it got so that I’d seen all the episodes of all the sitcoms three times over, so I decided to get a job. Then I found this restaurant and its Friday special, so I started coming here every Friday at five right after work and I would stay until seven, sometimes seven-thirty if I was still finishing my half-off entrée. After a while I’d had every meal on the menu. I had a favorite dish cooked a certain way and everything, so now I only come here on occasion. Now I have to find a new place to eat my lunch at work other than the break room, or I’ll have to quit very soon. Once I reached the other side of the street the restaurant came back but I was skeptical of going in before my friends got there. They were always late. If I went in by myself, I would get seated by myself and my friends wouldn’t have a place to sit. I knew they’d be late, so I knew that I would be waiting for a while. I’d been sitting on the brick edge of the restaurant’s window with my hands in my pockets, not caring that my breath fogged up everything around me. I wasn’t trying to keep it in or anything. I’d been fogging the entire damn street up when, after I had just gotten finished counting to twenty-four, I felt a tug from my ring finger again on the inside of my glove. Pulling my hand out of my pocket and taking off the glove from
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my hand using my teeth, the tug stayed and pulled a little black thread away from the fabric, leaving the surrounding fabric tugged and taut so that a little airy fiber of the black was left on my nail when the glove came all the way off. Just like the first time, I bit off the hangnail with my teeth and spat it into the street. It disappeared with the frozen concrete for thousands of feet to step on. It was getting much later now, and the sun had been fully set for quite some time. Where I live, the sun sets very early in the winter. A lot of people around here tend to say that they have seasonal depression in the winter. I guess that makes sense. I get seasonal depression in the summer, but that’s because I hate sweating and being hot all the time. I never want to be outside in the summer. In the winter it isn’t so bad – at least, it isn’t so bad until your gloves get stuck on the pieces tearing away from you. As it turns out, my friends were late because they had something to attend (some event or career speaker or something like that, I hadn’t really been paying much attention as I was cold and couldn’t particularly think as straight as I would have liked to) and their event ended right at the time we had planned to meet up for dinner, which was at six. It was now a little after six, but not so far after six that I was growing ravenous with hunger or anything. If my friends hadn’t been late we could have gotten a seat a little closer to a window, but the one we ended up with wasn’t so bad. If you stare long enough at any window in the room, it gets to be that you imagine you’re next to it, and then the square feet that lie between you and the outside kind “They had to think of shrinks down, and about me when I it doesn’t seem so far. Besides, being right wasn’t there in the next to the window room to remind in the winter would them who I was.” have felt too close to the outside. On a cold day like today, windows sometimes crack and let the cold air in through the cracks between the window and the wall it’s attached to. After thinking a while I got comfortable with my seat. It became the best one in the restaurant. “So,” my friend started talking before we had all decided what we were going to eat. “How’s your birthday going?”
UNTITLED Anna Morcerf
“Fine,” I said, not taking my eyes off the menu, still trying to decide what to eat. “It’s fine.” “We got you something,” my other friend piped up, not looking at the menu either. I looked up from my menu. I hadn’t been expecting anything from them for my birthday. Sure, we used to do that stuff when we were younger – back when our friendship was still new and we wanted to show that we cared and that we had appreciation for each other, but we were older now and we didn’t do that stuff anymore. I couldn’t remember the last time I had gotten them anything for their birthdays, or Christmas, or Chanukah, or Valentine’s Day, or anything. It was scary, in a way, to think that in order for them to get me a gift – a conjoined gift, one split equally between all of them – they had to organize it together. They had to discuss it together, to talk about what I would like or dislike, and if this or that was appropriate. They had to think about me when I wasn’t there in the room to remind them of who I was. They brought me into rooms that I didn’t belong to, and had me talking when I wasn’t even moving my mouth. I couldn’t be in more than one place at once. But that’s what they tried to do, getting me this stupid gift. I hated them for that.
My friend pulled out a small gift bag which I hadn’t seen all night and sat it in front of me on the table. It must have been hiding in one of their jackets or something – it was small enough to do that. They were all smiling, waiting for me to open it. Not particularly wanting to see what was inside, my eyes stayed glued to the bag, not moving any which way. Their hands grew tired and their eyes grew tired. Mine did, too. Their hands all grabbed the bag at the same time, opening it for me since I couldn’t do that. Reaching into the bag, they pulled apart the white tissue paper that lined the bag, then ripped the front of the bag open so that it laid kind of flat on the table like a napkin, full of fingers. Dehydrated, blood-drained fingers sewn up at the bottom where the blood would have gone sat on the table. There were five of them, just like a hand, except they were all index fingers – not a ring finger or a thumb in sight. All five of the fingers were the same kind of finger, all the same size, all the same pale, concrete, frozen kind of color, sitting on the table in a perfect line. “Do you like it?” “I love it,” I said, genuinely. It was the most thoughtful birthday gift I had ever received.
GRUBZ Batol Bashri
REFLECTIONS Batol Bashri
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LETT THERE BE LIGHT
best in show: film
bLAck & white 2 Charlie Clayton
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HELP WANTED Elaina Kimes https://vimeo.com/121504635
ANY GIVEN TUESDAY Jake Nieb I lie on my arm until it goes numb, touch his chest with pins and needles. Daniel smiles with his eyes closed and I blink away white spots in the dark. His face dissolves: a pair of noses, three blurry eyes and I taste my breath on his mouth. Bars of blue light filter through crooked blinds, blanketing us. Torsos exposed: we become two acute angles. He snores in my ear and I think about how normally I hate that light, but tonight I donâ€™t mind it so much.
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IT Nichole Tanoue
PEOPLE ALWAYS LEAVE Ayush Garg
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PEACE Ayush Garg
SAVING LIVES Ayush Garg
ON HOW MY MOTHER SLEEPS Mikala Rempe Her left hand hung off the edge. Where we lived then was a quiet neighborhood — a collection of blue collars & rednecks. I waddled towards her in all my baby fat, looked up to tickle the five fingers suspended in thin air. Her boysenberry nail polish had chipped. Today, I wish I would have peeled it off and pressed it like flowers in our King James. Seven years later, my little sister cooed at the crescent moon. My mother stirred. Postpartum heavy with a belly still swollen she placed her hands above her navel, and told me she remembered what it felt like to be full. Time turned us dorsal. I hid her behind me as she zipped up taffeta and folded baby’s breath into homecoming curls. Reckless with curfew and red lights, I fumbled to my sleeping mother’s doorframe. She forced herself fetal and facing me, whispering. I watch my mother fold out of me at every bend before bed, how I take my rings off and set them on the vanity, or let the days disappear in a nighttime routine of unscented hand lotion and Hail Mary’s, or fall asleep with my left hand hanging off the edge hoping someone will take hold of me.
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REFLECT Zach Mejias
SOUND SERIES 6 DoYun Kim
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HORSENECK BEACH, JANUARY 1, 1999 Eleanor Greene She feels something off when salt water tumbles up from the biggest below and crashes on snow, white foam on white ice. Her mother says to remember that snow is almost sand, flakes are cousins of the ancient glass that specks the beach and sticks to rubber boots. The water exhales and runs back faster than she can and she stops before her toes touch it. She shuts her eyes and it’s the winter quilt being pulled close to her ears. From the parking lot, the ocean is just a stripe of slate between layers of an unending marbled cloud and bleached ground. Later, near the water’s edge, she finds a scallop. It’s a new-year shade of white in her morning, porcelain with crinkled lips pressed closed. She whispers are you lonely? and throws it back.
