AmLit Spring 2008

Page 1

Fuzzy Tres #4 By Jessica Bautista

Editor’s Note One day, it seems, I looked up, and I was a dinosaur. Clumsy and ancient, I no longer fit here. I apologize for having tried to press this thing, for wanting my fingerprints all over her face. Instead, I realize, she has pressed me. It has been an honor to serve as steward for this, this bright and beautiful, if only for a short time.


Anna M. Finn

My thanks (which cannot be enough) to Anneke (in full faith); Laura, Shea and Jess (who made it more than beautiful); Chad, Karen and Alicia (who made it possible); the American Literary Staff (who MADE it), and most of all, to Harvey Grossinger who taught me to write. It ends as it began with lines from one of the first poems I ever submitted to AmLit, “…all that was left was your cursive on the inside of my eyelids rocking me to sleep with a loping rhythm, singing in your unheard voice goodbye.” 1

Table of Contents

Art & Design Untitled, Erin Anne Rengel.................................................. 16

Photography Fuzzy Tres #4, Jessica Bautista........................................ 1


living room, Jessica Bautista.............................................. 4

Dark Woman, I Thought You Were the Sun,

kitchen, Jessica Bautista....................................................... 8

Anna Finn......................................................................... 6

Poetry Employment, Emma Wimmer............................................ 5 Having only seen you reflected, Anna Finn................ 12 Calorie, a Skinny Ode, Thaïs H. Miller............................. 14 Running a Bath, Rachel Webb........................................... 15 Heritage, Julie Stricker........................................................... 17 Tripping, Andrew Lobel......................................................... 24 the first night I get high, Carmen Machado................ 27 Harrisburg in December, Kaitlyn Stasik......................... 30 Poincaré, Anneke Mulder...................................................... 32 Not a Bird, Anna Finn............................................................. 35 when my brother tells me that a blue whale’s heart is the size of a volkswagon, Carmen Machado......................................................... 40 There are things that I would tell you before you go to sleep., Anna Finn.................................................... 44 The Rebuke, Kristen M. Powell........................................... 46 glaze bucket, or, i prefer aesthetic experiences to actual ones, Carmen Machado............................. 48 I have a dream that this girl kisses me at a party, Carmen Machado......................................................... 50 Tectonic Advantage, Kristen M. Powell......................... 53 the holes in the roof you never fixed, Andrea Lum.................................................................... 61

San Francisco, Reese Vaccaressa..................................... 11

Midnight Blue, Anneke Mulder........................................... 18

Brick Lane, Reese Vaccaressa............................................ 11

The Charlie Story (Based on True Events),

glass sanctuary, Jessica Warren........................................ 13

Michael Levy................................................................... 36

Tart, Kelly Barrett...................................................................... 14

Because I Get You in Snatches, Ali Goldstein............ 54

Hollins Street I, Merquit Garcia.......................................... 15

Untitled, Erin Anne Rengel.................................................. 17 I wanted my mother to admit to me that she was pregnant, Shea Cadrin.............................................. 28 Untitled, Caitlin Servilio......................................................... 34 Curiouser and Curiouser, Sydney Buttner................... 45 Untitled, Caitlin Servilio......................................................... 51 Untitled, Ashley Nadeau....................................................... 57 Untitled, Sami Rushin............................................................. 67

Untitled, Merquit Garcia........................................................ 18 Mannequin’s Face, Merquit Garcia................................... 22 Mannequin, Merquit Garcia.................................................. 23 Untitled, Jesse Kimes............................................................. 25 Untitled, Jesse Kimes............................................................. 25 Man from Caraca Yaca I, Merquit Garcia....................... 26 Awake: Prague Sleeps, Stephanie Jenson................... 31 Hippocampus Quadrifarum, Matthew Gasper........... 33 fair lights, Jeffrey Buras........................................................ 33 Corner, Sam Lavine.................................................................. 37 Times Square, Merquit Garcia............................................ 38 maria, Stephanie Jenson....................................................... 41


Bicycle, Reese Vaccaressa................................................... 41

Editor’s Note............................................................................... 1

A la hora de un con leche, Merquit Garcia.................. 42

Sparknotes................................................................................... 28

boy from Caraca Yaca, Merquit Garcia.......................... 43

Faculty Contributer: Susanna Shannon........................ 62

protecting abraham, Jessica Warren.............................. 46

Staff................................................................................................. 68

prayer. Jessica Warren........................................................... 47

Submission Policy.................................................................... 70

Haight Street, Jessica Bautista.......................................... 48 Untitled, Shea Cadrin.............................................................. 49 Wigwam Motel, Jessica Bautista...................................... 52 Nomads, Kenton Bartlett...................................................... 53 Hollins Street II, Merquit Garcia........................................ 58 Wind Mills, Merquit Garcia................................................... 59 Path I, Shea Cadrin................................................................... 60 Old and New San Fransisco, Jessica Taich.................. 69 Poetry is in the Street, Kelly Lange................................. 70



Employment By Emma Wimmer

You’ve got money for cigarettes and weed and a plane ticket to DC to see me.

living room By Jessica Bautista



Dark Woman, I Thought You Were the Sun

divorced from her hand. “Every child gets two pieces

of candy.” The doorbell rang just then. My mother

episode that broke the canter of her life. I can’t

turned and walked upstairs. It rang again. Anthony

remember how she looked lying down; I only know

By Anna Finn

opened it, doled out the candy quietly and turned

that she did. I cannot see her with her eyes closed;

back to us. Ava was already crying, already pulling

I only know that they were. Ava remembers even

off her wings. We had to sit there for two more

less. This wasn’t like the time I only thought she’d

face. From them, I can slip along the slender run of her

hours, though, and watch our friends come through.

died. We were at the beach, the one time I think she

taken. She understood enough about cameras to

white forearms. Her wedding ring, a slim, gold band, is

They let us check the heft of their bags, and through

ever went to the beach. It was almost too cool to be

know that you shouldn’t move, but she did anyway,

where her left eye should be. We found the photograph

the open door we could feel the autumn air, could

there, but this made it less crowded. I was six and

and I am too familiar with just the flash of her face.

perched by my father’s bed in a cheap frame.

smell burning leaves, could see the disguised children

spent the bulk of the time building sand castles with

She couldn’t always move, so if a clear photograph

crowding the street and the lawns of our neighbors.

Ava. Mother sat under an umbrella; her petal fair skin

of her found its way home, she’d incise her face out

found it. “She never really looked at him when she

At nine exactly, she came back downstairs. She called

never saw the sun. Dad helped us build, though. He

with one of a pack of six straight blades that she

was alive, did she?” And mother wouldn’t have us

my father to the foyer, handed him the excess candy

carried us on his shoulders out past the breakers, and

kept wrapped in brown paper in a drawer in the

looking at her either.

in much the same way that she had handed it to us,

we clung to him in the deep water. He let me fill his

kitchen. I used to watch her, her back impossibly

and began dismantling our costumes. With a rough

pockets with shells; he brushed the sand from our

straight as she sat pushing metal through paper.

took away Halloween. I couldn’t have been more than

cloth, she rubbed the make-up off my face, leaving it

feet before we came in the cottage.