CO VIDI Jillian Hanson & Katie Bryden https://vimeo.com/123353602
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TRIANGLES Nichole Tanoue
TREES ARE KNOWN BY THE FRUIT THEY BEAR Brendan Williams-Childs I dream they recover my father’s body – his skeleton in a hotel closet. I wake up happy and in a world where this never happened. In a hotel in New York City. In the next bed over, my younger brother, Vassily, lies on his stomach. Last night I heard him masturbating when he thought I was asleep and he sounded like our father recovering from injuries after the coup, gasping for breath trying to maneuver an unwilling body. I blame my dreams on this, the combination of memory and new location. It’s all travel stress. This is the first time I’ve seen my brother, in person, in two years. I follow his name on the “track news alert” function on my phone. My brother laughs at me for keeping a phone. I would follow the news on my NeuralLink but I never bothered to have one re-installed. I also track the stories about my dead father, whose name is showing up more in the last three weeks than it has in a while. Because of the interview I’m giving today. Sometimes it’s comforting to know that your actions have a tangible effect on the world. My half-sister, Karina, is thirteen years older than me and gorgeous for being in her forties and when she comes to meet us at brunch, she’s all angles and cheekbones and expensive clothes and face cream she imports from our home-country because our mineral deposits support both our infrastructure and a surprisingly strong cosmetics industry although that’s not what anybody ever talks about when they talk about Galkechnia. She asks me three times if I’m sure I want a dish with so many carbs. Nadya, are you sure, dear? Are you sure? I get it anyway. My brother doesn’t stand up for me because he thinks it all comes down to willpower. Maybe it does. I used all my willpower on staying alive in a house that wanted to kill me, so I find it difficult to care if I’m twice or four times the size of my halfsister, whose mother was a supermodel before she was a corpse. I care that I’m in New York and I’m hungry. The meal is fine. My brother argues with my sister and they speak in Russian so we look almost like we belong, like maybe we’re just gangsters. I did my research before coming here. I know Americans have only two kinds of Russians: fascists and gangsters. Let them think we smuggle cocaine and cheap electronics, that we scam people out of propane and electricity. Let them think we’re
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organized, that we’re not the kind of criminals we are. I’m glad they’re speaking in Russian because it’s not our language and whatever they decide about if I should be doing this interview or not, whatever moral judgment they find sufficient to pass about something that can’t be changed, I won’t hear the outcome. For the duration of the brunch, I only speak Galkech. Karina has a car, but she never drives. Her husband comes to collect us. His name is Pyotr and he used to work for our father. I remember him, in his official capacity, when our home country was still Galkechnia and our father was still President, like a movie I saw as a child. There are details missing. Pyotr picks us up from brunch and takes us to the studio. It surprises me that he looks so old. I remember, I think, that he had cancer in his liver last year but he’s still here, so I may be misremembering. This is a natural occurrence, this uncertainty. Doctor Pajari says that girls like me are subject to memory loss. Girls like me like I’m a child who doesn’t remember to take class notes. There’s nothing to be done about it. There are only the details of the moment, the raggedness to Pyotr’s edges. He’s thin and short and smiling and his shirt collar is too wide and his neck looks fragile. He speaks in the formal Administration Russian to me so I speak in English because I don’t want him to get comfortable. His English is terrible. He works in an office that only uses the Administration so he’s gotten lazy but I’m not comfortable and he shouldn’t be either. At the studio the men all speak to me like I’m a child, and I’m not a child. I’m almost thirty years old. The only women in the room, other than me and my half-sister, are the women doing hair and makeup, and the woman preparing to interview me. Pyotr puts me with a woman who is supposed to make me look presentable. Karina tells the woman, in English, to do something to make my face look less fat. I don’t know if she remembers I understand what she’s saying but she should, since the fucking interview is in English. The woman doing my hair has long nails. She digs them into my scalp and I don’t flinch. It reminds me of my mother. I close my eyes and wonder if my mother has a new cat. Her last one died three years ago. She called from Berlin to tell me. She used to wash the cats like she would wash my hair – against my will, deaf to my shouting
ENDLESS BREADSTICKS Jonathan Murray
protests. Years ago, now. I was a child and I was afraid of the hairdresser, the noise of the city, my mother who refused to bring servants to the house because who knows who they might be and I left her to do the work herself. My scalp bled. My father was much gentler. I prepare to say he wasn’t. At the desk for the interview, against a backdrop of the American Flag for the woman interviewing me and the Galkechnian Flag for myself, the camera lights are hotter on my face than I expected. The woman interviewing me is the kind of dark black that we rarely see in the Baltics. My father’s foreign minister, Avdotya, was black. She lives in Toronto and my brother works for her now. I watch the interviewer. Her makeup is some shade of warm clay red brown to highlight her eyes. It’s starting to melt against her hairline. I hope mine isn’t. Probably, it is. It probably makes me look stupid, all this concealer preparing to turn me into a Dali painting. I can’t shake how much this newswoman looks like Avdotya. Avdotya made a statement last week about my father’s death, about how glad she is to have my brother working in with her in Recovery and Development. About how excited she is to lead the final Baltic state into the EU. I read it in English because the websites in Galkech are strictly editorial and slander my brother mercilessly. People like Avdotya can work for years for a man like my father and the minute the regime is gone they turn and devour the corpse that remains, set up non-profits and international development firms. They can shake their crimes. They shook them before they were even charged. Even my half-sister gets to walk away. I am bound to this. The woman asks me about it. Her name is Rana, this beautiful woman who looks like Avdotya but with better hair. She asks me about how it feels, five years after my father’s death, to bear his name. I tell her it’s fine. It’s mine as well as his but we both know that’s a lie. I smile. She asks me a number of questions. I rehearsed, I’m prepared. My childhood? Happy. My teenage years, everything leading up to the trial? I was aware things were bad. I had friends in school who knew more about what my parents were doing than I did. The trial itself – the war crimes against Lithuania, crimes against humanity, against the citizens of Galkechnia? I chose not to testify. My half-sister testified because father murdered her mother. Whether or not the autopsy lists it as such. My aunt testified because it would lessen her sentence. My mother did not testify; it wasn’t permitted. I was sixteen. I was too young. And afterwards, for the last twelve years, where was I? Home schooled. I took my university courses online. I work now. I analyze statistics for international marketing campaigns. I cared for my father while he grew ill. The time my mother abandoned my brother and I and re-married; do I have anything I want to say about that? No. It’s like this. I speak. I smile. I spin my hair between my fingertips when I get nervous on hard questions. I have been preparing to answer these for a week. My brother was furious when I took the offer. Told me that we’d never shake it now. Photographers everywhere. Death under bright lights. We’d be that old British princess. I told him to fuck off. If people
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want to mock us they’ll do it anyway and at least we got our travel expenses paid for. I know what they want. They want a picture of my father that humanizes him so they can pull it up in front of their children, their students, and say that my father wasn’t just a monster. The danger, they’ll say, is in removing humanity. In believing that only truly evil people can commit truly evil acts. They want to encourage a public debate. They want to stir a little controversy in the history books to boost the sales of non-fiction before the summer holiday begins. People need something to read on the beach. The terror is behind us, they’ll say, and we, in Galkechnia, lived so long in such darkness only because we were mistaken and thought there was some kind of light in Leonid Nikiforov. My father. Rana asks me questions and I answer them but I don’t fall for her leads. I smile at her and she nods and looks understanding. I wonder if she’s taken acting classes. Rana has old photographs of me, photos taken by guards at the house. Rana has photos of Daniel Weber, Karina’s uncle, who took my mother away in the night, and who looks much more handsome in person (I met him once at a party, the brother of my half-sister’s mother who was a model). Rana has photos of my half-sister and Pyotr. Rana has photos of my brother at his graduation. Rana has photos of my father’s funeral, attended only by myself, the guards who kept us trapped in a house in the mountains for twelve years, and a photojournalist from El Pais which was the only newspaper Avdotya deemed disinterested enough in our affairs to be impartial at a sensitive moment. Rana has photographs I don’t think she ought to have but I don’t tell her this. I just smile and nod and I know those photographs are being displayed on screen while I talk and somewhere, someone is forming the story about my father as something other than whatever he was. When the hour is over and the cameras are off, Rana hugs me. She is warm and gorgeous and pats my back. She talks to my half-sister with conspiratorial tones. I wipe my face off, sweat and makeup smeared on the back of my hand. My brother asks me why I didn’t talk about the accusations against our father. Don’t I want to set the story straight? Rana was sensitive. She didn’t bring it up. I wouldn’t, either. What is there to say, anyway? Rumors. If I wanted to address those, I would talk to the gossip columns directly. This was a professional exclusive. My brother is very proud or at least acts like it. We pretend we didn’t argue, that he didn’t call me a spiteful slut, bent on playing tragic for the Americans. He pats my back and smiles and nods and looks very relieved. He looks so much like our father. Both of us do. Our mother was delicate and clever. My brother and I inherited nothing from her but her china collection when she left us. He asks if I’m ready to go back to the hotel, when my flight is. Not for another two days. His is at the end of the week. Come to Toronto, he says. I’d love Toronto. I’d love it. Such a nice city. He knows so much about what I want. Karina got me the visa to America; she has friends who could get me a permanent visa to Canada. I do work online. I just smile. He’s
The man who picks me up at the bar doesn’t know my name told me to move to Toronto seven times this year. I say I’m going and I didn’t think he would. I don’t give anyone that much credit to go get a drink. He says everyone is going to recognize me or assume I’m that important. I watched a documentary about from the interview. I say I’ll wash my face. I have a good feeling the children of Nazis once, because nobody knew who they most Americans couldn’t pick me up out of a lineup. were. The War was more than a hundred years ago. Avdotya Pyotr tries to stop me at the door, says I shouldn’t be going recommended it to me. I could stream it through the Internet out. Let things cool down now. How am I feeling? I looked the new regime allowed in our home. I like to think someone marvelous up there. I tell him I’m taller and heavier than he is so watched it with me, somewhere in the new Capital. I used to why doesn’t he just let me by. But my sister? Half-sister. Will be imagine that there was a single person who monitored our fine without me. I need a drink or several. He looks concerned. Internet and that he was very handsome and would fall in love He looks dutiful. I wonder if he’s a good husband to my halfwith me based on the movies I watched and the e-mails I wrote sister. I wonder how they fuck, with him so much smaller than to my mother and half-sister and the search words I used. It was her. I imagine him like a small dog humping a Great Dane. I think stupid. Nobody would fall for a girl who looked up “how to stop about the dogs we used to have, their immense noise. The outdoor eating when i’m nervous” so many times. Or a girl who searched dogs, mountain shepherds, were all of ours, our companions. But “how to not be scared.” A handsome spy would fall for a girl who the guard dog only responded to my father and sometimes my searched for things like “fur-lined blue coats” or “proper bra father was drunk or loaded on too many painkillers and once he sizing.” Someone he knew he could have an interest in. In the sicced her on my brother. If my brother ever volunteers for an documentary about Nazis that this imaginary man and I watched interview, he will probably raise the leg of his fine and tailored together, there were children who didn’t feel bad at all, who trousers and undo my work, undo the curious humanization of believed their parents to be perfect. A man who killed hundreds my father. My brother will want to prove a simple story, a story was concerned about being a decent father. His daughter saved that takes fewer facts. My brother will want to say that Leonid his letters. I didn’t save anything from the house we lived in. Nikiforov was interested only in himself, that everyone around It wasn’t mine. My father never wrote letters. He taught me to him was a pawn. As though anyone could really operate that drink my whiskey straight. way for so long. He cried so much, my father, when he realized I let a man at the bar fuck me because I don’t want to go back what he’d done. My brother was seventeen. He would recover. I to the hotel and because I know my brother will be furious and comforted my father, then, because the guards were tending to because I can’t imagine where else I’d go. I think about how my brother. What else could I do? I leave the studio. angry my brother will be and I laugh. I ask the man who fucks In Galkechnia I live in a city that doesn’t have a name yet. me if it’s fine I stay the night and he says yes. He fucks me just It used to be the Southern Capital and I am in love with a man fine. He has nobody to compare me to. Not my mother or my named Anatoly. That’s what I tell my brother, anyway. That I am half-sister or a dead first wife. Nobody in my family who isn’t in love. I’m not, and I don’t think Anatoly is, either, but his job me to frame my face against, to say you should look like that is to make sure I don’t get murdered and if you’re one of them. I think I finish. I can’t tell. He wears a he is shy, sweet. The sensibilities condom and swears he doesn’t have diseases and he isn’t of a boy from the Western into anything weird. It’s fine. It’s fine. He’s very drunk. Provinces on the border He falls asleep afterwards. He’s rich, divorced. There of Poland. I’ve given are pictures of him and his ex-wife and their son him kisses and he on a yacht on the wall. He hasn’t car bombed his stands perfectly still, “There’s never ex-wife yet. He thought I was an easy target. My like a frightened a good time to brother would probably laugh if he knew. Would animal. He’s think about him. He tell me to have some self-respect. You’re a fat spoken to me once, slut, he says, stop with these men and have some when I brought doesn’t wait for a self-respect. What the hell. The man lives in a home a Russian convenient time to be nice studio apartment. It reminds me of the kind businessman. remembered.” that Alexei used to live in, before Alexei’s father He told me that shot my father. Alexei lives in the new Capital affairs are a threat now and would never invite me to his apartment. to my security and His wife is a good woman; we went to school that I should be more together. I wonder if she knows all the things Alexei concerned for my person. and I had planned to do, all the things the man who is I try not to blame him for her husband could have been and done, before his father that. For speaking like that and decided to betray us. separating my body from myself. I reserve that privilege for myself.
In the night the man who fucked me breathes so heavily. I think of my father. There’s never a good time to think about him. He doesn’t wait for a convenient moment to be remembered. He never waited for anything in life. He wasn’t that kind of man. The man who fucked me stops breathing for a moment and then snores and it feels like my heart’s stopped with him. My father died in his sleep. I was twenty-three years old. I hadn’t been off the estate in at least five years because I couldn’t see a point to it and my father hadn’t left the house itself in longer and we had taken to sleeping on the couch, my father and I, because he fell asleep while watching the television and I was too afraid to leave him alone because if I did he would get shot. If I stayed with him when the guards changed and some imposter guard, set on killing him, slipped in, he would be safe because this imposter wouldn’t have the heart to shoot a girl with her head resting on her father’s knee. I hadn’t done anything. My innocence would keep my father safe. It was a stupid thing to think. I don’t remember him dying. We were asleep. He’d had a cup of cream and liquor and two doses of Zolvit. I had asked him if he wanted anything more, that it seemed unusual he didn’t want a real dinner, that I could cook something for him if he wanted. We watched a movie and he fell asleep and I protected him and when I woke up he was dead. A pulmonary embolism. The guards told me I should have asked for a doctor before. Couldn’t I see that his legs were swollen? He must have been sitting with clotted blood for a while before it killed him. Our situation was just pitiful, the two of us hidden away and letting ourselves go like that and my poor father with his leg but of course the guards didn’t use those words because they weren’t paid by him. The man who fucked me snores again. I roll over and go back to sleep. In the morning he’s gone but he’s left a note that says thank you, and to show myself out. He doesn’t leave a number, which is fine. And he doesn’t leave money, which is even better. The last man who fucked me, when I was visiting my brother in Toronto two years ago, tried to give me fifty dollars. I eat four toaster waffles and recycle the empty box and get showered and dressed. The man who fucked me doesn’t smoke so I just smell like coffee and the studio. I make sure the door is locked behind me. I don’t want this man getting all his things stolen. Though there is a doorman at this building so it’s unlikely. There are hundreds of people out in the streets. They all look like they’ve been crying. The flag is half-mast at a hotel I pass by and half the diners are closed. Probably somebody famous has died. For a moment I pretend that all these people saw my interview, that they could see how strange it’s been for me to speak. That they’re crying for the courage I displayed, the way my mother used to when I danced, though I was never so good at dancing. Too solid-boned and large-busted. My mother was so disappointed when I gave it up. My half-sister danced. For years. She could have been something great, if she wasn’t interested in politics. The story of the Nikiforov family. I find my way back to the hotel where my things are, where my brother is. He looks horrified to see me, then grabs me in his arms and holds me
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so tightly I’m afraid. I feel his heart beating against mine. He is strong in a way that surprises me. I can’t break free of his embrace. He asks me where I was, what I was doing, what the fuck I was thinking. He’s speaking rapidly in Galkech, the kind we used at home. It’s ours now, this particular accent. By the time we die, I think nobody will speak Galkech anymore. We may be annexed into Russia again. Did you hear? my brother asks. Somebody shot the president. Of the United States? I don’t believe it for a moment. There’s no way anybody could get within range to kill a man like that. That man is important. He’s kind. I’ve seen his face on TV. He’s very handsome, always in a blue suit. Shot him dead? He has a wife and a young daughter. What are they going to do with them? Who would shoot the President? My brother says maybe it’s a coup but the President is definitely dead. He’s sorry nobody is going to pay attention to the interview. I’m not. He’s not either. I have to sit down. I have to think about it. I’m glad. I’m so glad the President is dead. I’m so glad somebody killed him. He’s dead and if it is a coup they’ve already done good work. It’s only humane to make things clean. I wish they’d killed my father. I should have said that on air. My brother is projecting the images for me from BBC, of the man in the blue suit falling to the ground, struck in the back of the neck by a bullet. They’ll take that footage down soon, but in the meantime, I can watch him die over and over, the look of pure surprise. He doesn’t know how lucky he is. I start to cry and my brother turns it off and says that it’s fine, that they’re going to catch whoever did it, that the Vice President is already swearing in, that people didn’t remember about how this country is set up (my brother didn’t remember until he looked it up after hearing the news). I don’t stop crying. My brother indicates I should sit down so I lay on the bed and I sob and I feel stupid and my brother thinks I’m having an anxiety attack but I’m really just sad because two nights ago I dreamed they recovered my father’s body in a closet, that he had been broken down and murdered by the new regime. The daughter of the man in the blue suit, the handsome man who never yelled or took too many pills, gets to see this dream come true. There is never going to be a world where my father was a victim.
MARK TWAIN Grace Cassidy
KOI Nichole Tanoue spring 2015
ANIMALS Claire Osborn 54
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FOR THE COMPANY Pamela Huber
HABOBTI Batol Bashri
DREAM AFTER READING CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND (WITH LINE 13 BORROWED) Mike Creedon When Steeplechase’s Big Ben strikes ‘12,’ we leave Tilyou’s termite infested wooden coaster for the beachfront roman candles and oblivion. Unlike Ferlinghetti from Miller, no fireworks explode out ‘this is borrowed,’ and when the fire works harder I can recall a world wherein each bed a grave and I’m the same ghost rising with the same scare every morning.
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WINTER PRAYERS Natalie Tarasar
ONLY Andrea Lin
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best in show: poetry
APROPOS OF Mattea Falk your hands copper in my memory: my astonishment at your dislike for that song I love but then: the suspension between our hands our equal delight in the first cigarette of morning you and I joking through our mid-afternoon dawn – “to fight the habits of the body.” I fully expect to be changed upon witnessing the movement of so many. I admit your sex might be bad for me, in the scattering sense, my mind dizzy with the attempt to think like a body, my body having nothing, no ambition but obsolescence. Driving past the Burger King sign, blacked out enough to spell “Purge,” I tell you I want to accomplish rather than produce. You nod once, pull my hand to your belt. When the wet snow had left us, did you see? – the one sprig of magnolia alone on cement, its beetle-back gleam against that shroud, faded-lemonrind of the drive, and no magnolia tree there on the whole of that blanched street.
HALFWAY THROUGH ALL ABOUT EVE Michaela Cowgill Bette Davis swivels on a bed Bill where are you going Bette Davis turns like a moon the fullest kind the one that makes you look up when you’re walking home Bette Davis is twirling on a bed it’s a rehearsed dance that bed isn’t for sleeping it’s for dancing
Bill where are you going Bette Davis is a carousel going on going nowhere really she is going everywhere Bill where are you going I think I must be Bette Davis twisting my torso on a bed on a stage and looking back so that I can ask I am asking.
RODINâ€™S CROUCH Natalie Tarasar spring 2015
DANCER IN MOTION David Salgado 62
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AVENIDA NOSSA SENHORA MEDIANEIRA Julia Irion Martins mother, I think you’re three in the Cidade coração; and a warm light cradles you and your two sisters but they cut you out of the frame; I see your reach you extend into them reaching once the shutters clicked and that warm glow faded you grew up and away from the cedrela tree where once you stood reaching to pick wooden flowers next to your mother’s white house where now we spend our winters (your summers) and our silhouettes overlook Medianeira: two pharmacies, the bakery we walk by in the mornings and you tell me Always remember that I rode my bike rolling over the interlaced fingers of those boys who tried to keep me from movement we scale the tree, caring not to crush your wooden bouquets
best in show: prose
GHOSTS IN THE GRAVEYARD Mikala Rempe Between spliffs I think about telling you that I might be broken. I don’t. I’m not sure that I am. Your birthday was on Monday. I thought about giving you a gift. A guitar pick or a pin of Massachusetts. I gave you head instead. I don’t know anything about boundaries. You remind me my birthday’s coming up too. I tell you that this year I want a marble cake and time. You pass to me and say it’s in the rolling paper. The Temptations are on in the background. I think about telling you how I used to dance to them in the kitchen with my grandmother while we waited for the water to boil. Back before she taught me haunting was hereditary. Back when she still loved me, Mark.* Back before she etched black sheep to the back of my teeth so that it’s always the last thing I taste before I speak. Now everything (love) leaves a funny taste in my mouth. And I have a growing craving to be put in my place. You tell me melancholy is a needy lover. I ask how you know. You don’t. But she feels like a third person in your bed. Do you love me, Mark? D o n ’t answer that. I think about telling you about the men that stretched me open. The sweat. And how I can still smell it sometimes when I shower when the water isn’t hot enough, Mark, I don’t tell you about them. I think you already know. I’m worried you smell them on me. Instead I tell you that in my experience men tend to be 2 inches or 20 minutes off. I don’t mention I’m including you. I don’t mention you. We talk about casualty. I thought about civilians, and dying, and an army of ghosts. You thought about another spliff. inhale “How’s work?” exhale I tell you about the homeless woman that lives outside my store. I told you I used to think that she was a ghost. I think that you might be too, Mark. The way that you hang between my rib cages like a burgundy curtain. I can see her face in the smoke that’s tumbling out of my teeth. Black sheep. I think she’s crying. I caught a glimpse of her outside on the sidewalk, I was hanging up a $200 dress and she pissed herself right in front of me. She wasn’t a ghost anymore, Mark, I am afraid of crying. Did you know that? It’s silly to cry over ghosts, though. You remind me nothing is casual, not even these spliffs on the patio. Your porch steps are lined with jack-o-lanterns. I think about October when I was seven. We played “ghosts in the graveyard” every day after lunch. I was a ghost then. Maybe I still am. I cheated I never stayed inside the boundaries. You ask me if I’m seeing anyone lately. I think about telling you, It’s silly to cry over ghosts, Mark. I don’t. I smoke, and smolder, and try to stay where I belong.