When she was done, she’d take her face upstairs, pale

eight and was probably less than eleven. I also don’t

red and raw.

moon marred with dark eyes and ringed in dark hair.

remember what we did to deserve it. It certainly

cottage early. It was late, and my mother was quickly

She never threw them away in the kitchen, never said

wasn’t Anthony’s fault, Anthony by two years the

couldn’t tell you how long she was sick. My father

disappearing a few yards away on the darkening

My mother hated to have her photograph

“It kind of fits,” Ava, my sister, said when we

I can’t remember the exact year that she

When she died, I was sixteen, Ava fifteen. I

This was a blur, though, a quietly hysterical

The last night, Dad had gone back to the

Smooth, spiny, reflective,

a word about it, but just turned

oldest, the lone boy. He never upset our mother. He

probably didn’t even know. We only found out near

beach. She called to us, her voice a slim whip over

none of it caught her, and

her straight back on us and

was favored so consistently that it seemed natural,

the end, when she could no longer stand at the stove,

the sound of the waves. I pretended not to hear,

marched upstairs.

as though he deserved more somehow, as though

when her hair fell out of its beauty shop kinks and lay

although Ava and Anthony ran to her. I wanted to

When my father died and

he failed less. Even now, I can’t help but think, perhaps

lank and desolate against what increasingly seemed

finish my moat, shore up my castle’s defenses, not

we went through the house, I

he did. We were often all punished together, though,

like her too small skull. She spent her last seven-and-

leave it unprotected in the night. She called again,

almost expected to find her faces, lining the bottom

because no one would ever admit what they had done,

a-half months on the sofa in the formal living room.

and I ducked my head. Behind me, I heard the soft

of a drawer perhaps or making space between the

and my mother seemed to think there was enough

There was no television in there, no radio, only the

slap of her slender feet against the damp sand. She

pages of a phone book from 1954. They weren’t

loyalty among us that we would refuse to see the other

way that the sunlight changed the shadows in the

stood over me, silent. I continued to face the water,

there, though. I have no idea how she destroyed

two punished. She was very wrong about that.

room. Before, we’d only used that room for Christmas

smoothing the walls of my moat. I knew she was

them. In fact, there was only one clear photo of her in

or visits from the priest. It had seemed stale, had

angry. She bent to grab the worn red shovel from

the entire house, a picture taken at one of a hundred

packed me into a pair of Dad’s overalls along with

smelled of disuse even before she died there. During

my hand, but I wrenched it away before she could

barbeques we went to in the sixties. The photog-

two bed pillows, one in the front, one in the back. She

the last few weeks, we brought her treasures into

grasp it, reached back, and slapped her calf with it.

rapher was no more than three feet away from her.

pulled my long hair into neat pigtails on either side of

the room and lined them up along the mantle. Seven

She didn’t seem shocked. Carefully, she hefted me to

She fills the entire frame, the tips of her elbows just

my face and using her own make-up, drew me a sad

seashells, three small pieces of Vaseline glass, and

my feet, made me turn and face her. She looked me

cropped in the lower right, the top of her head graz-

clown face. With equal care, she dressed my siblings.

an ornate hand mirror her grandmother had given

in my eyes for more than a minute, hers black holes

ing the upper edge of the photo. She is wearing what

Anthony was a hobo, Ava a butterfly. We were all

her. Each day, I dusted them, especially the glass, its

where the moon couldn’t make light. Then she forced

I know is a yellow, sleeveless button-down, but in the

ready by seven when my mother handed us each an

surface a Braille of soft bumps. I pressed the familiar

past me, through my castle and into the dark ocean.

photo it is light gray. The focus of the photo is on her

already full bag of candy.

objects into her hands sometimes. Smooth, spiny,

I was immediately screaming, begging her back, but

hands. She had short, slim fingers but large palms,

reflective, none of it caught her, and something in her

she never turned to look at me. I don’t know how

and in the picture, they are fixed squarely over her

This was how she always framed it, as an inevitability,

scudded away three days before summer began.

long it took Ava and Anthony to come to me, but

something in her scudded away three days before summer began.


That Halloween, I was a fat clown. My mother

“I told you there would be consequences.”


kitchen By Jessica Bautista


they did, and the three of us sat huddled in my ruined

her cream day dress on the pavement.

fortress until Anthony led us back to the cottage.

was young and in good health. But he only worsened

“Where’s your mother?” Dad asked when we

At the hospital, they were hopeful. Anthony

opened the door. Only Anthony answered.

from that day. His room is vivid to me, the pale

curtains dusted with tiny yellow flowers, the straight-

“We don’t know.” He must have seen then

that we were shaking, realized that we’d walked the

backed chair in the corner. I brought mother’s shells,

mile from the beach alone, and he boiled us each a

and the room smelled a little bit like the ocean.

hot dog, bathed us, and let us sleep in the big bed

Mother was always in the chair. She never looked to

with him. I don’t know where mother slept. She was

the bed, to the window—only read. The first week, it

already dressed when I woke up, sitting in a deck

was the newspaper. A week later, she was on Aquinas

chair, reading a thick book. Without looking at me,

and in the last days. the stiff Bible given to her at her

confirmation and so rarely opened afterward. She

“I got rid of that shovel.” I couldn’t answer.

“You will not have another one.” And I didn’t.

said nothing. I remember her

What she doesn’t say is

like the sound of a page turn-

that our mother could cut

home, far enough behind that we couldn’t see her.

ing, like marking time. Anthony

an apple so that the seeds

She must have sat on the porch with her book and

died while we slept one night,

her penlight until we fell asleep.

and in the morning his room

was already empty. Someone had gathered the shells

Now, I realize, she probably followed us

This isn’t the story Ava tells. There are times

looked like a dark star in pale sky.

when you have to have something to say about

into a bag for me, but it was too small. A small white

your mother to your therapist, your fiancé, your

one tipped over the edge and hit the tile floor, but it

own daughter, who never knew her grandmother.

didn’t shatter. I bent, my vision blurred, to pick it up,

Ava always tells about when Anthony died. Mother

but already my mother’s foot was there, stomping

was Tobel really, but people called her Tony, and like

evenly with her hard pump. I tried to look at her face,

any two things you can call by the same name, they

but I was crying. I know that she was not.

belonged to each other. He was dark and would be

tall, like her. He was silent, still, and was mortified by

us up in it and let us sleep there, tangled together in

Ava and me.

the dark. And it was dark for a long time after.

It was April, and the redbud tree in our front

Dad did cry. His was a likeable grief. He wrapped

Ava tells it shorter, says our mother never

yard was ablaze. Every afternoon, I would come

cried when our brother died. That’s the way she

home from school and stand under it, shaking the

characterizes her.

lower branches so that the loose petals would glide

“And he was her favorite, too.”

off and slide around my face. When I think of it, I

What she doesn’t say is that our mother

see a streak of dark green through the falling pink.

could cut an apple so that the seeds looked like a

Anthony, fourteen at the time, was in the street,

dark star in pale sky. She put Oil of Olay on her face

kneeling, and we’ll never know why. Before I knew,

every day from a glass bottle that she kept on a

mother knew, came running from the house, through

high shelf in the bathroom, and she could tell if you

the rain of petals, some sticking in her hair. I never

snuck some, even if you just moved the bottle. She

saw Anthony, but I can see her sitting beside him in

French-braided my hair every school day for nine

the street, her dark crown flecked with pink petals,

years, and I can still feel her fingers on my scalp, the 9

way her pinky nail would catch sometimes in a loop

“Ava, one giant step forward.”

of hair. She would laugh sometimes, and that was my

“Mother, may I?”

favorite part.

“No, you may not.” He is withholding. We

have been playing like this for more than thirty

The house sold quickly, and only three days

after Dad’s funeral, we started to clean it out. First,

minutes. Neither of us has moved any closer to him.

we walked through together, bargaining for what

“Maria, two bunny hops forward.”

each of us wanted most. I got the bookshelves from

“Mother, may I?”

the front hall. Ava got our mother’s sewing table. Dad

“No, you may not.”

never got rid of anything after mother died but lived

“Ava, two steps backward.”

with it for ten years more. All of her clothing was still

“Mother, must I?”

in her closet. Her drawers were full of carefully folded

“Yes, you must.” Ava steps back into the hedge.

shirts, yellowing tissue paper between each layer. I

“Anthony, it’s not fair!” I yell. “I quit.” Our

don’t know what else I expected to find. Our dad had

mother, who has been watching from the window,

saved a shoebox full of Father’s Day, birthday, and

comes out then.