* name changed to protect my own dignity
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CONCRETE Julia Hester
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MIMOSA PUDICA Michaela Cowgill I.
This is the good part of the story. Every July we drove to the shore in our creaky white minivan to visit my Great-Uncle Lee. If there were a sharp turn, the whole van would feel like it was about to tip over like a red flyer wagon. The seats were blue and uncomfortable. Dad promised me an ice cream for every yellow car we passed. I kept track in my notebook. That was my entry for that day. I wrote July 2, 1999 carefully in the top corner of the page and then right underneath it I wrote the total count, “seven mint chocolate chip ice creams.” I fell asleep and when I woke the ocean was there. It was rushing to the sand, then pulling back and then rushing again to the shore like a giant blue yo-yo. This is the only time that I can remember sleeping in the same room as my parents. The small, sagging house didn’t have air conditioning so we slept with the window propped open. Uncle Lee knew which sheets were mine and always had them waiting for me. They were folded up on the cot next to the guest bed, and I wondered if he kept them there all year while I was in school. They had small pink flowers all over and were scratchy on my bare legs. There was the sound of the ocean and then my parents’ breath. I tried to stay awake for as long as I could, listening to the sound of them breathing. I tried to breathe with them so that we were inhaling the same salty air at the same time. This went on for what seemed like a long time. Them sleeping and breathing and me listening and breathing. The room was so hot. The curtain fluttering up from our breathing or maybe the wind. I don’t remember falling asleep and I don’t remember if I dreamed or not. II.
“Catherine. It’s your mother. Call me back.” I was grocery shopping and forgot my phone in my dorm room. Now it was buzzing in the folds of my comforter, collecting frantic voicemails from my mother. I was picking up peaches and pressing my thumbs into them. I was deciding if I should get 2% or skim even though I didn’t really care either way. I was trying to remember what my mom usually got. I was worrying about a paper I had to write. I was stopping to look at the flowers even though I couldn’t afford flowers, and had no where to put them
even if I could. I was crossing things off a list. I was unbraiding my hair and then braiding it again. On the shuttle back to campus, I sat next to a classmate. “Have you started your paper?” he asked. “Nope. Have you?” “Not really. I think I know what I want to write about though.” “Yeah me too, probably the poem about the lady drowning.” “Which one?” “It’s called ‘Not Waving but Drowning.’” “I thought a dude drowned.” “No it was a girl, I think.” I’m not sure who put away my groceries or what happened to them while I went home for the funeral. When I got back they were gone though. Maybe my roommate asked our RA in a hushed voice what to do with the 2% milk since my dad died and all and she agreed that yes, she should throw it out before I got back. III.
My dad had a habit of touching his tie as if it might blow away in the wind. As if he was always at risk of becoming undone. The world was something that could take his tie right off his neck if he let it. So he touched his tie with his fingers. He would say something out loud and then touch his tie at the very center of his chest. To a stranger it might have seemed sweet that this man was touching his heart, gesturing to something pulsing and feeling underneath his ironed, buttoned up shirt. I knew that he just wanted everything to be in its right place. I inherited my mother’s habit of apologizing and her green eyes. Someone could probably steal my bicycle, a 1980s cruiser that I bought at a garage sale and my friend proudly named Loser Cruiser, and I would say sorry to them for the squeaky brakes that I never got around to sorting out. I remember listening through the walls to my parents fighting. There was a sudden shuffling and a thud, a chair clattering over. Then nothing but thick silence. “I’m sorry John,” she said. But this is not the story I meant to tell. I meant to write about Claire and the dog. I got to her apartment 20 minutes late and
CAFÉ LIGHTS Natalie Tarasar spring 2015
knocked. Claire was my roommate’s aunt and she was paying me to watch her dog for the weekend. The door opened and I realized suddenly that there were people who got rained on, and people who didn’t. Claire did not get rained on. And so I apologized while she introduced herself because I was dripping rainwater all over her wood floors. “I’m Claire.” “I’m sorry.” I shook my head, flinging rain into the air. “And I’m Catherine. It’s nice to meet you.” She motioned me inside with slender, clean hands. I apologized again. IV.
Here is a list I made in order to help me identify the perfect seashell. It was very important that I find it and give it to my mom. I knew she made a list when she bought food so I wrote a list to bring to the beach. 1. Must be the color of the moon 2. The size of my ear 3. Heavy but not so heavy that mom can’t bring it home 4. Soft like cat ears 5. Sounds like ocean I wanted to give her a telephone to the ocean. You see that’s why it had to be the size of an ear. That way, she could listen to the ocean even when we got home and it got cold. Even on Christmas Eve, if she really wanted, she could go back to the shore. When I gave it to my mother she took off her sunglasses to inspect it, squinting in the sunlight. Turning it over in her hand like she was trying to remember it. “Oh baby, this is great.” “You have to put it to your ear.” “Like this?” “Uh huh.” When we left to get lunch she forgot it in the sand along with her warm, half empty sprite can. V.
Claire’s hands reminded me of seashells. They were not for lifting or gripping. I tried to picture them changing a diaper or cutting potatoes into thick slices for dinner. They looked too soft to do anything. My hands felt weary now as I patted her small, fluffy dog awkwardly on its head. Claire breezed around the apartment and told me everything I needed to know for the weekend in short exhales. “My number in case you need anything.” “Here’s the oven.”
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“The juicer.” “Click this to turn on the fireplace.” “Here’s the spare room.” “Clean towels.” She lingered on the “I was stopping to word “towels.” I touched look at the flowers my hair. Then she was even though I couldn’t clicking towards the afford flowers, and door with her suitcase. For the first time had no where to put since I’d been there, them even if I could.” she picked up her dog, Rosie, and pressed her face into her fur. I looked away, embarrassed for some reason. Claire didn’t have any photographs on the walls. She had these great big paintings though. I looked at one while she hugged her dog, and tried to understand why the black paint swooped across the white canvas. I couldn’t think about it. I wondered if she had any wine, and if she would be the type to notice if a bottle was missing. And then she left me to her apartment and her Rosie, and for a moment neither of us moved in the hallway. The rain kept up against the big windows. I was staying in the guest room, but I went straight to her room and let myself in. Rosie seemed indifferent and padded into the living room to her plush doggy bed. Beside her room was a bathroom with one of those claw-foot bathtubs that I’d seen in movies. I turned on the water and trailed my fingers until it was hot enough and then got in. Every few minutes or so I’d slip down the sides of the tub so that I was underwater. My cheeks puffed up like a blowfish and I’d count to see how long I could hold my breath. A black silk robe embroidered with Claire’s initials hung on a hook of the bathroom door. I slipped into it like it was mine and lied down in her bed for a long time. When I woke up my hair was still wet and it was dark outside. I turned on the TV and then turned it off. I wondered what it would feel like to be Claire. To walk Rosie everyday and look at my big paintings and understand what the black paint was doing. I took out my heavy textbook for my Sustainable Earth class, found a highlighter in Claire’s office, and began to read. I underlined the entire description of a plant in Chapter 3. It’s called a “Mimosa Pudica,” or the “touch-me-not” plant. Sensitive plant. It’s a slender looking thing that folds inwards in the darkness and opens up again in the light. I read that part twice.
Touching, blowing, or shaking causes the foliage to fold into itself for protection. Rosie was asleep next to me now, and the apartment felt empty with its high ceilings and cleared tables. I called Jack, told him my parents were out of town and that he should come over if he wanted to. We’d only slept with each other last week and in the morning, before I tiptoed out; I saw his wool sweater draped over his chair. I touched it and wanted it suddenly. He probably loved it. The sleeves were stretched out and the elbows were worn. He didn’t wake up so I left with it bundled over my dress, pausing at the door. He sighed in his sleep and turned over before I could decide what I thought of his face. I wondered what I looked like asleep and then closed the door quietly. My roommate thought it was sweet that he gave it to me for the walk home, and I agreed with her. I gave him the address, double-checking the paper in my jeans to make sure I got the street name right. I closed my book and waited. Jack came to the apartment and was impressed with all the paintings and the china. I explained that my dad was always spending the weekend in Paris for business and my mom missed him and couldn’t stand to stay in the apartment alone. I explained that my (Great-Uncle) Lee lived on the shore and she went there to visit when Dad was away. She liked the sound of the ocean. Then we were kissing and undressing in a stranger’s bed and it was still raining and my dad was not in Paris. When we were done, I lifted myself off the bed and walked to the kitchen to get
water. This part is hazy. We don’t know how the door was left open. We think that Jack must not have closed the door all the way. Rosie was gone. The door was open and she walked right through it. We asked the doorman but he hadn’t seen a dog. He laughed and then looked concerned, asked us if we lived here. We circled the block in the rain for an hour, pausing at the mouth of alleyways and calling out to Rosie. I stopped at every fucking doorway, at every pool of light in the endless rainstorm. The gray city now seemed to stretch out forever and Rosie was nowhere. “I’m sure your mom will understand.” I nodded and wanted to cry. We were back inside the apartment, my hands awkwardly in my lap as Jack rubbed my back. His hand moved in wide circles on my back and he kept smiling at me the way a parent might if their child just fell off her bicycle. As if I just had to stand back up, stick a Band-Aid over my bleeding knees and try again. After a while he left because so-and-so was having a party for someone’s birthday. He looked sorry to leave me alone, and I tried to act very sorry too that he had to go. I turned off all the lights one by one in the apartment and got into Claire’s bed, pulling the comforter up to my chin. The rain had let up now, and I tried to fall asleep to the sound of my own breathing, it quivering like a fern at night.
best in show: photo
bLAck & white 1 Charlie Clayton 70
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COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS Kate McMahon Everyday, he limps to the old gas station on Main Street’s gritty corner and buys a scratch off. His aging skin fumbles over the same worn-out, blackened penny on the same brand of single dollar tickets. The whole town knows he likes the kind with cartoon strawberries, but there’s a new cashier today, some fancy foreigner, who gets the order all wrong. His eyesight is hazy, the cataracts are catching up, and the poor soul can’t see a difference. He scratches and he’s scratching and he scratched a winner! It’s a miracle, but his heart bangs and pounds as if a robin were trying to escape from the very insides of his chest. Plop plop plop plop. Crash. His back meets the soiled gas station floor while grasping the Lucky 7 between his whitening fingers. The fluorescent light flickers above, and he wonders how all that gum got on the ceiling tiles.
SOUND SERIES 3 DoYun Kim 72
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THE NIGHT ALL THE MAILBOXES FROZE SHUT IN GLOVER PARK Mikala Rempe Behind the Russian Embassy I remember how your eyes looked in Reno’s lights: mossy wet marbles, and how I forgot eggs at the grocery store yesterday, and that all my hats and gloves are still in the cedar chest, gnawed to threads by moths now. Tomorrow all the unbothered boys make hockey rinks out of cul-de-sacs, while their sisters make snow-angels on the hill, fingertips spread painfully through the flakes. And the mailman, and his ice pick gleaming with responsibility, cleaving through last night’s tantrum to tell me how you’ve been.
LODGE Claire Osborn
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KOI PRINT Nichole Tanoue
ROUTE TALK Michaela Cowgill I know the streets and the colors to get to your basement apartment on Euclid. Red until Gallery Place and then Green or Yellow until there’s a great grey hill. I know this sky too with all of its blue roominess. Knowing something doesn’t mean loving it. I’m trying to be direct. I’m trying to say the thing. The thing I’ve been unknotting in my throat. Maybe this will work. Nod once if you understand, twice if you want to leave the room. Remember Cape Cod? Remember how scared I got when you went underwater for so long? Maybe returning is loving. Or something close to that color. I keep forgetting to find out if Euclid is a flower or not. Is your street blooming or looming? Are those words so different? I’ve got to stop asking questions. But first, am I still talking about your street? Loom, verb: to appear indistinctly; to rise before the vision with an appearance of great or portentous size. Let’s say our love is looming like a sopping island. Or winter didn’t come this time and our love stayed blooming and blooming and blooming in root and muddy leaf. It is at once ahead of us and within us. Out of focus and too familiar.
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Nod if you understand. I’m trying to write about Euclid the street, not the flower. Not your hands chopping tomatoes the right way in the kitchen. I’m trying to be direct. I’m avoiding flowers. Remember how scared I got when you went underwater? Or this for a partial ending: Your stroke of return and our bobbing in circles. Our faces above water and below our legs kicking though we couldn’t see them through all that ocean and all that air. Or the tomatoes. The flower edging its way through the brick step.
BLUE MOVEMENTS David Salgado spring 2015
WEATHER FORECAST FOR UNRELIABLE NARRATORS (CIRCA 2008) Molly McGinnis In November, you flew off the bookshelf and took the books with you. I hid in the pages and whispered their stories to them. If nothing else, stay odd and wonderful – like India seen from space, a shawl of Diwali and heavy gems. Yes. Be a festival of lights. Goldfish on the back of a bike in Vietnam. Be girls made sleek by MTV, then witnessed faraway; an expert on drones in Virginia at night. (You could stage a coup and see who comes). I’ve been thinking about this, you know – the year I turned eight years old, the science museum bought a watery globe and you could press your palms to the atmosphere and feel schools of clouds swimming below. I’ve been warned not to trust things so marbled by action and storms. This office, in the process of re-shelving: The novels are facing the window, the tragedies stacked toward the sun. Each story is coasting through rain. An adventure film. A myth where all night trains stop in Vienna, where the hero gets lost in a green screen, then cries when confronted by love. This morning I walked to the pharmacy and bought those pens you hide messages in – I don’t know what I’ll write, but paced the history of your mistakes and held them tight until I, too, woke up in the static between channels, understood how the kind of hurricanes that fling books off of shelves and hurtle cars through shopping malls can fade into rainbows reflected in dishwater, why some women take scripts of suffering that always end the same and set them free, I recited your story until I could read every cloud and carve them into calendars and bathroom walls – I’ve been thinking about it, you know. If this is our weather report, then so be it. I am keeping the fables and fact checkers, and the bookshelf, and the dizzy, spinning globe.
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WATERED DOWN Julia Hester
THE MISUNDERSTANDING Eliza Salmon
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FOR SAM, AFTER A PARTY Pamela Huber You had all of me for a day. Did you realize? I boxed out the world last night, so nothing existed outside your bed frame where clumsy swan dives turned to exchange of secrets at dawn. My phone was dead and I let it stay that way, opened up my palm to you – memorized how our hip bones nested like matryoshka dolls. I wanted breakfast at midnight, hoped you’d agree, and I have no regrets except climbing out of bed too early – I knew about your childhood but not your major and I wanted to live in the possibility of pancakes. But we ate bananas as you grew quiet, and one of us was lost to the other before I left.
RAVENSCAPES Batol Bashri
SOUND SERIES 1 DoYun Kim
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AWE Zack Mejias
[IF I USE TWITTER AS SOURCE MATERIAL 4 MY POEMS DO I HAVE 2 TELL U I USED TWITTER AS A SOURCE MATERIAL 4 MY POEMS Y/N] OR, SO STONED PLS HELP Mattea Falk Weird! How many voices from inside the radio beg me to sue. Side effects may include… Maybe in the future an FM wave that tells you […] and even death ahead of time which cases to prepare; maybe. maybe! An Rx for the peculiar scientific sadness of sharing blood with someone and knowing nothing consequential about their life – no transfusion for it, the dr.’s absent signature a dense pubic clump below the x. Or, You trip me up/ what would I be/ If I could be free/ I’d like to trip you up. * I can’t make copies of the keys for this house, I can’t know why, but I do get cold waiting outside or trying to break in; the other night, yes, I got scared at my hand hovering over the sill, the strange insect cricket? spider? there, and then on the grate in the dark beneath my boot the dead bird its one eye and wet. * I hope one day to hear: now! Or, nice chant! Jenny says, “and so it was with great pleasure that I turned to the words of others.” I turn, can’t begin not to. I want them nude, harmless. I do not want – When a rat –
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I confess, I feel okay a lot of the time. * I meant to text Kate, “today i took a walk 2 the dog park, u remember?” The trees coming toward me with their stillness, me greeting them with mine. Against form, fine, but I don’t know how to want anymore. * In the future, do you see us quiet? glowing? I need to know now if pastiche is passé. (now now?) O Oracular Anything, I have got a lot of things to ask you. Mostly about my hair. Lavender? I mean, holy cow! I could! Or else ? Or else? Or else? * I always picture myself falling on the descent into the park, knees and elbows flayed on the path, root-systems’ stand-ins. Instead, I smoke. I lied. In my head only litany. Twitter? Breath. Sex. I didn’t go. Just my skitter-step on filter. By the body, this old hopscotch new: from ash to ash to ash, I go. On the train, the one eye open boy sleeping and Mary next to me saying I hate crowds. I feel like we’re all breathing in each others’ breath. The air on your skin has touched other peoples’ spit. I want to go to the future please. Turn turn turn turn turn begin; knot, too.
DEITY Jacob Atkins
PATTERN II Rachel Ternes
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MAINE RAIN Megan Yoder
THE AFFAIR Natalie Tarasar
GIRLS WITH TEETH Maricat Stratford Mom gave me a lift to Thalia’s house, because she needed the car for work and didn’t want me biking on the main road after dark. “Are you sure that’s the right address?” Mom asked when I told her where it was. “Lake Fox is a real nice neighborhood. Didn’t realize it was part of the school district.” I shrugged. “Apparently her dad was some big-shot surgeon in Chicago.” “Well, see if he can give you a ride home tomorrow morning, ok? Otherwise I’ll pick you up on the way back from work.” “Real nice” turned out to be a huge understatement. We turned into Thalia’s neighborhood and the houses were so big and spaced so far apart that each one looked like a castle ruling over a green lawn and a border of hedges. “Great place,” I said when Thalia answered the door. “I think it’s too big but Dad likes to throw parties for, like, his doctor friends. They’re all super boring though.” “Oh, that sucks,” I said, although I didn’t really mean it. I’d take a huge house and boring parties any day over having to worry about whether or not I left the lights on when I went out of the house on account of the electric bill. “Yeah, it’s like, whatever,” she said, leading me upstairs. “Anyway, here’s my room…” She opened a white door, with ‘KEEP OUT’ spray-painted on in black. The walls inside were a purplish-grey color, like the sky just after twilight, and had gotten the same treatment as the door. A black pentagram was painted over her bed, and ‘hail satan’ was on the opposing wall. There were no actual lamps in her room, just white and gold fairylights draped around the walls and around the sheer silver canopy that hung over her bed. “You can throw your stuff anywhere,” Thalia said. I put my backpack down next to hers, beside her desk. The desk and bed frame and dresser and bookshelf were all made of grey wood with wrought iron accents. She must have gotten them as a set. Was this the furniture she had as a kid, or had they got it new for this new house? “This is really pretty,” I said, brushing my fingertips over the smooth glass curves of an empty wine bottle on her dresser. The bottle held bundles of lavender and Baby’s-Breath, intermingled with the wild hydrangeas we had picked in the state park last week. Thalia was standing by the open window, carefully placing lit candles in mason jars that stood along the windowsill. “Thanks. I hate the rest of the house. It’s like, there’s all this energy left over from the people who built it and the guys my dad has over and it’s just gross. Plus the ceilings are really high so it’s really hard to keep it warm.”