Christmas cards. If Mother did, we never found it.

There was almost nothing with her hand-writing on it

to stand with us.

besides an old checkbook and no pictures, of course—

“All of you, three giant steps forward.”

nothing that couldn’t have been someone else’s.

“Mother may I?” Three voices shout.

“Yes, you may.” We are too excited, though,

“I hated her.” Ava was holding a slipper in her

“All right, I’m the mother.” She sends Anthony

left hand, about to toss it into a black garbage bag.

excited that she is playing with us, that we can come

nearer, and we rush toward her, running, running,

“Hated who?” The room was empty of her,

and we’d barely started cleaning. She shored herself

Anthony reaches her first, then me, then Ava. We

up completely, was selfish with herself, and she left no

each try to squeeze in for a hug, and we are soon all

dangerous hoard to find, only the most generic refuse.

on the ground, and she is not angry but laughing in

the grass. We are all laughing, laughing too hard to

“The woman who lived here.” And I saw

then how Ava took the worst of it. Fair and easy to

breathe. Mother covers her eyes and mouth with her

love, Ava would have been most hurt. “I am serious

hands, leans back, her face still hidden, and laughs at

as a heart attack.” And it sounds odd in Ava’s voice

the darkening sky.

because our mother always said it. When I think of

San Francisco By Reese Vaccaressa

“Oh Mother, Mother, may I see your face?”

heart attacks, I think of her stiff frame, of the threat she rarely had to carry out. It’s so hard to see her face, though. I see her hands, her hair, her straight back and slim arms. I see her slender legs, can hear the rap of her shoes against our hard wood floor. I even know her voice sometimes, clear but low, dark like her hair.

One thing I do recall well is a game at dusk.

Anthony is nine and presides. Ava and I stand across the backyard from him. 10

Brick Lane By Reese Vaccaressa 11

Having only seen you reflected By Anna Finn

I long for you the other way round. That you part your hair on the left is important. It was a calculation in my brain that let me know that you wear all of your rings on your right hand, that you lean into your left hip, that if I kissed the freckle just beneath your eye I should veer left [but please know that I would kiss beneath both].

I get snatches of you in shop windows, the rearview, the shine of my watch and mostly in the dark places in other people’s eyes. But I would have you face on even though I know that when speaking, you prefer to look down and slightly to the left.

This reversing spills something for me, something thick and slow-moving It is the missed eclipse, the handle broken off the door, a delicate undoing.

This is my crumpled metaphor.

glass sanctuary By Jessica Warren



Calorie, a Skinny Ode

Running a Bath

By Tha誰s H. Miller

By Rachel Webb

Octagonal pink embryo,

She rhythmically plucks the knobby bronze pins

you round me

From the rope of soft, gossamer hazel,

(stomach, ass, thighs)

as her hair unfurls down her milky, arched expanse

to orange Jupiter,

framed by shoulder blades.

you humidify anorexia, you clean the plate, hugging

Before turning around

Calcium, Iron, Vitamins on an

and brushing her palm across the fogged face

E. Coli treadmill. My

of the cabinet mirror, edges dotted with painted daisies,

trapezoidal urban legend, you consummate

that has been peeking at the cream curve of her spine through the steam.

challah, wafers, and wine meeting God and kitchen parents filling the hunger never filled. Consuming your fumes of burning lard; I POP your pulp of pure lubricant.



Hollins Street I

By Kelly Barrett

By Merquit Garcia 15

Heritage By Julie Stricker

I ask if they knew my grandfather And they all nod, but it’s so hard to tell When you’re searching for yourself it means more Than recognition of a name

And if you ask someone for directions in Ireland, Nobody wants to be caught without an answer Nobody wants to admit they don’t know Because they bled for this country, and dammit They should know what street you take to get there

And his martyr’s name will perk their ears until They remember they are the fastest growing economy in the EU And the British have cleared out the torture chambers And who are you to care anyway? You didn’t live through it And now you’re thinking about switching to Protestantism when your own Family died just for being Catholic And who are you to still care about those old wounds, when they’ve been wrapped Up with the blue flag and yellow stars




By Erin Anne Rengel

By Erin Anne Rengel 17

thin lips had gotten it shiny at both ends. Beatrice

Today, they were out on the white porch

Joanna, when she was awake, would nudge it lower

because Beatrice Joanna had grown enamored of

on his face with a skinny index finger. “Remember

the steadily warming springtime. She held the screen

Paul’s birthday party, okay?” she would say.

door for him as he carried his book and crayons outside and soon after tucked herself into the ham-

Connor remembered the yellow stream-

ers. While Paul freed his beribboned gifts, Connor

loop behind her head.

remained on the edge of the circle, his face turned

up toward the ceiling. Paul lived half a block down

of Connor’s sneaker, which was as white as the porch. Bears in tuxedos waltzed across the coloring

which was half Connor’s

book in front of his bony knees, folded like a pretzel,

age. Connor realized these

the stubby, translucent hairs on his skin playing the

nostril, but so far every

things as he watched

part of salt crystals.

time he’d thought to

the streaks of dandelion

try it, Beatrice Joanna

yellow crepe paper spill

sides of their top hats. Connor began by filling the

out between the arms of

inner circles of each ear with Carnation Pink. At the

Paul’s parents’ chandelier.

house across the street, a dark-haired figure stepped

midnight blue crayon could fit inside his

had been awake.

By Merquit Garcia

Midnight Blue

The bears’ round ears poked out on the

Connor was bored. The sounds of ripping paper and

onto a porch that was a mirror image of Connor’s

applause alternated against his ears. Unfocusing

own, wielding a watering can with both hands. Sharp

his eyes made the ceiling look like a sunflower. The

green eyes followed the neighbor’s quick steps

Midnight Blue crayon rested safely in the pocket

to each of the various potted plants dotting the

of his slacks; other kids invariably wanted to use it

porch railing. Connor felt a question. He inserted the

when he brought it out. A popcorn kernel was the

Carnation Pink crayon into its place in the box and

smoothest substitute he could find.

gingerly took up the half-sized Midnight Blue one

between his thumb and index finger.

It was the angle at which he had his head

tilted back, or perhaps it was a film of butter on

By Anneke Mulder

his fingers left behind by the unpopped kernel’s

it comes out of her head? the crayon traced in wide

Best in Show Prose

blooming white fellows. Unexpectedly, he lost his

letters. The words floated above the heads of the

grip on the tapered end, and it slipped the short

dancing bears. Transferring the crayon to his other

distance from his lip to his nostril. Connor discovered

hand, Connor pulled a few strands of his own black

himself in the hospital with Beatrice Joanna clasping

hair out from the crown of his head. They were

his hand while the waiting room seats chilled his

longer than his pinky but shorter than the crayon

thighs through his dress pants. Only she hadn’t been

box, and black from tip to tip.