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I took a seat on her bed. “What was your old house like?” “We had a penthouse apartment. My room faced the moon every night, and there was this sweet old French lady who lived in the apartment below us. She was always inviting me over for tea and macaroons, because her own granddaughters were in Paris.” “Wow. That sounds amazing.” “It was,” Thalia said, joining me on the bed. She leaned her head against my shoulder. “Anyway, my dad’s gonna be home in like an hour so if you wanna pregame this party-” “Hell yeah.” Thalia reached around me and pulled a mostly-full bottle of pink champagne out from under the pile of lacey pillows. She twisted the top off and took a gulp, then passed it to me. It was sweeter than anything I’d ever had and went down easy. Thalia plugged her iPod into the speakers by her bed and put on M.I.A. and started dancing on the bed. I felt like I was in a movie about high school girls or the intro of a lesbian teen porno or something. “Come on,” she said, laughing as she fell down beside me. “You’re not gonna make me dance alone, are you?” I had an image of me trying to dance with her, like a bear trying to dance with a ballerina. “Come on, come on!” She insisted, so I took another gulp of champagne and tried to copy what Thalia was doing. It wasn’t that hard, just sticking with the beat of the music, and when Thalia grabbed my hand, I went with it and twirled her around. I lost track of time and before I realized it, Thalia’s dad was knocking on the door and shouting at us to turn down the music and get ready to leave. Thalia rolled her eyes and paused the music. “So, you’re not going to wear that, right?” she said, looking over my skinny jeans, converses, and t-shirt. “I was planning on it….” “Ok. No, that’s cool. That’s… here,” she said, reaching into the back of her closet. “Borrow this, ok?” She handed me a thin silver ring with red gem set in it. “It’ll match your necklace. And this, too. Gotta have a leather jacket if you wanna look like a badass.” “Hold up, I thought we didn’t care about this?” “Well, yeah. But we still have to be the most beautiful people there. What’s the point of going if we’re not making someone jealous? I can’t decide between my grey chiffon dress or this pink one. What do you think? ” She held up a lacey dress with a soft white peter pan collar. “I’d go with the grey one,” I said. “But maybe with like, converses or something. So it looks like it’s still kind of casual, you know?”
THE CLIMBER Natalie Tarasar
leaned against the wall with her arms crossed, like “Yeah,” she nodded. “That’s a good idea. You’ll have to she was daring anyone to talk to her, like she lend me your shoes then. Here, you can borrow those was a goddamn model for, I don’t know, boots.” She pointed to a pair of black ankle boots. Urban Outfitters. I changed my shoes, surprised that her shoes “Wow, she’s cute,” he said. even fit me, and put on the jacket and looked Then he leaned in close. “But in her full-length mirror. Well, she was you’re cuter.” right. I did look pretty badass. Definitely “I had an image of “You think?” I took a sip not like the sort of girl who got her my trying to dance from the cup. It was sweet clothes stolen during gym class. and strong. “Ready?” I asked her. with her, like a bear “Hell yeah. She’s skinny, “Yeah - fuck, hang on a second.” trying to dance with but you’ve got better tits.” Thalia knelt down by her bed and a ballerina.” I wished I were more pulled out a box wrapped in pink buzzed. I wished I hadn’t paper and tied with silver ribbon. On eaten dinner before going over the box, in silver sharpie, was written, to Thalia’s. “Oh. Cool. I’m “Happy Birthday! To Sam from Thalia Amanda. Um. It’s really warm in & Amanda.” here. You wanna go outside?” “You got her a present? What it is it?” “Sure. You smoke?” “You’ll find out later,” Thalia said, “Yeah, sure.” I said, and laughed, smirking. even though nothing was funny. There were a couple other kids milling around There were so many people there. I think pretty much in the yard outside the backdoor. We walked off to the side; the everyone from Equality High had showed up, but there had to bass was still thudding in the background. He took out a pack of be kids from the Catholic school and probably South High, too, Marlboro Lights and offered me one. I took it and felt around in because Samantha’s basement was fucking packed. I guess I my pockets for a lighter, but before I could get it, he leaned in had imagined that everyone would look at us when we arrived close and used the ember from his to light mine. and an alarm would go off and Samantha and her friends would “So,” he said, after exhaling a plume of smoke. “How do you throw buckets of pig’s blood on me like in Carrie, but we just know Samantha?” showed up at the door at the same time as a couple of other kids, “Oh, I don’t really know her,” I lied. “I’m just here with a and Thalia handed the present to a woman that was probably friend of hers. How about you?” Samantha’s mom, and then we went in the basement. I didn’t “Same, I just came with some guys from school. I go to St. even see Samantha. Mark’s. I’m Eric, by the way.” In the basement, the only lights were from the Christmas “Oh, cool.” I didn’t really know what else to say, so I took lights hung up along the rafters. It smelled like sweat and another drag. I think he was looking at me. I didn’t know what he Hollister cologne. Thalia looked bored as hell. I guess this was wanted to see, what he wanted me to do. I had kind of expected pretty trashy compared to what she was used to. Apparently, she him to do most of the talking or… whatever it was that we were had celebrated her sixteenth birthday at the rooftop lounge at the gonna do. Ritz Carlton Chicago. Samantha had a table set up to the side I put my cigarette out in the dirt. “Well, I guess I better go with pizza and chips and pop and beer, and an actual DJ with back in and get my friend that drink,” I said, and that did the speakers, which was more than half of us here had probably ever trick. He grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me against him. had for a birthday. The night was getting cold and he was warm. I wrapped my arms “You want a drink?” I asked Thalia. The bass was pounding around his waist. His tongue outlined my lips and scraped against so loudly that you had to scream to hear yourself speak. my teeth as his hands slid down to my breasts. His hands were “Yeah, sure,” she said. “I’ll wait here.” bony like Thalia’s hands, her ribcage, her hips, I turned my head There was a guy at the table mixing vodka and pop in a red away and broke the kiss. He tried to press his groin against my solo cup. He looked up at me as I walked over. hips, but I pushed him off. “Hey,” he said and smiled. I had never seen him before, but “Yeah, I’m gonna head back in now. Thanks for the cigarette.” he was kind of cute, I guess. Big brown eyes and dyed black hair I straightened my tanktop and walked away. I didn’t look at him that fell across his face. “You wanna drink?” He handed me the or anyone as I went back into the basement. Thalia was still cup. leaning against the wall. I grabbed two beers and went over to “Yeah, um. I was just gonna get a drink for me and my her. She was already drinking, but drained the rest of her beer in friend.” I gestured to Thalia. As crowded as it was, there were one go, put the empty on the ground, and took my offering. like three feet of empty space around her in all directions. She
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“So what the hell was that about?” she asked, softly, staring straight ahead. I didn’t even bother playing dumb. “It was just some guy from St. Mark’s. He seemed kind of cool.” “Did you see the way he was looking at you? He only wanted to get in your pants,” she scoffed. “Um, obviously? And maybe that would have been ok with me? But he’s a shitty kisser and didn’t have anything interesting to talk about so, it was just whatever. It was nothing. He’s nothing.” “Well, he seems to disagree.” She nodded towards the basement door, where Eric stood, scanning the crowd. He saw us and started coming over. Thalia chugged half the beer I gave her and threw the bottle on the ground. It shattered on the concrete. She put her arm around my waist and pressed against me. Goddammit, I thought, she’s so small and she probably hasn’t eaten anything with any actual calories in it today, fuck, if I have to clean up her vomit later I’m gonna be so pissed. “Hey,” Eric said. “What do you want, fuckface?” Thalia said. “Whoa, chill out, I just wanted to talk to Amanda for a sec.” “Amanda doesn’t want to talk to you.” Thalia pulled me closer to her and I ended up having to grab onto her just to keep my balance. Eric ignored her. “Listen, Amanda, we should hang out sometime. When it’s just the two of us,” he said pointedly. “Can I get your number?” “Ok, kids!” Samantha’s mom shouted down the stair. “Come upstairs for cake and presents!” Eric rolled his eyes like what the fuck, how lame is that? and I shrugged my shoulders like superlame, right? and then Thalia grabbed my arm and put a dozen people between me and him. “I swear to God, if that woman says ‘Pinterest’ or ‘ombre’ one more time…” Thalia muttered. We were gathered in the living room and Samantha’s mom was passing around slices of the sixlayered cake. It was covered with frosted flowers that started out teal and then faded to white. Samantha’s mom had made it herself and was making sure we all knew how it took her six hours to do the flowers. I looked around their living room. There was a line of photos hanging above the sofa - Samantha as a baby, Samantha holding her baby brother, Samantha and her brother at a middle-school concert, the whole family together at Christmas, Samantha on the first day of high school…. Samantha herself was sitting on the sofa in front of a coffee table covered in presents. It was crazy to see how much everyone loved her. I wondered if her mom would have spent six hours on the cake if she had known how Samantha had stolen my former best friend and actively contributed to making my life hell. Someone passed me a plate with cake. “You want it?” I asked Thalia. “Are you out of your mind?” she asked, looking actually horrified.