Beatrice Joanna that day. He called her Hermione.

picked up the newspaper and shook a few stray


The box of crayons leaned against the sole

the street. He was three, Connor didn’t think the


mock chair, loosely twisting her blond waves into a

Connor tapped a Brick Red crayon against

black rims of her lids squeezed shut around the tepid

the wooden beams of the porch. The wax tip made

brown of her eyes, and sometimes she murmured, “I

a dull sound, and he was glad, because sharp noises

trust you,” in a sleepy voice. “Remember, just sit and

would wake Beatrice Joanna, who was curled in the

color, okay?” Connor would rub a dark blue crayon

red hammock chair. Sometimes, she would lay her

along his upper lip and nod.

battered Bienvenue! workbook on the carpet in the

family room and read to him in halting French. He

length. It was called Midnight Blue. Connor kept it in

liked her all right on those afternoons, but he pre-

his pocket because he preferred it above the others,

ferred, above all of her behaviors, when she climbed

like afternoons with Beatrice Joanna’s shuttered

into the red hammock chair and closed her eyes. The

eyelids. Rubbing it around the circumference of his

The blue crayon was only half its original

Connor didn’t think the midnight blue

Why is Foster’s hair sometimes yellow where

On the porch across the street, Foster

crayon could fit inside his nostril, but so far every

strands of hair back in order to read. Connor shifted

time he’d thought to try it, Beatrice Joanna had

his weight so that the white rails of his own porch

been awake.

obscured him a little more. Strips of shadow fell across the bears’ pink ears. 19

A crunching sound announced the squat car of

alto suddenly issued from between two of the white

linear path on which it had been trained. “Beatrice

by Connor’s distraction to dart an arm between the

Foster’s tallest roommate as it trundled down the

posts that supported the patio railing. Her moist

Joanna,” he said soflty, clasping both hands atop his

posts and take the little boy’s chin in the pocket

drive. “What are you doing?” Connor heard Foster

brown eyes searched the page. She spoke casually,

crossed ankles. A red spot rose on his ring finger

between her thumb and forefinger. The green

yell to the lanky roommate, who kept his windows

but her gaze flickered over Beatrice Joanna’s slender

where it had been pressed against the crayon.

circlets in his eyes thickened as both pupils shrank

rolled down even in the winter.

foot as it arched toward the wood.

from the sun.

she said softly.

had startled him. He pulled the Midnight Blue crayon

and I have something in common.” Connor raised

sounded like ‘aw’ and there was no ‘t’ on the end of

closer and lodged it securely beneath his tennis shoe.

Connor told her, picking at a cuticle. “And that you’re

both eyebrows, his lower lip protruding beneath the

‘what.’ Once, when Foster used to come over instead

too strange.”

pressure on his jaw. “I mean, I suspect.” She paused.

of Beatrice Joanna, Connor asked about it. Foster

your mum?”

“I just wanted you to know that you can come over

laughed, saying around sharp, sneezing giggles, “I’m

Then, she called Beatrice Joanna a word Connor

to my house anytime you want, you got it?”

a Scot, See. We all talk like that.” Connor nodded

bear’s slacks and moved the Lavender crayon back

didn’t like. His head shot up and he fixed Foster with

then, but the blue crayon buzzed in his pocket. Later,

and forth slowly.

a stare. Thick rows of black lashes tightened until only

her hand, and she allowed one side of her mouth

he found a page in his coloring book with flamingos

specks of green shone through. Shrinking half a step,

to smile. “I know you don’t want to now; you know

wearing tiaras.

See.” Foster rested a cheek against one of the posts.

Foster shoved a hand in a baggy pocket at her hip.

you’d get in trouble. But if you ever feel…” she

It pulled the corner of her mouth to the side. “But I

trailed off and shook her head at Connor’s solemn

boy? the crayon queried the primping birds. Why

suppose your parents will have told you not to talk

eyes aligned with his but seemed to look straight

face. “Just don’t let people tell you what you are is

does she call me See? The crayon waited while Con-

to me anymore, haven’t they?”

through his head. “Sure, it’s all right to be a different

wrong.” She gave his chin a final squeeze and made

nor ran it around his mouth

one every day, but it’s a sin to sleep with them.”

a thumbs-up with the other hand. With that and a

“They say you cut your

and inhaled the waxy smell,

head tilted twice as he nodded. The pace of the

Consonants burst against her teeth, and the shrub

droopy smile, she turned and quietly waded out of

hair too short,” Connor

eventually dropping it into

Lavender crayon did not change.

beside her was losing its topmost layer of leaves to

the shrubbery.

his pocket to go downstairs

her swift fingers.

for dinner. He was halfway

voice astride a slow stream of breath. Connor felt the

nearly down. Connor was coloring a zebra Sea

through his ice cream when

syllable slide through his belly button into his stomach.

warmth seemed to be pooling out of the Midnight

the crayon thrilled again. Dropping vanilla goo down

He breathed around it for a few moments while Foster

Blue crayon and into his foot. He furrowed his brow

the sink, he bounded upstairs again. Is Foster a boy’s

pulled the petals from a bloom on the shrubbery.

against the unfamiliar edge in her voice.

name? The flamingos were pink. He’d colored every

tiara with a crayon named Plum. Is Foster a boy?

“Your new babysitter?”

the porch. “You’re not supposed to understand that.”

The way Foster spoke was funny. ‘Are’

How can Foster be a Scott if she’s not a

told her, picking at a cuticle.

“Cool bears,” Foster commented. “How’s

Connor put his nose close to the biggest

“It’s not so long ago that we were friends,

The swirl of hair at the crown of Connor’s

“Ah,” said Foster, letting out a wisp of her

“How do you find her?” Foster asked at last.

Connor raised one shoulder up to his

“They say you cut your hair too short,”

“You mean too queer,” Foster corrected.

“Sorry,” she offered, properly abashed. Her

Connor stared back quizzically. Restless

of the hammock chair. Connor’s green eyes swayed

suspended Beatrice Joanna. Her hand worked slowly

with her pedicured foot as it came to rest. Tilting the

to keep from waking the slumbering Beatrice Joanna.

up the red fibers of the hammock chair and spilled

box so the tips of the crayons caught the sunlight,

Beatrice Joanna’s long hair had loosened and now

over its edge. Foster took the opportunity afforded

Connor searched its neat rows for the shade of

tumbled into air. Her blond curls rotated dreamily.

purple glinting off of Beatrice Joanna’s toenails. He

“What’s she got you calling her today? Eve?”

wanted to color the bears’ trousers. Two knobby

The Lavender crayon paused mid-leg. The

fingers ticked the way down the aisle of purples and

Midnight Blue crayon quivered, but Connor kept it

reds in a walking motion.

pinned with his shoe. He lifted his hand from the

page, taking pains not to smudge the systematic,

“Got a new coloring book?” Foster’s lithe

Foster let out a harrumphing noise, breathy

Nodding pressed Connor’s chin deeper into

When Beatrice Joanna woke, the sun was

Green in the sterile white glow of the porch light.

Both Foster and Connor glanced toward

the hammock chair as a long sigh issued from the

Beatrice Joanna kicked a leg over the edge

“Listen, See,” she said firmly, “I think you

“I know,” said Foster. She deflated against

earlobe and then the other.


Connor kept his eyes down even though she

Foster reflected. “That’s an obscure one,”


Mannequin and Mannequin’s Face By Merquit Garcia



Tripping By Andrew Lobel

I have fond memories of you

sitting on the cat-clawed couch, head lain back deeply denting the neon-colored pillows and body completely resigned to feeling (splayed

topographically and listening

to “Pachuca Sunrise” from

across the room)

I can hear an ambulance outside, its passing is

one shrill, swelling shriek that lasts not long at all

(for a moment, “Pachuca Sunrise” is drowned out).

One line for you: your hair was black as a night outside the city

must be. It falls over your face, and I’m glad

you’ll leave it there.

Untitled By Jesse Kimes



the first night I get high By Carmen Machado

is the night before my uncle dies

driving along a sinuous ridge, near a smattering of islands on the Maine coast, my cousins and I escape from tangles of tubes and the echo of a body. One lights while the other holds the wheel. I sit in the back and watch

only one other car on the road the driver throws a cigarette out the window

it bounces and smolders, scattering ash and sparks and flecks of light on

Man from Caraca Yaca I

the pitch black highway

By Merquit Garcia the passenger reaches behind her seat and her fingers brush my face. My mouth is open when she offers it to me. They talk. I’m quiet. I fill myself up.

what was he like before he was sick? she asks her brother.

I don’t rem ember, he mumbles.

He rolls down the window. Our sparks flash on the pavement. We don’t even slow down.




“The solitary landlord of rejected pillows

“Even after you left I was feeling your body embedded in

The shrieking mattress and warped topography of sheets.”

and cardboard mountains—

A ginger carnation of fur.” “Men who slip away at night/

from The Theater, At Two O’Clock in the Morning by Andrew Lobel

from Harry by Rachel Webb

Hugging their comforters in cool Virginia”

from Ode to Washington by Ben Walker

“I see my design and it “His hands become eelgrass

demands: multiply!”

Tangling her hair.”

from Alice in the Darkroom by Julie Stricker

“On a good day,

from Motherhood? by Emma Wimmer

I walk around with only “then we go to sleep and he says abrazame and i’m the big

Wet Socks

spoon, like I like to be”

Squishing, in my shoes.”

from the story of pablo cofre by Anna O’Neill

from A Consummation of Grief by Allison Smith

I wanted my mother to admit to me that she was pregnant By Shea Cadrin 28


Harrisburg in December By Kaitlyn Stasik

Gray-white snow falls through cloudy-gray air onto iron-gray train tracks behind a steel-gray guard rail holding in olive-gray grass and brown-gray trees. Across the faded-gray blacktop with dusty-gray cars lies rows of cobalt-gray houses with mirror-gray windows and slate-gray roofs holding in pale, ashen-gray people.

Awake: Prague Sleeps By Stephanie Jenson 30


Poincaré By Anneke Mulder

think of her like pudding, he was told, to plant in his head the O, the plastic cup and peel-off lid, a circle he can trace with a sharp compass.

put her in your eyes, he was told, she’ll carve out your irises for a place to sleep.

she’s taut and curved at the edges, he was told, but set a ruler between your feet to tick off the steps; without it, you’ll forget the way back to the peel-off lid and the plastic lip you dove from.

cosmic, i tried to say,

Hippocampus Quadrifarum By Matthew Gasper

i get thicker near my edges so he’ll never feel his fingers chill against the plastic curve— only sticky vanilla pudding slipping underneath his nails.

you’ll like it, i was told, you furl up tight just to burst past the silver foil lid. he’ll let you climb inside his eyes; you’ll let him find your edges with his clammy fingertips.

these lines meet infinity at right angles, i tried to say, though he might take them at a canter, aiming to throw his fists against my insides. he can’t hear over pudding lapping at his ears. so i rely on axioms—those lines are parallel—and cover my mumbling face.

fair lights By Jeffrey Buras 32


Not a Bird By Anna Finn

I guess I wanted to be a bird but it doesn’t work that way. They shape you into whatever is needful, And instead of a bird, I am a bowl – the blue bowl – mismatched that you only use when the sink is stacked brim-full.

There is a flaw in my glaze that is like the curve of a wing, one eye closed, the moon unfull, And sometimes it catches your thumb and you frown and I wish that you would throw me; drop me; give me a moment of grateful.

But even not a bird, this is what I like: the white splash of milk on my concave belly your moon face reflected in residual wet your lips on my lip –

trying to get the last of it.

Untitled By Caitlin Servilio 34


The Charlie Story (Based on True Events)

story—the scantily clad teen actress was; even his

pick up cable channels. While digging through the

mom inadvertently won herself a distinct role in the

snow, catching glimpses of MTV’s Spring Break, he

story because she was too cheap to buy sugar.

heard a loud knock. He knew that knock. It came

By Michael Levy

from the bulbous fingers of his current tenant,

Charlie had always wanted a boat. He envied

that Mike Levy called him Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

the fishermen as he walked along the piers, not for

everyday at two fifteen, the exact time his hair gel

their chiseled casting arms or the evident satisfac-

relinquished its duty of holding down his slicked-back

tion that comes from parading a gaudy catch, but

hair, resulting in an eighteenth-century pompadour.

for the opportunity to scream. If Charlie had a boat,

It was fun to laugh along. He didn’t mind that Shaun

he would dock at pier nineteen, a lively thoroughfare,

Moskovitz threw pennies at his feet, alluding to his

in between Dunkin Donuts and the tackle shop, and

mom’s reputation as the “cheapest woman in Brook-

belt out in his most ungainly Brooklyn accent. All

lyn.” But he hoped to obtain such a title for himself

of Sheepshead Bay would know that he was selling

someday, something to signify him as a local legend.

blue fish and red snapper.

business that sold weed on the side. Mike’s grand-

Charlie gazed at the boats as walked home

Shaun’s family held a renowned photography

from King Fruit, the grocery store his mom sent him

father was famous for harvesting wild wheat for

to, three miles past Zepypher’s Market, because of

Sukkot when Sheepshead Bay was still marshlands.

its two-for-one deal on orange juice. He didn’t mind

Stories about Charlie’s mom charging neighborhood

walking long distances for his mom—walking made

kids for a glass of water spread down Flatbush Ave.

you Brooklyn. But if Charlie could let out a roaring

Charlie, fourth generation Brooklynite, aspired to join

“Sea Bass” once or twice

his urban ancestors by creating his own story: the

a week, and cleanse out

Charlie Story.

mom; walking made

every cleft in his throat,

you Brooklyn.

he might not have to itch

about quirkiness and least about composure, will

his tonsils anymore. His

award you a reputation. When people say stop, keep

friends mockingly mimicked

going. Don’t fix your posture; embrace the awkward

He didn’t mind walking long distances for his


contort his parents’ recent separation into a neighbor-

Patrick. He was kind of intimidating, but definitely

hood myth, but it was just a normal breakup: Charlie’s

an invaluable asset to the developing Charlie Story.

dad came home with a tank of exotic fish; his mother

Patrick was cool. Patrick was older. Mike and Shaun

was furious with the extravagant expenditure; his

were afraid of Patrick. The insecurity that came from

father left after the resulting argument. Such a story is

hanging out with him in the communal backyard was

small change for Brooklyn storytelling circles.

gripping. Patrick had been incarcerated.

Charlie, self-aware, hair saluting the neigh-

Finger in his ear, sucking away, Charlie opened

bors, arrived at his three-family house and ascended

the door. Something was wrong with Patrick. The

the stairs. He walked through the narrow hallway to

corners of his mouth trembled with a hint of sympathy,

his room and immediately began to fuss with the

unusual for kids who’ve been to juvie. For the first time,

butterfly antenna of his UHF receiver, attempting to

Patrick didn’t tell Charlie to cut out the mouth farts.

Being yourself, he thought, caring most

him when he put his finger in his ear and sucked in

curvature in your spine. Wear clothes that are too

air, making flatulent sounds like the walruses that

small. Dive for nickels thrown at you. Cherish the

push their mouths against glass in the Coney Island

strange. Exploit the circumstantial.

aquarium. Charlie, however, never abandoned this

cathartic ritual; a little eccentricity, he thought, made

mother’s cheapness would aggrandize ‘Charlie,’ the

him blend in with the older Brooklynites.

eighth-grade boy, or just feed his mother’s well-

established fame. Charlie tried other ways to become

Once Charlie passed the bay and turned

For a moment Charlie thought he could

Charlie wondered if enveloping himself in his

down Vhories Ave, he had to endure a bare, half mile

somewhat of a luminary. He often told people how

straightaway, without much of a backdrop except

his former tenant, Michelle Trachtenberg, the girl

for his thoughts. It didn’t matter that most of the

from Harriet the Spy, once answered the door in a

time when he hung out with friends they attacked

towel when he went downstairs to ask for sugar. But


his hairdo or jested on his mom. It wasn’t so bad

Charlie realized he wasn’t a notable character in the

By Sam Lavine 37

“Your dad called me.”

so he can hand me the money.”

the fishermen: the plan (plot) must be reviewed.

go now. They can’t resist this coming attraction.