“What’s wrong?” “We can’t eat here,” she whispered. “Why?” For a moment, I was convinced that she had somehow put poison in. “Persephone. If we eat it, we’ll be trapped here.” “Oh. Okay.” I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about but I handed the plate back to the girl who had passed it to me. “There, it’s gone. We can leave now, if you want.” “Nah,” Thalia said. She studied her nails, like she hadn’t been freaking out a second ago. “I want to wait ’til she opens our present.” “Sure, whatever you want.” We watched as Samantha and her friends oohed and ahhed over nail polish and matching make-up, a Jane Austen novel, a new dress, a set of bangles. Then she reached for the pink box with silver ribbon. Thalia dug her nails into my arm and shivered. “Happy Birthday! To Sam from Thalia and Amanda,” Samantha read aloud. Her brow wrinkled, as if she was confused that I was there, or that Thalia, the cool new girl, had brought such a loser with her, or something. “Such a pretty wrapping job!” Samantha’s mom said. Samantha held up the box and smiled while her dad took a photo. Then she peeled off the wrapping paper. Underneath was a shoebox. Samantha opened the box and screamed. She crawled backwards, scrambling against the back of the sofa. The box fell to the floor and everyone backed away. I elbowed the girl in front of me aside and saw what they were all staring at. Three dead, decaying pigeons. “Thalia,” I whispered. “Those birds. Did you kill them?” “Antifreeze in the birdbath. It’s fatal even in small doses,” she said, in between giggles. “I put the bodies in ziplock bags. Kept them under my bed for a month.” Her quiet laughter seemed to echo in the silent room. I looked at Samantha with vomit soaked down the front of her dress, and the whole fucking football team looking like they were gonna kill us. “Do something!” Samantha’s mom yelled at her dad. “Call the police!” “Here, you do it!” He handed her his cell phone. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” he said to Samantha as he picked the box up. “I’m gonna take this outside. Don’t worry. Ah, Jesus Christ, it stinks! What the hell is wrong with you kids?” And the strange spell of silence that had held everyone still was broken. I saw someone grab for Thalia and felt a hand clamp down on my shoulder. I shoved my elbow backwards, hit something soft, and heard a groan as the grip on my shoulder went soft. I whirled around, looking for Thalia. “Fuck! She bit me!” A girl shouted and then I saw Thalia, ducking out of the reach of grasping hands. I grabbed her arm and we jumped over an armchair, and ran down the hall and out of the house. The front door slammed as we raced across the lawn. I didn’t stop running until we were out onto the main road. Thalia was still doubled-over with laughter. “Hang on,” she said, sitting down on the asphalt. “I gotta
VERY NICE PEOPLE JJ Blake https://vimeo.com/121504968
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catch my breath.” I stared at her. “What the hell were you thinking? We’re gonna get our asses kicked on Monday.” “Oh, Amanda. Sweet, sweet, Amanda. We just showed them that we’re not afraid to kill. You think they’re really gonna mess with us now?” “No, you showed them that you’re --” A freak, I almost said, but Thalia looked up at me and I hesitated. “That I’m what?” “That you’re -- you’re not afraid. Me, I’m--” “You’re mine. My best friend.” My head was spinning. “Yeah, alright. We’re best friends. Cool.” I started to laugh. “Did you see that asshole who was hitting on me? He looked like he was gonna piss himself.” I kept laughing, I couldn’t catch my breath, I had to sit down next to her. “Just-- the look on her face…” Thalia said, before she burst into giggles again. We sat there cracking each other up for I don’t know how long, until a pair of headlights lit up the street. The guy in the car honked at us as we stood up. Thalia made a big show of brushing the gravel off her dress. “Hurry up!” the guy shouted. “What the hell are you kids doing sitting in the middle of the road? I coulda killed you!” “Fuck you!” Thalia shouted, taking my hand. “We’re immortal!” “Yeah, we’re immortal!” I echoed and flipped him off. I didn’t know what Thalia meant, but I liked how it sounded, the way she said it, the way she squeezed my hand. I didn’t ask her to explain and we held hands all the way back to Thalia’s house. It was a five-mile walk, so we didn’t get back until midnight. Thalia let us in with her key. There was a note in the kitchen from her dad, telling us that he had gone out and wouldn’t be back until late. “I thought he was supposed to pick us up from the party,” I said. Thalia just shrugged and led me up to her room. “There’s fresh towels and stuff in the bathroom if you wanted to take a shower,” she said. “OK,” I said. I stood in her shower and washed my hair with her green-tea shampoo and tried not to imagine running my fingers through her hair, tried not to look at my own body, my too-big breasts and thighs and calves. When I got out of the shower, I pulled on one of my brother’s old Cannibal Corpse t-shirts and a pair of pajama pants. The door to Thalia’s room was half-open, so I went in. She was lying in bed, eyes closed, her dress pulled up around her waist and her hand between her legs. “Shit, sorry-” I said, backing out of the room. She sat up. “Nah, it’s cool. I’m just gonna go finish in the shower.” “Yeah, ok, cool.” I said, feeling like I was gonna be sick. We were laying side-by-side in the dark, in her bed. The sick feeling was still in my stomach and I knew I had to ask her. “Do you think about it…” I asked, sitting up. “The dead
animals, when you, you know...” I could feel Thalia looking at me. “When you get off.” I mumble. “When I get off?” She said, sitting up. “Jesus fuck, Amanda, you’re sixteen. You’re a grown-ass woman. You can say ‘masturbate’ and ‘orgasm.’ There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” “Yeah, says the girl changing the subject. Do you?” “Why would I?” “I don’t know. There are a lot of weird fetishes...” “Jesus, Amanda, it’s not a fetish.” She spit the word ‘fetish’ out of her mouth like it was rotten. “It’s spiritual. There’s evidence of animal sacrifice in all ancient cultures. It’s the most natural way for humans to – to go beyond this.” She threw her arms out, as if her toothpick-arms could encompass the earth. “This mundane, physical world.” “Oh,” I said, not really sure what else to say. “Ok. That’s cool.” “Totally cool.” She kissed me on the cheek and lay down and rolled over. I lay down, too, but I couldn’t sleep. Her long hair was splayed out across her pillow, trailing onto mine. If I moved, it would brush against my neck. Her lips were soft and warm. I could only feel the damp outline left on my cheek. That’s a thing girls do, right? I thought. Kiss each other goodnight? I wasn’t sure. Suddenly, I noticed red and blue lights flashing outside the window. The cops. My breath caught in my throat and I hid under the covers. There was a loud knock on the door. Thalia moaned in her sleep. I didn’t know if I should wake her up, if her dad was there, if we could get him to talk to them. They knocked again. They couldn’t come inside; it’d be illegal. Finally, I heard the patrol car drive away. My heart slowly stopped pounding. I closed my eyes and listened to the gentle rhythm of Thalia’s breath. The last thought I had before I joined her in sleep was, I hope we are immortal, because I want to be with her forever.
BROKEN BATHTUB Emma Bartley for at least a year, perhaps my whole life, I’ve believed in almost nothing. still, every time I remember, “I am superficial b/c it feels religious” I tattoo it on my tongue and lap up the light around me to get my fill. so [stupid], I am weightless flickering object/apparition still believing in images. still love talking shit. I have a favorite pill and took it on Christmas; trembled again with the moth whose metamorphosis is shattered & everywhere. floating through the shards she’s sometimes, perhaps always, white woods, the orchard in spring what a queen. I take pictures and eat them like bread with red wine but remain the same. she screams and comes closer at every flash.
1938 Jonathan Murray
SWA #3538 Mikala Rempe I watch our city spread underneath me like spilled water on my counter. Spy that marble rotunda and wonder what you packed for lunch and if you ever think of me naked. While I bite at the Styrofoam rim of my coffee, I count the lights lining the highway to fall asleep. It looks like a housewife’s tennis bracelet or a tragically beautiful noose. Maybe one day we’ll grow up (or old) and vaguely sick of each other and our apricot trees and the electric fence for our dogs, but now I soar, sip, and wonder how I don’t fall right out of the sky.
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POLYLITHIC Scott Mullins
PLANETS Rachel Ternes
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‘‘ faculty contributor INVENTORY Elliott Holt 1. The bikini I wore in Capri, the one you said made me look like a starlet. After one last swim, I rinsed it out, promised myself to retrieve it from the bathroom after I finished packing. But it was only when we were on the mainland that I remembered, already on our way to the airport. I’m sure the hotel can send it, you said. It was a five-star hotel, the most beautiful place either of us had ever stayed, with the sort of view you expect on a honeymoon. You were still married then — separated, but still married — and our affair had already lost its sheen. You look like a Hollywood starlet, you said, watching me climb out of the pool. You wouldn’t swim with me and so I lapped in the water alone. And then, dripping, grateful to be noticed for a moment — because you had stopped noticing by then — I stood still, in that inky blue bikini, brand new, purchased before we left New York. You look like a Hollywood starlet, you said, but you were looking past me as if I were already a memory, a picture to be filed away. In the business class lounge in Rome, waiting for our flight back to New York, I emailed the hotel to ask about the bikini, and they said it was gone. No sign of it, they said, with deep regret. 2. Your iPhone, left on the seat of a railway car. On your way upstate, to the house your family owned. It was password peotected, you said. But you were still worried. You didn’t want anyone to see the text messages from me. You hadn’t yet told your wife that you wanted a divorce. I hate that I have to delete these messages, you said. I want to remember the things we say. I’ll remember for us, I said. I had hundreds of your texts: Like Kudzu, I persisted. When am I not thinking about you? Your beeskneesness is killing me. Having a child with you would be a wonderful adventure. Until I finally deleted them. 3. My mother, your father. Both died too young. Cancer. Life is short, we said. We can’t throw it away. This happiness, we said, must be seized. Grief gave us clarity. Hadn’t we spent years pretending there was no attraction between us? Hadn’t we resisted, hadn’t we tried to be good? We’d always followed the
rules. We didn’t cheat. We weren’t bad people, we told ourselves in our lust-diseased state. Looking back, I think our relationship was malignant from the start. Desire mutated our very cells, swallowed us up. 4. The fishnet stockings you tore off my legs in a Philadelphia hotel room. They were Wolford — an extravagance I couldn’t really afford — but I tossed them into the trash bin. I bet every man on the train was looking at your legs, you said. I never wanted to get dressed again. We were happy and spent. The next day, on the Acela back to New York, the conductor told us we were a beautiful couple. Even a stranger could see how well we fit together. We’ll always have Philadelphia, I said when we parted at Penn Station. 5. Gifts. In Paris, at the Vietnamese restaurant in Belleville where I dragged you to eat pho, you told me that your soon-tobe ex was depressed. There was no hot water in her apartment, something was wrong with the plumbing. Your apartment, actually, since you still owned it. You had moved out a few months before, but your life was still entwined with hers. You still shared a bank account. In France, I’d leave the hotel room so the two of you could Skype. I waited in the lobby, ashamed. Later that week, I helped you pick out a scarf. Hermes, in a perfect orange box. So expensive, our guilt. But I was instructing you. Someday, I thought, you’d buy Hermes scarves for me. 6. Our good names. In a letter, you wrote to say that you found every excuse to say my name. In conversation with people who had no idea we were lovers, you’d find a way to bring me up. First and last name intoned like they could save you. You liked my name, the lyrical sound of it, and I liked yours, the way it looked in print. We both went by our middle names, but our first names were printed on our passports and airline tickets. And so we traveled under names no one called us, and it always felt clandestine.
7. Dollars and sense. What kind of woman have I become? I said. We were in Montreal — another hotel room away from the places where, together, we couldn’t be seen. I was suddenly a woman who bought lingerie, who had grown attached to being wanted and liked to dress the sinful part. I’m not mistress material, I said, but it was the material of mistresses that filled my drawers, lacy things I bought in Soho with money I can never get back. 8. The mix tape you made for me. A CD, really. JAMZ, you wrote on the disc. You were forty and giddy as a teen. Away from you, I listened to the electronic beats you loved and used the soundtrack to make myself come. For several years the disc remained in my car — a car you rode in just once, in the backseat after we broke up — but it’s since disappeared. I wish I could tell you where it’s gone. 9. Our energy. In Los Angeles, we began to fade. We rented a car and I was prepared to chauffeur you around the freeways. But we were too tired to go anywhere.
We cancelled our plans to see friends. In bed, we wanted to sleep, not fuck. 10. All the photographs we couldn’t take. Asked to pose for pictures we knew would end up online — you were often a guest of honor — we demurred. You Vogued alone, or with colleagues, while I stayed off to the side, so your soon-to-be-ex wife would never have to see my face. In those days when we couldn’t be documented, we couldn’t stop touching. Together, we made heat. By the time we were finally public as a couple, your love was on the wane. The only photographs I have — mostly from the last two months — show me with a man who’s gone cold and stiff. 11. The tie I gave you for our first Christmas. Black silk, with a pattern of white Fleur-de-lis. You were wearing it on our last New Year’s Eve, when you clutched me at midnight and swore that you wouldn’t let go. When we get married, you said, can I wear this? Your shrink once asked why you loved me, and you said, Because she’s the kind of woman who would straighten my tie. It was a good line. But I don’t think I ever straightened that tie.
“First and last name intoned like they could save you. You liked my name, the lyrical sound of it, and I liked yours, the way it looked in print.”
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FOG Brittany Jones
CROATIAN MARKET Isabella Lucy spring 2015
BIOGRAPHIES Emily Ambach is just chillin. Jacob Atkins is an aspiring expatriate still searching for his celebrity doppelganger. Emma Bartley has probably already shown you the picture of her with Waka Flocka. Batol Bashri is usually pretending to be artsy and attempting to be socially conscious, but mostly is just awkward and shitty at deadlines. JJ Blake is excited to be featured in AmLit this semester! JJ is a Film and Media Arts major originally from New Hampshire. She is involved with It Magazine, the Rude Mechanicals, and is a University College ambassador. In her spare time, JJ enjoys accidentally sneaking into the Natural History Museum after closing hours. Katie Bryden can’t handle wooden spoons. Grace Cassidy is just trying to figure shit out. Kristie Chua: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Charlie Clayton: Amateur filmmaker, screenwriter, photographer. Professional Bipolar Michaela Cowgill: half grown-up, half baby. Mike Creedon is sleeping. Mattea Falk keeps thinking “wanna smooch y/n” v. hard at u thru this magazine. Ayush Garg likes to transform the things he sees around himself into subtle forms of art, making him an artist in disguise.
american literary magazine
Eleanor Greene is graduating just to escape the candy bowl politics. Jillian Hanson is a feminist, outdoors enthusiast who is studying film and economics. She very much enjoys cake. Julia Hester plays Cooking Fever and hopes to soon buy the pizzeria level… Elliott Holt is the author of You Are One of Them. Her short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and her essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere. She is an adjunct professor of literature. Pamela Huber spent her spring break hiking the Appalachian trail. Her trail name is Rafiki and her walking stick is called, obviously, Mufasa. Brittany Jones is a freshman majoring in literature mostly because she wants to one day be able to throw in relevant quotes from various novels and authors in all of her conversations. DoYun Kim is a deer, a female deer. Elaina Kimes is a senior at American University. She loves coffee and documentaries and one day she will rule the film industry. Yoo Kyung Lee is an exchange student from Yonsei University, Seoul, studying political science, international studies, and Asian history. She likes to grasp the everyday experience studying abroad here at American University with her camera. Andrea Lin is a freshman studying Print Journalism and Political Science. She puts more effort than she should into Facebook statuses and enjoys being a brainwashed millennial. Isabella Lucy grew up all over the world but thinks DC could be home, maybe. She once visited North Korea and believes in reincarnation.
Julia Irion Martins will someday live up to the tradition of being a pseudo-intellectual Latin American living in Paris.
David Salgado’s work deals with the depiction of motion; he tries to depict motion through various styles and mediums.
Molly McGinnis: three words that describe me: cryptic, feline, sugar-oriented.
Eliza Salmon: part fairy, part stone, part papaya juice, Eliza casts a short shadow onto many earths. In her free time she swings in hammocks thinking about socio-economic systems.
Kate McMahon’s phone background is Hemingway fiercely kicking a beer can. Zack Mejias is a Film and Media Arts major from Suffern, New York. One day he will rescue a greyhound, and oh what a glorious day it will be.
Tova Seltzer can typically be found aiming for pastel goth and crashing closer to anxious, noodle-armed Pisces book girl. Rachael Somerville wrote this two hours before you ended it. told you I’m telepathic.
Anna Morcerf is a junior majoring in Literature on the Creative Writing Track. She has grown up surrounded by artists of different mediums on both sides of her family.
Maricat Stratford is excited to be graduating this semester! She looks forward to moving into a dumpster where she will use her college education to eat candy and cast evil spells on men.
Scott Mullins: I am a proud promoter of team team. Join up!
Nichole Tanoue is a senior majoring in Studio Art and Public Communication. Her passions include stalking pugs both on Instagram and in real life, going to concerts on U Street, and creating art.
Jonathan Murray: green is not a creative color Jake Nieb: I wanted to write/a haiku for this issue/but Julia said no Claire Osborn runs on caffeine and over-enthusiasm about things no one else cares about. Pooja Patel is a junior film and biology major. She doesn’t know how that happened. Angelica Posey is a senior studying psychology and education who writes from time to time. She never thought she’d get anything published and is so excited to be a part of AU’s literary magazine! Luke Ramsey is.
Natalie Tarasar: one of Natalie’s contacts is made out of smoke. The other one is made out of mirrors. Rachel Ternes is a senior who studies psychology, French, and art and often wishes that the list were shortened to just art. Hannah Tiner would rather be sleeping. Brendan Williams-Childs is waiting for an opportunity to tell elaborate lies about his scars. Megan Yoder is a sophomore studying Broadcast Journalism from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, spending a wild Rumspringa in D.C.
Mikala Rempe slapped the bag one too many times.
MASTHEAD EDITORS IN CHIEF Julia Irion Martins Brendan Williams-Childs
FILM EDITORS Mary Wright Mattea Falk
POETRY EDITORS Michaela Cowgill Jake Nieb
ASSISTANT FILM EDITORS Brandon Latham Carolyn Schneider
ASSISTANT POETRY EDITORS Kathleen Escarcha Omar Tisza
COPY EDITORS Kristie Chua Marisa Fein
PROSE EDITORS Mikala Rempe Emma Bartley
ASSISTANT COPY EDITOR Jessica Flores
ASSISTANT PROSE EDITORS Brittany Jones Thomas Pool
DESIGN EDITORS Melissa Logan Janella Polack Katie O’Gorman
PHOTO EDITORS Emily Blau Batol Bashri
ASSISTANT DESIGN EDITORS Claire Osborn Samantha Pond
ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITORS Carolyn Hamilton Molly McGinnis
SOCIAL MEDIA Mike Creedon Julia Hester Eleanor Browe
ART EDITORS Luke Ramsey Natalie Tarasar ASSISTANT ART EDITORS Brianna Hall Rachel Cohen
BLOG EDITOR Mia Saidel BLOGGING TEAM Brandon Latham Omar Tisza Kate McMahon PR/MARKETING/EVENTS Madison Chapman
american literary magazine
GENERAL STAFF Nolan Miller DoYun Kim Hannah Solus Margo Blank Maricat Stratford Grace Cassidy Mike Wang Peter Scott Conor MacVarish Hannah Tiner Tova Seltzer Haleigh Francis Katie Burke
HA HOE Yoo Kyung Lee
BALANCE Zack Mejias
THANK YOU A special thank you to our donors who made this magazine possible: George and Doree Dickerson Mike Benjamin Diane Dickerson Larry Smith Carlos Martins-Filho and Cynthia Irion Tom Byington Kathy Falewee Diane Wayman Theodore Chappen Dan Merica Corey Newman Emily and Ryan McGee Florence Gubanc Bruce and KC Graves Julia Irion Martins Elaina Hundley Mattea Falk Meera Nathan Annie Buller Dayna Hansberger Julianna Twiggs Edman Urias Noah Friedman Julia Hester Tiffany Wong Mikala Rempe Gloria Pappalardo Brendan Williams-Childs Lorraine Holmes Janella Polack AmLit would also like to thank our fellow Student Media Board organizations, The American Word, American Way of Life, and the Photo Collective for collaborating with us. We are continually impressed by your dedication and consider ourselves fortunate to be associated with your excellence.
american literary magazine
PLATED Luke Ramsey
CABIN Isabella Lucy
American Literary Magazine American University, MGC 248 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20016 www.amlitmag.com $12.95