“What? I haven’t spoken to him in months,”

Sergeant Lewis will debrief “the cheapest woman in

way home,” Shaun said.

“Money?” Charlie wondered how much his

“I’m gonna have my mom drive by on the

Charlie responded. He read the delinquent’s face,

infamously cheap mother was worth; weather or

Brooklyn” before noon. Wait for the phone call and

knowing that whatever he was about to hear was

not she out valued the off-brand toys and Richard

head straight home. Come in, lock the door. Call the

shocking enough to scratch Patrick’s ironclad

Simmons workout tapes from Amazing Savings that

station at three. Meet with the police outside. Watch

composure. Charlie’s finger retreated into his ear. He

she stashes in the closets.

them yellow-tape the fake crime scene. Watch your

home, his pace faster than usual. He sees his story

began to suck in a big gulp, but was stopped midway

father drive by, catch his smile, remember that smile,

from beginning to end. The cops’ arrival. The yellow

There’s going to be a crime scene at my house today.

“He says he’s going to pay me ten thousands

The final bell sounds. Charlie starts to walk

by the reassuring warmth

dollars. Dude, I thought about it. I can’t do it,” Patrick

it will be the highlight of the story. Wait for him to

tape. Their take-off. Shaun and his mom driving by.

that that comes when the

said, staying within the parameters of his thug motif.

turn the corner. Watch the cops speed away to the

His mom’s incessant ‘thank you’s’ and tears. Telling

atmosphere starts veering

That line is definitely going into the Charlie Story. “I

rendezvous point to catch the villain (Dad) in the

everyone at school the next day. Cursing out his dad

toward the peculiar.

just wanted to come to you before I went to the cops.

act of handing the money over to Patrick. Stay in

in the first one-call-only jail conversation.

How do you feel about putting your father in jail?”

the house. Be Charlie, the boy who set his father up,

Charlie from Brooklyn.

not scratching his eardrum, he was getting very

close. The fishermen were suddenly apparent to

“He…he wants me to kill you mom.”

“Why, for pawning his underwear?” Charlie

said, expecting this whole thing to be another


affirmation of his mom’s notoriety.

“No, seriously. He gave me a gun. And told

me when to do it, and where to meet him afterward

Charlie was walking to school. He was so

Three periods went by while Charlie was

His finger went deep into his ear. If he was

deciding how he’s going to tell his story: will he start

Charlie even though he had been walking past them

involved in his thoughts—the entire trip was like the

with his Dad leaving because of the fish tank or the

for three blocks. Charlie ran away from them, from

half mile-straightaway. There was no time to notice

conversation he had with Patrick? Those matters can

the public, to the middle of the wooden footbridge

be worked out over the walk home. First, the audi-

that ran across the bay. The sun reflected off the odd

ence must be prepared.

shapes formed by swirling chemicals in the water. His

finger left his ear. He screamed his loudest; no one in

“There’s going to be a crime scene at my

house today,” Charlie said, unwrapping his Pathmark

Brooklyn heard.

brand bologna sandwich.

“Yeah, I’m gonna steal your mom’s coupons,

Mozart,” Mike quickly responded, as if he had that one waiting. He’ll be sorry for making fun. He doesn’t know that his Jewish tales will be stale blintzes compared to this afternoon’s events. Once he moves to New Jersey the only Brooklyn thing about him will be his frequent telling of the Charlie Story.

“No, really, come by at exactly 3:05. There

will be yellow tape around my house.” They have to

Times Square By Merquit Garcia 38


when my brother tells me that a blue whale’s heart is the size of a volkswagon By Carmen Machado

Best in Show Poetry we are in the museum of natural history, and I am taking

and then, he points, and tells me

pictures of my brother taking

that the blue whale’s heart is the size

pictures of skeletons strung up against bottle

of a volkswagon. and of course, my mind leaps

blue walls, of glass displays that house

to spaces, and i imagine myself inside

crystals, splinters tweezed from the earth’s

it, crouched low in a red chamber, touching

skin. fragments of volcanoes, the gaping

the wet walls with my splayed fingers, the

ache of craters where sky and stars

frame around me shifting with the

vaporized on contact. We talk about

intake of air, the pulsebeat echoing into

lakes, masses of ice, trees. minute

the surrounding



maria By Stephanie Jenson

he is eighteen, i am twenty one,

and then, i lay lay my head into the

he doesn’t know what to study, and

tissue of the heart, the sinew, the muscle,

i don’t know where to go. we are

the loudness and the quiet,

both afraid, and trying not to show the other

and listen to the lub dub

how our hands are shaking

of larger things.

so we stay glacial, and talk about dinosaurs, and fossils, and unfurling ferns.

Bicycle By Reese Vaccaressa 40



A la hora de un con leche

boy from Caraca Yaca

By Merquit Garcia

By Merquit Garcia


There are things that I would tell you before you go to sleep. By Anna Finn

My mother thinks she has a disease so every Sunday night I count out a week’s worth of pills for her into a snappy, segmented container.

She gets Centrums on Tuesdays, a baby aspirin for every other day, for Fridays, a shining vitamin E pill that I tell her not to press too hard. “Which one is for my eyes?” she asks and I hold up a blueberry chewable vitamin. “I should have known,” she says, “they match.”

They did match, would have matched but her eyes are too soon full of sleep, of warm milk before bed and she no longer needs to fill the feeders to sit by the window and see birds.

When I was eight, our house burned and my slight mother came for me all the way in the attic, my sister already over her other shoulder.

Tonight, I have slipped her M&Ms and Tic Tacs, I have felt her face for fever I have set her shorn hair in pink, spongy curlers and I have carried her to bed.

Curiouser and Curiouser By Sydney Buttner 44


protecting abraham


By Jessica Warren

By Jessica Warren

The Rebuke By Kristen M. Powell


Cha-chick, I hear, metallic,

Cha-chick, again. I frown,

Cha-chick, it sounds, I shudder,

And I look up as if to pose

Scratching pencil stopped on page,

Winking to God, eternal vexer,

A brow-knit question to Adam,

Accusing eye on Eve, but she points,

But his cherubs waver, and

The nearest sinner in sight.

Long white finger extended to

I retract, look aft to find

He shrugs, eyes averted,

The yellow-black enchanter

The blinds clicking and Eden

Painted flat on rigid canvas.

Retreating back from where it came.

Pressed against the glass. 47

glaze bucket, or, i prefer aesthetic experiences to actual sexual ones By Carmen Machado

i am elbow deep, fingers probing the paint that has drifted to the bottom of the bucket

patiently twisting unwound paper clips from the silky silt

i am guilty, purple armed, and gloriously, startlingly, turned


Untitled By Shea Cadrin

Haight Street By Jessica Bautista 48


I have a dream that this girl kisses me at a party By Carmen Machado

but before she does, I am sitting, thighs sticking to the leather couch, teeth sealed to keep my breath from leaving me, people surging around me as though I am kneeling in the tide, repentant, something sloshing in a cup clutched in my fingers, fingers tight and alarmed

she appears within the crowd, breathing for me, sauntering over to my legs, casually splayed to offset my nervousness, my edge betrayed by my trembling hand, which she lifts off my leg and winds into hers and in the moment that


takes over and her weight becomes mine to bear I take in her skin damp with the august humidity and her dress the color of cornsilk, the color of ursa minor, and her lips pale and soft and flaking, her tongue an oyster, her mouth the sea

Untitled By Caitlin Servilio



Tectonic Advantage By Kristen M. Powell

My tour book cannot wait. The land crawls over the corner Of the cover, spreading thick Through the pale blue water Like black bread mold on a loaf. “Indian Ocean,” it says, “Caspian Sea.” And I can See, too, the international Datelines cutting apart states And time with slicing concern, Like continental drift. “Gondwanna,” it utters, “Avalonia, Atlantis,” “Byzantium.” So I say, “Alright,” and we book a flight.


Wigwam Motel


By Jessica Bautista

By Kenton Bartlett 53

Because I Get You in Snatches By Ali Goldstein


You’d given me your sweatshirt, because I

to college to try the world out there, but came home

had been cold, shivering actually, as we left the zoo.

with wounds all over, still sore to the touch. Your eyes

“Here,” you’d said, because you are my older brother.

became piercing.

And I’m wearing it now, on my way home,

There they are, all the things we don’t say for

again. It swaddles me, smelling of you. Is it cinna-

fear the world will fall apart in our hands, flashing in

mon? Pine? I’m crying, again, my tears falling into the

your aquamarine eyes, like unassuming fat women

waffle texture snug against my skin. This ache erupting

sunbathing in the nude.

inside me, this elusive smell, of you, this unexpected

Then your mess.

warmth holding me tight: this, this is home.

Your hands always shook. You were filled

always with this frantic, inescapable energy I’d later

I plug my mp3 player into my ears and raspy

Dylan on endless loop ushers me away from this

call restlessness. You’d leave behind holes punched

metro car. These well-dressed strangers pretending

into the wall, parties not picked-up after, dirty bowls

not to stare are playing mad-libs with my grief. Eyes

all over the house. You cracked open the neat love

closed, I can see only your face, half-smiling, nose

poetry of the suburbs for the crisp winter air, scream-

touching the metro window, as you sped away in the

ing chaos into the squares of green lawn and dinner,

opposite direction, again, always.

as a family, damn it, at six.

You didn’t wave good-bye. You gave me

I blamed you for your mess. I was meticulous,

instead only a distant, goofy grin. You use emotions

always, always in step. Who else would be there

like the old woman buying day-old produce uses

waiting, arms splayed open, when the sky fell?

currency: you never pay a penny more than you

have to. I laughed when I realized I was still waving

in school. I couldn’t see the hours you spent staring at

and waving, and waving good-bye, perhaps a whole

your history textbook, knee bouncing in iambic prayer.

minute after your train sped away. Scarlet shame

flushed my cheeks.

moccasins, falling apart at the soles. In our high

school of ulcers and future lawyers, you’d escape to

And now I’m crying, smelling of you, wishing

I didn’t yet understand the difficulty you had

You’d run away in your stained, brown

your hand-scrawled sentiment was more legible.

the greenhouse to take black and white pictures of the

cacti and flowers, bursting red. I didn’t understand

I understood you in shades. First your eyes,

startling blue. They are eyes that steal attention; they

your fascination with flora and fauna.

are eyes that always got the biggest piece of choco-

late frosted cake at the birthday party.

the silence. Oh! The Silence!

I blamed you for your eyes, until I realized

But you didn’t love the cacti. You went for

I couldn’t get that, not yet. Not until I too ran

one day how oblivious you were to their power.

away from home, and came back, hands trembling,

It took you years before you saw the seas they

feeling so lost from the white noise out there. Not

parted, and then you became self-conscious, hands

until I too followed the promise to college, only to

shoved in your pockets, your six foot four inch frame

find an emptiness I could not yet call betrayal.

unexpectedly hunched. You grudgingly went away

You were sitting at the kitchen counter when I

got home from high school, blue eyes aflame, tearing a

sheet of notebook paper into a million little pieces. You

Your cheekbones gnawed through your skin. You

were nineteen, and you weren’t supposed to be there.

lost so much weight you became an afterthought.

You were to be at college, with your mess an hour

And your hands, your hands could not stop shaking!

away, taking your finals.

You thought you’d stumbled upon IT, the answer you

thought we wanted. But we still didn’t believe in you.

But the desks had been so small, cramped

It was then that you started to withdraw.

one on top of the other, and you hadn’t been able to

So you kept shrinking and shrinking and shrinking,

concentrate. Not with the girl chomping her gum in

forsaking your fresh air and silence to fit into our

your ear, her fake-blonde curls reeking of pineapple

tired cliché.

hair spray. Not with the professor pacing back and

forth, back and forth, back and forth, COULD HE NOT

think I needed it. I hadn’t felt off balance, but thanks


anyway. But you insisted. You, after all, were wasting


away, and I had been all along. “Let’s go running,”

You try to suck me up with the vacuum cleaner while I eat my Cinnamon Life for breakfast, and I throw back my hair and laugh greedily, at last.

You’d closed your

You reached out your hand to me. I didn’t

you’d said.

eyes, but the snow had

already fallen. All the details

You try to suck me up with the vacuum cleaner while

smudged; nothing made

I eat my Cinnamon Life for breakfast, and I throw


back my hair and laugh greedily, at last.

And so you were home, in the kitchen, where

Suddenly, you are no longer very far away.

You held my hand and pulled me out from

you weren’t supposed to be. Mom is folded into her

the book in my lap. You took it upon yourself to

hands, crying. Dad is twitching.

make me cool, because you are my big brother.

Sitting in my college dorm room, I played the music

I’d brought home my test scores. 99th per-

centile! I wanted a hug and a WELL DONE! for my

you downloaded on my computer: Bob Dylan, Bob

extraordinary bubble-filling-in ability, because surely

Marley, The Streets.

this meant I was going places.

CD from her desk drawer. It was “Rolling with Bob:

But you were home with your mess, punch-

My roommate had giggled, pulling a new

ing holes into the wall, again. I left my test scores in

A Compilation.” I laughed, too, because I had passed

a crumpled ball on the kitchen counter, and no one

the test with the vocabulary you’d given me.

noticed when I stormed upstairs, already crying.

night talked of how hard it had been to be gifted

You ran away, again, halfway through college

You gave me your anger, too. My friends one

to lead a kayaking expedition through the Canadian

and talented in high school. The boredom!, they’d

wilderness. And Oh! the silence!

lamented, as though the world owed them, them!, for

their ability to color within the lines.

You came home with a full-beard, ragged

and emaciated. You bounced into our kitchen with a

fervor we couldn’t place. You were a vegetarian! You

was fuming with an anger I could not name or place.

were going to be pre-med!

I’d stormed out without explanation.

We laughed, cackled probably, at your hubris.

A fire had burst within me, unexpectedly; I

Only later did I see your knee bobbing,

Already we were counting the weeks, days, minutes,

studying hour upon hour, for a test that was not made

before this dream also faded.

to show your skills. Only later did I see you running full 55

speed, moccasins unraveling, for the greenhouse, for

hand, and now I only get you in snatches. Now you’re

that sacred silence. And only then did I understand

always a goofy grin behind the metro glass, forget-

my anger, your anger.

ting (I hope) to say good-bye.

A year passes, and I am nineteen! Suddenly, I

I blame you for this ache.

am filled with your restlessness. I’m losing faith, more

You were sitting at the kitchen counter, blue

and more of it, every day.

eyes ambiguous, when I arrived home from school

after the fall semester ended. Done! I’d made it! But I

I’d bought into the dream. I’d run the miles

and made the flash cards. But now, thousands of

no longer had the answer. I no longer understood the

miles from home, all I could feel was emptiness. I’d

directions, nor could I muster the enthusiasm to ask

bought into the dream, and now I was lonely, won-

for clarification.

dering where and when I’d gone missing.

had a plan. We cut squares of your chilled cherry

I’m sitting on a bench in downtown Washing-

Snow was starting to fall in torrents, and you

ton D.C., on my lunch break, and the city smells like

kugel and took them on paper plates outside, into

stale farts. I feel frail, and lost. But then you called:

the cool winter air.

you were coming to visit.

ing a snow angel, as you light up your marijuana

You brought booze in your backpack, for me, to

“Snow!” I whisper, as I lie on my back mak-

keep. Because, after all, you are my big brother. Later, I

cigarette. You pass it to me, and my hands tremble

would hide the whiskey in my sweater drawer, laughing

as I inhale. I recognize the smell I hadn’t been able to

to myself. You are responsible for all my contradictions.

place woven into your sweatshirt. It wasn’t cinnamon,

or pine, after all.

You brought your fresh air and your silence

and I showed you my city. We spent hours, on Now you’re always a goofy grin behind the metro glass, forgetting (I hope) to say goodbye.

We stare up, through the ribs of the emaci-

our knees in my favorite

ated maple trees, watching the snow fall through

musty and crowded used

the slats of inky December sky. You pass me the

bookshop, looking for titles

cigarette again; you give me your sweatshirt.

we didn’t know we needed.

You’d been forced to keep

longer clear and I can’t figure out the words to end

your backpack at the front

the rhyme.

For a moment, I am lost. The lines are no

desk, and you were worried that someone would

steal the booze.

ready to catch me when the sky falls.

Your blue eyes sparked, and suddenly, inexplica-

But you, you are here, arms splayed open,

bly, I was proud of the world I’d crafted. I was no longer so small, so lost, because I was the exclamation point at the end of your sentences.

We hug awkwardly, quickly, in the metro sta-

tion before you leave. “Well, bye,” you say, turning your back to rush away in the opposite direction, again.

And I cry, because I wish we were the kind

Untitled By Ashley Nadeau

of brother and sister who could say, “I love you.” I cry, because it took so long for you to hold out your 56


Hollins Street II

Wind Mills

By Merquit Garcia

By Merquit Garcia

Best in Show Photo 58


the holes in the roof you never fixed By Andrea Lum

i’m going to say i wasn’t surprised when down came spilling tangled lullabies and upset stomachs emptying knotted hair and unfiltered water thrumming upon the umbrellas, ones tinted in sepia and thermal tones but photobooth couldn’t nearly be enough to shoot these at their best

here sloshing around us, feet. they are wrapped in polymer. neon. &trying not to stare we swallow hard, drink ‘til our toes - our lips are numb toasting as we wade away

Path I By Shea Cadrin 60


Faculty Contributer Susanna Shannon

susanna shannon was born in washington dc in 1957 on 30th street between M and the canal, the same year as helvetica. She does all her design work in times ps upper and lower case and in franklin gothic extra bold [more generally caps extra condensed], or sometimes with some spot rockwell extra bold lower case. she’s a single mother ; her boyfriend’s name is george and her two children are named rebecca and samantha.



Back Home (previous page) in the afternoon, when you’re a child, after your nap you go to the luxembourg park and if it’s a special occasion, like your grandma’s visiting or it’s your birthday you to le guignol, the puppet theatre. the lady in the little apron pushes you toward the front rows and your mom or your maid or whoever took took you there gets ushered toward the back. when the show gets scary cause guignol is about to get arrested by the gendarme or a baddy baddy is about to bop him from behind you anxiously turn your head toward the back of the theatre for help but it’s too dark and you can’t see your parent anymore.

Curatorial Elements (right)

when i got to america [!] i really didn’t speak that much english and didn’t particularly know what could possibly be interesting for american students to hear... i asked them to bring in pictures of stuff they liked and as an example i showed them the broom... ze brouououme! i told them that i really like the light on the broom picture because it reminded of my childhood in washington 50 years ago, that i really loved the deck on which the broom is posing because it’s wood and really looks american, that i adored the typography on the broom’s label because it looks like it was designed in pre-design years, and that the basketball shoe belongs to etienne robial’s collection of baby clothes which is strictly made up of oshkoshes and converses in all sizes and stored in his basement and curated by barbara his wife who curates his entire collection of lamps and coffee pots and other things. 64



Anneke Mulder prefers tortellini. Kristen M. Powell has a creamy nougat center.

Kelly Barrett lives by her iCal. and the pink spaces are her favorite. She was once told that her goosebumps

Ashley Nadeau is a senior literature major and art minor who enojoys artificial lime flavoring, long walks at the

take the cake, which they do.

zoo, and reading in bed. Her favorite words are misanthrope and zeitgeist.

Kenton Bartlett: Kenton likes reading funny biographies, but he’s not clever enough to come up with one for

Kate Stasik has an unhealthy obsession with eradicating comma splices and misplaced apostrophes. She will


graduate in May and is planning to avoid the real world for as long as possible.

Sydney Buttner: is a senior in graphic design

Jessica Taich is 19 going on 20, hates astrology, loves orange (the color and the fruit). doodles constantly and

Shea Cadrin doesn’t have the balls to be a street artist. Merquit Garcia: What’s the difference between a photographer and an amateur? Conceitedness. From which one? I can’t tell. Hence I’d like to say, I am not yet one, or quite the other. Wanted to be a performer of some

loves bell peppers and onions. Reese Vaccarezza enjoys listening to WWII era music, thinking about what antiques she will collect when older, and trying to protect herself from the common cold.

kind… clearly, that didn’t work for me. And so I found photography… let’s hope I can do better.

Jessica Warren will be submitting photos to AmLit’s fall 2008 magazine all the way from Madrid.

Matthew Gasper is great.

Rachel Webb prefers the crunchy ends.

Ali Goldstein loves reading in bed, hot pancakes on Sunday mornings, airport hugs and anyone who has ever

Emma Wimmer: Poor time management skills. Occasionally freaks out. A little bit crazy. Loves music. Tends

laughed at one of her puns. She would like to thank her mom for crying at everything she writes.

to write sometimes.

Jesse Kimes: I am a junior in the School of Communication majoring in Visual Media and minoring in Psychology. I am from Upstate New York, and these images were shot at night while I was driving my car home. Yes, I was driving and taking pictures at the same time. No, I did not kill anyone while doing this. I will be studying abroad in Prague this fall. Kelly Lange is a juniorish in the School of International Service. She likes Extra polar ice gum and the color purple. Samuel Putnam Lavine is a multimedia student from washington, dc. “Corner” was taken in 2007 at 39th & macomb sts. nw, dc. he belongs to an artist’s collective called tYPE1 [] and plays drums for the cornel west theory, the muscle, and voids moan. If Michael Levy played an instrument, he would join a band named the Penny Loafer Insurgency. Andrea Lum is a freshman in the School of Communication who likes to believe that, as e.e. cummings so wisely says, “life is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” Carmen Machado is going West. Thaïs H. Miller is a junior honors student, majoring in Literature with a concentration in creative writing and minoring in Music Performance. Her novella, Our Machinery is currently being published by Brown Paper Publishing.

Untitled By Sami Rushin



Staff Editor in Chief

Anna M. Finn

Assistant Editor

Anneke Mulder

Design Editors

Laura Warman

Shea Cadrin

Jessica Taich

Co-Prose Editors

Ali Goldstein

Michael Levy

Co-Poetry Editors

Rachel Webb

Andrew Lobel

Co-Assistant Poetry Editors

Julie Stricker

Matthew Gasper

Photo Editor

Jessica Warren

Copy Editor

Jenn Dearden

Assistant Copy Editor

Natalie Matthews

General Staff

Emma Wimmer

Brittany Stewart

Bogdan Vitas

Tyler Budde

Ben Walker

Melinda C. Hall

San Francisco, Old and New By Jessica Taich



Submission Policy American Literary Magazine seeks to promote the artistic community at American University. All members of the A.U. community may submit work they deem qualified for review. Staff members of AmLit are limited to three works accepted in each genre. All final acceptance decisions are made by the Editor in Chief and genre editors. American Literary Magazine selects content based on a blind review process. While we attempt to preserve anonymity in all cases, perfectly blind submissions are impossible. Therefore, professional discretion is upheld at all times.

American Literary Magazine would like to thank Sasha Danielle Feinman, whose photo was used on promotional material.

All copyrights revert to artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.

Poetry is in the Street By Kelly Lange 70